Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Don't Even Think About it by Sarah Mylnowski

They went by homeroom to get their flu shots just like everyone else in the school.  But the students in this class got something more in their shot.  Each of them develops telepathic powers and can hear what anyone nearby is thinking.  Cool, right?  Maybe, when you realize that you can get an A on a test just by sitting near the smartest kid in class and reading the answers out of his brain.  But maybe not so much when you're trying to hide the fact that you've been cheating on your perfect boyfriend or when you find out that one of your teachers used to be a stripper.  Now there are some strangers in the school who are trying to find out if anyone has any unusual powers and although most of the class would like to get rid of their mind-reading ability, they don't know if they can trust these people. 

This is a fun read but some parts were a little long for me and there were definitely too many characters to keep track of!  Once I finally got all of them figured out the book flowed better but I had to do quite a bit of re-reading until then.  As with most books, I would've been happier to have this be a single stand alone title rather than the opening to a series.  

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

When Zita pushes a big red button on a strange device her best friend Joseph is sucked into a portal to another planet.  Feeling responsible, Zita follows and finds herself working with an ever-increasing number of aliens to track down her friend.  The aliens are great and funny and the story is captivating and easy to follow, unlike a number of other graphic novels I've read.  And don't forget that the main character is a spunky girl, another plus.  A huge thumbs up from me for Zita!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon Flake

Octobia May lives with her auntie who allows her more freedom than her parents did after Octobia almost died.  She is always causing mischief and has become convinced that the boarder upstairs is actually a vampire who is attacking others in the house.  Octobia May is determined to prove her theory right and she finds some compelling evidence that he is, indeed, up to no good even if he isn't a creature of the night. 
Octobia May is a great heroine - full of spunk, intelligence and unwilling to do much of anything she is told to do.  As much as I liked Octobia, I liked her aunt even more.  Her auntie is strong and independent, full of dreams she wants to pursue at a time when women didn't do that, especially black women.  The scene at the bank was heartbreaking because I wanted her to get the money she needed but knew that she shouldn't sign any papers with those two nasty men!  But while I enjoyed the characters and the bones of the story, I was very disappointed with the choppiness of the writing.  There were lots of times when I wasn't sure how Octobia May had arrived at her conclusion because there hadn't been enough background given.  I am usually a huge fan of Sharon Flake and love to "sell" her books to my students who are also big fans, but the writing in this title would make me hesitate unsure about recommending it to any students.  I'm hoping that the problems are simply because this is in galley form and that it will flow better in final published form.

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey

Millie is the star reporter for her school newspaper and she gets the scoop of a lifetime when she discovers the body of the football coach.  The coach was disliked by everyone so there is no end to the list of possible suspects, including Millie's father who was the disgruntled assistant coach.  Millie ends up working with cute, mysterious Chase who seems to have a lot of secrets of his own.  As they investigate, Millie learns that there was more to the coach than meets the eye and that almost anyone can be a killer in disguise.

Millie is a fun character and Chase is appropriately hiding a secret that makes him even more appealing.  The story overall is light but good enough for a quick read.  It is just a little mature in some of the comments that are made so it's a bit more high school-ish than middle, but not too far off the mark.