Monday, January 31, 2011

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld Simon 978-1416971757
is the follow up to Leviathan and is the third book in a planned trilogy. Behemoth is set in an alternate history of World War I where the allied powers (or Darwinists) all use genetically engineered beasts as weapons, and the axis powers (or Clankers) use gigantic robot like machines as weapons. The story is a continuation of the tale of Alek, who is a fugitive Clanker prince, the son of the recently assassinated Archduke Ferdinand, and Deryn, a girl passing as a boy so she can get into the British Air Service. In this tale the two of them have landed in Istanbul, still a neutral power, and are helping in a mission to keep the Ottoman Empire neutral. The Clankers are just about to push the Ottomans onto their side when Deryn is sent on an ill-fated mission, and Alek is captured by revolutionaries. Will the two of them succeed in keeping the Ottomans neutral? Will Alek discover that Deryn is a girl? Read this book and find out! But then you'll be biting your fingernails waiting for the final book in the trilogy, Goliath, to come out in September 2011. This book is highly recommended and is one of the most exciting Steampunk books I have read. If you loved this series you'll want to try some other Steampunk series like Airborn or The Golden Compass

Review by Niki Roohi, Librarian at Goldenview MS

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Dutton

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Dutton 978-0525423270
This is the story of Anna, who is sent to Paris to spend her senior year at boarding school. She hates the idea of leaving all her friends in Atlanta, but her famous author father (think Nicholas Sparks) thinks it would be good for her (and his reputation) if she went abroad. Anna is welcomed into the small, elite school by a few interesting characters, notably Etienne St. Clair. St. Clair is half-French, half-American, raised in England (read: sexy English accent)--and taken. Anna and St. Clair become fast friends, but throughout the whole year his girlfriend comes between them. Will things ever change? There are many romantic books in middle school libraries, but this is a full-blown, mushy romance. If you're looking for a good diversion and a quick pick-me-up that you won't feel guilty about (because it is well written!), then try this one!

Review by Niki Roohi, Librarian Goldenview MS

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks Harcourt

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks Harcourt 978-0152066093
Are you tired of the same old same old vampire story? Good looking immortals with super powers? Then how about a book where the vampires are all sickly and afraid to leave their houses? That's what this one is about! And they would all stay inside and wallow in their misery forever if one of their own hadn't turned up staked to death. Now they have to leave their comfort zone and find out who the killer is, with no super powers except the ability to see in the dark! Can they survive the blinding lights and the run in with an illegal werewolf fighting ring? Check it out and find out!

Review by Niki Roohi, Librarian Goldenview MS

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill

Black Hole Sun is a dystopian novel set on a future Mars - Durango and his crew of Regulators have taken the job of protecting a mining outpost from the cannibalistic Draeu. Lots of action for the military Sci-Fi fans. I found the main story engaging and it moved forward well.

The back story was not so well developed. Maybe it is my lens as an adult reader but there are too many things hinted at that aren't developed or that are developed in such a piecemeal fashion I just didn't think the world building was where it should be. Why are Durango and Vienne disgraced - what lead up to that? What did his father do to get driven out as leader of Mars? Why is that important to the story? Why is it important that his artificial intelligence (Mimi) was once his squad leader? Is he the only one with this artificial intelligence? If they designed the Big Daddies from a native life form - why do they believe that all the native life forms (Chigoes) are all gone? Why is it important to the story that they aren't.....

Ok, maybe I am over analyzing this but I read A LOT of Sci-Fi and I really want my world building to be consistent and hold to the rules that author sets up. I think my problem here is that Gills doesn't really set up enough of the rules clearly enough for me to grab onto. If he wanted to tell the story of the small band of Regulators fighting the hordes of the Draeu then that is a great story - and he does that really well. He only gets part way there with the back story

Ann Morgester, Library Curriculum Coordinator

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Girl In the Arena by Lise Haines

Girl in the arena : a novel containing intense prolonged sequences of disaster and peril by Haines, Lise - Bloomsbury Press, c2009

This was an interesting alternative history book. In this world things are very similar to our world. There is Cable TV, McDonalds, School and Gladiatorial Games (instead of WWF or WWE wrestling) In these games, people die as they battle each other with real weapons in front of thousands of screaming fans. The main character's stepfather is killed during a match and as part of the "Glad Culture" she is to marry the winner (did I mention she is 16 or so?) Her younger brother has special needs, her mother is so depressed she is unable to help and so she decides that she would rather fight him in the Arena than marry him. This book held my attention although the differences in the worlds is slight but I was somewhat put off by the rather out of context twist at the end. Recommended for anyone who likes Hunger Games

Review by Ann Morgester Library Curriculum Coordinator Anchorage School District

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nick of Time by Ted Bell

Nick of Time by Ted Bell

Grade 6–9—This is an immensely appealing book about 12-year-old Nick McIver, son of a lighthouse owner, who lives on Greybeard Island off the coast of Great Britain in 1939. Opening with a thrilling near-fatal sailboat excursion, the action kicks into high gear when Nick finds a sea chest containing a mysterious glowing globe. Hunted by pirates from the past who seek the globe, a time-travel device, Nick finds himself bouncing back and forth in time fighting exceedingly nasty pirates, Napoleon's naval forces in 1805, and Nazi spies in 1939. Nick is the pluckiest, most likable boy-hero since Robert Lewis Stevenson's David Balfour (Kidnapped). With great battle scenes; lots of nautical jargon; and themes of courage, integrity, and honor, this book will appeal to restless boys who can never find books written just for them. Three huzzahs and a great big 21-gun salute to Bell for his first novel for kids. Hopefully, it won't be his last.

Review by —Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK (Review used with permission)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hunger: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant

2009 9780061449079 Katherine Tegan Books

Hunger By Michael Grant
Gr 7 UpIn the second in a planned six-book series, the children of Perdito Beach, CA, have survived without adults for three months following the FAYZ, a nuclear event that caused everyone over the age of 14 to vanish and an impenetrable barrier to rise for 20 miles around the town. Now their food is almost gone, and in their desperation and fear, the young people are beginning to sort themselves into factions; those without special powers opposing those who have them. To add to the suspense, a terrifying presence that calls itself the Gaiaphage, a being of overwhelming hunger, is insinuating itself into the minds of the susceptible. Like "Gone" (HarperTeen, 2008), this novel is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Nonstop action and recurring scenes of graphic violence, death, and torture will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they race toward the climactic cliff-hanger ending. Give this to teens who liked Stephen Kings "The Stand" (Doubleday, 1990) or William Goldings "Lord of the Flies" (Penguin, 1959)."

Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK" Copyright 2009 (Used with permission)

Tentacles by Roland Smith

9780545166881 September 2009 Scholastic

Gr 5–8—Since the disappearance of Marty's parents, he and his cousin Grace have lived with her father, the renowned cryptozoologist Travis Wolfe. This sequel to Cryptid Hunters (Hyperion, 2005) begins with Wolfe mounting an expedition in search of a mythological giant squid. Marty, his friend Luther, and Grace join the crew aboard the Coelacanth, a refitted freighter. Unknown to Wolfe, however, his archenemy Noah Blackwood is in hot pursuit, determined to steal the gigantic creature and destroy Wolfe and his reputation. Add hatching dinosaur eggs, a manic chimpanzee, cool gadgets, a nifty undersea nuclear submarine, ruthless villains, murder, and sabotage to the mix and you've got a high-octane page-turner that will reel readers in and keep them riveted. Several unanswered questions suggest another sequel may be in the works, which will make Smith's fans very happy.

—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK (Review used with permission)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray is about a boy named Cameron who is kind of a loser.  He's one of those I'm-just-going-to-sit-around-and-not-do-anything types.  He has a set of normal parents, who don't really understand him, and a twin sister who's his polar opposite.  About 80 pages in, Cameron finds out he has Mad Cow disease.  Only, he doesn't really have mad cow disease.  His brain is being attacked by alien prions that came through this portal that this scientist named Dr. X left open.  The universe is about to combust from the dark matter, and Cameron is about to die.  To save himself, and everyone else, he has to go find Dr. X.  He's told all this by a punk rock angel named Dulcie.  So, Cameron sets out on his journey to save the universe with his new best friend Gonzo, a very short dude who's afraid of everything.  On his journey he encounters CESSNAB (a Utopian church dedicated to bowling and vanilla smoothies), a garden gnome named Balder who is actually a Norse God in disguise, a dead jazz musician, fire giants, the wizard of reckoning, an MTV-esque beach party, and a company that sells snow globes and wants to turn everyone into a snow globe.  The book was a psychedelic road trip, and an overall good, if not strange, read.
You also might want to check out this video of Libba Bray talking about her book.

The ISBN number is: 978-0385733977 and the price is: $17.99. published 2009

Review by E. Roohi -

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Impossible by Nancy Werlin , 978-0142414910 9.99 paperback

Impossible is a wonderful dark fairy tale based on the folksong Scarborough Fair. In this story Lucy is the latest in a long line of women who get pregnant at 18, and then go crazy when they deliver. Lucy discovers that this is a curse from the Elfin Knight, who was spurned by her foremother many many generations ago. However, since she is pregnant, she has only a short period of time to fulfill the three impossible tasks from the song. With the help from her foster family and her next door neighbor, Lucy takes the challenge on. The only distraction from this book is near the end when Lucy is racing against the rising tide, and the author gives her 12 hours to do it in. This careless timeline could have been overcome by some more careful editing.

Check out the Video

Review by Niki Roohi Goldenview Middle School Librarian Anchorage School District

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead 978-0385737425, 2009, hbk $15.99

Miranda is in the 6th grade in New York City in 1978, and her life is changing in the last year of elementary school. Her best friend Sal stops talking to her, unexpectedly, after being punched by a strange kid. She goes out of her comfort zone to make new friends, including the boy who punched Sal. Her mother is preparing to go on The $20,000 Pyramid, and a weird homeless man has taken up residence outside her apartment building. Then she starts getting strange notes that predict the future, but she is warned not to share them. The story takes all three of these strands and weaves them into a neat time-travel story, but it is the details of this story that make it so comfortable to read. Miranda deals with friendship and school like most children do, and it is wonderful to see her growing and changing as she realizes her strengths and weaknesses. She finally learns how to relate to Sal, and to her three new friends, her mother and mother’s boyfriend, and even to the weird laughing man on the street corner. And did I mention that there is time travel involved?

This quiet story is highly recommended to upper elementary and middle schoolers who like stories about school, friendship, and yes, a bit of science fiction.

Review by Niki Roohi, Goldenview Middle School Librarian Anchorage Alaska

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork 978-0-545-05474-4 pub 2009 $17.99

Marcelo has Asperger’s Syndrome and has gone to a special school all his life. About to enter his senior year and looking forward to a job in the school’s stables looking after the ponies, his father gets him a job at his law firm instead. His father has never quite been comfortable with the idea that his son is different and coerces Marcelo into taking the job after his rival at the law firm brings his son in for the summer, to prove that he is normal. Marcelo is extremely resentful but has no choice but to obey. He ends up in the mailroom working with Jasmine who knows all the politics of the place and refuses to follow the conventions. She does not want Marcelo there, but leaves him alone. Theri friendship slowly forms when Marcelo accidentally becomes involved in one of the law firm’s cases, and she agrees to help him. But Marcelo is on the wrong side of the case, and he soon has choices to make between right and wrong, his father and his new friend. In the meantime he finds his father may be right about becoming independent, and he experiences romance for the first time.

Marcelo is a wonderful character and you will enjoy getting to know him. This book is reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and is highly recommended for middle school and high school.

Review by Niki Roohi, Goldenview MS Librarian

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, 2008, 978-0312594411 pbk $8.99

Who is Jenna Fox? Not even Jenna knows. Waking up after what she is told has been a year in a coma, Jenna doesn’t remember anything about her past but she does know that something is wrong with her present. Why does her grandmother dislike her? Why does it seem as if her parents are hiding her?

The slow unfolding of this story is one of its strengths and it sucked me in right from the beginning . I really liked the way that Pearson allows Jenna to struggle with what it means to be human, a person, and to have a real identity without beating the reader over the head with it. The ethical issues that are raised in the book are not solved, nor should they be. Highly recommended for MS/HS

Check out the book trailer here.

Review by Ann Morgester, Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District

Boost by Kathy Mackel

Boost Mackel, Kathy: – Savvy is 13, 6 foot 2 and mad about basketball – she has won a spot on the 18U (18 and unders) team and despite her raw talent, she needs to boost her game if she is going to play at the level she needs to so that she can get off the bench and start the game. When steroids are found, the questions of whose world is going to come crashing down throws her game.

I really liked this book. Savvy is a strong character who is learning to be part of a team and to do the right thing. I liked that the issue of steroids was looked at from the point of view of girls, since so often the books we see on the topic focus on boys sports.

Recommended for MS and HS libraries
Review by Ann Morgester, ASD Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School district

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka - 978-1-55143-927-3 - 12.95 - Orca Book Publishers

Celeste lives in Unity, a rural town founded by The Movement, a fundamentalist religious group that believes in pure faith, and obedience. Polygamy is the norm where young girls are assigned to much older husbands. Celeste questions her faith, the beliefs of her community and struggles to find the strength to break free while she worries that her actions will bring shame to her family.

One of the things that I like about this book is that while it shows the beliefs of the community as harsh, and the struggle of Celeste and others is real - it does not demonize the beliefs and shows that while some are not suited to the life, others thrive in it and find joy and fulfillment there. I found it gripping and had a hard time putting it down - it is told in the alternating voices of three girls in the community - Celeste, who questions, Nannette, who finds strength and peace in her beliefs, and Taviana, who was saved from a life as a prostitute and has found healing in the town of Unity, but must leave the town abruptly when the police come looking for her.

Highly Recommended for MS/HS
Ann Morgester, Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District