20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose, 389 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/21/2012

Mousenet

Sent to live with her chef father and his wife in Oregon after having stayed with her inventor uncle and scientist mother in Cleveland, ten-year-old misfit Megan is lonely until she starts working with some computer-savvy mice to try to save Mouse Nation–and the planet.

I’m sure my students will enjoy the fantasy of mice helping humans correct all the world’s woes, if only they can get their paws on those teeny computers.  I, however, seem to find I am disliking talking animal stories increasingly, or at least stories where animals and mice communicate with each other.  The story flowed very nicely and each problem encountered was solved with a logical conclusion.  Kids will enjoy this.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Leslie

Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney, 278 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/06/2012

Bird in a Box

In 1936, three children meet at the Mercy Home for Negro Orphans in New York State, and while not all three are orphans, they are all dealing with grief and loss which together, along with the help of a sympathetic staff member and the boxing matches of Joe Louis, they manage to overcome.

I thought this book was just a bit depressing to read, to say the least.  I thought it was written well, and it was obviously correct in its facts but still, depressing.  It should have been a quick read but wasn’t.  I’m sure some will enjoy it for it’s historical portrayal.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Leslie

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, 640 pages, read by Leslie, on 10/03/2012

Wonderstruck

Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben’s story is told in words; Rose’s in pictures.

My students will like this story, mainly because of the pictures, however I did not like this as much as his first book.  I thought the story did not have enough conflict to compare to reality.  The artwork is very nice though.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Short Stories

Paintings From the Cave by Gary Paulsen, 161 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/26/2012

Paintings from the Cave: Three Novellas

“In these three novellas, Gary Paulsen explores how children can survive the most difficult circumstances through art and the love of dogs”

This is such a departure from the usual Gary Paulsen story of dogs or the outdoors, I truly enjoyed it.  By the time I finished reading each story, I found myself wishing he would lengthen these into full stories.  I want to know what happened to each of the characters.  Highly recommended.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Leslie

Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson, 250 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/23/2012

Beyond Lucky

Twelve-year-old Ari Fish is sure that the rare trading card he found has changed his luck and that of his soccer team, but after the card is stolen he comes to know that we make our own luck, and that heroes can be fallible.

I liked this story of discovering the meaning of true friendship and self-worth.  Ari learns that people change more than he ever thought possible, from finding belief in himself to learning that our friends are not always who we think they are.  He learns to listen to his instincts about himself and finds he is more than a lucky card.  Very recommendable.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Leslie

Hothead by Cal Ripken Jr., 135 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/19/2012

Hothead

Connor Sullivan is too humble to admit it, but he’s the Orioles’ best player. Lately, though, Connor hasn’t been so good-natured. Even his best friend, Jordy, starts to avoid him. Coach Hammond is ready to bench him indefinitely. Will Connor be able to get his act together in time to help the team win championship?

I really did not like this book.  I thought it was too cookie-cutter as far as sports stories for boys is concerned.  There never is a real reason for this seemingly good kid to start acting out like he does, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  I think some boys will like it just because it is a baseball book but I doubt I will recommend it.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Cloaked by Alex Flinn, 341 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/16/2012

Cloaked

Seventeen-year-old Johnny is approached at his family’s struggling shoe repair shop in a Miami, Florida, hotel by Alorian Princess Victoriana, who asks him to find her brother who was turned into a frog.

I love the way she blends old folk/fairy tales into a modern story line.  While it has been awhile since I’d heard any of these old stories, there were one or two she introduced that I had not heard before.  This is a great book with which to introduce those tales to a new generation.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Leslie

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass, 341 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/13/2012

13 Gifts (11 Birthdays, #3)

Shortly before her thirteenth birthday, shy and withdrawn Tara is sent to stay with her aunt, uncle, and cousin in her parents’ hometown of Willow Falls, where she makes friends and becomes involved with an elderly buyer and seller of collectibles, who seems to be trying to give Tara some kind of mysterious message.

The residents of Willow Falls are back and up to the strange happenings of the first 2 books in this series.  I’ve read the first but skipped the second and will now have to go back to see what happened to the characters that I missed but have set up part of the story.  I’m not sure anyone would truly understand what is going on without having at least read the first book to be introduced to everyone.  I enjoyed it and it will most likely just appeal to girls, although there are boys in the story.

20. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, 332 pages, read by Leslie, on 09/06/2012

The Running Dream

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She’s not comforted by the news that she’ll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

This is a great story of perseverance that many kids can learn from.  I don’t know that I would have that much strength to do what this character does.  Not only does she overcome the attitude of being handicapped and turning it into a positive, but she changes the attitudes of everyone around her.  A great read for anyone.

19. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Informational Book, NonFiction

Who the Hell Is Pansy O'Hara?: The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books by Jenny Bond, Chris Sheedy, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 12/19/2012

Have you ever wondered about the lives of some of your favorite authors or how they came up with the ideas for their books. Well then this book is for you. Who the Hell is Pansy O’Hara? is a fascinating look at 50 of the best loved books. Chapter range from Pride and Prejudice to The War of the Worlds to Harry Potter. We get short bios of all the authors and then the story behind their most popular and known books. What I found fascinating was how small a world it is. A lot of these authors interacted with each other or other great writers of their day. Many went to school with, taught or were taught by big names in the literary world. This is a great book for book lovers. It really made me want to read/reread some of the books listed.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Janet

The End of the Age by Pat Robertson, 374 pages, read by Janet, on 12/18/2012

     If you ever wonder what might happen when this stage of world life ends, this is the book to read.  Interestingly, many of the things mentioned seem to already be happening!  Every time I hear of a meteor heading toward the Earth I will wonder if it is the one to bring an end to things as we know them.  The one in this story landed in the Pacific Ocean near southern California.  The resulting waves wiped out a large part of the West Coast, countless islands, like Hawaii, caused huge damage to all ocean-lying areas all over the world, and, of course, sank most of the ships in the water.  Many water creatures were also killed.Volcanoes erupted and earthquakes were felt almost everywhere.  Many of the surviving people were withough any power, transportation, homes, or much food.

During this time, two societies developed.  One, led by the Devil’s advocate, Mark Beaulieu, who has unearthly powers and takes over the Oval Office.  He triess to squash his opponents in the Christian Resistance Movement, led by John Edwards.The clash at the end of the world is outstanding, and, thankfully, with a good outcome.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone, 288 pages, read by Angie, on 12/18/2012

Jack and Ruthie visit the Art Institute of Chicago and are amazed by the Thorne Rooms. While exploring the rooms they meet a security guard named Mr. Bell and they find a mysterious key. The key allows them to shrink down to miniature size. With the key they decide to spend the night in the museum and explore the Thorne Rooms. They discover that people exist in the rooms when they visit the French Revolution and Salem Witch Trial periods. Jack and Ruthie are also amazed at the modern artifacts they find in the rooms. Has someone else visited the rooms?

I think the premise of this book is an interesting one. The Thorne Rooms are amazing and who wouldn’t want to explore them? I also liked the intertwining stories of the kids and Mr. Bell. I guess my problem with the book was that it was a bit unwieldy and awkward at times. I felt like the vocabulary and speech of the kids wasn’t authentic; I don’t know any 6th graders who talk like Jack and Ruthie. I also wanted more exploration of the rooms. There was more explanation of shrinking/growing and managing to get into the rooms then there was of the actual rooms. There is a fun mystery quality to the book, but it is a bit predictable.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Losing It by Cora Carmack, 304 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/09/2012

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college…with her virginity. She tells her best friend that she is still a virgin and no longer wants to be. Her friend convinces her to dress up and go out with her to meet a guy she can lose her virginity to. She agrees and surprisingly meets a gorgeous man with an accent at the bar reading a book. She gets up the nerve and leaves the bar with him. Once she has him in her bed naked, she freaks out and leaves him there. The next day in class she realizes her new professor is the gorgeous man she left lying in her bed naked.

I loved this book! Love triangle, sex, deceiving, a little suspense…all things that make a great romance!

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Taking Chances by Molly McAdams, 432 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/17/2012

Harper grew up with a Marine father who rarely spoke to her a group of young Marine men. She was home schooled and spent all her free time on base with the Marines. Once Harper turned 18, she decided against her fathers wishes to move to San Diego to go to college. There she meets Breanna who is her dorm roommate. Breanna introduces her to a group of fraternity brothers where she falls in love with Brandon…and also with Chase, Bree’s brother.

I loved this book…or at least the first half of it. The entire first half of this book was suspenseful and kept me reading non stop. After a couple huge events happened, the book rather slowed down and wasn’t as interesting.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Nikki, Romance

Devoured by Emily Snow, 223 pages, read by Nikki, on 12/12/2012

When Sienna finds out her beloved grandmother will be losing her home due to foreclosure she rushes home to Nashville to try and save her. When she arrives she finds out the new owner of the home is Lucas Wolfe. Lucas is a well known rock star that Sienna almost got intimate with.

Lucas hasn’t forgotten about her and is desperate to get her in his bed. He makes a deal with her that she spends 10 days with him as his assistant and he’ll give her the deed to her grandmothers house. Sienna agrees, only to find out he’s just trying to get her to submit to him.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, 423 pages, read by Leslie, on 08/24/2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

A fearful sixteen-year-old princess discovers her heroic destiny after being married off to the king of a neighboring country in turmoil and pursued by enemies seething with dark magic.

An interesting book, I found it had a nice twist to it with the religious angle, which I feel would be lost on most kids reading this.  They will find the rest of the story appealing.  Being a nonreligious person, I always seem to enjoy those stories that intertwine a religious feel to the book, not sure why.  This also has a magic element to it, which doesn’t always mesh with religion, for obvious reasons, although they usually invoke a goddess as opposed to a god.  Very interesting storyline, I plan to read the sequel.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Leslie

The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine, 247 pages, read by Leslie, on 08/17/2012

The Absolute Value of Mike

Fourteen-year-old Mike, whose father is a brilliant mathematician but who has no math aptitude himself, spends the summer in rural Pennsylvania with his elderly and eccentric relatives Moo and Poppy, helping the townspeople raise money to adopt a Romanian orphan.

A thoroughly wacky story in which the Mike learns that he has value, worth and abilities he didn’t know he had.  A good book, the title of which drew my daughter’s attention (math teacher).  It didn’t make the final cut for the Truman list, but it would be a good addition to any library.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Ghost Dog Secrets by Peg Kehret, 184 pages, read by Leslie, on 08/14/2012

Ghost Dog Secrets

Sixth-grader Rusty, determined to help an injured dog that is chained outdoors in frigid weather, calls animal control, then takes matters into his own hands, aided by his best friend and a ghost collie that leads Rusty to an even deeper secret. Includes instructions for knitting cat blankets.

Peg Kehret seems to have found the formula for getting kids to read and enjoy all her books.  I have always enjoyed reading her books, there’s enough mystery to intrigue kids without scaring them.  Adults will find it a little too predictable but a nice book overall.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson, 360 pages, read by Leslie, on 08/12/2012

The Familiars (The Familiars, #1)

When a scrappy alley cat named Aldwyn passes himself off as a magical animal companion to Jack, a young wizard in training, Aldwyn and his fellow “familiars,” a know-it-all blue jay and bumbling tree frog, must save the kingdom after the evil queen of Vastia kidnaps Jack and two other wizards.

Very appealing to the kids at school, I found it to be okay.  I am not enjoying talking animal books much lately, I don’t know if there are too many of them or they just seem to be carbon copies of each other. Not one I would have picked for myself, but reading for the Twains gives you lots to read.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Left for Dead by J.A. Jance, 293 pages, read by Leslie, on 08/07/2012

Left For Dead (Ali Reynolds, #7)

After the near-fatal shooting of a former police academy classmate and an encounter with Sister Anselm, who is acting as a patient advocate for a woman who was savagely attacked by a drug cartel, Ali Reynolds is determined to seek justice in both cases.

Ali Reynolds #7, another very nice book to get lost in.  Sister Anselm is back to help foil the bad guys alongside Ali, a good team.  Another recommend!