Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading

The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading
Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance
2009; Simon Pulse; ISBN 978-1-4169-7834-3 (paperback)

Summary: Becoming part of the cheerleading squad is the last thing that Bethany expected. Both Bethany and Moni, her best friend and fellow new cheerleader, are geek girls. That makes them invisible in the high school hierarchy. But now that they're cheerleaders, being invisible is not in the cards. Maybe that's a good thing, since Bethany now has the attention of her crush, jock Jack Paulsen. Yet it won't be all smooth sailing, thanks to friends and enemies alike. Will Bethany prove that you can be a geek and a cheerleader?

A heartwarming twist on the high school culture clash, The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading is an engaging read. A step up from many fluffy YA novels, authors Tahmaseb and Vance give their characters real dimension and warmth. The stereotypical head mean girl, selfish senior player, and driven geek all posses greater depth in this novel. The plot unfolds slowly but steadily, giving plenty of time for character development, romance, and dashes of sports action. It's an easy read with a lot of heart--what could be better? Pair this with I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader by Kieran Scott or the Queen Geek series by Laura Preble.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: Escape Under the Forever Sky

Escape Under the Forever Sky
Eve Yohalem
2009; Chronicle Books; ISBN 978-0-8118-6653-8 (hardcover)

Summary: Lucy thought that moving to Ethiopia with her mother, the new U.S. ambassador, would be the start of an amazing adventure. Instead, her mother keeps her shut inside, saying it's not safe to go to the market or explore Ethiopia's wildlife parks. Thirteen-year-old Lucy quickly gets bored with only seeing her friends at school and reading about lions and hyenas. But when she is kidnapped, Lucy will take everything she knows in order to escape and survive.

An intriguing look at an American girl in a foreign land, Escape Under the Forever Sky shows the tension between freedom and safety. Lucy wants to be able to move freely and be self-reliant, yet at the same time she doesn't have yet the ability to trust her instincts and get out of a dangerous situation. Her kidnapping lets her see her mother's point of view, while proving that Lucy does have the skills to protect herself. This story of survival and family dynamics would be enjoyed by readers of Gary Paulsen.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Review: After Ever After

After Ever After
Jordan Sonnenblick
2010; Scholastic Press; ISBN 978-0-439-83706-4 (hardcover)

Summary: Jeffrey may be in remission, but that doesn't mean that cancer isn't still affecting him. The chemo drugs he took as a little kid gave him a limp and problems concentrating. Now that he's starting eighth grade, those problems get complicated with his crush on beautiful new girl Lindsey. At least Jeff has his best friend and fellow cancer survivor Tad to help him pass math. Jeff has to lean on Tad and Lindsey, since his hero of a big brother quit college, went to Africa, and spends all his time learning new drumming rhythms. As the test that could make or break his future looms, Jeff draws upon his friends, his family, and most of all himself.

A moving story of what happens after remission is achieved, After Ever After continues the story of Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. This time, the story is from Jeffrey's POV, which shows how cancer impacts not just the victim. But more than a story about cancer, After Ever After is a coming-of-age tale, showing one boy's journey towards his future. Pair this with A Summer to Die for another perspective on siblings and cancer.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Review: Hex Hall

Hex Hall
Rachel Hawkins
2010; Disney/Hyperion; ISBN 978-1-4231-2130-5 (hardcover)

Summary: At thirteen, Sophie learned she was a witch. Three years later, after a love spell for someone else went very wrong, Sophie is sent to Hecate Hall, aka Hex Hall, a boarding school for misbehaving Prodigium. Amongst witches, faeries and shapeshifters, Sophie doesn't feel like she fits in. Add in that her roommate is the school's only vampire and she doesn't want to join the popular girls' coven and Sophie has her hands full. It doesn't help that she's got a crush on the school's BMOC and there's a ghost who's always following her. But when girls start getting attacked, and Sophie's roommate is fingered as the criminal, Sophie sets out to clear her friend's name. One thing's for certain: it's a good thing Sophie's got magic.

An enjoyable, lively read, Hex Hall juggles several plots with ease. There's Sophie's crush on Archer, the popular warlock who dates head Mean Girl Elodie. There's Sophie's struggle to learn magic and navigate through a new society. And there's the mystery of who is preying on the school's students. It all adds up to a novel that keeps the story moving. Sophie is likable and engaging, and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for the next book in this series. Teens who enjoyed the Bard Academy series or the Gemma Doyle trilogy will snap up Hex Hall.