Monday, November 24, 2014

Middle School Monday: The Thickety: The Path Begins by J. A. White

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When Kara was just a child, she was accused of witchcraft and forced to watch her mother executed for the same crime. Ever after, she and her family have lived in their isolated theocratic community as pariahs. Now 12 (though mature beyond her years), Kara stoically tries to hold everything together for her sickly brother, Taff. It all starts to unravel when she’s summoned to the deep wood, called the Thickety, where she finds a dangerous grimoire (spell book) that awakens her magical abilities. But her magic comes with a price, and soon she’s not the only one trying to harness its addictive spells.  The book is definitely scary and very detailed in it's descriptions of monsters and violence, so if you are OK with Harry Potter books 4-7,you should be OK with this one as well. It is interesting to see that the magic does have an addictive effect, and what happens if you let the power of spell casting overtake you.  The characters are richly developed, and there is a hint of a romance between Kara and her friend Lucas, the only friend Kara has.  If you want to continue the story, the second installment The Whispering Trees has a projected publication date of March 10, 2015.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Books for Fans of "Once Upon a Time" - a BIG list

Are you a big fan of "Once Upon A Time"?  You are not alone, and there are LOTS of great fairy tales out there for young adults to read.  Here are some of my suggestions:

 Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.  The love story of Peter Pan and Tiger Lily, narrated by Tinker Bell - definitely not Disney, and a little sad!

 A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce. A retelling of Rumpelstiltskin - woven with mystery and romance. 

 Graceling by Kristin Cashore.  A girl struggles with her "grace" - the gift of killing, and becomes involved in a plot to depose a wicked king.

 Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon.  Inspired by the musical Brigadoon, two teens are transported to the mythical city of Doon, which appears once every 100 years. A clean read, suitable for middle school and up.

 Warped by Maurissa Guilbord.  Tessa pulls a thread in an ancient unicorn tapestry and travels back sixteenth-century England where meets a handsome nobleman trying to escape a terrible fate.

 Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.  Betrothed to the demon who rules her country and trained all her life to kill him, seventeen-year-old Nyx Triskelion must now fulfill her destiny and move to the castle to be his wife.  Based on Beauty and the Beast.

 Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay.  A dark, scary fairytale with a base of Beauty and the Beast.  Described by one reviewer as part Shrek, part Tangled

 Enchanted by Alethea Kontis.  Alethea Kontis weaves The Princess and the Frog, Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella perfectly into an original and surprisingly complex story that's her own. 

 Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.  It was part Sleeping Beauty, part Cinderella, with some Jack and the Bean Stalk thrown in for fun.

 East by Edith Pattou.  The story is based on the Norwegian fairytale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" - one of my daughter's favorite books - ever.

 Entwined by Heather Dixon.  A retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses

Well, there are at least twenty more books I could profile, so I will list them here.  Click on the title to check out a description in our catalog!
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (first in a series), The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry, Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson (a Christian read!), Kissed by Cameron Dokey, Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (great for middle school and up), Beastly by Alex Flinn (modern Beauty & the Beast), Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (great for middle school), Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivey Harrison, Splintered by A. G. Howard, The Iron King (first in series) by Julie Kagawa, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson, False Princess by Eilis O'Neal, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison, Cinderella's Dress by Shonna Slayton and The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

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When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do . . . or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.

My thoughts:  I confess, the cover photo drew me in.  I was thinking that this was just another teen novel about a scholarship girl trying to fit into the posh crowd at an exclusive prep school, and although it is, I really enjoyed the characters in this novel.  Charlotte Ryder is an art student that attends the exclusive St. Anne's school on scholarship.  One night, when she awakens to hear "it" girl Julia Buchanan tossing her cookies outside her dorm room window, Charlotte decides to help her out when her friends abandon her.  The family "tragedy" is not too difficult to figure out, and I would not classify this as a mystery - it is more a romantic, coming of age novel, that focuses on the frail nature of friendships.   A solid debut about a Kennedy-like family, and the girl that penetrates their "inner circle". 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Middle School Monday: The Mark of the Dragonfly, The Fourteenth Goldfish, Brown Girl Dreaming

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Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields. The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home. The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible. Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.  
Reviewer Tarah says "The Mark of the Dragonfly is a mix between Cinder and Polar Express and some mythology thrown in. Okay, that maybe a poor description, but I don't know how else to describe it. As far as content is concerned it's clean. There is no language, lust, and while there is fighting and blood, it's not anything that I wouldn't mind a fifth grader and older reading."

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Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?  From reviewer Diamond, "It's a deeply moving story about a girl, Ellie and her grandfather Melvin. Melvin is a scientist who just made a groundbreaking discovery. He discovered the fountain of youth! He is now her grandfather trapped in a 13 year old's body. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues. But this isn't some comical joke of a novel."  Note:  The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm was chosen by Amazon as the best middle grade novel of 2014. 

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Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.  Reviewers call this book "lovely", "powerful", and "memorable". 

Hope these choices spark your interest to pick up a good book!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teen Tuesday: Very Bad Things by Susan McBride

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Katie never thought she'd be the girl with the popular boyfriend. She also never thought he would cheat on her-but the proof is in the photo that people at their boarding school can't stop talking about. Mark swears he doesn't remember anything. But Rose, the girl in the photo, is missing, and Mark is in big trouble. Because it looks like Rose isn't just gone…she's dead.

Maybe Mark was stupid, but that doesn't mean he's a killer.

Katie needs to find out what really happened, and her digging turns up more than she bargained for, not just about Mark but about someone she loves like a sister: Tessa, her best friend. At Whitney Prep, it's easy to keep secrets…especially the cold-blooded kind.

My thoughts:  This was a quick read, and although I figured out some of the "mystery" through obvious clues dropped by some of the main characters, I still was compelled to keep reading.  Reviewer Jolene says "For fans of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and Gretchen McNeil's TEN, this YA thriller will thrill, delight, and leave you wanting more."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Middle School Monday: Unlikely Loves: 43 Heartwarming True Stories from the Animal Kingdom

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Packed with beautiful, breathtaking full-color photographs, Unlikely Loves is a celebration of love between species. Here are stories of parental love, like the Dalmatian who mothers a newborn lamb—a lamb that just happens to be white with black spots! Stories of playful love, including the fox and the hound who become inseparable. And stories of orphaned animals who have found family-like ties in unexpected combinations, like the elephant who’s bonded with sea lions, goats, and other animals in her walks around the Oregon Zoo.

Ms. Holland has interviewed scientists, zoologists, and animal caretakers from around the world, tracking down firsthand sources and eyewitnesses. The stories are written with journalistic integrity and detail—and always filled with the author’s deep affection for her subjects.

My thoughts:  A fun read that animal lovers of all ages will enjoy.  My favorite is "The Owl and the Pussycat", which you may have seen on   Fum & Gebra - Perfect friendship .  "The Terrier and the Duckling" was another one of my favorites, along with seeing photos of little fawns with any other animal. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hot Teen Books Published in November

Here are some of the top picks of new November teen books that will soon be on our shelves:

published November 4

In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

published November 4

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.

published November 4

When victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean's incarcerated father-a man he'd do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

published November 11
Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.

published November 4
From the internationally bestselling author of Ender’s Game comes the riveting finale to the story of Rigg, a teenager who possesses a secret talent that allows him to see the paths of people’s pasts.

published November 4

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions. Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Which book are  you waiting for?