How Do You Hug a Porcupine? by Laurie Isop

How Do You Hug a Porcupine? by Laurie Isop
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Childrens, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

It’s easy to picture hugging a bunny, or even a billy goat…but how would you even begin to try to hug a porcupine? After seeing all his friends hug their favorite animals, one brave boy must grapple with this very question. Eventually he works up the courage to hug a porcupine—but the porcupine isn’t so sure he wants to be hugged! The surprise ending to this humorous tale, complete with charming illustrations, will have kids begging to hear this fun read-aloud again and again!

Some animals are easy to hug, but I’d imagine that porcupines aren’t one of them.

My favorite scenes were the ones that showed children hugging all kinds of animals that I’ve never thought about being affectionate with before. It was funny to see them snuggled up to everything from ostriches to chimpanzees. Those images were also a nice contrast to the more typical creatures that I’d expect kids to want to be close to like cats and dogs.

The ending was a letdown. After all of the time the narrator spent building up my expectations for what it would be like to hug a porcupine, I was expecting much more from the final scene than what it actually gave to me. The events in that scene happened, and then everything was suddenly finished. I would have chosen a much higher rating if this hadn’t been the case because I deeply enjoyed the beginning and middle of it.

The rhymes were perfect. Not only did Ms. Isop rhyme some words that I’d never expect to see after each other in picture book, she tied them into the plot beautifully. Even the silliest lines actually made great deal of sense when they were compared to all of the other creatures the main character had tried to hug in the recent past. There is definitely a time and place for goofiness, and this author pulled that off well.

I’d recommend How Do You Hug a Porcupine? to anyone who is in the mood for something funny.

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
​Length: Full length (400 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Lupine

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon’s life is a lie.

She does not belong in Thunder Basin, Nebraska. As the star witness in a murder trial against a drug dealer, Stella is now in the Witness Protection Program. The small town locals can never know who she really is. Not even Chet Falconer, the one boy who makes her want to reveal her true self. She knows that telling the truth will only bring violence to this safe haven.

Despite how hard Stella tries to stay under the radar, danger is fast-approaching. Criminals have a way of getting rid of witnesses, and Stella may have made the one mistake that could lead the cold-blooded men hunting for her right to her doorstep.

A nonstop page turner with a great plot and endless excitement–what else could you want​?

This book was one of the best books I have read this year, and considering I nearly marked Becca Fitzpatrick’s books off my TBR list forever after Black Ice, I’m excited to say I think she has outdone many authors with this particular book.

The heroine is smart, strong, independent, and stubborn, and she can take care of herself and make rational choices on her own, which I don’t always see in YA books. The plot is excellently crafted and keeps the reader engrossed, the “love triangle” is actually interesting, which is odd because I usually hate them, and the book can snap from heart-pounding suspense to carefree life in a few seconds.

Really, I can’t say enough about the protagonist. I think she is in my top five list of people I aspire to be like because of her personality, her heart, and her intelligence. She makes good choices and I applaud her for it, yet it doesn’t take away from the reality of her humanity and she still struggles with some choices. The love interest isn’t sketchy and controlling and obnoxious, which is a relief because I can’t stand that, and he’s actually quite respectable in terms of teenage boy. The plot never takes a break, and right when you think everything’s okay, it’s not.

The only thing i disliked were the few plot holes (if this is going to be a series, that would be forgivable, but I’m not sure it is). The author left a few things unanswered which I didn’t appreciate, and is the only reason this didn’t rate higher.

Overall, though, it was a great book and I can guarantee that I’ll reread it and recommend it to my friends.

Resonance by Erica O’Rourke

Resonance by Erica O'Rourke
Resonance by Erica O’Rourke
Book Two of the Dissonance series
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Teen, Romance
Length: Full Length (448 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Lupine

As a Walker between worlds, Del is responsible for the love of her life—and the fate of millions—in this thrilling sequel to Dissonance.

Del risked everything to save Simon, and now he’s gone, off in another world with no way for Del to find him.

She’s back at the Consort—training to be a Walker like everyone in her family. But the Free Walkers have other plans for her. This rebel group is trying to convince Del that the Consort is evil, and that her parents are unwittingly helping the Consort kill millions of people. The Free Walkers make Del the ultimate promise: if Del joins their fight, she will be reunited with Simon.

In agreeing, Del might be endangering her family. But if she doesn’t, innocent people will die, and Simon will be lost to her forever. The fate of the multiverse depends on her choice…

I thought this book was much better than the first, which is saying a lot because I really liked the first book quite a lot!

Even better, there were some issues from book one that I disliked with the main character that the author has drastically improved upon with some excellent character development in the plot. There’s a lot of twists and turns in this sequel and it kept the pages constantly turning for me.

Del has gotten over what I consider the “annoying teenager in love” stage and she’s actually approaching the situation with Simon in a relatively mature way without losing her youth, so to speak. She still acts like the headstrong teenage girl that she is, but she’s grown up quite a bit and isn’t as rash or lovestruck or whiny as she was before.

The plot is just amazing and I have to applaud the author on the complexity of what she’s written because it’s just beautiful and she’s done it in a way where you can appreciate the plot and have a connection with the characters as well. I’ve seen too many books focus too much on the world building side of the spectrum and leaves the emotional bonding with the character in the dirt, but she hasn’t done that and I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s a great read and so worth it.

The romance is even better and that’s coming from a teenaged girl (me!) who can’t stand most relationships in books because one or both of them is stupid in some way. Granted, Del and Simon are both teenagers and they’ll have their moments but no one is perfect and I like where their relationship has gone over the span of the two books.

I’d totally recommend it to anyone because it should appeal to just about any reader of any age.

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke

Dissonance by Erica ORourke

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (512 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by: Lupine

In this inventive romantic thriller, Del has the power to navigate between alternate realities—and the power to save multiple worlds.

Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world is spun off the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed—all of these choices create alternate universes in which echo selves take the roads not traveled. Del knows this because she’s a Walker, someone who can navigate between the worlds, and whose job is to keep the dimensions in harmony.

But Del’s decisions have consequences too. Even though she’s forbidden from Walking after a training session goes horribly wrong, she secretly starts to investigate other dissonant worlds. She’s particularly intrigued by the echo versions of Simon Lane, a guy who won’t give her the time of day in the main world, but whose alternate selves are uniquely interested. But falling for Simon draws Del closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide—a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

Dissonance was a book that had me interested from the cover to the blurb, and I can’t say I was disappointed when I began to read it. The concept that the author has thought up is very interesting and blew my mind a little bit, and has me rethinking choices daily.

The protagonist is well rounded and I really liked her point of view throughout the book, and though she can be quite stubborn at times I found it endearing. Her ability to walk through echo worlds, worlds spawned off our choices in life is really neat, and kinda puts reality into perspective when you think about occurrences every day that may impact your life in a big way later on. Del’s contact with Simon in these echo worlds and in the key world is what interested me the most. Not particularly on the romance level, but in the scientific level that was later explained to me in the book. I thought it was a neat balance between a teenager’s life and school, what she has to deal with in her normal life, and a world completely different from what we know and the science behind how it works.

It was a well written, excellent plot, though I do wish Del hadn’t been so thick and unobservant with love and family bonds. She’s a little selfish, which is understandable for someone who’s headstrong, but she’s a bit destructive to her family and friends by not realizing what exactly they are willing to sacrifice for her. Speaking of family bonds, I thought it was interesting how her grandfather tied into the plot as well, adding more loose ends that kept the pages turning for me. Even the small addition of the breadcrumbs Del leaves behind in the echo worlds added a deeper level to the book that enriched it and made it easy to associate with the people described here.

The ending was stupendous and a little heartbreaking , but I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (392 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 2.5 stars
Reviewed by Lupine

Sometimes danger is hard to see… until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there… and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

The intense setting of the book, in the middle of a snowstorm on a trip up into the mountains gets this story going. The excitement never stops, whether it’s dealing with an annoying ex-boyfriend or a new handsome stranger, and the overlying threat of freezing or dying at the hands of her captors keeps the protagonist on her toes and the reader turning pages.

​I struggled with the back and forth ​​with the friend​​ship between Korbie and Britt. It didn’t seem genuine nor did it seem deep, as Korbie is one of the most self-centered, bratty girls I’ve ever read about, and Britt is an “independent” spoiled, (and frequently stupid) rich girl who can’t seem to get over her douche bag ex-boyfriend. ​

​Then you have their trip up into the mountains, where they end up getting stranded because Britt didn’t want to pump more gas into the car and then the idea of staying in their fully stocked car with extra food/sleeping bags/gear was less attractive than stumbling around in a massive snowstorm just to maybe find some sort of help in a huge, unknown area of a mountain range.

I think the author wanted the readers to find the two men they find attractive, but I found them creepy.   I really hated the Stockholm syndrome going on…though I liked that relationship than the lost one Britt continues to pine over.  Still, it was disturbing.

Speaking of pining, Britt constantly is thinking about old “cute” memories of her and Calvin together, which distracts from the whole plot line and is annoying. Though it’s not much of a love triangle per se, it just wasn’t necessary. There was plenty of conflict without it and it got to the point where I just wanted to shake her and scream: PICK ONE.

Before you think I hated the book … I didn’t. There was enough action and excitement to keep me needing to find out what happened.  And the
epilogue made everything worthwhile.  It had more character development and true friendship than happened in the entire book.

I’m in the targeted age group for this book, so am writing from that point of view, and I wouldn’t give it to anyone under 13 because of the lusting, and (rather creepy) thoughts and actions with both of the men that Britt LOVES to DEATH and the gory details that describe dead bodies found along with a little language.

Honestly, Black Ice was painfully, horribly interesting. ​