Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Girl at Midnight

cover_imageTITLE: The Girl at Midnight
AUTHOR: Melissa Grey
PUBLISHER: Delacourt Press
GENRE: Fantasy
SERIES: The Girl At Midnight #1
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12 

SUMMARY: When the Ala, a magical, feathered being, caught Echo trying to pick her pocket as a child, she didn't see a homeless orphan, she saw hope. But now Echo is stuck in the middle of a war between the Avicen that she considers family and the dragon-like Drakharin. Only by teaming up with the Dragon Prince to find the Firebird can Echo finally end this centuries-old war.  
FAVORITE QUOTE: "The young always think they're invincible, right until the moment they learn otherwise. Usually the hard way." (Grey, )

WHAT I LIKED: I love the idea of a secret world full of magical creatures taking place right in the world of New York City (or should I say under it). The story starts out with the Ala visiting the New York City Public Library after hours with sunglasses and a scarf to cover her head of feathers. It makes you wonder how often magical people are hiding among us.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There is so much backstory to this book that I feel like it barely skims the surface. I really think this book series needs a prequel. I would LOVE to hear Rose's story. 

READALIKES: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

SERIES UPDATE: Book 2: The Shadow Hour, Book 3: The Savage Dawn will release July 11, 2017

BOOK TRAILER: official book trailer not available at the time this blog was published

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ink and Ashes

cover_imageTITLE: Ink and Ashes
AUTHOR: Valynne E. Maetani
PAGES: 386 pages
GENRE: Adventure, Mystery

SUMMARY: Claire Takata is your typical high school girl, she loves playing soccer, and hanging out with her brothers and best friends. But all that changes when she comes across a strange letter from her deceased father to her step father. Claire begins to question her father's death and her entire family's future. Digging deeper, she finds only secrets and lies from her mother and stepfather. But what happens when she digs too deep and finds that her father belonged to the yukuza, the Japanese mafia. Has she uncovered a secret that was better left buried? Has she put the rest of her family in danger? 

WHAT I LIKED: This book definitely kept me on my toes. I don't normally read mysteries because I can always figure out the ending too early. However, this book definitely throws you for a couple of loops before finally finding the actual culprit. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Throughout the book Claire gets into a lot of trouble: things are stolen from her locker, eye balls are left wrapped like a present in her backpack, she's run off the road, and someone almost bombs her house. I seriously just wanted to shake the girl and say "Call the police! Tell your parents!" Its like any scary movie you watch, "Don't run up the stairs!" 

READALIKES: How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler

BOOK TRAILER: not the official Book Trailer, but a pretty good one as far as being created by a student. Credit: Tobie Cattarin

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


cover_imageTITLE: Defiance
AUTHOR: C.J. Redwine
RELEASE DATE: August 2012
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
PAGES: 408 pages
SERIES: Defiance book #1
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 7-12

SUMMARY: Rachel is not like other girls in her walled city of Baalboden. While they are taught to sew, cook, and be obedient; Rachel is learning to read, write and hunt. But when Rachel's father disappears beyond the wall, her life changes and all of her freedoms are gone. She must escape, go beyond the walls, and through the Wastelands to find her father.   

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: This story was just like every other typical Dystopian today. There is a city with walls and a terrible Wasteland beyond that isn't safe for anyone to live, most likely because mankind did something to destroy it (in this case, we brought forth giant snake creatures that live beneath the earth). But of course, the main character ( a girl) fights against all odds to save the world: enter danger, love story, and sequel. 

FAVORITE QUOTE: "I love how you still think if you tell me to do something, I'll just check my brain at the door and do it." This quote shows Rachel's stubbornness, especially toward Logan.

SERIES UPDATE: Book Two: Deception and Book Three: Deliverance

READALIKES: Graceling by Kirsten Cashore


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rebel Mechanics

cover_imageTITLE: Rebel Mechanics
AUTHOR: Shanna Swendson
PUBLISHER: Margaret Ferguson Books
PAGES: 310 pages
SERIES: Rebel Mechanics book 1
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 7-12

SUMMARY: In 1888, New York City is under British control, specifically magical Magisters. Verity moves to the big city with hopes of becoming a nanny for a prestigious family. She never would have guessed that on her first day, she experiences a train robbery, rides in an illegal steam car, and is hired by a magical family. When Verity befriends a group of steampunk rebels, she will have to choose between spying on her family or being loyal to the ones trying to start a revolution. 

WHAT I LIKED: This book had three of my favorite things: magic, steampunk, and a love triangle, of course. I love reading about the time period of the 1800s, but this story added so much more by including magical families called Magisters, and also the group of inventors that are trying to undermine the need for magic by creating things using steam. 

SERIES UPDATE: Book Two: Rebel Magisters is available in ebook, hardback coming soon

READALIKES: Finishing School series by Gail Carriger

BOOK TRAILER: This trailer is not official, only created for the use of TLA's 2016 Lone Star list

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Sin Eater's Daughter

cover_imageTITLE: The Sin Eater's Daughter
AUTHOR: Melinda Salisbury
RELEASE DATE: February 2015
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press
PAGES: 312 pages 
SERIES: The Sin Eater's Daughter book 1
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 9-12

SUMMARY: Twylla's mother is the Sin Eater, at every funeral, she is paid to eat the sins of the dead. Twylla was supposed to follow in her footsteps, but at the age of twelve, Twylla was taken to the castle of Lormere to become Daunen Embodied, the goddess whose touch can kill. For four years she is the queen's personal executioner and the prince's betrothed, until she begins to question it all. 
FAVORITE QUOTE:  "I am the perfect weapon, I can kill with a single touch." (Salisbury, )

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I felt the storyline seriously lacked some details. The entire time I'm reading the book I'm asking questions, like "Why was Twylla chosen?". "Why can only the royal family touch her?", "Why hasn't she asked to see her family?", etc. I never really liked the character of Twylla, who would go into that kind of life so passively? This book would be great with a little more backstory, I felt there was no depth to the characters and because of that I felt absolutely no attachment to them while reading the story.

SERIES UPDATE: Book 2: The Sleeping Prince, and Book 3: The Scarecrow Queen due out in 2017

READALIKES: A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

BOOK TRAILER: Author Melinda Salisbury reads an excerpt from The Sin Eater's Daughter

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Court of Thorns and Roses

cover_imageTITLE: A Court of Thorns and Roses
AUTHOR: Sarah J Maas
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
PAGES: 419 pages 
SERIES: A Court of Thorns and Roses book 1
GENRE: Paranormal, Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12

SUMMARY: Feyre's homelife is depressing, their house is barely standing, her father can no longer work due to his injuries, her mother is dead, and her sisters treat her like trash; but still Feyre cares for them. One day while out on a hunt, while she is preparing to shoot a deer, a large wolf approaches, only considering her own protection, she shoots the wolf through the eye. Well, this wasn't any wolf walking through the forest, this was a Fae in his wolf form and according to the accords between the Fae and the Humans, it is a life for a life. Now the High Fae, Tamlin is demanding her life as punishment. He takes her into his kingdom, in the Fae world, and  Feyre must figure out how to survive long enough in this strange land before she can return to her family.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world." (Maas, ) 

WHAT I LIKED: This story is kind of like a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. But in this story, the beast is a fae and the beauty is a tough

READALIKES: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, Graceling by Kristen Cashore

SERIES UPDATE: Book Two: A Court of Mist and Fury releases May 3, 2016

BOOK TRAILER: I wasn't able to find an official book trailer for A Court of Thorns and Roses, but I was able to find a video of the author, Sarah J. Maas, describing the book. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

I'll Give You The Sun

cover_imageTITLE: I'll Give You The Sun
AUTHOR: Jandy Nelson
RELEASE DATE: September 2014
PAGES: 371 pages 
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 9-12

SUMMARY: Jude and Noah are twins and the very best of friends, together forever; until their mom dies in a car accident and both their lives spiral out of control. Noah was supposed to be the artist, but now he gets his thrills by jumping off the highest cliff to the water below. Jude was used to be confident and popular, but now she prefers to be alone while haunted by the ghost of her mother. Can the two put their past behind them in order to move forward together? 
FAVORITE QUOTE:  "Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people," I say. "Maybe we're accumulating these new selves all the time." Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things. " (Jandy, )

WHAT I LIKED: I really enjoyed the different point of views: Jude as a seventeen-year-old and Noah's story being told from when he was fourteen. It helped you see how the past affected the future for both of the story lines.

READALIKES: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Zac and Mia

cover_imageTITLE: Zac and Mia
AUTHOR: A.J. Betts
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
PAGES: 292 pages 
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12 

SUMMARY: Zac has leukemia, after a bone marrow transplant, he is counting down the days he has to spend in the hospital til his immune system is back up so he can return to a normal life on his olive farm in Australia. Mia has osteosarcoma and isn't accepting her cancer as easily as Zac. Mia is angry; she screams at her mom, pushes her boyfriend away, and plays loud music in the hospital room next door. When Zac tries befriending Mia and showing her that her chances of survival are high, they embark on an adventure that ends up changing both their lives forever.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics." (Betts, )

WHAT I LIKED: This book showed two different reactions to living with cancer. Zac understands cancer is a part of his life and has learned to deal with all of the shortcomings. Mia will not accept the fact that she has cancer, even hides it from all of her friends. Overall, this is a great way to show there are always two ways to handle a situation: deal with it or hide from it. Only one of those reactions is going to make the situation better.  

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Reading a book about two kids with cancer, you know the ending is not going to be "happily ever after". So other than the fact that ::spoiler alert:: someone dies, the book was a really great read. But doesn't every one hate when reading a book and investing time into a character only to see them not survive till the last page? 

READALIKES: The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Glittering Court

cover_imageTITLE: The Glittering Court
AUTHOR: Richelle Mead
RELEASE DATE: April 2016
PUBLISHER: Razorbill
PAGES: 400 pages
SERIES: The Glittering Court  book one
GENRE: Chick Lit
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 7-12  

SUMMARY: Adelaide is a high-borne, whose wealthy family is forcing her into a loveless marriage. So she decides to run away and join the Glittering Court, a group of low-borne girls who are trained in etiquette and dressed like beautiful jewels to eventually be sold to the highest bidder in a new land across the sea.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "We are all in charge of our own lives - and we have to live with the consequences that we make." (Mead, )

WHAT I LIKED: I liked that this book had a historic feel to it. The women all wore big dresses and had to make sure that they talked proper. But it all took place in town and a world that does not exist. Overall, it was a great book that I ended up finishing in just a day. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The story started out a little slow. You begin to resent Adelaide because she is rich and has had everything given to her. In order to save her family and their fortune, she has to marry a man that she doesn't exactly like. Instead she decides to abandon her grandmother and disappear in a carriage under an assumed name with people she doesn't know to go to a place that is not even inhabited. Who does that?

SERIES UPDATE: Book 2: Midnight Jewel released April 25, 2017

READALIKES: The Selection by Kiera Cass


Thursday, June 2, 2016



TITLE: Proxy
AUTHOR: Alex London
PUBLISHER: Philomel Books
PAGES: 379 pages
GENRE: Science Fiction
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12 (language) 

SUMMARY: Knox is a playboy, he likes to party, loves the girls, and never gets in trouble. When he steals his dad's car, takes it off autodrive and crashes, instantly killing his passenger, there is no punishment for him. Instead, Knox's proxy Syd is the one who receives the punishment. As Knox watches; Syd is tied up, electrocuted, branded and punished to manual labor in a work camp... all for something a kid he has never met did. So what happens when by some small chance, Knox and Syd finally meet? 
FAVORITE QUOTE: "He laughed at himself for thinking about Mr. Baram's weird saying and picked up an ancient plastic pen that had rolled out of one of the bins. He mindlessly clicked the back of it to make the little tip go in and out with a satisfying sound. Why did they even have this antique? Who knew how to write by hand anymore?" (London, 43)

WHAT I LIKED/DIDN'T LIKE: I was not a big fan of this book. The high-tech dystopian society was kind of cool. But it seemed like there were a lot of questionable gaps. The beginning of the story would mention one thing and you would have to wait till several chapters later as to find out why. I never felt any bond toward the characters. It's not like I was tearing up when a character died. Another thing that really bothered me was the language. You would think in this futuristic world, they would come up with new curse words. The author created several new terms, but still felt the need to add curse words so that I don't feel comfortable allowing my middle grade students to read the book. 

SERIES UPDATE: Book 2: Guardian out in May 2015

READALIKES: Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Friday, May 20, 2016

Lost in the Sun


TITLE: Lost in the Sun
AUTHOR: Lisa Graff
PUBLISHER: Philomel Books
PAGES: 289 pages
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 5-8 

SUMMARY: Everyone hates Trent, or at least, that's what he thinks. Mrs. Emerson hates him because he broke her plant on the first day of school, Coach Gorman hates him because he won't participate in PE, his dad hates him because he won't let him hold his baby sister, Annie hates him for causing her brother's death. But when one girl with a scar on her face admits that she doesn't hate him, Trent is introduced to a new world. A world where bullies don't matter, teachers actually care about you, and maybe no one blames you for that horrific accident on the ice last winter.

FAVORITE QUOTE: "When you do choose to speak... speak truths." (Graff, 245)
WHAT I LIKED/DIDN'T LIKE: This book was incredibly boring to me, but I forced myself to push on for the greater good. That and I really wanted to know how Fallon actually got her scar. But when I got to the last page, and the very last sentence of the entire book is, "As she told me the beginning of her story." I realized that I would NEVER know how she actually got the horrific scar on her face. And for that, I will forever hate this book. That one little thing was like the biggest cliffhanger in the entire book, it is what kept me reading, and yet the author never tells you. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pennyroyal Academy


TITLE: Pennyroyal Academy
AUTHOR: M.A. Larson
RELEASE DATE: October 2014
PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam's Sons
PAGES: 314 pages
SERIES: The Pennyroyal Academy series
GENRE: Fantasy
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 5-8 

SUMMARY: A girl without a name is rescued from a witch in the dark forest by a handsome knight named Remington. He brings her to the Pennyroyal Academy, where she enlists as a Third Year Cadet in the hopes of one day becoming a princess. But she soon realizes that there is more to becoming a princess than ball gowns and tiaras. These princesses are trained to defeat the evil witches of the world. Can a girl with no name, no family, and a big secret really become a princess?

FAVORITE QUOTE: "Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow's princesses and knights. Blood restrictions lifted - Come one, come all!" (Larson, 14)
WHAT I LIKED/DIDN'T LIKE: I chose to read this book because every year I plan to read the entire TLA Lone Star book list . This wasn't exactly one of my first picks, but it became available in the library and I figured I would go ahead and knock it out. Every year, it seems that YART (TLA's Young Adult Round Table) chooses a fairy tale retelling to add to the list. And every year it's the exact same story. As I read this story, I felt like I had just read the exact same book. I kept comparing it to The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (2013). There is a good princess, a bad witch, usually a boy that they are fighting over, good beats evil, the end! 

READALIKES: The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, 

SERIES UPDATE: Book 2: The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy due out June 14, 2016


The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B


TITLE: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
AUTHOR: Teresa Toten
RELEASE DATE: March 2015
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press
PAGES: 289 pages
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 8-12 (language)

SUMMARY: A therapy group of teens with OCD try to cope with their complicated lives by taking on the personalities of superheroes. Adam Spencer Harris immediately falls for the newest member of their group, Robyn, as soon as she walks in the door. When she chooses the superhero Robin, who else can Adam be, but Batman? But while Batman is busying saving everyone around him, from his group, to his mother, and little brother; who will help save him? 

FAVORITE QUOTE: "This was love? It was like being held hostage by a terrorist. The feelings from hope to horror were crazy intense and changed on a dime. If only he knew what she thought. Why couldn't girls tell you exactly what they were thinking the moment they were thinking it? The world would be a better place, yes, sir." (Toten, 131)
WHAT I LIKED: My favorite part of the whole book was when the group of superheroes decide to take a field trip to Adam's Catholic church. The group treat the place like a theme park, so impressed by the Holy water, the priest and the lighting of the candles. I, personally, have never been to a Catholic church, and have to admit, I would probably react the same way. I just remember laughing out loud throughout that entire chapter! 

READALIKES: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Crown


TITLE: The Crown
AUTHOR: Kiera Cass
PAGES: 279 pages
GENRE: ChickLit
SERIES: The Selection series
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 7-12 

SUMMARY: In the finale to the beloved Selection series, Eadlyn must choose her fiance from the Selection, cope with her mother's sudden heart attack, survive without her twin, Aaron, and run a country of people who don't exactly like her. She has to make a lot of tough decisions, but eventually she learns that listening to your heart is sometimes more important than listening to your head.

FAVORITE QUOTE: "Maybe it's not the first kisses that are supposed to be special. Maybe it's the last one."
WHAT I LIKED: This book made me emotional. I won't say it was a tear jerker (spoiler alert), no one dies. But for every decision that Eadlyn had to make, I felt like I was right there beside her supporting her and I got a little teary eyed a couple of times. But that is what I love about a book, if reading a book can make me feel emotion for the character, then it automatically becomes a five in my opinion. And yes, there were also times when I caught myself laughing out loud.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I can honestly say that Eadlyn did not choose the suitor that I wanted for her. I liked that throughout the book you really had no idea who she was going to choose. As she says multiple times, the top five are all front runners. I knew who I wanted her to pick (which I won't say to avoid spoilers) but I was very happy with who she did choose in the end. Honestly, I really wish The Crown wasn't the end. I would like to see what Eadlyn and her fiance do with their kingdom.

BOOK TRAILER: uploaded by EpicReads

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Con Academy


TITLE: Con Academy
AUTHOR: Joe Schreiber
RELEASE DATE: August 2015
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
PAGES: 236 pages
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
APPROPRIATE AGE: grades 7-12 

SUMMARY: Will Shay is the newest student at Connaughton Academy, where he doesn't quite fit in among the entitled group of students. He is a scholarship kid who came from the tiny island of Ebeye where his missionary parents died in a plane crash delivering medicine to the orphans. Or is he? When Will meets Andrea Dufresne, and she calls him on his fake story, Will learns he might not be the only con artist on campus. 

FAVORITE QUOTE: "In life, as in the big con, sometimes there is no angle. Sometimes you just have to play it as it lays." (Schreiber, 236)
WHAT I LIKED: This book was an extremely fast read. I sat down one afternoon and next thing I know I'm half way through the book. I finished the entire book in less than two days. It never got dull, and the ending was a big surprise. Which I always love, because I am the worst about predicting the ending of a book.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I found the ending really questionable. It's hard to explain without spoiling the story, but through all the action at the end, I found myself really asking, "How did he...", "Would he really get away with that?", "They're just going to leave that as is...", "His parents didn't question...", "Can h really do that?", etc. Once you finish the book, you'll understand. 

READALIKE:  The Curse Workers series by Holly Black

BOOK TRAILER: this is not the official book trailer, but it was created by a Firsco ISD librarian for use with the Lone Star book list