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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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Far Far Away

General YA Fiction

G/A  McNeal, Tom.  Far Far Away.  Knopf Books, 2013.  384p.  978-0375849725.  17.99.

The ghost of Jacob Grimm is haunting Jeremy. Not haunting in a bad way, Jacob is there to protect Jeremy and hopes that by doing so he will be released into the afterworld. And Jeremy needs the help, almost his whole town has turned against him after a prank and his home is about to be auctioned off since his Dad hasn’t left the house or worked since Jeremy’s mother left them. With Jacob’s help, things are looking better until things go terribly wrong (much like a Grimm fairy tale). Unfortunately, there were a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the novel, such as what really causes the green smoke from the bakery? Regardless, fans of Neil Gaiman will enjoy the whimsical and sometimes frightening story. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

The Testing

Dystopian YA Fiction

VG/A  Charbonneau, Joelle.  The Testing.  Houghton Mifflin, 2013.  352p.  978-0547959108.  17.99.

In order to continue your education in the colonies, you must be selected for the Testing process. Although no one from Five Lakes Colony has been for many years, Cia Vale hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps and be selected. Lucky (or unlucky) for her, Cia and 3 of her classmates are all chosen. The Testing involves several levels, including a written exam, puzzle solving, teamwork and survival. Cia soon realizes why her father advised her not to trust anyone; there are very few rules for the participants and some students do not play nicely. Even though The Testing might be reminiscent of The Hunger Games, it’s original enough to stand on it’s own. Charbonneau does a fantastic job of building the world and providing back story without breaking from the current story. In the abundance of dystopian fiction out there, The Testing stands out.  Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Life After Theft

General YA Fiction

G/A. Pike, Aprilynne. Life After Theft. HarperCollins, 2013. 9780061999000 $17.99

When Jeff moves to Santa Monica from Phoenix, the last thing he expects is to make friends with a ghost much less a kleptomaniac ghost. Enter Kimberlee who has been haunting her prep school for the last year trying to get someone to see her. When Jeff finally does, she enlists him to return all the things she stole hoping this will be the penance she needs for her soul to move on and Jeff just doesn't want to be haunted forever.
There is some humor and a budding romance between Jeff and Kimberlee's sworn enemy complicates things

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

General YA Fiction

E/A. Winters, Cat. In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Amulet Books, 2013. 387 p. 9781419705304 $16.95

Mary Shelley Black has just been sent to San Diego live with her aunt. Besides widespread panic about the flu epidemic, she has to contend with spiritualists making money of off people’s misery and trying to use her image to do it. She is devastated when her best friend dies in the war and confused when he comes back as ghost. Will she be able to help his spirit find peace?
This book will appeal to historical fiction readers as well as those interested in the paranormal. The oppressive atmosphere of the war and the flu epidemic are almost palpable.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.