Monday, December 21, 2015

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Science Fiction

This book is a good example of "What was I thinking for not having read this one before?" I had it in my hands about a year ago and started it, but I never finished it. There is a group of girls at my school that swore that this was the best book they have ever read, and they encouraged me to buy the entire series so that they could read them all. I loved their passion for the books and finally picked it up to take home for our Christmas break. Wow!

There was so much going on in the book. At times, I felt like it was trying too hard, but then I would get sucked into the newest part of the plot and realize that it was NOT trying too hard. It just needed to go there to make the story even better. This will definitely be one that I will recommend to all the kids coming into the library asking for more of the dystopian/scifi stuff they seem to be craving right now.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Guest Blogger Post by Mrs. Morrison (aka Your Awesome Math Teacher)

Science Fiction
Mrs. Morrison wanted to let you know about this book if you haven't already read it.  Here is what she had to say about it:

"I read this book over break in one 2.5 hour plane ride! I was a huge fan of the Selection series and needed something to read on the plane.  It was fast paced and just as good as the Selection series, but Princess Eadlyn makes it her own for sure! When I turned the last page of the book, I was disappointed it was over! I cannot wait to read the next book to see how her Selection ends up!"

Thank you, Mrs. Morrison, for your awesome suggestion!  And, see everyone!  You don't have to be an English teacher to enjoy reading!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Realistic Fiction
May and Libby were best friends.  As young girls, they created a comic story of Princess X - May did the writing and Libby did the artwork.  The girls were inseperable and lived for creating their stories.  Until one day when Libby didn't come home.  She and her mother were in a terrible car accident and both died.  Or did they?  It's three years later and May is seeing Princess X stickers all over town.  Who is doing this?  And why does it seem like the online version of the whole thing is telling the story of how her friend might not really died in the accident so long ago?

What I Liked
I felt like I was reading a book version of something like National Treasure or something!  May sets out on a quest to figure out what really happened to her best friend.  The comics that she found online seem to include real events from the past, but they are mixed with strange clues that only May understands.  Of course, along the way there is also a bad guy trying to keep May from finding out the truth.  It's dangerous, exciting, mysterious, sad, and just really, really good!  Take a few days off from all the science fiction you have been reading or that historical fiction book your English teacher is making you read and READ THIS BOOK!  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Watch the book trailer below to see real images of the comic in the book and some of the real places around Seattle that are referenced in the book.

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

Realistic Fiction
Arthur Owens had a reason for picking up a brick and throwing it at the old Junk Man on the street.  He really did.  However, no one knew what that reason was until he had his day in court and the judge made him say it.  When the Junk Man, Mr. Hampton, heard the reason, he offered to let Arthur serve all of his community service hours with him.  Now Arthur has to pick up junk out of people's trash cans.  Except, it really isn't junk.  It's important things.  And when Arthur finally discovers the reasons behind the seven important things he must collect every day, he discovers there are plenty of other important things in his life that he never dreamed would matter.

What I Liked
I loved the simplicity of this book.  Arthur is so troubled by the death of his father, but no one really knows just how much.  The author chose to let us discover Arthur's grief along with the other characters in the book.  I liked this.  It didn't come across preachy and weird - just really sweet.

The other thing that really hit home how much I liked this book was the ending.  I had no idea until the end of the book that this whole thing was based on a true story!  READ THE AUTHOR'S NOTE!  (Seriously.  You should ALWAYS read the author's notes at the end of the book.  Lots of cool stuff to be discovered in those things!)  The whole story about saving (or not saving) what Mr. Hampton created is true.  In fact, it's in the Smithsonian!  I spent about 30 minutes just going to the website mentioned in the Author's Note so that I could see the real stuff.

I'll just leave you with this image.  It's the real piece of art from the book.  Pretty cool story.  Go read it!   It's a nice break from all the dystopian, science fiction madness that is so popular right now.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

YAK Fest 2016

Ok, everyone. You need to pay attention here. YAK Fest is going to be here before you know it. For those of you who have never heard of this awesome event before, YAK stands for Young Adult Keller book festival. It's a great event where authors from all over come and talk to YOU about their books and what it's like to write and who they are and just all kinds of random things. Some teachers give extra credit for attending and others let you replace grades with free 100s just because you went.

Some of the authors that will be there this year are Robison Wells, Michael Buckley, Sara Raasch, Jessica Brody, Lindsay Cummings, Alex London, Julie Murphy, and Nova Ren Suma. And that's only the short list! Go to the YAK Fest website to see the entire list and some pictures from previous YAK Fests.

Also, I am doing book talks with some of the classes for the next few weeks. Below is the Smore of that talk. You will notice that the video links are for the YAK Fest authors. So if you want to learn more about some of their books, check out the videos in the Smore below. Have a great weekend! And come visit me in the library to learn more!

Monday, October 12, 2015


I created this today on Storybird.  The picture just made me so sad because this is how I feel when I turn in a book that I just want to keep forever.  Let me know if you want to learn how to use Storybird.  So easy!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Number 7 by Jessica Lidh

Historical Fiction
This isn't my regular book review.  I just want to put some examples of beautiful writing that I found in this book.  I am very intrigued by the events in this book, and I am currently doing a little research about whether or not it really happened.  I have this book labeled historical fiction, but it reads more like a realistic fiction book for most of the time.

Quintessential Quotes:
"This is what I've learned:  family secrets are never buried with their dead.  They can't fit in the coffins; they don't ignite in the crematoriums.  They linger and drift like the smoke of an abandoned cigarette."   -- page 7

I love this quote!  What an interesting image it brings to mind.  We sometimes like to think that a secret will die with the person who is keeping it, but this quote leads me to think otherwise.  Especially with those big secrets.  Somebody always finds out.  Saying that the secrets can't fit in the coffin makes the secret, in this case, sound even more ominous.  I really wanted to keep reading after I read that.

Another quote I love is when Louisa was describing her family.

"The truth is, we'd all become hermit crabs.  Our shells were made of the same substance: vivid memories of Mom, lost memories of Mom, fleeting memories of Mom.  We shed our shells just enough in the mornings, sloughing them off and hiding them under the covers of our beds or in between the tiles and the grout in the shower, but when returned in the evenings, we'd find them - and desperately retreat back into them."  -- p. 23

Wow!  I feel so bad for this family who lost their mother to cancer about five years before the book began.  Louisa goes on to say that her shell is thin.  She is desperate for someone to break through and help her with her grief.  But her sister's shell is thick - she is so deep into her grief that Louisa is worried about how her sister will handle it.  This quote is a good example of foreshadowing because we can assume that those shells will crack at some point in the book.

The last quote is from the end of the book.  This quote brings the book full circle with another personification of secrets.

"The problem with hiding secrets is they run a lot faster than we do.  They're bound to catch up with us sometime or another."  -- p. 271

I can relate to this quote even more than the other one.  I feel like secrets really do have a life of their own.  They just beg to released from my head.  The running faster than we do part is exactly how I feel sometimes when I know something that others do not and I am trying desperately NOT to spill!

All in all, this book was pretty good.  It gets a little slow in the middle (like most books), and there is a romance involved, but I enjoyed the secret aspect.  It kept me reading until the end.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Realistic Fiction

Mark has cancer.  He has had it since he was a little boy, and he and his parents have been fighting it as hard as they possibly can.  There are good years and bad years, and it has been good for a while.  But now the cancer is back.  And he is tired of fighting.  All he wants to do is control SOMETHING in his life for once.  So he sets off on an adventure with his faithful dog, Beau.  They are going to climb Mount Ranier . . . by themselves . . . in a snowstorm . . . even if it kills him before the cancer can.

What I Liked
There are two perspectives in this book.  Most of the time, we are listening to Mark narrate his way through this journey.  We hear his thoughts on the people around him and we learn to understand his fears along the way.  But every other chapter is narrated by his best friend.  She is worried about Mark and is struggling with whether or not to tell his parents where he is.  Throughout the book, we are brought into each character's inner struggle with the truth.

The writing in the book is pretty great, too.  Mark has a notebook that he writes in every now and then.  He writes everything in a haiku.  While this sounds really cheesy, I'm here to tell you that it really works.  Something so simple can say so much.

This book is not so much an adventure novel as much as a novel about how people learn to get through tough times by depending on others.  However, the intensity was the same.  I found myself compelled to read the next chapter even when I really needed to get up and cook dinner for my family or something!

Quintessential Quote
In the middle of the book, Jessie knows where Mark is, but she is trying to honor her best friend's last wish by letting him climb that mountain alone.  Mark's parents have included her in the search for their son, and she has to watch them cry and worry and hope for the safe return of their boy.  She hates this.  At one point, they find blood in a bathroom and know that it belongs to Mark.  Jessie's decision to stay quiet begins to gnaw at her.

"Should she bring him back, and save him?  Or save him, and let him go?

It wasn't fair.  To be so sad and so confused at the same time.  She had too much to decide and too much to feel.  She was lost.

What should a friend do?
How to help, when helping and
hurting are the same?"

I love this quote!  Saying she was lost parallels the fact that Mark is also lost - but in a different way.  This feeling of being lost comes through for the parents as well.  They are lost without their son.  Jessie is lost without her best friend.  Mark is lost without the guarantee that he will live to grow up. The haiku at the end of the quote is a terrific example of how it only takes a few words to make a simple point.  Helping our friends sometimes takes on a different meaning than we ever thought possible.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Genre:  Fantasy
Meira has been on the run her whole life.  She and seven other refugees are the only surviving members of a race of people known as Winterians that were conquered by the evil king of Spring, Angra.  Lucky for Winter, they have a living heir in their little group.  And if they can find a way to harness the lost magic of Winter, this heir might just be able to lead their people back to their homeland.  Now, if only Meira could get people to listen to her, she might just have all the answers.  Including the ones to questions she didn't even know she needed to ask.

What I Liked
I am a huge Game of Thrones fan.  The whole idea of fighting for control of a kingdom, and all of the betrayals that come with that fight, well it just fascinates me.  I loved The False Prince, The Red Queen, and The Young Elites.  This book fits right in with that collection.  Once again we have a strong female protagonist who does NOT like being told what to do by her male counterparts.  I like this about Meira.  But the parts that really had me totally engrossed were the battle scenes!  Raasch does a fantastic job of writing these scenes with just the right amount of description without going overboard.  I could see the chakra slice through the air (and enemy soldiers' necks), and I could almost feel the blows Meira took when she was taken prisoner.  If you want to get some good examples of "show don't tell" writing, this is the book for you!

What I Didn't Like
Well, you know me.  I'm not one for the romance.  Of course this one had it.  Let's face it.  What YA fantasy or science fiction book doesn't have the obligatory love triangle?  I will say that there wasn't a lot of droning on and on about which guy was best.  Meira realizes pretty quickly who it will be, but it doesn't interfere with the storyline.  With all the magic and intrigue and battles and prison camps and haunting visions - well, the love triangle just becomes a part of the plot.  It never gets too overbearing.

Book Trailer
Even though this isn't an official book trailer from the publisher, it's pretty good!  And it gives you a few more hints about the storyline.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Another Red Queen Review

Hey everybody!  Go read the review I did on Nerdy Book Club with a couple of friends!

Nerdy Book Club Review

Thursday, April 30, 2015

FREE Audiobooks All Summer!!

Audiosync gives away two free audiobooks every week of the summer.  They are usually paired books that include a current YA novel and a classic that relates to it somehow.  Even if you don't care for the YA novel, everyone should go download the classics.  High schools tend to require many classics as books you have to read for class.  By having the audio versions of them, you will find they are MUCH easier to read and understand.

Here is a listing of all the titles and which weeks they will be available.  Also, you can go to and sign up for text alerts to remind you to go download the books you want!

For sample recordings of all of the books that will be available, go to THIS LINK.

The first download is scheduled for May 7th!!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

Genre:  Science Fiction
Kady and Ezra have just gone through the worst break up in history.  The day is not promising to be a good one - and then her planet is invaded.  The year is 2575 and Kady and Ezra live on a distant planet at the edge of the universe.  Unfortunately, there are two mega corporations fighting for the resources on that planet and one company has decided to destroy it so that the other one can't have it.  In their escape, Kady and Ezra have ended up on two different rescue ships.  And now they have to figure out how to keep themselves and everyone else from dying from the disease that one of the weapons released upon their planet.

But wait.  There's more!  The artificial intelligence system that runs the ships is trying to kill everyone too.  Oh, and Kady is a hacker who has discovered that there is MUCH more than meets the eye with this invasion.  AND, the whole story is told through IM's, military files, hacked documents, interviews, emails, and the ramblings of a computer gone mad.

What I Liked
Oh.  My.  Goodness.  What DIDN'T I like?  This is simply one of the best books I have read so far this year.  Once you get past all of the introductions to the format of the book, and once you figure out the pacing of it, you will not be able to put it down.  Reading this book was like reading a movie script.  I loved the sheer brilliance of the format.  No narration is needed.  Getting to know Kady and her hacking abilities was one of the best parts.  I also loved Ezra's side of things and the fact that both of them realize that when the end of the world is at their feet, the things they fought over are so meaningless.

It's weird to say this, but I also liked reading the inner thoughts of the artificial intelligence system, AIDEN.  The computer becomes a character all by itself by the end of the book.  It's so simple to understand that all AIDEN wants to do is save the people on board all three of these ships.  So, when we realize that he must kill some of them in order to save the rest of them, we start to see AIDEN as having human characteristics that we know computers can't have.  This is genius writing, folks.

What I Didn't Like
Um, nothing.  There was not one point in the book when I was thinking to myself, "Gee. I wish that had been done differently."  I'm one of the pickiest readers on the planet, but I found nothing that I would consider a flaw in this one.

What Did This Remind Me Of?
Some of you have probably never seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It's a movie made back in 1968 about a voyage to space on a ship run by an AI system named HAL.  HAL takes over the mission and it's not in a good way.  While AIDEN made me think of this old movie, he doesn't take over the plot of the story.  Kady and Ezra are still the main characters.  But they are totally affected by this computer system.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Nerd Problems

Don't let this happen to you!  Come get a book at the library!

It's Pronounced LibRary!!

I kinda DO care how you say it, but am happy you know where it is, too!

Texas Library Association 2015

So I was out most of the week last week so that I could attend this awesome, booknerdy event.  Here are some of the pictures I took while I was gone.

Publishers give away lots of books that haven't been published yet.  This is my haul.  I will put these in the library very soon!

This is Chris Lynch.  He's the guy that wrote all of those Vietnam and WWII books that I recommend to the guys.  These are a few of his new books.  Hit Count looks really good!  He autographed them for us!

Kiera Cass is on the right.  She wrote the Selection books.  Lauren Oliver is in the middle.  She wrote the Delirium series.  And that's Jessica Brody who looks like she's about to eat the microphone.  These ladies were hilarious!  

Marie Lu!!! She wrote the Legend series.  She was quite awesome.  Didn't know this, but she is a die hard gamer.  
That's Alexandra Bracken on the left.  She wrote Darkest Minds.  She also has a new series coming out soon.  And, yes, I will be buying it!  Emmy Laybourne is on the right.  She wrote the Monument 14 series.  Her new book is called Sweet and is about an artificial sweetener that has deadly side effects!
Ran into Origami Yoda himself, Tom Angleberger.  We had to wait for a table at lunch time and we hung out for awhile, along with some of his other author friends.  So cool!
The sequel to The Program coming soon!

Another book in the Deep Blue mermaid series!

Another beautiful cover on the next book in the Splintered series!

A graphic novel version of Legend?  What?  
I'm happy to be back at school with all of my students again!  I've missed hanging out with you and helping you find books!  Come see me when all of this STAAR testing is over!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Genre:  Fantasy
The world has changed.  There are now only people who have red blood and people who have silver blood.  The red bloods are regular people who live outside of the kingdom of silver blooded royalty and lords.  The red bloods live to serve and fight wars for the silver bloods.  What keeps this system from toppling?  The silver bloods have strange powers that are just scary enough to make the red bloods stay in their place.  Except for Mare.  She has the ability to harness electricity.  And once the silver bloods find THAT out, they have to spin a web of lies to make sure no one ever finds out.  But Mare doesn't feel like cooperating with that plan.

What I Liked
Once I got started reading this book, I got lost in the world of these strange people.  I was afraid it was going to be too much fantasy for me.  I don't like it when fantasy books are full of strange names and weird places - so much so that I can no longer picture what is happening in my mind.  I know.  I know.  That's what makes fantasies what they are.  But I never was able to read those kinds of books.  I need there to be enough reality in them so that I can relate to the characters and the plot.  This book had just enough realism to keep me reading.  

I also liked that it really ramped up the action towards the end.  Some books tend to slow down in the middle to get the readers ready for a big ending.  This book tended to speed up.  Do not plan on doing anything in your life after chapter 26!  From that point, it is a constant action scene with plenty of revelations to keep your from putting down the book!

What I Didn't Like
There wasn't much that I didn't like about this one.  I even gave it five stars on Goodreads which I don't do very often.  If I had to pick something it would be that some of it was a little bit predictable.  Like the ever present love triangle that tends to happen in so many books these days.  However, this triangle seems to straighten itself out pretty quick.  The reader doesn't have to get pulled into a Team Edward/Team Jacob kind of nonsense. 

Epic Read Explains
Watch this quick video for a brief explanation of what happens in this book.  It's kind of like a book trailer, but not quite as cheesy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Am The Weapon by Allen Zadoff

Genre:  Realistic Fiction
"Ben" is a trained killer.  He has worked for The Program since he was a child.  They prepared him for his job.  He is saving the world from terrorists who threaten the American way of life.  What he is doing is the right thing.  At least that's what he has been told.  See, "Ben" is only 16.  And his next assignment is the mayor.  He has just five days to get close to the mayor's daughter, Sam, kill her dad, and then he can move on.  But his memories of his real family are making him question everything he has ever known.

What I Liked
This series is called the Boy Nobody series.  I love that.  We really don't ever find out who he is other than his aliases throughout the book.  The author did a great job of inserting plenty of glimpses into "Ben's" past to make me want to keep reading and find out what really happened to him as a child.  The assignment he is on for the main plot of the book is also intriguing.  Having the assasin personalized is a genius concept.  I found myself rooting for "Ben" and wanting him to be happy.  I think this is a pretty good way to keep the reader interested.

What I Didn't Like
The whole book was written in such a way that we are kind of in "Ben's" head.  He is a trained killer.  He doesn't let emotion get in the way of his job.  The sentences we read are short and succinct - kind of like you would expect an assasin to think.  Just the facts.  I didn't love this.  It was something I had to get used to, and it took me until about halfway through the book before I did.  I almost put it down and moved on to another book.  But, I'm glad I stuck with it.  Pretty great ending and I am pretty interested in what the next book might bring with it.

Book Trailer
I like this trailer.  Not too cheesy, but just enough of a tease for this book.
Happy reading!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Genre:  Fantasy
"I was sent here because of a boy.  His name was Reeve Maxfield, and I loved him and then he died." -- Jam Gallahue

Jam has been in a deep depression since she lost her boyfriend, Reeve.  Her parents have decided to send her to The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens.  She gets enrolled in a class called Special Topics in English and is assigned a special journal to write in about her feelings.  What she doesn't realize is that this isn't just any old journal.  When she writes in it, she is transported to a place where she can be with Reeve again.  And when she discovers that the journal is working the same for the other four people in the class with her, they make a plan to make sure they don't waste this amazing opportunity.  

What I Liked
I really enjoyed the stories of all of these kids.  It didn't just pour out on the pages in one long narrative.  I had to wait and find out what happened to the kids along with Jam.  That really made me want to keep reading.  Also, they were such likable kids!  You wouldn't think that a boarding school for troubled teens would have students that have so much to offer, but these kids made me want to cheer for them!  Their teacher was pretty awesome as well.  But maybe I'm a bit biased when it comes to how teachers are portrayed in literature.

Also, the wording of this book and its underlying message of the power of writing were important to me.  Jam realizes that writing about her feelings is the reason why she was able to move on.  And the other kids realize it too.  Sometimes we just have to let our feelings out to a unknown entity that can't answer back and try to solve all of our problems for us.  We just need to pour it out on paper and then leave it behind and never look at it again.  This is the power of writing.  This is the power of Belzhar to the students in this class.  I love that.

Quintessential Quote
There is so much imagery in this book.  Not only does the main character learn about the beauty that words can bring into our lives, but the author invites us into that way of thinking as well.  My favorite example of this is at the end of the book when Jam realizes just how far she has come on her journey. 

"And I also know that pain can seem like an endless ribbon.  You pull it and you pull it.  You keep gathering it toward you and as it collects, you really can't believe that there's something else at the end of it.  Something that isn't just more pain.

But there's always something else at the end; something at least a little different.  You never know what that thing will be, but it's there."  -- p. 253

I like the idea that there is something other than pain waiting for you after you have dealt with so much of it already.  Wolitzer doesn't sugar coat it for us.  She lets us know that it won't be a complete turn around to extreme happiness because we all know that isn't always the case.  She respects the reader enough to tell us the truth:  things will change eventually, but slowly.  We just have to keep pulling at that ribbon until it exposes what's waiting for us on the other side.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Never Be Afraid to Tweet Authors!

So, the other day, I tweeted out this picture of our March Madness contest.

When I did it, I tagged most of the authors of the books that are still in the contest.  I love it when they retweet my stuff and favorite it!  These are the rock stars of my world, and when they actually acknowledge my presence, I think it's pretty cool.  Anyway . . . a couple of them tweeted back to me that they are so happy to be included among such great books.  And (duh duh duuuhhh) one of them looked up my email address and asked if she could come speak to the students!!  

Lissa Price, the author of Starters and Enders, might just be coming to see us in May!  I am still working out the details, but this could happen!!  I'll let you know when I know more.

The point of this little story is that you should reach out to people through Twitter and Instagram.  Look up the authors' handle or username and ask them about their books.  You could even just send a quick message about how much you liked their book.  It doesn't matter.  One of my teacher friends tagged an author on Instagram and her kids got to meet her through a Skype visit.  They love it when people reach out to them.  You never know what could happen!

I'll let you know more about Lissa Price's visit!  (Hint:  I will probably only open it up to the Reading Sprint participants, so go fill out a form!)

The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble

Genre:  Supernatural

Jenna's life is no picnic.  Her dad disappeared five years ago and her mom decided to stop participating in life.  Her popular, athletic brother has dropped out of football and spends most of his time working to support the family.  To top it all off, Jenna thinks she may be dying.  Then one day she and her brother get in a car accident and Jenna is told that someone has been poisoning her.  When she looks to her brother for help, she discovers that he may not have truly survived that car accident (because what ARE those strange looking feathers sticking out of his back?).  Oh, and her dad may be alive somewhere.  They need to figure it all out soon before someone else gets seriously hurt.

What I Liked
This was a pretty good little mystery story.  Once I found out that Jenna was being poisoned, I started to figure out what else was going on in the family.  I can't tell you much more than that without giving too much away!  The mystery that I enjoyed was centered around the dad and his reasons for leaving the family.  I enjoyed getting to know him through his newspaper articles.

I also liked the Texas setting in this book.  Being a native Texan, I hate it when authors put in stuff about my state that they think sounds good for Texas.  Usually it just makes us look stupid.  This author is from Texas and this book is set in the Houston area.  She makes references to boots and the UT/A&M rivalry that I thought was clever.  Sometimes it's nice to feel comfortable in the setting of a book.

What I Didn't Like
I wanted more of the angel aspect of this book.  Don't worry.  That wasn't a spoiler.  If you can't tell from looking at the cover that there is an angel involved, then you need to pay more attention to covers!! :)  Anyway, much like Jenna in the story, I wanted to know more about what happened to Casey and exactly who this Amber chick was that kept showing up to help.  Maybe the author will give us more in her sequel, The A Word, but I feel like there was a major part of the story that didn't get told.

Check out this book trailer to get a little taste of The Sweet Dead Life!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Hicks

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Charlie is caught in the middle.  His cheerleader ex-girlfriend needs him to win the election for student body president so that they can get new uniforms with school money.  His best friend needs to win the election so that the money can be spent on the upcoming robotics competition.  Charlie has to bring together this mismatched group of people to unite for one ultimate goal: win the Robot Rumble so that everyone can get what they want . . . in more ways than one!

What I Liked
The artist in this book really found a way to make the reader understand the subtle sarcasm being used to tell this story.  It was funny without trying too hard and interesting enough to make me want to keep reading.  Graphic novels aren't usually my thing, but this one made me smile more than once.

The other thing I liked about this book is that it didn't feel the need to add in a bunch of bad language and sexual material to tell the story.  It just didn't need it.  And there are just too many graphic novels out there that use that kind of material to draw in a reader when there really is no need for it.  The characters and the plot were the stars of this book - as it should be.

What I Didn't Like
Well, it's weird to say, but what I didn't like was the fact that it was a graphic novel.  I just don't enjoy reading them.  This one was an exception because I liked the story so much.

Quintessential Quote
Well, it's kind of hard to quote a graphic novel and really have it stand out as something intelligent, so instead I have inserted a copy of one of the pages.  Charlie was duped into running for student body president and hadn't even had a chance to tell his best friend, Nate, about it.  Nate is also running for president and is not pleased that Charlie is running against him because Charlie is a popular jock who will probably beat him.  I like this page because it shows the lighthearted humor used to tell the story.

If you want a break from the normal way of reading and have been looking to try a graphic novel, this is the book for you!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Utopia, Iowa by Brian Yansky


Genre:  Supernatural

"It's a place that was and can never be again," he said.  "Now you be careful.  The young should never want the past more than the future."  - The Boatman when taking Jack and Ash to the Great Beyond

Jack Bell can talk to ghosts.  But that's not such a big deal in his town.  Most people have some kind of gift - or curse depending on your point of view.  Lately, the ghosts have been really pushy.  Someone is murdering the girls in his town and they are all trying to get him involved with solving the crime.  Too bad he has become the prime suspect!

What I Liked
This book was a lot of fun for what it was.  It didn't take itself too seriously - which I appreciated  The main character was very likable and I liked the way that he interacted with his parents and his friends.  I thought it was very realistic for how a kid his age would be.  I really liked his relationship with his sister.  Jack is a great big brother and puts up with a lot from his little sister (who just happens to be pretty powerful in her own right).  

I also appreciated the ending of this book. In a world of so many sequels, this was a great change of pace with a satisfying ending.  It left it open to possibilities without making you angry that ever read it in the first place.  

What I Didn't Like
Some of the quirky ways of writing got a little distracting.  Like the way he would always compare things to movies that he knew about and would proceed to give a parenthetical notation about that movie.  But, even that was part of who the character was since he was an aspiring screenwriter.  The only problem was that it didn't feel like that was very much a part of the plot at all.  

There was also a side story of a few evil characters who were wreaking havoc on this sweet little town.  The side story took place well before Jack's generation, and it eventually played a big part in the plot, but it was a little difficult to blend together until closer to the end of the book.  

Quintessential Quote:
One of my favorite things in this book was the mom and dad's relationship.  They were going through a tough time and were arguing a lot, but you could tell they still loved each other.  Jack and his sister were worried that it was worse.  When Jack finally talked to his mom about it, she gave us the Quintessential Quote for this book found on pages 319 - 320.

"The Princess Bride is a love story, but it's a fairy tale love story.  Your dad and I are a love story, too.  But a real one.  Here's the thing, Jack.  It's hard sometimes to love someone, hard in a way that isn't cinematic or romantic.  It takes work.  But it's still a love story."  

This quote also represents the relationship between Jack and his best friend/secret crush, Ashley.  Theirs is a love story, but it has taken their whole lives to become that.  Sometimes it just takes time to find out that your best friend really is the one you have been waiting for all this time.  And that can be pretty cinematic and romantic, too!