Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wanting Mor

Kay, I really don't feel good cause of a nasty flu bug that I picked up, so this is gonna be short. This is one of those books that you can learn a lot from but isn't exactly uplifting, if you know what I mean. Still, it gives you a good insight into Afghanistan. Here's Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan. 
Jameela is an eleven- or twelve-year-old girl living in post-Taliban Afghanistan. For her whole life, she's tried not to be self-conscious about a cleft in her lip. Waking up in her family's small cottage one morning, she's devastated to find that her mother Mor died during the night. Now she's left with her father, who takes on a new personality now that Mor's gone. He starts smoking, yelling more, and acting worse in general. All of a sudden, he decides to take Jameela and go back to the city where he came from. When they get there, things are far from content. They end up staying at a succession of different houses and going through a variety of experiences; some of the people she meets are shallow and self-absorbed, and some are selfless and kind. She learns about the unexpected people she can trust- and the unexpected people she can't.
Yeah, I know it's short. I have a fever, so cut me some slack. This book's fairly short, and it works for any age- middle to high school. It's very thought-provoking. Get it at Kettleson, Sitka High, or Mt. Edgecumbe.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Storm Thief

Okay, as promised, you guys get a more adventure-type book this week. I really liked it; it was different than any book I've read before and you can tell that the author has a big imagination. I imagine this one would work for any high school age (maybe upper middle school, too). And anyone who likes fantasy, sci-fi, or adventure books should totally read this. Heck, read it even if you don't like that kind of stuff. I promise it'll get you hooked. 'Kay, I'll stop blabbing and just let you read the review: Storm Thief by Chris Wooding.
As far back as anyone can remember, the solitary island of Orokos has been rocked by probability storms. These aren't ordinary storms; where they hit, something changes. Streets are rearranged, things (and people) disappear and appear, children are turned to glass, and life becomes death. Nothing and no one is safe from the storms. These storms have turned the city into chaosthe dreadfully poor are forced into seething ghettoes, the richest only have a tenuous standing, and the storms have released things called revenants (made up of a substance deadly to humans, they can inhabit a body or choose to move as an invisible ghost). The entire city lives in fear of them. Over all of this, the Protectorate rules with an iron fist. Their original purpose was to fight the revenants, but that has expanded to being the unofficial dictators of the city. And, thanks to mysterious old technology, no one can leave the island.
Rail and Moa are thieves in this chaotic city. Both have had struggles in their past Rail has been dependent on a respirator ever since a probability storm took away his ability to breathe freely and Moa has had her parents taken away from her by the Protectorate. One day, they come across something that's more valuable and important than they've ever seen: a strange artifact. They soon realize that this item is wanted by the city's highest powers and many others as well, and are forced on the run. What they encounter veers on the side of strange, horrifying, wondrous, and scary. The reveal of the deepest, darkest secrets of Orokos is set in motion.
Hmm. I don't know if I really did the book justice with that review, 'cause the book is really phenomenal. There are a lot of intertwining plots, interesting side characters, and really cool imagery. It's definitely a page-turner. So, if you're breathing and if you're a teenager, you should really read this book (which is at Kettleson). If you're not breathing, well then I can't help you. I suggest seeing a doctor. Anyway, I'll say it one more time: READ THE BOOK. I can do mind control, you know. Don't make me resort to that.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Cupcake Queen

So. As you can tell, this is a very masculine book and is not for the faint of heart. Haha, yeah right. I should probably send out an apology to any guys out there reading this; I haven't exactly been reviewing the most guy-friendly books lately. Still, next week is gonna be an adventure-type book. Bear with me. Anyway, this is kinda like a Meg Cabot book but a little bit more meaningful and not quite as bubbly. It's a quick read; I finished it in about two days. It's also quite entertaining to read when you've lived in a bigger place and then moved to Sitka (like me). So, here's The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler.
Penny Lane,14, is the poster girl for a "fish out of water." She has just moved to Hog's Hollow (population 5, 134) from New York City (population 8.2 million) with her mom because her parents were fighting. Her dad is still living in the city. Her mom took the move as an opportunity to open up an all-cupcake bakery called the Cupcake Queen, and that's where this whole fiasco starts.
When a set-up of several dozen pink cupcakes made for a birthday party goes downhill, the outcome is that the spoiled birthday girl Charity (kind of an ironic name) ends up covered in pink frosting. Even worse, Penny finds out when she goes back to school that Charity is a) in her grade, b) extremely popular, and c) bent on making her life hell. With the help of her posse, Charity manages to fill her locker with pennies, spill paint on her jeans, ruin her art project, and leave a dead fish in her locker over the weekend. The only bright spot in the town is her newfound friend Tally, a non-conforming, animal-loving, somewhat strange activist who is a little too addicted to dying her hair weird colors. Scratch that, there's two bright spots in the town. The mysterious Marcus, who is always running on the beach, seems to have taken an interest in her. Only problem is, Charity's taken an interest in him.
So, Penny learns that the town is filled with ups and downs, highs and lows. She starts to wonder: is it possible that she's falling in love with the town?
This one comes greatly recommended for any girl from middle school to high school. It's kinda sad at times, funny at times, and overall really cool. It explores the imperfections of everyone's life, the misconceptions we all have about each other, and the little things that should be held onto. It's really well-written and you should totally read it. It isn't at the library, though, so you can Interlibrary Loan it or find it at Old Harbor Books.
P.S. Check out the sidebar for a new contest. It should be fun!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

So, here's my last catch-up review, which is more serious than Bad Kitty but still has its funny moments. This one's a lot less superficial  (it is a Young Adult book, but it's a serious YA book nonetheless). It moves slowly at times and is well-paced at others, so it's kind of the opposite of Bad Kitty. It's still a really good book, though, just in a different way. Here ya go: the review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart!
At the beginning of the book, we meet Frankie Landau-Banks as a freshman at Alabaster Preparatory Academy, a highly competitive and pretentious boarding school. She's not exactly there by free will; it's something of a tradition in their family to go there. She's an awkward, socially invisible girl whose only social inclination is the Debate Club and her roommate Trish. Over the summer before sophomore year, though, something changes. She fills out her figure, and gains some confidence and  a sharp tongue. That year she gets noticed and subsequently asked out by Matthew Livingston, a *cough*gorgeous*cough* senior guy and one of the elite. Dating Matthew opens up a completely new social circle filled with jokes, debates,and easygoing teasing. Frankie still feels a little left out, though; she knows that if/when she and Matthew break up, everyone there would promptly forget her name. That feeling intensifies when she stumbles upon a secret society one nightone that all the guys in her group are in (including Matthew). Further investigation reveals that this an exclusive, all-male secret society that has been around since the mid-1900's: the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Annoyed at the sexism of the club and at Matthew, Frankie decides to show them that girls can be just as brilliant masterminds as them- in Frankie's case, more. What follows is a sequence of events (and pranks) that resulted in what Frankie Landau-Banks is today: possibly the most underestimated, scheming, brilliant mind of the time. And she hadn't even graduated high school yet.
Yeah. It's a very well-written book that shows thoughtfulness, (lots of) intelligence, humor, and is surprisingly relatable. It's good for any high schooler, though maybe some really mature middle schoolers could read it. I highly recommend! While I said up at the top that it sometimes moved a little slowly, it's really interesting and is well worth the read. I intend to look up other books by the author, too. So, this one's at Kettleson (once I return it), SHS, Blatchley, and Mt. Edgecumbe. Go! What are you waiting for? Oh, yeah, it's Easter so they're probably closed. Still, you can get it tomorrow! Now shoo!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bad Kitty

First thing: don't be fooled by this book's superficial appearances. Well, it  is kinda superficial, but it's totally and completely worth reading. In fact, I will be disgusted if you don't read it. (I know, deadly threat). I picked it up as a random book to read and now have recommended it to all of my friends (the girls; if you couldn't tell, it's not exactly a guy book). First thing I have to say about this book: it's flipping hilarious. I think this may be the funniest book I've ever read. Believe me, that's saying something. Okay, I'll rave more after the review, so here's Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe.
Meet Jasmine (preferably going by Jas): she's seventeen, is an aspiring forensic supersleuth, and has mocha skin and a height akin to King Kong. This summer, she's being dragged away from her friends to spend some compulsory "family time" in Las Vegasfamily meaning her father, who seems intent on stopping her dreams of investigating, her stepmother, who's knowledge base consists of all things feminine (and yet is impossible not to like), and her evil cousin Alyson and her evil-hench-person Veronique. On this vacation, she promises herself, she's going to be the model daughter. No embarrassments, no public spectacles, and definitely no investigating.
One thing you should know about Jas: she has a) and affinity for catsnot necessarily in a good wayand b) a certain ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When these things combine, it spells trouble for everyoneespecially Jasmine and her "model daughter" goal. All attempts to stop investigating go out the window when she's introduced to a mystery involving a famous actress and her young son Fred. They seem to be hiding from the actress's ex-husband, who was convicted of murder a year ago but escaped and is on the run. Add into that a psychotic cat, a bodyguard with a certain love of mesh tees, and three best friends who may be crazier than the cat, and you get a mess of epic proportions. And where the heck does the cute snack stand guy fit into all of this?
So, I ended up devouring this book in the space of one afternoon. It brought new meaning to the phrase "laugh out loud." For about half the book, I was cracking up about every five minutes (maybe less). If it had been in public, people would have thought I was insane (not that I'm saying I'm not...). Anyway, I will most certainly hold it against you if you don't read it. This is one of those books that you really need to read. It's at Kettleson right now, so what are you waiting for???