Friday, February 17, 2017
June Cleaver's ratings: Language G; Violence PG; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse PG; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (religious extremism and warfare) PG; overall rating PG.
Liz's comments: It's a rare middle school kid who would pick this one up and make it through to the end. Buy it if you have kids interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and its impact on the region.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
June Cleaver's ratings: Language G; Violence G; Sexual content PG; Nudity G; Substance abuse G; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (anxiety disorder, parental addiction, being in foster care) PG-13; overall rating PG.
Liz's comments: Kasie West is a reliable writer of romance novels clean enough even for 6th graders--proof that you don't have to have smut to tell a satisfying story about boys, girls, and high school romance. Hand this one to any MS readers looking for love!
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
June Cleaver's ratings: Language G; Violence PG; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse PG; Magic & the occult PG; GLBT content G; adult themes (being orphaned, social class rivalries, bullying) PG; overall rating PG.
Liz's comments: I thought this was very good at the end, but it seemed to take a long time to get going. The world building was confusing--probably because I haven't read the Looking Glass Wars series--but you can't count on everyone who picks up this story to have read that one. Sci-fi fans will hopefully be able to get past the top hats used as weaponry and come to enjoy Hatter as a character.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG; Violence PG; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse PG; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (questioning the existence of God; parental illness) PG; overall rating PG.
Liz's comments: I loved this story! Joel is a laugh-out-loud narrator, and his near-escapes with girls, goyim, and God keep him in perpetual hot water. Great for anyone who doesn't mind learning a little more about Jewish culture without coming away feeling depressed, and worthy of hand-selling to kids who are looking for a funny story. The cover is fitting, but weird--don't let kids walk because of that.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG; Violence PG; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse PG; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (inability to talk about feelings; lying) PG; overall rating PG.
Liz's comments: Here's a cute story about a girl learning to stand up for herself. All the patron saint listing may be a little puzzling for non-Catholics, but there's enough explanation that even the uninitiated can figure things out. Good for grades 4-7.
Monday, February 6, 2017
June Cleaver's ratings: Language R; Violence PG; Sexual content R; Nudity PG-13; Substance abuse R; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content PG; adult themes (parental abandonment, teen sex, many instances of underage drinking) R; overall rating R.
Liz's comments: Explicit language and on-page sex--along with an ambiguous ending that doesn't qualify as "happy"--make this a story for the high school crowd, not MS. Girls who are fans of E. Lockhart's "We Were Liars" will like this one too.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
A solid Fantasy entry and first novel by Vic (Victoria) James, this book probably has crossover appeal between YA and regular adult readers, since the main characters are older teens and young twenty-somethings. An interesting premise starts the obligatory trilogy off--magical people in this alternate reality are “more equal” than other people. Non-magical humans must serve a required decade as slaves either in factory towns (often a death sentence) or on the estates of the Equals. People may choose when they serve, which begs the question--what if I put it off until I decide to off myself rather than be a slave? Perhaps this will be answered in Book 2. Anyway, the Hadley family has arranged to serve their decade together in the relative servile comfort of a large estate of the most influential Equal family in the UK. I forgot to mention that the relationship between Equals and non-magical humans differs in various nations. Of course, things go awry early on and Luke, the teenaged son of the Hadleys is kidnapped and taken forcibly to one of the factory towns, while the rest of the family continues to the estate. The story is told from the points of view of various characters, but mostly we follow Luke in his Urban revolutionary awakening and his older sister Abi, who starts out trying to free Luke, but suffers from a variation of Stockholm Syndrome, identifying with the younger son of the Equal Parva-Jadine family. All the usual elements are here: class struggle, varying degrees of magical powers and the advantages they bestow, the hero’s journey, good v. evil. The twist is that this world is a little different to the usual fantasy. It isn’t dystopia, exactly, and it isn’t Medieval exactly. James does a good job with the world building (with the possible exception of my previous question--but in fairness, that may eventually be addressed). This novel will have appeal for 8th grade and up who enjoy a good fantasy that is a little out of the ordinary, but still comfortably includes the regular genre constructs. The only drawback is that they will have to wait for book 2, and you know how they hate that. This title is out this month, so it's relatively new--enjoy!
June’s Rating System:
Language--PG; Sexual Content--PG/G nothing explicit, but we know it’s happening. Violence--PG-13 It’s a fantasy, so there will be swords...Magic and the Occult--PG-13; Adult Themes--Revolution, class struggle, resistance to authoritarian regimes, etc.