Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Booked

Booked Booked by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I totally loved The Crossover, and this book comes in a close second to The Crossover. Booked, though, is about soccer. Nick Hall is a star soccer player, as is his best friend, Coby. They play and kid around all the time, and everything seems cool, until Nick is hit with some really bad news.

Not as much sports action in this book as there was in The Crossover, but it is a quick read and both middle school boys and girls should enjoy this.

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Review: Wintergirls

Wintergirls Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is probably one of the most depressing books I have ever read. Lia and Cassie were friends, but had grown apart. Both girls had eating disorders, and as you can tell from Lia's observations, they were both bad influences on each other. But Cassie turns up dead in a motel room, and the night she died, she left 33 messages on Lia's phone. Lia is haunted by Cassie's death, and is on a death spiral herself, as she sets lower and lower weight goals that will kill her sooner than later.

I have loved and recommended many of Laurie Halse Anderson's books, but I simply can not recommend this one. The family is clueless, and that was very frustrating for me. I do not want to believe that parents can be so self-absorbed that they would not recognize that their daughter is starving to death. 8th grade and up.

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Review: All Shook Up

All Shook Up All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here's a disclaimer: I am a die-hard Elvis Presley fan. So, when this book showed up at my book fair, I purchased it for the library, and knew I had to read it. It is a funny, very down-to-earth look at the relationship between 13 year-old Josh, (who lives with his mom in Boston) and his father, who lives in Chicago. Poor Josh has to go live with his dad for a few months, which means starting a new middle school, and being away from his friends. Traumatic, right? Well, when Josh finds out that his dad lost his job, and is now trying to make a living as an Elvis impersonator, things get crazy.
Very realistic dialogue, the author never writes down to her audience, and the story moves along very quickly. Very real family problems, and they are not sugar-coated.
I even made my husband read the book, and he enjoyed it, too!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review: The Boy in the Black Suit

The Boy in the Black Suit The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book started out making me laugh, and I immediately liked the author's style of writing. It is very realistic, you can hear the voices of the characters as they walk down the street, or down the hall in school. Matt, the main character, has suffered the loss of his mother. He is trying to deal with the grief, and still must contend with high school. He is befriended by Mr. Ray, the owner of the funeral home that took care of his mom's funeral. It's a good thing, because Matt's dad is not handling the death of his wife. He has started to drink, and is becoming an embarrassment to Matt. Matt takes a part-time job at the funeral home, and he meets an interesting girl, named Love. Their lives have crossed once before, but they didn't know it.
I liked Mr. Ray a lot, and Matt was cool. I hope some mature 8th graders will give it a chance.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics

The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am amazed that a book about rowing could be exciting and moving. After having seen the movie, Race, about Jesse Owens competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, I really didn't think this book would hold my interest. I was wrong. From the very beginning, the author does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the story of one of the "boys", Joe Rantz. We learn about his really difficult childhood, growing up in Washington State during the Great Depression. He was left on his own at the age of 15. But the bigger story is that of this remarkable crew team, that beat the odds. It is a story of a group of remarkable young men, who stove to be the best. There are lots of great photographs, and, I wasn't bored at all.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another great nonfiction book for young adults. I love history, and am a Civil War buff, so I thought I knew a lot about the KKK. It is so great when I can learn something new about history, especially about the history of the United States. This book describes a truly horrific time in our history. Just after the Civil War, during Reconstruction, and through the Jim Crow era, Susan Campbell Bartoletti does a fantastic job of explaining the history of the KKK, and about the lives of all the black people who had to live with the Clan's acts of terrorism. There are many actual photographs, illustrations, and a great deal of eyewitness accounts, as were recorded back in 1937, and can be found in the Library of Congress. I highly recommend this book for 8th graders and up.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: The Dead and the Gone

The Dead and the Gone The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a companion book to Life As We knew It, but it can stand alone. It is the same premise as Life, but this apocalyptic novel takes place in New York City, and Alex Morales, a 17 year-old Puerto Rican New Yorker, is the protagonist. When an asteroid knocks the moon out of orbit, and closer to the earth, all kinds of disasters begin to happen. As volcanoes, tsunamis, and other weather-related disasters hit the world, Alex has to figure out how to survive, and take care of his two younger sisters. This is a depressing and frightening scenario, and I'm sure will leave a lot of teens with nightmares. It is well written, and very realistic.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: The Red Pencil

The Red Pencil The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a selection for our Battle of the Books 2016 competition. It is the story of Amira, a 12 year-old who lives in Sudan in 2004, when the country is embroiled in turmoil because of civil war. Amira loves to draw, and she loves her family, her Muma and Dando, and her little sister. They live on a farm, but when the soldiers come, her life changes forever. There are interesting drawings that allow the reader to see as Amira sees, her world and family. We learn how her Muma doesn't want her to go to school, and how family is so important in all our lives, whether we live in New Jersey, or in a camp in Sudan.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Review: The Closer: Young Readers Edition

The Closer: Young Readers Edition The Closer: Young Readers Edition by Mariano Rivera
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let me say first, that I am NOT a Yankees fan, but I had heard so many good things about Mariano Rivera, that I felt I could read this book and enjoy it for the story. And I did. Mariano started out in life as a poor fisherman's son from Panama. He dropped out of school, and enjoyed playing soccer. His life and work ethic are something every young person needs to read. Once Mariano gets drafted by the Yankees, his life changes drastically, but the person, the young man, always stays true to himself. There is a lot of play-by-play in this book, so if you're in to baseball, you will certainly enjoy it. This is a remarkable sports success story, with a man I would want to be friends with.

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Review: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

People of a certain age grew up hearing admonitions like, "Cover your mouth when you sneeze. What are you, Typhoid Mary?" I had always thought "Typhoid Mary" was just an expression for somebody who spreads germs. Well, now I know that Typhoid Mary was a real person, and her name was Mary Mallon, who lived and worked in New York City way back in the early 1900's. Susan Campbell Bartoletti has written another really good historical non-fiction book that lets us know all about Mary, an Irish immigrant who worked as cook for wealthy families in New York. After reading this book, some may sympathize with her predicament, and some will be outraged with her actions. Mary never believed that she was carrying the Typhoid germ.

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