All Things Austen, Part 1
Adult , Outside the Reviews / February 23, 2018

Hello everyone, Marietta here! Yes, I’ve finally crawled out of my Internet Silence Hole and am ready to blow you all away with a fascinating post about the most exciting, fast-paced books you’ve ever read, written by the most awesome author in the world: Jane Austen!! Right? Don’t you all agree with me? (Say yes, it’s the safest answer.) OK, I’ll admit it – Jane Austen isn’t exactly known for action scenes, fast-paced, witty dialogue or content that needs to be censored. But there are a lot, LOT of good reasons why she is one of the most famous authors in the world and why every book she wrote is a classic. Her books are FANTASTIC, you all. And I know this for a fact, because I just finished reading through all of them this past year. I discussed them with my mother and a friend here in Wisconsin, and together we compared, contrasted, attacked, defended and lauded all of her excellent works. (Then we watched the movies and criticized the way that BBC did Persuasion, because it could have been so much better.) But since I don’t have enough time to do 6 reviews and since you don’t have…

The Innocence Treatment
Young Adult / February 15, 2018

Author: Ari B. Goelman. Summary: Lauren has a disorder that makes her believe everything her friends tell her–and she believes everyone is her friend. Her innocence puts her at constant risk, so when she gets the opportunity to have an operation to correct her condition, she seizes it. But after the surgery, Lauren is changed. Is she a paranoid lunatic with violent tendencies? Or a clear-eyed observer of the world who does what needs to be done? (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Yet another story fails to live up to a great premise. I do really like the format; some readers don’t like framing devices, but I’ve always felt like a good one can add a lot to the atmosphere and to the story. The Innocence Treatment is both a series of diary entries written by the main character, and a book annotated and published by her sister, which provides for some cool footnotes. And the ambiguous ending. But the actual story? So-so. Lauren is a bland personality. The dystopian aspect is hugely important to the overall story, yet we have very few details there. The side-characters she interacts with are even flatter, up to and including her boyfriend. The whole…

Enter Title Here
Young Adult / February 12, 2018

Author: Rahul Kanakia. Summary: Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all. What’s a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent’s help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford. But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she’s already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians…

Dandelion Fire
Middle Grade / Juvenile / February 7, 2018

100 Cupboards #2. Author: N.D. Wilson. Summary: Henry York never dreamed his time in Kansas would open a door to adventure, much less a hundred doors. But a visit to his aunt and uncle’s farm took an amazing turn when cupboard doors, hidden behind Henry’s bedroom wall, revealed themselves to be portals to other worlds. Now, with his time at the farm drawing to a close, Henry makes a bold decision–he must go through the cupboards to find the truth about where he’s from and who his parents are. Following that trail will take him from one world to another, and ultimately into direct conflict with the evil of Endor. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: The cupboard series went from 1 to 100 just like that! In the first book, we have a fun, lighthearted portal fantasy, which starts out with Henry meeting his cousins, exploring Kansas, getting some backstory. Kind of a slow opening. Then we move onto exploring the cupboards that open out into different worlds. I didn’t think it was amazing, but it was nice. It’s all pretty mysterious, very obviously a setting-up book, but the main villain seems to be an evil witch Henry accidentally wakes up….

Young Adult / February 5, 2018

Skinjacker #3. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I’ve been thinking a good bit about this series, since finishing it. What makes it really fascinating is that Shusterman writes a morbid premise (dead children) into the whimsical world of Everlost, into an absolutely engaging story, tucks in a number of interesting reflections on death and life and the differences, and does it all without moralizing. See, the thing is, the children of Everlost consider themselves dead, but I don’t think they really are. They’re not dead, but not alive. (SPOILERS AHEAD for Everlost and Everwild) For one thing, there…

Young Adult / February 3, 2018

The Nyxia Triad #1. Author: Scott Reintgen. Summary: Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Forever. Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe. But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Hm… the plot moves at a good clip, never too rushed but fast enough to keep me engaged. The main character was interesting, felt realistic, multifaceted and alive. Everything else was kind of a mess. The plot isn’t particularly original; at this…

Young Adult / February 1, 2018

Skinjacker #2. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Everlost, the limbo land of dead children, is at war. Nick the “Chocolate Ogre” wants to help the children of Everlost reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Mary Hightower, self-proclaimed queen of lost children and dangerous fanatic, is determined to keep Everlost’s children trapped within its limbo for all eternity. Traveling in the memory of the Hindenburg, Mary is spreading her propaganda and attracting Afterlights to her cause at a frightening speed. Meanwhile, Allie the Outcast travels home to seek out her parents, along with Mikey, who was once the terrifying monster the McGill. Allie is tempted by the seductive thrill of skinjacking the living, until she discovers the shocking truth about skinjackers. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: So if the first book was a lot of set up, this is the part where that pays off. One awesome bit is how Neal Shusterman embraces the fairy-tale feeling of Everlost itself. Limbo is at war, but this is so much more than a war of numbers – it is a war of propaganda. The Sky Witch versus the Chocolate Ogre. The most dangerous enemy is someone completely convinced they are in the…