Childrens book reviews by StorySnoops, judge a book by more than its cover, serving fresh scoops of new books for you every day
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Archive for the ‘Jen – StorySnoop’ Category

12 Books for Teens Adults May Enjoy — Suggestions Welcome!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

I recently finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn and really loved it. I was completely engrossed from start to finish. I may have loved it a bit too much because I started feeling sorry for myself about the lack of literature written for adults in my must read pile. Being an optimistic person (and since I really have no choice), I realized that there a quite a few books I have read for StorySnoops that I actually would have chosen to read had I not been a writer of children’s book reviews. Here are some of the books we Snoops have read that may be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. Let us know what books for teens you’ve enjoyed. We’d love to add some slam-dunks to our piles!

-Jen, StorySnoop

12 Books for Teens Adults May Enjoy — Suggestions Welcome!

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

I recently finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn and really loved it. I was completely engrossed from start to finish. I may have loved it a bit too much because I started feeling sorry for myself about the lack of literature written for adults in my must read pile. Being an optimistic person (and since I really have no choice), I realized that there a quite a few books I have read for StorySnoops that I actually would have chosen to read had I not been a writer of children’s book reviews. Here are some of the books we Snoops have read that may be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. Let us know what books for teens you’ve enjoyed. We’d love to add some slam-dunks to our piles!

-Jen, StorySnoop

What StorySnoops and the New York Times Have in Common

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Even though we review a lot of children’s books, in moments of weakness, we sometimes wonder if we get it right.  Will the books that we think are absolutely wonderful actually appeal to their intended audience?  With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to check this week’s New York Times Best Seller list for Young Adult Fiction.  And, lo and behold, the 10 Best Sellers are some of our all-time favorite and most frequently recommended books, both old and new!  So here are this week’s top 10 selling YA books, in order from left to right, starting with #1.  You can click on the covers to get the scoop.  Each one of these titles is an excellent addition to any teen or adult reader’s personal library.  We Snoops adore each and every one.

Happy reading!

- Jen, StorySnoop

Super Scoop — Legend and Prodigy, by Marie Lu

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

The Legend trilogy, by Marie Lu, is my latest dystopian obsession. I recently finished the second installment, Prodigy, which may be even slightly better than the first.

In Legend, two very different fifteen-year-olds have grown up in the Republic, a plague-ridden nation that is unceasingly at war with the Colonies and led by the Elector Primo, who is in his eleventh four-year term as president. At the age of ten, each citizen must take the Trial, a test that determines the path of the rest of their life. June is the only person who has ever received a perfect Trial score and has spent the past five years being trained as an elite military leader. Day failed the test and, rather than face the labor camps, has spent the past five years living on the streets, waging his own private rebellion against the Republic. During a desperate attempt to protect his family from the plague, Day breaks into a hospital lab and June’s older brother Metias is murdered. Now June will stop at nothing to track down the infamous Day and avenge her brother’s death. But when their paths finally cross, the two begin to realize that they are not as different as they once believed. In fact, they may even share a common enemy.

In Prodigy, June and Day, the Republic’s two most wanted fugitives arrive in Vegas in search of the Patriots. This group of rebels is more than happy to repair Day’s injured leg and rescue his brother. But in return, Day and June must help assassinate the new Elector Primo, Anden, who just came into power after the unexpected death of his father. The plan is a good one but lots could go wrong, especially for June, who has to turn herself in and get close to Anden. When she does, she realizes that this new Elector wants to make changes that will actually help the Republic. Now June must decide where her loyalties lie and, ultimately, what is best for her country.

These two books are sure to captivate both teen boys and girls, especially those who are already fans of the dystopian genre. In both cases, chapters alternate between June’s and Day’s perspectives, adding tension to the story. An unlikely team–one a military prodigy and one a fugitive rebel–the two find themselves allied romantically and by their principles. Readers will root for these intelligent, capable, and extremely likable characters as they fight for their beliefs. The combination of action, suspense, and romance give this series broad appeal. It would also be a good choice for tweens who like to “read up” as the content is not overly mature. A surprising revelation at the end of the Prodigy will leave readers eager to get their hands on the final installment in the trilogy, and disappointed that they have a long wait ahead.
Happy reading!
- Jen, StorySnoop

Getting My Reluctant Reader to Read, Plan B

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Who am I kidding? I must be up to Plan G by now. I love my reluctant reader but he is tough. Just when I think I have him well on his way to reading bliss, BAM, we hit another wall. I’ve tried fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, graphic novels, fantasy, adventure, dystopian, bribery — you name it. To be honest, it’s hit or miss. There is no formula for success.

But, I have recently struck upon something that is working — for now — so I had to share. Audio books. Yup. I get an audio book version of something I think my son would like and, for some reason, I don’t get the eye-roll or the wrinkled nose. Instead, he disappears into his man cave of a room every night (WITHOUT BEING ASKED) and listens to his book. Granted, I picked a really good one — a slam dunk — to start with, but now he is actually enjoying “reading.”

So what follows is a list of books I’ve listened to that are particularly engaging for boys, starting with the one that has captured the attention of my fourteen-year-old son, Carter Finally Gets It, by Brent Crawford. These are all terrific stories paired with terrific narrators. Hopefully there is something for everyone — all ages and interests. Click on the book cover to get the details. And please let me know if there are any books I should add to the list. I’m always looking for the next great read (or listen).

Happy reading!

- Jen, StorySnoop

Super Scoop — The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

I seem to have a knack for picking up books that turn out to be the first installment in a series. After spending lots of time reading children’s books, this talent is not something I am particularly happy about.  When a series is good, there is nothing like longing to get your hands on the next book because you can’t wait to find out what happens or reunite with beloved characters. But when a series isn’t so good, well, the next book is often accompanied by dread!

In this case, picking up The Girl of Fire and Thorns was a happy accident because I enjoyed the second installment in the series, The Crown of Embers, even more than the first!

In The Girl of  Fire and Thorns (winner of YALSA’s Top 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults Award), we meet Elisa.  She, as bearer of the godstone, is the one person selected during the century whose destiny is to perform an act of great service. But as the younger of two princesses, Elisa doesn’t feel particularly worthy of her destiny. Her sixteenth birthday is also her wedding day, after which she leaves her home with the handsome young king she has never met to become the queen of his troubled desert country. Elisa may not feel useful, but a group of rebels thinks that, as bearer of the godstone, she could be their salvation.

Picking up where The Girl of Fire and Thorns left off, The Crown of Embers finds Elisa buoyed by her victory over her enemy, but struggling to overcome her inexperience as a ruler. The only way to bring stability to her ailing country is to harness the power of a mysterious magical force called the zafira. But first she must find it. To do so, she’ll have to elude many more enemies, even one from within her own court. She may return to lead as a stronger queen, but not without a price.

This series is a good choice for teen girls who enjoy a mix of fantasy, adventure, and romance. Much of the enjoyment comes from main character Elisa’s transformation. Initially, she has very little confidence, but as the story progresses, she evolves from a pampered princess into a strong, self-sufficient strategist and leader. She is loyal to her friends and family, and strives live up to the honor of the godstone. Elisa’s evolution continues in the second book, where she learns valuable lessons about relying on the power that is already within her and being guided by her own moral compass.

Each of these books also features an endearing love interest.  Romance, combined with an imperfect but likable heroine, a bit of suspense, and royal intrigue make these books a safe bet for teen girls.  And there’s a third book in the trilogy to look forward to.

Happy reading!

-Jen, StorySnoop

The Best of 2012 — Part 1

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

With 2013 just around the corner (already?!?), it’s time to reflect back on another year of reading and select our favorite books. The funny thing about my picks for 2012 is that three of them are sequels to my favorites from 2011. The recipe for success? One strong female character, lots of action, and a dash of romance.

The follow-up to Divergent, Insurgent continues the story of Tris, who lives in a future Chicago where society has been divided into factions in order to extinguish undesirable human traits that lead to a world at war. But on the day of Tris’ initiation into her chosen faction, a coup results in the very thing the establishment of the factions tried to prevent. Tris is a richly complex character who must now decide where her loyalties lie while grappling with unrelenting guilt and grief–emotions that affect both her choices and her relationships. Unlike most in her society, Tris makes use of the lessons that each faction has to offer, rather than focusing on only one faction’s philosophy. If you haven’t read Divergent, I strongly recommend starting there.

Sure to please fans of The Hunger Games, Outpost is the second installment in a post-apocolyptic dystopian trilogy. After spending her entire life training to be a huntress down in the tunnels of the enclave, Deuce is having trouble adjusting to life as a regular girl in the topside town of Salvation. Here, Deuce isn’t considered grown, as she was in the enclave, and life consists of going to school and doing chores with her foster mother. Deuce doesn’t quite know how to fit in and she longs not to waste her true purpose: to defend the community. As she did in the first book, Enclave, Deuce continues to question the authority and intentions of the community’s leaders as well as the expectation that she must conform to traditional gender roles. This series is also best read in order.

Picking up where Blood Red Road left off, Rebel Heart is another engrossing read that will be enjoyed by fans of dystopian fiction as well as those that are new to the genre. It continues the story of Saba, an imperfect but capable and strong-willed female character who will do whatever it takes to find her true love, Jack. Unconcerned with placating others, the eighteen-year-old Saba uses her wits and determination to overcome even the most insurmountable of obstacles. Packed with action and danger, the Dustlands series is also about friendship and love–both romantic and familial. Saba’s irrepressible desire to find Jack tests the boundaries of her family’s loyalty and exposes her own shortcomings. Once again, this book will have more meaning when read after its predecessor.

Bitterblue is an immensely readable and compelling sequel to Graceling and it’s companion book Fire, featuring another strong and likable female character. Eighteen-year-old Bitterblue is queen of Monsea. It isn’t easy for her to lead a kingdom that is recovering from the thirty-five-year reign of her father Leck, a sadistic maniac with the ability to alter people’s perceptions of reality. Stuck in her castle tower signing papers all day, she can’t help but feel removed from the kingdom she is supposed to rule. So Bitterblue begins to sneak out of the castle at night–anonymously–to intermingle with her subjects so that she can learn about their lives and become a more effective queen. On the streets of the city, she discovers that her kingdom is not as peaceful as her closest advisors have led her to believe after she befriends a group of people trying to expose the truth about what happened during Leck’s reign and set things right. When her friends become the target of those who intend to silence the truth, Bitterblue decides that she cannot rest until she understands exactly what Leck did that left her kingdom so damaged. Only then can she help her kingdom heal from the truth of those atrocities. While it is not necessary to read Graceling or Fire first, readers who do will have a greater appreciation of Bitterblue‘s characters and storyline.

2012 was an excellent year for strong female characters. I’m looking forward to following some of their stories in 2013, and hopefully meeting a few more.

Happy reading and Happy New Year!

-Jen, StorySnoop

12 Books for Teens Adults May Enjoy — Suggestions Welcome!

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

I recently finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn and really loved it. I was completely engrossed from start to finish. I may have loved it a bit too much because I started feeling sorry for myself about the lack of literature written for adults in my must read pile. Being an optimistic person (and since I really have no choice), I realized that there a quite a few books I have read for StorySnoops that I actually would have chosen to read had I not been a writer of children’s book reviews. Here are some of the books we Snoops have read that may be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. Let us know what books for teens you’ve enjoyed. We’d love to add some slam-dunks to our piles!

-Jen, StorySnoop

Six Survival Stories

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Although StorySnoops is based in California, my thoughts are with all of those who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Sometimes it takes children a little while to process their feelings after a traumatic event. And some sensitive souls who are not even directly affected can experience anxiety just imagining what could have been. With these kids in mind, here are six books in which characters triumph during natural disasters or other life-threatening situations. You never know, these survival stories may provide some comfort to those who now have survival stories of their own.

Good luck.

-Jen, StorySnoop

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Most likely, you’re already aware that October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  This is an important annual event that helps raise awareness of bullying prevention across the country.  The event was created by PACER in 2006 to encourage people to take an active role in the bullying prevention movement.

Simlilarly, on October 19th, millions of people wore purple for Spirit Day to speak out against bullying and show support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths. Spirit Day was started in 2010 to promote tolerance after LGBT youths took their own lives.

Those who are targets of bullying and intolerant behavior can truly suffer, and sometimes it can be difficult for a child or teen to vocalize their experiences and feelings. We have compiled a list of books in the hope that the right book in the right hands may spark a conversation or help a reader feel like they are not alone. The first group of books have strong anti-bullying messages and the second group feature LGBT characters and messages about acceptance. Click on the book covers to get the full scoop. And let us know if we should add any other books to these important lists. We’d love to hear from you!

Anti-bullying Books

LGBT Books:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post