29 July 2014

Review: Copper Magic

Copper Magic by Julia Mary Gibson
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan

COPPER MAGIC by Julia Mary Gibson is a book about the eventful summer of Violet Blake, a 12-year-old girl. At the beginning of the summer, Violet discovers an ancient copper hand. The hand launches a series of events that will forever change Violet's life. This book was very slow. There was not much action until the very end of the book. Other than this, the characters were well developed, I enjoyed how some aspects of the story were real (this was explained in the afterword), and Violet's personality seemed very relatable. I would recommend this book for children between the ages of 11 and 14.

24 July 2014

Review: Like No Other

Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Publication date: July 24, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill

LIKE NO OTHER is the story of Jaxon and Devorah, two teens who come from very different cultures yet they happen to live across the street from one another. Devorah is the ultimate good girl who has never challenged the way of her strict Hasidic upbringing. Jaxon is the cute, fun-loving, African-American boy that has never been comfortable around girls. So what happens when they both get stuck in an elevator together and make a risky connection?

This sweet forbidden love story will have you sitting on the edge of your seat from start to finish. While reading this book, you will find yourself wrapped in Devorah’s story of self-discovery all while learning about the Hasidic culture. I often found myself looking up Shabbos rules and Yiddish words just so I could better understand Devorah’s world. This story teaches us to respect tradition but not be afraid to follow your heart. Una LaMarche’s brilliant novel is modern day Romeo and Juliet perfect for all fans of Eleanor and Park, West Side Story and Okay For Now.

22 July 2014

Review: One Past Midnight

One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington
Publication date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury

ONE PAST MIDNIGHT by Jessica Shirvington is the story of Sabine, an eighteen-year-old girl who switches between two lives every day. Since the day she was born, her world shifts at midnight, alternating between a life as a rich preppy girl to a punk in a poor family. In her more rebellious life, she tries to explain to her parents what is happening to her and is put in a mental hospital, being taken care of by Ethan, a cute boy with his own secrets. In her other, more "blessed" life, she deals with the petty drama of a popular girl living a life of luxury, from her boyfriend Dex to her annoying older brothers. This cross between David Levithan's novel Every Day and Lauren Miller's Parallel shows that there is more to people than meets the eye and that we all have secrets.

The major plot line and idea behind this novel is fantastic, but I feel that some of the relationships between Sabine and other people, namely Ethan, felt a bit rushed and unrealistic. Although the ending is a bit cliche, I found the last few pages thought provoking and outstanding. I have never heard of this author but I will definitely look to see what other books she has written. The sic-fi portion of the story is well explained and easy to follow. I would suggest this book for people ages 14-15 and up for mentions of attempted rape and self-harm.

17 July 2014

Review: Wicked Games

Wicked Games by Sean Olin
Publication date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen

WICKED GAMES by Sean Olin is the first book in a thriller series, and a great pick for anybody who enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard. It is set in a tiny beach town, Dream Point, where Carter and Lilah are the perfect couple…or so it seems. Their relationship has been rocky for a while, but when Carter falls for Jules one night, he begins to second-guess his four years spent with Lilah, who has had a difficult past. When Lilah pieces together what happened between Jules and Carter, she intends for Jules to pay the price. But will the punishment fit the crime, or will Lilah’s judgement be blurred by her anger? 

WICKED GAMES is a shocking thriller that kept me turning the pages (...and jumping at every shadow, noise, and movement) all night long. Readers should most definitely expect to be kept at the edge of their seats while reading! One downfall is that the beginning of the story is paced very slowly, and I found myself wanting to put it down. I would, however, urge readers not to give up, because after the first few chapters, the author picked up the pace and the action began! This book truly has it all: romance, action, mystery, and thrills, and I can’t wait for more in the series. I would recommend it for ages 14/15 and up due to violent and sexual content throughout the book.

14 July 2014

Review: Catch a Falling Star

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Publication date: April 28. 2014
Publisher: Point

CATCH A FALLING STAR by Kim Culbertson is a nice new twist on young adult romance. The book is about Carter Moon, a small town girl whose life gets turned upside down when she is paid to become Hollywood actor Adam Jakes' girlfriend. Their "relationship" seems to be going well, but Carter's own feelings start getting in the way. I really enjoyed this book. I found it funny and relatable. Even though I have read many YA romance novels, I found this one different enough to be interesting, yet still close enough to the classic romance novel to be what I like. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of young adult romance, ages 13 and up.

10 July 2014

Review: This Star Won't Go Out

This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl
Publication date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Penguin

THIS STAR WON'T GO OUT is a heartwarming collection of diary entries, journals, and thoughts revolving around a thyroid cancer victim named Esther Earl. Despite her passing in 2010, she led a life full of creativity, laughter, and Internet fame though her YouTube videos and involvement in online communities. Esther's charity has raised over $125,000 to help those in need and with the endorsement of personal friend and bestselling author John Green, she spearheaded the campaign to win a $100,000 grant that gives children around the world access to free books.

The book itself is quite interesting. Esther's diary entries are interspersed with thoughts from her family and friends, pages from her parents' blog that chronicled her illness, her drawings and school projects, and even text from her huge internet group chat known as "Catitude"-a group of intellectual young adults that worked closely with the, primarily, online movement known as "nerdfighteria". Esther was very religious and her father is a Christian minister, so the book has strong overtones of faith and belief in God, which some readers may find uncomfortable. In addition, the book is very long. This is mainly because there are so many accounts of Esther's compassion and intelligence and, while I don't doubt them, it would have been nice to read more about her specific actions. These issues, however, are easily overlooked when reading about an amazing girl whose life and death touched so many people, including me.

  • If you want to donate to Esther's charity This Star Won't Go Out, go to http://tswgo.org/donate.html 
  • Also, International Esther Day, which honors platonic love between family members and friends "like a Valentine's Day, but not for romantic love", occurs on August 3rd, so please celebrate!!!

07 July 2014

Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
Publication date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen

THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE by Katrina Leno is a mind-numbing psychological mystery that takes the reader on a journey through life in the eyes of someone with a dissociate identity disorder. Leno’s novel is a tragic story about your not-so-average teenager, Molly, who suffers through life from multiple personalities. Ever since Molly was a young girl, she has lived a double life and has yet to figure it out. What she doesn’t know is that the strange blackouts she experiences frequently, is caused by Mabel, a separate personality playing host to her life and body. Molly has no idea of the alter life she lives, until her two worlds clash in a devastating accident, and the secret life she was living starts to emerge.

This novel is an intriguing psychological thriller, packed with enough mystery and riveting action to leave you entranced for hours. Although the mental mystery may only appeal to a small range, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is enticed by these sophisticated brainteasers. Slowly the reader is let into the main character’s world and everything seems to unravel instantly. Leno does a brilliant job tying all of the characters in the plot together, allowing the reader to be shocked by what they discover after every turn of the page. The novel holds an underlying message of feeling whole, secure, and coming to accept one’s self despite anything that might make us out of the ordinary. I believe this book is appropriate for ages 13 and up.

03 July 2014

SLJ SummerTeen 2014 Conference

School Library Journal is having their third annual SummerTeen virtual conference July 24th from 11:00am-5:15pm! What is SummerTeen, you ask? It's a virtual book conference with a variety of panels and YA authors talking about their books, writing, and whatever questions you may have with live Q&A. No need to travel or even leave the house (unless you're going somewhere to watch it), all you need is a computer and an internet connection!

This year, you'll have the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers Matthew Quick (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock) and Gayle Forman (If I Stay), as well as, panelists like Kiersten White, Chris Lynch, Julie Kagawa, and many more! Like romance? They've got a panel for that! Graphic novels? There's a panel for that, too! How about sports? Yep. There's a panel!

How much would all of this cost you? Nothing. It's FREE!!

You can register (for free!) and find out more about the authors and programming on the official website: http://www.slj.com/summerteen/

Review: Conversion

Conversion by Katherine Howe
Publisher: Putnam
Publishing date: July 1, 2014

Aspiring valedictorian Colleen Rowley is dealing with the stress of senior year at the exclusive St. Joan’s Academy when several of her classmates develop a mysterious illness. What is causing the tics, headaches, alopecia, and a host of other bizarre symptoms? A range of theories involving vaccines, strep, and environmental pollution are proposed. While reading The Crucible for extra credit Colleen discovers this isn’t the first time this has happened in her town. In fact, 200 years before, there was another group of girls who came down with a similar mysterious illness in what was then known as the town on Salem, famous for the 18th century witch trials.

Although this book is packed with a lot of information to process, I would definitely recommend it, especially for those who enjoy historical fiction. CONVERSION is suspenseful, a bit eerie, and quite an interesting read. I especially enjoyed the alternating chapters of 18th century and modern times (although I first liked only the modern chapters, I grew to appreciate and enjoy having them both). I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up.