Hey everyone, EXCITING NEWS!!!  

Check out the booktrailer our teens just put together for our friend and past visitor Geoff Herbach on his fabulous book Stupid Fast! (we've even got some reviews you can read on our blog as well). 

To Siera, Anita, and Abdirahmin, in particular, the team that put this together, you guys TOTALLY rock! Thanks go to the St. Paul Neighborhood Network, and Peter Kirschmann in particular, for the technical guidance and support, as well as the Metropolitan State University Provost Office, Library, and Department of Communication, Writing, and the Arts for funding. 

See it here:   http://vimeo.com/40908360
Reader: Luke
Age: 18
Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Author: Emily Danforth
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pub Date: 2/7/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Age Range: 16 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Comments: I don’t know how to do a regular review for this, so here I go:

        I haven’t read a galley book like this in a long, long time.  Most of the teen books we get are little more than fluff, something to keep you amused for a few hours.  Sure, a few exceptions standout: Hunger Games, Once, Leviathan, Marcelo, come to mind but I usually feel guilty after reading a galley book.  Could I have read something more enlightening, more demonstrative of brilliant writing?  Probably.

        Emily Danforth blew all that away.  I have loved some of books that came along in galley, but rarely do we see one that might just become a classic, that you could return to time and time again, always gaining some new insight.  Teen fiction just doesn’t attract the Borges’ or Woolf’s of today.  My school now discusses Hunger Games in 9th grade English, but there is only so much depth you can find.

        I'm going to stake my reputation as a book reviewer and say we found a keeper.  It won’t be sweeping the nation and creating entire new genres of shelves at Barnes and Nobles, but give The Miseducation of Cameron Post time and this book will change things.

        I started reading when I had a few minutes of time before I had to leave.  Clich├ęd as it sounds, I was hooked nearly instantly.  I've always been a sucker for the dramatic event, a few days/hours/minutes earlier buildup beginnings and this one did it perfectly.  I stayed up until four in the morning reading this book but was unable to finish it and had to spend a very, very long school day waiting until I could get home and finish the book.

        The story is modernly set in rural eastern Montana.  Young Cameron or Cam Post is about to enter high school and just had her first kiss—a dare that went too far.  The problem was she had kissed her best friend Irene and eastern Montana isn’t the best place for young lesbian couples.  Before anything happens, Cam’s parents die in a car crash.  That’s one the first page and the back cover, so I haven’t ruined it for you.

        The next few years of Cam’s life are the whirlwind of high school, friendship, drugs and loss.  This isn’t your average teen book, where the author sees how many problems they can toss at the protagonist.  Cam deals with each issue in a vividly realistic manner.  Few authors I have read have captured such grief and realism and been able to create the emotions Cam is filled with.

        The arrival of the very religious Aunt Ruth does little to hamper Cam’s exploration of her identity.  Each character, from cowgirl Coley to swimmer Lindsay captures a different angle of modern life.  From a literary standpoint, Danforth does an excellent and understandable stream of consciousness.  It is relatable, readable and it reaches out for your empathy.

        But as one can predict from the combination of fundamental Christians, small Montana towns, carefree relationships and the fact that you have two hundred pages left when everything seems perfect it can’t last for Cameron.  Exiled to a small religious school to be “fixed” of her evil, sinful manner Cam finds her identity under attack.

        The plot is engaging, well-paced and unique.  But the bold exploration of identity and sexuality is what truly makes this book standout.  Trying to balance what society, faith and your body tell you are something that we all need to understand and have empathy for.  This isn’t a made up story: this is going to be our generation’s fight and we better understand it well.

        You don’t have to agree with the story.  You still will be clinging to the book as tightly as Cam tries to cling to who she is.  But the questions this story presents need answers.  Maybe we won’t ever find any, but The Miseducation of Cameron Post will create the dialogue we need to help us take a step in the right direction.

        Both sides of the debate are well portrayed in this story.  The youth struggling to understand themselves, the blaming and rhetoric that we see today, the culture that doesn’t want to change.  I have my own views, but Danforth allowed me to get a glimpse of how each can claim to be the “good” fight.

        This isn’t a book for twelve year olds.  It won’t have massive, widespread appeal—it is far too long and thought provoking for that—but this book is going far.  It’s going to get banned.  It’s going to generate controversy, perhaps a few book burnings and lots and lots of angry people yelling at librarians.  None of that matters. 

        Sexual identity is something we need forefront in national discussions and this book can put it there.  The relatable nature, the empathy, the down to earth style of this story will soften hardened hearts and spark a change.  I might be a tad too optimistic, but I'd money that we will be reading this book for a long time.

        I'll end with a Flannery O'Connor quote (fitting for a book review, right?) that Danforth had on her website.  Summing up the reason to read this book better than I ever could, O’Connor wrote, “A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way, and it takes every word of the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anyone asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell him to read the story."

Reader: Grace
Age: 15
Title: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub Date: 1/17/2012
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The inside cover of this book says it's for ages 8 to 12, but don't be fooled. This is a book that absolutely everyone can get something out of. The simplistic storytelling and sparse wording were powerful, but also make it easy to comprehend. A younger reader would easily follow and appreciate the story, while an older one can see and relate to the characters. Ivan is a gorilla who has lived most of his life in captivity. At first he thinks of himself as content, then as the story progresses he realizes he's complacent. The story ends in his taking action against his captors on behalf of someone else, becoming less self absorbed. That's a lot of character development for a gorilla. The illustrations throughout the book enhanced it, because art and artistry is a focus.
Memorable or Forgettable: Although Ivan and the others were humanized so the reader could relate to them, they never lost the essence of being animals. There are few animal books, especially talking animal books, that pull that off as well as this one did.
Cover: The cover was good, but not great. Having a cartoon style cover could turn off older readers. They're not trying to attract them, but I think they should.
Age Range: Under 12 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Reader: Elise
Age: 16
Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick
Pub Date: 9/2011
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Pictures are fantastic.  Monsters are awesome.  But best of all were the characters.  Books can have many wrongs, but in my world, real, believable characters will often let me gloss over them.  And A Monster Calls didn't have any of those faults.  I loved the complexity within Conor.  Never having had a parent with cancer, I felt like the portrayal of his story was realistic, and unique.  One of the themes in the story was his feeling invisible.  The fantastical element of the story really added to his struggle, and asked tough questions about morality.  All of the parts of a story that could make it beautiful were in line.
Memorable or Forgettable: Stories are the reason I joined TKB, so stories that talk about how important stories are usually end up catching my fancy.  The concept of the monster telling stories to Conor, so that he has to end up telling his story to the monster to save himself was beautiful.  Conor saved himself through stories, and the inner conflict around that had me nearly crying during school.
Cover: The cover on the shelf sort of put me off with all of the darkness.  After reading the book, however, the cover is fantastic.  The style of illustration carries on throughout the book, and fits the raw darkness of the story.
Age Range: Under 12-17
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Reader: Elise
Age:16
Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles)
Author: Kady Cross
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pub Date: 5/24/2011
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book was one that was entirely pleasurable to read.  The characters brought with them a great combination of light and dark.  The plot was intricate enough to be engaging, but not so that it distracted from the fantastic character development.  Steampunk always gets points in my book.  The setting of automaton-filled, conspiracy theory Victorian London was crazy awesome.  It crackled with vivacity, and gave unique conflict for the some of the characters.
Memorable or Forgettable: Good/bad characters are, unfortunately, all too common in YA fiction.  However, this novel places particular emphasis on multifaceted people, instead of stereotypes.  I loved the depth to all of the characters.  In the main group, each person had a story and a conflict that made them relate-able.  Side characters are one of the aspects that I look for in good books, because if an author can create a believable main character while developing side characters, then they're doing something right.  The room that was given to strong, feminist characters only enhanced how much I loved the book.
Cover: I can see how the cover relates to the book, but I wanted something more dynamic.  There is so much cool imagery dealing with light and dark, not to mention all of the steam punk stuff.  I just wish that some of that could have been incorporated, instead of sticking with the same old stock image that has been used a billion times.
Age Range: Under 12-17
Quality: 4Q Better than most

Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional Comments: **ANNOTATION**

It is in flight from an abusive employer, and her own dangerous sides, that Finley runs into the very people that can help her.  As soon as she regains consciousness, she is thrust into a dark, Victorian world of plots, machines, and mysterious algae.

Reader: Sophie D.
Age: 16
Title: Various Positions
Author: Martha Schabas
Publisher: Frances Foster Books
Pub Date: 2/14/2012
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: It is very rare that a book manages to turn me off within the first few pages, but this one managed just that. The descriptions in just the first scene were so heavy handed and over the top that it was completely unrealistic and hard to read. It only got worse as Georgia, the main character, proved to be naive practically to the point of stupidity. While I do think the author wanted her voice to be honest and confiding, it got to the point that the things she were saying were not only creepy, but not the kind of things that actually go through people's heads. I believe the intention was to be able to practically hear Georgia's thoughts, but no one actually thinks like that.
Memorable or Forgettable: I could not get past the main character. Not only were her thoughts unrealistic, but her whole world was in her head. She was completely oblivious to the world outside of her fantasy. She is not even able to recognize the extremely obvious fact that her father is having an affair, and she think that by talking a friend of hers into anorexia she is doing her a favor. Granted, she does have a very troubled family life, but she also has a strong support system with her sister and friends, and there are no rational explanations for her behavior, or her complete inability to recognize and comprehend what is going on around her.
Additional Comments: The author was trying to realistically portray what goes on at a competetive dance school, and however creepy and unhealthy the atmosphere is, I think the number of thirteen year olds trying to seduce their much older teachers is pretty low. On the whole, I think the book was extremely unrealistic in respect to the character and the situations she was put into.
Reader: Sophie D.
Age: 16
Title: Bake Sale
Author: Sara Varon
Publisher: First Second
Pub Date: 8/3/2011
Galley: No
Top 25:No
Convince us to read the book: It was cute. There is no other way to describe a graphic novel about a cupcake baker and his eggplant friend. It was very heartwarming and a sweet story about the strength of friendship.
Memorable or Forgettable: lthough it was a very short read, the ending was left open. We never find out if Cupcake and Eggplant win the baking contest and go to Turkey. I am a fan of this kind of open ending. 


Cover: The illustrations are wonderful and adorable. The minimal use of dialogue made it more compelling as well.
Age Range: Under 12 -13
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

Reader: Sophie D.
Age: 16
Title: Shadow's Edge
Author: Maureen Lipinski
Publisher: Flux
Pub Date: 1/8/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book was a classic fantasy tale of a girl who can converse with fairies and other such spirits who live in a world parallel to ours. However, this book incorporated many fresh and new elements into an older storyline. Leah's whole family is gifted like her, so she has to put up with keeping magical sisters quiet when her friends come over to visit. It also took place within a high school setting, which could have gone cheesey but managed to stay classy. It also did a nice job of tackling stereotypes of football players and the like. Leah's boyfriend, one of the most popular kids in school, was actually the nicest character in the whole book, which rarely happens. The fact that she dumps him for a Cullen-esque recluse who has absolutely no character was the most disappointing aspect of the book.
Memorable or Forgettable: The magic and the spirits were done in a very interesting way, as well as Leah's conflict about choosing between her predestined role in the world or trying to lead a normal life. The plot had just enough touches of mystery, ancient mythology, and otherworldliness to keep it interesting and compelling.
Cover: The cover is drab. The celtic symbol that is an important part of the book is a nice touch, but it could have been bigger, and the face wasn't necessary.
Age Range: 12-17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

Reader: Guanani
Age: 16
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date: 10/11/2011
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book is a fresh and exciting fantasy packed with original ideas and a fascinating set of characters. I was impressed with the quality of the writing and even more so with the handling of several complex subplots that were woven together so fluidly. Karou, the mysterious protagonist, is an art student in Prague and has been raised by monsters living in a shop with a magical door that can open into several places around the world. Inside is a grumpy monster named Brimstone, who collects teeth and raises Karou but refuses to reveal where she came from. I particularly appreciated the care the author took with her minor characters, whose well-developed roles added spice and humor to the main storyline.
Memorable or Forgettable: his book is memorable because of the large shifts and twists in the plot, the complicated and unexpected main concepts and well-developed characters, minor and major. There were only two things I didn’t like, and they were both necessary for the plot: a revealing flashback in the middle that was more than a hundred pages long and the occasionally sappy angel romance. These things slightly annoyed me, but the book would not have worked without them, so they are excusable and did not interfere with my general enjoyment of the story besides making me like the beginning more than the end.
Cover: The galley cover was okay, but I am aware that the new final one is a lot better and fits a moment in the story well. However, the title and recommendations had more to do with me picking up the book.
Age Range: 14 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it

 


Reader: Guanani
Age: 16
Title: Wonderstruck
Author: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub Date: 9/13/2011
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: In a similar style to his previous book, Selznick uses both illustrations and words to tell his story. The drawings’ quality and conveying of emotion are superb, and told a complex tale in a fascinating way. The story itself, the parallel journeys of a boy in modern Minnesota and a girl in the early 1900s east coast, are also very original and whimsical in a way akin to The Invention of Hugo Cabaret.
Memorable or Forgettable: One problem I found with this book is that Selznick chose to tell one character’s story only in words and the other’s only in pictures, which made sense for the needs of the story but was also distracting. I found myself skipping ahead to find out what happened in the picture story because it was more interesting, and this made for a more fragmented experience than the parallel perspective-shift the author probably had in mind.
Cover: The cover is lovely, as are the pictures inside. After The Invention of Hugo Cabaret, this is a bit disappointing, but I’m glad Selznick is continuing to explore his unique storytelling technique.
Age Range: Under 12 to 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

Reader: Guanani
Age: 16
Title: Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub Date: 2/1/2011
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Despite the enticing cover and intriguing premise, I do not recommend this book. I’m not sure why it was recommended to me, because from the start I found the characters underdeveloped and the plot lethargic. Mediocre execution managed to make a story about teenagers trapped inside their school during a week-long snowstorm with no electricity boring. Not much happened except for constant updates on how the snow was climbing past the windows and a petty fight over a misunderstanding towards the end. Each of the characters was given only one characteristic: the hot girl, the hot girl’s friend, the basketball player, the bully, the weird kid (it was never even explained what made him ‘weird’) and the mechanic guy. They might as well have been cardboard cut-outs. And since when is being hot an excuse for a personality?
Memorable or Forgettable: I was extremely disappointed in this book, especially after hearing it was good from other readers and seeing the excellent cover. At one point I skipped about a hundred pages and nothing seemed to have changed, plot or characters. There were moments when the first person narrator tried to describe a small, personal epiphany, but the lack of personality and significance made these pathetic.
Cover: This book was forgettable except for the excellent design and cover work. The image of a nearly buried school in a whirlwind of white gives a sense of suspense before you even start reading. Each chapter heading includes a progressing pile of snow, until the pages are left completely white at the end as it reaches past the windows. This is the first time I’ve seen a cover that is so much better than the book it presents.
Age Range: 12-17
Quality: 1Q How did it get published?f
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Reader: Elise
Age: 16
Title: Everybody Sees the Ants
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date: 10/3/2011
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Isabel Allende is one of my favorite authors.  I love the way she can weave together fantasy and reality so seamlessly that you can't tell which is which.  King brought in the same style, leaving the reader with room to interpret.  Overall, the whole book was masterfully written.  Lucky's voice was sympathetic without being pathetic, and his situation was relateable but kept its uniqueness.
Memorable or Forgettable: The most memorable part of "Ants" was the connection that King drew between prisoners of war and bullying.  She took a very covered issue, bullying, and put it through the lens of POW/MIA, and the similar experiences of the two.  Before I read it, I was skeptical if the author was reaching too far, but it really worked.  She provided insight into bullying from parents, peers, and other family members.  All of the characters were rounded out people, which made the book a living, breathing story.
Cover: My only complaint about this cover was that it looked quite a lot like 'Hate List.'  Which was a cool cover.  The more you look, the better it gets, all the elements circling into the ant in Lucky's eye.  So cool!
Age Range: 14 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional Comments: **ANNOTATION**

Lucky has a haunted life, constantly followed by a childhood bully, a POW/MIA grandfather in Vietnam.  Add a turtle father, a squid mother, and a Vagina-shouting model, and mix thoroughly with water for a realization filled summer journey.

Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Incarnate
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pub Date: 1/31/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Incarnate has to be one of the worst novels I have read in the past six months. The plot has been done, the characters stereotypical, obviously made for a sequel, and the discrimination, fear and hatred aimed towards the main character is discouraging and hard to pull away from.

Memorable or Forgettable: The idea that everyone except the main character has been reincarnated hundreds of times over the past thousand or so years is a bit hard to comprehend. Most of the major plot points were predictable and rather droll.
Cover: An engaging cover, the butterfly wings are attractive.
Age Range: 12-15
Quality: 1Q How did it get published?
Popularity: 1P Yech! Forced to read it

Additional Comments: The opposition and hatred the main character faces is an immediate turn off as a reader. Having an abusive mother makes the main character seem to be asking for attention, and does nothing for her inner strength. The fact that Ana immediately falls in love with the first person she meets on her own is cliche and once again, predictable. I would not recommend this book for anyone to read as it lacks creativity, originality and any positivity.
Reader: Emily T.
Age:17
Title: Fracture
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 1/3/12
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Fracture was a really strange novel that was trying to be something it wasn't. After Delaney drowns in a lake and is brought back to life, strange things happen to her and she meets a dubious young man. the entire plot of this novel was unbelievable and poorly written.
Memorable or Forgettable: Delaney doesn't seem able to make appropriate decisions, allows herself to be entranced by a total stranger and does not act like a normal teenager.
Cover: Boring cover
Age Range: 12-15
Quality: 1Q How did it get published?
Popularity: 1P Yech! Forced to read it
Additional Comments: Repeat plot, the catchphrase is terrible and the plot lacks originality.
Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Darkness Before Dawn
Author: text
Publisher: J.A. London
Pub Date: 5/29/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Darkness Before Dawn is a thrilling novel about Dawn Montgomery. The world's population has been decimated after a war between the vampires and humans. Humanity now lives in walled cities, protected from the vampires roaming outside, hungry for blood. Dawn's parents are delegates between the powerful vampire lord and her city. After the unfortunate death of her parents, Dawn becomes the youngest delegate, and is convinced all vampires are evil. After encountering Victor, Dawn begins to realize that vampires need saving from the evil Lord Valentine and sets out with Victor to rid the world of the powerful vampire lord.
Memorable or Forgettable: Darkness Before Dawn is a vampire novel, but takes place in a post-war world, where humans live in fear. The plot is believable, and the sense of mystery draws the reader in.
Cover: The cover is attractive in its own right,but does not fit with the story at all! Dawn is wearing a black dress, but it is not Victorian. Dawn needs to be wearing a Victorian dress if she wears a dress at all. Lastly, Dawn never does anywhere near the sea, so why is the background of the cover a sea?
Age Range: 12-17
Quality:  5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity:  5P Everyone wants to read i
Additional Comments: As a novel, I highly recommend it. The plot is enthralling and the characters are believable and independent. The origins of the vampires are never explained in the book, nor the reason for the vampire war, even though it is taken for granted that the vampires wanted blood. The ending of the novel was also unsatisfactory, and not in line with the rest of the book.
Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Iluminate
Author: Aimee Agresti
Publisher: Harcourt
Pub Date: 3/6/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Illuminate is an exciting novel about Haven, who is selected to be an intern at a new hotel in Chicago. All of the management staff are beautiful people, and Haven instantly falls in love with Lucian, the second-in-command. The two other guys protect her as they slowly discover something is seriously wrong with the management staff. Through the help of a mysterious book Haven and her friends find out the truth behind the hotel's glittery facade. Haven was a bit fickle in her love interest, acting like a normal teenage girl and falling in love with Lucian, while having a growing attraction for Lance, her friend.
Memorable or Forgettable: Although the basis of this novel was good versus evil and angels, it was made unique by being set in a modern hotel. Haven works hard at what she is given and uses her own skills to find the truth about herself.
Cover: The cover of Illuminate does not fit the story at all. The girl on the cover looks too old and nothing like Haven. Also, the girl is at strange angle and look weak and afraid, if you're going to wear a dress like that, you don't hunch, and she is hunching!
Age Range: 12-17
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it

Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Once: An Eve Novel
Author: Anna Carey
Publisher: Harper
Pub Date: 7/3/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: As a sequel to Eve, Once is an improvement, and highly entertaining. The novel is easily understood without having read the first, but it is helpful to read Eve as there are some details left out in Once. Eve has taken shelter in a community for all women, hoping for the return of Caleb and hiding from the King's men. Escaping, only to be captured, Eve finds herself wrapped up in a confusing plot. Finding she is not going to be the King's wife, but is rather is his long-lost daughter. Intent on escaping and bringing change to the city, she makes friends with the rebels and finds a way to plot her escape. Although Once clearly makes room for a third book in the series, it was well written and flowed better than the first book.
Memorable or Forgettable: Although Once takes place in the future, the plot is believable and unique from any other book on the market. In a world where women are used as breeding machines, it is hard not to sympathize with the main character. Eve is a strong individual, which tends to overshadow her lover, Caleb. Caleb is a rather weak character, and diminishes Eve's strength. Eve is a self-reliant person and pining away for Caleb made the story seem weak and unfinished. Eve is made out to be an independent young woman but it was as if she could not decide what was important.
Cover:The cover was very similar to the cover of Eve, making it apparent that they are part of the same series. The girl on the cover seems more mature than the last girl, signifying her growth, but the tunnel is a little confusing, although it does fit.
Age Range: 14-15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: The Exceptionals
Author: Erin Cashman
Publisher: Holiday House
Pub Date: 4/1/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The Exceptionals is a fast paced, modern day novel about a school of talented teens who spend their days studying and developing their "specials." Claire's parent's are teachers at the school and after an incident in public school, it is decided that she should attend Cambial Academy under her parents' supervision. After the disappearance of talented students and her parents, Claire leads a band of her friends to rescue them and find the truth behind an old prophecy. Claire is a decisive character, confident in her actions and believable. Her relationship with her parents is like that of any teen, although it would have been nice to see a kinder mother, even if she was strict.
Memorable or Forgettable: Although the characters in this books had exceptional qualities or skills, the author did not give them a name, such as magic. Instead, all the students' were said to have abilities, which made the story believable, but fiction at the same time. Although the book was short, it moved fast and had enough detail in in to maintain the reader's attention. The beginning of the story did not quite make sense, as in it was quickly forgotten. How a book is introduced is always important, and the rest of the story fits together, but the beginning sticks out like a sore thumb.
Cover:  The cover of the Exceptionals was all wrong. It contained main elements of the plot, but the title font was too small and didn't fit the story. The colors on the cover appear to blend into each other giving it a murky appearance, There is no focal point with which to draw the reader in. This cover needs a lot of improvement.

Age Range: 12-15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

Additional Comments: Although the book was short, it moved fast and had enough detail in in to maintain the reader's attention. The beginning of the story did not quite make sense, as in it was quickly forgotten. How a book is introduced is always important, and the rest of the story fits together, but the beginning sticks out like a sore thumb.
Reader: Sophie D.
Age: 16
Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pub Date: 2012
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The setting of this book was absolutely fantastic. It is the first futuristic teen novel that I have read for a really long time that was actually believable. Though there were androids and cyborgs and moon people and new countries, the futuristic elements were not overdone, and not so overdeveloped that it was not plausible. The way that the society was explained was nice too, there wasn't just a big paragraph in the first chapter that summarized what had happened to Earth. Bits and pieces were explained throughout the book, and even at the end the reader is left wondering about one or two things, which is a very classy way of assuring that people will read the next book. The characters were wonderful too: not to deep, but just the right amount of originality to make them sympathetic.
Memorable or Forgettable: Cyborgs are a really interesting concept, and pretty easy to screw up. However, they were explained with elegance and style in this book. Cinder's life was not completely consumed by her cyborg-ness, yet it was something about her that was always present. The concept of cyborgs actually makes perfect logical sense in the context of this society, which was cool.
Cover: The cover is nice, though a bit too girly looking. I don't think that this book had to try to be a Cinderella stoy, I think the plot would have been fine on its own. Also, there's nothing about a red shoe in the book, but there is a lot about cyborg feet, so maybe a pair of mismatched feet would be a better cover, if they want to go that route.
Age Range: 12-17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Cross My Heart
Author: Sasha Gould
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: 3/13/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Cross My Heart is a fast paced novel about Laura della Scala: a teenage venetian who is removed from a convent to replace her murdered sister in a marriage to an old merchant. Disgusted, Laura finds friendship in the house staff and a painter commissioned by the Doge. Willing to do anything to avoid matrimony to the old man, Laura joins a secret society of women who deal in secrets. After the mysterious death of the old merchant, Laura finds out she must soon marry to save the prestige of her father, who has wasted away their money. Complete with secrets, powerful women, and disguised handsome men, Cross My Heart is a thrilling novel.
Memorable or Forgettable:  Laura is not blinded by the friendship of the women in the secret society. Although fresh from a convent, she is no innocent young woman. Independent and aware of her goals, she navigates the perilous sixteenth-century Ventetian society with wit and wisdom.
Cover: Good cover, attracts readers and conveys the setting well.
Age Range: 14 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Additional Comments: The end of the novel felt as though the author was preparing to write a sequel. I think that it would be wiser to flesh out this novel more or write another independent novel. Laura's story feels finished at the end.
Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Stupid Fast
Author: Geoff Herbach
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 6/1/2011
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Three words : READ THIS BOOK. Stupid Fast is a brilliantly written book about Felton Reinstein, a teenage boy finding himself hitting puberty. Living with his widowed mother and talented piano playing younger brother, Felton navigates the confusing world of male sports and romantic endeavors while being a role model to his younger brother and helping his unstable mother.

Memorable or Forgettable: Books are rarely written about the average teen guy's life. Things certainly aren't average about Felton Reinstein, but he does the best that he can. Stupid Fast really feels like you're inside a teenage guy's mind.
Cover: The cover really captures Felton. Makes the book attractive to all types of readers but also conveys that its a book about a guy, meant for guys.
Age Range: 14 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it

Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pub Date: 4/3/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Grave mercy is a rapid paced, mind boggling young adult book. Ismae has been sold into marriage by her father to an abusive husband. Her mother died giving birth to her after attempting an abortion which has left Ismae with a large, red scar. A local hedgewitch helps Ismae escape across the country to a convent. Upon arrival, the mother superior informs Ismae she is a daughter of death and the convent interprets his signs and acts on his behalf in the death of others. Three years go by and Ismae has been trained in the killing arts. After being sent on several missions, she accompanies a rugged man to the high court of Brittany where she must protect the future duchess against a court full of intrigue. As supporters fall away from the duchess, Ismae finds herself torn between her devotion to the convent and the growing affection she feels towards Duval (the rugged young man).
Memorable or Forgettable: Grave Mercy ties together a believable world of ancient gods, medieval politics and the pressure of Christianity in Britain. Although Ismae is a rough character, she maintains an admirable independent spirit.
Cover: Rough cover, the catch phrase "Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?" really captures the reader.

Age Range: 14-17
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Born Wicked
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Pub Date: 2/1/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Born Wicked is an engaging story about three sisters in colonial New England. Engaging twist: they are witches. A brotherhood has been formed controlling the society, keeping women from holding jobs too "difficult" for women. Cate (the oldest sister) attempts to keep her younger siblings from revealing their dark secret, while striving to be the mother they no longer have. Their father is a business man, often traveling and rarely at home. Witches are being persecuted by the brotherhood as Cate tries to discover the truth about a prophecy made several hundred years ago. With the arrival of a new tutor who comes from "the Sisterhood," who turns out to be a reformed ancient order of witches, Cate struggles to keep her family together, avoid detection, and potentially reverse the strict control of the Brotherhood
Memorable or Forgettable: Born Wicked is reminiscent of puritan society, women being told who to marry, men controlling everything on top of a strict religious code. In a classic good vs. evil basis, Cate finds resistance to the Brotherhood wherever she goes, mostly from women.
Cover: Perfect cover, really draws the reader into the story.
Age Range: 14-17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it

Reader: Sabrina K.
Age:18
Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date: 1/2012
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Smith knew how to tap into the characters, making them come to life. She made the characters real-not typical for a romance novel. By having the charters realistic, made the story so as well, making it that much more romantic.
Memorable or Forgettable: I loved that Smith added in statistic's within the book-specifically for the character Oliver himself. This made the book a pleasure to read. It was also memorable for me to read about the reactions from the characters themselves on how profound their love was for one another.
Cover: The cover did tempt me to pick up the book. For once, the cover reflected 100% what I believe the characters looked like in real life. Thank You!
Age Range: 16 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it

Reader: Sabrina K.
Age: 18
Title: Au Revoir. Crazy European Chick.
Author: Joe Schreiber
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pub Date: 10/24/11
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: In one night, Perry's perception of his drab female foreign exchange student changes at an enexpected turn during prom. Gobija, the exchange student, reveals that she not a high school student but is indeed, a secreat agent. With the help of witty comments here-and-there within the book, the characters seem relatable. The plot though, is far fetched and is doesn't begin until the final chapter where "all" is revealed. This is your a-typical suspense/thriller book that leaves out imagery and instead leaves the readers in a face-past motion while trying to read the book.
Memorable or Forgettable: One great thing about the book was that every chapter title had an college essay prompt. Being a senior and reading this book while doing college applications, I found it very informative and interesting to read other colleges essays. I almsot found the chapter titles more interesting then the book itself at times. But, it was great to see how each essay correlated to the characters story at the time and how he felt during that current moment. It gave a great creative addition to the book.
Cover: A purple cover with large font did not tempt me to pick up the book. I can not say it reflected the contents either.

Age Range: 14-17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 2P Only for special interest

Reader: Emily T.
Age: 17
Title: Falling for Hamlet
Author: Michelle Ray
Publisher: Poppy
Pub Date: 7/5/2011
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Falling for Hamlet was a bizarre adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ophelia has fallen in love with Hamlet, a modern day prince form Denmark, whose relationship is wrought with betrayal, death and murder. Hamlet's mother disapproves of Ophelia, but tolerates her to keep on Hamlets good side. Ophelia lives with her widower father, struggling to maintain a normal teenage life and a relationship with a famous and attractive guy. After the death of the king, Ophelia's relationship quickly spirals out of her control. Hamlet begins to act differently, the Queen marries her brother-in-aw, and her world steadily falls apart.
Memorable or Forgettable: Although based off of another story, Falling for Hamlet can be read independently. Ray writes a fast paced novel that is difficult to put down.
Cover: Accurate engaging cover that does attract readers, only issue is Ophelia's clothing. It is difficult to imagine her wearing such attire in the book. Ophelia is not portrayed as a punk girl.
Age Range: 13-17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal