Archive | April, 2014

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

23 Apr

18079719Title: Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Genre: Apocalyptic deliciousness
Page Count: 432

I read somewhere that human beings are genetically predisposed to record history.

This is a novel about a lot of things, but for the sake of simplifying it down to a pithy blurb, let’s just say that it’s about a sixteen-year-old boy named Austin who is going through some serious angst about his sexuality – namely, that he simultaneously loves and wants to have sex with his girlfriend, Shann, and his best friend, Robby – and it is also about the apocalypse via giant, voraciously hungry and horny praying mantises that the two boys accidentally unleash. Oops.

I would like to start by saying holy shit.

I finished this book last night, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around how insanely awesome it is. It’s basically a combination of some of the things I love most in the world: a complex coming-of-age story that incorporates questions of sexuality; a really, really, REALLY fucking weird B science fiction movie-esque apocalypse story; and a unique, pitch-perfect voice. A lot of reviews have drawn parallels to Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick, and you know what? Those comparisons are well deserved.

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April 22 New Releases

22 Apr


sheisnotinvisiblecoverTitle:
She Is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: mystery
Page Count: 224
Blurb: Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.
Excitement factor: OMG

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

15 Apr

testingTitle: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: dystopia/post-apocalyptic
Page Count: 325

Graduation Day. I can hardly stand still as my mother straightens my celebratory red tunic and tucks a strand of light brown hair behind my ear.

The setting is kind of sort of Chicago (as per usual) and it’s the future and everything is terrible. Sound familiar? Anyways, in this particular vision of the immediate future after an apocalypse, only a select, chosen few get to go to University once they have graduated from…regular school. The chosen few go to the big city, take some tests, and then are sent to work rehabilitating the planet for the Commonwealth. This is all Cia has ever wanted to do, so when she is chosen for the testing, she’s thrilled. Until her father tells her about some night terrors that have been plaguing him since his own testing, only he can’t remember exactly what happened because of some pesky erased memories. His main advice is to trust no one, which is pretty good advice becuase Cia’s fellow testing candidates are the worst kind of academic brats, and the tests themselves are designed to kill you if you fail, so basically they are like the SAT but SO MUCH WORSE. Naturally, Cia starts to question everything she ever believed while making out with the dimpled dreamboat from home. It’s shocking, I know.

So, why the hell did I read this book? Well, I run a book club for my seventh and eighth graders. It’s an open book club so any old Tom, Dick, or Harry can join, but I usually get the same tween girls. I’m not complaining – they are LOVELY – but I immediately regretted my decision to hand over the book choosing power to them when they chose this as our next book to read together. And yes, it was horribly derivative – kind of like The Hunger Games, only…academic? Until the field test, and then it’s totally Hunger Games. I could spend a lot of time listing all the different minute details that the two share, but I won’t, because that’s boring. Just suffice to say there are a lot.

HOWEVER. All that aside, I actually kind of enjoyed this book. I mean, I loved The Hunger Games, and this was really, really similar and wasn’t terribly written so sure, I ripped through it. Did I ever actually truly care about any of the characters? Not particularly. They had about as much dimension and flavor as a piece of cardboard, so even though I was interested in the events that were unfolding, I was never actually concerned about anyone’s well-being. The writing was, likewise, pretty bland. However, the story is fun, and that was enough for me to actually finish the book.

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New Releases from March 25-April 8, or, Hold on to Your Butts.

11 Apr

dreamsofgodsTitle: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantastic
Page Count: 624
Blurb: When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat–and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves–maybe even toward love. From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
Excitement Factor: OMG

Noggin comp rev2Title: Noggin
Author: John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genre: Science Fiction…ish?
Page Count: 352
Blurb: Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.
Now he’s alive again.
Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but Travis can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still sixteen, but everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.
Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, there are going to be a few more scars.
Oh well, you only live twice.
Excitement Factor: Yes, please!

westofthemoonTitle: West of the Moon
Author: Margi Preus
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Fantastic
Page Count: 224
Blurb: After being separated from her sister and sold to a cruel goat farmer, Astri makes a daring escape. She quickly retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, they set off for America. With a mysterious companion in tow and the malevolent “goatman” in pursuit, the girls head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.
Excitement Factor: Yes, please!

strangeandbeautifulTitle: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Fantastic
Page Count: 320
Blurb: Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava — in all other ways a normal girl — is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the summer solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
Excitement Factor: Yes, please!

cracksinthekingdomTitle: The Cracks in the Kingdom
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Genre: Fantastic
Page Count: 480
Blurb: Princess Ko’s been bluffing about the mysterious absence of her father, desperately trying to keep the government running on her own. But if she can’t get him back in a matter of weeks, the consequence may be a devastating war. So under the guise of a publicity stunt she gathers a group of teens — each with a special ability — from across the kingdom to crack the unsolvable case of the missing royals of Cello.
Chief among these is farm-boy heartthrob Elliot Baranski, more determined than ever to find his own father. And with the royal family trapped in the World with no memory of their former lives, Elliot’s value to the Alliance is clear: He’s the only one with a connection to the World, through his forbidden communications with Madeleine.
Through notes, letters, and late nights, Elliot and Madeleine must find a way to travel across worlds and bring missing loved ones home. The stakes are high, and the writing by turns hilarious and suspenseful, as only Jaclyn Moriarty can be.
Excitement Factor: Yes, please! (I’ve been meaning to read the first in this series, A Corner of White, for a while)

dorothymustdieTitle: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 464
Blurb: I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.
What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
Excitement Factor: Yes, please!

Going Over_FCTitle: Going Over
Author: Beth Kephart
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: Historic Fiction
Page Count: 264
Blurb: It is February 1983, and Berlin is a divided city with a miles-long barricade separating east from west. But the city isn’t the only thing that is divided. Ada lives among the rebels, punkers, and immigrants of Kreuzberg in West Berlin. Stefan lives in East Berlin, in a faceless apartment bunker of Friedrichshain. Bound by love and separated by circumstance, their only chance for a life together lies in a high-risk escape. But will Stefan find the courage to leap? Or will forces beyond his control stand in his way? National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart presents a story of daring and sacrifice, and love that will not wait.
Excitement Factor: Yes, please!

hereandnowTitle: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.
Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.
Excitement Factor: Sure, if I’ve got nothing else to read.

salvageTitle: Salvage
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 528
Blurb: Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean. This is a sweeping and harrowing novel about a girl who can’t read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. What choices will she make? How will she build a future on an earth ravaged by climate change?
Excitement Factor: Sure, if I’ve got nothing else to read.

sekretTitle: Sekret
Author: Lindsay Smith
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Historic Fantiastic whosiewhatsit
Page Count: 352
Blurb: Yulia’s father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one–not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention–and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.
Excitement Factor: Sure, if I’ve got nothing else to read.