July 30, 2009

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

14-year-old Will Burrows has little in common with his strange, dysfunctional family. In fact, the only bond he shares with his eccentric father is a passion for archaeological excavation. So when Dad mysteriously vanishes, Will is compelled to dig up the truth behind his disappearance. He unearths the unbelievable: a secret subterranean society. "The Colony" has existed unchanged for a century, but it's no benign time capsule of a bygone era--because the Colony is ruled by a cultlike overclass, the Styx. Before long--before he can find his father--Will is their prisoner....
In the end I really enjoyed this book, but I will say that the beginning didn't seem that way. I'll caution all readers that need action right away, you won't find it here. The story takes a while to truly get going and build up. BUT if you are willing to be a little patient you will be rewarded. The first half of the story lets you get to know Will, his father, sister and friend Chester. It has an element of mystery as Will and Chester try to figure out what happened to Will's father. They find many clues that lead them to a world beneath their own.
The description of Will's journey through this underworld was well done. Many times I could feel the tension of the characters as they tried to stay hidden and escape. My heart would beat faster as if I were hiding with the characters! The author had the ability to pull me into the story - allowing me to experience it all: excitement, fear of the unknown, terror and shock when secrets are revealed.
The other part of the book that was well done was the description of the underground world. I know many people do not like when description goes on and on. Although you will find detailed description of a world different than the one we know, it does not interrupt the the story. It allows the reader to really "see" the world while following the plot. A few black and grey sketches added to the understanding of what Will was seeing.
Over-all I liked the book, and I will be adding the sequel to my list of books to read.
Grade: B+
Lexile: 990
Similar books: City of Ember, Gregor the Overlander and Journey to the Center of the Earth

What I've Read This Summer

Just a quick post listing what I've read so far this summer. I finished waaaay more books than I ever thought I could. I'll be review a few of these within the next few days.

  • 39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
  • 11 Birthdays by Wendy Maas
  • Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Betrayed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
  • Touching Darkness: Midnighters Book 2 by Scott Westerfeld
  • Cirque du Freak: Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan
  • Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (MY FAVORITE ONE THIS SUMMER)
  • Tenth Grade Bleeds by Heather Brewer
  • Skinned by Robin Wasserman
  • Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
  • Savvy by Ingrid Law (Toss between this one and Walk Two Moons for my favorite)

And I'm closing in on being done with Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams.

What's really interesting to me is that 9 of the books are part of series. Which means I have 9 more books to read!

July 21, 2009

A New Book in my TBR pile

A new book I picked up. Isn't the cover cool?? I know, I know - don't judge a book by it's cover. Good thing the description of the story sounded good too!


July 20, 2009

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass


Three teenages, Ally, Bree and Jack tell their story as they come together at a campground named Moon Shadow to watch a solar eclipse. Ally's family owns the campground, and it's the only home she's known. Not for long though. Bree's family has bought the campground and will be taking over after the eclipse. This is not in Bree's plans - modeling and popularity are all she wants. Jack has come to the campground to help his science teacher possibly discover a new planet. He's not like either Ally or Bree. Instead he's shy and would rather read or draw. Through the course of two weeks these three become unlikely friends and learn that, whether you want it or not, life always changes.

I've read two other books by Wendy Mass Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life and 11 Birthdays. They were both good books that focus on characters learning about who they are and where they might be going. Every Soul a Star follows that theme nicely. I'll warn you ahead of time, this book is not a book you pick up if you want laughs or car chases. It's a more serious book about what you do when life gives you something you don't want. Now this isn't to say it's a boring book, but it is more of a "thinking" book. You will be able to relate to one of the three main characters: Ally who is very mature, smart but clueless on how friends work. Bree who only cares about popularity and how she looks - not much help in the middle of no where. Or Jack who fails science, has no friends and would rather live in the world of dreams. They are three very different people.

The story centers around an eclipse that Ally's family has been preparing for for years. As they all move close to the total darkness of the ecplipse, they also become closer friends, closer to who they really are and father from what they thought they knew.

I say definately give the book a try. It might have you hoping for an eclipse of your own.

Grade: A-

Lexile: 740

July 11, 2009

A Beginning

As I type this I'm think about the beginnings of all the good books I've read, and it's giving me a bit of writer's block! After sitting in class today I decided that it would be fun for me, and my students, if I started a blog for suggesting fanastic books for middle school students, so that's what I'm doing. I'll be updating this blog with awesome new books I've read that I think would be good books for middle schoolers.

My hope is that students will use this site to find some new titles to try out. We'll see if that happens :) I'll also be open to taking suggestions of good titles from my readers. I'll work on that part later. For now just getting this all figured out will be enough.

Keep posted as I move into blogging about some fantastic reads!