Friday, October 31, 2014

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner PartyNathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this! Why is it that we are fascinated with the Donner party? The desperation? The loneliness? Whatever the reason, this graphic novel was a perfect introduction to the true story of people who were hungry enough to eat the dead.

I had NO IDEA that the Donner party started in SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS!! Or that the Donners were just a small part of the wagon party. Honestly, so many facts were in this graphic novel that I never knew--so thanks for that, Nathan Hale!

To me, this is a must-purchase for all junior highs and middle schools. Now I want to check out the other books in the series--Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!, and Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I need fluff. And I do like fluff with assassins, boarding schools, and corsets, so this young adult novel hit the spot.

I was on the Alex committee that put Soulless on the list, so I have to admit that I'm a Carriger fan!

I do wish she hadn't dumbed down so much for her YA audience. Her parasol series wasn't all that "adult" so this book seemed like it had more stereotypes than her adult series.

However, it was a quick, enjoyable read. And I want my own Bumbersnoot!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

RevolutionRevolution by Deborah Wiles
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm on a literary downhill slide lately. While I love #weneeddiversebooks and the Civil Rights time period, I found this too disjointed to me and I never felt close to the characters. Yes, the design of the book is cool--all the photographs, quotes, songs, and primary documents make this the perfect read for a junior high social studies class. But not for me, a librarian and former history teacher. Give me The Rock and the River instead. I kept feeling like the book was selling "to inform" too hard.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El DeafoEl Deafo by Cece Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cece is deaf after a disease at age 4, and she's trying to figure out how she is going to fit in with her classmates. With the help of El Deafo, the superhero she pretends to be in her daydreams, she figures out how to come to terms with wearing the device that helps her hear. Along the way, she makes friends, loses friends, and has her first crush on a neighbor boy. This is a sweet graphic novel that would team perfectly with Wonder.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

ThreatenedThreatened by Eliot Schrefer
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Okay, folks, I do not see what the big deal is about this novel. Yes, it's about chimps. Yes, it has a horrible cover. Yes, I feel like I'm being preached at, and not just about the chimps, but about poverty and orphans and society. Someone explain why the National Book Award nomination?

And that's only 80 pages in, so I'm stopping. I have a lot of other books on my To Read list that look better than this one.

Interested to see what some of my goodreads friends think about it. Am I far off in my judgment of this? I've read some reviews about how this is perfect for high school students and I am just not seeing it. It just doesn't seem genuine to me.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis

Rainey RoyalRainey Royal by Dylan Landis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This beautifully written adult novel is dark, so don't be fooled by the pretty pink cover. Rainey is a young teenager who unfortunately is growing up in Greenwich Village in the 1970's in a dysfunctional house. Her parents are free thinkers and free lovers, and there are always students coming in and out of their house and their bedrooms. And that includes Rainey's. She's been abused for years by a live-in friend of her dad's and no one seems to care. Even a rape by a student is brushed aside by her dad because Rainey invited the boy into her room and talked to him on her bed. She's surrounded by sex, and it's confusing the hell out of her. It doesn't help that she's drop dead gorgeous and uses her sexuality to get anything she wants from so-called friends and teachers.

Poor, poor Rainey. Her world is so shallow and damaged.

I would have loved this book in high school--there is sex and flirting and cussing and adult situations throughout. It's like a Go Ask Alice book but about sex instead of drugs. It's a dark, dark world that Landis has created, but I had to keep reading to see what happened to Rainey. Great example of what I call New Adult--it's perfect for older teens and 20-somethings.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

If you're in need of a fast-paced mystery thriller, this one is for you.  Jace is just a kid swimming in a pit lake when he sees something he shouldn't have.  Now he's a witness in a murder trial, and people want him dead.  Instead of the typical witness protection program, he's placed into a survival camp for troubled kids in the Rockies.  He likes learning how to survive in the wilderness and it comes in handy when the bad people come after him.  Thanks to the help of a former wildfire fighter struggling with her own demons, Jace is able to confront the people after him and a forest blaze.

Honestly, there were some plot holes and coincidences that I just couldn't forget while reading this one.  I loved the characterization of the Jace though--the elements of a great novel are here, but the coincidences were too much for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Did you love The Hunger Games but wish it were more violent? Then this adult dystopia is for you!

Darrow is a Red, a group of people who work hard mining in order to prepare Mars for human civilization.  He started at age 13, like everyone else, and he's worked his way up to helldiver--he's brave, strong, and sometimes a little crazy with the drill he runs.

After his young wife is murdered, Darrow learns that Mars is already populated by scores of higher castes who want to keep the Reds in the dark.  Darrow wants to make the Golds suffer for taking his Eo from him, and he is reborn with the help of some scientists and sculptors.  In disguise as a Gold, Darrow must score high in the tests to determine his capabilities.  Remember the tests in Divergent? And the fights between districts in The Hunger Games? And the government who rules everything in The Maze Runner? And the houses in Percy Jackson and the Olympians?  And the bodies that are created in Pure? All that is here.  So I felt like I was reading a mishmash of other dark science fiction books thrown together in short sentences, but it worked.  There were times when Darrow's mind worked faster than mine and I was surprised with the plot twists.  I'm adding Book Two to my To Read list--Golden Son is supposed to be out on January 15, 2015.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

In this collection of graphic stories, the artwork is exquisite. And creepy! Five short stories are told, surrounded by an introduction and a conclusion that are just as haunting. Many of the stories are old--taking place in the past, as visible by the character's clothing.  In "The Nesting Place," it looks like young Mabel might have polio--she wears leg braces and has a walking stick. Her story was my favorite--she met her nightmare and conquered it.

Add this to your Halloween displays for creepy stories--it will fly off the shelf!

My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner

I do love historical fiction, so I went into this huge beast with an open mind.  And it was easy to keep reading. It's an epic that follows that title character from childhood to death.

Resolute isn't a young girl you want to like--she's a rich, snobby girl with slaves on a Jamaica plantation.  But her home is attacked by pirates and she is taken with her sister to be sold into slavery.  Her childhood is horrible--she's a slave, beaten, and eventually sold to Canadian Catholics where she learns to spin and weave.  Her trade saves her and gives her a purpose.  Eventually she crawls out of the ashes and marries, has many children, and becomes a supporter of the American Revolution. Her name fits her well.

There were a few instances of choppy transitions and plot gaps that were summed up in a sentence or two, but overall, her story is a smooth read. I'm sure Turner's research was extensive--Resolute comes across many famous people in her life--Revere, Washington, Margaret Gage, etc. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga. #3 in the I Hunt Killers Series

Barry Lyga freaking rocks. I loved I Hunt Killers and Game and he takes the third book in the series and hits it out of the park! I can't remember the last time I read a trilogy where all the books were awesome?

Jasper is in trouble. His dad's alive and no one is capable of hunting the serial killer down except for Jasper.  And so he does. Using every piece of knowledge that his dad taught him, he crosses state lines and manipulates people and comes dangerously close to being like his father.  Is Jasper a killer, too? Will he be able to kill his father when they finally meet? What if he has to choose between his father or his best friend or girlfriend? Oh, the tangled web of nature vs. nurture.....

Non-stop action. Violence. Gore. Dead bodies. Torture. It's all here.  And it's awesome.