Benbella Books – May 5, 2009

Normally, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but I’m sure glad I did in this case. Ellen Hopkins did a fantastic job of editing this collection of essays from multiple points of view.  Several authors, including Gail Giles, weigh in on different aspects of the issues involved in CRANK and GLASS.  Ellen, herself, gives more insight into the turmoil her family went through during the years “Kristina” was in the grips of the monster.  But, what is probably the most interesting and beneficial to teen readers is the fact that members of the Hopkins family sound off as well. Ellen’s husband, “Kristina’s” sister, “Kristina,” and “Hunter” all have an essay included.  Their powerful words give the reader a real look at the devastation drugs have on the entire family.

This book will definitely have a home on my middle school library shelf.  If you know anyone that loves CRANK and GLASS, be sure to tell them about FLIRTIN’ WITH THE MONSTER.



Flirtin’ With the Monster:
Your Favorite Authors on Ellen Hopkins’ Crank and Glass




Sandpiper – May 4, 2009

The Giodano sisters are back from a summer vacation in Italy and things in Nightshade are as strange as ever when they get back.

The first thing Daisy wants to do when she gets home is see her boyfriend, Ryan.  She has missed him and can’t wait to get over to his house.  Daisy is disappointed to find out that he is at football practice, but heads over to the school anyway.  She is very surprised by what she sees.  Ryan has really buffed up in the weeks she’s been gone and so, it seems, has most of the other football players.

Since there are still several weeks left in summer, Daisy decides she should get a job.  She notices that Slim’s has a Help Wanted sign in the window and with her love of cooking, she feels this would be a perfect fit.

After leaving work one evening, she notices someone digging in the dumpster in the alley.  Strangely, it appears to be her missing father.  After other strange appearances in town, the Nightshade City Council comes to the conclusion that Doppelgangers are on the loose causing havoc in town.

Daisy and her sisters have to figure out what is going on in town.  Is there something strange causing the football team to get super strong in such a short time?  Who is creating the Doppelgangers?  Is Mr. Giodano really back or is he a Doppelganger too?

DEAD IS SO LAST YEAR is a fun conclusion to a cute trilogy.  Marlene Perez has a knack for writing with user-friendly, non-intimidating language.  The only drawback is you definitely need to read the trilogy in order.  So, readers, take heed – read DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK then DEAD IS A STATE OF MIND and finally DEAD IS SO LAST YEAR.

Dead Is So Last Year









Have you ever broke someone’s heart?  Broke up with them when they weren’t expecting it?  Audrey did.  And boy did it come back and bite her in the behind.

When typical teenage girl, Audrey, broke up with her self-involved, rock star wannabe, boyfriend Evan, she never expects him to write a song about it.  She definately didn’t imagine that song, “Audrey, Wait!”, to skyrocket to the top of the charts.  In the blink of an eye Audrey goes from a normal music loving girl to a star.

Audrey is hounded by paparazzi, begged for interviews from newspapers and magazines, and rumored to be a muse for the music industry.  Basically, her life is turned upside down.  

One perk, that her best friend enjoys more than she does, is when Audrey receives the royal treatment.  For instance, when attending the concert of one of their favorite bands, Audrey and Victoria are wisked up to the special VIP balcony area where food and drinks are freely available and there is an unobstructed view of the hot band members.  They even have an opportunity to rub elbows with the band – with some interesting end results.

Throughout all the challenges Audrey faces during the song’s popularity, you really get to see what kind of girl she is.  She is strong, confindent, and smart – definately someone you’d like to have in your corner.  She learns a lot about herself, her friends, and popularity.  AUDREY, WAIT! is just plain fun to read.  Audrey’s voice comes through so clear through the book that she’ll feel like a friend when you get to the end.

What if the quality of your life depended on how well you played a MMORPG?  What’s a MMORPG you ask?  It is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game.  Well, on New Earth that is exactly the way life is.

On New Earth, violence is illegal.  Epic (the MMORPG) was created for people to clip up, enter the world of Epic, and take out their agression on fictional characters rather than doing harm to a real person.  However, over the years, the purpose of the game shifted and became the determining factor for what kind of job you had, where you were able to live, and what supplies you received.  Central Allocations, a small group of people in charge of all the decisions, controls everything.

Erik’s family is having a tough time.  They have had some solar panels break and aren’t able to produce enough olives to meet their quota.  Their attempts at getting replacement solar panels have been unsuccessful and the family is afraid Central Allocations will require them to move to the salt mines for punishment.  In addition to the family problems, Erik isn’t doing well in the game himself.  In order to have a chance to go to University you must accumulate wealth and status in Epic.  Erik just continues to get his characters killed because he trys to kill the same dragon everytime he enters the game.  His last “death” is the final straw though.  Out of frustration he does something he has never done before.  Erik creates a character that is female instead of his usual male character that resembles him in real life.  Instead of going by his own name he chooses one he thinks befits a beautiful character – Cindella.  Immediately upon entering the game as Cindella, things begin to look up.  Characters that are a part of the game begin talking to her and giving her things.  Soon she realizes the characters are pointing her toward a quest.

With his newfound status in Epic, Erik uses his accumulating wealth and the help of his friends to take on Central Allocations – once and for all.  They are up against the most dangerous players of all.  Ones with more wealth and experience.  But, if Erik can defeat Central Allocations, he’ll be able to save his family and possibly create a better life for them and those of his friends – possibly even the world.

EPIC is an interesting story.  There is no problem keeping up with the “real” world and the “Epic” world.  The author does a great job of distinguishing the two.  If you enjoy Fantasy or Sci-Fi, then you’ll enjoy this story.  There is a sequel called SAGA that has already been released.