Book Review +GIVEAWAY The Power of Six

Title: The Power of Six
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: Harper Collins

Summary

I’ve seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he’s a mystery. But to me . . . he’s one of us. 
Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We’re hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we’ll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I’ve been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?  

They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.  

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive. 
And I’m ready to fight

My Review
I liked this book.  I liked it better than I Am Number Four (which I read and never really reviewed).  When reading I Am Number Four I felt like I knew the story because of all the hype with the movie etc.  Had I read it before that I might have enjoyed it better.  The Power of Six never felt that way.  It seemed like a much “fresher” story if that makes sense.  It didn’t feel like I had heard it all before in a movie preview or review.  I actually stayed up late a few nights to read it.

I think what I really liked was that it went back and forth between John and Six and another one of the group – Number 7 or better known as Marina.  I liked her a lot.  Where John had a great mentor (????), she didn’t.  I liked seeing how she needed to struggle a bit more – that not everyone of them had the same life as John.  I know John had to move around a lot, but everything else was pretty good.  He always had a place to live and Henri’s support.  At points I thought it was too easy! But in this book you learn that not all of them had it that easy.  That some really struggled when coming to Earth.  Marina and her ???? were two that struggled at first.  I kinda made me like her more!  I liked seeing her strength come out when she realized she was going to have to do this on her own.  The series went from a great “boys” book to also a book with awesome strong girls! That’s great because now I can suggest it to both boys and girls.

The plot of this book revealed more of the story.  In I Am Number Four it seemed to just focus on John getting his legacies and learning a bit about his past.  This instalment really gives us more clues and pieces to what is a deeper story than it first seemed.  Having some key points explained or finally just told was great because it held my interest – I wanted to know what else had been kept hidden!

One point I didn’t care for – the whole John/Sarah/Six semi love triangle thing.  It just seemed unnecessary.  The book would’ve been as strong without it.

For the Guys?  Yup even tho the new character is a girl there is still lots of John and his story.

Final Thought:  Stronger than the first one.
Best stick-with-you image:  Marina healing Ella
Best for readers who: Like books with action
Best for ages 13+

Now for the giveaway!
I was asked to host a giveaway of The Power of Six!
To enter:
Fill out the form
Be a US Resident
Must be 13
Ends in Aug 23rd – when the book is released!

Book Review: Hot Ticket by Tracy Marchini

Title: Hot Ticket
Author: Tracy Marchini
Publisher: Squirrel Books

Summary

“Hot tickets could be awarded for doing something cool, saying something funny, or sometimes even just wearing something the ticket dispenser liked. All authentic hot tickets were two inch by six inch rectangles made from this orange cardboard material, with “HOT TICKET” written in big bold letters at the top. Hot tickets first started becoming popular about a month after school started. Then there was this rash of copycat tickets on regular paper, but people just tossed those in the trash. Everybody could figure out it was one of their friends that made it anyway. But an authentic ticket – that was something you kept. Some people had their lockers decorated in hot and shame tickets. Some people kept their hot tickets at home to prevent theft. If I got a hot ticket, I would definitely keep it taped on the inside door of my locker. Right now my locker only had a locker mirror, a picture of Lucy and I from my birthday party at Six Flags and these annoying cat stickers from the person who had my locker before me. Fifth grade did not prepare me for this at all.” Juliet Robinson is the only sixth grader in John Jay Jr. High who hasn’t received a “hot ticket” from the mysterious ticket dispenser. When one of the dorkiest kids in school – Crammit Gibson – receives a ticket before she does, Juliet decides that the ticketing system has to stop. With the help of her best friend Lucy, a Daria-esque Madeline and her almost-crush Crammit, Juliet is determined to climb a few rungs on the middle school social ladder and catch the ticket dispenser once and for all!

My Review 


This past year I watched Silly Bandz take over during the fall.  Kids would crowd around my desk and show off theirs and trade.  The more you had the cooler it was.  That soooooo reminded me of the hot tickets in this book.  All the kids wanted them, and the more you had the “cooler” you were, and if you didn’t have any you didn’t want anyone knowing.  I could completely see students getting caught up in these hot tickets and trying to figure out how to get some.

Juliet doesn’t have any.  None.  And she is bugged by it.  At first you can tell she’s just a little bugged, but as the story goes on she gets hyper-focused on these tickets and either getting one or, more importantly, figuring out the sender.  This becomes such an obsession with her that she almost looses her best friend!  This may be been a little over dramatic for the the purpose of the book, and as a grown up I was rolling my eyes a bit about her whole obsession BUT I knew it was completely realistic for a kid that age.

The whole mystery of who the sender of the hot tickets is was well done.  Just as Juliet’s clues and evidence kept her changing who she thought it was, the reader is kept uncertain as well.  If I had thought a little more instead of just enjoying the story, I might have figured it out before Juliet, but I chose to just enjoy.  It wasn’t really obvious, so that was great.  If I had known sooner, or figured it out sooner, the book wouldn’t have been as enjoyable.

My only slight concern with the story was the reaction of the teachers.  It seemed to take them a while to step in, especially with all the poster hanging.  I know that in my building the posters for sure would not have gotten that far before someone stopped them.  It’s only a minor thing, and I think that my being a teacher is the only reason why I noticed it.  A kid reading the book wouldn’t care!

For the Guys?  The cover is very gender neutral so I could for sure get them to at least check it out!  Not so sure they’d get Juliet’s obsession though!

Final Thought:  Popularity Fad like Hot Tickets are completely believable!
Best stick-with-you image: When Juliet figures the whole thing out!
Best for readers who are: 6th graders
Best for ages: 9-12

Make sure to read the guest post by the author when she talks about an experience she had as a 6th grader.  Fun memory that I know added to the fantastic feel of the story.

For the Guys – Book Review: The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

On Fridays I like to take a step back and focus on a title that would appeal to the boys.  I see tons of “girl” book in YA, but not as much “boy” books.  These aren’t always pure boy books, but they are books that I think boys could/would like.


Today I have a book review.



Title: The Cellar
Author: A.J. Whitten
Publisher: Graphia

Summary

Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster. 

But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?

My Review

You know when a finish a book, you know you should sit down and write the review right away but you don’t?  Well that’s what happened here, so forgive me if this review is a little short. I’m actually going to write it using the 5 W’s to help me remember and focus it 🙂

FIRST THOUGH.  Since I’m writing this review on a Friday my typical For the Guys day I want to address if it’s for the guys. For the Boys?  Even though the main character is a girl – yes I think so!  It’s got that horror movie vibe going, so they might like it!

Who:  The main character Meredith as great.  Strong.  Smart.  Capable.  I liked her quite a bit.  Her sister – not so much.  I get she was going through a very – very rough time but it just wasn’t enough to garner any sympathy for her from me.  I think the story would’ve been better if I wouldn’t felt more for her.  And the bad boy next store, Adrien ?  One word – CREEPY! Ok wait two words – and YUCKY.  He was suppose to be, so those aren’t really bad words.  Because part of the book is from Adrien’s view I do think the boys could buy into this one.

What:  What is this book about? Zombies.  Yup this story is about zombies.  A nice bit different look at them thought.  They aren’t brain dead, drag your feet along and moan zombies, but they are still creepy and yucky. Oh and about love.  But mostly the yuckiness of zombies.

When:  When did I cringe the most?   When they ate – and I don’t mean the two sisters.  I don’t normally cringe when reading but I did here!  It was pretty gross at parts.  That was intended! I showed you what Adrien was really like – and trust me after seeing how he did things you didn’t like him!  And if you’ve got a boy that’s ok with that kind of stuff – this book would be great for him.

Where: Where did the story lose me some?  Towards the end when I think I was suppose to feel something for Adrien .  After seeing how cruel and horrible he was, I didn’t buy into that much.  It was kind’ve a hard switch to make.  Blood and gore at one point, to seeing that he wants love the next.  I just found that a bit hard for me.

Why: Why did I like it and why might both boys and girls?  It was a very interesting retelling of Romeo and Juliet (ok that part might not interest boys).  I liked that it was the whole dieing for love bit with a sick little twist.  And I’ll admit that little twist was a nice change from all the other stories I’d been reading lately.  It took that kinda over-done love story and freshened it up – ok freshened it up with death and bugs and blood, but still it a nice change!  I think boys would like it for the same reason.

How:  How would I rate it?  I didn’t love it.  I didn’t hate it.  Like I said it was a nice change and great to see kind’ve a horror book show up in YA.  I guess I’d rate it a 3 out of 5 stars if I had to.

Final thought:  Zombies – check.  Love – check.  Blood and cringe worth yuckiness – check.  A change of pace – YUP.
Best stick-with-you image:  Adrien’s eyes
Best for readers:  Who can handle some graphic scenes
Best for ages: 13+

Review: Letters to Juniper

Title: Letters to Juniper
Author: Peggy Tibbitts

Summary

Twelve-year old Sarah Smith remembers when she was six years old her mother died and she moved to northern Idaho with her brother and father. Their lives changed drastically. The only vivid memory she has of her early childhood is her best friend Juniper Holland. In her letters to Juniper, Sarah reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings about her reclusive life with three younger brothers under the rigid oppression of her father and stepmother who call themselves Separatists. Their lives are turned upside down by an FBI investigation into her father’s association with members of the Aryan Nation. As the tension and violence escalate, Sarah faces life and death decisions in order to survive.

My Review

The topic of this book is not one you typically see for middle grade books, but that only added to my interest in the book.  I grew up when things like Ruby Ridge and Wacco happened, so the idea of a book written from the perspective of a child within the walls was one I wanted to read.

The book is written in a series of letters from the main character Sarah to a friend she remembers from when she was six and living in Florida – before she started living with her father deep within the wood isolated from much of the world.  These  letters, from the start, were over-layed with a thin veil of sadness.  Sarah never said she was sad or lonely or longed completely for her old life, but you could feel it in her words.  You could tell she loved her dad and her brother, but did she love the life they lived – that was the question I wanted answered.  The style of writing was really easy to read.  I moved through the book very quickly.  Because it’s in the voice of a 12 year old girl it keeps some of what could be deep (like her father’s beliefs) from becoming too much.  Sarah’s voice is well done and easy to “listen” to.

Reading from an adult I felt so bad for some of the things Sarah had to go through.  Her father had some different ideas about what was sinful and not, and that really affected how Sarah had to live.  She had to hid her letters to Juniper because he saw them as sinful mainly because if referred back to Florida where Sarah lived with her mother.  Her father said over and over that Florida was a place of sin.  How hard for Sarah! This was a place she remembered filled with happiness.  She struggles with how to put those two thing together.  She loves her father and wants to believe in him, but yet it seems off what he’s saying.

Speaking of her father – the story focuses around her father’s illegal gun selling and how the feds have put our a warrant out for his arrest.  Of course because of his beliefs he refuses.  A group called The Order is involved in his defense as well.  But throughout it all it’s hard to decide who to trust or not.  I think that mirrored Sarah’s life.  Because of her father’s beliefs it was hard to figure out who to trust.  She knew she should trust The Order, but she’s hearing things that make that confusing.  That confusing kept a lot of the tension in the story because you always felt a little on edge – uncertain.  Plus, I didn’t like her father, and I didn’t trust him so all this tension built around the whole situation.

The ending – I was shocked at how it all ended.  Lots I didn’t expect.  It isn’t the easiest ending, and because of it I would be a little careful what students I recommend the book to.  I think some kids might not be able to deal with it as well.  It’s a realistic ending, but difficult. I liked it and felt it fit though – although I would’ve liked more reaction out of Sarah.  My only thought was that she was in shock and couldn’t react stronger.

Final though:  Tough subject handled well.
Best stick-with-you image: The Birthing Shed.  That whole part was hard for me.
Best for reader who: are MG but more mature
Best for ages: 11+

For the Boys?  I’d like to say yes, but the book deals with some “girl” issues that boys but not feel comfortable about.

Check out my interview with the author HERE.

Book Review: BFF Breakup by Taylor Morris

Title: BFF Breakup
Author: Taylor Morris
Publisher:  Aladdin Mix

Summary

Brooke and Madeline have been best friends since they first met. And now they’re going to be best friends in high school, then go to the same college where they’ll be roommates, date—and marry—boys who are also best friends. Finally they’ll live next door to each other and go on family vacations together. Nothing could possibly change that, right? 

Well not so fast. A new school year brings new challenges, and suddenly Brooke and Madeline’s friendship isn’t looking so solid. When the cracks in the relationship become chasms, is there anything worth salvaging at all? 

Taylor Morris has written a laugh out loud funny, touching, novel about what happens when “Best Friends Forever” becomes “Best Friends No More.”

Review

How many of us have gotten into fights with out best friends?  Fights so bad you aren’t sure that you’ll ever be friends again?  I know I have! And then throw into the mix a group of new friends seemingly taking your best friend away.  Isn’t that a lot of tween girls’ fear?  Well that’s what BFF Breakup is all about.  Having a best friend and losing her.  It’s such a realistic premise that many girls will be interested just because it’s something they can so completely relate to.  What’s great is that the story goes beyond just an interesting premise.  The story itself is well written, true to the age of the character and reader and it doesn’t sugar coat going through something like this.

I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again.  One thing that I find wrong with some middle grade (tween) books I read is the voice of the characters.  They don’t sound like kids I see and hear everyday at school.  This wasn’t really an issue with Brooke and Madeline.  Their reactions (the cute boy you like sitting next to you), their language (deciding the word disco would  mean whatever you wanted it to) were spot on.  But what was more completely tween was how they reacted during the fight.  Avoiding each other, refusing to look at each other, blurting out things they have no clue where it came from, saying bad things about the other to new friends because of anger.  It was all there.  I think the most realistic was when Madeline sent Brooke and apology email thinking it was worded just perfect not at all realizing how it might sound to Brooke.  I’ve heard apologies like that!  Their reactions rang true to me.  Kids are really are really turned off by books that don’t represent them accurately.  I don’t think that would happen with this book.

A secondary story is Madeline’s parents separating.  I think this too is a situation that some tweens could relate to.  And I did believe Madeline’s reaction to it.  She was angry and confused which all seemed natural.  I did think the parents handled it a little dis-functionally, kind’ve letting the kids deal with in on their own, but it wasn’t bad enough to really bother me.  Having Madeline going through this crisis added another layer to the problems between her and Brooke.  Not only were they growing and changing, but now they had to figure out how to handle a crises with one of them.  It also set up nicely why Madeline thought her new friend Susanna was ‘better” than Brooke.  And it helped show some of Brooke’s naivety.  I wondered if this story line was really necessary – could it have just focused on the first – but I realized it was really needed.  It pushed along a lot of what happened and fueled the emotions both girls were feeling.

There were a few scenes that I did have a bit of a hard time believing.  They mostly involved Brooke and a boy named Christopher.  Christopher would be seen as a bit odd by most kids this age (he wears ties to school).  Brooke though thinks he’s cool.  Some of the scenes where she encourages his personality were a little harder for me to buy into just because I know how kids this age can have a hard time encouraging individuality because it could put the spotlight on them in a wrong way.  It know it was to help encourage being ok with who you are and letting others be who they are, but I also know the struggle with this at 7th grade. This wasn’t a huge deal, but it was the one point I wasn’t completely sure of.

I won’t say what happens in the end, but I was very pleased with how it was handled.  It wasn’t all perfection and sunshine and rainbows.  It was more realistic and I liked that.  I think a young reader would take more away from the book because it didn’t try to snowball them into believing something they know would be somewhat unrealistic.  Honesty with this age goes a long way and this book was honest.

Final Thought:  Good real look at losing your BFF
Best stick-with-you image:  When Madeline turns really mean to Brooke. Ouch!
Best for readers who: Have every had a fight with their BFF
Best for ages: 9-12

For the Boys?  Nope.  Pretty much a girl topic.

Stay tuned because tomorrow I have an interview with the author and a giveaway!!!

For the Guys – Book Review: The Scorch Trials

I Fridays I like to highlight and review books that would be great for guys.  I find tons and tons of girl books, but those boy books are much harder to come by.  Yes yes girls might like these books too, but they are really great “guy” books.  Today I have a book review.


Title: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2)
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to. 

In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal. 

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them. 

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

My Review

Ok it has been my summer of tough books in a series.  The first of The Dark and Hollow Places.  Now this one.  Now I don’t mean tough as in bad; instead I mean tough to read because the characters go through some hard things.  That is the complete and utter case in The Scorch Trials.  Now in The Maze Runner the Glade was bad just because they didn’t know how they were or where they came from, but they were fed and safe if they stayed out of the maze.  All safeness seems gone now.  Instead there is nothing but harshness – from the fireball of a sun to dust storms with a twist and cranks (nasty sick people) they are hit over and over and over with dangerous events.  It just never stops, and that got hard to read!  I mean I just wanted a breather – a break from the horrors or questions or confusion, but it doesn’t come. I think James Dashner sat up night scheming up wicked (haha WICKED) ways to torture Thomas and the other Gladers.  And worse, right when you think you can take a deep breath – you can’t!  This is a book where the saying “trust no on or nothing” really really applies.  You can’t!  Let me repeat that – YOU CAN’T!

Poor Thomas and of course Teresa, Minho, Frypan etc, but really this was a book about Thomas.  You live inside his head and with him you swirl in his confusion.  Some of his past is coming back, but that is only raising more and more questions.  He doesn’t know what he did and why.  He knows what WICKED has told them, but should he trust it?  He knows he knew Teresa, but can she be trusted?  James Dashner does an    awesome job making you feel this confusion that Thomas feels.  Sometimes, unfortunately, you are dragged (literally at points) along with Thomas and you, the reader, are frustrated and confused and everything Thomas feels.  It’s great because it really makes the story more real to you, but also it makes it tough to read.  And I’ll tell  – this never lets up.  And if you think it does, don’t trust it! Thomas felt this way right up to the last word in the book, and so does the reader.  I liked Thomas a lot in this book.  He knows he’s the focus, or at least a big one, but he doesn’t act all big and important.  Instead he steps back when he knows he needs to and let others take the lead.  That makes him more likable.  But more than that, he just seems more confident, mature and strong in this installment.  He shows growth.

I will for sure want to read the last book, The Death Cure, but I’ll need to prep myself.  After this book I know what a ride Dashner will bring me on and I better be prepared.  Can. Not. Wait!!

Final Thought:  Tough, full of questions still unanswered, nonstop fight
Best stick-with-you image:  the giant metal balls
Best for readers who:  Like nonstop action either mental or physical
Best for ages: 12+

For the Guys?  YES YES YES!!!!  Great book for the boy readers.  Thomas is a male character many boys will relate to and like, plus the non-stoppedness (like that word) of it will drag them along.

CymLowell

Book Review: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Dark and Hollow Places
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.   

Annah’s world stopped that day, and she’s been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn’t feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.  

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?


My Review

Ok I held off a bit reading this one.  I really enjoyed the first two books (the second more than the first) and I didn’t want to be let down.  Thankfully I wasn’t.  I will say though, that at the beginning I wasn’t sure! To me this was the darkest of all the books – the most hopeless.  From the first chapter Annah is thrown into a very dangerous world – more dangerous than we’ve seen.  I kept reading thinking how absolutely hopeless their situation was!  Even what should be bright spots for her (won’t say to remain more spoiler free!) have this heavy layer of distrust and guilt and sadness laid over them.  It’s like everywhere Annah turns is just more and more reason to give up!  I kept thinking about what I’d do in her situation, and I don’t know if I could’ve kept going like she did.  In the first book Mary was strong, and in the second Gabry was.  But I think Annah outshone them in the strength department.  She clung to everything, digging in and refusing to give up.

As for the other characters, to be honest I felt they paled next to Annah.  She really look over the story, and even though she would never agree – she was the one everyone should look up to.  But like most of the characters in this series she is scarred in some way.  For Annah it is both a physical and mental scar that the must fight through in order to survive.  But this gave her the strength to remind people like Catcher what they must do.

The plot of the story is slow moving.  I really saw it as an exploration of hope and how to have it in a situation that says hope is worthless because everything is gone.  Annah and Catcher have to figure out whether hope is worthwhile in their world or is it a waste.  And if you’re going to hope how do you carry that out?  Throughout the story there is a lot of situations that make them question this again and again and again.  It’s not something they can just face once and be done because it is such a tough question for them to answer.  It was fascinating watching them work through it.

Final thought:  An ending that holds true to the series as a whole. 
Best stick-with-you image:  Going through the tunnel of ice
Best for readers who: Can handle a story that seems so hopeless and likes zombies
Best for ages: 12+ for sure

For the Guys?  YES! Ok ok the main character is a girl, but there are lots of boy characters that boys should be able to relate to.

Book Review: Ruby Red

 Title: Rudy Red
Author: Kerstin Gier

Translator: Anthea Bell

Summary

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

My Review

Ok I’m gonna be up front with you.  When I first started seeing this book around I could NOT figure out what the fuss was about.  And I will admit I based that quite a bit on the cover.  From pictures, the cover just didn’t look interesting.  I really don’t like the girl on the cover.  She looks waaaaay formal and almost uncomfortable.  Now I made myself look into the book further and read some review.  Ok, so it was about time travel (which seems to be the latest thing).  I enjoyed Hourglass, so when I was offered a copy for review I decided to take it. 

Starting it out I still wasn’t sure.  I was a bit confused.  There are many characters all related, and I had a hard time remember who was who and how they were all related.  BUT something about it was hooking me in, so I kept going.  Slowly I was pulled deeper into the story.  I really liked the main character Gwyneth.  She was quirky, smart (in her own way), and not willing to let herself be bullied.  I liked her, and when I like a character I can stick with a story.  So I let Gwen pull me along.  And I’m glad I did!

Now the plot – Again I’ll admit that I found parts of it confusing.  There’s all kinds of half stories told – things Gwen can’t know or doesn’t know or people refuse to tell her.  That, for her and the reader, can be frustrating.  But again how Gwen handled it kept me going.  I wanted to see how she would react to more of what was thrown at her – and mostly I wanted to see her succeed and prove her aunt and others wrong.  None of them like what happens with Gwen, and they are very angry at her and Gwen’s mother.  This made me mad because I liked Gwen, so they shouldn’t be mad at her!  The plot unravels fast but yet slow.  Fast because a lot of information is thrown out at once, but slow because it takes forever for people to be honest with her.  In the end I have a clear understanding of what is going on but I soooooooo need to know more.  And whoa what a shocker at the end!!!

Ok lastly I have to comment on Gideon the boy of the story.  He seems to swing back and forth between being a jerk to being caring, and honestly I don’t know which side to trust.  It’s like I want to trust him, but he’s been a part of this longer than Gwen, so I don’t know his deep knowledge might be used against Gwen’s naivety.  Even what happens at the end – I’m not sure if I can trust it.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

For the Guys?  Nah not really.

Final thought:  Ok I get the fuss now. I will be looking foward to the rest of the series.
Best stick-with-you image:  Gwen in the fancy dress
Best for readers who: Like time travel, are ok with being in the dark some
Best for ages: 12+

OH! And about the cover….. still don’t like the picture of the girl, but I do love the red and silver in person.  Super pretty!

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Summary

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

My Thoughts

Ok I’ll admit that I didn’t know a lot about this book before I read it.  I knew it was by Patrick Ness, and I love Patrick Ness, so I wanted to read it.  I also knew that he wrote it based on a story idea of Siobhan Dowd.  Otherwise I didn’t know much about what it was suppose to be about.  I, wrongly, assumed it was a scary book.  Well ok it’s a scary book, but not about the kind of monsters that normally scare us in books and movies.  The monster in this book, the real monster is much much worse. 

Instead of the book I was expecting, I was drawn into a story that grabbed a hold of me with both hands and didn’t let go.  And at times that hold was directly on my heart.  I won’t lie, there were parts of this book that were hard for me to read because it hurt my heart (even now as I’m typing this I feel how I felt while I was reading it).  But even at those parts I was compelled to read on.  Why?  Why do that to myself?  I had to be there with and for the main character Conor.  It would’ve felt wrong to abandon him.  I had to be there with him as he faced the monster in front of him.  As I saw where one monster was leading him right up to the face of another, much worse, monster.  As the reader I knew what was coming, and I could only stand there helpless as I watch him have to face that monster and try to survive. 

Along with facing that monster, Conor also learns some other lessons told in three stories that seem confusing and frustrating to him.  But it is these three stories help Conor face that last monster and the truth that lives within it.  As an adult I was reminded about lessons life has taught me throughout my years.  Lessons that are good to remember even though they were hard ones to learn.

I liked this book.  I really really did.  I has stuck with him in a very personally way.  Some books just so perfectly tell a story you know in your heart.  This one did that for me.  I didn’t get the book I expected, but I really think I got the book I needed.  Thank you Patrick Ness for telling Siobhan Dowd’s story and telling it so well.

Final thought:  The monsters in this book were far scarier than ones that just go bump in the night
Best stick-with-you image:  More a thought:  sometimes being seen is what you think you want but it might not be
Best for readers who: Can handle a more serious story.  This isn’t a story I’d hand to any kid.
Best for ages:  Are at least 11 but really it would depend on the maturity of the child

Book/Magazine Review and GIVEAWAY: Discovery Girls

Today I have something a bit different.  Instead of reviewing a book, I’m reviewing a magazine.  That magazine would be Discovery Girls.  The publishers of Discovery Girls asked if I would be interested in reviewing the magazine and hosting a giveaway.  At first I was hesitant, but then I realized that my goal is to get kids reading.  And if I can get them reading a magazine that’s awesome!!!! So I said yes.  A bit later I got some copies of issues to look at.  I realized that I knew this magazine from our school library, but I had never really looked at it before.  I wish I had!

What is Discovery Girls?
Discovery Girls, an award-winning magazine aimed at tween girls, has produced four books packed with real-world practical advice. The books deliver their best strategies so girls can successfully deal with friendship troubles, embarrassing moments, life’s toughest problems (like death and divorce), body issues, crushes on buys, school pressures and more. The set includes: Friendship Hardships – Making friends who respect and understand you. Sticky Situations – How to bounce back from almost anything. Getting Through Tough Times – Handling life’s toughest challenges. Getting Your Questions Answered – Advice on family, friendships, boys and more. All of the books reinforce the power of girls to overcome disappointment, develop postive images about themselves, seek the right kind of help, talk to their parents and learn how to grow from failures.

What I Thought:

Discovery Girls is a great magazine for the tween set because it shows REAL girls.  Even the covers are read girls of all shapes and sizes.  I love that!  I’m not saying other magazines are bad, but it’s frustrating to have all these teen magazine staring at you covered with “perfect” actresses, singers etc.  I have a daughter, and I’ve worried about her comparing herself to those images.  What a great relief to see a magazine that shows what real girls look like, and they really do look like real girls.  I teach in a middle school with almost 900 students grades 5-8.  I know what girls this age look like!  This cover is a mirror to what a typical girl would see around them.  Love it!

Ok, so that’s the cover, but we all know we can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Upon looking through the pages I learned that what you see on the cover is just what you’ll see inside.  Real girls, real issues, real problems.  Loved that too! In the issues I saw there were pieces about zits, baking cupcakes, lying to parents, envy and cell phones in schools.  My favorite though was a whole piece from older girls telling what they wish they had known when they were younger.  They were all things I would tell my daughter, but because they came from mom she didn’t want to hear them!  Maybe she’ll listen to older girls. 

I wish I had know about this magazine when my daughter was younger.  She’s 12 now, and pretty much on the upper end of the target audience.  Although I will say she nabbed my copies and pretty much read them cover to cover 🙂

Now to go with the magazine, they also sent me a book titled Fab Girls Guide to Getting Through Tough Times.  This book presented a bunch of tough situations a young girl might find herself in, and advice on how to deal with it.  Some topics included: cyber bullying, admitting being wrong, being “left” by friends, being part of different culture, parent losing a job and many more.  The advice was very sound and well done.  I could see a young girl turning to this book to get some advice when she’s a bit to scared to ask a parent.  Very well done.

For the Guys?  Nope.  It’s Discovery Girls 🙂

Final thought:  A great way to get girls reading and not putting unrealistic expectations in front of them

Best for readers:  Who aren’t readers and are intimidated by books

Best for ages: 8-11

Now for the giveaway
Discovery Girls is giving away two copies of their 10 Year Collector’s Edition.  They sent me a copy and it’s great!
To enter:
Must be a US Resident
Must be at least 13 or is younger supply a parent email
Must fill out the form
Ends June 30