January 2014

The Ocean at the End of the... The Ocean At The End Of The Lane
              Grade: A

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.-GoodReads

Once we started, we couldn't put it down. As usual, Gaiman has crafted a story that is a perfect blend of fantasy and horror. In fact, this is our new favorite Gaiman (sorry, Graveyard Book). There are lots of great quotes and we got teary-eyed several times (we are suckers for kids and their pets).

Picture Me Gone Picture Me Gone
             Grade: A-

Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room—sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past—slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she’s closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best. -GoodReads

Contemporary teen drama has been gaining ground in the YA genre world and we think Picture Me Gone is a good one to start with. You won't find anything magic or paranormal here- just one tween's perception of an adult world. Meg Rosoff has created a main character (Mila) that's difficult to forget. If you're tired of the dystopian sci-fi, this is a great alternative.

Fangirl Fangirl
             Grade: A-

Cath and her twin-sister, Wren, are heading off to college and that means big changes. Wren has already declared her independence by letting Cath know that she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath, feeling a bit abandoned, decides that as long as she has her fan fiction, she'll be okay. But college life packs more of a punch then either of them are prepared for and with a bi-polar, single parent back home, Cath finds she may not be brave enough to live on her own.

Rainbow Rowell continues to impress with stories that speak to the YA reader. Always formulating believable characters, dialogue, and situations that keep you wanting more, Fangirl is almost perfect. The use of fan fiction as a vehicle for character emotions and plot, was brilliant! We suggest that you read Eleanor & Park first, then move on to Fangirl. The stories are not related, but the move from the high school setting to college will allow you to see just how talented Rowell is.

These Broken Stars (Starbou... These Broken Stars
             Grade: B+

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac and Tarver survive. And they seem to be alone. But with only each other to rely on, they must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.-GoodReads

We have changed the grade on this one several times. It wasn't bad, but there was A LOT of walking across the planet with not much going on. There's a space ship, some romance, a conspiracy, an alien planet... does this sound a bit like Chaos Walking or Across The Universe? If you haven't read either of those trilogies (WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!), perhaps you'll agree with all of the on-line hype about this being such an original story. It's the first in a trilogy (how original).

December Reviews 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
              Grade: A

Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol. But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.-GoodReads

As you can tell by the summary, this is one for mature readers. Yes, there will be horrible thoughts, language, and situations, but we can promise you that they are essential to the storyline and you will like how it all ends. If you enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why or Perks of Being a Wallflower, you should consider adding this one to your 'to-read' pile.

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Fi... Curtsies & Conspiracies
              Grade: B+

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.-GoodReads

Book 2 of The Finishing School series moves along quicker than Etiquette & Espionage since there isn't much need to set up the characters. This time Sophronia and company are engaged in a battle to procure a device that will expand travel possibilities for supernaturals. There's a bit more action, a lot more flirting, and just as many quips this time around.

Strings Attached Strings Attached
              Grade: B

When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army. The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help--and then it comes, from an unexpected source.-GoodReads

This is our first historical fiction set in 1950's mob-ridden New York, and while the plot is intriguing, the timeline is chopped up and feels a bit clunky. The focus is on the relationships of the characters, not so much the setting or history of the time. It's not a bad read, but not something that you can't live without.

Teen Angst? Naaah... Teen Angst? Naaah...
            Grade: A

Ned Vizzini writes about the weird, funny, and sometimes mortifying moments that made up his teen years.-GoodReads

Doesn't matter when or where you were a teenager, there are just some things that happen to us all- for better or worse. If you need to read an autobiography for Honors English, this is one we would suggest.