Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George

Thursdays with the Crown
by Jessica Day George
224 pages, 2014
Elementary +

After Celie helped heal the Castle in Wednesdays in the Tower, she is suddenly transported somewhere new with Rufus her griffin, her siblings, and their friends.  Surrounded by forest, they have to start exploring in order to discover where the Castle has taken them.

After most the others have left, Celie is shocked the see some griffins racing around the tower.  Wild griffins!  As she runs after them, more discoveries await her.  Can she finish healing the Castle and make it back home in one piece?

Wizards, magic, griffins, adventure!  What more could you want from a book!  I think I liked this one more than than the second book!  Fast paced, lots of action and discover. Really fun read! Jessica Day George continues to be on my go-to list for recommendations!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks
288 pages, 2013
Middle School+

When the captain of the basketball team and the president of the robotics club are best friends, things are always messy! Meet Charlie and Nate, friends even though they move in completely different circles.  But when the cheerleaders, including Charlie's ex-girlfriend, and Nate's robotics team start competing for funding, Charlie is caught in the middle.  On top of all of that, his home life sucks right now- his dad is gone with work all the time, his mom lives in another state with her boyfriend, and holidays are likely to be a mess.

When the cheerleaders and robotics team finally join forces to enter a robot death match, Charlie's life finally seems to be falling into place!  Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong!

Really fun book!  Lots of humor, great glimpse into teen life and all the different influences.  A little out there at times, but really fun.  Definitely a recommend to middle school and high school!  Especially those that like robot death matches!

Winterling by Sarah Prineas

by Sarah Prineas
248 pages, 2012
Late Elementary+

Jennifer, or Fer as she likes to be known as, has never quite fit in.  School in the city gives her headaches, the other girls have never really liked her, her quilt-patched jacket makes her look strange and she would much rather just be out in the forest away from them all anyways.

One rainy night, Fer is drawn to a pool in the forest.  The flat surface reflects the trees around her, the bushes, and even a glimpse of the moon through the clouds.  But the moon is wrong- crescent in one sky but full in the other.  Shadowy figures move from the reflection into around her until they resolve into wolves.  Wolves hunting a young boy she finds in the bushes next to the pool.  After she fights off the wolves, she wonders where everyone came from.  No one lives in that forest and wolves haven't been seen there for years and years.

After rescuing Puck from the wolves, she decides to follow him to the other world through the pool.  This begins her adventures.  Dark powers have taken hold, and winter is staying much longer than it should.  Fer must discover the source of the wrongness she feels in the land and find a solution to bring spring not only to the world on the other side of the pool, but to her own land as well.

Pretty good book about a girl finding her own way in the world, discovering who she really is and deciding what she wants in life.  Magic and faeries, coming of age story.

So overall, great book for later elementary kids.  No love story elements, no language, and really nothing that scary.  Lots of action, Fer is a smart strong girl who isn't afraid to act or to refuse to act when pressured into a wrong situation.  Definitely one I will recommend around!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Will and Whit

Will & Whit
by LauraLee Gulledge
192 pages, 2013
Middle School+

Three things you should know about 17 year old Willhemena, or Will for short: she lives with her aunt (who's decently hip), loves to make lamps out of whatever is lying around in the antique shop they run, and she's afraid of the dark.  Ever since her parents died almost a year ago, she has struggled to keep her cool in the dark.  Shadows make her uneasy and darkness freaks her out.

When Hurricane Whitney comes along, and threatens to leave the lights out for several days, Will starts to get really nervous.  All her usual distractions- making lamps, music, reading- won't be available at night to keep the darkness at bay.  How can she survive for several days without anything to light her way?

So, I really enjoyed this!  Cover is kind of deceiving- while there is plenty of romance and crushes in the book, Whit is a storm, not a person.  But I really like that twist, and how much she interacts with the storm and how much it makes Will grow.  While you see Will interact with several of her friends, strangers, and her aunt, the interaction between her and the storm is what causes her to push boundaries within her other relationships.  While the cover might be misleading, the title is very appropriate.

Several issues are addressed in this book including dealing with the death of a loved one, friendships, betrayals, disappointment, heartbreak, daring to do something new, and facing your fears.  I really like how much it addresses!  Teens rarely have to face one thing at a time; usually they face several issues which all influence each other and keep building and building until something breaks or explodes!  Will is like this- she is trying to deal with all these issues that build on each other until something has to change.

Overall, I just really enjoyed this book.  Lots of things happening so the reader never gets bored, great illustrations that show depth and movement (I loved the shadows and watching how they reflected emotions), and a great story line.  I especially loved a Doctor Who tribute on the last page!  Definitely something to recommend.  Great book with loads of emotion, could help teens face their fears or grief.  This is how I like my realistic fiction!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish

A Dance of Cloaks 
by David Dalglish
388 pages, 2010
High School+

Thieves versus nobles, guild versus guild!  Within the city, the Spider Guild or thieves and assassins reigns.  At the head of the guild is Thren Felhorn- best of the best.  As his guild and control of other guilds grows, he challenges the power and influence of the Trifect, an alliance of the strongest noble houses.  Warily, all the parties watch each other for threats and maneuvers.

In the middle of all of this is Aaron, Thren's son and heir.  Trained to be a ruthless assassin, at the age of eight he kills his older brother.  5 years later, still training and learning guild ways, his father gives him an assignment- kill a young girl who has just seen her father die.  After chasing her down through the chaos after the father's assassination, he find her praying behind some garbage.  Watching and seeing a different side of life, he is unable to take her life.

But, the consequences of his actions must be faced.  Aaron is disgraced in the eyes of his father, the girl must still be killed by another, and the world must know to not cross Thren and the Spider Guild.  But Aaron's heart is not matching what he has been taught.  Can he survive without his father?  Or will that be his last mistake?

So, first of all, I was unable to finish this book.  Not because it was back, not because it uninteresting, but because of the language and violence.  Lots of language, lots of violence, and fairly graphic violence.  I've read other books with language and violence, but this one was just filled with it.  I'm pretty sure every page had multiple instances of swearing.  Granted, if you are talking about a thieves guild assassinating people and fighting, you'll get violence, but I really didn't need to know what it felt like to have your eye stabbed.  Fantasy violence I can handle, this was just a little to graphic for my tastes.

Besides that, the book was very interesting.  Characters with potential, lots of plots and twists.   I do feel like I wasn't getting to know any character except the main character that well.  And the narration didn't follow him all the time, so you only have limited glimpses of him.  Admittedly, I didn't get more than half way through the book, but the reader was introduced to so many plots and characters that I didn't feel like I had gotten deep into the story or the characters.

Overall, interesting premise, and if I had spent more time with the book (finished reading it plus there are sequels!) I might have gotten over the lack of depth that I perceived.  If you like intrigue, thieves, street thugs, noble houses, plots and violence, then you would like it. If you don't like violence or bad language, don't read it.  Definitely not appropriate for younger kids, high school aged at the earliest.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hidden by Dauvillier, Lizano and Salsedo

by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo
80 pages, 2014

When grandma was a little Jewish girl, she lived in Paris.  But life wasn't all sweetness and roses- she lived in the time of World War II- when Jews were discriminated against, families were torn apart, and children were hidden in closets.  But Grandma Dounia has never told her story.  Until she tells it to her granddaughter in the middle of the night.

What a gentle way to discuss the horrors of the Holocaust with a young child.  The reader can see how deeply it affected Dounia as a child (at one point she can't talk for a few days), you see the emotions that fill her and how the horrors around her change her life.  But you don't see the horrors.  The reader sees the changes that come- people treating them differently, police taking people away, how different her mother is once she is returned.  It addresses all the issues that the Jews faced during WWII, but at the same time shows it in a manner appropriate for children.

Great read- worth looking at.  Should be appropriate for most children, but might invoke more questions about the events of the Holocaust.  Great way to tell this story.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson
416 pages, 2013
High School

What would happen if super heroes used their powers to rule and oppress instead of help others? Imagine if Superman wanted to run the city, not save the city! That is the world that David lives in. 

At the age of eight, David sees his father and everyone else in the bank killed by Steelheart, an Epic- someone with super powers. Nobody knows what can harm Steelheart, no one has seen him bleed and survived to tell, except for David. Seeking revenge for his father's death, David joins the Reckoners, a underground group out to upset the tyranny of the Epics. But despite all their research and David's notes, they still can't figure out how to harm Steelheart. Yet someone has to try.

I really enjoyed this book. While it seemed to take me a while, it read really face. Great pace, lots of action, but also lots of emotion behind the action. Sanderson has created a great balance between the action/fighting/getaway scenes and the emotion that drives people. That creates an interest in the character, a need to know what happens next, plus a connection between character and reader. Excellent balance of these various elements. 

I will definitely be recommending this book to people. I'll say teenager, high school ages, mostly because of violence in it- lots of gun fights, injuries, high speed chases, that sort of thing. Not really swearing (at least what we consider swearing- they have their own made up stuff) or anything inappropriate. Great read if you like action movies!