Friday, April 27, 2012


by Han Nolan

Goodreads Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father’s deteriorating condition. Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.

My Review:
This book is an interesting look at how what happens to parents (in this case, very extreme things) effects kids. It is sad; you know Jason is not a bad kid, but his life just gets more and more messed up as the story goes. At one pivotal point, I actually said "Really?" aloud!

It is frustrating at times, mainly because I found Jason a little hard to identify with. That is good for me since he is dealing with his mom's death, and his dad's break with reality in which he believes he is fighting in Greek myths. It seems so extreme that it makes Jason a character that you feel sorry for, but have a difficult connecting to. Overall, I can't really say I liked the book. How does one like a story about losing grip with reality? But I think it is a good read and it held my interest. I could see people who enjoyed Kissing Doorknobs by Hesser, You Don't Know Me by Klass, A Mango-Shaped Space by Mass, and A Child Called It by Pelzer, also interested in this story.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

Goodreads Review:
A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows

My Review:
If you like the strange and creepy-this book is perfect for you. If you are a fan of horror movies with a lot of build up-this book is for you, too. If you like having photos to increase the believability of what you are reading-well, you get the point. 

A twist of sci-fi and fantasy, with some historical fiction splashed in, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Chiildren seems to have a little bit for all readers. The setting of a creepy island that seems cut off from the rest of the world enhances the feeling of dread in the story. The descriptions of Jacob's surroundings paint a picture for the reader that is hard to shake. 

Jacob himself is kind of a bland character, but the advantage of that is that he becomes easily identifiable to reader. Who doesn't love their grandfather and feel frustrated with their parents? The "peculiar children" also make up for Jacob's unexciting beginning.

The plot is what will really pull you into this story. It takes some time for the author to build up, but the plot is complicated enough that you need that background to understand what happens toward the end.

A definite read for anyone who doesn't get scared too easily!

Friday, April 20, 2012

City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Summary:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

My Review:
A few notes before I let you know what I think of this story:
1-I hate this cover. It has a purpose; you have to see the Shadowhunter tattoos to understand what she is describing and to get a good picture. It makes it seem like a girly book, which I don't really find it to be.
2-Most people either love or hate this book. I would not say I am in either camp, but I did like the book. I was interested and invested, so I continue to read the series and still enjoy it.

I liked the plot, especially with the quick opening and interesting twists that come about. The characters needed some work after the first book. I thought Simon was the most interesting and unique of the main three, and feel like the author did a better job developing Clary in the rest of the series. Sadly, I was never really sold on the character of Jace and found him to be a bit irritating. There are some parallels to the Twilight Saga that I could take or leave-although Clary is much more likeable, as a girl who is ready to take care of herself , then Bella Swan.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A World Without Heroes

by Brandon Mull

Goodreads Summary:
Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable--until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.
In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.
My Review:
This book starts off with a bang. When Jason falls into the mouth of the hippo to go to Lyria my heart was pounding. I like how Mull ventured away from the urban fantasy-fantasy where the setting is our world-to one where he creates a world of his own. 
Lyria is a confusing place at times, but Jason is a compelling hero that you want to root for. He is not a genius, but he is smart. He is not superathletic, but he is a good baseball player. He is an everyday kind of kid, which made me want to cheer for him more. He finds his own bravery, which makes Lyria a magical place.
While the description makes this book seem like the typical quest book, it really isn't. Jason doesn't know where he is going or why for much of it-he just wants to find shelter and a way home. It is very relatable; I kept thinking that I would react in a very similar way to the situation as Jason. In this way, he reminded me of Alfred Kropp (one of my favorite anti-heroes of all time).

Fear-A Gone Novel

For fans of the Gone series by Michael Grant.
If you haven't had a chance to read these, and love sci fi, well, you should.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Eleventh Plague

by Jeff Hirsch

Goodreads Summary:
The wars that followed The Collapse nearly destroyed civilization. Now, twenty years later, the world is faced with a choice—rebuild what was or make something new.

Stephen Quinn, a quiet and dutiful fifteen-year-old scavenger, travels Post-Collapse America with his Dad and stern ex-Marine Grandfather. They travel light. They keep to themselves. Nothing ever changes. But when his Grandfather passes suddenly and Stephen and his Dad decide to risk it all to save the lives of two strangers, Stephen's life is turned upside down. With his father terribly injured, Stephen is left alone to make his own choices for the first time.

Stephen’s choices lead him to Settler's Landing, a lost slice of the Pre-Collapse world where he encounters a seemingly benign world of barbecues, baseball games and days spent in a one-room schoolhouse. Distrustful of such tranquility, Stephen quickly falls in with Jenny Tan, the beautiful town outcast. As his relationship with Jenny grows it brings him into violent conflict with the leaders of Settler's Landing who are determined to remake the world they grew up in, no matter what the cost.

My Review:
Dystopia is the place to be, apparently. After the surge in popularity with The Hunger Games, many authors are looking toward the future to set their stories. It could be easy to get bogged down, trapped in a seeming repeat of other stories. I believe that The Eleventh Plague escapes this and finds a unique story to tell. 

The first change from many of the dystopia out there is the protagonist. While there is something that I can appreciate about a strong heroine, it is nice to see a hero put into the same role. I also like that Stephen wants so badly for things to be 'normal' that he is willing to give up so much to achieve that. I feel like I would act in a same way. 

The Red Pyramid

by Rick Riordan

Goodreads Summary:
Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. 

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. 

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

My Review:
I have enjoyed Riordan's other young adult books, and I was not disappointed when I gave this one a try. My favorite thing about this author is how he crafts supporting characters-I liked Percy a lot, don't get me wrong. But I loved Grover. His commitment to his charge and great sense of humor made him a likeable character. 

That said, I liked Sadie and Carter but found their characters a little one dimensional. It especially seemed that the author was trying to make them the exact opposite of each other, which ended up feeling a little fake at times. I did like their Uncle Amos-his character is intriguing to say the least. I also really enjoyed the use of Egyptian gods and goddesses. I am not as familiar with them, but Riordan sets it up so that you learn along with the characters. 


by Ann Aguirre

Goodreads Summary:

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

In the tradition of kick-butt heroines comes Deuce. While she is no Katniss, Katsa, or Tris, she has something about her-an uncertainty-that makes her very real. She doesn't want to defy the authority that has protected her for so long. She is not happy-per say-with her rigid life in the enclave, but she feels she has achieved a purpose and is satisfied with it. She is the highlight of the book. Her character doesn't feel one dimensional; she feels relatable but confusing at the same time.

There were parts of this book that moved too fast for me. I felt like the author didn't elaborate on some journeys like she did with others, and it made it feel unbalanced. The number of unanswered questions at the end makes me want to read more, but the stop-slow-go of the story frustrated me at times.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jenna Fox Chronicles

The Adoration of Jenna Fox  
by Mary E. Pearson

Goodreads Summary:
Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers? 

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication. 

The Fox Inheritance
by Mary E. Pearson

Goodreads Summary:
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.
Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.
Everyone except Jenna Fox.
I really was fascinated by the idea behind The Adoration of Jenna Fox. The mystery that Jenna goes through about who she really is, the ability to reinvent and self-discover, captured my attention completely.  There is also a great emphasis in both books on what makes a person a person-is it your body? Your soul? As a parent, I was also drawn into the intentions of Jenna's mom and dad and the decisions that they made on her behalf. How do you let someone go?  The Fox Inheritance was interesting to me as well because it continued to evaluate some of the same questions, and it let you know what happened in the future.

Where Things Come Back

by John Corey Whaley

Goodreads Summary:
Just when seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. . . . 

In the summer before Cullen's senior year, a nominally-depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he spots a species of woodpecker thought to be extinct since the 1940s in Lily, Arkansas. His rediscovery of the so-called Lazarus Woodpecker sparks a flurry of press and woodpecker-mania. Soon all the kids are getting woodpecker haircuts and everyone's eating "Lazarus burgers." But as absurd as the town's carnival atmosphere has become, nothing is more startling than the realization that Cullen’s sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother Gabriel has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. 

While Cullen navigates his way through a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young missionary in Africa, who has lost his faith, is searching for any semblance of meaning wherever he can find it. As distant as the two stories seem at the start, they are thoughtfully woven ever closer together and through masterful plotting, brought face to face in a surprising and harrowing climax. 

Complex but truly extraordinary, tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful. It's about a lot more than what Cullen calls, “that damn bird.” It’s about the dream of second chances.

My Review:
I am not sure why I was so interested in reading this book. I came across it when I was reading about this year's Printz Award winners. The weaving of two story lines-an extinct bird and a missing kid-seemed impossible to make. Whaley does it flawlessly. It starts in a morgue, which does not seem like a place for a hopeful story. It turns into a story about persistence and hope, as well as what it means to be in that weird place where you aren't an adult, but not quite a kid either. 

I won't lie-I also like when Cullen starts daydreaming about the zombie apocalypse. Plus, when multiple story lines link together-it surprised me. I love books that take what you think is going to happen, and put it right in the trash. I really hope that this author doesn't end up as a "one-hit wonder". (Some mature content).