Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: The Raven Boys

  The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


   Review by Janine

"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve.  Either you're his true love ...... or you killed him.".               - The Raven Boys


Blue Sargent lives in the little town of Henrietta, Virgina.  Her mom and the rest of her family are psychics but Blue herself is not.  As if that wasn't hard enough she has been raised being told that she will cause her true love to die and while she doesn't really believe this she feels that it is no worry as she has never met anyone that she would even consider to be close to her true love.  That all changes however when she accompanies her aunt on St. Mark's Eve to see the souls of those who will pass in the coming year and for the first time Blue sees someone, Gansey.  Gansey and his group of Aglionby boys turn out to not be what Blue expected.  These boys are looking for an ancient ley line and with the help of Blue, they are on their way to quickly discovering its secrets and the secrets of a small town.  As they get closer to their goal not everything is as it seems.... friendships and loyalties will be tested and not everyone is who they seem to be....
  This book is one of those the sucked me in and I couldn't put down.  The story begins in alternating voices between Blue and Gansey, which I really liked because you really got into the different characters heads and could quickly see how their lives would be interweaving.  Blue is such a likeable character... she is the misfit in her family since she herself is not psychic so while she doesn't always feel like she fits in, she isn't whiny about that, she just accepts it and moves on.  I feel that since this is just the first book in the series that there is much more to her than meets the eye and I can't wait to see how that all plays out!! I also loved the Ganesy and his group of friends, Adam, Noah, and Ronan.  Each of these boys who all are so interesting in and of themselves, have bought into Ganesy's quest for the finding the ley line (which Ganesy credits for saving his life).  One of the things that I loved is that each of the boys has his own very strong character and really story.  This for me makes the story so much more developed and really gives you a feeling that you know each of the characters and each really adds so much to the story.  Then as the characters come all together it just...clicks like the missing piece of a puzzle.
   Between the characters, the flow of the story and the story itself, I was not ready for the book to end when it did! However this is one of those rare occurrences where I waited so long to read the book, number two was already out!! *insert happy dance* 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Zombie Display, October 2013


Zombie Displays

October 2013

Whether it's because I'm reading the last book in the Rot & Ruin series, or because I'm binge-watching the Walking Dead, I am OBSESSED with zombies lately.  Can you tell from these pictures?  
My students are really into any book dealing with zombies, so the displays have been very successful.  I had a ton of fun putting these together!!






Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: Game by Barry Lyga



  Game by Barry Lyga
 
  Review by Janine


   Game is the sequel to the book I Hunt Killers.  This book is a continuation in the life of Jasper Dent, better know to his friends as Jazz, and better known to the rest of the world as the son of one of the most notorious serial killers, Billy Dent.  Being raised by a serial killer has left Jazz with plenty to question in his life, but it has made him as invaluable resource to the law enforcement community.  You see, Jazz just wasn't raised by Billy, but was being groomed to be the next serial killer, which means that Jazz knows that elusive question, "What is the serial killer thinking"?  Jazz is being called upon to help law enforcement as another serial killer is on the loose in New York City.  This, however, will be unlike anything Jazz has faced before.  As old demons come back to haunt him, the questions remain: who are the players in the game, what are the rules, and what is the prize?
  If you read my review of I Hunt Killers, you will know that I LOVED that book and was anxiously awaiting the release of the next book.  I am here to tell you that I was not disappointed!!!!!! This book was awesome! You dive right back into the town with the same characters and some new, and let us say interesting, additions (like Jazz's aunt, who just for the record, I am on the fence about) and of course a new crime to solve.  This one is in New York City and is fairly gruesome ( I will not go into details but there were definitely a couple of ewwww parts!!!!).  Jazz, from the beginning, is suspicious that his father (who at the end of the first book escapes from jail) is involved in some way.  What I love about this book is the complexity of the Game.  Even at the end of the book, when we are given a better understanding of what the game is, it is still a little mind boggling and leaves questions unanswered.  I found myself as I was reading, marveling at how the author could come up with something like this..... the twists and turns, the rules and the players. I was in awe ( and to be perfectly honest, this makes me wish, for the thousandth time that I could write something this awesome!) Not only is the game quite complex but so is Jazz.  You have a boy who was raised by a serial killer, who was present and privy to some seriously life altering situations of which he can't forget.  He also can't forgive himself for what he believes is unwillingness at the time to stop his father, or to at least do something to help the victims.  Combine that with the fact that he still has Billy's voice in his head, "teaching" him what he needs to know to be just like him, and you have one conflicted and complex character.  One that is easy to like but would also be scary to know.  I will not give away any spoilers but the ending I swear that you could hear me scream into the next state.  Not because someone dies (after all it is a murder mystery) but because it just ends...... everything.  It is like the "to be continued" at the best part in a TV show... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! and then to top it all off there is this, no way moment RIGHT AT THE END!!!! and now the waiting will begin again for the next book because I must know what happens!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Review: Born Wicked By Jessica Spotswood


            Born Wicked  Jessica Spotswood

               Review by Janine

 This is the story about the three Cahill sisters: Cate, Maura and Teresa, and they share a secret, one with fatal consequences. They are witches.  Witches once used to be everywhere, but the Brothers have come in and destroyed most of them.  Now that the Brothers have taken over, no one is above suspicion.  Those who are accused are sent to prison ships, an asylum, or are murdered.  No one takes this threat more seriously than Cate.  As her mother lay dying, she entrusted her oldest daughter to keep their secrets and, more importantly, to keep her sisters safe.  Cate must keep this secret from everyone including their father, housekeepers and servants--anyone who would potentially do them harm.  As things begin to spin out of Cate’s control, can she keep their secrets while still being true to herself?
   I will start this out by saying, that I LOVED this book!!!!! What initially drew me to this book was that it was about witches.  Any book with a supernatural element really appeals to me and has since the first time I read Anne Rice.  What made this book even better for me was the setting, it is set in the early 1800’s, which completely gives is another element for me, believeability (which I am not even sure is word!) While I know that a book about witches, isn’t necessarily believable, it is grounded in believable elements.  Those being time period, which we all know of the persecution of witches, whether real or not.  Another being the setting which is a town that you would consider to be typical, one with class systems, where girls are to be trained according their place in the town and behave in such a way that is above reproach.  At the beginning of the book, Cate is just another 16 year old living in her town trying to watch over and protect her sisters.  Protecting them from the Brotherhood, who would just as soon turn them in as witches and from being caught doing witchcraft.  When a governess arrives from the Sisterhood to train them to be proper ladies, Cate knows that something isn’t what it seems, and she is doing everything she can to figure out what it is.  There is so much underlying in this story, but to me is things aren’t always what they seem to be.  In this book, so much of what you first think of something or someone changes as you read further on.  That is what made me keep reading, the twists and turns just when you think you have figured one person out, they change.  I also love the complicated relationship of the sisters themselves.  That to me helped make the book, more “real” to me.  For as much as you learn in this book about the girls and their lives, is as much (as I think back) that I don’t know. This is one of those books that has it all: a love story, witches, complicated friendships, difficult siblings and a governess who is more than what she seems.  I am glad that I waited to read this because the next one is coming out soon and I can’t wait to read it!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian


The List by Siobhan Vivian

Review by Janine


The List is book based on one week at Mount Washington High School, the week before homecoming.  The Monday of this week brings the annual tradition of "The List".  This list contains the girls who are the prettiest and ugliest of each class.  We follow the girls on the list to see how each is effected by their nominations, either by being pretty or ugly.
I have to be honest, this book is not one I would have picked up on my own.  It is typically not the kind of young adult books I read.  I choose to pick this up because I have the privilege of listening to Siobhan Vivian speak at the Children's Literature conference at the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg, and I really wanted to read one of her books before attending. She is a wonderful speaker and I highly recommend that if you have a chance to attend something of hers you do. Plus I am totally geeked because she lives here in Pittsburgh, which is so awesome!!!  I only wish that I could have stayed to get my book signed but I had to leave to get a tooth pulled (another story, for another day!!).  To my surprise, I really liked this book!  I LOVED how the book was set up.  It is divided by day (as the story is one week) and each chapter is a point of view of each of the girls on the list.  While there were a lot of characters to follow ( at the beginning I found myself flipping to the list as a reference for who each of them were) as the story continues it all flowed so well that it not longer became an issue.  What made this book for me, was the characters and not only how real they all seemed by how they developed, for good or bad.  You really got to see what goes on, how important perception is, either by themselves or from their peers and truly how complicated high school can be.  I don't want to give anything away but I think the best thing was really how we got past the surface of what was going on and really into the girls lives and what dictates how we behave, and why. It also shows that what think about a person and we know are often two wildly different things.  This also begs the question who is the victim? The pretty girls? The ugly girls? The ones who don't make the list? or the creator of the list?
  To say that I am surprised with myself for really enjoying this book, is an understatement!! I think I tend to shy away from the realistic teen fiction like this because it reminds me too much of high school, the awkwardness of it, the intensity of friendships and relationships (maybe it reminds me too much of MY high school experience) but this book is one I would recommend, highly!!!
My only wish is that there would be another book after this one! I really want to know what happens after the dance, after it all dies down..... I felt like each one of those girls still has a story left and I want to know more!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Review by MaryAnne (guest teen blogger)

Fantastic!  I cannot even begin to describe this book.  Seraphina is an original take on the relationship between humans and dragons.  Seraphina, a sixteen-year-old girl, gets swept up into a political disaster that could tear the kingdom of Goredd apart.  Prince Rufus, Queen Lavonda's only son, is murdered, and the only plausible suspect is a dragon.  For the past forty years, dragons have taken human shape to keep peace.  With the help of Prince Lucian Kiggs and an interesting cast of characters, Seraphina investigates a potentially disastrous event.

From beginning to end, this book does not disappoint.  I could barely even put it down!  Seraphina is one of the best female heroines you'll ever come across.  She is real and develops as a person should.  The underlying plot of the book is self-acceptance, which I think adds something we can all relate to.  Serpahina is a strong female character who isn't close to perfect.  She is human and makes mistakes like the rest of us.  She learns from them and doesn't back down--the sign of true strength.  She is modest of her musical ability, and even shy.  Seraphina must deal with a dark lineage and a secret that could turn her world upside down.  When I was reading, I felt that her dialogue was real, as was every other character's.  Their personalities could make you love or hate them when hey wanted to.  Rachel Hartman brings such a solid plot filled with action, the hint of romance, and well-rounded characters.  I haven't read a book about dragons and humans as good as this in a long while.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review : Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered  by Jessica Brody

Review by Janine

After waking up in an ocean and not remembering a thing, Seraphina is thrust into a world that she does not remember. The only survivor of a terrible plane crash everyone is trying to figure out who she is, there is no record of her being on the plane and with her memory gone she can not give any clues as to who she is.  Then a mysterious person shows up, one who claims not only to know who she is but that she is in danger.  The question is: can she trust him????

I was really excited to read this book.  I had seen people talking about it on twitter and various other people reviewing it (although I try not to read any reviews until I have read the book).  I loved the way the book began, which is Seraphina (Sera for short) floating on a piece of plane wreckage.  She has no memory of how she got there or even who she is.....which makes the creepy music start in my head! After being taken to the hospital to recover, she meets a strange boy who claims to know her and tells her she is in danger. From there the story really takes off.  You, the reader, come to know Sera as she relearns who she is and where she has come from.  I really liked the different approach to a dystopian-type novel.  The idea of time travel, while not new, was done in a really creative way,  which made it believable (at least for me!).  I will try not to have spoilers, but the relationship between Sera and "her father" was one I wasn't expecting, but it really added a humanity to the book that when you were reading and learning about her life, you would not have expected.  While I did like this book, there was something that bothered me..... the book seemed really short. I know you are thinking, "a book to short??????" I just felt like there was so much build up and when things start to really come together and questions are answered, it just ends. Now I know that there is going to be another book, but I don't know... it just felt as something was missing, or maybe the story should have continued a little more.  Now, with that being said, I will totally read the next book because, darn it, there are questions I want answers to!!