30 May 2014

Review: The Nerdy Dozen

The Nerdy Dozen by Jeff Miller 
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: June 10, 2014

The book THE NERDY DOZEN by Jeff Miller started a little slow, but turned out to be a great book. There was constant action, and I didn't ever know what was going to happen next. Also, the idea that a nerdy group of kids could become pilots for the United States Air Force helped to create comedy in the book. I would definitely recommend this book to ages 12 and up because it is easy to read and has lots of comedy that is very appropriate. I would definitely read this book again.

28 May 2014

Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication date: March 5, 2011

DIVERGENT is about Beatrice Prior, a sixteen-year-old girl living in dystopian Chicago, which is divided into factions based on virtues. When Beatrice picks the faction that she wants to belong to, and begins initiation, she discovers that there are dangerous secrets lying beneath the orderly surface of her world. As Beatrice becomes more entwined in her faction, she realizes that people and things are not always what they seem. I really enjoyed DIVERGENT. It was well-written and so compelling that I found it difficult to put down. The romance was not overdone and the ending is a semi-cliffhanger that makes me want to read the sequel. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of other dystopian novels. However, I would encourage readers who did not necessarily enjoy other dystopian novels to try DIVERGENT. I would recommend this book for children ages 14 and up (which is what the book recommends) due to some graphic violence that may be disturbing.

26 May 2014

Review: Ask Again Later

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: March 11, 2014

Heart LaCoeur has no interest in boys, dating, or romance, but when her plan to have a drama free night at prom with her friends is interfered with by two invites, she doesn't know what to do. After deciding that flipping a coin would be the best way to decide which invitation to accept, the coin-flip gives her the chance to live out both scenarios. Heads: Do a favor for her brother and go with his best friend, who is still grieving over a breakup. Tails: Attend prom with a boy from theater, who has the same interests as Heart. The only downfall being that he also wants to share all of his feelings. The characters in this book were very easy to relate too, and felt real. The book alternates chapters between the “heads” scenario, and the “tails” scenario. The only problem I had was that at times, it could was a bit confusing about which “side” the story was being told from. Overall though, it is a light read, that I would recommend for ages twelve and up.

23 May 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 15, 2014

TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han is a story that explores the life of a high school junior named Lara Jean. Throughout her life, she has written her heart out on letters to boys that she has loved and she keeps them in a box in her room. When the letters are sent, Lara Jean has to clean up the mess she made and deal with the shrapnel. In a love-triangle setting, Jenny Han's new book is a adventure that will make the reader laugh, cry, and die with embarrassment at the hands of the main character.

The story was well written with a great ending, although Lara Jean often made decisions that made me want to jump into the story and scream at her for making such dumb choices. I don't think really that the romantic side of the story was that realistic, but it was definitely a story I would read again. I have read many other of Jenny Han's books and they are great novels that I think people should definitely read if they enjoyed this. I would recommend this book for teenagers ages 14 and up. This story was well wrapped up and I don't think that a sequel would be necessary although, if one came out, I would be sure to read it.

21 May 2014

Review: V is for Villain

V is for Villain by Peter Moore
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication date: May 20, 2014

"V IS FOR VILLAIN" by Peter Moore is a book about a group of villains in a world full of superheroes who run the government. Brad Baron will never be able to live up to his world-famous brother. He doesn't have any superhuman powers like his brother does, but what he lacks in physical strength he makes up for with is mental capabilities. While the rest of his family worries about Brad's lack of physical capabilities, Brad meets a new group of friends who will forever change him.

I could not put this book down. I was constantly wondering what Brad's next move would be. I loved how the villain was seen as the protagonist and how the superheroes, usually in this position, are now seen as the antagonists. I also liked how there were examples of each side: Brad's brother represented the hero and Mutagion represented the villain. I also liked the planning that came before the action, preparing you for what was to come. Although I would definitely read the sequel (the ending makes it clear that there will be one), I think that this book could use improvement: I wish that when Brad said some things, he had actually believed what he was saying and had thought about them beforehand (he is often saying he doesn't know where his thoughts and words come from), I feel that the small amount of romance in the book could have been more successful, I feel that there were a couple of unnecessary scenes, and I feel that Brad's claim that every word in the book is true makes it only more fictional. Other than this one fictional aspect (not including the superpowers, of course), the personalities of all the main characters were very realistic.

This book kind of resembles the "H.I.V.E." series by Mark Walden. I also think it resembles the Avengers, reversed and from the villain's perspective. I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up.

19 May 2014

Review: Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication date: December, 27, 2011

Told as a series of flashbacks in the form of a long letter written by sixteen-year-old Min to her ex-boyfriend Ed, Why We Broke Up is a bittersweet love story. In each chapter, Min describes another gift from Ed that she is giving back, and the memory that goes along with it. As Min writes this letter, she is reliving every moment in her mind, and I felt myself thinking and breathing along with her; her thoughts became my thoughts, I fell for Ed as she fell for Ed, and I turned page after page because I too wanted answers to the questions Min was still asking herself. The beautiful illustrations of each gift at the start of every chapter are a perfect addition to the story that already makes you want to just keep reading, and find out really, why did they break up?

16 May 2014

Review: White Space

White Space by Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Egmont
Publication date: February 11, 2014

Emma Lindsay, your not-so-ordinary high schooler, finds herself, along with six other kids, trapped in the nightmare of a story she wrote. So what happens when she finds out the story isn't even hers? Most likely designated for hard-core science fiction fans, WHITE SPACE is not a light, easy read. Inspired by the Matrix and Inkheart, this story is a complex and densely written headtrip and takes a lot of patience. Bick throws us into a world with little to no explanation and you will remain confused about this for the majority of the book. But even with its frequent P.O.V. switches and Bick's excessive use of Matrix references, is White Space worth reading? Yes and no. If you are a fan of thought out plots, intricate characters and a lot of gore, then this is a book for you.

14 May 2014

Review: The Secrets of Tree Taylor

The Secrets of Tree Taylor by Dandi Daley Mackall
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 13, 2014

One early morning, Teresa “Tree” Taylor hears a gun shot fired from across the street. With the dreams of becoming a famous writer, Tree knows this is the big story she’s been waiting for. But the more she goes digging, the more secrets she uncovers. And soon she begins to wonder: When is the truth yours to tell? And when is it right to keep it a secret? Set during the 60s in a small town in Missouri, THE SECRETS OF TREE TAYLOR is the story of family, unexpected friendships, and the power and weight of keeping someone else’s secrets.

Dandi Daley Mackall’s novel is heartwarming, fun, and one I would recommend if you were looking for something easy to read with a good message. I advise that you stick with the book once you start, because the beginning is a little slow compared to the second half. Also, please note that although the description on the back of the book describes the novel as a love story, love is not nearly as big a theme as Tree’s friendships and her investigative writing. I would recommend this book for anyone ages 11 and older.

12 May 2014

Review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte
Publishing date: May 13, 2014

WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart is an astonishingly simple, yet sophisticated story about a wealthy family and their dire attempts to keep the prestigious title their family name holds. Behind the abundant wealth, the private islands, and the perfect blond-haired, square-chinned heirs, life is nowhere near so simple. Despite “living the dream,” not everyone in the Sinclair family is satisfied with all the world’s riches and money, including Cadence Sinclair. In fact, when a traumatic accident sends Cadence into a world of medical disaster and lost identity, it is up to her cousins, and a summer romance to help her heal the physical and emotional wounds, and find out what really happened the night of the accident.

The novel, WE WERE LIARS, is a well written, suspenseful story that is simple in context, but packs a meaning greater than the sum of its parts. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story that will keep them at the edge of their seat, always wanting more. Not only is the story an easy read due to the simple text, but it is a book you will want to sit and think about after you have finished. Constantly the plot line changes, venturing to new and exciting places, full of anticipation. E. Lockhart’s novel teaches the reader that sometimes perfect images can be corrupt, and love and strong bonds overthrow the value of wealth. I would recommend this book for ages thirteen and up due some brutalities, and a certain age is required to understand the larger meanings.

09 May 2014

Review: Codename Zero

Codename Zero by Chris Rylander
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: February 4, 2014

Carson Fender leads a boring life in North Dakota until, one day, a man hands him a package containing instructions. Because of this package, he discovers a secret government agency that's been hiding within his small town and this agency needs his help.

This book, while admittedly written for a younger audience than me, was a very fun and entertaining read. Throughout the book, I could not put it down, anxiously hanging on the exploits of our two young boys, the main characters. Although the plot seems a little far-fetched at times, I know that it is the dream of many teenage boys to become spies or secret agents, and through this book, we get the chance to. There is not very much overt bloodshed or torture and the reading level is not extraordinarily complex. It is for this very reason that I would personally recommend this YA book for all children from ages 12-15. This book will provide hours of excitement and enjoyment for the reader as they follow the intrepid, newly minted secret agent on his path.

05 May 2014

Review: After the End

After the End by Amy Plum
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: May 6, 2014

AFTER THE END by Amy Plum is a story about a girl named Juneau who was born into a world of ignorance and danger. She believed that in 1984 there was a Third World War that killed most of the world in a horrific nuclear explosion. One day, however, when Juneau is off hunting, her family and friends are kidnapped and, for the first time in her life, Juneau finds herself crossing the borders of their clan to go rescue them when she discovers the horrible truth. There was never a bomb. The world never ended, just hers. She finds a fully functioning society 3 days from all she has ever known and she has been lied to for her entire life. While she is trying to cope with this new existence, Juneau goes on an adventure to try to save her clan, understand a prophecy, and escape the clutches of those who are after her, those who might just know the answers to all her questions. This story is filled with adventure and romance and sends you on an adventure in which you learn about the world, about trust, and has just enough magic that you just can’t put it down until you reach the last page. This book tells a completely different kind of story which is action-packed and filled with unexpected turns and leaves you excited, confused, and in love with all the characters. It was great!!

01 May 2014

Review: Scan

Scan by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine
Publisher: Putnam Children's
Publication date: May 1, 2014

SCAN is an exciting and fast paced sci-fi thriller that is a quick and fun read. It centers around a teenager named Tate, who is anything but typical. His demanding father requires him to learn more than most professors, but his father's strict schedule and boundaries cause a lot of conflict between the two. It turns out, however, that Tate has a good reason for learning all those things; aliens called H2 have infiltrated the human population and Tate is one of the few humans left on Earth. Tate is entrusted with dangerous technology wanted by the H2 and "The Fifty" -a group of human families (including his) that are combating the invasion- but he is surrounded by suspicious individuals on both sides who have dark ulterior motives. With only the aid of his mother, his girlfriend, and his training, Tate must keep the technology safe from everyone.

I enjoyed this book. It was a fun read with intriguing moral undertones about supremacy, labeling, and perspective. The plot and the protagonist's journey was fairly typical, but the supporting characters were very strong and well-developed, especially the women. It contains moderate violence and likely caters more to boys than girls, but it was quite a good book.