Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Club Report! 6+7 and 8+9

Tuesday night was our first fall meeting of the 6+7 Book Club, and we had 16 in attendance out of 18. We had read Pendragon: The Merchant of Death, by D. J. MacHale, and opinions were all over the place! We all agreed that the premise was good--the way it played out was the source of much discussion. More people liked it than not, but this year's group is tough when it comes to rating the book--we had 9s, and we had a few 3s as well! The final rating was 6.

Next month, we are reading Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud (the perfect choice for the month of Hallowe'en!), and the following month we will read Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld.

The list of nominations for the November book was a long one, and we had to remove some from consideration, either because they were inappropriate to the age level, they were unavailable from our distributor, or too many people had already read them. Here is the "thinned" list we ended up voting on, to arrive at Uglies:

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment,
     by James Patterson
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict,
     by Trenton Lee Stewart
The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani
Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
Freakling, by Lana Krumwiede
Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements
The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

We will save these and some of the others for future choices!

Wednesday night was the first meeting of the tiny but dedicated 8+9 Book Club, and 7 out of 10 attended. (We promoted an unprecedented 11 teens into the high school book club this year, decimating the population of this club!) Our book up for discussion was Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and our conclusion was that this is possibly the most depressing book EVER. People's reactions were mixed, with some people finding it believable and interesting but more agreeing that it was kinda dull because the same thing happened over...and over...and over.... The final rating was 6.

We then proceeded to vote for two books, since we need one for October to read now and one for November to pass out at next month's meeting. This club also produced an interesting list, and the two books we selected were I Am the Weapon, by Allen Zadoff, and The Naturals, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

The list of nominations also included (in no particular order):

Heist Society, by Ally Carter
Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Getting Over Garrett Delaney, by Abby McDonald
The Gathering, by Kelley Armstrong
As You Wish, by Jackson Pearce
Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Shadow Society, by Marie Rutkoski

We will save this list for future consideration, and will let you know when your October book is ready for retrieval!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Teen reviews: Mystery series

Although we ordinarily publish reviews of books written specifically for teens on this blog, or books that have won the Alex Award (which is given to books written for adults that are believed to have teen appeal), the truth of the matter is that many or most of you are already reading books written for adults, as is appropriate for people in high school who are beginning to discover the kinds of books they like and seek them out, regardless of suggested age level or genre. Let's face it, it wasn't that long ago that there were no books published specifically for teenagers! So every once in a while, one of our teen bloggers gives us reviews of books written for adults, and Kayla, 10th-grader, is now one of them. She has discovered a mystery series she really likes, about the Blackbird Sisters, and wants to share her thoughts with you. Here's Kayla, with reviews of several books in the series:

Some Like It Lethal
by Nancy Martin
310 pages
Genre: Mystery, part of The Blackbird Sisters series
Adult reading level
Reviewed by Kayla, 10th grade

Nora Blackbird is the daughter of two formerly rich socialites, but when her parents spend all of their money and flee the country, Nora has to get a job as a newspaper columnist. She also has two crazy sisters, Libby (who has too many kids to count), and Emma (who has a problem with alcoholism, but is great with horses). When Nora goes to a hunt club, the last thing she expects to find is a mystery. However, when she arrives, she stumbles upon a dead man, and her sister is standing nearby with incriminating evidence on her hands. Nora is stuck finding out who actually killed the man so that her sister will stay out of jail. At the same time, her mobster boyfriend is “supposedly” on vacation, but is being accused of crimes that he is too far away to commit. Nora has a huge puzzle to solve--but could the killer be after her?

This book is mysterious, but also has enough action and suspense to keep a reader on her toes. It was thoroughly exciting, and I had a hard time figuring out who the killer was because it was so unexpected. The cover also adds to the excitement, because it shows Nora without ever showing her eyes, and usually most of her face is covered. I would rate this book as a 5.

Murder Melts in Your Mouth
Nancy Martin
282 pages
Genre: Mystery, part of The Blackbird Sisters series
Adult reading level
Reviewed by Kayla, 10th grade

Nora Blackbird is in the midst of another mystery. Her sisters are at it again too. Nora’s sister Libby got into an accident, and Emma is hiding a huge secret. Meanwhile a huge name from Philly either jumped or was pushed off of a balcony, and it’s up to Nora to find out if it was suicide or murder. And she’s faced with this just as she and her long-time mobster boyfriend decided that they need some space. Nora’s parents are also unexpectedly back in the picture. As she searches for the killer, could someone be searching for her?

This book kept me on the edge of my seat. It was not only mysterious, but it had some really funny parts too. I recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries.I rate this book as a 5.

No Way to Kill A Lady
Nancy Martin
310 pgs.
Genre: Mystery, part of The Blackbird Sisters series
Adult reading level
Reviewed by Kayla, 10th grade

Nora Blackbird is very surprised when her Aunt Madeleine leaves her and her sisters a huge mansion worth many millions. However, she finds herself stuck in another mystery when a body is found inside the mansion. She relies on the help of her crazy sisters, Libby and Emma, and her mobster boyfriend, Michael Abruzzo, to identify the killer and keep her sane.

I really enjoyed this book because it threw an unexpected curve in the third chapter! Usually mysteries take awhile to settle their plot and determine all of the characters. This one, however, was intriguing and exciting from the beginning. I did not expect the murderer to be who it was, and the way that Nora finally found the killer was fascinating. I love the thrill that Nora's off-again, on-again mobster boyfriend, Michael Abruzzo, brings to the mysteries, and their relationship makes you want to root for them. There is also a certain comedic edge that Nora's hilarious sister Libby maintains throughout the series that adds comedy relief from the drama of Nora's life. Another 5 rating.

Little Black Book of Murder
Nancy Martin
372 pages
Genre: Mystery, part of The Blackbird Sisters series
Adult reading level
Reviewed by Kayla, 10th grade

Nora Blackbird's new boss is pressuring her to dig into deep gossip in order to keep her job, which she desperately needs. But when she writes a piece about a famous celebrity and his wife, the celebrity ends up dead. Not only does Nora have to solve yet another murder in order to clear the name of one of her close family members, but her mobster boyfriend and sisters are acting weird as well. Can Nora figure out who did it?

This mystery was particularly exciting because the killer was very unexpected. I loved the way that Nora came to her conclusion, and how involved she was in the murder. She seems to have personal interests in all of her cases, and that helps with the intrigue and mysterious aspect of the book. I highly recommend this to mystery lovers, and I know that they will be on the edge of their seats the whole time. Rated 5 again!

Here is Nancy Martin's website, in case you, too, are curious about this series.