Thursday, January 31, 2013

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Maggot Moon

Standish Treadwell is not like everyone else. Luckily he's always been able to get by without attracting too much attention. But when a teacher beats a boy, Standish intervenes and is noticed by those working for the Motherland. The Motherland culls those who are different, unwanted, or independent. Standish is different and his grandfather has secrets hidden in the basement-- secrets the Motherland will kill to protect. But once the Motherland notices you, there's nothing you can do to avoid becoming maggot meat except, perhaps, make one last stand. Both chilling and stunning, Maggot Moon is reminiscent of both 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale. Author Sally Gardner has created a haunting tale that deserves applause.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ignore the text, buy the book for the illustrations

The Beginner's Guide to Running Away from Home

If you're thinking about running away from home, this is the perfect manual. The protagonist instructs readers on the reasons one should run away, just what to pack, where to go...and why you might change your mind once you're there. Red Nose Studio, whose illustrations for Here Comes the Garbage Barge were given the award of Best Illustrated from the New York Times, brings humorous details and vivid life to the book. Sculptural illustrations leap from the page in photographs that capture all their depth, color, and detail. You're bound to get lost in these stunning illustrations. In fact, if you're running away, bring one book with you, The Beginners Guide to Running Away From Home.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong if you read this book

Really. Except that you might miss an appointment as you rush to finish it...and then read it all over again.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong written by Prudence Shen & illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Conniving cheerleaders intent on buying new uniforms face off against the robotics club in a story full of drama and humor. Both teams have been told their funding is at the discretion of the Student Council and both teams decide to take matters into their own hands, pitting next-door neighbors against one another in the race to be student council president. But when campaign tactics turn unspeakably nasty, the principal pulls all funding from both teams. Now, there's only one thing that can save both the robotics club and the cheerleaders: a robot rumble with a hefty monetary prize. That's right, robots fighting to the death... what could possibly go wrong?  Shen and Hicks are an incredible duo. Their quirky, dimensional characters could walk off the page and into high school halls. When it comes to humor, action, and drama, it doesn't get better than this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another Dystopian (and it's pretty good!)

The Testing

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Dystopian books have been coming thick and fast the past few years, so it takes something original to stand out. A few twists and turns in The Testing bring it into new territory. Cia lives in what was once the Great Lakes region of the United States, a region that is being revitalized over a century after chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare. After graduating, Cia is chosen to participate in the Testing, which selects candidates to study at the University and become society's next leaders. The Testing is an honor one can't refuse, and though there are academic tests, later stages prove to be fatal. High stakes survival is woven with science and romance in this thrilling dystopian that shows life is rarely full of black and white choices.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Remember how great Grave Mercy was?

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
I devoured Gravy Mercy, the first in Robin LaFever's His Fair Assassin Series. Dark Triumph is even better and you don't have to read Grave Mercy to plunge in. At the convent for the daughters of Death, Sybella not only learned an assassin's skills, but healed from her life. When her training was complete, the nuns sent Sybella back to the house she grew up in-- back to her terrifying father and conniving brothers. At home, there's no one she can trust and her only enjoyment comes from delivering justice-- that is until her fate is changed by the only good person in her father's house, his most prized prisoner. Sybella's story is dark and thrilling and fans of Tamora Pierce or Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock will not be disappointed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Beautiful Fantasy

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
In this sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, September finds herself falling back into fairyland. This time her mission is to save fairyland from her own Shadow, who is draining fairyland of its magic for frivolous reasons. Valente's delicious language and inventive settings are to be savored while her knowledge of fairy folklore will entice adult fantasy readers. An added bonus: each chapter stands alone, making for perfect bedtime reading.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eve & Adam

by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate
When Eve is hit by a car, suffering horrible injuries, her mother pulls her from the hospital as quickly as she can, transferring Eve to her research facility, Spiker Biopharmaceuticals. While recovering, Eve's mother has Eve test a new computer program. Her project? Create the perfect boy. But nothing at Spiker is what it seems, and a strange boy seems to know more secrets than anyone else. Grant & Applegate have written a fast-paced thriller sure to appeal to those who enjoyed The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Funny Journal-Style Middle Grade


Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis
Timmy Failure and his sidekick --ahem, business partner-- are like Calvin & Hobbes if Calvin was dense and Hobbes was a seal-obsessed polar bear. Together, Timmy and Total form Total Failure, Inc, a detective agency Timmy is sure will soon be an international corporation making billions-- or at least enough to pay his mom's bills. The only thing standing in Timmy's way is the CCIA or Corrina Corrina Intelligence Agency run by the evilest girl in Timmy's class. Oh, and his grade obsessed best friend (possible traitor) and an infatuated classmate (international thief). Stephan Pastis' hilarious novel is perfect for kids obsessed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Calvin & Hobbes. Okay, adults will laugh, too.

Under the humor are serious situations faced by many kids.
(spoilers as to what these issues are below)

Timmy's mom is finding it difficult to pay the bills and she and Timmy end up moving into an apartment. Timmy immediately dislikes his mom's boyfriend (ultimately, his mom realizes the boyfriend does not care as much about Timmy as his car and ends it). Timmy's grades are low but with the right teacher (who sees Timmy as an individual)Timmy begins to do very well. These underlying issues elevate the book to more than just another journal-style middle grade series.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Very Early Graphic Novel

Odd Duck

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci & Sara Varon
Theodora is a tidy duck who always follows her daily routine. While her choices may be strange for most ducks (she quilts and swims with a tea cup on her head), everything in her life fits perfectly in its' place...that is until a neighbor comes along. Chad is bizarre. He dyes his feathers and makes strange sculptures in the yard. Theodora is certain the two will never be friends but as it often happens in books for young readers, she's quickly proven wrong. Though a common story, Castellucci and Varon bring their own fun flavor. Odd Duck is filled with sweet and quirky characters children are sure to love. Perfect for an early reader audience, Odd Duck is also a great read-aloud selection for non-readers who can sit through a long story but still want lots of pictures. Hopefully we'll see more books from this quirky duo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A top graphic novel of 2012

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra
When Alan and his sister Leah wake, they find themselves in a magical forest. To find their way home, they must follow the path of the stone frogs. Of course, they have a few adventures along the way. Though reminiscent of both Alice in Wonderland and Little Nemo, David Nytra crafts a unique fantasy. Detailed black and white pen and ink drawings invite readers to become lost along with Leah and Alan. David Nytra keeps his text to a minimum and new new readers will be astonished that they can read a book with so many pages. All in all, The Secret of the Stone Frog is a masterpiece.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Summer YA

Pulse (Pulse, #1)

In every country, the majority of the world's population lives in States, which provide the
basic necessities for survival plus all the games and shows you could possibly want. Faith
doesn't live in a State, though her all-purpose tablet gives her access to limited shows, news,
schooling, and shopping. While it's usual for families to leave for the State, Faith will stay on
the outside, a mostly abandoned area that encompasses most of the former United States.
There are perks to this existence, from the solace of books in an abandoned elementary
school library to swinging with her best friend. But this school year, things are changing.
A talented young hacker named Hawk has latched onto Faith and is determined to be her
friend. Meanwhile, she's attracted the interest of Wade Quinn, a tall, handsome, unbelievably
athletic guy, and Dylan, who can't keep his eyes off her. On top of this, things keep moving
about Faith's bedroom at night-- entirely based on when she thinks, feels, and desires. Her
ability to control objects with her mind, or pulse, is unusual, and she has no idea where it
came from or what it means. But Faith isn't the only one on the outside with such a talent
and knowledge of her new found skill can only mean trouble.

Patrick Carman honestly portrays strong, realistic relationships that sit comfortably next to
heart-pounding action sequences. The tablets and States of Faith's world are recognizable
as a possibility of our own future and readers who enjoyed MT Anderson's Feed will be
intrigued by Carman’s vision of 2051. This summer, grab Pulse and stretch out on the beach-
- with thrilling action, budding romance, and true friendship, you won’t have any need of a
movie theater.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lemony Snicket

Snicket's eccentric characters, gloomy settings, and twisted plots are back full-force in All the Wrong Questions: "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" The thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket is already suspicious, worried, and over his head in secrets. Snicket is apprenticed to S. Theodora Markson (asking what the S stands for is a Wrong Question) who is taking him to Stain'd-by-the-Sea, an inconsequential speck on the map, and a thoroughly strange place with lots of its' own secrets. Markson and Snicket are there to do one thing: retrieve and return a statue of the (rather frightening) Bombinating Beast to its rightful owner. But nothing is as simple as it seems, especially when you can't trust anyone. Luckily, book titles can be exchanged for cab rides and there's still one reporter (underage though she may be) trying to dig up the truth. Lemony Snicket knows much more than he's telling and he weaves a complex mystery that ultimately brings up more questions than it answers.

These additional questions leave readers wanting a bit more. Snicket is an unreliable narrator who doesn't seem to trust anyone- including the reader. While our first person narrator is undoubtedly the same Snicket who narrated A Series of Unfortunate Events, he is far less kind to himself than to the Baudelaire orphans, making it more difficult to like him. While Snicket leaves may mysteries unsolved-and therefore has me waiting for the next installment- I wish a little more had been resolved.