Posted in Uncategorized

The Impossible Knife of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson

knifeThe Impossible Knife of Memory
Laurie Halse Anderson
2014 by Viking Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780670012091
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
3 Stars

After years on the road, Hayley and her father finally settle back down so that she can attend high school. As her father struggles to battle his PTSD, Hayley must try to adjust to a more stable life than being on the move.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this book. It was good, but it wasn’t great. I didn’t find it very compelling, and I didn’t find it very engaging. It was interesting to see that PTSD affects not only the person suffering from it, but their loved ones as well. I liked that the ending was open, but it left me feeling blah. That’s it though, that’s how I felt about the whole book. Blah on the characters, blah on the plot, and the setting as well.

Posted in Uncategorized

Polar Bear’s Underwear, by Tupera Tupera

bear5Polar Bear’s Underwear
Tupera Tupera
2015 Chronicle Books
ISBN – 9781452141992
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
5 Stars

Polar Bear can’t seem to find his underwear! Not to worry, because his good friend Mouse is here to help. They find all sorts of colorful wacky underwear of all different sizes, but none of them belong to Polar Bear. Will he ever find them?!?! This is my favorite picture book of the year so far. Each page shows a fun pair of underwear. They are shown through a cut out that leads us to the next page. On that page we see all sorts of different animals that are wearing the wacky garments. So, not only do we have unmentionables, which kids love and find hilarious, but is also invites kids to be interactive, by guessing what animal will be on each page. The kicker is in the ending! In addition, the illustrations are bright, big, whimsical, and ridiculously funny. Everything other than the animals is a tan background, which really makes the focus pop. Every time I see the cover on my desk, I laugh all over again!

Posted in Young Adult Nonfiction

Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos

HoleinmyLifeHole in My Life
Jack Gantos
2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN – 9780374399887
Genre – Autobiography
Age – High School
4 Stars

Jack Gantos, author of children’s and young adult books, got into a decent bit of trouble when he was a young adult. He made the mistake of getting on board with a drug smuggling mission, and landed himself in prison. In Hole in My Life, he tells us about his childhood, the events that lead up to his bad decision, the mission, and his time in prison. I like Jack Gantos as a writer even if he is a bit cocky. This book is no different. It is written honestly and bluntly. Just a note, he reads his own audiobook. Although, I love when authors narrate their own books, I felt like this one was lacking in emotion. It made me not feel bad for him at all when he was caught and sentenced. I think I really would have preferred to have read this one myself! Overall, it was a great story about someone who had a rocky start to life, but his dedication and drive helped him to become successful and fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a writer. He proves that you can always turn things around.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Trapped, by Michael Northrup

Michael Northrup
2011 by Scholastic Press
ISBN – 9780545210126
Genre – Apocalyptic
Age – High School
3.2 Stars

Once the snow begins falling heavily, school closes early. As most of the kids load into buses or their parents cars, a few are left behind to wait. It is not until the electricity shuts down, and the heat goes off that the kids start to worry. At least they have food though! Then the drifts fully cover the first floor of the school. Will the snow ever stop? How long will they have to figure out how to stay alive?

I liked, not loved Trapped. The premise was good, and it was honest and raw. I feel like it could have been executed better. It seemed like it took the kids for ever to understand the gravity of the situation. At first they just treated it as if it was a fun little sleepover at school with no teachers and cute girls. The characters have absolutely no personality. They start that way in the beginning, and they don’t really grow during this terrible ordeal. I’m not a huge fan of super short chapters, I feel like it really messes up the flow for me. Overall, the writing wasn’t great, but the story was good enough for me to want to know what was going to happen.

Posted in Children's Lit

The Princess in Black, by SHannon Hale and Dean Hale

princessinblackThe Princess in Black
Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
2014 by Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763665104
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Early Elementary
3.7 Stars

Princess Magnolia was having hot chocolate with the Duchess when her monster alarm goes off. Despite the bad timing she rushes off to her secret closet, and puts on her secret outfit, and becomes the princess in black. While she is away taking care of business, the Duchess is determined to uncover her secrets. Will the Princess be able to save the world before the Duchess finds out who she really is?  This book is a great lesson that not all girls are alike. It also teaches us not to judge someone by their looks, because you never know what awesomeness is hiding in their closet. The illustrations are bright and magical. They really add to the humor of the story. This book is witty and funny, and perfect for little girls who love princesses or mischief.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Everneath, by Brodi Ashton

Brodi Ashton
2012 by Balzer + Bray
ISBN – 9780062071132
Genre – Fantasy, Paranormal
Age – High School
3.2 Stars

Nikki has returned from the Everneath. She has six months to make amends for vanishing without a trace last year. She has six months to say goodbye, for good. If it were up to her, she would spend the time reconnecting with her father and her once boyfriend, but Cole keeps interfering. Cole is the boy who swept her away to the Everneath the first time, determined to make her his queen and rule with her by his side. Will she be able to escape his grips and those of the underworld, or will time run out?

Oh, I had such high hopes for this book. It wasn’t bad, per se. I could not get behind a single character. Not one. They were just all so full of their first world problems, when really they should have been concentrating on their otherworld problem. Even the adults were selfish and immature. Also, the annoying and ever present love triangle was just that, annoying. I liked the premise, and I liked the ending, despite the cliffhanger. Which means I may actually decide to read book two. I liked the descriptions of the Everneath, and I liked the effects it had on people. It was magical in such a way that was dark and evil, but appealing at the same time. I am so mixed about this one…

Posted in Children's Lit, Graphic Novel

Tommysaurus Rex, by Doug Tennapel

ToomysaurusTommysaurus Rex
Doug Tennapel
2013 by GRAPHIX (first published 2004)
ISBN – 9780545483834
Genre – Graphic Novel
Age – Elementary School
4 Stars

After Ely’s beloved dog Tommy is hit by a car, he goes to live with his grandfather for the summer. Soon after the local bully starts bothering him, he comes across a very friendly dinosaur. They become the best of friends and get into all sorts of trouble together. Ely and his grandpa try to convince the town that a dinosaur is worth having around. I like Tennapel’s illustrations. They seem to have a certain bit of darkness to them. He also has a common theme of bullying, and he always seems to resolve this issue in a positive manner. Ely is relatable, and so is his situation. The book manages to be funny and serious all at the same time. I thought this book was great fun. What little boy or girl wouldn’t want a giant pet dinosaur, even with all of the concerns that go along with having one?

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson

JennaThe Adoration of Jenna Fox
Mary E. Pearson
2008 by Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN – 9780805076684
Genre – Science Fiction
Age – High School
3.9 Stars

After a horrible car accident Jenna is in critical condition, and on the verge of death. Her two best friends did not survive. As head of the Fox corporation, her father has found away to keep her “brain” alive by uploading its contents into a little black box. Eighteen months later she wakes up from a coma knowing that something is terribly different. Her parents do not want her leaving the house, she can’t eat real food, and she is strangely shorter than she remembers being. By watching videos of her childhood, she slowly pieces together her old life, and what is going on in her new life as well.

The ethical questions behind this book were quite interesting, and they also melded into very personal questions for Jenna. She battled with the question, what makes a person a real person? Or even what makes me, me? Although she may have been a real person, it was less clear if she was the same person she was before the accident. This book was interesting to me, but the entire time, I was waiting for something to happen. Although it wasn’t a very action packed book, it was a book that held my interest despite this lacking. In a future technological world, I believed this scenario; that parents would do ANYTHING they could to preserve whatever they could of their child. I believed that the response would be a combative teenager, who treats any extreme emotion with backlash. The comparison of Dane a natural sociopath and Jenna, artificial yet “real” was obvious, but unnecessary in my opinion. I think he was filler and I would love to have cut him out entirely. However, after continuing the series, I can see why he was there. This book was good, but I think it could have been better easily.