Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Th1rteen R3asons Why Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”

When Clay Jenson first receives the unmarked package in the mail he is excited wondering what it is and thinking he might have received something interesting. When he opens it to discover the collection of cassette tapes, he is puzzled, wondering who would send a collection of seven audiotapes labeled 1-13 to him. When he puts the first tape into the cassette player, he discovers that they contain that story of a dead girl. The story of Hannah Baker who committed suicide two weeks before.

As Clay Jenson listens to Hannah’s last words he finds out things that will make his whole world turn upside down. Some secrets are meant to stay secrets, because when they are revealed they have the power to tear you apart.

I don’t know where to start with this book. I have read many really good books lately, but this one was outstanding. I remember reading a review for the book last year and thinking I needed to pick this one up, but I never got around to it until recently. I wish I had read it sooner. This book was fabulous.

I did listen to the audio format of this book, and felt that the format fit the style of the book. You are supposed to be listening to Hannah’s last words and her story, and by listening to the audio you feel like you are listening to her. In the book, Hannah’s words are italicized, but in the audio format we have a female narrator, Deborah Wiseman, being the voice of Hannah Baker. Likewise, Clay Jenson is voiced by Joel Johnstone.

Wiseman’s narration of Hannah is spot on. You can sense the anger in her voice and ultimately the helplessness and her circumstances overwhelm her. Joel Johnstone, does a good job voicing Clay’s confusion at getting the tapes, and his fondness for Hannah.

The story is remarkable no matter what format you choose. It demonstrates how little you can really know the people around you, and the secrets that they keep. This book was all about secrets, and how secrets can hurt you.

Highly recommended.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Obviously one the main characters of this story committed suicide, but the tapes are played to Clay after the fact.

View all my reviews >>

Big Stephenie Meyer's News from USA Today

For all those who love Twilight, Stephenie Meyer will be releasing a novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella on June 5th at 12:01 am. Find out more in this article from USA Today!

Meyer grants Twilight saga's Bree Tanner a 'Second Life'

Don't worry, we will order it as soon as it is available.

Giveaway! Heist Society by Ally Carter

Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway! I promised last week a giveaway is coming soon and here it is! One free ARC copy of Heist Society by Ally Carter is now available to some lucky winner. All requests have to be to me by 5pm on Friday April 2nd. You must email me at mwheelock@khcpl.org to win, have a library card, and specify what library location you would like to pick the book up at if you win. Good Luck!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Title: Fever Crumb
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 4/1/2010
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Futures
ARC recieved from Scholastic via Goodreads First Reads.

Fever Crumb Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fever Crumb is the only girl in the Order of Engineers. In fact, she was raised by a member of the order, Dr. Crumb who found her as an infant, and deemed that it was only rational that he raise her. So fever has learned to be rational, to think like an engineer, and assist Dr. Crumb. When an archeologist by the name of Kit Solent request that Fever help him on his current dig, things for Fever change dramatically.

Meanwhile to the north of the city a movement of nomads threatens London agitating the people and setting everyone on edge. In a city where suspicion and fear run rampant, Fever is an oddity and a throwback that reminds people of the Scriven, the cruel rulers that the people of London overthrew a few years back. When she becomes the hunted, she must find a way to secure safety for herself in an unpredictable world.

I haven’t read the Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve, but this book is just the enticement I needed to encourage me to do so. After reading Fever Crumb I want to know more about the remarkable world Reeve has created in his previous books where whole cities travel from place to place swallowing up smaller cities and villages in their wake.

Fever Crumb is a treasure trove of fiction. Reeve’s character are well constructed and well rounded. I even find myself liking one of the potential villains Bagman Creech. The author’s descriptions and world building is fantastic. You can feel the paranoia of the common people, as well as the fear, corruption, and instability of their government. London was waiting to riot again and Fever is an unintentional catalyst for a dynamic chain reaction.

Well written and enjoyable. I can’t wait to go out and read Mortal Engines now that I have finished Fever Crumb!

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some violence.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1) The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Not since Alice went down the rabbit hole, or Dorothy flew over the rainbow, has there been a book so exciting. Iron King is a wonderful fantasy adventure that takes us into Nevernever, the heart of myths and fantasies, where danger lurks behind every turn. This book was too good to put down, as our heroine escapes one perilous situation only to stumble into more trouble at the next turn. Iron King has something for everyone; action, adventure, danger, friendship, and forbidden romance.

Tired of her life on a pig farm, Mehgan Chase looks forward to her sixteenth birthday, when she hopes getting her drivers permit might add some excitement to her dreary life. When she comes home and discovers her brother, Ethan, has been kidnapped by faeries and replaced with a dangerous changeling, Meghan gets more excitement than she had bargained for, as she resolves to save Ethan from the faeries who have captured him. After her only true friend, Robbie, reveals to her that he is actually the mythical Puck or Robin Goodfellow of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Meghan enlists his help to venture into Nevernever to save her brother. As Meghan embarks on the adventure of a lifetime, she has no idea what dangers and revelations she will soon face.

There have been a lot of faery books published lately, and most focus on faeries interacting and living in our world. It was refreshing to see a book that dares to venture into fairyland, and the resulting story is top notch. Kagawa created a world where creatures of myth and legend roam, and what you say and the deals you make can have serious consequences.

My one criticism would be that the story’s climax came too swiftly. The entire story had been building towards this confrontation, but it was over in a matter of a few pages. The ending was a bit of a letdown after all the dangers and obstacles they face trying to get to the climax, but the journey to get there could not have been better. This quick ending may be partially due to the fact that this is the first book in a series, but still I feel with the time I invested in this novel I should have gotten more from the climax than the few pages it was given.

Still this was a fun and entertaining read and I find myself lamenting the fact that I have to wait another five whole months for the next installment in the series. I am anxious to see where Kagawa will go with the next book. Overall I found this book to be a very pleasant surprise. If you are looking for something to tide you over while you wait for the next installment, you might try Carrie Jone’s books Need and Captivate or the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. The next book, The Iron Daughter is due out in August 2010.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Mild use of swearing and some violence. There is no sex though.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So You Think You Can Cook Teen Cooking Contest Winners

A big thanks to all of our contestants who participated in our Teen So You Think You Can Cook Teen Cooking Contest on March 18th at KHCPL South. The food was truly wonderful and it was extremely difficult for us to choose our winners. We hope that you all keep perfecting your cooking skills and return for our next cooking contest. Here are our winners and our wonderful contestants!

Crowd Favorite Winner!
Solomon D.
Recipe: Dragon Chicken and Rice
Nitin S.
Recipe: Crazy Burritos

Our Other Extremely Talented Contestants

Ariana G.
Recipe: Ariana's Cheesecake Cupcakes

Katherine R.
Recipe: Sweet and Sour Kielbasa

Ian R.
Recipe: Ian's Turtle Brownies

Haley F.
Recipe: No-cup Cupcakes

Rachel M.
Recipe: Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies

Angelina G.
Recipe: Chocolate Turtle Torte

Adeel A.
Recipe: Samosas

Ross C.
Recipe: Cheese and Peas with Rice

Nitosha S.
Recipe: Crazy Chicken

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Thomas first wakes up he finds himself in a metal box moving upward. He only remembers his name, not his parents, where he came from, or any other details. Then the box opens and he arrives in the Glade where a bunch of teenage boys who also have selective amnesia greet him and introduce him to his new life in the center of a large maze.

For two years the Gladers, all boys, have attempted to solve the maze and find a way out, but without any success. A special elite group of Gladers, called runners, court a gruesome death everyday in a maze that is patrolled by mechanical monsters called Grievers. The Gladers have created a society where they keep order by making sure everyone takes part in providing for the needs of those living in the glade. There are those that raise animals for food, those who garden, those who build, those who cook and those who clean up. Thomas must now find his place among the Gladers, but he can’t shake the feeling that he remembers this place.

Then one day, a girl arrives and everything changes. Thomas must look deep into himself to find a way out of the maze once and for all.

At first I found this book thoroughly frustrating. The reader and Thomas have a million questions, yet everyone refuses to answer them. At points I found myself wanting to throw the book across the room, because I felt like I was getting nowhere. As the story progresses, you still don’t get many of the answers you want, but it gets more bearable when you discover that none of the characters have all the answers and that Thomas has more answers and knowledge than most.

This book is action packed and extremely fast paced. There is danger around every corner and even the Glade isn’t safe. Thomas can be a difficult character to like at times, but you do have to admire his boldness. Many of the other characters were interesting and I think I would have enjoyed hearing more from Newt and Minho. It was nice that Thomas had to realize, through the other Gladers, that the solutions they sought were not that easy to come by. In fact the others often reminded him that if the solution was simple they would have found it already.

This was an engrossing, action packed read. Recommended for fans of action books, mysteries, and dystopian futures.

Cautions for sensitive readers: First the obvious, this book is very violent. The Grievers are terrifying and merciless and sometimes the Gladers themselves are violent. There is no sex at all in the book. As for offensive language, the author chose to make up his own types of swear words, so you will often see the word “klunk” used where you would normally see a foul word.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu

Dirty Little Secrets Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“That was the trouble with secrets—the lies you had to tell to keep them hidden almost made you feel worse than telling the truth. Almost” (pg. 14).

Everyone has secrets about their life or their families that they don’t want to share. Things that you keep close and hope that no one ever finds out, for fear they might judge you harshly. Lucy’s secret is one she has been keeping for years. It has kept her from having friends, and from inviting people to her house. From the outside she and her family look normal, but on the inside is a different matter.

Lucy’s mother is a hoarder. She keeps everything and doesn’t clean anything. For years her mother has said that it is Lucy’s fault because she doesn’t pick up after herself, but if Lucy were to touch any of her mother’s precious treasures, Lucy’s mother would be very displeased. When Lucy had the audacity to clean her room so she had her own refuge from the junk infesting the house, Lucy’s mother took it as a personal insult. No one can come in. No one can repair the broken furnace, or the broken water heater. No one can witness their terrible secret. Then the unthinkable happens and Lucy must find a way to keep her secret safe.

This is a fascinating book. It is on a subject that we hear of on the news or from other sources, but it often isn’t a subject that we talk about much. It was interesting to hear the story from the point of view of a teen living in the mess and desperately trying to keep the family secret. She is surrounded by a situation that seems hopeless, though she doesn’t give up trying to protect herself from disaster.

The book is well written. I liked how the chapters, with the exception of the first, mark time from 9:00am the first morning to 5:35 am the next, and as the time passes, you can feel Lucy’s desperation grow. The reader is given a window into Lucy’s life, and the difficulties she has had living with a mother who hoards everything. My one criticism would be that although you are told this story from Lucy’s point of view, it somehow lacked the emotional impact you would think it should have. I felt distanced from Lucy’s emotions, but perhaps that is because she is distanced from them herself. Still I think she should have reacted more strongly than she did to a few of the events in the book.

With the glut of vampire, dating, and fantasy books being published for teens, this book is refreshingly different, tackling a topic that is not often discussed in teen literature. In the Acknowledgements, the author includes a website that will help people who find themselves in Lucy’s situation.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is no sex, language, or violence in this book although there is a small amount of drinking at a party.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Teen Books On Order!

These books were ordered today. Get your holds in so you can be the first to enjoy these great titles!

  • Andromeda KleinAndromeda Klein by Frank Portman (sequel to King Dork)
  • Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult's Guide to Dealing With Bipolar DisorderFacing Bipolar: The Young Adult's Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder by Russ Federman and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr.
  • Princess of GlassPrincess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  • Kiss Of Death (The Morganville Vampires, #8)Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #8)
  • Spells (Wings, #2)Spells by Aprilynne Pike (sequel to Wings)
  • Perchance to Dream (Théâtre Illuminata, #2)Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev (sequel to Eyes Like Stars)
  • Last Night I Sang to the MonsterLast Night I Sang to the Monster: A Novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • LiarLiar by Justine Larbalestier

Novel Notes and Teen News: Your Source for Teen Book Information and Other Teen News 3/12/10

Book of the Week Spotlight

They Never Came Back

When fifteen-year-old Cathy decides to carpool from Norwalk to tony Greenwich, Connecticut, to study Latin in summer school, she does not expect the shocking events that occurred five years earlier to suddenly come flooding back into her relatively settled life.

Future Releases

Beautiful Creatures (The Caster Chronicles, #1)

They have finally come out with a title for the sequel to Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The sequel, titled Beautiful Darkness, is due to be released on 10/28/2010.

Find out more about Beautiful Creatures here:


(Just a reminder though, it is too early for us to order this item since our vendors don't even have it listed yet. As soon as it is available it will be ordered. Count on it!)

Young Adult Lit Not Just for Young Adults Anymore!

Believe it or not, adults are finding Young Adult literature irresistable. I have to admit, I read Young Adult lit, not just because it is my job, but because I find it so much more enjoyable than many of the books being published for adults. In my opinion, I believe that the quality in young adult books is superior to those written for adults and so much more entertaining. Some of my favorite books are young adult and always have been (Hunger Games by Collins, Graceling by Cashore, Incarceron by Fisher, Airman by Colfer, Song of the Lioness Quartet series by Pierce--just to name a few). It seems that I am not alone. At least once a week I am asked by adults for teen books such as Twilight, Harry Potter, even Hunger Games. If you were to survey the staff, I think you might find that many of them are seeking out YA lit to read for themselves. You would certainly be surprised by the number die hard Twilight fans we have here. Apparently this isn't just a local phenomenon, or solely the results of me running to my coworkers and saying "You have to read this book it's GREAT!" Check out this article from the Los Angeles Times where reporter Susan Carpenter reports about this phenomenon:

Young Adult Lit Comes of Age

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eclipse Movie Trailer

Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse comes out in theaters on June 30, 2010. In the meantime, you can check out the book at the library or one of our Twilight read alikes. Enjoy the trailer!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Review: By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters and GIVEAWAY!!!

Two book reviews in one week! Wow, I must be on a roll. I admit this one took me a while to get through, not because it is a long book, but because it is such a serious book, and something that made me think.

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Daelyn has been the victim of bullies all her life, and now, for the third time she seeks to end it once and for all. To end her pain and suffering, Daelyn has tried to commit suicide at least twice, but now with the help of a website, Through-the-Light, she hopes that she will finally be able to succeed. After her last attempt left her with no voice and in a neck brace, Daelyn is trapped in her own world of silence, while she attempts to withdraw from both her parents and her life. Although her parents and psychologist try to reach her, Daelyn is emotially distant from everyone around her until a young man, name Santana attempts to reach out to her. Will he be able to bring her back, or is it already too late for Daelyn?

I am not sure what I want to say about this book. Daelyn recounts the experiences she faced as an overweight child, and how she was bullied in several different environments. She never stood up for herself, or had anyone stand up for her. Even her parents were blind to see her pain. Yet I had difficulty seeing her as a truly suicidal teen. I think this may come from the fact that Daelyn is emotionally closed throughout the book. She is emotionally closed to the other characters of the book as well as to the reader. So you don’t feel the reasons behind the suicide attempts.

Although the story is a first person narrative, the author tells you what happened to her more than shows you, so there is a serious emotional disconnect that leaves you unsympathetic to the narrator, which can be a fatal flaw in a novel such as this. I believe the reader would have been more sympathetic to Daelyn’s plight if they could have felt or better understood pain. In a sense the emotional disconnect of the character was a double edged sword, it worked both for and against the author’s intent in this book. While it made it difficult for readers to understand Daelyn’s motives, it did allow us to see when she finally experiences the chink in her armor with Santana.

While I feel the book could have been better written, I believe that the book is timely and is something that needs to be discussed with teens. All over the news you hear about teen bullying and even suicides as the result. It is an important topic that needs to be discussed.

Sure there are mistakes that Daelyn made, she didn’t speak up for herself or point out her bullies, but there were mistakes made by her parents, the schools, the therapist, and of course the bullies. It seemed like everyone had their eyes closed to what was happening to Daelyn and no one ever asked her to explain to them what the issues were until it was too late. Now she feels like nothing they do will change her mind, and she doesn’t even want to reach out to them.

It is important to discuss bullying. It is happening and a new kind of bullying has emerged cyberbullying. Perhaps more book like this and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why are needed to bring this issue of bullying into the light where we can actually talk about it.

At the end of the book, you will find discussion questions and more information on suicide and bullying. It also includes a list of suicide warning signs. The end matter is essential and a good resource for those looking for more information. For more books on this topic, readers might read Jay Asher’s novel Thirteen Reasons Why or you might try the nonfiction book Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope by Olivia Gardner where two teens decided to help a bullied girl by sending her letters of hope.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This is a very delicate and sensitive topic, but made more so by the fact that the website listed in the book give methods of suicide that the sensitive reader may find disturbing. This is definitely a good book to sit down and discuss after reading.

ARC courtesy of Ingram Library Services.

View all my reviews >>

Now for the GIVEAWAY!!!

I am giving away an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy/Uncorrected Proof) of the book By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters. To win this book, you must have a Kokomo-Howard County Public Library card. To enter the contest, you may respond in the comments or email me at mwheelock@khcpl.org with the name your library card is under, your email address, and the branch where you would like to pick up the book. Winner will be chosen at random.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron (Incarceron, #1) Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First off, let me say that this book is a bit hard to describe. It is a unique fantasy/sci fi book that takes place in two worlds. First there is the world of Incarceron, the cruel prison that watches all the prisoners, recording their lives, and in some cases causing their deaths. Then there is the world outside of Incarceron, where although the people appear to be free, they are actually confined by the Era. Everything must be in Era. Everything not in Era is illegal. Although the more wealthy may have such modern conveniences as washing machines, everything must be scrupulously concealed so that it appears to be an Era centuries in the past.

Finn is a prisoner in Incarceron, and though everyone states that no one ever comes from outside the prison and many believe that outside doesn’t exist, Finn knows he has seen the stars and was not born in Incarceron. Finn’s memories are full of holes, and on occasions he gets flashes of things not from Incarceron. He longs to find out more, and to find a way out of the prison. When a woman in the prison mentions a key, Finn believes he may have found a way out.

Claudia is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, a formidable and scheming man. Her father has arranged for her to marry Caspar, who will one day be King. Claudia longs to be free of her engagement with the sniveling Caspar, and longs to be free of the confinements of the Era. She also seeks Incarceron, her father’s best kept secret. Although she knows the prison exists, she doesn’t know where it is. She doesn’t even have proof of the prison’s existence, until she finds a key and ends up communicating with a young man named Finn.

The dichotomy of the book is interesting. You have two separate worlds, a world that appears to be perhaps 17th century and a prison world that is a technological machine governed by what appears to be an artificial intelligence. In both worlds you can see that the society is more technologically advanced than we are now, but the outside, where Claudia lives, does its best to make you think time has stopped somewhere in an era past. Meanwhile, inside the prison, you see how the technology has been integrated into the bodies and lives of the prisoners.

I have to say that I like this book from the very beginning. It was gripping and I didn’t want to put it down. It is probably one of the most original fantasy novels I have read in a long time. Both Finn and Claudia were likable characters struggling to survive in their own prisons. Incarceron was not only a setting for the book, but a character. It is a scary unpredictable place. It watches you, knows you and interacts with you. Incarceron will try to bend you to its will or it may just destroy you.

In the end, I found myself wanting to know more about the prison’s intelligence and how it became what it did. You also find you self wanting to know more about the other characters, like Claudia’s father, and the Queen. The book leaves you wanting more, so I hope that the sequel due out in 2011 will address some of these questions.

This is definitely a favorite for me. Highly recommended.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some violence in the book.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Novel Notes and Teen News: Your Source for Teen Book Information and Other Teen News 3/4/2010

Teens Can Make A Difference

Check out this great interview in School Library Journal about a teen who is making big things happen in Rwanda!

WA Teen Helps Build School Libraries in Rwanda

Avalon High by Meg Cabot Will Be a Disney Channel Original Movie

Probably my favorite of all of Meg Cabot’s books is going to be a movie. This has me both excited and concerned because I am afraid of what changes they will make to her wonderful story (T*Witches anyone?). Read all about Meg Cabot’s exciting news on her website.

Movie Rights to Incarceron by Catherine Fisher have been Purchased by Fox

This is probably my favorite book since Hunger Games.  Incarceron (book review forthcoming) is the story of two teens.  Finn inside the prison of Incarceron, and Claudia, trapped in a prison of her own on the outside.  It has been a book that I am loath to put down.  It is filled with fabulous writing and descriptive imagery.  I am so excited to see this as a movie, since the book itself evokes such wonderful and fantastic images in my imagination that I can actually picture this as a movie.  I only hope that they don't make too many changes because Fisher's book is outstanding and very "visual" as it is.  Read about the movie at Variety.com.

Fox wins bidding war for 'Incarceron': Studio picks up dystopian jail tale

It's Back for 2010!  SLJ's Battle of the Kid's Books

Last year our winner for the best book of 2009 went to Suzanne Collin's fantastic book Hunger Games.  Who will win this year's competition?  Check out the competitors and the judges by following along this year.  Don't forget to vote for your favorites so you can resurrect them from the discard pile!

Battle of the Kids' Books 2010 - More Bodacious Than Ever!
Battle of the Kid's Books 2010 New Arena

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Check Out This Contest on Presenting Lenore

All through the month of February the blog Presenting Lenore has reviewed different titles in dystopian fiction.  Visit her blog to find some fabulous reviews and  enter her contest for your chance to win some dystopian fiction of your own.  Just click on the following link for more details:

Dystopian February Survey & 3 Mega Prize Packs!