Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gossip From the Girls' Room: A Blogtastic! Novel by Rose Cooper

I'm a sucker for a good title. It's no coincidence that one of my favorite books also happens to have the best title I've ever heard (I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, Ally Carter, 2006). When I find a really amazing title, I've just got to read the book. Sometimes the book lives up to the title, and other times I feel sad and betrayed. The book I'm talking about today falls into the second category.

When I found Gossip From the Girls' Room: A Blogtastic! Novel in the library's online category, I was so excited. I mean, a book where the main character eavesdrops in the girls' bathroom so she can blog about it? That sounds FANTASTIC. But sadly, this book is not told in blog format. It's a "pre-blogging notebook," whatever that means. The story is okay, and fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series will probably eat it up, but I can't get past the idea that the title lied to me.

Diary books for the 9-12 age range are selling like hotcakes right now, and this book is squarely within that genre. So I suppose the thing I don't understand is the publisher's need to call this book something it's not, when simply calling it what it is will rake in the sales.

Color me baffled.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

"Are there any small children in the room? Because if so, it would be best if we just let them think this really is the end of the story and hurried them off to bed. Because this is where things start to get, well...awesome. But in a horrible, bloody kind of way."

Be honest. When someone says the words "Fairy Tale," you think "Girly." You think of those poofy, sparkly Halloween costumes they sell in the shops at Disneyland. A Tale Dark and Grimm is definitely not that kind of fairy tale. After Hansel and Gretel get their heads chopped off by their own parents (and then have them magically reattached by a faithful old servant), they decide to run away from home in search of better parents. Of course, anyone who is familiar with the Grimm Brothers' stories in their original forms will know just how futile this effort is. As Hansel and Gretel skip from one tale to the next, they face all sorts of dangers and learn how to become heroes.

I have to say that my favorite thing about this story is that the author doesn't just tell it, he includes commentary on the story in bold typeface (like the comment I've quoted above). This commentary is often ridiculous and nearly always hilarious. It reminds me of the grandfather in the film version of The Princess Bride adding his own two cents to the story. If you know a young reader who likes action, danger, and heroics, mixed with a generous portion of humor, this is the next book you should buy.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

In the not-too-distant future, love is classified as a disease. The scientists of the day have created a surgical procedure that will cure all citizens over the age of 18, and Lena can't wait until it's her turn. She has seen the disease ruin the lives of her mother and sister, and she welcomes the idea of being free of her emotions. That is, until Alex comes along. When Lena and Alex are alone together, she beings to feel the first symptoms of the disease. Now that she's had a taste of Amor Deliria Nervosa, can she go back to a life without it?

Dystopian fiction (the branch of Science Fiction in which a seemingly perfect and controlled world has some deeply disturbing flaws) is all the rage in teen fiction right now, and Lauren Oliver's newest addition to the genre is not to be missed. Lena and Alex are well developed characters that readers will easily identify with, and the ending will leave you begging for more. This is a must read, especially for fans of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, and Lois Lowry's The Giver.

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine, Vonetta and Fern have been sent from Brooklyn to Oakland to spend the summer with the mother who left them. Cecile doesn't seem to want them there. Every morning, she sends the girls away to the Black Panthers' summer camp to keep them out of her hair. Delphine is used to taking care of her younger sisters, but she can't protect them from Cecile's distant behavior. As the girls make new friends at the community center, they learn about more than just revolution and equality. They learn about who they are, and about how they can be a stronger family.

This is an aspect of the Civil Rights movement that doesn't usually make it into children's historical fiction. For that alone, I'd recommend this book. But for all the mention of the Panthers and their agenda, this is, at its heart, a book about identity and family. I think most readers will identify with Delphine's struggle to find her place in her world and in her family.

*One Crazy Summer is the winner of the Coretta Scott King award and a Newbery Honor book for 2011.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

The descendants of dragons have been in hiding for a very, very long time. There are those in the world who would hunt them, and use the magical properties of draki blood for their own purposes. After Jacinda leaves the hidden compound and has a run-in with hunters, her clan's fury forces her family to flee. Now, she's living in the desert where it's too hot to change her shape and take to the sky. The one bright spot of her exile is Will. She knows his family are dragon hunters, but she can't keep herself from thinking of him, or seeking out his company. Can the descendant of dragons ever find a way to be with the son of a dragon hunter? And can Jacinda hold her own against her clan leader, who is determined to bring her home again?

The "Romeo and Juliet" setup has been done before, and it's the basis of many paranormal romance stories. That being said, Ms. Jordan does an excellent job of holding the tension, even while the relationship is building. Fans of the Twilight series who are looking for something similar should look no further. Firelight has everything readers loved about Twilight, with a whole new creature mythology to explore.

End of the Long Hiatus

Wow. It's been 10 months since I posted my last review. I've taken my time off and gotten my head on straight, and I'm ready to jump back in with both feet! Expect at least one review here a week (more if I'm not too busy), and be sure to let me know what you think of the books I'm featuring!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin

Retired search and rescue dog J.J. Tully takes on the case of the missing baby chicks in this fun noir-like mystery from popular children's author Doreen Cronin. The Trouble With Chickens has all the humor that readers have come to expect from Ms. Cronin's work.

J.J.'s no nonsense attitude makes him the perfect canine Columbo. Children and parents will get a kick out the brainy baby chick and the villainous indoor dog that J.J. has to deal with to solve his case. A great introductory chapter book for young readers.