Monday, September 28, 2015

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Heroes, villains (all though which is which is not always clear), arch nemeses, a corrupt institution, and Nimona. Nimona, a shapeshifter, gets herself a job with Ballister Blackheart, "the biggest name in supervillany" and may be a tad over enthusiastic to help him bring down the hero, Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution. It soon becomes clear though that Ballister's and Ambrosius's relationship is more complicated than simply hero and villain (why else are they both still alive?), and Nimona's powers may be greater than anyone bargained for. A fun read with snark and heart and very human complications.

You can find more on Nimona and other comics on Noelle Stevenson's website.

Other Books You May Like
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

As teens, we are constantly exposed to cliché love stories about “quirky” girls who couldn’t possibly like themselves until the average blonde boy saved them. They have absolutely nothing in common and don’t particularly seem to care about each other outside of school and the local mall/movie theater. Sounds like your average middle school relationship, right?

Well, this can get tiring quite soon (or immediately). So I was looking for a cute story that wasn’t fan-fiction on Tumblr when this book was recommended to me, and it was really a great find. I happened to finish it in approximately 4 hours. This book is set in 1986, which is honestly something I’d never seen before. The time period added a dimension to the book, like it could be the story of how your parents met.

Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus when Eleanor doesn’t have anywhere to sit, and Park begrudgingly offers her a seat next to him. (Begrudgingly meaning swearing at her and yelling to just sit down. I know, absolutely adorable.) They continue on like any other teen would in this situation: awkwardly staring at anything but each other. 

But after a while, they begin an almost-wordless infatuation with Watchmen comic books and The Smiths on Park’s walkman (so basically an iPod). This slowly transitions into an infatuation for each other, and they start learning more and more about the other’s life. This makes you recognize that everyone has problems- real problems. Teenagers are definitely not immune to everything, as I’m sure you know.      
This book is a great story about first love, and the fact that amazing as it may be, it never really lasts. It’s getting to know yourself as a person and understanding how to love someone else: putting their needs above your wants. But sometimes, all you want- and need- is them.

Maja (Teen Reviewer)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Supermutant Magic Academy

A magic high school (as in magic is taught, not that there is anything magical about the school itself), students with varying abilities and mutations learn how to fly, get involved (or deliberately not) in school events, and spend time on social media. There is no chosen one and no one is on any special mission, it's just a bunch of students getting through high school who happen to have special abilities. Supermutant Magic Academy is told through mini comic strips and the over arching plot is a bit thin, while this does cause the book to be a little disjointed to start, once the characters become more familiar the graphic novel is quite entertaining. Artwork is almost entirely in black, white, and shades of gray and includes a couple side stories told entirely in pictures. The stories and characters may seem random and ridiculous at times, but Tamaki also captures some of the ridiculousness that can be every day high school.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Emilia and Teodros are essentially brother and sister, even though he's black, she's white and they have different biological parents. There mothers are flying partners (and best friends) in the 1930s when Delia, Teo's mother, is killed during a freak accident. Rohda, Emilia's mother, decides to fullfill a dream of Delia's (for her son to be raised in a place where he isn't looked down upon) and moves the family to Ethiopia, which is the only African country to never have been colonized. However, 1930s Ethiopia is on the brink of war with Ethiopia and not only is Teodros a half Ethiopian of military age, but he discovers unfortunate information about his family's past.

Black Dove White Raven doesn't have the same spark as Wein's other two works (Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire), but it's still an interesting story taking place in the midst of serious precursor to World War II that is generally overlooked.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Middle School Reads


I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acamora
When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to "destroying the mockingbird."

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse.

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway? But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And one gamer has been doing exactly that, with murderous results. The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they've been watching Michael. 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
If you ain't scared, you ain't human. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone. Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade. Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Everyone says guys and girls can't be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Mac's friends. They are platonic and happy that way. Eventually they realize they're best friends -- which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep getting in each other's way.

Fake ID by L.R. Giles
Nick Pearson is hiding in plain sight. In fact, his name isn't really Nick Pearson. He shouldn't tell you his real name, his real hometown, or why his family just moved to Stepton, Virginia. And he definitely shouldn't tell you about his friend Eli Cruz and the major conspiracy Eli was uncovering when he died.

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World--a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself. Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them...all at once?

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
Saving the school -- one con at a time. Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz . . . But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good. Then Keith Sinclair -- loser of the Blitz -- announces he's running for school president, against Jackson's former best friend Gaby de la Cruz.

Legend by Marie Lu
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect.

Rain Reign by Ann M Martin
Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She's thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose's rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose's obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different - not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father. When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose's father shouldn't have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

V is for Villain by Peter Moore
Brad Baron is used to looking lame compared to his older brother, Blake. And Brad doesn't measure up at his high school, either, where powers like super-strength and flying are the norm. So when Brad makes friends who are more into political action than weight lifting, he's happy to join a new crew-especially since it means spending more time with Layla, a girl who may or may not have a totally illegal, totally secret super-power.  But when they're pulled into a web of nefarious criminals, high-stakes battles, and startling family secrets, Brad must choose which side he's on.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality . . . Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help...

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
As Wild Chalklings threaten the American Isles and Rithmatists are humanity's only defense, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist  students learn the  magical art that he would do anything to practice

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good. When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. It's her mother's passion, and Sophie would rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles
It is 1964, and Sunny's town, Greenwood, Mississippi, is being invaded. So is her home. Her daddy got married last summer, and her house filled up with a new stepmother, Annabelle, a new brother, Gillette, and a new sister, Audrey. Sunny's new family has been growing together, but when Gillette tattles to her father, things grow chilly between them. Greenwood has been tense and chilly too, but that's because students and "agitators" from up north have driven down in buses for a Freedom Summer, to help register citizens in the town to vote. Everyone in the town, from the churches to the schools to the movie theaters, has been choosing sides, and Sunny suddenly understands how scary it can be to help people out, even when you know you're doing good.

Poison by Bridget Zinn
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction-which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart misses. Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal.

Graphic Novels & Manga

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
As young boys, Edward & Alphonse Elric dabbled in alchemy to try to resurrect their dead mother. As a result, Ed lost one arm and one leg, while Al lost his entire body and had his spirit sealed into a suit of armor. Now, they are searching for the fabled Philosopher's Stone to restore what they've lost.

World Trigger Vol. 1 by Daisuke Ashihara
Earth is under constant threat from Neighbors, invincible monsters from another dimension that destroy our way of life. Our hero Osamu Mikumo may not be greatest warrior, but he'll do whatever it takes to defend life on Earth.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow
Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing; But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer -- a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along.

Black Butler by Yana Toboso
Just a stone's throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria's faithful servant...and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master's wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London's underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true...or at least, too good to be human...

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
The origin story of the Green Turtle. Yang revives a 1940s superhero.


Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg by Tanya Anderson
Relates the experiences of ordinary teenager Tillie Pierce during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, as she helped save wounded Union and Confederate soldiers during the bloody, three-day battle.

The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
 In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century's most important trials -- one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination. The Nazi Hunters is the thrilling and fascinating story of what happened between these two events.

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
When Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew into the Russian Revolution.

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
Tells the tale of the sinking of the Titanic  using the narratives of the witnesses and survivors to the disaster.

Bomb: the Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific  race that spanned three continents. This is the story of the plotting, risk-taking, deceit, and genius that created the atomic bomb.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.