A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni

Title: The Caged Graves
Author: Dianne Salerni
Pages: 329
Publisher: Clarion Books
ISBN: 9780547868530
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
AR Levels: TBD
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12394044-the-caged-graves

In a nutshell: 17-year-old Verity Boone is returning to her hometown of Catawissa, Pennsylvania after being sent to live with relatives following the death of her mother. It's been 15 years since she left, and Verity is looking forward to seeing her father and to meeting her fiance, Nathaniel, in person since they've only been exchanging letters to this point, but Verity's arrival in town stirs up an old mystery surrounding her mother's and aunt's deaths. She is horrified to learn that their graves are caged in and interred outside the churchyard, and she is determined to find out why. The real question is whether the graves have cages to keep the living out or to keep the dead in. 

I'd recommend this book for grades: 8 and up

I'd recommend it to: historical mystery/romance fans

What I liked most about this book: I confess I picked up this book because when it came across my desk I was intrigued by both the title and the cover and immediately wanted to know why those graves had cages myself. Once I read the blurb in the book jacket, I knew I had to read it. Apparently the author stumbled across these real-live caged graves in Pennsylvania and did some research on them. She found out who the two women were but could find no evidence of the reasoning behind the cages, so she wrote this book as an imaginative, fictional explanation. Fun fact: the cover image is taken by the author's husband and shows the actual graves. Way cool. As for the story itself, it's definitely a page turner full of suspense and mini cliffhangers, and there's a love triangle too (not the best, but okay). It's a quick, intriguing, and entertaining read.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): I won't say too much, but Verity's first encounter with her pen pal fiance doesn't go exactly as planned, and he's not quite who she imagined him to be. If only she'd had eHarmony, right? ;)

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 4 stars (would be 5 if the romantic parts were a bit less cheesy)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The Fifth Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Pages: 457
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
ISBN: 9780399162411
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
AR Levels: TBD
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16101128-the-5th-wave

In a nutshell: After surviving four waves of a deadly alien invasion that has wiped out the majority of the world's population through lack of power, tidal waves, and a plague, Cassie is determined to stay alive and rescue her kid brother Sammy, but waiting for the fifth wave is like waiting for the other shoe to drop, and Cassie can trust no one...can she?

I'd recommend this for grades: 10 and up (strong language and lots of death and violence obviously)

I'd recommend it to: science fiction fans (especially Doctor Who and X-Files fans), Hunger Games and I Am Number Four fans, and conspiracy theorists ;)

What I liked most about this book: This book has everything you could want in a great young adult novel: aliens, love, sarcastic humor, cute boys, a strong female lead, thrilling mystery, plot twists, government secrets, angst, interesting/loveable/hateable characters, and most of all excellent writing! This one exceeded my already high expectations based on all the hype it's getting! Read it!

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): When Cassie's describing what she's got packed in her survival kit, she pokes fun at herself about including a toothbrush and toothpaste. She's determined that if she's going to be murdered by aliens, she's at least going to go out with clean teeth. Haha! Cassie's snarky comments are part of my favorite thing about her character and this book. She's like Katniss but sassier.

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 5 stars!!! I can hardly wait for the next one! 

Follow our authors on Twitter...

I've gotten a lot of information on Twitter about new books and updates from authors we've reviewed.  So, I thought some of you might be interested in following them, too.

R.J. Palacio (Wonder):  @RJPalacio
Heather Brewer (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod):  @heatherbrewer
Chris Crutcher (Deadline; Ironman; Period.8):  @ChrisCrutcher
Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm):  @AdamGidwitz
K.M. Walton (Cracked):  @KMWalton1
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars):  @realjohngreen
Ridley Pearson (Disney After Dark):  @RidleyPearson
A.C. Gaughen (Scarlet):  @ACGaughen
Nic Sheff (Tweak):  @nic_sheff
Deborah Wiles (Countdown):  @deborahwiles
Lindsay Eland (Scones and Sensibility):  @lindsayeland
Jennifer E. Smith (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight; This Is What Happy Looks Like):  @JenESmith
Michelle Muto (The Book of Lost Souls):  @MichWritesBooks
Tom Angleberger (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda):  @TomAngleberger
Paul Volponi (Hurricane Song):  @paul_volponi
Jodi Lynn Anderson (Tiger Lily):  @jodilynna
Christopher Healy (The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom):  @ChristophrHealy
50 Cent (Playground):  @50cent
John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back): @corey_whaley
Rick Riordan (The Mark of Athena):  @camphalfblood
Nyrae Dawn (What a Boy Wants):  @NyraeDawn
Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity):  @EWein2412
Gabrielle Zevin (Because It Is My Blood):  @gabriellezevin
Dan Poblocki (The Ghost of Graylock):  @DanPoblocki
Lauren Oliver (The Spindlers):  @OliverBooks
Jenny Lundquist (Seeing Cinderella):  @Jenny_Lundquist
Maureen Johnson (The Name of the Star):  @maureenjohnson
Annabel Pitcher (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece; Ketchup Clouds): @APitcherAuthor
Libba Bray (The Diviners):  @libbabray
Obert Skye (Wonkenstein):  @obertskye
Jennifer Holm & Matthew Holm (Extreme Babymouse):  @mattholm
Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan):  @kaaauthor
Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz (Colin Fischer):  @ashmasterzero  @MuseZack
Cal Armistead (Being Henry David):  @CalArmistead
James Patterson (The Dangerous Days of Daniel X):  @JP_Books
Ruta Sepetys (Out of the Easy; Between Shades of Gray):  @RutaSepetys
Peter Lerangis (The Colossus Rises):  @PeterLerangis
Victoria Schwab (The Archived):  @veschwab
Kenneth Oppel (Half Brother):  @kennethoppel

Friday, June 21, 2013

Luminescence by Who Mee

This is an interesting review to write.  The author is 16 and requested that we review her book.  I'll be honest:  I didn't have high expectations for the book.  My mistake!  This one had me hooked by Page 10 and the character development was amazing.  The main character's relationship with her band-of-misfits friends reminded me of Wendy and The Lost Boys in Peter Pan (my favorite book).  The author has done a great job at weaving together life in the Caribbean, drug smuggling, zombies, voodoo, and teen angst.

Title:  Luminescence
Author:  Who Mee
Pages: Available only as an eBook (the PDF form is 213 pages)
Publisher:  Smashwords
ISBN:  9781301861187
Publication Date:  June 7, 2013
AR Levels: N/A
Goodreads link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18078102-luminescence

In a nutshell:  Nyx is a teenage girl who moves with her family to the Caribbean.  There, she meets a group of boys who are pretty much raising themselves.  Tourists on the island are disappearing and the boys know the secret and have been secretly fighting the forces behind it.  Additionally, Nyx learns about the history her family has with this island and how what happened in the past is affecting her future.  Can she help the boys stop what's happening? Or will she even survive the evil that jeopardizes her, her family, and her friends?

I'd recommend it for grades:  7th and up.  Mild language and violence

I'd recommend it to:  Anyone who loves a good adventure.  If you're a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Indiana Jones, Peter Pan, or any others like these, this book is for you!!

What I like most about this book:  The character development was wonderful!  I actually cared about these characters and knew their stories.

Single favorite moment (Without getting spoiler-y):  At one point, the boys are in a prank war and one character references Peter Pan, referring to not growing up.  I'm a sucker for a well-placed reference to my favorite book.

Star rating (Where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious):  4 stars; If I could give 4 1/2 stars, I would!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Title: Ketchup Clouds
Author: Annabel Pitcher
Pages: 272
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780316246767
Publication Date: November 12, 2013 (in America...originally released in the UK in November 2012)
AR Levels: unavailable
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17242447-ketchup-clouds

In a nutshell: Zoe has a secret, a secret so terrible she can't tell anyone, but she has to tell someone what she's done or the guilt may consume her. Zoe's solution? Become pen pals with an inmate on Death Row in Texas. Through this series of letters, "Zoe" (who does not reveal her real name) begins to process her grief and intense guilt over murdering a boy in her life. Who is this boy? What could have caused a nerdy teenage girl to murder him? "Zoe" answers these questions and creates more for readers in this dark yet romantic novel that is sure to keep you guessing.

I'd recommend it for grades: 9 and up (mature content and mild language)

I'd recommend it to: mystery lovers and dark humor fans

What I liked most about this book: It's a backwards whodunnit with a lot of heart too. I laughed, I got a little misty-eyed, and I could not put this one down. It's a tough thing to introduce your main character as a murderer in the first chapter, but "Zoe" immediately draws your sympathy with her vulnerability and humor. I've never read another book like this one, and I mean that in the best of ways.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): There is so much I can't give away in this one, but let's just say "Zoe" works part-time shelving books in a library, and there's some sweet nerdy flirting in the stacks that made my librarian heart happy. Also...any moment with "Zoe's" deaf little sister Dot is my favorite. She's adorable.

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

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

I have to admit--this book has been sitting on my shelf for over a year.  On numerous occasions, I picked it up to read it and then put it back down.  Now that summer break is upon me, I finally decided to read it.  I could not put it down!!  It is a phenomenal book that had more heart than I ever could imagine.  It also reminded me of a '90s movie that I absolutely loved--Born to Be Wild (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113533/).

Title:  Half Brother
Author:  Kenneth Oppel
Pages:  377
Publisher:  Harper Collins
ISBN:  9781554686117
Publication Date:  September 1, 2010
AR Levels:  Interest level--4th to 8th; Book level--4.4; Points--13.0
Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8700023-half-brother

In a nutshell:  Ben is your average teenager; his family, however, is a different story.  His parents are both scientists who embark on an experimental journey that will change lives in a way they never hypothesized.  Around Ben's 13th birthday, his parents bring home a baby chimp that they plan to raise like a human and teach it sign language.  The chimp, Zan, quickly becomes Ben's little brother and the bond they build blurs the line between experiment and family.  At the same time, Ben is trying to adjust to living in a new city, going to a new school, making new friends (including the breathtaking Jennifer), and coming to terms with the many ways his parents' experiment have changed his life forever.  While Ben sees Zan as another member of the family, his father intends to keep things purely scientific, which causes a rift between them and sets into motion a series of events that will keep your heartstrings on the edge of their seat.

I'd recommend it for grades:  6th +; I really do think adults would love this one, too.

I'd recommend it to:  Animal lovers; anyone who's into social science, sociology, anthropology, or zoology.

What I liked most about this book:  The conflicts are deeper than a lot of YA fiction.  This one has both internal and external conflicts and forces you to ask yourself questions about a lot of topics.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y):  There's one point in the book in which Ben walks into Zan's room and sees him playing with his toys in a way that almost resembles a child's tea party.  

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

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Pages: 328
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 9781423157311
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
AR Levels: Book Level - 4.7, Interest Level - 9th-12th, Points - 13.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10929432-the-archived

In a nutshell: Mackenzie Bishop, the youngest girl to ever be named a Keeper, began her job when she was just 12 years old, and that important job is to keep the dead where they belong. Mackenzie serves The Archive, an otherworldly place where Histories, or records of the dead, are kept sleeping on shelves and guarded by Librarians. Once in a while, a History awakens, and then it's Mackenzie's job to return it so it doesn't reach the outside world. Mackenzie inherited this calling from her grandfather, Da, who himself has passed on recently along with her little brother, Ben, who died in an accident. In an effort to start afresh after those tragedies struck their family, Mackenzie and her parents move to an old hotel that's been converted to an apartment building, The Coronado. Mackenzie knows that old buildings hold more memories, more secrets, and more roaming Histories, but she has no idea just how dark its secrets are and how much she'll be tested in her duties as Keeper.

I'd recommend it for grades: 9 and up (for mild language and heavy subject matter...but even adults will enjoy this one!)

I'd recommend it to: Neil Gaiman fans, Whovians, fans of The Giver

What I liked most about this book: It's the perfect blend of terror, romance, mystery, and suspense. Schwab completely sucked me into this world (It helps that there's a giant library.), and I am dying to read the sequel now. The writing style is gorgeous, and there's a small cliffhanger at the end of nearly every chapter, so you don't want to put it down, and I mean that in a good way! Also, Mackenzie rocks. She's such a strong yet vulnerable heroine. If I had to sum it all up in two words, I'd say haunting and beautiful.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): Mackenzie meets a boy named Wes who has an aunt and cousin who live in The Coronado, and at one point they start discussing her required summer reading list, which includes Dante's Inferno, one of Wes' favorite books. He says, "It's a shame they do that....requirement ruins even the best of books." So true and timely considering our summer reading program starts this week at the library! Word of advice - read what you want AND what you have to this summer. :)

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Period.8 by Chris Crutcher

Sorry for the delay in posting this; I actually finished it last week.  I can't lie--I saw this one in a bookstore and was intrigued by the cover.  It was a pretty good book, but it seemed disjointed at times.  It starts out angsty, gets mysterious in the middle, and then turns into a James Patterson novel by the end.

Title:  Period.8
Author:  Chris Crutcher
Pages:  320 pages
Publisher:  Harper Collins
ISBN:  9780061914805
Publication Date:  March 26, 2013 
AR Levels: Book Level-- 4.2; Interest Level-- 9-12; Points-- 7.0

In a nutshell:  Paul Baum is a swimmer (like many of Crutcher's protagonists).  The story opens with Paul revealing to his girlfriend that he cheated on her.  Their relationship deteriorates quickly and she wants revenge.  Period.8 is a lunch club run by one of their teachers where students can go and share things in a safe environment.  Through the course of the book, all of the Period.8 members become entangled in activities that can best be described as as mysterious and shady.  Bad things are happening and one of their own might be causing it all.

I'd recommend it for grades:  10-12+.  Language and "romantic" content

I'd recommend it to:  Anyone who likes a good book that combines teen angst and suspense

What I liked most about this book:  I liked that it wasn't sappy or cheesy.  The conversations seemed authentic and could actually be said by teenagers.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y):  Mr. Logs is the teacher in charge of Period.8.  During one conversation with a student, he references Ferris Bueller AND quotes a very colorful former Louisiana governor.

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

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

Title: The Colossus Rises
Author: Peter Lerangis
Pages: 348
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062070401
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
AR Levels: Book Level - 4.1; Interest Level - 4th-8th grade; Points - 9.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16061340-the-colossus-rises

In a nutshell: Jack McKinley is just a regular kid until one day he passes out at school and wakes up on a mysterious island where a scientist tells him that he and three other kids are members of the The Select, descendants of the royal family of a mythical lost city, and besides that they have a genetic anomaly that gives them superpowers after they undergo treatments. That's the good news. The bad news is that this anomaly will kill them if left untreated and if they cannot retrieve seven powerful artifacts that reside in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Basically it's equal parts Percy Jackson, X-Men, Indiana Jones, and LOST!

I'd recommend it for grades: 4 to 8 (or above)

I'd recommend it to: Rick Riordan fans and adrenaline junkies

What I liked most about this book: After reading this, I feel like I now have a perfect answer to the "What should I read after the Percy Jackson series?" question. The dialogue and characters (and even the cover art) are very similar, yet this series is unique enough to hold its own and prevent me from stamping it as a rip-off. It's every bit as fast-paced and funny as the Percy books, and it also has a few unexpected twists. Overall, I still enjoy Riordan's books better, but this is a solid read-alike. If Percy Jackson is Batman, this series is Robin, but who doesn't love Robin? ;) It definitely left me wanting more, and I'm excited it's going to be a series.*

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): The opening chapter describes how Jack is attacked by a homemade alarm clock he rigged up from household items, including a dinosaur toy that smacks him in the face. It reminded me of the opening scene of Back to the Future with Doc's crazy inventions, which I realize dates me, but it's a very funny scene in the book, and it sets the strange yet somewhat silly tone for the rest of the story.

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

*This is the first of a seven-book series. I'm assuming each book will focus on one of the Seven Wonders. Book two, Lost in Babylon, hits shelves on October 29, 2013.