The Prince of Venice Beach – Blake Nelson

  41wENbcJK+L   The Prince of Venice Beach – Blake Nelson, Little, Brown and Company, (978-0316230483), 2014.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  5

Genre:  Mystery

What did you like about the book?  This compelling young adult mystery novel (nominated for an Edgar Award) introduces Robert “Cali” Callahan, a runaway from the foster system, who thrives on the streets of Venice Beach, CA. It is both fascinating and disturbing to meet Cali and his friends and to witness their daily struggle as street people to stay clothed, fed, bathed, and safe on the fringes of society. Although Cali appears well-grounded and generally optimistic, other characters openly deal with extreme family problems, including alcoholism and mental illness. When Cali helps some local detectives successfully locate several missing people, he realizes he has a knack for this kind of thing and begins to wonder if he might be able to become a private investigator himself. The quality and clarity of the writing make this an excellent choice for reluctant readers and for those readers who are always clamoring for another mystery.

Anything you didn’t like about it?   SPOILER: A suicide which happens towards the end of the book will limit the book’s appeal for libraries with immature audiences.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend for readers grade 7 and up who enjoy realistic mystery and detective stories and also those who enjoy a narrator who operates successfully far outside “normal” society.

Who should buy this book? Upper middle school and high school libraries as well as public libraries for YA collections.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in YA Fiction or with Mysteries if using genre shelving.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  5/28/15

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Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – David Levithan

 61DchgsW10L     Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story –   David Levithan, Dutton Books, (978-0525428848), 2015

Format: Hardcover.

Rating: 1-5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Musical, Romance

What did you like about the book?     Anyone who read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, has been dying for this book. We finally get to experience the musical that Tiny has written to tell his life story. This is “A musical in novel form (Or, A novel in musical form)” so it reads like a play completer with stage directions and suggestions for actors and props. It is filled with humor and heartbreak as we follow Tiny from his birth with the song “I Was Born This Way’ and “Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!” through to high school. Characters include Phil Wrayson (Will Grayson) and Ex Boyfriends #1-#17. Along the way we witness Tiny finding himself. A must read for fans of John Green and David Levithan. I would love to see if this becomes an actual musical someday.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? (Read-alikes if you can think of them) Of course hand this to John Green fans, especially those who loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson. This is a great addition to any library’s LGBTQ young adult collection.

Who should buy this book? Public Libraries, High School Libraries

Where would you shelf it? YA fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  5/25/15

 

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Nil by Lynne Matson

 91iPDXgfEyL  Nil by Lynne Matson, Square Fish,
(978-1250057020), 2015
Format: Trade paperback
Rating: 4
Genre: YA Fantasy
What did you like about the book? “How do you escape from an island that doesn’t exist?” When the shimmering square of odd light comes for Charley she has no idea what it is; all she knows is that she wakes up, alone, on a barren, rocky stretch of land.  Naked.  As the days add up Charley works on survival and when she finds a city of other teens similarly taken she finds out they are on some unknown and unlikely island outside of reality..and she only has 365 days to find another shimmering square and escape before she dies. Thad has already been on the island for over 260 days…
It was an intriguing plot and the elements of mystery and survival melded well with the brewing romance.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I wanted to know more about the WHY and HOW of the island but perhaps that is to come in the sequel.  Happily, this book does read as a full stand alone with no cliffhangers relevant to the two main characters.
To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of Maze Runner will enjoy the similar slowly revealed thriller format and mystery solving plot around trying to escape.  Fans of Fault in our Stars may enjoy the likely doomed romance angle.
Who should buy this book? High Schools, Public Libraries
Where would you shelve it?  YA Fantasy
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes if you loved Maze Runner
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson, MA
Date of review: 5/27/15
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Monstrous – MarcyKate Connolly, Illustrated by Scottie Young

61Iq4M2EouL     Monstrous – MarcyKate Connolly, Illustrated by Scottie Young, HarperCollins, (978-0062272713), 2015.

Format:  Hardcover Fiction

Rating: 4 1/2

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  Monstrous is an exciting page turner that will please any reader of fantasy and fairy tales.  Kymera is a hybrid girl who under her cloak has the wings of a raven, the tail of a snake and the claws and eyes of a cat. She was created by her father to save the young girls of Bryre from the evil wizard who steals the girls for his own nefarious purpose. But is that the real story?

Chimeras were mythical beasts that were a hybrid of lion, snake and goat, Kymera is a play on that word. This fantasy seems to touch on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley–bolts in her neck to secure her head, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rapaccini’s Daughter–poisonous touch, Kymera’s tail stings people to sleep. Kymera reads fairy tales to understand her rebirth and her mission to save the girls of Bryre from the wizard.

Kymera secretly befriends a young man named Ren even though her father forbade her from letting the humans in Bryre see her or talk to her. Through her encounters with Ren, Kym begins to learn more about her ‘life’ and her mission to save the girls from the wizard.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Tweens will enjoy this story, especially fans of Harry Potter and the Grimm Brothers.

Who should buy this book?  Definitely public libraries and Middle school libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fantasy

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Maria Touet, Pope John XXIII High School, Everett, MA

Date of review: May 27, 2015

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Magic Tree House Fact Tracker # 32: Sharks and Other Predators by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce,

51KTIXrtQ-L     Magic Tree House Fact Tracker # 32: Sharks and Other Predators by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, Illustrated by Carlo Molinari, Random House, (978-0385386418), 2015

Format: Paperback

Rating: 5

What did you like about the book? This is a non-fiction companion to the Magic Tree House #53, Shadow of the Shark. It is a book that helps dispel the myths of sharks, hopefully to alleviate some of the fear children have about sharks. It talks about other predators and breaks the book into chapters about different kinds of predators. It was child friendly, with lots of pictures and tried to inform rather than shock.

What didn’t you like about the book? I liked everything about this book

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a fantastic companion to the fiction book Magic Tree House, Shadow of the Shark. The books should almost be sold as a set.

Who should buy this book? All libraries

Where would you shelve it and why? 597.3

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sandra Pacheco, Gardner Public Schools, Gardner, MA

Date of review: May 27, 2015

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Mrs. Noodlekugel and Drooly the Bear by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Adam Stower

61yo+P9F45L      Mrs. Noodlekugel and Drooly the Bear by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Adam Stower, (978-0763666453), Candlewick Press, 2015

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5

Genre: fiction

What did you like about the book? Nick and Maxine’s parents have to go to a knitting competition and leave them with their neighbor, Mrs. Noodlekugel. As her name suggests, she is a bit eccentric and has talking cats, mice who wear glasses and sleep in bunk beds and a husband who shows up after having been lost at sea. The craziness takes off when he brings his bear along with him and decides that he has changed professions. He is now an animal trainer rather than a sea-captain.

What didn’t you like about the book? The only part that I found hard was when the cats spoke in dialect. It might be hard for kids reading the book to understand the humor. If a parent reads the book, the kids will understand it.

To whom would you recommend this book? Young readers. It is also a cute story for parents to read to older toddlers.

Who should buy this book? All libraries

Where would you shelve it and why? Chapter books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sandra Pacheco, Gardner Public Schools, Gardner, MA

Date of review: May 27, 2015

 

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Shadow of the Shark (Magic Tree House #53) by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca

    51gVqO5oZDL  Shadow of the Shark (Magic Tree House #53), by Mary Pope Osborne, Illustrated by Sal Murdocca, Random House, (978-0553510812), 2015

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5

Genre: fiction

What did you like about the book? As Jack and Annie paddle a raft out to a coral reef, they encounter a shark. Mary Pope Osborne brings suspense, humor and surprise to young readers who will love reading about sharks. The book jacket is inviting and the subject will capture the imagination of children who are fascinated by sharks.

What didn’t you like about the book? I liked everything about this book

To whom would you recommend this book? This high interest suspense book will engage young children. It’s a book that parents can read to their children, or one that young readers can read on their own. The short chapters and the illustrations keep the child engaged.

Who should buy this book? All libraries

Where would you shelve it and why? Chapter books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sandra Pacheco, Gardner Public Schools, Gardner, MA

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