Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bardugo, Leigh. Crooked Kingdom (series Six of Crows #2).

Bardugo, Leigh.  Crooked Kingdom (series Six of Crows #2). Macmillan/Henry Holt     2016  546p  $18.99  ISBN 978-1-62779-213-4  Hardback  hs/adult     Adventure  VG-BN

Fans of Six of Crows will be lined up for its sequel, Crooked Kingdom. Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives.      Bardugo picks up the threads of the first novel and it is just under a week since the Dregs reached Ketterdam (about a month since they left Djerholm). The stakes for the band of thieves keep increasing. They are fighting to snatch Inej from Van Eck before he has his way with her, and they are almost out of time. They devise a clever plan to destroy Van Eck’s sugar crop, using Wylan’s weevil, and to destroy his reputation at the same time.

The action and tension is non-stop. Convoluted plots-within-plots with unexpected twists and turns will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Readers will invest in these well-drawn characters and tear through the pages to see who survives and who does not. The ending is unpredictable and shocking. Darkly compelling, this novel will make readers demand another volume for the series in order to provide closure after the surprise ending.             

Summary: In this sequel to Six of Crows, Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives.


Outlaws-Fiction, Adventure-Fiction                          —Hilary Welliver

Brunner, Kym. Flip the Bird.

Brunner, Kym.  Flip the Bird.  Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt Brace  2016  357p  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-544-80085-4  Hardback  ms/hs  Realistic fiction  VG  

Fourteen-year-old Mercer Buddie is determined to prove to his master-falconer father and brother Lincoln that he can be just as serious and successful a falconer as they are. Then he meets Lucy, a hot girl with a great personality. With adolescent hormones raging, he is set to impress her and claim her as his girlfriend. Then Mercer realizes that Lucy and her family are members of HALT, a fanatical activist animal-rights organization. With his mother being the head of a research department trying to find cures for cancer by testing medications on dogs, and his passion for falconry, he is faced with moral and ethical dilemmas that make him think about what is right. When his family’s history in falconry is revealed to the group, Mercer must face the ensuing consequences.

This well-written, fast-paced book will delight adolescent readers. The plot is filled with tension that bounces between animal rights, ethics, morals, and young teenage minds and antics. It is further complicated by the protagonist’s passion for falconry, which contradicts the beliefs of his girlfriend and her fixated parents. This book introduces a new and refreshing story. There are not many novels about falconry or animal-rights activists. Brunner has captured the experience of being an adolescent boy and juxtaposed it with an original plot. A warning, though: this book is not for the faint of heart, as accurate but brutal aspects of hunting and falconry are described. It is highly recommended for any middle- or high-school library and will appeal to adolescent readers. 

Summary: Fourteen-year-old Mercer Buddie is determined to prove to his father and brother that he can be a serious falconer, but when he meets Lucy, who is a part of HALT, a fanatical activist animal-rights organization, he must make a decision about his own beliefs and face the consequences of his involvement with her and the HALT group.     


Falconry-Fiction, Animal rights-Fiction                     —Virginia McGarvey

Carson, Mary Kay. Mission To Pluto.

Carson, Mary Kay.  Mission To Pluto.  Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt Brace  2016   73p  $18.99  ISBN 978-0-544-41671-0  (Series: Scientists in the Field) Hardback   elem/ms  Nonfiction  E-BNS

This book tells the story of the development of the New Horizons robotic spacecraft that traveled to the dwarf planet Pluto.  The text is written in a conversational manner and is enjoyable to read, and the facts are presented chronologically and fully. The book discusses how the project was repeatedly put on hold. Many items on the spacecraft had to be specially made to be both light and extremely durable. New Horizons travels so far away that help from earth is impossible, so the spacecraft has to be able to fix itself.
  
The book includes charts and tables and excellent photographs. In addition, a two-page listing of “Words to Know” and a list of web sites for further information are included, as well as a selected bibliography and index.
 
The text is excellent. However, this reviewer has a concern with the publisher’s choice of color on several pages that use a black background with blue print.  This color combination makes these pages very difficult to read. This is the only detracting feature of Mission to Pluto.

There are at least 27 titles in the Scientists in the Field series. Each title follows scientists through the specific tasks typical of their work. The series is an excellent purchase for students to learn about the work scientists do every day, and it may interest students in future fields of study.  

Summary: This book tells the story of the development of the New Horizons robotic spacecraft that traveled  to the dwarf planet Pluto and is now traveling beyond into the Kuiper Belt.  Grades 4-8.


Space exploration, Pluto                                          —Joan Theal

Goslee, S. J. Whatever.

Goslee, S. J.  Whatever.  Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press     2016  266p  $17.99        ISBN 978-1-62672-399-3  Hardback  hs  Realistic fiction VG

Mike is about to start his junior year of high school, and figures he has it made ... he has his friends, he has his band, and he has his girlfriend Lisa. He and his friends enjoy getting drunk on beer and stoned on pot while they party the last of the summer away. But when Lisa suddenly breaks up with him because she has developed a crush on someone else, Mike’s whole world and concept of himself begins to change. For the first time, he finds that others perceive him as possibly gay, or even bisexual, when the thought had never once occurred to him. He begins to realize that he is attracted to some boys, and he has a whole new aspect of his feelings that he must define and deal with.
The language and situations of the book will probably appeal to high-school students who enjoy realistic literature that deals with sexuality and other everyday concerns of young people. The action is described in the present tense throughout the novel, giving it a sense of immediacy that will also appeal to that group of readers.      

Recommended for upper high-school readers of both sexes who like realistic fiction.

Summary: In this coming-of-age story, Mike gets in touch with his ambivalence about his sexuality and comes to terms with it.  


Sexuality-Fiction, LGBTQ fiction                            —Carol Kennedy

Howard, A. G. RoseBlood.

Howard, A. G. RoseBlood. Amulet see Abrams, Harry     2017  419p  $18.95      ISBN 978-1-4197-1909-7       hs/adult  Fantasy   VG

When Rune goes to school in France, she is forced to confront her destiny.  Born with an angelic voice, she alone possesses something the elusive and imortal Phantom of the Opera wants. In this unusual pairing of characters, Howard brings a young opera singer to France, where she discovers not only the reason why she collapses after every song she sings, but also the reason why she nearly kills her boyfriend Ben when she uses his emotions to feed her needs. Surprisingly, as the rising action builds in this drama, she rather casually accepts that she is not human, but rather some kind of vampire. The trip to France and her attendance at the RoseBlood School seem to be inevitable, as Rune begins to learn, especially when she meets Thorn, a man with whom she feels a kindred spirit. He hides from everyone at the school, and Rune learns why much later in the book. Will he be her protector or the conduit to her demise? Rune finds herself bullied, but she is not at all certain who is behind the theft of her school uniform, among other torments she must bear. She also finds herself in the contest for the lead in the school’s opera, a role that she does not covet since she knows her weakness always renders her incapable of completing one aria much less an entire show.  An avid reader, she voraciously pours through all things relating to the legendary Phantom of the Opera, Erik, and when she meets him, she learns about his thirst for her voice. A scientist who performs experiments on animals, he is searching for a way to transfer Rune’s voice to bring back his beloved Christine. Erik is a demon with deformities that have shaped his life, and he cares little about Thorn, the son he adopted. There is too much detail to thoroughly explain this convoluted plot in one review. Let it suffice to say that Howard’s descriptions are stellar, her storytelling complex, and her interest level high for the right reader. Vampire fans will enjoy Howard’s new take on sucking out emotions rather than life blood. They will equally enjoy diving into the complexities of this story, but they will have to be patient to find out the resolution.           

With complex descriptions and plot and some sexual content, this novel is best for high school and older.  With its unique take on the story of the Phantom and Christine and its new type of emotion-stealing vampire, the book deserves a spot in a high-school library.   

Summary: When Rune goes to school in France, she is forced to confront her destiny.  Born with an angelic voice, she alone possesses something the elusive and imortal Phantom of the Opera wants.  She meets Thorn, her soulmate, and together, they attempt to turn the tables against Erik before he takes Rune’s voice forever.  The Phantom of the Opera meets non-bloodsucking vampires in this new book by A. G. Howard. 


Phantom of the Opera-Fiction                                —Martha Squaresky