Riot is the first book I have read by Walter Dean Myers, which is kind of surprising since he is a "legend" in the teen fiction world. I chose Riot beRiot is the first book I have read by Walter Dean Myers, which is kind of surprising since he is a "legend" in the teen fiction world. I chose Riot because, after reading the summary in the book jacket, I realized I had never heard of this major riot that took place in New York City during the Civil War. Aside from that, I also found the text of the book interesting in that it is written like a movie script. I thought if I liked the book, it would be one I could recommend to readers looking for a different type of writing style in a book. I also think writing this book using this format allowed me to better visualize what was happening throughout the story. This point could be helpful for visual learners/readers.
Walter Dean Myers' writing and storytelling in Riot takes a good look at race relations and class. As a teenager, Claire never thought much of the fact that she is racially mixed, looking more white than black. She just sees herself as a person. Yet, when one of the other characters, who seems jealous of the way the guy she likes looks at Claire, finds out that Claire is partially black, she acts like Claire is suddenly a horrible person. I won't give too much of the story away, but what goes around comes around. It was heartbreaking to me when this incident occurred because at that point Claire questioned everything about herself and kind of lost her innocence.
As for class, I was shocked to think that the wealthy could pay $300 to get out of having to serve in the military, while those less fortunate financially had no choice. The Irish caused the riot because they didn't want to fight in a war to free slaves who they thought, in turn, would come to the north and take all of the jobs from them. Also, they didn't think it was fair that the wealthy could pay money and get out of having to serve. Exploring this issue in Riot was a good way to show that the racism wasn't just based off the color of people's skin....it had to do with getting and maintaining jobs and a lifestyle, not saying that makes racism good in any way.
Overall, I enjoyed the story that was told within the pages of Riot and for me, it was a very quick, enjoyable read. The author's note at the end of the book states: "It was the bloodiest civil disturbance in American history. Four terrible days in July of 1863 that would leave hundreds dead and injured and forever change the face of New York City." I learned about a piece of history I knew nothing about and that I haven't seen written in other historical fiction books. Also, I was able to connect to the characters. I would easily recommend Riot to students that enjoy historical fiction as well as those that want a suspenseful, action filled book. ...more
After reading Water for Elephants and loving it, I thought I would look into reading another adult fiction book. After looking at various websites forAfter reading Water for Elephants and loving it, I thought I would look into reading another adult fiction book. After looking at various websites for a “good” book to read, I ended up coming across Oprah’s summer reading book list, A Small Hotel being one of her picks. I read the summary on B&N and also some readers’ opinions about the book on GoodReads and thought I would give it a try. Told without chapters, the best way I can describe this book is one that slowly builds tension and leaves the reader wanting to know what will happen next. I felt as though I was on a slow moving roller coaster waiting for the big drop. I did feel that some parts of the book were a little slow and contained over-the-top amounts of detail. Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of the way the author blurred the past with the present, making it sort of confusing going back and forth between the two.
I read this book in about half a day because I just needed to know what was going to happen with the characters. This book clearly shows how past events, whether among family or in other situations, can have a big impact on who you become as a person. Also, I think this book shows the importance of communication in a marriage…or how the lack of communication can ruin a marriage. What was interesting about A Small Hotel is how it wasn’t easy to just side with one of the characters, because they both took negative actions in regards to their marriage. I liked this because the situation between Kelly and Michael wasn’t just cut and dry, there were layers to their marriage and the ultimate failure of it. After rushing through A Small Hotel to see what was going to happen with the characters, I have to say that I think the ending was a little to simple considering how the rest of the book was written.
If you’re looking for a multi-layered book with a lot of details, this is the book for you. There were definitely some high points to it, but I just thought it was an average read. ...more
Water for Elephants is one of those adult books that is constantly checked out/put on reserve at the library. Since I spend so much time reading teenWater for Elephants is one of those adult books that is constantly checked out/put on reserve at the library. Since I spend so much time reading teen fiction, when I see an adult book being checked out so much or there is a lot of hype about it, I know I have to put it on my adult fiction TBR list. After coming across this book a couple of times and reading the summary for it, I just didn’t think Water for Elephants would be my kind of book. Luckily, I was wrong in my judgment!
As a child, I only went to the circus one time, but I was so young that I didn’t remember much about it other than being terrified of a clown. I always associated the circus with family, happiness, animals, special performers, and overall, a good, enjoyable time. Yet, the circus in Water for Elephants is from the performers’ perspectives and the workers’ perspectives giving readers a whole new light into the world of the circus. The main circus that has it all and is making a lot of money is Ringling and if you’re not a part of that circus, you are pretty much struggling to make ends meat, which is the case with the circus Jacob is a part of. The way the performers and workers are treated, along with the animals is shocking. Workers go weeks without getting paid, animals are abused, and some of the workers can be “redlighted” meaning Uncle Al, the head of the circus, decides you are no longer good for them and pushes you from the train in the middle of the night. There were definitely some parts that shocked and disgusted me, but I felt like it made me realize a circus isn’t just how the outside world views it, there is so much more to it.
I absolutely loved and connected with Jacob’s character. After losing both of his parents, he ventures out into the world unsure of what his next step in life will be. When things look down or he doesn’t know how he will go on, he stays strong and fights for what he believes in, especially his passion for animals. He is a character that you will be cheering for until the end of the book. I would have enjoyed the book with just the circus aspect of it, but throw in “forbidden love” and the story is that much more appealing. Jacob feels so connected to Marlena from the first time they meet, but tries to deny his feelings since she is married. Not only is Marlena married, but she is married to a schizophrenic man who is perfect one minute and the next he’s trying to get someone killed. Last but not least, I loved Rosie the elephant. Just from reading about her she comes across as a sweet, loveable animal. Unfortunately, Rosie isn’t treated the best, but in the end she gets her revenge.
A story filled with passion, rage, love, mystery, and intrigue I could not put Water for Elephants down. This book made me realize that sometimes it’s good to step out of the teen fiction world and explore all of the wonderful adult books being published. ...more
First and foremost, I have to say that the cover of this book was a perfect choice for the book. It’s one that summarizes the book up with just a pictFirst and foremost, I have to say that the cover of this book was a perfect choice for the book. It’s one that summarizes the book up with just a picture. Aside from that, Something Like Fate is the first book I read by Susane Colasanti and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not usually a big fan of romance books, but the cover of this one intrigued me and I like to be able to recommend “good” books from a variety of genres, romance included.
In the beginning of the story, Lani is a high school junior and has been best friends with Erin for quite some time. They aren’t just friends though, they are more like soul sisters because of Erin doing something that saved Lani’s life years ago (which I don’t want to say and give away part of the story). Because of this, Lani feels forever indebted to Erin, even though she knows their friendship has changed over the years. When Erin tells Lani about her crush on Jason, Lani is happy for her. When Lani first, officially, meets Jason, she knows there is something between them that, although she tries, she just can’t deny is there. Keep in mind, Lani believes strongly in fate, horoscopes, and that kind of stuff. She knows there is something between her and Jason, but Jason is her best friend’s boyfriend now and there is nothing she can do about it except deny the feelings she is having for him. At the end of the school year, Erin goes off to camp and Lani and Jason are no longer a group of three. Will Lani continue to deny her feelings for Jason? Does Erin suspect their feelings for one another? Of course I won’t give away all the juicy details! Just when Lani and Jason think they have made the best decision, unexpected actions occur that neither of them saw coming.
What I liked most about Something Like Fate is how Colasanti was able to weave together a story that felt very real. Lani’s feelings for Jason, although a touchy sort of subject, were believable. It was interesting to read about the different characters and wonder whether or not Lani and Jason would admit to their feelings for one another. I also liked that Colasanti didn’t just make this a gushy love story, but instead included actions and emotions that put the characters in some tough situations. Something Like Fate tells a good story that can easily happen in the real world and questions who is “at fault” and what is more important, friendship or love? Recommend this book to girls that are looking for a good, sort of different romance book, especially those that have enjoyed books by Sarah Dessen. ...more
Ida, or Ida B as she prefers to be called, is a fourth grade home-schooled girl living in Wisconsin. Although she lives on her family’s apple orchardIda, or Ida B as she prefers to be called, is a fourth grade home-schooled girl living in Wisconsin. Although she lives on her family’s apple orchard with few people other than her family to interact with, Ida B is not at all lonely. Readers learn that Ida B had a pretty negative experience her first few days at school, including an awful teacher who would not let her be called Ida B instead of just Ida. After witnessing how Ida B was in school, her parents decided homeschooling would be a better choice. Ida B has a deep connection with life on the orchard and looks to the trees and nature to guide her. Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any better, a tragedy strikes Ida B’s family and life is quickly changed. Forced to attend public school, Ida B decides it would be better to guard herself against not only her family, but the teachers and students at the school. Ida B must face emotional difficulties and fitting in at school, while trying to figure out the type of person she wants to be.
Ida B:…and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World is a heartwarming story filled with strong characterization, emotions, and life experiences. Ida B is a quirky character that questions life and the world, finds joy and satisfaction in living the simple life, and experiences emotions, both negative and positive, in which she must face who she really is. Rather than having Ida B stay strong and positive with the events that occur in the book, Katherine Hannigan allowed Ida B to act like a real person would, questioning not only themselves, but those around them. With this story being so character driven, it could have easily flopped. Yet, Hannigan does a wonderful job of creating a very real, relatable character that you just can’t help but enjoy reading about.
At the beginning of the story, I thought it was going to be a sort of fun-filled, happy book. I was pleasantly surprised that Ida B had to experience two pretty life changing events that made the story that much more interesting, especially making me want to know how Ida B’s story would turn out. Ida B:…and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World is one of those stories that just warms you from the inside out. A quick read and perfect tween (and also “safe”) book, this book will delight readers from the first page all the way to the end....more
Targeted to children or teens that have enjoyed the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Accidental Genius of Weasel High is told using a journal type ofTargeted to children or teens that have enjoyed the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Accidental Genius of Weasel High is told using a journal type of format from Larkin's point of view. I say journal, but it's really a written blog assigned by his English teacher to chronicle his life, interests, hobbies, or whatever else he wants to write about. As with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, this book features graphics and cartoons, but in a less appealing way. The graphics and cartoons do not look like something a 9th grade student would draw, but look more like a graphic created on a computer. Although they go along with the story, they tend to be a little cheesy. The story read like an actual story rather than the journal it was supposed to be.
Aside from these two points about the book that I felt were kind of lacking, there were two major flaws that I just couldn't get over. First, and most importantly, I didn't feel like Larkin's character was real. Although he was supposed to be in 9th grade, it seemed like his character would be better suited to be between grades 5th-7th at most. Larkin's words and actions just felt young. I do think if his character would have been written as a younger boy the book would have been more believable and I would have definitely given it a higher rating.
The second major flaw I had with this book is that Larkin believed his best friend Brooke, who happens to be a female, is actually his girlfriend. If Larkin was a younger character, I might be able to imagine how he might think they were boyfriend-girlfriend. Yet, I couldn't really believe that a 9th grader would not understand that there relationship was anything other than friends.
The Accidental Genius of Weasel High did have some humorous parts and explained experiences that readers would be able to relate to in their every day lives. However, the flaws in this book overpowered the more positive aspects of it. If you're looking for a Diary of a Wimpy Kid readlike, a more appropriate recommendation would be The Defense of Thaddeus Ledbetter. ...more
After seeing the cover of this book, I had cover lust and knew this was a book I needed to get my hands on. From the summary of the book, which I readAfter seeing the cover of this book, I had cover lust and knew this was a book I needed to get my hands on. From the summary of the book, which I read on Barnes & Noble and on GoodReads, I thought I was in for a scary type of read. I don’t necessarily mean a horror book, but just something that would creep me out. Honestly though, this book was nothing like that, but was more fantasy than anything else. Even though I purchased this book for my Nook and didn’t get to fully take in the photographs shown, I was still able to enjoy them. I not only liked the use of photos to help tell/support the story, but the actual photos intrigued me and made me think outside the box. Just when you think you know what you see in the photo, such as the one on the cover, you’re kind of surprised by what you don’t see that tends to be so obvious. (As a side note, I would love to get my hands on a book that contains all sorts of “weird/interesting” photos like the owns used in the book.)
For some reason, the sort of discovery Jacob learns about his grandfather’s past life reminded me of a Peter Pan/Alice in Wonderland adventure, just because there is traveling and other time periods/worlds explored, bringing on the fantasy element of the book. Even though this is a fantasy, it's not a high-fantasy, but instead is a perfect book for those just exploring the fantasy genre, as well as those that already like it. There were parts of the story were a little drawn out and slow, but the suspenseful parts of the plot kept me reading until the end. There were twists and turns in the story that kept me wanting to know what would happen next. Although I didn’t give this book that high of a rating, it’s not because the book wasn’t that good, it was more that I was expecting a different kind of story and I just don’t think this was the best book choice for me. That being said, I do think teens that are looking for a low-fantasy book with action and adventure will surely enjoy this one. The ending leads one to believe that there will at least be a sequel, if not a whole series....more
Yet another Rebecca Caudill nominee for the upcoming school year, Every Soul a Star is told using the multiple point-of-view format, including charactYet another Rebecca Caudill nominee for the upcoming school year, Every Soul a Star is told using the multiple point-of-view format, including characters Ally, Bree, and Jack. Ally, a teen girl who lives in the woods with her family (who runs a campground), is a home-schooled girl who, although really smart, is lacking in her social skills. Ally loves astronomy and all things having to do with it. Bree, the complete opposite of Ally, is a teen girl who wants to be a model and is only concerned with the things that will land her a modeling gig. Ally is quite a superficial character who only seems to care about herself, her clothing, and how she looks. Jack is a teen boy who is kind of chubby, an outcast at school, and doesn’t get very good grades. For different reasons, all three characters are brought together to witness the Great Eclipse. Although, for the most part, the characters are quite different, they are all dealing with personal issues that they must face throughout the story. All three of their lives will be thrown upside down, especially with the very important task they are given, in Every Soul a Star.
I liked that Every Soul a Star is told using multiple points-of-view. I feel like telling the story this way enabled me to get a better understanding of each of the characters and their individual backgrounds. Plus, this method allowed me to see how each character reacted to different situations they were all experiencing at the same time. One aspect of the book that I did not like was how the characters were kind of stereotypical. For example, Ally was homeschooled and was therefore considered unsocial. Although there was some character growth throughout the book, it just wasn’t enough to make up for this negative aspect of the book. On the upside, I liked that there were twists and turns in the plot, not so much shocking events, but more life experiences that will keep readers on their toes.
I think this book would be a good choice for tweens or younger teens, especially if they want a “book that won’t make me blush”. Even with its flaws, it does tell a good story that this age group would appreciate....more
It’s 1968 in Chicago, IL and thirteen-year-old Sam is not only experiencing events that are happening as the Civil Rights movement is going on in theIt’s 1968 in Chicago, IL and thirteen-year-old Sam is not only experiencing events that are happening as the Civil Rights movement is going on in the world and in Chicago, but he is faced with a dilemma. His father, a popular Civil Rights speaker, uses his words and a nonviolent approach to getting his message and ideas across. He believes change will eventually come. On the other hand, sick of seeing all of the negative actions and unequal rights African Americans have, Sam’s brother, known as Stick, decides just using his words like his father isn’t going to make a difference. Stick decides to join the Black Panthers. Aside from just the negative actions Sam views, he must decide which is the best approach: speaking your mind without violence, like his father, or use tougher ways to gain equality, like his brother. Because in the end, you can’t be a rock and a river: a rock is high ground, solid and immovable. The river is motion, turmoil and rage. Author Magoon continues by explaining how, “As the river flows, it wonders what it would be like to be so still, to take a breath, to rest. But the rock will always wonder what lies around the bend in the stream” (p. 283).
Yet another Rebecca Caudill nominee for this upcoming school year, The Rock and the River is a historical fiction book that gives readers a view into life during the Civil Rights movement from the view point of Sam, an African American teenage boy. Sam witnesses some disturbing events, such as one of his brother’s close friends getting attacked by police officers for doing nothing. More and more, Sam realizes how much inequality there is in the world during the Civil Rights movement and begins gaining a clearer perspective on why his father and brother fight, albeit in different ways, to gain equality. Besides just this aspect of the book, Sam also experiences his first crush and girlfriend. This too is kind of a struggle for him, aside from just the feelings of liking someone, because the two are from two different walks of life. Sam goes back and forth between believing his father has the right way of protesting and then believing his brother has the right way. I don’t want to give anything away, but just when you think the action has finished towards the end of the story, an event happens that will shock you.
I enjoyed reading The Rock and the River because I had a strong emotional connection to the book and although some of the events in the book were disturbing, things like them happened. This book opened my eyes and gave me a better feel of what was happening during the Civil Rights movement and how it not only affected individuals, but families as a whole. I’m not typically one to read a lot of historical fiction, but I enjoyed this book and think it’s a good one to recommend to both readers of the genre and also those that are new to the genre since the action s and emotions are so apparent and relatable. ...more
Two years ago, Matt was airlifted out of Vietnam, leaving behind his family, just as the Vietnam War was in full swing. When he is brought to the UnitTwo years ago, Matt was airlifted out of Vietnam, leaving behind his family, just as the Vietnam War was in full swing. When he is brought to the United States, he is adopted by an American family, learns English, and begins going to school. Matt’s story is told in verse and weaves information from both his past life and his present life. Matt is haunted by the memories and secrets he is holding within himself from his time living in Vietnam during the war, which was actually his whole life. Matt connects with his adoptive father by playing baseball. His father thinks he is so good at it, that he should try out for the middle-school baseball team, which he does. Throughout the entire book, Matt struggles with overcoming and accepting what happened in the past, but also struggling with his present life both at home and with his peers who see him as an outcast.
One word for this book—WOW! Another Rebecca Caudill nominee for this upcoming school year, this novel told in verse blew me away. What did I enjoy so much about the book? Here are some of my main thoughts. Matt is such a believable character who readers will easily connect with. Matt’s many emotions, including bewilderment, fear, and uncertainty, feel very real. Throughout the pages of the book, I felt Matt’s pain, but I also felt the joy that playing baseball brought to him. Matt’s character allows readers to get a different perspective on the war, one from the other side of the war, not from the American soldier perspective. I liked this aspect of the book because with the current war going on, it will give readers a new way of looking at the children and the people experiencing the war in places such as Iraq. Even though some people there may do things we do not necessarily agree with, such as being human bombs, not ALL the people living in the middle east are like that. Furthermore, United States citizens that may have immigrated from the middle east are not all like that either. Readers are told not to assume or make judgements, but this is not done in a preachy way.
I also liked that the conflicts Matt is experiencing also felt real and were not just easily resolved. For example, it might have been easy to have all of the students at Matt’s school accept him, but that isn’t how the world works. Even though some students might not experience bullying in the same way that Matt does, most know how it feels to be bullied and will be able to connect with this aspect of the book. I can’t express enough how powerful of a book this was. My husband being an Iraq War Veteran, this book gave me a different perspective on how he views his experiences while being in the war.
If you’re looking for a raw, gritty book that is appropriate for a wide range of students, from tweens all the way throughout high school, this is a perfect verse novel to recommend. Emotions are strong and believable, the story is one that goes hand-in-hand with the war that is currently going on, and Matt’s character is fully developed and real. A quick read, this book will be one that will linger in my mind long after I finished it. ...more
Summary: As the book’s title states, Bootleg is a non-fiction book that discusses the rise, the fall, and everything in between in regards to the prohSummary: As the book’s title states, Bootleg is a non-fiction book that discusses the rise, the fall, and everything in between in regards to the prohibition. Included are the events and reasons behind why the prohibition began, the positive and negative effects of prohibition, and how prohibition came to a halt. Besides just text, there are black-and-white photographs, comedic drawings, and advertisements. In addition, the end of the book includes a glossary, bibliography, source notes, and an index.
Since I give quite a few book talks throughout the school year, and probably many more now that I will be a school librarian, I always try to include a wide range of books in my book talk collection. When I choose non-fiction books, I try to pick ones that either cover a somewhat controversial topic, such as when I read They Called Themselves the K.K.K. or have appealing titles that will grab the reader’s attention, such as this one. Once I complete the book, I base my decision on whether or not to include the book in a book talk based on how the book reads. As with They Called Themselves the K.K.K. and Spies of Mississippi, Bootleg reads more like a fiction book than a non-fiction book. This is the preferred type of non-fiction book I book talk.
Okay, aside from all that, I enjoyed Bootleg. It wasn’t that this book was full of excitement, suspense, and drama like some other non-fiction books I have enjoyed reading, but Bootleg taught me a lot, surprised me, and even made me laugh out loud at times. For example, I didn’t realize how women played such a key role in getting the amendment for prohibition to pass. A kind of humorous action that happened during the years prior to prohibition was by a woman named Carrie Nation. Mrs. Nation would literally go into bars with bricks, stones, and hatchets to break bottles and ruin the bars. This woman looked like a sweet little old lady, but her actions showed that she didn’t really fit this image.
Another interesting, kind of surprising fact I didn’t realize happened was that even though many politicians believed and signed the amendment approving the prohibition, they still were illegally drinking and partaking in the actions that they were telling others not to do. Furthermore, Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s husband, U.S. Representative Nicholas Longworth, outright told his wife that he “did not have the slightest intention of complying with the Eighteenth Amendment” (Blumenthal 75). Corrupt???
Although many may believe prohibition was just a joke and didn't work, there were some strong reasons why it began, such as the negative effects of alcohol on one’s health, and some positive outcomes during the years of prohibition. Yet, prohibition and the Eighteenth Amendment’s positives did not outweigh its negatives. As author Blumenthal states, “For the first—and only—time in American history, a part of the U.S. Constitution had been erased” (121). This book taught me many tidbits and facts while still being an entertaining, enjoyable read. I think the book’s title and subject, along with Al Capone being involved, will be the seller for getting teens interested in reading Bootleg. ...more