Book reviews of YA lit and more

As a middle school librarian and hopeful reader of Missouri's high school award books (Gateway nominees), I am reading and reviewing as many young adult and middle grade novels as I can while working on my own writing for this age group.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cinderella Ate My Daughter- Peggy Orenstein

I have to say that I think every mom and/or dad of daughters really should read this book.  I know for myself it is so easy to let your daughters slip into the girlie girl culture of today's society.  In many ways Peggy articulated so much of what has bothered me about the princesses, Disney Channel culture, and marketing to girls that I couldn't put into words myself.  I have a 6 and a 9 year old girl and this book caused me to look at what I encourage them to do, wear, watch, etc.  It is very thought provoking and also quite funny at times.  This is a very readable book and must for parents of daughters!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Alice Bliss- Laura Harrington

This book was heart-wrenching, yet wonderful.  Alice is a very likable 15 year old that is dealing with her father going to Iraq.  The book is part her dealing with not having him and part her growing up.  It takes you back to that age in an instant.  It reads more like an adult book than YA, even though Alice is 15.  I feel like bringing a certain maturity that comes from being an adult adds to the story, but I could see some teenage girls liking it also.  My only warning is be prepared to cry- and I'm not a crier!

Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold- M.L. Forman

I think I could sum up this book in two words: The Hobbit.  I felt like I was rereading Tolkien the whole way through.  Yes, there are some differences in plot; however, I feel like for the differences The Hobbit was much better.  For fantasy lovers that need another book with elves, dwarfs, wraiths, and a quest this would work, but it doesn't really offer anything special or different.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Without Tess- Marcella Pixley

Lizzy's older sister, Tess, is everything to her.  She is the inventor of a magical world where the sisters become pegasus, selkies, werewolves, anything they can imagine.  All seems like well until Tess seems to take the imagining farther and farther, trying to drag Lizzie along with her.  The pills and trips to doctors do not seem to cure Tess and she finally ends up dead.  You learn in this book as Lizzie goes through Tess's journal full or poems and drawings, how twisted Tess's world was and how difficult it is for Lizzie to pick up the pieces of her now seemingly empty life even five years later.  It does end on a more hopeful note and Lizzie begins to deal with Tess's death.  This book is very artfully written.  The characters are beautifully descripted.  I think adults and teenagers would both love this!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Butterfly Clues- Kate Ellison

Penelope is troubled.  Her brother is gone, her parents are basically checked out of life in general, and she is having a hard time controlling her "urges".  Urges to steal things, urges to tap, bow, say certain words, and always in 3's, 6's or 9's.  She spends most of her time outside of school wandering and finds herself in "Neverland", the run-down part of town, and she overhears a murder.  'Lo becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of this murder.  The murder of Sapphire, a 19 year old dancer in a club called The Tens.  It is in following leads on the murder that she meets Flynt.  Finally someone who gets her and all her quirks, yet who he really?  She finds herself falling in love with Flynt, yet holding back as she tries to understand who Bird is in Sapphire's journals, the truth behind her brother's death, and unwind the web that left Sapphire dead.

I couldn't help but love Penelope as a character.  She is so flawed, yet so real.  The murder mystery is very suspenseful, but I think the character development is what makes the book outstanding.  I hope this author has many more books to come.  

Bull Rider- Suzanne Morgan Williams

Cam's brother, Ben, has always been the bull rider in his family- following in the footsteps of his dad and grandfather.  Cam's thing is skateboarding.  It is what he loves to do with his best friend, Mike, despite the fact that he lives on a ranch in the Nevada desert.  Everything changes when Cam's brother decides to enlist in the Marines and is sent to Iraq.  Ben is severely injured and his coming home to recover is harder than Cam ever imagined.  Cam feels he has to do something big to inspire his brother to not give up on life, but big becomes riding the bull, Ugly.  A bull so mean no one has ever rode him for 8 seconds, but there is a lot of prize money to be given to a bull rider that is able.  There is a lot of bull riding in this book, which I realize will not be every kids' thing.  However, there is a lot of other more universal themes about war, love between siblings, the power of family, and how a boy becomes a man.  I enjoyed it, even if it wasn't my favorite book ever.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rot & Ruin- Jonathan Maberry

Benny is 15 years old, and it is time for him to get a job or he will no longer get the rations he needs to survive.  After failing at multiple jobs he decides to become an apprentice to his older half-brother, who happens to be a zombie bounty hunter.  Benny first trip with Tom out into the great Rot & Ruin proves to be eye-opening experience that changes Benny's view of Tom and his entire world since the "First Night" forever.  With the help of two girls, Nix and Lilah, they set out to begin making the Rot & Ruin and their world a better place.  I never thought I would enjoy a book about zombies, but I fell in love with these characters and their world.  My only hope when finishing it was that there would be a sequel, and much to my delight there is...Dust & Decay came out about a week ago.  I only hope it is as good as the first one.