Radioactive Love Song

October 4, 2008 at 8:41 pm (Teen) (, , , , )

I have just read a special BEA preview of Sherman Alexie’s next book, Radioactive Love Song, due out next spring, and I am very happy. Which is a bit odd, I suppose, because the excerpt – which ends with the fifth chapter – is not exactly cheerful. It is about thirty pages of narrated unrequited love. And I can certainly speak from personal experience, there is nothing happy about unrequited love. But Alexie is clever and sensitive and dang interesting, so I somehow got through the thirty pages so pleased to know the main character that his own troubles faded in significance against the happiness of meeting him. I am also delighted to announce that this is one of the only children’s/teen’s books I’ve come across in which the main character has a fabulous mother! There are plenty of dead mother stories littering the shelves of young readers – even one entitled One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. But this one-of-a-kind book gives us at least thirty pages of a well-mothered character, who manages to be interesting and insightful despite the interference of parentage. Bravo Sherman Alexie. You are unique among authors.

Review by Molly Lewis

Buy other Sherman Alexie titles here!


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Fortune’s Magic Farm

September 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm (Fantasy, Middle Reader) (, , , )

Book Review of Fortune’s Magic Farm, by Suzanne Selfors
Reviewed by Amelia H. age 9, Long Beach, California
Suzanne Selfors wrote the book called Fortune’s Magic Farm. The main character is a girl named Isabelle. This book is about Isabelle discovering she could be the last surviving “tender” or grower of magic.
In the beginning, Isabelle is an orphan with a boring, awful life, then she is taken to a place where she has a family and where magic grows from seeds. I enjoyed this book because it has funny, made up things, like imaginary plants and animals. I also liked that the book has magic in it because I like books about magic, especially when the kids use it in their everyday life and don’t even realize it’s magic.
I like Isabelle’s character because she is really brave. My favorite part was when Isabelle’s hair turned green. That was funny because no one’s hair can really be green. I recommend this book because it teaches you to believe that anything is possible if you try hard and believe

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The Graveyard Book

August 5, 2008 at 9:44 pm (Fantasy, Horror, Teen) (, , , )

Review by Molly Lewis

Neil Gaiman’s newest novel The Graveyard Book is coming out this September, and I think we should throw a party. I am not sure if I’ve ever read anyone as boldly imaginative as Neil Gaiman. And when I say bold, I mean stand-in-front-of traffic-and-wave-your-arms bold. Except not as stupid.

Maybe I should start over. Neil Gaiman has written several novels that have been received with wide acclaim from young and old readers alike. His children’s novel, Coraline, had me shivering in my seat with spine-tingling fear – the most delightfully enchanted fear I have ever felt. (Perhaps the only enchanted fear I have ever felt.) He co-wrote the screenplay for Beowulf (2007), introducing a startling perspective on the ancient hero with intelligence and sympathy. His novel Stardust was hilarious and riveting and curious and new and old. As was the film, which he also wrote. Everything I have read or seen of his has been a brilliant fusion of novelty and familiarity. His is the stuff of fireside tales on cold winter nights, legends laughingly told in a pub, anecdotes that cause conversations to come to a standstill.

And The Graveyard Book is no exception. It is, in fact, just what we would expect from him – something entirely new. It is the story of Nobody Owens, a young boy who grows up in a graveyard, the adopted son of a happily dead couple from the 17th century, and the godson of the resident vampire. His school lessons consist of haunting, fading, and guarding against ghouls. The local witch (dead and buried some four hundred years before) just might have a crush on him. But he is alive. Very much alive. And someone, for some reason, doesn’t want to keep him that way.

After reading this book, you might find yourself preferring cemeteries to playgrounds. You will wish your teachers were werewolves. Shadows and shades, ghost stories and ghouls, will seem rather… fun. If you ever thought there was a limit to the powers of fiction, ideas too unrealistic, premises too unlikely, you will find yourself happily humbled. Gaiman has broken all the boundaries between real life and ever other-world – and we are pleased to be so easily convinced, to find our disbelief so quickly and joyfully suspended.

Pre-order it here

Visit Neil Gaimans website

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Hunger Games

July 16, 2008 at 1:10 am (Science Fiction, Teen) (, , )

 Release date – October 2008

Buy it here

Review by Elizabeth Simmons

Title: The future is Retrograde.



Hunger Games is a futuristic novel with a cool retrograde twist.  Rather than being a space odyssey full of overused science fiction clichés such as evil aliens, intergalactic technology, and characters whose names one can never pronounce.


Some time in the not so near future, all that is left after the fall of the United States is a small nation called Panem.  It has twelve districts that function like small rural towns.  Its citizens are peaceful. Crime and violent behavior do not exist in their daily lives.  Only on TV can Panemindians experience violence. Controlled by a big brother type of government known as The Capitol, reminiscent of 1984, they are obligated to watch the “Games.”


Each household is required to have a television set.  There is only one channel, and it broadcasts The Games repeatedly.  Nothing else is reported on the air. 


The Games itself is a reality TV series. It takes places annually and each district must select one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 to 18 to represent them in a live fight. It’s a blood bath with children thrown into the wilderness forced to battle it out with each other. More gruesome then any UFC fight currently on TV, and there can only be one survivor.


One of things I found interesting about the concept of the book is that the culture of Pandem is far less technologically advanced then ours. With exception of the aforementioned television set, and one train that runs through the districts.


The people of Panem are a tribal hunter society that is clearly a regression. In this respect it resembles Ayn Rand’s Anthem.  In terms of theme it attempts to emulate the power of Rand as well. Hunger Games deals with a multitude of issues, among them violence versus compassion. Remember this is about children killing each other.


In the aspect of the promotion of the Games by the government media it also resembles THX1138. It continues in the tradition of futuristic novels that deal with issues reflecting our own times.


Told powerfully from the first person point of view of sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen, Suzanne Collins gracefully carves out a strong female protagonist.


Katniss is faced with the challenge of saving herself and a boy named Peeta, while fending off boys and girls from other districts who are dead set on murdering them.


Artemis Fowl and Red Jericho fans will love the fast ward action pace of the book because there’s never a dull moment. Plus, one can easily become emotionally attached to Katniss, and the decisions she has to make in order to survive as she evolves as a unique tribal emissary and becomes the custodian of her district’s future, as well as the emblem of its humanity.


Buy it here

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