Thursday, July 19, 2012

STUDENT REVIEW - We Beat the Street: How a Teenage Pact Lead to Success

We Beat the Street: How a Teenage Pact Lead to Success
By Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Sharon Draper
Published by Penguin Group Incorporated, 2006
208 pages (paperback)

Growing up on the rough streets of Newark, New Jersey, Rameck, George,and Sampson could easily have followed their childhood friends into drug dealing, gangs, and prison.  But when a presentation at their school made the three boys aware of the opportunities available to them in the medical and dental professions, they made a pact among themselves that they would become doctors.  It took a lot of determination—and a lot of support from one another—but despite all the hardships along the way, the three succeeded.  Retold with the help of an award-winning author, this younger adaptation of the adult hit novel The Pact is a hard-hitting, powerful, and inspirational book that will speak to young readers everywhere.

I would recommend this book because it is fun to read during school and in class! What was good about the book was they grew up together during their hard early life. The book could be improved because they brought up drugs too much in the book.
---Reviewed by Rodrigo

[I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it teaches you right from wrong. It taught you important things. [It could have been better if it had told] us more about the end.
---Reviewed by Kaylee

Yes, I would [recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it could persuade them to be a medical doctor or dentist. [I liked] them being who they are and them graduating from medical school.
There is nothing [I don’t like] really. Just more pictures of them in the book.
---Reviewed by Vanessa

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules
By Julie Kagawa
Published by HarlequinTEEN, April 2012
485 pages (hardcover)
Source: NetGalley

"Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being. The question is not if it will happen, but when. Do you understand?"
I didn't then, not really.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.  (from NetGalley)

1) I LOVE Julie Kagawa’s writing. Her Iron Fey series got me through some sleepless nights last summer (darn you amoxicillin!) and I was definitely hoping this new series would be good.

2) I am not a fan of vampire books. The whole “help me because I am a damsel in distress and I love vampires” thing annoys me.

3) This is not one of those vampire books that annoy me.

4) Allison is a strong-willed survivor who has a huge heart (well, not really since she is dead, but hopefully you get my point) and is torn about what she is/wants to be.

5) Rabids now give me nightmares.

6) Lots of adventure and breath-taking moments, but there might have been just a tad too much fighting for my taste.

7) Read. This. Book. NOW!

Monday, July 9, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY: The Top Ten Books Set in London

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke andthe Bookish. Today’s topic is the Top Ten Books Set in London. 

 The 2012 Olympics are coming!!!!! I LOVE watching the Olympics. It is so exciting to see the competition, country loyalty, and records being broken. This year the Olympics are in London and in honor of that here are my top ten books that are set (at least partially) in London. Enjoy!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Part of the story takes place in London. And I love this story. And Mr. Darcy shows his honor and love for Elizabeth in London by dealing with the youngest sister. Awwwwww.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
This wouldn’t be a good list about London without at least 2 Jane Austen references!

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I want to meet up with Harry Potter & company in London some time. They are real, right?

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Solving crimes and taking names.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
True, this book takes place all over Europe, but the journey starts in London so it gets put on this list.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson does a great job of writing about London. She gives it such life and mystery. The Queen should give Maureen an award for making young adults (and adults) in America love London so much!

Clockwork Angel & Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
LOVE! Cassandra Clare takes this paranormal historical fiction series to a whole other level. And the fact that it is set in Victorian England makes the love and angst so much better.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Pip is clueless and Estella is a drama queen, but this is a great book. Creepy, but good.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Such a wonderful fantastical book. And I want to cuddle with Aslan.

The Alchemyst series by Michael Scott
The first book does not take place in London and, in fact, the characters go all over the place in this series. But it is an awesome and magical series that blends the past with the present and since some of it takes place in London, it made the list.

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

Secret Letters
By Leah Scheier
Published by Disney-Hyperion, June 26, 2012
Source: NetGalley

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits-and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective-to save her cousin's reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature.

I liked this. Sure, I think I have a thing for historical novels set in England, but whatever. It was a fun read with lots of mysteries and secret (hence the title).

The weirdest thing is that this book takes place in a world where Sherlock Holmes is read and not just a fictional character. Once I got past that oddity, I quickly flew through this book. I mean, there were rich guys, girls with secret pasts (and letters), detectives, and people who were pretending to be other people.

In Dora I found a feisty young lady who is more than willing to buck proper tradition and have some fun snooping around (aka- I really liked her). If you want a book that will take you on a mini-vacation this might be a nice one to pick up.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave
By Candace Fleming
Published by Random House Children's Books, July 10, 2012
208 pages (hardcover)
Source: NetGalley

Think Stephen King for teens. Ten stories—some funny, some sad, all spine-chilling—each told by the dead victim/ghost. AAAAHHHH!

The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author Candace Fleming gives teen and older tween readers 10 ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860s to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic possession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters. (from NetGalley)

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of ghost stories or creepy tales so maybe that is why I didn’t really connect with this book. I mean, it was ok, but I have read better and more disturbing ghost stories before. The premise -a graveyard for kids- was a great concept, but the follow-through fell flat. I think one thing that put me off was that many of the stories were based on creepy stories written long ago (The Monkey’s Paw, etc) and Fleming’s retelling were lackluster. They might scare someone who hadn’t heard the tales before, but I prefer the originals.
So, would I recommend On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave to my middle school students? Sure. I think they would enjoy the scary tales and the premise and a lot of teens want to read any and every scary thing they can get their hands on. Plus, this book is made up of a bunch of short stories so it is easy to read a bit at a time. But would I recommend this to adults who love books for young adults? Probably not.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

STUDENT REVIEW - Yolanda's Genius by Carol Fenner

Yolanda’s Genius
By Carol Fenner
Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
224 pages (paperback)

Yolanda is a great big girl and strong for her age, bigger and stronger and smarter than anyone else in the fifth grade. She is cool and streetwise, too, and afraid of no one. It's easy for her to watch out for her little, first-grade brother, Andrew. But their mother, a legal professional and a widow, is concerned about crime and drugs in her children's Chicago school. She moves them all to a smaller and, she hopes, smaller town.
Yolanda, at first, is scornful of her new town. And Andrew, who never talks much, is having trouble learning to read. What he loves to do is play on the old harmonica given to him as a baby by his father to teethe on and which he's kept blowing ever since. He can imitate any sound he hears, like bacon sizzling, or express any mood he feels, like the freshness of an early morning. Yolanda understands that that's the way he "talks." She is convinced Andrew is a true genius with a great musical gift. But no one else believes it—not her mother, nor Andrew's teachers, not even wonderful Aunt Tiny in Chicago. Yolanda sets out to open up adult eyes, a task whose strategies will call on far more than her physical toughness. Her plans crystallize on a visit back to Chicago to enjoy the great annual blues festival with Aunt Tiny.
Carol Fenner, whose previous book Randall's Wall has reached a wide audience throughout the country, has created a daring heroine in Yolanda and a warm portrayal of an African-American family in a story that moves with mounting intensity to a dramatic, believable, and a wholly satisfying conclusion.
After moving from Chicago to Grand River, Michigan, fifth grader Yolonda, big and strong for her age, determines to prove that her younger brother is not a slow learner but a true musical genius.

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler]. It shows how to not give up. I liked all the things that it teaches you because it helps you become a better person. I think it could have had a little bit more action in it because it can be boring.
---Reviewed by Curtis

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it helps people realize that they could be a genius. I think it has a good message because it tells kids anyone can be a genius.
---Reviewed by Favour

[I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it shows that she really cares for her brother.
---Reviewed by Wyatt

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler]. It has a good plot and theme plus it is very interesting.
---Reviewed by Emma

No, [I would not recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it is kind of boring because of no action. It has a good theme: friends are important.” It could have had more action.
---Reviewed by Garrett

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler]. It is entertaining and at a good level. I think it was good because connecting is something you can do pretty well with the book. The setting is similar to our setting and the reader can have both sympathy and empathy for the characters. Some parts were hard to understand. Also, I would have enjoyed it more if the point of view didn’t randomly jump around.
---Reviewed by Anna

I wouldn’t [recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it is depressing. It was good because it tells a story about expressing yourself. It didn’t have to be so sad.
---Reviewed by Jaida

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it is not too long and not too short. It teaches you a really good lesson.
---Reviewed by Kaylee

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because it’s a really good book. The good part was her trying to get Andrew on stage. It was good because it was nice of her to help her brother. [I didn’t like] her not being honest to the cops.
---Reviewed by Hayven

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler]. It tells a story that says “don’t give up on your dreams!” This book is good because it really tells you important lessons and how to handle things that might come in the way of your dreams. It could have used more detail about what happens next.
---Reviewed by Alyson

Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler]. It is appropriate and interesting. You could relate to the book a lot because Yolanda is twelve and goes through some of the same struggles as middle schoolers today do. Some parts were kind of slow and boring and made me just want to skip ahead.
---Reviewed by Claire