Monday, June 29, 2015

I'm Still Here! What's Up Next

Yes, Summer has taken over my willpower--that and my two year old.  No excuses--I just need to prioritize my writing again.  This past week was also a little tough because I was back at school working on curriculum planning (yes, in June!) and that took up so much brain power and was not at all fun, that I got home and refused to do anything that was at all productive.  So here I am, with very little to show for my last two weeks of break.

I will tell you what's up on my reading list, though:

I'm currently reading an ARC by Nigel Quinlan called The Maloney's Magial Weatherbox.  The premise is that their father is the "Weatherman" and answers a call from the Weatherbox each season, until he doesn't.  So far so good.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Up Next is Every Soul has a Star by Wendy Mass. A campground, a rare eclipse, three different lives that come together and everything changes.

After that I will be reading Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland.  I am in awe of Misty Copeland and if I ever get a chance to see her perform--like I'm in the same city as she is and she's in a performance and tickets are a bajillion and one dollars (I'll pay a bajillion, but I can't afford more than that) I'm there.  She is gorgeous and strong and everything a dancer should be.  I'm excited for this one.

Then, I will finally read The Wrath & the Dawn!  I'm so excited to read
this story by Renee Adieh.  I keep reading the summary and hearing about how awesome it is and I cannot wait!  But I'm making myself wait for some reason.  Usually I make myself read something I'm only halfway interested in reading before I read something that I really really really want to read.  But the other books I plan on reading here I also want to read a lot too.  So why am I torturing myself?  I don't know.  But that's the plan.  It'll be even better this way, right?

I have tons more on my list, but that's as far ahead as I'm prepared to plan for now.  Who's up for some more reading!

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Status: The Maloneys' Magical Weatherbox

Sunday Status is a look at my current read. I share one line from the page I'm currently reading and what I'm thinking about the book so far.

The Maloneys' Magical Weatherbox
by Nigel Quinlan
Publisher: Roaring Book Press, July 28, 2015
Source: Netgally in exchange for an honest review

"Down in the far left corner of the elevator there was a shadow. With the fluorescent light on overhead and nothing at all to cast it, there should have been no shadow—and yet there was. Coiled like a snake ready to strike. And there was a tiny flash, like an ember flaring in the ashes of a dead fire (93)."

This book comes out at the end of July and it's filled magic and science.  In this mystical world, there are magical creatures, witches, and beasts, as well as a Weatherman who, along with other Weathermen, call in the Seasons.  They open the door and help to keep the weather.  Neil and Liz's father is the Weatherman and one day Neil will take over that job, if he can help his father keep the job.  An old "witch" (I'm not sure what else to call her) wants to kick him out of his job and take over and she's willing to use anything in her power--including Liz--to help her get it.

Although the beginning was full of a lot of background story and world building, the story picks up pretty well.  I hope to finish this tonight and get a review out there by the holiday weekend!

Can't believe it's already going to be the Fourth of July.  CANNOT believe it.

Image Source: Goodreads

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Children's Book Review: Family Money: How Families Spend Their Money--and Why

Family Money: How Families Spend Their Money – and Why
By William Whitehead
Illustrated by Mark Beech
Publisher: Norwood House Press
Source:  ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Family Money is a great book to include in your family library.  As kids get older they should begin to understand how money works and that it’s not always possible to have everything they want.  This book is a great way to help teach that in your family.  Costs are broken down by category and each category is only a few pages, with fun pictures to accompany the text .

I thought one of the best sections was the vacation one.  It not only reminds kids that the vacation depends on the amount of money budgeted for that.  It also gave some ideas for fun vacations that might not cost as much because of various reasons. 

In addition, the section that discussed food costs will be beneficial in teaching kids why you can’t always eat out at restaurants or you aren’t going to buy the name brand food this time.  It would be a great time to let them help in the shopping with a limited budget.

The only sections I didn’t feel quite belonged in this book were the ones on taxes and services. This is good to discuss because families do pay taxes.  It’s part of the family money.  The problem is that then the book went into details about where the taxes went and spent a few pages on different services and departments that receive that tax money.  It didn’t make sense to focus on so much on different services when you’re focusing on family money.  I think it would have been sufficient to note that taxes go towards paying for each of these important services.

Family Money would be great for kids from as young as 1st grade, through 5th grade.  In the younger grades, I would definitely recommend that you read each chapter one at a time and then have some experiences with each topic if possible.  For example, when you read about the cars and how it costs to fuel them up, repair them, etc., it might be beneficial to take a trip to the gas station and have your child guess how much it will take to fill up the car.  Then write down the date and see how many days you make it before you have to fill up again—how much did you do on those days? Although 5th grade might be pushing it, you can definitely have older kids read it on their own and then discuss it with parents.  They’ll benefit from having time to digest the information and then create their own budget, including all of the categories of expenses. 

I think there is a lot you can do with Family Money, whether you are a parent or a teacher

Image Source: Netgalley

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review: The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
Sheila Turnage
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books, 2014
Source: purchased
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sheila Turnage has done it again, bringing us the precocious voice of young Mo Le'Beau, rising 6th grader and lead detective at Desperado Detective Agency.  In The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, Mo and her best friend Dale have discovered another mystery to be solved, and this time it includes ghosts from the town's past.  When Miss Lana and Grandmother Miss Lacy purchase the old abandoned inn, in an attempt to keep it out of the hands of people wanting to tear it down, they realize there is a lot of work left to do, and there's a ghost to deal with too.  Mo and Dale set out to find the truth about this ghost and what she or he is doing there--and they're basing their entire history grade on an interview with the ghost, so they have to work quickly.

As in Three Times Lucky, the characters living in Tupelo Landing are vibrant and funny and loveable.  Mo is meddling, curious, and inventive and everyone knows it.  Although at times she says things that are off putting to others, they seem to love her.  I do wonder how she gets away with some of the things she says and I was hoping a few times that some of the characters would put her in her place a bit more because she can be pretty rude towards adults.  Dale is dealing with the consequences of their last solved crime: his daddy is in jail and his family is trying to move on.  We're also introduced to a new character, Harm Crenshaw, new to town and incredibly intelligent.  He's not happy to be stuck in Tupelo Landing and isn't afraid to let everyone know about it.  All the side characters are just perfectly themselves as well.  I love how well Sheila Turnage creates her characters and makes them come to life.  I would definitely live in this town, as long as it was populated by these characters. 

The story was interesting and Mo and Dale uncover clues along the way that reveal a little bit more of the mystery to us.  I was rather surprised when the mystery was solved rather early.  There were still some conflicts to be resolved, but I thought that at that point, the story lagged.  Even though it wasn't that much left, I found myself easily distracted from the last four or five chapters because Mo and Dale were no longer worried about the ghost and it felt like much of the end was almost a parade of the characters to see how happy they were now.  Up until then (it started around the final scenes at the big bash) I was plowing through the story, but the big bash didn't seem very important anymore, unless there was something else to solve with the ghost.  

Overall, I'm excited to read another Mo LeBeau story.  Will there be one?  I'm hoping so!  Check out The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing after you've read Three Times Lucky and enjoy getting to know Mo and her best friend Dale and the entire cast of characters in Tupelo Landing.

Image Source:  Goodreads

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Picture Book Review: The Tea Party in the Woods

The Tea Party in the Woods
Akiko Miyakoshi
Publisher: Kids Can Press, August 2015
Source: ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Tea Party in the Woods takes on a short trip through the woods with Kikko on one very snowy day when her father leaves behind some food to take to her grandmother.  Kikkos travels after him to deliver the package herself and ends up having a tea party along the way.

The pictures in this book are beautiful.  The charcoal drawings are deep and shadowy, except for Kikko.  She stands out brightly on each page with her yellow hair and orange read skirt, hat and gloves. Due to the dark charcoal drawings, some of the pages may seem a bit scary to some younger readers, but I thought the scenes in the woods, with the stark whiteness of the snow and the thin straggly branches of the trees were quite beautiful and helps to balance out any fear from the more shadowy images.  

The story itself is sweet, with only a little bit of mystery.  When Kikkos follows her father, she ends up following someone else instead and arrives at a mysterious mansion.  Inside a tea party is taking place with bears, and deer, rabbits, pigs, and many other animals.  They all invite her in to take part in their tea party before she goes on her way to find her father and grandmother.  

This would be a great book for art classes to look at when study charcoal drawings.  It could be used as a companion to other stories about fantastical animals coming to life as well.

I think I will be purchasing and reading to my sixth graders in the winter.

Image Source: Goodreads

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Picture Book Review: At the Beach

At the Beach
Mary Lindeen
Publisher: Norwood House Press, July 2015
Source:ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A lovely picture book for beginning readers, At the Beach has bright and colorful photographs with simple words for children to practice reading skills.  They pictures are also simple, yet beautiful.  It tells children some of the items they might find at a beach and also what activities they might partake in when they visit the beach.  

The last few pages of the book are the best part.  There three pages of "Reading Reinforcement" for caregivers to read through.  With different activities, the book can be read multiple times, allowing for a closer read with a purpose.  Caregivers are able to guide their children in vocabulary and sight words as well as talking about main ideas.  

My suggestion, as always, is to allow your child to read the book a few times on his or her own (or with you, depending on where your child's reading skills are at) before you ask questions or try any of the activities.  Allowing children to just enjoy reading for reading's sake is just as important as reinforcing skills.

Source Images: Goodreads

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book Review: The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1)
Rick Riordan
Hyperion Books for Children, 2010
Source: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Rick Riordan has succeeded in pulling us into another adventure with new heroes this time around.  He has a knack for revealing just a tid bit more of information about the characters or plot exactly when we need it.  I believe that Rick Riordan is one the masters of storytelling for young people.

In The Lost Hero, we meet three new characters: Jason who doesn’t remember anything, except that something is very wrong, Piper who is carrying a secret she has to keep from her friends, and Leo who has learned about a certain curse that might be centered around him.  It’s not long after they’re brought to Camp Half-Blood that they’re off on a quest to help save the gods, once again.  Along the way, they’ll find out a little about their friends and a lot about themselves as they work to discover the meaning behind this new prophecy that promises a journey to the Doors of Death.

Like I said, I think Rick Riordan is a master story teller.  Kids of all ages will love reading about the three characters, who are all interesting in their own ways.  My favorite character is Leo.  Not only is he funny, I think that he’s really easy to connect to because he isn’t perfect--at all.  He makes a lot of mistakes, says things that he regrets saying almost instantly, and feels a bit like the odd man out in this book.  A lot of kids, and adults, can relate to those feelings a lot more than they might be able to relate to Jason, who seems to fill the role of “hero” with little effort.  Of course, we know he has his own issues, but most of us cannot easily connect to those issues.  I also appreciated Piper because she is a strong female character who is a good person.  She grapples with some personal issues, but she isn’t weak and in need of the males in the book to save her.  She needs their help, yes, but they also need hers in return.  

Get ready for a story of adventure as the first story in the Heroes of Olympus series throws us into a new prophecy that will either help the heroes save Olympus from an ancient evil, or see it destroyed.  If you enjoyed the Percy Jackson Series, then you will definitely want to read The Lost Hero. Based off of this first book, I'm expecting the whole series to be even better!

Image Source: Goodreads

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Status: The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
by Sheila Turnage
Scholastic, 2014 
Source: purchased

"Desperado Detective Agency's second big case snuck up on Dale and me at the end of summer, dressed in the happy-go-lucky colors and excitement of an auction (1)." 

This is the first sentence of the book and it is everything I was expecting for this second book. Moses LeBeau is fun, quirky, and confident. She is a great character to read about. I only just started, I can tell already I won't be disappointed in the second novel about Miss LeBeau and her friend Dale! 

Oh--and there is a map. I love a good map to help give the setting more focus when there is s lot of movement. If it's anything like Three Times Lucky then it'll be nice to remind oneself of the town layout. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Feature and Follow Friday: June 12, 2015

Feature and Follow:
F&F is a weekly blog hop that consists of book bloggers. It is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. The rules of involvement are simple:

1.) Link up on the blog hop at Alison Can Read or Parajunkee, 2.) follow the hosts via their network of choice, 3.) follow the weekly featured blog(s) via their network of choice (listed as "featured" in the blog list below), and lastly, 4) check out the rest of the blogs on the hop! If you become a new follower of a blog, let them know and they will follow you back.

The F&F is a great way to network, meet other book bloggers, and gain new followers. Even more so, it's a great way to drive fun discussion on a weekly topic.

You can follow me via the icons to the upper right!

**Wasn't able to link up on Friday and this is the first chance I've had to get back on the computer!  Here it is.

Question of the WeekIf you can step into one characters shoes (in a book) and be them for a day who would it be and why? Also if you want to be creative, what scene? - Suggested bySeeing Night Book Reviews

Hmmm...  This is a tough one.  It's tough because it's usually the character that I'm reading at that point in time.  In fact, if the writing is really good, I am in their shoes for an entire book!  That's what I love so much about reading.  I can become someone else, someone completely different from me, someone completely different from anyone else I've ever read.  
My favorite character is Anne Shirley and I would love to live in her shoes for a day.  I think I'd like to be in her shoes on her first day at school when she hits Gilbert Blythe over the head with her board.  But would I have changed the way things went?  Probably because I'm not outspoken like Anne and would have just ignored him.  Then the entire story is changed.  That's why I love books.  I CAN be someone else for a day or week, or however long!

So what about you?  Are there characters whose lives you would slip into for the day?  Would you do everything the exact same? 

Next Week's Question:

If you were to get a tattoo, what would it say or what would the graphic be? Or if you have a tattoo, share a picture and its meaning. - Suggested by Second Run Reviews

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Reading for Kids

This morning I heard a piece on NPR where they briefly discussed whether kids should be encouraged to read so much in the summer.

My immediate thoughts: "WHAT?  Of course they should be encouraged to read!  What are you talking about?"  "Is this a joke?--It has to be."  Calming down and listening.

The argument for not pushing reading during the summer was that because it was summer.  Kids should be out playing, exploring, communing with nature and what not.  Sure I agree with that.  But are you telling me that they will be doing this every minute that they're awake?  Are there 20-30 minutes each day that could be set aside for reading?  Yes!!!

My daughter is only two, so I realize that I don't yet have to deal with carting her to different activities, doing homework, and then finding time to read during the school year.  I don't know what that's like, but I'm hoping that the emphasis we put on reading now will translate into a the importance of reading during the entire year.  I hope that she'll see the summer as an opportunity to get some more reading done because she isn't as busy.

There were others who commented with the same opinion as I did, but I was just shocked by what I heard from people who are well-educated, and who actually work in education even.  It made my heart hurt a little.  I in no way advocate for keeping your kids inside all summer, reading for hours on end.  Even I can't do that and I LOVE reading.  But encouraging it, even requiring 20-30 minutes a day isn't going to ruin your summer fun.  And if you have a really busy day and it's fun and exciting and you're really just basking in the loveliness of your family and summer, then skip it a day.  But summer reading will not ruin your child's summer.  It might even help them come fall.

Oh and when I say summer reading, I mean student selected reading.  Whatever they want.  A magazine?  The newspaper?  Some articles about motorcycles, basketball, camping, fashion, celebrities?  Go with it and encourage it.  It's reading.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

To Review or Not to Review: 1 and 2 star books

I've been having a bit of a conundrum when it comes to books that I don't really like due to the quality of writing, plot, characters, etc.  Do you write a bad review?  Sometimes I feel like it's a waste of my time.  At the same time, though, shouldn't I be honest and cover those books that weren't well done--especially if I spent the time to finish it.  I go back and forth.  

If I don't finish a book, I won't review it.  Not formally.  I may post something brief about why I didn't finish it, but I don't feel like I can really write an honest review if I don't finish it.

What do you think?  If you are giving a book 1 or 2 stars, then do you write up and post a review for that book?  Or is it enough to just not promote it?  

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review: The Book of Dares for Lost Friends

The Book of Dares for Lost Friends
by Jane Kelley
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Publishing Group,  Feiwel & Friends
Source: ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This sounded like a great book that kids in grades 5-8 would enjoy.  Best friends are starting middle school and suddenly things are different and they’re hanging out with different people. Val meets a strange and mysterious boy while she tries to figure out how to get Lanora to be her friend again. Lanora is struggling to deal with her parents’ divorce and tries to fit in with the most popular girls in school.  There is a sense of magic that permeates the story, but even the sense of mystery doesn’t save this story.

A lot of potential lies within this novel.  I would love to see Tasman’s story a little more developed, filling him out and letting us understand him a bit more--or allowing for other characters to understand him.  Everyone is very confused about him, even at the end of the novel.  The energy and mystery surrounding him and the story is where the story really lies and this could have helped to create more interest in characters.  

The characters were underdeveloped and unbelievable.  Val and Lanora have been friends forever, but we don’t really get to see that at all, except for a few pages at the beginning, and even within those pages, Lanora is already plotting her break from Val.  The break makes no sense.  Even with Lanora feeling upset over her parents’ divorce, her actions and emotions don’t feel believable.  She quickly becomes an emotionless being, who thinks a little too logically and rationally, and I immediately dislike her.  I can’t even feel sorry for her because her actions: breaking ties from her friend, being rude to her mother, and other actions I will not disclose seem to come from another place that has nothing to do with anything.  She just seems like a mean person.

There are other characters which are unbelievable as well.  Tasman, the boy Val meets, is strange and speaks in a way that shows he is smart, but he doesn’t attend school.  He brings in a mysticism to the story, but it’s strange and not fully developed, leaving a lot unanswered and empty.  We know he lives with a man his grandfather, and maybe his father, knew, but that they are not around anymore, but we don’t know why, although it’s later explained slightly.  There are hints to a troubled life for Tasman, but still it’s unclear exactly what is wrong--just that he is strange.  Val’s brother is also unbelievable, knowing a lot for a six year old.  

Last, but not least there was a cat.  Several times in the story, we saw things through her point of view.  It was confusing because the only importance she had was that she brought Val to Tasman, but this could have been accomplished without the cat.  

Overall, I wouldn’t jump up and down and rush to the store to grab this book.  

Image Source: Goodreads

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Status: The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero

Rick Riordan
Scholastic, 2010
Source: borrowed from school library 

"She thought he was lying. His claim was impossible. And part of him felt the same way, but as soon as he spoke the words, he knew they were true (172)."

I read the Percy Jackson series a few years ago and really enjoyed them. I tried jumping right into this next series as soon as I finished, but couldn't do it. I guess I just needed time, because I can't stop reading The Lost Hero.  

We have three new heroes in this book who are joining the other demi-gods at Camp Half-Blood. Jason has no memory of who he is, but he knows he should not be there. Piper has a secret she can't let any know about. Leo is the most at home there, but has secrets of his own. After only a day or two at the camp they're given a quest that will help save the gods again-- if they succeed. 

I'm really enjoying the read. Rick Riordan has a way of revealing just the right amount of information at just the right time that keeps you reading! 

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Book Review: Igniting a Passion for Reading

Steven L. Layne
Scholastic, 2009
Source: purchased
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Steven L. Layne’s passion for teaching reading jumps from the page and into your lap.  You have to decide what to do with it from there.  In Igniting a Passion for Reading, Layne lays out specific strategies, activities and procedures he believes have helped make his students into lifetime readers.  What he suggests--no, insists upon--should not be surprising if you’ve been teaching reading for any small amount of time.  Unfortunately, with schools hyper focused on test scores and STEM initiatives, reading for the sake of reading has been pushed to the side.  The focus in this book is not teaching skill, but teaching will.

As a middle school teacher, I have parents start out the year by telling (with their child right there) that “Johnny” or “Mandy”  isn’t a reader, so good luck. Usually these are my kids who struggle. It’s not because they can’t read, but because they don’t want to and why should they if they can still get by with good grades? I’ve been looking for ways to pull them in--convince them it’s worth it.  Steven Layne has given me ways--so many ways!

My one major problem with this is that I want to do everything he suggests. In a forty-eight minute period I’m already strapped for time. I’m going to try and incorporate the read aloud two times a week and the Buzz About Books once a week, and try to get in a book chat now and then, but Can I fit it in?  Truly fit it in?  We’ll see.  The best part about this is that Layne not only gives you step by step instruction on how you can implement these strategies, but examples and masters to use in your classroom.  It’s also really easy to read, meaning it’s a great summer professional development read! I read a chapter here, and a chapter there over the first two weeks of break, taking notes as I went along and was still able to read my fiction books as well.    

I definitely recommend Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne to anyone who teaches--whether you’re a reading teacher or a social studies teacher.  If you are a teacher of reading or literature, there are so many great ideas you can incorporate into your classroom--some of them don’t even take up classroom time!  Igniting a Passion for Reading is my new go to recommendation for new teachers!

If you like this book, then make sure you also check out The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. She has a second book out as well, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Feature and Follow Friday: June 5, 2015

Feature and Follow:
F&F is a weekly blog hop that consists of book bloggers. It is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. The rules of involvement are simple:

1.) Link up on the blog hop at Alison Can Read or Parajunkee, 2.) follow the hosts via their network of choice, 3.) follow the weekly featured blog(s) via their network of choice (listed as "featured" in the blog list below), and lastly, 4) check out the rest of the blogs on the hop! If you become a new follower of a blog, let them know and they will follow you back.

The F&F is a great way to network, meet other book bloggers, and gain new followers. Even more so, it's a great way to drive fun discussion on a weekly topic.

You can follow me via the icons to the upper right!

This week's topic: How would you pitch to the biz to make your favorite book into a movie?

This is a really difficult question to me because I rarely want a book made into a movie.  Most of the time what I would want to happen in a movie (everything!) is impossible.  I know it's not much of an answer, but how many of you would advocate for your favorite book to be made in a movie?  

That's not to say that I won't go see my favorite book made into a movie.  Depending on previews, I will be there, anxious to see my characters come to life before my eyes.  Usually I will walk away disappointed.  Some movies I refuse to watch because I will not have the book tainted with visual memories that were poor and sad.  I have high expectations.  Worst ever movie adaptation?  Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Really great book and the movie ruined it so much that I am still angry about it and it's been years.  

What about you?  Would you advocate for your favorite book to be made into a movie?

Next Week's Question:

If you can step into one characters shoes (in a book) and be them for a day who would it be and why? Also if you want to be creative, what scene? - Suggested by Seeing Night Book Reviews

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Ally Condie
Scholastic, INC, 2010
Source: Bought
Rating 3 out 5 stars

Cassia lives in a world where everything is determined for you, including who you will marry, and she’s never questioned any of it. At her Matching Ceremony, she’s delighted to find out she and her best friend, Xander, have been matched. Not everyone is so lucky. When she sees another face pop up on her microcard, Cassia is shocked to find out it’s also someone she knows: Ky. Suddenly she doesn’t feel so lucky and begins to question which person she is her true Match. As Cassia continues to find herself in close proximity to Ky, she can’t stop thinking about him. Does she trust the Officials and everything she’s ever been taught? Or does she follow her questioning spirit?

I only gave this book three stars because I thought it had so much more potential than the love triangle Cassia, Ky, and poor Xander who gets a bit lost in the turmoil. That is the story line that didn’t really interest me so much. What did interest me was the idea of how this world was built. No one knows how to write anymore. They can read and they have computers that are scribes, but they do not know how to write on paper themselves. It’s not allowed--true creation is not allowed. In addition to that, years ago, Officials had chosen the top 100 of all these different things: Songs, Poems, Books, Art Work, etc. No one learned about anything other than those 100 items. All the rest were destroyed. Yes, destroyed. I mean imagine that! This whole idea of the top 100 and how they were chosen and why 100? That intrigued me. 

When Cassia’s grandfather leaves her this scrap of paper hidden in a compact she realizes that it is part of a poem that isn’t one of the 100, this is where the story begins for me. She internalizes this poem, Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” and it spurs her on throughout the remainder of the book, challenging her to think outside the Official’s crazy rules. I wanted the story to go there, to settle into this idea of words stolen from an entire future of people. As Cassia thought about those words, I wanted her to seek out more, try and find others out there who also carried forbidden words and ideas in their heads. I only cared about Ky and Xander in how they fit in with Cassia’s understanding of the poem and her sudden desire for writing that was real and beautiful. Unfortunately for me, it stayed pretty much in which character she would choose to love and why. 

Even though this story did not go where I wanted Matched was not a bad book. It was essentially a story about a girl who is given no choice, who is not free to choose or express herself, but wants to do so. Most of the time I was silently willing Cassia to choose the way I wanted her to go (I won’t tell you who I wanted her choose so you can make your own decision). Cassia’s transformation is interesting to watch and I did like her character. You watch her grow. The way she views her family and friends shifts as she transforms and begins to question everything she has ever known--even her own family. Our major characters seemed to have more authentic personalities than the minor ones. Some of the minor characters were flat, and seemed like stereotypes, but I’m not sure if that was done purposely as the Officials wanted everyone to have a certain mindset and follow the rules. Very few character actually act out or purposefully go against Official decrees, but when they do, you suddenly know a lot more about who that character truly is. 

Overall, I don’t think I will be jumping on finishing this trilogy. It’s still on my list because I want to see what happens, but I won’t be moving it to the top anytime soon. When I get to it, I’ll give the second book a chance and hope that maybe the story goes a little deeper, past the love story and into this world that’s waiting to be opened up. However if you enjoy love stories, especially if they involve love triangles, and you enjoy futuristic dystopias, you might want to check this one out.

Image Source: Goodreads

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Top Ten Books I'm Excited about Reading This Summer

As you might know, I have 53 (yes that is fifty three) books on my summer to read list (it's actually 54, but I read one of them last week).  That's a lot.  I plan on reading as many of those as possible, but here are my top ten that I'm looking forward to reading and will be certain to finish, if nothing else. 

10) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I've heard a lot about this book and I'm really interested in reading it.  I've had a few people recommend it to me and I was excited to tell them that it's already on my list.  

9) Conversion by Katherine Howe

Girls suddenly becoming overwhelmed with tics and other maladies for no reason.  Connections to the Salem Witch Trials.  Sounds great!

8) I Was A Teenage Ghost Hunter by Brian K. Henry

I just recently heard about this book, and it sounds fun.  I keep seeing it and now I keep wondering about it.  So I will definitely read it this summer.

7) Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage

I read Three Times Lucky last summer and loved it!  It was funny, mysterious, and had great characters to boot.  I'm excited to read about this next installment about Moses LeBeau and her friends in Tupelo.  It's bound to be fun.

6) The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I know this is a few years old, and it's been on my radar for awhile, but I've finally decided that it's going to get read.  It sounds intriguing.  Orphans are chosen to compete to be the king's impersonator.  Fail the competition and you die.  Plus, there are many things brewing in the kingdom that sound like they'll bring in some adventure.  

5) Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

I love reading about kids who are different from others.  I also love introducing those characters to my students because they can see that those differences are really that great.  We're more alike than you think.  Rose is a girl with Asperger's who love homonyms and when her dog Rain goes missing, she has to to go out and find him.

4) Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

A little girl is taken by her father out into the woods to live.  Years later she returns, to civilization and her mother.  This sounds incredibly interesting and I'm just imagining what would go through a little girl's head and how she would deal with this situation.  How anyone would deal with this situation if they had been told the rest of humanity had died and then found out it was a lie.  I've also been hearing good things about this book that just came out in March.

3) Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I originally put this on my TBR because of the cover.  I didn't know anything about it, but with a cover that great, how could I resist?  When I read the description, I was pleasantly surprised that it could stay on my list.  Another fantasy trilogy, set in the middle of a war with a monster filled darkness, in which the character may be the only hope for survival.

2) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

When I first read this I shrugged and said sure that sound great and put it on my TBR list.  Done.  And, like many of these other books, I saw someone mention it on twitter or Facebook and I went back to read the description.  Hmm that does sound really really good.  Then there were reviews and my excitement grew even more until here I am...anxious to get to this book in my Summer Reading List.  It may have to be pushed up a few.

1) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Is there anyone out there who isn't excited about this?  I'm also going to try and get in another reading

of To Kill A Mockingbird, but I'm not sure how I will make that happen, because I've already pre-ordered Go Set a Watchman and when it gets here, I'm going to want to read it.  Immediately if at all possible.  July 14th is the release date and although I'm excited, I'm also a little wary.  What if it just isn't enough?  I mean there's a reason her publisher wanted To Kill A Mockingbird and not this one, but I'm still going to all over this and I can't wait to talk about it!

Those are my top ten for this summer!  Any books you're itching to read immediately?