Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Adelina Amoutera is a survivor of the blood fever. When the deadly disease swept through her nation, many died; those who survived were left with markings.  Some had odd-colored hair or eyes, some were left with ugly scars. Adelina has silver hair and a jagged scar where her left eye once was.  Her cruel father believes that she is an abomination, a curse to her family's good name, and an obstacle to to their fortune.

Some fever survivors were not only left with scars, but also emerged from the fever with mysterious powers. These people are referred to as the Young Elites and are seen as a threat to a government that wants them destroyed. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them - to train them to eventually overthrow the government and take over power. When Adenina's powers become evident, she is recruited to join the group. Her potential power is unlike any seen, but is also very dangerous if it isn't controlled. She may also be a risk to the group due to the handsome leader's feelings for her. This is a dark fantasy written by Marie Lu, author of the Legend series. The Young Elites is sure to appeal to fans of Legend, Divergent, and Delirium

Sunday, July 19, 2015

QB 1 by Mike Lupica

Wow! What a great sports read! If you are a football fan, or just like sports stories, QB 1 may end up being one of your favorites. Jake Cullen is a freshman quarterback playing high school football in Texas, a state known for extraordinary high school football programs and the pressure that goes with them. Jake is also the brother of Wyatt Cullen, who quarterbacked the team to the Texas State Championship last season, and is currently the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. Both are sons of former NFL quarterback and local legend, Troy Cullen. And, like in many towns, the football stars are royalty - especially winning quarterbacks.

Jake has lived in the shadow of his older brother all of his life. As he starts his freshman season, it seems like he will ever measure up - to his older brother's accomplishments or his dad's expectations. When the starting quarterback gets hurt, Jake is thrust into competition for the starting job. Although many expect the position to be handed to him, Jake must fight for every snap and every ounce of respect. QB 1 is action-packed, but also contains references to the importance of being a team player, becoming a leader, and most of all, building your own identity separate from the expectations of others. You will find yourself cheering for Jake and his high school team as their "rebuilding" season becomes the path to a state championship run. QB 1 has been nominated for the 2015-2016 young adult Golden Sower Award. Don't miss this one!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

She wakes up on the floor of a remote, ransacked cabin battered and bruised, and worst of all, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She has no idea why someone is trying to kill her but soon finds herself on the run, with no memory, and no idea who she can trust. Her first attempts to seek help only result in the realization that someone is trying to frame her - and even the authorities will not believe what has happened. 

Desperate and on the run, Kady meets Ty, a kind and helpful boy about her own age. Together they try to piece back together the missing parts of her memory and solve the mystery of what has happened to Kady and the family she cannot remember. Little do they know how dangerous the journey is about to become, but they soon realize that the clock has started ticking and they are running out of time. This is an incredibly suspenseful read with enough twists and turns to make you keep turning the pages. In true April Henry style, this story grabs you from first page and makes you want to finish the entire book in one sitting. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die has been nominated for the 2015-2016 young adult Golden Sower Award.

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick

Finley, a white Irish boy from a broken family is about to start his senior season at Belmont High, a rough school located in a mob-ridden town. Finley would like nothing better than to escape Belmont and start life in a better place. The only two things he has going for him are basketball and his girlfriend, Erin - his two loves. Finley has worked incredibly hard to become the starting point guard and the leader of his basketball team. Things start to fall apart, though, when Russ arrives at Belmont. Russ was a basketball phenomenon at his former high school but was moved to Belmont following his parents' murder. 

This book is not only about basketball, but also about putting your life back together following tragedy--about making decisions, learning to trust people who care about you, and making sacrifices for the important people and and things in life. Boy 21 is well-suited for lovers of realistic fiction and also for sports fans, and it reminds us how sometimes people can come into our lives unexpectedly, but at at times when we needed them most.  Readers may find this book both heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. This will be a nice addition to our young adult shelf.

Read an excerpt

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Beneath by Roland Smith

What lies beneath the streets of New York City? This is what Pat must find out when his older brother, Coop, runs away and leaves him cryptic messages on a digital voice recorder one year later. The biggest problem for Pat is he is claustrophobic after a digging accident with his brother so searching for an underground tunnel poses major problems. Pat must follow clues to the Community, but then finds out he must go even deeper. Will Pat be able to overcome his fear of tight spaces and rescue Coop? Fast paced middle school book that leaves the reader satisfied with the conclusion, but hoping for a sequel. J.A.

Roland Smith is also the author of Peak, the I.Q. series, and Jack's Run, just to mention a few.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

There is something different about Willow Chance. Everyone knows that much, but few understand that she is a genius. Willow has a "green thumb," loves to grow things, and is obsessed with medical conditions. Willow's favorite number is 7 and she is constantly figuring out ways that the number 7 is lucky. That is, until her adoptive parents are killed in a car accident. Willow's unique condition makes it difficult to blend into everyday life and because of that, she has few friends or people she can turn to in the midst of her sorrow. When all seems lost, unexpected people come into her life that help her navigate the difficult waters of grief and in turn, these people find their own lives changed for the better. Counting by 7s is a story about families, about love and hope, and how the kind acts of others can make an extraordinary difference. Counting by 7s has been nominated for the 2015-2016 young adult Golden Sower Award. If you liked Out of My Mind, Wonder, Love, Aubrey, or Rules you will find this book every bit as satisfying. In fact, many readers have it on top of their favorites list.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Swagger by Carl Deuker

When an accident forces his dad to relocate for a new job, Jonas finds himself beginning his senior year at Harding High School in Seattle. Jonas comes from a blue collar family but has received an unexpected chance at a basketball scholarship - if he can improve his grades. Soon he meets and becomes friends with Levi, who is soft-spoken and shy and comes from a poor, but very religiously strict family. Their friendship grows as their summer and school basketball adventures progress toward an eventual run at the state championship. All is good until they begin to discover shameful truths about their basketball coach and are faced with the most difficult decisions of their lives.

This is not a sports book for everyone, but it does contain exciting basketball action as well as bring to light how charismatic, influential people can also be untrustworthy and dangerous. If you are a fan of Carl Deuker, you will not be disappointed, as many of his sports books also contain life lessons. Swagger is recommended to students 7th grade and up. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Fiona doesn't remember going to sleep. But when she wakes up, she discovers a world she doesn't recognize. Her house is abandoned and the neighborhood where she once lived is barren and dead. She has no idea why there is a tattoo on her right wrist but soon realizes that it places her in great danger. Slowly, Fiona learns about a deadly world-wide pandemic, a government attempt to biologically engineer a cure, and the disaster that resulted. The vaccination turned people into ferocious beasts and the only thing separating them from the  healthy population is a wall. And, Fiona has awakened on the wrong side of that wall.

This dystopian thriller is a great read for lovers of Divergent, Legend, and Delirium.  Stung has been nominated for the 2015-2016 Young Adult Golden Sower Award and is followed by Cured.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Skink by Carl Hiasson

Richard (14) has just found out that his cousin ran away from home with a guy she met online. Richard cannot wait for the police to hunt Malley down. He decides to team up with a crazy ex-governor "Skink" to use the clues of Malley's emails and phone calls to find her. Searching for Malley in the Florida swamp provides more of an adventure than Richard could ever imagine. I recommend this book to fans of Scat and Chomp, also by Carl Hiaasen.  J.A.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She is tall, blond, and has an enviable body, but she also has one major flaw. She was born with what they call a port-wine stain - a very large birthmark on her right cheek. Teased by other students and stared at by adults, Terra plans to leave her small town and escape her dysfunctional family as soon as she graduates from high school. An East Coast college and a renowned art school would do just fine.

An unexpected car collision with a wealthy family introduces Terra to Jacob, a handsome but quirky Goth boy. Jacob begins to challenge Terra on her feelings about herself and her life and through a series of events Terra is forced to confront the obstacles in her life. Jacob has issues of his own, but is the first person to open Terra's mind to what she can become and to help her love herself as she is. This book doesn't move quickly, nor is it an absolute page-turner like much of the dystopian fiction. However, if you have patience for the story to develop, you will find a powerful, moving novel about a troubled family, falling in love, persevering, and finding the true meaning of beauty.

Friday, February 6, 2015

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

I loved this book! If you are a fan of mysteries, this may just be your next read. From the author of the Gallagher Girls series, (I'd Tell You I Love You but then I'd Have to Kill You) comes All Fall Down, book one in the Embassy series.

Grace is the granddaughter of a world-famous ambassador to the country of Adria and has just become a full time resident of what is known as Embassy Row. Unfortunately, Grace doesn't exactly fit into the rich tradition of Embassy Row - with its formal balls and wealthy, famous dignitaries. For most of her life she has been an Army brat, a daredevil, and a rebel.

At 13, Grace saw her mother murdered. She also saw the man who shot her mother. Why won't anyone believe her? Shortly after moving into Embassy Row, Grace again sees the man who killed her mother. She is sure it is him, and still no one will listen. In the process of trying to solve the mystery of her mother's death, Grace uncovers an international conspiracy and struggles to distinguish between who her friends and enemies really are. This story contains some twists you do not see coming!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson writes about her family's life growing up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York City in verse form. She was born in the time of change (1960s) and depicts how it helped shape her into the person she is today. The reader becomes connected with Woodson and begins to understand the struggles she went through to become a writer. Reading was difficult for Jacqueline, and she sometimes read a story several times in order to comprehend. She was a natural-born storyteller so she continued to work on her writing with encouragement from her 5th grade teacher. Compelling read, and a great Newbery Honor book!  JA

Click here to hear the author read an excerpt.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium is the first book the Delirium trilogy and, although not a new book, is sure to be a favorite of dystopian and romance readers. As Lena approaches her 18th birthday, she is looking forward to the government-mandated "cure," which prevents the delirium of love. She has ninety-five days to wait until her life will be happy, safe, and predictable - or so she is told. So far she has escaped contracting the deliria. In the old days, she has been told that love drove people to madness, even death.  Lena's mother had deliria, yet Lena can also remember that her mother experienced great happiness, listened to music, danced, and believed passionately in the importance of love - even if it was painful at times.

They say the Deliria killed her mother. But when Lena meets and falls in love with Alex, an "uncured" boy from the Wilds, everything changes. Nothing is as it seems and Lena must eventually decide between a life of love, uncertainty, great joy but also great pain, and a predictable, life void of the emotional highs and lows that loving others can bring. If you liked Matched, Legend, and/or Divergent you'll love this one!

Click here to view a book trailer.

Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt

Kevin Johnson (13) does not fit in with a home full of doctors and older brothers. He starts making fun of his classmates and begins to act out in middle school, which lands him in the principal's office. Kevin also secretly rips out pages from library books and writes poems using the words on the page. One day Robin blackmails Kevin by stealing his writer's journal and repays Kevin for his prior mistreatment. With the tides turned, Kevin ends up hiding in the library and Mrs. Little discovers his talent in poetry writing. Will Mrs. Little help Kevin and Robin work out their differences? I was pulling for Kevin as he was bullied by one of his brothers, and I really loved the librarian too! Rhyme Schemer is written as a novel in verse and will be a quick read.  JA

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

For many years in England, Ghosts have infected the city. Agencies have sprung up in order to contain the spirits and protect the people of London. One problem is adolescents are the only ones who can sense, see, or hear the apparitions. Lucy Carlyle is one of the gifted agents who has just gotten a job at the smallest agency, Lockwood and Co. On one of their first cases, Anthony and Lucy find a mysterious ghost and her remains that have been hidden for 50 years. This case ends with a house burned down and the agency in debt. The next case Lockwood & Co. takes has multiple ghost and paranormal activity. This job could end up being their last. JA

The Screaming Staircase is the first book in the Lockwood & Co. series.

Click here to view a book trailer.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candice Fleming

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave is a collection of 10 ghost stories, all set in the Chicago area, but at different times in history. The story begins when sixteen-year-old Mike unknowingly picks up a phantom hitchhiker. Through a series of events, Mike ends up in White Cemetery, a real graveyard outside of Chicago. While there, teen ghosts retell stories of their lives and deaths over a time period of 1870 to the present.

This book will appeal to readers who love ghost stories. On the Day I Died has been nominated for the 2014-2015 young adult Golden Sower Award.

Click here to preview a few pages.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Donovan Curtis is far from gifted - spontaneous, yes; random - definitely, but gifted - definitely not! He is constantly doing things that land him in trouble, and his latest adventure is going to get him into serious trouble. But due to an error by a school administrator, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction - a school for gifted and talented students. This would be a perfect hideout!

Now Donovan has to try harder than he ever has to remain in school and avoid certain punishment, that is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above the genius level. That becomes more difficult as time goes on and Donovan finds himself failing classes. Although he may not be gifted like the other students, Donovan finds that he has something to provide that is missing at the Academy. In true Gordon Korman style, the story is told with wit and humor and will appeal to many readers. Ungifted has been nominated for the 2014-2015 young adult Golden Sower Award.

Click here to view a book trailer.