Book Shop Blog
Reviews are every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, from staff, local writers, and from our fantastic Teen Picks reviewers. Our Teen Pickers are doing their best to stay on top of the Advanced Reading Copies we get, so we can give you reviews the second the book comes out!
They're doing a super job staying on top of the freshest new books out there.
Tana and Diribali are stepsisters in a small village who both meet up with the goddess Naghali one day and are blessed with the ability to produce things when they speak.
Diribali is blessed with flowers and gems. Tana is blessed with snakes and toads (lucky toads and much-needed ratter snakes in this twist on the original fairy tale.)
Split apart by others' reactions (covetous to Diribali, fear to Tana) to their goddess-given gifts, the two must divine the real reasons these gifts were given to them while navigating political intrigue among the Believer ruling class (think islam) and the vegetarian worshippers of the twelve gods (think hindi).
This alternate India world comes alive in the book, with the landscape and especially the stepwells almost another character without being overly described. Tana and Diribali's voices weren't quite distinct enough for me to really enjoy their characters to the fullest, however, their twin journeys (Diribali's serving to highlight religious differences and tolerance and Tana's serving to highlight the clash between castes and the damage greedy overseers can inflict on peasants) were very compellling.
Like many other reviewers, I felt the ending was too rushed. I wanted to see more of how the goddess's decision at the end would affect their lives and how they could make a life together with their fellows....
This Book's Food Designation Rating: Samosas with mint chutney, for the delicious contrast of flaky crust and spicy potato filling (the sisters' different journeys)as well as the overlaying fragrance of the well-developed world.
The Tapestry #1– The Hound of Rowan
By Henry H. Neff
Max McDaniels is an ordinary boy. He’s skinny, has black hair, lives with just his dad, and likes to draw. Yet ever since he was a kid Max had strange feelings inside of him. Then, on a trip to Max’s missing mother’s favorite museum, he discovers a strange, yet beautiful, tapestry that no one else can see. Soon Max is “recruited” to enroll in a strange boarding school and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime, complete with authentic enemies and challenging training courses. Come along for the ride in this thrilling book as Max battles a mysterious enemy and tries to control the Old Magic inside him. Filled with action, comedy, and romance, I’m sure you’ll like this book!
The Tapestry #2 – The Second Siege
By Henry H. Neff
Wow, Henry Neff has outdone himself in this edge-of-your-seat sequel. The stakes are higher than ever as we are reunited with Max McDaniels and his funny friends. This time Max and company are racing (against the biggest evil there is) to have The Book of Thoth in their control. This book holds the spell to controlling – or demolishing – all of existence. Max sets out to find this book with Agent Cooper, Rowan’s best agent, and David Menlo, Max’s best friend. Max and his allies must journey across the world and even to other dimensions in this gripping sequel to protect the book. And they will sacrifice anything to keep it in their possession. This great cliff-hanger will leave you wanting much more. Another great story!
5 of 5 stars
Wow, all I can say is wow. Francis Hardinge spins an incredibly complex and mesmerizing tale that leaves you torn between yearning for a sequel yet not wanting to ruin the brillaince of this epic legend.
Set on a mysterious, dangerous island filled with strange creatures, exotic tribes, and volcanoes that seem to have minds of their own,this book follows a young, over-looked girl named Hathin, who has always simply lived in the background of her older sister's beauty and power.
But when when calamity, deceit and racial prejudice come together to form a deadly plan against Hathin's people, she must step out of the shadows and discover who she was meant to be.
With an intricate plot, beautiful and descriptive writing, and strong, multi-faced, unpredictable characters, The Lost Conspiracy will keep you thinking, wondering and feeling until the last word on the last page.
Anyone who is a fairly advanced reader (with a fairly advanced vocabulary),who is not daunted by a 500 or so page book, and is willing to actually think about what they are reading will be riveted and awed by what Francis Hardinge has done with The Lost Conspiracy.
Dani has an almost perfect life. A wonderful mom, a cheerful, talkative, and sometimes annoying little sister (but that’s what sisters are for, after all) and a faithful boyfriend. Even school is going well. There’s just one part of the puzzle that doesn’t fit: Dani’s dad.
Ever since the day Dani’s aunt got killed in a terrorist attack when Dani was seven, her dad has been moody, angry, and mean. Then, added to the problem with Dani’s dad, suddenly, the country is sinking under their feet. Sacrificing everything and moving to the United States is the only choice. So that’s what Dani and her family does.
But everything isn’t easier just because it’s America. Take her new school, for instance, or the fact that she and her boyfriend are struggling to keep up a long-distance relationship… In Dani’s new life, she finds the courage to say goodbye, and allows herself to love and be loved once again.
I thought this book was really well-written, had a good message, and was exciting and cute. I recommend reading this book because it has some cultural topics in it, its modern day, and a twist between fiction, romance, and everyday life problems. All in all: a great read!
New! This book releases tomorrow!
4 of 5 stars
Have you ever been in a situation where you are an outcast, feel unaccepted, or wondering who you are? Natasha Jennings feels the same way when she has to spend quality time with her grandmother, Tilly, in Harlem. Tilly takes her away from a familiar summer filled with ballet, mani/pedis, and long afternoons at the mall to a world that is totally unfamiliar.
Plus, she is expected to help out at Amber’s Place.
Amber’s Place (a safe house in the Bronx that helps troubled girls straighten out their lives) is the last place that Natasha wants to be. The girls here are rough, tough, and each have a frightful story to tell. Natasha has to face the beatings, bullying, and cruelty from the other girls all in an effort not to disappoint Tilly.
Sellout is woven with danger, tears, problems, and new chances for anyone who is trying to find themselves among a lot of confusion.
We will be closed on Sunday July 4th, but open on Monday July 5th! Have a great 4th of July!
6 of 5 stars!
Cloral was a sad win for Bobby Pendragon. After saving Cloral his uncle Press died from bullets coming through the flume. After his funeral Bobby and Traveler from Cloral Vo Spader follow Saint Dane to Veelox, where local Traveler Aja Killian tells them that Saint Dane is on First Earth.
Jumping into the flume they appear in... a familiar subway tunnel. Welcome to First Earth, A.K.A 1937. There they meet Vincent “Gunny” Van Dike, called so because he couldn’t bring himself to fire a gun during his time in World War I. He is also the Traveler from First Earth. New York City in 1937 was an exciting place, full of toothpaste powder, The Great depression, post World War II... and the doomed Hindenburg zeppelin.
Bobby and friends quickly find that the Hindenburg’s crash is First Earth’s turning point. Dodging gangsters, rivalries and Saint Dane himself, they try to stop the famous crash. Bobby has stopped wars and decimated plagues, so how hard could stopping a simple zeppelin crash shouldn’t be too hard... should it?
Being book 3 in this unmatched series is a true honor, as is getting to read it.
This is not the NYC you know. This story is full of mysteries in a familiar setting with yet more confusion than the first two books. With a gripping yet semi-historic storyline, this book almost turns the pages by itself. With 6 stars this book says "Read on"!
If you've read other reviews of mine, then you know that I am constantly on the lookout for stories that feature elements of Asian culture combined with Western culture featuring strong heroines.
I can't really say more about the Asian elements without major spoilers, but let's just say that this tale of Mary Quinn, rescued from hanging for thievery in Victorian England and taught at a secret all-female school for spies satisfies my particular quest. The Asian elements are treated with respect, even while the mores and racism of the time is not at all glossed over.
This book has danger, interesting characters, a nicely done and believable romance, and a satisfying conclusion to a mystery that I couldn't foresee or guess despite well placed hints throughout the book.
Interestingly enough, unlike many YA-focused mystery series I've read, in this book we get alot of action from the romantic lead's POV as well as Mary's. I am used to this a reader of romance (where it's a tried and true convention) but what it does here is allows us to know more of how Mary is seen through the romantic lead's eyes, as well as some developments on the mystery secret to Mary.
It also, unfortunately, made Mary a little more opaque for me, but not to the detriment of the story.
This Book's Food Designation Rating: A Green Tea Tiramisu with all the familiarity and luscious layers of a Western pastry for the well done romance and mystery in this story, along with the hint of the exotic conveyed by the green tea flavor of the Asian element.
This is a future dystopia set in a land of all women. (Some of it reminded me of Sheri S Tepper's wonderful Gate to Women's Country, where the women live inside the walls and the men outside, in garrisons.) In this story, the teen protagonist is one of a group of guards-in-training. They have shaved heads and unisex names, and the deadly sins are things like vanity and giggling and best friends. But one day, one of the other girls finds a hidden cache from the time before that has things like fashion magazines, and makeup.
This dystopia has a particular bent, as it's intent on doing a compare/contrast with stereotypical 21st c. teen girl behaviors/standards vs this future society and it sticks to that. (The girls find a bike, for example, and though the protag wonders briefly about it, this is not the book's focus.)
Well-written, and the characters are interesting (though the villain was a bit overly villainy). The society I could generally suspend disbelief for (although to me some of the classic dystopia markers seemed thrown in, like overly-severe punishments). Still, a good, and different, story within this narrow focus. Maybe I wanted it to have a wider focus, but that's not the book's fault.
4 of 5 stars
We all know that schools are a popular setting for books. Harry Potter, Charlie Bone,The Vampire Academy, The House of Night, and so many more.Well now we have a new series to the list. H.I.V.E, only this school is a little different. Located in a top secret location, outfitted with the newest technology, staffed by the best of the best. H.I.V.E teaches it's unique and talented students how to be one thing, villians.Theres only one catch, if you're chosen, you're not allowed leave, ever.
Follow Otto Malpenese, a thirteen year old genius, as he begins his education at H.I.V.E. He'll meet new friends, learn new things,and embark on a strange journey to learn what type of place this school really is, and what type of secrets it's hiding.
This book sports a complicated plot and a likeable set of characters that will you drooling for the sequel.