Posts Tagged ‘YA Fiction’

Take Me There by Carolee Dean ISBN 9781416989509

Take Me There by Carolee Dean

cover art from Take Me There by Carolee Dean

This is not my normal book.  I like happier books — I want the Disney ending of everyone living happily ever after.  This is why I read romance and cozy mystery.  When I complain about a book it is usually because the ending isn’t what I wanted.  Yes it may be realistic or dramatic.  It may be Youth Fiction angst — but give me happy.  SPOILER ALERT — this ending isn’t happy.

So Dylan is our hero — the book starts with him 2 months before his 18th birthday and he has just gotten back from juvie with a friend who saved his life there.  Dylan is working hard and trying to follow his parole guidelines.  His friend from juvie doesn’t seem so concerned and is willing to float in the breeze with anyone who will accept him.

Dylan has a job at a garage and is minding his own business when a beautiful girl from his past shows up with a car that needs work.  He remembers Jess from when his Mom was a choral director of a church and Jess’ parents never picked her up on time and he and his Mom stayed late at church to wait with her — they became friends then and seem to renew their friendship where they left off many years before.

Then Dylan runs into the proverbial cliff — everything goes wrong at the same time: his father is in prison and going to Death Row, his friend drags him into trouble and he is forced by circumstances to break parole, he learns that he really doesn’t remember the night his father is in prison for and he tries to remember, his inability to read hits the fan.  Finally after a long sequence of driving hither and yon — he finally has the answers but needs to make an even tougher decision to save his Mom and girlfriend.  Dang, this kid gets all the bad breaks!


From Booklist

Seventeen-year-old Dylan’s father is about to be executed for shooting a policeman 11 years earlier, and Dylan is determined to get to his dad’s Texas prison to say goodbye. Dylan and his friend are also on the run: from the police, for violating probation after serving time in juvie, and from gangsters. Dylan’s long, first-person narrative spins out a plot that gets more and more convoluted, with dramatic vignettes that flip between past and present as Dylan hides that he can barely read, hooks up with sexy Jess, takes on his fierce grandmother, and confronts his own guilt. Jess is too perfect to be true, but the family secrets create powerful drama. Is Dad protecting someone? Why does Dylan remember handling the gun when he was six years old? What really happened that night? Dylan’s doubts reinforce the universal father-son tensions and the horror of capital punishment as tension builds to the execution by lethal injection. Grades 9-12. –Hazel Rochman


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Ninth Grade Slays: the chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer  ISBN 9780525478928


Ninth Grade Slays: the chronicles of Vladimir Tod

Ninth Grade Slays: the chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer



I succumb to peer pressure.  Well maybe not peer pressure but when my son’s friend said, “you have to read this series” — I was curious enough myself to see what he was reading.

Vladimir Tod seems to be a pretty good kid.  Okay, he has to put sun screen on before going out any day of the year, he drinks blood (thankfully his aunt is a nurse and gets bags from the hospital that are almost going to expire), and he has a friend (Henry) that he bit when he was very young who now protects the pale kid from bullies.

Vlad’s parents died four years ago and since then he has lived with his aunt (really his mother’s best friend and no biological relation) but she understands his uniqueness.  Theoretically Vlad should not exist, for he was born and not made.  So now the big question is, “Is he a fulfillment of prophecy or a mistake”.

This first book, “Eighth Grade Bites”, sets the story — the good guys and the bad guys.  This book extends the investigation into vampire culture and deepens the characters … and introduces new ones that add wonderful back story.

This is a great series and especially now in this paranormal obsessed time — this series is very well developed.


From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—Vladimir Tod wants be popular like his friend Henry and cool and carefree like Henry’s cousin Joss. He would so enjoy putting bullies Tom and Bill, who have been tormenting him for years, in their place. And, of course, he longs to tell Meredith about his feelings for her. All of this should really be a piece a cake for him. He is, after all, the only vampire “living” in Bathory, and he possesses extraordinary powers. Unfortunately, luck does not seem to run his way. What is working for him is the opportunity to go to Siberia with his Uncle Otis to be trained by Vikas, one of the oldest vampires around. Vikas sharpens Vlad’s skills, especially in the area of mind control, and educates him on vampire history, language, and culture. Vlad also learns about the prophecy regarding the Pravus, a powerful vampire born from a human mother who will not only rule over all of vampirekind but also enslave the entire human race. Upon his return to Bathory, he is pursued by a vampire slayer and attacked by another one. Could Vlad, whom readers have come to love, possibly be this evil Pravus? Brewer does an excellent job keeping readers on their toes with an intense plot full of many twists and turns. Her writing style is original, witty, and on target. It has a different intensity than series like Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” (Little, Brown) or Richelle Mead’s “Vampire Academy” (Penguin), but teens will eat up this installment and be ready to sink their teeth into the sequel.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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A Certain Strain of Peculiar by Gigi Amateau ISBN-13: 978-0763630096

A Certain Strain of Peculiar by Gigi Amateau

Cricket is a 13 year old who thinks nothing of stealing her Mom’s credit card and truck and driving almost 700 miles to her grandmother’s home.  She has been verbally abused by her classmates and feels that she cannot continue living in Virginia and would prefer to give up living with her Mom, a single parent, and live in Alabama with her grandmother in a very small town where everyone knows everything about you.

Cricket suffers from anxiety attacks and at times of high stress cannot breathe, however as she introduces herself in a new social setting she repeats the mantra her Mom said, “You are starting new, you can be anyone you want to be.”

Cricket befriends a young girl who does not speak but acts like a horse — for some reason her Mom says she needs to protect Daisy and she does.  Cricket uses her new found voice and muscles from working on her grandmother’s farm to protect her friend both verbally and physically.

I like this book and think that it should be read by anyone who has suffered through bullying.  Learning to find your voice is essential in life and this book helps you to see how one girl found hers…


From Booklist

This unusual, sensitive story joins the growing list of YA titles featuring strong, influential grandmothers and older women. Fed up after being harassed and bullied at school, 13-year-old Mary hops in her mother’s old truck and drives from her Virginia home to her grandmother’s cattle farm in Alabama, where she knows she can be herself, even if that self is “a certain strain of peculiar.” Welcoming her are the farm’s manager, Bud, and his own peculiar children: mean and destructive Delta, and Dixie, who prefers neighing and cantering to human forms of communication. It is her grandmother’s nurturing that helps Mary learn that running away solves few problems. Amateau’s strong, deftly drawn, eccentric characters, combined with the idyllic rural setting, add depth to the familiar story of a teen’s gradual path to self-acceptance. Offer this to young teens who see themselves as outsiders and to those who love the peculiar among us. Grades 6-9. –Frances Bradburn

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Moonlight: a Dark Guardian Novel by Rachel Hawthorne  ISBN 9780061709555

Product Details

I finished this book in a day.  And in amongst reading this book, I made a batch of cookie dough, baked gingerbread pieces for 4 houses, made 2 batches of icing and helped 4 children assemble and decorate gingerbread houses.  It is an easy read, but also an engaging read.  Yes it is a HarperTeen book where boy meets girl, girl is shocked by a certain revelation, girl defends boy, and they live happily ever after once girl decides that is indeed what she wants.  But it is very enjoyable nonetheless (or maybe it was just pleasant escapism from holiday stress!)

Kayla is your typical teenage girl — her parents killed by hunters in the same national park that she is currently working at because her shrink told her she needed to “face her fears”.  She has a good friend Lindsey that she met last year when her adoptive parents brought her back to the park and walked through with guides called sherpas.  Her friendship with Lindsey caused her to return this summer as an employee.  Kayla wants to impress the dark forbidding team leader yet she is afraid of his intensity.  So she accepts overtures from ‘safe’ Mason and thereby lays a decent tale.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Kayla Madison is excited about spending the summer as a sherpa in the dense national forest. She gets to reconnect with her friends from last year’s guide group, including the mysterious and extremely attractive Lucas. Kayla is also hoping that the park is a chance to come face to face with the demons from her past. It was here that, at the age of five, she witnessed her parents’ accidental murder by hunters who mistook them for wolves. Kayla’s adventures begin with her 17th birthday and the opportunity to lead a group of scientists under the guidance of Dr. Keane into the park to study wolves and their behaviors. Things soon begin to spin out of control as Kayla discovers what Dr. Keane and his group are really up to. She faces difficult choices that not only make sense of her past but will also have life-altering effects on her future. Hawthorne expertly weaves romance with the supernatural, cloaking them with danger and suspense. The plot is fast paced and full of action but ends a little too neatly and at times seems a bit rushed. However, the author does a good job giving readers a natural view of the legends and myths behind werewolves and their evolution. This is a good series to watch and a must-have for those libraries with a vampire/werewolf following.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Spellwright by Blake Charlton ISBN 9780765317278


Nicodemus Weal is your typical sorcerer’s apprentice in a world where wands and verbal incantations are not needed but spells are written in muscle and released into the world as floating threads of colored words.  Only the wizards conversant in the language can see the spells.  The unfortuante thing is that apprentice Nicodemus Weal is unlikely ever to earn a wizard’s hood for he is a cacographer, not only can he not form the words, but also mutates any words that he comes across in written form.

Charlton created the academy of  Starhaven and filled it with so many characters both friend and foe to Nico — his teacher Agwu Shannon, a distant cousin / druid Deirdre and too many foes to count.  There are golems, demons and ghosts and these are just the beginning of the story.  It is an enjoyable story — well written and complex.  I am eagerly awaiting the next installment

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Charlton’s first novel superbly tells the story of a young man searching for his place in the world. Would-be spellwright (i.e., wizard) Nicodemus Weal may be the only person able to prevent a magical apocalypse. Or maybe he’ll bring about the end of magic. He desperately wants to become a wizard but has a big problem: he’s a cacographer. In his world, magic can be written in many languages, but rather than on paper, spells are recorded in the casters’ muscles and released into reality with a flick of the wrist. For Nico, anything he touches is instantly misspelled, and when this happens with magical texts, the consequences can be deadly. From the very start, Charlton draws us into Nico’s world. The character is eminently believable, and his difficulty with spelling will strike a chord with many. Charlton’s unique take on how magic is cast will tickle magic fans despite, or because of, its bearing very little resemblance to magic à la Harry Potter. The title of the book is a play on words, of course, since Nico must learn to spell right to become a true spellwright. At story’s end, he is at last credibly preparing for what he believes is his destiny, leaving readers anxiously expecting the next batch of his adventures. –Rebecca Gerber

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Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson ISBN 9781442404441

Claire de Lune

Claire has just turned 16 — her mother is a world famous / world travelling photographer and Claire is constantly in the care of an au pair. She has never known her father whom, according to her mother, died before she was born. Claire’s life revolved around her best friend Emily and the possible new boy friend, Matthew.

This book is excellent in that the story unfolds bit by bit and keeps the attention of the reader. We are introduced to Claire and her friends at a pool party and then we hear the dilemma — there is a were wolf sighting and all the teens are picked up by frantic parents. But before Matthew leaves he definitely expresses interest in meeting Claire again.

We learn more about why Claire has never known her mother well, we learn how Claire tries to keep in contact with Emily when her parents send her to an Aunt’s in farm country to save her from harm, and we see how a relationship can develop between a budding were wolf and the son of the chief werewolf hunter.

From Amazon.com:

From Booklist

On their sixteenth birthdays, the women in Claire’s family begin a three-month transformation into werewolves—a secret kept from the girls until they turn 16. Beginning with Claire’s suburban birthday party—which is abruptly broken up by a werewolf attack in another part of town, causing panicked parents to demand that their teens get home at once—Johnson spins out an engaging and provocative riff on the werewolf tradition. Are they intrinsically antihuman? Bloodthirsty? Due the same respect other animals should receive in laboratory situations? Those questions are underscored by a romance between Claire and Matthew, the son of the prime public-hysteria-provoking werewolf hunter. Smooth writing and engaging main characters make for an easy read, while a feminist focus offers just a bit more for thoughtful readers. The red herrings aren’t particularly deluding, but bypassing them doesn’t frustrate either. A good summer read for the romantically concerned and monster-obsessed midteen girl. Grades 8-10. –Francisca Goldsmith

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Silvertongue: the Stoneheart Trilogy, book 3 by Charlie Fletcher ISBN 9781423101796

The Stoneheart Trilogy, Book Three: Silvertongue

I love this series and can not figure out why I took this long to read it for it has been out for almost a year!  But my “To Read” list is amazingly long and sometimes I feel like reading very specific sorts of books.  Thankfully I did get around to reading it and I enjoyed it.  If I remember correctly this may have been the first that I have read — as opposed to listened to and that may have influenced the timing for I do indeed drive a great deal and have time to listen to a greater list of books than I have time to read in print.

Many of the same characters appeared in this last installment of the trilogy: George and Edie the two young heroes that we have followed throughout, their very good friend and protector “Gunner” and all the other spits that they have encountered on the streets of London.  

While in Book 2, George learns about his father who died many years ago and so we see Edie’s continuing quest to discover her mother in this book.   When she does leave the group to go search for answers on her own what she learns strengthens her and enables to go back to fight with renewed vigor against the Walker and his evil minions. 

I recommend this series for any youth looking for fantasy with a tinge of history.  This has great character development over the three books and excellent setting.

from Amazon.com

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The city of London is in the middle of one of its most destructive wars in history. And yet most of its inhabitants don’t even know it.
The battle between the statues and gargoyles of London rages on. The stakes are high, with the spits engaged in a struggle against the evil taints that will determine the fate of their very souls.
Twelve year old George Chapman and his friend Edie are caught in the middle. A glint with the ability to “see” the past, Edie has become a crucial asset in the ongoing war. The Gunner, a statue of a World War I soldier, continues do his part to help them in their quest. But George knows that he is the one who must play the biggest role in helping to bring an end to the war. With the Walker intent on forcing his evil designs on London and the world, George realizes that his destiny is inextricably tied to the Walker’s destruction. In the end, the most important soul he manages to save might just be his own.
Filled with intriguing suspense, invigorating action sequences, and well developed characters, Silvertongue is a thrilling conclusion to the international blockbuster Stoneheart trilogy.

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