Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 12: Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Okay, this will be my last Truman book for about 3 more books.  I've got 3 e-galleys that are expiring in the next 2 weeks from Netgalley, and of course I must re-read Breaking Dawn before the movie comes out in about two weeks!  So, once those 4 are done, back to speeding through the last 13 books I hope.  I may have to sort them from smallest to biggest and get done what I can, and then just skim the others.  We'll see. I hate to do that.
Okay, on with the actual book for this review, Memento Nora.  This was a pretty quick read at only 184 pages.  I'd have been done sooner, but Mondays are always crazy with being the first day back to work.  It was a pretty good story.  As I said, very short, but quick and to the point.  In a way I like that we didn't have to spend so much time on all the side stories and world building, etc.  It was pretty succinct I'd say.  A good dystopian, that was pretty much left as a stand alone book.  Although, there is always room to go on, I think it's okay if it stays at just one.
Our main character is Nora, of course.  She lives in a future world where there have been so many terrorist attacks that no one feels safe.  In fact, the rich people live in "real" gated communities.  Nora is from a wealthy family, and her father works for a big security company that actually works for the major group called TFC, Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics.  In this new world, you can go to these places, and they can help you forget things.  Like when Nora and her mother are out shopping and a bomb explodes.  Nora is finally going to TFC for the first time.  Something weird happens in the waiting room, this guy writes "memento" on his cast, and as he is walking back out from the clinic, he sticks his tongue out at Nora, and she can see the pill on his tongue as he spits it out.  When Nora goes into the back room with her mother, her mother is setting the example by talking about the memory she wants to forget.  Only, it isn't the bombing memory that Nora figures, it is a memory of her father being abusive.  And because of this, Nora decides to not take the pill.  When she gets home, she begins remembering hearing her parents argue a lot, but that's all.  Back at school Nora goes to talk to the guy, whose name is Micah.  Micah tells her what memento means.  And she explains why she didn't take her pill either.  Micah is quite an artist and he kind of begins sketching out a comic of Nora's story.  They take the story and actually print it up with the help of Micah's friend Winter.  Then they secretly leave it around the school for the kids to find.
This causes a big ruckus as you may imagine.  Soon there are cops hanging around watching the school more.  And Nora now sees her father treating her mother badly and knows what is happening.  But when she tries to bring it up to her mom, well she's already been to TFC and forgotten.  As they get deeper in, the learn more and more scary things, even stuff about Nora's own father begins to fill into the blanks.  I won't tell any more, but there is so much more to this story really, and it is crazy how detailed it really is for such a short story.  If you like dystopian, this is something you should definitely pick up.  It's a quick, interesting read.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 11: Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Wow, that is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this book that I just finished.  I loved this.  Such a good story!  I'm going to have to go back and read The Wednesday Wars now.  Which won a Newbery Honor, so it must really be good.
We start out with our main character, Doug Swieteck.  Doug's family is not great.  His father is abusive, one older brother is away in Vietnam in the war after getting into trouble with the law.  His other older brother is hanging around with delinquent types and is also abusive to Doug, even stealing one of Doug's most prized possessions, a hat autographed by Joe Pepitone of the NY Yankees.  Their dad starts a fight with his boss, and of course gets fired, along with getting beat up.  So they have to move, to Marysville in upstate New York.
To Doug this new place is a dump. It's smaller than their apartment in NY so he now has to share a bedroom with his brother.  And his friend Holling gave him Joe Pepitone's jacket as a going away gift.  So now Doug has to try to hide that so his brother won't steal that too.  And already Doug can feel how people will treat him.  As if he's a thug.  In fact, the first girl he really meets, Lillian Spicer, or Lil as she prefers to be called, even calls him a skinny thug.  but their relationship is a bit of a love/hate friendship.  At school he can tell how the teachers feel about him, and he throws his brother's attitude right back at them too.  But the first place he finds some acceptance is in the library.  Not because he loves to read, but because he finds a book of Audubon pictures of birds, and he starts to learn to draw with one of the librarians, Mr. Powell.  Not all the teachers are bad at first, his last teacher of the day, his science teacher, Mr. Ferris.  And Lil's father gives Doug a job, delivering groceries on Saturdays.  He meets a lot of people on his route.  Some who think he needs more food and feed him.  Some who want him to help out around the house with changing light bulbs and such.
But that all changes when the police accuse his brother Chris of breaking into Mr. Spicer's store.  Now Doug knows he didn't do it because Chris was in bed that whole night in the same room that they share now.  But the police don't seem to believe.  And now the townspeople, including the principal have once again turned a suspicious eye on Doug too.  First he refuses to read out loud in class, and he won't say why.  But the librarian, Mr. Powell, figures out that Doug can't read.  He lets Miss Cowper know, and she sets up a time to work with him, without making it known that is what is going on.  He's also having trouble in PE.  Coach Reed, who is back from the war, doesn't seem to be able to get away from his past.  And he doesn't like the attitude that Doug gives him.  He keeps trying to make Doug play on the skins team, but Doug doesn't want to, he keeps trading with people or sneaking over to the shirts team.  but then, the coach has had it.  And he rips Doug's shirt off in class.  Only to find the tattoo that Doug's dad "gave" him for a birthday present.  And while the other kids laugh at first, they soon feel like the Coach is being a bully.
And, to make things even more complicated, Doug's brother is coming home from the war.  He's not written any letters himself, but the letters they do receive say that he's coming back and won't look the same.  Turns out he's lost both legs, and his head must have been in a fire or explosion, because his eyes are covered with bandages.  It's a lot for poor Doug to have to deal with, along with trying to be a normal boy, and have a crush on a normal girl.
I won't give anymore away.  You have to read it.  Really, you should.  The title fits perfect.  Every time Doug thinks things are going well, he knows that something bad is coming, so things are always "okay for now".  And isn't that the way it always feels anyway?  Like things seem good, but something bad always has to come along and mess it up?  At least my life seems that way.  But such a good story.  Such good things happen even throughout all the bad things.  Heartwarming, while tugging at your heart as well.  Such a good read, I couldn't wait to pick it back up whenever I had to put it down.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 10: Paintings From the Cave by Gary Paulsen

I actually had never read a book by Gary Paulsen until I began to read for the different award lists.  I know, I know, how many people grew up reading Hatchet?  Not me.  But I have to admit he is a very good writer. Normally they're not my type of books, but they're good.  This book is actually three novellas.  Very short stories. The whole book is only 161 pages.  So, a good choice for low readers at the middle school age for this award.
The first story, Man of the Iron Heads, is very reminiscent of another book I read for awards, If I Grow Up, by Todd Strasser.  In this story our main character is Jake.  He lives in a ghetto basically.  In his building, there is a drug/gang leader, that Jake has learned to stay away from.  He lives with his aunt, because his parents, mother anyway, left when he was like 3.  But his aunt never wanted a kid, and gets drunk I guess, so he stays on his friend Layla's couch when her mom isn't home.  Layla is pregnant, Jake says you have to keep moving, or they'll catch you, and Layla got caught.  And when he can't be there, he hides in an abandoned building and watches the people across the fence in the nice, fancy apartments.  In one he sees a man with a bunch of what look like iron heads.  He watches the guy for several days.  Until one day the guy sees him.  He invites Jake over for pizza and to see the heads.  Jake is leery at first.  He's heard about men who "invite boys over for food".  But this guy, Bill, isn't like that.  He just wants to sculpt Jake's head.  And soon Jake is also learning how to sculpt.  But things just don't get magically better.  The gang leader, Blade, wants Jake.  And when the lackey he sends doesn't get him, they kidnap Layla.  This turns out really bad.  And, I won't give away the end, just know it isn't all roses.  So the spark of kindness and goodness is there, but it's a realistic ending.
The second story is called Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Girl, which is a play on a circus freak from a while back.  Jo lives in a trailer park, with abusive parents.  A mother who hits, and a father who, well it's never said what exactly he does, but you can figure it out.  Jo learns to get to her room when they're not there and push the dresser in front of the door.  One by one she finds three dogs that she takes in.  They protect her and she loves them.  She is made fun of at school because of her being poor.  And she has no friends.  Then one day the dogs lead a girl named Rose to their spot in the forest.  Reluctantly, but because the dogs seem to trust her, Jo becomes friends with Rose.  And teaches Rose how to "see" and "feel" like the dogs.  Rose is sick, she has leukemia.  And it seems that the dogs could sense it.  Jo is glad to have her a friend, even knowing this friendship won't last forever.
And the third and final story is Erik's Rules.  The main character is Jamie, and he and his brother Erik are homeless.  Their grandfather took them away from their parents when he saw how they lived.  But then one day, their grandfather got sick and had to go to an old folk's home.  And they could no longer live there or social services would probably have come and separated them.  So they tried going home, and that wasn't a lot better, so Erik stole a car and they'd been living in that.  Once in awhile Erik would have a girlfriend, and they'd live with her.  Every day while Erik worked, Jamie would go to the dog park, where he liked to draw the dog.  There was this one guy who came every day it seemed, but often with different dogs.  They soon find out he works at a dog shelter.  And, Greg, the guy from the shelter, wants to offer him a job drawing the dogs to help get them homes on the website.  Soon Greg learns that they're homeless, and why they don't have an apartment.  And he has a friend who just went away in the army, who they can stay there until they get some money saved.  While this story kind of leaves off with things in this kind of settled pattern, I would say it is the happiest ending of all of the stories.
Not sure if this is the best of all the books.  It is a good, quick, but hard to read book.  So it won't get my highest recommendation, but it is good.

Friday, October 26, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 9: The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

I always have trouble picking up the non-paranormal, out of the ordinary stories.  I just seem to be drawn to the dystopian, paranormal, futuristic, sci-fi, horror, more than realistic fiction.  However thanks to reading to help choose the Trumans, I get exposed to great stories like these that I would probably never read otherwise.
The main character is Jessica, and she's a runner, or she used to be, before the accident that happened right before this book began.  It was a bus accident on a way to a track meet.  But Jessica was lucky, she lived, another girl on the bus, Lucy, died.  However, Jessica doesn't feel likely, because they had to amputate one of her legs.  Running was the thing Jessica loved most in the world.  Now even seeing other people's legs haunts her.  This is her story.  How she deals with getting a prosthetic leg.  When she goes back to school, and the track coach has researched and wants to help Jessica get a running leg prosthetic.  The bad thing, it costs $20,000.  Not only that, but her family is already having to deal with the insurance companies fighting about who is going to pay, and just the regular prosthetic will cost the same amount.  But the track team is determined to raise the money.  And what is even better, they get an anonymous person that promises to match $10,000 if they raise the other half.  But along the way Jessica learns a lot.  She has to take a step out of her world, first when she comes to school in a wheelchair, and the only place in one class that she can sit is at a table in the back with a girl who has cerebral palsy.  Soon Jessica becomes friends with Rosa, who helps her pass math class.  And of course, there's a boy, Gavin.  He can't possibly be into the girl with a stump can he?
It was a good, emotional story.  And a happy ending.  And that's good sometimes, but sometimes it makes me think that the world isn't really that perfect.  And there are some things that just seem to good to be true.  But maybe it's because I'm an adult, and a bit jaded, maybe it will help the kids it is meant for keep their hope and learn to be positive in the face of adversity.
Another good choice, while it is very realistic about what happens to someone going through all of that with the leg, etc., I still stand by my thought that it's a little too happy/perfect ending.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

YA Mythology Giveaway Hop

I don't know about you, but I've been a fan of myths since I was in middle school probably.  And really, I think most people were at that age.  As a teacher, I remember the years when the 7th grade Social Studies teachers did Greek and Roman history, and so the kids always seemed to really enjoy that unit.  In Science class I even pulled it in by having my students write their own myths about different science topics we'd studied that year, or ones we hadn't studied yet so that they didn't know exactly why those things happened. Also as a teacher, I've seen books like The Lightning Thief draw in kids who didn't like to read, and turn them into kids who then begged their parents to buy them an e-reader, and what I loved the most, getting phone calls from their parents, or talking to the parents at conferences, and having them thank me for getting their kid to read.  That's what I love, seeing a kid fall in love with reading, and be so excited to come talk to me about what they'd just read.  That's why I decided to be a librarian, and why I refuse to give up on my dream to finally use the Master's Degree I earned in Library Science and be a School Librarian, even though I get rejection after rejection it seems when I interview.
Anyways, enough about me.  Below I'm going to put some of my favorite mythology books, and you can pick which one you want.  If it is a series, and I only picture one, you may pick any one in the series.  And this is open internationally if The Book Depository ships to your country. (Check here to see if you're unsure.)

All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and then click through the other blogs on the linky below that to find more great giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stitch by Samantha Durante

I have to say I was very excited to get to participate in the Stitch Blog tour.  I was able to get an e-book copy of the book and read it, and it was very good!  First, let me share the synopsis of the book from the author:

Stitch Synopsis
Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa’s body screams at her to run… but yet she’s powerless to move.
Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees – and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell – Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.
Because what Alessa hasn’t figured out yet is that she’s not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university’s idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface…
The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.

Now for my review.  This was a book that at first I thought, okay, this is a ghost story.  Then all of a sudden, it seemed to be a ghost/time travel story!  But there were a few parts where there was like this alternate reality, and Alessa was dreaming about it.  So then I thought maybe it was something even different.  And it was.  Turns out it is a dystopian society, and you learn this through bits and pieces of the "ghost"/"time travel" story that is going on.  I like how it all ties in so well.  All of it worked okay in my opinion.  And each little odd thing that happened made you think as you were reading it. It kept you guessing right up till the end.  Now, I'm not sure exactly where the next book will be going, but it will be interesting to see.  I definitely recommend this book!

If you're interested in purchasing this book yourself, check out the links below:

Stitch Purchase Links
Amazon (print $9.99 & Kindle $2.99):
Smashwords (multiple e-book formats $2.99):
Barnes & Noble (Nook $2.99):
Also available in the iTunes store ($2.99 e-book)

Here is a little about the author:

Samantha Durante lives in New York City with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. Stitch is her first novel. Learn more about Samantha at
Social Media Links
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 8: Variant by Robison Wells

Now this is a book I've been waiting to read for a long time!  Almost every blog I've seen review it has really liked it.  And the premise of the story was totally intriguing.  And I have to say, I was not disappointed!  I was able to get a good deal on the book from the book fair at my school in September, $6.99, probably about what I would've paid for the paperback with my employee discount at Barnes and Noble, but this way I was supporting my school.
Variant is about a school, a private school called Maxfield Academy.  Benson Fisher is a foster kid.  He's moved from family to family.  The last one he was with had him working at their store all the time.  But not getting any money for it.  So he saw this school and applied, and he was lucky enough to get in, or so he thought.  When he got to the school, things were a bit weird.  The woman who drove him to the school, Ms. Vaughn, dropped him off and never got out of the car when he got there.  He soon found out there were no adults actually at the school.  All teenagers, who ran everything.  Security, maintenance, food, etc.  The classes were taught over a tv, and the subjects of those classes were unusual, aesthetics, field surveying, and also scheduled paintball games.  And no way out.  No connection to the outside world, no phones, no internet, nothing.  And what's weird is that there is a ton more classrooms than are needed for the number of kids.  It's not quite like The Lord of the Flies, although Benson heard it was like that at the start, the gangs would fight so much that there were actual deaths.  And now the "gangs" or groups, have come to agreements on how to deal with all of this.  Yet when Benson first gets there it's almost a fight to try to get him to join a gang, each gang tries.  But he decides to be a V or a Variant.  He learns that breaking the rules can mean a detention, and most people don't come back from detentions, and are later told they're dead.
So, I have to say that while the people here try to assure that it isn't like Lord of the Flies, in a way it still is, just maybe a controlled experiment.  And Benson tries to figure out that if it's some kind of an experiment, what in the world are they trying to find out?
And man, what a huge cliffhanger!!!  While I'm ready for more single books, non-series, I am eager to see where this story is going.  I'm guessing we still have some big surprises in store, as there is no way we know the whole story yet.  I can see this being a popular book for the Truman award, so I have a feeling it will be a definite one on the list for next year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 7: Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Okay, I started out this book really getting irritated with the main character, Sarah.  She wasn't happy because she'd moved to a new school with a scholarship from swimming, and no one seemed to like her because she wasn't wealthy like the rest of them.  She got stuck going on a weekend field trip to the Everglades with her science teacher, Mr. Vickers, who was a nice guy who was taking an interest in her and trying to get her involved in order to hopefully make friends.  But it doesn't seem to be happening.  She tries once or twice, but the girls, the AABC's as Sarah calls them, won't give her a chance.  On the first day at the camp, she meets a cute boy named Andy.  He works at the camp, and offers to take Sarah on a ride in the airboat the next day with a picnic.  She's not looking forward to hanging out with the snobby kids from her school, so she agrees. Which means she has to lie to Mr. Vickers the next morning so she can stay back when the rest of the group goes on the tour.
The next morning after the group has left, instead of dressing to be prepared for a day in the swamp, she dresses cute to impress Andy.  This turns out to be a bad idea, because they stop for the picnic, and when they're done eating, they go back and the boat is gone.  Not stolen, just sunk because Andy forgot to plug something back up after he cleaned the boat out.  Now they must trek through the Glades to try to find help.
My irritation with Sarah began when she was so picky about birds or other creatures being eaten in nature.  Okay, it's nature, that's what happens.  Then, when she and Andy are out at the place for the picnic, she is being totally prissy.  Very annoying.  I know she's a city girl, but she's in the swamp, with a "local", what does she expect?  So that whole thing was very annoying the whole time.  As they were hiking she was totally freaked out about everything.  And hey, I can understand, the snakes, and alligators, and all the plants that are sharp enough to cut her, that does suck.  But, man, sometimes I just wanted her to shut up.  And she ended up saving a little duck, that she named Teapot.  Teapot was a fun part of the story, although again she was a bit of a whiner about that whole bit too.  I guess making her so whiny at the start really helps make her transformation at the end after their journey and all the stresses they go through more profound.
I can see this being a favorite for people who like survival stories.  I think all the scary moments sounded pretty realistic without having to like fight off an alligator or any such thing. I have never read Hatchet, but would assume this story is a survival story in the same manner.  Also reminds me of The Raft by S.A. Bodeen as a bit of a survival story.
So in conclusion, not my favorite of all the books, but it did have some good points, and I could see what kind of readers it would attract.

Monday, October 15, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 6: The Girl of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson

I hate to admit it, but once again I had let my judging a book by its cover keep me away from a really good book.  As I've mentioned before, I'm not really a fan of fantasy.  It takes a really good story or writing to draw me in.  This one did.  So glad that I had to read it to help pick the Truman nominees for next year.  I find so many good books through doing this.  I love, love, loved this one too!  It was hard to put down.  I hated every moment that took me away from reading.  In fact, I almost wanted to read instead of go to the movies Friday night!
Anyway, I was in love with the main character, Elisa, by the very second page.  As a bit of a chubby girl myself, reading about her having trouble being squeezed into her wedding dress made me an immediate sympathizer.  In fact, it made me wish I too lived in a time when a girl's marriage would be arranged.  How else would someone like me ever find an attractive, successful man to marry?  But anyway, that's off topic.  Elisa is a princess, the 2nd daughter in her family, and her father has married her off, promising King Alejandro to send troops to help with future battles.  But Elisa is not just the plain younger sister.  She also has the godstone, it means she was chosen by God to complete some act of service for him in the future. This also puts her in danger from people who would want to capture her and use her for their own nefarious purposes, not to mention the animagus who would cut her godstone from her body to use for their own magic.
We begin with the wedding, and then Elisa heads back with Alejandro to his country.  Only to find out that he wants to keep their marriage a secret for the time being.  Elisa is of course disappointed, but not completely surprised.  On their way to his country, Joya d'Arena, they are attacked as they cut through the jungle.  Elisa sees her husband freeze up, and she must save him.  She also sees her nurse Ximena take her hairpin out and kill a man with it when he figures out that Elisa has a godstone.  Yet another disappointment is a woman at the palace that Elisa figures out is Alejandro's mistress.  Turns out Condesa Arina sets her maid Cosme to spy on Elisa.  But Elisa turns the tables, and asks Cosme to come attend to her needs.  Soon Elisa learns there are things about her godstone that she hadn't been taught, and seeks out Father Nicandro in the palace's monastery to learn more.  Her nurse Ximena does not seem to be as open, so Elisa meets with the Father to find out what she can.
But more happens, Cosmo is not who she seemed to be.  She actually is from a desert tribe that is already fighting the enemy, the Inviernes.  She kidnaps Elisa and they take her to help their people.  Walking through the desert, Elisa loses a lot of weight, she also learns to be tougher, at first she can't walk the whole way, she needs to be helped.  But once she gets to the village, and realizes that these people need her help, she does her best to help them.  Along the way she gets to know Cosme's brother Humberto.
I won't go much more into the plot, just to say that it is great.  While in a way there may be a tiny bit of a love triangle, let me just say that in no way are both guys perfect.  And she doesn't necessarily end up  happy with either one!  I won't give away what happens.  Just know that it is a different story.  Realistic?  Not sure, but not just a "fantasy romance".  An emotional read, and I love how Elisa grows, in a realistic way, throughout her ordeal.  But she does not all of a sudden become a perfect swordsman or fighter.  It is all what makes sense.  If you haven't read this yet, you need to!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 5: The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine

While this is a cute book, it's not really that great.  To me that is.  I guess it might be more of a draw to the 6th graders who read the Truman books, but it was really kind of childish.  It did have a good message, similar in a way to Silhouetted by the Blue, but told in a much sillier kind of way.  Which can be good, I just don't find it to be as good of a book.
Our main character is Mike, and he has a genius of a father, literally a genius.  But an absent minded genius.  He can't always remember faces, including his own son, and if it wasn't for Mike, they'd have lots of issues with bills getting paid, etc.  As in the other book I mentioned, Mike's mother is dead.  So it's a story of another single parent.  Well, Mike's dad assumes that Mike wants to be an engineer/scientist just like him.  Which, Mike doesn't.  In fact, Mike actually has an actual math disability.  Well, his dad gets a summer opportunity in Romania, but he can't take Mike with him.  So he sends Mike to live with his great aunt and uncle, Moo and Poppy, to help Poppy work on an Artesian screw, or so he's told.  When he gets there, it turns out that things aren't really that much better there.  Poppy isn't talking, or moving, or anything.  He's been really depressed since their son Doug died.  Moo doesn't make sure the bills are getting paid, or maybe doesn't have quite enough money from their Social Security checks to pay them.  One of the women in town is trying to adopt an orphan from Romania named Misha, which means Mike.  And it turns out that it isn't an Artesian screw he's there to help with, it's an artisan's crew.  They're supposed to be helping Poppy make these beautiful wood boxes that they can sell to raise money to help with the adoption.  So while Mike is trying to help out Moo and Poppy, he gets sucked in to help the town with the whole adoption fundraiser.  He meets a man named Past, who seems to be living on the streets.  He meets a girl named Gladys at the bank, she's got tattoos and piercings, and is supposed to be a really good singer, but she's too shy to sing in front of anyone.  Mike really works to help with this, even though his father doesn't approve.  And he helps the town by introducing them to using YouTube to help raise money.  And eBay.  And he tries to get Poppy out of his funk.  But of course, things don't go perfectly, and there are issues.  All in all, it does work out, of course, it's a kid's book.
It's not bad.  I did enjoy it, it's just not the best of the books that I've read for this list.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.   The book I've chosen this week I have to wait until next January to read!  Unless I somehow get lucky again and it is available on Netgalley before then.  I've chosen Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi.  I had a bit of trouble getting into the first book in the series, but once I did, I really liked it.  You can read my review of that HERE.  Below is the blurb about the new book from  

It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and dystopian elements to create a captivating love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.

So, what book are you eagerly awaiting this week?

Monday, October 8, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 4: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Okay, I must admit that once again, I was bad, I pre-judged a book by its cover.  And that was this book.  I had been a fan of the author with her teen books, The Wake Series, and Cryer's Cross.  But, the cover on this was just too fantasy for me.  Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of fantasy.  I love the Harry Potter series, yes, books and movies.  And maybe The Magickers series would also be considered fantasy.  But usually, they're just not my type.  And so the cover did scare me off.  Not sure I even took the time to pick it up and read the synopsis because of that. I know, horrible aren't I?  But, fortunately for me, this book is on the list to be a possible nominee for the Truman award for the school year of 2013-2014, and since I'm helping them narrow the list down, I HAD to read it.  And I did, and now must apologize profusely for ever thinking I wouldn't like it.  In fact, while some people on Goodreads are saying the blurb by Kirkus Reviews, "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter" is way out there, I would have to say that yes, in a way that fits it perfectly.  You do have this dystopian world, similar to The Hunger Games, where children are "selected" as "unwanteds" and forced to go and die.  Only according to this book, no chance to survive, they are sent to the Lake of Boiling Oil to die.
However, it turns out, that's not the whole truth.  They do get dropped off at the Death Farm, where Mr. Today is in charge of "taking care" of the unwanteds.  But rather than put them to death, Mr. Today has created a magical world, one that can hold as many people as it needs to.  A world different from Quill, where the people have come from.  In this world, creativity is encouraged.  And once the kids reach a certain level, they are started in magical training.  Part of the purpose of the magic is to be able to defend themselves in case the Quillitary ever comes to fight them.  If Quill were to find out of their existence, that could happen at any time.
The main character is Alex, who has a twin brother, Aaron.  While Alex is unwanted, for his artistic tendencies, his brother Aaron is Wanted.  Wanted is the best thing to be.  Other people are kept in Quill, the necessaries, and they are kept to serve the Wanteds.  Alex gets to Artime, the magical world, and soon thinks that he needs to try to contact his brother Aaron so that he can come to this wondrous new world.  But it turns out that Aaron isn't quite as similar to his twin Alex, as he may have thought.  There are other people in Artime that don't seem to quite fit in, they were destined to be Wanteds as far as they could have foreseen.  Until they were reported for one small thing.  Samheed and Will Blair are the two that we are not quite sure of their intentions throughout the story.  Sam seems to be a bad guy, although at times he and Alex seem to get back to a more friendly relationship.  Then we have Lani, who was sent at an earlier age than normal.  Not to mention that her father was a Governor, one of the leaders of Quill.  So her being unwanted is really surprising.
All in all I think this was a great story, that I think my students would love.  So glad I gave it a chance for this.  Now, maybe I should give some other middle grade books by authors I like a chance?  Like The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver?  She's here in Kansas City in 2 days, and while I really want to meet her, I hate that I have to pay for that book.  But maybe I should give in and go!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 3: Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones

So once again I'm reading to help choose the Truman Award Nominees for 2013-2014.  I've actually already read 2 of them, The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, and The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.  So this is the 3rd one on the list I've read.  I'm not going to go back and change the title of those reviews, but from now on I'll put "2013 Truman Possibility" in front of the titles so that I can keep track of them as I read them.  I have to get them all read by December 1st.  Not sure how that's going to happen, but I'm working on it.  There is one that I know for sure I don't want to read all the way through, The Emerald Atlas.  But I'll give it a bit of a chance, probably as the last book.  Anyway, let's get on with my review of this book, Silhouetted by the Blue by Traci L. Jones.
This was a great book.  I gave it a 5 star rating on Goodreads.  It was just such a realistic story to me, and it kept me reading when I picked it up.  I think kids would really get into the realism as well.  A lot of students don't like all the fantasy in stories, they want to read something they can relate to, or that is just plain "real".  And this book is perfect for those kids.
The main character is Serena.  She lives with her father and younger brother Henry.  Their mother died in a car accident about a year and a half ago.  Her father has slowly slipped into what Serena calls a "blue". Basically he is depressed.  He sits around the house all day and sleeps or does nothing.  He doesn't help Serena with her younger brother, or make sure there is any food for them, or even work so that they have money.  Serena is in 7th grade.  I think her brother is about 2nd grade.  Serena now has to walk him to school, make breakfast for him, and pick him up after school, make dinner for him, basically run the house.  But Serena just had something wonderful happen at school, she got the lead in the musical, The Wiz!  Normally the lead parts go to 8th graders, so this is very exciting.  But Serena has a beautiful singing voice and that is what helps her get the part.  She has two best friends, Nikka and Kat.  Another girl, one of those really pretty, perfect girls that you want to hate, but can't because she is really, really nice, named Candy, is also friendly with Serena, and is going to be her understudy in the play.
The play is very important.  It could help the school get special funding for the drama department for like 2 or 3 years.  So it is very important that Serena be at all the rehearsals and do her best so they can wow the committee that decides who gets the grant.  But right away Serena gets a call from her brother's school and she has to go pick him up and bring him with her to the rehearsal because her dad never showed up to get him.  Fortunately for Serena there is a boy named Elijah who helps her out when the teacher isn't really happy about a little kid being at his rehearsal.  Elijah is a cute boy that Serena has Spanish and other classes with.  She convinced him to come be a part of the play because of his artistic abilities.  He gets Henry, her little brother, involved with the sets.  Turns out that Henry is also kind of artistic, which would make sense, as Serena and Henry's father is a famous children's book illustrator.
Things at home don't get better though.  Her father sinks deeper and deeper.  Doesn't take a shower, wears the same pajamas every day.  One night Serena finds her father out in the car.  Which really scares her, but he says he is just out there because the car still smells like her mom.  And he is looking at a photo album.  Serena tries really hard to contact what family she has for help.  But her grandmother has really bad Alzheimer's and can't seem to remember she is Serena, and not her mother.  Her uncle is a world traveler and while she tries to stress to him how much she needs him, he doesn't quite get it.  And it just gets worse and worse.  Soon, after a search on the internet about depression, Serena knows her father has to get to see a doctor.  He's begun giving away important things in his life to people, and there are other signs that this depression could lead to suicide.
This book was heart wrenchingly realistic.  I've had students who had to deal with parents who committed suicides, and while this book did have a happy ending, I like how realistic it is up to that point.  I know students who have to take care of younger brothers and sisters because their parents are working two jobs, or doing drugs, or are even depressed like in this book.  And I think there are kids who will really relate to this.
A great, emotional pick for one of the nominees this year.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday 10/5/12

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read where you get to learn about two featured bloggers each week, and then can gain new followers as well by joining in to the fun. This week's question is:

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is it to one day become an author yourself, just for fun, maybe get some online attention, or maybe something very different?

I actually began blogging because I love to talk about the books I'm reading, and what a great way to share, but online!  So many people out there!  Also, I'd been working on another degree, an Education Specialist degree in Library Science, and we'd been learning more about blogging and the like.  I love talking to my students about books, and seeing kids get so excited about books that they have to come talk to me about them.  It's probably the main reason I want so badly to be a school librarian.  As I've not been successful in any attempts to get a library job around where I currently live, without having to take a huge pay cut, I went ahead and got certified to teach Communication Arts class, where I do get the chance to at least talk with those students about books.  If there is anything I hope to accomplish, well, maybe to help me get a library job.  Or something completely out there, maybe to get a job in the publishing industry?  Those are not really my "goals".  Well, except for a library job.  

So, if you are a blogger, what are your reasons?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris

This was almost my 8th book in my September is for Sequels Challenge, but due to a horrible headache Sunday night, I just wasn't able to get as much read and get finished like I'd hoped.  So, therefore, it is just a regular old review.  :-)  Although, it is the 11th book in my TBR Pile Reading Challenge.
I bought this book last May when it came out in paperback.  I make myself wait until they come out in paperback because all the ones I own are that way since I started the series late, due to not getting into it until True Blood started.  This way I know that I have a new book to read next year and get to stay in Sookie's world a little longer.  Plus, it's definitely like I don't have tons of books to read anyway.
Well, I actually will have to say that I did like this one.  It had some really heartbreaking moments with Eric, and it was good to learn more about the fairies and Sookie's family.  Or maybe I just enjoyed it because it is what the story is really supposed to be, instead of this craziness of direction that the tv show has veered off to.
I love that Sookie is talking about how she's worried about gaining a little weight, makes her seem so normal.  And I love all the "normal" down to earth things as part of her life that the author puts in the stories.  Painting her nails, getting a tan, etc.  This story starts off with a firebomb being thrown into Merlotte's.  No idea who did it, while it is thought that maybe it is because Sam has come out now as being a Shifter, and people are now protesting them, Sookie seems to think that she saw someone who was two-natured like Sam running away from the scene.  Not only that, Eric is still having to deal with the person who is now in charge, Victor, who doesn't like Eric.  Victor is doing all kinds of things to hurt Eric, opening a bar not far from Fangtasia, and it even seems he's opened another bar not far from Merlotte's as well, hurting Sam as well.  And Pam wants so badly to finally create a child, but Victor will not allow her, and she has limited time to do it, as her lover is dying.
Eric also has found out that his maker made a mate for him, and if this goes through, Eric and Sookie will not be able to keep up their "marriage".  But Sookie is sure she loves Eric, and is very upset about this.  Plus, the fairies, Claude and Dermot are living with Sookie.  So she's learning even more about her fairy kin and how they've really been such a part of her life.  We learn why Sookie can read minds, and we even have a character from the past that we find is a much bigger part of Sookie's past than she knew.  Plus, there is are other creatures we've not seen before.
I really liked the story.  I'm left hanging not knowing what is going to happen with Sookie and Eric, which makes me sad, because I do love Eric.  Or maybe that's just because I love how hot he is on True Blood.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September is for Sequels Wrap-Up

Well, I almost, but not quite made my goal of 8 books.  I didn't finish my 8th book until yesterday, the 1st of October, so technically, it doesn't count.  I'm kind of a stickler at times.  BUT, I did still go over what I'd set for the minimum for the challenge, 4, so I'm happy about that.  I'd also like to thank all of the people who participated!  I'm hoping to do this again next year.  Although September is always going to be a hard month for me as long as I'm a teacher.  Here's to hoping that by next fall I'll have a library job so that I don't have to spend time grading when I want to be reading!  Here are the list of books I planned to read:

  1. One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
  2. Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry
  3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  4. Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
  5. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
  6. Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Stolarz
  7. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
  8. Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

And here are the list of books I actually ended up reading (only two were from my planned list):

  1. Shadows (Ashes #2) by Ilsa J. Bick (From original list)
  2. The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus) by Rick Riordan
  3. Torn (The Missing #4) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  4. Silence (Hush Hush #3) by Becca Fitzpatrick (From original list)
  5. Truth (XVI #2) by Julia Karr
  6. Second Chance (The Slayer Chronicles #2) by Heather Brewer
  7. Forge (Chains #2) by Laurie Halse Anderson
  8. Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris (didn't finish till October 1)
If you participated, how did you do?  

And finally, because I know it is on the minds of all of you who participated and entered the contest, the winner of the $20 gift card to Amazon is.............. (drum roll):

Jessi from Auntie Spinelli Reads!!!!!

Thanks again to all who participated, and I sure hope you'll come back next September and bring some other friends with you to join in!  I had a lot of fun sponsoring this challenge, and wish I'd done a lot more interaction with those participating.  Hopefully next year I can.  And, I learned how to make a button!  That was really exciting!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Bar Code Prophecy (Bar Code #3) by Suzanne Weyn

As usual I have to start this by thanking both Netgalley and the publisher, Scholastic this time, for letting me read an egalley of this.  I was so excited to get this as I'd really enjoyed the first two books in the series.  Unfortunately, both of them came out, and I read both of them, before I was blogging, at least before I was blogging on here.  It is possible I blogged about them somewhere else, but I don't really know how to get back to that and find them.  So, I was able to look on Goodreads and see what I rated them, and I have to say that my ratings have gone down one star with each book.  While the story was still good this time, I have to say that maybe because of all the dystopians that I've been reading lately, this one felt a little rushed.  It was a very short book, only about 200 pages.  And I assume it will be in the same format as the others, a small paperback.  In this book we start with a new character, and our protagonist from the other novels, Kayla, is now a "legend" you might say in the bar code resistance.  Global 1 has supposedly "solved" all the issues with the tattoo keeping track of all your genetic information so now companies can't fire you for having issues, and supposedly there are no longer nanobots injected when you get the tattoo that can kill you if you have issues that are not genetically desirable.  But Grace, our new main character, believes in Global 1.  Her father works there, and has had issues since the whole big fiasco.  She even works there part time.  But she is about to turn 17 which means it is time for her to get her tattoo.  However, she's been doing a lot of climbing with a cute guy from school, Eric.  And he seems to be interested in her now.  But for some reason he also seems a bit against her getting the tattoo, but he won't really tell her why.  Once she gets her tattoo though, all hell breaks loose.  She finds out she's adopted, and her real father is the "father" of the bar code tattoo.  And her adopted family, that she's always believed is her family, disappears on the same day.  Eric shows up to help her, and takes her into the resistance.  It turns out that both Grace and Eric may be part of some prophecy that the Native Americans think points to the end of the world. I do love that the book brings in meteors coming close to earth as a possible issue.  I enjoyed getting back into this world.  But, my biggest issue is how quickly everything happens.  We jump from event to event with not a lot of details.  I just feel this book could have been fleshed out a bit more to help it fit in with a lot of the popular dystopians out there today.  Then again, maybe this is a good dystopian for someone who just wants a quick read and doesn't need all the extra detail.  So, it's a good story, just a bit disappointing after all the books I've read lately.