Thursday, February 26, 2009

After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson - ADVISABLE

Woodson, Jacqueline After Tupac & D Foster, 153 pages. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008.

Language: PG-13, Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13;


Neeka and her best friend are crazy about Tupac and his music; he really seems to get where they’re coming from. When they meet D Foster, the girls get a better understanding of the harsh reality behind Tupac’s music. The three girls spend a brief two years together, growing up and looking for their “Big Purpose”, and then both D Foster and Tupac are forever gone.

Woodson does an excellent job of describing the growing pains of these young girls. I personally felt I better understood why Tupac meant so much to so many after reading this. Teens will enjoy the relevant issues and realistic dialogue.

Jennifer Rodriguez - YA Librarian

Bluford High – The Bully by Paul Langan

Langan, Paul Bluford High – The Bully, 190 pgs. Townsend Press, 2002.

Language - PG , Sexual Content - G; Violence – PG13


High school is tough enough for Darrell Mercer. He isn’t very tall or strong, but at least he has his friends to back him up. Mid year Darrell and his mom have to move from his hometown in Philadelphia to California. A new school means new challenges for Darrell, including a bully. Darrell has to learn either how to deal with this bully or spend the next four years in fear.

I read this book in a day because it did a wonderful job of keeping my interest; I just had to know how Darrell would overcome his fears! Langan’s writing will feel real to the teens, but does not include foul language, sex, or over the top violence.

Jennifer Rodriguez - YA Librarian

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George - ESSENTIAL

George, Jessica Day Princess of the Midnight Ball, 280 pgs. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG


Brava, Brava to author Jessica Day George for creating such a beautiful and engaging novel based on a beloved fairy-tale. The tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses is an enchanting story about twelve sisters cursed to dance every night to the extent they wear holes in their dancing slippers. Their father the king is bewildered and must know where his daughters go each night. Princes from neighboring kingdoms are promised one of the daughters in marriage and the throne if he can solve the riddle. None can and it is up to a lowly under-gardener to save the princesses from their doom.

This retelling is superbly done. The descriptions are exquisite and the reader will be so entirely caught up in the story, midnight will approach before they know it. Highly recommended!

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Pillage by Obert Skye - ADVISABLE

Skye, Obert. Pillage. pgs. 312. Shadow Mountain, 2008.

Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G.


When Beck Phillips’ mom dies, he is sent to live in Kingsplot with his eccentric uncle who spends most of his time in a tower. As time goes on, Beck discovers that dragons really do exist and live within the grounds of his uncle’s house. He also discovers that not everyone in his uncle’s house or the surrounding areas can be trusted. With the help of some friends and an ability to make things grow, Beck must discover who he can really trust and how to stop the dragons from destroying the town of Kingsplot.

Not a real fast action story until towards the end, but the author does a great job of keeping you wanting to turn the page. His mystery will enthrall readers and keep them wanting to know Beck’s family’s past has as well as wondering what characters can be trusted. A great story for mystery and fantasy lovers alike.

Review: Kira-Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott - OPTIONAL

Scott, Elizabeth Something, Maybe, 320 pages. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

Language~PG-13, Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG;


“Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she’s got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad’s girlfriends and is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar . . .and that’s just how she liked it.”

Hannah is 17yo and works at a remote ordering center for the most popular burger chain in town with 2 of her classmates. Josh, who Hannah is crushing on, happens to work at the next computer over. She is positive they are soul mates and that someday soon he will notice her. Then there is Finn, a friend and sometimes confidant, but not boyfriend material. Except, Hannah finds herself thinking about Finn more and more. As her life at home becomes topsy-turvy Hannah discovers who her real friends are and learns she is not her parents.

A wonderful modern-day romance. This novel, while not focusing on sex, mentions sex frequently and also includes one ‘f’ curse. While I really enjoy Scott’s writing style and would highly recommend them to public libraries, I would not include this one in a school library

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Monday, February 23, 2009

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt - ADVISABLE

Reinhardt, Dana How to Build a House, 240 pgs. Wendy Lamb Books

Language~PG, Sexual Content~R; Violence~G


Harper’s family is falling apart. Her father and step-mom are getting a divorce. Not only is Harper losing her ‘mom’ but the divorce has torn apart her friendship with Tess, her step-sister. To get away from the hurt at home, Harper joins Habitat for Humanity and volunteers to help build a home in a Tennessee town which was destroyed by a tornado. There she meets other teens with varied backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common . . .they are here to work. Harper does work, but she also makes friends. To her surprise she finds herself drawn to a young man named Teddy. It’s Teddy’s house they are re-building and their friendship quickly blossoms into more.

This is a story about re-building a house after a destructive storm, but it is also a story about re-building trust and relationships destroyed by divorce. While this title is highly recommended, there are scenes with heavy kissing and described sexual activity. These are tastefully done and not overly graphic, but I recommend you read it first before deciding if it belongs in your school’s library. This is a must for public libraries!

Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Need by Carrie Jones - ESSENTIAL

Jones, Carrie Need pgs.320 Bloomsbury USA Children's Books.

Language~PG-13, Sexual Content~PG; Violence~PG


Too soon after her father’s death Zara’s mom ships her off to Grandma Beth’s in frigid Maine. To work through the pain of losing her father, Zara recites phobias. There is a formal name for every fear out there and Zara has them all memorized. As a new girl at the local high school, Zara expects to be completely isolated, but by the end of her first day, she has made friends and enemies. In addition to dealing with the death of her dad, Zara also is being stalked. The stalker moves unnaturally fast and leaves behind gold dust. Zara and her friends begin to uncover a secret that is killing young men in the area. The Pixie king is looking for a mate and he has chosen Zara.

This novel is a must for all the Twilight fans. Engaging writing, a little romance, a little suspense, were-wolves, evil Pixies, do I need to say more? The heroine is strong and spunky and will not leave readers disappointed. Get two copies of this title if you can. There is some swearing mostly “Gs”

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Chalice by Robin McKinley - ADVISABLE

McKinley, Robin Chalice, 263 pgs. Penguin, 2008.

Language – PG, Sexual Content – PG, Violence – PG


Through strong descriptive passages and lyrical prose, McKinley tells the story of Marisol, whose life is thrown into turmoil after the sudden death of the Master and his Chalice and she is chosen to be the new Chalice. Having received no training, she must work to keep the land from coming apart and learn how to be a Chalice to a new Master, a former priest of fire.

Marisol’s story is compelling at times, but is also somewhat convoluted and difficult to follow. Although parts are beautifully written, with its long descriptions this book may not be highly accessible to the average student, except for fans of Robin McKinley.

Laura Berube ~ Youth Services Librarian, Draper Library

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - NO

Marchetta, Melina Jellicoe Road 419 pgs. Harper Teen

~Language PG-13, Sexual Content~PG-13 Violence~PG-13


Jellicoe Road in Austrailia is the main character in this novel about finding who you are and the importance of family relationships. Taylor Markham, age seventeen, is the leader of a house of girls at a boarding school in Austrailia. Each Summer, the boarding school kids participate in territory wars with the Cadets (Summer camp attendees from the military academy in Sydney) and the Townies (kids from the local town.)

The novel begins with a flash-back that grabs the reader’s attention immediately, however, when chapter 1 begins it is slightly disorienting and it takes a few pages for the reader to orient themselves in the world of Taylor. There is a mystery embedded in the narrative that may initially cause confusion among readers, but those who stick with the storyline will be highly rewarded. I personally had a hard time wanting to stay with the story but I loved how it all came together. This title won the Michael L. Printz award for 2009. There are 2 sex scenes that are descriptive and sensual but not highly graphic. The swearing is scattered throughout narrative and includes 10-15 “f” and several “a**.” I would recommend letting the public libraries house this one.

Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott - ADVISABLE

Marriott, Zoe Daughter of the Flames, 342 p. Candlewick, 2009

Violence - PG; Language - G; Sexual Content - G.


Zira was severely scarred in the same fire that killed her mother. She has been lovingly raised by the religious women of her country, but since her mother's death, the whole nation has labored under the oppression of the hostile king who invaded and took control. Then one day Zira's true heritage is revealed and she must find a way to save her land and follow her heart.

While there is a bit of the supernatural in this book, I would mostly consider it world-building. Fans of The Assassins of Tamurin or Cry of the Icemark will love this. Very strong female hero stuff!

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - ADVISABLE

Armstrong, Kelley The Summoning, 390 p.

Language - PG; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G


One day Chloe is a little awkward, but completely normal. The next - seeing ghosts and tossed into a halfway house for crazy teens. The other kids are kind a creepy, too. But the worst is Liz, the one who wants all of the power. The kids don't know it, but they have been gathered for a reason - and treachery is on its way.

A heavy dose of supernatural, a small amount of swearing and a perfect book with the perfect cover to hand to your kids who have read every vampire book in the library and are ready to branch out.

Cindy Mitchell - Library-Teacher.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott - NO

Scott, Elizabeth Living Dead Girl 176 pgs. Hyperion

Language PG, Sexual Content~R Violence~R


Once upon a time I was a little girl who disappeared. Once upon a time my name was not Alice. Once upon a time I didn't know how lucky I was.

The girl named Alice is a prisoner. All she knows is that she is there to please him, except he keeps telling her that she is getting to old and will need to find him a replacement. Elizabeth Scott has written a gripping but disturbing novel about a girl who was kidnapped and then kept by a pedophile as his ‘little girl.’ As she gets to mature for him, he asks her to scope out a new ‘Alice’ for him which she does at a local park.

There are frequent sexual passages that while not extremely graphic, are very disturbing due to the pedophilic nature. The main character also has sex with a teenage boy in the park. While I enjoy Scott’s ability to tell a story and keep the reader interested, this is one for the public libraries, and even then only to be recommended with caution and a disclaimer.
Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Schooled by Gordon Korman - ESSENTIAL

Korman, Gordon, Schooled 208 pages. Hyperion (Disney), 2008. $7.

Language G, Mature Content~PG Violence~PG


What group/clique do you belong to at school? Are you one of the popular kids or are you one of the kids that the popular kids pick on? The world of school is made up of these groups/cliques. When Cap’s grandmother is placed in a rehabilitation center after breaking her hip, he is placed in a foster home. This would be hard for any 13 year-old, but it is especially difficult for Cap. Cap has grown-up on an isolated farm commune and homeschooled by his grandmother. No internet, no cell phone, no Wii or X-BOX. Now that he is being forced to live with a foster family, he must attend a public middle school! To say he doesn’t fit in is the understatement of the year. However, by the end of the story the reader will be amazed at what being different can do.

This new story from Korman is told from the perspective of many individuals including Cap. The different perspectives are extremely effective in voicing the different groups/cliques and how they all are affected by one another. Schooled is another winner from Gordon Korman.

Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer - ADVISABLE

Colfer, Eoin, Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, 400 pgs. Hyperion

Language G, Sexual Content~PG Violence~PG


Imagine the guilt you would feel if something you did in your past is preventing you from curing your mother from a deathly illness. Welcome to the world of Artemis Fowl. When Artemis was young he sold the last living African Lemur to a group of extinctionist and now it turns out that the only thing that would save his mother is the brain fluid from this creature. Artemis begs help from Holly, Folly, Mulch Diggums, and N°1(a warlock we met in The Lost Colony) to go back in time and save the lemur from himself.

For fans of Artemis and Holly this book is a welcome return to their adventures; however as with many stories involving time paradoxes it is confusing and at times seems never ending. If you have fans of the Artemis Fowl series, don’t pass this one up. The audiobook of this title is very well done and entertaining.

Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Footprints in Time by Petru Popescu - ADVISABLE

Popescu, Petru Footprints in Time, 245 p. Laura Geringer Books (Harper).

Content: G


When Jack goes to visit his dad, who studies lions, at his research center, his dad takes him on a lion tagging trip in the crater (which is surrounded by high speed, dangerous winds). But when the plane crashes, he is the only survivor, and he will have to survive in the wild with only a mysterious, ape-like stranger to help him.

This was a pretty good book, drawing on the classic survival story. However, I enjoyed the twist on that, and I would refer this book to anyone who likes survival stories.

Student Reviewer: RG

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Followers Are SPECIAL

To my followers:

And I mean the ones who are at this moment (8:30 am on Tuesday the 10th), signed up to follow this blog. And I know exactly who you are, so don't pretend. For you I have something special. Email me at with your home address and I will send you a book of your very own. Tell me if you want a picture book or a YA novel and I will mail your prize to you! The book may be a published novel or it might be a ARC.

For everyone else - signup to follow this blog and maybe you can cash in the next time I have books to offload!

Hugs - Cindy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Curse As Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce - OPTIONAL

Bunce, Elizabeth C. Curse As Dark As Gold, 400pgs Arthur A. Levine Books



The story of Rumplestiltskin is one that has fascinated children and haunted new mothers through the ages. A young girl is in desperate need of help . . . a magic man comes to her aid . . . eventually she is required to hand over her newborn child in payment unless she can guess the man’s name. In this retelling of the fairy-tale, Bunce twists the story to involve an old curse and a miller family and does it will moderate success. The story begins with the death of the miller who leaves behind his two daughters to run the family business. The oldest of the daughters takes the reigns of the family business and struggles to make ends meet. She then encounters a magic man who will spin straw into gold . . .for a price.

Readers who are tried and true fans of fairy-tale retellings will find this story too long, too confusing, and too far from the basic storyline. However, the beautiful cover and semi-romantic storyline will intrigue female readers.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - ADVISABLE

Doctorow, Cory Little Brother, 382 pgs Tor Books;

Language~PG, Mature Content~R; Violence~PG-13


Do you remember where you were when the commercial airliners crashed into the Twin Towers in New York? On that day in September, terrorism became something now seen as a real threat. How do we protect our Nation, our cities, our families? What rights are we willing to sacrifice to be ‘safe’? How much control do we want to hand over to Big Brother?

In a second attack on the United States, terrorists have bombed the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco and caused the deaths of thousands of Americans. Marcus and his friends are caught up in the wave of panic that results and in the chaos they are picked up by Homeland Security for questioning. Marcus has never been so terrified in his life. They were innocent bystanders, teenagers, now being interrogated as terrorists.

After being released from three nightmarish days of questioning, Marcus is angry, confused, and feels attacked by his own country. With the help of his friends and his X-box, Marcus creates an under-the-radar network to fight back against the totalitarian regime Homeland Security has enforced upon the citizens of San Francisco.

This riveting story will cause readers to reflect on the role of the government to protect its citizens. Disclaimer: there are described sexual encounters and torture scenes that are not appropriate for younger readers.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - ESSENTIAL

Gaiman, Neil The Graveyard Book, 312 pgs HarperCollins;

Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG


When just a baby his father, mother, and sister were knifed to death by a killer whose motive is unknown. He would have been next but Fate had something else in mind. Nobody Owens is just like you and me, except he lives in a graveyard and is being cared for by ghosts. When a baby toddles into their graveyard the occupants choose to protect him from the murderous man that killed the family across the way. Nobody, Bod, also is given special gifts to allow him to see in the dark and move undetected by learning to Fade. However, the murderer has not forgotten Bod and a mystery surrounding the murder’s motive will keep the reader bound to his seat.

In a macabre story of a young boy raised by the paranormal, Gaiman brings to life a world that will thrill not only his fans but readers everywhere. Winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal, The Graveyard Book will be a favorite for years to come.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - ESSENTIAL

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins,384 pages Scholastic Press, 2009.

Language~G, Sexual Content~PG; Violence~PG-13


In her newest novel, Suzanne Collins thrusts readers into a world filled with fear, violence, sensationalism, and selfishness. Ironically however, the world of the Hunger Games also embraces friendship, love, and self sacrifice. In a future world North America has been reduced to a Capitol and 12 districts. Once a year the Capitol host the Hunger Games in which 24 adolescents, a boy and girl from each district, compete in a battle to the death while Panam looks on via live video broadcasts. This is Reality TV at its deadliest and most violent. Collins tells the story through a 16 year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in the twelfth district of Panam. Once the Hunger Games begin the reader will be unable to tear themselves away. Readers will wait with bated breath for the next installment of Katniss’ story.

This novel is filled with violence, panic, terror, and takes the reader on a ride for their life as they see themselves in Katniss’ positions. Due to the violence and frequent killings that are part of the Hunger Games, this book should be recommended to older readers and will not be for everyone. The audio production of the novel is excellent and highly recommended.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian