Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor

Now THIS is what Ironside could have been. It seems like faeries have become their own genre lately there's so many of them cropping up in teen and younger lit, and to be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this book. But it was a really fun romp with a tough main character and some interesting quirks (she hangs out with a bunch of crows who are gypsies and actors) and some great faery slang. While I don't think it's an award-winner, it gets a MAYBE just because I really enjoyed it and would heartily recommend it for any reader interested in this kind of topic. And you just know from the title that there will be more!

Ironside by Holly Black

Huh?!? Wha?!? Wow, was I lost. I'd read the first book in this series when it first came out, but never read the second, and I was totally, utterly, and irrevocably lost and couldn't finish it. A big NAY for not being able to stand alone.

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler

I much prefer Brad and Heather to Rachel and David. I know Nick and Norah was the big hot read last year, but for my money, this team are much better writers, and it seemed to me that Hepler's writing has improved a lot in this second teaming.
Luke and Ella are working as characters at Disney World for the summer because the regular employees are on strike. It's typical teen novel fare: they both like each other, but let themselves get drawn in by other people, then it looks like they'll actually get together, then it flops, then it's happily ever after... but this duo really have a beautiful writing style that sets them apart. A YAY for me.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Well, Sherman did not disappoint! This is the semi-(mostly-?)autobiographical story of Junior, a geeky teen who leaves the rez to go to the all-white school and becomes a surprise basketball hero. It's a quick read, the sketches are delightful, it's got tons of boy appeal, and as always, Alexie's writing style is spot-on. A big huge YAY from me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

When Josh was 12 years old, he had a sexual relationship with his history teacher. Eventually she is caught and sent to prison. Skip ahead 5 years later and the teacher is released from prison. The novel is well written and unlike other novels that deal with this subject (Gone, Teach Me, and How It's Done) the author does an outstanding job of explaining the healing and recovery process that Josh goes thru. While some of the text is sexually graphic, it's not too over the top and this book is really for older teens. I give it a Yay.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Land of Silver Apples

This really feels like a sequel.. I've tried to read the first chapter about four times, and I just can't bring myself to ruin the first book, which I haven't read. I think most readers who are coming to the book for the first time would feel the same way. NAY.

Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan

What a disappointment! After the wonderfully creepy collection she was honored for a couple years ago, this is a pale shadow in comparison. The first story was great, but I was just plain bored by all of the stories from the animal(or pseudo-primate) perspective. NAY.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Inside Out: Portrait of an Eating Disorder by Nadia Shivack

This was a really quick read--I blasted through it on my lunch break. It's an autobiographical graphic novel that details one woman's struggle with her eating disorder, nicknamed Ed or "the alien inside," which was ongoing from age 14 to 40 (she's now in remission). Interesting because it looked really closely at the subject and her individual struggle rather than provide strictly factual information. It was a little hard to follow, and since nonfiction and graphic novels really have to blow my socks off, I'm going to say NAY, but I'm interested to see what others (who are more experienced with graphic novels) think.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Naomi and Ely grew up across the hall from each other in a NYC apartment building, and they're best friends for life...until Ely kisses Naomi's boyfriend and means it...then all bets are off.

I wasn't looking forward to this book at all, since I was NOT a fan of the earlier collaboration of these two authors, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I was a bit pleasantly surprised by this book, which is an interesting take on the evolution of a friendship, although it read a bit like fantasy masquerading as realistic fiction. There are some real gems of truth in this tale, though, so even though it's not the best I've read, I'm going to say MAYBE and wait to see what others think.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jinx by Meg Cabot

I was pleasntly surprised with this book about an unlucky girl with the nickname of Jinx, who comes to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins in New York City from a small town in Iowa. Her cousin Tory had been practicing witchcraft and realizes that Jinx also shares the talent. Though Jinx is trying to escape that part of her life, she must embrace her gift to right some wrongs before Tory does more damage. I liked how the book touched on the typical issues that teens face, such as peer pressure and finding direction, while also incorporating the ever-popular witch theme. While I really liked it, I would give it a MAYBE, only because I felt that some of the other books I have read were more powerful.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot

Katie lives in a town obsessed with quahogs, both the edible (clam) variety and the non-edible kind (her high school's football team). Four years ago, Katie's friend Tommy was run out of town for an expose' in the school paper about the quahogs (football players) cheating on their SATs. Now Tommy's back, and Katie is sure that he's there to get revenge on her for her role in having him run out of town, and given that Katie's currently making out with not one but two popular boys, the timing couldn't be worse.

If this sounds confusing, you're absolutely right. This should have been a quick read, but I often found myself hitting the end of a page and going "HUH?!" First the whole quahog (clam) vs. quahog (football player) thing, then the male characters being so sketchily drawn that I had a hard time keeping up with who was snogging who and why, and there wasn't really any character growth to go with the happy ending. A huge disappointment from Cabot and a NAY for Thumbs Up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Someone Like Summer by M.E. Kerr

This book is a teen romance involving Anna, a 17 year old white girl, who falls in love with Esteban, an undocumented worker from Colombia, and who will never be together. The story deals with the issues of race, class and politics during the summer of 2005 in the town of Seaview in the Hamptons. And stereotypes and prejudices from both sides run rampant throughout the book. This story didn't do much for me. I felt like it was wrapped up too easily in the end. I have to give it a NAY.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Confessional by J.L. Powers

I really liked this tale from El Paso, Texas. Powers follows six teens with various backgrounds a year after an incident where someone blows up a bridge where lots of bystanders are killed. The Mexican population still wants to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, while many of the Americans do not.
After some fights at one of the city's Catholic schools and then the murder of one of the involved students, tension in the city is incredibly high. The six teens all have problems and different view points. I saw this had a terrible review in VOYA, but I thought it was gripping and cool. YAY.

Chloe Doe by Suzanne Phillips

Chloe Doe is a sad story about a girl who leaves her mom after a horrible experience between her sister and her step father. Chloe is now at the Madeline Parker Institute for Girls where she is seeing a counselor and preparing to go back to the "outside". This is a sad and sweet story about a girl who is fighting to get over her past, so she can improve her present and future. Because of some of the horrible subjects, however, it was not a book I enjoyed, though it was well done. I'm not certain what I think about it for the moment, but I'll say MAYBE for now.

The Black Sheep by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

The Black Sheep is a reality television show that recruits Kendra, a disillusioned teen from NYC, to switch families and stay with an activist family in California. This is a fairly normal romance with several over-the-top characters that gets old pretty fast. This would be a good book for the light teen romance crowd, but it is not ThumbsUp worthy. NAY.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Well! This book really suprised me. I think I was expecting a female version of Peak, only with an Antarctic setting and I wasn't terribly interested. It sat on my shelf for a while, until it was the last T.U. book I had in the house. Should have known that McCaughrean wouldn't give us typical adventure fare!
Symone is spirited away to Antarctica with her "uncle", presumably as a spur of the moment decision. But as Sym watches, the deceptions and lies unfold around her. Eventually she is left, abandoned on the Ice, with a con man/actor and her imaginary beau Titus. A harrowing, thought-provoking adventurethat is just creepy enough!

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

This might be the best teen book I have read this year. To say that Zevin has crafted a remarkable story about identity and self may sound cliche, but I think it really works here. Naomi, after the accident, is a character with depth, pain, and wariness. I think her reactions, motives, and decisions are all spot on. Glad that the follow-up to Elsewhere is so strong.

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

This is a good general entry in the "supernatural living in the human world" subgenre, but it didn't strike me as particularly outstanding. I actually spent quite a bit of the book wondering if it was a sequel and I had somehow missed that fact. The town's belief in and (sometimes)acceptance of shape-shifters and vampires needed more explaining. Also, Quincie's uncle's descent into "hell" didn't come off as believably as the rest of the story. Nay, but still a fun read.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

English girl has cancer. She is going to die. She creates a list of things to do before she dies. Example, have sex, drugs, fall in love, shoplift, etc. It is sort of moving but nothing special at all. The English slang is a little annoying for some reason whereas other England setting books aren't. Anyway, I was able to get through it and there is no happy ending but a super big NAY for me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by You Know Who

Okay, this is not the real cover, but we all know what the book looks like so I thought I'd have a little fun. I loved the book, but I'm voting Maybe on inclusion.

On one hand, the book would make no sense to people who haven't read the series (Rowling doesn't even try, as she did with some of the earlier books).

On the other hand, it was the big book of the summer, and every teen was talking about it, even those who hadn't read it. Eclipse by Meyer was a close second, but this book was king. I look forward to everyone's thoughts..

Monday, October 8, 2007

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson

Clio is seventeen and her entire summer has just been ruined. Rather than working a new job at an art store with a cute guy, she is off on a 10 week vacation with her dad and crew in the Meditteranean Sea looking for some artifact. The beginning is a little slow, but once the adventures begin at sea things really pick up. I finished this novel over the weekend and was better than I expected. While I recommend for library collections, don't think it is MI Thumbs UP worthy. Just my opinion. I will say Maybe.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

I was looking forward to this book since Stargirl was quite good. In this sequel, Spinelli shows us Stargirl's side of the story. This is the next year and she is home schooled again and her family moved to Pennsylvania. She meets a bunch of quirky characters and continues her own quirky behaviors. This is solid, but I'm not sure that it stands alone and it took most of the book to hook me. Eventually, the new characters become interesting but the continuous lamenting over Leo gets old fast, so I say NAY.

They Came From Below by Blake Nelson

This was a neat book and I'm giving it a YAY for now. Writing in a concise, matter-of-fact style, Nelson follows 17-year old Emily and her friend during summer vacation on Cape Cod. The combination of some strange things in the ocean and two "tourists" who don't seem quite human turn their vacation into an adventure. There are a lot of cool characters in this book and some very minor characters are fleshed out. It did not overwhelm me, but this is a cool combination of adventure, sci-fi and quirky realistic fiction.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

How to Ruin my Teenage Life

A light and breezy read. It is the sequel to How to Ruin my Summer Vacation. Amy is back from her summer vacation in Israel. She is living with her father in Chicago with she is reunited with. Her hot boyfriend Avi is serving in the Iraeali army so they are doing the long distance relationship thing. He does make a surprise visit though. A really good sequel, chic lit with a little substance but thought the first novel was way better. Every collection should own this but not worthy of Thumbs Up Award. Nay.