Sunday, October 23, 2011


By Alexandra Adornetto

Three angels – Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human – are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.

Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.
The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?
Okay, first I will admit that I didn't completely "read" this book. I got about 3/4 the way through and was bored to tears. I sorta skimmed the last few chapters. This is pretty run of the mill since Twilight came into the limelight. Pretty paranormal girl meets too-good-to-be-true handsome boy. They both are obsessed with each other, they have to fight some evil dudes from breaking them apart. This book bugged me because I thought, 'hey, this might be different, it's angels.' Nope. Beth, the heroine is pretty much a human with wings. I liked Gabriel and Ivy better. Also, I don't think that an angel would fall prey to peer pressure or drink alcohol. Just saying. It was a little too Twilight-esque for me. We need a new fad people- and I need to quit falling for books with awesome covers that I know aren't going to be good...(sigh).

Mendel's Daughter

By Martin Lemelman

In 1989, Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her childhood in1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Mendel’s Daughter is Lemelman’s loving transcription of his mother’s harrowing testimony, bringing her narrative to life with his own powerful black-and-white drawings, interspersed with reproductions of actual photographs, documents and other relics from that era. The result is a wholly original, authentic and moving account of hope and survival in a time of despair.

This memoir is pretty haunting. This is another holocaust story, but in a different perspective. I was expecting concentration camps but was suprised to find a story about how a family survives in a different way until the war is over. This book has a comic book kind of layout that gives life to the story told by Lemelman in his mother's words. It can be a little difficult to read because he writes it just like she tells it, she often refers to her father as 'the father' and other such things, but once you are used to it, it becomes a great voice in the story. The pictures aren't gory, but artistically done. Often when people are drawn dead they are merely laying on the ground, but it's the absence of blood that was haunting for me. There is only one really questionable drawing and that is of a mother nursing a baby. There is a little language and talk about woman's monthlies (don't know if that bugs anyone), and of course referencing to wartime violence and Jewish persecution. It's quite the read, interesting as well as emotionally told. Often when something horrible was being told, a picture of the people involved would be shown, but their hands covered their faces, as if it was too hard to face. It was powerful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Death Cure

By James Dashner

Thomas knows that WICKED can’t be trusted. They stole his memories and locked him inside the Maze. They forced him to the brink of death by dropping him in the wilds of the Scorch. And they took the Gladers, his only friends, from him.
Now WICKED says that the time for lies is over. That they’ve collected all the data they can from the Trials and will rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission: to complete the blueprint for the cure for the flare. But Thomas must undergo one final test.
What WICKED doesn’t know, however, is that Thomas has already remembered far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what WICKED says.
The time for lies IS over. And the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever have imagined.

Will anyone survive the death cure?

It is finished. Really? I was kinda hoping for a little more information...say Thomas' past. That was really the only drawback of this finale to The Maze Runner trilogy. Much like life, the story isn't all roses and doesn't really have a neatly packaged ending. If you read the first two books you'll know how awful life has been for Thomas and the other Gladers, the ones who are still alive anyway. This book brings to light the state of the world and how the people are dealing with the devastation of an incurable plague called the Flare. This book centers around Thomas' search for freedom and his need to make amends for all he has done to aid WICKED. Much comes to light and much goes to darkness.  The only disclaimer I have is that this book is still centered around violence; including references to cannibalism, assisted suicide, murder and loads of death and destruction. It can be disturbing. But, for me it wasn't nearly as bad as the second book in the series, which made me a little queasy. If violence and some gore don't bother you and you enjoy distopian books, this one is a well-written series. As for me, I'm glad I know what happens to Thomas and the others, even though there was lots of horror to go through to get there. I'll just warn you that it's truly violent.

The End of the Beginning

By Avi

Avon the snail's voracious reading convinces him that having an adventure is the key to a happy life so he sets out on a journey with his new friend, Edward the ant. In a series of very short chapters, the two travel–at a snail's pace–the length of a branch.

This is a cute and witty little story, one which left me smiling at the sillyness and the wit implanted in its pages. This is a book you can read in about 45 minutes, and have a fun little adventure with a snail and an ant. Which the greatest adventure might be the fact that they become such good friends.


By E.D. Baker

Tamisin always knew there was something slightly weird about herself. When she was little, her freckles got her in trouble at school because they sparkled. Later, she felt compelled to dance outdoors every time the moon was full. Bu now, wings have sprouted between her shoulder blades—real, working fairy wings—and Tamisin realizes she needs more answers than her parents can give her. An it seems Jak, the new boy at school, knows something she doesn’t.
When some frighteningly familiar guests show up at Jak’s Halloween party, Tamisin’s world shifts beyond just a little strange. Armed with Jak’s friendship and the will to discover who she really is, Tamisin finds more answers than she bargained for…and not at all what she expected.

E.D. Baker is the author of the Frog Princess stories, of which I read the first. It was quite fun and entertaining so I decided to try out this different telling based on Shakespeare's A MidsummerNight's Dream. When I first started reading I didn't think much of it; it was pretty easily decifered and flatly written. But, when it switched from Tamsin's point of view to Jak's I was much more interested and entertained. I think the whole book should have been from his point of view, it was so much more interesting to see things from the fairy realm and the lives of the goblins. And Jak is a sort of everyman that people relate to. Tamsin is a little too stereotypical and sounds much younger than she really is. I think she is 15, but sounds more like a 12-year-old. That irritated me a great deal, as well as the typical 'mean girl' at her high school. Not very original. But as stated above, Jak's story is quite wonderful and entertaining. It was a cute story and an interesting view of Shakespeare's tale. If you need a quick fix of fairies, I'd say this is a fun start. I'll look for the sequel and see if it is any good. This book was first published as Wings but has been republished as Fairy Wings just in case you look for it and wonder what the difference is.

Friday, October 7, 2011


By David Almond

Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. It was all going to be wonderful. But now his baby sister’s ill, his parents are frantic, and Dr. Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then one day he steps into the crumbling garage.
What is this thing beneath the spider webs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never seen before? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael’s world changes forever.
Told in lyrical prose, Skellig is a mystery, an adventure, and a family story, in which Michael learns about nature, poetry, and the healing power of love.

This was quite the amazing book. There was magic in the telling of it and the reading of it. I read this directly after I finished the Shel Silverstein book and found that it truly was poetically written. There is a beauty in the story that wrapped me up and carried me away with Michael and Mina, wishing to find Skellig too. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys lyrical prose and inspiring messages along with a bit of mystery and magic. I will say this as a warning: it does swear quite a bit using British profanity and the occasional use of the usual swear words. Since I am not British, it did not bother me, though I know that 'bloody' is apparently a very naughty word. Just so you know, it may change your desire to read it. If Harry Potter doesn't bother you, then this probably won't either (language speaking).
There is also a movie version of the book with Tim Roth in it (Lie to Me, The Incredible Hulk,) as Skellig. This movie was pretty good, but the book was so much better simply from the feeling of reading it. Read the book first if you want to see the movie. Please. :)


By Scott Westerfeld

Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant/maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath that can end the war. But whose side is he really on?
While on their top-secret mission, Alek finally discovers Deryn’s deeply kept secret; two actually. Not only is Deryn a girl disguised as a guy…she has feelings for Alek.
The crown, true love, with a commoner, and the destruction of a great city all hang on Alek’s next—and final—move.
The thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, which was called “sure to become a classic”

LOVED IT.  Did you happen to read Mr. Westerfeld's other series Uglies? Well, to all of you people who were just a little disappointed with the ending of the last series, you will not be so with this one. How I love the characters in this story, the intricate weaving of actual historical figures into this alternate history where Darwinists fabricate animals for every purpose that they need, and the Clankers rely completely on their machines to help them. This ending to a great series, full of memorable characters and fantastic adventures, is one that will leave you completely satisfied. Deryn and Alek have loads of adventures ahead, and in this last written adventure their greatest challenge will be figuring out their feelings for each other. Oh please please read this series- it starts off a bit slow, but don't give up! It gets oh so very awesome the more you read. I love Scott Westerfeld for coming up with something so wondefully original and yet so reminiscent of the best fiction books I've read!

Everything On It

By Shel Silverstein

Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is, and amazing collection of drawings from the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up. You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down.
What’s that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart.

Are you poetry phobic? Just pick up a Shel Silverstein book and you'll be cured! He has the funnest poetry for children (and adult kids too!) that just make you smile. This was one of my favorites:

A spider lives inside my head
who weaves a strange and wondrous web
of silken threads and silver strings
to catch all sorts of flying things,
like crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles
and specks of dried-up tears,
and dust of dreams that catch and cling
for years and years and years...

There are silly spoems, serious poems, and poems that make you shake your head at the drawings that go along with them. Shel Silverstein is beloved by children everywhere- it's about time you find him too!

Out of My Mind

By Sharon Draper

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teacher and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows…but she can’t because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.
Being stuck insider her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice…but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

I wanted to read this book because I work with special needs kids and they are the highlight of my day. I was interested by this story because it's something I've often wondered about the kids that cannot communicate; are they really unable to do so, or do they have voices that we simply cannot hear? Melody's story is one of love and bravery. This book is a wonderful tool to help others understand the difficulty of raising a child with any kind of special need and help them to understand how the children feel too. Sharon Draper did a wonderful job with this story, I found myself rubbing my eyes and smiling to myself and wishing more people could really get to know these truly special and unique children who embody pure and perfect love.

Wait till Helen Comes

By Mary Downing Hahn

Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her…our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.
But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home—a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond…to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watched her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather…

Mary Downing Hahn was my favorite author as a kid. I was sort of a ghost story junkie and her books had just the right amount of creepy and weren't ever gory. This book was my favorite and I used to read it at least once a year. I decided to re-read it out of nostalgia, and I found that it is a bit of a low-level book for adults, but I still heartily recomend it for kids in elementary. Especially around this time of year when they might want a good ghost story that will leave them satisfied and a little shivery (but not completely freaked out!) They are great books for not giving nightmares, but delivering satisfaction for your little ghost lovers!

Tuck Everlasting

By Natalie Babbitt

This is the exciting adventure of a girl named Winnie Foster who stumbles upon a great secret while roaming the woods one day on her family’s property. There she meets the Tucks, a peculiar family that seem almost childlike to Winnie, and she’s only 11! Filled with adventure, kidnapping, love, life, and death, this powerful story about what living really is will be one story you’ll not soon forget.

If you haven't read this wonderful childrens story you are missing out. My 3rd grade teacher read it to my class and it is one of the few that I actually remembered. Natalie Babbitt is a wonderful writer and this is one of her most famous books; a story about a young girl who feels trapped by her age, her family name, and her prim mother. So in defiance she one day decides to wander into the woods that are on her family's property. To her amazement she finds a handsome young man in a clearing drinking from a spring. When she tells him that she also wants a drink he acts very peculiarly and Winnie becomes frightened when he absolutely will not let her drink. She is wisked away on an adventure that teaches her about life, and what living reallly means.
This is a great book, a short but delightful read. And, much to my surprise, the movie was very good as well. A little different, but I shall always remember the end scene when Jesse is pulling away in the wagon and Winnie is standing in the street and he calls out to her, "I'll love you Winnie Foster, until the day I die!" If you read the book, you'll know why that line makes the romantic in me feel a little melty! Try them both, you'll love them. The main difference is Winnie's age. In the book she is 11, in the movie she is more around 16 or 17. Great great book!