Fast-paced and fun! I had read 150 pages before I even realized it. Moning's descriptions (especially those of the unseelie faeries--WOW) are so vividFast-paced and fun! I had read 150 pages before I even realized it. Moning's descriptions (especially those of the unseelie faeries--WOW) are so vivid that I can practically smell the characters in my mind. The color imagery could almost be a character on its own. NOT FOR KIDS OR TEENS. The sex scenes literally bare all....more
Yeah, I'm sure lots of sex offenders are allowed to live in the same apartment complex (and apartment) as the child they abused for years. EspeciallyYeah, I'm sure lots of sex offenders are allowed to live in the same apartment complex (and apartment) as the child they abused for years. Especially when it seems everyone in the neighborhood and town know who he is and who the victim is. I don't care how good the ex-con's lawyer is; that just does not happen. What I read of the book was creepy, and the girl's attitude about the situation is really unrealistic. She would have been better off to run away, and with that spunky little attitude she has, it would seem she could pull that off without too much difficulty. I'm not buying....more
REVIEW: Several years ago, I read The Dead and the Gone, which is the story of a boy (Alex) and his two sisters who l More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: Several years ago, I read The Dead and the Gone, which is the story of a boy (Alex) and his two sisters who live in New York City when this moon disaster strikes. I have always wanted to read Life As We Knew It and finally got around to it!
I devoured this book! The aftermath of the moon asteroid makes sense in its slow progression from power outages and gas shortages to grayed-out skies and food and water shortages. I don't know if the science of the moon asteroid really works, but it sounds believable enough to me. As with The Dead and the Gone, this book makes me want to stockpile canned goods and water. Considering the present state of our pantry, I doubt my family would be able to survive this situation the way Miranda's does.
Told via Miranda's journal entries, Life As We Knew It underscores love and sacrifice for family throughout the book. Miranda's mother is an incredible person who is a smart survivor who does everything necessary to ensure her family's safety. She gets frustrated at times, but she certainly deserves to be. I also love how Miranda's divorced parents make a genuine effort to get along, even though Miranda's father has remarried and has a new baby on the way. Miranda's mother opens her home to them and buys new clothes for the baby and is really one of the strongest parental characters I've ever seen in a YA novel.
Miranda's journal entries sound just like what a teen girl might be thinking during this time. She fights with her mother, doesn't understand how life can be so unfair, experiences fear and hunger and survivor's guilt. As the book progresses, some of Miranda's friends leave, some die, and some just disappear. Miranda's thoughts about her situation reminded me many times of The Diary of Anne Frank.
So now I am ready to read book 3, This World We Live In. I am uber-excited for this one because it brings Miranda and Alex (from book 2) together and mixes in some romance! Can't wait!
THE BOTTOM LINE: I'm sure most middle school libraries already have this series, but if yours doesn't, you really should see about getting it. Fantastic writing that will be a huge hit with the survivalists out there.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have the first three books and Shades of the Moon (#4), is on-order.
READALIKES:Ashfall (Mullin); The Diary of Anne Frank (Frank)
Appeal to teens: 5/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Language: mild; a few damns
Sexuality: mild; some kissing and talk of girls "not traveling alone"; Miranda mentions having her period
Violence: mild-medium; some people carry guns, Miranda is afraid to travel alone, looting
Drugs/Alcohol: very mild; over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol and vitamins
SUMMARY: In the summer of 1793, Philadelphia is a bustling city of 40,000 on the verge of a major yellow fever epidem More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
SUMMARY: In the summer of 1793, Philadelphia is a bustling city of 40,000 on the verge of a major yellow fever epidemic. At first, few people pay much attention; despite rumors of a serious plague, residents know that every summer brings fevers that are never really a huge deal. But as the disease spreads and kills hundreds, then thousands, panic sets in. Fourteen-year old Mattie Cook and her family soon realize that they tried to flee the city too late and are now in the midst of the deadly outbreak.
WHAT I LIKED:Fever 1793 is one of the many books I've planned to read for quite some time but never got around to doing it, so I was excited when it was selected for our YA book club. Although historical fiction is not my favorite genre, I really enjoyed this quick read. Before this, I knew relatively little of Yellow Fever, and I had no idea it had killed so many on our very own soil back in 1793. Anderson really did her research, and I enjoyed learning about this disease and life at that time.
Protagonist Mattie is a strong-willed young lady who must cope with this nightmare almost totally on her own. Yes, she has her mother and grandfather, but there are plenty of times they cannot help her. She is resourceful and strong and never hesitates to help others around her, even knowing that she could catch the disease just as easily as anyone else.
There is light romance, but it's not the main story and doesn't even become anything much until near the end. I liked Nathaniel quite well; though he doesn't appear often, I still felt like I knew his character well.
I also liked how the African-American characters were portrayed as heroes in the story, even though many people at the time disagreed with that.
I loved the historical notes at the end and how almost all the book's characters were real people. The notes reminded me of those "after" notes at the end of movies, where they tell what happened to the characters after the story.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There are those books that I read and love and gush over when I talk about them with students or librarians, but Fever 1793 isn't one of them. Sure, I enjoyed it, but I don't know how well I will remember it in a few months. It is good, and I will recommend it to students, but I won't be gushing or telling people they "just have to" read this one.
THE BOTTOM LINE: With strong characters and a fast-paced plot, Fever 1793 portrays an interesting part of US history through a cast of strong, likeable characters. Recommended for anyone, particularly those who love historical fiction.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, but it doesn't get much checkout (historical fiction is not that popular in my library). Maybe now that I have read it and plan to recommend it, checkout for this title will improve.
READALIKES:Uprising (Haddix), At the Sign of the Sugared Plum (Hooper)
Appeal to teens: 3/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Violence: mild; some gross depictions of disease (vomiting blood, body decay, bloodletting)--only mildly graphic, but they may upset sensitive readers
READALIKES:"The Highwayman" (poem by Alfred Noyes); The Old Willis Place and many others by Mary Downing Hahn; anything by Lois Duncan (my personal favorite is Ransom)
Overall: 4/5 Creativity: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Engrossing: 4/5 Writing: 4/5 Appeal to teens: 5/5 Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
CONTENT: Language: none
Sexuality: mild; large age gaps in the relationships; some kissing and staring at breasts through shirt
Violence: moderate; vampire feeds on willing and unwilling victims; murdered girls' ghosts haunt the inn; a violent death
Drugs/Alcohol: very mild; adults drink wine
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, but it hasn't been very popular so far (maybe because of the dated cover). Only three students before me had checked it out since 2009. Now that I have read and enjoyed it, I will be recommending it to many.
WARNING: The reviews on this site are intended for librarians who need thorough book reviews in order to make informed purchasing decisions. As such, anything below this warning may contain mild spoilers. I try not to give away too much, but I do review the entire book.
WHAT I LIKED: I'm a little embarrassed to admit that after 3 years in the middle school library, this is my first Mary Downing Hahn book. I know, I know, my students would be shocked, especially since I recommend Hahn's books frequently and constantly hear from students who love her books.
Look for Me By Moonlight starts quickly and sets up multiple conflicts within the first 50 pages. There is a developing romance, a mysterious stranger, and a murdered girl's ghost, all against the backdrop of an insecure teen girl trying to fit into her father's new family. Cynda's half-brother's intense fear of the "wolf" and seemingly irrational hatred of Vincent adds to the suspense, as does the spooky and frigid backdrop of the inn itself.
Protagonist Cynda's character is complex, her motives understandable and believable. Though he irritates her plenty, Cynda feels both protective and jealous of her five-year old stepbrother, Todd. She desperately craves her father's attention, yet her subtle attempts to garner his attention are lost on all of them. Though Cynda likes the new family, she clearly feels isolated from all of them at the same time. She feels drawn to Vincent, yet at the same time feels something is wrong about the way he looks at her.
I love how easily Cynda falls into Vincent's trap; he plays on her insecurities to enchant and manipulate her, which may cause teen readers to spot that type of manipulation in their own lives. That Cynda ignores her own warning bells rings true to what people do in their own lives every day. How many people regret their own actions when they don't listen to their own better judgment? How many people fall into manipulative traps every day and regret it for the rest of their lives?
I picked up Look For Me By Moonlight mainly because of the title, which is a quotation from Alfred Noyes's poem "The Highwayman." Since I first read it in seventh grade, "The Highwayman" has been my all-time favorite poem. I get tears in my eyes every time I read it or even think about it, so I know no story is ever going to live up to my nostalgia for "The Highwayman." That said, I love how Hahn masterfully encompasses the creepy setting of the poem without trying to copy its plot. While "The Highwayman" is a story of a tragic love triangle, Look For Me By Moonlight is more a story of predator and prey. So cool.
Look For Me By Moonlight won't be my last Mary Downing Hahn book. Hahn is a master at setting up a creepy scene and adding interesting, complex characters that have problems readers will relate to. The writing is simple enough for a reluctant middle school reader yet interesting enough to hold an adult reader's attention.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
*BIG OL' SPOILER HERE--SCROLL DOWN A FEW LINES IF YOU ARE SURE YOU WANT TO CONTINUE!*
(you're almost there...)
There are several major "Ick" factors in this story:
Ick Factor #1-- Every time Vincent drank from little Todd, my stomach turned a little. Drink from Cynda all you want, pretty boy, she got herself into this mess and now needs to find a way out of it. I'm rooting for her, but it's her own fault. But Todd? Todd, who feared Vincent from the get-go, tried to warn everyone to no avail, sweet little baby FIVE YEAR OLD Todd, exposing his tender little neck for some nasty thing to drink from? That's just not right.
Ick Factor #2-- What is with Cynda's dad and his child bride? Let's do some math here. If Cynda was six when her dad left the family and is now sixteen, that would mean that her dad left ten years ago. In the story Cynda mentions that Susan is probably in her "late 20s." That would have made Susan only slightly older than Cynda is now when she met Cynda's dad, who must have been around thirty when he met her (he had a six-year old daughter and was married). He has a good 10-12 years on her, which isn't terrible if you are in your forties, but in this case, Susan was still a teenager dating a thirty-year old man. YUCK.
Ick Factor #3-- While Vincent "could not be older than thirty" and Cynda is only sixteen, Vincent desires (or pretends to desire) Cynda sexually. Cynda says Vincent's eyes "lingered on my lips and then moved to my breasts" (78), and the pair kisses passionately several times. GROSS. Then, later, Vincent talks about becoming Cynda and Todd's "father," and I actually threw up in my mouth a little bit. Vincent wants to be Cynda's father after he made out with her? It's just not right, and I felt icky reading about it. I wish Hahn had made Vincent ten years younger and desirous of Cynda as a bride rather than a daughter....more
What I liked: Well, my 8th grade girls really love this series. They read all of the books in this series compulsively; some girls even read them more than once. They get as excited about this series as I get about The Hunger Games, Num8ers, and Chaos Walking. My students' love of this series is really enough for me to like it, even if it is based on that alone. The storyline is interesting enough, and I eventually came to actually like Rose as a character.
What I didn't like: I really wish I liked this one more than I do. It is just really difficult to care about Rose and Lissa, neither of whom I find very likeable. Rose reminds me so much of Angelina Jolie (from the photo on the cover to the kick-ass tough bitch characters Jolie likes to play in movies). The problem is, I can't stand Angelina Jolie or her movies. Even though whiny Lissa is supposed to be so sweet and caring and selfless, I found her to be mean-spirited at times. Further, the slow plot put me to sleep more than once; it took me about a week to finish this 336-page book.
Front Cover: Angelina Jolie look-alike. Bad decision.
Content: Language: moderate-high; a few F's and S's, among others. Sexuality: moderate-high; nothing actually happens, but sex is discussed many times. Intense kissing and sensual vampire bites. Lots of mention of "blood whores." Violence: Moderate; Animal cruelty; some fighting; self-mutilation Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate; teens drink beer or talk about getting drunk; vampire saliva is a form of drug for humans/dhampirs
Overall Rating: Highly Recommended for high schools simply because students really love it. Same for middle schools, despite mature content. Librarians, teachers, parents are always advised to read and make their own decisions. While other librarians will likely disagree, it stays on my shelves because my girls just love it.
POP-CULTURE COMPARISON:The Lost Boys meets Beverly Hills, 90210
WHAT I LIKED: First let me just say that I am totally over the vampire craze, even if my students are not. Last week, I was shelving books in my library and I came across this one. Being in a middle school, I started wondering why I ordered a book titled Bloodlust with a large martini on the front cover. When I looked in Titlewave for reviews and grade level recommendations, there were none. My library is new, and I ordered every single book in there. I am not sure what possessed me to order this one. With no professional reviews to go on, I needed to familiarize myself with the content, so I took it home.
If you mix Beverly Hills, 90210 with 1987 movie The Lost Boys, you'll get something similar to Bloodlust. Of course, as teen in the late 80s and early 90s, I was obsessed with 90210 and have seen The Lost Boys more times than I could possibly count. I even had the movie soundtrack, which was one of my favorite albums in 9th grade. So, for adult readers, Bloodlust will evoke nostalgia for those bygone days of bloodthirsty teen vampires and gorgeous rich kids frolicking on California beaches.
I like that the book is short and simply written, making it a great choice for reluctant readers. Content-wise, middle school librarians should read it first. I am proud of the diversity of my collection, but some librarians might not be comfortable purchasing some of the books I have for my middle schoolers. It's definitely fine for high school, but for middle school, it just depends on the reader. There is language and sexual innuendo (see below). Teens drink and do drugs at a party. To me, the sexual content excessive partying is too mature for middle school, so I have moved it to the high school.
I liked that the story is told from Jason's perspective; it seems most recent vampire books are from a swooning girl's point of view. I like how down-to-earth normal Jason is. He ogles pretty girls, can't wait to start surfing, and doesn't compromise his morals for peer pressure. He is concerned when Dani is not fitting in as well as she would like and agrees to take her to a party to help her meet new people. At the party, he turns down alcohol (he promised his parents) and searches for Dani when he hasn't seen her for awhile. When a fight breaks out at the party, Jason jumps in to defend the weaker boy, getting himself nearly killed in the process. As noble as he is, Jason is still normal, falling for the charms of a beautiful girl and wanting to look the other way when things just don't add up.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:Bloodlust is great for reluctant high school readers who like vampire books and movies. As a very-willing, adult reader who is sick of vampire books, I am just not part of the target audience. For me, the book moves at a snail's pace, the writing is overly-simple, and the plot is supremely predictable. I would never have read Bloodlust were it not for the content check for my library. Thankfully, it was a short, easy read.
The relationships are shallow. I do not understand why Jason falls head-over-heels for Sienna; he barely knows her. She cheats on her boyfriend (and he on her) and seems just fine having superficial relationships. Sienna barely knows Jason when she first kisses him, yet Jason feels bad when he questions her behavior--WHY? Not getting that at all. Give uber-gorgeous Sienna some acne, braces, and about 20 extra pounds, and Jason doesn't give her a second glance. Shallow.
The underdeveloped characters are another problem. Jason is by far the character with the most personality; Dani, Sienna, Adam, Zach, Brad...all of them are fairly one-dimensional. Dani is the sister Jason wants to protect. Sienna is the popular, hot girl with a big secret. Adam is the computer-hacking, insightful best friend. Zach is the mysterious stranger always lurking around. Brad is Sienna's popular jerk boyfriend... Defining all the characters by their "one characteristic" makes for a pretty dull read with few surprises.
Language: medium; not a ton, but it does include the f-word a couple of times
Sexuality: medium; Jason admires a girl's body many times; girls dress suggestively (short shorts, bikinis), kissing; groups of teens kissing in hot tubs
Violence: mild; Jason is nearly killed after standing up for a weaker boy at a party; a girl is killed and her body washes up on the beach; several vampire bites
Drugs/Alcohol: very high; teens drink (and get quite drunk) at parties, multiple references to teen drug use
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We had it, but it was not popular. Only one student checked it out since we acquired it in Sept 2009 as part of our opening collection. I moved both Bloodlust and its sequel, Initiation, to our feeder high school....more
It was fast-paced and a great premise, but I thought it was too formulaic and predictable. I saw the "twist" coming a long way off. For me, it was nowIt was fast-paced and a great premise, but I thought it was too formulaic and predictable. I saw the "twist" coming a long way off. For me, it was nowhere near as good as Perfect Chemistry....more
Overall Rating: While this book wasn't really for me, I wholeheartedly recommend this one for middle school boys who like lots of action, war scenes, learning about Viking culture.
What I liked: I can remember studying the Vikings for the first time in fourth grade. We had a young student teacher who knew much about Viking culture and passed that along to the 32 eager young minds in Ms. Schiffanelli's class. Viking culture is just plain interesting, and Roberts has no doubt done his homework. He seamlessly intertwines Norse mythology, poetry, war, and daily Viking life with Viking and world history. Roberts' enthusiasm for Viking culture shows in his descriptions of their clothing, homes, families, and customs. While certainly violent, the brutality of the story's events believably reflect Viking culture and challenge the stereotypical brutal, barbaric pirates that pervade many of today's Viking stories.
What I didn't like: This is very much a story intended for male readers. Where are the female characters? The only women in the story are Halfdan's mother, stepmother, half-sister, and a few slaves and wives. While women at the time may have been seen less than heard, I found myself longing for a young female counterpart to Halfdan. War, sparring, feasting, multiple rapes, and bloody animal sacrifices are exciting, but I personally missed the female perspective. The lives of Viking women must be at least as interesting as the warrior side; perhaps Roberts explores this in the sequel.
Sexuality: multiple rapes, but none are described. The reader knows they happen, but they take place off-screen.
Violence: High--animal sacrifice, blood, gore, murder, kidnapping and rape
Drugs/Alcohol: the Vikings drink "mead" and Halfdan is hungover the next day
Status in my library: We do not have it, but I plan to purchase it. There is definitely a market for middle school boys. ...more
HUH-LAR-EE-YUS! Laugh-out-loud funny! Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. Language is clean and nothing obscene. Might be a good addition to the libHUH-LAR-EE-YUS! Laugh-out-loud funny! Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid for adults. Language is clean and nothing obscene. Might be a good addition to the library, but I don't know if my students know who Mr. Bean is or if they like him. ...more