A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus

Title: Shadow on the Mountain
Author: Margi Preus
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
ISBN: 9781419704246
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
AR Levels: Book Level - 5.0; Interest Level - 6th and up; Points: 8.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13591179-shadow-on-the-mountain

In a nutshell: Espen (code name Odin) begins his life as a spy in Norway by smuggling illegal newspapers at the age of 14. Follow Espen's ascent to full-fledged teenaged spy over the course of 1940 to 1945 as Norway becomes more and more overpowered by Germany. It's an inspiring tale of bravery and friendship that will chill and thrill you.

I'd recommend it for grades: 5 to 8 (There's only one part that's kind of violent.)

I'd recommend it to: James Bond and Sound of Music fans, spy novel lovers, WWII historical fiction fans

What I liked most about this book: It's another of those historical fiction books that's about WWII but focuses on a part of the war that doesn't get as much attention. I enjoyed it, but something about the speed of the novel was off. Parts felt rushed, and other parts felt long, and I wasn't thrilled with how it ended so abruptly. However, I love how evident it was that this has been heavily researched. The end matter in this book rocks; it includes a timeline of the German occupation in Norway, pictures of the real man Espen's character is based on, some spy-related activities, and other cool stuff.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): When they're in their early teens, Espen and his friends build a weapons storage facility that's camouflaged in the mountain. It's a poignant moment when you think about how much life changes in the middle of a war. Most teenage boys build forts in the woods; these boys had to build a place to hide weapons to protect themselves from Nazi soldiers. Chilling.

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

Monday, September 23, 2013

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, adapted by Nancy Butler

Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen (adapted by Nancy Butler)
Pages: 112
Publisher: Marvel
ISBN: 9780785164401
Publication Date: September 19, 2012
AR Levels: TBD
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12828567-northanger-abbey

In a nutshell: Catherine Morland lives a life of adventure but only vicariously through her cherished gothic novels, so when she gets a chance to go to Bath to accompany some wealthy family friends, she jumps at the hope of a real adventure of her own. Adventure does indeed find Catherine, and the biggest adventures come in the form of Henry Tilney, a charming young clergyman, and John and Isabella Thorpe, a brother and sister pair who take a quick liking to Catherine. Can sweet, imaginative Catherine push past her childish naivete, find her way in the world, and maybe fall in love along the way? Austen's most satirical (and I'd say funniest), novel is beautifully illustrated in this graphic novel adaptation.

I'd recommend it for grades: 8 and up

I'd recommend it to: Jane Austen fans, romance fans, and graphic novel fans

What I liked most about this book: I've mentioned before how much I love graphic novels, but this is a particularly good example of how a beloved classic can easily and artfully translate to graphic format. This is sure to introduce new generations to Austen. It's my second favorite Austen Marvel adaptation (Pride and Prejudice still holds the top spot.).

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): Catherine's gothic romance notions get the best of her, and she goes exploring in the Abbey and happens upon a mysterious paper, which turns out to be...a packing list. I love that Jane really pumps up the comedy in this novel. Catherine's overactive imagination is hilarious at times.

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg

Title: Serafina's Promise
Author: Ann E. Burg
Pages: 304
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545535649
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
AR Levels: TBD
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17270515-serafina-s-promise

In a nutshell: Serafina lives in a rural village in Haiti. She longs to go to school so she can pursue her dream of being a doctor. Her family cannot afford to send her to school, but a natural disaster changes their fate, and through adversity, Serafina may find a way to make her dream come true.

I'd recommend it for grades: 3 to 6

I'd recommend it to: fans of a feel-good story and students who enjoy learning about other cultures

What I liked most about this book: This verse novel is a quick, sweet read that features a charming main character. The descriptions of the setting are so vivid, you'll feel like you're walking the streets of her village with Serafina. Her passion for learning is contagious, and I think it could open the eyes of some first world kids and show them just how much of a blessing education really is. There's also a really nifty guide to Creole words and pronunciations at the end of the book.

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): This line: "The only unbreakable home is one made from love." :)

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

*I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Title: Skinny
Author: Donna Cooner
Pages: 272
Publisher: Point
ISBN: 9780545427630
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
AR Levels: Book Level - 4.2, Interest Level - 6th and up, Points - 8.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11958583-skinny

In a nutshell: After Ever Davies' mother dies, she begins using food to ease the pain, and soon she feels like a prisoner in her own body. A toxic voice, whom she names "Skinny," haunts her thoughts with hateful words of discouragement that she'll never amount to anything and that she'll always be alone. But through the process of gastric bypass surgery, this obese teen discovers that she's not as alone as she thinks, that her dreams aren't impossible to obtain, and that her worth is not determined by her weight.

I'd recommend it for grades: 7th and up. I'd say it's written for high schoolers, but middle schoolers will enjoy it too, and it's appropriate content-wise for them as well. I wish I'd had this book in middle school!

I'd recommend it to: fans of contemporary realistic fiction and anyone who has struggled with worrying about what other people think of them or feeling unhappy in their own skin

What I liked most about this book: This is a superbly written novel about a subject that rarely gets tackled in teen lit. I've never read another book about gastric bypass surgery in YA lit, and even if you've never struggled with weight issues, there are important lessons about looking beyond yourself to be learned here, and I think every teen would benefit from reading it. The Cinderella references in this book are fun (if a bit over-used), and I love all the references to Broadway songs (Ever uses a Broadway playlist to help her through her post-surgery life.).

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): I don't want to give away too much, so I'll just tell you that Rat is by far my favorite character. He's mature yet nerdy and adorable, and he's one of the best examples of true friendship I've seen in a book in a while.

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