Jillicious Reading: June 2008


Smiles to Go

by Jerry Spinelli

Summary: Will Tuppence, a quiet, confident science freak, likes the order he has created in his world. However, his freshman year in high school, things start to change with his best friends and his pesky little sister. He is losing control of the world he had so perfectly ordered; but when things seem the most out of balance, he makes some remarkable. life-altering discoveries.

Thoughts: This novel really surprised me. The storyline continually developed in ways I did not expect, and I loved the results. This is my favorite of Mr. Spinelli’s most recent writings.


The Night Tourist

by Katherine Marsh

Summary: Jack, a book worm and avid fan of mythology & Latin, lives with his father on the campus of Yale. One evening he is in an accident that propels him into a wild adventure deep below the streets of New York City. In this fascinating underworld, he encounters ghosts, secrets, a new friend, and answers to questions about his family he has had for years.

Thoughts: What a fun novel! It is original, action-packed, and full of surprises. A great choice for adventure fans looking for something new.

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature

by Robin Brande

Summary: By trying to do the right thing, Mena has angered her parents, her friends, her church, and her pastor. They are all being sued for millions of dollars, and her parents may lose their business. Mena has no friends, her parents barely speak to her, and now she must start high school alone. But in the midst of this living nightmare, Mena meets someone new who makes her laugh and encounters a special teacher who makes her think in a whole new way.
Thoughts: This is a thought-provoking novel that raises hard questions and touches you deeply. The characters are so real and stay with you long after the story ends. My heart just broke for Mena and what she was going through. The author skillfully handled controversial issues leaving the reader with much to ponder. I look forward to more from this first-time novelist.

Shooting the Moon

by Frances O’Roark Dowell

  1. Summary: When Jamie’s older brother T.J. goes to Vietnam, she is excited and a little jealous. Their father is a Colonel in the army, and they’ve grown up playing “soldier” and dreaming of the excitement of the front lines. She eagerly awaits T.J’s letters, but instead he simply sends her rolls of film. Jamie learns to develop them at the rec center, and slowly starts to understand that serving in the army is not as exciting and glorious as she once thought. She also begins to see why her parents – particularly her military-minded father – didn’t want T.J. to enlist.

Thoughts: Wow. This is brief novel, but it packs a powerful punch. I loved how as Jamie learned to develop the photographs, she also developed a deeper understanding of war and the many issues that surround it. She was a perfect narrator with spunk, sass, and a growing maturity. This is a thought provoking story that is worth reading.


Princess Ben:
being a wholly truthful account of her various discoveries and misadventures, recounted to the best of her recollection, in four parts

by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Summary: Princess Ben’s life is turned upside down when her parents are killed, and she is left in the hands of her cold, callous aunt, Queen Sophia. The queen is determined to turn Benevolence into marrying material, so the young princess must endure grueling etiquette training. Things change, however, when she discovers a hidden room in her tower and an enchanted book of spells. Ben begins teaching herself magic, and then finds herself on a quest to save her country that no one would have expected.
Thoughts: This is a charming fantasy staring an unlikely heroine. The novel has all the classic elements of a fairy tale – medieval setting, adversity, magic, a handsome prince, and romance. It is a completely different novel from Ms. Murdock’s Dairy Queen and The Off Season, but equally well-written.

Confessions of a Serial Kisser

by Wendelin Van Draanen

Summary: After she reads her mother’s romance novel Crimson Kiss, high school student Evangeline launches her own quest to find the perfect kiss. Her kissing spree has hilarious, disastrous, and suprising results.
Thoughts: This is an original chick lit novel by the author of Flipped, Runaway, and the Sammy Keyes mystery series. The book has fun characters, lots of surprises, and a great ending.

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park
by Steve Kluger
Summary: When T.C. loses his mother, Augie is the only one who knows what to say. From that moment on, they are best friends/brothers. Their freshman year of high school, Ale’ moves in and it’s the start of the most excellent year. Through letters and IMs, the three teens recount their adventures that involve friendship, baseball, musicals, algebra, sign language, first loves, and even Mary Poppins.
Thoughts: This is a unique, charming novel. I really liked the characters and their original voices. I was inspired by their committment to personal beliefs and the way they took action for the causes they believed in.

The Seems: The Glitch in Sleep

by John Hulme and Michael Wexler

Summary: Twelve-year-old Becker Drake can’t believe it: he has just been promoted to the prestigious position of Fixer, the youngest ever! Fixers are specially trained to mend glitches in The Seems – a parallel universe that runs the World. Becker is eagerly awating his first assignment, but he isn’t quite ready for the disaster that comes his way. He is called to the Department of Sleep, and if he doesn’t neutralize the problem immediately the World may never get a night of sleep again!

Thoughts: This is a humorous, fast-paced science fiction adventure. Becker is a likeable character ,and the story is full of clever twists and cool gadgets. The book hints at a sequel , so this is likely the beginning of a fun new series.

Suck It Up

by Brian Meehl

Summary: Morning McCobb is graduating from the International Vampire League. Unlike his gorgeous, skilled classmates, Morning is a scrawny loner who has never fit in with the other vampires. Suprisingly, however, he is given the chance to become a superhero (his lifelong dream!) by taking on the League’s bold mission: becoming the first vampire to reveal his identity to humans. There are many challenges in store for Morning including resisting the charms of a lovely “Lifer” and evading a vampire killer!
Thoughts: This is a fun, clever novel with a lot of action and humor. It is an original spin on the vampire tale with a lot of twists, turns, and “punny” surprises.


Love Me Tender
by Audrey Couloumbis
Summary: Things are not going well for thirteen-year-old Elvira. Her parents have a huge fight, and her father storms out headed to off to Las Vegas for an Elvis impersonator contest. Her mother is pregnant, and Elvira is not excited about this new baby; she knows she’ll have to help take care of “the Belly,” and she already has her hands full with her little sister, Kerrie. Then, to make matters worse, Elvira’s mother loads them all up and drives them to Memphis to visit a grandmother and aunt they’ve never met and know little about. Things get “all shook up” in this family tale of mistakes, surprises, and redemption.
Thoughts: Elvira is a great character! I loved her sassy, hilarious outlook on life. This was a fun, creative look at an out-of-the-ordinary family. Elvira has such a strong voice, and I hope we’ll hear more from her!

by Ingrid Law

Summary: Mibs Beaumont is looking forward to her 13th birthday … but for a bigger reason than the typical teen-to-be. When the Beaumonts turn 13, they inherit their “savvy” – their special power or “know how”- and Mibs can’t wait to discover hers. However, things take a terrible turn when – days before her big day – her father is in a terrible car accident and is barely holding onto life in a hospital miles away. Mrs. Beaumont and Mibs’ oldest brother go to be with him leaving the four youngest Beaumonts behind. Mibs just knows that she can help her father and will do anything …. including sneaking onto a Bible-delivering bus… to get to him! Several others accompany her and are in for the ride of their lives.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this unique novel. The touch of fantasy is just right, and the writing is creative, poetic, and engaging. I look forward to more books from this first-time author.

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Summary: In this futuristic dystopian world, two teens are chosen each year to represent their district in The Hunger Games. The Games will allow only one victor as the contenders must survive and fight to the death. Sixteen-year-old Katniss immediately volunteers to take the place of her little sister when Prim’s name is drawn as this year’s District 12 female representative. Along with Peeta, the baker’s son, Kat is thrown into a harsh world or survival where only the toughest, most clever contestant will survive.

Thoughts: This is a captivating, “can’t-put-it-down” novel by the author of the popular Gregor the Overlander series. It is haunting and stays with the reader long after the last page is turned. Dystopian stories are not my first love, but this well-written book pulled me in immediately and left me wanting more. Thankfully, there is a sequel on the way!


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