Posted in Young Adult Lit

City of Lost Souls, by Cassandra Clare

8755776City of Lost Souls
Cassandra Clare
2012 by Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN – 9781442416864
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
2.9 Stars

Spoilers if you haven’t read the previous four books! Here are reviews to those.

It seems that Demon magic have connected Jace and Sebastian, Clary’s evil brother, together. Now the two have gone missing, and may be wreaking quite a bit of havoc upon the Shadowhunter world! Clary finds a way to meet up with the two in order to keep tabs on their wrong doings. Meanwhile Isabelle, Alec, Simon, and the rest of the gang are desperately searching for a way to disconnect the two without hurting Jace in the process.

Meh. I felt the  series was really picking up from such a slow start, and this one didn’t live up to the previous two books. Granted, I thought the premise had promise, but it seemed to fall flat. There was very little action or excitement until the very end of the story, and by that time it felt like to little to late! I really hope that the newest installment picks up the story a bit. I think that given the ending to this book, the next one could be really good again. At least I’m hoping!

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Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Hollow Kingdom, by Clare Dunkle

142776The Hollow Kingdom
Clare Dunkle
2006 Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks
ISBN – 9780805081084
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Middle School, High School
4 Stars

Kate and Emily, two orphans, arrive at their newly inherited estate to be cared for by their uncle. Upon exploring, Kate finds that not all is normal. Out in the forest she feels that someone is following her, and in her new room, she feels like a stranger is watching her. It turns out the Goblin King has chosen her to be his new bride and must kidnap and take her to their underground kingdom. As she tries to stay safe, her family feels as if she is on the brink of insanity, as she rants and raves about goblins! Then, her sister is kidnapped and she has to reconsider her priorities.

Based on the description, this really isn’t my style of book, but the reviews were so good, I had to check it out. I’m glad that I did. The writing was great, it was detailed, and had colorful descriptive language. I enjoyed the story as well. It had the feel of a classic dark fairy tale. I really think it had it all, fantasy, mystery, insanity, betrayal, and magic. The sisters have such a wonderful relationship. Kate is caring and nurturing, and Emily is light hearted and mischievous. She often brushes off any sense of danger that approaches the two and allows Kate to be the wary of the pair. The goblins are cunning and magical, despite the fact that they bring a sense of impending doom. Overall it was just a good, solid, and creative tale.

Posted in Children's Nonfiction

What if You Had Animal Teeth?, by Sandra Markle

17408995What if You Had Animal Teeth
Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Howard McWilliam
2013 Scholastic
ISBN – 9780545484381
Genre – Nonfiction
Age – Elementary School
5 Stars

What would you look like with animal teeth? This book shows what kids would look like with beaver teeth, tiger teeth, camel teeth, and so many more. Each turn of the page shows a different animal. On the right page is a photograph of the animal with some fun facts about their teeth and how they use them. On the left page is an illustration of a child sporting crazy teeth. The illustrated page also gives funny ways that children could fully utilize these teeth. This book is amazing. The illustrations are hilarious, and the photographs are up close and detailed views of mouths! It is funny, and full of high interest and goofy facts. It is a great way to introduce kids to all sorts of different animals and their environments. I like that each animal has very different teeth, and it shows that each one is special. At the end of the book it talks about human teeth as well. Don’t worry parents and dentists, it even has a brushing and flossing plug! Love Love Love!

Posted in Young Adult Nonfiction

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, by Jim Murphy

46727An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
Jim Murphy
2003 Clarion Books
ISBN – 9780395776087
Genre – Nonfiction
Age – High School
4 Stars

In 1793, yellow fever took hold of Philadelphia. Jim Murphy describes the impact that this disease had on the city. This includes social, economical, and political impacts. In that time, Philadelphia was the country’s capital, and the president and his cabinet were all located near or in the city. With the scare of a plague many government officials and people of high economic class fled the city, leaving the poorest to fend for themselves.

This book does a good job of describing the setting before, during, and after the yellow fever epidemic. It is an engaging read that kept me intrigued throughout. I like that I was able to learn about the politics that were so prevalent in Philadelphia in the late 1700’s, as well as class and race relations. Of particular interest to me was the role that African Americans played in the resolution of this epidemic. Their impact is often overlooked when discussing this situation. I also enjoyed the lack of definite resolution at the end of the book. It did not sugar coat that this wasn’t the last of deadly epidemics in our history. It showed that we were vulnerable to more outbreaks of yellow fever as well as other diseases. This book may not be great for your middle school or younger children, as it does describe in some detail the gruesome symptoms of yellow fever. However, it is highly informative and thought provoking for high school aged kids.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

No One Else Can Have You, by Kathleen Hale

18052934No One Else Can Have You
Kathleen Hale
2014 HarperTeen
ISBN – 9780062211194
Genre – Mystery
Age – High School
4 Stars

Kippy Bushman lives in Friendship, Wisconsin, A quaint little town with less than 700 people. Everyone knows each other and no one locks their doors at night. That all changes when Ruth Fried (pronounced Freed) set out on her way to Kippy’s house and never made it. Her body was discovered the next morning, mutilated and disfigured and left hanging in a cornfield. As the police are eager to close the case they arrest Ruth’s ex-boyfriend, and called it good. Kippy, however, knew that something else was fishy in the town. She set out to uncover some of Friendship’s and Ruth’s deep buried secrets, but most of all she seeks justice for her best friend’s horrific murder.

This book sold me just from the cover. It is a wee bit weird, but definitely intriguing. I thought the plot seemed a bit like Fargo, which is great for me. Kippy is hilarious, I wish that I had her as a friend in high school. She is so full of emotion and sadness. She is also full of love, and it becomes obvious that she is one of those girls who will give everything to the ones she loves. I also love her ability to just be herself, no matter what anyone else thinks. The book turns from very serious at the start, to more of a lighthearted mystery in the end. I know that murder is not lighthearted, but somehow Kathleen Hale is able to make it slightly playful. I was a bit disappointed that I have guessed whodunit pretty early in the book, however, it was still fun to read.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Vixen, by Jillian Larkin

7903851Vixen
Jillian Larkin
2010 Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780385740340
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – High School
3.5 Stars

Gloria is seventeen, living in the 1920’s and she wants to be the cool Flapper girl. Her super conservative family and fiancé have quite the problem with that though. They expect her to be the quiet, well refined wife of a man that comes from a family of old money. Her cousin Gloria, who is trying to escape from her past, comes to Chicago to help her plan her wedding and take a break from some sketchy situations in New York City. Lorraine, Gloria’s best friend, is sick of being second best, and begins to feel spiteful. While Gloria attempts to begin her singing career, while keeping her ambitions a secret, other secrets seem to surface. Tension begins to boil between the three girls, and who knows when it will boil over the top.

I just love historical fictions from the 1920’s, especially those about women. I know they are super cheesy, and perhaps completely unrealistic, but I love the world building of the time setting. I love the glamour, and the crime, I love the tensions, the romances, and most of all the scandal. The language seems slightly magical to me, with the colorful descriptions and specific word usage. I would not qualify this as quality literature, but it is a lighthearted, fun, and fast read. To me, it is the epitome of a beach read. It is my own personal guilty pleasure!

Posted in Young Adult Nonfiction

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, by Cynthia Levinson

12715346We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March
Cynthia Levinson
2012 Peachtree Publishers
ISBN – 9781561456277
Genre – Nonfiction
Age – High School
3.7 Stars

The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing in the early 1960s, but it didn’t seem to be working as effectively in Birmingham Alabama. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi planned to fill the jails with African American adults, but when that didn’t work they tried a different tactic. Over 4,000 children marched in Birmingham to protest inequality, and fill the jails they did. Cynthia Levinson tells the story of the children’s march from the viewpoint of four involved children.

This book had great factual information, and was very detailed. It is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story all at the same time. It is while reading books like this, that I constantly become flabbergasted by the horrible actions that human beings are capable of. I am also amazed by the human strength and resiliency that is possible. I loved that Levinson told the story from four different points of views. The readers are able to see what it was like for children from different backgrounds, sexes,  and different levels of involvement. The book was not constantly captivating, and had some points that seemed to lull. Overall it was a great and engaging read.

 

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Noggin, by John Corey Whaley

18049084Noggin
John Corey Whaley
2014 Antheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9781442458741
Genre – Realistic and Futuristic Fiction?
Age – High School
5 Stars

Travis was a 16 year old boy who was dying of cancer. Then an odd seeming man came up with a solution. Before Travis dies, he would like to cut off his head and cryogenically freeze it so that when science advances enough they can attach his head to a new and healthy body. So Travis went to sleep, and then he woke up five years later, except it was only a short dream for him. While he was still 16, everyone he knew had aged and moved on including his girlfriend, his best friend, and his parents. Now he must come to terms with his life when everyone else around him have grown and changed.

This book reminds me a lot of John Green books in that he has found the humor in a realistic and at times heartbreaking story. Parts of this book are laugh out loud funny, while others may bring tears to your eyes. The concept is original in that it is not sci-fi or fantasy in the feeling and the writing, despite the cryogenics. It speaks very honestly about facing change and moving on in life. Although it is kind of goofy in nature, the underlying themes are very real and can be quite hard to deal with. I personally know that it can be hard to face change as I watch it happen, but to oddly just skip five years would be unimaginable to me. What I liked most about this book, is that it made me think. I considered my life, relationships with friends and family, and how the choices I have made affected my present, and how they will continue to affect my future. Another neat thing about the book is that the last words of each chapter become the title of the next chapter. It really pulls everything together. It also made me want to go back and read “Where Things Come Back.” Perhaps my favorite book this year!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Short Giraffe, by Neil Flory

18162257The Short Giraffe
Neil Flory
Illustrated by Mark Cleary
2013 Albert Whitman & Company
ISBN – 9780807573464
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler, Preschool
4.2 Stars

It is picture day for the giraffes! While Boba the Baboon is setting up the picture he realizes one little problem. One of the giraffes is so short that he can barely be seen in the picture. Geri, the short giraffe, wants so much to be in the photograph so they start trying out some different ideas including strapping stilts on to Geri, but he wasn’t very good at balancing. Will they ever find a way to get him into the picture? This book is colorful and hilarious. The pictures and the text go perfectly together in their adorable whimsy! Geri is sad and sweet, while all the other giraffes obviously love him. They are so accommodating and it shows in their solutions to the problem. Great for story time, as long as it isn’t a bedtime story!

 

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Everyday, by David Levithan

13262783Everyday
David Levithan
2012 Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780307931887
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
3.5 Stars

A wakes up in a different body everyday. It has been this way since A was born. This has never bothered A until the day that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets his girlfriend Rhiannon. A falls in love and wants to spend everyday with her. Only Rhiannon isn’t used to the oddities of this kind of life. Will she get used to the idea of A as a personality and be able to look past the body(ies)? Will A be able to give up the usually selfless days, and make a life that A can claim ownership of?

The concept is interesting, and fun, but at times can be quite heartbreaking. Very Quantum Leap-esque. I liked that A lived in bodies that were similar in age, and I liked the viewpoint of someone who does not identify with a specific gender. I did think at times that A became very preachy about identity, and expected everyone to understand the viewpoint. Which is at the very least difficult. I found it hard to read parts without being angry. Most humans in this book and in the real world have been raised to identify with a gender, and to be attracted to a gender, or even body type, or look, and though I understand Levithan’s goal to combat these stereotypical identities, I have a hard time expecting someone to do so in a week. When Rhiannon has trouble with the concept A becomes very frustrated and not very nice, and it makes me upset! I did however like A’s battle of selfishness within. A constantly had to decide whether to be with Rhiannon and cause grief to his host, or do what was best for the body he was in. A learned a lot about reactions to actions! Writing this review has also taught me a lesson about pronouns, and how hard it is to write/speak without using he/she. Part of the point? Levithan did this pretty flawlessly in Everyday. I listened to this on Audiobook, and enjoyed the narrator’s voice, pace, and tone. All in all, pretty good.