Friday, December 20, 2013

If I ever get out of here by Eric Gansworth

Amazon Review
Lewis Blake inhabits two separate universes: the reservation where he lives in poverty with his mother and uncle, and school, where the fact that he is American Indian (and his sardonic sense of humor) has made him an outcast and a victim of bullying. The seventh grader has begun to accept his status until a new kid shows up in his class. George Haddonfield grew up on air force bases around the world and doesn't seem to know or care about the divisions between the reservation kids and everyone else. Although Lewis and George bond over their shared love of the Beatles, George's friendly overtures to visit are constantly rebuffed by Lewis, who isn't sure if their tentative friendship will be able to withstand the jarring differences between George's home and his own. Can a love of rock and roll overcome all? Lewis's relationships with his mother, his uncle, and even his peers ring true and draw readers deep into his world. Life on the reservation is so vividly depicted that scenes set elsewhere, such as the air force base where George lives, feel a little flatly drawn in comparison. Nonetheless, the overall tenor and wry humor of this novel more than make up for its weaknesses

My Review
I thought this was a nice read. I would mark this as a read a like to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I think all students would like this book as realistic fiction and a good discussion to address bullying and how to handle yourself. Lewis is a great character with a lot of heart. You won't be disappointed with this book.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sylo by D.J. MacHale

I picked this book up at the book fair and bought it for the Library because of the author reviews on the back. I liked all of the authors who wrote positive reviews so thought I would give it a try. I enjoyed the book and found it to be fast paced and engaging. I think this book is similar to Maze Runner or Gone as there are so many questions remaining for the reader. I liked the book but I also have a difficult time when I don't understand everything that is happening. I think students will enjoy this book as they continue to question who is good, who is bad and who really is SYLO.

Amazon Review
MacHale's current-day dystopic series opener begins with a mysterious death and gets stranger from there. On Pemberwick Island off the coast of Maine, Tucker Pierce, 14,  is vaulted onto his high school football team's starting lineup after a star player falls dead at the end of a game. To clear their heads, Tucker and his friend Quinn Carr take a late-night bike ride on the road that runs around the island's perimeter only to encounter a shadowy flying object that emits strange music that then explodes over the water. Within a few days, a stranger to the island offers Tucker a “supplement” called “the Ruby” that makes him feel superhuman. Then a military force wearing red camo uniforms with a patch bearing the word “SYLO” takes control of the island, and the president announces a quarantine until the CDC can identify and neutralize the “Pemberwick virus.” Tucker and Quinn don't know what to make of events or who to trust as martial law takes over. In desperation, the teens make plans with Tori Sleeper, a lobsterman's daughter, to use her dad's two boats to escape the island. MacHale pens some terrific and unique action scenes, but they never overwhelm the story as the characters face one quandary, riddle, or dilemma after another in unraveling the mystery of what is happening. The shocking ending will leave readers hungry for the next installment.

Monday, December 9, 2013

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick

I was not crazy about this book. The story is told from three different perspectives: Ferelith, The Priest and the Narrator. At the beginning of the book I found it confusing who was narrating and who the characters were. The plot line I found the most odd was The Priests. I thought the author did a nice job wrapping the story up but the beginning was too confusing for me to give this book a positive recommendation. I would put this in a gothic/fantasy/realistic fiction category. Very different than other popular YA titles out right now.

School Library Journal
Some secrets are better left buried; some secrets are so frightening they might make angels weep and the devil crow.
Thought provoking as well as intensely scary, White Crow unfolds in three voices. There's Rebecca, who has come to a small, seaside village to spend the summer, and there's Ferelith, who offers to show Rebecca the secrets of the town...but at a price. Finally, there's a priest whose descent into darkness illuminates the girls' frightening story. White Crow is as beautifully written as it is horrifically gripping.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Period 8 by Chris Crutcher

My Review
This book had such good potential for a strong lead male character and great character development. However, the author tried to create a suspense/mystery/thriller but ultimately the book fell flat. I enjoyed the story but felt unsatisfied with the ending.

Amazon Review
Bruce Logsdon's Period 8 session, held during the regular lunch period, is a place for Heller High School students to talk about their concerns and feelings. Logsdon, or Mr. Logs as he is called by his students, is gifted at getting teens to unburden themselves and speak honestly. Chief among his admirers is Paulie Bomb, whose unbridled honesty has cost him his relationship with his girlfriend, Hannah. When quiet, unassuming Mary Wells (called the "Virgin Mary" by other students due to her outwardly prudish behavior) goes missing, Period 8 must grapple with the fact that their safe space has been compromised. Issues centered on trust, forgiveness, extreme bullying, disturbing parenting, and reputations are prevalent throughout the story. Crutcher captures teen speak in a natural and realistic manner. Although the narrative begins at a deliberate pace, the drama over Mary's disappearance and incidents in the final quarter of the story ratchet up the intensity. Some sexuality and rough language are present, but it is never gratuitous or excessive. Mr. Logs is a positive portrayal of an involved teacher; he is dedicated to his students and genuinely concerned about them. However, his personal contacts with several students outside of school might, in real life, cause some concern among hypervigilant administrators and parents. Crutcher keeps readers guessing as to who is behind Mary's disappearance, and the portrayal of the psychopath is truly chilling

The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty

I loved this book. I thought this was a great suspense, page turner read. My sister recommended this book to me and I passed it along to two other teachers who loved it. I couldn't wait until all of the secrets were revealed. I think students, particularly female students would enjoy this book by this Australian author.

Amazon Summary
Australian author Moriarty, in her fifth novel (after The Hypnotist's Love Story), puts three women in an impossible situation and doesn't cut them any slack. Cecilia Fitzpatrick lives to be perfect: a perfect marriage, three perfect daughters, and a perfectly organized life. Then she finds a letter from her husband, John-Paul, to be opened only in the event of his death. She opens it anyway, and everything she believed is thrown into doubt. Meanwhile, Tess O'Leary's husband, Will, and her cousin and best friend, Felicity, confess they've fallen in love, so Tess takes her young son, Liam, and goes to Sydney to live with her mother. There she meets up with an old boyfriend, Connor Whitby, while enrolling Liam in St. Angela's Primary School, where Cecilia is the star mother. Rachel Crowley, the school secretary, believes that Connor, St. Angela's PE teacher, is the man who, nearly three decades before, got away with murdering her daughter—a daughter for whom she is still grieving. Simultaneously a page-turner and a book one has to put down occasionally to think about and absorb, Moriarty's novel challenges the reader as well as her characters, but in the best possible way.