Thursday, December 7, 2017

ROMANCING THE THRONE, by Nadine Jolie Courtney

The story: After a brief romance with the future king of England, Charlotte is appalled when her sister Libby steps promptly into the space she's just vacated. Sure, she broke it off with Edward--but was Libby sneaking around with him behind her back? Whatever happened to "sisters before misters"?

June Cleaver's ratings: Language R; Violence G; Sexual content PG-13 (off page sex included); Nudity PG; Substance abuse R; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content PG; adult themes PG; overall rating R (best for grades 9-up).

Liz's comments: While this was a fun read about a girl and her would-be/could-be relationship with a totally fictional price, the ever-present underage drinking, continual hooking up, and potty-mouthedness make this better for HS readers. It's not staying in MY middle-school library.

RESTART, by Gordon Korman

The story: When Chase Ambrose falls off a roof and wakes up with amnesia, everything in his life changes. He used to be a football hero--and a total jerk. Now he's learning what everyone else used to think of him, and he doesn't like it. Is there a way to convince everyone that he's really changed--even the kid whose life he's ruined? Even his former criminally-minded friends? Even...himself?

June Cleaver's ratings:
Language G; Violence PG (mostly middle-school brawling); Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse G; GLBT content G; adult themes (bullying, general delinquency) PG; overall rating PG.

Liz's comments:
Korman uses his trademark multiple points of view to answer the question of whether a bully can change his spots and reinvent himself. Readers will root for Chase and his quest to become a more decent person...possibly even football players will find something to like, and something to think about, here!

RENEGADES, by Marissa Meyer

The story: The superheroes known as the Renegades failed to protect her family, and now Nova is the only one left. Raised by super-villain Ace Anarchy, she continues his plan to put an end to the Renegade rule and destroy their rule. But to do it--she must become a Renegade herself, tapping into the Prodigy power that she has hidden all her life. She knows it won't be easy, but she never dreamed she'd meet Adrian, a handsome Renegade with strange abilities...maybe even the power to make her forget her quest.

June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG; Violence PG-13; Sexual content PG; Nudity G; Substance abuse PG; Magic & the occult G: GLBT content PG; adult themes (revenge, superhero violence) PG-13; overall rating PG-13.

Liz's comments: Hand this first in a duology to any kid who liked Brandon Sanderson's "Reckoners" series, or better readers who are ready for something after Stan Lee's Zodiac Legacy books.

SUSPECT RED, by L.M. Elliot

The story: Richard's dad works for the FBI, and the FBI is helping Senator Joe McCarthy hunt down Commies. Richard wants his dad to succeed, but what price is he willing to pay? Is Vlad's mother a Commie spy, or just a woman with a couple of shady friends? Will he sacrifice his friendship with Vlad to give Hoover a suspect to chase? And what if he's WRONG?

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 (McCarthyism vs. patriotism) PG; overall rating PG.

Liz's comments:
Here's a story about a part of US history most kids aren't familiar with--yet it has strange overtones of what's going on in our own times, and should help open their eyes to tactics used by self-serving politicians seeking to gain power over an audience. Hand it to any kid willing to read historical fiction.

MOXIE, by Jennifer Mathieu

The story: Good Old Boys run things at East Rockport High School. Football players rule all, while the girls' soccer team hasn't gotten new uniforms since the 1990s. When Viv Carter looks at her mom's feminist stuff from her college days, the teen decides she needs to get in on the action too--and Moxie is born! "Moxie girls fight back" against sexism, racism, and just plain stupidity. But the sexists. racists, and stupids are way bigger and meaner than Viv and all her friends...do the Moxie girls really stand a chance?

June Cleaver's ratings: Language R; Violence PG; Sexual content PG-13; Nudity G; Substance abuse R; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content PG; adult themes (racism, sexism, and other -isms) PG-13; overall rating PG-13.

Liz's comments:
With two Rs in the ratings (and with most, but not all, reviews rating it for 9th-up), this should probably be rated R overall, and yet I think there's a lot to recommend it to a smart 8th grade girl. Viv, the dutiful, responsible narrator, learns to know herself and comes to realize that people working together can accomplish great things--and that just because something's always been that way doesn't mean it has to stay that way. I liked this one a lot, and it will find a place on my MS library shelves...complete with that sticker that says "Bad Language Alert!"

BETTER OFF UNDEAD, by James Preller

The story: Adrian Lazarus was hit by a car, and now he's dead...or rather, undead. He was never popular before, but now everyone's afraid of him (except Daryl, the school bully). Even worse, sicko billionaires the Bork brothers want to slice and dice him to see whether they can come up with the secret to living forever. It's up to Adrian and his three not-quite-normal friends to see if they can beat the bully and outwit the bad guys. Right after they get Adrian to quit eating roadkill.

June Cleaver's ratings: Language G: Violence PG; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse G; Magic & the occult PG; GLBT content G; adult themes (the undead) PG; overall rating PG.

Liz's comments: In truth, this is less a zombie story than it is a loner-gets-some-friends story. Any kid who feels on the bottom end of the social pecking order will identify with Adrian and cheer for him as he develops a social conscience along with some new friendships. Since the bad guys got away, and since it looks like Adrian might be coming back to life courtesy of his strange friend Gia Demeter, be on the lookout for at least one more volume.

THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING, by Alexandra Bracken

The story: A broken deal with a demon has kept the Redding family rich and powerful for centuries. But now the demon is regaining his power, and the demon has taken up residence inside 13-year-old Prosper Redding, planning a breakout on the boy's 13th birthday. It's up to Prosper and a group of people who may or may not really be trying to help him to figure out a way to keep Alastor out of the picture for another 400 years. Otherwise--the whole family's going down in flames.

June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG; Violence PG; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse G; Magic & the occult PG-13; GLBt content PG; Adult themes (possession by a demon, scary scenes) PG-13; overall rating PG.

Liz's comments: Despite my discomfort with the idea of kids being possessed by demons, I liked this one a lot. Prosper's dry comments about his family and heritage are often LOL, and his teen-aged voice describing whatever's happening keeps things from devolving into Nightmare on Elm Street kind of scary. Full disclosure: it's a cliff hanger from the get-go, so you're signing up for at least one more volume. Kids who like Jonathan Stroud's "Lockwood & Company" series will enjoy this one too.