Sunday, November 22, 2015
What happened? That's my first response to this book. Like most time travel stories it leaves you trying to account for the loopholes inherent in time travel. What Jones does that is smart is he has the characters say that you're not going to understand it so don't try, implying that in the future this will all make sense for all of us. I appreciate the out he has given himself but that didn't stop me from wondering what had just happened. Eddie's overlapping days and lives left me more than a little confused at times but the story is nicely grounded in his relationships.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Michelle is barely hanging on. Her drug addicted mother is in jail, again, and Michelle has to take care of her younger brother and sister, making sure they don't get split up into separate foster homes. The aunt who takes them in demands $300 in rent money, today, which will take every penny of Michelle's paycheck from Taco Bell. While at work she is approached by Tim who tells her his stepsister is Michelle's half sister. Michelle always knew her good for nothing biological father had another family but the two girls have never met. Now Leah has reached out to tell Michelle that their father is dying in a hospice in California and says he has an heirloom to pass on to Michelle. With thing so bad Michelle figures she's got nothing left to lose and sets off on a road trip with all of her siblings and Tim to confront the father who left them all.
This story started slowly for me as the characters and desperate circumstances were being established. But once the road trip started the story picked up. The growing relationship between the siblings was well done but I especially appreciated the ending. Things were not tied up neatly for Michelle but she had a different perspective on what she had. This is a nice family story.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Wow, what a story! Like many of my favorites it is a quiet, slow-growing story that sneaks up on you. Suzy is a great, intelligent narrator who is completely relatable in her struggle to figure out how middle schoolers act. She is unflinchingly honest when showing the reader the slow dissolve of her friendship with Franny without completely throwing Franny under the bus. A really lovely sad, heart-breaking, realistic, hopeful book.
The ending of this book threw me for a loop. I love Schmidt's writing and all of his other books have left me in tears of sadness and happiness but this one? Not so much. I had a difficult time with Joseph's - a 13-year-old - devotion to his daughter. I also couldn't entirely swallow the love story but I think that's me bringing an adult's perspective to young love. Despite those problems, I liked the story throughout until the tragic twist at the end which seemed an unnecessary part to add on to Joseph's story.
I'm not sure what I think of this book. Literally. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it so that's a good thing. I assumed throughout that the wasps weren't real and that somewhere I would find out more about Steve's earlier issues which would explain what was happening with the wasps and the baby. But when I finished the book I came to believe that maybe the wasps were real and that this is a horror/monster story which means I have to rethink everything. Definitely worth reading, I'm just not sure what happened.
I had hear great things about this book but was feeling a little iffy because what do I care about motorcycle races? Turns out, I do care. The action kept moving without focusing too much on the mechanics of a motorcycle, turning instead to the relationships of the racers. Flashbacks show us Ya-el's life in the camp and the people she meets after escaping who drive her to complete her mission. Life on the road is filled with peril including mechanical breakdowns, kidnappers, and poisoned food. I really enjoyed this unique story which ended neatly enough for me to be satisfied while still indicating that there might be a sequel.
Monday, November 16, 2015
This is one of April Henry's earlier YA books which may be why I didn't enjoy it as much as her usual fare. It felt grittier (which is hard to imagine since her usual fare involves lots of murder) and the ending fell into to place much too easily.
After his ROTC training Rashad packs his uniform into his backpack and goes to the convenience store to pick up supplies for a party. While bending down, a white woman trips over him and the police officer in the store grabs Rashad and begins beating him. The arrest and beating are witnessed by Quinn, a teen who knows the cop and thinks of him as a big brother. Rashad survives the beating, barely, and wakes up to find himself the center of community outrage over another beating of a black boy by a white cop. Quinn, meanwhile, is struggling with what he has seen and his loyalty to his friend. As tensions at school rise, Quinn has to choose which side he's on.
A timely book that really puts you in the brains of the two main characters. With all the racial tensions in the country and the ongoing problem of black youths being beaten and killed by white officers, this book gives readers something more than a headline. I'm a little sad that it is definitely a high school book due to the language because it's definitely something middle schoolers could talk about as well.
I wasn't entirely sure of this book as I began it. The writing style can be stylized - is that the word I'm looking for? - and abrupt, which made me think I might not be liking it. But before I knew it, I was unable to put it down and was completely sucked in by the end. The romance - great and not what we've been conditioned to expect. In fact, I read a review on Shelfari from someone complaining about the book and how she didn't even finish it because she knew exactly what was going to happen with the romance. I'm sure she would've been surprised had she bothered to keep reading. The AI and transition to AI were both well-developed. Lots to think about, lots to entertain, lots to be sad about.
This is a great idea for a story but the execution falls flat. It seemed there were many opportunities for excitement but the writing didn't capitalize on those opportunities. Could've been better.
I was hoping for more fairytale and greater redemption for the imprisoned prince in this story based on the Arabian Nights. The magical elements of the heroine developing into a small god were interesting but I was more wrapped up in the growing rebellion that was sparking in her name. The story seems a bit long and not magical enough to attract widespread interest.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Boy, this story really didn't do anything for me. It sounded so promising and fun but I never really grasped the nuances of the world here nor how the fortunes worked as compared to the charms. It was just too long for what it was and not nearly enough fun.
This book has been short-listed for the National Book Award. I am a huge fan of Shusterman however I struggled with this book. It is very good and undoubtedly an accurate portrayal of schizophrenia since Shusterman's son is the co-author and inspiration for the book. It is this very accuracy that made it so difficult for me to read, particular the chapters on the Challenger Deep which are extremely difficult to decipher. As the book progressed I began to see the real life events reflected on the ship which might've actually made it more difficult for me because then I was trying to reconcile the two worlds. Considering how difficult it was for me to make sense of things while reading, I can only imagine how difficult it is to actually be living that life. Which is probably the point of the book and what makes it an important, excellent story.
This book shouldn't be dismissed simply because it is being released in the post Caitlin Jenner world and could be accused as jumping on a trendy topic. Gino does a good job of putting the reader in George's brain and making you feel the discord of living in the wrong body. It is a good choice for middle schools and the only thing that could be objected to is just the subject matter in general as there is nothing edgy in it other than that. However, I found George's journey to be a little too simple. I still liked the book but for transgender lit, I prefer Gracefully Grayson for more depth.
This book reads like a high school book to me. I don't believe there is anything inappropriate for middle school but it is a moodier book better suited to older readers with more patience for that. It will not attract a big audience even at high school, however. Mr. Barton is a great character and someone I wish I knew IRL.
I'm not an Avi fan since I don't generally like historical fiction and because my students also avoid that so I wasn't expecting much for this book when I began it. I was pleasantly surprised by the story which I enjoyed reading, except for the Sam Spade copycat writing at points. Those sections just seemed forced. But even though I personally enjoyed the book, I still wouldn't recommend it simply because it will have very limited appeal to most middle schoolers. In fact, about a month before I read this book, I weeded nearly every Avi book in my collection since none of them had been checked out for several years.
Monday, November 9, 2015
This was a fairly tortuous read for me. And I believe I was supposed to feel the love at the ending which was presented in an upbeat manner but, ugh, I'm just NOT feeling it. Just don't care what happens to Edie and Kian.
I'm fascinated by the real life story of the USS Indianapolis and I like Spradlin's "Spy Goddess" series so I was expecting much more from this. The writing is not good and Benny's 1940's lingo feels forced. A book about people being eaten by sharks should be more exciting than this.
This is another dystopia and to me it read just like all the others I have read. I was not wowed by it nor did I find anything unique about it other than the color of blood. However, putting my cranky review aside, it has been attracting a lot of interest with my students who are not yet so over the dystopia craze so I can appreciate it for that reason, if not personally.
This story is very similar in premise to Num8ers by Ward. I had a hard time with just how vicious the police officers were to Maddie and Stubby, especially when she finally proved her ability and their complete turnaround. Just okay, not great.
This is a short book but it packs a lot in a few pages. There are not many books available that focus on Muslim characters and this does a good job of presenting them as real people, not a stereotypical herd.
I'm honestly having a hard time remembering much about this book which should tell you the impact it had on me. Aside from that, I also don't believe it's going to grab my students much at all.
Friday, November 6, 2015
I was super-excited to read this book because I like sci fi and had heard great things about Alpert's adult work. AND the premise sounded intriguing. It was and the book was fine, but I wasn't as absorbed in it as I anticipated. But as with most well-done sci fi, there is a lot to think about and many ethical implications to consider.
I really loved this book for a quick, somewhat trashy read. That's not to say that is it actually trashy or not well done, it is just a hot topic what with the Dugger's problems so it felt like a glimpse into a real life drama. Rachel's decision is never treated lightly and her assimilation into regular society is not easy which I'm sure would be very realistic. Although most of us are not in these extremely restrictive societies, I want girls to read this and become more aware of the ways in which women can be marginalized even in our equal society.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
I am a fan of The False Prince as are most of my students. I had Jennifer Nielsen come to visit my school and she did a great job working with the kids and getting them excited about writing, reading and her books. At that time she had just returned from Italy where she was doing research for this book so I had even more excitement for this release. However, this book did not live up to The False Prince for me. In fact, I didn't care much about Nic nor his friends/helpers and had a hard time just getting through the story at all. Despite my issues with it, Mark of the Thief was selected for a countywide reading program this year and it seems like my students are also less enamored with this book than her previous works. I like the griffin, though.
I am not a fan of horror movies so you should probably know that about me before taking my evaluation of this book to heart because this book is a written horror movie. Unlike its movie counterparts, the book didn't actually keep me awake at night but it also didn't do much for me enjoyment-wise. However, if you love slasher films, you'll probably love this book so give it a try.