Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Airhead


Cabot, Meg.  Airhead.  NY: Scholastic Point, c2008.  337 pages.  This is the first book in a trilogy.  The other books are Being Nikki, and Runaway.

Emerson Watts goes unwillingly to a superstore opening with her sister and best friend Christopher.  What happens there changes her life completely and she is powerless to change it back.  She becomes one of the "walking dead" people that she and Christopher used to make fun of.  Those "beautiful" ones who spend more time in front of the mirror and making fun of others than they do being real people.  She used to be comfortable in baggy and worn clothes and never was comfortable in make-up.  After the "event" she has to accept a new life to save her parents from certain financial disaster, and a lot of problems come along with that new life, including some unwanted romantic attention, and the lack of attention from her real love interest, Christopher.  While there is a lot of humor in this series, there are also a lot of interesting points made about self-image and making the most of what life hands you.

Recommended for junior high and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap


Everything, Everything

Yoon, Nicola.  Everything, Everything.  NY: Delacorte Press, c2015.  310 pages.  

Madeline has a rare disease.  She is basically allergic to the world.  She hasn't left the house in her memory.  As a baby, she was sick a lot, but after her father and brother were killed in a senseless accident, it was determined that she had SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency).  The only people she sees are her mother (who is a doctor) and her full-time nurse/companion Carla.  On rare occasions her architecture teacher can visit, but only after going through the air filter purification process to be sure he carries no pollen or germs.  Madeline is used to her life and as long as she has books, she has been content.  All that changes when someone new moves in next door and a boy her age, dressed all in black, comes into view.  Madeline suddenly wants more and she is sure of two things.  She is sure she is going to fall in love with him, and equally sure it will be a disaster.  This is a sweet romance novel, but also packed with details of how it might be to live with a rare disease commonly called "bubble baby syndrome."

I would recommend this to high school and above, and particularly to the students looking for novels for Health class.  Review by Mrs. Belknap

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Taylor, Laini.  Daughter of Smoke & Bone.  NY: Little & Brown, c2011.  418 pages.  Book 1 of the trilogy.  Other books are Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

Because I need to read a lot of books as librarian, I don't often read entire series because of lack of time.  This is one series I feel compelled to finish.  Throughout the richly detailed first book, I never quite knew what was coming next.  All the story hints never quite prepared me for the next surprise element to fall into place.

Karou seems like an almost normal 16-year-old, attending school, but living in a tiny apartment in Prague by herself.  Her passion is drawing and she has over 90 sketchbooks, full of detailed drawings of many things, but many of strange looking monsters, part human, part animal.  She has one good friend, Zuzanna, and one discarded boyfriend, Kaz.  That is where "normal' ends.  She was raised in a portal to another world, mystical and mysterious, by one of the monsters of her sketchbook, Brimstone.  Though Brimstone cares for her, he keeps his work secretive and Karou in the dark.  Her errands for him take her around the world through additional portals, collecting teeth, the use for which she does not know.  When mysterious handprints and an equally mysterious and perfect "angel" appear, things change and both love and tragedy enter Karou's life.  While I enjoyed the mythic fantasy aspect of this book, I was forced to take a good look at our own world and the violence that seems ever present.  Karou, whose name means "hope" dreams of a world remade, a world of peace.  I do too.  Recommended for high school.  Review by Mrs. Belknap.
The Universe Versus Alex Woods
Extence, Gavin.  The Universe Versus Alex Woods.  NY: Redhood Books, c2013.  407 pages.

When I began this book, I thought it was going to be in the sci fi category.  It begins with Alex being hit in the head with a meteorite.  Instead, it was an almost humorous story about two very unhumorous subjects, epilepsy and assisted suicide.

Alex developed severe epilepsy following his injury.  Because of that, his overprotective mother tried hard to make sure he was never alone in case of a seizure.  Though Alex did not care much if kids at school made fun of him, one unavoidable incident caused a lot of damage to the property of an older man.  Because of this, Alex's mother made him spend Saturday's helping Mr. Peterson do odd jobs.  Eventually the two became good friends.  When Mr. Peterson became ill, Alex's life was about to change again.

I really like Alex.  He is smart and inquisitive and very pragmatic about how the world works.  He is also a good person to whom doing the "right" thing is very important.  I learned a lot about having epilepsy and did a lot of thinking about how to know what the "right" thing is.

Because  of the seriousness of assisted suicide, I would recommend this book for high school and above.  Junior high students would need to be very grounded to read this book in light of the teachings of the church.  Review by Mrs. Belknap


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Clariel

Nix, Garth.  Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen.  NY: Harper, cc2014.  382 pages.  This is book 4 in the Abhorsen Trilogy, but is really a prequel and takes place 600 years before Sabriel was born.

Clariel wants nothing more than to return to the Great Forest she loves so much and where she feels at home.  When her mother, a goldsmith of the finest sort, is asked to move to the city of Belisaere, they must go.  Clariel can think of nothing else but finding a way to go back.  This brings her nothing but trouble.  As one of the Charter Mages told her, "A passion thwarted will oft go astray."

Though Clariel wants nothing to do with the carefully controlled Charter Magic, she does end up making use of the unpredictable and addictive Free Magic.  She has undiscovered power and once forced to use it, finds it hard to stop, even if it means never returning to the Great Forest.

I don't always feel I need to read every book in a series, but reading the prequel first, I am now anxious to read the first book in this series.

Recommended for 7th and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap