Busted by Phil Bildner
A blog for the members of the 2008 MLA Thumbs Up! Award Committee to discuss the books we are considering.
Erin's mom died when she was young. On her 16th birthday, her dad gives her a copy of her mother's diary from which Erin learns they shared a love of To Kill a Mockingbird and writing. Erin runs away to find Harper Lee, thinking that will make her closer her mother. On this road trip to self discovery, she finds a couple of folks to help her on the way. The characters were a little far-fetched, but completely likeable. This was a quick read and Erin was sympathetic. I give it a tentative yay.
I was waiting for this one to come in! This is a sequel to the popular Crank, a story about a teen girl's descent into meth addiction written in verse format. This is a quick read and takes place where the other title left off, with Kristina trying to raise her baby and fighting the urge to use again. Unfortunately, the fight doesn't last and she starts using again on page 6 (otherwise, no story, right? :) ) Anyone could read this title on its own and understand the story without having read the first title. The writing is of good quality; the story is entertaining; and I'm sure this title will be popular with teens as well. Do I think this is worthy of the Thumbs Up! award? Probably not; but if it makes the top 20 I'm sure you'll see some teen votes for it. I give it a (reluctant) NAY.
The Gatekeepers series has become more interesting with the last book, but there is no way this book could stand alone. Readers will be completely lost in this title if they haven't read the first two. For Thumbs Up, I give it a nay.
Into the woods by Lyn Gardner is a cute amalgamation of a bunch of different Grimms Fairy Tales, which has been done quite a lot lately, and frankly I’m a bit bored by it. You can see the dangers coming a mile away, and I wasn’t terribly impressed by the twists, the romantic side-story, or the writing in general. It’s a story that’s just too young for teens, though if you have middle schoolers who love stuff like the Sisters Grimm, this might be good. NAY
Brothers, Boyfriends & Other Criminal Minds takes place on a street in 1977 Brooklyn where three mobsters live. April gets caught up in trouble when her brother starts seeing a mob boss' daughter and April begins helping out a guy on her street. There are a lot of characters here and Laurie allows many of them to develop including some of April's friends and the boys that eventually come into the picture. This was a pretty good book, though some of the writing was choppy for my taste. I'm not certain whether this is award worthy but the historical setting, somewhat complex plot and realistic characters helped me enjoy it. I give it a MAYBE for now.
The Red Shoe takes place in Australia and chronicles the real life story of a Russian defector hiding duing the Cold War. The story is told through three sisters, but mostly through Matilda who wants to be a spy when she grows up. I think the author has a neat writing style, though much of the story has little to do with the plot. This is a solid tale, though I don't think it has much appeal for teens with its young characters and somewhat obscure subject. I give it a NAY.
This time the cover provides a glimpse of the story one wouldn't expect once you realize who/what is pictured (*reference to my last posting re: Rover where I thought the cover was a detriment to the book's appeal).
Blaze of Silver is third in the Granville Trilogy by K.M. Grant.
I'm simplifying here but here's my nuts & bolts summary.... The main character is a teenage girl - her mother is a clairvoyant (really a con-artist). The girl (Annie?) struggles between what her mother wants (for annie to assist with her cons) and what she wants for herself (to go to school and learn).
The story of Macbeth told from the point of view of Lady Mary, a ward of Lady Macbeth. Lady Mary happens to be in all the right places to view the events unfolding and she also has a strong personality of her own. The settings become more vivid with Cooney's descriptions and motivations are clear. Reading it made me want to go back and reread the original. Give it to fans of Ophelia. I give it a YAY.
This is one of the novels I think is "How did this get published." It starts out okay, Josh and Max are brothers, Josh is known as a designer baby because he was born to sae his older brother's life because they needed his DNA. They both play the online game Genesis Alpha. Then Max is accused of murder, is he guilty or not? It sounds like a good read, but it isn't. There is a twist about 3/4 of the way through that is so utterly stupid. If you could see me, I would be naying like a goat. A huge NAY for me. Waste of time.
NAY - Parts of the books were interesting, especially Johnny Cash's youth. The escalation to fame focused a lot on the little yellow pills he was addicted to. I would have liked to know more about the context he was operating in, who he was friends with, where he played. Why was the jail concert so influential? What other interactions impacted Cash's life?
Fun read, and would offer to teens who like Meg Cabot. The probing of race issues was interesting, inclusion of a loving gay couple appreciated, resolution at the end was satisfying. It was fine, but not Thumbs Up Award caliber. Nay
Jen is crushed when her boyfriend tells her "it would be better if we were just friends." Making matters worse, she catches him kissing another girl from the school paper, where she also works. Jen cannot sleep, cries constantly and thinks she "could actually die of heartache." Even with supportive friends and family-and opportunities to advance her journalism career-it takes time to move on. Kantor (Confessions of a Not It Girl) successfully juggles several storylines, including Jen's work on a controversial article about race relations at school, her mother's attempt at romance after years on the sidelines and even a fun first date for Jen with a boy who bravely takes her salsa dancing. These threads make Jen's world seem very real and reflect her growing sense of self. Readers may not know what to make of the actual self-help book Jen's grandmother buys her (called The Breakup Bible); full of clichés (such as "A fabulous, foxy lady such as yourself knows when it's time to say good riddance to bad rubbish!), the cheesy book seems to help Jen at times, but ultimately ends up in the trash. Jen goes through much of the book thinking "I'm so sad, I'm so sad, I'm so sad," which may overwhelm readers, but in the end, they will likely be convinced both of Jen's readiness to move on and of her ability to see the good and the bad in her first romance. Ages 12-up. (May)