Saturday, February 15, 2014

Teen Review: Suspense!

Title: Truly, Madly, Deadly
Author: Hannah Jayne
Number of pages: 272
Genre: Suspense / mystery
Is it part of a series? No
Reading level: Grades 8 and up
Reviewed by:
Patrick Castro, 10th grade
Truly, Madly, Deadly is one of those book that hooks you from the beginning and keeps you up all night because of the suspense. It was that perfect book that puts you on the edge of your seat and leaves you desperate for the end! I liked this one a lot!

Sawyer Dodd is what everyone would see as the perfect girl with the perfect boyfriend, Kevin Anderson. She is realistically written, and I think she was really relateable--I could feel the things she experienced as I read. But after her boyfriend's fatal death, a note is left for Sawyer. As the clues slowly start to make sense, Sawyer notices that the killer is right under her nose.

I love the simple and clean plot that kept me captivated by Sawyer's story. The one thing everyone looks forward to in a suspenseful mystery novel is pacing. I think Truly, Madly, Deadly captured this perfectly! And the book had a lot of those, "Yes! I knew it! but then...NO!" moments, which I thought was great. I really felt myself in Sawyer's shoes. She goes through a lot, and the reader truly connects with her.

The faces I made as I read the book

In YA fiction, there are a lot of great psychological thrillers and suspense novels, and I think Truly, Madly, Deadly deserves to be on that list! Reaching the end, as I pieced together the clues, it got creepy! REALLY CREEPY! But it was a wickedly smart ending. Hannah Jaye managed to make sense of all the little details Sawyer discovers and uses it to her advantage. It was a great ending and another aspect of this book that I liked a lot was that there wasn't a full-on romance!

The book was a mash-up of Criminal Minds and Revenge! Truly, Madly, Deadly was one of the best murder/YA suspense novels I read this year, and I cannot wait to see what else Hannah Jayne has in store! Pick this one up soon!

If you love this book, also check out Find Me, by Romily Bernard.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

What we're reading: Revisiting favorites

Anarda and I are going book-talking at Burroughs High School this week in five English classes. We were supposed to go last week, but I got sick and lost my voice, so we postponed. Being at home sick for five days with not much energy for anything but reading gave me the chance, however, to refresh my memory by revisiting some favorites I plan to talk about.

Two paranormals, both of which I loved the first time, held up well on second read:

Fang Girl, by Helen Keeble

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride

These two books, in fact, reminded me of one another when I first read them. Fang Girl is middle school-appropriate, while Necromancer is definitely for the high school crowd (and up!), but they both have a lot of tongue-in-cheek, slightly snarky humor that makes them so much fun to read. These are not your typical vampire-werewolf-miscellaneous-otherworldly-creature teen novels. There are definitely love interests, but nobody sits around sighing and pining for each other, they're too busy trying not to die! There's also a lot of personal discovery, though not what you'd find in a Sarah Dessen novel.

In Fang Girl, Xanthe Jane Greene, prolific post-er on and expert on all things vampire, figures out her fate pretty quickly when she awakens inside a coffin. Although she thinks she knows what to expect, she didn't exactly count on becoming a vamp, nor is she pleased that she's going to be an eternally pasty-faced 15 years old forever. When her sire gets interrupted in the middle of digging her out of her grave, Jane decides her best bet is to return home to her grieving and now very surprised family, but she doesn't count on being the immediate subject of a tug-of-war between a hot vamp in leather pants, an equally handsome but homicidal vampire slayer, and a couple of seriously cheesed-off Elders. An action-packed and very funny story! (She left enough open that a sequel could be forthcoming, but no sign of one yet...)

The protagonist of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is Samhain Corvus LeCroix (please call me Sam), and in one heedless moment (while playing potato hockey in the parking lot behind Plumpy's, he takes out a tail-light on a Mercedes) he goes from aimless teenage fry-cook to necromancer. That's right, he can raise the dead. There's a long story about why he never knew this before, but no time for that, because a rival necromancer (owner of the aforementioned vintage classic Mercedes, unfortunately) wants his power and his life, and is willing to do anything (and his anything is pretty nefarious) to get it. But despite presenting a bumbling and clueless appearance, Sam has a few tricks up his sleeve, a lot of motivated friends, and some supernatural allies, too, so don't count him out yet.

The sequel, every bit as delightful, is Necromancing the Stone. (Yes, Lish McBride is fond of the wordplay.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Guest blog: New teen fiction

What if, after death, a person’s life experiences were recorded, stored, maintained and accessed by librarians in a huge repository called The Archive? How would the knowledge of this affect how you lived your life? And what would happen if one of these Histories made it back into what we think of as the “real” world? These are some of the intriguing questions explored in Victoria Schwab’s The Archived.

Mackenzie Bishop seems like a typical 16-year-old, but she has a secret. For years, Da, her grandfather, trained Mackenzie to be a Keeper. A Keeper must patrol a world of perpetual twilight known as The Narrows, searching for Histories that have escaped The Archive, and return them before they can escape into The Outer (the real world). Before he died four years ago, Da appointed Mackenzie as his successor at The Archive, making her the youngest Keeper on record. In spite of her age, Mackenzie is good at her job and equally good at keeping these responsibilities a secret from everyone she knows, including her parents.

Last year, Mackenzie’s younger brother Ben was killed when he was hit by a car on his way to school. In an attempt to distance themselves from Ben’s loss, her parents have uprooted the family and moved into The Coronado, an historic old hotel converted into apartments. Shortly after moving in, Mackenzie discovers that the building was the location of several mysterious deaths, about which little is known. In addition, as soon as Mackenzie and her family move into their new apartment, activity in The Narrows increases dramatically. Something about The Coronado is affecting The Archive, and Mackenzie is determined to discover who or what it is.

In The Archived, Victoria Schwab creates an intriguing and compelling mystery/thriller combined with an interesting vision of a possible afterlife where the life experiences of the dead are kept and preserved. The writing is strong, and the characters are individual and believable. The Archive, as described by Schwab, may result in readers examining and exploring their own ideas of what it means to live a full life, how they react to the deaths of others, and issues about their own mortality.

The Archived is the first in a new series. The next book, The Unbound, is due out in early 2014!

Reviewed by Daryl M., reference librarian

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Upcoming YA books into movies...

Movies of popular / favorite YA books are coming! If you don't know these books, here's your chance to read them before you see the movies. Or, since the books are almost always BETTER than the movies, you can see the movies first and then read the books to discover everything they left out!

Author: Richelle Mead
Movie release date: February 7

(that was Friday!)
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry,
Sarah Hyland

Part of a six-book series, Vampire Academy centers on young vampires who are trained to keep the peace against an opposing group of evil bloodsuckers. The first follows a half-vampire/half-human named Rose Hathaway, who is tasked with protecting a princess. Mark Waters is the director, who previously directed "Mean Girls." The tagline for the movie is "they suck at school." Enough said?

Author: Veronica Roth
Movie release date: March 21
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet

In a dystopic version of Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a  particular virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. On a particular day of every year, all 16-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. But what happens if you don't fit into any of the factions? What happens if you are "divergent"?

The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Movie release date: June 6
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort

At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group, where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. The book follows their unexpected relationship, which incorporates humor--the tag line here is "one sick love story." Bring tissues.

Author: Lois Lowry
Movie release date: August 15
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Swift

In a dystopian future, society has eliminated pain, emotion, and color. A young boy named Jonas is designated the Giver, a position responsible for keeping the memories of the community safe. The novel follows his struggle to keep his society's secrets and protect their contentment at the cost of their freedom.

Author: James Dashner
Movie release date: September 19
Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario

The first in a series, The Maze Runner follows a group of teenage boys who wake up in a place called the Glade that exists inside a giant maze populated by monsters. The group is focused on how to escape the maze, but newcomer Thomas is more interested in why they are in there to begin with.

Mockingjay -- Part 1
Author: Suzanne Collins
Movie release date: November 21
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence,
Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

The final book in The Hunger Games trilogy will be split into two movies, so Part 1 will tell only the initial half of Katniss Everdeen's rebellion to overthrow the Capitol in the aftermath of the Quarter Quell shown in Catching Fire last year. Part two won't come until 2015!