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).

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