Archive for February, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages: 471

RAC:  Yes

2010-2011 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Katsa lives in a world where some people are born with special powers called Graces.  Katsa believes her grace to be one for killing and hates herself for fulfilling the terrible tasks her King makes her do.  One day she meets a man named Po from another country who is looking for his grandfather who was kidnapped.  Katsa had already rescued the old man, but they did not want to release that information due to the fact that they still do not know who kidnapped him in the first place.  As Katsa and Po start to investigate who might want to hurt his family, they become fearful that they may have to save everyone from a corrupt king using an immoral grace.

This fantasy story was original and unique in a way that makes the reader want to keep reading.  The story contains interesting and colorful characters as well as an exciting, and at times suspenseful, plot that is full of surprises until the end.  Recommended for students and adults who like fantasy books.  The idea of the graces is interesting and lends an extra layer of intrigue to this tale that will no doubt be around for a long time.

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Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  321

RAC Book:  Yes

Emily throws a party when her parents are out of town and is not expected to be caught by her Aunt Jolie.  Jolie is not there to keep an eye on Emily, however.  Instead, she is there to inform Emily that her parents’ plane has crashed and her parents have in fact died.  As Emily tries to cope with the loss of her parents, it is only made worse by the discovery of an airplane tray in the wreckage with the words “Emily Please Forgive Me” written on it in her mother’s favorite shade of lipstick.  As Emily struggles to understand what her mother is apologizing for, she is moved to NYC to live with her aunt where she has to begin a new school and try to make new friends.  As Emily tries to navigate dating, high school, and friendships, she can’t help but keep trying to figure out what her mother’s apology meant and if she will ever find out the truth.

This book starts out very dramatic and really draws readers in.  It then moves into a typical teenage book with a new school, bullying, boyfriends who cheat, etc.  Emily’s life is interesting because her aunt is a famous make-up artist, which seems to give her an edge as she enters this posh lifestyle she is not used to.  As interesting as Emily’s new life is, the real draw for this book is the mysterious apology her mother left for her.  Readers will not be disappointed when the reason behind this apology is revealed.  Overall, this is a fun teenage book with romance and mystery.

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  314

RAC Book:  Yes

Whit and Wisty are brother and sister and believed they lived normal teenage lives.  That is until one day when they are arrested and charged with witchcraft.  There is a new government in their world called the New Order and this government is gathering up anyone it feels to be a threat.  Whit’s girlfriend had disappeared shortly before his own arrest.  They are taken to a terrible prison where they have to fight angry dogs for food and get whipped on a regular basis.  Whit and Wisty do not know anything about witchcraft, but when they get upset they do seem to be able to do impossible things such as stop objects in midair and burst into flames.  As they start to come to terms with the fact that they may in fact be a witch and a wizard, they are faced with the sobering fact that they are to be executed for their crimes.

For fantasy lovers this story is a lot of fun.  Whit and Wisty are interesting and well-developed characters who are dealing with a difficult situation that is similar to the Salem Witch Trials and the Holocaust all at the same time.  They are also concerned with finding their parents who managed to escape getting arrested in the first place.  The beginning of the story definitely grabs the reader’s interest and the crazy events that follow manage to keep it all the way until the ending of this first book in the series, which unfortunately comes too soon.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Genre:  Realistic fiction

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Eli and his family rush to a compound one night when they fear there is going to be a nuclear attack on the U.S.  Eli’s dad is a software billionaire and had the compound made with ample square footage and all of the amenities.  Unfortunately, Eli’s twin brother, Eddy, and their grandmother do not make it to the compound in time and his father shuts the door without them.  Six years later the family is having a difficult time coping with the life they have had in this compound.  There were some problems that his father did not anticipate and food is starting to run short.  Eli is not comfortable with some of the choices his family has made in order to survive, but he is most bothered by the loss of his twin and the guilt he feels about their final moments together.  Worst of all, Eli’s dad is as controlling and difficult as ever and Eli wonders if he is telling them the whole truth about their current situation.

This book was captivating from the very beginning.  There are many surprises throughout as Eli reveals his life in the compound and how they are trying to cope with such limitations.  As Eli takes a stand against their current life and tries to find some answers for how to improve it, he finds some hard and unexpected truths.  A good read for anyone, but boys and specifically reluctant readers will enjoy.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of pages:  345 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Frankie Landau-Banks was always known as “bunny rabbit” to her family, but as she enters her sophomore year at Alabaster Academy she realizes that she wants to be known for more than just being adorable.  The most popular senior boy, Matthew, asks her out and she cannot resist dating him.  It begins to bother her that he expects her to be there whenever he asks but never feels bad canceling plans on her in order to be with his friends.  He also shows no interest in her clubs, classes, or friends.  He just wants her to be around and look pretty.  When she learns that he is a member of the secret all male society, the Bassets, she decides to become a member whether they like it or not.  She feels it is unfair and outdated to exclude women from a group where life long connections are formed that would positively impact future careers.  As she infiltrates the group she is surprised by how the group responds to her ideas without knowing they are coming from her.  She wonders if all of her efforts will be worth it in the end.

This book takes a while to set up the plot line with the Bassets, but once it does the story takes off.  The writing style is very sophisticated and can encourage students to think about traditions, unwritten rules, and even grammar that everyone just accepts and never questions.  There are many instances in our lives in which we come across some of these expectations and we often adhere to these rules without thinking about the choices we are making.  Frankie asks people to stand up for ideas and procedures that need to be updated.  This is something all of us could think about.