I really enjoyed this book! Ben's relationship with Zan, his chimpanzee brother, was as inspiring as it was as touching, especially when things beganI really enjoyed this book! Ben's relationship with Zan, his chimpanzee brother, was as inspiring as it was as touching, especially when things began to unravel. Ben was initially reluctant to engage with the young chimp when he arrived in their lives. His scientist parents want them to raise Zan as their son, for him to be raised as a human, in hopes of teaching him language. The transformation of Zan and Ben's relationship from strangers, to brothers, to best friends was compelling and thought provoking.
The writing was funny, the secondary characters engaging (especially Peter), and the science was really fascinating. Most of all, I loved Zan! Seeing how he grew, how he adopted language... it was wonderful!...more
I picked up this book on a whim. It was sitting on the shelf of NEW books at the library, and its bright colour simply called out to me. Boy am I gladI picked up this book on a whim. It was sitting on the shelf of NEW books at the library, and its bright colour simply called out to me. Boy am I glad I picked it up.
I absolutely loved this book! As both a science teacher and a past science fair participant (though I never made it past regionals!), I thought it was charming, funny, thought provoking... and totally spoke to my inner geek! I liked that the students profiled in the book came from all walks of life, and that their projects really ran the gamut. I also liked that they weren't necessarily chosen because they would win. Too often, the media depicts today's youth as disenfranchised, lazy, and without hope... yet the kids profiled here showed the opposite. It showed a group of teens who were willing to push boundaries and engage in science.
I've run a mini-science fair with students before, but after reading this it reaffirmed my desire to try again. It was definitely a great book!...more
If I were to describe this book in one word, it would be "brain-candy". Actually, that's two words... but still! ;)
Sometimes you just need something lIf I were to describe this book in one word, it would be "brain-candy". Actually, that's two words... but still! ;)
Sometimes you just need something light and fluffy, and this definitely hit that sweet spot. It's not too intense, nor is it too substantial... but it's a nice, fun, and quick read! I found myself laughing aloud on more than one occasion, and I kept reading 'just one more chapter' well past my bed-time (for a weeknight!)...more
Hate List is a poignant story about a high school shooting, and the toll it takes on all involved - including Valerie, the shooter's girlfriend and thHate List is a poignant story about a high school shooting, and the toll it takes on all involved - including Valerie, the shooter's girlfriend and the person who wrote the "hate list".
I've read novels about school shootings before, but none were as powerful or as thought-provoking as this one. Written from the perspective of Valerie, who is both a victim and the author of the infamous hate list, we are privy to her ongoing recuperation, both physical and emotional. As Valerie struggles to come to grips with what happened, her role in the shooting, and the loss of a person she loved, she must also face the reactions of everyone around her, some of whom revere her as a hero, but most of whom now despise her.
Hate List is a very character-driven story, with a very real protagonist. I found myself feeling sympathy for Val, and aching to help her. I also found myself being angry at those who mistreated her, all while sympathizing with the victims who had ostracized her before the shooting. It was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster to say the least... a very powerful but enjoyable one. And yes... I cried!
As a high school teacher, the subject of school shootings is something that is very close to my heart. Bullying and prejudice is present in many (if not all) schools, and though the children and teens often feel powerless, teachers are often at a loss as well. I try to take an active role in helping to prevent and address bullying in my classroom, but I often can only intervene for what I see. On many occasions while reading, I stopped and thought about my students, past and present. Would I recognize if one of them was hurting like Nick (and Valerie) were? Are some of my kids feeling similar emotions? What can I do to help them? How would I react if in a similar situation? Would I be brave enough to stand before my kids to protect them?
In the end, what I liked best about this book is that it made me think. It took a difficult situation and made me ponder my actions and the repercussions of those actions. The novel wasn't preachy, nor did it try to eliminate bullying. It simply acknowledges that it exists, and that each person's perception is different and multi-faceted. Hate List is a complex story dealing with a complex issue, and I think it did so remarkably well. I would definitely recommend it to both friends and students. ...more
Team Zombie, or Team Unicorn? I am definitely a member of Team Unicorn.
That being said, until the second half of this anthology, I was seriously leanTeam Zombie, or Team Unicorn? I am definitely a member of Team Unicorn.
That being said, until the second half of this anthology, I was seriously leaning towards the zombies! ;)
Zombies vs. Unicorns is a rich anthology featuring many well-known YA authors. Though I was a bit disappointed that there weren't any direct zombie vs unicorn battles, I did really appreciate that the stories tried to depict their chosen "team" in a few novel ways. I was quite taken with the idea of KILLER unicorns,
Favourite Stories "The Children of the Revolution" by Maureen Johnson - This one made laugh, as it was a rather hilarious commentary on the world of celebrities with zombies added into the mix. "Princess Prettypants" by Meg Cabot - had be giggling all along. "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Unicorn" by Diana Peterfreund - Beautifully written, this was an interesting twist on the traditional Unicorn story... gotta love killer unicorns! Also makes me want to go out and find other books by this author.
Least Favourite Stories "A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan - I struggled with this one a bit, both for the context as well as the shifting point of views. "Prom Night" by Libba Bray - After so many great stories, I felt like this one was a bit of a let-down. I wish it had been longer, or maybe just more developed. ...more
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is simply divine! The writing is beautiful, the cover art is gorgeous, and the heroine is a spunky little gem.
Set atThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is simply divine! The writing is beautiful, the cover art is gorgeous, and the heroine is a spunky little gem.
Set at the turn of the 20th century, it is the tale of Calpurnia Tate, a soon-to-be 12 year old girl who lives in Texas with her family. The only girl in a family of 7 children, Callie Vee, as she refers to herself, is expected to be a proper young lady and learn how to cook, sew, and knit. The problem of course is that Callie would like nothing more than to spend hours with her grandfather either in the shed doing experiments or in the bush collecting insect samples. As Calpurnia discovers a world beyond her own, she starts questioning her path. Little girls are expected to become either wives or teachers... not scientists!
Each chapter begins with a quote from Darwin's The Origin of Species, which I found very fitting considering Callie's discovering of the natural world. The writing is endearing and funny, and the author does a splendid job of giving the reader glimpses into the other facets of Callie's life. The ending is rather open-ended, but that's rather perfect in my opinion, and as a science teacher I applaud Callie's desire to become a female scientist in an era when that simply wasn't done. I think this book could be inspirational for young girls everywhere.
A Northern Light was a beautiful story. It was heart-warming, inspiring, and truly delightful. Mattie's word of the day for each chapter became somethA Northern Light was a beautiful story. It was heart-warming, inspiring, and truly delightful. Mattie's word of the day for each chapter became something I looked forward to, and it amused me immensely when I too learned a few new words. I liked the contrast between the worlds where Mattie lived in, the one surrounding her, and the one she aspired to be a part of. Mattie wants to be an author, and though the path towards her goal is rife with complications, this was contrasted nicely with the letters left to her by Grace, the girl who died on the lake. And oh... those letters were both awesome and gut-wrenching!
I have to admit that I got a bit weepy while reading, especially in the last 100 or so pages. But that's a sign of a good book. Well worth reading!
Intense, vivid, and just a little bit messy, this novel is both funny and gut-wrenching. The story itself is rather simple, Tom is trying to find himsIntense, vivid, and just a little bit messy, this novel is both funny and gut-wrenching. The story itself is rather simple, Tom is trying to find himself and put his life (and family) back together after everything has fallen apart, but it is told in such a genuine and beautiful way, that it really brings everything together in a very heartfelt manner.
I both laughed and cried while reading this book, and those are often a marker of a 5-star book... especially when this is paired with good writing and a good story. The Piper's Son however is only getting 4 stars because it suffers from what I call 'Marchetta Syndrome', in that it takes a good 100 pages or so to become really good. This is a phenomena I've also observed in other books I've read by Marchetta (Jellicoe Road was the worst offender). They're brilliant, but take me ages to really hook me... which is rather frustrating!...more
I'd been waiting (not so patiently) for this book for months, and when I finally got my hands on an ARC, I was not disappointed! Daughter of Smoke andI'd been waiting (not so patiently) for this book for months, and when I finally got my hands on an ARC, I was not disappointed! Daughter of Smoke and Bone lived up to the anticipation! It was a bit less of a light-hearted fantasy than the Dreamdark books, and a bit more intense than Lips Touch, but that added intensity and darkness really made this book stand out. Daughter of Smoke and Bone takes that whole good vs evil concept to new and exciting places because unlike so many other stories, we don't really know who is on each side... which makes for an interesting reading experience.
Laini has a gift for creating vivid, imaginative and beautifully constructed settings. Her writing is wonderfully descriptive without being overly heavy or distracting. The pacing and timing of the plot felt smooth and neither dragged nor felt rushed in my opinion. That being said, I do wish that Akiva's appearance and the ensuing drama it provided had been a bit slower to evolve, but that might be because I was enjoying Karou's existential questioning so much! The characters have depth, and though I wish I could know more about Brimstone's background, I understand that this was probably purposely omitted due to further developments in the book/series.
All in all it was a great novel, one I would definitely recommend to friends!
Also, though I can see how the cover ties in with the story, I'm simply not a fan of it. Unlike Laini's other covers which drew me in and evoked an emotional response, this one leaves me rather ambivalent. Luckily, the book itself does the opposite! ;)
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder was a funny foray into that wild and scary world of high school clique-dom and one's place in its hierarchy. I've always thoInto the Wild Nerd Yonder was a funny foray into that wild and scary world of high school clique-dom and one's place in its hierarchy. I've always thought it interesting when people say that the high school years are "the best years of your life" when so many people promptly try to forget those very years as soon as they graduate. They are decidedly challenging years, especially when trying to navigate the uncharted waters of clique-dom. Unlike many people who have tried to forget what high school is like, I now teach there, so I'm constantly bombarded with the social drama.
What I really liked about this book is that it didn't try to be too fancy, or make its protagonist perfect in every way. Jessie felt real... and I could relate to her and her issues, and even see some of my students in her. The beginning was a bit slower than I'd wish, but I appreciate that this set-up was required in order to emphasize Jessie's growing up. I had a few "meh moments" with regards to some of the name-dropping that occurs at various moments, but these were mostly overcome by the genuineness of the characters and the plot. Overall it was an enjoyable read.
This book started as a 3 star book for me, but somewhere in the middle (about where Jessie finally realizes to embrace finding new friends) it became a solid 4 star book. ...more
I've read a few of those 'apple on the cover' books for teachers and was thoroughly disappointed each time. The tone was always rather condescending,I've read a few of those 'apple on the cover' books for teachers and was thoroughly disappointed each time. The tone was always rather condescending, and little if any of the content could directly relate to my classroom. This book did the complete opposite!
Though aimed more towards the beginning teacher, it was an enjoyable read even for the slightly more experienced teacher than I am. I laughed aloud a number of times, and identified with many of the issues and difficulties identified by the author. I enjoyed the honest and sometimes slightly scary way things were described, because let's face it... it's how things REALLY are in our classrooms. It's good (and reassuring) to see that it's normal to feel overwhelmed by your classes sometimes, and that everybody (even those who boast that their classes are wonderful) have hard moments.
This book is full of helpful advice and anecdotes, and I'll probably give my copy to the next student teacher I have... it'll probably be more helpful than some of the pre-service classes offered. Definitely well worth it, especially for new teachers!
I find it somewhat ironic that I am at a loss for words trying to describe a book that had no words whatsoever... but that's what has happened. The ArI find it somewhat ironic that I am at a loss for words trying to describe a book that had no words whatsoever... but that's what has happened. The Arrival is simply stunning!
The artwork is powerful and evocative, all while being mesmerizingly beautiful. The narrative is beautiful, and I really felt the loss, confusion and hope that the immigrant man felt as I turned the pages. Have I mentioned that the drawings are spectacular yet, because they truly are! I've just "read" this book twice in a row now, and I think I'm going to go start at the beginning once again... it's that wonderful!...more
A friend of mine was reading this book on the subway a few weeks ago, and alternated between fits of giggles and flat-out blubbering. Her reactions toA friend of mine was reading this book on the subway a few weeks ago, and alternated between fits of giggles and flat-out blubbering. Her reactions to the book cemented my desire to read it myself, so when I got my own copy of Sorta Like a Rock Star this week, I was very excited.
I wasn't disappointed... Sorta Like a Rock Star is simply awesome!
Amber Appleton is the rock star of hope! Though she's far from being well off (she's homeless and lives on a yellow school bus), and suffers from abandonment issues and family drama, Amber manages to remain optimistic about life, and give hope to those around her. She puts others ahead of herself, and makes people smile... even Joan of Old. Though people tell her how special she is, she doesn't quite realize the implications of this, even when she starts thinking that all hope is lost.
Matthew Quick has written a gem of a novel. His characterization of Amber is spot-on. She's authentic, lovable, and flawed. Imbued with her own plays with words, the reader is immersed in Amber's world, and I know I was sad to leave it. This book is so awesome that I don't think I can even write something that will do it justice. It simply deserves to be read by one and all!
Wrapped was a fun, light, engaging tale full of debutante balls, Egyptology and mysteries to be solved. The writing was well paced, and the charactersWrapped was a fun, light, engaging tale full of debutante balls, Egyptology and mysteries to be solved. The writing was well paced, and the characters kept me entertained. Caedmon in particular was adorable in a cute/geeky way, and I loved how Agnes was more complex a person than she appeared. Overall the book elicited a few giggles, and was an enjoyable read.
The cover was also beautiful! It made me wish there had been more artistic elements inside, but alas there were not. ...more
The illustrations in this book are worth it in themselves. Beautifully detailed and constructed, they really make the story! They make Hugo's tale witThe illustrations in this book are worth it in themselves. Beautifully detailed and constructed, they really make the story! They make Hugo's tale with the Automaton truly engaging, and were the primary reason I picked up this book. Is it obvious yet that I am still in awe of those drawings?
As for the story itself, it was interesting, engaging and quirky. I wish there had been more of it, that it had been developed a bit more (especially the ending), but overall it was an enjoyable read. Considering how quickly this 500+ book can be read, I would definitely recommend it....more
The House of the Scorpion was a great book... it just had a terrible ending!
I was intrigued by this story from the very beginning, and enjoyed the evThe House of the Scorpion was a great book... it just had a terrible ending!
I was intrigued by this story from the very beginning, and enjoyed the evolution of the plot from 'Matt living at the house', to 'Matt living at the camp'. Though I would have enjoyed more details and more backstory, the pacing was good and I was engaged. Sadly though, things kind of just fell apart for me towards the end, and left me feeling rather unsatisfied.
That being said, it was still an interesting read, and I can see why so many people love it and why it's won so many awards. I would recommend it... but with a disclaimer that people might be disappointed by the ending.