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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Iteon TrialCallum Hunt is our hero and he is your typical hero in some ways but he isn’t. He has a bad leg and has always been the guy left out. For the most part, I liked Callum. He was fun and silly and just a kid. Callum though is one of the things that bugged me. He had a tendency to be annoying at times and he made some decisions that made me crazy. However, he is a kid and I need to remind myself of that. Yeah, I’m going to know what the correct decisions are, but Callum isn’t going to. So yeah, he made me crazy but he should. I still like him and found him funny. Tamara and Aaron were also a lot of fun. They were good friends for Callum and he really needed friends. Those three worked very well together and made a good team. The plot in The Iron Trial is a lot of fun. The world of magic is pretty cool and a school of magic is always fun. There is always added shenanigans that come along with situations like this and I always seem to enjoy them. The story was enjoyable and it was interesting to see Callum go from hating the world to finding it to be the one place he finally fits in. Now I have to discuss the twist because it was very very good and watching it play out in later books is going to be very interesting. I thought I had guessed it right, but nope I was wrong and I loved that. All in all, The Iron Trial is a good read and perfect for younger readers and is one older readers can enjoy too. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare teamed up and the result was great. I cannot wait for more from this series.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Skink No SurrenderIf you know anything about Carl Hiaasen's books, you probably will guess that his new one takes place in Florida with several concerns about ecology. You would be correct. He probably inspired a new genre of fiction - ecofiction. This is Carl Hiaasen's first book for teens. He uses a character from one of his adult book - Skink. Richard finds Skink hidden under sand breathing through a straw sticking out of the sand. Skink is trying to catch a person who is stealing turtle eggs. Skink is one of those compassionate people who does not do things the usual way. He just happens to be a former governor who just wants to be presumed dead. When Richard tells Skink about his missing cousin, Skink steps in right away and is determined to find her. His cousin doesn't want to be sent to a boarding school in cold New England. Instead, she runs away with guy that she met on the internet. She keeps in sporadic contact with Richard and her parents. However, it is Richard that figures out that she is in trouble. They talk in cryptic code in order for him to figure out her location. Richard couldn't have found her by himself. During their mystery adventure, Richard and Skink have time to talk about integrity, evil, books, Sasquatch and skunks. Yes, Richard had to hold a baby skunk to save it from being roadkill. Skink knew that the skunk wouldn't spray Richard. That is just one of the animals that they encounter.

The Doll People Set Sail by Ann M. Martin

The Doll People Set SailAnnabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft, along with their families are packed up, then placed accidentally by the family in a pile of boxes going to a charity destination instead of into the attic for safe keeping.

The dolls are very surprised when their box gets loaded onto a pallet, then dumped onto a ship in the ocean. Turns out they are not alone and it is up to them and their friends to get themselves home again!

They travel thousands of miles, face many dangers not the least is some of them fall out of the box, and then need to be rescued by the others.  Annabelle herself slides down the anchor chain and has to climb back up before she falls in the ocean.

Book # 4 keeps you on your toes and rooting for the family of dolls that just want to go home.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied by Jess Keating

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are UntiedWow, am I lucky!  I have been browsing the "New Books" display in the library  and I am selecting some awesome reads (kudos to our librarians!).  In this story, Ana Wright is having a horrible 7th grade year.  Liv, her best friend, has moved to New Zealand (which is halfway around the world I tell you!).  She has a crazy twin brother named Daz who always has some crazy plan up his sleeve.  Then there are three popular girls at school who hate Ana (she refers to them as the Sneerers).  Her parents are zoologists at a zoo and grandpa is a famous reality television star and naturalist who wants to film a documentary about his life which will feature Ana and her family.  Oh and she has to move into a house that is IN the zoo (you read that correctly) for the summer.  Oh, oh, oh, and she was named after the snake, the anaconda!

I so enjoyed this book.  It was a story that most people can relate to because everyone has gone through an awkward time in their life (and if you haven't, the time will come).   Ana is not part of the popular crowd, but she finds that she can still have good friends and have her moment to shine.  There is a good amount of humor in the book (you will love what happens to one of the Sneerers at the end of the book!).  Each chapter starts out with an interesting animal fact too.  I was sorry when the book was over, but I am in luck as the next installment in the series is going to be released this month.  I can't wait until I see it on the "New Books" shelves in Youth Services!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

Space CaseI picked up this book and thought, "Ugh, maybe it will be a good read."  You know what, I'm glad I selected it because it was a great read.  The story takes place on Moon Base Alpha (MBA) in 2041.  Several scientists and their families have been selected to live in a moon colony for the next three years.  People back on Earth consider them rock stars, but the actual reality of living on the moon...well, it kind of sucks.  It's small, uncomfortable, you have to exercise every day or your muscles can turn to mush, and the food is just awful.  But that's not the worst of it; it's BORING if you are a kid living there.  That is until there is a MURDER!!!!

Meet Dash, our 12-year old sleuth.  Dr. Holtz has been found dead on the moon's surface.  Dash is sure that Dr. Holtz has been murdered because of a conversation he overheard Dr. Holtz have in the bathroom about making a great discovery.  But no one on base will believe Dash.  Nina, the base leader doesn't believe him and does everything in her power to make him stop talking about it; including grounding him to his room (and she's not even his parent!). Hmm, that's a bit suspicious, don't you think.  But don't worry; Nina is not the only suspect.

Each chapter begins with a short page from the NASA handout for MBA, making the moon base sound completely awesome, which as we go into that chapter we find out it's the complete opposite.  Readers will enjoy the story.  I didn't guess who did it until the end of the story.  And then there is another twist at the end when Dr. Holtz's discovery is revealed (which I cannot tell you about or it would spoil the story!).  So I'm just going to tell you to check this book out.  Feel free to tell me what you think!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

Death by Toilet PaperSeventh-grade Ben Epstein lost his dad to cancer, so it's just been him and his mom for about a year.  Ben is totally into sweepstakes.  He is constantly entering them and he's not too bad at them.  Ben has won hats, t-shirts, coupons for free items and even a gas grill.  Ben and his mom are trying to fulfill  Dad's Grand Plan for Mom to pass her four CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exams in order for her to get a good job which will give her and Ben a better life.  Life has been hard since Dad died, but they have not deviated from the plan.  Now they are in trouble because they have had to cancel their phone service, sell their computer, and carefully watch their money. They are behind on their rent and are being threatened with eviction.

Ben decides to enter the Royal-T Toilet Paper Company's jingle sweepstake where he can win $10,000 and help keep his family in their apartment.  Ben is surrounded by great people in his life, which helps him keep a great attitude most of the time.  Toothpick is Ben's best friend, who loves to make horror movies.  Mrs. Schneckle is his neighbor who helps out Ben and his mom when she can.  Then there is Zeyde Jake who moves in with them, but Ben's grandfather is showing signs of early Alzheimer's. 

It was the title that got me.  Who wouldn't pick up a book entitled Death by Toilet Paper?  Just the thought intrigued me.  The story wasn't what I expected; it was totally better and I didn't want to put it down because I needed to know what happened to the characters.  The book made me laugh, it made me tear up, and it made me care about all of the characters.  Oh, and each chapter started with some extra tidbits about toilets and toilet paper.  Very cool! 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society Dog Diaries:Secret Writings of the WOOF Society by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

The cats are at the annual meeting of the MEOW Society. They always meet on the third full moon of the year. The MEOW Society is Memories Expressed in Our Writing. There are only thirteen short chapters. There is even one about a library cat. In the last chapter, they commit to keep on writing and to meet again next year.

The dogs have their own stories in Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society. This is the first meeting of the WOOF Society - Words of Our Friends. This book also has thirteen short chapters. These dogs certainly show history and adventure from their own point of view. What a great variety of stories

Yes, the author is the famous Betsy Byars. However, the other two authors are her very own daughters. How wonderful that the family collaborated to write these amusing stories. Erik Brooks illustrated both books . The illustrations are precious and you can't tell if Erik has a preference for cats or dogs. Reluctant readers or beginning independent readers should read these to their own pets!
No, you don't have to like cats or dogs, but you will like these cat and dog stories.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Frankenstein Journals: Feet First by Scott Sonneborn

Fourteen-year-old John Doe, J.D. for short, grew up at Mr. Shelly's Orphanage for Lost and Neglected Children.  J.D. has never been adopted as things don't quite match up with him.  In J.D.'s words:

1.  My right eye is blue and my left is green.
2.  I have short fingers on one hand and giant ones on the other.
3.  One leg is longer than the other.
4.  My feet are way too big for my legs (not to mention two completely different sizes!).

The orphanage is closing so J.D. is on his own.  As he is leaving, Mr. Shelly gives him the box J.D. was found in when he was a baby.  Inside was a journal Mr. Shelly had never found.  J.D. finds out from the journal that his father is none other than Frankenstein.  He realizes that is why his body parts are a bit off.  On the front of the journal is an address he decides to visit.  Who should answer the door but the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein, who has changed her name to Fran Kenstein due to all the bad publicity.  J.D. shows the journal to Frank, who happens to be an evil scientist herself.  She runs off to find all the relatives of the people her father used to construct Frankenstein.

The rest of the book tells how J.D. tries to reach his first relative to save him from the plight of Fran and to learn more about himself.  Book 1 of more to come!

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