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39 Deaths of Adam Strand 39 Deaths of Adam Strand / Gregory Galloway TEST TEST
Adam strand kills himself out of boredom one day. However, he wakes up 24 hours later just fine--and then he kills himself 38 other times. Adam is telling the stories in past tense and each way he died is different. It is very interesting to read and has a great writing style. Although it is a good book, it does get depressing at times, so keep that in mind. Adam S., IRS Member

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Alchemy and Meggy Swann Alchemy and Meggy Swann / Karen Cushman TEST TEST

The crippled daughter of an ungracious mother and an alchemist father, Meggy Swann is ungratefully dumped in her father's house in late 1500s London with only her harsh tongue to comfort her. Obdurate and bitter, she refuses to befriend even the friendliest faces that come her way. But that is all about to change when she discovers her father's plot to kill a lord.

The cover was illustrated beautifully and absorbed the nature and the plot of the book. The illustration was wonderful and peaked the interest of the reader. However, the synopsis on the back cover did not do justice to the plot and the nature of the book.

Alchemy and Meggy Swann captures the attention of the reader and shows that even in the darkest of times, there is a light waiting to be seen. The book was well-written and explores original and thoughtful aspects of life. Alchemy and Meggy Swann explores the strength of solidarity and the kindness of the individual, despite the harshness of the crowd. This book brings out the good in a grim, dark time in history that brings gratefulness to the reader. This was very historically accurate and brought about the appropriate mood. Alchemy and Meggy Swann is recommended for those young and old, historian and psychologist, reader and writer. (Kelsey E., IRS Member) 

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All Our Yesterdays All Our Yesterdays / Cristin Terrill TEST TEST

Em is a prisoner of a man who she knows as "the Doctor." When she finds a list of instructions in the drain, she is the only one who can complete the final instruction--which is necessary in order to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. Everything else has failed. Marina, however, will not let anything happen to her best friend, Em, who she has loved her entire life. Em and Marina have been thrown into a race, a competitition that they cannot both win. All our Yesterdays has an intense, exciting plot that few other authors could pull off with its mysteries, adventure, and excitement. Yet Cristin Terrill manages to keep the plot going and add surprises along the way. I read this book in less than a day, and loved it all the way through. Despite the sad ending, I could not think of anything the author should have done differently. Gabi S., IRS Member

Another take... Em and Finn confront their past selves to try to prevent the horrible future where time travel is manipulated and people whose motives were only good turn evil when given the power to change the world with time. The time travel and suspense associated with it is seamless, and the revelations at the end are timed perfectly, revealing the character's motives and fixing time despite the intricate plot. Olivia C., IRS Member


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Anna and the French Kiss Anna and the French Kiss / Stephanie Perkins TEST TEST

Anna Oliphant didn't want to leave Georgia for her senior year of high school, even if she was being transplanted to Paris. When she arrives, though, she meets a host of new and interesting people - including Etienne St. Clair, a guy who is both (fortunately) gorgeous and (unfortunately) taken. It's not hard to guess where the story goes from there.

The cover was sweet. It was nice to see the heroine's face for once - so many cover artists seem to operate under the assumption that it's easier to empathize with someone you can imagine looking like yourself, so faces on covers have become rather a rarity. I wish St. Clair had also been shown, but I'll take what I can get. And the Eiffel Tower in the background, of course, is a nice setting piece. Visually the whole image is light, much like the book.

Oh, I did so enjoy this one. The relationship between Anna and St. Clair was very well-developed and well-paced. Some of their interactions just made me grin, they were so sweet together. Both were interesting characters, imperfect but wonderful in their own ways. I loved reading about them. At the heart, that's why I loved the book: it's a pretty straightforward, fairly uncomplicated romance but it's very character-driven, which (in my opinion) all good books should be. Addendum: In the acknowledgements at the end, Ms. Perkins thanks someone who put up with endless questions of 'Is the boy hot enough?'. Well. The boy is hot enough. Definitely. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Ask the Passengers Ask the Passengers / A.S. King TEST TEST

This book is about a girl named Astrid who faces questions about her sexuality in a small, judgmental town—questions about how she feels about her family, her friends, and her girlfriend in a very oppressive environment. Astrid is a main character with a very unique perspective, asking the same kinds of questions which many other teens ask about themselves and others but which books do not often include. The challenges that Astrid has to overcome are some which other teens might also be facing, so the novel's themes are relatable.

The cover portrays Astrid as she often is in the story, "asking the passengers" of airplanes in the sky. The cover reflects the content of the novel because it shows a girl who is reaching upwards, which is like how the main character often looks to the sky and the passengers of airplanes for answers to her toughest questions. The parts of the book when Astrid asks the passengers for advice and the author includes stories of the passengers who receive the love that Astrid sends and who are asking similar questions really tie the book together. They offer a break from the intense drama of the story, and make it even more relatable in some cases because they show how Astrid isn't the only one who has unanswered questions, and that different people have different ways of dealing with tough situations.

The most compelling part of the book was wondering how Astrid would sort out her life, and how she would "come out" in her town and to a family that was very judgmental. This was the part that kept me reading, and the author did a good job of making the story suspenseful and dramatic to make you want to keep reading. I think that the recommended reading age level of 15 and up as stated on the back of the book is appropriate for the book's content. (Olivia C., IRS Member)

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Battle Magic Battle Magic / Tamora Pierce TEST TEST
Battle Magic depicts the events between Street Magic and The Will of the Empress. It expands the characters of Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn. While in Yanjing, they encounter individual and "tailored" hardships, each on their own. Tamora Pierce filled out the shadow that was the events between Street Magic and The Will of the Empress tactfully while adding the little details that were hinted at in The Will of the Empress and Melting Stones. Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn had some of the worst things possible done to them but even though it could be considered one of the others fault, no blame was held. It really helped in seeing more of their characters, especially Rosethorn and Evvy. Akiva W., IRS Member

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Blink and Caution Blink and Caution / Tim Wynne-Jones TEST TEST

Blink saw something he shouldn't have. He took something he shouldn't have too. Let's just say that he's gotten himself into a fair amount of trouble. Caution is involved with people she shouldn't be. She's running from something that shouldn't have happened. Let's just say that she has a lot to run from. When they meet, they find something in each other that they should have found a ling time ago. It's up to the both of them to help each other get through a scandal and their pasts; let's just say they have a lot to do for one another.

The cover was intense - the bullet holes very powerful and the background eerie. Perfect for this book.

I love this book. Definitely adding it to my favorite list. The most compelling aspect of it was the unique narration. I would never have thought that 2nd person would work as well as it worked for Blink's narration, but it was amazing how it got me, as a reader, into Blink's head. I sometimes forgot that it was even in 2nd person it was that perfect for Blink. The author did a phenomenal job weaving the character's pasts, and a great job revealing them a little at a time. It kept the suspense high, not that the author needed much help in that department. Between Blink and Caution, the conflict within their own heads was enough, without the added fake kidnapping thrown on top. Seriously, this book was just phenomenal - READ IT!! (Rachel M., IRS Member)

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Book of Broken Hearts Book of Broken Hearts / Sarah Ockler TEST TEST
The Book of Broken Hearts documents the summer of Jude, a girl whose father has Alzheimer's, and whose sisters have a history of broken hearts. Her sisters have always warned her about boys, especially Vargas boys, but when Jude meets Emilio Vargas, she realizes that her sisters might have been wrong. This book sucked me in from the beginning. By the end of the first sentence, I was best friends with Jude, and wanted to keep reading if only for her sake. I also fell in love with all the characters, including Emilio, and was able to share in their joys and their sorrows. Jude is such a strong personality, and one that is both unique and one that I can identify with. I care about her struggles with her father's disease, and her relationships with her sisters. The book was driven by the characters, and I loved them all. The cover shows a book, like the Book of Broken Hearts, with the flower that Emilio stole from Jude later in the story. It demonstrated accurately the kind of book you were getting into: it was both happy and feminine, but also sad, and thoughtful. Bethany C., IRS Member

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Books of Magic Books of Magic / Neil Gaiman TEST TEST

The Books Of Magic is pure Neil Gaiman. It shares many qualities with his Sandman comics (including Death and Destiny, two of Morpheus’s Endless siblings).  It looks at magic in an unusual way. And lastly, that which marks all of Gaiman’s work- it makes you want to dive in, through the vivid illustrations, and just wander around this beautiful, terrible, foreign world.

As the first volume of its series, the main purpose of The Books Of Magic is to introduce the main character, which it does in fine fashion. Timothy Hunter is an ordinary boy, or so he thinks- until four mysterious men show up.

“Do you believe in magic?” they ask. Naturally, being a child of modern times, he says no- at which point one of them turns his yo-yo into an owl.

It only gets stranger from there. The magic of Gaiman’s world is not simple, the future not set, the past not untouchable. This is Harry Potter in the city—with the “Trenchcoat Brigade” for Hogwarts, and a skateboard for a broomstick. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Broken Broken / C.J. Lyons TEST TEST
Scarlet Killian has a rare heart disease called Long QT. She can die anytime, any day, any moment. She is given the opportunity to go to high school for a week, though things get more complicated than she realizes. Broken is a beautifully written novel with the suspense gradually building and a spike in the last few chapters. You don't want to put it down. It goes so far to challenge our views on certain things and makes you really think about society and the exceptions in it. You can never exhaust things to wonder about that this book brings up. Ethan S., IRS Member

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Catching Fire Catching Fire / Suzanne Collins TEST TEST

It's only been half a year since Katniss Everdeen won the Hunger Games. Now, among her confusion with her growing feelings for Peeta and her love for Gale, she also is marked as the symbol of the rebelling districts. All of a sudden, everyone wants her again. The people of the districts do because of what she stands for; the people of the capital do because they want her dead. This exhilarating sequel to The Hunger Games will quench everyone's thirst for a story that is truly life or death. It has everything a wonderful book has in perfect measures: romance, fear, competition, and brilliant dialogue to tie it all together. I didn't feel like I was watching Katniss fight for her life—I felt like I WAS her!

The cover perfectly fits in with that of the first book. The mockingjay that is within a circle looks stunning and the eye is immediately drawn to it. Also, the color scheme of reds, yellows, oranges, and black carries the idea of fire, which is such a prominent part of the story. After all, the protagonist is Katniss, the girl on fire.

It's impossible to pick only one best part of Catching Fire. Between the witty dialogue and intense action, the carefully woven story caught me up and swept me away in a whirlwind of ingenious ideas. Honestly, there is no best part of the book, because the whole book is the best! The worst part of the book can be summed up like this: “Noooo! Not a cliffhanger!” (Rachel B., IRS Member)

Another take...

The Hunger Games left you thirsting for more, and Catching Fire quenches that thirst at the same time it ignites it for the next book. Katniss Everdeen just won the 74th Hunger Games with her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark, yet the stunt she pulled at the end gets her into even more trouble than what she faced in the arena. Following the tour of the Districts, Katniss realizes her victory has sparked the beginnings of a rebellion and the Capitol will have none of it. They blackmail her into trying to convince the citizens that she acted out of love, not rebellion, but it seems its too late for that as well.

In this stunning sequel, Katniss finds herself fighting for more than herself, fighting for more than even she realizes. Catching Fire is beautifully written and will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats anticipating with dread and excitement every twist and turn Collins throws at them. It also brings up many ideas about deciding what's worth fighting for, and how the smallest of acts can have huge repercussions.

The cover is awesome; it is similar to the first, but the brighter colors sort of signify the higher tensions that run throughout the book. Especially compelling are the twists that you can anticipate, like the Quarter Quell, the ones you can't, and then the others that you only realize seconds before Katniss does. My only disappointment is just the fact that I know the next one won't be out for a while. GAHHHHHH! (Rachel M., IRS Member)

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Clockwork Angel Clockwork Angel / Cassandra Clare TEST TEST

This is a fantasy book about a girl who moves to London to find her brother.  If you like books that take place in the past and that are fast-paced, you might enjoy this one.  People who liked The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare have also enjoyed this book.  (Amy W., IRS Member)

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Corner of White Corner of White / Jaclyn Moriarty TEST TEST
In two completely different worlds running side by side, two teens connect by letters through sheer randomness (and a crack that separates their dimensions). As some adventures come to an end, new ones begin, mixed with family, friendship, and romance troubles. I adored Jaclyn Moriarty's writing style in this book, especially during dialogue. The dialogue always sounded real, like the person was a real teen, sitting next to me, talking straight to me, instead of through book pages. Akiva W., IRS Member

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Crack in the Sky Crack in the Sky / Mark Peter Hughes TEST TEST

First off, I must comment on the absolutely gorgeous cover illustration. As an art student studying to be an illustrator someday, I do have a bit of a pet peeve over the photo shopped teen covers that are currently saturating the market (Seriously, if I see one more book that uses the red/white/black photo shop motif in its cover, I'll scream.), but A Crack in the Sky has a beautiful, painterly cover that perfectly illustrates a moment in the book and the light used is absolutely amazing. Seriously, this is how a cover should be done!!!

Now to the story: I thought that the description of Wall-E meets The Giver is a pretty accurate description, with an emphasis on the Wall-E part. Except in this story, humanity didn't leave the earth to become obese vegetables being fed by a giant corporation that took care of everything. Instead, they moved inside domed cities to become enslaved to media while a giant corporation took care of everything. While the story is sort of slow to move along at first, the characters are well developed and the world building is absolutely fantastic.

It's impossible to read A Crack in the Sky without noticing some statements about society as it is today. The influences of global warming are part of the whole problem that cause the retreat to the idealistic domes, and the over-saturation of media is illustrated to an even greater extent with the "clouds" in the "sky" of the dome being eye-catching ads that no one can take their eye off of.

The one thing that I want to know, however, is...where can I get the cover of this book as a poster? (Rachel B., IRS Member)


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Crash Into Me Crash Into Me / Albert Borris TEST TEST

In this book, four teens all have one thing in common: They all want to kill themselves. They decide to take a journey visiting graves of celebrities that have committed suicide. When the four teens get near the end of their journey, something takes a turn for the worse that will change them forever. Teens can connect to every character in this book so well. It's beautifully written and full of mystery and emotion. The mystery is what is behind everyone's reason as to why they want to kill themselves. The raw emotion is in each one of them, especially the main character, Owen, as they're all working toward this one goal, to die. (Sarah S., IRS Member)


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Crave Crave / Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz TEST TEST

Shay has a rare blood disorder that has limited her options all her life. Her stepfather is a doctor desperate to find a cure. And one day, he does - he gives Shay a blood transfusion that makes her feel better than she's ever felt. It also gives her dreams of a life not her own...

The cover was creepy, but interesting. The vivid red of the sky in the background contrasted nicely with the grayscale of Gabriel's face, and his eerie purple eyes stand out nicely. I particularly liked how a bit of his tattoo is visible above his collar - it makes him mysterious.

I'd thought I was burned out on vampire books, but clearly I was wrong. Burns and Metz have told a very interesting tale here. Shay is a good protagonist, by which I mean she's got a unique perspective and some believable flaws and bad decisions. As an invalid, she had different rationales and made different choices than someone who had always been healthy might have and I thought that was very right. Her relationship with Gabriel was a little strange, but they had some chemistry. My only complaint is that the ending was a bit of a cop-out. However, it wasn't as horribly manipulative as some endings I've read, and I'll definitely read the sequel [Sacrifice]. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Dark Passage Dark Passage / Ridley Pearson TEST TEST
What if the Disney parks were really a place for all of Walt's creations to live? What if the Disney villains wanted to ruin the happiest places on Earth? In the sixth book, the group known as the “Kingdom Keepers” has left Florida aboard the Disney Dream, a cruise ship bound for Disneyland, with the foreboding prophecy: "One of you will die!" Although it is the sixth book in a series, Dark Passage maintains the wonder and excitement of its predecessors. It is extremely engaging, and has enough awesome Disney references to make any fan happy. Not only that, but it provides a portrayal of the life of teens who, while fighting the most evil characters ever conceived, are also working to find themselves, and learn how to deal with being teenagers. Brian S., IRS Member

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Divergent Divergent / Veronica Roth TEST TEST

In a future Chicago, people have five choices of how to live their lives. They can pursue selflessness with Abnegation, bravery among the Dauntless, intelligence with the Erudite, honesty with Candor or kindness with Amity. Beatrice gets to choose her path, but must also pick between her family and herself.

The cover was awesome! I love that they had the symbol for Dauntless on it, in front of the marshy city where the book takes place. It really helped set the stage.

This book rocked my socks completely off. It was so amazing and fantastic!!!! The idea was so unique in a genre that is becoming more and more popular. Tris (what Beatrice chooses to go by) was such a strong heroine and such a neat one too. She constantly struggles to be as strong as she can be, it's not just a given for her, and that makes her that much stronger. I also loved the idea of the factions. The Dauntless were so intense, but I have to say that if I were in the book, I'd probably choose an uncorrupted version of the Erudite. This book also features what I have to say is my new favorite romantic relationship ever in a book. I knew she was going to end up with him from the very moment he stepped onto the page, but that could just be because I read a lot. Either way, I'm not going to say who it was, no spoilers here thank you very much. So without giving away the name just let me say that I loved how non-consuming their relationship was. It was a cautious fragile thing that neither was actively searching out, and that made it so much sweeter. The story line was exciting and fast paced and had plenty of twists and thrills for those seeking excitement. Sequel: Insurgent. (Rachel M., IRS Member)

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Dragonfly Dragonfly / Julia Golding TEST TEST

Princess Taoshira is the Fourth Crown Princess of the Blue Crescent Islands, and she is forced to marry Ramil ac Burinholt of Gerfal. When the two are kidnapped and taken to a foreign land, they must unite to save the Known World from the evil Fergox Spearthrower.

This book was the best I have read in a while. I love, love, love this book! The cover was very pretty and reflected the story, especially the hidden Taoshira's face.

Taoshira's struggle with her faith and the romance between her and Ramil were the most gripping parts. At first they hate each other, but slowly, as they get to know each other better, they fall in love. I really liked how Ramil tries to “deserve” Taoshira. (Bethany C., IRS Member) 


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Exile's Valor Exile's Valor / Mercedes Lackey TEST TEST

Alberich is back!  Exile’s Valor, part of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, is the second of two books telling the story of the Karsite Herald.  Valor picks up where Exile’s Honor, its predecessor, left off, after the Tedrel Wars and the death of King Sendar. His daughter, Selenay, is beginning to pick up the reins of power- but her Council doesn’t seem to believe that she can be a good queen, and they’re pushing her to marry. Talamir, the Queen’s Own Herald who is supposed to be her closest advisor, was pulled back from the brink of death after the killing of his Companion, a horse-shaped being with which he shared a deep bond.  Needless to say, he’s not the best of confidantes.

Alberich won acceptance in the Wars, so he’s no longer the target of suspicion for being from Karse. But his work as Selenay’s eyes and ears in the rougher parts of the city of Haven is only getting more complicated. An incident involving two Trainees, a mirror, and some interesting acrobatics leads him to a plot that seems complex- but reaches nowhere. Until an ambassador from one of Valdemar’s neighbors arrives, bringing the answers to Alberich’s questions with him.

Mercedes Lackey is one of my favorite authors, and this book is a prime example of why.  Alberich is a complex character- once an officer in the armies of Valdemar’s greatest enemy, he’s now one of its elite defenders.  While he has adjusted to his new life well, he’s still Karsite at heart, from his worship of the Sunlord to his accent. He’s got a soldier’s take on the world, which means he’s somewhat oblivious when it comes to emotions. (His tentative romance with Herald-Chronicler Myste lightens the book somewhat.)

The content of Valor has been mentioned in Lackey’s original ‘Arrows’ trilogy, but here it is explored in more depth. While the story is not new to Valdemar fans, it is fun to read more about it.  This book is not a stand-alone novel; it would make the most sense to those who have already read at least Arrows Of The Queen, if not most of the rest of the series. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Exodus Exodus / Julie Bertagna TEST TEST

Mara Bell lives on her drowning island of Wing, in the year 2100. When the sea takes a huge gulp of the island, Mara feels she must find a way to save the people of Wing. She ends up leading her people in an exodus to a New World City. But her hopes of saving her people are dashed against the wall surrounding the New World City. Mara needs to get inside the New World and get help to save her own people and the Treenesters from the Netherworld and the boat camp outside the city wall filled with decay and death.

It is a new book with a new plot line other than: "The aliens are invading Earth! Run!" And it is a very well written book that has very little fantasy and is very realistic. The cover really is a work of art and very interesting. It reflects the contents by showing the hand of a drowning person and the whirlpool above it; but the hand was also coming above another layer of water reaching for the surface. The most compelling aspects of this book for me would be all of the unique characters in all the different places, and the fact that it’s "the-end-of-the-world," but she wrote it in such a way that is a whole new idea and a whole new way to save the people. Instead of: “Oh my gosh! The aliens are invading Earth!” it’s very realistic and could very well happen. Even though I found it quite sad and depressing, all of the drama and action made up for that. (Jordan H., IRS Member)

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close / Jonathan Safran Foer TEST TEST

This is a fabulous book about a yuong boy who lost his father in 9/11, and then goes on a quest to for a lock that fits a key his father left behind.  If you like books that are sad but quirky, you might like this one.  (Maisie, IRS Member)

This book is from our Adult Fiction Collection and is recommended for older teen readers.  Also by this author, Everything Is Illuminated.

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Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor / Jennifer Finney Boylan TEST TEST

Falcon Quinn is an angel with two hearts, so he doesn't belong anywhere. As an angel, he tries to make things better, but he only makes things worse. Then, disaster strikes, and he is forced to choose between his mother and his father as monsters and guardians prepare for war; a choice that may be the end of everything he cares about.

The book cover is very intriguing because it is covered with rides from Monster Island. It really makes you want to know what the heck is going on.

I really enjoyed this book because of all the trouble Falcon has. The best part of this book is how Falcon struggles to try and fit in places where he doesn't quite belong. This book is even better than the first one, Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror. (Sam S., IRS Member)

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Falling for Hamlet Falling for Hamlet / Michelle Ray TEST TEST

Falling For Hamlet is a modern retelling of Hamlet. Hamlet and Ophelia star as an on again-off again couple frequently pictured in tabloids. When Hamlet's father is killed, and Hamlet slowly falls into madness, Ophelia battles with loyalty to the man she loves, her father, and her country.

The cover's symbolism was great, much of it being black and white, but highlighting the throne in red and gold, showing the power that the King and Queen have in the book. I thought the boy and girl kissing made it seem like a gushy romantic novel, even though there was much more to it than the romance. It might turn some teens off of the book.

This book was really good. I didn't put it down if I didn't have to, and then couldn't stop thinking about it. The emotions were real and engaging, pulling me into the lives of Denmark's hottest couple. It gave a whole new dimension to Shakespeare's tragedy and made it relatable to teens today. (Bethany C., IRS Member)


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Fire Fire / Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson TEST TEST

From award-winning authors Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson comes the second collection of short stories focused on one of the classical elements. The first, Water, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award, and Fire is just as good. These five tales range in setting from a forest in England to a world where dragons travel through the Firespace at will, moving miles in a few wing beats.

Every story is unique, well-crafted, and beautiful, making the collection as a whole a joy to read. To start off, McKinley and Dickinson are fantastic writers on their own, so any collection featuring their stories is bound to be good. The central theme is specific enough to keep a common thread binding all five works, but broad enough that there's a lot of variation between them. As for the cover, I loved the way the fire pattern was the background for the authors' names, cut out of the blackness. It was very simple, but elegant—the swirl of the fire, the slight difference between the title's background and the main image, and even the little curves cut out of the corners around the title.

The variety of the stories was extremely impressive. Each seemed to center around a particular animal, but none of them were the same or even more than slightly similar—a phoenix, dragons, salamanders, a hellhound, and a firework, all unique and intriguing. I particularly liked McKinley's story “First Flight.” Her concept of three-eyed dragons was pleasantly unusual, and one I'd love to read more about. (Perhaps in a novel? That would be cool.) (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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First Test First Test / Tamora Pierce TEST TEST

Years ago, the king declared that girls could become knights, but in all that time only one has tried: Keladry of Mindelan, daughter of diplomats. To her shock, she is placed on probation for her first year, instead of being an ordinary page. Kel is determined to prove to the world that she can succeed as well as any boy, but in addition to the physical challenges of page training, she faces vicious bullying from older boys.

There are multiple cover designs for this book, with two being most prevalent: the newer, photo-manipulation showing a girl's face under a cap and what looks like a veil; and the older art, showing a girl with a black eye holding a kitten. Of the two, I definitely prefer the older cover; it's easy to see that the Kel it depicts is the Kel of the novel, whereas the other is generic and doesn't show the personal strength that makes her such a fantastic character.

This book has been a favorite of mine for years for many reasons: the clear, witty writing style, the great characters, the uncomplicated and yet rich world-building, and more. However, the best part of it is definitely Kel, a worthy role model if there ever was one. She approaches the world with a potent mixture of ideals and realism. She believes in justice to the core of her being, but knows that it can be hard to define. She's strong, even though she's only ten. She's mature, but not so much so as to be unbelievable. She makes friends, real friends, and understands their value. Most of all, though, Kel perseveres through every obstacle she encounters, and that makes her a hero worth rooting for. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Future of Us Future of Us / Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler TEST TEST

The Future of Us is set in 1996 and is about Emma and Josh, two teens who have grown apart over the last year. When Emma gets a computer, they discover a website called Facebook, 15 years in the future. They discover that everything they do in the present affects their Facebook pages - and their lives - in the future.

I did like the cover. It had two teens, who actually looked like the main characters. There was binary code all over the cover, which I thought was cool, since it's about the internet and Facebook.

This book was so good. I finished it in less than 24 hours. The characters drew me into the story, and it was so hard to escape! When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. The Future of Us is an amazing book that you will never forget. (Bethany, IRS Member)

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Game of Thrones Game of Thrones / George R.R. Martin TEST TEST

This book is from the Adult Science Fiction Fantasy Collection. A notice to teens, if you're going to read this book you may want to beware that it has plenty of adult content that not everyone will be comfortable reading. It is recommended for older teen readers or upper high school grades.

Game of Thrones is Book 1 in the fantasy series called A Song of Ice and Fire and I absolutely loved it! It is centered on the Stark family (motto: Winter is Coming). It begins when, after an execution, Jon Snow, Eddard Stark’s illegitimate son, finds six direwolfs, the symbol of the Stark house. The direwolfs are given to Eddard and Ned Stark’s children, including Jon. Shortly after this, King Robert Baratheon comes to Winterfell, where the Stark’s live, and asks Ned to be his Hand or main adviser. After a nearly fatal incident with one of his children, Ned agrees and travels to King's Landing with his two daughters, Sansa and Arya. Once there, he finds himself caught up in plots and secrets and he must choose between friendship, family, and what is right for the realm.

Depending on which cover you look at, as there are several different versions, I do not believe it reflects the contents. It would be a very crowded cover if it did.

I loved this book! All those secrets, yet each character is written and developed in such depth. You get to see every aspect of the story and who to root for is completely unclear some of the time. If I could take anything out it would be some of the adult content, but other than that I LOVED it!!  (Julia, IRS Member)

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Graveyard Book Graveyard Book / Neil Gaiman TEST TEST

The Graveyard Book is a book about a boy named Nobody “Bod” Owens, who was raised by ghosts in a graveyard. His dark and mysterious guardian keeps him from leaving the graveyard, and Bod starts to get curious. As dark, interesting, and wonderful as Coraline, the Graveyard Book is a truly wonderful read.

The cover shows a dark blue, black, and gray background with a gravestone, the author’s name, and the title in a stony, gothic print. The cover really pulled me in because it is beautiful and interesting. I really loved the cover because right away it told the main setting of the book.

This book is beautiful, interesting, dark, funny, and perfect in almost every single way. It was amazing and I have read it almost 30 times in a row! (Jordan T., IRS Member) 

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Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Hold Me Closer, Necromancer / Lish McBride TEST TEST

Sam LaCroix is just an ordinary fast-food worker in Seattle, until the day he runs into Douglas Montgomery. Turns out, Douglas is a necromancer, and so is Sam - which makes this college dropout Douglas's only rival in the city. Sam has a week to sort everything out, but thankfully he has friends to help: a fellow fast-food employee, a werewolf girl, and a talking head.

I love the cover of this book! It looks like a wood block print, which is super cool, and the color scheme of black and red is perfectly, suitably ominous. Also, the contrast between Sam in his hoodie and the crow perched on his shoulder is a very interesting image. It definitely represents the book well.

This book was loads and loads of wacky fun. The mythology of it was one of my favorite parts, especially the way McBride contrasted the horrible with the humorous. For a book dealing with raising the dead, it was surprisingly light-hearted, and that made it refreshing. It certainly doesn't take itself too seriously. The most compelling character was probably Brid, the werewolf girl Sam ends up imprisoned with. She was witty, strong, sassy, and determined, and reading about her was always enjoyable. Her relationship with Sam does stray into mature territory, so this book may not be appropriate for younger readers, but it's pretty tastefully handled. If you're getting bored with urban fantasy/paranormal books, this is for you - it's like a palate cleanser for the genre. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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House of Leaves House of Leaves / Mark Z. Danielewski TEST TEST

IRS 30 Second Book Review:

It was a strange, artsy book about a man who becomes consumed by a story about a strange house.  If you like books that don't follow traditional printing format you might like this one.  People who like odd books, poetry, Key of Codes, and puzzles have also enjoyed this book.  (Lisa B., IRS Member)

Note: This tile is from our Adult Fiction collection and includes some adult content.  Recommended for older teen readers.


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House of the Star House of the Star / Caitlyn Brennan TEST TEST

Ymbria and Caledon are two worlds connected by the shifting realm of Faerie, and they've been at war for centuries. Elen, princess of Ymbria, wants nothing more than to become a worldrider, one of those who travel on horseback on the dangerous roads between worlds. To do so, though, she must go to Earth where the only horses who travel the worldroads are bred... and a royal of Caledon will be there, too. To achieve her dream and maybe change two worlds, Elen will have to overcome deep-seated hatred and learn to trust her enemy.

The cover was pretty true to the contents, but it didn't really attract me- it was the title that I was first interested in. The image of Elen riding a worldrunner in darkness isn't exactly striking. It's basically pretty, but doesn't hint at the adventure within, and would probably make this book all too easy to pass by on a shelf.

I loved the worldbuilding - or rather, universebuilding - of this book. The idea of many worlds is always an interesting one, and the concept of the worldroads made it even more so. My only frustration, actually, comes from how good the characterization was. Elen, pigheaded and prejudiced, was extremely annoying at times, which really only speaks to how good a writer Brennan is. She undergoes a lot of growth, however, and I'd love to read a sequel and see that growth continue. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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How I Lost You How I Lost You / Janet Gurtler TEST TEST
Grace is a casual girl with an outgoing best friend. Her best friend, Kya, is pretty, clever, and beautiful. Grace is just the sidekick. Grace knows about Kya's past and the horrific secret that must remain, well, secret. Grace would do anything to protect Kya, but when Kya splits up with a best buddy, Grace starts to wonder if she's next. Will Grace be able to pull Kya back in, or will she lose her forever? This book has romance with a twist of drama, which makes it a perfect teen read. Also in this book, Grace realizes who she really is, and it helps the readers find themselves. I think it is a very inspirational and life lesson giving. Cambria C., IRS Member

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Howl's Moving Castle Howl's Moving Castle / Diana Wynne Jones TEST TEST

Howl’s Moving Castle may well be one of the greatest young adult novels ever written.  It is the story of Sophie, cursed by the Witch of the Waste to be old before her time, who sets off to find the Witch and break the curse.  Along the way she runs into Howl Jenkins, a wizard known for eating the hearts of beautiful girls, and Calcifer, a fire demon who promises to free her if she releases him from his contract with Howl.  In pursuit of this goal, Sophie becomes the ‘cleaning lady’ for Howl’s castle, and ends up having adventures that were not in the job description.

Japanese director and animator Hayao Miyazaki made Howl’s Moving Castle into an acclaimed film, but book and movie differ vastly.  Fans of the screen version may be disappointed with differences in characters and plot, but this doesn’t mean it’s not possible to enjoy both.  Diana Wynne Jones’s story is clever and funny, and her characters vivid and engaging.  (With chapter titles like ‘In Which Howl Expresses His Feelings With Green Slime’, even the table of contents is funny.)  Without a doubt, this book is and shall remain a classic. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Hunting: Book 1 - Z. Rex Hunting: Book 1 - Z. Rex / Steve Cole TEST TEST

Adam is a normal boy living in New Mexico - except for the fact that his dad is a video game designer. And the latest game his dad is working on is based on his son - Adam. When an invisible monster wreaks havoc in the industrial park and destroyed his apartment, Adam’s next three weeks will be an adventure that he will never forget.

The cover portrayed the one very important part of this book - a dinosaur, but not just any old dinosaur, a Z. Rex. The most compelling aspect of the book would be the science-fictional story line and action surrounding it. Between flying dinosaurs and ultra-reality video games where you can be anything you want, it had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. The only thing I found disappointing was the language in the dialogue. Adam “loses” his mouth a few times and I had to put that aside in my mind as I read. I read the book in a day, thus making it an easy read for a quiet time or time where there’s just nothing to do. This book is followed by Z. Raptor and Z. Apocolypse. (Jordan H, IRS Member)


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I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President / Josh Lieb TEST TEST

Oliver Watson could be just a relatively average boy. Slightly overweight, he appears to be a little dim and failing all of his classes, but this isn't reality. Oddly enough, this twelve-year-old kid is a billionaire and one of the most powerful people in the world. He has all the power a person could ever want and then some, yet he wants something more. Revenge. Revenge on his arch nemesis, named "Daddy," for crushing Oliver's dreams at a young age. And boy, if Oliver could, he would get it. This leads him to enter a world of nefarious plots involving Star Wars figurines, secret agent employments, hilarious scenes involving mothers, young elementary school love, and insignificant class president voting.

The cover was very humorous. The little boy sticking out his tongue expresses the mocking tone of the story and provides insight into the main character's thought process. After all, he is a bit immature. In the book, there were interesting scenarios involving Oliver's many servants. His teachers, classmates, principal, and many frightening people work for him and yet have no idea what he is really like, or are unimpressed by such a feeble-looking boy. This allows hilarity to ensue and makes for a great story.

The book was a little confusing as to whether or not the author was serious. Sometimes the tone was so mocking that it seemed as if this were a dream the boy came up with, and yet there was so much evidence against that theory that it made things difficult to unwind. (Jason P., IRS Member)

Another Take...

This book is about a boy, Oliver, who is basically an eight grader who is in control of the world - literally. And he gets the idea in his head that he wants to be the Class President of his school. In a super hilarious way, he wipes out the competition, falls in love (sort of), and wins the affection of his father at last.

While hilarious, this book also has a pretty powerful message. Oliver has never been close with his dad, and, as a result, has decided that he doesn't care. However, it's clear throughout the whole book that all he really wants is his dad's approval, which I think is something a lot of people today want. This book is something people can relate to.

The cover was pretty cool. It showed a sticker, much like you might expect in a campaign, with the title on it. Underneath, it showed the face of a chubby kid with freckles, scowling. It kind of showed that he was serious. He was a genius of unspeakable evil, and he did, indeed, want to be class president. (Bethany C., IRS Member) 


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I Am Number Four I Am Number Four / Pitticus Lore TEST TEST

Daniel Jones... John Smith... no. I am Number Four, one of nine children sent to Earth from our planet Lorien. It was under attack. The Mogadorians laid waste to our beautiful home. There is nothing left of our race. Except us. And they hunt us down to finish what they started. We are waiting, our Cêpans watching over us until our Legacies have fully developed. Then we will fight the war.

The cover is beautiful - and the sequel [Power of Six] cover is consistent with the swirling style. It all says, "Pick me up!", "Check me out!" and "Stay up under the covers with a flash light until I'm finished!" This book is a new twist on the idea of alien invasion and existence. The characters and story have a true originality to them, and every plot curve leaves you begging for more! (Jordan H., IRS Member)


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Ill Wind Ill Wind / Rachel Caine TEST TEST

When I saw the number of chapters in Ill Wind, I was convinced that I was wrong. After all, if it really only had five sections, they’d average close to seventy pages each—and that was crazy. Surely there was a rational explanation.

Well, there was: There’s simply no place to stop in Rachel Caine’s lengthy, fast-paced chapters.  It’s hard enough to pause at the end of one—or even at the end of the book. A pause in the middle of this storm of adventure would be useless, because you’d have to read “just one more chapter”…and everyone knows how that goes.

Caine’s plot is fantastic, showing a complex world and full of twists, turns, and outright reversals. Joanne, the protagonist, is a character with depth, both of personality and of problems. She’s not all-powerful, she’s not perfect, and she makes mistakes. These things make her realistic; her control over weather, love of fast cars, and jaded wit make her entertaining. I can’t wait to read the rest of the [Weather Warden] series. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Impossible Impossible / Nancy Werlin TEST TEST

Lucy Scarborough is 17, pregnant and cursed, as were all of her previous ancestors. In order to break the curse that will drive her insane after she has her child, she must complete three impossible tasks set before her in the song "The Elfin Knight." Where her mother, grandmother, great grandmother and so on only had the lyrics to help them, Lucy has so much more. She has her uber protective foster parents, Leo and Soledad and her life long friend Zach Greenfield, who might be more than a friend.

This amazing coming of age tale has enough real life situations in it that it doesn't even seem impossible. The time they have to break the curse is small and it really comes down to the wire. The reader will face the same doubt Lucy feels about completing the tasks in time. (Rachel M., IRS Member)

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In the Path of Falling Objects In the Path of Falling Objects / Andrew Smith TEST TEST

Jonah and his younger brother Simon are in for one hell of a ride. After being abandoned by their flighty mother, they decide to set off for Arizona, in hopes of meeting their heroin addicted father as he gets out of jail, and possibly their older brother who was planning on deserting the army during the Vietnam War. Along the way they hitch a ride with a guy named Mitch and the beautiful Lilly. Mitch is crazy, Lilly is lost, and along the way the brothers lose and find each other as well. In their pack they have clothes and their life savings, $10. They also have a gun, which they are really going to need.

The most compelling part of the book had to be the sheer hopelessness of the brothers’ situation. They were lost and alone, looking for something better than what they left behind. The letters from Matthew in Vietnam added a nice historical fiction aspect to the book as well. However, the book was so dark, and filled with horrible occurrences. While they all fit the story, this isn't generally the type of book I read. Still, it was written very well. Beware: This book doesn't have a happy beginning, middle, or much of a happy end. But it does capture some truths about brothers. (Rachel M., IRS Member)


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Indigo notebook Indigo notebook / Laura Resau TEST TEST

It was an absolutely spectacular book about a young girl named Zeeta.  Her whole life is an adventure with her mom.  If you like books that make you think, and generally make you happy, you might like this one.  People who liked What the Moon Saw, by the same author, have also enjoyed this book.  A great book, by a great author! (Jordon T., IRS Member)

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Inhuman Inhuman / Kat Falls TEST TEST
In an America where all states East of the Mississippi River have been ravaged by a biological virus known as Ferae Naturae, Delaney McEvoy lives a serene life on the West side of the Titan wall--the only thing separating the sane from the infected. Delaney has always been curious about what Titan protects them from, but when she learns someone dear to her has been crossing into the Feral Zone, will she be prepared to follow? Will she be able to survive the ruins of civilization on the other side? Inhuman brings to life an incredibly unique story with twists and turns you will never see coming. The way Kat Falls writes paints a vivid picture in your mind and I found it entrancing. I finished the book in one day because I was so caught up in Delaney's adventure. The mutations and the way it progressed slowly in the person's system really had me going. I also liked Delaney. I found myself finding she acted in the same way I would and thinking the same as me. I was able to connect with her and I thought that was cool. However, Falls gives a new definition to "hook" straight from the top. Elizabeth C., IRS Member

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Ink Ink / Amanda Sun
When Katie Greene goes to live in Japan after her mom’s death, she knows how out of place she looks. But when she meets Tomohiro, who can make ink move and drawings come to life, she unknowingly finds someone akin to her. Hunted, and haunted, by the Japanese mafia, living ink, and the descendants of gods, Katie and Tomohiro must find a way to get their strange magnetism under control before someone finds out the worst. Amanda Sun took a relatively over used character (the tormented boy with dark powers and a dead family/family member) and turned him into a completely different model, one with a soft side that is most of his personality, instead of being a jerk even when he doesn't want to be. And her heroine is in love, but not consumed and utterly distracted by her boyfriend. She stands up for herself and does things for herself and doesn't collapse when he's not around or being a jerk or cold as fish. The cover is absolutely gorgeous. It was the reason I picked up the book. It definitely reflected the contents, the book being about ink and art and the cover being in watercolors. The two main characters were the best part of this book. At first they looked kind of stereotypical, but as you keep reading you find out that Tomohiro isn't the jerk who is not a jerk but acts like a jerk all the time, Jun is actually a bad guy, and Katie doesn't trip over her own feet to please/be with/show her adoration for Tomohiro. And Katie stands up for herself and does things for herself. Akiva W., IRS Member

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Inkheart Inkheart / Cornelia Funke TEST TEST

Silvertongue. That's what they all call him—the one who can bring words to life. One night, Silvertongue and his daughter, Maggie, get visitors, and from that night on, nothing will ever be the same.

The cover is extremely intriguing! The window into the book, revealing the villain's castle and Gwyn, Dustfinger's companion, is very capturing to the eye. I love how the window is a window into the book itself: Inkheart, both the book that you read, and the book you read about.

The most fascinating part of Inkheart would be the characters. Each one is crafted with a uniqueness to him or her. Capricorn has not a thread of light in his being; Dustfinger is woven with incredible abilities; Silvertongue is created with care, fierce love, and an incredibly useful voice; and countless others.

I was not disappointed with this book for any reason. (Just with the movie, which I hated.) This is the perfect book for one like me who loves words. This book is a MUST READ for anyone out there who also adores words. (Jordan H., IRS Member)

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Innocent Innocent / Harlan Coben TEST TEST

This book begins in the releasing of Matt Hunter from prison. 9 years later, Matt is happily married to his pregnant wife, Olivia. When Olivia disappears, Matt leaves to look for her and finds himself in the middle of a murder.

I did like the cover but it was not exciting and didn’t reflect the contents.

I loved this book! This book is fast-paced and exciting from the beginning. I believe this book was so compelling because there were so many stories going on at once. (Amy W., IRS Member)

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Joker Joker / Ranulfo TEST TEST

IRS 30 Second Book Review:

This is a short book about a teenage boy who is sort of re-living the story of Hamlet.  If you like books that are slightly crazy, and/or based on Shakespear, you might like this one.  People who liked Going Bovine or Hamlet have also enjoyed this book.  (Lisa B., IRS Member)


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Keeper of Dreams Keeper of Dreams / Orson Scott Card TEST TEST

Orson Scott Card is an acknowledged master of science fiction. With more than forty books in print and various awards to his name, there is no doubt that he is a man of expansive imagination and nigh-unbelievable talent. However, not until one reads one of his anthologies is it possible to comprehend the breadth of Card’s astonishing skill.

Keeper Of Dreams touches on everything from dragons to parallel worlds to Davy Crockett and even a bet between God and Satan. From “50 WPM”, a father’s recounting of how his best friend saved his life, to “Space Boy”, in which a little boy travels to another planet to rescue his mother, these stories are ordinary and bizarre, comforting and jarring, innovative and sweet. In Keeper Of Dreams, there is a tale for everyone, no matter their age, gender, or outlook on life. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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King's Rose King's Rose / Alisa M. Libby TEST TEST

This unique historical fiction book tells the story of Catherine Howard. Catherine is just a girl of 15 when she marries King Henry. Although the story takes place so long ago, the reader still feels connected to Catherine and to all of the characters, as if the story were happening today. Readers will feel sympathy for her. Throughout the whole book Catherine is told what to do, and she is never able to decide anything for herself. When everyone finds out about her past and her affair with Thomas Culpepper, she is left out to dry. Even her own family doesn't protect her.

The title and the cover, showing a girl holding a rose, will intrigue readers. Even the font fits with the time period. Though readers who know history will know what happens to Catherine Howard in the end, they will still be glued to the book. The writing is very descriptive, especially about the gowns and jewels that Catherine wears. The relationship portrayed between Catherine and Thomas is amazing because of how much they loved each other, even though they could never truly be together because Catherine was married to the King.

The part with Anne Boleyn at the end is especially interesting. Because she and Catherine are cousins they share a bond, and they are the only ones of King Henry's queens to be executed. Another interesting thing about the book is that it showed a different side to King Henry, how being a king changed him into a person who, even though he is king, really isn't allowed to make any decisions for himself. A lot of what he does is horrible, but readers can feel some sympathy for him.

This wonderful book will appeal to all kinds of teens. It has the perfect mix of romance, history, and all of the makings of greatness. Most teens don't look twice at historical fiction, but the way this book combines history with an appealing story will attract them. (Megan R., IRS member)


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Lab Lab / Jack Heath TEST TEST

Agent Six of Hearts has a past that he must always hide: He was not born like all other people--he was an illegal experiment. When the Deck, the justice seeking organization that he belongs to, starts to investigate the lab where he was created, Six finds himself between the world he was created for and the world that he lives in.

I couldn't help but read this book straight through, it was so well written. I felt like I was there with Six through jarring action and horrifying discoveries. One does not have to be a super spy to see that this book is for thriller lovers everywhere. (Rachel B., IRS Member)


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Last Little Blue Envelope Last Little Blue Envelope / Maureen Johnson TEST TEST

Ginny gets a chance to voyage back overseas, because it seems that someone has found her horrid backpack that was stolen from a beach in Greece. Which means that someone has found the 13th letter. Not able to leave any loose ends, Ginny travels back to Richard's for Christmas break, and once there finds old friends and new as she sets off across Europe once more.

The cover on this one is much better than the one for the first book [13 Little Blue Envelopes]. I love that we can see Ginny's face, and that she's holding the last envelope over an over-packed suitcase.

I almost liked this one more than the first, if only because it explored the relationship Ginny had with her aunt, Keith, and Richard. Also, Oliver was a rather interesting character. I also enjoyed seeing how Ginny evolved from the last book, from someone who was so horribly shy, to someone who easily took charge of the new challenge. The most compelling aspect had to have been the characters. Johnson is so adept at creating such crazy characters, and yet they are totally believable, and they make sense. Of course Ginny would be able to meet them; they are an integral part of the story. (Rachel M., IRS Member)


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Liar's Moon Liar's Moon / Elizabeth C. Bunce TEST TEST

In this sequel to Star Crossed, Digger is back in Gerse and all is not right. Her friend Durrel Decath, who once saved her life, is in prison for killing his wife - a crime which Digger knows he didn't commit. When she investigates, she finds secrets within secrets and plots within plots, and soon it's not just about Durrel's life but about the fate of the entire country.

The cover is just as beautiful as this book deserves. The expression on Digger' face suits her, and the shadowy male figure in the background fits the multitude of mysteries woven into the plot. I also love the huge moon in the background, since the book is titled Liar's Moon.

After the masterpiece that was Star Crossed, I was hard pressed to imagine a worthy sequel. Liar's Moon did not disappoint. Unlike many second books in series, it didn't suffer from 'sequelitis'; it was a wonderfully strong book in its own right. Every single character was nuanced and interesting, even the terrifying Inquisitor. Bunce's depiction of the city was both magical and unflinching. Gerse is not always a nice place, but it is always interesting. While someone who hasn't read Star Crossed would probably be confused by this book, anyone who's already been hooked by this series - called 'Thief Errant' - is guaranteed to be satisfied by this installment. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Liesl and Po Liesl and Po / Lauren Oliver TEST TEST

This is an amazing novel about a young girl who has to help her ghost friend.  If you like books that are sweet, spooky, and about ghosts, you might like this one.  People who like ghost stories for kids have also enjoyed this book.  (Jordan T., IRS Member)

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Lips Touch: Three Times Lips Touch: Three Times / Laini Taylor TEST TEST

In this collection of three short stories, Laini Taylor explores the darker sides of love and a few sinister creatures who exploit it. These are tales of a different sort of fairyland, different sorts of demons, and they are sure to captivate readers.

I'm in the minority on this, but I didn't like the cover of Lips Touch. It did represent the contents well, but otherwise seemed rather lackluster. The art didn't appeal to me, while the inner illustrations did; I felt like one of them would have been better suited to the cover. Its only particular highlight is that the girl's lips stand out spectacularly, but otherwise it's far overshadowed by the interior art.

It's hard to name a most compelling aspect of a short story collection, as there is little to tie them together. However, in this one, Taylor's writing stands out. It's way, way, way above and beyond the normal skill level in YA these days. Add to that the deft storytelling and the lovely illustrations that preface each story, it's easy to see why the book is beloved of many. It is a little slow, though, which may be a problem for some readers; but if you enjoy a story driven by concepts and characters rather than action, this volume is sure to satisfy. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Little Brother Little Brother / Cory Doctorow TEST TEST

Here’s a quick summary of this review:  Go and read Little Brother now.  Don’t bother with my thoughts on it; just go find it this instant and devour it.  Absorb the words and take them in, because Little Brother is a story for our times.  It’s a story of our times.

It starts when Marcus, a 17 year-old amateur hacker, cuts school along with three friends.  Inadvertently, this escape coincides with a major terrorist attack, putting them very much in the wrong place at the wrong time.  They are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and subjected to brutal ‘questioning’ for days on end.

When they are released, Marcus is first overjoyed to be home and then outraged.  During his captivity, his city has been drastically changed.  Every citizen’s movement is tracked, every word of dissent noted, every internet access logged.  Furious at what has happened to his freedom-loving home, Marcus starts to fight back, with every hacker trick in the book.

What really gives this book its kick is this:  No date is ever given.  The technology described is all current, the politics familiar.  Little Brother is the story of something that could happen tomorrow, or in ten years, or in a hundred.  The idea that our world could easily turn into Marcus’s is not a comforting one.

But at the same time, there’s hope.  Just as the bad parts of Marcus’s world could be right around the corner, the good parts are already around us.  There always have been and always will be people willing to fight for what they believe in by any means possible.  They’re the ones who take the Declaration of Independence literally when it says that it is ‘the right of the people to alter or abolish’ the government if it no longer protects their life, liberty, and happiness.  Most of the time, we think these people are fringe wackjobs—but  someday, like Marcus, they might save us from ourselves. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Living Dead Girl Living Dead Girl / Elizabeth Scott TEST TEST

This is the story of an Alice. Before she was Alice, she was a spoiled little girl. Until Ray took her away and taught her otherwise. Now she's been surviving for five years with the pedophile. Compliant and dreaming of the day he kills her. Too bad Ray has other plans...

There's only so much a book cover can tell you but I think that the cover, showing an empty white dress, captures the tone perfectly. Along with the title, it gives the impression that something disturbing happened and you don't want to know about it. But trust me, you REALLY want to know about it.

Living Dead Girl is just so powerful. From the way Alice was 'created' to her present thoughts. With narration so deliberate that it was like the author had a word limit; every page just struck a chord in me and I had to keep reading. Alice was a very broken-down protagonist, but it was played out so well. The haunting voice she uses to tell her story just made every sentence stick in my mind. Possibly forever. The writing itself was amazing. Elizabeth Scott is so talented that it simply brings to life her rather unnerving plot. This book is a very shocking way to tell people to wake up and really look at someone. (Samantha Y., IRS Member)


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Magic of Recluce Magic of Recluce / L.E. Modesitt, Jr. TEST TEST

The Magic of Recluce is a contradiction of a book. It is confusing and logical, mythical and scientific, dull and engrossing. In short, it is both ordered and chaotic- which is exactly how it should be.

Order and chaos are central focuses of the book; more specifically, the conflict and balance between them. Lerris, the first person narrator, comes from Recluce, an island ruled by black-garbed magisters. On Recluce, perfection is the law. Should anything be less than flawless, it would let chaos in. What, exactly, this means is not explained. It is this kind of writing that makes the book confusing. Modesitt writes as if his readers know exactly what he means, and rarely if ever explains the intricacies of this complicated world. Thankfully, Lerris is almost as much in the dark as the reader (though he does at times make jumps in reasoning that suggest he has more knowledge than he shows).

The Magic of Recluce is not light reading; it requires considerable effort to understand the plot, setting, and unusual system of magic. Nothing really comes together until the final half of the book, at which point it becomes both much more readable and much more interesting. (Lisa M, IRS Member)


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MILA 2.0 MILA 2.0 / Debra Driza TEST TEST
Mila cannot remember anything about her past except for a few choice memories. Then she is flung from a car and discovers that she is not fully human. Mila is an android, her past is entirely fabricated, and her creators are hunting for her. This book is an incredible page turner. The only reason I put it down was because it was so late I could barely read the words. Mila is an amazing character, holding on to her humanity even as her existence strips it away. No matter what happens, you root for her. I loved the cover. It looked like Mila was both being put together and being ripped apart. I loved the whole concept of the story. It was what got me to read it in the first place, and kept me enthralled. But when the concept was applied to a character as well written as Mila, it was as if my hands were glued to the book. Reviewed by Madison C., IRS Member

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Mistborn: The Final Empire Mistborn: The Final Empire / Brandon Sanderson TEST TEST

A thousand years ago, the Hero of Prophecy failed. Now the land is controlled by a godlike tyrant, the Lord Ruler, and the priests of his brutal theocracy. Kelsier, a rebel member of an oppressed race with strange powers, thinks he can defeat the Lord Ruler, but he needs help to do it - the help of a wary, untrusting street rat named Vin.

There have been two main cover designs for this book: one, a computer-created photo manipulation and the other a lovely piece of conventional artwork. Both show Vin, but the artwork cover (found on the hardback edition) is much more dynamic and attractive. However, they both reflect the contents of the book quite accurately.

This was by far one of the best books I've ever read, surpassed by only a few (including its sequel [The Well of Ascension]). The characters are vivid, the magic system innovative and downright cool, the world disturbing and well-realized, and the plot... well, the plot has layers upon layers of complexity, handled with perfect pacing. There is rarely a dull moment, and despite the fact that it's nearly six hundred pages long, this book seems a lot shorter because it is extraordinarily engrossing. It's one of those books that doesn't have a single outstanding aspect, because the whole package is well-balanced. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

Another take...

Kelsier is a survivor. He is the only known man to escape the Pits of Hathsin. He finds Vin, a girl who was raised on the streets with thieving crews. She has powers she didn't even know about, and they will create the team that will end the rein of the tyrant Lord Ruler.

The book is very well written. The story grabs your attention and keeps it all the way through. My favorite part was when Elend goes into the middle of the square trying to find Vin, and meets Kelsier who hates nobles, but saves Elend's life because he knows Vin loves him. (Audrey B., IRS Member)


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Monstrumologist Monstrumologist / Rick Yancy TEST TEST

Recently orphaned Will Henry is a twelve year old in 1888, with a rather unusual occupation. He is the "assistant-apprentice" to a monstrumologist, the deranged Doctor Pellinore Winthrop. As his assistant, Will Henry is pulled into a dark mystery of real-world monsters, which threaten his town, and also the world.

The cover is suitably dark, and gave the feel of an old-school medical lab, but perhaps one that served a dark purpose than most—very compelling and a big part of why I picked up the book. It manages to capture the same dynamic a Sherlock Holmes novel has: that of an eccentric genius and his slightly-smarter-than-average assistant. Will Henry is a wonderfully compelling narrator, who is both humble and informed. The book is well-paced, and kept me turning each page, desperate to know what happened next, and also a bit terrified to find out. One of my favorite aspects is that it's written as though the book is an actual diary, and the actual author (Rick Yancey) is listed as but an editor, a trick employed by others, but which few do so quite as well. It's a fun twist that helps build up further suspense and helps smudge the line between fantasy and reality a bit further, enhanced by tiny nods to real world events. Overall, a highly effective technique. Sequels: Curse of the Wendigo and Isle of Blood. (Maisie Iven, IRS Member)

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My Sister's Keeper My Sister's Keeper / Jodi Picoult TEST TEST

IRS 30 Second Book Review:

This is an amazing novel about a family who has to try to come together for their sick sister/daughter.  If you like books that make you cry, but are well written, you might like this one.  People how liked The Notebook, or any heartfelt, sad books, have also enjoyed this book.  (Jordon T., IRS Member)

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My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush / Laura Toffler-Corrie TEST TEST
Jenna is an average teenager who lives in an average town and is going to an average restaurant for her average birthday. Her mom gives her an ugly pendant necklace for her birthday and she begins to plot her sneaking it into the gutter when the cutest guy she has ever seen comes over to their table. He is the waiter, Luke. Suddenly, as the family orders their meal, Jenna spots something out the window. This something is a devil. And Luke is an angel. And these two men are archenemies. Jenna and Luke must go on a huge expedition to stop Adam from terrorizing and destroying the whole town...or even the whole world. This book is filled with action, romance, drama, and...babysitting. There are villains, good guys, popularity, and boyfriends. There was kissing, love, and Luke made a perfect gift for her. She loves him and he loves her...but then he has to leave. She is heartbroken. It left me wondering, will Luke come back to help defeat Adam once and for all? I was disappointed when the book had to end! I wanted to hear more about afterwards and the happy ever after! Cambria C., IRS Member

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Naked Sun Naked Sun / Isaac Asimov TEST TEST

I also wrote a review on The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov. The Naked Sun is the next book in Asimov’s Robot series. The Naked Sun follows the same character our New York detective Elijah Bailey. Elijah is asked to come to the world of Solaria by the spacers, people who inhabit planets other than earth, who remember their experiences with the detective in past years. Elijah is sent by Earth to not only solve the case but to observe the spacers. Earth has had almost no contact with the spacers and tensions are building up about a possible Spacer invasion. Elijah arrives on Solaria to find an alien society. People live on huge estates and never actually see each other. Each person has thousands of robots at their disposal to do their every whim. With people never actually being near each other, the ability for a person to kill another person is almost impossible. That leaves only one option for the murderer, the robots, which is also impossible.  Elijah is teamed up with his robotic partner from his last murder on Earth. As Elijah conducts his investigation the murderer strikes again and begins to target Elijah. Elijah must learn to adjust to the new culture and solve the murder before he is the next victim.

Reading The Caves of Steel is not a requirement to read The Naked Sun, but it does help to understand the society on Earth. I didn’t think that The Naked Sun was as good as The Caves of Steel but it was a very good book. This book is very physiological mystery; the solution is logical and neat. The mystery almost takes a back seat to the exploration of the culture that Elijah embarks upon. I had a hard time connecting with the book because I had a very hard time seeing our society becoming so isolated, but the exploration was still interesting. The science fiction elements of the book were very well put together creating a complex but understandable society. Over all I give this book a three out of five stars. (Tyler R., IRS Member) 

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Need Need / Carrie Jones TEST TEST

Zara has a creepy stalker—a creepy stalker that leaves no footprints, but instead a mysterious trail of gold dust. A creepy stalker that may or may not be a pixie...

When Zara moves to Maine to live with her step-grandmother after her step-father dies, she meets new people, not all of them nice. In this exciting read, Zara faces her fears and learns the truth behind her family and the evil pixies that are watching her every step. The cover is interesting; I think it provides some useful foreshadowing. The title headings for each chapter add to the story. I love how they were different phobias that kind of hinted at a theme of each chapter. A problem is that in the final scene it was very hard to keep who was changed and who was in human form straight. They kept switching and the author didn't keep up. But overall, this is a great and a fun read! (Rachel M., IRS Member)

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Night of the Living Trekkies Night of the Living Trekkies / Kevin David Anderson TEST TEST

I've never been a big zombie fan, but this book is an absolute work of art. It was actually an amazing YouTube book trailer that convinced me to read it in the first place...and although the trailer is a tad bit different from the actual book, it is equally epic.

The main character Jim has a lot of baggage riding around on his shoulders from when he was in the military. He was unable to save his squadron from a bomb, and therefore wants absolutely no responsibility where he is in charge of a life or death situation ever again. Of course this all goes to pot when a sickness starts to spread through the Botany Bay hotel...a sickness that kills and resurrects the infected as zombies. Jim is forced to lead his sister and a rag-tag group of survivors to safety, if such a place still exists.

This book is especially funny for those that are familiar with the Star Trek universe, or at least the obsession that its fans can rise to. Although, given a choice between a group of rabid zombie Trekkies at a Star Trek convention and a bunch of Twilighters, I'd go for the Trekkies any day, but that's a whoooole 'nother story right there. Each chapter is titled after an episode of Star Trek or one of its movies, and the way that they so brilliantly fit the content is fantastic. There are some jokes, like how the red shirt always dies, that anyone will be able to get. However, others are more subtle and really add to the humor element if you have at least some background knowledge of Trek lore.

Characters are certainly a strong point in Night of the Living Trekkies, and I seriously applaud Kevin David Anderson for writing the women in this book as strongly as he did. One of my absolute favorites among the menagerie that are thrown together as survivors is Leia. For those who are not too well versed in nerddom, there has been a rivalry between fans of Star Trek and Star Wars ever since the very beginning (unless, you're one of the few like me that actually like both). Having a character that was introduced dressed as the famous princess from Star Wars at a Trek convention was absolutely priceless.

I listened to this as an audio book, and it kept my attention the whole way through. The narrator was absolutely fantastic, changing his voice to match the various characters, giving them voices and personalities of their own. I had absolutely no problem picturing Jim as the sort of ex-military character that he is written as due to the strength and tone that the narrator puts through in his performance. Production, likewise, was well done with no distracting sound effects to take away from the tension of the story. As an audio book, this book is excellent. As a story, it is fantastic. As a Trekkie, you should read it.

Even if you've only seen the 2009 Star Trek reboot movie, this book is worth a read. While some of the episode references might miss you, this book is fun! (Rachel B., IRS Member)


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Night Road Night Road / A.M. Jenkins TEST TEST

Cole may look like an ordinary 18 year-old, but he's been around for ages. Normally a loner, struggling to live in the present, he gets called to New York to train a new hemovore by taking him along on a road trip and trying to get him to cut ties with all that he knows. What Cole doesn't expect is for Gordon, the trainee, to ruffle his usually cool demeanor.

This gripping tale is exciting and thought-provoking as Cole, Sandor, and Gordon travel on the road. The cover is neat and slightly symbolic. The questions Cole asks himself and Cole’s flashbacks are always interesting and the book is paced really well. While it is exciting there isn't a whole lot of action, but that’s okay with me. (Rachel M., IRS Member)


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Night Tourist Night Tourist / Katherine Marsh TEST TEST

New York City, Greek mythology, and family secrets: these are the ingredients of Katherine Marsh’s The Night Tourist. This modernized retelling of the Orpheus myth centers around Jack Perdu, a teenager who lives with his professor father at Yale University. After a near-fatal car crash, Jack’s father sends him to see a doctor in New York. In the city he meets Euri, a mysterious girl who might just be able to reunite Jack with his mother. But since his mother died eight years earlier, something odd is going on…

This book is a fast read, with a quick pace and intriguing concepts. It’s not hard for a reader well-versed in mythology to predict the ending, but there are a few twists and turns along the way. At times, locations are described in such a confusing way that a reader may want to consult a map of New York to find out what’s going on, but generally this is not necessary.

While not challenging or overly original, The Night Tourist is fun—perhaps for those very reasons. Marsh’s writing flows well, and the plot rarely drags. Some of the characters Jack and Euri meet add comic relief to what might be a dark tale. This book would be good for upper elementary and middle school readers. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Obernewtyn Obernewtyn / Isobelle Carmody TEST TEST

Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn is definitely one of the well-imagined post-apocalyptic novels I have ever read. “The Great White” reshaped the world long before the book is set, and its contamination has created “Misfits” like Elspeth Gordie. In a society where even the slightest deviation from normalcy can be cause enough for burning by a fanatical religious leadership, her ability to sense thoughts must always be kept hidden. She’s managed fairly well in an orphanage, and her brother has even been chosen for the priesthood. All that changes when a woman from the mountains visits the orphanage. She comes from the shadowy Obernewtyn, a place whose name is used by parents to scare their children into good behavior. Obernewtyn takes Misfits and puts them to work, but there are rumors of darker doings. Somehow, the woman from Obernewtyn knows that Elspeth is a Misfit and takes her away into the mountains. There she discovers a plan that threatens to destroy the world again, and a group of people more like her than she had ever imagined.

While Elspeth is not the strongest of characters, her world is more than intriguing enough to make up for the lack. It seems clear that the “Great White” was a nuclear war, but some of the machines hinted at are unfamiliar, and so the reader wonders. Obernewtyn is the first volume of a series, and so its primary purpose would seem to be setting up the characters and their world, to be developed further in later books. It certainly serves as a good introduction, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Orange Houses Orange Houses / Paul Griffin TEST TEST

In this story, set in the rougher sections of New York City, Mika Sykes is a hearing-impaired highschool outcast; Jimmi Sixes is an 18-year-old already burned-out war vet and poet-artist; and Fatima Esperer is an illegal immigrant who has come to earn her family's passage to America. The paths of all three intertwine as Mika and Fatima are urged on by Jimmi to make "the most wonderful thing" for the community while the book counts down to Jimmi's brutal hanging. 

The writing style is enjoyable and you can relate to the characters, but the novel is missing something. It is a one-time read, which is a fine thing to be in today's literary field, but I would not read it a second time. Interestingly enough, the most motivating part of the book for continuing to read is the brief blurb at the beginning of each chapter counting down to Jimmi's hanging. Amazingly, it is then able to continue on its own momentum for several more chapters after that occurs. (Jack K., IRS Member)


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Paranormalcy Paranormalcy / Kiersten White TEST TEST

Evie works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, and she's one of their best agents even though she's only 16. This is because unlike other humans, she can see through glamours and tell creatures like vampires and faeries for what they really are. When someone seems to be slaughtering paranormals wholesale, she is uniquely equipped to deal with the problem...and doing so gets uncomfortably close to the secret of her own unusual ability.

I can take or leave the cover. On the one hand, it made it easier for me to picture Evie; on the other hand, it seemed rather...quiet. I mean, the girl goes around shooting vampires with a hot pink Taser. Couldn't the cover have shown her in action?

This book takes an interesting approach to the paranormal craze sweeping YA, and it's rather refreshing to read. The prose is clear and easy to comprehend, meaning that once the story gets into gear the pages fly by. Evie is a very convincing teenager, and many of the supporting characters are clearly the heroes of their own stories, which means they play nicely into Evie's. The air of mystery, and then of fear, that contributes to the force of the plot is very well-drawn; there's a lot of tension, and that's probably the most enjoyable part of the book. The part that really elevated this book in my eyes, though, was the ending. For once, the first book in a trilogy-to-be was complete in and of itself! There are threads to be picked up in the two sequels, certainly, but this book had a denouement of its own. It seems that many authors have been skipping that wrapping-up stage lately, choosing instead a cliffhanger to ensure that readers buy the next volume, and that can be off-putting. Thank you, Kiersten White, for not taking the easy way out. I look forward to the next two books in the series [Supernatturaly and Endlessly]. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks / Lauren Myracle TEST TEST

IRS 30 Second Book Review:

It was a cute, good, easy read about two sisters who grow-up together and try to get along.  If you like books that are funny, sweet, and very light, you might like this one.  People who liked easy, light, fun reads have also enjoyed this book.  (Jordan T., IRS Member)

Another take...

This is the moving story of two sisters in high school as they deal with boys, teachers, their father and each other. This book is special because it's so real. I felt like I might run into the sisters from the story just by walking down the road, because the book was so close to home. It wasn't the dramatic story of a far-off land, but it was so true that it resonated with the reader.

I love the cover of this book. Even though I was confused by the pictures for a little while, they're so obvious that it ended up just being cute. Because the book is very real it could almost be true, and it depicts the story of sisters very well. The plot was uncomplicated and predictable, but this wasn't completely unwelcome because it was more important to see Carly's thought process as she worked her way through her problems. (Anne H., IRS Member)

Another take...

Carly has grown up in a world of money and privilege, but doesn't like to concern herself with those kinds of things. She strives to be real, but when her little sister Anna grows into a smokin' hot little chick, she finds herself becoming jealous. As she makes her way through her sophomore year in high school she finds herself confused by boys, her sister, her parents, and her friends. In this clever story, Myracle navigates the tumultuous waters of sisterhood and the complications that come with high school.

The simple, yet complicated, story line isn't super involved, but it brings up a lot of important issues girls face. I also liked Roger a lot, he rocks. Carly seems really shallow for not wanting too be shallow. (Rachel M., IRS Member)

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Pegasus Pegasus / Robin McKinley TEST TEST

Sylvi is a princess of Balsinland, where every royal child is bonded to a Pegasus on their twelfth birthday. Communication between a Pegasus and a human has historically been stilted, with most pairs needing magicians to translate - but when Sylvi meets Ebon, they can speak to each other effortlessly through their minds. This connection, previously unheard of, sends ripples through human society... and not everyone is happy about it.

Oh that cover. So. Gorgeous. And dramatic - Sylvi small and almost blending in to the grass, Ebon a little larger coming in for a landing - representing the two main characters in very elemental terms, with Sylvi as earth and Ebon as air. It's elegant and beautiful and very like the book, really.

I'm just going to say up front that many people won't like this book. If you don't love world-building, Pegasus is not for you. McKinley spends a very long time showing readers the history and politics of the setting, which I personally found fascinating. However, it can make the book drag in parts if that's not your cup of tea. The story on top of the world-building is also very gradually shown. This is the first part of what is projected to be a two-book series, so McKinley doesn't really need to rush it, and she certainly doesn't. The result is that every character has a lot of development, particularly Sylvi and Ebon. Those two, by the way, are loads of fun to read about. Ebon is very sharp-witted and not at all as shy as his bond-mate. His perspective is also fascinating, since he's not bound by human customs and doesn't see the logic in many of them. He really helps Sylvi to mature and become more confident, just as she helps him mellow out and behave a little better. Those familiar with McKinley's work will know that she pretty much never writes direct sequels. The closest she's gotten are The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown (both excellent, by the way), which are set in the same world hundreds of years apart. As a result, it should be no surprise that she's not very good at ending the first book in a series. It comes off rushed, forced even, and can easily leave the reader with a sense of loss - "That's how it ends? Really?" The wait for a sequel will doubtless be lengthy, but I for one am looking forward to it [Ebon, 2014].  (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Rapture Practice: A True Story Rapture Practice: A True Story / Aaron Hartzler TEST TEST
This book is a true story about the life of Aaron, who lives in an extremely Christian family, with parents who often suppress his individuality through their beliefs. Throughout the story, the reader gets to see inside Aaron's head as he questions everything about his life and his family's values, creating suspense and an emotional story. The book is so unique because it gives teens a look inside the mind of a boy who had to learn how to grow up to be the person he wanted to be, and not necessarily the person his parents wanted him to be, which is a very relatable theme presented from a unique perspective. Review by Olivia C., IRS Member Another take... Aaron has been raised his entire life in a devoted Christian family. He has promised his heart to Jesus, goes to church, and does a Christian school. Only in his later years does he realize... he is too restricted by his parents. Aaron begins to rebel against his parents. He sneaks out to movies, makes out with girls, and even has beers at his friend’s house. But when this secret world comes crashing down around him, will he forever lie to his parents or show them his true self? This book had me captivated from the beginning. I truly enjoyed each twist and turn this book offered. The author's words had me filled with anger, sadness, or joy in each chapter. The most compelling aspect of this book was how the emotions the words on the page made me feel. I was right there, living his frustration and anger. It was amazing. Cambria C., IRS Member

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Really Awesome Mess Really Awesome Mess / Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin TEST TEST
Teens Emmy and Justin made some not-so-wise choices recently and ended up in Heartland Academy, "A caring place." While neither of them thinks they should be where they are, they'd be surprised at how much they learn. It very much reminded me of John Green's book Looking For Alaska. You have some messed up teens who go to a boarding school together and mature. But A Really Awesome Mess had a happy ending where there was hope for the main characters even though they seemed far from anything good. Akiva W., IRS Member

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Replacement Replacement / Brenna Yovanoff TEST TEST

The town of Gentry is in trouble. And Mackie Doyle is in the middle of it. A new take on the changeling child story, this one is told from the point of view of the actual replacement. When all he wants to do is blend into the background and deny the secret that's killing him, he gets sucked into the underworld of Gentry, and he and the town will never be the same.
The cover was very creepy, but as I read the story, the aspects of it made more and more sense, so it was a fabulous representation of the content of the book.  

I thought the book was pretty good. There were a few odd phrases here and there, but nothing that really detracted from the book as a whole. The most compelling aspect of the book had to be the original approach to the fairy/changeling story and the way the author meant to have it reflect the high school experience of being an outsider. This book will take readers through the haunted city that is Gentry, revealing horrors and beauties side by side.(Rachel M., IRS Member)

Another take...

Mackie is dying in the human world. It makes sense, though, since he doesn't belong here- he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby when that baby was stolen by the beings who live under the slag heap. When another child is taken - the little sister of a girl he likes - Mackie is finally forced to confront what he is and the world he came from.

This cover was eye-catching (shiny and silver!), dramatic (appropriately so) and eerie- much like the book. The items hanging above the crib also featured in inner book art, which turned out to be wonderfully symbolic of the contents of each section.

This is the one book I've read so far that deserved its hype- and more. It had a wonderful fairy tale quality- and I'm not referring to Disney's Cinderella. I mean the old fairy tales, the ones where the little mermaid dies or the evil stepsisters cut off parts of their feet and then get their eyes pecked out by birds. Call me crazy, but that made the book good. Dark fairy tales are about as harsh as the real world, and elements of that kind of eerie horror can make a book about the fantastic into something... believable—even if there are living dead girls walking around. Also, Mackie and Tate were just good characters, literarily speaking. The true reluctant hero is difficult to pull off, but Yovanoff managed it; and maybe I'm not the best judge, but he sounded like a teenage boy to me. I'm not sure what their thoughts are like, but his words and actions definitely rang true. Tate was spunky and determined, and when she was told to stay out of something she figured out how to be useful and got right back in. Unlike the 'heroines' of most young adult paranormal novels, she existed as more than a pawn or a damsel in distress, and I was cheering for her all the way. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Rise of Renegade X Rise of Renegade X / Chelsea M., Campbell TEST TEST

When super-villains (or superheroes) turn 16, their thumbprints change to reflect their future with superpowers. But when Damien Locke turns 16, he doesn't receive the "V" his mother's villainous past dictates, he receives an "X," marking him as the child of both a super villain and hero. When he is then forced to live with his father's family, where his father is intent on making Damien become a hero, Damien sets out to prove he is truly evil. Until an evil plot that threatens his new found family arises as Damien must choose if he is a hero or villain.

The cover shows a great cityscape (that shows up throughout the story as chapter heads) and a young boy dressed as a superhero. It gives off the comic book feel the story reflects, and also sets the tone to be a much lighter one than most YA superhero books tend to be.

This is quite possibly the funniest thing I have EVER read. I admit I was a bit nervous about the story the first chapter or so, because it doesn't exactly start with a POW! But by the third chapter, I had decided that Damien Locke was a perfect narrator, and had a twisted sense of humor that just shone through. If the book hadn't been well written (though it was well written) it would still have been funny enough to still be a great book. However, though it is wonderfully written, the plot twists can be seen from miles away, and the climax does seem to scream "PETER PAN!" Plus, as a diehard comic geek, I noticed moments that seemed almost stolen from other superhero's cannons, and it was unclear to me if these were subtle nods or the author being a tad unoriginal (the fact the main character is named Damien and has a mother who is a bad guy and a superhero for a father SCREAMS Batman). But if I weren't such a geek, I wouldn't have noticed, and the book is fun enough that you can forgive obvious and cliché scenes, because it's just laugh-out-loud funny. :) (Maisie I., IRS Member)

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Rithmatist Rithmatist / Brandon Sanderson TEST TEST
The Rithmatist is an epic fantasy novel that centers on the characters Joel, a non-Rithmatist who desperately wants to be one, and Melody, a Rithmatist who can't draw her lines right. The two of them get to know each other as they work tirelessly, as they work to stop a series of kidnappings and murders...and stumble onto the darker plot taking place underneath. The book has a fantastic plot that reveals nothing until the very end and leaves you wanting more, world building enough for two worlds, and a writing style that draws you into the book and makes even the boring parts seem interesting. The cover is quite interesting, and it does a marvelous job of displaying the steampunk/clockwork theme of the novel. The one thing that the book cover is missing is a reference to chalk, which is strange as this is one of the cornerstones of the book's world building. The most compelling aspect of his book would have to be the way that it combines an epic storytelling style with the quirks and sticks of Joel and Melody's relationship to produce a story that is both a comedy and an action adventure. It is a rather perfect blend of fantasy and humor, with a nice undertone of mystery that makes it gripping and enjoyable. Sam S., IRS Member

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Rules Rules / Stacey Kade TEST TEST
This is a book about a girl who was genetically made and is being tested and experimented on. Her "Father" rescued her and brought to the outside. But, she must follow 5 rules to stay on the outside. Will she follow them? The author has really great voice in this book and follows through with the story. I don't remember a dull moment that happened in the book and she put in a lot of action and romance. I could barely put the book down. Victoria D., IRS Member

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Sandman: A Game of You Sandman: A Game of You / Neil Gaiman TEST TEST

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics are small. If you had all of them on hand, you could probably read them in a day or less.  Providing, that is, that you wanted to - which you probably wouldn’t, because along with being creative and brilliant and in all other ways pure Gaiman, The Sandman is a series of dark, heavy little books.

Volume five, A Game of You, is somewhat less so than the books that precede it.  There’s blood, of course, but not so much as in Preludes and Nocturnes. A Game of You is more of a classical fantasy plot.  Barbie, the protagonist, has stopped dreaming - but her dreams aren’t held back by little things like that.  Barbie left before her quest was fulfilled, and the creatures of her dreams are coming into her world to find her. When she does get sucked back into the Land, though, her worried friends follow, causing mayhem in both worlds in the process.

Save for the inescapable bits of oddity that are hallmarks of The Sandman, this plot would have made a fine short story, or perhaps even a novel. Some of the odd twists, though, make it the kind of story only Gaiman and the Sandman can get away with.

Though it’s the fifth volume, A Game of You would make a good starting place, a sampler for a reader not yet sure about the series. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Savvy Savvy / Ingrid Law TEST TEST

Savvy is a Southern, freewheeling romp of a book.  It’s lighthearted and light reading, and it’s great fun too. The story starts not long before Mibs Beaumont’s thirteenth birthday, the day when she will discover her ‘savvy’. Everyone in her family has a special talent—her grandmother could “can” sound; her grandfather creates new places; and her two older brothers create hurricanes and electricity.  Mibs can’t wait to discover her own savvy- until her Papa is in a car crash a few days before she turns thirteen. Even a savvy takes second stage to that—to the point that Mibs, two of her brothers, and the preacher’s kids hop a bus to the hospital…only to find it going the wrong way!

This book won a Newbery Honor Medal, and it’s easy to see why. In essence, it’s a story about ordinary people, with just a bit of a magical twist. The basic parts of the plot could conceivably happen anywhere, to anyone. There are few readers who can’t sympathize with Mibs’s desire to help her Papa and recognize that, while her methods may be unorthodox, her motivation is common:  Love. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Scorpio Races Scorpio Races / Maggie Stiefvater TEST TEST

This book is about the lead up to the Scorpio Races, a race that is run by amphibious, man eating water horses. The story follows Puck, a poor orphan girl, who is trying to win the races without a water horse, and Sean Kendrick, a four time winner of the Scorpio Races, as they slowly begin to know and help each other. This book has an amazing plot line and an ending that is nothing short of amazing.

I like how the cover shows a horse and a rider but hardly anything else, so it really gives the book a feeling of suspense.

I really enjoyed this book. The most compelling aspect of this book is that it keeps going back and forth between the two characters so you never get bored with the book. (Sam S., IRS Member)

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Seaward Seaward / Susan Cooper TEST TEST

Susan Cooper is probably best known for her Dark Is Rising sequence, but she deserves equal acclaim for Seaward. The book reminded me a little of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, except a bit lighter. Cooper's protagonists travel through a magical land, aware that there are two great forces working around and through them. Taranis, a lady who always dresses in blue, attempts to hinder them in their quest to reach the sea. Lugan, cloaked in gold, does his best to help. But when West and Cally, the two young travelers, reach their destination neither power can help them choose where their lives will lead next. I found this book enchanting. It starts with little or no explanation of events, which serves to draw the reader in. Nothing more is revealed, except in hints and chance phrases that confuse and tantalize, until the end of the book. Even then, certain characters are left to the reader's imagination. This is a rather small book, but every page is a treasure. It is the kind of book that anyone and everyone should read and savor. (Lisa M, IRS Member)


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Siege and Storm Siege and Storm / Leigh Bardugo TEST TEST
Siege and Storm is the sequel to Shadow and Bone, and continues the story of Alina, the Sun Summoner. Alina and Mal have been on the run from the Darkling, but now they are on a boat owned by a mysterious privateer and seeking a second amplifier to increase Alina's power. Alina must put together an army, while holding onto herself and the people she cares about most. This book was better than the first; it was darker, but it also allowed a lot of character development. We got to see who Alina really was, and see clearly the differences between her and Mal. I also really loved the character Nikolai. The best part was the clear distinctions between characters. You see the differences between Alina and Mal, and the different paths their lives were taking, but also the similarities between her and Nikolai and the Darkling. How the power was changing Alina was fascinating, because you could clearly see the differences in her throughout the book, without even needing to be told they were there. Bethany C., IRS Member

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Singing Singing / Alison Croggon TEST TEST

Alison Croggon’s Pellinor tetrology began with an extraordinary novel, The Naming.  Now, to the delight of fans across the world, it concludes in The Singing. Resolution is finally here—but now the series is over, too.

As the book opens, Maerad and Cadvan are arriving in Innail, a welcoming Bard School they passed through once before. They’re on their way to find Hem, Maerad’s brother- but when the powerful elemental called the Landrost attacks the walls of the school, what might have been a short and restful stay turns chaotic. The battle is desperate, but Maerad manages to turn it in their favor…at the cost of her friends’ trust.

Meanwhile Hem, Saliman and Irk travel north only days ahead of the Nameless One’s army.  For brother, sister, and their companions it is a race to reunite before Sharma finds them. But even then their work isn’t done, because the mystery of the Treesong must be solved if Edil-Amarandh is to be saved…

This amazing series was Croggon’s entrance into the world of fantasy novels, and I can only hope that it isn’t also her exit. Edil-Amarandh is an immensely detailed world, clearly showing much thought and effort on the author’s part.  The Elidhu elementals, too, hint at vast depths of imagination and skill; they are essentially wild, forces of nature, and are portrayed very well. Maerad and Cadvan, the two central protagonists, are not perfect- each carries secrets and guilt, and they often fight.  In this way their relationship is realistic; they don’t just magically get along. Maerad’s struggle with her feelings for Arkan, the Ice Witch who held her captive, adds another element to an already unusual story.

The Pellinor books are, hands down, some of the best YA literature around. The Singing is the icing on a confection of story- the perfect finish to such a wondrous work. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Siren Song Siren Song / Anne Ursu TEST TEST

Anne Ursu’s Cronus Chronicles are a delight to read. She brings a modern twist to the ancient Greek gods, with characters who are both likeable and funny. Her prose is light and deft, switching perspectives and moods with enviable grace.

The Siren Song is the second volume [Shadow Thieves is the first] of the Cronus Chronicles.  As it begins, cousins Zee and Charlotte are dealing with the consequences of their last adventure.  Of course, having saved the world, they feel that being grounded until age forty (Charlotte) and treated like glass (Zee) is rather unjust.  But, then again, all their parents know is that they snuck out at night.  Regardless, things are mostly back to normal…until a man in an aqua suit shows up; Charlotte’s parents win a free cruise, and Zee begins acting strangely.  Something fishy is definitely going on, and this time Charlotte will have to face it all by herself.

Ursu captures the outlooks of Charlotte, Zee, and Philonecron absolutely perfectly; when she switches from one to another it’s almost as if the characters themselves are writing.  Her senses of humor and of irony are finely honed and deftly used.  This is a wonderful read for anyone who loves Greek mythology- bit it would doubtless charm any reader. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Six Months Later Six Months Later / Natalie D. Richards TEST TEST
Chloe Spinnaker is an average student just barely making the grade. But one day after falling asleep in study hall, in the middle of spring, she wakes up to snow and an empty classroom. Six months of her life has passed and she has no clue what happened except that now she is popular and has lots of friends. That is, except for her only true friend, Maggie, who won't even look at her. The mystery, confusion, and friendships in this book make it unbearable to put down! It was awesome! Victoria D., IRS Member

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So Much It Hurts So Much It Hurts / Monique Polak TEST TEST
This book follows the story of Iris, a 17 year old girl who wants to be an actress and lives with her divorced mother in Montreal. She becomes involved in an abusive relationship with a man who is 14 years older than her, and begins to lie and keep secrets from her mother and her friends. Iris' struggle makes the book captivating and her emotions are so intense that it is hard to put down. Iris asks throughout the book, "This is what love is, isn't it?" As a reader you find yourself asking the same questions and feeling Iris' emotions, following her trains of thought and understanding what it must feel like to be in a relationship that is dangerous, and not at all healthy. You feel her desperation and her doubts, and you start to imagine if this was you in this situation, would you be stronger than Iris and stand up for yourself? Would you be able to recognize that this isn't what love is? The themes of this book, about figuring out what love is and how it can be so harmful, like in Iris' situation, is something that teens should read about, to know that sometimes love is deceiving and irrational and that it is so important to respect yourself in a relationship. Most books don't express how important that part of a relationship is, and for teens there should be more books like this so that people understand that it isn't just about falling in love and all that, but about being comfortable with your relationship and how the person you are with treats you. The best part was the suspense of whether or not Iris will be safe and stand up for herself, and if other people in her life will see through her lies and help her get out of her bad situation. You start to think like Iris and wonder what will happen to her next, and it's very suspenseful. This book also highlights what an unhealthy relationship looks like, and it's obvious as you're reading that there are signs of how Iris is in a dangerous relationship and it makes you think of how to see those signs and avoid her situation. Olivia C., IRS Member

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Spy in the House Spy in the House / Y.S. Lee TEST TEST

Mary Quinn was almost hanged for a thief at the age of 12, but she was rescued by a woman from a school for young ladies. Only years later does Mary learn that the school runs another operation: a network of spies and investigators, all female, working on cases throughout London. And they want her to take part...

The cover captured this book's air of mystery and intrigue very well, and it was true to the period. While not the most attractive book cover I've seen lately, it was appropriate and easy on the eyes, and it fit well.

Historical fiction isn't one of my favorite genres, but I enjoyed this book. It reminded me—often, and a lot - of Phillip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke, and given the option I'd take Pullman over Lee easy. However, the mystery in this book and the description of Victorian times were both quite interesting and kept me reading. My only major complaint is the 'hero' and love interest - he's painted as a jerk in the beginning of the novel, and somehow without changing that much turns Mary's perception of him around. (While I, the reader, still have a beef with his attitude.) (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Star Crossed Star Crossed / Elizabeth C. Bunce TEST TEST

Digger is a thief on the streets of the city of Gerse, living by her wits and concealing an ability to sense magic from the Greenmen who would kill her in the name of their goddess. When a job goes wrong and her partner is killed, though, she knows she needs to get out of the city fast - and ends up on a private boat with a group of young nobles. Through a series of interesting encounters and coincidences she ends up as the companion to one of them and travels up to a mountain stronghold filled with even more nobles. From then on, political machinations ensue - and Digger, who never wanted to get involved, finds herself in the heart of everything.

The cover represented the book very well. Cautious Digger, peering around a door- a door marked with the seven-pointed star, which is very important to the plot- appears very much as she should, right down to the knowing look in her eyes. Even the background is fitting- green, for the goddess the Greenmen serve. Also, simply as an image it is beautiful.

I was rather lukewarm about Bunce's debut, A Curse Dark As Gold. Therefore, though I'd heard good things, I was somewhat skeptical about this one... I needn't have been. Elizabeth C. Bunce has improved so much between books that there's really no comparison. Star Crossed was absolutely wonderful. I loved Digger and the nuances of her character; the difficulty she had in trusting, the caution with which she approached everything, and the way she kept getting sucked in to conflicts she supposedly wanted no part of because she is, at heart, a good person. The supporting cast were equally interesting, particularly one mysterious character with a penchant for carving. (I'd tell you who, but that would be spoiling!) The plot was very well-paced and interesting, with new secrets always around the corner. The prose was deft and lovely. While not quite tense enough to keep me up at all hours, Star Crossed definitely put a smile on my face every time I picked it up. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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Stranger Stranger / Albert Camus TEST TEST

IRS 30 Second Book Review:

This is a lovely and short book about a man who stumbles on to a crime scene.  If you like books that are told in a naive, simple manner, you might enjoy this one.  (Maisie I., IRS Member)

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Tale of Two Castles Tale of Two Castles / Gail Carson Levine TEST TEST

Elodie (Lodie), a twelve-year-old young girl off to apprentice herself to an actor (a "mansioner"), finds herself the assistant to a witty, nasal dragon. Despite her parents' warnings, she befriends the dragon and a shape-shifting ogre, discovering that there is a plot to kill him. Lodie and the dragon set off on an adventure to find the killer before it's too late.

The cover very well summarizes and reflects the book’s content and plot, and the illustration on the cover is wonderfully done.

A Tale of Two Castles explores good and evil in various forms; the good being the vilest-looking creatures and evil being the sweetest. This is recommended for those who want a captivating and entertaining story that dissolves judging by looks. A perfect read-aloud book, the characters in it are well-developed and stay with the reader when the book is finished. A Tale of Two Castles has the same witty tone and feeling as Ella Enchanted. Anybody who fell in love with Ella Enchanted will adore this book as well. (Kelsey E., IRS Member)

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Talking Earth Talking Earth / Jean Craighead George TEST TEST

In a time when the environment is increasingly a source of concern, the works of author and naturalist Jean Craighead George are very important. She is best known for My Side Of The Mountain and Julie Of The Wolves, but The Talking Earth deserves equal acclaime. It is the story of Billie Wind, a Seminole Indian girl who doesn't believe in the old ways of her people. Sent out into the Everglades as a punishment, she learns that not only do animals talk, they give important messages to those who listen. I found this book inspiring. Billie's survivial depends on her ingenuity and her ability to read the land. And not only does she survive, she thrives. Through many difficulties, she learns about the importance of conservation and the uniqueness of the Earth. The message of conservation is present throughout the book, but it is never preachy. It is communicated through animals and Billie's unique experiences, which makes it somehow more real. Rather than read about the Everglades and the importance of protecting them, we see it through Billie's eyes and the eyes of her animal friends. (Lisa M, IRS Member)


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Thief Thief / Megan Whalen Turner TEST TEST

Gen bragged that he could steal anything, but proving it got him landed in the king's prisons. Luckily enough, the king's magus has a job for him, even if he won't tell Gen what it is. On the way to their mysterious objective Gen, the magus, and their three companions trade myths and talk politics, and it becomes clear that some of them are not what they seem.

There are several different covers for this book, the most prevalent being a recent update designed to match the covers of the rest of the series. It's beautiful. The contrast between the radiant stone and the dirty palms that cup it is striking, hinting at the contrasts between characters in the book itself. While it's not clear exactly what's being pictured on the cover for quite some time, when it appears in the text the cover image helps the reader picture it properly.

It's hard to figure out exactly how to describe this book. On a technical level, the prose is excellent, just balanced between readability and density. Megan Whalen Turner rarely - if ever - puts a word out of place, to the point that one that seems unusual can hint at a plot twist fifty pages in advance. One word. Really. In terms of plot, this book is a masterpiece. However, it makes more sense on a second reading. There's a lot of foreshadowing that's easy to miss, but that will make readers cackle with knowing glee on the second go-round. As said foreshadowing is extremely subtle, the plot twist at the end seems to come out of the blue when first encountered, unless the reader is uncommonly astute. It's hard to describe Gen without giving spoilers. I'll limit myself to this: he's an entertaining narrator, he keeps secrets from everyone including the reader, and it makes perfect sense how and why he does so. I'd especially recommend this book for people who want to be writers - read it, and the rest of the series (The Queen Of Attolia, The King Of Attolia, A Conspiracy Of Kings) multiple times. Aside from plot twisting, foreshadowing, precision of language and narration, Turner writes spectacular politics - but in such a way that it's not dry, and doesn't detract from the story. Many authors these days seem to forget about politics and the complications of rank; she definitely doesn't. (Lisa M., IRS member)


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Thirteenth Child Thirteenth Child / Patricia Wrede TEST TEST

Eff is a thirteenth child, and her twin brother is the seventh son of a seventh son. Supposedly, this means that her brother brings luck and power, and she brings only ruin. When her family moves out to the wild frontier, though, where such creatures as steam dragons and mammoths still roam, Eff learns that not all is as it seemed, and she may not be what her superstitious relatives accused her of being.

The cover was actually rather bland. The parchment background was nice, and the font was beautiful, but I felt like it didn't really convey the subject of the book very well, and at first glance it was rather hard to read. I would have preferred a different cover showing the characters, or the Great Barrier, or a steam dragon or something.

I've long loved Patricia Wrede's books - her Enchanted Forest Chronicles are still some of my favorites- and I expected this to be excellent. No surprise, it absolutely was. The magical frontier that she has described, while not perfectly believable, still fascinated me. Even more intriguing, though, were the three dominant systems and methods of doing magic, which Eff explored as she grew up. Their various strengths, weaknesses, and peculiarities were, for me, the most interesting part of the book and a driving force behind my desire to read the sequel. Plot-wise, this book focused more on Eff growing up and coming into her own than it did on any one conflict, and for me personally that was a fine approach to take. Others might get bored, however, by the lack of fighting or clear narrative arc. (Lisa M., IRS Member)


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This Is What Happy Looks LIke This Is What Happy Looks LIke / Jennifer E. Smith TEST TEST

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This Song Will Save Your Life This Song Will Save Your Life / Leila Sales TEST TEST
Somewhere along the way, everyone had decided that Elise Dembowski didn't belong. And the worst part is, she doesn't even know why. Stuck at the bottom of the social scene, Elise is ready to give up until she stumbles upon Start: the world's greatest dance party. There she finds accepting friends, her first ever love interest, and a passion for DJing. This book blurb starts the reader with this overused outcast as the protagonist, puts her in a predictable, life-changing situation, and then leaves off with a very cheesy sentiment. Yet the novel is everything but that. It is so amazing to be read about a character who is so relatable. Not because I was bullied or rejected but because she was so REAL. The plot was executed so well with so many underlying subplots and conflicts. It was all so realistic and in the end, very uplifting. This book is special because it took a plain genre, a generic character, and a standard plotline and made something incredible. The cover is beautiful. The colors are attractive, the effects are alluring, and everything about it made me think about Elise. The real Elise, as in Glendale's hottest DJ. I loved how the word 'love' was highlighted in the title, though I admit it took me about two days to catch on. Elise was the best part of the book. Who she was, what she was going through. She made me want to scream and cry and laugh. Everything about her narration was so raw, especially when the Fake Elise started getting to her. It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming to read through her eyes. I could start relating to Elise within the first chapter. She thought of her project as a makeover. I call it mimicking. You talk the way they talk, you act with their attitude, and you laugh when they laugh. Learn all the rules and get an effortless sense of fashion sense. Ta-da, best friends! To all the un-realistic fiction writers, that doesn't work. Elise was an outcast, yes, but she also couldn't change that. She couldn't change who she was or what she liked and she didn't magically become popular. The novel addressed that right off the bat. This whole book was incredibly real. It was funny both terrifying and filled to the brim with emotion. Each character brought their own story and their own honest personalities. I think this is just one of those novels that reflects reality. It makes it relatable to everyone, not just the outcasts or the bullied. Everyone who has ever struggled to fit in will find themselves in this book. Samantha Y., IRS Member

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Tombs Of Atuan Tombs Of Atuan / Ursula K. LeGuin TEST TEST

If  A Wizard Of Earthsea was lyrical and as strong as the tides, then The Tombs Of Atuan is majestic and bittersweet, like dark chocolate. Told entirely from the point of view of Arha, high priestess to the Nameless Ones, it is as haunting as the title promises. Arha--the name means "Eaten One"--cannot remember who she was before coming to the temple at age five. All she has known is life in The Place Of The Tombs, always aware that she will eventually become the most powerful one in the Place. In time, this certainty becomes an arrogant, possessive attitude towards her position and the Labyrinth only she and her chosen may enter. But when an outsider from the West enters her tunnels and shines light where there should be none, Arha's life is changed. Arha herself changes throughout the book, and her evolving character is one of the book's finest qualities. The shift from arrogant, confident and satisfied priestess to curious, fearful, defiant girl is skillfully done and completely believable. Another thing I enjoyed about this book is that it could easily stand alone. Though Ged, the main character of A Wizard Of Earthsea, appears in this book it focuses on Arha; one does not need to have read A Wizard Of Earthsea to understand it- though I highly recommend both books. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Truancy Truancy / Isamu Fukui TEST TEST

The Mayor rules the city education system with an iron fist, but the Truancy is here to break it. The Truancy is an underground organization of students who are sworn to battle the Mayor and his educators. Meanwhile Tack, a student, has his sister brutally murdered, on accident, by the Truancy. Now, he is determined to avenge his sister... by killing the leader of the Truancy.

I liked the cover because it is kind of hard to tell what is going on, but it suggests battle and a group of people, willing to do whatever it takes to help their cause. It really reflects well on the Truancy.

I loved this book. I finished reading it in three nights in spite of any schoolwork. My favorite part of this book are the fight scenes, which are described in very detailed ways, but can be read as fast as if they were actually happening. The book also reflects on the ethics of the Truancy in ways that relate to the life of a normal person. Fans of The Hunger Games might like this book. Prequel: Truancy Origins (Sam, IRS Member)

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Education is everything, especially if you live in the city that Tack does. The system is corrupt, the teachers cruel, and those who have left school are left to their own devices...and for some such as the Truancy leader Zyid, their own devices are deadly. When Zyid kills someone close to Tack, he is ready for revenge and in order to get this, he must join the Truancy himself.

I could not believe, when I started this book, that it was written by a fifteen-year-old. The richness in writing style is advanced far beyond what anyone could have ever expected and I could say the very same about the brilliant plot. I was not disappointed with the book at all, particularly the climax, which is practically cinema-worthy. (Rachel B., IRS Member)


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Truancy Origins Truancy Origins / Isamu Fukui TEST TEST

The world where the story is set is so close to our own, yet set in a time that's not quite defined. In this world, education is absolute and students suffer constantly. It is a very creative setting for a story that is half gunslinger, half martial arts, with a little bit of everything else mixed in. A derelict New York city is where the story is set.

There was not really too much that I was disappointed with, except that maybe the story was a tad bit too violent for my taste. However, for a person who does like this format of plot, I think that there would be nothing bad to say. Prequel to Truancy. (Rachel B., IRS Member)


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Tunnels Tunnels / Roderick Gordon TEST TEST

Beneath London, lies an age old city: The Colony. Where the Styx ruthlessly rule over the Colonists, having total control over everything that happens and carrying out any command they please. Topsoilers are hated among the Colonists and even more so by the Styx. Will and Chester are Topsoilers, and they're going to The Colony in search of Will's father, Dr. Burrows, who mysteriously went missing without a trace. Their friendship will be tested, their lives put at stake. New friends will be made and old histories will be uncovered in the depths of the earth... in The Colony.

I absolutely LOVED the cover! The artwork was beautiful and gave a depiction of the climax without giving away a single element of the story - besides the obvious.

For a first book, Gordon and Williams did a wonderful job with the character building, as well as setting and word choice. One of my favorite things about Tunnels is the vivid description, and again, word choice. Every step of the way, I knew WHERE I was, WHO I was hearing and WHAT was going on. I enjoyed the great pictures both on the page and in my mind along with it all. Contiune the series with book 2,  Deeper. (Jordan H., IRS Member)

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Under the Never Sky Under the Never Sky / Veronica Rossi TEST TEST

Under the Never Sky is about a girl, Aria, who wanted to know where her mother was after communication was down. But, in the process of finding her mother, Aria gets kicked out of her home, and falls in love with a boy, Perry, who is stereotypically called a savage. This book shows the journey they take to find Aria's mother, Perry's nephew, and how they fall in love. The most compelling aspect of the book would be all the drama, action, and heartbreak. Just an amazing way to tell a love story!
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Unnameables Unnameables / Ellen Booraem TEST TEST

The only word for The Unnameables is, well, “unusual.” Ellen Booraem’s debut novel combines a modern-day society more old-fashioned than the Amish with a creature out of Greek mythology, and the result is an excellent book.

Medford Runyuin is cursed by his name. He lives on Island, where everything is named for its use, and to be Useless is the worst fate for any of its citizens. Medford is the only one whose last name isn’t ‘Carpenter’ or ‘Learned’ or ‘Fisher’, and it has made his life difficult. As if growing up a foundling wouldn’t have been hard enough already! And to make matters worse, not long after he assumes a trade and might have found his place on Island, a creature called the Goatman takes up residence under his porch. The Goatman is a nosy being, too, and it doesn’t take him long to unearth Medford’s deepest secret…the thing that could get Medford banished from Island forever.

Medford’s struggles with fitting in are something everyone has faced at one time or another. He’s an understandable, likeable character and easy to sympathize with- unlike some of the other, stiff Islanders. The Goatman acts as a kind of odd mentor, along with providing comic relief. And of course, the lesson about the importance of art and self-expression will resonate with all readers. (Lisa M., IRS Member)

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Unwind Unwind / Neal Shusterman TEST TEST

Far into the Not-So-Distant future, the conflict between the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups boils over into the Heartland War. At its end, the two parties reconcile their differences by establishing the act of “Unwinding,” or “Belated Abortion.” Children must be born to term, but between the agse of 13 and 18 parents have the right to Unwind them, an unspecified process which leaves the child “alive, but as part of someone else.” This is the basic premise for the setting of Unwind. The story opens on Connor, a teen whose parents have recently signed the order to have him unwound. However, he runs before he can be taken away to be unwound. On the run, he meets two other Unwinds (the semi-derogatory term for teens in Connor's situation): Risa, a ward of the state being unwound to free up space in the foster home, and Lev, a willing unwind who is to be a tithe to his family's church. Banding together, the Connor and Risa look to find a way to survive to 18, while Lev seeks to get his life back on track. The pacing of the novel is very well done, and Shusterman has a certain knack for putting the reader in a character's head. Unfortunately, for all its redeeming points, the backstory (The Heartland War) was just too big a pill to swallow- such a conflict, and its resolution, would be unlikely to occur. As a light-reading piece, Unwind is thoroughly “okay;” but it does show promise as a philosophical discussion piece focusing on the origin and nature of a “soul.” Continue the trilogy with book 2, UnWholly (Jack K., IRS Member)

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Vibes Vibes / Amy Kathleen Ryan TEST TEST

IRS 30 Second Book Review:

It was an AMAZING, perfect, fantastic book about a girl named Kristi who deals with love, family, and the truth.  If you like books that make you laugh and love the characters you might like this one.  People who liked Zen and Xander Undone, by the same author, have also enjoyed this book.  This is one of my favorite books, ever!  (Jordon T., IRS Member)

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Waterfall (eBook) Waterfall (eBook) / Lisa T. Bergen TEST TEST

Two teenage girls travel to an archaeological dig site with their mother in the country side of modern-day Italy, expecting a typically boring summer in the heat. But when they sneak into an ancient Italian tomb, they are swept away into medieval Italy. They begin searching for a way back to their own time, but soon find themselves getting more and more attached to the country, and falling in love. Then after they become a target for their enemies after changing the course of a battle, will they find a way back to the safety of their own time, or stay and risk the dangers of the medieval era?

I love romance stories, adore medieval times and am obsessed with Italy, so I felt like [the River of Time] series was practically written for me. It's one of my favorites. I thought that the main character's personality didn't change enough throughout the book. It felt like she didn't really learn a lot from the events that take place. But the setting description and character development was stunning. I'd recommend it for girls of any age. (Tiana H., IRS Member)


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Watership Down Watership Down / Richard Adams TEST TEST

Watership Down by Richard Adams will suck you in, and from the first page, you won't be able to put it down. The story revolves around two brave brothers, Hazel and Fiver, who lead a party of rabbits to a new home, running away from an unknown danger. The group faces many dangers, and if they don't learn to work together, they will never survive.

The cover of Watership Down doesn't reflect the contents very well, because it doesn't show how much adventure is in the book.

I really liked this novel, because it is unpredictable, with many surprising twists and turns. (Ella F., IRS Member)


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WebMage WebMage / Kelly McCullough TEST TEST

In this age of ever-advancing technology, I suppose it was only a matter of time before some writer decided that magic should go digital. That writer, as it turns out, is Kelly McCullough - and he makes that transition gloriously.

WebMage’s protagonist is Ravirn, descendant of one of the three immortal Fates, the women who spin, measure, and cut the threads of human life. He’s also a gifted hacker, which is how he works magic. His spells are in code, his familiar shapeshifts into a laptop, and he scorns the ‘old ways’ of blood and ritual. Unfortunately, he’s also at odds with Atropos, the Fate who cuts the threads (and his great aunt).  He refuses to debug a program for her, and in revenge she sends her assassins after him…and curses him so that he can’t tell anyone.

Though most of Ravirn’s spellcasting went right over my head, heavy as it was with computer jargon, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. His world is, well…cool, dangers included. The adaptation of magic to technology is well-handled and plausible, and it works very well. The goddess Chaos, who shows up late in the book, is an excellent character, and the twist she introduces very neatly sweeps Ravirn’s feet out from under him when he thinks he’s almost won. This novel will appeal to the geek in everyone - and even if there’s no nerd under your skin, there’s enough action to satisfy any reader. (Lisa M, IRS Member)


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Winter Moon Winter Moon / Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee and C.E. Murphy TEST TEST

I will admit I was biased toward Winter Moon from the very beginning. Mercedes Lackey is one of my all-time favorite authors; I’ve read Tanith Lee before and enjoy her books; and C.E. Murphy’s ideas intrigue me. So, naturally, I had high expectations for anthology created by these three women. As it turned out, my expectations weren’t high enough.

Quite simply, Winter Moon blew me away. The creativity inherent in each of the three novellas was astonishing, the worlds created therein clearly deeply developed, and the characters complex and conflicted. Lackey’s “Moontide” was rich in irony and clever plans; Lee’s “The Heart of the Moon” featured a heroine unusually flawed for a fantasy character; and Murphy’s “Banshee Cries” was just…cool. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of urban magic?

The only thread connecting these three tales is the winter moon that always plays a part. They are each wholly original, vivid and very real in themes of trust, redemption, and acceptance. (Lisa M, IRS Member)


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Wintergirls Wintergirls / Laurie Halse Anderson TEST TEST

Reflected through the eyes of a very sick girl, 18-year-old Lia, and tying in the story of her friend who has just died, this book deals openly and clearly with the deep-rooted issues of eating disorders. It doesn’t shy away from the frightening aspects or dance around the emotions or deceptions underlying the problems that allow them to continue. It is a book that will make readers cringe away from how brutally gritty it is. It is terrifyingly honest, though stops short of being too extreme to read. The characters have problems; these problems are shown clearly and discussed, and though this transparent depiction of disorders that are disturbing in their magnitude can make one want to close the book, it never crosses that line, and readers will come back.

Eating disorders are extremely present in modern life, but it takes a certain kind of literary courage which Laurie Halse Anderson possesses to write a story about them. This is an unflinching novel with a cover that is, in a word, eerie. On it, Lia looks as if she is wrapped in plastic and at the same time as if she were frozen, one eye covered by loose hair but the other staring out with astounding intensity. The cover and the subject matter will draw readers in from the start, urging them to learn who this person is, and what made her look at the world with such a lost expression. At times, readers will want to scream at the characters for being so stupid. (Lisa M., IRS member)

Playaway


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Wither Wither / Lauren DeStafano TEST TEST

This book is, in a word, amazing. In the world that Lauren DeStefano has created, genetic engineering has caused every young man and woman to live only a fraction of what their usual lifespan would be, with men living to the age of twenty-five and women only surviving to twenty before they become violently ill and perish. It is in this setting that the protagonist, sixteen-year-old Rhine, is introduced, being transported in the dark along with a carload of other frightened girls and young women to be sold into marriage.

The characters in this story are all SO well written, and I found myself becoming very attached to all of the main characters, even little Cecily, who annoyed me to no end at first.

What makes this book so outstanding, however, is the imagery that is woven throughout this book. The description of the girls being transported in the van reminded me of accounts I'd read of prisoners being taken to concentration camps during the Holocaust, and this connection only served to accentuate the tension and fear for the characters that I felt even from the start of the book. If there's one thing that can really be said about this book, it's that the words paint a vivid portrait in the mind of the world that has been created.

I agree with the suggested age-range of grade 9 and up, with the emphasis being and up. As beautifully well written as Wither is, it does deal with some very mature topics, which may be uncomfortable for late Jr. High/early High School students. There were some moments that I was downright horrified, especially when the age difference between thirteen-year-old Cecily and twenty-one-year-old Linden really struck me. Wither is the first book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy, followed by Fever and Sever. (Rachel B., IRS Member)

eAuidobook | Playaway


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Wonderstruck Wonderstruck / Brian Selznick TEST TEST

Ben is a young boy with a broken heart, and Rose is a young girl with a secret. Both are deaf, but that's not the only connection they have. Brian Selznick weaves an enchanting story, using the perfect balance of pictures and words.

I loved the cover of Wonderstruck, because it shows where the whole story starts, in one little picture.

This book is amazing, with its blend of reality and fantasy. I especially liked the detailed illustrations on every few pages. (Ella F., IRS Member)


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Zen and Xander Undone Zen and Xander Undone / Amy Kathleen Ryan TEST TEST

IRS 30 Second Book Review:

It was a great short novel about two sisters who have to bond after their mother's death.  If you like books that make you think about how you are blessed, you might like this one.  People who liked books about family and uncovering mysteries have also enjoyed this book.  (Jordon T., IRS Member)

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