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One of Us Is Lying

Title: One of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen McManus
Series:  N/A
Recommended for: 7th grade & up
Pages: 361
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction McManus

Synopsis: On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.  Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review: As far as mysteries go, this one was one of the better ones I’ve read. It didn’t make me hate it & I didn’t have it all figured out in the first 10 pages. However, it’s still pretty predictable. I had most of it figured out about a third of the way in. There were a few small details I missed, but generally got it as a whole. My biggest issues with the book was about stereotypical the characters were & how it dealt with mental illness/depression. The characters never really moved out of their “brain, jock, beauty, bad boy” characteristics. Cooper is the closest, but his surprise twist isn’t handed well. The cops literally out him as they let information leak about the case and why he would be a suspect. (Can we just say shody police work too?) The “surprise” twist comes in the fact that Simon set it all up and killed himself, but wanted to take them down/make them suffer for a year along the way. The reason? He was depressed. However, never do we really see that he’s depressed. Instead, we see a kid with a god complex who wants revenge & has used his “power” to manipulate and destroy people for years. It was a highly thought out plan that was complex and well tuned. Could he have been depressed? Of course, but shouldn’t have been the base for all this. He was a kid with serious issues that went way beyond depression, especially consider some other things we learned about him. Throwing in the depression almost vilified it/suicide and just made me feel weird. Honestly, if she had just taken out the depression part, which was maybe only mentioned in the last 30 pages, I would have liked this one much more. As it, it’s a meh book–one I can see teens thinking is okay (most of the book teens were okay, but not love) but no grand slam for sure.

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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Mysteries, Teen

 

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Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes

Title: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes
Author: Booki Vivat
Series: Frazzled
Recommended for: Grades 4 – 6
Pages: 224
Call Number/Link:  J Fiction Vivat (Don’t currently own, but did ask Janet to order)

Synopsis: Things are looking up for Abbie Wu: this year she’ll run for class president and get a brand-new shiny locker. Until—she doesn’t…

In her second tumultuous misadventure, Abbie Wu tackles more unbelievably unfair and calamitous middle school days. From facing locker thieves and battling diabolical cats to having absolutely no idea what to build for her science project, Abbie Wu is still in perpetual crisis.

Review: Man, I’m really struggling with sequels this month! I thought this one was okay, but no where near as awesome as the first one. Abbie is a bit over-dramatic at times, but I feel like that’s typical 6th grade behavior. They’re still dealing how to deal with things that come up in life. I do like that we got to see her work through the process of thinking about one thing but realizing it wasn’t actually true. The science fair project was a little so-so as there are already automatic food feeders, but that’s a small point. And I really loved that the science teacher still gave them an A even though it didn’t work because it was about the process and not the overall result. Even though I didn’t love this one as much, I still think it’s going to be a hit with reluctant readers and those already who enjoy the series.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Funny, Juv, Realistic, Uncategorized

 

Thornhill

Title:   Thornhill
Author:   Pam Smy
Series:   —
Recommended for:  older tweens and teens who like creepy books
Pages:   533 pages
Call Number/Link:   J FICTION SMY, P.

Rating:   ****

 

 

 

 

Summary:

Parallel plotlines set in different times, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door.

1982:  Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors.  When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary and on Thornhill itself.

2016:  Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one.  From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window.  Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Comments:

Some colleagues were surprised that I chose to read this book since I don’t usually read creepy, scary books.

As it works out, I was less scared than horrified by the book.  I was really troubled by the cruelty of the bullying that the girl from the eighties experienced, and that the orphanage’s primary caregivers truly didn’t care.  The girl obviously needed psychological help, as did the bully.

I did not get a complete picture of the contemporary girl’s situation.  I could see that she and her father had moved to a new place where she didn’t have any friends.  Her mother isn’t with them and the father works so many hours that the girl is, for all intensive purposes, an abandoned child.

There was no way that this book could end well….

 

But now for the biggest mystery of all:  should we move to book to Teen Fiction or keep it in J Fiction?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Historical, Historical, Horror, Juv, Scary, Teen

 

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Book of Shadows

Title: Book of Shadows
Author: M. Verano
Series: Dairy of a Haunting
Recommended for: 7th grade & up
Pages: 288
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Verano

Synopsis: All Melanie wants is a blank book to keep a journal of her private thoughts. One day while browsing in a used bookshop, she finds the perfect blank book—smooth black leather with strange symbols in gold embossing. But once she gets home, Melanie finds herself too intimidated by the heavy vellum pages to write her trivial thoughts on them. Her Wiccan friend Lara tells her it’s better suited to be a magical spell book, called The Book of Shadows.

Melanie doesn’t know much about that stuff, but Lara, her boyfriend Caleb, and his friend Lucas, get her started by writing their own made up spells inside the book’s tempting pages. What they didn’t expect was a new spell showing up inside the book—and in handwriting none of them recognize.

Soon they discover that the spells suggested by The Book of Shadows itself do work—but not without wreaking havoc on the lives of the four teenagers.

Review: Normally, I love this series. It’s usually this weird supernatural mix with “it’s it real or not” type vibe. This one sadly fell flat, but I’m not quite sure why. It still had a very solid supernatural feel with the black magic, but it lacked the “keeping you guessing” element. Also, I’m not sure the “diary” format really worked this time. The past two books really only dealt with one main character/one person experiencing the supernatural, but this one really has four. It generally worked okay, but did feel as if something was missing. Overall, it was a middle of the road read. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Horror, Teen

 

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Yours, Sincerely, Giraffe

 

Title: Yours, Sincerely, Giraffe

Author: Megumi Iwasa

Series: N/A

Recommended for: Pre-K-3rd grades

Pages: 104

 

Call Number/Link:  J FICTION IWASA, M.

 

Synopsis: Giraffe is bored, as usual. He’d love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen palPenguin.

Thoughts:  This is a really cute book to read aloud for a few days.  It shows great examples of letter writing between friends for a classroom and a child.  Fun book full of surprises at the crazy thoughts that run through both of their heads.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in Adventure, Fantasy, Funny, Juv

 

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Dear Martin

Title: Dear Martin
Author: Nic Stone
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 7th grade & up
Pages: 224
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Stone

Synopsis: Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

Review: Man, does this book pack a wallop! It’s been almost two months since I first read it and I’m *STILL* thinking about it. A lot of people have been comparing this one to The Hate You Give; and while they are similar they are also very different. This one was a bit more emotional for me, especially considering it’s just a tad over 200 pages. Dear Martin, also deals more with privilege & racial profiling in general. It’s though provoking and one that people will be talking about for sure. Easily, one of my favorite 2017 books.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2017 in Realistic, Teen, Uncategorized

 

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Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True

Title:   Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True
Author:   Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Series:   Uni the Unicorn
Recommended for:  kids in preschool and early elementary school, especially if they love unicorns
Pages:   32 pages
Call Number/Link:   E ROSENTHAL, A.

Rating:   ****

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A powerful, shared wish helps Uni the unicorn and the little girl who believes in him to save the land of unicorns from seemingly endless rain.

Comments:

Unicorns, cute little girl, flower-full meadows, rainbows, a wish granted.  This is obviously my type of book!

The illustrations are beautiful.  I was pleased to learn how unicorns get their strength and magic:  from the golden sun, magnificent rainbows and the sparkle of believing.  I should have known that instinctively.

This is definitely a book that could brighten a dark, gloomy day.

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Picture Books

 

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