Turtles All the Way Down – John Green

       Turtles All the Way Down – John Green, Dutton Books, (9780525555360), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Contemporary realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Aza, a junior in high school, has an anxiety disorder that causes her to make a gouge in her finger that she keeps reopening as it heals. Her father, whom she loved, is dead but she has a very good, caring mother. One of her best friends is her car Harold, which was her father’s. The other best friend is Daisy, who writes Star Wars fan fiction. When Daisy learns that a reward of $100,000 is being offered for information concerning the whereabouts of a missing billionaire, the father of someone Aza has known, she is determined to win the reward. Thus begins a relationship between Davis, the son, and Aza. Aza’s disorders include a major fear of germs invading her body or is it her body? She does not know if she really exists. This complicates romance, to say the least. There is so much going on here. Aza’s plight is very painful to witness but her relationships with her mother, Daisy, her therapist and Davis make for a compelling, riveting read.

Anything you did not like about this book? Well, this is strange perhaps, but I had a difficult time imagining Aza as a girl. The character just really felt male to me.

To whom would you recommend this book?

Who should buy this book? All public and high school libraries, upper middle school, as well.

Where would you shelve it? YA fiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of review: 11/16/2017

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Barnaby Never Forgets – Pierre Collet-Derby

       Barnaby Never Forgets – Pierre Collet-Derby, Candlewick Press, (9780763688530), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Picture Book

What did you like about the book? This is a cute story about a floppy-eared white rabbit named Barnaby who is very forgetful.  The book begins with Barnaby getting ready for school and searching for his glasses, which readers see he is already wearing.  Barnaby insists he is “usually GREAT at remembering things.” But readers will have doubts as they watch the little one-bunny-wrecking-crew setting  grasshoppers free in the house, leaving the freezer door open and scattering mail all over.  The digital illustrations in limited hues of red, yellow and blue against a cream-colored background have a bit of a retro feel.  Barnaby is quite expressive as when he is shown coming down a staircase with handprints all over the walls and banisters: “I guess I don’t always remember to wash my hands.” Readers will love Barnaby’s enthusiasm and spirit and laugh aloud at the end when Barnaby gets to school and realizes it is Saturday. On the following double-page spread the text “TODAY IS SATURDAY! See? I don’t forget everything!” fills one page, while on the opposite page Barnaby jumps for joy wearing his glasses, a shirt, a backpack, and… only his underpants.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers who like fun, humorous stories will find lots to like in Barnaby. Share it with a child who has a hard time remembering things.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelf it? Picture Books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?  No

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

Date of review: 11/17/17            

 

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One Dark Throne – Kendare Blake

   One Dark Throne – Kendare Blake, HarperTeen, (9780062385468), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  In this second novel of a projected trilogy, the dark magic and murder continues as three sisters must fight to the death for the throne. The triplets, now 16 years old, have been raised apart, always knowing that when the time came they would need to kill or be killed.  Each one has a special power as well: Katharine is a poisoner, Mirabella is an elemental and Arsinoe is thought to be a naturalist but is hiding her secret power as a poisoner. Now in this Ascension Year, each sister is backed by families of the same powers who want their Queen to reign supreme in the land. As a poisoner, Katharine can withstand any poison and can use them to kill or weaken her enemies. Mirabella is part of the elementals, each having an affinity for controlling one of the Earth’s elements from fire to water to air. Arisnoe was thought to be a naturalist who can control spirit animals, but she has to rely on low magic to control her animal, a bear. Which sister will win in this battle of magical talents and dangerous liaisons?  Filled with wonderfully complex characters this is a can’t put down, action-packed sequel that will have readers eagerly awaiting the next in this fantasy/horror series.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? Hand this to teen who can’t get enough of Game of Thrones.  Readers of dark fantasy such as Kiersten White’s Now I Darken series will love this one.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and 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 if you enjoyed the first in the series

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

Date of review:  11/17/17            

 

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The Lost Causes – Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz

    The Lost Causes – Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz, Kids Can Press, 9781771388443, 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy/Thriller

What did you like about the book?  It’s The Breakfast Club meets The X-Files and your favorite police procedural.

In The Lost Causes, 5 teens are singled out by the FBI to participate in the investigation of a local murder.  Each of the young people has a debilitating condition that has derailed his or her life:  OCD, hypochondria, drug abuse, anger, neglect.  Their parents have given up on them ever being ‘normal,’ and have stopped paying attention to them.  They are the perfect teens to participate in a top-secret, below-the-radar experiment in fringe science and crime solving.

It all may seem cliché at the beginning, but Etting and Schwartz do a great job of making this story their own.  The characters round out and there are true surprises to be found in the narrative.  There are torrid teen crushes for those who lean towards supernatural romance, and a positive message about friendship and looking past initial assumptions.  Overall, a fun and quick read that teens (14 or so and up) will devour.  

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers who enjoy thrillers, murder mysteries without too much gore, and a little romance.  It has crossover appeal for adults.

Who should buy this book? High Schools and Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it ? YA

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Not necessarily.  It is very good, but not time sensitive.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State:  Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA

Date of review:  17 November 2017

 

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Wonderling – Mira Bartok

  Wonderling – Mira Bartok, Candlewick Press, (9780763691219), 2017

Format: hardcover

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

Genre: fantasy or adventure

What did you like about the book? Wonderling depicts a gorgeous world that you can literally see, smell and feel. Number 13, a young fox-like creature with only one ear, lives in a home for “Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures” with other unfortunate human/animal groundlings and a cruel woman named Miss Carbunkle. The creatures are never let outside, are made to do hard labor and are fed minimally. When a young bird named Trinket comes to the home, he befriends Number 13 and gives him a name, Arthur. Together they manage to escape the home and they embark on new adventures out in the wide world. This book is gorgeously written and fully imagined. Occasional illustrations by the author are a wonderful addition. Anthropomorphized animals are set in a rich world full of mystery and adventure. Readers who make it to the final third of this book will be rewarded. A sequel is planned.

Anything you didn’t like about it? As gorgeous as the language is, I do think some students will struggle to stick with this book. The action is a bit slow to start. I worry that this is one that will win lots of praise from adults, but not be enjoyed by very many children.

To whom would you recommend this book? Students who enjoy rich language and fantastical animal adventures.

Who should buy this book? Most elementary and middle school libraries.

Where would you shelve it? realistic, historic or adventure? Tough to decide since the world is made up, but there are no fantasy elements.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: November 17, 2017

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Murder, Magic, and What We Wore – Kelly Jones

    Murder, Magic, and What We Wore – Kelly Jones, Alfred A. Knopf, (9780553535204), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Mysteries

What did you like about the book?  This novel is the perfect blend of Jane Austen and Harry Potter. In 1818 England, sixteen-year old Annis Whitworth has just learned of her father’s death. As her father was often abroad, Annis is convinced he was a spy and longs to become one herself.Her Aunt Cassie, who has cared for Annis since her mother’s death, insists that Annis must become a companion to an elderly lady of means. But while making alterations to their mourning attire, Annis discovers that she has the gift of glamour. She has magic that can alter garments into disguises. Now she will be someone the War Office will want to hire as a spy! Annis sets out to prove that her father was murdered by a double agent and soon finds herself in danger. This is a wonderful blend of mystery, fantasy and historical fiction with strong female characters.  I hope there will be more adventures to follow.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? Hand this to readers who love Jane Austen and Regency era fiction as well as those who enjoy a good mystery with a little fantasy mixed in.

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this at the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, if you love Jane Austen and mysteries.

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

Date of review:  11/16/17             

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What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures – by Jess Keating, with Illustrations by David DeGrand

  What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures (The World of Weird Animals) – by Jess Keating, with Illustrations by David DeGrand, Alfred A. Knopf, (9780553512304), 2017.

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

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

Genre: Non-fiction

What did you like about the book? This engaging non-fiction book features seventeen “monstrous” animals, such as Japanese giant hornet, deathstalker scorpion, and horror frog. For each, a large photo is displayed against a neon-colored background. On the facing page, the following is provided: name, species, size, diet, habitat, and threats.  Additional information is provided on black background with splashes of fluorescent color in dialog boxes. Are these really the scariest creatures in the world? Many, such as the Komodo dragon, zombie ant fungus, and goblin shark are gruesome. Others, like the adorable prairie dogs don’t seem scary at all, even though they have fleas that can carry the bubonic plague. The final entry is a human baby with the revelation that from an animal’s point of view, humans are the monsters! Final pages provide a chance for readers to quiz themselves on animal traits and a glossary. If only all non-fiction could be fun, interesting, and informative like this!

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This will be an easy sell to third to fifth graders – just pick any page at random and read it aloud. Recommend especially to anyone who loved Pink Is for Blobfish, the popular first entry in the World of Weird Animals series.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in 591.6.

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:  11/16/17

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