Teens

Jun 23, 2022

A valuable, necessary, and accessible book. Kiely has an easy-going manner and presents ideas that could be abstract, academic theory through relatable anecdotes and stories, more often than not about himself when he was a teenager. It reads quickly and directly addresses young white readers without confrontation or shaming, encouraging listening, empathy, and a sense of responsibility (instead of guilt). Highly recommended.


If I have one complaint, it's that Kiely tries so hard to be casual and appealing that he sometimes condescends to his readers and implies low expectations of their

Book cover

Poison for Breakfast

By Lemony Snicket
5
Rated by Chris K.
Apr 28, 2022

A perfect little gem of a book.


A book I quickly fell in love with. It may not be a perfect book for every reader, as we all have our different preferences. Not everyone will love it as much as I. But I love it. I find it hard to imagine a book that could be more perfect.


I rarely buy books. I work in a library, so I feel almost every day I have all the books I could ever want at my fingertips for free. I don't often feel the need to buy them for myself. Plus, buying a book means I am unlikely to read it.


These are (most of) the books I currently have checked out from my library

book cover for Enduring Freedom

Enduring Freedom

By Jawad Arash and Trent Reedy
4
Rated by Kristen Re.
Jan 21, 2022

In Enduring Freedom we get the human side of war from two perspectives.  The novel shares how two people from different backgrounds react to the same events.  The setting takes place mainly in Farah, Afghanistan after 9/11.  Joe, a U.S. Army soldier from Iowa, is serving his first tour in Afghanistan when he meets Baheer, a sixteen-year old local.  There is a language barrier at first, but there is no mistaking that they both want to defeat the Taliban.  They forge a friendship in which they rely on each other's bravery and knowledge to make it through some tough situations. 


It is a great

Jan 19, 2022

A powerful tale of a young woman succeeding despite everything working against her.
The book opens when Echo--the protagonist shares a name with the author--is six. Smoke rolls into her apartment's windows from a nearby fire that is spreading her way. Her younger brothers are stuck in cribs and her mom is passed out on the bathroom floor from crack cocaine. It's a good introduction to Echo's world. The book closes with her beginning a new life at Dartmouth University. The story is how she manages to go from one place to the other, with plenty of pain and heartache along the way.
Echo's story

Sep 3, 2021

“Normal is whatever you grow used to, like wildfires choking the life out of everything.  Or a town that live through its children, over and over again, until nobody remembers a time when that wasn’t the case.”


Each chapter is its own short story.  Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock does a fabulous job intertwining the lives of several teenagers from small towns in the American West and Alaska.  The collection is relatable, full of heart and hope with stories about a wildfire, a camp, as well as a mysterious disappearance.  (My personal favorite was Parking-Lot Flowers about a teenage boy who picks up a

Aug 27, 2021

This teen comedy TV series was years ahead of its time and unappreciated when it aired in 1982-83, cancelled before the full first season could be finished. It’s a shame because it’s so smart and funny and different from anything else on TV at the time. It probably would have done better 15 or 20 years later, but it’s so endearingly ‘80s, I can’t imagine it at any other time and being so charming. 


The premise is this: two best friends are freshmen at a typical suburban American high school. Patty is a sweet, shy nerd who is too smart for her own good (played by a young Sarah Jessica Parker

The Boy in the Black Suit book cover

The Boy in the Black Suit

By Jason Reynolds
5
Rated by Kristen Re.
Apr 8, 2021

Matt Miller, a senior in high school, is dealing with the recent death of his mom to cancer.  Mr. Ray, Matt’s neighbor, offers him a job at the funeral home.  He is hesitant to take it but can’t pass up the good paycheck. So, Matt becomes the boy in the black suit because he starts wearing it every day.  In a way it brings Matt comfort to watch the funerals.  “I liked watching other people deal with the loss of someone, not because I enjoyed seeing them in pain, but because, somehow, it made me feel better knowing that my pain isn’t only mine.”


When he least expects it, Matt meets Lovey. 

Influence by Sara Shepard

Influence

By Sara Shepard & Lilia Buckingham
4
Rated by Heather Mi.
Apr 1, 2021

It’s perfect, but is it real? Influence follows the lives of four teen influencers who live what seem like perfect lives: Delilah Rollins, a newbie who shot to fame after posting a viral video, Jasmine Walters-Diaz, a former child star who’s tired of hiding her real self, Fiona Jacobs, an aspiring actress who harbors a dark secret from her past, and Scarlet Leigh, the quintessential mean girl of the group. In the whirlwind of events and auditions and shoots, the tension escalates and one of the girls ends up dead. As the other girls try to root out the killer, they are reminded again and again

Sep 30, 2020

“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.” - Lucy Gray Baird


Suzanne Collins bring us another installment of the Hunger Games.  This time she takes us back in time to the Tenth Annual Hunger Games (64 years prior to The Hunger Games trilogy, before Coriolanus Snow was President). 


Snow, eighteen-years-old, is doing what he can to hold what’s left of his family together and keep up with the status quo in the Capital.  Money is tight in the Snow house, and he is afraid he won’t be able to afford University.  An opportunity presents itself when he is assigned as mentor to the

The Goose Girl

By Shannon Hale
5
Rated by Anne G
Jul 10, 2020

“... If we don't tell strange stories, when something strange happens we won't believe it.”
― Shannon Hale, The Goose Girl


The Goose Girl is a nice Grimm fairy-tale inspired piece of fiction. The fantasy fiction is well written, and quite creative in its own way. I stayed up all night reading this leisurely paced book. This is absorbing, exciting, and has a descriptive writing style. It is a slow moving tale at first, and some might be tempted to stop reading in the opening chapters where we are introduced to the excessively timid Princess Ani. Ani is a girl taken from her position as

Three Hands for Scorpio

By Andre Norton
4
Rated by Anne G
Feb 21, 2020

     Three Hands for Scorpio is the last adult book for young adults of Lifetime Grand Master of Fantasy, Andre Norton, who passed away on March 17, 2005 after a long and extremely fruitful career.  Her magically detailed world-building skills, upright, against-all-odds characters, and fast pace will be sorely missed.  Tor rushed a copy of this book of women-of-steel into print, so that the 93-year-old author could see it before she died.  It is the last manuscript she penned alone, and has an action-packed storyline.  I have read most of Ms. Norton's books, and especially enjoyed her women

The Secret Hour

By Scott Westerfeld
4
Rated by Anne G
Feb 21, 2020

     The Secret Hour has a very imaginative paranormal premise, and it was enjoyable to read; I finished this book for reluctant readers in two sittings.  I love the idea of a hidden hour after midnight where only a select few can visit, and the continuing threads of mystery and “what’s going on?” kept me reading this urban fantasy.  The characters are not all best buddies, but are unique individuals with their own motivations which are shown in the fast pace.


     The premise is original and interesting with a compelling writing style.  It is definitely written with a young adult audience

Trickster's Choice

By Tamora Pierce
5
Rated by Anne G
Dec 11, 2019

     I previously read Trickster's Choice with courageous teenage girls a little over a decade ago, and I wanted to revisit it.  I had forgotten just how easy it is to get drawn into Aly’s adventures which cause her to become a slave as a girl, and I am so glad to have revisited because it was similar to visiting with an old friend.  This is the story of Alianne Cooper, who wants to be a girl spy, and is the daughter of Spymaster Cooper and the famous Lioness of Tortall and champion of the throne.  Certainly Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite writers in this genre, and Alianne (Aly) stands

Nov 18, 2019

This is top-notch science fiction--it takes today's scientific advancements and speculates how they might play out in the future, considering legal, ethical, and practical ramifications along the way. The book does this over the course of six lightly connected stories, each progressively further in the future. The topic is gene editing and body modification.


The first story starts simply enough with improved organ transplants from one dying twin to another and ends with a distant reality in which the handful or pure, unmodified humans are kept safe on a reservation as a sort of archival

Just Ella

By Margaret Peterson Haddix
4
Rated by Anne G
Oct 21, 2019

                “Why did everyone like that story so much when it wasn’t true?  Why was everyone so eager to believe it?  Was it because, in real life, ever after’s generally stink?”


Just Ella, a book for reluctant readers, is a retelling of Cinderella, and it is about a girl named Ella who has already won her freedom from her stepmother at the ball and moved into the palace.  But training to become a princess is not what Ella thought it would be like in this fairy- tale and folklore-inspired fiction.  While being constantly told to act like a “proper lady” by an evil decorum instructor and

Supergirl: Being Super

By Mariko Tamaki
0
Rated by Anne G
Oct 9, 2019

In Supergirl: Being Super Canadian author Ms. Tamaki sets us in a "Friday Night Lights" community that reminds me an of apotheosis of Americana; a dream vision of flyover country.  Quite simply illustrator Joelle Jones is the worthiest exclusive find that the publisher DC has netted in a while.  Within comic books and graphic novels, her Supergirl is specific.  While Kara is well-built, the sensuality is not over-sold, which is refreshing for superhero comics.  I would have loved the angst-filled tone to drop off even more, as in the chapter "For All Seasons," in which the story is threadbare

Scarlet

By Marissa Meyer
5
Rated by Megan K.
Oct 8, 2019

The second book in the Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet, is a take on the well known tale of Little Red Riding Hood. The main character and namesake of this second installment of The Lunar Chronicles is Scarlet, a farm girl on the outskirts of a small French town. Caution: some unintentional spoilers may be in the full review.

Munmun

By Jesse Andrews
4
Rated by Chris K.
Jul 23, 2019

Whoa! Now here's an exercise in extended metaphor. Andrews has taken an idea that could have been a simple allegory and turned it into a fully developed novel. Imagine, if you will, an alternate reality in which physical size is literally determined by wealth. A standard person is middlescale. The middlerich are those larger than that up two doublescale and the middlepoor extend to halfscale. Smaller than that are the littlepoors: quarterscale, eighthscale, and tenthscale--about the size of a rat. The bigrich just get bigger and bigger to hundreds of feet tall. Buildings, roads, vehicles, and

Mar 25, 2019

An engrossing story narrated by a wonderfully entertaining, snarky protagonist.


Cliff is the biggest geek (6'6" 250 lbs.) at a small town high school in Montana, mercilessly mocked about his size--thus the nickname Neanderthal--and social awkwardness. His alcoholic dad regularly beats him for liking science fiction instead of football. And he's still hurting horribly from the suicide of his older brother a year ago. Then Aaron, his biggest antagonist, quarterback of the football team, and most popular guy at school wakes from a head-injury-induced coma with a strange admission. God spoke to

Jan 7, 2019

Magical.


Marvelous, otherworldly, enthralling, haunting, wonderful. Magical.


Working in libraries has cured my of my book-hoarding obsession. I have such easy access to nearly anything I want on a daily basis, I no longer feel much need to own the books myself. This is one of the rare exceptions. It's not enough for me to have consumed this book; I want to possess it. I want to repeatedly immerse myself in it and dwell in it. I want to become a part of it and make it a part of me.


Explanation is a luxury we can't afford these days, and reality doesn't care for it, being far too

Oct 29, 2018

Raw and real.


Both the contents of the story and the telling. Macy's aggressive, powerful voice assaults and engages readers immediately from the first page. By the third, her actions emerge similarly:


His nostrils twitch.


Yeah. He's pissed.


"What you're not picking up on is how much is at stake here, Macy. Nobody's gonna give you a lollipop anymore just because you throw a tantrum."


"What did you say, motherfoe?" I throw my desk.


The other kids hide under their desks like it's a tornado drill. Teacher Man pushes the office button. I'm going. Don't even need to give me a

The 57 Bus

By Dashka Slater
5
Rated by Chris K.
Jul 23, 2018

What labels define you? Which boxes contain you? No middle ground. No grey. Keep it simple. Describe yourself with categories. Binaries. Either-ors. Extremes.


Once you tell me, do I know you?


Or do you want to say, "Wait, that's not really me. I'm much more complicated and nuanced than that. Those are mere ideas. I'm a person."?


This is the story of two teens who didn't fit nicely into categories. For a short while in 2013-4, they were media sensations. The media loves extremes. All the outsiders kept their definitions of the two simple, imposed their preferred categories, saw only

Spellbook of the Lost and Found

By Moira Fowley-Doyle
5
Rated by Chris K.
May 15, 2018

If you don't close your mouth, a fly will fly in, and then you'll have to swallow a spider to catch the fly, and then a cat to catch the spider, and then a dog to catch the cat, and then a goat to catch the dog, and then a cow to catch the goat, and then a horse to catch the cow, and then a lost soul to catch the horse.


Enchanting. Atmospheric. Mysterious. (a lost soul to catch the horse) Lush. Gritty. Suspenseful. There are so many good words I can think of to describe the beguiling collection of words that is this book. Dark. Mature. Sensual.


Wait for a sign.
If the lights

Saint Death

By Marcus Sedgwick
4
Rated by Chris K.
Apr 12, 2018

A powerful book about the tough and gritty existence on the edge of the border, where everyone dreams of better lives that are only available to a very few through even fewer routes.


I'm old enough to remember when there was some kind of order here; the cartel ruled everyone, and that was that. No one controls these streets anymore. Now it's just anarchy; total and all-out war between all-comers. It's Hell, plain and simple, and that's funny because you know what they say--"Even the Devil is scared of living in Juarez." But not me. It doesn't matter where you go; you have to die

The Hazel Wood

By Melissa Albert
5
Rated by Chris K.
Mar 21, 2018

I'm not a fan of gruesome, graphic, gory horror; however, I'm a big fan of stories that are dark. Atmospheric. Disquieting. Plumbing the depths of the human psyche. Some of those stories are creepy dark. Some of them are deliciously dark. The Hazel Wood is gritty dark.


Alice has spent her life haunted by a collection of dark fairy tales famously authored by her grandmother. Haunted, and hounded. Always on the run, in one way or another, with her rootless mother. A loving, fiercely protective mother who has always been fully open and honest about everything. Except for one topic: Alice's

Railhead

By Philip Reeve
4
Rated by Chris K.
Mar 2, 2018

Wonderfully exciting action that maintains just the right amount of suspense and energy from start to finish. At heart, this is a heist story; it just happens to be set in a universe of wonder: under the adrenaline are fascinating world-building and intriguing characters--of all shapes and sizes, far beyond human. And lurking somewhere in the background are enthralling science fiction considerations that keep simmering into awareness. It's not just action, but intelligent action. With excellently adept, unobtrusive writing. This is a universe I hope to visit again soon.


Zen Starling is a

Long Way Down

By Jason Reynolds
5
Rated by Chris K.
Feb 15, 2018

Will knows one way to grieve, dictated by the rules passed down for generations: no crying; no snitching; always get revenge. His uncle and father have already been victim to the cyclic system created by these rules, and last night his brother joined them. Will is desperately heartbroken, so he follows the one path given him by the rules: he grabs his brother's gun and heads for the elevator.


And that's where his story takes an unexpected turn. He has to go down seven floors, and the elevator stops at each of them to let on another passenger. Each passenger is someone dead from Will's life

Oct 18, 2017

Well, that was cheerful and uplifting.


Er, no, that's not quite right. More like bleak, biting, and darkly satirical.


And far too real.


Though science fiction set in a near future, this is all about living at the lowest levels of the global economy, subject to extremes of imperialism, inequality, ethnocentrism, co-option, and poverty. It's an exploration of the dark sides of economic and cultural power. It's just that in this case it's the humans of Earth who have been colonized.


"You think you're so great," says Chloe. "You're no one, Adam. You're nothing."


I laugh politely

Exit, Pursued by A Bear

By E. K. Johnston
0
Rated by Becky C.
Oct 16, 2017

I despised cheerleaders when I was a teenager. They were the ones who bullied my outcast friends and me. They were so—well—cheery. Didn't they notice that the world all around us is falling apart? I’m much older and somewhat wiser now, so I understand that it’s dumb to assume that all members of a group of people are the same. I comprehend that just because the particular cheerleaders I knew in high school were mean doesn't mean that all cheerleaders are mean. I mean, I try to stay open-minded. Still, cheerleaders. Blech. How superficial, boring, and dumb.  


Needless to say, I never noticed

Last Night I Sang To The Monster

By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
3
Rated by Scott S.
Sep 20, 2017

Having never experienced life in a rehab center I cannot speak to the authenticity or veracity of the setting Benjamin Alire Sáenz creates in, Last Night I Sang To The Monster. 18 year-old Zach is an alcoholic who comes out of a black out in a treatment center with no memory of how he got there. I can say the novel is populated by memorable characters who are engaged in emotionally resonant relationships in a visceral setting. And in those respects, Sáenz has succeeded in crafting a very effective and moving novel. While not all aspects of the novel work perfectly, it is clear that Sáenz has