Friday, March 16, 2018

Layover by Amy Andelson & Emily Meyer

Andelson, Amy, and Emily Meyer. Layover. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-1-254-76487-6. p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Flynn: At first we were almost strangers. But ever since I moved to New York, Amos was the one person I could count on. And together we were there for Poppy. (I mean, what kind of parents leave their kid to be raised by a nanny?) I just didn’t expect to fall for him—and I never expected him to leave us.

Amos: I thought I was the only one who felt it. I told myself it was because we were spending so much time together—taking care of Poppy and all. But that night, I could tell she felt it, too. And I freaked out—you’re not supposed to fall for your stepsister. So I ran away to boarding school. I should have told her why I was leaving, but every time I tried, it felt like a lie.

One missed flight was about to change their lives forever….

My Review: 


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via the PSLA Teaching & Learning - Literature Review Committee in exchange for an honest review. 

Two years ago at thirteen, Flynn's mom was in an accident. After losing her mom, Flynn leaves her Northern California home, moving across the country to New York, to live with her dad, stepmom, stepbrother, and half sister. Though Flynn has adjusted and it's not as fresh, the pain of losing her mom is still with Flynn. 

Amos has just returned to New York after trying to avoid an uncomfortable and confusing situation. He fled New York going to boarding school in Massachusetts. While some parts of his life remain the same, his friendship with Flynn is quite different, and Amos wonders if running away was the answer he had wanted. 

Poppy is happy to have her siblings back under one roof, so they can do the things they always used to do - together. 

While en route to meeting their parents on a winter vacation in Bora Bora, these siblings decide to take a stand and stick together. What happens on their layover in Los Angeles is a whirlwind few days of being together yet sometimes feeling torn apart. 

THOUGHTS: What a cute story! Readers will delight in the sibling relationships with narrators Flynn, Amos, and Poppy. The various story lines propel readers forward, as they will want to learn the outcome and see how each sibling resolves his or her situation. Underage drinking and discussion of mature relationships as well as a lack of parental supervision throughout the novel make this a suitable high school read. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Woodfolk, Ashley. The Beauty That Remains. Delacorte Press, 2018. 978-1-524-71587-8. 352 p. $10.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

My Review: 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Grief takes center stage for each of the narrators in The Beauty That Remains. Autumn doesn't know how to return to school and her friend group after her best friend's death, Shay is lost without her twin sister, and after the death of his ex-boyfriend Logan no longer can write out his emotions in a song. Each character has a connection to music, one band specifically. 

While each narrator unravels in his or her own way, music plays an integral role in calming him or her. Readers will root for these characters to learn how to live again, even after suffering the life-changing loss of a loved one. 

THOUGHTS: Fans of compelling, grief-stricken books will appreciate the experience of each teen who is learning to live with a close loss. I've read a lot of sad books over the past year. Give this one to fans of Zentner's Goodbye Days, Armentrout's If There's No Tomorrow, Ramey's The Sister Pact, Biren's The Last Thing You Said, Hart's After the Fall, Brashares's The Whole Thing Together, and Bateman's Someone Else's Summer. Some drug use and underage drinking make this title more suited for high school readers. 

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll (ill.)

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak: The Graphic Novel. Illustrated by Emily Carroll. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018. 978-0-374-30028-9. 374 p. $19.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

The modern classic Speak is now a graphic novel.

"Speak up for yourself-we want to know what you have to say." 

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless--an outcast--because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her.

My Review: 

Melinda enters high school having called the cops at an end of summer party. On the first day, she has "the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude, and...[no one] to sit with" (4). Through the course of the graphic novel, readers experience Melinda's first year of high school following a sexual assault which goes unreported. As Melinda withdraws further into herself, readers can see and feel the impact of her assault and the loneliness she experiences by keeping it a secret. 

THOUGHTS: Years of readers will rejoice with this graphic novel version of Anderson's modern classic Speak. If possible Carroll's illustrations heighten Melinda's lonely and bleak narrative. While art is a major comfort to Melinda in the novel, artwork is at the center of this adaptation. No scenes are graphically depicted; however, Melinda's situation is unchanged. 

Wires and Nerve Vol. 2: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer

Meyer, Marissa. Wires and Nerve Vol. 2: Gone Rogue. Feiwel & Friends, 2018. 978-1-250-07828-5. 324 p. $21.99. Gr. 10 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Iko – an audacious android and best friend to the Lunar Queen Cinder – has been tasked with hunting down Alpha Lysander Steele, the leader of a rogue band of bioengineered wolf-soldiers who threaten to undo the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna. Unless Cinder can reverse the mutations that were forced on them years before, Steele and his soldiers plan to satisfy their monstrous appetites with a massacre of the innocent people of Earth.

And to show he’s serious, Steele is taking hostages.

Cinder and Kai, Scarlet and Wolf, Cress and Thorne, and Winter and Jacin all feature in this epic new battle. But it is Iko who must face her deepest fears when she uncovers the truth about her own unusual programming.

My Review: 

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't yet read The Lunar Chronicles, stop now and go read! 

Once again told from Cinder's right hand android, Wires and Nerve Volume 2 is narrated by Iko as she tracks down Alpha Lysander Steele, leader of a rogue group of Levana's wolf-soldiers. Steele seeks revenge on Cinder for withholding the mutation anecdote from the remaining wolf-soldiers. 

With preparations for a world peace celebration and Queen Selene's visit to Earth on the horizon, Iko has a lot of work to do. Before she can kick back and relax, Iko has to make sure all of her friends are safe. Iko has had enough of Kinney's constant jabs about her "android-ness," causing her to explore her own origins. Regardless, Iko is ready to celebrate, and she knows how to have a good time! 

THOUGHTS: Featuring all of your favorite characters, readers who love Meyers' Lunar Chornicles world will be sad to see it over but satisfied with the open-ending of Volume 2. 

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Carter, Ally. Not If I Save You First. Scholastic Press, 2018. 978-1-338-13414-8. 304 p. $18.99. Gr. 7 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

My Review: 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via a giveaway hosted by CiteSomething

Maddie and Logan don't live the typical 10 year old's lifestyle. In their spare time, they find secret ways to get from one place to the next - in the White House. Together they enjoy escaping the adults and the high profile lifestyle they live as the President's son and the President's Secret Service agent's daughter. 

Life changes drastically after shots are fired during a botched kidnapping attempt. Maddie and her dad leave DC behind and move to Alaska, where there isn't another person around (or any way other than written letters for Maddie to contact one) for miles. In Alaska Maddie learns a new skill set to help her survive the harsh wilderness. Though she misses her best friend and writes him daily, Maddie gradually moves on and accepts her life. 

Flash forward six years, and Logan hasn't been the model First Son. He's now being shipped to Alaska (and back into Maddie's life) to learn a lesson. Before Maddie has the chance to give Logan a piece of her mind, they are attacked in the woods, and Logan is dragged off. Maddie wants Logan dead, but she also wants the pleasure of getting her own revenge. 

THOUGHTS: Fans of survival and mystery stories will be delighted by the treacherous Alaskan setting. A strong female heroine shows that girls can have brains and beauty. Readers will be disappointed that this Carter book isn't part of a series.

The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. The Summer of Broken Things. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-1-481-41764-8. 400 p. $17.99. Gr. 7 and up.

From the Publisher: 

From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes a haunting novel about friendship and what it really means to be a family in the face of lies and betrayal.

Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.

But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.

Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves together two completely separate lives in this engaging novel that explores what it really means to be a family—and what to do when it’s all falling apart.

My Review: 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. 

Avery Armisted has everything any 14 year old girl could possibly want, and she doesn't have to work hard to get it. When she doesn't get her way and is forced to spend the summer before high school in Spain while her dad is there on business, she is anything but thrilled. Instead of seeing the trip as an opportunity or adventure, she fights to attend soccer camp with her best friends. Even her mom doesn't seem to be on her side this time, though. To soften the blow, Avery's parents compromise and allow her to bring a friend along. Their choice is Kayla Butts, a childhood friend of Avery's who is a far cry from someone Avery considers a friend these days. 

While Avery sulks in Spain, Kayla seems to thrive, despite her simple, normal upbringing. While reinventing herself without the "Butt Girl" stigma of her small-town school, Kayla begins to see that maybe Avery doesn't really lead such a charmed life. When the girls discover a shocking secret that links their past, they have to work together to move forward and understand who they really are. 

THOUGHTS: Avery is not the most likeable character. In fact, she's a spoiled brat. That doesn't mean she deserved to uncover a family secret the way she did. At an impressionable time in her teenage life, Avery's world crumbles, and she's an ocean away from home. Readers will go from despising Avery to rooting for her in this coming of age novel of deciding who you are in the face of adversity. This is a clean read that is suitable for any middle or high school student looking for a book about friendship, family, and self-discovery.