Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Plot Summary:
Karou has no recollection of her past. She doesn't know who she is and has no idea how she inherited her special abilities. The only thing she does know is that she cannot tell anyone, even her best friend, that she has been raised by the very entities she draws: mythological creatures known as Chimera. Karou is currently an art student at one of the most prestigious academies in the Czech Republic. After breaking up with her two-timing boyfriend, Karou spends most of her time focusing on her art and running errands for her guardian named Brimstone. Although Brimstone is Chimera, he is actually known as a Wishmonger who collects teeth to make wishes. The trouble with the teeth part is that Karou is actually responsible for retrieving those items using portals that take her "Elsewhere." Although she calls them "errands" most of us would call outlandish adventures that could easily cost her her life. Despite all of the excitement, Karou is starting to realize the loneliness that resides in her heart. After Kaz, all Karou wants is to be wanted and love, but with the recent events, the only beings she loves and cares about are in grave danger. Recently, black handprints have been appearing on all of the portals that Karou uses and they are put there by other worldly creatures who are bent on cleansing the Earth of Chimera. When Brimstone summons her, in desperation, Karou notices how worried he is because his supply of teeth has run dry. On her journey to meet an old acquaintance, who was banished from the shop, Karou runs into a beautiful creature with dark eyes filled with hate until he notices the tattoos on her palms. What is it about the pair of eyes on her hands that stopped the beautiful, angelic creature from killing her? Secondly, why are all the portals closed off and what has happened to Brimstone and the rest of her Chimera family? Rather than living the life Brimstone told her to live, Karou wants answers as to who she really is and why an angel would risk his immortal soul for her.

Critical Evaluation:
This story is probably one of the most epic romances I have read in a while and I am just in awe. Not only am I drawn to Karou and Akiva (as mythical beings), but their loneliness and their reunion is what pulls at my heart strings. Once readers start learning about the Angels and the Chimera, it starts to makes sense why this war exists. In other words, the Angels thought they were civilizing a species, but, in reality, they were enslaving and oppressing the Chimera, which ended up in a bloody Civil War. The funny thing is that Angels really believed they were doing good, but, they took for granted the fact that the Chimera never asked for any of it; thus, the mess that brought Madrigal and Akiva together. In relation to Karou, readers are definitely thrown for a loop when we learn that she may be a reincarnation of a Madrigal that saved Akiva from death, which may, or may not, please readers. Karou is a strong, young woman who has her own soul (and personality) so it's a little condescending to read that Akiva is only attracted to her because she happens to be Madrigal in another form. Although Karou/Madrigal are really the same person, she was reborn with the memories, but her way of thinking has changed immensely. Personally, I think Karou and Madrigal are two separate entities, but they both represent the Chimera that shows they are not vicious monsters and that human are more forgiving and compassionate than Angels. For example, Brimstone didn't have to raise Karou as his own, but he did because he does have the capability to love. More importantly, to be human is compassionate and knowing what's true and what's now (why else would she go looking for the family she still loves despite everything). The part that I find ironic is that both both of the main characters are not human, yet the possess the will and the want to be loved, accepted, and forgiven. In essence, the question the author poses is what really makes us human or inhuman? Both Karou and Akiva love being in our world because there is so much beauty and life; for Akiva, this world has hope, which, coincidentally, is the meaning of Karou's name. For Karou, she has her art, her best friend Zuzana, and she has her childhood among the Chimera. Honestly, there is a lot going on this story that is so incredibly deep that readers can't help but to devour the pages in one sitting. Laini Taylor is truly a gifted storyteller and I am looking forward to reading the next installments.

Information about the Author:
According to her blog:
I'm Laini Taylor.
I am a writer-artist-daydreamer-nerd-person,
and simultaneously a mom-wife-sister-daughter-person.
I can do a lot of things at once, like for example: I can sleep and dream and also lie very still,
all while also breathing and ever-so-slowly growing ten distinct toenails.
* * *
I write books for youngish people, 
but they can also be read and enjoyed by oldish people, aka grown-ups.
You know grown-ups? They tend to be a little bigger and hairier than kids.
But not always.
* * *
I live in Portland, Oregon, USA
with my husband Jim Di Bartolo, who is an amazing illustrator and who I'm
always begging to draw me things,
and with our wee droll genius, Clementine Pie.
* * *
Some of my favorite things are books and bookstores
and breakfast food and mangoes and chocolate,
and cake stands and table cloths and old houses,
and going places (like libraries and other countries),
and dreaming up stories,
and making stuff (like cupcakes or peculiar dolls),
and playing with Jim and Clementine,
and taking pictures,
and falling asleep (so cozy)
and waking up (exciting!).

Genre:
Teen Fantasy, Teen Supernatural Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com
  •  YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • A New York Times Notable Children's Book of the Year
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
  • A Junior Library Guild Selection of the YearA Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Lush description of a gothic and ghostly Prague beckons readers from the first page and fulfills its promise, leading to a star-crossed romance that spans worlds and transcends death...[Leaves] the reader both satisfied and eagerly anticipating a forthcoming sequel."—The Horn Book, starred review

* "The suspense builds inexorably, and the philosophical as well as physical battles will hold action-oriented readers. The unfolding of character, place, and plot is smoothly intricate, and the conclusion is a beckoning door to the next volume."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "National Book Award finalist Taylor (Lips Touch: Three Times) again weaves a masterful mix of reality and fantasy with cross-genre appeal. Exquisitely written and beautifully paced, the tale is set in ghostly, romantic Prague, where 17-year-old Karou is an art student--except when she is called "home" to do errands for the family of loving, albeit inhuman, creatures who raised her. Mysterious as Karou seems to her friends, her life is equally mysterious to her: How did she come to live with chimaera? Why does paternal Brimstone eternally require teeth--especially human ones? And why is she "plagued by the notion that she wasn't whole....a sensation akin to having forgotten something?" Taylor interlaces cleverly droll depictions of contemporary teenage life with equally believable portrayals of terrifying otherworldly beings. When black handprints begin appearing on doorways throughout the world, Karou is swept into the ancient deadly rivalry between devils and angels and gradually, painfully, acquires her longed-for self-knowledge. The book's final pages seemingly establish the triumph of true love--until a horrifying revelation sets the stage for a second book."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Rarely--perhaps not since the author's own Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (2007)--does a series kick off so deliciously."—Kirkus, starred review

* "[A]long with writing in such heightened language that even casual banter often comes off as wildly funny, the author crafts a fierce heroine with bright-blue hair, tattoos, martial skills, a growing attachment to a preternaturally hunky but not entirely sane warrior and, in episodes to come, an army of killer angels to confront. Rarely--perhaps not since the author's own Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (2007)--does a series kick off so deliciously."—Kirkus, starred review

* "Taylor crafts both her world and her romance with meticulous care, building the first on a wealth of thought-provoking details and making the second equal parts tender and antagonistic...Fans of torturously star-crossed lovers a la those in Marr's Wicked Lovely and Black's Tithe will find much to enjoy here, but those who flock to innovative, character-driven fantasy with thematic depth will be equally enthralled."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

"[A] breath-catching romantic fantasy about destiny, hope and the search for one's true self"—The New York Times Book Review

"An adventurous story of self-identity, "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is written with high-stakes flair and a touch of humor...[It is] well-told and well-paced, raising intriguing questions about notions of identity, expectation, trust, betrayal and belonging."—The Los Angeles Times

"Author Taylor has created a variety of worlds, time frames, and creatures with such detail and craft that all are believable...Readers will look forward to the suggested sequel to this complex, exciting tale."—Booklist

* "Lush description of a gothic and ghostly Prague beckons readers from the first page and fulfills its promise, leading to a star-crossed romance that spans worlds and transcends death...[Leaves] the reader both satisfied and eagerly anticipating a forthcoming sequel."—The Horn Book (starred review)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Monday, July 21, 2014
I would like to take a moment and thank all of my viewers and subscribers for their readership. Although you can't see it (which I will remedy), but my blog has be viewed 100,329 times and I am so excited! I will continue to work on adding more books and please, please send me suggestions so I can not only keep reading books I like, but what my readers like as well. 

Thank you again and keep on reading!

100,329 VIEWS AND COUNTING!

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Tag :
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Plot Summary:
After being unemployed for a year, Clay decided to get off the computer and "pound the pavement" with want ads in hand. Although San Francisco is a relatively small city, the hills will make any job hunt difficult, but at least the views are spectacular. On his hunt, Clay stumbles upon a small shop that sells pristine used books called "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore." Upon entering this establishment, Clay is blown away not just by the selection, but the sheer amount where tall ladders are requited for searching. When Clay meets Mr. Penumbra, an elderly gentlemen with kind blue eyes, he blurts out that he needs a job. Granted, the only experience Clay has with book retail is the the crummy job he previously held where the owner sold his own cookbook, Mr. Penumbra gives him the job based on the fact that he and his best friend bonded over a fantasy series called Dragon-Song Chronicles and he can climb a ladder. There are only three staff members at the store and Clay works the night shift.  Granted, most people just stop by to browse, but Mr. Penumbra's does have an interesting clientele that actually uses the store as a library where specific customers can obscure books from the Waybacklist; these are items that are so rare that they don't have any ISBN numbers, the pages are gold leafed, and their cover designs are sculpted intricately. More importantly, these items are so obscure, they are literally unreadable. There are a few rules about Penumbra's: first of all, when a customer comes in to the store to purchase, or borrow, be must record these dealing in a giant ledger where Clay must write the customer's name, the book purchased/borrowed, customer description, and their reaction to the transaction. Secondly, Clay is not allowed to read through any of the materials despite the fact he in the bookstore, by himself, all through the night. Lastly, each member of the Waybacklist has a membership card with a series of numbers that he must record. Although Clay does the best he can to do what he is told ( he pretty paranoid about losing this job), he can't help himself when it comes to the Waybacklist and shows his closest friends the phenomenon that are these books. With the help og his buddies, and a cute Googler named Kat,  they concoct an elaborate scheme to digitize the logs books and input that data into a series of super computer programs will allow him to create a 3D model of the bookstore and how customer transactions affect the shape. When they finish the project, they reveal an answer that will not only threaten the existence  of the bookstore, but Mr. Penumbra himself. Is it possible that the very code Clay and company have created crack the code in the books? Be prepared for an all nighter, everyone because this book is unstoppable.

Critical Evaluation:
WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!! I don't think I have had this much fun with a book since I read Harry Potter! Not only was my little nerd heart pumping a million miles an hour, I had to devour this book because my brain craved it so much. Bravo, Robin Sloan for writing such an original and creative story that not only resonates with people my age, but books lovers will appreciate the adventure that the characters go through. One of the underlying themes that I have discovered is that everything evolves over time. In other words, the members of the Unbroken Spine have spent many, many years trying to solve the puzzle that when Clay and Cat crack the code using modern tools, they have shown that modern methods work efficiently and effectively,  which is upsetting for traditionalists like Corvina. This book, in my opinion, is the perfect title to bring readers of all ages together to launch a dialogue about tradition and innovation. Clearly, there is a huge gap right now between the generations where older folks prefer to stay clear of technology and the younger generation may know how to code computer programs but are completely uses when it comes to common sense things such as balancing a check book or changing a tire. The problem that this younger, and newer, group is facing is that some of the older members are willing to use new tools to solve the mystery, but the "leader" of the group is not willing to employ such methods. As a librarian, this problem is an every day occurrence and there really isn't a solution unless the patron is willing to give in and learn. Lastly, the idea of immortality is what draws people into the Unbound Spine, but don't realize that immortality goes beyond living forever, physically and metaphysically.For Clay and company, their mission to copy the Codex Vitae is not just about immortality, but about solving a mystery that has yet to be solved. This book provides an important lesson that it's not about what tools, or means, we use to solve the problem, but how we solved it as a team. I really, really, really, really like this book so I think all of you should go out and read it TODAY!

Information about the Author:According to his website:
I grew up near Detroit and went to school at Michigan State, where I studied economics and co-founded a literary magazine called Oats. Between 2002 and 2012, I worked at Poynter, Current TV, and Twitter, and at all those places, my job had something to do with figuring out the future of media.
I’m the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, which started as a short story right here and is now a full-length novel published by FSG and Picador in the United States and many others around the world.

Genre:
Fiction

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 11 & up

Books Similar to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore:

Awards & Recognition:

From Amazon.com

“A real tour de force [and] a beautiful fable...The reader is swept along by Sloan’s enthusiasm.”—George Saunders, BLIP Magazine“Part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem... Eminently enjoyable, full of warmth and intelligence.”—The New York Times Book Review“A book about passion—for books, for history, for the future...There is nothing about Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore that I didn’t love.”—Cory Doctorow

“Delightful.” —Graham Joyce, The Washington Post“An irresistible page-turning novel.” —Newsweek“One of the most thoughtful and fun reading experiences you’re likely to have this year...There’s so much largehearted magic in this book.”—NPR

“A jaunty, surprisingly old-fashioned fantasy about the places where old and new ways of accessing knowledge meet...[Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore] cleverly uses the technological age in the service of its fantasy...Sloan’s ultimate answer to the mystery of what keeps people solving Penumbra’s puzzle is worth turning pages to find out.”—Tess Taylor, San Francisco Chronicle“[A] winning literary adventure...Sloan grounds his jigsawlike plot with Big Ideas about the quest for permanence in the digital age.”—Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly“Fantastic...I loved diving into the world that Sloan created, both the high-tech fantasyland of Google and the ancient analog society. It’s packed full of geeky allusions and wonderful characters, and is a celebration of books, whether they’re made of dead trees or digits.”—Jonathan H. Liu, Wired, GeekDad

“Sloan makes bits and bytes appear beautiful. ...The rebels’ journey to crack the code—grappling with an ancient cult, using secret passwords and hidden doorways—will excite anyone’s inner child.”—The Economist
Tag :
Monday, July 14, 2014
Plot Summary:
After being pulled out the the Black Box, Thomas has no memory of who he who is, where he is, and where he came from. As the latest prisoner of the Glade, Thomas has not choice but to do what he is told or face the consequences. The Glad is comprised of many young men who have distinct roles and duties. The leaders, or Keepers, of the Glade preside over various sections and assign each "Greenie" (or newbie) specific tasks to keep the Glade running in top shape. When Thomas arrived, certain members of the Glade haven't made his "homecoming" very welcoming; in fact, Galley, Thomas' arch nemesis, swears he has seen him before, which leads to a lot of suspicion. Thomas has no memory of this place at all and the very idea that he has been there before is outrageous. After befriending a young boy named Chuck, Thomas tries to wrap his head around Glade, the Grievers, and, more importantly, the Maze that lies outside the walls. As Thomas learns the way of the, things become more complicated when the Black Box delivers another surprise: a comatose girl with a message telling the Gladers that this will be the last delivery ever. When everyone suspects that Thomas has something to do with this because the Glade had never gotten two "greenies" within a few days, let a lone one being a girl.  More importantly, suspicions continue to rise when  Ben, one of the members of the Glade who was stung by one of "Grievers," attacks Thomas spouting  how dangerous he is. Luckily, Alby and Newt (two of the Keepers) believe in Thomas' innocence and Ben is punished for his behavior. One thing about the Glade is if you are disorderly than you WILL suffer the consequences. After meeting Minho, one of the Runners, Thomas decides that if he is going to be a part of this world, he will be a Runner. At the request of the Keepers, Thomas must try harder to remember who he is because very curious things have been happening that relate to him. However, the more he puts to together, the more he learns that his very presence in the Maze could put everyone in danger. However, as Thomas learns, the Gladers have two choices: stay in the Glade and risk imminent death or charge the Maze and bring an end to their imprisonment.

Critical Evaluation:
I will be honest that I had a bit of a hard time getting into this story. Maybe it is because I burned out with Dystopian stories, but the lingo these boys use drove me crazy! Once readers get past the exceptionally lame slangs/curse words, the story is actually fast-paced and action packed that will keep readers entertained. For example, the scene with Ben and the Gathering had my heart racing a bit because we have no idea what fate awaits him because his screams and reactions to his punishment are chilling. Also, the description of the Grievers and the Beetle Blades sound really frightening because these "foes" are part machine and part animal; readers will realize that somebody, or something, is controlling these things beyond the Glade. Initially, I thought the idea of the Glade was some sort of sick reality show (like the "Hunger Games") that some twisted society thought up of as a means of setting an example or, as Thomas puts it, this place really is a prison for boys who may have done something horrible. Unfortunately, readers don't find out the reason for the Glade until the end of the first book, which was done purposely to make the reader finish the series. This series is aimed at tween male readers and it's new re-telling of the "Lord of the Flies" where young boys must work together to survive no matter the costs. My only hope was that poor Chuck will be alive in the next installment because he is totally the "Piggy" character of this story, but, alas, I was let down. I know I am making a lot of references here, but, sadly, I didn't really see anything original about the characters and story development. Personally, all of the secrecy annoyed me because if the mission is about survival, why won't they help Thomas understand everything from the get go? Although I really liked the idea of a giant maze that shifts and the Glade, it takes readers way to long to figure out the the reason why they are trapped. I am not sure if I will continue the series, but I hope the next installments are more concise and more to the point. 

Information about the Author:
According to his website:
James was born and raised in Georgia but now lives in the Rocky Mountains with his family. He has four kids, which some might think is too many but he thinks is just right. Once upon a time, James studied accounting and worked in the field of finance, but has been writing full time for several years. (He doesn’t miss numbers. At all.)
In his free time, James loves to read, watch movies and (good) TV shows, snow ski, and read. (Reading was mentioned twice on purpose.) Most of all, he’s thankful that he gets to make a living writing stories and considers himself pretty much the luckiest guy on the planet.

Genre:
Teen Dystopian Thriller, Teen Sci Fi, Teen Lit for Guys, Tween Dystopian Thrillers

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 8 & up

Books Similar to The Maze Runner:
Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com:

A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Book Sense Bestseller
An Indie Next List Selection
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
An ALA-YASLA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick

"[A] mysterious survival saga that passionate fans describe as a fusion of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost."—EW.com

“Wonderful action-writing—fast-paced…but smart and well observed.”—Newsday

“[A] nail-biting must-read.”—Seventeen.com

“Breathless, cinematic action.”—Publishers Weekly

“Heart pounding to the very last moment.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Exclamation-worthy.”—Romantic Times

* “James Dashner’s illuminating prequel [The Kill Order] will thrill fans of this Maze Runner [series] and prove just as exciting for readers new to the series.”—Shelf Awareness, Starred

“Take a deep breath before you start any James Dashner book.”—Deseret News

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Monday, July 7, 2014
I just wanted to share with everyone that I have reached 300 reviews! It's been such a pleasure sharing these with all of the readers out there and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Thanks so much for your support and I can't wait for the next 300!

~Deb

300 Reviews and Counting!

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Tag :
Plot Summary:
Rin and Yukio are fraternal twin brothers with two very different personalities and abilities. For the youngest twin, Yukio, he is very intelligent, likeable, and successful. In fact, Yukio is the youngest exorcist to ever be enrolled at True Cross Academy and Father Fujimoto (his guardian) is very proud of him. For Rin, the eldest twin, he is the opposite of Yukio with a short temper, a tendency to get into fights, and lacks academic discipline. Although Father Fujimoto is more protective of Rin, Rin wants nothing more than to find his place in this world. As Yukio gets ready for school, Rin must find a job because it's about time that he learns some responsibility so he, too, can be a productive member of society. However, what should have been an easy process, turns complicated when Rin realizes that he can see demons and ends up losing his job over protecting a little girl being plagued by demons. Rin may not understand why he can see demons, but the truth about who he is comes with a great price. Unbeknownst to Rin, but he was chosen by Satan to be his liaison between the realm of the demons (Gehenna) and the realm of the humans (Assiah). When Satan possesses, and murders Father Fujimoto, Rin vows that he will avenge his "real" father and defeat Satan. After meeting Mephisto, Rin tells him that he will destroy Satan and tells him that he wants to be an exorcist.  However, as a demon, his role as an exorcist will not only make him target from other exorcists, but every demon will come after him. Although Rin has no problem with the fighting and death part of being an exorcist, he has to face one of the greatest challenges of his life: succeed at True Cross Academy by doing homework, showing up to class on time, and learn the power of team work.


Critical Evaluation:
This is a fun manga filled with plenty of action and emotion. Rin is absolutely adorable because underneath the demon exterior, he is just like every vulnerable teen guy who just wants to fit in. Although Yukio and Rin are light years apart in certain aspects, there is a love that no one could ever understand and it warms the sould to see how the take care of each other. The question that may plague readers is if Yukio had to, would  kill Rin? Honestly, I don't think he can regardless of what his duty is because, unlike any other demon, Rin has grown up with the capacity to  love and protect those dearest to him. Rin may not be the most devout exorcist, but he knows that is anyone messes with his family, there will literally be hell to pay. The best part of this story is Rin's education. True Cross Academy is this microcosm where exorcists in training learn the various facets of exorcism. Not just anyone can enroll in this school because they have to have the strength, the heart, and the faith to do what they have to do. What we learn about this world is that there are two realms specifically meant for demons and humans. The reason why Rin exists is because Satan needed a body in the human realm in order to launch his hostile takeover. The problem with Satan's plan is that Rin, who truly believes himnself to be human, refuses to side with him, which leads to all sorts of complications for the human world. As Rin learns to control his power, he must also prove to his brother and classmates that he has what it takes to become an exorcist and that is not going to be an easy task.This series is going to be a lot of fun and I can't wait to read more.


Information about the Author:
According to the Blue Exorcist Wiki:
Kazue Katō (加藤和恵, Katō Kazue), born on July 20th, 1980 in the district of Shinjuku, in Tokyo, is a Japanese mangaka, author of shōnen manga. She is mainly known to be author of Blue Exorcist. She also created Robot to Usakichi ( ロボとうさ吉 ), for which she received a prize: Osamu Tezuka Award.

Genre:
Teen Fantasy Manga, Teen Action Manga

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up
 
Books Similar to Blue Exorcist:

Awards & Recognition:
According to Anime News Network:

Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Friday, July 4, 2014
Plot Summary:
In the land named "The Motherland," Standish is stuck in stuck in Zone 7, which lies in a despicable part of Britain zoned off for "the Impure." For Standish and his family, anyone who defied the Motherland, or were different from everyone else, they were imprisoned in Zone 7. As for Standish, his two different colored eyes and inability to read, or write, is a reason he is impure. Most children regard school as a fun and safe place to learn. However, for Standish, there isn't a day that goes by where he isn't physically abused by his own teacher, Mr. Gunnell, and bullied by Hand Fielder. Before his parents disappeared, a year ago, Standish and his grandfather, Harry, have coped the best  they can with a dilapidated home and meager rations. When Hector Rush, and his family, moved into Standish's old home, Gramps was suspicious, but, after meeting them, the Treadwell and the Rush families came together to prove to the Motherland that they will not destroy them. After meeting Hector, Standish instantly bonded with him because it was Hector's presence that allowed him to get a full night's rest, which he hasn't done since his parents' disappearance. The more they got to know each other, the more protective Hector became of Standish. In fact, the created their own imaginary world called Planet Juniper where Standish has been escaping to since the disappearance of the Rush family.  On June 15, after enduring another physical assault from Mr. Gunnell, Standish is called into the Headmaster's office to find a Greenfly waiting for him. Apparently, three days earlier, there was an incident that not only involved Standish and Hector, but they are the key to finding the Moon Man who crash landed in the Motherland. Why are the men in the leather jackets so desperate to find the Moon Man? More importantly, if they find the Moon Man, what will happen to Standish and his grandfather?

Critical Evaluation:
I will say this was quite an eerie read, especially as readers witness the progression of the illustrations throughout the story. Not only is it very reminiscent of Hitler and the Nazi party, it's told from the mind of a young man whose vivid imagination and storytelling paint a very unnerving picture. Standish is suffering from a learning disability called Dyslexia, which, boy current standards, is easily managed with care and expertise. Unfortunately, back in the 1950s, it was undiscovered so young people like Standish were often outcasts and called "stupid" because they could read, or write, like everyone else. However, in the Motherland, if you have any sort of disability (mental and physical), or stand out from the rest of the population, you were considered impure and were relocated to one of the zones just like Standish. In these zones, the only way people could succeed was to spy and "rat" out their neighbors who go against the Motherland. Although people were snooping and spying on their neighbors, they were actually naive enough to think they would be safe because, at the end of the day, they were still living in Zone 7. The world that Standish is growing up in is terrifying because people don't really know if they will be here one day and gone another. As for the Moon Man, which we don't find out until half way through the book, is part of an elaborate scheme to trick the world into thinking that the Motherland will be the first country to walk the moon; therefore, making them the most powerful nation in the world. This book is such a re-telling of the events that took place in Nazi Germany that all readers can do is hope for the best. In the end, Standish finally gets the "Happily Ever After" he has been longing for and readers will be astonished by the power this story packs into little less than 300 pages.

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
I was born in Birmingham, near the Cadbury’s chocolate factory, and I grew up in Gray’s Inn, central London, in Raymond Buildings. My family (my parents, my younger brother and I) lived there because both my parents were lawyers. When I was around age five they separated and later divorced.
I was badly bullied at school because I was different from other children. I had trouble tying my shoes, and coordinating my clothes, and I had no idea what C-A-T spelled once the teacher took away the picture. My brain was said to be a sieve rather than a sponge – I was the child who lost the information rather than retained it.
I stayed in kindergarten until I was really too old to be there and finally was asked to leave the school. This became a pattern that repeated itself throughout my learning years.

At eleven I was told I was word-blind. This was before anyone mentioned the un-sayable, un-teachable, un-spellable word dyslexia, which, hey-ho, even to this day I can’t spell!
I eventually ended up in a school for maladjusted children because there was no other school that would take me. I suppose this was the equivalent of what now would be a school for kids with ASBOs. I had been classified as “unteachable” but at the age of fourteen, when everyone had given up hope, I learned to read.
The first book I read was “Wuthering Heights” and after that no one could stop me. My mother, bless her cotton socks, said that if I got five O-levels I could go to art school, and much to my teachers’ chagrin, I did just that. At art school I shot from the bottom to the top like a little rocket.
I left Central St. Martin’s Art School with a First Class Honours degree and then went to Newcastle University Theatre, where I worked as a theatre designer. One of the first shows I worked on was The Good Woman of Szechuan by Bertolt Brecht which transferred to the Royal Court Theatre.
After that I spent 15 years in the theatre, but gave up working as a set designer because I found my dyslexia to be a problem when drawing up technical plans for the sets. Instead I concentrated on costumes.
Ironically, when I went into writing, where I assumed my dyslexia would be a true disability, it turned out to be the start of something amazing. I was more than blessed to meet an editor, Judith Elliot, who was to play an important part in my journey to being a writer.
I strongly believe that dyslexia is like a Rubik’s Cube: it takes time to work out how to deal with it but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift.
The problem with dyslexia for many young people – and I can identify with this – is that their confidence is so damaged by the negativity of their teachers and their peers that it takes a very strong character to come out of the educational system smiling.
Genre:
Teen Issues, Teen Dystopian Thriller,

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Maggot Moon:
Awards & Recognition:
  • 2013 Michael L. Printz Honor Winner

From Amazon.com

This novel will just blow you away...Such a beautiful read...this certainly has the potential to become a modern classic.
—The Bookseller (U.K.)

Startlingly original, sophisticated and moving, MAGGOT MOON is out of this world.
—The Sunday Times (U.K)

Dazzling, chilling, breathtaking. A perfect book.
—Meg Rosoff

Gardner does a masterful job of portraying Standish’s dyslexia through the linguistic swerves of his narration, and although the ending is pure heartbreak, she leaves readers with a hopeful message about the power of one boy to stand up to evil
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This is alt-history second; first, it is an eerie, commanding drama.
—Booklist (starred review)

Standish’s tale has the terse, energetic tension of poetry; his phrases and sentences roll out with irony, tenderness, horror, or love, but always vividly...Most appealing of all, however, is Standish Treadwell himself: tender, incisive, brave, and determined, he takes a stand and treads well.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

Sally Gardner tells a story that is rich in drama and ideas.
—LoveReading4Kids.co.uk 
 

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Plot Summary:
After revealing herself to Cinder, Criss has put herself in danger. Locked away in a satellite, with no one to talk to other than "Little Cress," Cress has taken it upon herself to be a guardian of Earth. Although she has been instructed to report back to Levanna, through Lady Sybil, Cress has decided that she will protect Cinder and her crew. However, after taking a look at Thorne, Cress has taken an interest in this wanted criminal and is slowly developing feelings for him. When Cinder contacts Cress, they have decided that the best way to take down Levanna is with Cress, which means, they are on their way to rescue her. Excited, and nervous, Cress is ready to venture out on her own. What was supposed to be an easy rescue, turns awry when Lady Sybil shows up unexpectedly, which leads to disaster: Cress and Thorne are trapped in the satellite that is careening straight for Earth and Scarlet has been kidnapped by Sybil. With no way to communicate with the Rampion, Thorne and Sybil must face the Saharan Desert on their own while Cinder is trying to save a badly injured Wolf. Luckily, Cinder has decided to seek out Dr. Erland, who is in Africa, who not only has some even more devastating new, but is about to be reunited with someone he had lost long, long ago. On the other side of the planet, Kai is struggling with his decision to marry Levanna, but is desperately trying to keep her from destroying the Earth. However, with the new information he has in regards to Cinder and the Princess Selene, his feelings for Cinder are multiplying especially when he realizes that she isn't the monster her stepmother made her out to be in. In fact, Kai also learns that Cinder is immune to Leutomosis and that the antidote Levanna gave him is actually the cure they have been waiting for. Lastly, now that Scarlet is Lunar custody, she is trying to escape but is unable to fight their "powers." Fearing that she may never escape, Scarlet yearns for her grandmother and Wolfe, but then Scarlet does something that will change her fate forever.

Critical Evaluation:
Honestly, Marissa Meyer is so unbelievably awesome and is on her way to greatness. I cannot express how awesome and uplifting it is to read, and go on an adventure, with insanely powerful young ladies. Contrary to the "damsel in distress" that we are all accustomed to, Meyer's fairy tale heroines are smart, funny, quirkly, vulnerable, and down right adorable (especially Cress). In this installment, readers are getting to know the young lady who has been trapped in her satellite for many years and they will just fall in love with her. Could it be her naivety? Her innocence? Or could it be the fact that she is probably one of the most empathetic person we have come across? Cress may be a "shell" but her heart is so big that there is no way she was destined for a lifetime in a satellite. In fact, there is something about Cress that threatens Levanna so, by losing her, and Cinder, the holes in her plans are getting bigger and bigger. What I love most about these books is that all even though all of the young ladies have their "handsome prince," but, in reality, the ones who have needed the saving have been Kai, Wolf, and Thorne. Who would have thought!? In this day and age, women are taking on bigger, and larger roles, where it's about time they are being recognized for their abilities and Meyer provides young teens girls with amazing examples. I may not be a mother, yet, but I love to mother the teenagers I work with so I highly approve of this series because it is really meant for young people (in general). Now, I am not saying that the young men in this story are weak (quite the contrary), but they have met their matches in these young ladies, which is not only attractive, but worth fighting for. At the end of the day, all of them are fighting for one thing, which is freedom from Levanna and the desire to be happy and loved. I am SOOOOO anxious about the final installment and I am ready for any twists and turns that Marissa Meyer may have designed because, DARN IT, the woman can WRITE!

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
One of my first spoken words was “story” (right along with “bath” and “cookie”), my favorite toy as an infant was a soft, squishable book, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first realized such a job existed.
When I was fourteen my best friend introduced me to anime and fanfiction—over the years I would complete over forty Sailor Moon fanfics under the penname Alicia Blade. Those so inclined can still find my first stories at fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic turned out to be awesome fun and brought me in contact with an amazing group of fanfiction readers and writers. As Alicia Blade, I also had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (CatsCurious Press, 2007).
When I was sixteen I worked at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma, Washington, affectionately termed “The Spag.” (Random factoid: This is also the restaurant where my parents met some 25 years before.) I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University (which you can learn more about here). After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.
Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER is my first novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around too.
I now live with my husband and our three cats (Calexandria Josephine, Stormus Enormous, and Blackland Rockwell III), who go in and out, in and out, about eight hundred times a day. My favorite non-bookish things include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, re-watching episodes of Firefly, and playing all manners of dress-up.

Genre:
Teen Sci-Fi, Teen Fantasy, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Cress:

Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com:

"As always, Meyer excels at interweaving new characters that extend beyond the archetypes of their fairy tale into the main story. Readers will eagerly await the final installment of this highly appealing and well-constructed series." - School Library Journal
"Meyer continues to show off her storytelling prowess, keeping readers engaged in a wide cast of characters while unfolding a layered plot that involves warring governments and a fast-spreading plague. The momentum Meyer built in the first two books continues to accelerate as the stakes grow higher for Cinder and her friends. The next installment cannot come fast enough."--Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"Once again, Meyer offers up a science fiction fantasy page-turner that salutes women’s intelligence and empowerment . . . Old and new romances, unfinished story lines, and the prognostication of wartime horrors all pave the way for Meyer’s much anticipated next installment, Winter, expected in 2015." - Booklist "This multilayered, action-packed page-turner is sure to please series fans." - The Horn Book  

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Plot Summary:
For the last two weeks, Scarlet has been looking for her grandmother who disappeared, leaving no note or explanation. Unfortunately, Scarlet's leads have run out and the police have closed the missing person's case because there was no evidence of foul play. In other words, the police have told Scarlet that her grandmother just left town and there us nothing they could do. For Scarlet, she know her grandmother would never do such a thing because she loved her home, her farm, and she loved her. While delivering a load of groceries to the local pub, Scarlet meets a fighter who is not only new to town, but there is something about his eyes and his tattoo that she can't quite figure out. Granted, this fighter (named Wolf) is as good as he says, but when she discovers that he is a part of a violent "wolf" pack she doesn't know if she can trust him. However, he is the only who can help her find her grandmother and she reluctantly goes with him to look for her in Paris. Meanwhile, Cinder has broken out of prison, only to gain an unwanted sidekick named Captain Thorne (thief and deserter). Although Cinder has no desire to form a relationship with this handsome, smooth-talking, criminal, she needs his stolen spaceship to track down her past and ultimately help her find out who she is. With Cinder on the loose, Emperor Kai is still reeling from all that has happened in the last few days and is trying desperately to let go of his feelings for Cinder. However, with Levana threatening him with violence, he must make Cinder disappear or a lot of people will die. In this sequel, there is a lot of action and excitement that will not only bring all of the characters together, but help them form an alliance that will prepare them for the imminent battle with the Lunar Kingdom. The ending will readers begging for more. 

Critical Evaluation:
Wow! All I can say is "WOW!" It's not an unknown fact that sequels aren't as strong as the first story, but this one is even better than the first! Not only do we meet Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne, readers will start putting all of the puzzle pieces together and will yearn for more. I really didn't know what to expect from this story and I am very happy with the non-stop twists and turns. For the lack of a better term, this series is episodic so readers are anticipating other stories that will ultimately lead back to finding Princess Selene. In this episode/story/installment, Scarlet represents "Little Red Riding Hood" who not only packs a punch (like Cinder), but it willing to risk everything to find her grandmother, which leads to another interesting discovery that she is part Lunar. What I loved even more is that Kai, who refused to believe that Lunars lived amongst them, admitted their existence to only learn that he has been surrounded by one for years and is in love with one. Although the point of views switch, readers don't get lost because everything comes back full circle, which is why some books (i.e., Allegiant) falter; granted, all of these stories are told from an outside perspective, readers have a better sense of what's going on instead if trying to figure out who is speaking. The relationship between Scarlet and Wolf (in my opinion) is incredibly enticing. Not only will readers (male and female) be drawn to their personalities, but their developing romance is inevitable; they really do need each other because Wolf needs Scarlet to protect and Scarlet helps Wolf keep the monster (inside him) in control. I will say that I am liking this romance a little more than Kai's and Cinder's, but that has yet to develop so I am looking forward to that.  I am really, really, really pleased with story and will be moving onto Cress ASAP!

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
One of my first spoken words was “story” (right along with “bath” and “cookie”), my favorite toy as an infant was a soft, squishable book, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first realized such a job existed.
When I was fourteen my best friend introduced me to anime and fanfiction—over the years I would complete over forty Sailor Moon fanfics under the penname Alicia Blade. Those so inclined can still find my first stories at fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic turned out to be awesome fun and brought me in contact with an amazing group of fanfiction readers and writers. As Alicia Blade, I also had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (CatsCurious Press, 2007).
When I was sixteen I worked at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma, Washington, affectionately termed “The Spag.” (Random factoid: This is also the restaurant where my parents met some 25 years before.) I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University (which you can learn more about here). After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.
Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER is my first novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around too.
I now live with my husband and our three cats (Calexandria Josephine, Stormus Enormous, and Blackland Rockwell III), who go in and out, in and out, about eight hundred times a day. My favorite non-bookish things include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, re-watching episodes of Firefly, and playing all manners of dress-up.

Genre:
Teen Sci Fi, Teen Fantasy, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Scarlet:

Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com

* "A great choice for all ages, with strong appeal for both girls and boys, these novels will be read and enjoyed—repeatedly." —VOYA, starred review

* "It’s another Marissa Meyer roller coaster ride, part science fiction/fantasy, part political machination with a hint of romance. Readers will be pushed into a horrific alternate universe where violence, especially mind manipulation and control, create ethical and life-threatening situations for both teens. With at least one more Lunar Chronicle to come, the suspense continues. And which fairy tale will Meyer morph next?" —Booklist, starred review *

"Returning fans of Meyer’s Cinder will gladly sink their teeth into this ambitious, wholly satisfying sequel." —Publishers Weekly, starred review "The author has stepped up the intrigue and plot from the first novel, and readers will be eagerly awaiting the next." —School Library Journal

"Further development of this futuristic world plus plenty of action, surprises, and a fast pace will keep readers invested in their journey." —The Horn Book

 "The sci-fi elements are stronger than the fairy-tale allusions this time out, but the story remains just as absorbing. . . . Readers will be thrilled to discover that this steampunky fairy-tale/sci-fi mashup promises two more installments." —BCCB

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Monday, June 23, 2014
Plot Summary:
When Mia and her family decided to make the best of their "Snow Day," they all jumped into the car to visit friends and family. What was so supposed to be a family adventure filled with laughter and joy, Mia and her  family are involved in an accident that leaves her comatose. Although Mia is barely alive, her spirit hovers over her body and all of the people in her life. Before the accident, life seemed to be going good; Mia was waiting on a response from Julliard (a prestigious school for musicians) and her boyfriend's band was taking off. Although Mia seemed okay on the outside, she was struggling with the distance between her and her best friend and she wasn't sure if her relationship with Adam was going to make it. Despite these fears, Mia was having the typical growing pains that all teens have when they are about to go off on their own. However, the accident not only ripped Mia of her body, but it took away their very people who mattered the most to her. As she floats between this plane and the other, Mia looks back on her life and remembers all of wonderful details about her life, her parents, her little brother, and her grandparents. Knowing that she will never be able to be with her mother and father prevents her from returning to her body (even as she watches her grandparents and extended family) Mia realizes that she is in control of her situation. Mia is trying desperately to make a choice, but she doesn't know how and that is terrifying because she wants to be with Adam and her brother. More importantly, Mia can't imagine her life without her parents, she also can't live without Adam. This is a tragic story of a girl who has to make a very difficult choice of staying with people who still love her and letting go of those who gave her life and unending happiness.   

Critical Evaluation:
I probably shouldn't be reading, and listening, to two very similar stories at the same time (not sitting well with my emotions). This story is so beautifully written it's like a song that takes listeners on a journey to an unknown destination; readers can feel the pain, the loss, the regret, the hopelessness, but the amazing amount of empathy and revelation. One can only imagine what Mia could be going through and to have to make a choice that would leave her without her parents and brother. No one should ever have to suffer from this dilemma and it's totally unfair that Mia has to make the decision. I realize, as an adult, that life isn't fair, but COME ON! This is just cruel! I have yet to meet someone who has survived a near-death experience, but a part of me wonders what's it like to see your life from the outside. For Mia. she sees herself and yet she decides to witness her position from the sidelines. In many ways, Mia seems to be testing not just her family, but Adam and Kim as well. Mia has always had this lingering feeling that she never belonged given the fact that her parents were punk rockers and she's a classical musician. With Adam, the only thing they really have in common, is music, but on the opposite sides of the spectrum. As for her relationship with Kim, which started off the wrong way, their differences are what brought them together. The sad thing is that Mia misses the point that opposites really do attract and, rather than celebrating those difference, she saw it as a obstacle between her, her parents, her boyfriend, and her best friend. I think the hardest part of this story is that if we, as readers, decide to put ourselves in Mia's position not only will be just as devastated as she is, but will we be unable to dig up the courage to make the choice that she does.If you pair the ending of the book with Yo-Yo Ma's Andante con moto e molto rubato, everything will come crashing together and the tears will flow. Brilliant move from a brilliant writer.

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a journalist who specialized in reporting on young people and social-justice issues. Which is a fancy way of saying I reported on all the ways that young people get treated like crap—and overcome! I started out working for Seventeen magazine, writing the kinds of articles that people (i.e. adults) never believe that Seventeen ran (on everything from child soldiers in Sierra Leone to migrant teen farm workers in the U.S.). Later on, I became a freelance journalist, writing for magazines like Details, Jane, Glamour, The Nation, Elle, Budget Travel, and Cosmopolitan.
In 2002, I went traveling for a year around the world with my husband, Nick. I spent time hanging out with some pretty interesting people, a third sex (we’d probably call them transvestites here) in Tonga, Tolkien-obsessed, role-playing punks in Kazakhstan (bonus points to those of you who can find Kazakhstan on a map), working class hip-hop stars in Tanzania. The result of that year was my first book, a travel memoir called You Can’t Get There From Here: A Year On the Fringes of a Shrinking World. You can read about my trip and see pictures of it here.
What do you do when you get back home after traveling the globe for a whole year? First, you get disproportionately excited by the little comforts in life: Not having to look at a map to get everywhere? Yay! Being able to drink coffee without getting dressed and schlepping to a café first? Bliss! Then, if you’re 32 years old and have been with your husband for evah, you have a kid. Which we did. Presto, Willa!
So, there I was. With a baby. And all of a sudden I couldn’t do the kind of gallivanty reporting I’d done before. Well, you know how they say in life when one door closes another opens? In my case, the door came clear off the frame. Because I discovered that I could take the most amazing journeys of my life without ever having to leave my desk. It was all in my head. In stories I could make up. And the people I wanted to take these fantastical journeys with, they all happened to be between the ages of 12 and 20. I don’t know why. These are just the people who beckon me. And I go where I’m told.
My first young-adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, was based on another one of those social justice articles I wrote when for Seventeen and you can click here to read the article. Sisters was published in 2007. My next book, If I Stay, was published in April of  2009 by Dutton. It is also being published in 30 countries around the world, which is surreal. The sequel/companion book to If I Stay, Where She Went, comes out in April 2011. I  am currently working on a new YA novel, that is, when my kids (plural, after Willa we adopted Denbele from Ethiopia) allow me to. And after that book is finished, I’ll write another, and another….

Genre:
Teen Issues, Teen Contemporary Fiction


Reading Level/Interest:Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to If I Stay:
Awards & Recognition:
  • Starred Review from Publisher's Weekly
  • Starred Review from School Library Journal
  • Starred Review from Booklist

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Posted by Deborah Takahashi
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Plot Summary:
Cinder knows what it's like to be an outcast thanks to the daily reminders from her stepmother, Adri, and stepsister, Pearl. The reason why Cinder is an outcast is not just because of her poor status, but she's a cyborg. Although she may not posses the fancy clothing and comforts like her adopted family, Cinder is good with her hands and can repair any mechanical object out there. In fact, she is so well known for her skills, Prince Kai brings his old android to her for repairs under the guise that his royal mechanics didn't have the abilities to fix it. Granted, Cinder can tell is someone is lying, she agrees to the Prince's demands because how can she refuse? Meanwhile, as everyone get ready for the Ball, Cinder is hoping her stepmother would allow her to attend as long as she completes her "chores." What should have been a simple fix, turned deadly when her stepsister, Peony, whom she loves and adores, follows her to the junkyard and contracts Letumosis (Earth's deadliest plague since the Bubonic Plague). In an effort to rid herself of Cinder, Adri volunteers Cinder for plague research and she is whisked away against her will. When Cinder meets Dr. Dimitri Erland, she notices that there is something very different about this man. What should have been her destruction, Cinder learns something so shocking and unbelievable, it changes everything she has known about her family and herself. Amidst this discovery, the Emperor has died from Letumosis, and the Lunar Queen, Levana, has decided to move in swiftly to forge an alliance that Prince Kai is against, but, if something isn't done, Earth may no longer be at peace with the Lunar Kingdom.As for Cinder, she finds herself caught between her feelings and her reality, which have not only caught the attention of Levana, but may find herself in serious danger.

Critical Evaluation:
I absolutely loved how fast-paced, and creative, this story is! Not only is it an ingenious ides to take a classic fairy-tale and turn it into a Sci-Fi, it gives readers another perspective on the meaning of the tale. Cinderella, as we all know, had been enslaved by her stepmother and the only was she could be rescued is through the help of her fairy godmother, a beautiful dress, glass slippers, and a handsome prince. Granted, everyone has heard a million different versions of this story, this take on the "damsel in distress" is quite the opposite because this damsel must rescue her Prince and their people. Cinder may be slave, like Cinderella, but, after her involuntary testing, her fate is in her own hands because no one expected her to survive, which kind of threw a wrench in everything. Another nice spin on the tale is that Peony, who not only adores her, but is relying on her to save her; Cinder may have carried a variety of responsibilities before, but saving Peony's life forces Cinder to do things she may have never wanted to do before (i.e., agree to continue the plague testing in order to find a cure and searching for the lost Princess). Although Cinder finds an ally in Dr. Erland, there is something about him she can't quite figure out (he has an uncanny ability of lying) and Prince Kai has actually taken an interest in her, but pushes him away because she fears that he might reject her because she is a cyborg. Despite the impending doom on mankind, I just love that this story still identifies the fact that Cinder is a teenager who is trying so hard to find her place in this world while dealing with issues like love and acceptance. Clearly, Cinder has a lot on her shoulders and, unfortunately, she is going to have to figure it out on her own with a little help from Iko (the family droid), Prince Kai, and Dr. Erland. This is a high-energy, fast-paced race to save the world from a tyrant and to help a cyborg regain her memories and finally find her place in this universe.     

Information about the Author:
According to her website:

One of my first spoken words was “story” (right along with “bath” and “cookie”), my favorite toy as an infant was a soft, squishable book, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first realized such a job existed.
When I was fourteen my best friend introduced me to anime and fanfiction—over the years I would complete over forty Sailor Moon fanfics under the penname Alicia Blade. Those so inclined can still find my first stories at fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic turned out to be awesome fun and brought me in contact with an amazing group of fanfiction readers and writers. As Alicia Blade, I also had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (CatsCurious Press, 2007).
When I was sixteen I worked at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma, Washington, affectionately termed “The Spag.” (Random factoid: This is also the restaurant where my parents met some 25 years before.) I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University (which you can learn more about here). After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.
Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER is my first novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around too.
I now live with my husband and our three cats (Calexandria Josephine, Stormus Enormous, and Blackland Rockwell III), who go in and out, in and out, about eight hundred times a day. My favorite non-bookish things include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, re-watching episodes of Firefly, and playing all manners of dress-up.

Genre:
Teen Sci Fi, Teen Fantasy, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 8 & up

Books Similar to Cinder:
Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com:

“Singing mice and glass slippers are replaced with snarky androids and mechanical feet in this richly imagined and darkly subversive retelling of ‘Cinderella.’”—BCCB
"This is one buzzed novel that totally delivers." —Stacked Books Blog
"I absolutely loved Cinder. Marissa took a well known story and created an amazingly fantastic new twist, making this it an all together new story." —Between the Covers Blog
"Cinder is loads of fun—mostly due to seeing a familiar story play out in a new setting, but Cinder herself is also a tough, smart, mouthy, resourceful heroine, so spending almost 400 pages with her is completely enjoyable—and I'm totally, totally looking forward to the next one in the series." —Bookshelves of Doom
"Terrific." —Los Angeles Times
“Author Marissa Meyer rocks the fractured fairy tale genre with a sci-fi twist on Cinderella.” –The Seattle Times"Debut author Meyer ingeniously incorporates key elements of the fairy tale into this first series entry." --Horn Book Magazine 
“What they [readers] do not know until they begin turning the pages of this fable-turned-dystopian-science-fiction novel, is that Meyer’s embellishments create a spellbinding story of their own.”–VOYA

"First in the Lunar Chronicles series, this futuristic twist on Cinderella retains just enough of the original that readers will enjoy spotting the subtle similarities. But debut author Meyer’s brilliance is in sending the story into an entirely new, utterly thrilling dimension. –Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Fairy tales are becoming all the rage, with the TV shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm spinning them through a modern filter. The 26-year-old Meyer's debut novel Cinder, though, combines a classic folk tale with hints of The Terminator and Star Wars in the first book of The Lunar Chronicles young-adult series due out Jan. 3.” –USAToday.com

“Cinderella is a cyborg in this futuristic take on the fairy tale, the first book in Ms. Meyer's planned ‘Lunar Chronicles’ series.” –Wall Street Journal, in a round-up called “After Harry Potter: The Search for the Magic Formula”

“…this series opener and debut offers a high coolness factor by rewriting Cinderella as a kickass mechanic in a plague-ridden future.” –Kirkus“There’s a lot of moving parts in this fresh spin on “Cinderella,” the first in a four-book series.” –Booklist

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Posted by Deborah Takahashi

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Deborah Takahashi
Alhambra, CA, United States
Hola! My name is Deb and I am the Teen Library Assistant at the Alhambra Civic Center Library. I absolutely love to read and recommend books to readers of all ages. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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