Thursday, September 30, 2010

CSN Product Review

I was offered a $55 gift certificate to use at CSN Stores and took the opportunity to buy the bookshelf that I have been drooling over since I first heard of CSN Stores.

I chose the Southern Enterprises 55" H Spine Book Tower. I have already blogged about the problems I had with FedEx in actually getting my package here. However, once it did finally make it to my house, things went smoothly. I decided to bring it to my HS Media Center and use it as display for special collections of materials.

The bookshelf was well-packaged. My assistant and I were able to put the bookshelf together quickly. Each piece was in a plastic bag and the whole box was cushioned with Styrofoam. 

We didn't need any tools except the Allen wrench that came with it. The directions were clear. You can see my assistant attaching the spine to the base. One of the holes was slightly misaligned but it was not off enough that we could not fully tighten the screw.

Here is the finished bookshelf loaded with the first special collection. We decided to highlight banned books both to honor Banned Book Week and because the HS Media Literacy class was talking about book banning and getting ready to read a challenged book. We filled it with more than 50 books that have been banned and challenged one place or another. The only thing that has changed since this picture is that we have made a nifty sign for the top of the tower. 

I think our next collection will be spooky books for Halloween. 

The students think this bookshelf is really cool (and so do I). I was glad to get a chance to use my gift certificate for this product and recommend it to anyone who needs to be able to store a lot of books in a limited amount of floor space. My only complaint is that it is only available in a steel finish. I think it would be really nice if it was available in more colors.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon Finish Line

All week I have been taking part in the Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon hosted by The True Book Addict. There were a lot of interruptions to my reading schedule this week but I am still proud of my accomplishments.
I talked about these books in my first update post here.

I talked about these books in my second update post which can be found here.
I finished Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin on Saturday afternoon. I thought it was a very well-written, suspenseful paranormal. You can see my review here

I also read Karma Bites by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas on Sunday. I won this one from Jill of The O.W.L. recently. This is a cute, magical middle grade story filled with all the drama of middle school and a wide range of eccentric characters. My review is here.

My final tally is 6 books finished. I read a total of 1562 pages. I didn't keep track of the time I spent reading because I did a lot of really short reading times and just a few longer ones. 

Review: Karma Bites by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Karma Bites
Author: Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Publication: Sandpiper (August 23, 2010)

Description: Life seems to have it in for Franny Flanders.

Her best friends aren’t speaking, her parents just divorced, and her hippie grandmother has moved in. The only karma Franny’s got is bad karma.

Then Franny gets her hands on a box of magic recipes that could fix all of her problems. It could even change the world! Finally, life is looking up.

But Franny is about to learn that magic and karma aren’t to be played with. When you mess with the universe, it can bite back in unexpected ways.


My Thoughts: This was a cute middle grade novel that mixed middle school life and magic. Franny was tired of the way things were at her middle school. Her two best friends couldn't stand each other and Franny was constantly running between them. The queen of the school was evil and hated Franny. Her English teacher was making them study Beowulf and giving out long assignments. The food in the cafeteria was awful. And, worst of all, the boy she was crushing on didn't even notice her.

Franny also had a hair disaster on the day before middle school started. Luckily, her eccentric Granny, who has recently come to live with the family after Franny's parents' divorce, had a magic box in the closet which solved the problem but with a small side effect of too much frankness on Franny's part. Franny is determined to use the magic box to solve her other problems with middle school.

The spells from the box were hidden in recipes - which are included in the book. You could try Be-Brilliant Banana Bread or Sensationally Sexie Smoothie. (I'd recommend leaving out the magical parts like step 6 in the blondies recipe which requires doing a headstand for one minute while the blondies bake - just in case the magic works.) Things seem to be going all-right until the side effects kick in leaving Franny scrambling to get things back to normal. Her antics are amusing.

I did have one small problem with this story. I could accept the outrageous, eccentric Granny and the magic recipe box but I had trouble believing in Franny. I have worked with 12-year-olds for many years now as a media specialist but Franny just didn't ring true. At the beginning, I was convinced that she was 12 going on 40. The story is told from her point of view and it just seemed too old and too articulate. Later on in the story, when she is trying to break up her father's new romance, she was truer to the 12 year olds I know and behaving more like she was six. I know 12-year-olds are volatile but not that volatile. After the middle of the book, Franny seemed more real to me.

The book was filled with lots of humorous moments - one friend who was learning foreign languages by sprinkling a word of the day into her vocabulary, another friend who was into "slanguage", an art teacher called Call Me Jeff, the Bhutanese monk who loved boxed mac and cheese and Bubblicious gum - but at heart it was a story of friendship. 

I thought it was an entertaining book but I am not quite sure who the audience would be. I think middle graders could feel that the authors were making fun of middle schoolers. I think high school students, however, might enjoy the look back at middle school.

Favorite Quote:
Granny is the type of person who says things like, "If you're a Leo, you might want to avoid tomatoes, especially if there is an Aquarius in the room." When Granny makes comments along those lines, we all just nod, because, really, how can you respond to that?"
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, In the Middle Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge

Review: Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Low Red Moon
Author: Ivy Devlin
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (September 14, 2010)

Description: The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. When Ben reveals he's a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died. Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance, Low Red Moonis a must-read for teen paranormal fans. As breathless as Twilight and as spooky as Shiver, this is a book to be devoured in one sitting—by an acclaimed YA author making her paranormal debut under the pseudonym Ivy Devlin.

My Thoughts: I was blown away by this novel. It was such a sad, intense read. Avery's grief bathed the pages. She has to adjust to living with a grandmother that she doesn't know very well because she and Avery's father argued about his lifestyle choices. She has to adjust to living in town and going to school after living in the woods and being home-schooled by her mother. She has to deal with the memory loss surrounding her parents' deaths. All she remembers are bits and pieces and coming to awareness covered in their blood. 

There are also paranormal elements in the story. The new boy in school - the one she connects with as soon as their eyes meet - has a secret. He is a werewolf and also an orphan because his family was killed by hunters. Avery and Ben share a connection. They can feel each other's feelings. Avery is also connected to the forest where she lives. In fact, she develops a blood red streak in her hair that she believes is the forest's way of mourning.

The struggle for Avery to regain her memories of how her parents died is complicated by land developers who want to buy her land and by the brutal deaths of another family that lived in the forest. 

I loved the language in the book. It was descriptive without being larded by every adjective found in a jumbo thesaurus. The prose was direct and spare. Like this: "He smelled like the forest, like night, rich earth, and darkness. My skin prickled." I think the emotional impact of the book was heightened by the spare prose.

One little quirk of the book that I could have done without was the fact that every time the word moon appeared it was red. My first thought was to wonder how much printing one word in a different color added to the cost of the book. Also sometimes the word didn't end up aligned with the rest of the text on the page. I did like the red scenery in the footers and the red design at the beginning of each chapter.

I highly recommend this book. It was a very moving story of first love, of loss and recovery, and a very thrilling read.

Favorite Quote:
When I was little, I was scared of only one thing. I was scared I would be taken into the sky, that somehow I'd be pulled up there, that all the bright stars Dad and Mom showed me would want to take me away from home and the woods that held me tight.

Now I wished the stars would take me away. I wanted to be absorbed by them. To be pulled away by them, to see --

To see Mom and Dad again.
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bookshelf Adventures

A while ago I was contacted by CSN Stores. They asked me if I wanted to review a product and offered me a $55 gift certificate. I have long been lusting after the bookshelf to the left and thought this would be a great time to get it. Hey, almost half off! I intend to use it in my HS Media Center to display special collections of books.

I ordered it on Sept. 12. Here is what happened next:

  • Sept. 13 - I am billed by CSNStores
  • Sept. 16 - I had a note on my door from FedEx saying they tried to deliver it but no one was home. They said they would try again on Friday and, if I wanted them to leave the package, I could sign the slip on my door. I signed because I knew I would be in and out on Friday.
  • Sept. 17 - I arrived home to find no package and no 2nd attempt note.
  • Sept. 18 - I was home most of the day and no package arrived. I decided to see if I could track the package at the FedEx site. I did and found that it was marked "delivered" on Friday at 12:40 PM. I asked my neighbors if anyone had seen a package and checked the dumpsters to see if it ended up there. No package!
  • Sept. 20 - I reported the theft of the package to our community Deputy Sheriff and was sad that I had been so foolish as to sign for a package and worried that the area where I live wasn't safe.
  • Sept. 22 - I attended a townhouse association meeting and told other residents about my experience. A neighbor three houses down said he had found slips from Fed Ex on his door the previous Friday and Saturday saying that they were trying to deliver a package. Neither he or or wife had ordered anything.
  • Sept. 23 - I had a message in my voice mail from FedEx saying that the driver didn't feel it was safe to leave a package (even though they said they had delivered it!) and that I should call to schedule a re-delivery.
  • Sept. 24 - Called FedEx and scheduled delivery for Saturday because I could be home all day. I mentioned what my neighbors had said and emphasized that my address was 413 not 419!
  • Sept. 25 - The FedEx truck just came. I intercepted the driver and asked if they had a package for 413. At first he said "no", that his package was for 419. I asked if it was for me by name and he said yes. I finally have my package and only 9 days and one crime report late. I am appending a copy of the mailing address on the package.

Wouldn't it be nice if the folks who work at FedEx could read?

I will be writing a review after I get it to school and manage to get it assembled. One of my co-workers has volunteered to help me. I would say that I am overjoyed to have my new bookshelf but I think my real feeling is closer to relieved.

Do you have any delivery horror stories?

Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon Day 5

I think it is time for another update. Even though this week has been very busy and I haven't had as much reading time as I would like, I have finished another two books.
Both books are from 2010 YA Debut Authors. Neither is by a new author. Both are well-known authors in their genres to adults.

Firelight by Sophie Jordan is a paranormal with dragons. There is also an "instant attraction" romance and a hint of a love triangle (though the other guy wants her more for her abilities than for herself.) Here is my review.

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham is a legal novel with a 13-year-old main character who loves the law and is determined to have a legal career. Here is my review

Both books were satisfying but not exceptional reads for me. Both also seem to be the beginning books of a series. Firelight really needs a sequel to resolve many unresolved issues. Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer doesn't end on a cliff-hanger but I can easily see him getting involved in more cases.

Saturday is a clear day. I have nowhere that I have to be and, in fact, have to hang around home to wait for a Fed Ex delivery. It should be a good reading day. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

In My Mailbox (Sept. 26, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

This was an interesting week. I got a book that I have long been anticipating and two others that I just found out about. I also got a book that is going directly to the HS because I thought my student-athletes would be interested in it.

Crave by Melinda Metz was a book that snuck under my radar. I hadn't heard much about it until lately. I thought both the cover and the blurb were fascinating.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff is a 2010 YA Debut Author book. This one is one that I have wanted since I first heard about it. Though I will have to admit that I don't like this cover very much. I saw a cover on someone's blog that I really preferred but I don't know if this was for the UK edition or someone's create-a-cover entry. 

Playing Time: What Kids Really Think About Kids' Sports by Quinn Cotter is by a teenager who is also a student-athlete. I read about this one in Shelf Awareness and thought that I would have an audience for this book in my HS Media Center. I'm passing it along right away because I have never been a student-athlete and don't usually read nonfiction.

The final book that landed in my mailbox was Awakened by Ednah Walters. I have seen some good reviews, love the cover, and added it to my never ending TBR stack.

What did you get this week?

Review: Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer
Author: John Grisham
Publication: Dutton Children's Books; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)

Description: A perfect murder 
A faceless witness
A lone courtroom champion knows the whole truth . . . and he’s only thirteen years old
Meet Theodore Boone 

In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom. 

But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth. 

The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served. 

Brimming with the intrigue and suspense that made John Grisham a #1 international bestseller and the undisputed master of the legal thriller, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer will keep readers guessing and pages turning.

My Thoughts: This was a rather unusual book for young adults. I don't recall another work of fiction that explores so much of what it means to be a lawyer. While there is a murder and a murder trial in the book, it is not a mystery. Instead, it is more an exploration of legal ethics. Theo is 13. He is the only child of lawyers and is determined to be in the legal system some day. He wants to be either a trial lawyer or a judge. He is getting some practice at a legal career even though he is only 13 as he gives his friends legal advice and is even asked for advice from adults. 

He is concerned with a divorce trial that is forcing one of his good friends to choose which parent she will live with when she doesn't want to live with either. Another friend comes to him when his parents are in debt and in danger of losing their house. Still another friend comes to him when her dog is picked up by animal control. Theo helps with all these cases but, when a friend comes and says that his cousin was a witness in a murder trial but is afraid to come forward because he is an illegal immigrant, Theo doesn't know what to do.

Theo has a good relationship with the adults in his life. I liked his relationship with his parents and his uncle Ike. He also has a good relationship with the judge in charge of the murder trial. In all cases, he is treated as a child but not a stupid child who needs to be sheltered. He is treated with respect.

All in all, the story seemed a little old-fashioned to me in both the situations and the dialog. The legal stuff was all right on but I'm not sure that I believe that a 13-year-old would actually be consulted about legal matters by his fellow students or adults.

I do recommend this for young adults who might be interested in the law. The story was told in a relaxed and gentle way. There was no major excitement. While a murder could make the story seem dark, this book was not dark or edgy.

Favorite Quote:
His father started laughing. "Yes, it was a pretty lame cough, Theo, even by your standards."

"I could be dying," Theo said, trying not to laugh.

"Yes, but your're not", his father said. "And if you show up in the courtroom tomorrow Judge Gantry will have you arrested as a truant."

"You know any good lawyers?" Theo shot back. His mother burst out laughing, and, eventually, Woods saw the humor.
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Novel, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Author: Sophie Jordan
Publication: HarperCollins; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)

Description: Descended from dragons, the draki's ability to appear human protects them from hunters. Jacinda lives with her pride in the Cascades, but she chafes under her special status as the only fire-breather in hundreds of years. Recklessly breaking the “no-fly” rule, she attracts hunters; mercifully, one hunter, a beautiful boy who looks upon her with wonder, lets her escape. After this, the pride intends to hobble her rebelliousness, and Jacinda is forced to flee. But while twin sister Tamra, who never manifested and was shunned, is happy with the move, Jacinda feels only anguish within Nevada's desert climate. Then she meets Will and, despite recognizing him as the same draki hunter, feels herself come alive. Jordan's compelling addition to the supernatural star-crossed lovers theme is equal parts taut suspense and sensuous romance, with visceral writing and believable relationships among characters, particularly among Jacinda's family. A foreshadowed twist and a thrilling confrontation in the end pages leave Jacinda heartbroken and in trouble, and readers will howl for more.

My Thoughts: This was an enjoyable paranormal story about a less common sort of creature -- dragons! For the most part, I liked Jacinda. She was a somewhat rebellious teen. It was difficult to see her run into so many obstructions. Should she stay with the pride with the cost of a forced marriage and possibly having her wings clipped? Should she stay with her mother and sister in the human world and have to deny her dragon nature? There were really no good choices.

This was also sort of a romance triangle. Jacinda was torn between Cassian who is her potential dragon mate and the hunter boy who spared her life. She and Cassian have know each other since childhood but are not in love. It seems to me that Cassian wants her more for what she can do for the pride than for herself. Will is the human boy who spared her when his group of hunters found her. There is definite chemistry between Will and Jacinda. Like scorching chemistry. But Will is having a difficult time himself as he tries to distance himself from his hunter family.

Still another sort of conflict exists because Jacinda's mom and sister love the human life. Her sister Tamra never manifested - she is strictly human. Life was not good for her in the pride and she wants to stay in the human world. Her mother has stopped manifesting and wants to keep her daughters in the human world because it is best for Tamra and would keep Jacinda safe from the forced marriage. There is no good solution that would keep both daughters happy.

I recommend this book to young adults who like some romance in their stories and who love dragons. I just wish I knew still more about the dragons. Maybe the sequels will explore that more. 

Favorite Quote:
Can't she understand? What good is safety if you're dead inside?
Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge

The Booking Through Thursday question of the day is:
What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)
I am currently reading Firelight by Sophie Jordan. I just began this last night.

Firelight begins with a bang. Jacinda and her friend are flying by daylight and attract the attention of hunters. They barely escape. Jacinda is seen by a cute young hunter but he lets her go. Next, Jacinda and her twin sister are taken from their home by her mother to live among the humans. Naturally (since this is fiction), they move to the same town as a group of dragon hunters including the cute young hunter who spared her life.

That's where I am now. I can't wait to get home from work to find out what happens next.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud
Author: Andrew Lane
Publication: Macmillan Children's Books

Description: The year is 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. His life is that of a perfectly ordinary army officer's son: boarding school, good manners, a classical education - the backbone of the British Empire. But all that is about to change. With his father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously 'unwell', Sherlock is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. So begins a summer that leads Sherlock to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent. "The Death Cloud" is the first in a series of novels in which the iconic detective is reimagined as a brilliant, troubled and engaging teenager - creating unputdownable detective adventures that remain true to the spirit of the original books.

My Thoughts: This book was a fast paced, adventure filled book that introduces us to a young Sherlock Holmes. He is sent to stay with relatives he has never met in the long vacation and stumbles onto murders and a plot to destroy the British Army. He gathers allies including a runaway orphan who is living on the river, his new tutor who has come from the American West, and his tutor's daughter Virginia. Virginia becomes his first crush as she is brave and smart. 

Young Sherlock learns a lot from his tutor Amycus Crowe about logic and observation. He also learns that no piece of knowledge is trivial and that he should always be curious.

During the many perilous adventures of this book, Sherlock is kidnapped, beaten, whipped, and drugged but he still manages to solve the crime. I recommend the book to young readers who like a lot of adventure. The book might even lead them to the other Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

Favorite Quote:
Sherlock gazed out to sea. "I can't believe it's all over," he said.

"It's not," Crowe said. "It's part of your life now, and your life keeps on goin'. You can't separate these events out as a story with a beginnin' and and end. You're a different person because of them, and that means the story will never really finish."

Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, In the Middle Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon Day 2

I haven't been doing very well on the Fall Catch-Up Read-a-thon. It seems like everything is a distraction.
I did read about 80 pages of Cold Magic by Kate Elliott yesterday to finish that book. I decided to shift gears and pick something from my stack that was not fantasy. I chose Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane. Thus far, it isn't really grabbing my attention. It can't compete with my Braves baseball or the Dancing with the Stars premiere.

Tonight, I also have a Braves baseball game, night two of the Dancing with the Stars show, and the premiere of The Biggest Loser. Sherlock will be in the background again.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon Starting Line

It is time to begin the Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon being hosted by The True Book Addict. I decided to concentrate on reading YA books this week in the hopes of reducing that stack a little. I don't know exactly what I will be reading but I will be choosing from this bunch.

You can click on the picture to get a better look at what is most recently on my TBR stack. I am hoping to get 5 books read.

Why don't you join me? It sounds like a lot of fun.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In My Mailbox (September 19, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

Just two books landed in my mailbox this week.

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin -- All I had to hear was "werewolf romance" and I was determined to get and read this book. From the product description: "Low Red Moonis a must-read for teen paranormal fans. As breathless as Twilight and as spooky as Shiver, this is a book to be devoured in one sitting—by an acclaimed YA author making her paranormal debut under the pseudonym Ivy Devlin."

The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur is another 2010 YA Debut Novel. This one sounded like an interesting contemporary which should allow me to expand my reading range as I read a contemporary. It will be interesting to read about college life at Harvard and it looks to have some romance too. 

Next week I am taking part in the Fall Catch-Up Readathon hosted by The True Book Addict. I have determined to try to read down my huge stack of YAs. Maybe I'll have a chance to get to these - but I have quite a few others waiting too.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Into the Gauntlet
(The 39 Clues, Book 10)
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publication: Scholastic Inc. (August 31, 2010)

Description: Throughout the hunt for the 39 Clues, Amy and Dan Cahill have uncovered history's greatest mysteries and their family's deadliest secrets. But are they ready to face the truth about the Cahills and the key to their unmatched power? After a whirlwind race that's taken them across five continents, Amy and Dan face the most the difficult challenge yet- a task no Cahill dared to imagine. When faced with a choice that could change the future of the world, can two kids succeed where 500 years worth of famous ancestors failed?

My Thoughts: This was a great conclusion to what has been a fascinating series. This time Dan and Amy are in England. William Shakespeare was a Madrigal and holds the clue to the whereabouts of the Madrigal stronghold. Dan and Amy and assorted representatives of the other branches are in hot pursuit of the clue. 

Many of the younger searchers from the various branches are having second thoughts about their previous actions. We get a chance to see a little bit from the viewpoints of Jonah Wizard, Hamilton Holt, and Ian Kabra. The various searchers have to work together to solve the final clue. There are certainly trust issues to be resolved.

This episode is filled with explosions and cave-ins and evil villains. I recommend the series to middle graders and other young adult readers who like adventure. They will also learn about quite a number of historical figures during the course of the series. 

Favorite Quote:
"See, that's teamwork," Eisenhower told Hamilton. "Your mother knew what had to be done, and she did it. And in this family, the family is the team. I mean the team is the family. I mean..."

"I know what you mean, Dad," Hamilton said, which was a big relief for Eisenhower, because he'd kind of lost track himself.
Visit the 39 Clues website for fun games and activities too.

Challenges: In the Middle Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge

Book Blogger Hop Sept. 17, 2010

Friday is the day to hop. Join Jennifer at Crazy for Books and visit a bunch of book bloggers. It is time to network.

On this blog I talk about the Young Adult and Middle Grade books I read. I might also throw in something about being a library media specialist because that it what I have done with my life for the last 34 years.

Jenn's theme this week is about honoring some other bloggers that have influenced us. I would like to mention first the first blogger who answered one of my emails and helped me when I began blogging. Elie at Ellz Readz. There are so many dedicated teachers and librarians who blog and give me good ideas that I can't possibly name them all but I would like to mention Abby (the) Librarian and Jill at the O.W.L. for always being interesting to read.

Who do you appreciate? Visit Crazy for Books and add your name to the Linky too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Author: Kelly Creagh
Publication: Atheneum (August 31, 2010)

Description: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

My Thoughts: Wow! What a breath-taking, thrill ride of a book! This book starts out so simply. The cheerleader Isobel gets paired with the goth boy Varen for an assignment to do a report on Poe. It could have been a simple contemporary romance.  

Isobel starts out as the cute, blond cheerleader who dates the star football player and travels with the in-crowd but she is always more than that. She has a conscience and values. She has a strong sense of self. She is brave.

Varen is quite mysterious. We really don't find out too much about him. Everything is in hints and teases. We get a brief look at his unhappy home life. We see him at work in the ice cream shop and hanging out in a creepy old used bookstore. We get glimpses of his innate courtesy both in his treatment of Isobel and when he meets her mother.

The book quickly veers off into the strange world that Poe wrote about and Isobel soon doesn't know what is real and what is imagined. She needs to battle imaginary creatures and interact with strange characters who may be allies or may be enemies to save Varen from being swept up in this nightmarish dreamscape. 

The language is rich and the book is packed with terrifying images. The book is long but this reader was swept into the story and couldn't put it down. I had the same reaction to the book as Isobel had when she finally got into reading Poe's stories. "Slowly the words started to get out of the way and let images of courtiers revolve, in slow motion, through her mind’s eye."

I highly recommend this book to older young adults who like some paranormal of the nightmarish variety with their romance. I know that I am hoping for a sequel. 

Favorite Quote:
He turned his head and caught her with his eyes.

She froze, locked by the intensity of his stare. His eyes were stark and cold, the concentrated green of pale jade. Outlined in smudge black kohl, those eyes focused on her, unblinking through the feathery strands of his jet-black hair, and it was like being watched through a cage by a complacent and calculating cat. 
Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge