Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ellie's Story Review

Ellie's Story (A Dog's Purpose)

Book talk: Ellie has always been smart. That's why she was chosen for a special purpose. She was trained as a puppy how to track and find people. At first, it was just a game to make her human happy. But as she grew up, she could sense that her work was important. Whether it was finding injured humans in disaster zones or comforting people when they were sad, she helped people when they most needed it. But what would happen if she couldn't do her job any more? Would she still have a purpose? Would she still have a human who loves her?

Rave: I was completely fascinated by the training process for a search and rescue dog from the dog's perspective. Cameron does a great job describing what it's like and imagining how a dog would puzzle out what humans want it to do. The story goes along at a pretty fast clip through Ellie's life with a lot of tear-jerker moments but things always work out in the end.

Every book its reader: Because the main character is a dog, I could see a wide range of kids from 3rd grade up enjoying this title.

Topics and Trends: dogs, search and rescue, disasters, tear-jerkers


Source: school library

Ellie's Story: A Dog's Purpose Novel by W. Bruce Cameron: buy it or check it out today!

The Girl at Midnight Review

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1)

Book talk: “Not the truth, but close enough. Maybe she ought to make that her life motto”  Echo is a runaway and a thief. She lives in a secret room in a library and survives on the edges of two societies: the one we know, and the society of the Avicen. The Avicen are a proud and ancient race of people who grow feathers instead of hair. Some might find this disconcerting, but they're the only family Echo has ever known. So when a threat to the Avicen emerges, Echo is determined to risk everything to help.

Rave: What's not to love: a girl who lives in a library, an alternate world full of magic and strange creatures hidden behind the one we know, a thief with a sarcastic wit but a strong moral compass. This book is firing on all cylinders. I'll even admit to enjoying the love triangle, as cliched as it may be. It's not the most original book I've read, but it was certainly a fun ride!

Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone  and other fantasy romances 8th grade and up.

Topics and Trends: urban fantasy, moral thieves, fantasy creatures, romance


Bonus Quotes:

“The young always think they’re invincible, right until the moment they learn otherwise. Usually, the hard way”

“If war had taught him anything, it was that it took the people who deserved long and happy lives and gave them short, brutal ones instead.”

“The was something about churches that she found unsettling. Everything seemed overly concerned with death, as if someone had forgotten that the basis of the religion for which they'd been built was a rebirth.”

Source: school library

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey: buy it or check it out today!

The Fixer Review

The Fixer (The Fixer, #1)

Book talk: Hardwicke Academy: the school of choice for the children of the DC elite. It's exclusive, it's secure, and it's about to be completely rocked by its newest student. Tess Kendrick is the younger sister of infamous political fixer Ivy Kendrick. Caught in a messy affair? Need to make a story disappear? If you're lucky, and you can afford it, you'll hire Ivy to take care of all your needs and keep your secrets. Tess grew up on a farm with her grandfather, about as far away from political intrigue as you can get. But her sister's reputation has preceded her and it isn't long before Tess is fixing problems for students on campus. Their parents are major power players, and their problems go beyond school drama. Soon, Tess has uncovered a major scandal that even her sister might not be able to fix. With her life on the line and her world turned upside, she needs to decide where her loyalties lie and what she's willing to risk.

Rave: This fast-paced political thriller for a YA audience delivers House of Cards style drama to a younger set. The plot is relentless and full of betrayals, twists, and high stakes. Tess is a very sympathetic character as she's thrust into a world she's completely unprepared for and tries to do her best.

Every book its reader: I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good thriller. 8th grade and up.

Topics & Trends: fast-paced, political intrigue, private schools, school dramas


You can learn more about the book in this interview with the author:

Source: school library

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: buy it or check it out today!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Marvels

The Marvels

Book talk: A young man survives a shipwreck in 1766 and goes on to create a dynasty of famous actors in London. Another runs away from his boarding school in 1990 to seek out his estranged and eccentric uncle who lives in an even more mysterious house. Their stories, told through pictures and words intertwine in unexpected ways that will leave you flipping pages and looking for clues about how their stories meet.

Rave: This story completely wrecked me. I was so deeply touched by the slowly unraveling story of the uncle and his mysterious house. I was drawn in by wondering how the two stories connected ,and when they finally did, I was not a pretty sight. After reading this, I made a point of visiting the museum that inspired it when I was in London last summer. Going to the museum was a unique and moving experience. This was emphasized by the museum policy against photographs or talking forcing me to experience everything in the moment in a very personal way. The way the first story was told entirely through images was gorgeous and innovative. Honestly I'm getting a bit teary just thinking of it all right now. The whole experience of this book is simply beautiful.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of tear-jerkers, history, and mystery.

Topics and trends: Tear-jerkers, History, Museums, Acting, LGBTQ,

Extras: Of course Brian Selznick made an amazing book trailer, too. Why is he so talented!?

I made this image from one of my favorite quotes in the book and a picture I took in London.

Source: ARC from ALA Annual 2015

The Marvels by Brian Selznick: buy it or check it out today!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Brief Reviews Summer 2015 part 3

The Mad Scientist's DaughterThis was one of my favorite books I read last year. I'm always a sucker for stories that involve robots gaining sentience and fighting for their rights. Instead of looking at this issue from a larger societal perspective, this story approaches the issue from an extremely personal angle. The story revolves around a scientist's daughter who grows up with a very human-like robot.  At first he's just her friend and companion, but as she grows older their relationship becomes more complicated. The way their relationship evolves was completely absorbing. At times the story was absolutely heart-breaking, but I couldn't put it down. It was a thoughtful and unconventional romance with plenty of food for thought about how we treat each other and what makes us human. The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Casandra Rose Clark: buy it or check it out today!

It's Just a Jump to the LeftA fun story about die-hard Rocky Horror fans who are going through a hard time. I have met people who used a weekly Rocky ritual to get through difficulties and find a surrogate family, so it rang true to me. My only real complaint is that it was too short. I wish there had been more time to flesh out the characters and resolve the main conflict. Still I'd recommend it to fans of Libba Bray or Rocky. It's Just a Jump to the Left by Libba Bray: buy it or check it out today!

TimeBomb (Timebomb Trilogy #1) What I appreciated most about this time-travel story was the diversity of the cast and how true they each were to their own eras. All time travel stories start to fall apart if you look at the plot too closely, but I'm more than willing to suspend disbelief if the characters and story are good. That is certainly the case here. I particularly enjoyed reading about Cornwall in 1640. The characters have very different voices and perspectives, and each gets their turn to tell their story. I got a good sense of them even though I'd say the book is more plot than character focused, setting a fast and thrilling pace. I'd give this to teens looking for a time traveling adventure. TimeBomb by Scott K Andrews: buy it or check it out today!

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)This is a wonderfully atmospheric sci-fi horror story. I listen to it on a road trip with my sister and mother and we were all completely rapt as we strained to hear the audiobook from my phone speakers and find out what in the world would happen next. I didn't always understand what was going on, but that was where a large part of the horror came from: the feeling that understanding was just around the corner, and that was where I wanted it to stay. The characters and their psychological states are well explored and everything in the novel felt immediate. I'd give this to fans of science fiction, horror, and psychological thrillers. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer: buy it or check it out today!

Terra I liked this book's sense of humor from the first. The dry, absurd humor and space theme made a comparison to Douglas Adams immediately come to mind. There are a lot of really funny moments in this story about the only human girl on an alien planet. As the story continued, however, it became clear that Benn's strength lies more in humor than plotting. By the end my exasperation at the plot outweighed my amusement at the humor. I'd give this to people who are just looking for a laugh. Terra by Mitch Benn: buy it or check it out today!

Awkward This comic of middle school rivalries and romance is sweet and funny. It should be easy for readers of all ages to relate to the awkwardness of middle school and the difficultly of navigating its treacherous waters. Fans of Smile will find plenty to enjoy here. This is a great pick for younger kids who want to read about middle school as the plot is pretty innocuous and the illustrations appealing.  Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova: buy it or check it out today!