The author's experiences are the things nightmares are made of! Thank you to Ms. Telgemeier for sharing her story and for finding humor in a tough sitThe author's experiences are the things nightmares are made of! Thank you to Ms. Telgemeier for sharing her story and for finding humor in a tough situation. Great graphic novel! Highly recommended....more
Cute book with lots of stories where animals are heroes. Stories are short enough that you could read some of them aloud to students or children. SomeCute book with lots of stories where animals are heroes. Stories are short enough that you could read some of them aloud to students or children. Some may not be appropriate for all audiences, but what a great book to share with kids....more
Gross, funny, scientific, interesting, and unusual are all terms that can be used to describe this work by Mary Roach. I never thought I would find thGross, funny, scientific, interesting, and unusual are all terms that can be used to describe this work by Mary Roach. I never thought I would find the digestive system so interesting--or learn so much. This is a great read for those who want to know their bodies a little better and for those who are just plain curious about a process we go though every day, but discuss so little. Very interesting!...more
Jam was head over heels in love with her British exchange student boyfriend Reeve. That is until he died, leaving her in so much pain she coulSummary:
Jam was head over heels in love with her British exchange student boyfriend Reeve. That is until he died, leaving her in so much pain she couldn’t cope with the rest of the world. Not knowing what else to do, her parents send her away to the Wooden Barn, a boarding school for teens who have difficulties or are dealing with trauma. At the Wooden Barn, Jam finds herself assigned to a most unusual English class, Special Topics in English. In the class they will spend the entire semester studying the writings of Sylvia Plath, and writing in a red leather journal. When she starts writing in her journal, Jam finds herself transported to Belzhar, a magical place where Reeve is alive again and they can be together. Unfortunately, each trip uses up pages in the journal and Jam’s trips are limited. Reliving the times with Reeve also bring Jam closer to facing the truth.
Wow. Where do I start?
This book made it to the top of my reading list because I really didn’t have a choice. It was chosen by my book group as an interesting new title. I don’t think I would have read it otherwise. Let me say, it was a great pick. There is so much to discuss about this book I really can’t wait until our next meeting.
Jam is a sympathetic character. She is in pain and suffering from the loss of her boyfriend. Then she is forced to go to this boarding school where she doesn’t want to go. It is only in the Special Topics in English class where she begins to open up and connect with other students.
The pacing of the novel is good, and while the other characters begin to open up about their stories, Jam keeps hers hidden and keep you wondering about what really happened.
Belzhar is a unique construct in this novel, and learning the rules is the fun part. I loved how Wolitzer described this magical place. Each student in Special Topics has their own version of Belzhar where they can experience their life before the trauma that sent the to the Wooden Barn happened.
The audio version of this novel is roughly 8 hours. It is read by Jorjeana Marie and produced by Random House/Listening Library. The production is really well done and free of flaws. Jorjeana Marie does a fabulous job with the narration and making Jam a believable character. If you like audiobooks this would be a good way to experience this novel.
Overall: When I first started reading this novel I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is one of those genre bending books that is difficult to classify. So much of the story is realistic fiction, but the story couldn’t happen without the fantasy elements of Belzhar. In the end this novel was an engrossing read. You want to know what really happened to Reeve and why Jam won’t talk about it. Once you get into the novel, you won’t want to put it down.
Summary: Maddie is a cheerleader, dating the star football player, pretty, popular, and so afraid that people will find out the truth…she is really a nSummary: Maddie is a cheerleader, dating the star football player, pretty, popular, and so afraid that people will find out the truth…she is really a nerd. She loves comic books and even keeps a comic book journal, but she is terrified that her friends will find out and then shun her. Then she meets Logan, the son of the owner of the local comic shop. As she gets to know him, and share her inner geek, she wants more. If her friends find out they will reject her. Her only choice is to keep her love of comics and Logan a secret, and lead a double life.
Review: This is the perfect summer read; light, entertaining, and funny. Maddie struggles with the age old problem of accepting herself. She is so worried about what other people think that she forgets to be true to herself. Although her dilemmas and escapades are quite predictable, you can’t help but enjoy the journey.
Maddie is a likable, though somewhat frustrating character. I say frustrating because you spend the entire novel yelling at her to be herself. Realistically, being yourself isn’t always easy, as Maddie finds out as she tries to juggle her two lives. Despite this, I did find Maddie likable.
The supporting cast of characters are a lot of fun as well including Logan’s best friend Dan. I love how these characters complimented the story and made things more interesting—or in Dan’s case, bluntly told Maddie what he thought she was messing up.
Overall: This light fun read is entertaining and enjoyable. While the reader will figure out the solution to Maddie’s problems long before she does, they will still enjoy Maddie’s journey.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Sex: None Drugs: None Alcohol: None Violence: None Profanity: Mild. Dan’s vocabulary tends to be a bit vulgar, and he is periodically reminded to watch his language. The language does not offend or affect the reader’s enjoyment of the novel....more
Summary: Theodore Finch, aka Theodore Freak, is obsessed with death. Violet Markey blames herself for the death of her sister Eleanor. They meet in theSummary: Theodore Finch, aka Theodore Freak, is obsessed with death. Violet Markey blames herself for the death of her sister Eleanor. They meet in the school bell tower, one becomes the hero who saved the other, but no one knows the real truth about who saved whom. Suddenly assigned to be partners in a “Wander Indiana” project for their class, they discover who they really are, and both begin to see beneath the surface.
Review: This isn’t an easy book to read or review. This is a book that tackles the serious subjects of suicide and mental disorders. Nothing about that is easy, and I suspect it wasn’t an easy subject for the author either.
Theodore Finch is a remarkable young man, yet he doesn’t see it himself. Smart, witty, thoughtful, loving, but ultimately suffering in silence. Violet Markey is suffering herself. She hasn’t been the same since the auto accident that spared her and took her sister. She has lost interest in her passion of writing, and doesn’t care about school anymore. Both of these characters are so thoughtfully and carefully depicted in this story. You could know these kids, walk the school halls with them, sit beside them in class…
This is a story that begs to be read, and told and discussed. I believe that a lot could come from sitting down with someone and discussing this novel. It discusses labels and how easy it is to write someone off because of their label, and fail to see the beating human heart beneath the label.
Audiobook Review: The audiobook is produced by Listening Library and read by Kirby Heyborne and Ariadne Meyers. Both readers do an amazing job making you believe that these are the voices of these two characters. Their narration draws you into the story and will keep you listening. The book on CD has nine discs and is 11 hours and 4 minutes long. The production is well done, and definitely a good way to get through this novel.
Overall: This book is one that will leave you thinking. While at times the pacing may slow a trifle, the author does a superb job of keeping the reader invested in the lives of these two individuals. You will know these teens and they will become your friends, and with them you will share their sorrow and pain. This is a book that should be read, reread, and discussed.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers: Drugs: Mild references to prescription medications not being used being used as directed. Alcohol: Mild references Sex: Yes Explicit Language: Some Violence: Some abuse. ...more
Summary: Patient Zero is a history of the field of epidemiology, or the study of diseases in a population. It takes the reader through seven differentSummary: Patient Zero is a history of the field of epidemiology, or the study of diseases in a population. It takes the reader through seven different epidemics in history and details the disease, the scientists tracking and attempting to cure the disease, and gives the reader an introduction to a possible patient zero—the first person to get the disease. The seven epidemics include, the plague, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, Spanish influenza, ebola, and AIDS.
Review: First, let me start off by saying that the information in this book is very interesting. Peters does an impressive job introducing us to each of these epidemics and giving the reader facts about causes and potential causes for the epidemics. She highlights the scientist who begin tracking diseases in new ways and how their contributions helped expand the field of epidemiology. I found each of the histories interesting, and she humanizes the book by giving the reader examples of who patient zero might have been.
While the topic and the information was very interesting, I found the format of the book terribly distracting. You would be reading about the disease, and then in the middle of a sentence when you turn the page, you find yourself at an information side bar. The side bar is related, and yes interesting, but when you finish reading it you have to go back and re-read what you had been reading so you can continue when you left off. I found the placements of these to be poorly designed.
My other criticism of the book is that all of the illustrations are very cartoony. Since this is a book about science, it would have been nice if they had included actual pictures. For example, pictures of the scientists if available, pictures of the viruses under a microscope, etc. It would have made the book more credible and more useful in a classroom.
Overall: Despite its flaws I found this book fascinating. I felt it engaged the reader and gave them a lot of good information about the field of epidemiology. I highly recommend this book to students who like science and are interested in medicine, or who just like history. The book had plenty of facts and they are presented in a way that isn’t dry or boring.
Summary: Like the title suggests this nonfiction book covers the history of Russia during the reign of Nicholas II and the fall of the tsar and his famSummary: Like the title suggests this nonfiction book covers the history of Russia during the reign of Nicholas II and the fall of the tsar and his family. It compares the lives of the Romanov family against the plight of the ordinary Russian citizen and peasant. It is a tale of extravagance and destitution, a world of plenty versus the desperation of the masses, a story of war and rebellion. This is the story of the last tsar or Russia, his family, and his people.
Review: The mythology of the Romanov family has led to a version of events that make everything appear through rose tinted glasses. So many stories have been told of the family and their fall. The story romanticized in movies like the animated film Anastasia; the truth often buried beneath the legend. Fleming sweeps all that aside and presents the family and the truth behind the fall of the tsar.
With numerous historical sources, an extensive bibliography and numerous notes, the author clearly did her research. The book covers the reign of Nicholas II the last tsar of Russia, from its beginning to his death in 1918 and beyond. She paints a picture of the family that is realistic, touching, and sometimes disturbing. Fleming lets the reader witness the decisions and grave errors that would lead to the tsar’s fall. She introduces the journals of peasants and laborers and places them next to the journals of the tsar and his family. She parallels the lives of the people and the elite, and show how poor decisions led to tragedy. Most importantly of all, she humanizes the tsar and his family. She shows their dedication, their failures, and their love for each other.
This book is well written and entertaining. Fleming has the rare ability to make history come alive for the reader. While the reader can recognize the errors that led to the rebellion, they can still admire the dedication the family had to each other, and how Nicholas and Alexandra cared for their children. Yes, it does seem like they were blind to the plight of the ordinary Russian citizen, but their love for their family humanizes them. I loved the excerpts from the various journals and how she compared the lives of the citizens to the royal family’s. This is an interested and engaging history of the last tsar of Russia.
Audiobook Review: The audiobook is narrated primarily by Kimberly Farr who does an excellent job narrating this book. In some of the journals we hear other narrators reading the parts to distinguish the journals from the rest of the book. I liked how this was done and it changed things up a bit and kept you interested. The unabridged audiobook is 9 hours and 23 minutes long. I would recommend this as an excellent way to experience this book, but pick up a copy of the print version too so you can see some of the photographs included in the book.
Overall: I am not usually a fan of nonfiction and often have a hard time sitting down and reading it. This work was exceptional and kept me interested throughout. I loved how she paralleled the stories of the common worker against that of the family’s elite lifestyle. This work is engaging and interesting—perfect for history lovers or those who just want to know more about the Romanov family.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers Sex: None Drugs: None Language: None Violence: Yes. This is a true history and the story of a violent overthrow of one family’s imperial dynasty. There is violence in this book, but it reflects the actual events. ...more
Meg planned it all carefully. She sent out timed emails, ordered the poison, tied up the loose ends, and finally she did it. What she didn’t rSummary:
Meg planned it all carefully. She sent out timed emails, ordered the poison, tied up the loose ends, and finally she did it. What she didn’t realize was that her best friend Cody wouldn’t be able to let her go. Cody and Meg did everything together, they grew up together and were never without each other until Meg goes off to college and then commits suicide. After finding some encrypted files on Meg’s computer, Cody finds herself on a journey to understand, fill in the gaps, and discover that you never really know someone.
Gayle Forman’s touch is like gold. Every book she writes is a work of art. I remember crying my eyes out while reading If I Stay, something I don’t normally do. I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie. Still, I was thrilled to see this new offering from this remarkable author.
I Was Here is the story of a journey. Anyone who has been touched by a suicide knows that there are so many questions and recriminations that arise in the lives of the survivors. Cody both blames herself and strives to understand why her best friend would make that choice. She strives to understand why Meg would make that choice and leave her behind.
Cody’s emotions and her journey are incredibly believable. Cody follows Meg’s footsteps to find out what led her to her final choice. This journey is painful for Cody, and incredibly difficult. In this journey she will discover herself, her friend, and that knowing can be more painful that she ever imagined.
Audiobook Review: The audio version of this book is produced by Listening Library and read by Jorjeana Marie. Marie does a fabulous job narrating this heart wrenching novel. Her narration makes Cody’s voice authentic and believable. The audiobook is 7 hours and 42 minutes in length and the production is well done. If you like audiobooks, this is a good way to experience this novel.
This is a difficult novel to both review and like. Forman’s writing is remarkable and her ability to dredge forth those tormented emotions is amazing. This novel is a mystery and a journey. Cody wants to understand and find the answers to why Meg did what she did. She finds herself walking and crossing some dangerous boundaries to find the reasons behind Meg’s actions. This book is very emotional, but readers will understand Cody’s frustration and need to know. Forman knows her audience and knows how to draw them in with an emotional and challenging story. Overall this book is incredibly well written and believable, just be prepared for the scars it may leave behind.
Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
Ultimately, this is a book about suicide and understanding the motivations behind a suicide. As such it is painful, and at times graphic. Cody’s journey is not easy and would not be realistic if it were easy. These are college age teens and you will find references to sex, drugs, alcohol, and some foul language. Recommend this book to older teens who like the works of Forman, Ellen Hopkins, and authors who like to push the reader to the emotional edge. ...more