A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

A Guy, a Girl, and a Teen Book Blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken

Title: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Number of CDs (I listened to the audiobook, and you should too!): 5
Publisher: Listening Library and Disney Lucasfilm
ISBN: 9781101891971
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
AR Levels: Book Level - 5.7, Interest Level - 4th-8th grades, Points - 7.0
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22716524-a-new-hope

In a nutshell: A long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away...yeah, you know what this is about. Do I really need to summarize it? Okay, fine. This is the tale of a girl and two guys. The girl is trying to save the galaxy from an evil regime, one guy is pirating his way through the stars and accidentally winds up aiding a rebellion, and the other guy is discovering that his destiny lies far beyond his desert home planet. When these three characters' tales intersect, the galaxy will never be the same again. *cue John Williams music*

I'd recommend it to grades: 3 and up (Let's be honest...all ages will love this.)

I'd recommend it to: Star Wars fans (obviously), adventure junkies, and those who like character-driven novels with plenty of action splashed in

What I liked most about this book: First off...I listened to the audiobook of this, and I'm so glad I did. I think I would have enjoyed the book, but the Star Wars music and sound effects and incredible voice talents on this are AMAZING! Huge props to Marc Thompson and Rebecca Soler. As for the content, I loved the insight you get into each of these three main characters. Like many people, I've been a ginormous Star Wars fan for longer than I can remember, and I thought I knew these characters pretty well. However, this delved even more into the minds of Leia, Han, and Luke. You hear Leia's inner struggle to prove herself to the Senate and the Rebellion and mourn with her after she loses her home planet, you laugh at Han's inner playboy yet realize that he's more than just a smug smuggler, and you follow Luke's journey from naive moisture farmer to confident and selfless Rebellion pilot and Jedi-in-training. Plus, much of the dialogue is straight from the movie! I may or may not have quoted it along with the book as I listened to it. Yeah, I definitely did. ;) I laughed, I teared up (Yes, in the car! Haha!), I nerded out, and I applauded Alexandra Bracken for writing a worthy Star Wars retelling that lives up to the original. Brava, Ms. Bracken, brava!

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): I'm not sure it's even possible to give Star Wars spoilers. I mean, unless you've been living under a rock or are under a year old or something (In which case, I doubt you're reading this review. You'd be super genius smart!), you've heard or seen this tale in one way or another. If you haven't, then this is the perfect time to start, but I digress. It's hard to pick a favorite moment in this because it's all so fantastic, but the trash compacter scene is probably at the top of my list. Our three heroes are in danger of being flattened alive in a giant garbage disposal, and you really get to see how each reacts under pressure and how they interact with each other. Plus, trash monster!

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): All the stars in a galaxy far, far away! (plus 3 stars for the second book, The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz, and 5 stars for the third book, Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Hello, everyone!  To the newer readers of the blog, I'm "the guy" from the title of the blog.  To the more long-term readers, I still exist.  I've spent the last 20ish months in a rigorous Ph.D. program, and I can happily say I'm over halfway finished!  For the past few days, I've been lucky to enjoy a much-needed Spring Break, during which I actually got to read a book with characters and plot and humor.  And because it was so great, I had to share my review of it with you all.

Title: Better Nate Than Ever
Author: Tim Federle
Pages: 275
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781442446915 
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
AR Levels: Book Level - 5.9, Interest Level - 4th-8th grades, Points - 9.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13414183-better-nate-than-ever

In a nutshell:  Nate Foster, a 13-year old misfit from unexciting Jankburg, PA, decides to leave behind his lackluster bully-filled life and run away to The Big Apple in search of stardom.  With his best friend Libby covering for him, Nate takes his passion for Broadway to the Great White Way itself, where he plans to try out for E.T.: The Musical.  Along the way, he learns about the realities of showbiz, reconnects with a long lost relative, makes some new friends, and has an adventure that changes his life.  But...Will he get the role he's waited a lifetime for, or is he destined for the role he's played for a lifetime?  Is E.T.: The Musical his ticket to fame or his ticket back to Jankburg?  Read to find out!

I'd recommend it to grades:  This book was written with middle school students in mind, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well (and I haven't been a middle school student for quite some time).

I'd recommend it to:  First and foremost, I'd recommend this book to all the Nate Fosters out there--the young guys and gals struggling to fit in where you are because you're obviously destined for bigger things.  Secondly, the book features a main character who's still coming to terms with whether he's gay, straight, or somewhere in between (and even what those really mean); as such, this book might be refreshing to those tweens and teens in the same boat, wishing that young adult literature featured more characters like you.  Thirdly, Broadway nerds will love this book.

What I liked most about this book:  This. Book. Is. Hilarious.  If there was a Tony category for "Funniest YA Novel About Broadway," Tim Federle would be a shoo-in.   

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): Nate and his best friend Libby rehearsed a monologue to deliver any time someone questions whether he is traveling alone.  Let's just say it involves a hypothetical mother and digestive issues, and it comes in handy quite a few unexpected times.

Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 5++!  I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour

Title: The Green Bicycle
Author: Haifaa Al Mansour
Pages: 352
Publisher: Dial Books
ISBN: 9780525428060
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
AR Levels: Book Level - 5.6, Interest Level - 4th-8th grades, Points - 11.0
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24611690-the-green-bicycle

In a nutshell: What Wadjda wants more than anything in the world is something many 11 year old girls want - a bike. But as a girl growing up in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wadjda will face challenges aplenty on her quest for bike ownership.

I'd recommend it to grades: 4 to 7

I'd recommend it to: those who enjoy coming-of-age stories, fans of The Higher Power of Lucky and the Ramona series, and anyone who enjoys learning about other cultures

What I liked most about this book: This book and Wadjda herself both have a lot of heart. From page one, you'll find yourself rooting for her, and at times, she'll have you laughing out loud at her money-making schemes and joking jabs at her friend Abdullah. I also loved that I learned so much about Saudi culture, especially the treatment of women. The book doesn't shy away from discussing those issues, but it does so in a way that is hopeful and lighthearted. Wadjda is equally strong and spunky, and she's not without her flaws either, making her as relatable as the girl next door even if she lives thousands of miles away in a culture that's vastly different from yours. She's one of those characters that you'll miss after you close the cover. 

Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): One of Wadjda's most successful entrepreneurial schemes is her mixtape business. The way she discovers a way to record banned music from an antenna on her house and sell the mixtapes to her classmates is both dangerous and clever, and it reminds me of the mixtapes and CDs we used to make in middle school. Oh, Spice Girls. I miss you. ;)

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