Review: The Leaving

The Leaving
The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I could not put this one down. I stayed up until 1:45am finishing it. The premise of the book is fascinating: six kindergartners abducted but only five return when they are 16 years old. And none of them remember anything. The story is narrated by three main characters. I enjoy the multiple narrative perspectives and the unique graphics and typographical features used with each character’s chapter. This helps distinguish the three teens’ voices from one another. It is also interesting that even though six different kids were taken and five have returned, Altebrando chose to have Avery (sister to Max who did not return) tell part of the story, and only had two of the five abductees narrate their stories: Lucas and Scarlett. I didn’t like Avery even though I think her role is integral to the resolution of the story. I’m not sure we’re supposed to like Avery. She has every right to feel her parents have neglected her and dealt poorly with their grief and lack of resolution over Max’s abduction. This makes her overly self-centered (understandable since her parents are clearly not concerned with her), shallow, and pushy. The ending is interesting and satisfying, but not trite. In real-life abductions, bow-tie happy endings are rarely the outcome, and Altebrando does not white wash hers.

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Back in Books

I’ve been MIA…I know. I’ve been changing jobs (gifted education specialist) and taking classes and raising kids and updating a house and doing life. Don’t worry – I’ve been reading all this time, but writing reviews and sharing my book journeys with you all has had to take a back seat to my professional changes and development. But I’m back and, while I still want to make suggestions about how to connect YA books to more classic texts, our classrooms have come a long way since I started this adventure. YA is more accepted than ever before in our nation’s schools even if it is still the “black sheep” of the literary family. I know there are still books being challenged out there, but we’re making progress. I don’t think it’s as important as it used to be to link a YA novel to a classic in order to feel like we’re justified teaching it in our classrooms.

I will continue to review books, but I’m taking a bite-sized approach to my reviews. Who needs to read all my words anyway when there are so many books out there and so little time to read them? I’m still reviewing for authors, but I’m being picky. And I’m still teaching, planning, grading, mothering, wifing, and all the other roles that go into being me. Missed being here and excited to get back in the groove.

Review: Glass Sword

Glass Sword
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was disappointed with the second installment of Aveyard’s series. Second books are always tricky because many times they are merely bridges to the finale. Glass Sword seems to fit that template. Mare and her compatriots wander around Norta simultaneously trying to recruit New Bloods and avoid King Maven.

In addition, the character development is uneven. The strong lead female I met in Red Queen does not seem to be present in Mare in the second book. Mare spends most of the book woe-is-me-ing over Maven’s betrayal, fretting over the fate of New Bloods she hasn’t even met yet, and playing the martyr in denying her feelings for Cal. Overall, she is an annoying 14 or 15 year old instead of behaving like a 17 year old rebel leader. Cal seems unable to embrace the leadership he so clearly possesses. Kilorn is suspicious and angry and quick to judge. Cameron is a welcome addition with her fiery opinions and staunch desire for revenge.

Exploring more of the Red and Silver’s world is interesting, and the broadening scope of the New Bloods’ powers is intriguing. I am still interested in finishing this series to see who ends up with the power between the battling factions. I hope to see more of Mare’s fierce side in the next installment.

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Review: Monument 14

Monument 14
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another good one in the newest YA movement that depicts the actual apocalyptic event instead of just the civilization that develops after the catastrophe. Clever of Laybourne to strand the children in a super store and so not having to endow any of them with unrealistic abilities or skills (like archery) they wouldn’t have had in a technology dependent society. I enjoyed the realistic aspect of the event itself-weather anomalies paired with seismic events causing human’s own hubris of chemical weaponry to put the final horrific spin on the disaster. The children and teens must use their ordinary talents to keep themselves alive in an extraordinary situation. Most of the story rings true and the ending leaves readers wishing they immediately had the next book on their bedside table.

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19 October 2015

Mon Reading Button PB to YAIt’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
The lovelies at thought this would be a fun meme to start up with a kidlit focus: anyone reading and reviewing books in children’s literature. It can be picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels – you name it in the world of kidlit and it’s in! I love being a part of this meme and hope you do, too! I encourage everyone participating to go and visit the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and to comment on as many posts as you can. We love talking books and believe in sharing and discussing what we’re reading. We hope you join us! Read more here:
In the last week I’ve finished
This week, I’m reading, planning on reading and listening to

Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A much better read than GONE GIRL with a more satisfying ending. Rachel is as untrustworthy a narrator as Poe’s from “Tell-Tale Heart”. The alternating narrators lend even more instability to the plot. Secrets are revealed from all three women that keep readers guessing as to which of the women ISN’T lying. This book has all of the elements that made me stop reading books written for adults: depression, failed relationships, addiction, and death. The main difference with this book is that Hawkins somehow manages to infuse hope and redemption into a dark story. If, like me, you felt betrayed by GONE GIRL’s ending, Hawkins’s book will begin to heal that wound.

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Review: The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally, a new twist on the idea of fairy tales and princesses! Chainani blends humor and cliche with a fresh setting and plot. In Agatha and Sophie’s world, children are kidnapped by the School Master and taken to a school that trains them to either be good or evil. Blond, fair Sophie is thrilled to be one of the kidnapped kids from her town. Her dark, brooding friend Agatha is taken as well, but both girls are surprised when Sophie is sent to the School for Evil instead of the School for Good. What ensues is a bumbling adventure through both Good and Evil’s campuses that at once embraces and mocks the cliches of traditional fairy tales. Now the two friends have been pitted against one another in the ages-old good vs. evil battle and the only thing that’s certain is it will be one wild competition. Fairies as campus guards, a two-headed dog/wolf as bickering professors, and the mysterious School Master make for a delightfully adventurous and funny romp on a new path through familiar territory.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and just began the second book, The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes. Polly Lee’s narration of the first book is brilliant; I keep hearing her voice in my head as I read the second.

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