Sunday, November 10, 2013

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz was recommended to me by someone at Chapters and it has been sitting on my self since the summer. It is an interesting read- for more mature students- I would be hesitant to leave it in a Grade 7 or 8 class. I think I will give it to a high school friend and see what she thinks. The main character in this book is Vera- she is 18 and has spent her whole life trying to stay invisible, just the way here parents have taught her. She wants to experience things, but she is also very aware of her father's expectations of her. She appears to be a mature, responsible, hard working young lady, but she has many secrets. The story opens with the funeral of Vera's best friend Charlie and the rest of the book deals with flashbacks of what led to his death and Vera's role in it. I did enjoy the story, it was an easy read, although it was hard knowing some of the things that Vera was involved in. She is a very mixed up young lady. There were also some hints at what a dark life Charlie led, and while nothing was every explicitly stated, the hints were enough to make you so sad for this young man. Like I said, this book has some very mature themes, so I would be very careful with who I gave this book to.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant is the third book in the Divergent Trilogy. If you haven't read the first two, you might want to stop reading this and go back and check out the first two books, Divergent and Insurgent. I always find when I read sequels to books, I have a hard time remembering characters and minor details. It is almost worth it to go back and reread the series when the final book is published. I didn't find Allegiant as hard to get into as Insurgent, I seemed to remember more details for this one. In Allegiant, Tris and Four are now living in a factionless society. Their lives with the rules and clothing choices and attitudes that were always predetermined, has changed now that Chicago is faction free. When Tris and Four are offered a chance to have a life outside of Chicago, they take the offer pretty quickly. But of course, nothing is easy. What Tris and Four soon realize is that power corrupts people. Everyone wants what is best for them, and Tris and Four are left to navigate a new world with only their instincts and trust in each other to guide them. As with all books in this trilogy, there is action, excitement and violence. Tris and Four are challenged in their relationship with each other and in knowing who to trust and what to believe. This book took me quite a while to get through, although I did enjoy reading it. It was a nice conclusions to a great trilogy. I don't think you can ever feel comfortable when finishing a trilogy. The end is always so final and it is hard to know you aren't going to hear anymore of characters you have come to know. With this one though, the ending was satisfying.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink is a dystopian novel that is based on a world where water is very scarce. The main character is Lynn, she has grown up living in a world with having to fight for every drop of water. Survival is a full time job. Lynn has always had her mother to depend on. Her mother is the one who has taught her everything she knows about surviving and protecting what is theirs. Lynn and her mother are very lucky to have a pond on their property and they do everything they can to protect it. But when strangers start appearing, Lynn knows that life is about to change. She must decide between continuing her lonely existence or reaching out and doing more than surviving. I enjoyed reading this book. It is told in pretty simple language, there isn't a great deal of description, which is appropriate because Lynn's life is pretty sparse, just like the writing. It is scary to consider what life would be like with no water and that is what this book forces you to consider. While much of the book is appropriate for any reader, there are a few hints of mature themes that make it a bit questionable. I would suggest you check this book out, but just be aware that it may not be for all readers.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Proxy by Alex London

I picked up this book a few weeks ago at Chapters because it looked like my kind of book! I know my favourite books to read are dystopian novels. In the world that Proxy is set in, if you have money life is easy, but when you don't, life can be very difficult. Rich parents buy their children Proxies- people who will take any punishment for them. So if a child makes a mistake, instead of them being punished, their Proxy is punished. The theory behind this is that the child will feel guilty and not make a mistake again. However, proxies never meet their Patrons. Proxies become proxies because they have to pay off debt, for food, schooling, clothing everything! It is not an easy life. Syd is a Proxy- his Patron is Knox, a spoiled kid who thrives on mischief and getting in trouble. Over the years Syd is use to taking his punishment and not letting Knox see his pain. The two never meet, but Syd hates Knox, and Knox feels that Syd deserves to be punished just for being poor. But when Knox goes too far, Syd’s punishment is so severe that he knows his life is over unless he escapes. Syd and Knox are thrown together and at first Knox is resentful, but he soon realizes that he needs to escape the system as much as Syd does. As the two of them try to survive, they both learn things about themselves and about the way the world they live in has been created- and all of its’ flaws. This is a great, fast paced book that fans of The Maze and The Uglies will enjoy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

In the After by Demitria Lunetta

Another amazing dystopian novel by a new author!I love having so much time to read great new books by the pool in the summer! Amy was 14 when her world was totally torn apart. An alien race came down to destroy the human race. Luckily Amy was able to survive the initial attack and learned how to avoid the aliens. She was lonely and constantly worried, but she was alive. Her only companion is Baby, a little girl who she found one day when she was out scavenging. Amy and Baby have a nice routine in place that keeps them safe from attacks even though they miss contact with other people. Then, Amy discovers that there are other survivors living in New Hope- a community who are trying to rebuild civilization. While at first Amy is thrilled to find others to live with, she soon discovers that all is not well at New Hope and she must figure out a way to keep both herself and Baby safe. This was a great book- a quick read and of course there will be a follow up book to this one. Of course I will have to wait for a year to read it, but it will be worth the wait.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

This is the sequel to the book Article 5 that I finished yesterday. Breaking Point continues the story of Ember and Chase. At the end of Article 5 they had escaped their own deaths and were on the run from the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Now they have a choice to make. They can be removed to a safe house where they can hide away and ignore what is happening around the world. Or they can join the resistance and fight back. Complicating their decision is their friend Sean- whose only goal is to rescue his girlfriend Rebecca from the hands of the government. Ember feels very guilty about leaving Rebecca because it was through her own choices that led to Rebecca's capture. As Ember and Chase struggle to decide what to do, the government starts making things very difficult for them to be safe anywhere. I'm looking forward to the third book coming out in the winter. Check out this great YouTube clip for a book trailer!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

I stumbled across this book last week at Chapters. The best thing is that I picked it up in paper back and the next book in the series is out as well. This is a great new dystopian series by a new author- it's funny that this one never crossed any social media sites that I normally get new book recommendations- but this is a good one. Article 5 is set after several big cities in the United States have been abandoned after the war. The Bill of Rights was removed and replaced with the Moral Statutes. The government that has been elected has the motto of One Whole Country, One Whole Family and believe in traditional lifestyles. Women are to be subservient to men, only families with a husband and wife are legally allowed to have children and everyone must live up to a high moral standard. Ember is 17 years old and remembers what it was like before the wars. She lives with her mother and has never known who her father is. One night, the soldiers come to arrest both Ember and her mother because they violated the moral statues. As if this isn't bad enough, the boy who Ember has loved her whole life is the one to arrest them. Ember is sent to a reform school and she will stop at nothing to find her mother and protect her at all costs. But it is very challenging to escape from the reform school and the guards will stop at nothing to punish these girls for breaking the new rules. I thought this was a great story. There is lots of action, romance and adventure that would keep everyone interested. Ember is a very real character and you really feel for her and the horrible conditions she is forced to adapt to. As soon as I finished reading this one I ordered the sequel on my Kindle- something I don't usually do, but I had to find out what happened next.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Monument 14 Sky On Fire by Emmy Laybourne

I saw a son's friend reading this book the other day and asked if I could borrow it- I promised it would only take me a day to read it- and I was right! This book is the sequel to Monument 14- so if you haven't read that- you might want to read it first- you can check out my review here. This book picks up right where Monument 14 left off- with half of the group travelling trying to get to Denver to get help and with the slim hope of escaping the Super Store they have been living in. The other half of the group stayed behind with the younger ones. The story is told through the perspective of both brothers, one on the bus and the other at the store. What the group on the bus quickly discovers is that life outside the Super Store is dangerous and scary. What the group inside the store quickly learn is that life inside is dangerous and scary as well. I don't like reading sequels when I can't remember everything that happened in the first book, but I quickly remembered this story. While I couldn't remember every detail, I knew enough to pick right up in the story. I enjoyed this one- it was fast paced and exciting.

Monday, August 5, 2013

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

This book has been sitting on my “What I’m reading” shelf for a few months now. I started it a while ago, and then picked something else up and yesterday I decided to go back to it. I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed reading this book. North of Beautiful tells the story of Terra Cooper- a beautiful girl who has it all- a great looking body, artistic talent, a perfect boyfriend…and a wine port stain on her face. This stain, and her father, holds Terra back from everything. She is content to just cover up any imperfections- both on her face and in her life, while at the same time she longs to escape her small town to go away for university. Terra’s father does nothing to help build her confidence in anything she is interested in. He is verbally abusive to anyone in his family, while her mother does her best to protect everyone- she ends up taking all most all of the abuse. When Terra meets Jacob, her life and her mother’s attitude starts to change. Jacob constantly challenges Terra’s definition of beauty and introduces her to many different experiences. The big question is can Terra deal with what she has been taught and break away from her father and everything else that is holding her back. There are many layers to this book. On the surface, it is a romance novel, but when you look deeper it is so much more than that. The author uses maps as a symbol for many things, this would be an interesting book to share the concepts of symbolism with kids. All in all it was a great read!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taken by Erin Bowman

Last week I spent a nice hour wandering around Chapters and of course I spent most of my time in the Young Adult section. I got to check out all the new releases and managed to find several new dystopian novels, which are certainly my favourite books to read. Then, I had a lovely day of just sitting outside reading. Taken is one of the books I picked up during this trip, it slipped under my radar,but I am glad I found it. The world that is described in Taken is a world where females are plenty, and males are not as common. This is because at the age of 18, all boys are taken away. Nobody knows where they go, but they are gone. The citizens call it The Heist and it is a hard thing for everyone to deal with. Gray is just about 18. He knows what is coming and thinks that he is prepared. But then he finds a mysterious note from his mother that causes him to start questioning everything he has ever believed in. The only way he can get answers is to go over the wall. This is a scary idea because everyone who has tried to climb over the wall has been burnt beyond recognition. But Gray is will to risk it to have his questions answered. This is a great story. I know it is going to be a sequel, which isn't always my favourite. But, fans of The Maze Runner will love this book.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

There is nothing better than reading a Sarah Dessen book in the summer. Something about her books just seem right for sitting by the pool and devouring her books (of course sitting by the ocean would be even better, but you've got to deal with what you have) The Moon and More is about a young girl named Emaline who is facing many changes in the future. She is heading off to college in September, has to deal with her high school boyfriend and a father that says he wants big things for her, but can't seem to help her get there. When a film director comes to her small beach town to film a documentary about a local artist, she brings with her an assistant who Emaline keeps getting thrown together with. As Theo and Emaline start spending more time together, she gets swept up into his ambitions and dreams. Emaline needs to balance what she wants, and what she can get. This is a true story of growing up and making decisions to be happy and content with your life. It's a great read!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I feel like I have said this before...but I have been reading a great deal about this book on Twitter and I finally picked it up the other day. I am so glad I did. What a beautiful, brilliant, lovely book. Eleanor and Park is the story of two young kids who strike up a relationship because they are thrown together on the school bus. Eleanor is new to the school and has an amazing attitude- an "I don't care what you think" attitude. She dresses very differently from anyone else and basically keeps to herself. Park is a half Korean, half American boy who tries not to get noticed by the kids he grew up with who have the potential to make his life miserable. What they find with each other is a friendship and love that is just the sweetest thing to read. One of the things I loved most about this book was that it was set in the 1980's, so the pop culture references were something that I loved to read. Having said that, I don't think it would take away from anyone who didn't grow up during the 80's. The book has a timeless feel to it, since the focus is more on the relationship between Eleanor and Park rather than the setting. I must caution you however that there are some edgy bits to it. Eleanor has a very terrible home life and many kids wouldn't be ready to read some of what she talks about. I am still on the fence about leaving it 'out there' for any elementary student in grade 7 or 8 to read. For high school though I wouldn't hesitate for a minute. I just loved this story!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

A while ago, Chapter's advertised a bunch of books on sale, so I picked up many of them for $3.99. They were all young adult books, and most of them were romance books- which is great for the summer. This morning I woke up early and wanted a quick read before I got back into another adult book so I grabbed this one off my shelf. The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in a three part series (I love it when I find series that have all been written, because I now know what my next two books will be). The story is about Belly, a 16 year old who feels that her life begins in the summer. It is here where she spends every summer with her mom and brother and her mom's best friend and her two sons. The kids have grown up together, although Belly has always felt left out of the three boys and their adventures. She is the youngest one in the group and the only girl, so things are pretty tough for her. This summer, things are a bit different. Everyone comments on how different she looks and she starts to feel like things are different. Yet, her crush on the oldest boy Conrad has stayed the same. She has been in love with him forever, but he never seems to notice her or pay her any attention. This summer she hopes it will be different. But what Belly finds is that even when you want things to stay the same, everything changes and she must change as well. I really loved this book. It is a great beach read. Reading about kids having a carefree summer of parties, swimming, friends etc. is such a nice easy thing to do. I loved these characters. I loved Belly and her desire to one of the boys, while at the same time trying to figure out who she is as a women. The relationship between the two mother's is complex and fascinating. Best of all are the boys- they are just like the boys I grew up with. Interesting to watch, annoying, teasing, rough, sweet, they run the whole emotional gammit and I could so sympathize with Belly trying to figure out how to deal with them all. I was very excited at the end when I read that there was a seqeul. I'm off to start it right now!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

It seems that these days I get all of my book recommendations from Twitter, and this one is no different. I am always looking for new books to put into my Civil Rights collection. I love introducing kids to this time in history that seems so close, but so hard for them to understand. The Lions of Little Rock takes place in Little Rock, Arkansas the year after the "Little Rock Nine" worked to integrate the local high school under much tension. I found that alone to be quite interesting. It was fascinating to read about what happened to not only the nine black students after their year at the high school, but also the fall out of a year of forced integration. In this story, we hear about integration through the eyes of Marlee, a 12 year old girl who doesn't really understand what is happening. When a new girl moves into her school, she finally finds a kindred spirit and someone who she can confess her biggest fears and dreams. Marlee and Liz are inseparable until the unthinkable happens. Liz has been 'passing' as a white person and this causes the whole school to be in a huge uproar. Marlee doesn't understand what the big deal is, she recognizes Liz for who she is as a person, not the colour of her skin. Marlee quickly learns about segregation and the effect it has on everyone, she must decide what she believes and what she can do to support her friend. I really enjoyed this book. I love the relationship Marlee has with the lions at the local zoo and the relationship between her and Liz. This book does a really great job explaining some of the issues surrounding integration and segregation. It will be passed onto many kids this year I know it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

This book grabbed my attention on Twitter and so I preordered it. When it came in, I was doing some work with some avid readers at a school and they begged me for a new book so I let them borrow this one. I just got it back and finally got around to reading it last week. I loved, loved, loved this book! It's like The Hunger Games and Divergent- both books that I loved too. It is a great new dystopian series, and while I am sick of series books, I really liked the way this book was written and how it ended and I know I will be picking up Independent Study (book 2) in January. The Testing is set in North America after the Seven Stages of War in which a great deal of the population was eliminated. Now, at the age of 16, students are either accepted into University or they are sent to work. Cia can't wait to be 16, she is certain that she will be allowed to go to University, even though her brother who is smarter and more talented didn't get chosen. On her graduation day, her father sends her off with the words "Trust no one" This is hard advice to follow since she is alone and very scared. As she makes her way through the different tests designed to discover if she has what it takes to make it to university she must rely on her own instinct and intelligence. I thought this book was incredibly well written. I really enjoyed the strength Cia offered, much like Katniss, but without the jaded attitude and like Tris, Cia is a great character to read and watch grow. You care about her and feel for her. There was nothing I didn't like about this book. If you like Hunger Games and Divergent, I guarantee you will love this one too!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Game by Teresa Toten

This book came recommended to me by a friend from work. It has been sitting on my shelf for a bit and now that it is summer I finally had time to pick it up. The Game tells the story of Dani Webster- who when we meet her has just been admitted into a treatment facility for teenagers with issues. As Dani adjusts to life inside this facility we learn that she was there as a result of substance abuse, but the more Dani reveals about herself, the more we learn why she turned to drinking. As Dani tells her story, the reader gets flashbacks to her past and to The Game she played with her sister Kelly. The story is disjointed in parts, because Dani is struggling to know what is real and what is part of the Game. Inside the treatment centre, Dani finds friends who are there with their own issues, but truly care for Dani and try to help her out. This book was unlike any book I have read before. Reading about Dani's stuggles to come to terms with her life and how she learned to deal with a very challenging situation at home was hard. The way the author chose to share Dani's story helps the reader understand how difficult recovery is. It took some time to get into the story, trying to follow Dani's scattered mind as she puts together all the pieces of her past was difficult. But, I did enjoy the story and it was great to kick off a summer of reading!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Ward by Jordana Frankel

It is so great that I have been working with a group of avid readers at one of the schools. These girls have compelled me to get reading YA books again. Of course there are many new dystopian novels coming out which makes jumping back into the YA pool much more enjoyable! The Ward is a futuristic dystopian novel set in New York City. At this point in time, most of New York is underwater. All that is left are the skyscrapers and bridges, and the fight for clean water to drink. Everyone living in New York fights a constant battle for fresh drinking water. The buildings that are left are good for one thing though- and that is racing a vehicle that can travel along the sides of the buildings and over the water. And that is what the main character Ren does to survive- she races at night in order to keep her and her sister alive. But her sister is very ill with the Blight- a disease that is wiping out the population of The Ward (formerly known as Manhattan) This disease has now spread to the richer part of New York and suddenly it has come to the attention of the mayor and other people in power. They are now trying to find a cure for the Blight. Ren is asked to find a new freshwater source as she goes about her nightly races, but this leads to trouble for her. She finds more than freshwater and there are many different people who want to keep her discovery a secret. As with many dystopian novels, there are times when I found the plot a bit confusing. The whole racing was exciting, but I could never get a picture in my mind of how it actually worked. Having said that, the book was exciting- I enjoyed the plot and the idea of racing along buildings. I also like the fact that Ren is a strong female character who participates in an activity that is typically only for males. She is a great character. This is only the first in a series of books and I am looking forward to the next one.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Program by Suzanne Young

After staying up quite late last night and getting up early this morning, I finished this book and can hardly wait to share it with people. I haven't read anything by Suzanne Young before (you can check out her blog here) , but you can be sure I will be buying more of her books! In this book, suicide is an epidemic. Teens between the ages of 13 to 18 are killing themselves in large numbers. It is believed that these teens have a disease and the only way to cure them is to enter The Program. The Program is a 6 week regim where teens are cured from having any thoughts that will make them sad or anxious. But when these teens come back from The Program, they seem empty and can't remember any of their friends. The main character in the story is Sloan, she is trying to play the game of keeping all of her emotions in check. She tries to avoid bringing any attention to herself and just keeps her head down. She does this all day at school, but she is also aware of her overly sensitive mother and so even at home she can't express how she really feels. Only with her boyfriend James can she share her true feelings. Even though James has promised to keep her out of The Program, Sloan is worried that he won't be able to do that. Things seem to be getting bad for both of them, depression is setting in and they are both afraid of what will happen next. I loved, loved, loved this story. As a mom I can totally understand the desire to do everything you can to keep your child safe and protected. But I also know that you can't go through life being safe and without emotions. All emotions are real and everyone has set-backs and sad things that happen to them, you need to learn to deal with them, not pretend they don't exist. I love the relationship between Sloan and James, two teenagers who are in love and trying to survive in a world gone mad. Their story and their personality made this book such a great read. I know that they will live with me for a long time. I do have to say that there is some mature content in the book. I would be hesitant to share this with anyone younger than grade 7. The mature bits are handled in a very careful manner, but it would still give me a bit of a pause when considering who I would give the book to. I think the message and the story is well worth the risk though.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

This is another book that has been getting a great deal of talk in book circles. I thought it was going to be a dystopian novel, but it turns out to be more post apocalyptic than anything. The story is set a few months after aliens have shown themselves on earth. At this point there have been 4 waves, each designed to reduce the number of people left on earth. Cassie has survived the 4 waves and is waiting for the 5th wave to strike. She is alone and knows she needs to either kill or be killed and she is prepared to do that. As we learn about Cassie's story, we learn how she went from being a big sister and part of a family to hiding out in the back of an abandoned car on the highway. When Cassie meets Evan, she must decide if she trusts him or not. Everything inside of Cassie tells her she is better off on her own, but there is something about Evan that pulls her to him. Cassie must face all of her doubts and fears to save not only herself, but what is left of her family. I did enjoy reading this book. As with most books that deal with an alternative future, it is hard to understand the ins and outs of the new reality that is the world. I like Cassie, she is a typical teenage girl before the aliens arrive, and through a set of horrible situations she realizes the inner strength she actually has. Although this book has lots of military scenarios which I don't tend to like, but in this book I enjoyed reading it. This book reminds me of several different books, in some ways it is like Ender's Game and in other ways it is like The Eleventh Plague and in some ways like The Scorch Trials If you are a fan of any of those books, you will like this one too. I think if you like post apocalyptic, dystopia, science fiction or military type books, you will enjoy The 5th Wave!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

I am working with a group of grade 6/7 students for the next few weeks who are involved in a Dystopian Literature Circle. When I asked their teacher what book they were starting with (because I understand these girls eat books) she told me they had all read Dualed. This was a book I have not even heard of- so I ran out to Chapters and picked it up early this week and have been reading like crazy to finish it this week. Thank goodness I finished it last night- now I will be ready to chat with them today. Dualed is set in a world where society has decided that in order to keep their citizens safe, they must produce and raise two of each person. So when a child is born, the next child born has the same DNA and the two are twins. They are raised separately, and their lives never intersect until sometime between the ages of 10-18 each person and their alternative will go ‘active’ which means they have 31 days to eliminate their twin. This story is about West, a 15 year old who has grown up knowing she needed to become a strong fighting machine in order to kill her ‘alt’ in order to live out the rest of her life. But it isn’t easy to watch your family members be destroyed one by one and to know that this could be your fate as well. This was an interesting story. I enjoyed reading about West coming to terms with what she was going to have to do- she is an interesting character. I found that the story didn’t really go into many details about why this society turned out this way and that left me with many questions at the end of the book. It also seems that once people have been complete (after they have successfully killed their alternative) that they are willing to just go along with what is expected of them. As a mother, I can’t imagine having children knowing that their chances of surviving past the age of 18 is 50% . I know that there is another book planned for next year and maybe that will go into further details about this world and what led to a society that is so violent. This book is being compared to Divergent and Hunger Games, I am not sure it will be as popular, but I did enjoy the read!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Golden Boy A Novel by Abigail Tarttelin

I have been hearing a lot about this book over the winter. There has been a lot of great talk about how incredible this book is and so I had to order it. Golden Boy is the story of Max- a 15 year old who is intersex- which means he has both male and female chromosomes and reproductive organs. Yet Max is the Golden Boy- he is an amazing soccer player, a great big brother and strives to always do his best in school. To anyone looking at him from the outside, he is perfect. His father is about to run for parliament and his mother is a successful lawyer. All in all it seems to be a perfect life. Yet, being intersex has challenges that need to be dealt with and Max has never been able to speak about this to his mother and father or his friends. It takes a horrific event to force Max and his family to deal with issues and situations that they hoped would just pass them by. This book is written by an English author, and I don't tend to enjoy that type of writing, but I did enjoy the story. The book is written from many voices which gives the reader an interesting perspective on this situation. You read about what Max thinks and feels and then you see how it looks from his classmates, his little brother and his parents. It is a very interesting way to tell a story. This book is too mature for an elementary classroom, and anyone in high school would want to be careful about reading this book. It certainly opened my eyes to some of the challenges people face. I am glad I read it and feel like Max is a character I will carry with me in my mind for a long time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

A few weeks ago, Chapters had all sorts of books on sale and so I ordered several books to read this summer. The Secret Year was one of those books. This is the first book written by this author, and I liked parts of it. The Secret Year tells the story of Colt and Julia, two high school students who had a secret relationship for a year. Julia comes from the rich part of town and Colt is from the part of town where people don't have as much money. The story starts out at the end of their year together when Julia dies in a car crash. Colt must grieve in silence because nobody knew of the relationship. He deals with all of his feelings on his own. When Julia's brother gives him a journal that consists of letters she wrote to him over the year, Colt relives their time together. He has a hard time letting go and moving on. I liked the aspects of the story when Colt is learning to let go and move on from this relationship. I felt really bad for him having to deal with all of this on his own. However, the book also deals with the tension between the rich kids and the poor kids, which seemed a little bit like The Outsiders and books written in the 50's. The story was told pretty quickly as well, there were situations that I wanted more details or to understand how it all fits in with the great story. This is also a mature read- I wouldn't give it to kids in grade 7 or 8 unless they were very mature. I did enjoy the story, but found that it wrapped up too quickly.

Legend by Marie Lu

This book has been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. I am not sure why I haven't read it yet, dystopian novels are my all time favourite books. Today was a great day to sit outside and read for the whole day. Legend is the story of two people, June, who is a rich Republic military prodigy. She has been at university for 3 years now and at 15 she is set to become the youngest leader of this society. Day is also 15 and he comes from the poor sector. He has been away from home fighting to make sure his family stays safe while trying to survive on the streets. June and Day are two unlikely friends, but through a series of events, the two meet and slowly they both start questioning what the government has told them and the truth will shock them both. I enjoyed reading this book. Like most dystopian novels it takes a few chapters to learn about the society and the way this world is different from ours. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series as soon as I can get to the book store.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Skinny is a story about a girl named Ever who is overweight. She is just 15 years old and weighs over 300 pounds. All Ever wants is to be a normal size, and she knows that if she could just lose weight she will be happy and have everything she has ever wanted. Ever decides to have gastric surgery which reduces the size of her stomach and severely limits what she can eat. As she starts to lose weight though, she is faced with the realization that it isn't just about her size, it is about how she feels about herself that is making her unhappy. While this is a story about one girl's journey to lose weight, it is also a story about how everyone lives with a negative voice in their head. That voice that speaks about all of your insecurities about yourself and how you can learn to silence that voice. I liked this book, I think it would be great to share with girls at the Intermediate level. On the surface it is a pretty easy book, but there is a great deal more depth to the book and it would be great to use it as a literature circle or in a conference with a student.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

I know I haven't been doing much young adult reading lately- I have been doing a lot of just adult fiction, but I am constantly on the look out for new great reads. I am working with some grade 8 teachers on a theme based literature circles and this is one of the books we have chosen for the kids to read. No Safety In Numbers is a cross between Monument 14 and and seems to be the first in a series. This story is told through several different teen voices as they try and figure out why they are locked down inside the mall. If you told many teenagers that they would have to spend the night in the local mall, I am sure many of them would find the idea exciting, and that is what happens to these teens at first. Many of them choose to spend their time in stores like Apple, Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch- I think it would be interesting to match their personalities to the stores they choose to spend time in. But when one night turns into several days time in the mall gets very old. Restaurants and the food court are still serving food, but supplies are starting to run low. People start to panic when they realize that people are getting sick. What the most of the people locked down in the mall don't realize is that there was some bomb that many suspect held some bioharzardous material that they have all been exposed to. Like many survival stories, the teens that are locked down in the mall must decide how they will respond. Some will assume leadership roles, some will become helpless, some will look out only for themselves, while others try to help their family and friends. I enjoyed this story, I was surprised at the end when I realized it was the first in a series. I like the characters in this story and want to know how they will not only survive living in a mall for an undefined time but I wonder how they will get back home to their families. I also liked the dynamics that are being played out between friends, strangers and even enemies. This was a good read, I will look forward to the second in the series.