Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mini-Reviews...

I have been reading fast and furiously for the TX Library Association's TAYSHAS Committee, so instead of doing full-out reviews for some of the books I have read, I am doing mini-reviews.


Hutchinson, Shaun.  We Are the Ants.  Simon Pulse, 2016.


Henry Denton thinks he has been abducted by aliens for a number of years. During a recent abduction, he is told by the "sluggers" that they are going to wipe out the earth in 144 days.  He is told that he must decide the fate of the human race, even though he has too man problems of his own to deal with--and none of them are good!


This is a character-driven novel and has an interesting plot line--what teenager wants to be in charge of saving the world--or not?!  The author touches on plenty of sensitive and timely subjects--suicide and its consequences, bullying, dementia and its effects on families, abortion, and sexuality.  There is a bit of humor thrown in, but the characters and relationships drive the story.  Although there is a guy protagonist, girls will enjoy it, as well.



I highly recommend it for high school and public libraries and give it five out of five fleur de lis!


Wynne-Jones, Tim.  The Emperor of Amy Place.  Candlewick, 2015.


After his father dies, Ethan finds a book that was sent to his father and begins to read it.  He tries to unravel the mystery surrounding the book, which is a World War II "diary", and his estranged grandfather's involvement in the story.


Tim Wynne-Jones has written a brilliant and fascinating novel that goes back and forth between different time periods--present day and World War II.  The characters are complex and well-developed.  The plot is both character and and relationship-driven.  Students will enjoy the horror aspect of the magical realism angle and the unlikely friendship of two soldiers fighting for victory for opposing sides of the war.


I highly recommend it for middle school, high school, and public libraries and give it five out of five fleur de lis!



Jude, Sarah.  The May Queen Murders.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.


Set in Rowan's Glen in a farming community in the Missouri Ozarks, residents are warned not to go into the woods or walk along because families' dogs have started disappearing.  When the May Queen ceremony is revived and sixteen-year-old Ivy's cousin goes missing, Ivy discovers that Rowan's Glen is harbouring deep, dark secrets.


This is Sarah Jude's literary debut novel.  She has built a world where superstition and small-community traditions abound.  The novel has a gothic mystery feel to it, and the characters are interesting.  There are eerie twists and turns that will keep readers turning turning the pages until the very end!  The ending is a shocker--I did NOT see this one coming!  I love it when I don't figure out the mystery before the end of the book!


I recommend this book for high school and public libraries and give it four out of five fleur de lis.


Ahern, Cecelia.  Flawed.  Feiwel & Friends, 2016.


In a futuristic society, people who do not follow certain ethical standards are considered "flawed" and are branded with an "F" on their body to indicate their status.  They are shunned and harassed by others and denied even basic privileges.  Celestine North, who has always been perfect, decides to help an elderly flawed man, which results in dire consequences for her.


The plot for Flawed is a new take on the popular YA dystopian genre. Celestine, the main character is a strong heroine without wanting or intending to be.  Readers will be shocked at the treatment of those who are judged "Flawed".  This is a real page turner, a thriller, and the first installment in a brand new series.  This is a cliff-hanger ending which made me scream, "NO!".


I recommend this book for middle school, high school, and public libraries and give it five out of five fleur de lis!


Baumbux, Julie.  Tell Me Three Things.  Delacorte, 2016.


After her mother dies and her father remarries, Jessie and her father move to California to live with his new family.  Jessie has a hard time adjusting to her exclusive, expensive, private school until she is befriended through an anonymous email by someone who offers to help her adapt to her new school.


This read is a cool breath of fresh air reminiscent of the movie, "You've Got Mail"!  Jessie and the anonymous "Somebody-Nobody" communicate through emails and then instant messages, which is very current.  Jessie is juggling trying to adjust to a new home, a new school, and a new family, while missing everything about her old life.  Students will identify with the characters and events in the book and laugh at the cute and funny ending!  I love the heart-shaped waffles on the cover.  Give this to your girls and guys who are looking for a romance book with a twist.


I highly recommend this book for high school and public libraries and give it five out of five fleur de lis!


Russo, Meredith.  If I Was Your Girl.  Flatiron Books, 2016.


After living a stressful life as a boy, Andrew moves to finish his senior year while living with his dad in another city.  However, Andrew has had transgender surgery and is secretly adjusting to a new identity as Amanda.


The main character, Andrew/Amanda, has had a hard time growing up as a boy--feeling that he should have been born a girl.  Readers learn about his past during a series of flashbacks embedded in the present-day plot.  This poor kid has had a heartbreaking life so far--being bullied by his peers, not fitting in, and being estranged from his father.  Readers will learn quite a bit about transgendered people, and students in a similar situation will identify with the main character.  Amanda's love interest is understanding, accepting, and nonjudgmental.  While the ending is not perfect, it is hopeful for her future as a girl.


I recommend this book for high school and public libraries and give it four out of five fleur de lis.
Keep calm and read on!