Thursday, December 31, 2009

To Catch A Pirate by Jade Parker

Minor spoilers.

To Catch a Pirate
Author: Jade Parker
Year of Publication: 2007
Genre: YA
Pages: 226
First Line: "Annalisa Townsend didn't know which terrified her more: the razor-sharp edge of the dagger pressed against her throat or the ruthless glare of the pirate who'd shoved her against the harsh words, "Hold your tongue or I'll remove it."

Summary: When Annalisa Townsend's ship is set upon by pirates in search of her father's treasure, one of the crew, James Sterling, discovers her in the hold. When he moves to take her necklace, she begs him not to, as it is all she has left of her mother. He accepts a kiss in exchange for the necklace. "A fair trade, m'lady," He tells her afterward, before disappearing.

A year later, with a forged letter of marque, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the wretched James Sterling and reclaiming her father's treasure from him. But now she's in danger of him stealing something far more valuable this time: her heart.

(Source: Back of book)

Review: I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this book and it filled my expectation. The plot was pretty undeveloped and the characters were fairly flat. The writing style was odd, but I can't tell you how. It's really short though and has some pretty sweet moments, despite the cliche-ness of the book in general. Parker isn't great at involving other characters besides the main ones, either. Probably worth a read if you've got a night to spare, though.

Worst part: There were some unnecessary plot twists including a betrayal.

Best part: The fluff. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love fluff.

Grade: C

Other Books by This Author: Making a Splash (Robyn, Caitlin and Whitney), Dark Guardian series, Suite Dreams, Labor of Love, Snowed In, A Year in Europe, The Boyfriend League, Trust Me, Caribbean Cruising, and several others.

Other notes: Jade Parker is a pseudonym for Rachel Hawthorne.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Calling all writers

I know that there are lots of teen writers in Derry! If you're looking for a place to share your writing, get some feedback, and have fun with creative prompts and exercise, join our new creative writing group. Poets and fiction writers of all kinds in grades 6 to 12 are welcome.

Our next meeting will be Thursday, January 7th from 6:30 to 8pm downstairs in the library.

Drop in and join us!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Fancy White Trash by Marjetta Geerling

Minimal spoilers.

Title: Fancy White Trash
Author: Marjetta Geerling
Year of Publication: 2008
Genre: YA
Pages: 257
First Line: "There are five rules for falling in love."

Summary: Rule #1: Find someone new.

Abby Savage created her One True Love Plan based on two things: the soap operas she loves to watch and the family she can't believe she's a part of. Living in a house of five girls, one guy, a baby or three on the way, and one bathroom has taught Abby a lot about life, love, and how not to be fancy white trash like her mother and sisters.

When Jackson, Abby's first love--and first heartbreak--reappears in her life, he threatens to turn her plan on its head. But the only thing Abby wants more than true love is to be different from the other Savage girls, even if that means walking away from the possible love of her life.

(Source: Back of book)

Review: This book wasn't written fantastically or anything but it was cute. Somewhat predictable, but not terribly so. I read the book in one day and that was mostly due to the epic fluffiness of the plot and the awesomeness that is Jackson.

That being said, I'm not sure I morally agree with the whole book, but don't let that stop you from giving it a read. It's worth the short amount of time that it takes and the plot is fairly original.

Also, I just picked this book up because the main character and I share a first name.

Worst part: Some of the characters were really flat. It was clear they only existed to aid the plot of Abby. Good characters, even sub-characters, should be the star of their own story. Not just sub-characters to the main plot.

Best part: I'm a sucker for fluffy writing. Geerling achieves it pretty well.

Grade: B-

Other Books by This Author: None.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Some spoilers.

Title: Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 357
First Line: "Everyone knows I'm perfect."

Summary: At Fairfield High School, on the outskirts of Chicago, everyone knows that south siders and north siders aren't exactly compatible elements. So when head cheerleader Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes are forced to be lab partners in chemistry class, the results are bound to be explosive. But neither teen is prepared for the most surprising chemical reaction of all--love. Can they break through the stereotypes andmisconceptions that threaten to keep them apart?

(Source: Back of book)

Review: Let me just start with this: I loved this book. So sweet it made my teeth ache (excuse the cliche) and with fantastic characters. I loved Alex. He's funny, sarcastic and human. Brittany was almost, but not quite as good. I really don't know what else to say about this one. Just read it!

Worst part: The only bad thing about this one was that a lot of scenes reminded me of Twilight, mythological creatures aside. I mean, Bella and Edward were paired up in biology; Brittany and Alex were paired up in chemistry. Edward tells Bella he's no good for her; Alex tells Brittany he's no good for her. There were quite a few parallels, but really, it was worth it.

Best part: There were a few scenes I really enjoyed. Any time Alex was hurt, those were good. I read this awhile ago so I really can't remember, was so good. So just read it.

Grade: A

Other Books by This Author: Leaving Paradise and How to Ruin a Summer Vacation

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Mild spoilers.

Author: Christina Meldrum
Year of Publication: 2008
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 404
First Line: "The women resemble schoolgirls with gangly limbs, ruddy cheeks, plaited flaxen hair; they walk holding hands."

Summary: Aslaug can only dream of leaving her isolated life--until her mother dies a mysterious death. Is Aslaug desperately sad or desperate to flee? When Aslaug disappears shortly after he mother's death, is she like the windblower, blown by circumstances beyond her control? Or does she escape? When Aslaug finds herself isolated again--in a world of religious devotion, controversial ideas, and shocking revelations--will she be able to escape the demons of her own past...and her mother's? Or are the demons of Aslaug's own making? Now Aslaug is on trial for double murder. Will the truth condemn her, or will she finally be free?

(Source: Back of book)

Review: THIS. This is a must read. I started into this book, expecting something ENTIRELY different, but I got something so much better. At the beginning, I wasn't too sure about it--I commented in an earlier post about books you started hating and then ended it liking it. I can't say enough about this book. It is a brilliant idea and Rune is just fantastic. I don't want to say too much because's not a book that can be spoiled. You have to discover it on your own. Just take my word for it and READ IT. (Don't let the religion thing scare you away, either--really, it's so perfect.)

Worst part: Jeez. There was very little about this book I didn't like. I guess, the ending was a little um...not final? I think. I guess that's how I'd put it. There were a few loose ends (one in particular that I was disappointed about.) And I wasn't sure how to pronounce Aslaug's name (I looked it up and got "ASH-laug", but I don't really know for sure....)

Best part: The idea and obvious effort put into this book was phenomenal.

Grade: A+

Other Books by This Author: No others, yet.

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

Minimal spoilers.

The Dust of 100 Dogs
Author: A.S. King
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA (This book is tough to define, though...I'm sure adults would enjoy it, too.)
Pages: 320
First Line: "With one last almighty roar, the Frenchman fell to his knees and died."

Summary: In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with the dust of one hundred dogs, dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body--with her memories intact.

Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

(Source: Back of book)

Review: I don't know what it is, guys, but this is the second EPIC book I have picked in a row. How awesome is that? It's tough to review this book. I can't tell you why it's so epic because that would ruin it. An interviewer at the end of the book says, "The Dust of 100 Dogs is really different than most of the novels I've read recently--it's especially difficult to describe without giving too much away,while still doing it justice." So really, just read it. This book is so incredibly smart. There are only a few qualms I had, mostly having to do with holes in the story. They weren't substantial or anything and really, it wouldn't have made a difference to the plot itself, but I would have been interested to hear about the first dog life among a few other things that were left out of the story.

Honestly, I can't tell you how glad I am I picked this up. At the end of the book, I felt stupid for not having seen the "twist" sooner, but it was so smart and epic that I disregarded my feelings of stupidity. But guys, really--it's brilliant. For your own good, read the bloody book.

Worst part: Uh...I guess throughout the novel, I felt there was a lot of useless stuff about a certain character but then I realized why it was there. But it was kind of annoying when it first started. And like I said about the holes above. But really, it's not like it made the book bad. Worst is a relative term.

Best part: The ending was just so clever!

Grade: A

Other Books by This Author: None.

Cupid by Julius Lester

Minimal spoilers.

Author: Julius Lester
Year of Publication: 2007
Genre: YA
Pages: 196
First Line: "A long time ago, when Time was still winding its watch and Sun was trying to figure out which way was east and which way was west, there was a king and queen."

Summary: Cupid is the god of love and a tireless maker of mischief. When he breaks out his bow and quiver, nobody's safe. Sleepless nights, embarrassing poetry, nausea...What could be more fun? Only, perhaps, seeing the god of love humbled with a little heartache of his own.

(Source: Back of book)

Review: This book wasn't too bad. I'm usually not into Greek/Roman mythology, but I picked this up because who doesn't love love? The ages say for 12+, but really, I think it should be more like 15 because there's a lot of talk about sex and stuff. I adored the narrator of this book. While the narrator was never given a name (and I wish he had...but there is a short afterward by Lester that explains some), he was incredibly witty and very funny. The title is slightly misleading because, while I didn't count, I'd risk saying that the book is more about Psyche than Cupid. Or, even, more about their relationship than just Cupid.

So if you're interested in good narrators (not necessarily just authors--narrators are different), mythology or just looking for something a little different, pick this book up.

Worst part: There were some parts of the book I felt were unnecessary and sort of made it longer than it had to be. It's not a really long book but there were parts where I felt like I had been reading for too long.

Best part: Like I said, the narrator was so funny.

Grade: B-

Other Books by This Author: When Dad Killed Mom, others.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Review contains spoilers.

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA
Pages: 278
First Line: "So she tells me, the words dribbling outwith the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee."

Summary: Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other poeple's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way--thin, thinner, thinnest--maybe she'll disappear all together.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

(Source: Back of book)

This review contains spoilers. They are pretty obvious spoilers, but...

Review: Usually I'm not interested in this sort of stuff. This book wasn't really any different. I was going to drop it after awhile but then something came up about some local land marks and stuff and I like reading books that take place around where I live so I kept at it. I can't say I'm glad or not glad that I did. It's one of those books that I definitely could have lived without reading, but I don't necessarily regret reading it. I enjoyed the style and the characters, specifically Lia's step-mother and Emma, were pretty interesting. Anderson managed to even surprise me with one twist involving someone Lia meets during this tale.

Like most anorexia books that I've read, I have a big problem with it. The books usually are about a relapse and then end with a "yay the character will be happy and healthy for ever more". Well, this isn't an exception. The problem is, they've had one relapse--what's to stop them from having another? Now, of course, these people aren't real people and stuff, but prove to me it won't happen again. Do an epilogue of when she's sixty or something and a quick recall of how she never again did relapse. /end rant.

All in all, it's not something that's totally necessary for you to read. I liked the style, which I was surprised with, because I didn't like Speak at all. And it seems Anderson is allowing her books to be type-casted, if that makes any sense. Always about big, scary things in teenage girls' lives. But if you're interested in anorexia, it has some interesting stuff in it.

Worst part: As I mentioned, the book doesn't really have any final solution. There's no way of knowing if she'll relapse again or not.

Best part: I actually really liked this style. I usually don't pay attention to style, but I liked this one.

Grade: C+

Other Books by This Author: Speak, Catalyst, others.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

(Minimal amount of spoilers)

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Year of Publication: 2009
Genre: YA, fantasy
Pages: 351
First Line: "The first time I saw him, a heavy, gray fog clung to the cornfields, tails of mist slithering between the dying stalks."

Summary: Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica's senior year "get-a-life" plan.

Enter a bizarre new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu who claims Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth and he's her long-lost fiance. He's arrogant, officious, embarrassingly overprotective, and, well, incredibly hot.

Armed with a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health and Emotions, Jessica tries to imagine the transition from an average American teenager to a glam European vampire princess. But just when things start to heat up with Lucius, a devious cheerleader sets her sights on him.

Soon Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war--and save Lucius's soul from eternal damnation. Wouldn't life be easier if she could just fall for a nice mortal boy?

(Source: Back of book)

Review: Alright. So here's the deal. Jessica = Mary Sue. Lucius = Edward Cullen Sue. I'll admit it--Lucius was a hottie, most of the time. But it got to a point, especially towards the second half of the book, where he was just down-right annoying and I wanted to smack him and Jessica in the face for being total morons. Fantaskey's style wasn't entirely original, but there were a few things (though I can't remember them now) that stuck out to me. They were things that seemed out of place or something. I wish I could remember them, but alas, I cannot. I believe it had something to do with Jessica knowing things that she shouldn't, like other characters' emotions. And not in a way that was 'omg psychic vampire!onefiftysix!!lol33!#' Just some inconsistent POV. Some of the problems were resolved FAR too easily, considering all of the build up. Actually, all of the problems were like that. Oh, and her parents were super Mary Sue, too. The whole book was. (C'mon, Vasile is totally the Volturi. Don't even lie to me, Fantaskey. And Jake = Mike Newton + Jacob Black. Andandand.)

I really liked this book while I was reading it and had a hard time putting it down. But in hindsight, it really wasn't all that quality of a book. However, if you're into the whole YA-vampire thing, this one isn't too bad.

Worst part: Sometimes it felt like Fantaskey was writing a paper and giving examples for a thesis. There were two instances where Lucius would do this or that and then later, she would let Jessica vent about it, using those instances. It's done much better in other things I've read.

Best part:, Lucius was, in parts, tooth-achingly sweet. I love me some fluff. (Also, aside from the writing, I really liked the cover. Partly because the guy on it is super hot. And you only see half his face. So. If anyone knows who that is, I'd love to know.)

Grade: B-

Other Books by This Author: None.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hi from the Teen Advisory Group!

The Teen Advisory Group is meeting right now. We meet every month to volunteer for the library. Check back for next meeting date. It's awesome!^__^

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November Teen Events

We've got lots going on at the library this November!

Anime Club
Watch anime, draw, do crafts, and hang out with other teens who like anime and manga. Snacks will be served.
Grades 6 to 12
Tuesday, November 24th
3:30 to 4:30 pm

Teen Advisory Group (TAG)
Volunteer with TAG, a group to help us serve teens better. Plan library programs, do special projects, and help design our new teen space. Pizza will be served.
Grades 6 to 12
Wednesday, November 18th
4:30 to 5:30 pm

Teen Knitting and Crochet Group
Join us to learn the basics or to work on your own project. Expert knitters and crocheters will be on hand to instruct and help, and needles and yarn will be provided. All skill levels welcome!
Grades 6 to 12
Thursday, November 19th
4 to 5 pm

No registration is required, just drop in! All of these programs take place downstairs in the Paul Collette Meeting Room. For more info, call us at 432-6140.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Welcome to DPL Teen Reading Raves! This blog was started by the Teen Librarian at the Derry Public Library (me) and the library's Teen Advisory Group. In the coming months, look for posts with news about new books and events at the library, along with book reviews for and by teens. This is the place to go if you're looking for a great teen book!

If you're in grades 6 to 12 and you'd like to review books for us on this blog, email me with your name and grade at, and I'll add you to our list of reviewers.