Book & Audio Review: Flunked!

It’s time for another audio book review!  If you like fairy tales, a little bit of villainy, and a dose of magic…Flunked is a book you should like!

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Flunkedflunked
By Jen Calonita, Narrated by Kristin Condon
5 CDs, 5.25 Hours

Gilly isn’t a bad kid, but she is a thief.  It’s not like she has a real choice…she has five brothers and sisters and lives in a boot.  True, her father is a master cobbler, but there’s no longer a demand in the kingdom for shoes made by hand.  Magic slippers are all the rage.   So Gilly HAS to steal…her thievery provides extra food to keep her siblings fed and healthy.  And if she steals something special for a birthday gift here and there…well, it’s not like the stuck up royals will even notice that something is gone.  They’ll just replace it, right?

But when Gilly steals from the wrong royal, in the wrong shop, she’s found out.  And since it’s her third offense, she’s sentenced to Fairy Tale Reform School by Headmistress Flora, formerly the Evil Stepmother.  Princess Ella even signed the order.   There’s nothing Gilly or her siblings or even her parents can do about it.

But Fairy Tale Reform School — FTRS for short — isn’t anything like Gilly expected.  Sure, their mission is “To turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes”, and Gilly expects to be stuck in a dungeon and fed bread and water while being lectured about being good.  But there is no dungeon (for the students anyway) and instead of being stuffed in the toe of a boot with all five siblings, Gilly has a spacious room with only one roommate, delicious and plentiful food, and classes on everything from magic to history to sports.

Of  course, Gilly doesn’t like following rules, even if they do kind of make sense.  And she wants to go home to take care of her siblings; even the promise that they can visit her doesn’t make things much better.  She does start making some friends though, and as they pool their information together about what they know about the school and how they might escape, they discover a mystery.  Who is trying to sabotage the school?   Are their lives in danger?  Gilly and her new friends Jax, Kayla and Maxine may be reluctant students of FTRS, but they will have to put their heads together and use all the somewhat illegal skills they have to get to the bottom of this mystery.

flunked trilogyThe audio recording of Flunked was  quite charming.  (heh!)   Flunked is a first-person story, so everything is relayed through Gilly.  The narrator has the perfect voice for Gilly…young, a little bit inquisitive, scrappy…and reluctantly impressed with her new surroundings.  Her voice for other characters, seen through Gilly’s eyes, are varied by accent, pacing and attitude.   Letters from Gilly to her family, notes from teachers and The Happily Ever After Scrolls–updates on the action at the school, as reported by a nosy reporter for FairyWeb- enhance the story and give an outside view of the action.

Flunked is the first of the Fairy Tale Reform School trilogy, followed by Charmed and Tricked.  I would recommend the series for kids who like an off-beat take on fairy tales, an anti-hero heroine, or just an entertaining read.  Fourth through seventh grade readers would enjoy the book, while the audio would probably work with second grade and through adults.

Some read alikes include Sarah Mlynowski’s Whatever After series, Shannon Hale’s Ever After High series, Soman Chainani’s School for Good and Evil series, and Suzanne Selfor’s Ever After High series (apparently a popular series title!)

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So pick up book, or the whole series, and enjoy!  If you like it, let us know!

As always, if you need help finding books or audio books to read, ask one of our librarians.  We’re always happy to help!

::Kelly::

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Another Quick Audio Review!

Looking for a new audio book to listen to in your car or on the go?  Look no further!

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Stink No Surrender
By Carl Hiaasen, Read by Kirby Heyborne
7 CDs — 7 hours, 50 minutes

skink no surrender bookRichard has always been best friends with his cousin Malley.  She’s kind of a wild child, but she always tells Richard what she’s up to.  When he returns from the beach where he was supposed to meet Malley, her  parents tell him that she’s left for school and has only left him a voicemail message, Richard is suspicious.  Everyone knew that Malley was extremely unhappy about being shipped off to boarding school in New Hampshire.  So Richard starts to snoop around, and realizes that Malley hasn’t gone to school, she’s run off to meet someone she met online.

Richard is worried, but he doesn’t want to get Malley in trouble.  Before he learned of Malley’s disappearance, he had met a stranger on the beach.  A stranger who seemed determined to rescue endangered turtles and who had a stubborn sense of fairness. Richard had been intrigued, and spent some time  investigating the man’s background.  Skink, aside from the being listed as dead, is a former governor of Florida who has a reputation for relishing working for a cause, and being on the side of justice. And he has a local detective who vouches for him.  So when Richard needs advice, Skink seemed like a good source of information.

With no preparation and an alarming phone call from Malley, Richard and Skink set off to rescue his cousin. Florida is full of dangerous creatures, crazy weather, and outrageous people, but somewhere out there is Malley.  And they’re going to find her, no matter what it takes.

skink no surrender audioI really enjoyed the narrator of Skink No Surrender.  He was able to change his voice for every character, and keep you right on the edge of your seat.  Skink especially is a character, and his booming voice is fun to hear.  This audio has everything I look for in something to keep me listening.

Skink No Surrender bridges the gap between Hiaasen’s  teen books and his adult books; in fact, Skink is a character that appears in many of Hiaasen’s adult novels.  Because of the situation with Malley that sets off Richard’s and Skink’s rescue mission, this book is most appropriate for high school students.  The details of Malley’s time with her kidnapper aren’t detailed, but it’s obvious that she doesn’t want to be with him.  So I wouldn’t recommend this title for elementary students, or sensitive middle school students.  With that said, it’s a very enjoyable read–whether it’s the print or the audio version.

 

 

 

Holiday Books for Teens, 2016 edition!

Gift Books for Teens
Holiday Season 2016

Realistic Fiction

absolutely-true-part-time-indian  memory-book  fault-in-our-stars ill-give-you-the-sun
holding-up-the-universe eleanor-and-park sun-is-also-a-star

The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian  Sherman Alexie

The Memory Book  Lara Avery

The Fault  in Our Stars   John Green

I’ll Give You the Sun Jandi Nelson

Holding Up the Universe  Jennifer Niven

Eleanor and Park  Rainbow Rowell

The Bitter Side of Sweet  Tara Sullivan

The Sun is Also a Star  Nicola Yoon

Fantasy and Science Fiction

forgetting  maze-runner  girl-from-everywhere  i-am-number-four
heartless  tales-of-the-peculiar raven-boys serpent-king

The Forgetting  Sharon Cameron

The Maze Runner  James Dashner

The Girl From Everywhere  Heidi Heilig

I am Number Four  Pittacus Lore

Heartless  Marissa Meyer

Tales of the Peculiar  Ransom Riggs

The Raven Boys  Maggie Stiefvater

The Serpent King  Jeff Zentner

Historical Fiction

fever-1793 passion-of-dolssa revolution black-duck under-the-blood-red-sun
anna-and-the-swallow-man  salt-to-the-sea hired-girl code-name-verity

Fever 1793  Laura Halse Anderson

The Passion of Dolssa  Julie Berry

Revolution  Jennifer Donnelly

Black Duck  Janet Taylor Lisle

Under the Blood Red Sun Grahame Salisbury

Anna and the Swallow Man  Gavriel Savit

Salt to the Sea  Ruth Sepetys

The Hired Girl  Laura Amy Schlitz

Code Name Verity  Elizabeth Wein

Mystery and Adventure

stormbreaker alabama-moon we-were-liars mystery-of-hollow-places
westing-game jackaby peak wolf-hollow

Stormbreaker  Anthony Horowitz

Alabama Moon  Watt Key

We Were Liars  E. Lockhart

The Mystery of Hollow Places  Rebecca Podos

The Westing Game  Ellen Raskin

Jackaby  William Ritter

Peak  Roland Smith

Wolf Hollow  Lauren Wolk

If you would like to read any of these books from our Library, just go to the Minuteman Catalog and enter the title and author to see if a book is available or to request it.

Weston Public Library
December 2016

Open Book: January 15, 2016

OPEN BOOK: AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER FOR TEENS from the Weston Public Library

Open Book is an email newsletter of book recommendations for teens. It is sent once a month and includes book excerpts in six teen fiction categories (realistic fiction, historical fiction, action/ adventure/fantasy/science fiction, romance, the buzz: middle school, and the buzz: high school). If you wish to subscribe to Open Book, please email smitchill@minlib.net or sign up in person at the Youth Services desk at the Library. Open Book email newsletters are also archived here on our blog.

Here are the picks for this week…

Don’t forget to click on the title to be connected to our catalog where you can

Request the book

Read reviews of the book from multiple sources

1 23

 

 

 

 

45 6

 

 

 

 

Realistic Fiction

Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

When Evan’s father dies suddenly, he finds the book his father had been reading, a diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a Pacific Island during World War II. There was also an American soldier stranded there.

Read an excerpt

Historical Fiction / Nonfiction

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans graphic novel by Don Brown

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage — and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality. Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

Read an excerpt

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship’s artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all.

Read an excerpt

Romance

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized. When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

Read an excerpt

Listen to an interview with the author on WBUR

Buzz: Middle School

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle

In this poetic memoir Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War. Her heart was in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lived in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupted at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Engle’s worlds collided in the worst way possible. Would she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?

Read an excerpt

Buzz:  High School

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

A teenage boy struggles with schizophrenia.

Read an excerpt

 

Open Book: November 20, 2015

OPEN BOOK: AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER FOR TEENS from the Weston Public Library

Open Book is an email newsletter of book recommendations for teens. It is sent once a month and includes book excerpts in six teen fiction categories (realistic fiction, historical fiction, action/ adventure/fantasy/science fiction, romance, the buzz: middle school, and the buzz: high school). If you wish to subscribe to Open Book, please email smitchill@minlib.net or sign up in person at the Youth Services desk at the Library. Open Book email newsletters are also archived here on our blog.

Here are the picks for this week…

Don’t forget to click on the title to be connected to our catalog where you can

Request the book

Read reviews of the book from multiple sources

123456

 

 

Realistic Fiction

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself–because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of–a woman with a future.

Read an excerpt


Historical Fiction / Nonfiction

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

The story of Daniel Ellsberg and his decision to steal and publish secret documents about America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Read an excerpt


Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction–if they don’t kill each other first.

Read an excerpt

Romance

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

When she falls for a boy who moves to California without any warning, sixteen-year-old Eva and her best friend, Annie, set off on a road trip to the West Coast to see him again, confronting the complex truth about love along the way.

Read an excerpt, read the reviews and listen to an author interview

Buzz: Middle School

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer

Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and truant officers.

One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands years.

The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus’s memory. But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents. . .  .

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die.

Read an excerpt and watch the book trailer

Buzz:  High School

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson

An account of the Siege of Leningrad reveals the role played by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony in rallying and commemorating their fellow citizens.

Read an excerpt and read the WBUR story

Open Book: June 26, 2015

OPEN BOOK: AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER FOR TEENS from the Weston Public Library

Open Book is an email newsletter of book recommendations for teens. It is sent once a month and includes book excerpts in six teen fiction categories (realistic fiction, historical fiction, action/ adventure/fantasy/science fiction, romance, the buzz: middle school, and the buzz: high school). If you wish to subscribe to Open Book, please email smitchill@minlib.net or sign up in person at the Youth Services desk at the Library. Open Book email newsletters are also archived here on our blog.

Here are the picks for this week…

Don’t forget to click on the title to be connected to our catalog where you can

Request the book

Read reviews of the book from multiple sources

Saint Anything  Boys Who Challenged Hitler   Mosquitoland   Every Last Word   I Will Always Write Back   Go Set a Watchman

Realistic Fiction

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Sydney’s charismatic older brother Peyton has always been the center of attention in the family, but when he’s sent to jail, Sydney struggles to find her place at home and the world until she meets the Chathams, including gentle, protective Mac, who makes her feel seen for the first time.

Read an excerpt


Historical Fiction / Nonfiction

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pederson and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose

At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation’s leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys‘ exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phil Hoose’s inspiring story of these young war heroes

Read an excerpt


Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from Mississippi that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Read an excerpt


Romance

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Read an excerpt


Buzz: Middle School

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda met as pen pals in 1997 and are still best friends today.

NY Times Review
Read an excerpt


Buzz:  High School

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

 

Read an excerpt from To Kill a Mockingbird

Go Set a Watchman comes out on July 14.  Request a copy today!

OPEN BOOK: April 17, 2015

OPEN BOOK: AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER FOR TEENS from the Weston Public Library

Open Book is an email newsletter of book recommendations for teens. It is sent once a month and includes book excerpts in six teen fiction categories (realistic fiction, historical fiction, action/ adventure/fantasy/science fiction, romance, the buzz: middle school, and the buzz: high school). If you wish to subscribe to Open Book, please email smitchill@minlib.net or sign up in person at the Youth Services desk at the Library. Open Book email newsletters are also archived here on our blog.

Here are the picks for this week…

Don’t forget to click on the title to be connected to our catalog where you can

Request the book

Read reviews of the book from multiple sources

1   3    2

6   4   5

Realistic Fiction

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

In India, a girl who excels at Bharatanatyam dance refuses to give up after losing a leg in an accident.

Read an excerpt

Historical Fiction / Nonfiction

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew into the Russian Revolution. Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants and urban workers–and their eventual uprising–Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life.

Read an excerpt
Watch the book trailer

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

The lives of four high school seniors intersect weeks before a meteor is set to pass through Earth’s orbit, with a 66.6% chance of striking and destroying all life on the planet.

Read an excerpt

Romance

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit–everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled–but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance–with family, with friends, and with love.

Read an excerpt

Watch the author talk about the book

Buzz: Middle School

Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

When his younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia, thirteen-year-old Steven tries to deal with his complicated emotions, his school life, and his desire to support his family.

Read an excerpt

Buzz:  High School

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury

Zenji Watanabe, seventeen, is sent from Hawaii to the Philippines to spy on the Japanese during World War II and, after he is captured and tortured, must find a way to survive months of being lost in the jungle behind enemy lines.

Read an excerpt