During World War II, Hitler controlled more than just the military; he controlled the entire country of Germany. Much of what this book explains are parts of the WWII history that is not taught in our schools and shows the true extent of the power that Hitler had over everyone.
The Hitler Youth began as a voluntary organization to support Hitler, but it quickly became a way for Hitler to control the youth. Soon the Hitler Youth was not voluntary and they were being used in much the same way as the military.
This book tells true stories of children in the Hitler Youth and children that were brave enough to speak up. It is truly horrific and fascinating. Susan Campbell Bartoletti uses a combination of narrative and expository writing to take her reader on a journey through Nazi controlled Germany starting with their depression and taking us through the the end of World War II. By intertwining true stories of the youth of Germany with historical fact, Bartoletti pulls at your heart strings and shows the true effect that Hitler had on the entire nation. It also takes you through the steps that Hitler took to brainwash the entire population, starting with the most desperate citizens, including the youth.
Although many nonfiction books are hard to get through and are dry, this one has a voice to it that is deeper and more sensitive than most. You become connected to the people of Germany and the youth of the story, so it doesn't matter if that I already know the outcome- you have to know how they make it out of their deceit filled situation. ...more
Told from 24 different perspectives in multiple genres such as verse, letters, undertaker's notes, telegrams, forms and booklets, this harrowing tale takes the reader through the journey that different people took on the Titanic. The points of view range from workers like lookouts and stokers, 3rd class passengers like an immigrant and refugee, 2nd class passengers like a tailor, 1st class passengers like a millionaire and socialite as well as the captain, ship builder, the business man, the ship rat and the iceberg. The story begins on April 1st, 1912 with preparing to sail and ends with the survivors aboard the Carpathia on April 18, 1912.
This novel obviously takes the reader through the complete tragedy of the RMS Titanic and the amount of research that Allan Wolf must of done makes this novel not only a wonderful piece of writing, but an essential part of Titanic-lore from now on. I specifically liked how after the story was completed, an afterword was added with Titanic information and a clarification of the fact vs. fiction within the novel specifically when it came to the characters. This novel will be used in classes learning about the Titanic for years to come because of the historical accuracy and the interesting and in-depth way the story is told. It is also a perfect addition to any English Language Arts classroom because it has perfect examples of different types of poetry (each character has their own style), using dialogue in poetry, historical fiction, figurative language and other literary devices and using multiple-genres. I feel that this book is a great way to teach these elements because the Titanic is such a well known topic which would lend well to students connecting with and understanding the text. This book truly makes history come alive.
This was one of those books that I never wanted to end. I got to where I was reading so fast, that I realized that I wasn't reading the chapter titles any more- that is how much I was gobbling up her Caitlin's words. I could have read about Caitlin for days and days because her voice is so beautiful. Beautiful and real. This book puts asperger's into a format where others may find empathy for those around them who are a bit different. I love in the author's note that Kathryn Erskine points out that ignore and ignorance come from the same root. They go hand in hand. We have to be like Emma or Michael. People who look past the differences and find out who someone really is. ...more
After reading this book, the 5 stars of other books just don't seem justified. This little book is a piece of genius.
Also, I had a hard time putting it on the fantasy or horror shelf (although it is) because it is the most real book I've read in a long time. Books make me emotional very rarely (though it has been happening more often recently) and this one makes me cry even thinking about it. But it also made me laugh and be frightened. It truly is a journey. A rocky, scary, psychological journey for the reader as well as our protagonist, Conor.
Conor is a boy that is going through one of the hardest things any child could go through: his mother has cancer. On top of that, his parents divorced and his father is too busy with his new family to pay attention to Conor. Also, Conor doesn't exactly have the most pleasant time at school. At this point, he is okay being invisible. But then the monster calls. It comes shortly after midnight. It is not a monster that Conor fears, but the monster wants what Conor fears the most: the truth. ...more
In my review for Susan Beth Pfeffer's apocalyptic novel, I said, "This is the first book I've ever read that made me be scared for an apocalypse... his book terrified me; however, this made me not want to put the novel down." Ashfall does what Pfeffer's book did, but Ashfall also intrigued me in a different way because of my fascination with volcanoes- I was filled with a mix of terror and fascination all through the novel. Mike Mullin took a possible future disaster that in all speculations could happen and threw us as readers into the middle of it.
When you start the book, you know that a horrible event is going to happen. Alex, our narrator, tells us how different everything is now, but this slight preface cannot prepare you for all of the destruction, criminal activity, devastation and loss that happens throughout this novel.
Some favorite parts: *Loved that Alex described history books and si-fi books as past & future history. *The analogies throughout the novel to help readers understand what Alex is going through are superb. My favorite was describing explosions as Zeus machine-gunning thunder. *Liked that Mike never felt he needed to explain about the gay couple who lived across the street from Alex, it was just normal.
Now I just have to wait for the sequel :)
(view spoiler)[Questions I have (and Mike Mullin has been kind enough to answer my wonderings!): *Why did Joe wait so long to tell Darren and Alex that it was a volcanic eruption? Mike Mullin's answer: I saw Joe, Darren, and Alex as being shell-shocked and not really in much condition to talk about anything when the noise starts. And they have no idea how long it's going to go on, so Joe is waiting/thinking it's going to end. And they all prefer the relative safety of the tub. It's too loud to talk about it and be heard, of course. By the next morning it's obvious it isn't going to get better quickly, so they leave the shelter of the tub, find a candle and go to the trouble of writing out the information about the volcano. *Is that really how a FEMA camp is run? Or is that speculation about what would happen in this situation? It was at this point that I felt that the novel went from apocalyptic to dystopian. Mike Mullin's answer: FEMA camps are NOT run the way I depict in ASHFALL. That said, FEMA has never had to deal with a situation like this. 55,000 people responded to Katrina, which totally overwhelmed FEMA's organizational capacity. In the far worse disaster portrayed in ASHFALL, FEMA presses subcontractors with little disaster relief training or experience into place, and the priority becomes protecting unaffected states from the hordes of refugees fleeing the ash, rather than taking good care of those refugees. I think panic and a desire to protect one's own is a real possibility in a disaster like that.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was enchanted with this book from the opening pages when the descriptive language grabbed me! I could close my eyes and picture exactly what Anne Ursu was describing. Ursu also alludes to so many great novels and fairy tales throughout Breadcrumbs such as When you Reach Me, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, and The Little Match Girl on top of the main inpsiration for the story: The Snow Queen. Though I am not familiar with The Snow Queen either, it was easy to fall into Ursu's magical world.
On top of the language of the book, the protagonist is such an exceptional young girl. Hazel is someone that I wish I was friends with! She has the best imagination, but this also separates her from what is expected in "the real world" which is why she always navigates back to Jack- the one person who seems to get her. So, when Jack stops talking to her, you see Hazel having to mold herself to fit into a niche where she is not tormented- this devastated me! However, when she learns that Jack needed to be rescued, Hazel returns to her old self and knows that she must be the princess to save the knight (pretty empowering for a 5th grader!). ...more
In the world of paranormal romance, Spellbound is a book full of cliches, but fights them and actually stands alone pretty strongly. Overall, a fun romance with action, legends and great music references!
Cliche 1: Emma moves to NYC to live with her rich aunt after a life of loss with her family and has to start school at a posh private school. At the private school she meets: 1) Kristen- A blonde *itchy girl who hates her right away; 2) Anthony- An aggressive, *ss hole rich jock who harasses her; 3) Brendan- A hot, rich jock who she falls in love with at first site; 4) Cisco- A gay best friend; 5) Angelique- An outcast, scholarship kid who accepts Emma for who she is.
Overcoming cliche 1: Emma is quite snarky and keeps you on your toes while reading her narrative. The rest of the characters may fit into cliches, but they are struggling to crawl out of the box. Although the snobby girl and the a-hole boy fit their niche pretty exactly, the rest don't. Cisco is essential in making Emma feel comfortable at her new school (although naming a gay guy Francisco seemed a bit too predictable) and Angelique becomes quite important when the paranormal aspect of the story enters. I was sad that Cisco faded as Emma's relationship with Brendan came into focus. And Brendan....
Cliche 2: A girl falls in love with a bad boy (who is described surprisingly like Edward...) Brendan is a misunderstood bad guy and Emma is just the person to figure him out.
Overcoming cliche 2: Brendan is so cool! He is a gentleman (most of the time...), has great taste in music, is one of the smartest boys in the school and is just, so... hot! Usually when I read a paranormal romance (ala Twilight or Hush, Hush) the man is always so overbearing, aggressive, masculine and negative. Brendan, though mysterious and protective at times, is likable. A nice touch to actually have the protagonist fall for a likable guy.
Cliche 3: Their cursed to love each other and will eventually result in one of their dooms. (Seemed very Impossible by Werlin to me.)
Overcoming cliche 3: The build up to the curse, the curse reveal and the result of the curse are quite entertaining. I found parts of it predictable, but other parts came out of nowhere and shocked me. Quite fun!
Cliche 4: Girl cannot live without boy. They are sole mates.
Overcoming cliche 4: Well, this one is not really overcome. They are soul mates, but it is less of a needy situation than other romances I've read. Yes, Emma loves Brendan and fantasizes and daydreams about him, but Emma also has her own personality. She is strong and not afraid to stand up for herself. She is not always relying on Brendan (though he does seem to be there for her a lot).
So if you are looking for a fun read that may be just a bit different than the other paranormal romances you've read, you should pick this up. ...more
Jane Yolen weaves a beautiful retelling of the hero's journey where the hero is a liar and his mentor is *gasp* a girl. Yolen's story is accompanied bJane Yolen weaves a beautiful retelling of the hero's journey where the hero is a liar and his mentor is *gasp* a girl. Yolen's story is accompanied by amazing artwork that at times is so delicate that it resembles traditional Japanese painting.
There a couple things that I specifically liked about this graphic novel- 1st, I loved the personification that Yolen used to describe the dragon and its surroundings at the beginning of the book: "dragons slept by the ocean's edge, in the green shade of trees that wept their leaves into the water." Phenomenal writing. 2nd, although the 3 sisters were kind of stereotypical for fairy tales (Rosemary: plain and a hard worker, Sage: one beautiful and air headed, Tansy: one hard headed and unique), Sage was entertaining throughout the story. Loved the comic relief. Other puns and humor were thrown in throughout as well such as the name of the town is Meddlesome because everyone quarrels and Yolen would put thought bubbles of what characters were thinking that were hilarious.
This graphic novel is perfect for so many readers and will certainly find a home in many classrooms and probably curricula as well.
(There were a couple of things I didn't like- 1st, I hated that a character that I really liked had to die so close to the beginning to get the story going. It does fit into the hero/fairy tale story, but I really liked him. 2nd, I didn't like the dialogue font, but I think since it was an e-galley that could change before final printing.)...more
Ginny Rorby writes books about animal-human relationships and the healing power of these animals. This is animal fiction that falls into a completely different realm than others. She breathlessly intertwines human problems with animals. Her previous book, Hurt Go Happy, dealt with Joey, a deaf young girl, her mother’s inability to deal with her disability, and how Sukari, a young chimpanzee, helps Joey and her mother accept their life. Her newest book,The Outside of a Horse, deals with Hannah. Hannah Gale feels so alone. Her mother passed away from cancer a few years ago, her father is fighting in Iraq, her stepmother doesn’t really connect with her, and her brother, Jeffy, is just too young to be there for her. The only comfort to Hannah is when her school bus drives by the stables and she gets to see the horses. It is through these horses that Hannah finds comfort during this difficult time in her life that just keeps getting worse and worse.
It is through Ginny Rorby’s believable characters and realistic situations that the reader feels so connected to the animals and humans of her novels. Both The Outside of a Horse and Hurt Go Happy deal with not only a human issue, but an animal issue as well. The Outside of a Horse shows the reader the truth behind horse racing. What makes Rorby’s books different, though, is that she teaches about an animal issue, but does not preach. She lets you take in the truth and decide for yourself if it is an injustice or not.
The best way to describe this book is as a combination of "Mean Girls" and "Groundhog Day", but it is so much more beautiful and meaningful than thatThe best way to describe this book is as a combination of "Mean Girls" and "Groundhog Day", but it is so much more beautiful and meaningful than that makes it sound.
Sam Kingston loves Cupid Day. She is pretty, popular, dating a jock and cupid day is the day she gets to flaunt it. It is also the day that she is going to die. But before she falls, she has to live the day over and over. While her day is on repeat, Sam begins to reflect on her life and realize that all that she has may not be worth the consequences.
There are some amazingly beautifully written moments in this book which is what pushes it from a 4 to a 5. The way that Lauren Oliver writes some moments were some of the best descriptive language I have ever read (see pg. 418 for an example).
(view spoiler)[I would like to say that I didn't like that on Sam's real last day that she never confronted Lindsay about Juliet. I know she wanted it to be perfect and I do like most of the choices she made, but I think that though Sam sacrificed herself, her friends may not understand or change and everything will just be the same the next day. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I am not the demographic for this book, so I tried to rate it based on how middle school boys would like it.
Summary: The second volume of Jon Scieszka's Guys Read short story collections are filled with all types of mysteries and thrillers- from ghosts to monsters to life and death situations to bad guys to a train accident to other exciting stories. What Kellee Thinks: This short story collection was touch and go for me, but we have to remember that I am not the demographic for this short story collection. I think that all of my boys (and some of my girls) would truly love this collection. When I gave my reading interest survey at the beginning of this year, so many of my students wanted scary books or ghost stories- this collection is right up their alley.
My favorite story in the bunch was Walter Dean Myers's story "Pirate" which is a thriller in a different sense than the other books in the collection. Myers's story is about Somalian pirates and is a true life and death situation that kept me on the edge of my seat. It is was also so beautifully written; most of my snatches that I marked in my Kindle were from this story.
I also truly enjoyed "Ghost Vision Goggles", "Nate Macavoy, Monster Hunter", and "Thad, the Ghost, and Me". The three of them are all such fun stories filled with mystery. "Nate Macavoy" even finishes with a cliffhanger and now I want another!! Matt De La Pena's story "Believing in Brooklyn" is a touching story as well as a mystery. I felt that Anthony Horowitz's short story "The Double Eagle has Landed" is a great introduction to the Diamond Brothers and it was the first Diamond Brothers story I've ever read and now really want to read some of the novels. I'll also now be able to book talk the series and I think many students would love the mystery and humor aspects of these stories. ...more
This graphic novel had pretty basic retellings of fairy tales with extraordinary artwork illustrating them. Each retelling was told by a different autThis graphic novel had pretty basic retellings of fairy tales with extraordinary artwork illustrating them. Each retelling was told by a different author and illustrated by a different artist.
The retellings were just that- retellings with no flair or adaptation from the original fairy tales (except Princess & the Pea which added humor in the illustrations and dialogue). Although some may come into this book wanting more than what they find, it was nice to go back to the originals and basics.
Although each story had a different artist, the style was perfect for each tale. For Rapunzel: the artwork was sinister and sketchy, Thumbelina: more colorful, friendly, Snow White: Realistic, dark and more like a comic strip, Beauty and the Beast: Cartoony, blocky, Princess & the Pea: Almost anime, looks the most like a picture book.
And the best parts about the book (from a teachers point of view any ways) were 1) Each story started out with a cast of characters. 2) After each fairy tale there was a history page where it discussed the history of the fairy tale or author. The blurbs held some interesting pieces of information....more
Summary: Anya isn't exactly the most popular girl in school. She has one friend and they spend most of their time skipping class and feigning interest. She'd give anything to be more popular and be noticed by Sean, the basketball player, but that doesn't seem likely. She is ashamed of her Russian heritage and wishes she could look like Elizabeth who doesn't even have to try. But then when she falls down a well and spends 2 days hanging out with a skeleton and the ghost of a girl who has been dead for over a century, her life changes. At first it seems like a blessing because it is really helpful to have a friend no one else can see who can help you pass tests and get a cute boy's phone number. It all seems so perfect, but is it?
What I Think: My summary and thoughts cannot do this graphic novel justice. First, Neil Gaiman has a blurb on the front! He calls it a masterpiece, so obviously it is going to be good. And it was. This graphic novel is brilliant. It is funny, smart, real and creepy all rolled into one. Vera does a perfect job showing the angst of living as a teenager. Anya represents just about every teenage girl I can think of because she is trying to find her identity (even more specifically, her identity within her ethnicity). I knew the ghost was going to show up at some point and I was skeptical that it would work out, but it did. The ghost just gave Anya one more thing she had to overcome to find herself. I also love the artwork. It reminds me a bit of Raina Telgemeier's artwork (who is another one of my favorite graphic novel artists) in that it is clean and bold yet cartoony with minimal shading and looks like it could easily be turned into an animated work. Also, the format was easy to follow and the font was very legible. So, overall, I am a big fan. ...more
Summary: Kate, Michael and Emma have been alone for 10 years. Kate's last memory of her mother is as the 3 of them were being taken away; her mother told her to take care of her siblings and that has been the center of Kate's existence since then. And she has done the best she could as the three of them have been shuffled from orphanage to orphanage never really finding home and always wondering why their parents abandoned them. But their newest orphanage is different- there are no other kids, it is run by a mysterious man named Dr. Pym, odd things are happening and it's in a town that seems more dead than alive. And the odd becomes odder when they discover a book, place a picture in it, and travel back 15 years in the past to a time where conflict is at the center of the town.
What I Thought: First, I am biased because I listened to the audio book and I love Jim Dale. Anything Jim Dale reads automatically is good. As a friend of mine said on Twitter, I could listen to him read the phone booth. So, back to the book... this book is EPIC! I can't think of much to compare it to, but the adventure is at the same level as Harry Potter, Lightning Thief, Peter & The Starcatchers, Kingdom Keepers, etc. Although a similar adventure-type book, it is a very much unique and stand alone novel.
The character building and development in this novel was phenomenal. I really enjoyed the three siblings, they were all very unique, but complete and likable as well. Kate is the responsible one who follows the rules, tries to keep the peace and overall does what she promised her mother. Michael is the scholar and dreamer. He loves dwarves and constantly is writing in his journal. Emma is our rebel, always picking fights and saying exactly what is on her mind. There were also some supporting characters who really made the book come alive such as Gabriel, a man from a nearby village who Emma befriends, and Robbie the dwarf king, who Michael is in awe of. The only character I never felt connected to was the villain, so that may not be a bad thing.
The plot development was also pretty flawless and in a book that has time travel, magic, changing pasts and three protagonists, it would have been very easy to become lost, but John Stephens mapped out his plot perfectly and it all comes together (including the end which was just enough conclusion to have closure, but just enough cliff hanger that you must read the sequel).
Another plus of this series, is that I believe that it will be loved as a middle grade and a young adult novel. It could easily be classified as both because it is just a pure fantasy adventure that will grip any reader.
Snatch of Text: "The tall man had moved into the glow of a streetlamp and was clearly visible for the first time. To a casual passerby, his appearance would not have inspired much confidence. His overcoat was patched in spots and frayed at the cuffs, he wore an old tweed suit that was missing a button, his white shirt was stained with ink and tobacco, and his tie - this was perhaps the strangest of all - was knotted not once but twice, as if he'd forgotten whether he's tied it and, rather than glancing down to check, had simply tied it again for good measure. His white hair poked out from beneath his hat, and his eyebrows rose from his forehead like great snowy horns, curling over a pair of bent and patched tortoiseshell glasses. All in all, he looked like someone who had gotten dressed int he midst of a whirlwind and, thinking he still looked too presentable, had thrown himself down a flight of stairs." (p. 3-4)...more
Summary: Rebecca is 12 years old and has noticed the tension growing between her parents. But when her mom decides to suddenly move her and her brother Lew to Atlanta to stay with their Gran, Rebecca is shocked and devastated. He doesn't know what to do without her best friend and is lost without her dad. She may never be able to forgive her mother for this. Then, just as things seemed like they couldn't get any worse, Rebecca finds a magical bread box that delivers anything that she wishes for. It seems too good to be happening.
What Kellee Thinks: I am not a big fan of magical realism, so I was worried when I began this book; however, I am happy to say that Laurel Snyder did just the right balance so that the realism didn't seem fake and the magic didn't seem far fetched. This just shows me that if the magical realism is done well, I am a fan. I love how Laurel used the magic element in this book. It is such an original concept!
You can tell that Laurel Snyder put much of her heart into this book because emotions that grab at your heart flow throughout the entire novel. Rebecca is such a truthful representation of a middle school girl, specifically one who is going through a tough situation such as a parents separation and sudden move. ...more
Summary: Lupita's family came to Texas to follow the American dream when she was a child. Her father is always working and her mother's only job is toSummary: Lupita's family came to Texas to follow the American dream when she was a child. Her father is always working and her mother's only job is to be a mother. Lupita had a life that she adored- She is the oldest of 8 siblings and has always had a set role in her family: a mini-mom helping her mother raise her siblings. She couldn't ask for anything else. But then Lupita notices her mother acting depressed and crying by the mesquite tree in the rose garden. Then Lupita eavesdrops and learns that her mother has cancer. Now, everything that was predictable and normal about her life are no longer her focus. Will her life ever return to normal again?
What I think: This book is a beautiful book in verse that not only has a touching narrative, but has exquisite verse. The narrative deals with a topic that many readers will have some sort of connection with, cancer, as well has coming of age in a household where the disease has struck. But what makes this book different than other stories about the effects of cancer is that it also tells the story of growing up as a Mexican-American here in America.
Snatch of Text: These are just three of almost a hundred amazing snatches of text that would be great mentor texts for different poetic elements.
"and the moon in this place is wearing a pale, thin dress as it seems to jump from behind one cloud to another, hiding its exquisite face from us." (p. 144)
"For my sisters, senorita means having someone to worship: it is the wonder of seeing their oldest sister looking like Cinderella on her way to the ball." (p. 76)
"The other girls follow them, a convoy of high-heeled hyenas in mass migration." (p. 81)
Originally read: October 10, 2011 Reread: July 13, 2012
A beautifully written book about a truly heinous situation.
When I began this book, I really didn't know what it was about since I hadn't read anythinA beautifully written book about a truly heinous situation.
When I began this book, I really didn't know what it was about since I hadn't read anything about it except that it was loved. Starting out, I thought it was a historical fiction novel about the past where families had to sell their daughters to help pay debts; however, as I read more and things such as TV, cars and Coke were introduced, I began to realize that this wasn't historical fiction at all- it was contemporary. This was something that is happening on our planet right now. I am not ignorant and know that human trafficking exists, but I just had never realized to the extent. Maybe it is that we don't want to think about it, because we feel helpless. That is how I feel now. Helpless. And thankful.
Stan is a genius. He can list all of Sylvester Stallone's movies in backwards alphabetical order, he can do any math problem in his head3.5 probably.
Stan is a genius. He can list all of Sylvester Stallone's movies in backwards alphabetical order, he can do any math problem in his head and he can tell you where any movie is in the video store he works in. Yes. He is a genius and he works at a video store. And Stan is more than aware that this makes him quite far from being cool. However, his dreams do not include college and brilliance which is what everyone else wants him to do; his dream includes screen writing.
Going Nowhere Faster was quite funny at times and Stan's rough draft screen plays throughout are hilarious. Stan narrates and I did have a hard time getting used to his voice and him in general; however, once I got into it, it no longer bothered me.
I received a signed copy of this book from Misty after winning a contest on her blog- THANKS MISTY!!...more
Jack Pool loves Emaline. He knows that because of their faith, he is Jewish, she is Christian, that it will never happen, but he truly loves her. If hJack Pool loves Emaline. He knows that because of their faith, he is Jewish, she is Christian, that it will never happen, but he truly loves her. If he isn't thinking about Emaline, he is thinking about his cello audition in 4 days for a music school in Syracuse- he'd be able to escape his town without even an orchestra or band. Music is his key to escaping and becoming something. Then on his 16th birthday, he walks home Daisy, Emaline's 4 year old sister and goes to work. Daisy disappears later in the day and the true colors of his neighbors shows even more why Jack needs to get away. Because of his faith and the belief that for certain holidays Jews murder human children to sacrifice, Jack is suddenly a murder suspect.
Whenever you hear about prejudices against the Jewish faith and people who practice the faith, you automatically think of things that happened in other countries such as the Holocaust or unrest in Israel, not here in America; however, the prejudice was (is) alive and well here as well. The Blood Lie is a story that shows the reality of what it was like to be Jewish during the 1920s.
What surprised me even more was in the Author's Notes, Vernick mentions that this horrible stereotype of human sacrifice still exists today. I am always shocked (maybe naively) when I learn about the horrible racism that exists in our present time of diversity. ...more
This book was a roller coaster of a ride for me. I had trouble at the beginning getting into the grove of the book, but then about 50 pages in I was sThis book was a roller coaster of a ride for me. I had trouble at the beginning getting into the grove of the book, but then about 50 pages in I was stuck; however, the ending came out of nowhere for me. I am not going to talk about the ending at all because it is something that each person needs to experience on their own. (view spoiler)[But I felt that everything could have ended before the tragedy and it still would have been a good book. Why did that need to happen? Nothing came from it afterwards. Was it just to make me cry? If so, it worked. But if not, why else? (hide spoiler)]
I had trouble at the beginning and I think it stems to one thing- I don't like country music and I struggle with the whole cowboy/western culture. I lived in Austin, but it is not the same as the Texas that Paradise takes place in. Once I got into the book, I truly enjoyed the cast of characters that Alexander has created in this book. Each character is unique and believable. Paisley is a headstrong, kick ass female protagonist and Paradise is one sexy beast. I also loved that all of the minor characters were really well developed. One subtle thing that Jill Alexander did that I adored was she had Cal, a quiet guitar player who didn't really show his personality through the story, shine in lyrics that were in between random chapters. Through his lyrics you really got to see who he was.
Another thing I thought was done really well was all of the musical elements of the novel. There were times when it was described so well that I could hear the music. It was mesmerizing. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
In Trouble explores the options that a young lady had in the 1950s when it came to being "in trouble." Today our options include abortion, adoption anIn Trouble explores the options that a young lady had in the 1950s when it came to being "in trouble." Today our options include abortion, adoption and keeping the baby, but in the 1950s abortion was illegal, keeping the baby was a stigma, so adoption was the option most accepted; however, this was not always the best option for everyone. In the book, Jaime's best friend Elaine figures out that she is pregnant and Jaime tries to help Elaine with her situation thus showing the reader the different options.
In Trouble also gives us a clear look of how the 1950s were by having Jaime's father be a political criminal being charged with communism. He has just been released from prison and throughout the book you learn more and more about his "crime" and punishment.
In Trouble was overall a good book. It grabbed me from the beginning and kept me reading; however, I felt that maybe the book was trying to do too much at one time. For example, randomly the narrative would switch to a script to show that Jaime was viewing her life as a movie. I found myself being distracted by these and would have rather the narrative stay as prose. It also seemed to have so many topics throughout- abortion, adoption, communism, movies, rape, journalism, love... Too much to focus on (though all done realistically and interestingly). ...more
Summary: Jamie Edwards has a dream. She wants to be the Pumpkin Princess. She has been gearing up for it for YEARS. She works diligently at her father's pumpkin patch and everyone in Average, IL knows her. She is a shoo in. And on top of it all, Danny, her totally dreamy crush, is really paying attention to her.
But then Milan, Jamie's semi-famous cousin from L.A., comes to visit for the pumpkin season and really throws a wrench in her plans. Milan is everything you'd think about a Hollywood starlet- plastic, loud, judgmental, and beautiful. And she is winning everyone over. Jamie's parents are loving Milan even though she is doing hardly anything at the patch. Danny seems to always have an eye on her. And to top it all off- Milan is going to run for Pumpkin Princess as well! And no one sees how horrible Milan is being except Jamie.
What I Think: I love those books where you pick it up, read for two hours and finish a complete book because you cannot put it down. Just your Average Princess was one of those books for me. It was so much fun! From the very beginning you like Jamie and are rooting for her and dislike Milan and want to know why. You have to keep reading to find out the answers of the probing questions: 1) Why Milan was being so rude?! 2) Will Jamie win Danny? 3) Who will win the Pumpkin Princess? And Kristina Springer was brilliant in how she developed her plot because she scaffolded her reveal of each of these questions throughout the last third of the book. I also think she played on our nation's fascination and distaste of Hollywood starlets by making Milan fit the stereotypical profile. It made the emotions more instantaneous, because who wouldn't root for a hard working all American girl vs. a Hollywood starlet?
Although I zoomed through this book, I was disappointed in some of the minor characters and their development. I would have loved to have the book be 50 pages longer so that Jamie's friendships and crush could have been built up more. I also was slightly unhappy with the ending, but I am not going to discuss it because of spoilers.
Now, I do not see Just your Average Princess being used in a classroom, but I can see the book being loved by many a teenage girl who will be sitting in their room eating the book up. ...more
Summary: Quebrado finds himself a slave on a pirate ship after being traded around since his mother died and his father ran away. He doesn't even remember his own name, has just come to answer to el quebrado- half islander, half outsider- since his mother was from Cuba while his father was a sailor. He currently works for Bernardino de Talavera, the first pirate of the Caribbean Sea, who has recently captured Alonso de Ojeda, a brutal conquistador. However, Quebrado finally has his first chance of luck- Talavera's ship crashes in the middle of a hurricane and he is able to escape onto an island where he finds his first home in recent memory.
What I Think: If you follow my reviews you probably know that I am sucker for historical fiction and novels in verse, so I am a sucker for this book. Both aspects of the novel were well done- the poetry was beautiful and the historical element was interesting. I love walking away from a novel with more knowledge than when I started and it is even better when I learn about something I never knew about (like pirates of the Caribbean in 1500s). After finishing I went straight to wikipedia to learn more and have put a book listed in the references on hold at my library. I love how historical fiction makes me fascinated about a subject like no history class has ever been able to.
I also enjoyed how it was told from different points of view. It allowed you to get insight into the situation from different points of view. I will say, though, that I walked away wanting more. I wanted more conflict, more resolution, more action... just more. From the cover, I am assuming there will be more books, so maybe they'll contain the more I wanted. ...more
I really felt the voice of this novel was quite humorous and even though he was quite snarky, I connected with him from the very first page. The Goodreads summary compares the novel to Wes Anderson's novels and The Catcher in the Rye and I can see how the voice could make it so the book could be compared to both. But just as Holden Caufield and Wes Anderson's protagonists are funny, angry, and sarcastic, James in 12 Things is as well. At first you don't see why James feels the way he does, but as you learn more about his life, the reasons for why James's anger are revealed.
James "Hercules" Martino has lost his father who was a Dr. Phil type of TV personality who everyone loved, but they didn't know the man that James had to grow up with. After James calls his father an ass at his funeral, his mother sends him to stay with his uncle who gives him 12 labors to complete during the 2 weeks that he is staying with him and through these labors, James will hopefully find some light in his life. ...more
Ginny Rorby is one of my favorite authors. Her other books, Hurt Go Happy and Outside of a Horse, deal with animal and human issues; although Lost in the River of Grass does talk about animals and animal issues throughout, this is Ginny's most human of a novel. It is about survival and finding the strength inside of yourself to stand up to anything- even something that has always terrified you. Throughout the novel, Sarah and Andy, who are lost in the Everglades, face things that are only in most of our nightmares. I learned, quite quickly, that I probably wouldn't survive if I was lost in the river of grass. But Sarah, who is scared of EVERYTHING, grows up right in front of our eyes. This book made me gasp, cry, laugh- go through the cycle of emotions, but that is what makes a book so wonderful. Ginny Rorby knows how to write characters that the reader can connect with and this is no exception- Sarah is just a normal girl and Andy is just a normal boy, but through their journey they found out how extraordinary they are.
Summary: Brooklyn never seems to make the right choices. She fell in an abandoned mine shaft when she was two and it has been down hill since then. Now that she is 15, nothing has changed and the book starts with her arrest for arson, trespassing and underage drinking after throwing a party at a model home and ultimately burning it down. She has to figure out how to make better decisions! Or why not let others make decisions for her?! Brilliant! So, Brooklyn starts a blog where her users can vote on her next decision. Through her followers' decisions, Brooklyn learns more about herself than she bargained for.
What I Think: First, I have to say that I love the concept of this book! Although Brooklyn and her problems are very similar to other protagonists you may find in YA books, Jessica Brody throws in a nice twist with the addition of the blog. It gives the novel the uniqueness that makes it stand alone. I also love Brooklyn's narration and had more than a couple laugh out loud moments.
I loved the boys in the novel (yes, there is a romantic story line), but I will say that it bothered me that it was the nerdy, smart debate boy vs. the sexy, bad boy smoker. I felt that they were both a bit stereotypey at times; however, I will say that Brody made sure that they were both loveable characters so that the choice was even harder. The "bad boy" was overall a nice kid (although I hate that bad boy always has to smoke) and the "nerd" was more than what he seemed to be.
The message that this novel sends is very obvious, but it is done through an enthralling story so it never seems naggy or preachy. I think it is a message that many teens need to hear. Most teens make decisions like Brooklyn does and watching her go through them might help them reflect on their own choices in life. Actually, thinking back to when I was a teenager, this whole idea of having others make teenagers' decisions is pretty brilliant :)
Finally, I will say that there was a suprisingly touching moment in this book that had me crying and I found that it was the major turning point in Brooklyn's life. I liked that something that didn't seem too important to Brooklyn ended up being the thing that ultimately affected her the most.
I loved that this book could make me laugh and cry. It was truly well done.
Snatch of text: My parents have been telling me for years that I make "bad decisions." But I never believed them. Because, you know, they're parents. And since when are parents ever right about anything?... So it isn't until now, at this very second- with sirens blaring, the crowd of people gathering to try to steal a gossip-worthy peek, and the overall chaos of a bod idea turned very bad- that I start to think my parents might just be onto something. Because when you're being handcuffed and lowered into a backseat of a squad car, you kind of have to start reconsidering that way you live your life. (p. 4-5)
The police station smells like burnt toast. As if someone popped a piece of sourdough in the toaster oven and forgot about it. Or maybe the flecks of smoky odor are just lingering in my nostrils from the fire. Rebellious stowaways clinging to the inside of my respiratory system like an annoying guest who refuses to leave long after the party is over. (p. 6)...more
Invasion is a mixture of tragedy, romance, adventure, and sci fi. Though I did have trouble at the beginning of the novel- I felt like the idea of Invasion was so cool (Men in Black + Alex Rider!), but it started off with such little pizzazz; however, do not worry! the rest of the novel makes up for it. After the initial exposition where we learn about CHAOS (a government organization that protects us from aliens) and Colt being considered as an agent in training, conflicts and action start with the freaky accidental death of Colt's parents and is non stop until the end.
On top of the main plot, Jon S. Lewis has built a comic book world that seems so thought out and real that I had to google it to make sure I hadn't missed out on reading about an awesome Captain America-esque comic book hero.
AND the technology that was available to the CHAOS agents and Colt in the novel were spectacular! I wish that some of it was real (and afraid that some of it will be one day).
I was surprised at how easily the protagonists bought into all of the weird stuff going on. If a friend of mine told me that aliens I read about in a comic book was real, I don't know if I'd believe him right away. But I guess if you are being chased by lizard men, you start to believe a lot.
I will say that there were two particular parts of the book that made me think deeply about some moral issues: *Who's guilty- those who make the weapon or those who use it? *If we sink down to the level of the bad guy to stop him, are we any better than him?
Worth reading and looking forward to the next book (CLIFFHANGER!!)
Some wonderings: *Why doesn't Oz get the serum too? *Why did they wait so long to invade? *If the weapons were so advanced during WWII, have they been improved on at all? ...more
Summary: Hannah Baker committed suicide two weeks ago, so why did Clay Jenkins receive a box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah? Because he is one of 13 reasons why Hannah Baker committed suicide and she is going to tell each of them how they contributed to her death.
What I Think: When a book really means something to me, really touches my soul, I have a really hard time writing the review. This book is one of those. I didn't want to stop reading to write down notes or mark favorite parts- I just wanted to keep reading.
This is an important book. One of those books that will be around for a long time. It deals with themes that are constant- bullying, depression, suicide, love. I feel that anyone who reads this book will relate to something. To Hannah's hurt or Clay's love or one of the other characters- in good ways and bad. This book really makes you consider how your actions are truly affecting those around you. Some of Hannah's reasons were not because the person was a bad person. It was because they didn't care or made a bad choice. Little things in our own life may be very large things in other lives. As Hannah says, "No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes we have no clue." So true.
Now, I had heard that some people find Hannah whiny or nit-picking, but I think what happens to her is one of the most realistic translations of isolation in high school that exists in young adult literature. Although one of the 13 reasons may not stand alone as a devastating event (though some do), it is the snowball effect of all of the reasons combining over a short period of time. It is their sum that kills the mean. Those that do not understand are either thinking too much like an adult or had a very easy time in high school, because the experiences that Hannah has are what makes her feel obsolete so they are devastating to her.
Random thoughts- *I felt bad for Clay. He is such a sweetheart and really didn't deserve to be on the tapes- he is one of the few that tried. But maybe he didn't try hard enought. *I will NEVER view the phrase "Relax" in the same way after this novel. It creeps me out just thinking about it. *I think this book would be awesome to listen to as an audio book! I hope they do the dual narratives justice. ...more
Lena lives in a world where love doesn't exist. It has been classified as a disease at at the age of 18, all members of the society go through a brainLena lives in a world where love doesn't exist. It has been classified as a disease at at the age of 18, all members of the society go through a brain altering procedure which eliminates the ability to love. However, there are resisters outside of the society, who know how important love is. Lena, though, has never fought the idea of the cure, the order and the law. She doesn't want to end up like her mother who killed herself because of incurable love. But then all begins to change as Lena is introduced into the world of the resistors.
Although Delirium can easily be compared to other dystopian books, the comparisons are fleeting. Delirium is set in a unique dystopian world which has been brilliantly crafted. The idea of eliminating love by giving brain surgery is fascinating and the "blah"ness of the characters with the cure really hit home. To only care about order and law must really be a horrible way to live (but I can only see that because I do have the capacity to care).
I gave this books 3 stars instead of 4 (which I did consider) because of a couple reasons: -I really felt that the beginning was quite slow. It was too easy to put down and took too long to get into. The last 200 pages, however, were fantastic. -I want to know more! What did the scientists find? What were the bombings in the wild supposed to accomplish? How did they persuade the nation? How did they change history? I want to know more! ...more
*Summary: Cat and Patrick were best friends. Soul mates. But have grown apart over the past 3 years. However, when Cat hears about the horrible hate crime which has put Patrick in a coma, she knows that is up to her to truly get to the bottom of the story. Shine follows Cat as she finds out the truth to determine who is the one who hurt her friend.
What I Think: This is a book about more than just finding a criminal. This is a book about overcoming past injustices and obstacles and ultimately finding out the truth. The truth not only about the hate crime at hand, but also Cat finding out the truth about herself and others in her town. It is also about the thin line between good and bad. It is always not clear which side of the line someone falls. And sides change easily. This is an important book to have around and ranks up there with books like Speak as a book that is just so tough to read, but so important to share.
I loved how the plot was put together as well. As you read, you become one with Cat. You feel her pain, her frustration and her joys. You cry with her and you laugh with her. You truly love her by the end of the book. And as you follow her, the book unfolds like a road map with more and more of the information being given to you each day that Cat investigates Patrick's attack. Then at the end of the book, all the information fits perfectly together and the puzzle becomes clear to all.
I have heard nothing but good things about this book from the minute ARCs were given out at ALAN 2010. However, I was still worried about the integrity of the book since it was dealing not only with a very touchy subject, but also could easily offend a whole region of people. But Lauren Myracle wrote this book with polished purity.
Snatches of Text (some of many that I could have chosen from): "I felt blurry around my edges, like smoke, or the soft ssssss of a snuffed candle." (Ch. 1)
"Her wisdom applied to more than butterflies and roly-polies, because life was fragile. Things happened. Things changed. A girl full of light could get that light snuffed out, and when everything around her was dark, she could roll up into a ball and ignore the whole world, starting with her best friend." (Ch. 1)
"I told myself it wasn't a big deal. Patrick liking boys was part of who he was, but it was hardly the whole picture." (Ch. 2)
"My humiliation turned to rage, and that was good. But it would take longer still for it to shift into something I could control. Something I could fight back with..." (Ch. 9)
"She said God had blessed me with an abundance of spirit, and not to ever squash it down. She said there was goodness in everything and everyone, and it was our job to let that goodness shine...
'God loves you even on your blackest days, and He will always, always be there to guide you home. All you have to do is look for the light of his love. As long as you remember that one thing, why, then you can cast off the darkness and shine again, can't you?'"(Ch. 9)
Originally read: October 9, 2011 Reread: July 12, 2012...more