Our Latest News and Reviews:

Grasshopper Jungle - YA Review by Gwyneth P


Reader: Gwyneth P.
Age: 13
Title: Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pub Date: 02/11/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The writing style was very original and is something I'd love to read more of. I loved how the book was very well put together and flowed nicely with its intriguing use of history and more modern events and ideologies. The plot, I felt, wasn't necessarily about the end of the world; it seemed more in the background. I think that was because it was seen through the eyes of a sexually confused teenager who was quite ignorant to even the most dire needs of others. The dialogue was fun and witty, but did have some quite serious and emotional moments. I thought it was quite well thought out and articulated. I thought the character development could use some more work. I wish we could get to know all of the main characters in more detail, especially Robby and Shann. I understand that Austin was mainly focused on himself, as he had many issues at the time. I did love the way that everything was out in the open, there were no secrets. Everything was known and everything was shared at some point and that truthfulness in the writing was very surprising but very appreciated. I also loved the way that everything was consecutive almost like a time line, which I guess it was.
Memorable or Forgettable: Grasshopper Jungle was very memorable because of the eccentric and beautiful way that it portrayed the truth, in all sense of the word, to its readers.
Cover: Yes, the cover did tempt me to pick up the book because it was so simple. It was so simple that it stood out with its simplicity. The yellow pages made the gritty, almost dirty, and old effect that the writing style portrayed, but that kind of gross look also drew me in.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Comments: This book was beautiful.
Annotation: In a miniscule town known as Ealing, Iowa, sexually confused Austin Scerba and his two best friends Shann and Robby (of whom he is sexually confused about) accidentally let loose a plague strain that turns humans into giant praying mantises that only want to do two things. Austin, Robby, Shann, Robby's mother, and a pancake house owner then must learn how to stop these beasts from ending the world by uncovering their concerning history, somehow resolving their personal problems, and making history themselves.


tags:  realistic science fiction / coming of age / GLBT / ya lit



Destined for Doon - YA Review by Claire W


Reader: Claire W.
Age: 13
Title: Destined For Doon
Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Publisher: Blink
Pub Date: 09/02/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The description of the setting is great. Most of the book is set in a hidden city in Scotland that isn't very modern. I can picture it perfectly in my head without trying. The plot had a few cracks but was great over all. The characters have changed a bit because it has been between 2 and 6 months. They show very real and believable emotions.
Memorable or Forgettable: I love Scotland so much because I lived there for a year. The setting was just so accurate and beautiful.
Cover: love the cover because the girl on the cover is wearing a beautiful dress.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional CommentsThis is the second book in the series
Annotation: Kenna hasn't even gotten over Duncan, but she thinks she has. When he shows up in her dressing room all the old feelings come rushing back. He asked her to go back to Doon because her best friend desperately needs her help. She makes her way back to Doon and finds things much worse than she thought.


tags:  fantasy / romance / Brigadoon / ya lit



Guy in Real Life - YA Review by Michelle M



Reader: Michelle M.
Age: 16
Title: Guy In Real Life
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pub Date: 05/27/14
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: What originally caught my eye was the summary - the summary had a very unique way of describing the story that seemed original, as compared to many old cliches you often find. When I read the book, I felt that the story was different from the summary, and that the summary did not accurately describe the story. Though this disappointed me, I still enjoyed the story. Elements I found memorable in the story were the plot voice/narrator voice, and the character development. The narrator voices changed often, between the voices of Lesh and Svetlana (the main characters) and the characters of an RPG. I enjoyed reading the main characters' voices and being able to get inside their heads and understand them, but I didn't like the RPG characters as much. I understand that parts of it were essential for the plot of the story, but I felt it also detracted from the story a bit. I thought that the narrator's depiction of Lesh was quite strong, and though his views were somewhat strange, they were understandable. Svetlana was also well written, but I did not feel a connection to her. I thought that later on in the book there was a very good plot twist that was well set up, but I felt that it was resolved too soon and it should have been expanded on more.
Memorable or Forgettable: I had a mixed reaction to this book. There were many flaws I found while reading it, but for some reason I needed to keep reading it. I was intrigued, and I loved the little romance/love story between Lesh and Svetlana. I picked it up because of a very promising summary, was disappointed when the book didn't meet expectations, but kept reading. I loved reading the unconventional love story, and the differences in their lives. I thought the characters were relatable, and I got a kick out of the fact that the main characters live in the same city as me and go to my high school. I would say it was forgettable in that it spent too much time describing the RPG characters and not enough time developing the plot. I found it memorable in that it is unique from many love stories and that there is such a big difference in personalities of the characters.
Cover: The title caught my eye, but my reaction to the cover is neutral. I appreciated the mental image of what the characters looked like, and I appreciated the simplicity of it, but it wasn't eye catching and does not reflect the contents as well as it could.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal


tags:  romance / role playing games / ya lit




Guilty?: Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice - YA Review by Veronica K


Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 14
Title: Guilty?: Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice
Author: Teri Kanefield
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 11/04/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This was nonfiction (but you probably knew that). It seemed very well researched and well presented. It moved very smoothly and made sense. If it were me, I would have put more of my opinion in it, but the whole "these are the facts, what do you think" thing worked. Nonfiction can be good, or it can crash and burn. This was good.
Memorable or Forgettable: The real life situations made it memorable. I am against pointless things right now, and the real life made it have a point. It made sense, and that helped its cause.
Cover: Wait- it has a cover?! Oh yeah. It does. Well, it reflects the contents. I picked it up to annoy my Social Studies teacher. I would not know if it turns people off or not.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal


tags:  non-fiction / American justice system / ya lit



The Devil's Intern - YA Review by Lillian B


Reader: Lillian B.
Age: 13
Title: The Devil's Intern
Author: Donna Hosie
Publisher: Holiday House
Pub Date: 08/01/14
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I truthfully am very confused with my emotions around this book. The characters were strong but the plot felt uneven. The time-line seemed to jump around too much. The relationship between Mitchell and his love interest was also very inconsistent. I had a hard time trying to figure out how he felt about her. They would act romantic and he would be totally fine with it and then he would say something like "she's my best friend." I understand what the author was trying to do with the classic best-friends-fall-in-love-romance but though her emotions were clear his, the main character's mind you, were not. Other than those two things plus slightly odd information placements it was a decent read. It was funny and I really loved the whole supernatural/life-after-death element going on. It's just that the plot felt off.
Memorable or Forgettable: It was somewhat memorable, but not exactly in the way Donna Hosie might have intended. "I will never forget that one very quirky book with the odd development and climax.The resolution was delightful, but other than that every thing was a little scattered," I may say one day.
Cover: The title really caught me. I love the whole angels and demons fad, take away the over-done dramatic romance, so I got a bit excited. The cover also reflects one of the main ideas of the book: Hell isn't the fiery abyss they preach about in the church, it's worse, it's an office job for eternity.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional CommentsOkay so for rating, it really depends on the 12 year old. I would say PG-13 if it was a movie,or maybe slightly more than that, PG-14.
Annotation: Mitchell Johnson is a teenager who died four years ago and went to hell. Through his job (the Devil's intern) he has come across a time traveling device. Now he and his friends have found a way to change their own deaths and escape from hell.


tags:  comedy / time travel / ya lit



Very Bad Things - YA Review by Sarah R


Reader: Sarah R.
Age: 12
Title: Very Bad Things
Author: Susan McBride
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: 10/14/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: It had amazing character development. It had an interesting amount of realism about the story.
Memorable or Forgettable: It was memorable because Katie had a real and funny personality. The author also had awesome details explaining every moment.
Cover: The cover with roses in the coffin convinced me. If you read the book it is completely shown.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal


tags:  mystery / boarding school / ya lit



Illusive - YA Review by Eli S-M


Reader: Eli S-M
Age: 15
Title: Illusive
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date: 7/15/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book is worth reading for several reasons. First of all, it features an interesting concept. Like Steelheart, it explores the real world consequences of a sudden influx of superheroes in a fairly realistic and intriguing way. Secondly, the plot of a 'gifted' character simply trying to survive was unique and interesting. It did seem, at times, as though the government, which I would identify as the main antagonist, was a bit over simplified and made into more of an evil force than is reasonable.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable. One interesting thing the book had was a lack of distinct villains. The government was definitely an antagonist, but each individual within the government had their own motivations, none of which centered around bringing down the main character. The use of other antagonists, such as organized crime, also helped make the government seem less of a mustachio-twirling villain and more simply a factor which contributed to the overall plot.
Cover: I think the cover pretty well described the contents of the book and sort of made me want to pick it up.
Age Range: Under 12 through 15
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal


tags:  dystopian / action / superpowers / ya lit



Mortal Gods - YA Review by Derek D


Reader: Derek D.
Age: 12
Title: Mortal Gods
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pub Date: 10/14/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book put an exciting twist on Greek mythology by having gods in the bodies of teenagers and having them fight other gods, and their fates, literally, for survival. This book also contains past heroes that have been reincarnated as high school students. Throughout the book, the main characters, Cassandra, Henry, Andie, Hermes, and Athena, are constantly put up against, and injured by various monsters and creatures from Greek mythology. Also, they travel to various locations all around the world. All this happens without their parents or other students discovering where they've been going or what they've been doing. The parents are mentioned in the book, though, and they do state that they think they should give their kids some sort of punishment for always missing school, but they never do. That kept nagging at me as I was reading this book and I kept waiting for an explanation, but never found one, or if there was it wasn't made clear enough to notice. This was just a minor thing that didn't subtract much from the plot, but a clear explanation would make the story more believable. The characters really grew closer to each other as the book progressed and the plot kept getting thicker and the book harder to put down. Overall, I really am loving this series and can't wait to get my hands on the next book.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book's modern spin on a rich set of characters from various Greek myths made this book memorable. Also, the cliffhanger ending will be something I will never forget.
Cover: As I was looking through the shelves for a book to check out, this one immediately grabbed my attention because of the title, Mortal Gods, displayed in large font. I am a fan of anything having to do with Greek mythology, so I immediately checked out this book and its prequel. When I looked closer at the cover, I saw a girl coming out of what looks like a cave and looking at a building that looked like Greek architecture, most likely Olympus, which made me think that at some point in the book a character will visit the famous palace of the gods. I was correct, which shows that the cover does portray the content of the book.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal


tags:  fantasy / Greek mythology / paranormal / romance / Goddess war / ya lit



The Name of the Blade - YA Review by Tristan H-B


Reader: Tristan H.B.
Age: 13
Title: The Name of the Blade
Author: Zoe Marriott
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 11/11/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The book is action packed with adventure and a little romance.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was memorable because it has mythology and I learned about Japanese mythology.
Cover: The cover tempted me to pick up the book because I like swords.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal


tags:  fantasy / adventure / romance / Japanese mythology / ya lit



The Vault of Dreamers - YA Review by Veronica K


Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 13
Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pub Date: 09/16/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The plot was really well put together. You always had exactly the right amount of information for any given moment, and it also worked with itself. It happened in a place where this kind of thing can happen, to people I can see it happening to. The characters developed very well, and in directions you can see them going. The dialogue was great. These are actual people having conversations I can see people having, with an actual life behind them, not cardboard cutouts speaking lines on a stage who will go home to nothing, literally. This author knew what they were doing.
Memorable or Forgettable: I really think this author wrote the character, not the story, then had the character write the story, and that, nine times out of ten, makes the book so much better. The story was not told, it was showed. The details included make me believe in this plot, even though I doubt it would ever actually happen. It also helps that the plot idea itself is brilliant. This book was memorable.
Cover: The cover did tempt me to pick up the book, but now that I have read the book, two questions: where did this cover come from, and why?
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal


tags:  science fiction / dystopian / psychological thriller / reality TV / ya lit