Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

“The views expressed are of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective institutions.”

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Saturday, December 1, 2012



V/A  Hoose, Phillip.  Moonbird.  (A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95).  Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012.  148p.  978-0-374-30468-3.  21.99.  Welcome to the biographical-like story of a feathered creature (approximately 20 years old at this book's writing) who has logged approximately 18,000 flight miles each year of his life.  This shorebird and his kin fly in early spring from the southern tip of Argentina to Quebec to breed: in the fall, they return south for the winter season.  Amazingly, their built-in radar and sensitive bills, guide them to the right stop-over sites for feeding and resting.  Along with the author, many young volunteers, licensed bird banders and biologists are interested in the survival of this species.  This title can be a shareable treasure -- both in the home and classroom -- on ornithology and the importance of coastline conservation.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shadow and Bone

VG/A  Bardugo, Leigh.  Shadow and Bone.  Henry Holt, 2012.  358p.  9780805094596.  $17.99.

Alina and Mal have known each other since they were children together in the Duke’s orphanage. On a military excursion through the dark Shadow Fold to get to the sea, everyone is surprised to discover that Alina has special powers. She is a Grisha, part of a community of people with special abilities under the leadership of the Darkling. At once Alina is sent away from Mal so that she can perfect her magic, because only she has the ability to destroy the Shadow Fold. But the Darkling’s motives may be much darker than he lets on. Fans of fantasy and the paranormal will love the start of this new series by debut author, Leigh Bardugo. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

False Memory

G/A  Krokos, Dan.  False Memory.  Hyperion, 2012.  336p.  978-1-4231-4976-7. $17.99.

When Miranda wakes up on a park bench she has no memory. Then she meets Peter. He explains that they along with 2 others are “Roses,” special teens with psychic abilities. When they discover that their lives are in danger they set out to right the situation and figure out who they really are. Although the story is a little confusing at parts, it comes together at the end. Teens interested in action and/or science fiction with a bioengineering edge will definitely enjoy it. The sequel is due out in August 2013. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, Bk 1)

Adult/YA Fiction

G/A.  LaFevers, Robin. Grave Mercy. Houghton Mifflin, 2012. 549p. 978-0-547-62834-9. $17.99.

At the convent of St. Mortain, seventeen-year-old Ismae is trained as a highly skilled assassin in weaponry and poisons, as well as the feminine arts, in order to serve as a handmaiden of death.  St. Mortain, the god of Death, has also blessed her with powerful gifts.  She sets off on a mission at the court of Anne, Duchess of Brittany.  Anne’s court is filled with intrigue and political machinations and Anne’s own life is being threatened. Ismae poses as Gavriel Duval’s mistress, Anne’s handsome brother, but instead finds herself slowly falling in love with him.  When she is called upon to fulfill her vows, she finds herself at odds with her own desires.  Ismae must uncover the plot against Anne before it is too late.

-C. Campos, Angeles Mesa Branch Library, LAPL

Born Wicked: The Cahill Chronicles Book 1

High School Fiction

G/A. Spotswood, Jessica. Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book 1. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. 336p. 978-0-399-25745-2. $17.99.

Cate’s mother dies, making her promise to take care of her two younger sisters.  Cate and her sisters are harboring a terrible secret—they are witches and if they are found out by the Brotherhood, they will be sent to an asylum, to a prison to do hard labor, or be put to death.  In six months, Cate must come to a decision, either to marry or to join the Sisterhood. She must announce her decision at her upcoming Intention Ceremony or else the Brotherhood will choose for her.  Her best friend from childhood, Paul, returns to court her, but Cate’s attention is fixated on Finn Belastra, the new gardener.  Her mother’s diary also reveals that she and her sisters may very well be the sisters of a prophecy predicted to bring great power back to the witches, but also usher in a new time of terror.  Cate is faced with heavy decisions. Will she choose between her two suitors or join the ranks of the Sisterhood?  How will she ever find the means to save everyone she loves? 
-C. Campos, Angeles Mesa Branch Library, LAPL

The Queen's Lady

 High School Fiction

G/A. Edwards, Eve. The Queen’s Lady. Delacorte Press, 2012. 313p. 978-0-385-74091-3. $17.99.

After the death of her husband, Lady Jane Rievaulx finds herself as lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I.  She is still in love with James Lacey, brother of the Earl of Dorset, who returns to court to join Walter Raleigh’s New World expedition.  At first, he refuses to have anything to do with her, convinced that she spurned his brother for a wealthier suitor.  He doesn’t realize that she ended the engagement knowing that Will’s heart already belonged to another woman.  James is still in love with Jane, but he has no means to support them, and so James sets sail with Walter Raleigh in order to seek his fortune.  Although a young widow, Jane finds herself at the mercy of her father and brother who are forcing her into a second marriage.  At the same time, Jane is constantly hounded by her stepsons for the inheritance left to her by her late husband.  With James away on his voyage, he can do nothing to save her from an ill-fated marriage.  Set against the backdrop of Elizabethan England, The Queen’s Lady is sure to attract historical romance fans.  
-C.Campos, Angeles Mesa Branch Library, LAPL

Friday, October 5, 2012


General YA Fiction

G/A Flake, Sharon G. Pinned. Scholastic, 2012. 240 p. 9780545057189 $17.99

Autumn is a star wrestler with a huge crush on the smartest guy in school, Adonis. Adonis was born without legs but he doesn't let his wheelchair stop him from success. When he isn't studying, he is tutoring others or running the chess club but he doesn't really have friends.

Autumn is outgoing, friendly and not good in school at all. She can barely read at a 3rd grade level and forget about math. All she cares about is wrestling, baking and getting Adonis to notice her. She plans to open a restaurant with her best friend Peaches.

All of this changes when her parents give her an ultimatum: bring up her grades or no wrestling.

Told in alternating chapters, Autumn and Adonis' voices ring true.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew

the wrap-up list

General YA Fiction

F/A Arntson, Steven. The wrap-up list. Houghton Mifflin, 2013. 420 p. 9780547824109 $15.99

Gabriela is sweet sixteen and never been kissed but now she only has one week to live. She has been chosen for departure. Her wrap-up list includes first kisses for herself and her three best friends and, most importantly, a pardon. If she finds out her Death's secret weakness, she will be pardoned and allowed to return to her life.

This magical-realistic tale does not really give explanations for why the world is the way that it is. Nor does it really explain Deaths and Departures. I was left wondering "why?"

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Exceptionals

G/A  Cashman, Erin.  The Exceptionals.  Holiday House, 2012.  236p.  978-0-8234-2335-4.  $16.95.

At Cambrial Academy, an X-Men like school, the students all possess “specials.” Some are talented code breakers or science geniuses or mediums or telekinesis experts. The only one without a special is Claire, whose great-grandfather founded the school and whose parents both work there (they even live in a house on campus). Claire soon learns of a prophecy on campus about a particular student with a rare special (telepathy with animals) who dies while saving the school from an evil force. It’s not hard to figure out who that special student is. And it seems as though the prophecy is coming true as some of the school’s most talented students are disappearing. It’s a fun, adventure-filled read with interesting characters that will leave kids hoping for a sequel. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Monday, September 10, 2012

Attack on Titan, v. 1

Manga for Older Teens

VG/M (Very Good, Mature Reading Level)

Isayama, Hajime. Attack on Titan, v. 1. Kodansha Comics, 2012. 208p. 9781612620244. $10.99.

Eren will never forget the day that the gigantic, humanoid beings called Titans broke through the protective wall surrounding his village and consumed most of the townspeople.  Five years later, what remains of mankind has formed military groups to protect themselves, the village, and hopefully, discover a way to kill the Titans.  Obsessed with avenging his mother's death, Eren joins the "Survey Corp," a group of fighters that form the offensive against the Titans.

With its fast pacing and frantic illustration style, this thrilling, action-packed, violent, gory series is sure to appeal to older teens who are fans of horror, suspense, and science fiction.

- Candice Mack, Richard J. Riordan Central Library, Los Angeles Public Library

Saturday, September 1, 2012

HEY 13!


G/A  Soto, Gary.  Hey 13!  Holiday House, 2011.  197p.  978-0-8234-2395-8.  16.95.  The eye-catching book cover is a collage of middle school faces--most of which are wearing personality-plus expressions.  Thirteen stories, ranging from 5--23 pages, include a multi-dimensional bedroom, an embarrassing romance, and an unusual college campus tour.  This is a handy collection of assorted stories to offer to young readers.  Since the Table of Contents has no page references, readers should have fun flipping through to decide which story to read first.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.



V/A  Fogarty, Mignon.  Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students.  Henry Holt, 2011.  294p. 978-0-8050-8943-1.  19.99.  Illustratively drawn characters Aardvark and Squiggly assist the author in delivering tips and tricks for optimum writing.  The text is visually appealing with orange and black section headings and highlighted discussions of importance.  "See" references for relative pointers in different chapters are generously provided throughout the book.  Useful as a handbook for reviewing grammar rules and to address good writing skills or techniques.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

High School Fiction

VG/A Cronn-Mills, Kirstin. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children. Flux Books, 2012. 288 p. 9780738732510 $9.99

High school senior Elizabeth is ready for a change. He has always known that he was a guy, Gabe, and with graduation behind him he can start being himself. He starts DJing a new, late night radio show on a community radio station, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. As his fans grow and he starts appearing in public, the harassment begins.  At first it is just some guys from school talking smack but soon it turns violent and Gabe's mentor ends up in a coma.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew

The Silence of Our Friends

Adult Graphic Novel

VG/M. Long, Mark. The Silence of Our Friends. First Second, 2012. 199 p. 9781596436183 $16.99

Based on the childhood of co-writer Mark Long and his father's experience as a race reporter, the person assigned to report on the Black and Latino neighborhoods, in Houston, Texas in the 1960s.
While covering the black neighborhoods, Jack Long strikes up an uneasy friendship with Larry, a local organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). When a police officer is shot during a protest and Larry is arrested, the trust Jack built is destroyed.

There is police violence, racism and heavy drinking.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Year of the Beasts

Young Adult Fiction/Graphic Novel

F/A  Castellucci, Cecil & Nate Powell.  The Year of the Beasts.  Roaring Brook, 2012.  978-1-59643-686-2.  $16.99.

Sisters Tessa and Lulu spend a lot of time together, even though they are quite different. When Lulu starts dating Tessa’s crush and spending extra time with Tessa’s best friend, Tessa feels left out and begins to secretly see a boy that everyone else doesn’t like. When tragedy strikes, Tessa is even more lost and confused and feels like everything she looks at turns to stone. Alternating chapters with the narrative is another story of a modern day teenage Medusa, told in graphic novel format. There seems to be very little connection between the two stories until the reader gets close to the end of the book and discovers that the lead character in both segments is Tessa. While the story is okay, the writing is not. The narrative is childish and feels like it was written too quickly. The artwork in the graphic story was good, but it was hard to like since for the majority of the book it didn’t make sense or connect with the narrative part. The writing level/style might be good for a reluctant reader, but I think they would be confused and lose interest when they got to the graphic sections. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Friday, August 24, 2012

After the Snow

Young Adult Fiction

F/A  Crockett, S.D.  After the Snow.  Feiwel and Friends, 2012.  304p.  978-0-312-64169-6.  $16.99.

During the second ice age, Willo and his family live a secluded life in the middle of nowhere. One day when Willo returns home from hunting, his family is gone, presumed arrested. Willo must survive in the snowy wilderness by himself now. That is until he meets Mary, another abandoned child. Their travels lead them back to the big city where they go their separate ways. Willo meets an old man who helps him survive in the city and ultimately learn more about who he really is and where he needs to go. Most of the book is written in a weird dialect (Willo’s voice), which is pretty distracting. Plus Willo has a strange habit of talking to his inner “mad dog.” The novel turns from a survival story into a dystopian about halfway through and I think it would have been better solely as a survival story. Readers who enjoyed the Chaos Walking or Dust Lands series, will be disappointed in this similar read. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Diviners

High School Fiction, Historical, Paranormal

VG/M (Very Good, Mature Reading Level)

Bray, Libba. The Diviners. Little, Brown and Company, 2012. 578p. 978-0-316-12611-3. $19.99.

Small town teen Evie O'Neill is something. Something drunk, something scandalous, something odd and something dangerously close to the truth.  When Evie's something is too much for her tiny town in Ohio, she's sent to live with her Uncle Will in New York.  What better place for Evie to celebrate 1926 and find out what the bright lights of the big city have in store for her?

While New York has speakeasies, Ziegfield girls, independence, freedom and excitement, it also hides mysteries, murder, mayhem and a dangerous religious fervor. Does Evie have what it takes to survive when the city reveals its deadly secrets?

While lengthy, fan favorite Libba Bray's latest novel does not disappoint. The slower pacing throughout most of the book accentuates its creepy, troubling atmosphere and the interwoven narratives give hints as to what will certainly be important in future volumes.   These details balance out Evie's occasionally annoying vivaciousness and burgeoning problematic romances.

-Candice Mack, Richard J. Riordan Central Library, Los Angeles Public Library

Monday, August 6, 2012

Witches!: The absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem

General YA Nonfiction

VG/A. Schanzer, Rosalyn. Witches!: The absolutely true tale of disaster in Salem. National Geographic, 2012. 144 p. 9781426308697 $16.95

A good introduction to the Salem witch trials with suitably creepy woodcut illustrations. Will whet the whistle of budding Salem witch trial fanatics.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL-AC Bilbrew Library

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Take What You Can Carry

Adult/Young Adult Graphic Novel

F/A Pyle, Kevin C.  Take What You Can Carry.  Henry Holt, 2012.  176p.  978-0-8050-8286-9.  12.99.

This graphic novel is composed of two stories told in alternating chapters that eventually connect. The first story is completely wordless and sepia toned. It is set in California during the Japanese internment in the 1940s and follows a family, as they are torn apart and relocated twice. The teenage son feels particularly lost during the turmoil. The second story is blue colored and set outside of Chicago in 1978. It follows a teenage boy who is new in town and out of boredom steals from a convenience store. He is caught and must work at the store to repay what he has stolen. Here we discover that the owner of the store is none other than the teenage son from the alternate story. The artwork is good (although several characters look very alike and are hard to differentiate) and the wordless Japanese internment story is powerful, but the relationship between the storeowner and the teenage boy feels contrived. Although they may have some similarities, they have nothing in common. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different

Young Adult Non-Fiction

G/A  Blumenthal, Karen.  Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different.  Feiwel, 2012.  310p.  978-1-250-01557-0.  16.99.

This Steve Jobs biography is a great resource for both teens and adults who are not quite ready (or willing) to tackle the 630page Walter Isaacson biography. It clearly doesn’t go into as much detail, but still gives the reader plenty of information about Jobs’ personal life and career. This biography specifically written for teens is much better quality than the majority of teen biography series available, both in the writing style and its’ high interest topic. It includes photos, a timeline, glossary, index and extended bibliography. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Lions of Little Rock

General YA Historical Fiction

VG/A. Levine, Kristin. The Lions of Little Rock. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2012. 304 p. 9780399256448 $16.99

This book takes place the year after the Little Rock Nine integrated the city's high schools when Little Rock decided to close the high schools down rather than continue with integration.

Marlee is a quiet girl with few friends. Her best friend and confidante is her older sister Judy who encourages her to speak up in school. When she partners up with the new girl, Liz, for an oral presentation, Marlee starts to come out of her shell. Then the unthinkable happens:  Judy is sent away to stay with her grandmother and continue school and Liz turns out to be a colored girl who is passing for white. Will Marlee learn to speak up by herself?

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL-AC Bilbrew Library

Friday, June 29, 2012

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

High School Fiction

G/M  Saenz, Benjamin Alire.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.  Simon & Schuster, 2012.  368p.  9781442408920.  $16.99.

When Aristotle meets Dante at the public pool the summer before sophomore year they form an immediate friendship. It’s a tough summer though for the boys, first dealing with illness then a terrible accident and to top it off Dante’s family is moving to Chicago for the next year. When Dante returns home to Texas the following summer, their relationship is a little strained, especially once Dante comes out and admits he has feelings for Ari. The book deals with some heavy topics, including anger, loneliness and sexuality, which makes it more appropriate for high school students. Since there are not many realistic fiction books dealing with these topics and with an entirely Mexican-American cast, it would make a great addition to any library collection that serves that community. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Monday, June 18, 2012

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

High School Fiction

F/A  Rosenfield, Kat.  Amelia Ann is Dead and Gone.  Dutton, 2012.  288p.  978-0-525-42389-8.  17.99.

Everyone knows everyone else in Rebecca’s small hometown. So when an unknown young woman is found beaten to death on the side of the road everyone is affected. It especially confuses Rebecca (Becca) who had always dreamed of leaving her town and boyfriend behind to go away to college, but now that she’s graduated she’s confused about what to do. She also thinks that she might know what happened to the dead girl, but all of her actions have consequences. The narration goes back and forth between Becca, Amelia (the deceased) and a third person narrator a little too often to keep up the flow of the novel, but the different narrators let the reader see the similarities between Becca and Amelia. Rosenfield does a good job of keeping the reader confused about what really transpired the night that Amelia Ann died and who exactly killed her. Older teens or young adults with an interest in mystery books will enjoy. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Friends With Boys

Young Adult Graphic Novel

G/A  Hicks, Faith Erin.  Friends With Boys.  First Second, 2012.  224p.  978-1-59643-556-8.  15.99.

Maggie has been home schooled by her mother her whole life, but now it’s time for high school, and like her 3 older brothers before her she will go to public school for the first time. Maggie immediately befriends brother and sister, Alistair and Lucy at school. Lucy is the first girl she has ever been friends with. But Maggie is plagued by the ghost of an old woman in the cemetery and with Lucy’s help hatches a plan to hopefully solve the ghost’s problem and get her to leave. The plan goes awry and Maggie must fix it. With great artwork and a fun story, Hicks has written/drawn a good story for all ages. Hopefully this won’t be the last time that we get to read about Maggie and her brothers’ hijinks. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Thursday, May 31, 2012



E/M  Hunter-Gault, Charlayne.  To The Mountaintop.  Roaring Brook, 2012.  198p.  978-1-59643-605-3.  22.99.  A well seasoned journalist recounts the stressful, yet history making civil rights era of the 60s.  Even though she, herself, met with grave challenges as one of the first black students to attend an all-white University of Georgia, she expounds on the involvement and sacrifices of others.  Blacks and whites, northerners and southerners, young and old were involved in efforts to register African Americans for voting.  Lives were sacrificed and injuries were suffered on behalf of entitled rights for all.  This account of history is well supported with an eight-page timeline, a thorough index, a collection of articles, b/w photos and newspaper reprints.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Code Name Verity

Young Adult Historical Fiction

E/A  Wein, Elizabeth.  Code Name Verity.  Hyperion, 2012.  352p.  978-1-4231-5219-4.  16.99.

After two British girls, a pilot and a spy, crash their plane in Nazi occupied France, the spy is captured and imprisoned by the Germans. She is forced to give up her secrets and reveal her mission in writing. Instead, she tells us the story of her friend Maddie, the pilot of the crashed plane, whom she assumes is dead. Beautifully written and well researched, the author keeps you on the edge of your seat. Once the reader gets to the second half of the book, their perspective is completely altered, everything thought to be true isn’t exactly as it seems. The author does such an amazing job of incorporating clues that as a reader you’ll want to start from the beginning again to see what you might have missed. Highly recommended. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


V/A  Pringle, Laurence.  Billions of Years, Amazing Changes.  Boyds Mills, 2011.  102p.  978-1-59078-723-6.  17.95.  Our fascinating world continuously changes -- keeping us human beings observing and studying how these natural changes impact life.  Some situations in life can be explained with the assistance of DNA.  Some aspects of health can be adversely affected by unruly mutations.  Non-domesticated creatures compete for food and adapt to their surroundings in order to survive.  And fossils serve as a recorded history of past lives.  Glossary terms are clearly defined.  Most index entries offer referrals to several pages.  Each page number is accompanied by the silhouette of an elephant.  Handsome and well-labeled photographs plus a crisp, neat text beckon readers to learn in a fun way.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Article 5

General YA Fiction

G/A Simmons, Kristen. Article 5. Tor Teen, 2012. 368p. 978-0-7653-2958-5. $17.99

The U.S.A. has come out of a war that took its toll on many American cities. The regime that grows out of the ashes is scary and totalitarian. The Federal Bureau of Reformation (FBR) now polices the State. The Constitution is rescinded in favor of the Articles, a series of ‘Moral Statutes’ instituted to reinstate order after the war. Failure to comply with the Articles can lead to arrest and worse. Citizens in breach of the Articles disappear and are never heard from again. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller just wants to keep her head down and not draw attention to herself or her single mother. Her mother, however, is a free spirit and she worries Ember with her subtle attempts at rebellion. One day the FBR or Moral Militia (MM), as they’ve been unofficially nicknamed, come to Ember’s home to arrest Ember’s mother for an Article 5 violation, having a child out of legal wedlock. As if the shock and emotional distress of the arrest wasn’t enough, Ember recognizes one of the arresting FBR soldiers as Chase Jennings, former neighbor and childhood sweetheart. Ember’s mother is taken away and Ember is sent to a ‘rehabilitation’ center. The brutality of the ‘rehabilitation’ center makes Ember fear for what her mother must be going through and she vows to escape to find her mother.

Simmons has written a young adult novel with a salutary warning of what can happen if government is allowed to chip away at civil liberties. However, it would be wrong to think that this is a heavy weight story requiring intense critical thinking. Instead, it's a diverting mainstream dystopian tale, complete with a romance against all odds and characters that have to deal with the challenges of being teenagers under extreme circumstances.  All in all, Article 5 is a successful first installment in what promises to be an engaging series.

Patsy Pinedo Tuck, Eagle Rock Branch, Los Angeles Public Library

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In Darkness

Young Adult Historical Fiction

F/M Lake, Nick. In Darkness. Bloomsbury, 2012. 352p. 978-1-59990-743-7. 17.99.

The story unfolds in alternating chapters about Shorty, a 15-year-old Haitian gangster stuck in the rubble after the devastating 2010 earthquake, and a third person narrative about Toussaint L’Ouverture, the revolutionary leader from the late 18th century that helped end slavery in Haiti. While both halves are interesting and inform the reader about Haiti’s history and current state of affairs, the connection between the two halves is flimsy. Shorty and Toussaint have little in common and even though the author tries to connect them through Haiti’s tradition of voodoo, it falls flat. It probably would have worked better as two separate books. It might still be a good addition to a library collection since it is historical fiction and there are very few books, especially for young adults, about Haiti. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Drowned Cities

Young Adult Fiction

VG/A Bacigalupi, Paolo. The Drowned Cities. Little, Brown, 2012. 439p. 978-0-316-05624-3. 17.99.

Friends, Mahlia and Mouse are war maggots (or orphans), trying to survive in a harsh world full of fighting warlords. When Mouse is captured and forced to join the army, Mahlia teams up with Tool, a genetically engineered half-human, half-dog to try to rescue him. Great story about survival, friendship and loyalty with a ton of action too. It’s the companion book to the 2010 Printz award winner, Ship Breaker, but definitely stands alone. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


General YA Fiction

G/A Wells, Dan. Partials. Balzer + Bray, 2012. 480p. 978-0-06-207104-0. $17.99

The story is set in a near dystopian future where government sanctioned super beings or Partials were created to help defeat the enemy in war. The Partials, however, end up turning on their creators. The humans blame the Partials for release of the RM virus that has all but eliminated the human race. Although the virus didn’t kill off absolutely every human, time is likely to finish the job. The remaining survivors cannot reproduce viable infants, no baby born since the Break has lived beyond a few days. In response, the existing government imposes the Hope Act, which requires by law every woman over the age of 18 to bear as many children as possible during her reproductive years. In a society where children are forced to grow up quickly, 16-year-old medic Kira Walker makes it her mission to find a cure for the RM Virus. Kira believes the cure lies in the biology of the Partials who are not affected by the virus even though they possess some human DNA. In a dangerous attempt to capture a Partial for medical research, Kira along with some like-minded friends decide to break the law and enter the island of Manhattan where the Partials have been silent but encamped for the last decade. The repercussions of her actions and what Kira subsequently discovers about the Partials and her own world goes much deeper than Kira could have ever imagined.

This first installment in a planned series gets off to a slow start and sophisticated readers will not be surprised by plot developments. Interesting premise but one can forsee some readers getting impatient with the pacing and giving up before the end.

Patsy Pinedo Tuck, Eagle Rock Branch, Los Angeles Public Library

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dreamland Social Club

General YA Fiction.

NR/A Altebrando, Tara. Dreamland social club. Dutton, 2011. 389p. 978-0-525-42325-6. $16.99.

Jane and her brother have inherited a house in Coney Island, from the grandfather they never knew. The timing is perfect, as their father is between jobs, enabling the family to move from London to Coney Island for a year. Their mother having passed away when Jane was six, she thinks this will be a chance to find out who her mother really was. At first, all Jane can see is the weirdness of Coney Island, but she soon falls in love with its history, its inhabitants, and its potential future.

This coming of age story is a love letter to Coney Island history, but even the main character is flat, and the plot lines are poorly executed.

Anjelique Granados, CoLAPL-Angelo M. Iacoboni Library

An Elephant in the Garden

Middle school fiction

G/A Morpurgo, Michael. An elephant in the garden. Feiwel and Friends, 2010. 199p. 978-0-312-59369-8. $16.99

Lizzie is a nursing home patient, and she likes to keep to herself, until she meets Karl, the son of one of her nurses. Karl’s cheerful energy reminds Lizzie of her younger brother, Karli, and the two become friends. Soon, Lizzie is reminiscing about her youth in Dresden during WWII, and the time when her family kept an elephant in their garden.

Lizzie and Karl’s mother (Mutti) was a zookeeper, and she most loved taking care of an orphan elephant, named Marlene. As part of the city’s preparation for wartime bombing, the zoo planned to destroy its largest animals, so as to keep the city safe from a possible stampede. But Mutti persuaded the officials that Marlene would be safest with her. When the bombing comes to Dresden, Marlene gets scared and runs away. Karl goes chasing after Marlene, and Lizzie and Mutti chase after Karl. This saves their lives, but now they must flee the city as refugees, trying to avoid soldiers of both sides. Marlene ends up being much more of a help than hindrance.

Despite dire circumstances, this is a warm story of family and survival. Inspired by true events.
Anjelique Granados, CoLAPL-Angelo M. Iacoboni Library

Those That Wake

General YA Fiction.

F/A Karp, Jesse. Those that wake. Harcourt Children’s Books, 2011. 336p. 978-0-547-55311-5. $16.99.

Taking place in the near future, New York City is a shell of its former self. The corporations have taken over the running of the city, because the government broke down in the aftermath of a second terrorist attack, known as the “Big Black.” Technology allows both a constant stream of targeted advertising, and the means of keeping tabs on citizens’ whereabouts. In order to avoid the authorities’ notice, people keep to themselves, eyes firmly fixed on their cellphone screens.

Teenagers Mal and Laura take this isolationist environment for granted. They could not be more different, but they come together in order to learn what has happened to their families.

Karp is clearly inviting readers to think about technology and corporate culture, telling an interesting story in the process. Unfortunately, the writing just doesn’t bring all the storylines together.

Anjelique Granados, CoLAPL-Angelo M. Iacoboni Library

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


G/A Hocking, Amanda. Switched. St. Martin's Press, 2012. 320 p. 9781429956529. $8.99

General YA Fiction

Wendy never felt like she belonged. Her mother, convinced she is a monster, tries to kill her on her sixth birthday. Even with her loving aunt and overprotective brother raising her, she can't seem to make it work. She doesn't have friends, she's very picky, she can't control her temper and she keeps getting kicked out of school. Then Finn shows up and changes her life forever. He tells her that she is a changeling, a troll and the heir to the throne of the Trylle, a powerful troll clan. It is time for her to return to her birth mother and live as a Trylle.

This is the first in the Trylle trilogy and it shows. It is well-written but leaves a lot of unanswered questions about the world of the Trylle.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Saturday, March 10, 2012



G/A  Murphy, Glenn.  Stuff That Scares Your Pants Off!  Roaring Brook, 2011.  192p.  978-1-59643-633-6.  14.99.  Fears and frights are a part of all of our lives--some realistic and some imagined.  This is an enjoyable source for appreciating circumstances that trigger automatic reflexes which act as safety valves (i.e. quickly applying vehicle brakes).  Other scary experiences, however, can be figments of the imagination or the result of teasing.  Black and white drawings plus greenish pictures invite browsing.  Fun for sleep-overs and campfire circles.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.



V/A  Brimner, Larry Dane.  Black and White.  Calkins Creek, 2011.  112p.  978-1-59078-766-3.  16.95.  From opposite ends of the racial spectrum, two fiercely determined men deal with the difficulties of their day.  Both Fred Shuttlesworth and Eugene (Bull) Connor took center stage as they confronted segregation issues in Birmingham, Alabama.  A handsome text is supported with readable document reproductions, unmarred black and white photos and interesting side bars.  Can be a useful supplement to any U. S. History text and civil rights discussions.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.



V/A  Hart, Christopher.  Cartoon Cute Animals.  Watson-Guptill, 2010.  160p.  978-0-8230-8556-9.  21.99.  Since animals are the absolute cuties in cartoons, they are fun characters to create.  Hart prefaces each how-to-draw example with a short paragraph/commentary about techniques that make animals humorously appealing.  Step-by-step patterns are clearly drawn and fairly easy to imitate.  Both the beginning drawer and the experienced cartooist who's looking to improve their craft will find this title to be a comfortable tool.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.



V/M  Hample, Zack.  The Baseball.  Anchor Sports, 2011.  356p.  978-0-307-47545-9.  14.95.  Herein is practically everything one might like to know about the baseball itself.  Beside the manufacturing process, there's plenty of trivia about "the ball" and its connection with ball snagging fans.  There are tips on where to be at the hopeful right moment in the best/better stadiums for ballhawking.  This item is definitely for all fans whose love of baseball goes way beyond the games.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Young Adult Fiction

VG/A Cashore, Kristin. Bitterblue. Dial, 2012. 576p. 978-0803734739. 19.99.

Picking up 8 years after the events of Graceling, the sequel revolves around Bitterblue’s struggles as the Queen of Monsea. When Bitterblue starts sneaking out of the castle at night and meeting other young people, she discovers that she has been very sheltered and is not sure whom she can trust anymore. Her people are still recovering from Leck’s reign of terror and some people are determined to keep what happened in the past a secret. Katsa, Po, Raffin and others make appearances and there are some great new characters, including Bitterblue’s graceling librarian, Death (pronounced Dee-th). Readers should read Graceling and Fire first to really appreciate Bitterblue. The whole series is highly recommended. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Thursday, February 23, 2012

May B: A Novel-in-Verse

Middle School Fiction

G/A Rose, Caroline Starr. May B: A Novel-in-Verse. Random House, 2012. 240p. 978-1-58246-393-3. 15.99.

Set in early 20th century Kansas, this novel-in-verse centers around 12-year-old May who is sent to work for a family 15 miles away from her own home. But 15 miles away might as well be across the country in the desolate farmlands of Kansas during this time period. When the family doesn’t return home one day, May must do what she can to survive alone through the winter. Great book for reluctant readers, historical fiction fans and especially Laura Ingalls Wilder fans. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bake Sale

All Ages Graphic Novel

G/E Varon, Sara. Bake Sale. First Second, 2011. 157p. 978-1-59643-419-6. 16.99.

Cupcake bakes fresh treats daily at his Brooklyn bakery and plays drums in a band on weekends with his best friend Eggplant. When Eggplant plans to save money to visit his family in Turkey, Cupcake decides to join him to meet the famous Turkish Delight. In order to save money though he has to quit the band and start selling baked goods at local events. Will he save enough to make the trip? This short graphic novel by the author of Robot Dreams has great illustrations and a “sweet” story. It is family friendly with recipes for all of Cupcake’s treats at the end. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Mush! Sled Dogs With Issues

Graphic Novel

F/A Eichler, Glenn. Mush! Sled Dogs With Issues. First Second, 2011. 119p. 978-1-59643-457-8. 17.99.

In rural Alaska, the boss, his mate and their six sled dogs live a quiet secluded life. The dogs of all different breeds just want to run all the time and when they are not running, they are dreaming of breeding or plotting to be the lead dog. Each dog has his own personality and ideas for the future. The illustrations are great and the story is good with lots of sled dog drama, but finding an audience might be difficult. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Fox Inheritance

General YA Fiction
VG/A. Pearson, Mary. The Fox Inheritance. Henry Holt and Company, 2011. 294p. 978-0-8050-8829-8. $16.99.

Locke and Kara lost their lives in a gruesome car accident. Their bodies did not survive, but their minds were scanned and uploaded into a special environment, a cube measuring no bigger than 6x6 inches. There they were stored in the hopes that a future technology would exist to bring them back to life. Two hundred sixty years later, Locke and Kara awaken to find themselves in new, improved bodies with heightened senses and greater strength fashioned for them by Dr. Gatsbro. Not only do they have to become acclimate to their new selves, but also to a much changed world. Nothing they remember is still the same. No one they remember is still alive, until Dr. Gatsbro tells them about Jenna. Jenna was also in the accident that fateful
day. She was also saved with technology from Fox BioSystems, but two hundred sixty years earlier and is still alive. Locke and Kara set out determined to find Jenna, intent on discovering why she never came to help them all these years. Although, a sequel to Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox, this story can stand on its own.

C. Campos, LAPL, Angeles Mesa Branch

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Downside of Being Up

General YA Fiction

G/A. Sitomer, Alan Lawrence. The Downside of Being Up. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. 224 p. 9780399254987. $16.99

Bobby Connor is a normal thirteen-year-old boy with a normal boy problem: erections at awkward moments. After an unwanted erection causes his math teacher to have a serious fall, he is being threatened with expulsion. His father strikes a deal with the school, no expulsion but Bobby has to complete “correctional erectional therapy” Between therapy, falling for the new math teacher’s daughter, and dealing with his gross friend and even grosser Grandpa, will Bobby ever feel like a normal kid again?

Recommended for anyone who loves bathroom humor, this book is overflowing with it.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Under the Mesquite

General YA Novel in Verse

VG/A. McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Under the Mesquite. Lee & Low books, 2011. 240 p. 9781600604294. $17.95

Lupita is the oldest of eight children living in a Texas border town. As she begins her freshman year of high school, she knows something is wrong. Her mother is keeping a secret, she has cancer. While her parents travel for treatments, Lupita balances her budding interest in being a writer with running the household. Written in verse, Lupita tells her story simply and clearly.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gathering Storm

General Young Adult Fiction

G/A Bridges, Robin. The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy #1). Delacorte Press, 2012. 400p. 978-0-385-74022-7. 17.99.

Katerina Alexandrovna is a 16-year-old Russian princess with a dark secret; she is a necromancer. While Katerina is embarrassed by her “curse,” others who become aware of her abilities have darker motives that involve her “gift.” The safety of the Russian throne is in her hands. The nineteenth century, St. Petersburg, Russia setting adds a fresh twist to the current paranormal trend. Even though there are too many characters to keep track of in this first book of a new trilogy, it will still enthrall paranormal fans and possibly attract fans of historical fiction too. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How To Save A Life

General Young Adult Fiction

VG/A Zarr, Sara. How To Save A Life. Little, Brown, 2011. 352p. 978-0316036061. 17.99.

When Jill’s dad dies in a car accident, her life is changed forever. Not only does she distance herself from her friends and boyfriend, but now her mom wants to adopt a baby. Her mom meets pregnant teen Mandy online and agrees to privately adopt her baby. Mandy isn’t completely honest about the details and insists on staying with them for the final month of her pregnancy. It’s not that Mandy is a bad person, but she’s trying to escape her life too. Jill is obviously suspicious of Mandy when she arrives. Told in the alternating viewpoints of Jill and Mandy, this book tells the story of two girls looking for and finding the meaning of family and starting over. Although a bit of a departure from Sara Zarr’s other books, her fans will not be disappointed and she is sure to gain some new ones too. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve


High School Fiction

VG/M Smith, Andrew. Stick. Feiwel & Friends, 2011. 304p. 978-0312613419. 17.99.

Stick McClellan is often bullied at school because he was born with only one ear. His older brother, Bosten, has always protected Stick even if it meant he would get in trouble. Both boys though are victims of their abusive parents. Things go from bad to worse when their parents find out that Bosten is gay. Bosten leaves home and Stick goes soon after to look for him. This moving, well-written story is about the relationship between the brothers and their struggle to survive. Gritty realistic fiction at it’s best. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve