The Broken Vow (Spill Zone #2) by Scott Westerfeld

Boy was I excited when I found that #2 had come out and was immediately available for me to read. Unfortunately, though I remembered that I’d loved the first one, I couldn’t really seem to remember too much of it. And I counted on it just coming back to me as I read and it didn’t. Honestly I was pretty perplexed by everything and not caught up in the story at all. A lot of it just didn’t make sense (logically) to me.  However, I really enjoyed the ending/epilogue. Which I guess means I’ll like book #3 better than book #2?

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Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant

This is part of my school collection and I wanted to give it a read to see what it was all about and who it would be good to recommend it to. I think for my 4th and 5th graders it may be a tiny bit mature–I think 6th grade would be a more ideal audience. But that stuff aside, I thought this was a lovely book. Written in free verse that is mostly more like short text so it all just flows very quickly, this was a fairly quick read. Georgia is a talented artist who lives with her dad. Her mother died very quickly 3 years ago and since then they’ve been shut off from any family. Georgia’s friendship with Tiffany, a girl who is everything Georgia is not (rich, athletic, popular, etc.) is a really nice solid center of the story. When Tiffany begins to not act like herself Georgia is worried but, realistically, not sure what to do when she realizes that Tiffany is taking pills to handle her busy schedule. (They are in 7th grade.) The other main part of the story is Georgia’s development of her artistic skill, which she inherited from her mother and thus, she feels she has to hide from dad. An anonymous gift of a membership to an art museum provides inspiration, reflection, and artistic growth for Georgia. I really liked the parts of the book where she observes and thinks about the Wythe paintings. I also liked the commentary about artists being observers. A solid thoughtful story.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

I loved this until I got to the last page. WTF, Maureen Johnson? Why is this “to be continued”?  This was a super exciting classic mystery with nods to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, with flashbacks to a crime in the 1930s meshed with a present day situation in the same location, which happens to be an eccentric and elite boarding school for brilliant teens. I mean, it’s great right? Not unlike Johnson’s Jack the Ripper boarding school awesome story. But things were rolling right along with a good level of excitement and tension, everything about to be solved when… the end. Seriously, this book could have just used 20 more pages to finish everything up and I would have given it 5 stars. Instead it’s being strung out into a trilogy, which is ridiculous. As you can tell I became quite enraged at the end.

Never Say Die (Alex Rider #11) by Anthony Horowitz

I have a Lot to Say about this book. First, let’s refresh our memories with my reaction to Alex Rider #10, the conclusion to the Alex Rider series. I read that finale when it came out in June 2011 and loved it. Here’s what I had to say. Since that time almost seven years ago I’ve often mentioned that book (“The Final Mission”) as a great example of a series ending. I loved it. It had all the things we liked about the series, it had callbacks, it had drama, and it made some dramatic but very successful choices. It had closure. It went out with a bang.   Then last week I was poking around in Titlewave and saw…Alex Rider #11. What? At first I thought it was another title like the sort of spinoff he wrote about Gregorovich. But nope. It appeared that Alex Rider was back in a new mission. I had a lot of Feelings about this, but had to get my hands on it. And had to read it.  See, here’s the thing. If you finish off a series, why, years later would you say “oops, no, not over, let’s keep going.”? I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Did fans clamor for more? Did Horowitz try to write other stories but just couldn’t? Did his publisher say “we need money and these books are successful so please just write another?” And here’s the thing…I loved this one. It was fun, filled with adventure, it was just like a Mission Impossible movie on the page. But I feel like it’s very existence negates book #10 (which I really admired the author’s choices in that one.) It makes much of it seem insincere. It definitely doesn’t feel like this was the plan all along. It feels like a character in a season premiere saying “oh, it was all a dream!” (I’d make a “Who killed JR?” reference, but will you get it?) I feel a bit betrayed by the author. And yet, I know that I will read #12 because I think these books are a lot of fun to read, they are totally preposterous, and I enjoy them very much. (For the record, I think the Stormbreaker movie is a terrific family movie and wish they’d make another one!)

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious

I didn’t even know a second volume of this was out until I saw it on display at the library! I’m not doing a great job of keeping up with sequels lately. I  really enjoyed the first one so dove right into this as soon as I got it. The same humor and same Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl. As before my favorite parts, like the candy of the book, were the pages of group text between her and the Avengers (no group texts please, asks Black Widow immediately.)  These cameos by Iron Man, Captain America, etc are hilarious. Oh! and Thor. Everything with Thor.

Once again Squirrel Girl and her hearing impaired bestie Ana Sofia are figuring out a Hydra plot when everyone else is oblivious. The mood here is high campiness and amusing commentary about social media manipulation and commercialism and a whole bunch of other stuff made hilarious.

I liked this one just as much as the first and one thing I noticed in here that makes me think of  Hale’s wonderful graphic novel Real Friends, were the bits about Ana Sofia and Doreen trying to figure out how to be good friends (new territory for both of them.)

A real treat.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

I was really looking forward to reading this and it did not disappoint. I pre-ordered it so we got it the day it was published and Tabby finished it by dinner time. I tried to make it last a little longer for myself.
There was a lot of humor here, but it really was pretty sad (to me). Poor Vera was at a camp she hated, she had trouble fitting in, longed for a friendship and nothing seemed to go right. I was fascinated by the aspects of it being a Russian camp. It seemed like a pretty tough camp, too-no running water?! Boys against girls getting to come up with crazy tasks for the losers?
A great book for fans of Real Friends, Smile, Sunny Side Up.

The ending makes me hopeful that she will write a second book based on her life.
(Don’t forget to read the author’s note at the end!)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I’m glad I finally read this (recommended to me quite a while ago, checked out, returned unread, finally read this time) because it was a delightful and sunny and somewhat different YA romance.  Dimple heads off to an awesome summer program at a San Francisco university with the hopes of developing an app and getting a head start on college in the fall. Rishi heads off to the same place knowing Dimple will be there and that their parents would like them to meet. Rishi is extremely respectful of his heritage and parents. Dimple might be, too, but she has her eyes on a bright academic future and career and is not looking for an arranged marriage. There’s quite a meet cute and surprise! they really are perfect for each other.

I enjoyed this very much, the ups and down and back forth point of view. As usual I couldn’t but think that every single character in a YA novel is always SO smart and successful and talented and if I was a teenager I’d want to punch these characters.  Metaphorically, of course.  One of the things I also liked about the book was that it is set after high school, with older teens who are focused on thinking of the next step.