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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Silver People by Margarita Engle

The subtitle for Silver People is Voices From the Panama Canal and hearing from different voices is really what this book is like.  The strongest voices are from the silver people, workers on the Panama Canal who can only earn silver coins (not the gold coins earned by the white man) because of the darker shade of their skin.   We hear from Mateo, a Cuban teen who comes to work on this massive earth moving project that took place in the first years of the 20th century. We also hear from Henry who has come from Jamaica because he has heard that he can earn good money working on the canal as well as from Anita, a girl adopted by an herb woman who teaches her to use the secrets of the forest to heal.  Joining the chorus are howler monkeys, blue morpho butterflies and even trees.  The award winning author Margarita Engle writes in verse, and the story moves along in an easy, flowing way.  We follow some of the characters as their lives intersect within the setting of this monumental project. When I was younger, I got a chance to cross the Panama Canal, and was amazed at this feat of engineering but never considered the impact on those who lived and worked there and the environment.  After reading this book, I feel like my eyes have been opened on this place and time.  If you like historical fiction and appreciate the flow of poetry, you'll love this book.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a book about the future. In this future, at the age of 13 parents can have to choice to "unwind" their kid. Unwinding is when doctors will take all the child's organs and parts away and give them to different kids around the world. The unwound kid will still be able to have some control of the parts when with an other kid, but not all control. There is three different ways that a kid can be unwound. One is that the parent thinks that the child is beyond saving so they will sign papers to have them unwind. Two is that the government thinks that you don't have enough talent to stay in one piece. And three is that you are born to be unwound, this means that you are a tithe, in which the family gives 10% of everything to God, including their kids. The book is about three kids who try to escape the process of being unwound. The main character's names are Conner, Risa, and Lev. Conner's parents thought that he would be happier unwound so they signed the papers. Risa lives in a state house, which means that she lives with the government of that city. Risa is a musician, but the government feels like she doesn't have enough talent to live so they send her to be unwound. Lev; short for Levi, is a tithe and has always been ready to be unwound. But when Conner escapes and saves Risa and Lev, they find themselves running from the whole world. Will they survive with their lives?

Unwind is a very good book. The details are amazing, and you feel like you know the characters. The book switches from different points of views to the other, so you experience all the characters thoughts. There are four books in the series and they are planning to make them into movies in 2016. I enjoyed this book mainly because of the characters. You can picture all of them in your mind and you can imagine the pain they go through. As the story goes on, you really feel like the cops are going to take you away next. All the locations the characters adventure to, are amazing and dangerous, which make you feel like you are next to Conner and Risa. I finished the first book around two weeks ago, and now I'm around halfway done with the second one. The ending of the book makes you want more and makes you want to save the people being unwound. The action scenes are awesome and the villains make you curl your feet. I do have a favorite character, and every time something happens to hurt them, I get mad. Unwind tries to aim for teen readers, but I think that anyone who picks it up, will not be able to put it down.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: Between Heaven and Earth

After his grandfather dies DJ sets out to fulfill his request in Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters.   Contained in sealed envelopes, grandfather has assigned each of his six grandsons a task to complete.  DJ is the oldest and must venture to the top of Mt Kilamanjaro in order to spread his grandfathers ashes.  Since DJ is a successful athelete he feels confident in his ability to climb to the summit and complete his task.   In fact, he expects to make it to the top in two days with another day to return.  Even before he begins his climb there is plenty of adventure on the way to his destination in Tanzania.

This is a fun story of adventure complete with maps and twists as the plans unfold on life journeys for each grandson.  Grandfather is dearly beloved by each and this is just one adventure in the seven series, each with a different author.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review: Eat Brains Love by Jeff Hart

Eat Brains Love is about three different teenagers.  Jake Stephens, a normal teenage guy, he likes punk and metal music, Call of Duty, and fast food.  Amanda Blake, the most popular girl at Ronald Reagan High School (where Jake goes too), she is also the hottest girl at the school.  Then there's Cass, who I will get to later.  One day during lunch at R.R.H.S, Jake starts to feel a weird growling in his stomach, when he sees Amanda Blake standing over her best friend, eating her.  The school goes into a panic, and Jake joins Amanda in eating the students.  After the massacre, Government agents come into the school to clean up the mess, this is where Cass comes in.  Cass was selected during a special test to work with a government group to hunt and kill zombies.  Now why would at 16 year old girl be selected?  Because she is a psychic.  Eat Brains Love shows the story through Jake and Cass' eyes, as Cass and her zombie hunting team track down Jake and Amanda, who somehow regained control over their bodies, unless they start to hunger for flesh, and are on the run.  The big thing is, the Government is keeping the whole zombie apocalypse a secret.

This book honestly caught my attention from the title and description.  I was curious about what the book was about, and I thought it was pretty good.  There are some obvious stereotypes in the book which, if you choose to read this, you will see.  I will say that there is a good amount of strong language, a lot of gore (zombies, duh), and some mild sexual content.  But besides that it's a good read.  Maybe the Zombie apocalypse is going on right now.  0_o

~Joe T

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: "Level Up" by Gene Luen Yang you have ever had unrealistic parental expectations foisted upon you, Then "Level Up" by Gene Luen Yang is the book for you. Dennis Ouyang’s traditional Asian parents have already decided his future: college, medical school, and eventually becoming a gastroenterologist. (Gastroenterologist=poop doctor. They take care of the stomach & intestines.) Dennis, however, is obsessed with video games. So obsessed that he almost flunks out of college until four cute but increasingly creepy angels show up to help him along his path to being a doctor. In the end Dennis has to figure out what really makes him happy: sticking fingers up people’s butts or playing video games.

Gene Luen Yang also wrote “American Born Chinese,” a book I read years ago and has since been one of my favorite graphic novels. It may end up being replaced with Level Up. It’s like reading five different books in one: there are the video games & gamer boys, the guardian angels, the sort of love triangle, an awkward geek boy comedy, and his personal discoveries regarding his family and happiness. Another talent the author uses in both books is the ability to pull out a surprise ending after the surprise ending you just read. They’re like surprise surprise endings and you never really see it coming. Gene Luen Yang continues to prove how awesome graphic novels can be.

Also cool: it took me exactly 40 minutes to read it from start to finish. This would be a great pick if you need a meaningful book for a super last minute book project.

Book Review: Played by Liz Fichera

The stars of Played, by Liz Fichera, seem to be diametric opposites. Riley Berenger is a pampered rich kid from Phoenix, and socially she's light-years away from Sam Tracy, who lives on the Gila River reservation. But then they both go to a leadership weekend in the mountains and get trapped in a mountain cave together during a violent monsoon storm. In that intense experience, they become unlikely friends.

Now, back at school and back to normal life, Riley is determined to pay Sam back for saving her life, by turning him into one of the popular kids. He only goes along with it because Riley is also trying to help him attract the notice of a girl he's loved forever (who happens to be Riley's brother's girlfriend). But maybe he's starting to forget about that girl, and thinking about Riley instead.

How often do we get to see Arizona in books? Not that much, honestly, and that's why I was so happy to read this book. It's also a great, sweet love story, so if that's what you're looking for, pick this up!

-Maureen K

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Review: Joyride by Amy Ehrlich

In the book Joyride, Nina is used to moving around. Her mother, Joyce, sometimes just packs up everything and takes Nina and herself to the newest town. Now that Nina is growing older, she starts to wonder why she has to keep running away. Why can't she stay and keep her friends, stay on the basketball team, and be best friends with Sam Gordon? Her mother doesn't explain, and after one too many moves, Nina finds out a secret that will make her question her entire life.

I really enjoyed this book because it was a thriller and a bit mysterious. I loved the fact that Nina and her mother had to move a lot, because the author did a very good job about describing the city, it made me feel like I was there too. In the beginning, the book started off a little slow, but towards the middle and right up until the end the book really was a joyride. I had no idea what was coming! This book is geared more towards a teen and adult audience and will leave you speechless!

-Elisa A.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement is a horror, comedy, mystery, and romance fantasy which takes place in the time of today's high school era. The main character has many dreams of a monster, or something else, in a crib. He believes that this creature was or is him. The main character and some friends go out to figure this so-called mystery and figure out the astonishing news about their dear friend.

I enjoyed The Replacement because of its levels of effect on the reader. I felt like the author wanted me to be the main character. Though the book is not meant for every age level, I do believe that parents, children, and teens should read this book. This book will bring out the unnoticed side of sensitivity in the human being.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Liza lives in a world that has been ravaged because of a war between humans and fae.  Trees and other plants have a thirst for human blood, and during the night shadows that cut deeper than any thorn roam the land.  Humans live in constant fear of this magic, and when Liza's little sister is born with faerie pale hair and eyes, she is cast out to die before she can turn on her parents.  As if this isn't bad enough, Liza soon finds that she too has magic, and runs away before she can turn on her town.  A boy from Liza's town, Matthew, follows Liza and tells her that all children born after the war have magic, and not all magic is bad.  Matthew is proven right when he and Liza are taken to another town, and their lives are saved by Caleb and Allie, both of whom possess healing magic.  Soon, Liza, Matthew, and Allie are off on a quest to save Liza's mother from the remains of the Faerie realm.  Will they be in time to save Liza's mother?

I liked Janni Lee Simner's Bones of Faerie trilogy (Bones of Faerie, Faerie Winter, and Faerie After) for many reasons, including the rich and original plot and fantastic storytelling. I also liked Thief Eyes, in which Haley, a girl from Tucson, goes to Iceland following her mother's disappearance and becomes swept up in a spell cast by her many times great-grandmother Hallgerd.

Janni Lee Simner lives in Tucson, Arizona.  In addition to her books for teens, Janni has written a middle grade adventure story published under two titles: The Secret of the Three Treasures and Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer.  For more information about Janni, visit her website.

- Emily C.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book Review: Gone by Michael Grant

Imagine a world without adults, no one over fifteen allowed. But also gone are phones, T.V., and internet. Internet! Michael Grant's series, Gone, is one imagining of a world like this. The kids of Perdido Beach, California were all in school the day of the happening. A split second and everyone over the age of fifteen just disappeared, "poofed." No teachers, no parents, no police, no fire department. All gone. The kids called this new world the FAYZ, that's Fallout Alley Youth Zone, pronounced the phase. Then hunger threatened, bullies ruled, a sinister creature lurked, animals mutated, and the kids changed, developed new talents-unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers-that grew stronger by the day. It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: on your fifteenth birthday, you disappear just like everyone else did.

I was interested in this novel because I came across it in the library and read the covers and found it intriguing. A world without adults? I assumed that this would be a really good read into how the world turned out to be a blast in the end for the kids. But I was wrong, the world without adults is a really hard place to be in. Bullies take over everything, basic survival is a challenge. The kids have to fight for their own food, for their own right to live. As I read on I realized that this is not what I imagined the world to be like. Michael Grant's writing style is really interesting though and made me keep reading until I came to the fun part. Powers. The mutations. The kids were developing unbelievable abilities. This was what really kept me going till the end. The day of your birthday is always the best in our world, but in the FAYZ it's just one year closer to fifteen, the end!

~Rasesh K. (Book Ninja approved)

P.S. I also want to share a review by VOYA magazine: "If Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, it might have been a little like this."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review: The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones

Aileen has failed her initiation as a Wise Woman, but she's still being sent on a quest to save The Islands of Chaldea by bringing down the transparent wall that blocks one of the four islands from the others and saving the captive prince held there.  She's not feeling up to the challenge, but when her famous Wise Woman aunt ends up under a curse, Aileen's going to have to make it work somehow.  Helped along by a odd crew, including a large pink cat that can turn invisible, a prophetic parrot, and a spoiled prince, she'll face the many plots against them and the evil magic worker behind it all.

I love that the animals have so much personality in this story.  And while you'll see some similarities between these islands and some real-life countries, the Islands of Chaldea are very much their own countries, filled with different magics and wonders.  This was the Godmother of Fantasy's last book and it had to be finished by Ursula Jones after Diana died.  Diana inspired countless children and adults alike with her books and she'll be missed.

~ Book Ninja

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book Review: Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez

Nightshade, California seems like your average small, quiet town. It has its diners and its schools. But Nightshade, and its inhabitants, are anything but ordinary. Meet Daisy Giordano, a normal-seeming teenage girl in a family full of psychics. With a mother who can see the future, an older sister who can read minds, and another sister who can move things with her mind, Daisy has always felt out of place. But then things get weird, even for Nightshade. Teenage girls start to pop up dead, seeming as though they have had the life sucked out of them. And when the queen bee of Nightshade High goes from girly to goth, Daisy decides to trade her hoodies for pom poms and investigate. Can she crack this mystery?

Dead Is the New Black  is the first book in Marlene Perez's provoking series. This book gives readers a level of excitement that comes from any supernatural book, but its teenage angst element allows readers to feel sympathy for the character. With great plot twists and turns, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat. Other books in the series include Dead is a State of Mind and Dead is so Last Year.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: Yaqui Delgado by Meg Medina

The actual, complete title for this great read is Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your A**, and since it's about bullying, the objectionable language is used for a reason.  The story shows, quite realistically to me, how a young woman, Piddy (Piedad) Sanchez--academically gifted, with great family and friend support--can get caught in a spiral of fear that almost destroys her life.    Transferring from her old high school to a new one in Queens without her best friend, she has trouble finding her place in this new, rougher neighborhood.  For reasons that are never really clear (and not the impetus for the bullying anyway), Yaqui spreads the word that Piddy better watch out.  As in most bullying situations, the imbalance of power causes the once-confident Piddy to doubt herself, to mistrust the adults around her, and to isolate herself from friends.  As she tries to deal with the looming threat of a beating, she begins a romantic relationship with a messed up childhood friend from her old neighborhood and starts to learn the truth about her long absent father.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: "Why We Took the Car" by Wolfgang Herrndorf thing I remember vividly my high school years is being one of THOSE kids. The kid that, no matter how small my class size (one year there were only about 25 of us) I didn’t get invited to anything. I can remember thinking why, if there were only 25 kids in my grade, I didn’t get invited to things. Freshman Mike Klingenberg is also one of those kids, which is one reason I love him so much. The other reason is his family is twisted that at one point he ended up with the nickname Psycho. I originally checked out “Why We Took the Car” by Wolfgang Herrndorf because European authors tend to be a little odd and who doesn’t love a good car-stealing joy ride? It’s a lot cooler and more interesting than just that, though, and has managed to become one of my fave books of this year. 

Summer break is supposed to awesome, filled with all sorts of wild and fun things. Unfortunately, Mike’s mom just went back to her spa (a.k.a. rehab), his dad took off for two weeks with his hot assistant (a.k.a. mistress), and Tatiana (a.k.a. Mike’s massive crush) didn’t invite him to her birthday party. Out of nowhere the weird new Russian student, Tschick, decides he and Mike should be friends and this is where the car-stealing joy ride comes in. They have $200, a barely functioning Lada, and no idea where they’re going; all they know is that they need to do something amazing and interesting and now’s the time to do it. The rest of the book is filled with odd balls, a random romance, two car crashes, a crazy man with a shotgun, and several run-ins with the police.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

If you like dystopias, then the 5th Wave is for you.

The war was over before it even started.  Earth's human population was decimated in just a few short months by four strategic waves of alien attacks.  Cassie is only 16, but she plans to stay alive as long as she can, and go down fighting.  Rule number 1 is trust no one, no matter what they look like.  There's no way to tell who's really human, and who just looks like one.

And then there's Zombie.  Who he was before the First Wave is dead, and there is only Zombie now.  Saved from the brink of death by what remains of the U.S. military, Zombie begins his training to hunt down and kill the alien invaders.  Fueled by guilt and rage, he's ready to exact revenge at any cost.

Cassie and Zombie deal with the invasion in different ways, but they are both bound by a promise, and the desire to save what's left of the human race.  Action packed, full of guns, explosions, twists, and lies within lies, it's the story of saving more than just a group of people.  It's about saving the things that really matter.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: "Darius and Twig" by Walter Dean Myers

I'm always happy to read a new Walter Dean Myers book. The author has yet to disappoint me. His latest novel, "Darius and Twig" is stylistically familiar-- real, heartfelt and gritty, a bit less grit than usual. Also familiar is the thought I get when I read a Myers' story, the thought that reading this story could be so helpful and clarifying to some reader. I want to keep a spare copy in my purse or trunk so that I can whip it out when necessary and announce "Hello!! Please read this before you....

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: The True Meaning of Smekday

Aliens have invaded Earth and renamed it Smekland.  Wait, no, let's start at the beginning.  Gratuity (Tip for short) Tucci is writing a report on the True Meaning of Smekday, which may or may not be included in a time capsule.  So this story starts with her and when her mother was abducted by aliens.  And then, later, the Boov invade Earth.  All the humans are supposed to be sent to Florida, but Tip decides to drive herself.  There are a variety of problems with this, the biggest two being that 1.) she's eleven years old and 2.) she's supposed to be on a Boov-approved rocketpod, not driving a car across busted highways.  Also, she has her cat (named Pig) and a runaway Boov named J.Lo in tow, which makes things complicated.  Then it turns out that another alien race is planning on invading Earth.  And then it gets weird(er). 

I love this book by Adam Rex.  It is hilarious, wonderful, quirky, and smart.  And it has great illustrations and some very funny cartoon strips drawn by J.Lo the Boov.  There are rumors of a movie in the works, so read this book now before the waiting list starts!

~ Book Ninja

P.S.  If you like Adam Rex, read some more of his stuff here!  It's all a bit different, but funny!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Although technically this book is considered "Adult Fiction", as many of Neil Gaiman's books go, the reading audience is much wider than the over 18 crowd.  If you haven't read "Coraline" or even his picture book "Crazy Hair", run into the closest Children's section of a library as soon as you can!  What makes him so enviably gifted I think is that you always hear the authentic voice of NG in whatever he has written.  He doesn't change his language or alter his world view to accommodate young'uns, tweens, minors OR majors.  While he can be many things, he is always recognizably himself, a rare talent indeed.   In "The Ocean at the End of the Lane", Gaiman gives us a dark fantasy with all his usual elements--a bit of gore (there's this worm...),wry humor (the Hempstock women) , unexpected terror (near drowning by parents) and the built-in compulsion to read all night because you have no idea how it will end!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg’s Openly Straight is a refreshingly honest and hilarious look into the life and mind of a highly realistic character, Rafe Goldberg. Rafe is an openly gay high school student from Boulder, Colorado. He has very supportive hippy parents and his best friend, Claire Olivia. His mother is the president of PFLAG and Rafe even goes to other schools to talk about tolerance and his experience. But Rafe starts to find his sexual orientation confining, and decides that he doesn’t want to be known as “that gay guy” anymore.

We pick up the story as Rafe transfers to an all-boys school in New England, where he decides that he will be “openly straight”. He doesn’t see it as going back in the closet, but rather an opportunity to just be Rafe. On his first day, he makes friends with the school jocks, something he had only be able to wonder about doing back in Boulder.  Rafe feels that he is finally being accepted for himself, not his sexual orientation. But being openly straight becomes more complicated as Rafe is forced to lie to his new friends and the person he cares about most, Ben. Openly Straight is thought-provoking, while maintaining a level of humor and cheekiness that kept me laughing and eagerly turning the next page.

Bill Konigsberg is the winner of the 2008 Lambda Literary Award in the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category for Out of the Pocket, his debut novel, and is a fellow Arizonan, living in Chandler, AZ with his partner, Chuck and their Australian Labradoodle, Mabel.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book Review: Gravity by Melissa West

What I liked about this book is that the aliens are interesting and different.  Ok, of course, they are different but these have some unique features and characteristics plus they need humans to continue living.   Good descriptions make it even more interesting.  Gravity by Melissa West is a Taking Novel which refers to Ancients (aliens) taking from humans the substance they need to live.  Humans are required to wear a sleeping mask during this process and must not peek. 

Ari, the heroine is especially talented in warfare and trained in Special Ops by her father.  As an alien spy Jackson wants to learn all he can from her and other humans.  At the same time Ari and Jackson are trying to prevent a war between the Ancients and humans.  Ari will do what she can even if she must betray her father.  The planet Loge needs the  earth and its people. 

I am looking forward to the second book Hover and answers to many questions that came to mind. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: TFOB Author Matt de la Pena's March which means it's time once again for the Tucson Festival of Books! We've got a bunch of great authors coming and I'm particularly excited about Matt de la Pena. This California native made his writing debut with the book "Ball Don't Lie," which came out in 2005, and was promptly turned into a movie with Ludacris and Nick Cannon. Since then he's published three other great books: "I Will Save You," "We Were Here," and "Mexican White Boy."  You'll be able to see him both Saturday and Sunday throughout the day. Check the TFOB website for his schedule.  

His newest release, "The Living," is the start of an adventure series. Don't be fooled by the cover! It totally looks like a survival book but it's not! It's actually more of mystery/thriller/adventure type of book. Yes, there is a massive earthquake that destroys the West coast and a tsunami that casts all the characters adrift but that's only a small portion of the book. The book actually revolves eighteen-year-old Shy who decides a job on a cruise ship will be a fun and cool way to earn some money to help out his family. (Sunshine, parties, and swimsuit-clad hotties sounds like the best job ever.)  Then suddenly one night a drunk passenger, ranting confusedly, jumps off of the ship. Shy, who was there and tried to save the man, finds himself haunted by his death. Then a mysterious man starts asking questions about the suicide and rooms start getting ransacked. Why did that man jump? What does it have to do with Shy? More importantly, can Shy survive what's to come?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Book Review: The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

Harbinger: somebody or something that announces something: somebody or something that foreshadows or anticipates a future event

Meet Harbinger Jones (aka Harry), a new hero of mine. Harry has a LOT to work out: bullies, lightening,
pain, a punk rock band, disfigurement, girls, the future. In Scar Boys, a story in the guise of a
college admission letter, we hear about his short but trauma-filled life and how he deals. Well, at
first he does not deal...

Even though he has a LOT of therapy, Harry can’t get past his appearance.
Even after he befriends Johnny and the pair successfully starts a punk rock band, he is still hung up on his
appearance and how it limits his life. Of course, Harry needs to discover that the real limiter is himself.
Another horrifying tragedy looms. Will Harry open his eyes?

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos is a great story about friendship, the power of music, and finding your way.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: A Midsummer Night's Scream by R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine's latest teen horror novel is called A Midsummer Night's Scream.  I loved the cover and the morbidly whimsical title immediately.  Fortunately, the title is completely accurate, as the book is a contemporary horror story with a little inspiration from the Bard: and her best friend Delia are high school students, and they finally caught their Hollywood acting break!  The catch is that it's a remake of a horror film from the 60s, and production on the original film was halted due to a series of deadly accidents.  The rumor is that the set is cursed, and what could be better publicity for a horror film than an actual curse!  But with Shakespearean love triangles left and right, a little bit of misplaced magic, and the occasional gruesome accident, mayhem ensues.  But this is not the merry mayhem of a Shakespearean comedy; this is horrifying.

When I was in elementary school, I absolutely devoured R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books. I have no idea how many I read, but I'm pretty sure it was every single one on the shelf at my local library. And then last year at the Tucson Festival of Books, I got to actually meet Mr. Stine himself! I was surprised at how humble and funny he was. Who expects the horror author to be funny? But he was. Come to find out, before he was R.L. Stine, he was Jovial Bob Stine and he wrote funny books for kids. On his website,, I saw that he began his career as a comedy writer in 1965, and didn't become a horror writer until 1986! He wrote a teen horror novel called Blind Date, and the rest is history. In just two weeks you too can meet Mr. Stine at the Tucson Festival of Books, and ask him about how he accidentally became a horror writer.  He's scheduled at 10:30 and 2:30 on Saturday, and 10am on Sunday.  Find his schedule here.

Happy reading!
~ gothbrarian