Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Am Princess X

TITLE: I Am Princess X
AUTHOR: Cherie Priest
PUBLISHER: Arthur A. Levine Books
PAGES: 245 pages 
GENRE: Mystery, Adventure, Graphic Novel
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 6-12

SUMMARY: May and Libby meet on the playground in the fifth grade where they first create Princess X. May writes the stories while Libby draws the pictures. Their friendship is one for the ages, until one day Libby's mom falls asleep at the wheel, driving the car off a bridge killing herself and Libby. Or so May was told. 

Fast forward three years when May begins seeing her Princess X all over Seattle, in pictures on sign posts, patches on kids' backpacks, etc. She is everywhere, but how could that be? She and Libby were the only ones who knew about Princess X. Unless Libby is the one creating it all. After this, May is determined to get to the bottom of Princess X, which leads her on an adventure she never expected: computer hacking, kidnapping, and murder. 

WHAT I LIKED: I first saw this book because it was chosen for the 2016 Texas Lone Star list. As a middle school librarian, I try to read all the books on the list before suggesting them to my students. When it came across my path through a Scholastic Book Fair, the cover caught my attention, who doesn't love a pink princess with a katana sword? But what I really loved about this story is that the cute princess was just the beginning! I read this entire book in one day, I could not put it down! There wasn't a single slow part in the entire story line. I can easily suggest this book to all my students, we just need to get the boys past the pink princess on the cover.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I enjoyed every part of this book, the only tiny, miniscule thing I can complain about is the ending. I felt it happened too abruptly. There was such building up, the characters running for their lives and then all of a sudden, everything is happily ever after. I felt there needed to be a little more details about what happened after.

BOOK TRAILER: I wasn't able to find an official Book Trailer for I Am Princess X. But because I found this book through the Scholastic Book Fair, I have included a link to the video that they use to advertise the book: Scholastic's I Am Princess X Book Trailer

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Cage

TITLE: The Cage
AUTHOR: Megan Shepherd
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PAGES: 405 pages 
SERIES: Book 1 in the The Cage series (Book 2: The Hunt due out May 2016)
Science Fiction
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12

SUMMARY: Cora wakes in an unknown world with five other teenagers. One of them is dead. None of them know where they are or how they got to the strange place with different environments and outdated decor. No matter how hard they try to escape, all roads lead back to the center of town. When their captor, Cassian, materializes out of nowhere, they realize that their prison is more terrifying than they could ever realize. 

WHAT I LIKED: Two words: "people zoo"! When I told friends about this book, the first mention of the word, aliens, turned them off completely. But I can't say enough good things about this story. A lot of the time, I can predict the end of a book within a couple of chapters. However, with this book, it seems like every time I made a prediction, the opposite happened. Each character had a story that throughout the book you realize is just a lie for a completely different kind of life. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I really enjoyed this story, once you get past the whole "alien abduction", the storyline is interesting; reminds me of an old episode of The Twilight Zone. The only thing that bothered me were the characters. I often found myself wanting to yell at them, call them stupid, or just question their choices. Seriously... how can you be locked in a cage by aliens and just accept it? Who does that?!

READALIKES: The Host by Stephenie Meyer


The Madman's Daughter

TITLE: The Madman's Daughter
AUTHOR: Megan Shepherd
RELEASE DATE: January 2013
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PAGES: 369 pages 
GENRE: Science Fiction
SERIES: #1 in The Madman's Daughter series (Book 2:Her Dark Curiosity, Book 3:A Cold Legacy)
: 4/5
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 9-12

SUMMARY: Juliet's life was perfect until her father's medical experiments become outrageous and he is banished from London. Six years later, she is able to track him down to a remote island where he is free to continue his experimentation with human and animal genes. Juliet, at first, is thrilled with the reconnection with her father until she sees, firsthand, the consequences of his medical practices. But throughout her survival on the island, she begins to ask herself if she isn't a little mad as well. 

WHAT I LIKED: I liked that The Madman's Daughter follows H.G. Wells' story of The Island of Dr. Moreau so closely, while changing the perspective to the madman's daughter. Readers at this age won't be as familiar with the original and therefore won't expect the plot twists. The second book in the series, Her Dark Curiosity, follows the story of The Strange Case Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. At the time of this review, I had not read the first book in the series, A Cold Legacy, but from hints at the end of the story, I'm thinking it will have something to do with Frankenstein.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: All of the doctor's experiments, the combining of humans and animals left me with a whole lot of questions. How exactly do you create a human with animal traits without first a human specimen. Throughout the story, Dr. Moreau is collecting animal specimens, but only uses human blood to complete the experiment? I also had a hard time picturing these creatures in my mind. The character of Balthasar was a combination of a dog and bear, was covered in dark hair, but yet could pass on the streets of London as human? I find this difficult to believe. 

READALIKES: Libba Bray's A Terrible Beauty series, Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavor 


Friday, October 30, 2015

The Partials

cover_imageTITLE: Partials
AUTHOR: Dan Wells
RELEASE DATE: February 2013
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PAGES: 472 pages (series: The Partials, Fragments, Ruins)
GENRE: Science Fiction, Dystopian
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12

SUMMARY: In the year 2076, the United States has just won the Isolation War against China and Iran in which that created genetically modified soldiers called Partials. After the war, the Partials return to the United States only to be treated as second class citizens. After years of this unfair treatment, the Partials turn on their creators and begin a war with the human race, releasing a deadly virus called RM that kills 99% of the human race. Kira Walker survives "The Break" and works as a medic-in-training trying to find a cure to RM by observing a captured Partial, named Samm.

WHAT I LIKED: I enjoyed the world building of this book series. Kira and the remaining humans live in a small city on Long Island where they have access to all the fashion they could want. For fun, they rummage through old stores looking for new clothes. Kira's adopted sister, Sochi, collects music players. After living like this for ten years, canned food is starting to go bad. Reading this book, really makes you think about how you would survive in a post-apocalyptic world and what your priorities would be.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There were a couple of holes in the story. I think it was the middle of the second book before I fully understood what a Partial was. Throughout the first book, people referred to the Partials as machines, and not human. They were built and engineered to look eighteen years old. They don't age, they don't procreate; so throughout the first book I thought as a Partial as an "it". But throughout the other books you begin to learn that even though Partials aren't technically born, they still have fear, empathy, love; and you begin to wonder what really is the difference between a Partial and a human.

BOOK TRAILER: This is easily one of the best Book Trailers I have found. It is Paragen created propaganda for Partials. While it doesn't give you the details of the book series, it definitely peaks your interest.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rebel Belle

TITLE: Rebel Belle
AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins
RELEASE DATE: March 2015
PUBLISHER: Penguin young Readers Group
PAGES: 345 pages (sequels: Miss Mayhem and Lady Renegades: due out April 2016)
GENRE: Supernatural, Chick Lit

SUMMARY: Harper Price is the definition of Southern Belle. She is Homecoming Queen, Head Cheerleader, President of the SGA, and looking forward to Cotillion. Life is perfect until the school janitor dies in the girls bathroom while she is applying lip gloss at the Homecoming dance. Not only is she freaked out, but before he dies, he kisses her and passes on some magical powers. From that day on, her life changes. Cotillion practice doesn't seem as important now that she knows she has to save the world. Reminds me of: Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Hart of Dixie.

WHAT I LIKED: I absolutely love the main character: Harper Jane Price. While this book has serious parts where she is fighting for her life, Harper never loses her personality or her humor. My favorite thing about her is her hatred for curse words. Her belief is, "I just think the F-word should be saved for dire occasions." 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There is honestly not a thing I can say I did not like about this book. It was funny and had lots of action, and of course, a love triangle. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Amy Rubinate, and I will admit it took me a couple of chapters before I finally got used to her Southern accent reading the book. 

BOOK TRAILER: I wasn't able to find an "official" Book Trailer for Rebel Belle. If anyone finds it, if they create one, or if you find a really good one made by a reader, please let me know.

Monday, October 12, 2015


AUTHOR: Sara B. Larson
PAGES: 336 pages (Book 2: Ignite, Book 3:Endure)
GENRE: Fantasy

SUMMARY: Alexa Hollen and her twin brother, Marcel become orphans when their parents are killed by a black sorcerer. In order to avoid being sent to the Breeding Houses, Alexa chops off her hair and spends the next three years pretending she is a boy. She joins the army, becomes one of the kingdom's best fighters and eventually becomes Prince Damien's personal guard. After her brother's death, Alex worries about her keeping her secret, but soon realizes she isn't the only one with a big secret. 

WHAT I LIKED: I liked the storyline for this book: evil king banishes magic while the protagonist has to not only hide her gender but also her magic in fear of being discovered. Of course, there is a love triangle, like most young adult novels. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I really enjoyed Book One: Defy. It had a great storyline with a happy ever after. I was excited to be able to begin book two (Ignite) immediately, but it was very disappointing. The story started out slow, and then seemed lacking in action. Overall, book two seemed to end abruptly. I'm really hoping to come out on a positive note, after I finish book three: Endure. 


BOOK TRAILER: Official Book Trailer by Ideas for Hollywood

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dorothy Must Die

TITLE: Dorothy Must Die
AUTHOR: Danielle Paige
PAGES: 464 pages (sequel: The Wicked Will Rise)
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: High School, there is a lot of unnecessary language

SUMMARY: Everyone knows the story of Dorothy and her trip to Oz, but everyone also knows how the story ends: Dorothy flew home with Kansas with the Wizard in a hot air balloon. In comes Amy, another girl from Kansas with a pathetic trailer park life. One day a tornado comes, picks up her doublewide and drops her off in Oz, or what is left of Oz. Everything from the story has changed. Dorothy came back, became Princess and is hoarding all the magic out of Oz. The Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man are now her evil henchman. Even the beautiful Glenda is taken the Munchkins into slavery to help drill magic out of the land. When Amy walks into this un-fairytale, she joins forces with the Wicked Witches and the only thing she knows is DOROTHY MUST DIE!

WHAT I LIKED: I was really excited about this book. Who doesn't love the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy, her fun companions and the beautiful Glenda. Sure this book has all the same characters, but that is about where the similarities end.  It made me think of the book: Splintered by A.G. Howard.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Following the Yellow Brick Road with Amy made me think more of the 1985 creepy sequel to the movie: Return To Oz with Fairuza Balk. All of the beloved characters were made morbid. The Scarecrow is now an evil scientist who tortures people and makes weird experiments out of them. The Cowardly Lion goes town to town sucking the fear out of people to make himself bigger.Overall, it completely ruined any happy memories of the movie from my childhood.

READALIKES: Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

BOOK TRAILER: Official Book Trailer by Harper Teen 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Shatter Me

TITLE: Shatter Me series
AUTHOR: Tahereh Mafi
PAGES: three book series  (Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: high school, there are a couple of very detailed intimate scenes in book three

SUMMARY: Juliette, a girl with a deadly touch, survives in a world where people with powers are hunted. As a child, Juliette discovers that her touch actually sucks the life energy out of people. As a baby, her mother cannot even hold her. At the age of fourteen, she tries to help a toddler off the ground and accidentally kills him. She spends 264 days locked up in an asylum when the book starts. Then, the unthinkable happens, she meets a boy. Not just any boy, but a boy that is not affected by her touch. 

WHAT I LIKED: I read this entire series as an audiobook in about a week. I was thrilled when I found out the entire series was completed. I just hate reading a book and then having to wait months or even years for the next in a series. I liked watching the main character, Juliette evolve through the book series. At the beginning she believes she is a monster, and just wants to be invisible, completely giving up on any social interaction for the rest of her life. Throughout the books, she meets not one, but two guys interested in her. By the end of the third book, she is ready to take over the world... literally.  It made me think of the TV series: Heroes.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: At the beginning of the book, Juliette believes she is insane. A good portion of the books are the thoughts in her head, which begins to get annoying. Especially the thoughts in her head versus what she chooses to say. I need some action! The third book did not disappoint with all the action. Juliette finally learns to control her powers and really kicks some butt. The thing I disliked the most was the end of the third book is left as a total cliffhanger. I have search the Internet far and wide to find a fourth book or a continuation, with no luck. I really don't see how the author could have left the series... 

"You know," he whispers, his lips at my ear, "the whole world will be coming for us now."
I lean back. Look into his eyes.
"I can't wait to watch them try."

READALIKES: X-Men, Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

BOOK TRAILER: Official Book Trailer by Harper Teen