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.
One day in Atlantic City, a fortune teller told Jack Fink that he would die when he turned 40. His son Jeremy barely knew his father when Jack left the world, leaving his 8-year-old son and wife.
Since then Jeremy went on with his life until one month before his thirteenth birthday, when a mysterious wooden box came in the mail. There are four keyholes in the box, yet no keys came with it. Etched into the box it says “THE MEANING OF LIFE: FOR JEREMY FINK TO OPEN ON HIS 13TH BIRTHDAY.” The box was from his father, five years deceased.
This leads Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy on a whirlwind trip around Manhattan to find the four missing keys. As his birthday nears Jeremy begins to wonder if he will ever find the keys and learn the meaning of life.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is a beautifully written realistic fiction story about the adventures of two normal teenagers. Just about anyone could relate to Jeremy or Lizzy. This page-turner can barely be put down as you help Jeremy and Lizzy find the meaning of life.
From March 26th through Easter, we're having a Melissa & Doug Sale! Come in and crack open an easter egg to find out what your discount is. Besides the sale, we also have featured a group of $10 and under items, and a group of $5 and under items. Something for every easter basket.
Check out a sampling of the $10 & under Melissa & Doug toys and activities -- we'll post the $5 and under one on Tuesday!
4 of 5 stars
I had great expectations of this book when I started reading it after I found out it won a Newbery (Honor).
Yes, I can see it's Newbery material. The many old folktales woven into the narrative of how Minli leaves her parents and village and journeys to find the Old Man of the Moon are educationally delicious. Minli herself seems wise and naive at the same time, the perfect character to help a dragon, meet a weaving goddess, and finally sacrifice her own desires to help a friend.
The gorgeous illustrations were just ornate enough to feel Chinese while still retaining a flavor of childhood.
And yet...beyond the folktales, there wasn't much new or twisty in this story to keep me drawn into the narrative. While deftly done, a girl's- journey-to-discover-what-riches-truly-are didn't tug at any heartstrings for me.
Still, for an introduction to Chinese folktale culture, it's perfect to put in the hands of any grade-school aged person.
This Book's Food Designation Rating: Steamed BBQ Pork Buns because of the slight blandness of the bun part in contrast to the meaty inside.
This Sunday, March 28th at 2 PM! Jane Kirkpatrick, the popular author of A Flickering of Light and A Gathering of Finches, comes to talk about her newest novel, due out in March 2010, An Absence So Great. She will read and sign books, so come join us for a lovely afternoon!
The fifth book, Keys to the Demon Prison, is NOW out!
Excellent adventure fantasy series. In the 1st book, a brother and sister go to spend the summer with their grandparents they barely know--and discover that the hidden mansion has a big secret. Their grandparents are actually the caretakers for a forest full of mythical--and dangerous -- creatures. While older sis Kendra obeys the rules, Seth breaks them. But when Grandfather gets kidnapped by one of the creatures, the kids will have to work as a team to save him and all Fablehaven.
Very solid fantasy, and recommended for fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.
I didn't go into reading this book with many expectations other than "here's another geeky high school character trying to find himself." I was surprised (pleasantly) to find out it's actually the story of a horny, gay teenager dealing with straight-boy relationships, some gay bashing, his first sexual relationship, parent-issues, and constant obsession with one's own body and er...body parts.
Charlie is snarky and self-deprecating and vulnerable. His voice draws you in and you are completely on his side even when he's being the most unfair to other kinds of people. And actually that's the one point that I felt the book fell down for me; Charlie's view of the girls. I realize this is written in his voice and its his view of the way girls might think and act, but all the girls were sex-obsessed, shameless, and bold and I felt I wanted a little more balanced view of the double sexual standard girls must endure in high school.
This book is very, very explicit, so I don't think it would be everyone's cup of tea. However, I did enjoy it and felt that Charlie's voice both as a hormonal boy and as a gay teen is a valuable addition to literature about young adults (even if it isn't marketed that way.)
This Book's Food Designation Rating: A banana. Because, you know, that's mostly what the story is about......and hey, I like bananas as much as the next person...
More picks from educator Michelle. As usual, though she marks these as okay for 6th Graders, they're often great reads for older kids as well. Just click on the books to read more about them from the publishers, including publisher-recommended age ranges.
Her picks this time are "If the Witness Lied" (from popular thriller writer Caroline B. Cooney), "The Neddiad" (the hilarious odyssey of young Neddie from beloved author Daniel Pinkwater), and for those interested in history, "The Fifth of March" (one of many fine historical novels by the award-winning Ann Rinaldi.)
So this is exciting. I figured out how to set up the rss feed for the blog. If you use Google Reader or some other RSS feed reader, well, now you can get your bite-sized reviews every Mon-Wed-Fri -- automatically.
Just go to the blog_rss page to subscribe with your favorite reader. I tested it and it seems to be working just fine, but leave a comment or shoot an e-mail to shop at sthelensbookshop dot com if you're encountering headaches.
5 of 5 stars
Karl is a senior in highschool in Lightsburg, Ohio. He holds down 5 jobs, takes care of his drunk of a mother, keeps the house in working order, and is part of a therapy group at school that seems to be the only thing keeping this group of seriously abused kids together.
Each one of his friends, Darla the violent genius, Squid the smarter-than-he-looks abused jock, or Cheryl the cheerleader-dealing-with-incest, interacts with Karl in a way that gives you all the information you need about Karl; how caring, angry, frustrated, bored, and pummelled by life he is.
Each character in this book feels like someone I knew (I am from Ohio after all) and each character makes me care for them deeply.
Karl and his friends' senior year makes you laugh, and almost want to cry, except that you feel that you have to be brave for their sakes.
Don't be misled, however, Karl is a high school senior and his thoughts about sex and swearing and other masculine-obsessed stuff pulls no punches.
Extremely well done. Highly recommended. It will stay with you long after you put the book down.
This Book's Food Designation Rating: Nachos with jalapenos for the stinging reality of the kids' stories, coupled with the comforting smoothness and familiarity of Karl's voice.
4 of 5 stars
How do you describe a book that makes you cringe with the coarseness of the language and constant sexxoring of the main character, but that makes you keep reading just to find out what happens anyway? Oh yeah, that would be Staked.
Eric is a really, really powerful vampire who runs a strip club and keeps getting pretty much totally wasted by various factions of werewolves.
He just made his human girlfriend into a vampire, and her supposedly-dead little sister is out to seduce him. And he's being framed for the death of the local alpha werewolf's son (thus the constant wasting by aforementioned werewolves.)
If you like the gritty, male-centric urban fantasy of Jim Butcher or nightside by Simon Green, then you'll probably enjoy Eric and friends.
It was a pleasure to read this book just because of the different take on Urban Fantasy vampires. However, his girlfriend, Tabitha, while fascinating as a vehicle for "discovering" vampire qualities, got annoying with her "but he loves me" line. Still, I kept reading to the end, and some of the other ex-girlfriends and daughter cracked me up.
This Book's Food Designation Rating: Doritos and Mountain Dew for the utter maleness of Eric's POV and yet how strangely compelling the story was.