Archive for March, 2010

How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  170 p.

RAC Book: No

Kelleigh Monahan is a teenage girl who happens to see a man drop his keys in a mall parking lot one day.  Instead of telling him and returning the keys, she keeps them.  One day she notices the man’s car a few blocks from her house and decides to take his car for a spin.  She picks up her friend and they go joy riding for awhile before returning it.  When another friend hears of this joy ride he asks her to steal the car of a class bully so that he can get back at him.  Before she knows it, she has acquired a bit of a reputation as a car thief.  When she is faced with the possibility of making some cash by stealing cars she does not immediately dismiss the idea.  Is she prepared to face jail time for this new passion?

Kelleigh does not feel like a fully developed character.  Her motivations are unclear and despite some close calls she still wants to continue in the car theft business.  The end is abrupt and many readers will feel like they were left without a concrete conclusion.  The fun and excitement of being a car thief was explored without too much of the possible negative outcomes.

DupliKate by Cherry Cheva

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  242

RAC Book:  Yes

Kate is highly stressed as she heads into finals week before Christmas break.  She has to finish her college essay, retake the SATs, finish building a robot for her Science final, and prepare for and take her finals.  Meanwhile, her boyfriend is getting annoyed that she hasn’t been spending as much time with him lately even though she is trying to get into Yale to be with him.  One night while on her computer, she accidentally opens a simulation program she has not looked at in years.  The next morning she wakes up to find she has a clone.  Naturally, this bothers her, but she is so busy she keeps pushing Rina aside.  As Rina tries to help Kate get everything done she begins to let her, but only with things that are not graded.  As Rina begins to take over Kate’s life she realizes that Rina’s intentions may not be completely innocent.

This light book moves quickly and will keep the interest of young students who generally like Meg Cabot or Kate Brian books.  The character of Kate does try to avoid cheating by using her clone, which is nice considering many teens would use this as an opportunity to sleep in and still get good grades.  As Kate evaluates all of the goals she has set for herself she completely turns everything upside down near the end and there is not a lot of content in the story to explain why.  All in all, it’s a very predictable read, but those who want something light should enjoy it.

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Suspense

# of Pages:  236 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Madison lives in a wealthy, safe neighborhood where no one ever thinks anything bad could possibly happen.  When an anonymous blogger writes that she wishes one of the popular girls, Lucy, would die she disappears.  As the community frantically tries to find out what happened to Lucy, Madison must deal with her guilt over being the last one to see her.  When the blogger then starts singling out others and more disappear, the entire community begins to panic instilling curfews and chaperones on all the teenagers.  Meanwhile, Madison is receiving mysterious notes and she often feels like she is being followed.  Could she be the next victim?  Will she be able to figure this out before it is too late?

This story touches on the issue of bullying and how even minor comments and actions can have lingering effects.  The suspense and mystery will keep even reluctant readers interested, while at the same time providing several good topics for discussion in small groups.  How involved should parents and teachers be with bullying?  How should bullies be punished?  Should the victims take any responsibility?  What could you do if you see a student getting bullied?

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  Fantasy/Romance

# of Pages:  392 p.

RAC list: Yes

When Grace was little she was attacked by wolves, but was saved by a wolf with yellow eyes.  Ever since then Grace has watched out her window for her wolf with yellow eyes and often sees him in the winter.  After a local teenager is attacked and killed, the town immediately tries to hunt down all of the wolves.  As Grace tries to stop them she finds an injured boy with yellow eyes.  She quickly realizes that this is in fact her wolf and wants to get to know him as a human, but unfortunately, his time is running short and soon he will have to change back…maybe forever.

This romance story reads similarly to the Twilight series, but this book is more romance and less action.  Grace and Sam’s relationship is sweet and endearing, but the book itself takes a rather leisurely pace.  Many of the plot twists are predictable and the final resolution seems much too quick, but fans of Bella and Jacob will not be able to put this one down.

Books on Bullying

Click on the following link in order to view my video on books that include themes on bullying.  Some of the bullying is by other students, some is by parents, and some is even by the government.


Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  391

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel to The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have returned home to district 12 but life is not as easy or calm as Katniss hoped it would be if she survived the games.  Their previous fears of starving or failing to feed their families have been relieved as they now have plenty of food and money due to their winnings, but there is an uneasiness as Katniss realizes she may be in trouble with the Capitol for breaking the rules and managing to have two survivors of the vicious games.  Her fears are turned into reality when she receives a surprise visit from the president of the Capitol.  He warns her that if her and Peeta do not convince everyone that they are in fact in love, then the lives of their family and friends may be in danger.  Katniss was surprised to learn that her act of defiance that allowed her and Peeta to survive the games was seen as a first step of revolt to some of the districts.  Since then they have followed suit and established uprisings that the Capitol does not approve of.   As Katniss tries to squelch the uprisings by acting more in love with Peeta than she could imagine, she can’t help but wonder what will happen if she fails and the Capitol blames her for the beginnings of a revolution?  What’s worse, she starts to wonder if she really wants to squelch the uprisings at all or if she would be willing to give her life in order to make life better for those who come after her.

This sequel delivers all the action, surprise, suspense, and passion as the first one.  The year following Katniss’s triumph in the games is full of heartache and worry as she wonders who is watching her and what they will do to her family if she angers them.  Her life is completely changed, but not necessarily in a better way.  As she tries to help those around her she is in no way prepared for the role that will be thrust upon her in the next hunger games.  Anyone who liked the first installment of this series will devour this one and will have a difficult time waiting for the release of the next one.