Reviews – Firestorm by David Klaas


Your typical high school jock, focused on girls, football and fast cars, has his world turned upside down when he learns his parents are not his parents and that is whole life is a lie.  Imagine discovering that you are the “Beacon of light” brought to this life from 1000 years into the future.  What do you do?  Who do you turn to?  Who are you?

Jack discovers his destiny with the help of two faithful companions and learns about his real family and their reality along his way.  Adventure packed chapters and beautiful descriptive scenes kept me  intrigued.  I “read” this as an audiobook so the narrator kept it interesting and flowing.  The underlying environmental theme showed up again – how can we save the earth – what has been done to destroy aspects of our environment.  I thought it was very intriguing how this theme popped up again with a different author.  Made me wonder if the young adults reading this novel truly understand the implications of some of our actions?

There were two aspects of this book that had me questioning who I would recommend it to and whether it was just a perspective I have never seen before?  The main character is a young lad, 17 years old and really just coming of age.  Thoughts of sex pop up every once in a while and really made me sit back and wonder.  Is this really what a 17-yr-old male thinks about?  Or was this added to grab the reader’s attention?  Reading books where the protagonists are mostly young females, this theme is not as prevalent or available as it was in this book.  Although the sexual content is light – nothing graphic or nasty – I would not recommend this book to the younger teens.  I would recommend it to older teens and if I could to those that I thought were mature.

One other aspect that I didn’t particularly like – was the ending.  I realize this is the first of a trilogy – but I found the ending lacking and I’m torn as to whether I will pursue the second book or not.


Ages: 17 and over


Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

PrettiesAs I noted in my thoughts on the Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – I had to read the second in the series – the cliffhanger at the end of the Uglies was just too much to let go.  So yes – in less than a week I was able to read the Pretties.

The fast pace of this book kept up with its predecessor.  Tally Youngblood the heroine or trouble-maker, depending on how you look at things, continues to be the focus of this book.  Her desire to make things better always seem to complicate her situation.  She manages to … let’s just say – leave a path of “Tally” behind her.

By the end of the first book, you’re left feeling like you know Tally and Shay very well – then in the second book, you see another side of them, sort-of…  read the book you’ll understand what I mean.

I really enjoyed this book, although the ending didn’t leave me with the same urgency to read the third book in the series, Specials, as did the first.  Think I’ll have to return to reading my last book on the reading list before I venture out to continue the story of Tally Youngblood.


Ages: 13 and up

Westerfeld, Scott. (2005).  Pretties. New York, NY:  Simon Pulse.

Author’s website:

Review – Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

JustListenAnother great book!  I “read” this as an audiobook and was absorbed by the story after the first chapter.  I have to admit that the narrator plays a large part in deciding whether I will continue to listen to it or not.  In this case, the narrator did a wonderful job with this book – the tone and inflection of her voice differing for each character.

The story itself was excellent!  With teenaged girls in my house, it was very easy to relate to.  The story revolves around Annabelle Greene, a 17-year-old model and her life as she settles into high school. The story captures the classic players in a teenage girl’s, the popular girl and her clique, the shy friends from before high school, and boys.  The story was written in such a way that it kept me on my toes until near the end.  Bringing music into the book and keeping that theme throughout was a great tie-in.

Chatting with one of my daughters this morning I found out that Sarah Dessen’s books are often found on the Independent Study Unit lists for High School English classes.  They also come very highly recommended by high school girls and are often the first titles selected for these projects.  I’m also told that high school students find these books very relatable  – the books cover many situations they may have heard about locally or situations they’re curious about.  An author to keep my eyes on – for sure!


Ages: 16 and over

YouTube and Teens – Recommended Readings

As you can imagine the literature on YouTube and Young Adults was a bit scarce.  Without bombarding everyone with numbers – here are a few selections (they are all short!).  Stumbling blocks encountered when researching this topic:

  • YouTube is often included as one avenue to the whole social networking phenomenon
  • The definition of young adults or teen – something I’m struggling more and more with – what do I mean?  The Pew Internet group – a great resource for studies connected to Internet use – they survey the population and unfortunately only survey folks that are 18 years and older.  However – their definition of young adult are folks 18-29 years of age.  Very relevant information – I believe relevant to our demographic – but we need to keep in mind that the study was based on older folks.

Readings that I’d like to recommend:

Lenhart, M., Madden, M., Smith, A., and Macgill, A. (2007).  Teens and social media.  Pew Internet & American Life Project report available  at

OCLC (2007).  NextSpace – The OCLC Newsletter – Social networking encourages teen library usage at Denver public.  Available at Look at the YouTube Video Contest – there’s a link that takes you to the first place winner video – unfortunately the runner-up video has been removed.

Nielsen (2009).  How teen use media – A Nielsen report on the myths and realities of teen media trends.  Available at

Additional readings –

Educause (2006).  7 things you should know about…  YouTube.  Available at

Lenhart, Amanda and Madden, Mary (2007).  Teens, privacy and online social networks.  Pew Internet & American Life Project report available at

Madden, Mary (2009). The audience for online video-sharing sites shoots up.  Pew Internet & American Life Project report available at–The-Audience-for-Online-VideoSharing-Sites-Shoots-Up/1-Overview.aspx?r=1.

Wright, Adam (2007). Young Americans have fallen in love with streaming videos, thanks to YouTube and other video file sharing websites.  Available at

YALSA (2009).  Teens & social networking in school and public libraries:  A toolkit for librarians & library workers.  Available at

There are a number of YouTube videos you can watch as well – some of which I will be showcasing in class.

UPDATE – November 13, 2009

I’ve tried uploading my presentation with little success – so I’ll add the links to the YouTube videos I presented in class here…

Teens on YouTube – Miss Chievious’ original video which resulted in a number of reponses – both written and video.  I did not show this one in class – but I showed one of the view responses – which is linked below as well:

Video response shown in class:

Minigaston – my daughter’s friend – here is the link to his channel – the video I showed in class is called “Death Crickets” – there’s a new one called “Halloween” You’ve got to see it – hilarious!

Education – the classic conditioning theory video:

Music I won’t include this link since there are sooo many out there 🙂

Library videos:


Denver Public LIbrary:

Another World, Not Here, Not Now – The Uglies by Scott Westerfield

ugliesYeowsers!  Another book done – I never realized just how much I read and how much I enjoy the young adult books.  This book really grabbed me on several layers.  I’m not one to talk about themes and literary things – but there were so many meaningful and relevant to teen that came through in this book.

The Uglies is the first of a trilogy and portrays a futuristic world where once you turn 16 you become pretty.  The book is written in such a way that keeps your attention – the story is believable and yet covers a lot of very relevant topics for today’s teen – the environment, growing up, being accepted and/or being unique.

The other thing I liked, I think… was the way the book ended – let’s just say we went out to Chapters tonight to buy next in the series the “Pretties” and yes I’ll be starting that one tonight when the house settles down.  The author succeeded in hooking me for the next 2-3 books in the series.

I have recommended this book to my 13-year-old, I think she’d enjoy reading about the “Ugly” way of life – let’s hope she takes me up on my offer.


Ages 13 and up

Westerfeld, Scott. (2005).  Uglies. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

Author’s website:

Reviews – Maximum Ride: MAX by James Patterson

lg-maximumRideFive I’m an avid James Patterson fan, so when I came across his Maximum Ride series – I had to try it.  In typical Patterson style, the chapters were small and quick – making this a nice, easy flowing book to read.  I didn’t realize the book I had picked up was one in a series – so when I read things that referred me to a previous book I was a little taken aback – nonetheless I made it through the book and didn’t feel like I’d missed out on too much by starting in the middle of the series.

MAX is an adventure that takes a flock of kid-birds on a hunt for the “bad guys” who have kidnapped the leader’s Mom.  It was a fun read and a very different type of story than the “Alex Cross” series or the “The Women’s Murder Club” series.  I found I enjoyed reading about MAX but I didn’t get as caught up in the character’s lives as I do with Patterson’s adult books.

I would recommend this book and this series but I would recommend it to the older young adults.


Age:  14 yrs and up

Patterson, James.  (2009).  Max:  A Maximum Ride Novel. New York, NY:  Little, Brown and Company

Author’s website:

Bordens Bookstore – Ann Arbor, MI

I had the opportunity to visit one of the largest and oldest bookstores in Michigan – I’m sure someone told me it was one of the largest but I can’t confirm that.  I had visited the bookstore back in 2006 – but I walked in yesterday with a different set of eyes – scanning locations of the books, layout of the books and the atmosphere of the store.

I browsed the first floor and could easily find the “Baby” section – tucked away in the back corner of the store with a wide open space, a ramp for strollers to go up and very comfortable for both parents and children.  I was there in the mid afternoon and there was no one around – I’m sure that was just bad timing on my behalf.

As I made my way back towards the front of the store I found the “Independent Readers” section.  Another large section with books for the 9-14 age group.  The books were arranged by author for the most part – but there were some sections highlighted by other labels such as the series name.  Audio books were tucked in with the “real” books – so you didn’t have to leave that section to find the audiobooks – nice planning I thought.  There was a separate shelf in the middle of this corner with “Award winners” on the one side and age appropriate graphic novels on the other.

So – I couldn’t find the Young adults section – yup had to breakdown and ask.  Well – they were up on the second floor and took up about a fifth to a quarter of the second floor.  Again very comfortable, chairs, tables, study-type cubicles all nicely laid out.  Their selection of books – WOW!!!!  They weren’t stuffed in a corner – they were all visible and open for viewing.  There was one whole shelf dedicated to the Twilight and similar type series but it wasn’t as in-your-face as I’ve seen at home.  It was tasteful and attractive.

Right beside this section was another BIG section with age-appropriate graphic novels.  This is where I saw a young adult buckled down on a stepping stool just thoroughly absorbed in a book!  Something I’ve never seen at home in our Chapters – because there really is no nice spot to sit and read.  But wait – I’m in a bookstore not a library!  Hmmm – made me step back and wonder about the difference between bookstores and libraries – how they’ve learnt from libraries – but are libraries learning from them?

And yes for those of you wondering,  I bought a couple of books:  “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart from the Independent Readers section and “Max: A Maximum Ride Novel” by James Patterson from the Young Adults section.