Category Archives: Staff Recommends

The Break-Up Artist REVIEW

breakup

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

Available in Print and ebook.

Philip Siegel’s debut novel, The Break-Up Artist, is going to please even the most reluctant readers with its fast pace and entertaining characters. Named a top ten most anticipated YA book by Barnes and Noble, this novel brought me back to my high school years and how painful it can be when friends start pairing up, and friendships begin to change.

Even though Becca has never had a boyfriend, she has witnessed her sister’s heartbreak, and that has jaded Becca’s view of love and relationships. The girls in the school treat people who have never been in a relationship as “other” and constantly act as if Becca can’t possibly understand anything pertaining to relationships since she has never had one. From Becca’s POV, relationships are over-rated and not worth having when they force you to change who you are for the other person.

Becca’s secret job as the break-up artist was entertaining and kept me wondering how she was going to manipulate or trick people next. It sounds kind of mean, but she justifies it by saying if they were really in love, these things would not break them up. Although you might be tempted to dislike Becca, you can also totally understand why she is doing these things. Plus, she’s getting paid to do it. People are hiring her to do it. It’s not like she’s picking people out of the crowd herself. Right?

Teens will like this fast-paced, simple narrative from Becca’s POV.

-Review by Michelle Frost

Unwind REVIEW

In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.
In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives “unwound” and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs–and, perhaps, save their own lives.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Available in Print, CD Audiobook, ebook

This book was amazingly good. The entire premise of the story was thought provoking. Instead of abortion, when kids are between the ages of 13-18, their parents can send them to harvest camps to be “unwound.” There are various contemporary elements to this dystopian story… for example, safe haven laws for women who want to abandon their babies today are called “storking” in this book… and storking comes with its own set of rules.

Some kids are “tithed.” Unwanted kids are conveniently unwound. Orphaned kids and storked kids are frequently unwound. They don’t view it as killing the kids, because they live on, in pieces. In fact, in one particularly gruesome chapter, the reader gets to experience an unwind being unwound, with him. They are required to keep the unwinds conscious during the process… Imagine having your entire body harvested while you are conscious of what is being done to you, until the very end.I’d love to see this series be made into a movie, but I am not sure how this scene could be shown.

There are also “clappers” in the book, which I equate with suicide bombers of today. There is one chapter that actually attempts to delve into the mind of a clapper and how they justify and rationalize their actions. The novel, at times, almost has a holocaust feel to it, especially when the kids are sent off to the harvest camps to be unwound and then have to walk up to the guarded building, flanked with other guards. If you like dystopian adventures, I would definitely recommend this one. It has unique ideas, interesting twists on controversial topics of today, light romance, adventure, and more! This is the 1st book in a 4 book series (Dystology!) that also includes a novella that you will want to read after the Unwind.

-Review by Michelle Frost

Rotters REVIEW

Sixteen-year-old Joey's life takes a very strange turn when his mother's tragic death forces him to move from Chicago to rural Iowa with the father he's never known, and who's the town pariah.
Sixteen-year-old Joey’s life takes a very strange turn when his mother’s tragic death forces him to move from Chicago to rural Iowa with the father he’s never known, and who’s the town pariah.

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Available in Print, ebook, Downloadable Audiobook, and CD Audiobook.

This was a unique story, and I could not get it read fast enough. Rotters follows a teen boy named Joey. After his mom is killed, he is sent to live with a father he has never known. I hate repeating the synopsis of the story (you can read it below the book cover picture), so here is my opinion on what I read… it was fantastic! The idea that grave-robbers still exist and the methods they use to get the job done without being discovered was a unique perspective. On top of that, Kraus adds some real history to the story when he mentions bits and pieces about grave-robbers from the past who dug up bodies for doctors to use. The imagery used could be considered fairly gross and graphic, as decomposing bodies are described. The story is fast-paced, alternating between Joey at school dealing with bullies, and Joey at home or at “work” with his dad. The reader learns alongside Joey, and feels his inward struggle and pain over losing his mom and accepting this new life. Kraus gives you characters that you can root for and that you want to see grow and survive. Even when those characters are weak or do things that you may not approve of, you can understand where they are coming from.

-Review by Michelle Frost

Calling Maggie May REVIEW

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Through a series of entries in the diary she left behind, a teenager, living a normal life, describes how seemingly minor choices quickly spiraled into a life as a sex worker.

Calling Maggie May by Anonymous

Available in Print.

This particular novel is written diary style by a young girl named Maggie May. At first we get a couple of boring entries but then suddenly she starts really writing. We learn about her school crush and about Ada, a mysterious girl at her school that is unlike all the other girls. Maggie comes from a normal home where there is a lot of pressure put on her to excel academically. However, Maggie loves to swim and doesn’t care so much about academics. Constantly compared to her over-achieving and smart brother, she frequently feels less-than.

Eventually Maggie an Ada have an encounter and as the story progresses we learn that Ada is a prostitute. Maggie becomes one, not because she comes from a broken or abusive home, but simply just because. She is interested and it is easy money. Besides, if Ada can handle it, so can she. Maggie seems to have her head in the clouds with idealistic views of how things can be, but the reality never quite seems to match up.

-Review by Michelle Frost

After REVIEW

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In complete denial that she is pregnant, straight-A student and star athlete Devon Davenport leaves her baby in the trash to die, and after the baby is discovered, Devon is accused of attempted murder.

After by Amy Efaw

Available in Print, CD Audiobook, ebook and Downloadable Audiobook.

I finished this audiobook in two days and absolutely loved it. How could someone deny a pregnancy, and what happens when they can no longer deny it?

This story provided an interesting perspective behind why someone would hide their pregnancy and throw their baby away. It also provides the reader with a glimpse into the judicial system, although the majority of the story revolves around fifteen year old Devon and how/when she comes to terms with the reality of what she did.

The only part of the audiobook that I did not like was the mother’s character. It didn’t seem authentic to me. She was always a little TOO perky, upbeat, outgoing… even in inappropriate circumstances. She seemed more immature than her daughter, Devon, which is perhaps how the author intended for her to be.

I’m looking forward to reading future books by this author, but after reading her bio and how she is busy with 5 kids of her own, it may be a while.

-Review by Michelle Frost