Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mini Reviews and Some Miscelleneous Notes

First, a big thank-you to our Blogger Secret Santa for the book and bookmark! We are looking forward to digging into the book once Cybils is over, and everyone wants the bookmark:)

Second, to the lady suing McDonald's:
a) It's not McDonald's fault if you can't say no to your children. Please work on your parenting skills before they become teenagers.
b) You can buy the toy without buying the Happy Meal.
c) An occasional Happy Meal will not hurt your kids anyway.
d) The toys aren't even advertised on commercials, so if your kids are pointing and asking for them, you must ALREADY BE AT MCDONALD'S.

Pick any of the above as a reason to stop wasting the courts' time.

Moving on, then! So many great books read lately, and just not enough time to give each a full review, so here are a few with a blurb or two about why you may want to pick them up:

by Lauren Strasnick
Simon Pulse
Review copy from publisher for Cybils consideration
 This book was a pleasant surprise, as it did not sound at all like the type of book we would enjoy. We completely ached with Holly, and despite knowing these were some pretty bad choices she was making, we were right there with her in making them. We got so sucked into her character, we didn't even feel any remorse until she did. In the end, of course, we got slapped in the face with the no-man-is-an-island fallout, but were still left rooting for her and hoping life will work out.
When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything—so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.
But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect... and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had.

by Pegi Deitz Shea
PM Press
Review copy from publisher for Cybils consideration
 As with Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins, this book delves into the issue of child soldiers, but is an entirely different experience. The settings and conflicts, of course, are different, as well as the age of the characters. Abe's voice may seem more familiar to teens, even as he begins remembering things they have no experience with. While the writing is not as taut as Perkins', and some of the revelations don't come as complete surprises, it is still a worthwhile addition to any high school library.
 Portraying the pressures of teens to live a normal life while facing mental illness, this suspenseful young adult novel follows the journey of success-bound Abe, who struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A senior in high school, with a loving and wealthy adoptive family, Abe is on track for a big scholarship and an open future. Suddenly, horrific flashbacks rip him back to war-torn Africa, where five years previously he lost his mother, sister, friends, and almost his own life to torturous violence. During therapy, he uncovers even darker moments from his past that make him question how he survived. This action-filled thriller will open the eyes and hearts of teenagers to the lives of young people who have been exposed to profound violence around the world.

by Todd Mitchell
Review from publisher for Cybils consideration
James was the guy no one noticed — just another fifteen-year-old in a small town. So when he gets into an academy for gifted students, he decides to leave his boring past behind. In a boarding school full of nerds and geeks, being cool is easy. All it takes is a few harmless pranks to invent a new James: fighter, rebel, punk. Everyone’s impressed, except for the beautiful "Ice Queen" Ellie Frost and the mysterious ghost44, an IM presence who sees through his new identity. But James is riding high, playing pranks and hooking up with luscious Jessica Keen. There’s just one thing awry: he’s starting to have vivid dreams of being a demon-hunting warrior, a thrill that is spilling over into dangerous and self-destructive acts while he’s awake. As he’s drawn deeper into his real-life lies and his dream-world conquests, James begins to wonder: What’s the price for being the coolest guy around?

This seems to be a "love it or hate it" kind of book. While we loved it, we concede that it is a bit of a strange book - especially the dream sequences. That part 'worked' for us, though, and we think it will work even better for teenage boys. This is another subject area (boys with possible mental/emotional issues) we don't see too much in YA literature, and this is solidly written enough to fill that niche nicely.

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