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Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends, by Shannon Hale

Read This! - Fri, 2014-06-13 01:01

Lizzy shares this review:

I started this book thinking it was going to be childish with no true meaning. It turned out to be more than a parody on fairy tales and spins into an amazing tale. The theme of the book is destiny. The Royals all end up with happily ever after’s, while the Rebels are stuck never living happily. Raven, one of the protagonists, doesn’t want to follow her destiny to become the next evil queen. Throughout the book she tries to change that. I enjoyed this theme because it shows you can change your destiny. The characters seemed a bit predictable but it does add to the humor. The daughter of Snow White, who is the Queen, is a selfish princess. One of the sons of Prince Charming, Daring Charming, thinks very fondly of himself as well. The plot surrounds the thoughts of Apple White and Raven Queen as Raven searches for ways to not become more like her mom. Altogether, it was a great book and I am looking forward to the next one.

Check the WRL catalog for Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends.

Categories: Read This

The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson

Read This! - Wed, 2014-06-11 01:01

Melissa shares this review:

I saw this YA novel on a list of books being made into movies – and I decided to read it before the movie rocketed it up the “it” list.

The plot synopsis sounds like the saddest story ever.  Lennie and her sister Bailey were abandoned by their mother when both were quite young.  They live happily with their quirky grandmother and uncle, believing that one day their mom will wander back into their lives.

Lennie is an introvert and band geek who lives in her vibrant sister’s shadow.  She likens herself to the companion pony that walks beside the sleek racehorse to keep it calm before a race. And suddenly Bailey dies.

Lennie thought she was happy walking behind Bailey, letting Bailey make decisions on what to do, and now Lennie is floating through each day without that anchor.

That’s the sad part.  And believe me, you’ll need to keep some tissues handy.  Why put yourself through that?  Because you’ll quickly come to realize Lennie is more than just Bailey’s little sister.  She has to work through her grief – and reconnect with friends – and fall in love – and forgive herself for feeling happy again.  But that discovery is compelling, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.  Some of it is like watching a train wreck, but it ends in a good place (I promise!).

The coolest thing about this book is the poems and brief memories that Lennie writes on walls, paper cups, homework assignments, books, benches… These memorabilia are described every few chapters, along with where Lennie left them.  How cool would it be to find a piece of someone’s life like this?  It is so much more honest and revealing than “Lennie was here” or other typical graffiti.

The book is certainly worth waiting on a long hold list for — so if you can’t pick it up right away, keep it in mind once you hear the movie hype.

FYI – the movie option was purchased by Selena Gomez’s production company.  The Disney star is set to play the main character, Lennie.

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Categories: Read This

Mystic City, by Theo Lawrence

Read This! - Mon, 2014-06-09 01:01

Jessica shares this review:

Global warming has caused the melting of Antarctica and the rise of sea levels across the globe. The once prosperous, show stopping city of Manhattan now finds itself a series of submerged buildings and canal-lined streets. The city is divided between those who live in the Aeries (enormously tall high-rise buildings) and those forced to live down below, in the Depth, existing on raised sidewalks and dilapidated abodes. The Aeries is home to the wealthy elite, including all those in positions of political power. The Depth is the refuge of mystics, those with supernatural abilities, who once helped to build the incredible city itself. After a “mystic spurred bombing” the mystics were forced out of the Aeries for the protection of those without power. What remains is an uncomfortable and unwelcome balance between those above and those below, each fearful of what the other’s actions could bring.

This is the world in which Aria Rose exists. The daughter of one of the most powerful and richest businessmen in the Aeries, Aria has grown up in the lap of luxury. Now, on the dawn of one of the most important elections in the city’s history, Aria finds herself engaged to Thomas, the son of the only family in the Aeries whose wealth and power rivals her own. Once they’re married, their families will be united and control all of the Aeries. But from the first page, all is not as it appears. Aria has suffered memory loss after overdosing on a drug called “Stic,” a drug she does not remember buying or taking. She also can’t remember a single moment spent with Thomas, not to mention falling in love with him. But she can remember almost everything else. The story itself takes turn after turn after turn as Aria begins to learn more about the people who inhabit the Depth below, her family’s lust for nothing but power, and the strange but gorgeous rebel-mystic, Hunter. Reminiscent of a three-way Romeo and Juliet tale set in a futuristic dystopian world on the brink of rebellion, Mystic City is sure to appeal to a variety of readers.

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Categories: Read This

Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry

Read This! - Fri, 2014-06-06 01:01

Melissa shares this review:

I was looking for something easy to listen to and picked up the YA book Rot & Ruin without really knowing what it was about — except that it was about zombies.  I was expecting a pretty typical “run from the monsters” plot and was completely surprised by the  sympathy the author evoked for the zombies.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s action, plenty of “uh-oh the monsters might catch me” suspense, but I was surprised at who was the real monster.

The world has been changed by a cataclysm – some sort of medical or environmental disaster that caused some people, including Benny’s parents, to turn into zombies.  And as people turned to zombies, they infected others until their sheer numbers overran cities large and small…

Groups of  survivors gathered in outposts with fences and patrols to keep the zombies out.  Most people don’t venture into the “great Rot & Ruin” – the zombie- infested expanse separating the outposts from each other.

That’s the post-apocalyptic world Benny Imura has grown up in.  And he hates zombies with a white hot passion. His older brother, Tom, is a zombie hunter, supposedly one of the best.  But Benny doubts it.  His earliest memory is of Tom running away when his parents were turned to zombies.  Benny hasn’t forgiven Tom for not staying to fight.

Benny goes to school and hangs out with friends.  But some of Benny’s favorite times are when the “real” zombie hunters like Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer tell stories of how they fought zoms in the Rot & Ruin.  It sounds so cool when they tell the stories.

In the fall after Benny turns 15 he has to find a job or face having his rations cut.  When he runs out of options, he reluctantly approaches his brother about going into the family business.  But hunting zombies is not what Benny thought it would be.

There’s depth to this story, as well as lots of nail-biting tension and some really heart-wrenching revelations.  Rot & Ruin is the first in a series.  I can’t wait to see what happens next to Benny and his friends!

Check the WRL catalog for Rot & Ruin

Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of Rot & Ruin

Categories: Read This

Department 19: The Rising, by Will Hill

Read This! - Wed, 2014-06-04 01:01

Jessica shares this review:

Fans of Will Hill’s first book, Department 19, will not be disappointed by The Rising. In this exciting and fast-paced sequel, the Operators of Department 19 are tested beyond measure when their director, Admiral Seward, reveals that the world’s oldest and most powerful vampire, Dracula, has risen once again. As the disturbing news sparks more vampire attacks and a higher level of secrecy between department members, Jamie, Kate and Larissa all struggle to keep their bond intact. Subplots abound throughout Hill’s 600-page novel, and familiar characters such as Frankenstein and the Rusmanov brothers reappear at center stage. But there are plenty of new mysteries to be solved with the introduction of a seemingly friendly, genius scientist and a wandering desert man who knows all about vampires and the inter-workings of Department 19. Readers will find many of the aspects they loved from the first book here as well, including technological super weapons, intense battle scenes, a good level of descriptive gore and moral dilemmas that call human nature into question. The Rising is written in an almost movie script-like fashion that allows the reader to visualize the story in exceptional detail. There is no doubt that Hill is once again able to captivate readers and leave them begging for more.

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Categories: Read This

Cupid, by Julius Lester

Read This! - Mon, 2014-06-02 01:01

Melissa shares this review:

Today’s book is a retelling of the Greco-Roman myth of Cupid and Psyche.

The story in a nutshell: beautiful, mortal girl Psyche falls in love with Cupid, the god of love. Cupid, having never been in love himself, doesn’t trust Psyche’s feelings for him and makes stupid demands. Psyche in turn makes a dumb mistake, and they break up. Jealous mother/goddess puts girl through several tests, and just when you think she’ll make it, it looks like she won’t. But Cupid shows up at the last minute and saves the day. They live happily ever after.

Hmmm, that sounds like quite a few romance books I’ve read.

What makes Julius Lester’s book so appealing is the playful narrator who speaks directly to the reader and provides commentary on why people are behaving as they are. His lessons on love are insightful for readers of all ages. I particularly liked his observation at the end:

The interesting thing about this story is that it taught me that sometimes I act like Cupid and sometimes I act like Psyche.  Stories don’t much care who’s male and who’s female, because everybody has a little of both inside them.  That why this story and my story and your story, well, they’re all the same story.”

The audiobook, read by actor Stephen McKinley Henderson, is delightful. I could listen to Henderson’s rich, rumbly voice read the phone book and be happy. Needless to say, his narration of Cupid had me hanging on every word of the story.

Check the WRL catalog for Cupid

Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of Cupid

Categories: Read This

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews

Read This! - Fri, 2014-05-30 01:01

Andrew shares this review:

Greg has survived until his senior year of high school by being on the fringes of everything and the center of nothing. He hides his love of film (especially the work of Werner Herzog) behind a studied indifference which also conceals his near-constant and brutal self-criticism. (He’s got some points—serious social errors, like flat out complimenting a girl for having two boobs, are enough to make anyone want to tear his own tongue in half.) His parents love him with that bumbling uncritical affection that every teen hates and he has… Earl.

Earl has shared Greg’s love of Herzog since fourth grade, when the two boys tried to film their own version of Aguirre: Wrath Of God, the masterpiece shot on location in the Amazon—kinda tough to do in the local park. Their collaboration extends to their own films: Earl: Wrath of God II, Ran IIApocalypse Later, and still others featuring Greg’s cat. The thing is, Earl couldn’t be more different than Greg: he’s an inner-city Pittsburgh kid, bright but lost at school, surrounded by unfocused, violent, drug-dealing brothers and a mother lost in alcohol and online chat rooms. Greg’s stable home is a respite for Earl, and Earl is the only person Greg can be himself around.

And then there’s the dying girl. Greg knew Rachel Kushner in Hebrew school, with all its attendant early teen drama, but they haven’t had much to do with each other since. When Rachel is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg’s mom decides it will be a mitzvah, or good deed, for Greg to spend time with her. Awkward, right? But he does, and brings Earl along in his wake. Earl lets slip the secret of their filmmaking and next thing you know Rachel is watching their movies. Even more awkward. Suddenly Greg is open to all kinds of emotional blackmail and everyone around him takes full advantage of it. Even Greg admits that it sounds like an afterschool special—treat the different kid well and you’ll rack up points, feel good about yourself, and Learn A Lesson. But real life is messy, and even Herzog’s art can’t touch it.

Jesse Andrews gives the story a sense of immediacy despite its looking back at events. Internal monologue, conversations role-played as scripts, jump cuts to real life, and Greg’s direct addresses to an unknown audience give the book the feel of documentary, but one that allows raw and sometimes hilarious access to the filmmaker’s mind. That also means Greg’s and Earl’s casual use of insult and obscenity to each other might make the language a little rough for some readers, so be warned on that front.

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Categories: Read This

Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

Read This! - Wed, 2014-05-28 01:01

Jessica shares this review:

Shadow and Bone is the first in the Grisha Trilogy that takes place in the land of Ravka. Alina is unremarkable in every regard. Raised as an orphan alongside a single friend, Mal, only to become a sub-par mapmaker for the First Army, Alina has no illusions of grand beauty or remarkable skill.  Her only pull is towards Mal, who has grown to become a very handsome young tracker for the Army. They both serve together for Ravka, a land torn by war and the darkness of the Shadow Fold. Created by an evil Darkling, the Shadow Fold is a sea of complete darkness, full of flesh-eating monsters, that cuts Ravka off from the True Sea.  The Second Army, made up of those with magical abilities, has been working to undo the Shadow Fold as well.  But it seems all their power is useless against the darkness.

During an Army-led excursion attempting to cross the Shadow Fold, Alina and Mal come under attack from the “Volcra,” vicious monsters that fly out of the sky to kill anyone trying to cross the Fold.  While trying to save Mal, Alina spontaneously emits a strong radiating white light. Its raw energy leaves her unconscious and when she awakens she is among the Second Army (the Grisha). However unbelievable it may be to her, Alina is in fact a Sun Summoner, one who can call and control light.  She is the only person who has the ability to destroy the Shadow Fold and the Volcra. Taken to a Grisha training area and introduced to a whole new way of life, Alina isn’t sure how to proceed and has little faith in her own gift.  Only after extensive hard work and a close relationship with the beautiful Darkling himself does Alina began to hope she is the one who can save Ravka.

But everything may not be what it seems and Alina’s gift might turn into a curse she never could have imagined.

Check the WRL catalog for Shadow and Bone

Categories: Read This