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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Friday, August 7, 2015

The Porcupine of Truth

General YA Fiction

VG/A Konigsberg, Bill. Porcupine of Truth. Alfred A. Levine, 2015. 978-0-545-64893-6. 17.99.

Rather than getting to spend summer at home in New York, Carson is stuck in Billings, Montana with his mom and estranged father.  He has not seen his father in fourteen years, and who is now dying of alcoholism.  While his mom settles in, Carson is left at ZooMontana, where he befriends Aisha, the most beautiful girl he’s ever met.  The two become friends right away. When Carson finds out that Aisha has been living at the zoo ever since her father kicked her out for being lesbian, he invites her to stay with his family.  While the two are cleaning up, they discover papers about Carson’s grandparents –divorce papers and old letters.  Carson’s father claimed that his father, Russell Smith, abandoned him when he was young. His father just disappeared when he was seventeen and he never heard or saw him again.  Obviously, the disappearance of his father still haunts him, and despite Carson’s father’s plea to leave the past alone, Carson decides if there’s any chance of reuniting his father and grandfather before his father dies, he’s going to try his best.  So, Carson and Aisha set off together in Aisha’s red Dodge Neon with the “porcupine of truth” to embark on an unforgettable road trip, retracing the same journey that his grandfather took so many years before.  A heart-wrenching, inspiring novel by Konigsberg. Camille Campos, YA Librarian, Angeles Mesa Branch Library, LAPL

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Daughter of Deep Silence

YA Fiction

G/A Ryan, Carrie. Daughter of Deep Silence. Dutton, 2015. 378p. 978-0-525-42650-9. 17.99.

Frances Mace is one of only three survivors of the Persephone yacht disaster.  The other two are Senator Wells and his son, Grey.  At first, Frances is overjoyed when she learns that Grey has survived, but then realizes something is terribly wrong when Senator Wells and Grey claim that a large wave swallowed the Persephone. However, Frances knows the truth – that men with guns attacked the Persephone and massacred three hundred and twenty-seven people.  Frances has lost both her parents and her friend, Libby, in the aftermath. Frances is rescued by Libby’s father, and he decides that the only way to keep her safe is to have her assume Libby O’Martin’s identity.  Now four years later, France puts her plan into action. Intent on exposing the Senator and Grey and uncovering the truth of the massacre, Frances will stop at nothing to get revenge, even if it means hurting Grey, the boy she once fell in love with years ago.  Camille Campos, YA Librarian, Angeles Mesa Branch Library, LAPL

Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01

YA Fiction

E/A Kaufman, Amie and Jay Kristoff. Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01. Knopf, 2015. 608p. 978-0-533-49911-7. 18.99.

The day that Kady dumps Ezra – their whole world falls apart. Their remote mining colony, Kerenza, is attacked by a warship, the Lincoln, which is owned by a rival corporation—BeiTech Industries.  Kady and Ezra escape with their lives to end up on two different ships.  Kady and her mother are on the Hypatia, the scientific exploration vessel, while Ezra is on the battlecarrier Alexander and is later conscripted by the United Terran Authority, as a pilot for their Cyclone fighter crafts.  The Lincoln is relentlessly pursuing them, and it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to them.  Meanwhile, a deadly and highly contagious plague breaks out, and their artificial intelligence, AIDAN, seems to have gone mad and turned against them.  When Kady realizes that Ezra is stuck onboard the Alexander the ship where the virus is getting out of control, (even though she swore she never wanted to see or talk to him again) she risks everything to go and save him. A great sci-fi thriller illustrated and told as a dossier of memoranda, reports, emails, journal entries, intercepted messages and other “classified” documents.  Camille Campos, YA Librarian, LAPL, Angeles Mesa Branch Library

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Last of the Sandwalkers

Graphic Novel

VG/A  Hosler, Jay.  Last of the Sandwalkers.  First Second, 2015.  312p.  978-1-62672-024-4.  16.99

Jay Hosler is not only the author and artist of this book, but also a biology professor, and it shows in this great graphic novel. Lucy is one of 5 beetles that sets out from their home in New Coleopolis on a scientific expedition trying to discover if there is life outside of their small oasis. When they find a human skeleton they can’t believe their luck of discovering such a giant and unusual specimen. Professor Owen wants the credit for the discovery and to keep control of what information is brought back to their community, so he launches the other 4 beetles out of the area. Lucy and her 3 companions survive and land in a foreign place where they see and survive dyno-soars (birds), spiders, snakes and lots of other beetles. On their journey back they learn more about the history (and secrets) of New Coleopolis and the world outside of their community. Hosler manages to incorporate lots of scientific information about beetles and other creatures without making it feel like a science text. He also has a great section of annotations that are informative and funny and a resource guide for readers that want to know more. It’s a great graphic novel for all ages and interests. Loren Spector, LAPL, Memorial Branch

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tommy: The Gun That Changed America

Young Adult Non-Fiction

VG/A  Blumenthal, Karen.  Tommy: The Gun That Changed America.  Roaring Brook, 2015.  232p.  978-1-62672-084-8.  19.99

Blumenthal brings readers back to the 1920s and 1930s that she explored in her book, Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine and the Lawless Years of Prohibition, to discuss the invention of the Thompson submachine gun and its effects on the United States war on crime and gun laws. Although the Tommy submachine gun was originally invented to be used by the military, it was more likely to be seen in the hands of criminals. Blumenthal traces the history of the gun, from inception to production to its use by gangsters such as Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger and to the Department of Justice and NRA’s involvement in the creation of gun laws. It’s a fascinating look at an iconic weapon of the 20th century and how its’ invention led to debate over weapons that we still deal with today. Great resource for students interested in the time period, gun history, gangsters or gun control. Book includes many archival black & white photographs and a detailed bibliography. Loren Spector, LAPL, Memorial Branch

Monday, August 3, 2015



G/A  O'Reilly, Bill.  Hitler's Last Days.  Holt, 2015.  306p.  978-1-62779-396-4.  19.99.  From his command post, an underground ti-level bunker, Hitler and his military advisers attempt last ditch efforts to establish an idealistic Aryan Germany.  Defeat, however, is imminent as American and European forces execute some definitive battles.  This adaptation from the author's Killing Patton
is filled primarily with descriptions of military maneuvers.  Format is handsome -- including news designed end-papers; a gallery of key participants; multiple historic b/w pictures; Hitler's "will"; and a detailed index.  Useful for studies involving WW II.
E.M. Roublow (ret.)