Monthly Archives: February 2014

Review: Thirty Sunsets by Christine Hurley Deriso

Thirty Sunsets coverForrest can’t believe it when her crush actually comes over to talk to her. Maybe this is it! Or maybe…maybe he just wants to know if her older brother and his girlfriend are still together. Because he has a crush on Olivia. Olivia, who curls her lip at Forrest. Olivia, who is keeping Brian in town at the local community college instead of studying pre-med at Vanderbilt. Olivia, the ultimate popular hot girl.

Not only are Brian and Olivia not broken up, Olivia is coming along on the family trip to their beach house. A whole month of Olivia’s curled lip, picky eating, and sudden disappearances to the bathroom after meals, not to mention a whole month of Olivia as a roommate.

But there are a lot of things Forrest doesn’t know about. Things about Olivia. Things about her brother. Things about her parents. And things about herself.

Although toward the end the number of issues in this book seemed to approach after-school special levels, Thirty Sunsets is a sweet book that will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen and readers who like realistic fiction with real-life issues.

Recommended for grades 9 and up – some swearing, references to sex, teen pregnancy, references to and depiction of rape.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Complicit coverEverybody knows that Jamie’s sister Cate set the fire that burned down the barn. Everybody knows that Cate was a bad girl; drinking, doing drugs, hypnotizing other girls in the woods behind the stable. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief when Cate went to jail. Including Jamie.

Now Cate is out…and she’s coming back for Jamie. She needs to talk to him. She needs him to understand.

She didn’t burn down the barn.

But she knows who did.

Complicit is a deeply psychological book. Jamie and Cate’s story unfolds steadily, bringing you ever deeper into their world, until the true story seems not only obvious, but inevitable. Fans of psychological thrillers will definitely enjoy this one!

Recommended for grades 9 and up — underage drinking, sexual references, etc.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

The S-word coverAfter walking in on her best friend and her boyfriend on prom night, Angie never spoke to Lizzie again. Not when the first slut appeared on Lizzie’s locker. Not when the locker was covered with the ugly word. Not ever again.

And then, Lizzie jumped. Now Angie won’t be able to speak to her. Not ever again.

But people were starting to forget…until someone started writing Suicide Slut. On the senior lockers. In the bathrooms. In Lizzie’s unmistakable, looping handwriting. Until someone started bringing copies of Lizzie’s diary to school.

Angie wants the truth. The truth about who hurt Lizzie. The truth about why her best friend is gone. The truth about what happened on prom night. But along the way she will discover other truths, all of them ugly. And she will have to make a decision. Can you drive out hate with hate?

The S-Word is a painful, deeply psychological book about the damage we do to each other, and to ourselves. It will appeal to fans of Looking for Alaska and readers who like emotionally wrenching stories.

Recommended for grades 9 and up–bullying, underage drinking, references to sexual abuse, descriptions of rape, etc.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: Riot by Sarah Mussi

Riot coverIn a near-future Britain crippled by rising unemployment and overpopulation, the government has a drastic solution.

Anyone who leaves school without education plans or guaranteed employment will be sterilized.

Criminals will be sterilized.

The teens of Britain aren’t having it. They’re taking to the streets. They refuse to have their futures so drastically limited. Tia, the daughter of the Minister pushing the bill, uses her hacking skills and her online persona as EVE, Mother of the Future, to organize demonstrations. Surely the government will have to stop when they see the opposition?

But nothing is what it seems. When troops open fire on a peaceful demonstration, Tia is suddenly on the run. With the help of Cobain, she has to get to the truth behind the No More Children In Need Bill, before it’s too late.

Riot is a chilling, near-future dystopian story about the slippery slope of the loss of personal freedom. Teens who are used to being part of a marginalized population will definitely relate to this story, which will appeal to fans of Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother.

Recommended for grades 9 and up — language, graphic depictions of mob violence, references to underage sex, etc.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: The Queen’s Choice by Cayla Kluver

The Queen's Choice coverAlthough Anya is a member of the royal family of Chrior, the fae realm, she has never wanted the throne. Her fascination is with the human world, where she spends much of her time. But with her cousin Zabriel missing, and her other cousin Illumina unfit to rule, Anya reluctantly accepts her role as her aunt’s heir.

When Anya is trapped in the human world by a pack of faerie hunters and deprived of her wings, she has no choice but to search for Zabriel. Surely if he knows his mother will die soon, he will come home. But strange and sinister things are happening in the human world, and what Anya and her friends and family discover is only the beginning.

In many aspects this is a well-written book, but I had trouble connecting to Anya’s character. I suspect that teenagers would be better able to identify with her, but for me, her inconsistency and inability to notice things were very annoying. Plus there is a major plot device that I suspect will be used in the final book, but Anya’s reason for not using it in this book seems remarkably threadbare and unbelievable.

This book will appeal to fairy (or faerie…or fae) fans, as well as fans of other types of high fantasy, but not to the kind of readers who nitpick everything.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars coverWelcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

No one is a criminal.
No one is an addict.
No one is a failure.

Cadence has always spent the summer with the other Sinclairs on their private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Since summer eight, Cady, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat have been inseparable. The Liars, together.

But summer sixteen something happened. Something Cady can’t remember. Her mother tried to tell her. Others tried to tell her. But her brain cannot wrap itself around what happened.

So Cady has come back to the island. Back to her Liars. Back to finally figure out what happened. Why she is broken.

We Were Liars is not an easy book to read. But it is a deeply compelling one. None of these characters are larger than life. All of them are deeply flawed. As Cady searches for her truth, she discovers more than she had bargained for.

This book will appeal to fans of John Green, as well as readers who enjoy psychological puzzles and thrillers.

Recommended for grades 9 and up – swearing, sexual references, underage drinking, etc.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Book Trailer: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I actually got the chance to make a book trailer!!! Okay, so it’s a refinement of one I created for my presentation at the Oklahoma Technology Association 2012 conference, where I took the audience step-by-step through my process of making a book trailer. But still! Now I remember how much I like making these.

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Review: Caged Warrior by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

Caged Warrior Cover“Why are we tough?”

“Because that’s how we get out.”

McCutcheon Daniels has many names. To some he’s known as M.D., to his little sister as Doc. But to most of Detroit, he is Bam Bam, a star MMA fighter despite his young age.  McCutcheon fights hard, brutal, bloody, illegal matches organized by The Priests, a street gang, to cover his violent, vicious father’s bets. This is the life he has known for as long as he can remember.

When McCutcheon wins the lottery for spaces in an expensive charter school, he doesn’t want it. He tries to tell the school to give it to someone else. School isn’t part of his plan; next year, when the truant officers stop caring, he is going to drop out and train full time. Who needs school when you can be an MMA champion?

But his science teacher and the principal of Radiance refuse to give up on him. After touring the campus, and especially after meeting Kaitlyn, McCutcheon starts to think that maybe he could be something more than an animal, fighting for others’ bloody amusement.

When his beloved little sister disappears, McCutcheon has to make a choice. Will he continue fighting to keep his father happy and his sister safe? Or is there another path he can take?

Caged Warrior is a great pick for reluctant readers, especially boys. The author paints a clear, realistic picture of McCutcheon’s life without resorting to cliches.

Recommended for grades 9 and up – explicit sexual references, language, depictions of violence, and drug use.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Review: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

The Tyrant's Daughter CoverLaila’s brother Bastien is the King of Nowhere. Her mother acts like nothing has changed, even though they now live in a tiny apartment in not-quite-Washington, D.C., instead of the palace where they grew up. And Laila? Laila is the Invisible Queen–just trying to make sense of the strange new world that she now lives in.

Now, instead of cereal and peanut butter being a carefully hoarded treat, brought back by their mother from trips abroad, there are dozens and hundreds of varieties, available for everyone. Instead of private tutors, Laila and Bastien attend public school. Instead of their dead father being the King, he is an executed dictator, dead at their uncle’s hands–a man who did terrible things.

Awash in a strange new world world of revealing clothing and access to information, where it seems that everything she knows is wrong , Laila is just trying to make sense of it all. And when her mother maneuvers to reclaim Bastien’s birthright, Laila must decide where she stands.

The Tyrant’s Daughter is a fascinating story, especially for teens who follow international news or are familiar with the events of the Arab Spring. This book will appeal to readers who like their fiction realistic and politically relevant, or who enjoy exploring moral and ethical questions.

Recommended for grades 7 and up – some language, kissing, and sexual references, depictions of violence, and women’s rights issues

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the digital ARC of this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

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Tips & Tricks: Making a Fillable, Printable PDF Form

In my last post, I included a link to a fillable, printable PDF form that I made to help librarians easily make thematic teacher wish list boards for the book fair: Fiesta Envelopes

This post will walk through the steps of making such a form for printing purposes. Some of these steps can be skipped if you just want a basic, fillable form.

1. You will need to have LibreOffice installed, if you don’t already. LibreOffice is a free, open-source software package which provides similar functionality to Microsoft Office. You can download the file to install LibreOffice here  Continue reading

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