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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.

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

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Point – June 1, 2009

Miranda didn’t plan on spending the summer on Selkie Island helping her mother sort out her grandmother’s estate.  She’d planned on living her dream by interning at the Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Instead, she’ll be up to her elbows in dust and debutantes.

Miranda doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives at the house known as The Mariner – the home on Selkie Island her mother visited every summer as a child.  What she finds is a beautiful beach house filled with family history.  A history Miranda knows nothing about because her mother and grandmother were on the outs for years.

Miranda’s mother immediately gets swept up in old summer ways, attending parties with old friends – dragging Miranda along with her and expecting her to fall into step with the customs of the Island’s summer inhabitants.  Miranda doesn’t feel like she belongs with this upper crust crowd and when she meets a local boy named Leo at The Selkie Island Center for Marine Discovery, she knows exactly where she wants to be – with him.  But, spending time with a local isn’t looked kindly upon by her mother or her mother’s circle of friends.

Mysteries surround the island and Leo.  Mirandra struggles with her feelings of wanting to know more and afraid to find answers.

Aimee Friedman has written a beautiful novel.  You’ll be able to feel the sand beneath your toes and taste the sea salt on your lips.  Your heart will pound with each electrifying scene between Miranda and Leo and you’ll want to explore Selkie Island hoping to catch a glimpse of mermaids in the water.


Sea Change

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holiday House – February 6, 2009

Laura Brown lives in the U.K. and unfortunately the U.K. is the first country to establish carbon rationing.  Everyone will be expected to reduce their carbon consumption by 60%. Everyone has 200 Carbon Points per month to spend on travel, heat, food, and fun.  The 200 Carbon Points are loaded on a card.  In order to use anything, you have to swipe your card.  If you have enough points – fine.  If not, your oven could shut off in the middle of cooking dinner.  People have to choose what is really important.

As tough as the carbon rationing is, the extreme weather patterns are worse.  Unbearable heat, droughts, hurricanes, and floods put normal life on hold for everyone.  

In addition to adapting to this new life, Laura also has to deal with typical teenage issues. Her family seems to be falling apart, her band is attempting to stay together, and she is trying to get the boy next door to notice her.

With the U.K. falling down around her, does Laura have the luxury of being a typical teenager?

Saci Lloyd has written an addicting eco-thriller.  Following Laura through the toughest year of her life is fascinating.  Readers will be anxious to read the follow-up, CARBON DIARIES 2017, later this year.

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The Carbon Diaries, 2015

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Speak – May 14, 2009

Every young citizen of the Alliance between the ages of sixteen and seventeen is given the Academy Entrance Exam.  The results of the test determines which Academy the student will attend. Academy 7 is the most prestigious school in all of the Alliance and only the students with the top 50 scores are invited to attend each year.

Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin both receive invitations to Academy 7 and both decide to accept for their own, very different, reasons.  Aerin has some deep, dark secrets that could ruin her chances at the Academy and guards herself against exposure by isolating herself from others.  She spends her time studying about the politics and history of the Alliance in order to excel in her classes so she can secure a return invitation the next year.

Dane is the son of a very powerful man.  Not only is his father a successful General, but he is also on the Council, the small group of people who governs the Alliance.  Attending Academy 7 isn’t Dane’s dream, but in order to spite his father, he decides to make the most of his time there.  Dane soon excels in his studies and holds the number one position in every class except one – Personal Combat.  There is one person that bests him in Combat on a daily basis – Aerin.

After a disciplinary action forces Aerin and Dane to work together, he tries to break through the wall that she has created. Slowly, as they learn more about each other, their secrets come out and, together, they come to terms with their problems.  

Anne Osterlund has created an interesting science fiction world for ACADEMY 7.  Both Aerin and Dane change and grow throughout the course of the story and witnessing their failures and triumphs is interesting.  The story has a satisfying ending and could easily be a stand alone novel, but on the other hand, there are story lines that could definitely continue.  We’ll have to wait and see what the author has in mind.  Click here to visit her website.

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Academy 7

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Delacorte Press – April 14, 2009

Mary’s world is surrounded by the moans and shuffles of the Unconsecrated.  The Unconsecrated look for ways to breach the fences that protect her village.  They try to find weakness in the metal links.  They reach through trying to grab hold of anyone unfortunate enough to walk too close to the fence.  Mary’s world is based in fear.  Fear that the Unconsecrated will one day break through and devour everyone in the village.

Mary’s mother goes to the fences everyday to look into The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  She is searching for a glimpse of her husband who disappeared in the Forest months ago.  Mary’s mother is the only one that remains hopeful that he’ll come back to her unharmed.  Mary and her brother Jed, a Guardian, makes sure their mother never goes to the fences alone – afraid she’ll get too close if she sees her husband.  When Jed is off on a fence repair mission and Mary gets held up doing laundry, her mother does the unthinkable.  She gets too close to the Forest and is bitten by an Unconsecrated.  

The ramifications of this disastrous event leave Mary with no choice but to live with the Sisters.  The Sisters hold the knowledge of the village and make the rules for the community.  They never marry, but instead devote their lives to the Scriptures.  Mary must decide if she can settle for a life with the Sisters or if she is going to keep faith in the stories of a life outside the village and beyond The Forest of Hands and Teeth that her mother always told her about. However, after a major fence breach, her decision is made for her as she must brave the Forest along with Jed and his wife, Mary’s best friend, the man Mary loves, and the man who loves her.  Emotional complications just add to the stress of staying alive when they are surrounded by the Unconsecrated.

THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is an enthralling post-apocalyptic masterpiece.  Carrie Ryan’s description of the unrelenting Unconsecrated comes through loud and clear to the reader.  At times, the suspense will cause you to put the book down for fear of what you might read next only to pick it up again because you can’t wait to find out.  You’ll be able to feel the boney fingers of each and every Unconsecrated reaching for you as you turn page after page of this amazing novel.  The ending definitely leaves the reader begging for the next installment in this amazing series.

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth

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Little, Brown and Company – March 2009

 

Mazzy has more responsibility than most people her age.  She has a severely depressed mother that barely moves and a father more concerned with his career than with what is going on at home.  Her only companionship comes from her neighbors, but friendships are hard to maintain because of her strange and off-putting behaviors.  The only outlet Mazzy has is art. Her mother’s abandoned art supplies provide her with a way to express her true feelings when everywhere else she has to hide what is really happening in her life. 

Readers witness the family’s struggles through Mazzy’s eyes and the reason for their downhill spiral becomes clear as the story unfolds. The author has written a short novel about a serious subject and your heart will go out to Mazzy.

The author could have developed Mazzy’s artistic nature a bit more.  It just seemed to be scattered here and there throughout the book and we never see her process of creating – just the product; however, this doesn’t take away from the story.  With only 154 pages of scarce text this is a book you can fit in anytime.

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Everything Is Fine.

19022411Jenna doesn’t remember who she is.  She has only been awake from a coma for about two weeks and getting used to being around her parents and grandmother, even though she doesn’t know them at all, is tough. 

In hopes of restoring her memory and to give her something to do when she can’t go outside, Jenna’s mother gives her a task to complete.  Just about every moment of Jenna’s life was captured on video – from when she was in the womb until shortly before the terrible accident that put her in the coma.  There are several disks that document her sixteen years on Earth and Jenna makes the decision to watch each and every one of them in order from beginning to end. She is determined to remember who she is, what put her in the situation she is in now, and why, it seems, she and her family are in hiding.

THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX is an enthralling story.  Jenna’s character develops before your eyes as she learns more and more about her past life and gets to explore a little of her new one.  Mary E. Pearson devotes time to creating several well-rounded characters and an extremely satisfying, yet surprising, ending.

If you enjoy THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX you might want to read SKINNED by Robin Wasserman.  They are similar in many ways, but where it looks like SKINNED is the first in a trilogy THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX is a wonderful stand-alone.