10551947Title: The Outcasts
Author: John Flanagan
Series: Brotherband Chronicles
Recommended for: 5th grade and up
Pages: 434

Synopsis: Like the Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series this book’s main character is a young teen boy who is somewhat of an outcast.  It’s only when he starts Skandian brotherband training (a sort of Viking boot camp competition for boys) that others start to recognize his abilities.  His brotherband group wins the training competition but ends up being responsible for the loss of Skandia’s greatest treasure.  They escape on their ship (along with and old one-armed sailor) determined to regain their honor by chasing down the pirates that stole the treasure.

Lots of fast paced action make this a great read for adventure loving older elementary and middle school readers.  Flanagan includes quite a lot of sailing terms and a dictionary of those terms in the beginning, but you can still easily follow the story without them.  (It’s nothing like the descriptions of whaling in Moby Dick.)  This is a companion series so you do not have to read the Ranger’s Apprentice books to enjoy Brotherband Chronicles.  There is some swordfighting and violence. (These are viking types after all.)  But it’s all PG rated without any gory details.  Flanagan started writing his Ranger stories as a way to get his 12 year old son to read and they really do appeal to middle school boys.


Title: The Grimm Legacy
Author: Polly Shulman
Series: The Wells Bequest is the Companion book
Recommended for: Grades 4 – 8
Pages: 325 pages

Synopsis: New York high school student Elizabeth gets an after-school job as a page at the “New-York Circulating Material Repository,” and when she gains coveted access to its Grimm Collection of magical objects, she and the other pages are drawn into a series of frightening adventures involving mythical creatures and stolen goods. 

I love fairy tale so I thought I would love this book.  It was good but not a favorite.  Elizabeth does have a Stepmother who is mean and step sisters that don’t treat her right, but that is as close as it gets to a Cinderella retelling.  The book is more centered around the Grimm Collection, which has magical items that special patrons are able to check out.  Items start to go missing or are replaced with replicas.  Elizabeth and her friends try to figure out who is stealing the items.  There is some adventure as they try to find the items.  There is also a hint romance.

22836575Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno 
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 9th grade & up
Pages: 384
Call Number/Link: Teen Fiction Cotugno, K

Synopsis: Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me

My Thoughts: Seriously, this book left me kind of flabbergasted. One moment I was screaming YES YES YES but the next I was beating my head against the wall. I fell like this was my face most of the book

Okay, let me back up and tell you what the book is really about. Basically, it is about a recently graduated girl named, Molly. Two years ago she made a terrible mistake and slept with her boyfriend’s (Patrick) brother, Gabe. They were kind of broken up-but maybe not completely…

Anyway, she tells her mom, who then turns her story into her latest best-seller, which means everyone in town–and the country/world–knows about her mistake. She then decides to spend her senior year at boarding school, so this summer is the first time she’s been home since the book came out.

Turns out, Gabe really likes her and is the first to really welcome her home & the two enter into a relationship. This is where the book starts going downhill though. Molly has the perfect opportunity to stay on the straight and narrow, but instead decides to cheat AGAIN with Patrick, meaning she spends the whole summer making the EXACT SAME mistake that made her run away. She has the chance to fix everything and literally crashes and burns in the same manner. I mean, why?! I just….I can’t even.

There are some good points to the story though. The writing is well done & the characters, for the most part, are pretty believable. I also LOVED that the author tackled the whole double standard issue. Everyone is slut-shaming Molly, but Gabe, who basically betrayed his brother as well, remains untouched. He repeatedly points out that he is just as much to blame as she is in this whole thing. And it’s pointed out again, the second time around with Patrick, making the blame be shared equally.

All in all, though, I can’t really recommend this book. Interesting concept/premise, but ultimately a failure. Instead I would I look into the following read-a-likes for a more enjoyable read.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Hahn
What I Thought was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Catching Jordan by Miranda Keanneally
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

between-the-linesTitle: Between the Lines
Author: Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
Recommended for: Middle School
Pages: 352
Call Number/Link: Teen Fiction Picoult

Synopsis:  A girl, stuck in a world that doesn’t seem very magical, starts to read and reread a fairy tale book from the library with hand drawn pictures.  She finds the escapism appealing–and the prince in the story appealing, too.  Once, when she is looking at the pictures, she sees that things have changed slightly.  She starts to examine each page, and eventually realizes that everyone in the book is alive, but magically forced to reenact the story every time a reader reads the book.  No one minds this arrangement except Oliver, the prince, who is as desperate to escape the monotony of his existence as she is to escape into his story.  When they start to work together to get Oliver out of the story, their relationship deepens.

Jodi Picoult wrote this story with her teenaged daughter, and I picked it up because I thought people would be asking about the newest book by Jodi.  I have never read her other books, but apparently they also switch perspectives.  This book changes between Delilah and Oliver’s point of view while being interspersed with the original story in which Oliver is trapped.  The different points of view are clearly defined by different colors and fonts, which really helps.  It is not the format that is confusing–it is the basic idea that characters are still living in books after we close the pages.  I could get past that idea if I were drawn into the characters, but everything kind of surface level.  I did not believe in their relationship or the development of the characters in the story.  This read like a well-done fanfiction to me!  This seems like exactly the kind of book I would like, and I didn’t, so I am not sure it would appeal to a wide range.  It may work well for a younger reader who likes the concept of books being real.  The whole thing was done significantly better in Inkheart!

girl, stolen jacketTitle: Girl, Stolen
Author: April Henry
Series: n/a
Recommended for: Grades 7 – 10
Pages: 213 pages
Call Number/Link: TEEN FICTION HENRY, A.

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what’s happening, the car is being stolen.

Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne and once he finds out that not only does she have pneumonia, but that she’s blind, he really doesn’t know what to do. When his dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes–now there’s a reason to keep her.

How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare?

I liked this book because it has a fast pace, likable characters, strong female character and it’s interesting. The author does an alternating first person point of view for each chapter. You are able to see how Cheyenne and Griffin are feeling about the situation. The whole time you are wondering what is going to happen to Cheyenne and what role is Griffin going to play?  Cheyenne is blind so she has to use her other senses to help her throughout this ordeal. Griffin on the other hand has an internal fight about how to handle this situation that he has gotten himself in.


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