Monday, April 21, 2014

School Library Journal gives SITL a star!

"...Even if SITL is not for your audience, the authors have devised a great collaborative booktalking format for multiple audiences that is worth the investment, and their plans could be adapted to other topics that would engage and educate audiences...."

Read the entire starred review from the April 2014 issue of SLJ HERE.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Over You

Over You.  Amy Reed.  Simon Pulse, 2013.  978-1-4424-5696-9.  $16.99.

Max and Sadie are best friends. 

“We have always understood our relationship comes first.”  

Max is the one who drives them home when Sadie is too drunk; she is the one on standby when Sadie climbs into a car full of boys; she is the one always protecting Sadie.  So when they are shuffled off for the summer from Seattle to the Nebraska commune where Sadie’s mom lives, it will be all right because they are together. Even when they encounter obvious bad boy Dylan, an attraction for both girls.  

However, when Sadie comes down with Mono, Max must carry on without her- alone.  She has never been without Sadie to care for.  She doesn’t even know who she is without Sadie and feels like she is floating through life.  But Dylan is still there, unexpectedly now next door the new yurt she must occupy since Sadie is quarantined.

Max calls herself bisexual, but there is little angst over this.  A past love is explained, but this is just a statement, not to be addressed again, even when Sadie yells it out at the first party they attend in Nebraska.  Max has a good relationship with her father, but her mother is emotionally unavailable.  It is Max that is the stronger part of the relationship, and Max who must figure out her own needs- and whether or not they include a relationship with Dylan.  It is after all, Sadie, who is also drooling over Dylan and Sadie who always gets what she wants.

Max is studying ancient literature, and each chapter is interspersed with a myth or poem that she restates to make sense of her own story.
Abortion, bi-sexual issues, drinking, drugs, Start Trek sex

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Far Far Away

Far Far Away   by Tom McNeal
audiobook read by W. Morgan Sheppard

What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, and girl, and a ghost.  The boy possessed uncommon qualities, the girl was winsome and darling, and the ancient ghost...well, let it only be said that his intentions were good.

So begins the unusually compelling story of Jeremy Johnson Johnson (not a typo, his parents both were named "Johnson"), who can hear the ghostly voice of Jacob Grimm, one of the famous collectors of fairy tales.  Jeremy and his father live in a small mid-western town where nothing of interest ever happens...except that an unusual number of young people have gone missing over the years.  

Jacob Grimm narrates the story from beyond the grave, noting the folkloric elements that seem, coincidentally, to exist in Jeremy's town:  the disappearing children, a hooded woman, an enormous oven, a forbidden door, and a mysterious dwarf-like man who may (or may not) have dark intentions.  And yet, the darkness implied by the fairy tale motifs is not a coincidence.  Something dark and horrible is at work in the town, and Jeremy is the innocent who is slated as the next sacrifice.

I had hoped for a lighter, happier book, but the dark and awful qualities of this story were more fascinating than I had imagined.  Those readers (like me) who want a "happy ever after" ending will not be dissatisfied, but be warned: the path to that ending is long and harrowing and might not  be exactly what the reader imagines.

No cussing, no sex.  A few kisses (kisses are important in fairy tales) and some violence including bullying and some scary forcible abductions.  

Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Spirit and Dust

Spirit and Dust  by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Teen psychic Daisy Goodnight works with local police and the FBI to solve murder cases.  Her talent for speaking with the dead is deemed "useful" even if the evidence she uncovers is not admissible in court.  But when the dead bodyguard she interviews gives her more questions and no answers, and the trail to a kidnapped girl leads to the Egyptology exhibit Chicago's Field Museum, Daisy learns that being a kick-ass psychic detective might be a lot more dangerous than she originally thought.

Ghosts, witches, magic, a jackel-headed god, and a tyrannosaurus rex, plus a hot young FBI agent and a good-looking son of the Mob, combined with fast-talking, smirky dialogue. Think "The Mummy" meets "Indiana Jones" and you won't be far off.

Action, adventure, some bloodshed, some death, and a few steamy kisses.  Although this is a sequel to Texas Gothic, the story stands alone well--and begs for a sequel!

Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Boston Jacky

Boston Jacky: being an account of the further adventures of Jacky Faber, taking care of business   by L.A. Meyer
audiobook read by Katherine Kellgren

That rascal Jacky Faber is back in town--Boston-town, that is.  Her shipping business is nearly broke, her Irish friends are unwelcome, and her true love Jaimy still hasn't returned from an extended stay in the Orient.  Undeterred, Jacky buys the Pig and Whistle Inn to save it from bankruptcy and this raises the ire of the Women's Temperance Union...and her own dearest friend.  

Can Jacky's impulsive nature be tamed before she ends up back in Judge Thwackham's court?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

I'll only give one spoiler: the thing with Jaimy is definitely not untangled in this book.  For more details, you'll have to read it yourself.

Recommended for fans of the series, ages 14 to adult.  Some cussing, some violence (mostly off-page).  As always, the audiobook edition read by Katherine Kellgren is superb.


Lexicon  by Max Barry
audiobook narrated by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman

Are you a cat person, or a dog person?
Choose a number between 1 and 100.
What is your favorite color?
Do you love your family?
Why did you do it?

For reasons he (and the reader) do not understand, Wil Parke has been attacked in an airport restroom, asked several nonsensical questions, and then kidnapped at gunpoint by an enigmatic man who calls himself Tom Eliot.

In a time shift, street hustler Emily Ruff is asked the same nonsensical questions and eventually recruited to a mysterious organization that promises to teach her to be more persuasive.

How do these things come together?  


Using a volatile combination of action sequences interspersed with scientific (but never boring!) explanations about brain research and neuro-linguistic programming, the author drags the reader deeply into this deeply violent, disturbing story of modern life and the power of words as weapons.  

This book was included on the 2013 School Library Journal "Best Adult Books 4 Teens" list. It will definitely thrill some teens, but readers are warned that violence and cussing completely saturate the story.

Recommended for readers who can survive the cussing and who enjoy action, suspense, and contemporary dystopic fiction.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Losing It

Losing It.  (short stories)  Keith Gray, ed.

“It hurt.  A lot.  There was a lot of blood too.”   Of course, Keith Gray is talking about being hurt in soccer practice…

With this quick start, Losing it is about just that.  Ten short stories of losing your virginity from some vary famous British authors, including Melvin Burgess, A.S. King, and Patrick Ness.  Jase wants to lose his virginity even if he loses the soccer championship as a result; Emma wonders why she did it;  Finn’s grandmother gives some great advice; Charlie and Ant are just fooling around until the right girl comes along- aren’t they?

At times, the British slang gets in the way, but more often the stories themselves talk around the sex part of the story that teens might well lose interest.  Teens won’t learn anything new here, nor will they gain any new insights, although some stories are quite poignant: The White Towel (Bali Rai,)  a story of not-too-distant India, and Finding It (Anne Fine) from the sex ed teacher’s point of view that teens will shrug off.

In reality, there is very little actual feeling here.  While some stories actually deal with emotion, (Different for Boys, Patrick Ness and Age of Consent,  Jenny Valentine) most are simple stories of wanting sex.  The stories are more “feel good, sweet” stories.  In only two of the stories the act of losing one’s virginity is observable.  In one of those stories, the actual references to sex are black boxed out, creating more in your imagination than there would be if left in the narrative.  The reality of being protected during sex is never taken seriously.  This would have been a stellar opportunity!

Kissing, gay friends, gltbq, masturbation, Star-Trek sex, violence