A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday book shopping for teens

Looking to buy a book as a Christmas present for that special teen/tween in your life?  Here's a list of suggestions from Random House:  http://randomhouse.tumblr.com/post/36290150038/rh-gift-guides-holiday-2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Literary QOTW: Thanksgiving Edition

Chris and I would like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, and in honor of Thanksgiving, we have a very special and possibly sappy question of the week for you.

What's the one children's or teen book you're most thankful for because it had such an impact on you growing up?

Chris says:

I'm very thankful for books in general, but one stands out above the rest for me.  I could say something more high brow like A Separate Peace, something more philosophical like The Chronicles of Narnia, or something more thought-provoking like The Giver.  Instead, I'm going to say J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.  Lots of books present readers with new worlds where characters can become whatever they want and escape their real-world problems.  The world of Neverland is one of high-flying adventures, swashbuckling pirates, and mythical mermaids and fairies.  In Neverland, time stands still and clocks are only for crocodiles.  For Peter and the Lost Boys, Neverland offers them an escape from their greatest fear--growing up to become a miserable adult.  For the rest of us, who can't live in eternal childhood, Neverland is an escape from our ordinary, mundane, run-of-the-mill lives, but it also helps us appreciate family and love, which seem to be the only things missing from such an extraordinary world.  J.M. Barrie's life and his signature book are reminders that growing up isn't all bad, as long as you take time each day to reclaim your childhood.

Stefanie says:

Okay, I came up with this question, and I'm having a hard time answering it. There were just so many books growing up that shaped who I am today and molded my reading tastes into what they are now. The first book I remember loving was The Velveteen Rabbit, and now I'm still a sucker for animal books. Where the Red Fern Grows is another favorite animal book along with Charlotte's Web. I also grew up completely drawn in by fantasy books like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Neverending Story, and to this day fantasy is hands-down my go-to genre because of the way you can escape into fascinating magical worlds. (I've always had a crush on Peter Pan too. Guilty.) Being a complete history nerd, I had a Laura Ingalls Wilder phase and was completely obsessed with American Girl books as well, and now I sneak in a good historical fiction book every now and then because it's like having your own time machine to see what life was like in days gone by and to see how similar people are despite differences in time period. However, if I have to pick absolutely one book above all the rest that had the most impact on me, that would be Matilda by Roald Dahl. Matilda taught me that not only was it okay to be smart but it was amazingly heroic and courageous to be smart. Matilda's love of books echoed mine; neither of us could get enough of them! Matilda showed me that there's something enchanting and powerful about reading and that books have a way of making even the most difficult life situations bearable. You can go anywhere and be anyone in a book, and no one taught me that more than Matilda.

Friday, November 16, 2012

He Reads Her Pick: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Sorry for the delay in writing this review.  I've been reading this one at school with my students during our silent reading period.  Stefanie recommended that I read this one, and I was hooked just after reading the back cover! It's about a year old, but it just came out in paperback.

Title: The Name of the Star
Author:  Maureen Johnson
Pages: 372
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
ISBN:  9780399256608
Publication Date: September 29, 2011
AR Levels: Interest Level--6th+; Book Level--4.9; Points--14

In a nutshell:  Rory Devaux is a Louisiana teenager who moves to London to attend a boarding school near the college where her parents will be teaching.  Shortly after arriving, things get interesting when a series of gruesome murders  appear to be a copy of the Jack the Ripper murders from the 1800s.  Londoners become hysterical with Rippermania, but Rory knows a little more about what's going on because she's seen the suspected murderer.  The strange part is that she's the only person who's seen him, and now he's coming for her.

I'd recommend it for grades: 7th-12th +.  This is a great book and a great start to the series!

I'd recommend it to: Anyone with an interest in England and British history and anyone with a love for a good crime thriller.

What I liked most about this book:  It didn't drag on like a lot of books, and it wasn't weighed down by awkward teenage love drama.  (Don't get me wrong, there's some in the book, but it was far from the main focus!)

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y):  I love a good reference to the 90s, so I laughed quite a bit when Rory and her friends went to a Halloween party dressed as the Spice Girls, complete with a stick with a wig to represent Posh.  

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious):  5 stars, hands down!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

Title: A Girl Named Mister
Author: Nikki Grimes
Pages: 223
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 9780310720782
Publication Date: August 6, 2010
AR Levels: Interest Level: 6th-12th grades; Book Level: 4.7; Points: 2.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8266889-a-girl-named-mister

In a nutshell: This is the story of two teenaged Marys - Mary Rudine (also called Mister), a 14 year old New Yorker, and Mary, a young Jewish girl who lived long ago in Nazareth. You may think these girls have little in common, but you'd be wrong. Both bear the weight of teen pregnancy, and through a book of poems written from the Virgin Mary's perspective, Mister begins to find hope in her situation. Told in free verse, this novel does not shy away from the tough issues surrounding teen pregnancy (the ridicule, the fear, the emotional and physical pain, etc.), and yet it's incredibly beautiful at the same time.

I'd recommend it for grades: 7th-12th

I'd recommend it to: teen moms, teen dads, counselors and parents who encounter teen pregnancy, and fans of verse novels, and anyone looking for a hope-filled book to read in the Christmas season

What I liked most about this book: The parallels the author draws between the two girls are seamless and breathtaking. These two voices flow in and out wonderfully, and there are individual poems that deeply moved me (and I'm not usually a huge poetry fan). I definitely want to read more of Grimes' novels now.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): I love the way Mister's friend Sethany learns to love Mister through her pregnancy. It's a true testament to godly friendships.

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 4 stars

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seeing Cinderella by Jenny Lundquist

Title: Seeing Cinderella
Author: Jenny Lundquist
Pages: 240
Publisher: Aladdin
ISBN: 9781442445505
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
AR Levels: Interest Level: 4th-6th grades; Book Level: 4.5; Points: 6.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11359684-seeing-cinderella

In a nutshell: Callie Anderson is about to start middle school, and on top of the anxiety that brings, now she has to get *gasp* glasses! When her strange eye doctor gives her these ugly, giant black-framed glasses to wear until her special order glasses come in, Callie is less than enthused until she realizes her freaky glasses can read people's thoughts! Can Callie's magical specs help her understand why her best friend is abandoning her, whether her crush likes her back or not, or why her dad still hasn't moved back in with her family? This glasses might help Callie see more than she bargained for or maybe she'll see exactly what she needs to.

I'd recommend it for grades: 4th to 8th

I'd recommend it to: fans of modernized fairytales and anyone who's ever felt awkward or misunderstood

What I liked most about this book: It's refreshing to see here another example of pitch perfect middle school girl drama. Callie is a loveable yet flawed heroine, and this tale is a nice blend of humor, drama, and fantasy. Girls will eat this up, but I think any middle schooler could find a character to relate to. The underlying message here is that sometimes you have to look past yourself to see what others are seeing in order to make friendships and families work.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): Callie reluctantly auditions for the lead role of Cinderella in the drama class performance of Cinderella, and she unintentionally plays the role as a spaz, and it's a big hit! There's hope for those of us who are klutzy!

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 star is atrocious): 3 stars

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Title: The Spindlers
Author: Lauren Oliver
Pages: 256
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780061978081
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
AR Levels: TBA
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13438677-the-spindlers

In a nutshell: Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders? Well...spindlers actually (I couldn't resist the Indiana Jones joke.), but basically they are giant soul-stealing spiders who have kidnapped Liza's little brother Patrick's soul and left their eggs in his body like a shell. Liza must go Below and brave the dangers there in order to save him before it's too late.

I'd recommend it for grades: 4 to 6

I'd recommend it to: fans of The Hobbit (it has a very Tolkien-like feel to it) or kids who enjoy a good fantastical journey novel

What I liked most about this book: This book is just the right blend of the spooky, quirky, and funny. Liza is a courageous and spunky girl whom you like from the first chapter, and her companion is a complex yet hilarious rat named Mirabella. Mirabella is my new favorite rat in children's literature (sorry, Templeton). She wears a messy wig, crazy makeup, and a newspaper skirt, and she's longing to be loved. There's more to her than meets the eye for sure, but that's all I'll say. I'm sure you will love her as much as I do.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): Have you ever wondered where all your missing socks go? Well, they probably go to the troglod market where gnome-like creatures called troglods sell odds and ends stolen from the human world for colored pieces of paper. It's a wondrously funny scene when Liza and Mirabella visit the troglod market.

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 3 stars

*Side note: If you like this one, you will love Lauren Oliver's other middle grade novel, Liesl and Po, about a girl and a ghost who set out to solve the mystery of her father's death and to save a troubled boy. Check it out on Goodreads here, and maybe one day I'll review it too. :) If you're a bit older, check out her books for teens too. They're all incredible, but Delirium is my favorite. Here's a link to all her books on Goodreads. She's one of my favorite new-ish authors.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Literary QOTW: Decision 2012

It's been a while since we've done a question of the week, so in honor of Election Day here in the good ol' U. S. of A., we pose to you this question: If you could elect a book character as the next President of the United States, whom would you choose and why?

Chris says:

I would vote for Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games.  He has a charismatic personality, and people want to follow his lead.  Based on what we know from Catching Fire and Mockingjay, he is skilled as a fighter, loyal, and selfless.  Honorable mention:  Mikael Blomkvist from The Millennium Trilogy would make a very Clinton-esque president; also, Minerva McGonagall from Harry Potter or Skeeter Phelan from The Help would be amazing as the first female president. Obviously, none of those characters could actually be President of the United States because Finnick is from a post-US world, Blomkvist and McGonagall are from Europe, and Skeeter is too young, but I still think they'd all be great.  

Stefanie says:

I would vote for Nicholas Benedict from The Mysterious Benedict Society because he's genius smart, fatherly, good at making tough decisions, and experienced in top-secret missions to save the world. However, he does suffer from narcolepsy, so he'll need a great running mate to take the reins when he's suffering from one of his sleeping spells. I would recommend a grown-up version of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus raised Scout to be fair, loyal, kind, giving, and selfless, and I have a feeling she ended up getting a law degree like her dad so she could help those less fortunate than her fight for their rights. Just as she brings Boo Radley out of the shadows, she would make sure that no one would ever feel like they were forgotten or unspoken for. I do love the idea of Skeeter Phelan too though!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki

Title: The Ghost of Graylock
Author: Dan Poblocki
Pages: 258
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545402682
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
AR Levels: Interest Level: 4th-8th grades; Book Level: 4.8; Points: 9.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13316309-the-ghost-of-graylock

In a nutshell: Neil and his big sister Bree are new in town. They're temporarily living with their aunts after their mother and father's separation causes some turmoil in their family, but if it's peace and quiet they're looking for, they won't find it in this town. When Neil hears the legends about a ghost who roams the halls of an abandoned insane asylum where three teens mysteriously drowned, he can't resist exploring, and he takes Bree and two new friends along for the ride. What he doesn't know is that something at Graylock Hall has unfinished business, and it wants Neil to help it finish it.

I'd recommend it for grades: 4 to 8

I'd recommend it to: fans of good old fashioned ghost stories and students who have graduated from Goosebumps

What I liked most about this book: It has been a while since I've read a scary book, and while this one didn't make me want to sleep with a nightlight on, it did creep me out a good deal. The best part to me was the pacing. The book starts with the legend of Nurse Janet, the supposed murderer of three teens at Graylock Hall, and the creep factor of that alone hooks you. Then within the twenty pages, you're already sneaking into Graylock Hall with Neil and Bree and friends. By putting some of the scariest scenes in the beginning, Poblocki lures you into quickly turning pages to see what will happen next.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): The scene where the kids break into Graylock Hall is vividly described to the point where you feel like you're breaking in too, and their first paranormal encounter in a patient's room is SPOOKY in a good way.

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 3 stars