Posts Tagged ‘Juvenile Fiction’
Has Miki fallen too hard? It’s summer, and Miki Yoshida is learning all about love. Her senior year has blossomed with promise ever since she gained Hiro Sakurai’s confidence. Now, she’s resolved to keep his trust as he reveals more about his secret mission and warns: “Don’t get involved!”"But Miki fears his work might do more harm than good, and she takes control—with disastrous results. How can trying to make things right turn out so dangerously wrong?
Review: I’m really enjoying the Miki Falls series! Summer takes place a few months after the first volume, Spring, but readers new to this series don’t necessarily need to read the first book in order to enjoy this latest installment. Crilley provides enough recap to not drag the story down and continues at a good pace to keep the story moving forward. Miki has been successful in gaining Hiro’s confidence and discovered his big secret. Now the two have formed a strong friendship as Miki learns about what exactly Hiro’s special mission entails. As Miki learns more about Hiro and his past, she begins to realize that her place next to Hiro is impossible yet she can’t help but feel close to him and she thinks Hiro feels the same.
In Summer, we see Miki and Hiro become more dimensional characters. While Hiro tries to back away from Miki and conceal his feelings for her, Miki pushes forward and dares to ask why. She refuses to take no as an answer and doesn’t dissolve into a pool of tears, which is one of the reasons why I like her so much. Similarly Hiro struggles with his choice of doing his duty or listening to his heart. More information about Hiro’s job is provided in the book, which is really unique and interesting. We also see a female acquaintance of Hiro’s past that adds more tension to this sweet love story.
Miki Falls is an OEL, original English language manga-style graphic novel series. It is perfect for those readers who are hesitate about reading Japanese manga yet curious about the stories they contain. The soft black and white illustrations perfectly complement this gentle story about first love. I especially love the set up of separate panels that express the emotions that run across the character’s faces making them real. I hope that you pick up Miki Falls and I look forward to reading Autumn, the third volume of the series.
Readalikes: Miki Falls Volume 3: Autumn by Mark Crilley
Briony committed a crime. She killed her stepmother and made her twin sister, Rose, sick. Briony’s guilt is a cloak that she wraps herself and now can’t imagine not wearing it. To escape from her burden, she goes to the swamp where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. In addition to her overbearing guilt, Briony can also see the Old Ones, a clear indication that she is a witch and therefore should be sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then a young lad named Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.
Review: Chime is a gorgeously written novel, where each word, each character, and each setting were carefully chosen and used effectively. After reading the first page of the book, I knew this book would be different. The dialogue and society evoked an old fashioned fairy tale story. What sets Chime apart from the numerous other books that focus on folklore is its unique use of magic and settings of swamps. I’ve never thought of a swamp being a magical place before, but Billingsley makes it work.
Along with the fabulous world building, the characters of Chime are really the best part of the book. Briony is the narrator of our story. We spend much time in her head. The use of stream of consciousness is expertly done in Chime. I was completely immersed in Briony’s tortured and complex psyche. Her voice is so strong and so distinct. Her guilt is palpable and makes you feel like you are carrying her world on your shoulders. For much of the novel, Briony suffers from self hatred and shame. She believes she is the sole person responsible in bringing chaos to her family and should be sentenced to death because of this. Though she did get a bit whiny at times, I found her to be strong willed and she didn’t always make the right choices, which reminded her and the reader that despite her claims of what she is, she retains her humanity. I have to confess that I didn’t warm up to Briony right away and it’s really not her fault either. Her name just echoed a character with the same name that I detested and who actually should feel guilty and ashamed for what she’d done- Briony from Atonement by Ian McEwan. I took me a few pages to get over that bump.
Eldric, Briony’s love interest, is wonderful. His charming, out going, adventurous and laid back attitude balances Briony’s dark mood. He really lights up the pages. He and Briony worked so well together, and I’m pleased to say that their relationship seemed real. It was based on friendship and then advanced to young love rather than young lust. Their interactions, jokes and banter, felt very real and helped balance the dark, heavy themes of the book.
Rose, Briony’s sister, who is mentally compromised, is sweet and young at heart. Though people are quick to dismiss her as being ill, she is much keen and observant of her surroundings. Rose’s participation in Briony’s mysterious is crucial to unlocking what really happened to her and their stepmother.
What deterred me the most from loving Chime is that the plot moved very slowly, particularly in the first half of the book. I found many of the plot twists to be predictable and knew them before they occurred in the story. The pace does pick up during the second half as we learn more about Eldric’s father’s plan to drain the swamp which has made the Old Ones unhappy, particularly the Boggy Mun, who has plagued the village’s children with swamp cough in retaliation. When Rose’s lingering illness turns into a cough, Briony knows that she must do whatever it takes, even revealing her secrets, to save her sister. After a while, I stopped reading the book for its plot but rather sat back and watched Briony come to an epiphany about what is true and false about a mystery that has consumed her life. Though the descriptions allude that Eldric is solely responsible for her awakening, he really isn’t. He does indeed help Briony but it is Briony herself who slowly puts the pieces together and has the strength to accept the consequences. That being said, Chime is a brilliantly written book that does include a very dark, gritty, magical world along with just the right dose of romance to prevent being steeped into darkness, but it is ultimately a novel that explores the tortured psyche and the powerful forces of guilt, redemption, and self love. If you decide to pick this book up, just be patient and keep reading. It does get better once you get through the slow half.
Readalikes: Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray or The Prophecy of Sisters by Michelle Zink
Description: Miki is ready for adventure and romance. She is tired of being a pushover and vows that her senior year of high school will be different. She will be confident and in charge. Her senior resolution is called into question when Miki sets her sights on Hiro, a tall, handsome new boy at school who is determined to be antisocial. Miki thinks Hiro is putting on a show and hiding a dangerous secret, but what is it? Miki is determined to find out.
Review: Miki Falls is exactly what I needed at the moment. After reading a few titles that left me in a “blah” mood, Miki Falls is a fresh of breath air for me and I’m so glad that I picked it up. As the story begins, Miki is both literally and figuratively falling out of a window and possibly in love too. We learn that Miki threw herself outside of a third story window. The reason is not given, however, we think it has to do something with Hiro, the mysterious and distant new boy that enrolled in Miki’s high school as Miki beings to explain on how everything happened.
Miki is a extremely likable teen. She is trying to confront her insecurities and no longer wants to be passive. She wants to take charge of her life, which at times makes her impulsive and stubborn especially when she refuses to be avoided by Hiro. She goes out of her way to be nice to him and to speak to him even though he has continually expressed his disinterest in anyone yet Miki sees a vulnerability in Hiro, a person who is much like herself- a rule follower and not living life.
Hiro is your typical brooding love interest who is hiding a secret. I liked how his revelation is an odd twist and something that I didn’t guess. Crilley does a great job in building suspense and mystery surrounding Hiro’s past and his mood swings. I can’t wait to see how the supernatural aspect of the book develops in the next three series.
I really enjoyed Crilley’s manga-like format. Unlike manga’s the book does not read from right to left nor are the illustrations squeezed into panels. A lot of the illustrations are crisscrossing sequential panels that emphasize art as well as furthering the plot, which allows the story’s emotion, humor, and drama unfold in front of the readers. My favorite part of the illustrations are the focus on the eyes of the characters that are cut in between dialogue to heighten the characters’ sense of vulnerability, confusion, and shock. Crillye’s light shading and unique facial features give the book a softer and romantic feel.
If you are curious about manga but a bit afraid of it’s format, I would highly suggest to pick up the Miki Falls series not only to read a great story but also to experience what reading a manga might feel like. Even though the characters are in their teens, I think this series has a wide age appeal very much similar to the Twilight Saga due to a chaste yet passionate love story. It’s definitely worth checking it out.
If you like this book try: Miki Falls Volume 2: Summer by Mark Crilley
Description: It’s the summer before seventh grade, and twelve-year- old Raine O’Rourke’s mother suddenly takes a job hours from home at mysterious Sparrow Road- a creepy, dilapidated mansion that houses an eccentric group of artists. As Raine tries to make sense of her new surroundings, she forges friendships with a cast of quirky characters including the outrageous and funky Josie. Together, Raine and Josie decide to solve the mysteries of Sparrow Road-from its haunting history as an orphanage to the secrets of its silent, brooding owner, Viktor. But it’s an unexpected secret from Raine’s own life that changes her forever.
Review: Without any explanation, Raine and her mother, Molly, move for the summer from Milwaukee to an artist retreat called Sparrow Road, which overlooks Lake Michigan. Raine is understandable upset by her mother’s impulsive move. She leaves her beloved Grandpa Mac behind and is unsure why her mother took the job of a housekeeper and cook at a mysterious resort.
Always in the mood to solve a mystery, Raine wonders about the relationship between her mother and the Sparrow Road caretaker Viktor, who greets her with strict rules about no noise before 5:00 PM and leave the artists alone among others; and why her mother (and seemingly the other adults) never allows her to be alone, especially outside of the manor.
Though the book is written for a younger audience, many adults are featured in the story. Diego, the friendly and warm artist who enjoys making collages, befriends and encourages Raine to dream and write down her questions, which he says will help her figure out the answers. The charismatic and flamboyant Josie tells her about the orphanage that was once here. I loved all the characters in Sparrow Road. All of them were fully and well developed and each had a distinct voice and personality, but they never overshadowed Raine. I also love the relationship between Raine and her mother. The adults nurture but do not smother her, which allowed Raine to discover herself, her family and her own artistry freely. Readers discover Raine’s past and secrets as she learns about dark revelations about her family. Though the issues that O’Connor brings up are serious, they are not preachy and glossed over. The author makes Raine deal with it maturely deals with them maturely and realistically.
Readalikes: Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo or Summer of May by Cecilia Galante
Description: In order to save the family from financial ruin, the Stephenson sisters try to change their destiny. One contemplates a loveless marriage while the other casts a love spell to summon her true love. Kat, the youngest of the Stephenson sisters, comes up with her own plans for her sisters’ suitors after discovering that she has magical powers herself.
Review: Kat, Incorrigible is a delightful read that mixes adventure, mystery, romance, magic, and humor in all the right doses. Readers are transported to Regency England, where the social mores that are present in Jane Austen novels still rule society.Though set in the past, the female characters very much have a 21st century perspective on how they want to live their lives.
Kat is our lovable heroine and narrator. She is spunky, hilarious, adorable, and ready to be unladylike if that means she can save her sister from marrying a cad. When Kat’s plans to disguise herself as a boy and get a job are dashed, she stumbles upon her magic powers, which are very powerful. In addition to saving her family, she also on the radar for a powerful group called the Guardians who are trying to recruit her. Kat’s magic isn’t really explained besides being inherited from her family, but I hope we get more information about this and her late mother in later installments of this series. I loved how Kat interacted with her sisters, which very much rang true as they get into constant arguments and make-up while still doing anything to help each other out.
I also loved the other characters of the story too, which included Kat’s lovable but oblivious father, her prim and proper Stepmama who hates her family’s disreputable history, and the various male suitors for her sisters. I thought they were well developed and came alive. Out of all the secondary characters, I loved Kat’s sisters.
While the plot for Kat, Incorrigible is multifaceted, it does not drag the book down. Each plot thread is woven nicely and I didn’t get bored with any of them because there was plenty of humor and action. The humor of the book reminded me very much of Princess Bride, which is very hard to do.
Despite a quick wrap up of the many plotlines, there is a lot we don’t know about Kat and her world. I can’t wait to find out what mess Kat finds herself in the next book. Tweens, teens, and adults alike will absolutely love this book
If you like this book try: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers, The Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray or The Agency series by Y.S. Yee
Description: Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.
Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a delightful book that crosses a wide variety of genres: coming of age, historical fiction, and even feminism. Calpurnia, more commonly called Callie by friends and family, is a spunky, adventurous, and curious girl. You would most likely find her out in the fields with her journal detailing the insects and other species she’d encounter rather than hosting parties at home. Growing up with six brothers in rural Texas in 1899, Callie realizes that her aversion to needlework and cooking disappoints her mother. Still, she prefers to spend her time exploring the river, observing animals, and keeping notes on what she sees. Callie’s growing interest in nature creates a bond with her previously distant grandfather, an amateur naturalist of some distinction. I absolutely loved Callie’s grandfather who is incredibly funny with his one liners and has impeccable comedic timing.
After they discover an unknown species of vetch, he attempts to have it officially recognized. This process creates a dramatic focus for the novel, especially with how Callie mother inspects her to grow up to be: a woman who is to be married and uphold her own family. While the scientific observations are interwoven with the daily life of Callie, the main focus of the book is Callie’s gradual self-discovery as revealed in her vivid first-person narrative. While some become bored with the book’s lack of a plotline, I was immediately taken by Callie’s family and friends. Her bonds with her siblings, the conversations she overhears, and the meddlings that Callie gets herself into are all told wry humor, warmth that allows the characters and its setting come to life. While the book doesn’t dismiss domestic work as unnecessary or demeaning, it allows young girls to realize that they should not restrict their talents and dreams to society’s expectations. Callie is admirable and a role model that I think many young girls would like. I, for one, would love to have her as my friend.
If you like this book try: Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman, Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth by Jay Hosler, Kevin Cannon, and Xander Cannon
Are you looking for books similar to Hunger Games to read? How about checking out these titles from the library:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner - When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. No one knows why or how they got to the Glade. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
Divergent by Veronica Roth- In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.
The House of Scorpions by Nancy Farmer - In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patrón, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.
Exodus by Julie Bertagna - In the year 2100, as the island of Wing is about to be covered by water, fifteen-year-old Mara discovers the existence of New World sky cities that are safe from the storms and rising waters, and convinces her people to travel to one of these cities in order to save themselves.
Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - Pursued by power-hungry Prentiss and mad minister Aaron, young Todd and Viola set out across New World searching for answers about his colony’s true past and seeking a way to warn the ship bringing hopeful settlers from Old World.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver - Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young - In a distant future, eighteen-year-old Lugh is kidnapped, and while his twin sister Saba and nine-year-old Emmi are trailing him across bleak Sandsea they are captured, too, and taken to brutal Hopetown, where Saba is forced to be a cage fighter until new friends help plan an escape.
Gone by Michael Grant - In a small town on the coast of California, everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappears, setting up a battle between the remaining town residents and the students from a local private school, as well as those who have “The Power” and are able to perform supernatural feats and those who do not.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card - Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses — and then training them in the arts of war… The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of ‘games’… Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games… He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?
Unwind by Neal Shusterman - In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives “unwound” and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to survive until they turn eighteen.
Enclave by Ann Aguire - In a post-apocalyptic future, fifteen-year-old Deuce, a loyal Huntress, brings back meat while avoiding the Freaks outside her enclave, but when she is partnered with the mysterious outsider, Fade, she begins to see that the strict ways of the elders may be wrong–and dangerous.
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi - In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld - Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world — and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher - To free herself from an upcoming arranged marriage, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, a futuristic prison with a mind of its own, decides to help a young prisoner escape.
Description: When Garth Hale is accidentally zapped into the ghost world by Frank Gallows, an underachieving ghost wrangler. Frank Gallows, he finds out that he has some awesome super powers. When the evil ruler of Ghostopolis discovers Garth in his kingdom, he desperately searches for the young boy who will allow him to keep a tighter grip in his afterlife world. Will Garth be able to survive and make his way back home? Will Frank Gallows come to Ghostopolis to have save Garth or will it be too late?
Review: Ghostopolis is an enjoyable read. The story is unique and filled with humor as well as heart. The world building of the Ghostopolis is quite good, however, I would have liked a little more of an explanation of how it came to be than what was provided in the graphic novel. There is a balance between narrative panels and wordless passages such as two mummified squirrels fighting for the same acorn that keep readers interested and stay on task with the plot.
While there is a diverse cast of characters, whom I’m sure many readers will like and feel invested in their adventures, I thought they were a bit flat and lacked character development. The book takes its time establishing Ghostopolis and Garth’s plight in finding a way to get back home, however, I thought the ending was very rushed in the end. Even though some loose ties are tied up, I thought some important themes were glossed over and I still had some questions that were unanswered. It’s also hard not to notice the strong religious overtones in the story, however, I enjoyed the dry humor of the book. I think Ghostopolis might be a good step for readers who aren’t ready to tackle the frightening and weird tales of Neil Gaiman. Young readers should dig the graphic novel’s creep factor, adventure, and humor.
Readalikes: Coraline by Neil Gaiman or Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Description: Nya, a fifteen-year-old war orphan, becomes a pawn in a bigger political game when her uncanny–and dangerous–ability to draw out people’s pain and then give it to someone else turns out to be the only weapon she has to save her sister.
Review: The Shifter is a fast paced, action-packed fantasy with a strong leading female protagonist. Nya is a Taker, a person who has the ability to take away ones pain but instead of transferring it to an enchanted metal, she can “shift” it to someone else. Her secret ability makes her a hot commodity in the Duke’s dark plans to take over nearby lands. When her sister, Tali, is kidnapped Nya must bargin her ability to save her sister, but how far will she go? If you had Nya’s powers, how would you use them? How do you decide which and whose pain to take? And just because you can take them away, it is the right thing to do? Hardy’s characters ask these tough questions along the way, making the reader wonder he/she would do if he/she were in her characters shoes. The Shifter is an intriguing tale about love, family and choices. There are currently three books out in the Healing War series.
Description: The year is 1776 and the American Revolution is underway. 13 year old Samuel is a highly-skilled woodsman, who returns from a journey to find his home burned down, the neighbors slaughtered, and his parents missing. He hear news that his parents may be alive in New York City. He sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Native Americans who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community.
Review: Woods Runner is a riveting account of the Revolutionary War. Paulsen’s narrative weaves a frank and deglorified depiction of the American Revolution that many of us do not find in our history textbooks. In an author’s note, Paulsen indicates that his purpose is not to rewrite the war, but rather clarify some aspects of it to the reader. He definitely succeeds.
The main story of Woods Runner revolves around a 13 year old boy named Samuel who feels right at home with hunting and living in the wilderness. When Samuel is on a fun excursion, he hears word of an uprising in Concord and Lexington, areas close to home. Afraid of his parents and his community, he rushes back to check if everyone is okay. Sadly, he finds his home burned down, the neighbors slaughtered, and his parents missing. Samuel’s anguish is unimaginable and it’s an emotional punch to the gut. He uses his woodsman skills along with alliances with some unlikely people to tracks his captured parents who may be taken to British-held New York. It’s is Samuel’s bravery, hope, and the goodness of humanity that upliftings this dark book. He reminds us that there are many ways one can be a hero.
Readers who are in the search for a page turning, heart pumping adventure/survival story will really like Woods Runner. Learning about the American Revolution is just an added bonus.
Readalikes: Chains or Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson or My brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier