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Sat, Sep. 17th, 2016, 04:02 pm
Zombie-Tastic! (99)

High school freshmen and aspiring director Justin vows that this time the movie he makes with his best friends will be the best ever, but as his plans to write, film, and direct a zombie movie in less than a month run into problem after problem, he may need to rethink his approach -- or goal. Every page of this YA novel had something to make the reader laugh out loud, whether the banter between the three guys, the blunt narrative voice, or the situations. A funny story of friendship and tenacity appropriate for upper-mG readers as well. Recommended to anyone needing a light read without real drama. (Sourcebooks, 2016)

Mon, Sep. 12th, 2016, 06:41 pm
Reality As He Knows It (98)

Bo attends Berkshire Academy, a place for those with super powers like his ability to travel back in time and his girlfriend's ability to disappear, but when Sofia disappears in the past but others claim she died, Bo has to assess what is real and what is only in his mind. Bo's mental state is well written, and though the text is occasionally repetitive at times, it gives a clear view into his confusion. The chapters in his sister's pov are appreciated and add clarity to the family's situation, and the end offers hope. A very compelling read. (Razorbill, 2016)

Wed, Sep. 7th, 2016, 12:20 pm
Dual Identity (97)

EM AND EM by Linda Budzinski
Emily becomes Ember when she becomes a member of the Witness Protection Program after agreeing to testify in the death of a classmate, leaving behind her boyfriend and life in NJ, but things in the Midwest might give her a way to start fresh with her reputation and a new guy. At times Emily doesn't seem to take her Witness Protection seriously, and it isn't always clear who she is being protected from, but this romance is well done and is her pining for her boyfriend in NJ. A solid contemporary novel with a good ending. (Swoon Romance, 2015)

Sun, Aug. 28th, 2016, 06:30 pm
All American (96)

AMERICAN GIRLS by Alison Umminger
After some mishaps at home, 15-year-old Anna flies from GA to LA without telling anyone and crashes with her struggling actress sister who agrees to take her in for the summer, but as she meets Hollywood stars, flops, and a Manson Family obsessed director, Anna begins to see her life differently. A true coming-of-age story, this novel is also about sisterhood and the illusions of Hollywood. Anna's snarky voice is great and the star of the story. I missed some of the scenes that were "told not shown," like Anna's fight with her bff back home and some conversations with her mom, but overall this was an enjoyable read. (Flatiron, 2016)

Sat, Aug. 6th, 2016, 04:52 pm
Save Yourself (95)

Yuri, a 17-year-old Russian physicist, is called to the US by NASA to help save the world when an asteroid is found hurling itself toward California; armed with science and math brilliance but not much in terms of social skills, Yuri meets Dovie who helps him figure out the right reasons to save humanity. Yuri's observations of America are funny, his internal dialog is hilarious, and his relationship with Dovie and her brother is sweet. The end is great and so much more than a survival story. A YA sure to please science fans and those looking for something different on their YA shelves. (Bloomsbury, 2016)

Thu, Aug. 4th, 2016, 11:37 am
Early Dog, Early Humans (94)

THE WOLF'S BOY by Susan Williams Beckhorn
Kai was born with a deformed foot and rescued from abandonment by a wolf pack, but he is still bad luck to his people; his connection with the wolves remains, and when Kai has the chance to save one of the animals, he creates a bond stronger than he's ever had before and is determined to prove both of their worth. Set in prehistoric times, Kai's world is based on hunting and survival and respect between the People, nature, and their god, which makes for a great survival story when Kai sets out on his own. Kai's wolf Uff is actually an early dog, and this book shows a possible evolution of how they became the pets we know today. A great historical MG. (Disney*Hyperion, 2016)

Tue, Aug. 2nd, 2016, 10:03 am
Mornings in the Slammer (93)

For eleven years, Perry has lived in Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility, born to his inmate mother who raises him there with the rest of his prison family; when a local district attorney learns of the situation, he takes Perry away from the only home he's ever known, so Perry works harder to make sure his mom gets out on parole. Perry's upbeat, positive attitude makes readers feel for him every step of the way as he navigates life away from his mom. The side characters come from all walks of life and add richness to the story and Perry's world. The author also offers an inside look at the American prison system and what gets someone locked up for decades of their lives. An emotional upper-MG. (Katherine Tegen, 2016)

Sat, Jul. 30th, 2016, 08:30 pm
Sweet and Savory (92)

STARS SO SWEET by Tara Dairman
Foodie seventh grader Gladys Gatsby continues to write restaurant reviews while keeping her identity secret from her parents and editor, but then her aunt arrives from France, her column is threatened, and middle school issues ensue, making Gladys rethink her approach. Gladys is a smart character with relatable issues and a fun penchant for fancy foods that makes this upper-MG novel an enjoyable read. It does seem odd that she could hide her review job from her nice parents for two-and-a-half books, and that she thought they really would've been upset with her success, but the outcome in this ALL FOUR STARS book three is satisfying. (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2016)

Thu, Jul. 28th, 2016, 08:31 pm
To the Sea (91)

SKIN DEEP by Marissa Doyle
When master quilter Garland returns to Cape Cod after a painful divorce, she finds a man and boy washed onto the beach who have mysterious wounds, a secret past, and a connection with Garland and her quilts; will she learn their connection to the sea? Smooth writing, a main character with a unique talent, and a great northern beach setting make this adult fantasy romance an enjoyable read. The selkie lore is interesting as well, and the end wraps up nicely. (Marissa Doyle, 2016)

Tue, Jul. 26th, 2016, 09:38 pm
Shot Up (90)

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp
When Tyler, a returning senior at Opportunity High School, locks the student body in the auditorium and begins shooting his classmates, four teens reveal their connection to the killer and tell the story of the 54-minute ordeal. A scary look at how one unstable individual can destroy the lives of others, and how heroes can appear in different forms. The ending is sad with purported hope. (Sourcebooks, 2016)

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