Reviews

Gaming gone bad in a YA World: Warcross by Marie Lu

Lu, Marie. Warcross. Read by Nancy Wu. GP Putnam’s Sons, 2017. 353 pages/11 hours and 46 minutes. Hardcover $16.29, ISBN 978-0-399-54796-6; hardcover (library binding) $24.99, ISBN 978-0-399-54796-6

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!! For older readers

Genre: Science Fiction 

Part of a series? Yes — this is the first in a series.

Book Summary:

Emika Chen does her best to make ends meet as a bounty hunter; she pursues gamblers who owe money after betting on Warcross games. A frequent player of Warcross herself, Emi knows how to find people who are trying to stay hidden — whether they’re hiding in real life or in Warcross, the virtual reality world. When Emi tests one of her hacks and accidentally glitches herself right into the opening game of the Warcross championships, she catches the eye of Hideo Tanaka, the young founder and developer of the global sensation. Now, Emi’s part of the Warcross championships looking for someone who is bent on destroying the game. Will she be able to find the mysterious hacker? Why does everything seem more sinister with each new development?

Reader’s Notes:

This book is amazing. The VR and AR of Warcross are immediately interesting and believable. Characters discuss the ethical implications of who has access to this technology and how access affects society. Emi’s a fun character to be alongside because even though life has been hard, she’s quick thinking and resourceful. Nancy Wu does an amazing job narrating the audiobook.

Readalikes?

This feels like a blend of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. IT’S MAGICAL.

Grade Level: YA

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Reviews

Weaving together the truth: Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

Chanani, Nidhi. Pashmina. First Second, 2017. 161 pages. Hardcover $18.84, ISBN 978-1-62672-088-6; PLB $22.06, ISBN 978-1-54900-469-8; TR $14.49, ISBN 978-1-62672-087-9

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

Part of a series? Not at this time.

Book Summary:

Priyanka (or Pri, at school) loves art, her aunt and uncle, and her mom. She butts heads with mom occasionally, especially when she won’t talk about Priyanka’s dad. Priyanka is worried when she learns that her aunt and uncle are expecting a baby, particularly when it’s made clear that some of their weekly rituals will need to be put to an end. When the baby is born prematurely, Priyanka feels guilty and refuses to visit, instead staying home and puzzling over a gorgeous pashmina from her mother’s old suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, Priyanka is taken straight to India, and it’s more beautiful than any travel brochure. Her mother finally lets Priyanka travel to India for real, but she must go alone, as her mother refuses to ever go back. Will India be what Priyanka expects? And what kind of power does the pashmina possess?

Reader’s Notes:

This is a really beautifully done novel. Priyanka struggles a great deal with many things — bullies at school, secrets kept by her mother, a desire for family and for things to stay the way they are. The artwork itself is also gorgeous. This is a highly recommended read!

Grade Level:5-8

Awards and starred reviews:

Publishers Weekly starred, 09/18/17

School Library Journal starred, 09/01/17

Reviews

Is this the real life? WHERE FUTURES END by Parker Peevyhouse

Peevyhouse, Parker. Where Futures End. Kathy Dawson Books, 2016. 289 pages. Hardcover $15.44, ISBN 978-0-8037-4160-7

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes, for older readers

Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Dylan has what he calls a vorpal, a way that he can influence how people perceive him. He also believes that he’s been to a mystical other world, and while his own brother refuses to agree that they’ve gone, Dylan is sure that there’s a way back. Indeed, there are two worlds, and as citizens of each pass across the border, each world is changed. Four other teens in future points explore their worlds as they are as magic and technology advance at hyperspeed.

Reviewer’s Notes:

This book feels so much like a young adult Cloud Atlas. It’s weird, fascinating, and gripping — it was so hard to put down. Definitely one to hand to your strange-format fans.

Grade Level: YA

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred, 12/01/15

School Library Journal starred, 01/01/16

Reviews

Readjustment blues: Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee

Dee, Barbara. Halfway Normal.  Aladdin, 2017. 247 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-48147-851-9

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!!!

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Norah’s cancer finally appears to be in remission, meaning Norah can FINALLY return to school after two long years away. That said, jumping right back into middle school is a little bit scary, especially considering that she wants to be just-Norah, not “The Girl Who …”, especially especially considering that none of the adults will say the “c-word” (cancer) and that kids only see her as the girl who got sick. When she hits it off with new kid Griffin, she’s more desperate than ever to be a “normal” kid who just happens to have had cancer. Can she blend in as she wishes, or will her teachers’ insistence on how cancer must have shaped her and her parents’ overprotectiveness give her away?

Reader’s Comments:
Norah is such a delightful character. She’s sassy, she’s worried, she’s sweet, and she’s just an all-around great seventh grader to follow through this novel. I definitely recommend this book about what happens when a student survives cancer and needs to return to school.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred, 06/15/17

School Library Connection starred, 11/01/17
School Library Journal starred, 08/01/17

Reviews

Horrible house party: The Gathering (Shadow House 1) by Dan Poblocki

Poblocki, Dan. The Gathering. Scholastic, Inc., 2016. 215 pages. Hardcover $11.19, ISBN 978-0-545-92550-1; PLB $16.99, ISBN 978-1-33809-127-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Horror

Part of a series? Yes; this is book one of the Shadow House trilogy

Book Summary:

Several children from different circumstances receive a summons to Larkspur House; each summons is different, but each also succeeds in luring the children to the house. Shifting hallways, disappearing doors, and mysterious figures are found aplenty in the building…any exit or help is not. Will the children make it out alive?

Reader’s Comments:

This book was borderline too scary for me … but I am a big scaredy-cat anyways. 🙂 The creepiness just keeps on coming, and the action is nonstop. This unputdownable horror fix is perfect for your hardcore middle grader who wants a scary read.

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

Reviews

Scary siblings: SPIRIT HUNTERS by Ellen Oh

Oh, Ellen. Spirit Hunters. Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017. 276 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-06-243008-3; PLB $18.56, ISBN 978-1-54902-786-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!!!!!!

Genre: Horror

Part of a series? Yes; the Spirit Hunters series is to be continued after this one

Book Summary:

Harper reluctantly moves to a new town and into a new house with her family. Her big sister won’t give her the time of day, and baby brother Michael begins to act strangely. Weird happenings and sudden migraines plague Harper, but she knows better than to mention anything to her mom. ANYTHING out of the ordinary sets her mom off … and with their new proximity to Harper’s grandma (a person that Mom has been avoiding for years), it’s all too easy to upset Mom right now. Is Michael in danger? And is there anything Harper can do about it?

Reader’s Comments:

SO SCARY. I’m terrified of ghost stories, and I almost needed to put this one down 🙂 That said, it’s a delicious story with super spooky elements, and the characters are superb.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred, 05/01/17 

Publishers Weekly starred, 05/08/17

Reviews

Imagine that: MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Thank you to Netgalley and Shadow Mountain for an ARC of this book! Below is my honest review.

Morris, Chad, and Brown, Shelly. Mustaches for Maddie. Shadow Mountain, 2017. 245 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-1-62972-330-3

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Maddie is a fun, energetic girl with a great imagination. She also wants to be friends with Cassie, a super-popular girl in class. Unfortunately, Maddie’s arm has a habit of curling up weirdly, and Maddie is a little clumsier than she used to be; Cassie doesn’t like these things, so Maddie does her best to hide them. Maddie’s parents are concerned, and a visit to the doctor reveals the startling news that Maddie has a brain tumor. Readers follow Maddie as she deals with this news and what comes next … and how this will affect her standing in the social hierarchy of the classroom.

Reviewer’s Notes:

This is a really sweet book that acknowledges the scariness of cancer without turning the book into a tragedy. Maddie’s liveliness and inner strength are important elements of the plot, making this book a good pick for collections that also need stories that do not focus on the sadness of this kind of diagnosis.

Readalikes? Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Grade Level: 3-6

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

Reviews

Here for a reason: GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead

Stead, Rebecca. Goodbye Stranger. Read by Kimberly Farr, Meera Simhan, and Kirby Heyborne. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015. 289 pages/6 hours and 59 minutes. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-375-99098-4; hardcover (library binding) $19.99, ISBN 978-0-375-99098-4; PLB $13.06, ISBN 978-1-53791-774-0; TR $6.84, ISBN 978-0-307-98086-1

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Bridge survived a catastrophic accident when she was little, and she can’t get the following words out of her head after a nurse remarks upon her survival, “You must be here for a reason.” What reason could that be? That’s a tough enough question without taking into account that this year Bridge and her best friends Tab and Em are starting seventh grade. While they’ve sworn on a Twinkie that they’ll never fight, will seventh grade and all of its trappings test the bonds of their friendship?

Reviewer’s Notes:

I really enjoyed this book. Bridge sounds like a seventh grader — she wants to be older, but she also misses the simpler days before all of the politics and intricacies of being twelve. Her friends are distinct characters, and the changes in point of view from Bridge’s present-day, Sherm’s letters to Nono Gio, and an unnamed character on Valentine’s Day keep the story moving nicely.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred, 05/15/15
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred, 09/01/15
Horn Book Guide starred, 04/01/16
Horn Book Magazine starred, 07/01/15
Kirkus Reviews starred, 06/01/15
Publishers Weekly starred, 05/11/15
School Library Journal starred, 05/01/15
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred, 08/01/15

Reviews

Teen Read You Can’t Miss: The Hate U Give

To be honest, I posted this review during the summer but took it down because I was not sure about reviewing YA (even AWESOME YA!) that I wouldn’t add to my middle grade collection. I’ve read some great YA recently, however, that is causing me to rethink my posting decision, so I am putting this review back up on this blog. 

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. Read by Bahni Turpin. Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017. 444 pages/11 hours and 40 minutes. Hardcover $15.44, ISBN 978-0-06-249853-3; Digital audiobook $29.65, ASIN: B01N6DZ5W9

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes, for older readers.

Genre: Realistic Fiction (YA)

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Starr Carter finds herself never quite feeling herself. Going to a school in a very affluent community while living in a poor neighborhood means that she constantly finds herself performing: at school, she’s Williamson Starr — no slang, no attitude. With her neighborhood friends, she’s Garden Heights Starr. Starr must find a way to balance these identities when after a party, her childhood friend Khalil is shot and killed by a police officer after being pulled over. Khalil was unarmed, but as a young black man who also dealt drugs, his portrait is painted as a thug by the police and the media. Can Starr, the sole witness, speak up and testify before the grand jury?

Grade Level: YA

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred (December 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 8))

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2016)

The National Book Award 2017 Young Adult Literature Long List