Posted in Young Adult Lit

Rotters, by Daniel Kraus

Daniel Kraus
2011, by Delacorte Press
ISBN – 9780385738576
Genre – Horror
Age – High School
2.8 Stars

Joey Crouch is a normal high school kid living in Chicago, until his mother died in a tragic accident. He is then forced to move in with his dad in small town Iowa. He has never met his dad, and when he does, well, they pretty much hate each other. Once they get used to each other, they begin spending more time together and Joey gets more involved in his dad’s business. His dad’s business just happens to be grave robbing.

This book was weird, just weird. None of it made much narrative sense to me. Just when it was starting to make sense, it stopped making sense again. I liked the beginning, It was actually quite a solid start, then the second half wore thin on my patience. Then, I liked the end. I think I may have only liked the end, because it gave me some solace from the middle. It was so hard to relate to the characters and the situation. Despite the fact that Joey’s situation was very relatable. He was unpopular and bullied. I think every thing that happened was just too extreme. Nothing could possibly be even close to my realm of believability. The writing style began to wear on me as well. I will note that the audiobook narrator was excellent at changing character voices and moods. He was quite talented.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

16143347We Were Liars
E. Lockhart
2014 by Delacorte Press
ISBN – 9781471403989
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
4.2 Stars

Every year the wildly rich and completely beautiful Sinclair family spends their summers on a secluded island. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are the teenagers, and they call themselves the liars. This is the story of their summers, and it includes love, friendship, family, betrayal, greed, jealousy, and all those other warm and happy feelings!

Super vague, I know. But maybe a little less vague than goodreads description. It really is hard to say much about the book without ruining it. I’ve heard from many people that this book destroyed them. I will have to say that although it was a bit of a shock to me I really liked it. It is one of those books that I want to read over again, right now. So, I hope you got nothing out of this review, because nothing is better than too much in this case. Just read the book!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Tragedy Paper, by Elizabeth LaBan

13628178The Tragedy Paper
Elizabeth LaBan
2013 Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780375870408
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
 4.07 Stars

Duncan is starting his senior year at the Irving School, a boarding school in the North East. Every year the outgoing senior leaves a treasure for the student who moves into their old dorm room. Duncan is upset to learn that he has the smallest room possible. He is also disappointed that his treasure is a bunch of CDs left by Tim, an albino student who transferred in mid year. These CDs contain so much more than music though, they contain the story of how Tim ended up at the Irving School, how he fell in love with the ever popular Vanessa, and how his time at the Irving School came to an end.

I was not expecting greatness based on the description on the book. I, however, was pleasantly surprised. I still don’t think that my description does the book justice. I liked just about every character in the book, and even the ones I didn’t like (because I wasn’t supposed) were written well. They were realistic in their characteristics, their strengths, and their weaknesses. LaBan did a great job of weaving two stories together. I thought she was really able to keep their stories so separate, but also so inherently joined. For a book that doesn’t have a hugely distinct plotline, I sure felt the build up and waited desperately for the conclusion. I listened to this on audiobook, and though I wasn’t in love with the narrators’ voice, I thought they were pretty perfect for their parts.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Stoner & Spaz, by Ron Koertge

166999Stoner & Spaz
Ron Koertge
2004 Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763621506
Genre – Realistic fiction
Age – Middle School, High School
2.5 Stars

Ben’s life has been tough to say the least. His parents are gone, he has Cerebral Palsy, and to say his grandmother is overprotective would be an understatement. Everyone treats him differently, except for Colleen. When he runs into her at an old movie theater, he tries to avoid her. Who wants to hang out with a drug addict anyway. The more she hangs around, the more he want to see her. She talks to him like he is normal, she touches him like he is normal, she just overall treats him like a normal 16 year old kid. Isn’t that what he has always wanted?

This book was short, simple, and to the point, without being simple at all. The nuances of high school feelings and relationships are well thought out and documented, however, I wasn’t really drawn to the book. I wasn’t really into the characters, they were so extreme. I understand that the point is that very different people can relate and become friends. I also understand people exist that are similar to both of these characters. However, I am neither of them, and thus had a hard time relating. I also have a hard time of deciding who I would recommend the book. That being said, I know that the book has huge hype among teenagers. Next time I find one who loves it, I will be sure to pick their brain!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The F- It List, by Julie Halpern

17286812The F- It List
Julie Halpern
2013 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN – 9781250025654
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
3.3 Stars

On the day of Alex’s father’s funeral, her best friend Becca sleeps with her boyfriend. She spends the entire summer mourning without her best friend. On the first day of school she learns that sometime during the summer Becca was diagnosed with cancer. They quickly make amends and Becca reveals to Alex that she has a bucket list of sorts. However, Alex refuses to believe that Becca will die, and in turn refuses to call it the Bucket List, thus the new title. As Becca goes through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Alex attempts to complete items off her list, allowing Becca to live vicariously through her, during the tough times.

It was alright. The story was heartbreaking and rang a big truth bell in my life. However, I just couldn’t find a reason to love it. I liked it alright just because of the humor in the story and the characters. Sometimes when life gives you lemons you just have to throw them at something funny and laugh about it, its the only way to make it through. I liked that, and I also like the friendship and interaction between Becca and Alex. It was easy and fun, and they were constantly sarcastic, which I love. Other than that aspect I just wasn’t a huge fan of the characters as a whole. Becca was resigned to be miserable, which meant that she would be, and have a good chance of making those around her miserable as well. Alex and her selfish action at the beginning of the book, really just bugged me. Cancer or no cancer, I couldn’t get past that a friend would ever do that.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

We Hear the Dead, by Dianne K. Salerni

7295062We Hear the Dead
Dianne K. Salerni
2010, Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN – 9781402230929
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – High School
2.8 Stars

Maggie and Kate Fox were bored with life, so they decided to play a little prank on their niece when she came to visit. In the middle of the night they began to make knocking noises and impersonating spirits in the house. Very quickly their parents, and the people of Hydesville were flocking to bear witness to the spirit of a murdered man. Thus started the phenomenon of Spiritualism. They became quite well known across the Eastern US, and conducted regular spiritual sittings. After many years of this life, Maggie meets a famous explorer, and falls hard. Is she willing to give up her family and her Spiritualism act for a chance at love?

I loved In the Shadow of Blackbirds. After writing that review, it was suggested that I read this book. I did not like this one much. To be quite honest, I thought the story was boring. I just didn’t want to read more. What I liked about Blackbirds was not present in this book, a story. I felt like there was nothing behind the surface. It takes place in an interesting historical period, yet I felt like it could have taken place in the present tense. The characters were not particularly likeable, they didn’t really have a ton of personality at all. Most people who reviewed this hated the romance between Maggie and Dr. Kane, however, I welcomed it as something to quell the monotony of the spiritualist “knockings.” It was something that made me anticipate what was coming next. I did appreciate the amount of actual truth in this story. Although Salerni does note that she has changed and created parts of the story, it is interesting to know how Spiritualism all began. I was fairly disappointed overall by this title.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson

18189606Since You’ve Been Gone
Morgan Matson
2014 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN – 9781442435001
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
3.5 Stars

It has been two weeks since Emily’s best friend Sloane, just up and disappeared. She won’t answer Emily’s calls or texts, and she isn’t at home either. Then Emily receives a letter from her friend, and all that is enclosed is a list. It is a list of fun, wild, and outgoing things for her to do. Emily thinks that by completing this list, she will find the answer to where Sloane went. The first item she decides to cross off takes her to an ice cream shop in which Sloane has gotten her a summer job. Throughout the summer she makes new friends and realizes that she can come out of her shell and be happy, without being forced. Just because she is finding herself doesn’t necessarily mean she will find Sloane.

I liked the positive message that was put forth in this book. Throughout most of the book, I wanted to hunt down Sloane myself, and punch her in the face. She was horrible, self involved, conceited, and thoughtless. I did like Emily. Who can’t relate to feeling left out and alone? However, in the beginning I felt like she was just a little bit too pathetic. I enjoyed reading through the process of her growth. It was realistic. I didn’t happen over night, and when the book was over it wasn’t completely finished either. I liked that with each task on the list she evolved more and more as her own independent character. She began to believe in herself just a little bit more with each zany activity. I thought the list was well thought out, without being over thought. Not every item was life changing, but each one did push her beyond her comfort zone. It was in going outside her comfort zone that really helped her grow.

Posted in Picture Books

How to Lose a Lemur, by Frann Preston-Gannon

18230829How to Lose a Lemur
Frann Preston-Gannon
2014 Sterling Children’s Books
ISBN – 9781454911319
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4.5 Stars

Everybody knows that once a lemur likes you he is hard to lose. So when the little boy in this book realizes that a lemur is following he goes to great lengths to get rid of him. He walks away, but when that doesn’t work, he gets on a train, and when that doesn’t work he takes a boat! Will he ever be able to lose his Lemur?

The illustrations make this cute book amazing! On every page lemurs are sneaking around trying to follow the little boy, it seems they have grown quite attached. The illustrations are simple and rough around the edges, they include bright colors, and are sure to make kids and adults laugh. I love the ability to build narrative skills in this story. On each page kids can try to guess what will happen next. I also like the pattern that is present, that no matter what, the lemurs can’t be lost. This will help the kids to recognize trends, and improve on their predicting skills. I won’t ruin the ending, but you are in for a sweet treat!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare

8755785City of Heavenly Fire
Cassandra Clare
2014, Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN – 9781481426305
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
3 Stars

Here are my reviews for the first five books in the series. I recommend not reading this review, if you don’t want to spoil the other books in the series.

City of Bones
City of Ashes
City of Glass
City of Fallen Angels
City of Lost Souls

Not everything went back to normal, even after Clary separated Jace and Sebastian from their evil bond. Sebastian is still at large and a danger to the whole world with the infernal cup. Using the cup he is turning Shadowhunters into evil beings. After several institutes are attacked around the world, the remaining shadowhunters retreat to Idris, but it seems they aren’t even safe there. So Clary, Jace, Simon, Izzy, and Alec set out on a mission to find Sebastian and end his reign of terror

This book was too long. Some of the book was really exciting and suspenseful, but a good portion was fifty page diatribes about unimportant fluff. Let me just say that the end was ruined for me before I even started the book. This made it particularly hard to want to read 725 pages. Alas, I had to finish it out! I liked the way the relationships were developed, and tensions seemed to be eased. However, at times I felt like Clare was trying to tie a neat little bow around the series. While the parts that were good were really good. The action was suspenseful, and had unexpected outcomes. I liked the ending but I hated the end, and I refuse to say why and mess up the book for everyone else. I am treading lightly and not saying much because I am too terrified to reveal too much. Looking forward to read The Infernal Devices series, and see how it compares.