Charlotte shares this review:
I do try to be a cool aunt, but Aunt Peg, Ginny Blackstone’s bohemian artist aunt, takes the cake. Who wouldn’t enjoy an expenses paid tour of Europe? The only problem is that Aunt Peg isn’t there to share the adventure any longer. Ginny’s “runaway aunt,” never the most reliable person, took off two years ago without a forwarding address, and the next thing her family heard, she had died overseas. As the next best thing to being there, she’s left her 17-year-old niece money for a solo plane ticket to London and 13 envelopes, each to be opened only in a certain time and place.
London, Edinburgh, Paris, Rome: in each city, Ginny has instructions. Find a particular café, fund a starving artist. When in Rome, ask an Italian boy out for cake! Obviously Aunt Peg’s posthumous mission is not only to retrace her European travels, but to push quiet Ginny out of her comfort zone. Feeling more and more ordinary without the company of her extraordinary aunt, Ginny fumbles her way through the assigned tasks. She meets the Harrod’s manager who packs Sting’s holiday baskets, is temporarily tattooed by a famous artist, and is briefly adopted by the world’s most frighteningly organized tourist family. It’s an emotional scavenger hunt: with each letter, Ginny learns a little more about her aunt’s missing two years, and that she isn’t finished grieving for her aunt… or quite through being angry that she vanished in the first place.
Teens will enjoy Ginny’s not-exactly-a-relationship with her adopted starving artist and the whirlwind tour of Europe with nothing but an oversized backpack and a bank card, but I finished this book thinking about things from the aunt’s perspective. If you wanted to lead someone through the greatest hits of your life—the places where you were the happiest, or learned the most important lessons—where would you send them?
Check the WRL catalog for 13 Little Blue Envelopes.
There’s a sequel, too: The Last Little Blue Envelope.
Chris shares this review:
The light by D.J. MacHale is the first young adult book that I have read where I became so immersed in the storyline that I could not put it down.
The story follows a 16-year-old boy named Marshall who is being haunted. Marshall is sure of only one thing, and that is whatever is happening has something to do with his best friend Cooper who has been missing for over a week.
Marshall, along with the help of Cooper’s sister, search for clues and unravel something bigger than either one of them could have imagined.
Check the WRL catalog for The light
Rachael shares this review:
Seconds is written by the author/artist of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, and seems to be a foray into the New Adult genre. Seconds seems to speak to the 20-something population, offering the misadventures of Katie Clay, a young chef and restauranteur who finds herself and restaurant haunted by a “house spirit” who helps Katie by giving her a crop of magic mushrooms which allow her to erase bad actions and start the following day anew, with a second chance to make a better decision. As Katie starts to rely too heavily on this magic trick as a failsafe for curing her business & relationship problems, her past, present, and future become increasingly tangled, and by avoiding the consequences of her actions, creates even worse circumstances.
I continue to be a fan of stories that are able to lovingly laugh at and make sense of the mess that can be adulthood in your 20s. (I loved that show “Scrubs”!) It is a time of first-time adult choices, missteps, and self-discovery that anyone from teens on up can appreciate. This is a fun, hipster fable that was visually a lot of fun, especially in the characterization of Katie. The range of emotions and action depicted by O’Malley really stands out in his many iterations of the central character. I recommend this book for older teens and 20-somethings with a sense of humor who appreciate graphic novels.
Check the WRL catalog for Seconds
Mandy shares this review:
Marissa Meyer reinvents the story of Cinderella as dystopian science fiction in Cinder, the first novel in her series The Lunar Chronicles.
Cinder is a teenage mechanic living and working in New Beijing. An orphan, she lives with her legal guardian, Adri, and Adri’s daughters, Pearl and Peony. She doesn’t remember anything about her past or the operation that turned her into a cyborg. Every day, Cinder works in the local market fixing androids and other electronic devices with her trusted android Iko by her side, returning at night to a difficult home life with Adri and Pearl. Her lone ally in the house is the sweet and gentle Peony. One day, the handsome Prince Kai comes to Cinder’s booth asking if she can fix an android he calls Nainsi. An immediate attraction develops between Cinder and Prince Kai, but Cinder refuses to acknowledge her feelings because she’s afraid the prince will reject her once he finds out she’s a cyborg.
Prince Kai is also struggling with a few problems of his own. His father, the Emperor Rikan, has been stricken with a seemingly incurable plague called letumosis, also referred to as the Blue Fever. If Rikan dies, Prince Kai will become the Emperor and even more attractive to the Lunar Queen Levana. Before he fell ill, Emperor Rikan and Queen Levana had been negotiating an alliance. The prince, however, is suspicious of the motives of the queen, a crafty and vain woman who was implicated in the deaths of her sister, Queen Channary, and her niece, Princess Selene, the rightful heir to the queen’s throne. Prince Kai believes Princess Selene may actually be alive, and he’s desperately searching for any information to confirm his suspicions.
When Emperor Rikan dies of letumosis, Queen Levana travels to New Beijing to discuss the alliance with Prince Kai. Levana’s idea of an alliance includes marriage to Prince Kai, and she uses the threat of war to secure an engagement. Meanwhile, Cinder discovers information that could be useful to Prince Kai while working on Nainsi. Will Cinder reach Prince Kai before the coronation ball, where he will announce his engagement to Queen Levana?
Cinder is an inventive twist on the classic tale of Cinderella with great characters and fast-paced action. Cinder is an appealing heroine who uses her intelligence and creativity to solve problems. Prince Kai is a noble hero who tries to stay one step ahead of Queen Levana’s schemes. The attraction between Cinder and Prince Kai is obvious from their initial meeting, but I liked how Meyer kept the subplot fresh by adding a few unpredictable complications. Queen Levana is an intriguing villain who uses the power of illusion to manipulate people. The science fiction elements of the story work really well with the allusions to the fairy tale Cinderella, especially the way Meyer handles Cinder’s preparations for the pivotal coronation ball. Cinder is full of more characters and storylines than I could comfortably fit into the synopsis, but Meyer adeptly uses these elements to establish the basis for the next book in the series.
The Lunar Chronicles continue with Scarlet and Cress.
Melissa shares this review:
If you enjoy television shows like Criminal Minds or CSI or Cold Case, or any of the many TV dramas that involve solving criminal cases in an hour, you should pick up the YA novel The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Cassie is a 17-year-old with a gift for reading people. At the beginning of the book she’s working in a diner using her gift of picking up subtle details to figure out what kind of eggs a customer might order, or if they are likely to skip on the check. She catches the attention of an FBI agent named Briggs who has developed an experimental program that uses gifted teens to help solve cold cases.
He asks Cassie to join his group of “naturals” so she can develop her skills. Cassie doesn’t have anything to lose. Her dad is serving overseas in the military and her mother, who taught her much of what she knows about reading people, was murdered years ago. With little to keep her in Denver with her grandmother and the hope that maybe she can learn something about her mother’s unsolved murder, she agrees to join the eclectic group and work for the FBI.
The “naturals” live together in a house in Quantico, Virginia, near FBI headquarters. She meets Michael, the handsome rebel who reads emotions, but doesn’t like to be read himself; Dean, the other profiler, who is the son of a convicted murderer; Lia, who specializes in deception and sarcasm; and Sloane, the computer nerd whose gift is numbers and probability. The characters are easy to distinguish and likeable–if also somewhat stereotypical.
The plot moved along quickly and kept me entertained. Interspersed with the training exercises and the teens getting to know one another (in part through a risky game of “Truth or Dare”) are chilling chapters from a serial killer–a killer who seems to be escalating in the number and brutality of murders… a killer who targets Cassie as the next victim.
The Naturals is listed as the first in a series. Stay on the lookout for the sequel.
Check the WRL catalog for The Naturals
Rachael shares this review:
Ender is a gifted child selected at age 6 to train to be a space soldier, battling alien forces in zero gravity. He is sent to battle school with other prodigies and must learn not only to battle but how to strategize and lead others. I thought this book was amazing. It poses big social questions about war and violence: making violence a game, making soldiers of children, breeding violence with violence, striking first and asking questions later, and the loss of innocence, among other things. A lot of the themes reminded me of Slaughterhouse Five and Full Metal Jacket. This can be enjoyed by young adults, but I think will become more and more meaningful as the reader ages (this is the same reason I went back and read S.E. Hinton in my 20s even though I read it in 7th grade). This book does just as much in what it doesn’t say as what it does – don’t be fooled by the simple style and the Star Wars geek appeal. This is one of the best books I’ve read, and the movie was pretty decent, too.
Check the WRL catalog for Ender’s Game
One of the few mortals at Mount Olympus Academy, Pandora is famous for her mega quizzical nature—not that she thinks there’s anything wrong with being curious, of course!
Her curiosity kicks into high gear when a godboy named Epimetheus brings a mysterious box to school. Epimetheus is the nephew of an MOA teacher in whose class Pandora once opened another box that sent a few weather disasters to earth. Still, Pandora can’t help but take a peek inside this new box when it unexpectedly lands in her lap. What could be the harm in that, right? Little does she know that opening the box will open up far more trouble than she ever expected! – Book Summary
Pandora the Curious is a book in the “Goddess Girls” series. The story surrounds Pandora and her quest to save her friends from the horrors inside a mysterious box she opened. I love how the characters work with all the old Greek mythology stories. Altogether it was a fun read that was enjoyable.
Check the WRL catalog for Pandora the Curious
Laura shares this review:
The 1963 Newberry-award winning novel, A Wrinkle in Time, was a favorite of mine as a child. There was something so gently compelling about the storyline and I could relate so deeply to main character. Teenager Meg Murry doesn’t fit in, in school or seemingly anywhere else. She’s smart but stubborn, and fiercely protective of her family, even with its complete lack of normalcy. She is especially combative when anyone speaks badly about Charles Wallace, her youngest brother, who is definitely an odd child. Their father is missing, and his unexplained disappearance haunts the family, and leads Meg to be even more belligerent as she struggles to deal with the loss and the emptiness of not knowing what happened to him.
Although it has been many years since I last read A Wrinkle in Time, I was immediately swept back into the adventures had by Meg, Charles, their neighbor Calvin, with the Misses Whatsit, Who, and Which guiding them along their journey throughout the universe to save Mr. Murry from the terrible blackness that envelops him. The story, to use the words of Mrs. Murry, requires a willing suspension of disbelief, but the relationship between Meg and her brother Charles Wallace is poignant, and the storyline flows smoothly and quickly.
This work, adapted and illustrated by Eisner Award-winning artist Hope Larson, is the first time the iconic story has been presented in a graphic novel format. The illustrations are deceptively simple, and use a limited color palette of black, white, and sky blue. The blue hue serves to soften the starkness of the images, giving a dreamlike mood to the rapidly shifting number of worlds that they visit. Night and day have no definition here, as fighting the darkness without losing yourself or those you love is the only thing that matters.
This book is appropriate for all ages, but is especially recommended to fantasy readers and anyone who wants to revisit an old favorite from their childhood.
Search the catalog for A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel