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.