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Category Archives: Young Adult

Polly and the One and Only World by Don Bredes

Polly and the One and Only World

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

I’ve got a strong urge to fly
But I’ve got nowhere to fly to
Pink Floyd

Polly is a young witch struggling to survive in a dystopian world. She can fly, can communicate telepathically with her raven familiar, she can even shrink herself! But she lives in a time of ascendant fundamentalist Christians who control superior technology and are determined to wipe out her kind. Her ability to fly just takes her from one desperate situation to the next. But along the way she comes to a deeper understanding of her faith, falls in love and escapes her prosecutors time after time. Her life may be hard, but she is free and unbowed.

Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell

Closed Doors

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

The poison of secrets and the pain of knowing complicate Michael’s coming of age.

With this great new young adult novel, Lisa O’Donnell cements her reputation as the premier author of serious fiction for today’s youth. Always witty, she lightly teases you into a tale that you will not soon forget.

Michael, feisty and likeable, hangs with his friends, fights with “Dirty Alice” and admires the beautiful woman next door. But then tragedy hits his family and a devastating secret eats at their core. This book deals with difficult concepts with a light hand, and is a must read for children who have had to deal with such traumas.

A Visit from Santa Clops or The Fright Before Christmas by Gig Wailgum

A Visit from Santa Clops

Reviewed by Teri Davis

“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the home,” is the beginning of this slightly unconventional Christmas tale. What could possibly rhyme with home that could set the foundation of this traditional poem?

Did you ever think about the rest of the family who had Saint Nicholas. Just like everyone else, he came from a family complete with uncles, aunts, and cousins. Being that the entire family was needed for his success, Saint Nicholas is for the “good little girls and boys”.

What about those who were naughty?

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Everyone wants to be near people who understand them. People who have common abilities are often close to others similar to them.

For children with unusual natural abilities, they quickly discover that normal people are curious about them, but also fearful. People are afraid of those who they do not understand. So how do these children exist in the world? Simply, they find each other and hopefully have the protection of a caring and nurturing adult.

In Hollow City, the story of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children continues with the children being pursued by wights. Definitely reminiscent of the German forces surrounding Britain with their submarines, the wights are chasing the children as they quietly are in a boat searching for land after their home was destroyed. Whether the children are captured alive or killed, the pursuit is on.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell (Review #2)

The Death of Bees

Reviewed by Julie Moderson

Marnie was 15 years old and her little sister was 12. They buried their parents in the garden on Christmas. The ground was frozen so they did the best they could and put plants on top of the makeshift grave. They told everyone their parents had gone out of the country on vacation. They just needed to keep the secret until Marnie turns 16 and then she can be a guardian to her sister.

Lennie, the old man that lives next door to them, realizes the girls need his help. He doesn’t realize he needs them too. Lennie’s longtime partner has passed away and he is still morning his loss.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's LibraryReviewed by Teri Davis

“A library doesn’t need windows, Andrew. We have books, which are windows into world we never even dreamed possible.”

In every family, each person usually thrives best with their individual abilities. For Kyle Keeley, being the youngest in a family with three boys can be a challenge. His oldest brother is gifted athletically, the other brother is the smart one. What gift does that leave for Kyle? He is the game master of board games.

Fortunately Kyle lives in a town with the world’s most famous game maker resides. Since the town has been without a library, Mr. Lemoncello has funded a new library for the town. Their town has been without a library for Kyle’s entire life. To celebrate, his school is sponsoring an essay contest for the privilege of being one of the first twelve twelve-year olds to compete in a game while locked inside the new library.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Reviewed by Teri Davis

All of us are born with different abilities and talents that make us “special”. Some have more and some less. Where is the line between what is a special ability or talent and what society considers strange, odd, or peculiar? Are the people with the most unusual natural talents thought of highly by their peers or are they outcasts?

Grandparents frequently have special bonds with their grandchildren. For some reason, neither is usually close to the generation between the two. Abraham Portman realized early in his life that he was special. However, his timing for entering this world was not the best since growing up in Poland at the beginning of World War II as a Jewish child with a special ability was very dangerous.

He was sent to live in a house on a Welsh island where children with unusual talents were sent. Basically, this was a orphanage but unquestionably a loving, caring place for many special children called Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The Universe Versus Alex WoodsReviewed by Teri Davis

Are come people born with everything against them? If some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, it makes logically sense then that some people are just born with more challenges than most other people. What makes the difference between those born with this burden is whether they choose to allow these setbacks to become part of their life or whether they choose to literally make lemonade from the lemons that life has given them.

Alex is seventeen years old and being held by custom’s officials. He was driving a vehicle with 113 grams of marijuana and an urn with the ashes of a recently deceased neighbor. Why?

Alex Woods started out with a normal childhood with being the only child of a single parent mother. However, that is where ordinary ends. His mother is a fortune teller and has even been considered to be a witch.

When Alex was ten years old, a meteorite crashed through his house hitting him on the head, putting him in a coma for two weeks. It almost appeared as if the meteorite had aimed for Alex. The advantage of this event was the contact with a real astronomer who wanted it to study for science. This meeting turned into a friendship. The attention did not help Alex with his peers at school and he quickly discovered that life with adults was easier for him.

Adding to those within Alex’s limited friendships, was an elderly widower, Mr. Peterson. Mr. Peterson is an American who fought in the Vietnam War before falling in love with a British woman and relocating himself. With the recent death of his wife, Mr. Peterson preferred to live his life with little contact with the outside world while cultivating his private marijuana crop until Alex appears at his house. Through developing an interest with other adults from the local library, the two develop a special friendship over Kurt Vonnegut.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a debut novel by Gavin Extence. As a child, Gavin exhibited a rare ability in playing chess representing Britain and has competed internationally.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a rare novel with a strong personal voice. It is well-organized and with an addictive writing style. The generational relationships between a teenager and adults is realistic and wonderful as the story develops. The ethical decisions in the story makes each reader question their personal values and also considers the problem of what is fair and just that is against the law.

The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death by D.H. Timpko

The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death Reviewed by Cathleen Summers (mom) and Mason (10)

The Firma Twins and the Purple Staff of Death” by D.H. Timpko begins with Isis Terra and her identical twin Electra going to the museum for their twelfth birthday only to be told by a mummy that all of a sudden comes to life and says,” She is the Chosen One who must protect the Squrlon by leading a battle against the Vympyrym. He tells her she must find the Purple Staff of Death and lead the battle to uphold the Firma honor.” This starts the twins on an unusual, humorous adventure of a sci-fi, historical thriller.

Chasing Normal by T.L. Hoch

Chasing NormalReviewed by Teri Davis

Who wouldn’t want to be considered the star high school athlete? To be admired by everyone is a high school student’s dream, but is there a down side? Have you ever known coaches who believe that winning is everything and the only thing? Is there more to a sport than winning?

Annie Smith has not had an easy life. Her father died in an airplane accident just as she was becoming a teenager. She quickly discovered her fascination for basketball and softball. This interest developed her skills as an outstanding athlete who strongly values her team rather than being a star. Throughout her short competitive experience, she strongly worked with her team in developing their strengths and the value of teamwork. This success caused the media in her small community in Arkansas to become obsessed with her life. Now Annie and her mother have an opportunity for change by moving to Texas.

Annie dreams of being “normal” rather than a superstar and begins her new life by calling herself B.A. B.A. joins the basketball team but is not enjoying playing guard on this team. She chooses to stay quiet with an inexperienced coach who believes that your tallest players should always be the forwards. With considerable attitude, the taller players are threatened by this newer, shorter girl who only wants to play the game and to do her best for her team and herself. Between the coach and the players being threatened and challenged, how does the new kid make friends?