Friday, September 19, 2014

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Theseus Cassio (better known as Cas) kills ghosts, he inherited the "business" and the athame (the knife needed to "kill" the dead) from his father, who died years ago during a job. He and his mother now move from place to place, following the leads he gets on ghosts. The ghosts Cas kills are usually known for killing people, angry and confused at how their own life ended. Then Cas hears about Anna; Anna has killed anyone who crosses the threshold of her home, from families who have moved in, to drifters passing through looking for a place to sleep. However, the first time she sees Cas (after viciously attacking another student who ventured into the house with him) Anna lets him live. To top it off, as Cas approaches her to get more information, he lets her live as well. As he works to learn Anna's secrets he also begins to close in on a secret from his own past.

Parts of Anna Dressed in Blood have a true ghost story feeling. The ghosts are tragic and creepy, the settings are dark, and people get brutally murdered; Anna's dress is covered (at times dripping) with blood and her eyes are nothing but black. The portions of this book that were about Anna and her death were haunting enough to make this reader turn on an extra light and make sure the door was locked. However, once the book really dug into Cas's past the book begin to feel like more of a supernatural thriller than a ghost story. Both parts are fast paced and suspenseful, but personally I was much more interested in the atmosphere surrounding Anna.


Anna Dressed in Blood is an Abraham Lincoln 2015 Nominee. Check out the book trailer.

If you like this you want to give these a try:
Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Winger by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West is in over his head. He is a fourteen year old junior at Pine Mountain, a boarding school for wealthy kids, and he feels like a little kid even with his friends. Worse, he has a huge crush on his friend Annie and she seems to only think of him as cute and as a friend. Worse yet, his roommate in the dormitory is Chas Becker, a not-too-bright and very scary member of the rugby team. Despite his small size compared to those juniors who are actually old enough to be juniors, Ryan Dean is also a member of the rugby team because of his speed.

Between rugby, tensions with Annie, and another girl at Pine Mountain who develops a thing for Ryan Dean, it would seem like Andrew Smith’s Winger would be action packed. Instead, the book is more of a character study driven by the strong voice Smith gives Ryan Dean. He is a flawed but likeable character who encompasses the sometimes impulsive, sometimes passive and always turbulent years of adolescence.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington

There is no shortage of books about the brutality and harsh conditions that prisoners in concentration camps suffered during World War II. However, a topic that is much less well covered is how gay men (lesbians were not subject to much of the same treatment) were target and imprisoned during this time period. Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington details what life was like for homosexual men not only during the war, but also what life was like for them (specifically in Germany) before and after the war.

Setterington tells the stories of real men and the horrors they suffered during the war and the stigma and shame they carried from being a pink triangle prisoner after the war. These prisoners were treated criminals after the war and it wasn't until 2001 that the German government formally apologized and included them in restitution previously given to other Concentration Camp victims; many of the men who survived the camps did not live long enough to see this.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass is the first book in the series of the same name. Celaena Sardothien has spent the last year of her life as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier; imprisoned for her crimes as one of the kingdom of Adarlan's greatest assassins. Then Prince Dorian and his Captain of the Guard, Chaol come to request (or rather demand) that she compete in a contest, against other thieves, assassins, and criminals, to become the King's Champion. If Celaena wins the contest after four years she will have her freedom. With no other options she accepts their offer. However, upon arrival at the castle Celaena discovers that more than just her own freedom may ride on her becoming the King's Champion, and there are dark forces trying to fix the competition for themselves. And in the midst of it all, the assassin, who has a past full of secrets and pain, may even find herself a few friends.

Full of excitement and intrigue Maas has created a story that will keep the reader turning the pages (and immediately reaching for the next book in the series).

If you like this you may want to try:
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Throne of Glass is also one of this year's Abraham Lincoln Nominees. Check out the book trailer.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top 30 YA Books Summer 2014

Looking for a good read? Here are the top 30 YA books* of the summer!
1) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Check out the review on the blog.

2) Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth
Check out the review on the blog.
Love the book? Check out the Bartlett Reads programs during this month!

3) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Check out the review on the blog.

4) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

5) The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins

6) If I Stay by Gayle Forman

7) Paper Towns by John Green

8) City of Bones (series) by Cassandra Clare

9) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

10) Elemental by Antony John

11) Looking for Alaska by John Green

12) The Maze Runner (series) by James Dashner

13) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
One of this year's Abe Nominees. Read any four nominees and you can vote for your favorite in March.
Check out the book trailer!

15) Legend (series) by Marie Lu

16) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

17) I Am Number Four (series) by Pittacus Lore
Check out the review on the blog.

18) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

19) Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

20) Schooled by Gordon Korman

21) Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
Check out the review on the blog.

22) Boy21 by Matthew Quick

23) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
One of this year's Abe Nominees. Read any four nominees and you can vote for your favorite in March.
Watch the book trailer!
Check out the review on the blog.

24) Matched (series) by Ally Condie
Check out the review on the blog.
Just listen : a novel by Sarah Dessen
25) Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

26) Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

27) Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas One of this year's Abe Nominees. Read any four nominees and you can vote for your favorite in March.
Watch the book trailer!

28) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Check out the review on the blog.

29) The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
One of this year's Abe Nominees. Read any four nominees and you can vote for your favorite in March.
Watch the book trailer!

30) Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
One of this year's Abe Nominees. Read any four nominees and you can vote for your favorite in March.
Watch the book trailer!

*Top books are based on checkouts from June - August.

What was your favorite summer read?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Justice is an American pilot who is working with the ATA (a British organization) as World War II is coming to an end. D-day has already happened and the Allies are taking back France, but when Rose is ferrying a fighter plane from Paris back to England she does something maybe a little bit brave, but definitely a bit reckless that gets her caught by German forces. From there she is taken to Ravensbrück, a women's concentration camp. Here she faces horrors of death, brutality, and starvation; she meets first hand those who were operated and experimented on, also known as the Rabbits. However, these women find ways to get things they need (though never enough), hide prisoners whose numbers have been called, and come away with bits of hope in their rebellions (no matter how small) and camaraderie. While the reader knows that Rose makes it out alive her situation is no less bleak or tense and many of those she comes to think of as family do not make it to the allies liberation.

Rose Under Fire is a powerful book that shows the horrors that people can commit on one another, but also the resilience that people can have. At times it can be a difficult book to read, but still one that you don't want to put down.

Especially recommended for those who enjoyed Code Name Verity.

Other readalikes:
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Things are not going well for fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck and his family in Gary D. Schmidt’s novel Okay for Now. Doug and his parents have to move to a rundown house in upstate Marysville, New York, where his father has found a new job. Doug’s older brother Chris is a budding juvenile delinquent under suspicion of committing several robberies in town, and Doug’s oldest brother Lucas is in Vietnam. On top of all of this, Doug has a very big obstacle to overcome when it comes to his school work.

On the brighter side, Doug is a gifted artist who receives lessons on drawing birds from John James Audubon's Birds of America from a kindly librarian, and he quickly develops a crush on Lil Spicer, whose father owns the local deli and hires Doug to make Saturday deliveries. There is a lot going on in Okay for Now and Schmidt does a convincing job writing Doug’s narration of these events. Ultimately, too many events in the book come off as implausible. These include Lil being cast in a Broadway play even though she has no acting experience, and Doug’s dad doing something unimaginably cruel to him. Even worse, the implausibility often shifts between slapstick comedy and gritty realism. This could be a good book, but there is just too much crammed in.