Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Worlds Afire by Paul B. Janeczko

Worlds AfireWorlds Afire by Paul B. Janeczko
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this historical fiction novel in verse as part of the November chat for #yearoya focusing on books written between 2002 and 2007. I love Paul Janeczko and this spare novel was heartbreaking. A circus, lots of people, and a fire breaks out, killing 167 people in a few minutes! There are many voices each telling about the fire, the animals, the people, the circus, and how the 1944 fire affected all involved, compelling and great for reluctant readers!

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The Brimstone Journals by Ron Koertge

The Brimstone JournalsThe Brimstone Journals by Ron Koertge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this realistic fiction novel in verse as part of the November chat for #yearoya focusing on books written between 2002 and 2007. My students always loved Ron Koertge books, I never found the time to read this, I am so glad I did. With school shootings making the news, this High School in 2001 is dealing with bullying, romance, sexual abuse, and a dangerous group who are making a list of those who will not make it. The teen voices are real and span all kinds of high school kids. Thankfully teens don't shy from talking to the adults and police when they fear for their life. An ALA Notable Book in 2002.

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Kampung Boy by Lat (Mohammed Nor Khalid)

Kampung BoyKampung Boy by LAT (Mohammad Nor Khalid)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this realistic fiction novel in verse as part of the November chat for #yearoya focusing on books written between 2002 and 2007. Lat's life growing up in Malayasia was so interesting, his fishing, adventures with friends, and his family dynamics made this an interesting look at a life in 1950 that was disappearing even then.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Speaker (The Reader #2) by Traci Chee

The Speaker (Sea of Ink and Gold, #2)The Speaker by Traci Chee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh boy did I love this 2nd book in the Reader series!!! Traci Chee kept me turning the pages even when the horror of what Archer and his band are dealing with in memories, self-hatred, loathing, dreams, no sleep. Archer and Sefia use the book to catch, kill, and imprison the Impressors who kidnapped them and stole their lives only to have them survive by killing each other. Now they are finding the kidnapped boys, freeing them and joining Archer to free all the boys and punish the Impressors. But they are always being chased by the Guard (oh do I hate them, Tanin especially) and it is up to Sefia (they call her the Sorcerer) to read the book to lead them to the next encampment. What I found very difficult to read was how tortured Archer was; it was making the distance between him and Sefia very wide (but Sefia is not being honest with him either, is she???) I loved Traci Chee's worldbuilding, 500 pages slipped by, the words, the characters, the plot all were captivating and I thank the author for a positive uplifting ending (Sefia & Archer are together!!!) but still thrilling and exciting about Book 3; can't wait - found this book fascinating; highly recommended!!! I can't wait to find out more about past, present and future as Sefia and Archer have very decided roles they play in this world of reading, magic, Guards, and lies.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust Vol. 1) by Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh did I love Michael Sheen's superb narration of La Belle Sauvage; and Malcolm and Alice and Lyra are my new favorite characters! I am going to go back and listen to the Lyra books again; such a great series!!! With the world in the throes of a flood, young Malcolm had fled with Alice and the baby, Lyra---there are people who mean to harm her and they will not ever succeed if it is up to Malcom!!! I loved his determination, his personality (he could fool people with his comments but he could also be very truthful to others) and as he plunges with eyes wide open into finding safety---he meets many interesting people. This book has it all, I was gripped with the narration, the worldbuilding, the revisiting of a character I loved, Lyra. What a thrill---I can't wait for the 2nd book; Pullman has crafted a mystery, historical fiction, and rife with spies, murderers, and fanatics. Highly recommended!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Berserker (Berserker #1) by Emmy Laybourne

Berserker (Berserker, #1)Berserker by Emmy Laybourne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great, gripping, thrilling read!!! Emmy Laybourne really knows how to pull the reader in with the Norse/Viking mythology, the Nyette power that runs in certain families, and it ruins them too. When Hanne, who is a Berserker, feels her father in danger, her power comes in full and she kills 3 men, causing the family to flee from Norway to America. Her brother Knut (Nyette is strength) and Steig (Nyette is control heat/weather) are also Nytteson but not their youngest sister, Sissel. They all hope their uncle can help them understand/control their powers as they plod through the west in the 1800s. I loved this family, with their compassion for each other, the brother's aching concern for Hanne's self-loathing, and their quiet, kind acceptance of life in all the good and bad. Their meeting Owen Bennett really added to my love for this intriguing, hardscrabble tale. Owen (really nice cowboy) and his dog, Daisy (OMG, loved her!!!) has had a tough existence but he really messes up when he gets drunk and loses all his earnings. But this could also be the BEST thing for Owen because he meets this wonderful family, gets hired on as their guide (for lots of $$) and really begins to feel special when he is with them. I could not put this book down, so happy for the good advice from Rolf and Ketril's demise (what is the Baron advocating with his Nytteson???) I simply can't wait for the second book!!! Highly recommended!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

Gem & DixieGem & Dixie by Sara Zarr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoy Sara Zarr's books so much and sisters, Gem & Dixie, really have a tough life but two different outlooks. Gem was the older sister, so responsible, who watches as their lives fall apart over and over again. She just can't take it anymore. When her father comes home after years away, he lies (as usual) and stashes money under a bed. When the girls decide to run away, they find this ill-begotten money and the way both sisters view this latest betrayal is just so real and sad and plain scary. Because Dixie is the youngest and always had Gem looking out for her, Dixie is able to convince herself there are good times in her future with both parents while Gem takes matters into her own hands to save her heart, her sister, and just maybe carve out a future. This was not an easy read; it reminded me of Nancy Werlin's Rules of Survival- one of my favorite books while at Abington Senior High. There are parents who should not be parents and this is true of Gem and Dixie, but while both girls survive- the damage to Gem will only get worse- what will she do??? Powerful read.

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