Book Review - Possessed by Kate Cann

Wednesday March 31, 2010

Possessed
by Kate Cann
February 1, 2010
Point (Scholastic)
Summary:
Rayne wants a complete break from her old life, from her possessive boyfriend and the claustrophobia of inner-city London. She lands a live-in job in the wildness of the country, at an ancient manor house called Morton’s Keep, where life is exhilarating, but terrifying too. There’s something sinister going on at the Keep – something to do with its history – but no one will talk to her about it. No one except her new group of friends, that is. They’re alluring and seductive …especially the group leader, the elegant St John.

Who can she trust to tell her the truth? She can sense something evil growing – but from where, from who? And how can she keep herself safe from it?

Review:
If you think you would enjoy a creepy thriller with sinister characters set in a menacing English Manor with a horrific past...then this is a book for you!

Rayne knows there is something sinister about Morton's Keep but she can't quite put her finger on it. Sudden bouts of terror leave her paralyzed in fear but beauty and the freedom she feels in the surrounding forests keep her from going home. There is also the beautiful and mysterious St John whose kisses leave her wanting more. 

St John and his friends seem so elegant and sophisticated that Rayne can't help but be drawn into their circle. Despite her overwhelming sense that there is something weird and secretive between them, her desire to fit in pushes those thoughts away. Everyone seems to be warning her to stay away including Ethan, who belongs to a secretive group who claims to be watching and protecting the Manor. 
Oh, and there is also the mysterious Green Lady who Rayne seems to see in the weirdest places......

Wonderfully creepy and unpredictable you won't want to put it down. The ending is a conclusive whopper but leaves things wide open for a second book. Already published in the UK as Fire and Rayne I certainly hope it will be released here in the US too!

Visit the authors website to read about both books HERE

Creepy content and the description of the manor's grisly and gory past make this book best suited for ages 14 and up.

Junior Library Guild High Interest High School Level pick for April

Review copy provided by publisher and donated to school library 

It's Spring Break....I'm Reading :)

Tuesday March 30, 2010

Hi everyone...it's Spring Break in Washington State so I'm  home this week relaxing and reading! I'll be posting some reviews here and there but for the most part I'll be catching up on reading! Thanks for stopping by!

In My Mailbox (33)

Sunday March 27, 2010
In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie is a way to share what new books you get each week.  They can be books you borrowed from the library, bought, traded, won or received for review.

So, without further adieu, the following are books I received this past week...enjoy!
 

For review:


Ostrich boys
by Keith Gray
March 23, 2010
Random House
Ross is dead, and Blake, Sim, and Kenny are furious. To make it right, they steal Ross's ashes and set out from their home on the English coast for the tiny village of Ross in southern Scotland, a place their friend had always wanted to go.

What follows is an unforgettable journey with illegal train rides, bungee jumping, girls, and high-speed police chases--all with Ross's ashes along for the ride. As events spin wildly out of control, the three friends must take their heads out of the sand long enough to answer the question: What really happened to Ross?



The Deadly Sister
by Eliot Schrefer
May 1, 2010
Scholastic Press
Abby Goodwin is sure her sister Tabitha isn't a murderer. But her parents don't agree. Her friends don't agree. And the cops definitely don't agree. Tabitha is a drop-out, a stoner, a girl who's obsessed with her tutor, Clyde Andrews...until he ends up dead. Tabitha runs away, and leaves Abby following the trail of clues. Each piece of evidence points to Tabitha, but it also appears that Clyde had secrets of his own. And enemies. Like his brother, who Abby becomes involved with...until he falls under suspicion.

Is Abby getting closer to finding the true murderer? Or is someone leading her down a twisted false path?


Wolven
by Di Toft
June 1, 2010
The Chicken House
"Wolven" is a fantasy firmly rooted in the mysterious present. A boy and his eccentric grandparents live near a strange wood - apparently cursed. He longs for a dog - but the dirty ungainly farm creature finally found by his grandfather hardly fits his image of the perfect pet. And it howls in the night. But it's only when his dog starts to grow human ears that he realizes that something is seriously wrong.

The truth is stranger than his wildest dreams - the boy who appears, alarmingly unpredictably, is a kind of special werewolf in reverse. A noble, almost heraldic breed of Wolven - the king's own werewolves from ancient times, who have been in hiding until rediscovered by evil government scientists who are trying to breed werewolves as weapons.

Junior Library Guild Selection!


The Keepers' Tattoo
by Gill Arbuthnott
May 1, 2010
The Chicken House
Ten years ago, Alaric, leader of the Shadowmen, killed most of the Keepers--teachers of ancient knowledge that threatened his barbaric rule. Young Kit was captured, but his twin sister, Nyssa, escaped. Only later will she learn that both she and her lost brother bear the secret words of their people: three lines each of strange, unintelligible writing tattooed on their scalps.

Now the Shadowmen are on the attack again, determined to quell a growing rebellion. Nyssa must find her brother, and together they must unlock the meaning--the power--behind the mysterious words.




Borderline
by Allan Stratton
March 9, 2010
Harper Collins
Fifteen-year-old Sami Sabiri is a typical suburban teen. He is a good student, has a close group of friends, and struggles to live up to his father's expectations. He faces some bullying at school because of his Muslim faith, and does not get the support from the administration to stop it. When his dad cancels a planned trip to Toronto with him, Sami begins to suspect he might be having an affair. He checks up on him and unknowingly stirs up a completely different investigation of the man's behavior.

Is Sami's dad a terrorist? What ensues is a tautly paced thriller with well-crafted characters and realistic teen dialogue. It is the plausibility of the plotline that makes it, ultimately, so disturbing. The FBI breaks into the Sabiris' house one night, destroys their belongings, and takes Sami's father away.


The Suburb Beyond the Stars
by M.T. Anderson
June 1, 2010
Scholastic Press

Something very strange is happening in Vermont. It's not The Game of Sunken Places - Brian and Gregory have been through that before, and there's not supposed to be another Game until they say there's a Game. But still . . . when they go to visit a relative in the Vermont woods, they find many things are . . . off. Like, people aren't where they're supposed to be. And houses are everywhere. In fact, the houses seem to be taking over.

If anyone in the universe can make high adventure out of supernatural urban sprawl . . . well, it's M. T. Anderson. And in The Suburb Beyond the Stars he brings both humor and intelligence to a thrill ride that's part quest, part mystery, part fantasy, and part Abbott and Costello.

Quick and Dirty Reviews

Thursday March 25, 2010

I have bought and read the following books over the last month or so and these books have been super hyped and super reviewed so I thought that having individual reviews for each one might be overkill if you know what I mean so I thought I'd just get down to business and tell you straight up....

Hex Hall
by Rachel Hawkins

Loved it, can't wait until the next one. The kids in the library are lining up for this one when I gave my little book talk. I'll probably have to order another copy!










Hourglass
by Claudia Gray
Loved it, I've been a fan of this series from the very beginning, I knew it would be a huge hit! I discovered it way back in 2008 when Evernight debuted and I happened to be doing a search for vampire books to appease Twilight fans and they weren't disappointed!










The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa
Loved it. I read it in one day and once I put it on the shelves here in the library it hasn't been back yet...readers literally hound the person in possession to hurry up and read it!












Dead Tossed Waves
by Carrie Ryan
Loved it. I loved the Forest of Hands and Teeth so I was excited for this companion book. Sometimes having a companion book instead of a direct sequel is very frustrating because the reader has grown attached to the first books characters but Ms. Ryan does a great job of blending old and new...now I'm just frustrated that I have to wait for the next book!







Gone 
by Lisa McMann
Liked it. Loved the series. The first two books were awesome and this last book in the series was good too but the first two had fast paced, adventure themed story lines and I guess I'm just comparing Gone to those. BUT I totally liked how the story was wrapped up and how we found out Janie's complete story. So I definitely recommend this series...another book/series that is always in demand in the library. I have found that this book is also popular with some of my reluctant readers because of the awesome story line and the fact that the books are only around 200 pages.

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

Wednesday March 10, 2010 


Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine


This weeks pick:

Paranormalcy
by Kiersten White
Available September 21, 2010
Harper Teen

Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Normal is so overrated. 

Isn't this cover gorgeous? I love the paranormal twist here... so another book to look forward to :)

Check out a sneak peak at the authors website HERE

Green Witch by Alice Hoffman

Tuesday March 23, 2010

Green Witch
by Alice Hoffman
March 1, 2010
Scholastic Press
Summary:
In this powerful, lovely sequel to GREEN ANGEL, Green must learn the stories of a number of "witches" and free her true soul mate from a prison as she grapples with life, love, and loss in a post-disaster world.

Review
I loved Green Angel and I was so happy to see the sequel because Green definitely had more to tell...

In the first book Green loses her family in a horrible disaster that occurs when they visit a local city that is set ablaze by terrorist type people called "The Horde".  The Horde despise any type of growth and advancement in civilization. In Green Witch we find out more about them and their mission:

"Repent...Don't even try to fight because heaven is on our side."

A chilling similarity to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that parallels the terrorists opinions that we deserved their hate and wrath.

What I love about these two books is that they are about hope and love and that with the help of those around us we can eventually rise above the despair of losing people we love.

Green mourns the life before the fires and can't see that she will ever get over her loss. She tattoos her body with roses and thorns and closes herself off to the rest of world. It is only when she decides to start helping others in need, animals and people alike, that she truly starts to break through her own grief and regret. 


In Green Witch Green sets out to find two people disappear from her life...Heather a school mate whose brother asks for Greens help and Diamond, the boy who brought love back into Green's life. There are secrets in both disappearances and Green knows that in order to complete her journey she must find the truth. 


Magical, magical writing that you will find yourself re-reading and perhaps writing down certain meaningful and lovely passages that you want to remember...


"Dreams are like air. They never leave you. It takes less than nothing  to begin."

Both books are just barely over a hundred pages...they are more about quality than quantity and Greens story will leave a lasting impression. I have never had a student that I recommended the books to return them unread. 

Review copy provided by publisher and donated to school library

Scholastic Book Fair!

Monday March 22, 2010

I have some reviews to post and I'll try to get them up soon but for the next three days I'm having a Scholastic Book Fair in the library :) They are fun but a lot of work! Here are some pics of my stuff!

Awesome News for Cassandra Clare Fans

March 18, 2010

I don't know about you but I'm SUPER excited about this :)

From EW Shelf Life:

Clockwork Angel is the first book in Clare’s new fantasy trilogy, “The Infernal Devices,” and her fourth novel to date. Clare herself is a worldly entertainment-magazine veteran who struck YA gold in 2007, with City of Bones. It was the first novel in her “Mortal Instruments” series — the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, releases next March — that follows teenager Clary Fray as she navigates a dark, horrific New York underworld.....read the whole article HERE

Book Review - My Boyfriends' Dogs by Dandi Daley Mackall

Wednesday March 17, 2010


My Boyfriends' Dogs
by Dandi Daley Mackall
Dutton/Penguin
February 4, 2010
Summary:
True love is like a good dog—it comes when you need it the most. Bailey Daley might not have found true love just yet, but it’'s not for lack of trying. 

She has a string of ex-boyfriends—and their dogs—to prove it. Bailey’s been raised to believe in true lasting love—and to wait for it. Along her path to love—and three boyfriends later—Bailey discovers that the things she was taught to believe are the things she really believes, too...

It’s worth waiting for that one true love, the guy has got to believe in God, and he’s got to love her for who she is.

Review: 

This is one of those super sweet and lovely books that rise above all the corny, overly fluffed, cliched books about first love and waiting for the "right" guy. I picked up this book and read it in one sitting because I fell in love with this story and its heroine Bailey Daley (thats right, Bailey Daley).

We follow Bailey as she falls in love for the first, second and third time...and in the process acquires three dogs...Adam, Eve and Shirley.

The story opens with Bailey arriving soaking wet in a prom dress, with three dogs to a cafe in St. Louis where she preceds to tell her story to Louie, the owner of the cafe, Rune, the grouchy cook and Colt, a college kid who regularly hangs out there. The author does this very cool thing that helps you get to know each of these characters too...

With each story readers will watch Bailey on her path to true love and finding her Madagascar Day Gecko (you'll see when you read the book :) With the help of her spiritual, patient and garage-sale-loving mom and her best friend Amber, Bailey navigates her way through the complicated path of teenage love.

Oh, and the dogs, I have to mention the dogs! Bailey is the kind of girl that dogs love. The funny thing is that MY mom used to say that to me "Darcy, if there is a stray dog within in 20 miles of this house they seem to always find you." So, I really connected to that part of the story! The dogs that Bailey acquire are a key and very cute part of her story.

A beautiful, insightful and inspiring story that kept me smiling long after I finished the book. I recommend this book to girls 12 to 85....basically anyone who has experienced or can't wait to experience the flutter of first love. I also really enjoyed the overall of theme of God's plan, and waiting to have sex. The book is NOT at all preachy about this topic and the author is very subtle at just throwing it out there. Trust me, I'm a middle school teacher and a mother of three teens so I know the reality of the temptation for these kids and this book is very realistic which makes it just that much better!

Review book provided by author and donated to school library.

Tween Tuesdays (8)

Tuesday March 16, 2010

Tween Tuesday is a meme I first saw at Green Bean Teen Queen and really liked because she is also a librarian who deals with teens and tweens. So, since most of my blog is devoted to YA and teen books I figured that on Tuesdays I can do posts for all the tweeners out there!
The New Brighton Archeological Society
Book One: The Castle of Galomar
by Mark Andrew Smith & Matthew Weldon
ImageComics.com
November 2008
Summary:
Out of the ashes of misfortune will rise the next generation of great adventurers! After their parents are lost on an archeological expedition, four children begin to unlock the secrets of their parents' mysterious lives, discovering a hidden world of mystical artifacts, mythical creatures, and arcane knowledge. 

Soon they find themselves drawn into a conflict over a great library that has kept two kingdoms at war for centuries, the children must save an enchanted forest, the birthplace of magic itself. Join us as these children become the latest members of the fabled New Brighton Archeological Society, and take their first steps towards their true destiny!

Review:
With the popularity of graphic novels these days it is always nice to come across a new adventure series for those reluctant middle school readers! The way I look at it is if a good story line in a graphic novel can keep my attention, then I think it will be interesting for the average middle schooler.


The first book in this series introduces us to four orphaned children who are now living with their godparents after the tragic, mysterious death of their parents. Soon after moving to their new home the kids find clues to their parents mysterious lives and the mystical forces that may have had something to do with their deaths.


Beautiful artwork, awesome fantastical creatures and some great battle scenes will keep readers turning the pages. The storyline maybe a bit confusing for younger readers, best suited for 5th to 8th grade.

Review copy sent by author and donated to school library

Book Review - Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Monday March 15, 2010

Brightly Woven 
by Alexandra Bracken
March 23, 2010
Egmont
Summary:
Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry. 

Review:
Brightly Woven is an enchanting tale of magic, love and fates intertwined...and I loved it! A thoroughly unique story about Sydelle Mirabel who, aside from her gift as weaver, considers herself nothing special and lives a simple life as the village elder's daughter. Wayland North is a mystery to Sydelle...just when she thinks she understands his purpose in wanting her to travel with him to the capital city, she questions his real motivations...are they selfish or selfless? 

Sydelle's feelings for North aren't always clear to even herself and ditto with North...one minute he is holding her hand and the next he is telling her to leave him alone. What secret is he keeping from her? Their long journey together proves eye-opening for both of them.

Another aspect that I really enjoyed about this story is that it wasn't predictable. As the reader you know that North is keeping secrets and that there is something special about Sydelle but nothing is obvious and that makes things much more interesting!

Other than some mild violence this is a very PG story along the lines of Graceling and The Demon King. A sure hit with the fantasy crowd!

Appropriate for ages 12 and up!

Review copy sent by publisher and donated to school library. 

Book Review - Numbers by Rachel Ward

Monday March 8, 2010

Numbers
by Rachel Ward
February 1, 2010
The Chicken House
Summary:
Whenever Jem meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die.

Burdened with such an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris
wheel, Jem notices that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today’s number. Today’s date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!

Review:

This is one of those books that starts out at a slower pace and then has an ending that kicks your a**. After I finished the book I kept going back and re-reading passages that I really liked.

After Jem and Spider witness the terrorist attack in London they panic and runaway from it all. Their journey together shows that this book is more about building bonds, trust and love after you've been hurt and let down by others most of your young life. Don't get me wrong, Jem's horrific gift plays a key part in the story but the heart of the story is more about Jem, Spider and the people they meet along their journey.

I really liked this book. I loved Jem and Spider because they are imperfect and real and represent so many lost children out there. Physically and emotionally abandoned children who are victims by proxy of drug and alcohol abuse. There is a line in the book that Jem says to Spider that really struck me and says it all:


"Wouldn't it be good if you could start again?" I said. "I feel like my life's screwed up before I even got started."


As a middle school teacher/librarian I see these kids all the time. Maybe that's why this book really struck me and will stick with me for a long time.


A wonderful debut novel that I totally recommend. I'm anticipating the follow up book The Chaos which will be published sometime in Spring 2011.


References to drugs/alcohol/sex make this book appropriate for ages 14 and up.

Check out the book website HERE and read the first chapter of Numbers!

Review copy sent by publisher and donated to school library. 

Ron Koertge Blog Tour

Friday March 12, 2010


Shakespeare Bats Cleanup
February 2006
Candlewick Press
When MVP Kevin Boland gets the news that he has mono and won't be seeing a baseball field for a while, he suddenly finds himself scrawling a poem down the middle of a page in his journal. To get some help, he cops a poetry book from his dad's den - and before Kevin knows it, he's writing in verse about stuff like, Will his jock friends give up on him? What's the deal with girlfriends? 

Surprisingly enough, after his health improves, he keeps on writing, about the smart-talking Latina girl who thinks poets are cool, and even about his mother, whose death is a still-tender loss. Written in free verse with examples of several poetic forms slipped into the mix, including a sonnet, haiku, pastoral, and even a pantoum, this funny, poignant story by a master of dialogue is an English teacher's dream - sure to hook poetry lovers, baseball fanatics, mono recoverers, and everyone in between.

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs
March 9, 2010
Candlewick Press
Fielding his social life is a bigger challenge for Kevin than hitting a fastball in Ron Koertge’s funny, insightful sequel to SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP.

Fourteen-year-old Kevin Boland has a passion for playing baseball, a knack for writing poetry — and a cute girlfriend named Mira who’s not much interested in either. But then, Kevin doesn’t exactly share Mira’s newfound fervor for all things green. So when Kevin signs up for open mike night at Bungalow Books and meets Amy, a girl who knows a sonnet from a sestina and can match his emails verse for verse, things start to get sticky. Should he stay with Mira? Or risk spoiling his friendship with Amy by asking her out? 

Ron Koertge, master of snappy dialogue and a deft poet, offers a fast-paced, sympathetic story that interweaves two narrative voices with humor and warmth.

Review:
As a teacher and librarian it is always awesome when authors write books that can be used in the classroom. There are great examples of all different types of poetry here:
  • Pantoum
  • Blank Verse
  • Haiku
  • Couplets
  • Sestina
  • Elegy
and much more! Both books have wonderful, fluid story lines and it is awesome to watch Kevin (who strictly identified himself as an athlete) discover the magic of poetry.

I recommend this book for any parent, teacher or librarian who wants to have books about poetry that are great for reluctant readers because lets face it, telling a kid that you have a great book about poetry for them will probably result in a look of slight terror.

At a non-imposing 115 pages, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is an easy sell because it has sports for the guys and a little romance for the girls. For those kids who enjoy a tear-jerker there is also plenty of poetry/story line about Kevin's mom who has passed away and how he and his father are dealing with it.

I've recently dedicated a whole section in my library to books written in prose. You would be surprised how many there are out there and these two books will be part of the star attraction. Get these books now, seriously....with video games, TV, iPhones and everything else, kids are being exposed to things like poetry less and less. Who knows, maybe the kid you give these books to will be our next great poet!

Review copy sent by publisher and donated to school library. 

Wherever Nina Lies Contest Winners!

Thursday March 11, 2010

Yikes! I'm a little late on this but here are the three winners for the Wherever Nina Lies contest!

Jill @ OWL Books
Julie 102794
Barbrafl

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who entered!
Please email me ASAP to claim your prize :)

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

Wednesday March 10, 2010 


Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine


This weeks pick:


Somewhere in Blue
by Gillian Cummings
May 15, 2010
Lobster Press


  Sandy Rawlins is sixteen years old. Her father – her best friend – has just passed away. She immediately begins to unravel, and yet her mother, mysteriously, is not grieving. Where can Sandy turn as the waves of grief overwhelm her? She doesn't want to be a burden on her friend, Lennie, who has her own problems, trying to be the responsible one at home while her cougar of a mom is out bar-hopping. The boy next door – always a friend, but now perhaps something more – wants to be there for Sandy, but is it already too late? 

She has lost a part of her soul, and the aching sadness pulls her a little further away each day. Readers will be captivated by the dramatic lives of Sandy Rawlins, her friend Lennie Finn, and their two very different mothers. Set in contemporary Toronto, this is a story of intense loss and of reaching out for connections. It reveals four women struggling with their independence and their relationships with each other.

The manuscript for Somewhere in Blue was singled out by Governor General's Award winner, Tim Wynne-Jones, for an award of distinction at the Humber School for Writers.

I love this cover and the story sounds really good!

Tween Tuesdays (7)

Tuesday March 9, 2010

Tween Tuesday is a meme I first saw at Green Bean Teen Queen and really liked because she is also a librarian who deals with teens and tweens. So, since most of my blog is devoted to YA and teen books I figured that on Tuesdays I can do posts for all the tweeners out there!

John Brown: His Fight for Freedom
Written and Illustrated by John Hendrix
Abrams Books for Young Readers
 Published on the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, this biography explores the life of one of American history’s most controversial figures. A great deal of academic study has been published recently about John Brown. This is the first book for young readers to include these new attitudes and research.

In the late 1850s, at a time when many men and women spoke out against slavery, few had the same impact as John Brown, the infamous white abolitionist who backed his beliefs with unstoppable action. His dedication to freeing the American slaves made him one of the most recognizable leaders in the liberation movement to end slavery.

Told through engaging, thoughtful narration and bold, dynamic illustrations, John Brown: His Fight for Freedom is a fitting reminder that all men and women are created equal, and that some things are worth fighting for. The book includes an author’s note, a bibliography, and an index.

Review
What will draw kids to pick up this book is the stunning artwork...it is amazing what can be done with a pen, some ink and acrylic paint! This is a wonderful story about a man before his time. A man who didn't see color, he just saw another human being.

The story itself does not sugar-coat Johns reputation as a passionate (albeit zealous) opponent of slavery. His methods of fighting slavery have been debated over the last 150 years but his focus to end the barbaric practice of owning other human beings has never been questioned.  

I think this is a great book for discussion in the middle grades for all different levels of readers. It really opens the door for kids to debate the question....Was John Brown was a hero for civil rights or an over zealot vigilante?

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary
How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet
Available March 16, 2010
Go behind the scenes with Jeff Kinney and the making of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie!

If you've ever wondered how a movie gets made, you're not alone. Author and illustrator Jeff Kinney didn't know either, but when his bestselling series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, was turned into a live-action movie by 20th Century Fox, he learned how a book gets adapted into a major motion picture.

Complete with photographs, script pages, storyboard sketches, costume designs, and original art by Jeff Kinney, The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary is the perfect companion to the bestselling series.

Review:

It was a lot of fun to watch the progress of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series in this latest addition to these very popular books. From the authors very first sketches in notebooks to various scenes out of the new movie readers can see how it all started.

I was really impressed by the depth and amount information that the author provides on how a book is turned into a movie! Everything from making a script from the story, detailing and developing all the characters and finding the right director to auditions for each part.

I would have to say that any question a kid (or adult for that matter) could come up with in regards to how the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie was made would be found in this book. Seriously...they even show the stages of developing the villainous stinky piece of cheese!

I find it hard to believe that anyone would have to try very hard to get a kid to read any one of the Diary of a Wimpy kid books and this one will be no exception! Hey, even you adults out there will find this one interesting :)

Visit the movie website HERE

Review copies sent by publisher and donated to school library. 

New Contest! Numbers by Rachel Ward

Monday March 8, 2010

NUM8ERS
BOOK RELEASE
ONLINE GIVEAWAY

Book Synopsis
Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!

Review:

This is one of those books that starts out at a slower pace and then has an ending that kicks your a**. After I finished the book I kept going back and re-reading passages that I really liked. 

After Jem and Spider witness the terrorist attack in London they panic and runaway from it all. Their journey together shows that this book is more about building bonds, trust and love after you've been hurt and let down by others most of your young life. Don't get me wrong, Jem's horrific gift plays a key part in the story but the heart of the story is more about Jem, Spider and the people they meet along their journey.

I really liked this book. I loved Jem and Spider because they are imperfect and real and represent so many lost children out there. Physically and emotionally abandoned children who are victims by proxy of drug and alcohol abuse. There is a line in the book that Jem says to Spider that really struck me and says it all:


"Wouldn't it be good if you could start again?" I said. "I feel like my life's screwed up before I even got started."


As a middle school teacher/librarian I see these kids all the time. Maybe that's why this book really struck me and will stick with me for a long time. 


A wonderful debut novel that I totally recommend. I'm anticipating the follow up book The Chaos which will be published sometime in Spring 2011. 


References to drugs/alcohol/sex make this book appropriate for ages 14 and up.
 Check out the book website HERE and read the first chapter of Numbers!

Now for the contest!

Three (3) winners will receive:
  • NUM8ERS hardcover book

Books are valued at $17.99 each. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

START DATE
Monday, March 8

END DATE
Monday, April 5

+1 for commenting (MUST be a follower!)
+2 for each tweet on Twitter
+3 for a sidebar post
+5 for devoting a post about the contest on your blog

Good luck and thanks for entering!


In My Mailbox (32)

Sunday March 7, 2010
In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie is a way to share what new books you get each week.  They can be books you borrowed from the library, bought, traded, won or received for review.

So, without further adieu, the following are books I received this past week...enjoy!
 

For review:

Perchance to Dream
Theatre Illuminata #2
by Lisa Mantchev
Feiwel & Friends
The stuff that dreams are made on.
Act Two, Scene One
Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.

Enter BERTIE AND COMPANY

But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—

Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?

Hunted
House of Night #5
by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
St. Martins Griffin
The good news: Zoey’s friends have her back again and Stevie Rae and the red fledglings aren’t Neferet’s secrets any longer.  The bad news: Ancient evil with the face of an angel has been let loose – that and various other nasties (whose faces aren’t so angelic).  Grandma Redbird is in trouble.  Heath is in trouble.  The House of Night is in trouble.  Okay, let’s face it – Zoey’s whole world is in trouble!  But when the trouble comes from a being who appears to be beauty personified, will the world believe it? Especially when only a teenager and a group of misfits are the only ones who really understand the danger he brings.  Will Zoey have the strength and wisdom to reveal the truth?  Especially when, in the House of Night, the truth is often hard to come by…




Seriously, the arrival of these two books this week nearly caused total anarchy in the library. I made the mistake of showing a bunch of my regular library peeps the cool cover of Perchance to Dream and I was met with demands of "give it to me now" and when I said "uh, I'm going to read it first" two of them seriously tried to wrestle it out of my hands....I wish I was kidding. Anyway suffice to say, I'm bigger and stronger and more determined :)

Hope you had a great week too! Happy reading :)

Book Review - Shadow Mirror

Friday March 5, 2010

Shadow Mirror
Walk of the Spirits #2
by Richie Tankersley Cusick
March 18, 2010
Speak

Unsettling. There’s no better word to describe Miranda Barnes’s ability to hear the cries of the dead, feel the wind move her hair when they run by, and—dare she look into a mirror—see the reflection of a ghostly woman behind her. 

There’s only one person to turn to for support: Etienne. As sexy as he is mysterious, Miranda can’t help but be drawn to him. He believes her; he wants to help her. But there’s a secret in Etienne’s past, something Miranda’s on the verge of discovering. As paranormal activity escalates, passion grows, and soon Miranda is caught up in both love . . . and tragedy.

Review:

This book is a follow up to Walk of the Spirits in what I'm assuming is at the very least a trilogy because the ending in this one definitely leaves the door open for a lot more when Miranda learns a deep dark secret  that could change the lives of everyone around her.

I didn't read the first book but the author does a great job of dropping tidbits of information here and there about the back story to get you up to speed. I enjoyed this book enough that I will probably go back and read the first too :)

Miranda's "gift" of seeing ghosts was passed down to her from a grandfather she barely knew. When her Mom gets a job helping to restore a local plantation, Belle Chandelle, Miranda is drawn to it and its ghostly past. When she hears ghostly cries for help from children in the attic she knows she has to find out more.

Meanwhile, Miranda is also torn between Gage and Etienne...she has feelings for both of them but is having a hard time figuring out how they feel about her. She is also seems to be caught in the middle of spat between her friends Ashely and Parker when a guy that Ashely is tutoring asks Ashely out on date. Parker and Ashely are both Miranda's friends so what happens if Ashely's feelings about Parker are changing and she chooses somebody else?

Not to mention the fact that Miranda has a sneaking suspicion that despite all Parker's complaining about her "gift" and how creepy it is, he may have some secrets of his own.

I really enjoyed this mystery/ghost story/romance read and I loved the southern setting. If you didn't know I'm a sucker for ghost stories set in the south ya'll :) After reading this book I was definitely interested in reading some of the authors other stuff so I went to her website and I found a lot of great sounding books!

Check out the website here: http://RichieTankersleyCusick.com/

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

Wednesday March 3, 2010 


Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine


This weeks pick:

Grace
by Elizabeth Scott
September 16, 2010
Dutton

A fable of a terrifying near future by critically acclaimed author Elizabeth Scott.

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

Told in spare, powerful prose, this tale of a dystopian near future will haunt readers long after they've reached the final page.

I love the cover and this one sounds awesome!

Book Review - Exit Strategy by Ryan Potter

Monday March 1, 2010

Exit Strategy
by Ryan Potter
March 1, 2010
Flux
Who are you supposed to look up to when it seems like every adult you know is more screwed up than yourself?

Looming above Zach Ramsey's hometown are the smokestacks of the truck assembly plant, the greasy lifeblood of this Detroit suburb. Surrounded by drunks, broken marriages, and factory rats living in fear of the pink slip, Zach is getting out of Blaine after graduation. But first, he's going to enjoy the summer before his senior year.

And Zach's having a blast until he uncovers dark secrets that shake his faith in everyone, including his best friend Tank (a state wrestling champion), whose 'roid rages betray a shocking habit. Falling in love with Tank's twin sister Sarah, an Ivy League-bound scholar, doesn't exactly make Zach's life any easier.

Eventually, with enough evidence to nail the town's steroid kingpin, Zach is faced with the toughest decision of his life—one that will prove just what kind of adult he's destined to be.

Review

Stuck in Blaine, Michigan a small suburb of Detroit, Zach is desperate to leave after his senior year, hoping to avoid the fate of his parents, who have lived and worked there their whole lives. In the meantime, he becomes determined to expose his football coach, who he suspects is supplying steroids to athletes, and his best friend Tank's father, an undercover cop who he thinks is mistreating his children and having an affair with a married woman.

Zach is also a little bit stressed out about his brother's seeming lack of motivation to get out Blaine and is more than a little curious about why his talented and athletic brother quit the football team his senior year...another mystery to solve.

When Zach is forced to get a summer job he ends up working at the local "beverage" store across from the assembly plant, the box boy who had the job before him lets him in on a few secrets about the job. Will this job take him down the road to responsibility or just be another example of lame adults who once again fail to live up to Zach's righteous view of "adult behavior"?

It occurred to me while reading this book that  there are a lot of teens out there that are in a very similar situation to Zach. With the economy the way it is and the slow death of industrial jobs there are a lot of "dead end" towns out there with kids hoping to escape the same fate as their parents. 

Zach is a very realistic character...flawed but likable and struggling to figure out who he is and the path he wants to take in life. I predict a lot of boys who read this book will see themselves in Zach and the obstacles and questions he is facing.

I think this is a great story and the writing flowed nicely. There are a few sub-plots in the story like Zach's realization that he is in love with his best friends sister. At first I really wished that these were played out and developed a bit more but I came to the conclusion that this book isn't a love story, or about any other people in Zach's life...Exit Strategy is a definitive coming-of-age story with the main focus being Zach and the person he is becoming.

I KNOW this book will be popular here in my library...it has all the stuff boys like to read about (at least from my experience as a middle school librarian)...sports, girls and the choices boys have to make when it comes to sex, drugs, alcohol and friends.

References to the above topics and a few cuss words make this book appropriate for ages 14 and up.

Visit the books website here: www.ExitStrategy17.com

Review copy sent by publisher and donated to school library.