Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Where's Walrus?" by Stephen Savage 2011 / 32 p.

A witty play on the title and theme of the popular "Where's Waldo?", this charming wordless picture book is full of humor and fun as the walrus from the city zoo makes his big escape! Kids will love finding the walrus on each page as he manages to foil the zookeeper at each stop in their chase through the big city. The book ends with the walrus performing a fantastic feat, giving the zookeeper a brilliant idea to attract visitors to the zoo and saving walrus from his potential wrath.

This is the kind of picture book that parents, teachers, and librarians love because it encourages audience interaction and participation in telling the story and deciphering what all is going on. Kids will love its silliness and the fact that walrus avoids getting in trouble! The illustrations are bold and graphic with a retro look about them. One of my newest faves in children's department!

Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

by Sabrina Jeffries, 345 pages 
Lady Minerva Sharpe has no intention of being manipulated into marriage by her grandmother's threat of disinheritance.  She decides, instead, to place an ad for a husband in a ladies' magazine.  This should be sufficiently appalling and cause her grandmother to rescind her demands which would, in turn, allow Minerva to retire quietly to the country where she could continue to write Gothic novels in peace.

Giles Masters is annoyed that Minerva's favorite villain is acting out scenes from his life.  When he sees her ad for a husband, he decides the quickest way to get her to stop writing about him is to marry her.  When Minerva turns down his real proposal and proposes a false engagement instead, Giles decides this might be his chance to woo his reluctant lady.

Okay, so the title on this one seemed a little goofy to me, but the book was a lot of fun.  It's the third in Jeffries's "Hellions of Halstead Hall" series, and the love story is tied up in the mystery of the murder/suicide or just plain murder of Minerva's parents.  There's a nice balance of intrigue, witty dialog, and steamy scenes which kept me interested to the end.  (In other words, I didn't run into that point in the book where I was thinking "Is this done yet," a point I usually hit in romances.)  This will be a good one for historical romance fans.

The Age of Innocence

by Edith Wharton, 217 pages 

In New York's Gilded Age, society reigns supreme, and Newland Archer thinks this is how it should be.  He is engaged to the lovely May Welland, has an undemanding job at a law office, and enjoys the conventions of the world in which he lives.  All these comforts are challenged with the arrival of his fiance's scandalous cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska.  In his attempts to keep his civilized world free of scandal, he draws closer to the intriguing Ellen and begins to dream of a different life, one not allowed by society.  This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921.

"The Age of Innocence" is a compelling story of a man torn between desire and responsibility.  Wharton's New York backdrop is richly detailed, and her dialog is layered with subtext of a world that doesn't speak about the things that matter.  For me, this book was poignant and thoughtful and maybe a little depressing, but I still really enjoyed it.  I recommend this to anyone interested in history or social issues.

"The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett

217 pages

The mysterious, alluring woman who can't necessarily be trusted. The search for an exotic, expensive item that people will kill for, literally. The detective who has strong morals but will bend the law to find the truth. All of these familiar elements of hardboiled detective novels began in 1930 with "The Maltese Falcon," which is the Big Read selection for 2012.

The story begins with detective Sam Spade and his partner, Miles Archer, receiving a visit from an attractive young woman who calls herself Miss Wonderly. She asks the detectives to follow her sister's new husband, whom she believes to be dangerous. This leads to a murder, and Spade discovers that Miss Wonderly is not who she says she is. Her name is actually Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and she's involved in the hunt for a legendary jewel-encrusted falcon statue that is said to have been a gift from the island of Malta to the King of Spain several hundred years ago, but was lost on ship in transit and has been searched for ever since. Spade soon finds himself tangled up with the network of treasure seekers who will stop at nothing to find the falcon.

I really got sucked into this book! The action begins right away and is nonstop until the end. The author tells a lot of the story and develops the characters by using details to create a mental picture, and all of the details are relevant. There aren't any insignificant descriptions cluttering things up. Hammett's storytelling made the story come alive for me, and there are lots of twists in the plot that kept me interested. I'll definitely be checking out some of his other novels and short stories.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hoshin Engi, Volume 5: Comrades
by Ryu Fujisaki
189 p.
Previously, Dakki sent some assassins to eliminate Hiko Ko and his family before they arrived in Seiki. These assassins are quickly dealt with. Taikobo arrives to assist Hiko's family when they are stopped by assassins sent by Bunchu. These are stronger than the first group. All seems lost when Nataku shows up to help defeat them. Hiko and all then finally arrive in Seiki only to be stopped by the Shisei, four immortals hired by Bunchu to kill Hiko Ko. Will Taikobo, Nakatu, and the Ko family survive the onslaught? Will the late arrival of the genius Yozen help anything?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Green Like God" by Jonathan Merritt

208 pages

I'm very much into being environmentally conscious, but I think a lot of what's being written about it is overly simplistic and repetitive. Then there is the feeling that a lot of the people who are "going green" are only doing so because it's trendy. What happens when it's not cool anymore? So I was skeptical when I picked up this book. I thought it was refreshing to see a Christian book focused on the environment, but part of me wondered if it was just trying to be different and prove that Christians are as cool as everybody else. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Merritt provides strong evidence from the Bible to support everything he writes. It's clear that he's motivated by what God says, not by what society is into at the moment. His first argument is that God made the Earth, said it was good, and gave us responsibility over it, so we should treat it with respect. I've heard this before from other Christian environmentalists, but Merritt explains it better than I've heard before. He also says that we hurt other people when we hurt the environment, which is something that I hadn't considered at all before. Climate change causes famines and food shortages, and pollution poisons lungs. In order to truly take care of our neighbors and our future descendants, we should take care of the environment. Merritt offers a few suggestions for green living, but for the most part he sticks to the theology and leaves the tips for other books, which I think was a good move because there are plenty of those books out there. I liked this book just as it is. It made me care more about the enivronment--for the right reasons.

Switching On the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas


About the Book: A collection of sixty poems all about night and bedtime.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I was intrigued when I saw this book reviewed on Booklist's Bookends blog. Cindy and Lynn recommended this book as a baby gift and since I have a lot of friends popping out kids this Spring, I thought I'd check it out.

I agree it would make a delightful baby gift! This collection of poems is thoughtfully compiled and the subjects range from the moon rising to brushing teeth to bathtime. There are also a great variety of poems-short and long, some that rhyme, some funny, some a bit more serious. The poems would be perfect for reading aloud to even the youngest of children and I can see it becoming a bedtime favorite.

Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott


About the Book: A young boy learns about haircuts from his father the barber and offers his own haircuts during the full moon.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I think this might be one of my favorite picture books I've read so far this year. It's a perfectly delightful and laugh out loud tale about a young barber who offers his services to monsters.

The pre-school crowd will love this book and it would be perfect for Halloween themed storytimes. The cast of characters is what makes this book. The various monsters that fill the page are great and it's fun to see who comes into the shop. The illustrations aren't just about the monsters though. The reader will want to look on the walls and read what products are used on the monsters hair. This would be a great book to read aloud-I loved it!

Ace Lacewing: Bug Dectective The Big Swat by David Biedrzycki


About the Book: Bugsy Goldwing is the best rookie slugger in the bug league and his talent may lead the Stinkbugs to a victory. But when Bugsy's prize bat goes missing, it's up to Ace Lacewing to solve the case.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is the second Ace Lacewing book I've read and I've enjoyed each one. I love the noir feel to the books and the sly references and word play are a treat for adult readers. This series is a great introduction to the mystery genre. Clues are laid out and readers can try to solve the case along with Ace.

I read a batch of picture book aloud to my husband and out of all of them, Ace Lacewing was his favorite. He says it's a perfect book for young book-bugs, mystery, and baseball. So Ace Lacewing gets a Thompson family recommendation!

The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee


About the Book: A new baby arrives and he is the boss of everything!

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: The Boss Baby is a hilarious picture book. From the moment the baby arrives, he is the boss of everything. He holds meetings (even in the middle of the night!) and bosses his workers around. This is a very creative take on the new baby storyline, although I do think it's more a picture book for adults. There are lots of business references that I think will go over the heads of young readers. I also wonder if the humor might be a bit lost on them.

The Bossy Baby would make a great gift for expectant parents-it's a funny peek into the life of parenting.

"Monkey With a Toolbelt" by Chris Monroe

"Goodnight, toolbelt!"

Chico Bon Bon is a handymonkey who uses his multitude of tools (and an awesome toolbelt) to build and fix things for his friends and family. But when he is captured by an evil organ grinder, will his toolbelt be enough to help him escape?

This book was a total adventure. I felt like a kid again as I read through the pages, biting my nails as Chico is captured and exploring the intricate artwork of Chris Monroe. There is a lot to discover in each individual illustration as Monroe is all about the details - including a page detailing every tool in Chico's toolbelt (pajama hammer, banana hammer, turkey wrench, snozzer, squeegee...I could go on)

It also teaches the reader about resourcefulness. When Chico is put in a bad situation, he uses what he's got to fix it. He's also a good role model because he uses his tools to help his family and friends. This was a very enjoyable, exciting read!

"The Pout-Pout Fish" by Deborah Diesen

"I'm a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face..."

The pout-pout fish swims around with a perpetual pout. All his friends try to cheer him up but he just can't beat the dreary-wearies - until a beautiful angel fish comes along and plants a kiss on his pout and changes his entire outlook on things.

OK, so we don't know why he's pouting. I presume he's depressed. And when all his friends tell him to buck up that just won't do. Then a random stranger comes along and shows him some affection and his disposition changes. He then goes around showing that affection to others. I think it's a positive message - if nothing else, it's a good excuse to kiss on my baby at the end of the book.

The artwork in this book is phenomenal. Really colorful and enjoyable to explore. Also, it's written in a very musical, rhythmic way. I actually enjoy singing the book to my son as much as I do reading it!

"Nothing" by Janne Teller 227p.

This sparse, yet vivid, young adult story reads like a sardonic fairy tale that progresses from light to dark as a group of young adults set out to prove to an existential classmate that life truly does have meaning.

Set in Denmark, an intellectual teenager living in a commune with his hippie parents, Pierre Anthon, comes to the conclusion that life is nothing. He decides to plant himself in the branches of a plum tree and proceeds to spout off his existential declarations at a group of his peers as they pass by his tree on the way to school. His prophetic musings only incite anger and rebellion at first, causing the group of passersby to unite in proving him wrong. To do this, they decide to create a heap of meaning, creating a system of contribution by allowing each member to choose the next member's sacrifice. The contributions are minimally sacrificial at first, but as the story progresses, the group's hunger for more meaningful items overshadows its ability to think rationally and humanely, and the heap grows into a collection of nothing less than monstrous. After completing the heap, the group confronts their tormentor and, ultimately, their respective consciences as the story comes to a disturbing end.

I think this book has universal appeal, although the Danish setting may be off-putting to young adults. The pacing of the story is lilting, and the ideas it provokes would provide an excellent springboard for discussion in a group setting, although I would be surprised to see this novel added to the public school curriculum anytime soon. The tone evolves effortlessly from humorous to horrific. It has some gruesome and shocking moments, but the author does a fantastic job of describing the more morbid scenes with just a hint of language, employing the powerful tool of suggestion.

Reminiscent of "The Lord of the Flies", this book is a fascinating glimpse into the dangers of groupthink and the meaning of life itself. I highly recommend this for anyone (older teens and adults) who has ever questioned the meaning of life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Creak! Said the Bed by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Regan Dunnick

2010/32 pgs.

About the Book: One after another the kids come into the room and want to sleep in Mom and Dad's bed. But what happens when the dog wants to join too? Can the bed really hold everyone?

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a humorous family story ala The Napping House. Kids and parents will relate to the crowded bed and kids will be laughing as each new family member arrives wanting a place in the bed. Poppa sleeps through most of it, snoring and making nosies like "snurkle" until Fred the dog shows up wanting in the bed too. The illustrations are fun and colorful and it's fun to look for where the crack is on the bed as the suspense builds. A fun book for storytime!

The Ring Went Zing by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jill Barton


About the Book: A frog and a chicken are in love. So to express his love, the frog buys the chicken a ring. But the ring went zing and soon the animals are off on an adventure to capture the ring.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I'll admit it. I'll pulled this one off the new shelf because it said "A story that ends with a kiss" and I'm a sucker for romance and happy endings.

This is a fun rhyming tale. The animals chase off after the ring and continually find another obstacle to capturing the ring. In each instance, a new animal joins in on the chase and the animals all pile up onto the new mode of transportation. It's a humorous story and it does end in a kiss. But it's not for one who likes typical animal romances. I mean, a chicken and a frog romance story? It's a silly book that's for sure. Kids who like funny rhyming stories that build a new element on top of the last will get a kick of this tale.

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon Muth

2010/64 pgs.

About the Book: City dog makes a new friend in country frog. As the seasons pass, the two play games and teach each other new tricks. But when winter comes, city dog can't find country frog.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Books where animals die should come with a warning label that says "Sarah, do not pick up this book!" I can't handle them. The moment country frog says he's tired, I turned to my husband and yelled that the frog was going to die and this was a stupid book.

OK, so maybe it's not a stupid book. It's a quite lovely book actually. And we're never told country frog dies, exactly, so I'll just pretend he found a new farm and a new pond, right??

The story is a lovely and charming book about friendship, loss, and recovering and building new friendships, but done in a simple and understated way. The text is sparse, but we get to know city dog and country frog and the illustrations give us a look into their friendship. The illustrations are expressive and fun and overall the book is a good book. I just want to be warned when a book will be sad!

Dollhouse Fairy by Jane Ray

2010/32 pgs.

About the Book: Rosy loves her dollhouse. Every Saturday Rosy gets up and plays with the dollhouse with her father. But one Saturday Rosy wakes up and finds out her father is sick and had to go to the hospital. While he's gone, Rosy finds a fairy taking up residence in her dollhouse. The fairy has a hurt wing so Rosy helps mend the fairy and get her flying again until her father can come home.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Child Sarah would have loved this book. Give this to me in first grade and I would have been looking for fairies in every dollhouse. And while it's a charming fairy story and it does stand out in the crowded field of fairy books, adult Sarah wasn't that big of a fan. I think it was the artwork. The dollhouse was awesome and made me want to go play with my old childhood dollhouse again. And the fairy was OK-she looked how a fairy should look. But the humans I thought looked weird and a bit creepy. I guess I like my humans to be a bit more lifelike in illustrations.

I also thought the story was a bit messy. First the story is about Rosy and her dad, than about the fairy, then her dad again. I don't know how many kids will catch on to the fact that Rosy is mending the fairy while her dad is on the mend and it's her way of dealing with her father's illness.

Fairy fans will love it I'm sure, even if it wasn't my favorite fairy read.

Taking Care of Mama by Mitra Modaressi

2010/32 pgs

About the Book: What's a family to do when Mama's sick? Take care of her of course!

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: A sweet picture book about a raccoon family working together to take care of their sick mama. Mom's I'm sure will read this to their children in hopes that they'll get the hint.

The illustrations are bright and colorful and reminded me a bit of Mercer Mayer. It's a cute story, but I did find the typical stereotype of how Dad can't handle anything and if you leave him in charge things will crazy a bit annoying. But at least it wasn't the Dad's fault for the mess and he could actually cook lunch! A cute sick day book and maybe a sneaky way to teach kids about chores.

Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson and Jennifer Rofe, illustrated by Mary Peterson

2010/28 pgs.

About the Book: Two piggies run amok on the farm.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a cute little picture book that is perfect for reading aloud to toddlers. I'm sure my two-year-old niece would get a kick out of it. The two piggies run all over the farm and through the pages of the book getting into all sorts of trouble.

It's a simple book with not much storyline and the text is OK but nothing special. I liked how the words varied on each page, so sometimes they were slanted, or curving through the pigs adventures. It made the book a bit more visually appealing. I would have liked the words to rhyme or have a plot at least. But toddlers won't care and they'll enjoy the adventures of the pigs no matter what adults think of the book.

Bella and Stella Come Home by Anika Denise and Christopher Denise

About the Book: Bella and her stuffed Elephant Stella have to move. They like thier house and don't want a new one. The new house doesn't feel like home at all. But maybe after exploring and playing the house will feel like home.
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Bella and Stella Come Home is a cute read. The illustrations are adorable. When we first see Stella, she's a stuffed animal, but on other pages she transforms into a life size elephant, giving us a glimpse into Bella's imagination.
At first the new house seems different and not like home at all. But after Bella finds her tea set and her room starts to get set up, she realizes that maybe a new house isn't so bad. A great picture book to read if kids are moving to help ease their fears. It's also a great way to open up discussion on what a new house will be like, what will be the same and what will be different.


Roses by Leila Meacham 609 p.
This is the best book I have taken home in years. I couldn't put it down. A true family saga. Told from each of the main characters point of view. Made me want to go back and read Gone With The Wind again. Set on a cotton plantaion in Texas. There are 3 families whose lives are forever altered because of the decisions made by the Tolliver's, the owners of the plantation. Beautifully written.

A Not So Perfect Past

A Not So Perfect Past by Beth Andrews 245 p.
This was a cute little romp and the first Rita Award Book that I have tried. The usual bad boy meets good girl and all ends well. It was a nice way to spend the evening.

Hoshin Engi, Volume 4: Rebels
by Ryu Fujisaki
191 p.
Taikobo meditates on how he can get Sho Ki to defeat Dakki. After murdering Sho Ki's son Hakuyuko, Dakki sends Sho Ki back to his kingdom Seiki. Buseio Hiko Ko also departs with his clan for Seiki after his wife and sister-in-law are killed. Hiko Ko's friend and fellow soldier Bunchu, however, stays in Choka due to his loyalty to the emporer. The lines are being drawn as both sides prepare for the coming war. Oh, Taikobo meets his number one fan Bukichi, who has giant feet and won't stop following him.

What I Did for Love

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, 401 pages

Georgie York hasn't been able to catch a break in forever. Eight years ago, her popular family-oriented sit-com Skip and Scooter was cancelled due to her co-star's reckless train wreck of a personal life, and Georgie's starred in nothing but a string of romantic comedy flops since. A year ago, her popular action-star husband left her for another actress, lied to the press that it was because she didn't want children when in reality she desperately does, and is now expecting a baby with his beautiful, globe-trotting, humanitarian cause-obsessed new wife. The paparazzi will not leave Georgie alone and the effort of always putting on her chipper, can-do Scooter face for the public is wearing her down and taking its toll. When she finally tries to give herself a vacation by sneaking off to Vegas with some friends, things only go from bad to worse, as who should she get stuck with but the hated (and hateful) Bram Shephard, the Skip to her Scooter, the reprobate who ruined both their careers, broke her heart, and just woke up beside her new husband...?!

Phillips again writes a romance with some meat on it. These characters have a complicated, detailed back history and an equally complicated present, and watching them get over the former in order to deal with and move beyond the latter is interesting and entertaining. The dialogue is fun, the drama believable, and the characters likeable (once the reader gets over some of that complicated back history, too). The resolution is hokey and too perfect, but I find that to be a common issue with the genre and it works fine here. The echoes of real-life celebrity gossip (Branjelina, Jennifer Aniston, Charlie Sheen) just make the book that much funnier and more "realistic", however over-the-top the personalities and the plot, perhaps because we can all relate to the gossip pages (if not the lives of the ones fueling them). I still have my grumbles and eye-rolls, but the story nevertheless kept my non-romance reader interest from first page to last.

Hellsing: Volume 5

by Kohta Hirano, 205 pages

Millennium has created a distraction in the Atlantic while they secretly send a bunch of giant airships armed with bombs and a hungry undead army to attack the English homeland.

Ew. Alucard's dispatching of Rip Van, the crazy, super-powered, gun-toting, aircraft carrier-hijacking distraction, is neither quick nor painless. Meanwhile, things have rather gone to h-e-double-hockey-sticks on the mainland. Without Alucard, will Integra, Police Girl, and the rest of Hellsing be able to fend off the vile invaders?

InuYasha: Volume 45

by Rumiko Takahashi, 184 pages

InuYasha and friends track down evil Naraku and Moryomaru, the demonic being protecting Naraku's heart (the only human, and therefore vulnerable, part of him), but are shocked to find the two fighting each other--and Moryomaru appears to be winning. When the companions realize Naraku's only getting stronger than ever, they throw themselves into a desperate attack while he's still in transition.

A lot of what's best in this volume (and the series as a whole) springs from the interconnected personal histories Takahashi has created for her characters throughout the books. Everybody has their own reasons to fight, but those reasons grow and change over time, and that gives the plot, and the characters, substance and depth, which are nice (and often hard) things to find in an action series.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" by David Sedaris

159 pages

I’ve read all of David Sedaris’ other books and loved them, so I had high expectations for “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.” Here he writes something different from his usual essays—this is a collection of satirical short stories about animals that behave like humans. Each little story demonstrates some aspect of human nature. Some of them are pretty gruesome and make a point about how awful people can be to each other. There are a few funny moments, but the stories aren’t nearly as hilarious as Sedaris’ writing usually is. There are a couple of really clever conclusions, but most of them end on a bleak note. When I finished the entire collection, I felt kind of depressed. I think the stories were worth reading because they made me think, but they definitely didn’t live up to my expectations.

A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews

Harry Crews didn't have an idyllic childhood.  He grew up poor, with a stepfather who was a "brutal drunk" in the hardscrabble world of backwoods Georgia.  He discovered the world when he went into the Marine Corps and has said he was never without a book during his tour of duty in the early 60s.  He struggled to become a writer; wanted it more than anything and lost his family as a result of trying.  He puts his past and his memories into writing some of the most vicious, violent books you can imagine.  But he does it with a sense of wrathful humor.  His books are like car accidents or train wrecks.  Every page is a disaster you can't look away from.  A Feast of Snakes is no different.  I would not recommend it for the faint of heart but if you're willing to wade into a world of rattlesnake hunting, whiskey swigging, baton-twirling cheerleaders, and brutal dogfights, you'll find a unique voice you can't shake, no matter how hard you try.  Prepare to be sickened and awed.
A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews, pp 177
Kim F

Moon Over Manifest

by Clare Vanderpool. 351 pages

Early on the morning of January 10, I'm listening to the ALA Media Award announcements. I hear the winner of the 2011 Newbery Award announced: Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool. What? Who? I know I do not keep as current about new juvenile and young adult literature as I did in my last job, but I usually have some inkling of what's going on. I felt a bit better when I spoke with a couple of other people who were equally perplexed.

Once I read Vanderpool's tale of 12-year-old Abilene Tucker and the stories she lives and hears when she moves to the town of Manifest, Kansas, I understood. This has to be the best job of storytelling since Sachar's Holes -- winner of the 1999 Newbery Award. Through Abilene's first person narration set in 1936, newspaper articles from 1918, and the stories the diviner Miss Sadie tells about Manifest's past, the reader sees the various pieces dropping in place until the entire picture unfolds, with the sum being much greater than its parts.

Abilene is the daughter of a drifter, riding the rails from one town to the next. She's never known a permanent home or family other than her father, Gideon. After a scratch leads to an infection that leaves her with a high fever, Gideon sends the recovered Abilene to Manifest, Kansas to stay with an old friend, Shady, who seems to be a part-time preacher and part-time bootlegger. Abilene feels perplexed and abandoned and is determined to learn about her father's past from Shady and other members of the diverse community. Abilene discovers an old box filled with mysterious mementos in her room at Shady's. Abilene shares her discovery with Ruthanne and Lettie, cousins with whom she's become friends upon her arrive in Manifest. As the girls start the search for the meaning behind the objects, they learn of a mysterious character from the war years who some supposed to be a spy. The reader goes back and forth between 1918 Manifest and its occupants and the current Manifest of 1936, but the transitions are seamless and the story moves quickly. As the summer progresses and Abilene becomes frustrated that her father doesn't seem to have a past in Manifest, she (and the town of Manifest) learns about the value of stories to a person's past, present and future.

I have to say, I questioned the setting for this story when I began reading. Really, some small, rural town in Kansas that is populated by Poles, Germans, Greeks, Hungarians and more? But Vanderpool not only weaves a fascinating story, she provides historical reference and facts as foundation for this full story with its rich collection of characters. She drops subtle and innocent hints that are well-placed. And it's such fun to see those innocent hints become pieces that fit together to make a fascinating picture.

The Opposite of Invisible

By Liz Gallagher

154 pages

Alice and Jewel have been friends for years and they don't hang out much with other people. They are both artsy although Jewel is the better artist and go to galleries and drink coffee together. Alice has never really thought of Jewel as anything more than her friend so when he becomes a little possessive and kisses her she's a little confused. Then we add in Simon a new guy who plays football and asks Alice out the same day Jewel kisses her. Alice feels like she can't turn down Simon and starts dating him. She and Jewel drift apart but will they be friends again?

This book was a good read but not fantastic. It isn't very long and a decent book to fill in some free time. The characters are a little flat and the story ends just as it really begins. If the author would add another hundred pages this could have been a great story. Ending where it does we are left with an okay one instead.

Perfect Chemistry

By Simone Elkeles

360 pages

If you just read the summary of Perfect Chemistry you might pass but it is worth a second look. The two main characters are pretty stereotypical on the outside but the old adage of don't judge a book by its cover asserts itself quite clearly. Brittany Ellis is a blonde pretty cheerleading captain who dates the star football player. She just got a BMW for her birthday but she doesn't really like it. Her home life seems perfect but that perfection is a carefully cared for front. Her dad is never home and her mother needs everything to be just so. Her older sister is kept a secret from most of her friends but not out of shame because Brittany loves her sister. Alex Fuentes has built his reputation just as carefully but as a tough gang member to keep his family safe. Most of the people at school are scared of Alex but they don't really know him either. In Chemistry the two are put together as partners and bump heads from the begining to the end. You'll have to read to find out what happens.

I really enjoyed Perfect Chemistry as a YA book it really hit the mark. Clearly aimed for teens this book gives an interesting story and full characters without writing down to the reader. It is a good quick read and perfect for reluctant readers.

Perfect Chemistry has found it's way onto several award lists as follows:

-Finalist, Kentucky Bluegrass High School Book Awards

-2010 Top Ten YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers

-2010 Romance Writers of America RITA award winner

-2011 Abraham Lincoln Award semifinalist

-2010-2011 Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice nominee