Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taken by Erin Bowman

Last week I spent a nice hour wandering around Chapters and of course I spent most of my time in the Young Adult section. I got to check out all the new releases and managed to find several new dystopian novels, which are certainly my favourite books to read. Then, I had a lovely day of just sitting outside reading. Taken is one of the books I picked up during this trip, it slipped under my radar,but I am glad I found it. The world that is described in Taken is a world where females are plenty, and males are not as common. This is because at the age of 18, all boys are taken away. Nobody knows where they go, but they are gone. The citizens call it The Heist and it is a hard thing for everyone to deal with. Gray is just about 18. He knows what is coming and thinks that he is prepared. But then he finds a mysterious note from his mother that causes him to start questioning everything he has ever believed in. The only way he can get answers is to go over the wall. This is a scary idea because everyone who has tried to climb over the wall has been burnt beyond recognition. But Gray is will to risk it to have his questions answered. This is a great story. I know it is going to be a sequel, which isn't always my favourite. But, fans of The Maze Runner will love this book.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

There is nothing better than reading a Sarah Dessen book in the summer. Something about her books just seem right for sitting by the pool and devouring her books (of course sitting by the ocean would be even better, but you've got to deal with what you have) The Moon and More is about a young girl named Emaline who is facing many changes in the future. She is heading off to college in September, has to deal with her high school boyfriend and a father that says he wants big things for her, but can't seem to help her get there. When a film director comes to her small beach town to film a documentary about a local artist, she brings with her an assistant who Emaline keeps getting thrown together with. As Theo and Emaline start spending more time together, she gets swept up into his ambitions and dreams. Emaline needs to balance what she wants, and what she can get. This is a true story of growing up and making decisions to be happy and content with your life. It's a great read!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I feel like I have said this before...but I have been reading a great deal about this book on Twitter and I finally picked it up the other day. I am so glad I did. What a beautiful, brilliant, lovely book. Eleanor and Park is the story of two young kids who strike up a relationship because they are thrown together on the school bus. Eleanor is new to the school and has an amazing attitude- an "I don't care what you think" attitude. She dresses very differently from anyone else and basically keeps to herself. Park is a half Korean, half American boy who tries not to get noticed by the kids he grew up with who have the potential to make his life miserable. What they find with each other is a friendship and love that is just the sweetest thing to read. One of the things I loved most about this book was that it was set in the 1980's, so the pop culture references were something that I loved to read. Having said that, I don't think it would take away from anyone who didn't grow up during the 80's. The book has a timeless feel to it, since the focus is more on the relationship between Eleanor and Park rather than the setting. I must caution you however that there are some edgy bits to it. Eleanor has a very terrible home life and many kids wouldn't be ready to read some of what she talks about. I am still on the fence about leaving it 'out there' for any elementary student in grade 7 or 8 to read. For high school though I wouldn't hesitate for a minute. I just loved this story!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

A while ago, Chapter's advertised a bunch of books on sale, so I picked up many of them for $3.99. They were all young adult books, and most of them were romance books- which is great for the summer. This morning I woke up early and wanted a quick read before I got back into another adult book so I grabbed this one off my shelf. The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in a three part series (I love it when I find series that have all been written, because I now know what my next two books will be). The story is about Belly, a 16 year old who feels that her life begins in the summer. It is here where she spends every summer with her mom and brother and her mom's best friend and her two sons. The kids have grown up together, although Belly has always felt left out of the three boys and their adventures. She is the youngest one in the group and the only girl, so things are pretty tough for her. This summer, things are a bit different. Everyone comments on how different she looks and she starts to feel like things are different. Yet, her crush on the oldest boy Conrad has stayed the same. She has been in love with him forever, but he never seems to notice her or pay her any attention. This summer she hopes it will be different. But what Belly finds is that even when you want things to stay the same, everything changes and she must change as well. I really loved this book. It is a great beach read. Reading about kids having a carefree summer of parties, swimming, friends etc. is such a nice easy thing to do. I loved these characters. I loved Belly and her desire to one of the boys, while at the same time trying to figure out who she is as a women. The relationship between the two mother's is complex and fascinating. Best of all are the boys- they are just like the boys I grew up with. Interesting to watch, annoying, teasing, rough, sweet, they run the whole emotional gammit and I could so sympathize with Belly trying to figure out how to deal with them all. I was very excited at the end when I read that there was a seqeul. I'm off to start it right now!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

It seems that these days I get all of my book recommendations from Twitter, and this one is no different. I am always looking for new books to put into my Civil Rights collection. I love introducing kids to this time in history that seems so close, but so hard for them to understand. The Lions of Little Rock takes place in Little Rock, Arkansas the year after the "Little Rock Nine" worked to integrate the local high school under much tension. I found that alone to be quite interesting. It was fascinating to read about what happened to not only the nine black students after their year at the high school, but also the fall out of a year of forced integration. In this story, we hear about integration through the eyes of Marlee, a 12 year old girl who doesn't really understand what is happening. When a new girl moves into her school, she finally finds a kindred spirit and someone who she can confess her biggest fears and dreams. Marlee and Liz are inseparable until the unthinkable happens. Liz has been 'passing' as a white person and this causes the whole school to be in a huge uproar. Marlee doesn't understand what the big deal is, she recognizes Liz for who she is as a person, not the colour of her skin. Marlee quickly learns about segregation and the effect it has on everyone, she must decide what she believes and what she can do to support her friend. I really enjoyed this book. I love the relationship Marlee has with the lions at the local zoo and the relationship between her and Liz. This book does a really great job explaining some of the issues surrounding integration and segregation. It will be passed onto many kids this year I know it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

This book grabbed my attention on Twitter and so I preordered it. When it came in, I was doing some work with some avid readers at a school and they begged me for a new book so I let them borrow this one. I just got it back and finally got around to reading it last week. I loved, loved, loved this book! It's like The Hunger Games and Divergent- both books that I loved too. It is a great new dystopian series, and while I am sick of series books, I really liked the way this book was written and how it ended and I know I will be picking up Independent Study (book 2) in January. The Testing is set in North America after the Seven Stages of War in which a great deal of the population was eliminated. Now, at the age of 16, students are either accepted into University or they are sent to work. Cia can't wait to be 16, she is certain that she will be allowed to go to University, even though her brother who is smarter and more talented didn't get chosen. On her graduation day, her father sends her off with the words "Trust no one" This is hard advice to follow since she is alone and very scared. As she makes her way through the different tests designed to discover if she has what it takes to make it to university she must rely on her own instinct and intelligence. I thought this book was incredibly well written. I really enjoyed the strength Cia offered, much like Katniss, but without the jaded attitude and like Tris, Cia is a great character to read and watch grow. You care about her and feel for her. There was nothing I didn't like about this book. If you like Hunger Games and Divergent, I guarantee you will love this one too!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Game by Teresa Toten

This book came recommended to me by a friend from work. It has been sitting on my shelf for a bit and now that it is summer I finally had time to pick it up. The Game tells the story of Dani Webster- who when we meet her has just been admitted into a treatment facility for teenagers with issues. As Dani adjusts to life inside this facility we learn that she was there as a result of substance abuse, but the more Dani reveals about herself, the more we learn why she turned to drinking. As Dani tells her story, the reader gets flashbacks to her past and to The Game she played with her sister Kelly. The story is disjointed in parts, because Dani is struggling to know what is real and what is part of the Game. Inside the treatment centre, Dani finds friends who are there with their own issues, but truly care for Dani and try to help her out. This book was unlike any book I have read before. Reading about Dani's stuggles to come to terms with her life and how she learned to deal with a very challenging situation at home was hard. The way the author chose to share Dani's story helps the reader understand how difficult recovery is. It took some time to get into the story, trying to follow Dani's scattered mind as she puts together all the pieces of her past was difficult. But, I did enjoy the story and it was great to kick off a summer of reading!