Excellent nonfiction book for teens about pioneer women--from what life was like for women traveling the Oregon Trail, to how the Donner Party fared (...moreExcellent nonfiction book for teens about pioneer women--from what life was like for women traveling the Oregon Trail, to how the Donner Party fared (excerpts from a surviving woman's diary), to a chapter on prostitutes, to a chapter on Native American women's lives. Each chapter has a theme ("A Woman That Can Work"=women physicians and gold prospectors, etc.) and profiles 2 or 3 specific women's life stories, as well as general descriptions with quotations. There were several fascinating women in this book whom I'd never heard of, and two I really found interesting were Martha Dartt Maxwell, who was a Colorado naturalist who learned how to do taxidermy, and Charlotte "Lotta" Crabtree, who sang, danced and performed in plays. The book, by an Ohio author, has extensive notes and sources and a good bibliography.(less)
I really enjoyed this book, a story of one girl's transition to college and adult life, how she finds her place as an individual and not just the quie...moreI really enjoyed this book, a story of one girl's transition to college and adult life, how she finds her place as an individual and not just the quieter half of a set of twin sisters, and learns to let go a little of her childhood obsessions. The characters are realistic--okay maybe Levi the perfect boyfriend is TOO perfect!--and you really get into their heads, at least Cath the main character's. Very cool to have fanfiction be so prominent a theme and character trait in a novel, and the "Simon Snow" saga as veiled reference to the Harry Potter universe was rather clever. (Although I thought the book overall was a little long, we could have done without so many excerpts of the fake fanfiction story; you get the idea after the first couple. Post the whole story online somewhere if you put that much effort into it and want people to read it, but it didn't need to take up so much of the novel. IMO.) Rowell's writing style is very smooth and great fun to read. I'm not sure why so many people go absolutely nuts over her books, I think they're just pretty good, not the best thing since sliced bread or whatever.(less)
A fascinating dual biography of the famous brothers, both actors but in many ways opposites, as Edwin voted for Lincoln but John would end up assassin...moreA fascinating dual biography of the famous brothers, both actors but in many ways opposites, as Edwin voted for Lincoln but John would end up assassinating the President. I enjoyed the details about the stage culture of the 1860's, I had no idea how much they had to travel to support themselves in plays. (less)
Tells the true story of how counterfeiter "Big Jim" Kennally concocted a scheme to steal President Abraham Lincoln's body from its vault in Springfiel...moreTells the true story of how counterfeiter "Big Jim" Kennally concocted a scheme to steal President Abraham Lincoln's body from its vault in Springfield Illinois, in order to ransom it! (Because his best counterfeit engraving artist was in prison, and so in addition to money, Kennally thought he could get that guy released from jail in exchange for the return of Lincoln's body.) The book describes the fascinating world of 1860's counterfeiting--along with curious terms like "boodle carrier" or "bone orchard"--as well as the crimefighting techniques of the time--the Secret Service had not yet been assigned to guard Presidents, but they worked to stop counterfeiting. This is a very readable book for middleschoolers (and curious adults!), with suspenseful chapter endings just like a novel, lots of photos and illustrations, a glossary and index, and a long list of sources Sheinkin used in his research. A great read, all about crime in the 1860's and 1870's and the reverence with which Americans held Lincoln--but not everyone!(less)
Finally read this classic "white boy captured by Indians and doesn't want to reintegrate into white society" book. I can see why it was popular back w...moreFinally read this classic "white boy captured by Indians and doesn't want to reintegrate into white society" book. I can see why it was popular back when it was first published in 1953 (and it's still periodically used on local school reading lists, because of the Ohio connection), because it is full of action and is a peon to unspoiled wilderness and living off the land. But the language seemed extra stilted to me, like the author was trying to make this book sound (unsuccessfully) like it was written in the 1700's, the time period in which it is set. I liked the abundance of Native American words and names used, with translations that I assume are accurate. The central plot conflict shows that both whites and Natives thought the other culture was uncivilized and savage, which I found refreshing for an older book about Native Americans. (less)
A fun paranormal action/romance for teens! Daniel is a Dreamcatcher, working as a team with a Dreamweaver to protect humans from Nightmares--actual de...moreA fun paranormal action/romance for teens! Daniel is a Dreamcatcher, working as a team with a Dreamweaver to protect humans from Nightmares--actual demonic beings who visit humans while they're sleeping to feed off their fears. Daniel kills these beings with knives, while the Weaver gives good dreams to their charge and keeps them oblivious to the carnage taking place in the invisible realm by their bed. But things change for Daniel when he falls in love with Kayla, his newest charge, a teen girl who is institutionalized for post traumatic stress and hallucinations; he's been a Protector for 200 years but it's been a long time since he's felt close to anyone. And then he learns that the Nightmares are acting in unusual ways: they are actively targeting Kayla and attacking her physically. I had fun reading this book; it reads like an episode of "Supernatural"--witty banter in the middle of wicked fight scenes-- with some of the feel of the Mortal Instruments book series and other paranormal romances. Nice action scenes--you feel drawn into the knife battles and wince at Daniel's injuries--and a sweet romance. Eventually we learn of other supernatural beings besides Catchers and Weavers, which added to my interest and made the invented supernatural world more well-rounded. I'm looking forward to book two!(less)
If you've ever wanted to be a ballerina, or just wanted to read about what is required to become a ballerina, then this book is for you. It follows 14...moreIf you've ever wanted to be a ballerina, or just wanted to read about what is required to become a ballerina, then this book is for you. It follows 14 year old Cassandra, an Australian girl who gets the chance to attend an intensive four-week ballet camp in Canada. She has to deal with homesickness, although she is staying with a nice host family whose daughter Edie is her age and also in the same camp; the intense nature of the long hours of practice and many classes in jazz and modern dance as well as ballet; and also, bullying and snubbing from the Queen Bee ballet student, Melissa, an older girl who is a veteran of the camp and feels she is the best student by far. All of the girls are competing to be chosen as Clara in an upcoming Nutcracker performance, but Melissa leads the pack of veteran girls in snubbing the newbies, even stooping so far as to cyberbully Cassandra. Cassandra maintains her morals throughout, despite the strain in her friendship with Edie, who can't say no to Melissa. When the bullying becomes physical, things come to a head and Cassandra's future as a ballerina is at stake.
This book is short, part of the Orca Limelights series of performing arts novels. The characters are drawn well enough to move the story forward, but because it is a short book you learn the most about Cassandra and not much else about the side characters. It is full of realistic details about life as a ballet student, showing the hard work and competitive pressures involved, and that physical strength as well as strength of character is needed to succeed. Good middle school book or reluctant reader book. I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for a review.(less)
I haven't yet read the whole Seven Series, but I have read the first one, Between Heaven and Earth and when I saw there was a sequel to it I thought I...moreI haven't yet read the whole Seven Series, but I have read the first one, Between Heaven and Earth and when I saw there was a sequel to it I thought I'd pick it up and see what it was like. The "Seven Sequels" is the new series with further adventures of the seven cousins/brothers who share the same adventurous grandfather David. Luckily, you can read any of the books in any order, and also read this sequel without having read the rest of the first series. This book stars DJ, the oldest grandson, in an adventure in England. He and his cousins discover some hidden foreign currency and multiple passports that their grandfather used--along with a coded journal. DJ gives pages of the journal to his cousins and they all decide to travel to the places mentioned, to see if they can figure out what their grandfather did in his past that he wanted kept hidden. Was he really a spy? This book is fast-paced, a great read for reluctant readers, as we follow DJ's adventures trying to uncover the truth about his grandfather. He meets the beautiful Charlie, the granddaughter of his climbing buddy Doris (from the first book), gets to drive a really awesome Jaguar, and gets involved in spying, car chases, shootouts, and helping out the ex-head of MI6. There are also fun references to spy and adventure novels for the clever reader to find. I enjoyed this book more than the first one, but only because this one was more exciting. I liked the moments that connected this book to the sequels, the occasional texts between DJ and his brother (whom you just know is having a great adventure in his own book!). It also had some funny American-vs-Canadian-Vs-British humorous banter. The first one was a little more introspective, more about the relationship between grandson and grandfather. Great for middle school readers.
I read an advance copy of this book from Early Reviewers on LibraryThing.(less)
The first in the Seven series (although they can be read in any order) takes us to Tanzania and the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, which 17 year old DJ is...moreThe first in the Seven series (although they can be read in any order) takes us to Tanzania and the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, which 17 year old DJ is planning to climb in order to fulfill his late grandfather's last wishes--he wants his ashes spread on the summit of the mountain. DJ, an athlete, strong and cocky in his physical abilities, is sure that this will be an easy task for him to accomplish. But he gets off to a rocky start when his backpack and hiking boots are stolen by street kids, and once he's on the mountain with his climbing party, he quickly comes to realize that the adage "polepole" (Swahili for "slowly") is not just a catchphrase but a necessity. Through the course of the several day climb, DJ endures not just physical hardships but also mental obstacles, as he learns to adjust his thinking and rely on others. I enjoyed this story, for the character's growth and the realistic descriptions of the countryside, language, and culture of Tanzania and for the exciting mountain-climbing scenes. However, I kept comparing this book to Peak by Roland Smith, which has a similar plotline of a young man trying to climb a mountain (in that case, Everest) as well as a similar side character-- a local native acting as porter on the climb and trying to make a record and/or prove something (in this case, the first girl porter to summit; in Peak's case, it's to be the youngest ever sherpa to summit). So unfortunately that took away some of the novelty of the book for me. But your average teen looking for an exciting and not-too-long book about a young man trying to climb a mountain is going to enjoy this book. And then they'll want to read the other 6 books in the series, which have 6 other main characters who are all linked together--they're all cousins, and grandsons of the same man, whose last will and testament gives them each a different difficult task to accomplish. I liked seeing how this book is connected to the next one by DJ's texts to his brother Steve, who is off in Spain on his task. It's a clever premise for a series, where you can pick up any one of them and not be lost.(less)
Emily’s father, a former British soldier suffering from severe PTSD, stumbles into the house one night from the woods carrying the dead body of Ashlee...moreEmily’s father, a former British soldier suffering from severe PTSD, stumbles into the house one night from the woods carrying the dead body of Ashlee, whom Emily knows from school. Emily's father, who experiences trancelike episodes of severe flashbacks to the war incident where he killed a civilian girl by mistake, is arrested for murder. He's the only suspect, as he would spend hours in the woods inside his hidden bunker, trying to escape his memories. Emily is convinced he didn’t kill Ashlee, but she doesn’t have any proof that he didn’t, nor know who did. She thinks Damon, Ashlee’s boyfriend, might know why Ashlee was in the woods that night, but he won’t say. The story is told in two points of view, Emily’s and Damon’s, as Damon is struggling to remember just what did happen that fateful night; he was in the woods with Ashlee and his other friends to play their secret Game, where they chase each other through the woods trying to catch each other and steal the dog collars they wear. But he was drunk and high and is only getting brief glimpses of his memories from that night. Emily also begins to suspect her neighbor and childhood friend Joe, who spends time in the woods taking photographs for school projects and has creepy photos of Ashlee. The tension builds as the POVs switch back and forth, and Damon begins to remember more of what happened, leading to a tense climactic scene. Language and drugs make story appropriate for high school and up. The story is told in frenzied, stream-of-consciousness narration, very vague, emotional, almost like a drug trip. This ratchets up the suspense, but I found it just an annoying style of writing, sorry. Interesting look at PTSD; the kids are sort of suffering their own version of PTSD. (less)
I didn't care much for this book; even after sticking with it through the very slow dark and broody beginning to where it gets suddenly very violent a...moreI didn't care much for this book; even after sticking with it through the very slow dark and broody beginning to where it gets suddenly very violent and action-packed (but still dark and broody!), I still just didn't like it. The mystical aspect of Ruben's trances/visions/whatever-they-were didn't seem to be consistent to me, especially when they became more like an out-of-body experience. There were aspects of the mystery that were solved suddenly with no real explanation, and although I thought I would enjoy the setting (English moors), it ended up just way too depressing and stark. Not my cup of tea.(less)
Interesting story. High school senior Jesse has earned the nickname "Sway" because of his influence around the school. He's the one to go to when you...moreInteresting story. High school senior Jesse has earned the nickname "Sway" because of his influence around the school. He's the one to go to when you want marijuana, or alcohol for your party, or to date a hot girl who won't give you the time of day, or to buy a term paper. Even the principal (covertly) uses his services! He deals in money and in secrets, doesn't have any friends because he won't let anyone get that close to him, and shows no emotions. But when the popular football jock Ken pays Jesse to arrange it so that he can date the pretty, straight-A student Bridget, Jesse finds himself falling in love with her, and unusually for him, caring about someone other than himself. He also becomes accidental friends with Bridget's younger brother Pete, who has cerebral palsy and an attitude about his "saintly" sister. Jesse finds himself volunteering with special needs kids to be around Bridget, and defending the weak, and generally becoming a better person in spite of his previous attitude and actions. And maybe he'll finally confront the tragic event in his family's past that has kept him from expressing emotions (and playing the guitar he loves). Jesse is a likable character, very layered, although he's almost too good to be true: a guy who does underhanded things but regrets it, who deals drugs but doesn't smoke them (except for appearances when making a buy), someone who breaks the rules but who has morals about how he does it. He's like a reluctant bad guy. I found myself liking him in spite of myself! One of my favorite scenes is how he gets his friend Joey (a girl)'s lecherous stepdad to stop bothering her. You cringe at his methods, but yet, they're practical and effective. Pete is a wonderfully well rounded character too, not a perfect kid who happens to have a handicap, but rather someone who has to work out his place in his family and learn how to stop feeling sorry for himself. Due to language and some situations (drugs, violence) I'd probably recommend this for high schoolers, not middle school. I read an advance copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley.com(less)
A cute middle-grade book about a 10 year old girl facing changes in her family, neighborhood and in her longtime friendships. Written by an Ohio autho...moreA cute middle-grade book about a 10 year old girl facing changes in her family, neighborhood and in her longtime friendships. Written by an Ohio author, the story is set in an older neighborhood in Cleveland, where Maureen "Mo" helps her single dad raise her and her younger sister, and she hopes to one day see an actual fox on her street (there's a little bit of magic realism at play in the fox stuff, which was really neat). The houses are rundown, but the neighbors all know each other and support one another. Well, except for cranky Mrs. "Starchbutt," who doesn't want anyone touching her roses or walking on her lawn. When residents start getting letters from a developer offering to buy up houses, it causes tensions to rise: if people start moving away, what will happen to their neighborhood? Will Mo's Dad finally make good on his dream to quit his blue collar job and open a restaurant? Mo's best friend spends summers living just across the street with her grandmother, but is soon going to move permanently out of town, and Mo is worried about this. And she has to put up with her little sister, who runs wild and is a constant thorn in Mo's side. A sweet story of family, the born-with-them kind and the chosen kind. Nominated for the Buckeye Children's Book Award.(less)
This is a fascinating graphic novel-style illustrated science book about being "pro-critical thinking" that I think everyone should read. It really ma...moreThis is a fascinating graphic novel-style illustrated science book about being "pro-critical thinking" that I think everyone should read. It really makes you stop and think about things, and reminds readers not to just take something someone says at face value but to do your own research and think critically before just blindly accepting what someone may say is a fact. Similar to the show Mythbusters (which the author cites in the segment on the moon landing), Cunningham explains controversial science topics and debunks the myths and conspiracy theories revolving around them. Topics covered include the "faked" moon landing (there is no evidence proving that it was a hoax), chiropractic (not so much that it's a hoax or fake, but that if practiced poorly it can lead to injuries--I'd never heard of this before and it really made me cringe), that the MMR vaccine causes autism (the original doctor who claimed this, was paid by a pharmaceutical company! And patented his own single vaccine to sell! So how trustworthy are any of his so-called studies?), homeopathy (that water can "retain the memory" of miniscule amounts of allergens put in it and diluted to next to nothing, and this can somehow cure an allergy), evolution, fracking, and climate change. He explains each scientific concept very clearly, with illustrations of course, and then the objections to it. The illustrations are cute, with posterized images of the real people included, and the author lists his sources at the end of the book.(less)
An interesting science fiction story about a teen girl who dies from a sniper's bullet at a political rally in 2027, and wakes up in a hospital 100 ye...moreAn interesting science fiction story about a teen girl who dies from a sniper's bullet at a political rally in 2027, and wakes up in a hospital 100 years later, having been cryogenically frozen and reawakened when the technology was available. Tegan is the first ever person to be successfully revived in this way, as part of a military project designed to resuscitate fallen soldiers. She is naturally very shocked, and has to adjust to a new culture, new computer technology, and the loss of all of her friends and family. She had just begun dating a boy, what seemed like yesterday to her, so she mourns the sudden loss of him and what might have been for them as a couple, although in reality he went on to marry and live a long life without her. Tegan also gets caught up in a political fight, as there are many people who protest her very existence; a radical religious group claims she has no soul and that the government has no right to play God and exert control over life, etc. She befriends a Djibouti boy who is in Australia on a special visa because there is a strict "no immigration" policy. Then there is the conspiracy theory/hidden agenda aspect of the story, as Tegan learns more about the truth of the military revival project and why she is being kept a virtual prisoner, told what to say to the media and not allowed to go anywhere on her own. Once I got used to the strong Australian accent of the book narrator, I really liked this story for the interweaving of all of those plot threads and the themes of independence, fate, standing up for what's right and the thought of what it might really be like to outlive one's entire family and support system. Tegan's voice is realistic, she has normal reactions to what's happened to her, and develops strength of character as she gets caught up in scary situations. This would make an interesting book to discuss with teens in a book group or classroom setting, because there's a lot of political stuff like climate change/overpollution/overpopulation/meaning of life stuff in the book as well.(less)
A lovely biography for kids about the life of the famous children's book author and illustrator. He was one of my favorite illustrators, and I enjoyed...moreA lovely biography for kids about the life of the famous children's book author and illustrator. He was one of my favorite illustrators, and I enjoyed learning more about his life from this book. It has cute illustrations, though they are nothing compared to Sendak's own work. I liked the sidebar sections that explained more complex topics mentioned in the text, such as the Holocaust and censorship, both simply and accurately and objectively.(less)
Wonderful sequel to Cinder. This is my favorite kind of book, a "space opera," with fun characters who engage in witty banter, evil villains with an e...moreWonderful sequel to Cinder. This is my favorite kind of book, a "space opera," with fun characters who engage in witty banter, evil villains with an evil plan (mindcontrolling aliens from the moon who want to take over Earth? Check!), a sci fi setting (future Earth, where countries have been united in various Federations and are at peace with each other, and cyborgs and androids are commonplace), action, suspense, romance, sigh....
Scarlet, the new main character, is as determined and feisty as Cinder, and I love how the two characters' storylines intertwine as the story goes on, adding new characters for more interest (I love the dashing playboy pilot Thorne, and of course, Wolf is the darkly handsome, darkly mysterious and musclebound hero every girl wants to read about :-)
I couldn't put this book down, and eagerly grabbed the sequel, Cress. Now I am longing for the fourth book to hurry up and get here!(less)
An intriguing lyrical folk tale, very much in the oral tradition (it was written to be read aloud, and one can just imagine Neil Gaiman's melodious vo...moreAn intriguing lyrical folk tale, very much in the oral tradition (it was written to be read aloud, and one can just imagine Neil Gaiman's melodious voice in one's head as you read it), set in old Scotland. A "wee" man (dwarf) asks another to guide him over the mountains to a mystical cave, that is said to contain all kinds of gold. They journey for days on foot, endure some hardships, and say little. But when they arrive, things get interesting! I don't want to give anything away. It's a spooky story of love and revenge, ach it is. Illustrated with paintings and also with primitive comics panels, complete with speech bubbles. I understand that the paintings came first, shown on a screen as Gaiman told the story, and then they added the comics when making it into a book. But I personally didn't care for the mix of media, they didn't jibe well. I would have preferred all one or the other style of illustration. But the story is great and sticks with you after you finish it. Not really a graphic novel, but I put it in that Goodreads shelf because I don't want to create a new one for the occasional "illustrated story/graphic picture book". (less)
Lovely modern day version of the archetypal Black Beauty story: horse narrates his life as he is sold to a series of owners and makes friends along th...moreLovely modern day version of the archetypal Black Beauty story: horse narrates his life as he is sold to a series of owners and makes friends along the way, learns lessons. In this case, Macadoo is a Belgian draft horse, which is a different and interesting choice for a horse story. His mother imparts lessons to him about his breed, that they were important for humans, used in clearing land and doing all sorts of work; and that his job will always be to be strong and to heal people. Yes, the story is a little heartstring-pulling and dare I say schmaltzy, but really nice. Macadoo suffers the heartbreaking first separation from his mother, and then another separation years later from the boy he has grown to love; but he also learns to stay true to his calling and love every new child who comes to care for him or to ride him. And there's a lovely happy ending. I enjoyed learning a little more about vaulting (the sport of doing gymnastics tricks while on the back of a horse running around in a circle!) and therapeutic riding stables. I liked the mules he befriends, Job and Molly, too. My only quibble, and what kept me from giving it five stars, was that the horses were pretty much all-knowing; they all understood their humans perfectly, so they were always aware of what was going to happen to them. Mac's mom knew what an auction was and knew of the historic importance of Belgians; Mac learns to recognize the constellations in the night sky! As in, their real names, not some horse-idea of the constellations. But maybe I am being too cynical. I know as a 13-year old I would have eaten this book up, and I enjoyed being able to hand it to one of my library teens as her summer reading prize recently. I would read the other book in the series, Chancey of Maury River, too. I received an Early Reviewer advance reading copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my (belated) review.(less)