Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pirouette by Robyn Bavati

Anyone who loves dancing will love Pirouette by Robyn Bavati. Even if you're not into dancing, this book will pull you in and keep you reading. It's about two 15 year old identical twins, Hannah and Simone, who by a strange twist of circumstances end up meeting each other for the first time at a summer dance camp in Australia. Simone has been raised to dance by her mom but hates performing. Hannah loves to dance but her parents see it as a hobby. They end up switching places not just at the dance camp but into the school year. It's so interesting to read about the challenges they face as they fool their family  friends, and new boyfriends. This was a fun read and not to spoil anything but the ending is happy (I squeezed out a tear or two). I love the way the girls deal with each situation along the way and their creative resolution at the end. Let's dance!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: Lockwood and Co:The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

How do you feel about ghosts?  How about adventure and sarcastic banter?

The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud, is set in a modern day London where ghosts stalk the night, and only children and teenagers can see them clearly. Our heroes Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle, and George Cubbins run a psychic detection agency. That is, they hunt and destroy ghosts. But unlike most other agencies, they don't have any adult supervisors. Since adults can't see or hear ghosts very well, Lockwood thinks they just get in the way.  Lucy tends to agree, given her unpleasant past.  George hates everyone equally.

We meet Lucy and Lockwood as they prepare to banish what they think is a routine ghost.  The ghost, and the case itself, prove too hot to handle, and Lucy and Lockwood barely escape.  Unfortunately, the Lockwood and Co. Psychic Detection Agnecy finds itself in some trouble with the law, and Lucy, Lockwood, and George are forced to take on a dangerous case in one of the most haunted houses in England.  The last team that tried to clear the historic mansion of ghosts died; every last one of them.

I enjoyed all the action and adventure, as well as the smart mouth comedy in the face of creepy, deadly ghosts.  Hope you will too!

Happy reading!

~ gothbrarian

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

The psychological impact of 9/11 still resonates today.  Terrorism continues to disturb the world we live in.  Everyone is affected by the memory.  Those too young to remember soon learn about it as they get older.  The following story begins five years after a fictional terrorist attack at a popular gathering place.

Jaime was 5 years old when his sister is killed.   My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher takes place in London.  Now 10 years old, Jaime has vague memories of the sister that died.  Both parents remind him often of the tragedy and they do not understand why he is not  grieving.

Jaime's viewpoint is very straightforward and often humorous. Both characters have issues as they try to navigate day to day life five years after the horrific attack.  Jaime's sister Jasmine does remember her twin, Rose, who died in the attack.  Even though Jasmine has her own problems, she tries to provide some stability for Jaime.  She cooks and makes calls to school as best she can.   Jaime does not dare tell his father he has a new friend at school. Sunya is Muslim. 

Jaime and his sister continue to fend for themselves as their parents grieve.  Amidst the sadness there is hope but no easy solutions for this family, which makes this story real.  There are humorous moments but the ending is not nice and tidy, although it is as good as it gets for this family. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Despite being a wanna-be princess and the daughter of a witch, Sophie and Agatha are best friends.  But when they're taken to the School For Good and Evil, Agatha is enrolled in the Good School and Sophie in the Evil School!  Is this a horrible mistake or is Agatha really Good and Sophie really Evil?  Or is this part of another plot entirely?

To complicate matters, there's a handsome prince, and fairy godmothers and villains as teachers, scheming classmates, and the School Master - a mysterious figure in a silver mask.  And while Agatha just wants to go home, she's going to learn a lot about friendship, love, good, and evil along the way.

The second book in the series is less about Good and Evil and more about Girls and Boys.  Here, once again, what you think you know will be turned on its head.  These books aren't about right and wrong, but instead about the ideas behind how we think of Good and Evil and Girls and Boys.  Which sounds like a lot of thinking, but don't worry, there's plenty of sword fights, magic spells, and twists and turns in these books to keep it interesting!

~ Book Ninja

P.S.  Universal Pictures might make a trilogy of films about these books and the third one in the series that's being written right now!  So read them now before the movie comes out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Imagine if everybody you ever crushed on suddenly learned about your feelings. That's what happens to Lara Jean in To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han.

Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend. Instead, she has a habit of crushing madly on a boy, suffering in silence, and then writing him a letter to get over him, hiding it away in an old hatbox. She thinks her secrets are safe, but one day, the letters somehow get sent out, and all the boys she's ever had unrequited feelings for discover them. Unfortunately, one of them is her older sister's recent ex and their next-door neighbor, Josh.

Frantic to convince him that she doesn't feel that way anymore (even though she kinda does), Lara Jean enlists the help of one of her other crushes, one she's totally over. Peter just broke up with his own girlfriend and wants to make her jealous. With the agreement that their relationship is just for show, Peter and Lara Jean make a production of holding hands, snuggling, and smooching where everyone can see them.

But then Lara Jean actually starts having feelings for Peter. What if he doesn't feel the same way?

Worse yet: what if he does?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver is a futuristic novel written by Lois Lowry. The book centers around a young boy named Jonas. In this book, Jonas and his family unit live inside a strange civilization founded by who we can only guess is the remaining people in the world after war, starvation, anger, and memories devastated it. Inside this strange society, there are no memories, no color, and no freedom. The book starts off with Jonas preparing for the
annual Ceremony of the Twelves. In this sacred tradition, young children turning twelve are given their jobs chosen by the Elders of the community, the people who enforce the rules. The choice is non-negotiable with the recipients, and if you chose to not follow the choice, then you are to be released from the community. With this important ceremony coming up, Jonas nervously anticipates the Elder's choice for him. When the Ceremony of the Twelves finally arrives, the Elders do something very rare and special: they give Jonas the job of the Receiver of Memory. Not knowing how much of a burden the Elders have put on him, Jonas agrees to meet the current Receiver and start his training. The Receiver tells Jonas to call him the Giver, and over his training, the Giver essentially gives Jonas all of the memories of everyone who once lived on Earth. Memories that can be good, such as love and peacefulness, but also the memories of war, and starvation, and loneliness. All these memories are memories that the people living inside the community do not have to bear. The only person that has to bear all of them now is Jonas. Jonas learns about love, hatred, brilliant colors, and depression. These memories encourage Jonas to do things that he would never have done before. But how far is he willing to go to learn the truth?

I loved this book because it's unlike anything I've ever read before. Imagine never seeing any color in the sky, or not being able to know what love is and how it feels. Would it really be worth it to have your memories stolen, in exchange for a perfect society? I enjoyed this book thoroughly, but I did not like the ending. Of course, I can't say the ending, because that would spoil the book. However, even though I did not particularly like the ending, it is very much worth it to read this book and uncover the adventures that lie in between The Giver's pages.

-Jordan K.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book Review: Firebrand by Gillian Philip

Firebrand is an amazingly thrilling tale about two brothers exiled from their home world.
This story starts with the main protagonist Seth telling his story: his mother is in a high place of power as is his dad. His mother and father split up for they are not connected in soul. In the realm Seth lives, the world of the Sithe a realm beyond the veil, marriage and love is thrown around. If you wish to marry you must be connected by soul otherwise you can live and mate with whomever you please; there is no "cheating on" in this world. Women in this world are also more battleborn: women tend to be warriors or blacksmiths. Our story begins with Seth living with his father who ignores him in every way. He has no friends at this time and his only companion is his brother Conal, the "good" brother for lack of a better word. The first few chapters are the story of Seth and Conal growing as people and the pain as well as love that grows between them. After some time, the real story begins when Conal is exiled from his world to the world across the veil, the Overworld, at the end of the sixteenth century. The Overworld is the world of mortals - a world of death, darkness and dismay as in this world Sithe are burned at the stake.

Firebrand is an amazing book full of thrilling action, enticing romance, and depressing sorrow. It is a fun thrilling book that will keep you at the edge of your seat for each minute you read it. The first time I started reading it, two hours and ten chapters went by before I realized what time it was. I recommend this book for anyone into fantasy or just looking for a good book to read.

-Zane the Awesome