Sunday, May 19, 2019

Secret in the Stone by Kamilla Benko - OPTIONAL

Secret in the Stone (Unicorn Quest #2) by Kamilla Benko, 320 pages. Bloomsbury, 2019. $17. 

Language: G Mature Content: G Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

After Claire learns she is a Gemmer princess, she and her sister Sophie travel to the Gemmer guild in the mountains. She hopes to harness her magical abilities to call forth the unicorn to restore Arden's waning magic. But some of the officials don't believe her and appear to have ulterior motives. A war between the guilds is brewing and the return of evil Queen Estelle is imminent. Claire is more desperate than ever to find the unicorn and restore peace. She is about to find out that the unicorn is much closer than she imagined.

Since unicorns are popular right now, this series will likely find fans. The world building is well done, and there’s even a map of the kingdom. As with book 1, there’s magic, villains, warring factions, and twists. Unfortunately, the sequel isn’t as polished. Many of the characters that helped drive the first book, have limited appearances in the sequel. There are several rushed twists at the end that feel more tacked on than well thought out. Once again the unicorns are talked about rather than actually present. Purchase only if you have unicorn fanatics.   

Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Undaunted by Kat Falls - ADVISABLE

Undaunted (Inhuman #2) by Kat Falls, 372 pages. Scholastic, 2019. $17. Language: G; Mature 

Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The United States is divided in half by a quarantine wall along the Mississippi River. In the west, society is normal. In the east, chaos reigns. A man-made virus which transfers DNA between species has turned humans into manimals. In the advanced stages of the disease, manimals go feral and lose any remnants of their humanity. Now Lane is returning to the zone to help administer an inhibitor drug and collect blood samples for a potential vaccine. Her priority is finding Rafe. Infected with tiger DNA, he will go feral unless she reaches him in time.
Readers who like books and movies about viruses getting out of control will enjoy this one. 

There’s high action as the three main characters set off into the forest, knowing they are in a danger zone. Typical of YA books, there’s a love triangle, setting up additional conflict. The protagonist is likeable for standing up against a powerful corporation to defeat moral corruption.
Bottom line: If you love dystopian themes, you will love this book. If you don’t, look elsewhere.

Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson by Quinn Sosna-Spear - OPTIONAL

The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson by Quinn Sosna-Spear, 324 pages.  Simon And Schuster, 2019. $18

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’) ; Mature Content: PG (dealing with death); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

While Moormouth may be a humdrum town, Walter’s mind is not -- his day is filled with fashioning fantastic inventions.  His own mother, along with the rest of the town, hate the inventions, however, and now his mother is insisting that Walter, 12, start his training as her apprentice in her mortuary. Walter has other ideas -- he convinces Cordelia, the girl he wishes were his best friend, to join him in a desperate race to reach Flaster Isle, the home of Horace Flasterborn, the inventor who has inspired Walter all his life.  Maybe there he can find answers about his father’s death and find a place that will appreciate Walter and his fantastical designs.

I wanted so badly to love this imaginary world with its possibility of fanciful places and wonder, but rot underneath everything and the evil charicature of Horace Flasterborn, along with a narrative that shifted willy-nilly between Walter’s present day and his mother’s past bringing an adult perspective to the story that brings melancholy and pain to what ends up also being a painful ending.  For a book with a cover that hints at whimsy and delight, I was mostly depressed throughout my reading.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Jungle London by LeAnn M. Jensen - ADVISABLE

Jungle London by LeAnn M. Jensen, 260 pages.  2018. $11 9781717149018

Language: G (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (threats of rape); Violence: PG-13 (deaths, blood)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

London Carter is as spoiled as can be - skating through school and family life with her head set only on clothes and popularity.  After her bad choices land her in jail though, her father intervenes finally and sends her off to Honduras with a student group to help a village.  When the village is attacked by guerillas, London finds herself running through the jungle with only Oliver, a boy from her school who has nothing but contempt for London’s pampered princess behavior.  With bad blood between them, dangerous animals, dangerous fauna, and the most dangerous creature of all -- humans -- between them and rescue, what hope do they have of surviving?

Bring up your Amazon account to purchase this for your library.  Jensen has written a solid action-filled adventure. I would heartily recommend this to students who enjoyed Hatchet or any other survival novel.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

British Invasion by Stuart Gibbs - ESSENTIAL

British Invasion (Spy School #7) by Stuart Gibbs, 304 pages.  Simon and Schuster, 2019. $18

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (mild fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Ben and the kids of Spy School have what they need to take down SPYDER once and for all -- so they hope.  They’ll just need to very publically evade the French police, as well as all of the SPYDER operatives buried into every country’s secret services.  What could go wrong?

Personally, seven books in I am just about doner with Ben always being confronted with the same bad dudes book after book.  Kids wills til devour the series. I’m pretty sure there is a next one, because those familiar villains are still out there -- let’s hope for a big shakeup.  The thing about bad guys is when one is taken care of, there are others just waiting in the wings.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Love Double Dutch by Doreen Spicer-Dannelly - OPTIONAL

Love Double Dutch by Doreen Spicer-Dannelly, 234 pages. Random House, 2018. $17

Language: PG (6 swears, 0 “f”); Content: PG; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Kayla's parents are having some tough times (Dad cheats and Mom appreciates loyalty) so they send their two Brooklynite children down to North Carolina for the summer while they work things out, one way or another. Kayla' s whole life revolves around Double Dutch Jump Roping. Her team has qualified to go to the regional championships and now she is leaving. Surprisingly Double Dutch exists in North Carolina and her snobby cousin has a foot in the door. The girls bond and her cousin learns how to handle losing friends who became bullies. 

This is a fun story, I enjoyed getting to know the world of Double Dutch. I enjoyed the story but it felt just a little dated, but that could be because Double Dutch is not a thing in my state. The author specializes in girl power, but this is a fun read that boys could also enjoy.           

Lisa Moeller:  Language Arts Teacher/Librarian

Monday, May 13, 2019

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh - ADVISABLE


Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist, #2) by Renee Ahdieh,  408 pages.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG (5 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Mariko has been “rescued” from the Black Clan by the emperor and his brother Raiden.  The original plan was that Mariko would marry Raiden and now that she has been returned, the plan will carry on.  Even though Mariko is still in love with the Black Clan leader, Okami, she decides that she is going to carry through with the wedding in an attempt to help the Black Clan against the evil emperor.  Mariko is up against the clock because Okami is in the prison being tortured nightly by the emperor.  

I loved Flame in the Mist and this second book in the duo-logy was a satisfying conclusion but lacked the adventure and action that the first book had.  I love the characters, so I cared to find out what happened to them, but I felt like the story was slow especially in the middle with the ending as the best part.  The violence was disgusting torture and gruesome bloody descriptions.  The mature content was make-out sessions. 

 Reviewer, C. Peterson 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor - ADVISABLE


The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor, 343 pages.  NON-FICTION Delacorte Press, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG (3 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Sonia grew up in the South Bronx of New York and her parents were both Puerto Rican.  She discovered that she had type 1 diabetes when she was young and had to learn how to regulate her health.  Sonia studied very hard and applied to Princeton and then went on to Yale Law School.  She worked hard in both criminal and civil law before she became a judge.  Now she is a Supreme Court Justice.  

I totally enjoyed this biography.  I loved Sonia’s writing style and enjoyed learning about her strength and dreams.  The first part of the book is easy to understand, and I think young adults will see themselves in Sonia, but the second part of the book takes a higher-level reader, or at least someone who has a little prior knowledge about the justice system.  the content includes a murder that is described for one of her court cases and there is a reference to "shooting up" and having to avoid the druggies in the stairwells.  I think this is a good biography to add to your library because it is a unique story.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson   

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller - ESSENTIAL


Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller, 329 pages.  Feiwel and Friends, 2019.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (25 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Rasmira was raised to be a warrior, but the day of her trial she is betrayed by a close friend and banished to the dark forest.  Her only hope of returning home is to accomplish an insane quest to kill the god who comes to the village and depletes the villagers of food and asks for a young woman to be sacrificed.  Rasmira is not one to give up easily and when she finds two young men who have been banished with insurmountable quests, they band together to do the impossible.  

I couldn’t put this book down.  I loved Rasmira and her strength and determination.  I loved the minor characters, the exciting action-packed plot and the witty banter.  This is a stand alone and had a very satisfying ending, but I would love to see more of Rasmira.  The content includes bloody and descriptive killings of animals, a fight to the death and a descriptive French kiss.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson    

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe - ADVISABLE


The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie, 324 pages.  Dutton Books, 2019.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (8 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Poe lives in a dystopian society and works on a drudge that pulls gold nuggets off the river floor.  One day river raiders board the ship and kill Poe’s best friend and boyfriend, Call.  Poe is so upset by his death that she vows revenge on the river raiders and spends the next two years building a ship that is impervious to the raiders.  Although Poe has mostly been the inventor for the ship, the Admiral assigns Poe to a mission to go up the river Serpentine on the next voyage.  As Poe captains the ship she starts to suspect that there is a traitor on board.  

I enjoyed the story and the fast-moving plot.  I liked the minor characters and the dystopian society was interesting.  My one complaint about this book is that it felt one-dimensional, so I had a hard time feeling like the setting was realistic and a hard time connecting with the main character.  The content includes blood and killings.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle - OPTIONAL


Soaring Earth (Enchanted Air #2) by Margarita Engle, 157 pages.  NON-FICTION Atheneum Books, 2019.  $19.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW  

This is Margarita Engle’s memoir about her time as a teenager and her first years in college against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.  Margarita enjoyed reading and learning but was distracted by the protests and hippie lifestyle that she found on her college campus.  Engle ended up taking a break from college and tried to find her place in the world, eventually making her way back to her parents.  

This memoir is written in prose and although I usually really enjoy Engle’s writing, this book was all over the place.  I felt like the author included so many details that there wasn’t a decipherable direction that I could follow.  The author’s note at the end made the most sense. The content includes underage marijuana smoking.  Also, this book makes more sense if you have read her first memoir, Enchanted Air.

Reviewer, C. Peterson