Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thoughts on Ghostsitters (Araminta Spookie #5) by Angie Sage

Ghostsitters (Araminta Spookie, #5)
Araminta Spookie is left at Spookie House while her Aunt and Uncle go to Transylvania to see the giant bats. Having Great Aunt Emilene as her babysitter is not how Araminta wished to spend her birthday, but it looks like that's what is happening. When cool cousin Mathilda comes instead, Araminta couldn't be more thrilled. Mathilda always dresses super stylish and is loads of fun to be around--the two ghosts she's brought along, eh, not so much. What will Araminta do to get rid of these rambunctious ghosts before they completely destroy Spookie House?

Although this is the fifth Araminta Spookie book, I didn't feel lost not having read any of the other books in the series. This is a fast-paced tale, perfect for reluctant readers. I'd recommend to fans of funny stories. My rating: C.

Thoughts on Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Dirty Little Secrets
On the surface, Lucy seems like your average, everyday teen, but she has a huge secret. Her mom is a compulsive hoarder, and if any of Lucy's friends ever saw how she lived, her life would be over. When something horrible happens that threatens to reveal her living conditions to the community, Lucy must choose how to handle it.

The first thing I wanted to do after reading this book was to run through my house with garbage sacks, throwing away anything we don't use or taking it immediately to Goodwill. I was horrified at the descriptions of the living conditions in Lucy's house, and saddened that she would be forced to live that way. Think of the worst episode of Hoarders and put a teen living in all that filth and trash with her mom. The description of the state of the kitchen, with mold growing from the dirty dishes and trash on the countertops down to the cabinets and covering everything, disgusted me so much, that I just wanted to take a bottle of bleach to everything in my kitchen!

That said I wasn't totally satisfied with the story. I couldn't get over how totally wrong Lucy's solution to her problem was. I can't be more specific without putting in spoilers, but let's just say, her actions weren't exactly legal. I know it was a way for her secrets to stay hidden, but I can't imagine that it would really work out in the long run. Because of this, I couldn't like this book much. C- rating.

Thoughts on You Will Call Me Drog by Sue Cowing

You Will Call Me Drog
A strange and somewhat scary story of a boy with a "living" puppet stuck on his hand, You Will Call Me Drog is one I liked better after I finished reading than while I was reading. I didn't get the full impact of the story until the end, so while reading, it just seemed like a crazy tale.

 I think many readers will be entertained by the rude, arrogant Drog. I never knew what he might say. I started to feel sorry for Parker as he became more and more isolated from his friends and family, but I cheered as he took back control of his life.
Solid story -- B- rating.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thoughts on Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes

Olive's OceanMartha wasn't really friends with Olive. Sure, they were in the same class at school, but they never really talked or anything. Martha hadn't thought much about Olive even after a tragic accident takes Olive's life. But when Olive's mother brings Martha a page out of Olive's journal written about Martha, suddenly Martha can't stop thinking about Olive even while on a family vacation in Florida.

Having heard lots of wonderful things about this story, I guess I expected too much. I thought it was predictable and tried to hard to be sentimental. Maybe I had my expectations set way too high, but I really didn't like it as much as I wanted to like it. C rating.

Thoughts on Rules for Ghosting by A.J. Paquette

Rules for Ghosting
Oliver and his family move into the Silverton Manor on what is supposed to be a six month stay. His parents are house sitters and they are there to oversee the renovations before the house is put on the market. Oliver soon discovers that his family are not the only residents of Silverton Manor. Dahlia Silverton also lives there -- except she's a twelve-year-old ghost that's been dead over 50 years. Trapped on the property, Dahlia is thrilled to have a family living with her. That is, until a Ghosterminator disguises himself as a handyman and seeks to capture the ghosts haunting the house, including Dahlia. Oliver and his sister search frantically for what is keeping Dahlia trapped there, in hopes of helping her escape capture!

I enjoyed this book much more as I kept on reading. At the start, I thought the story was too predictable, but I'm happy to say I was pleased to be surprised with a few twists in the last half of the book. Those who enjoy ghost stories, but really don't want to be scared will enjoy this one. There are a few spooky moments, but the humor far outweighs the fear. B- rating.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thoughts on The Clockwork Girl by Sean O'Reilly and Kevin Hanna

The Clockwork Girl
Tesla, a clockwork girl, and Huxley, a monster boy, overcome all of their differences, including how their creators are enemies, to become friends. When their friendship is discovered, their very existence is threatened.

A fabulous graphic novel that will appeal to many. Beautiful artwork and story combined! B rating.

Thoughts on Invisible by Marni Bates

Invisible (Awkward #2)
Jane Smith has never wanted to be anything but invisible at her school. Her sister was super popular, a notable, and Jane knows she can't compete. When her two best friends suddenly achieve popularity, she's left behind wondering if being invisible is exactly what she wants after all.

Not having read the first book in the series, Awkward, I wondered if I'd be able to catch up with the plot and characters or would I be lost? At times I wished I would have first met Mackenzie in her story, for in Invisible I didn't like her at all. She's supposed to be Jane's best friend, but I was rooting for Jane to dump her! Maybe knowing her background, I would have liked her more in Invisible. Other than that, I was able to catch up with the history of the characters fairly well, but I will still probably go back and read the first one.

I like how Jane isn't popular even within her small group of friends, at the beginning of the book. She's not the leader of her small group, nor does she have the admiration of the adults in her life (with the exception of her boss). She's just an average girl that finally has things go her way after some terrible lows. I think many will see themselves in Jane, especially where as their friends start to have new friends and interests they are also left behind and seemingly forgotten. While the chances of having a mistake being talked about on national entertainment shows are extremely slim, many teens will relate to having friends mad at them for something almost beyond their control. Yes, Jane has some terrible things happen to her, but I loved seeing her grow into a new person not afraid on confrontation and speaking up.

The story itself is one I think many fans of romantic comedies will love. There's a love interest here that develops through the book, but with just enough of a twist to keep you guessing to the end. I personally can't wait to recommend it to my Meg Cabot fans. B- rating.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts on Benny and Omar by Eoin Colfer

I picked Benny and Omar to read, because I simply adore Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. I was a bit nervous, wondering if I'd like something other than fantasy by Colfer. (Also liked Wish List, Supernaturalist, and Airman, but not as much as Artemis and Holly.) The description didn't leave me much hope. Okay, an Irish boy moving to Tunisia and befriending a Tunisian boy. Doesn't sound too exciting, but I'm willing to try.

While definitely not a favorite, I found a lot to like here, especially the humor. Omar's English skills (learned from watching TV) were the highlight of the book for me. For the two boys to communicate just by using ad slogans and catch phrases from television shows, gives the reader an idea of Colfer's genius. Just trying to envision the conversations between the boys had me chuckling.

I wish the story moved quicker, for I think many readers won't stick with it. And that's my biggest complaint with the book. Too slow. I also wonder how much my students will connect with these characters. Will they be able to identify with Benny's insecurities, even though he uses unfamiliar slang? That will be the biggest test.

C+ rating.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Most Popular

Ta Da! Last week's most popular books. One fairly new release, one with a recent movie adaptation, and a few of my favorites. Yea! I'm surprised at the amount of students recommending The Compound to each other. I love it when word of mouth sends a book to join the populars. 

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday.

Breathe: a Ghost Story by Cliff McNish

When he and his mother move into an old farmhouse in the English countryside, asthmatic, twelve-year-old Jack discovers that he can communicate with the ghosts inhabiting the house and inadvertently establishes a relationship with a tormented, malevolent spirit that threatens to destroy both his mother and himself.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Fifteen-year-old Eli, locked inside a radiation-proof compound built by his father to keep them safe following a nuclear attack, begins to question his future, as well as his father's grip on sanity as the family's situation steadily disintegrates over the course of six years.

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

After an injury ends former star pitcher Peter Friedman's athletic dreams, he concentrates on photography which leads him to a girlfriend, new fame as a high school sports photographer, and a deeper relationship with the beloved grandfather who, when he realizes he is becoming senile, gives Pete all of his professional camera gear.