June 28, 2013

Book Share: Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Hey all I just thought I'd pop in and share this book I just came across.  It looks fantastic!

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library

by Chris Grabenstein

Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.

Doesn't it sound just fun and fantastic??!!??

June 26, 2013

Google Reader Shutting Down

Hey all, even though I'm slowing fading out the blog (although I have been posting some reviews and REALLY liking just being able to post reviews only when I have time so if I keep doing that the blog will stay on!) you made want to follow me through Bloglovin' if you haven't already.  
I've switched all my Google feeds to Bloglovin', and I'm really like it.  
You can follow through the button on my sidebar.

That's all :)

OH I did just finish the book Chomp by Carl Hiaasen.  I'll be putting up a review soon. 

June 21, 2013

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

My Thoughts

Can I just say I loved it?  Would that be enough? Do I reeeeeeaaaallly need to explain why? Ok I'll explain a little but really I'm not going to do it justice.  

Why did I like this book?  It kept my brain on high alert.  Seriously it did.  I spent the entire time reading it with my brain on alert for clues about what really was happening, about who I could trust, about whether even Mara was a reliable narrator.  I could never let my guard down! I love it!  I pulled me completely and utterly into the story.  I was right there with Mara as she tried and tried to remember what had happened or stop herself from feeling like she was spinning out of control.  I was right there as she tried to figure out Noah and what she could believe or couldn't believe about him.  And I was right there as shocked and surprised as she was as secrets and memories started to come forth.The way details were slowly revealed was perfect.  Kept me guessing but didn't make me wait too long and lose interest!  It was awesome! And once again I was amazed by an author that could take all these strings floating and around and bring them all together into on coherent story.  Very nicely done.  With, of course, one lose string still there living an ending that left me needing to know what happens!!

I loved it so much I'm wanting to run to the bookstore NOW and buy the sequel, but I have to stop myself because I have books for Camp Read-A-Lot that I need to get going on, and if I went and bought the sequel I'd never get started on those.  I WILL read it before I go back to work in the fall though!

The basic stuff - loved the characters.  Mara was realistic.  Noah was more layered that appeared.  And her family seemed very honest and believable.  

Final thought:  Sooooooooo glad I finally sat down and read it.  Not onto book #2!
Age: 13+
For the Guys? Not really.  

June 17, 2013

Book Review: Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas

Title: Quarantine

Author: Lex Thomas

It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school. 
In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

My Thoughts

So there has been many many many dystopia type books out as you all know.  I would put this book into that category even though it only focuses on the world inside the school.  As as far as dystopia goes, I found it a good addition to the genre.  It had enough unique points that set it apart from other books.

What I really liked was how the author (authors actually - if you didn't know it's written by two guys  Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies) used the cliques of high school to create the gangs that form in the school.  Being a teacher it was very easy for me to envision something like that actually happening.  And the fact that gang formed instead of them all working together seemed much  more realistic to me.  I don't think I would've bought the story if the kids would've joined all together and made some orderly world where everyone is safe and taken care of.  The chaos in the school was way  more what I'd except - sadly so! I also liked that it dealt less with the reason for the quarantine and more with the effects of it on the kids.  Watching them trying to survive was a great focus instead of them trying to figure out the disease in them.  

As for the main characters - David and Will.  I liked them both.  They were both flawed and very imperfect but in different ways.  That again added into my ability to buy into the story.  They were boys I could see as real and reacted in ways that seemed very real as well.  Now beyond these two there is a huge cast of secondary characters.  I did at points have a hard time keeping track of these characters.  Every once in a while I would confuse them just because they played small parts and you would only meet them for a short bit.  At points I kinda wished for a character guide.  A page with the gangs and their colors listed as well as maybe their leader would've been a bit helpful.  

The tension in the story is huge.  It is a fight for survival from page one, and it never lets up even til the end.  I had to take breaks once in a while because the tension was so intense! But it definitely kept the story moving.  I never ever got bored!  I think this is great for those readers that are more reluctant or struggle to stay with a book.  

Final Thought: Enjoyed it and will pick up the sequel Quarantine: The Saints
Ages: 14+ (upper YA for sure)

June 12, 2013

Book Review: Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am.

Title: Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am
Author: Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis

Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explosion, Ben is in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, and he doesn't remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. Although he will never be the person he once was, this is the story of his struggle and transformation.

My Thoughts

I'll be completely honest.  I didn't love this book.  I didn't hate it by any means either, but I had hoped for more.  It's a super quick read (160 pages).  I finished it in pretty much one setting.  And for me that was part of the problem.  I wanted to feel more connected to all of the main characters, and I didn't because there just wasn't time to create that connection for me.  I didn't care about Ben or Ariel (his girlfriend) enough for it to have a huge impact on me.  I guess I just wanted more.

What was good was that it gave me an understanding of a part of war I've hear a lot about on the news, but really didn't know much about - Traumatic Brain Injuries.  I've heard over and over about these, but never really completely understood what they were.  This book did do a great job in helping me understand what a TBI was and how it affects everyone from the actual soldier to his or her entire family.  I definitely appreciate the book for giving me that.  That alone made it worth my time to read.

The other aspect I really liked was the character of Chris - Ben's brother.  Chris has autism, and he is one of the most realistic examples of autism I've seen.  I also liked that it was played in a matter-of-fact kind of way.  He had autism, and it was something they had to work with, but it wasn't made into a huge issue.  It didn't take over the rest of the story, and I liked that.

All in all - I'd recommend this book to my students.  They might not have the issues I had with it, and I think boys will like that it jumps into the action pretty quickly.

Final thought - I'm glad I read it because I did learn from it.  I just wanted more.  

This review also ran on my students' blog Hooked on Books

June 6, 2013

Guest Post: Jenny Meyerhoff Author of The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger +GIVEAWAY

Today I have the great excitement of welcoming Jenny Meyerhoff to the blog.  She is the author of the new, super funny, warm-hearted book The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger (see my review later today!)

About the Book
Fifth grader Louie Burger figures that with a goofy name like his, he mustbe destined to be a king of comedy like his idol Lou Lafferman. But he’s only ever performed his stand-up act in his closet, where he and his dad created the most exclusive comedy club ever—if by “exclusive” you mean that no one’s ever allowed inside. With the school talent show coming up, Louie’s wondering if now is his moment to kill (that’s comedian talk for “make actual people laugh”). And maybe, if he brings down the house, he’ll win back his former best friend Nick—who seems to be turning into one of those annoying sporty types—and fend off his dad’s home-improvement obsession, which threatens to remodel Louie’s comedy closet into a private bedroom for his older sister. Barftrocious!

About Jenny
Jenny Meyerhoff  is the author of a young adult novel, Queen of Secrets, and three books for young readers--Sami's Sleepaway SummerThird Grade Baby, and most recently, The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger, a story about an aspiring stand-up comic with an unusual catch phrase. Unlike Louie, Jenny is not  a comedian, but she does know a lot about barf. After all, she’s a mom. Her three kids love fluffernutters, comedy and reading. Jenny lives in Riverwoods, Illinois with her funny kids and her delightful husband. For more information, visit her website: www.jennymeyerhoff.com.

Welcome Jenny!
Hi. I’m Jenny Meyerhoff, author of the new middle grade novel, The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger. Louie wants to be a stand-up comedian, but he might be too chicken to cross the road and participate in the school talent show. And if that isn’t trouble enough, Louie’s best friend is turning into a sporty kid! He seems to have forgotten that sports are a torture sundae with a tennis ball on top.
If you’re still not sure you want to read about Louie’s adventures, Louie has prepared a little list to convince you. Here it is:

Louie Burger’s Top Five Reasons Why You Should Read
The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger

1. You should read it because it’s a book, and while you could use it as a Frisbee, a weapon or a helmet (if you also had some duct tape), it works best when you use it for its intended purpose.

2. You should read it because I, Louie Burger, do many embarrassing things. If you read about the embarrassing things that I do, you will feel much better about the embarrassing things that you do, since they are probably not as embarrassing. Unfortunately for me.

3. You should read it because it is filled with many great tips about how to be a stand-up comedian, such as, it doesn’t make any sense to have stage fright. It’s not like the stage can bite you or give you a wedgie. 

4. You should read it in order to learn many new and important words, for example, Barftastic, Barfmazing, Barftrocious and Barfnoying. These words are very useful and you will find them popping up in your conversations all the time. 

5. Marshmallow Fluff. (There is Marshmallow Fluff inside this book, and that makes The Barftastic Life of Louie Burger the book equivalent of a Fluffernutter. How can anyone resist that?!)

If you want to know more about Louie, check out Jenny’s website www.jennymeyerhoff.com or visit Louie’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Barftastic-Life-of-Louie-Burger/439990382742618.

If you enjoyed her guest post - you'll LOVE the book.  Watch for my review later today.  
Now up for grab is a copy of the book!

Must be at least 13
Must be a US resident

a Rafflecopter giveaway