Monday, February 1, 2010


Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 
Review by Jennifer Stubbs - Library Assistant: This book, often mentioned as the spark that caused Congress to regulate food in the USA, clearly portrays the life of Average Joe Americans 100 years ago.  Sinclair doesn’t pull any punches in describing the work and factories that caused Americans to establish labor unions and food inspectors.  If you have ancestors that lived in or near Chicago in the 1880s, look here for one example of their story.  Some readers find this book difficult to stomach because the descriptions are vivid, but I was not as troubled about eating as when I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  

Review by Jennifer Stubbs - Library Assistant: My sister wanted me to read this book—there’s an inside joke about a t-shirt that reads: “My sister won the Hunger Games!”  I totally trust her recommendations though—she’s never been wrong!  This book is great for anyone of any age.  It, subtly, makes us look at our own society: reality TV, economic classes, political involvement, and personal sacrifice.  I was cheering Kat on and biting my nails through most of the book.  Luckily, the sequel, Catching Fire, is already out, so you don’t have to wait to see what happens next.  But the final book, Mockingjay, won’t be available until late August!  I might go into withdrawal, but in the mean-time I’ll make-do by reading them to my cat!

Review - Catching Fire: I could not sleep without finishing this book.  I tried to put it down at 3 a.m., but 30 minutes later, I was still wide awake.  So I happily read on.  If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, this sequel does not disappoint—it is even more engrossing and tense!  I must quote the review from Booklist because he was spot-on:

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Summary: Falling in love was never so easy...or deadly For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

Review by Roxie: After waiting patiently for three months for us to get the book, I finally got my hands on it and read it in a day. I fell in love with Patch, a misterious, sexy, dark boy. It's one of those "man I wish this happened to me" type of story. A great book about romance and how scary falling in love can really be. I enjoy books that help me escape reality. Great great book. Plus the cover of the book is AWESOME! 

Life of PI by Yann Martell
Review by Jennifer Stubbs: This is a modern rendition of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." That's a good thing.

Well, it was not anything I was expecting. I thought Life of Pi, the book, was somehow connected to the movie Pi, in more than just name. Nope.

So, I was very confused at first by the format (prologue, random short chapters that seemed out of time/place). Eventually, those parts gained coherence in hind-sight. I believed the whole thing. Then I got to the end of the book, I realized my perspective was all off. I asked, "Was it real? What is reality?" I really love playing with that question, not only in a Matrix sense, but psychology tells us perception IS everything. And then I started recalling how this book makes everyone believe (I guess in God, or divinity of some sort). Well, it made me think about the Bible, for sure, but God? I guess I didn't get that far. But I did like seeing how this book is a modern example of the Bible: Is it truth? Does it matter? Pi's perception helped him become a better person (I'm assuming).

Dirty Little Secrets By C.J. Omololu
Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.
With details that are as fascinating as they are disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy’s desperate attempt at normalcy. Her fear and isolation are palpable as readers are pulled down a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen’s life will have readers completely hooked.

Review by Laura - Teen Librarian: This is one of the most well written books I have read in a long time.  This disease is real, and the world does not understand it.  So, the world also does not understand what the impact is on a child.  Lucy is the kind of character that you just want to reach into the book, hug close, and assure her that everything is going to be alright.  She is believable, honest, and protective, even when the reader is compelled to believe otherwise.  This author sheds so much light into a world that we might see on TV.  A world where a reporter’s disgust is evident, but his understanding is absent.  This book is a very short read, but very gripping, as well.  And it begs the question … how far would YOU go to protect your family’s secrets?  I give this book a perfect 5!!!!  Nothing is lacking from this book!

Wherever Nina Lies By Lynn Weingarten

Nina was beautiful, artistic, wild … and adored by her younger sister, Ellie. But on day, without warning, Nina disappeared. Two years later, Ellie can’t stop thinking about her sister. Although everyone else has given up hope that Nina will return, Ellie just knows her sister is out there, somewhere. When Ellie fiends a clue in the form o f a mysterious drawing, she sets off on a road trip with her crush, determined to find her sister. Along the way, Ellie finds a few things she wasn’t planning on. Like love. Mysteries. Lies. And something far more shocking … the truth.

Review by Laura - Teen Librarian: Absolutely amazing! The first line of the book (“The guy walking toward me is good-looking in an obnoxious way,”) hooked me immediately. Ellie is a character that you just can’t help but like. As you go through the book, you watch as Ellie finds her inner strength, and you find yourself looking forward to the next picture, the next clue. Ellie takes a very unexpected trip across the U.S. to search for the sister that mysteriously disappeared. The sister her mom seems uninterested in searching for, unconcerned for her strange disappearance. This is a fast paced book, and though it is somewhat predictable, it is good from beginning to end. Definitely a must read!!! I give it 4 ½ stars!!!!

Dog Years: A memoir By Mark Doty

Review by Roxie: To be loved - this book was sweet and touching. It captures the way your dog or pet trully feels about you. The way it loves you and care for you. It really helps you understand what it means to be loved by your pet. I explains why your dog acts the way it does, why it gets so attached to you. Consider yourself loved if you own a dog. At the end of the day no one will love you the way your pet does. In the end it's not you saving your pet, it's your pet who is saving you.

The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy  By Raj Patel

Review by Jennifer Stubbs: I, Jennifer-a library assistant, read this book because the title is a quote from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. The argument is: Victorians (and my generation) can find a price tag on any item or service, but what does that number mean and why is it there? Readers' personal philosophy will heavily influence their opinion of The Value of Nothing. I was trained as an economist, but I try, occasionally, to stretch my mind around new ideas. Patel explores a few origins of modern capitalism: the real story behind Adam Smith's "invisible hand", who is the "rational person" all economic models assume, and how do corporations fit in? He goes on to introduce three groups of developing alternatives to current capitalism: urban disenfranchised, small farmers, and Zapatistas. They have made democracy their own and operate in simple, focused democracies. Hopefully, this book introduces you to concepts and cities you were not yet aware of.

Graceling By Kristin Cashore

Review By Roxie: Katsa is a graceling, gifted with a supernatural gift distinguished by her different-colored eyes. Katsa’s grace is very rare; she is graced with killing. She has been deadly since she was a child and this has left her isolated from most of society. She lives with her uncle, the king, who uses her as a cruel weapon, she is sent to teach a lesson to those who cross him. She lives a very unhappy life and realized she doesn’t want to hurt innocent people anymore. While Katsa is on her last request she meets Prince Po who is very mysterious and is also graced. As times passes they become friends and her thoughts turn in new directions, but in a world where your powers define who you are she is faced with new choices to make.
This book was great. I’ve never been big on fantasy (which I regret now) I’ve always been into those cheesy romantic novels or simply a good mystery book. Cashore did a swell job putting this story together she takes you on a dreamy adventure.

In this book you will find adventure, betrayal and the meaning of a true friendship that turns into love.
Currently reading Fire a Companion to Graceling!