In a barren and dusty world, 17 year old Banyan is a tree builder.  Using metal, twinkle lights and other junk, he creates forests like there used to be more than a century ago, before The Darkness, before the locust plagues.  Barely surviving, Banyan travels from town to town working for rich people who want to recapture something of a world that no longer exists.  Before he disappeared, Banyan’s father was a master tree builder and he passed on an art with scrap that makes Banyan’s forests really something to see. Working for some “rich freaks”, Banyan unexpectedly meets a strange woman with a remarkable tattooRead More →

Creative narration, as it colors perspective, can add to a book’s appeal.  Just as Death narrates Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief, which offers a perspective on the Jewish holocaust, and God narrates Alan Lightman’s Mr. g, a hypothesis about the universe’s creation, the ghost of Jacob Grimm narrates Tom McNeal’s new book, Far Far Away. Although the story doesn’t begin “once upon a time” or “in a land far, far away,” McNeal’s recent release is a fairy tale. Set in the parochial village, Never Better, Far Far Away features heroes and heroines, villains and ogres, horrors and cruelties, as well as lessons for and truthsRead More →

The way that we are treating our Earth is slowly but surely killing her. One day we are going to wake up and realize too late what our destructive behavior has done. In P.J. Hoover’s Solstice, Piper is living on an Earth that is feeling the full force of global warming. Her city of Austin, Texas, has done an adequate job of becoming used to the ever rising heat. Whether it is with misters that spray a cooling gel or glass domes that cover sections of the city when the heat surpasses 121 degrees, the city council is trying to save its citizens…or are they?Read More →

In her newest book, Of Beast and Beauty, Stacey Jay has penned a fractured fairy tale that also functions as a cautionary one.  Although the core of the story is based on the familiar Beauty and the Beast plot, Jay moves the conflicts beyond the traditional to warn contemporary society about the effects of intolerance and divisive philosophies and policies. Somewhat satirical in her style, Jay creates a world in which the Dark Heart’s magic has gained control via an ancient curse, and the only way to undo the curse is for one Smooth Skin and one Monstrous to build a relationship unfreighted by expectationsRead More →

“Have you ever heard of suicide by river? You just wade out deeper and deeper, and before long the current carries you away. And by then there is nothing you can do about it.” (7)  When Kiandra was 7, her mother did just that. With no warning, no goodbye, nothing  – just walked into the river beside their home and let herself be swept away.  Now, 10 years later, Ki is still drowning in grief.  She won’t let her anger and confusion about her mother’s suicide go, hiding it deep inside, nursing it like a cancer.   Although her grieving father moved them far awayRead More →

To describe David Levithan’s book Two Boys Kissing is like trying to nail Jello to a tree.  This chapterless book is a support narrative and survival story for anyone who has considered suicide or who has been ashamed of his/her body, it is a love story, and it is a book about perseverance and finding a good time in a remarkably dire place, but most of all, it is a story of hope.  Although Levithan tells the tales of Tariq, Cooper, Ryan, Avery, Craig, Harry, Peter, and Neil, he also spins a tribute to all the homosexual men who came before them as forefathers inRead More →

At first, Mark Goldblatt’s Twerp brought to mind a couple other books – Scrawl, a bully’s detention-assigned journal about his life and Ungifted, Gordon Korman’s hilarious story about a likeable kid whose bad judgment gets him in to trouble again and again.  But it didn’t take long to get completely lost in this well-written, engaging story about a 12 year old kid, his friends, and a terrible thing they did. Julian Twerski isn’t a bully.  He  didn’t mean for Danley to get hurt and he doesn’t think that what happened over winter recess is one hundred percent his fault, although he doesn’t deny that he hadRead More →

This post comes from Brian Griggs: The Tallest Librarian in the World; check out his blog Wow. No, seriously. Wow. To call Steelheart epic would be a horrible pun and I will resist the temptation to call it that, but it’s an accurate description. I am an avid fan of sci-fi action stories and yet I have hesitated in picking up the latest spec fic greatness because I’ve been burned out by the genre – more specifically, the overpopulating of the market with Hunger Games/Divergent/Uglies clones. The farther you go down the line of clones, the more the DNA of a good story starts to degrade. That may not be theRead More →

Getting boxed in by one aspect of your life is something everyone tries to avoid. It doesn’t matter what the social label is, in the microcosom of high school, once you become a jock, stoner, preppy, emo, slut, skater – whatever – the label sticks.  People see you and treat you accordingly.  It’s near impossible to “start over” within the confines of your life as you know it, even though most everyone wants too.  Usually it’s going off to college, or moving to a new town, that gives people the chance to wipe the slate clean and try out new, hidden side to their personality.Read More →