Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Fair During Fall Conferences!

Come to the Scholastic Book Fair!

The UMS Student Council will be holding a Scholastic Book Fair during Parent/Teacher Conferences on Thursday, November 1st from 4-8pm and Friday, November 2nd from 8-11am outside the Cafetorium.

The Scholastic Book Fair benefits the UMS Library which means that, depending on how much is purchased, the Library gets a certain amount in free books that students & staff can check out.

Stop by and get some popular books, teen favorites, and other fun items. The prices on these books are often lower than the prices at bookstores so now is the time to get some good things to read!

And THANK YOU to all the student council members who help at the book fair. You are awesome!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

STUDENT REVIEW- Independence Hall by Roland Smith

Independence Hall (I, Q Book #1)
By Roland Smith
Published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2008
302 pages (paperback)

Fame has arrived for rockers Blaze and Roger! Just married, leaving Los Angeles, and touring the United States with teenagers Q (Quest) and Angela in tow, the excitement heightens in Philadelphia when Angela realizes she's being followed. Q soon learns the secret about Angela's real mother - a former Secret Service agent.
Readers are thrust into current issues affecting the world in this edge-of- your-seat, modern-day mystery adventure. I, Q readers will be immersed in the work of U.S. Secret Service, the Mossad, and the MI5. But who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? What happens to this newly formed family if Angela's mom is not dead? (from barnesandnoble.com)

It has a lot of action in it. I didn’t want to stop reading! [I didn’t like that] sometimes he rambles but, overall, the book is really good. Yes, [I would recommend this book to middle schoolers because] the whole book made me want to keep reading.
--David G.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood
By Kendare Blake
Published by Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC, 2012
320 pages (hardcover)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
Yet she spares Cas's life. (from barnesandnoble.com)

What a weird and messed up story.

But I mean that in a good way.

Kendare Blake did an amazing job of building a world where we need ghost killers like Cas to keep us all save from those evil ghosts who do more than say “Boo!” The characters were well developed (mostly) and I think the reader can really understand the motives and actions of each character.

Also, the book was creepy and eerie and a good ghost story. I don’t want to spoil any of the book for you, but there are ghosts that tear people apart but then those people stay around as spirits themselves. CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEPY.

HOWEVER, for all the descriptions of Anna, I didn’t feel that I understood her or why she did/didn’t do things. She is a main character (shoot, she is the title) but I was more confused by her than anything. And the ending kind of confused me, but I am hopeful that many of my questions will be answered in the sequel.

Yes, there is a sequel and I will be reading it soon. I really do need to know what happens to all the characters!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
By Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
Published by Quirk Publishing, 2009
320 pages (paperback)

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

So begins
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read. (from barnesandnoble.com)

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. OhMyGosh… I love Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy! But adding zombies to this timeless classic? I wasn’t so sure about that. But I was curious as to how someone could put zombies in P&P so I tried it out.

And I LOVED it!

Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) did a fabulous job of staying true to Jane Austen’s overall story but creatively turning the Austen sisters into zombie killers who are just as good at killing the living dead as they are dancing. Grahame-Smith took out a lot of the details about the dresses, houses, long walks, etc. and filled that space with brain-eating creatures. But he didn’t skim on the tension, admiration, hate, and love between Miss Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

And the next time I watched the BBC’s version of Pride & Prejudice I really did keep expecting zombies to come out from the ground and attack. But they didn’t and that was ok because I still got to watch Colin Firth…… I digress.

Anywho, definitely read this book. It has love and zombies… what more could you want?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

STUDENT REVIEW- Smile by Raina Telgemeier

By Raina Telgemeier
Published by Scholastic, Inc.
224 pages (paperback)

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. (from barnesandnoble.com)

This is about a girl who is trying to get her teeth fixed. But she gets so embarrassed. I think the good thing is that this is a very funny and very good read. Yes, [I would recommend this book to another middle schooler because] it gives you advice.
-Jenny P.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Favorite Scary Story Authors

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is My Top Ten Favorite Scary Story Authors.

A lot of you know that I don’t like reading scary stories. It is rare for me to pick up something with blood, gore, and grossness. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t read scary stories… I just prefer to read other things. Things that don’t give me bad dreams.

R. L. Stine
So many people have grown up reading his creepy tales. I had a ton of his books growing up and I am glad my students still read his books.

Neil Gaiman
Such a great (and creepy) writer. Words cannot describe how awesome he is.

Mary Downing Hahn
Wait Til Helen Comes….ahhhh! Such a good book.

Joseph Bruchac
1. He visited UMS and was a great speaker
2. He told some scary stories and made students scream
3. His scary stories are actually really good.

Christopher Pike
Yet another author I read a lot of when I was in middle school.

Lois Duncan
Even the covers of her books are eerie.

Alvin Schwartz
He is great at compiling and writing short scary stories.

Robert D. San Souci
Robert is the author of books like Dare to be Scared and Short and Shivery which many students & staff enjoy.

Jane Yolen
I can’t even guess how many books Jane Yolen has written. Definitely hundreds. She writes all sorts of tales, but quite a few are creepy stories that are perfect for Halloween. I do have to say, though, that I LOVE her children's books too!

Edgar Allan Poe
A scary story author list would not be complete without Poe. His stories truly give me bad dreams and make me feel uneasy for weeks at a time. He was an amazing and twisted author whose life had many unfortunate events.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Splendors and Glooms
By Laura Amy Schlitz
Published by Candlewick Press, August 2012
Source: NetGalley

The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini's act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants.
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.
As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.
(from NetGalley)

Totally creepy. It’s a good story, but really creepy (think Coraline by Neil Gaiman creepy).

Laura Amy Schlitz does a fabulous job of making the characters come alive. You hear many of their voices throughout the book and each character has a distinct personality & point of view. The author also does an amazing job of bringing to life Victorian London and the life of puppeteer. I don’t think I ever realized what all went into puppet shows and how much of a craft it is.

My one complaint is that, although there is a lot of magic in the book, it isn’t explained that well. Yes, I know there isn’t necessarily a rhyme or reason to magic, but it is distracting when it seems like there is magic in the book just to make something happen. I think because everything else was explained in such lovely detail that I missed the fantastical elements having details.

Overall, Splendors and Glooms is a good and creepy book that has the kind of ending that I like!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

STUDENT & TEACHER REVIEW- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie
By Kate DiCamillo
Published by Candlewick Press, 2009
288 pages (paperback)

One summer day, Opal goes into a supermarket and comes out with a scraggly dog that she names Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, her preacher father finally tells her ten things about her absentee mother, and Opal makes lots of unusual friends in her quirky Florida town. And because of Winn-Dixie, Opal grows to learn that friendship — and forgiveness — can sneak up on you like a sudden storm. (from barnesandnoble.com)

I enjoyed this book because it is funny and heartwarming. Opal grew in this book and it was great to go along on her journey. I think this book is great and I wouldn’t improve any part of it. Yes, I recommend this book to any middle schooler to read. It is an enjoyable book and an easy read.
--Ms. Thomas

It was funny and sad at the same time. I would have had Opal’s mother come back and then Opal could have told her stories. Yes, [this is a good book for middle schoolers] because middle schoolers would want to take care of a dog just like Winn-Dixie.
--John G.

The part I liked was when she found the dog. I like that part because the dog is like my puppy. I wished she could have told more about her mother. Yes, [I would recommend this book to another middle schooler] because it is a fantastic book.
--Patrick B.

It is good that Opal found Winn-Dixie because if she wouldn’t have found him he would have gone to the pound. I think that Opal’s Mom should have come back because Opal would be happy. Yes, [I would recommend this book to another middle schooler because] it is a good book.
--Rylee D.

[I liked] that some kids can relate to the story and it can help them with what they are going through. I wish that Opal’s mom would have come back. Yes, [I would recommend this book to another middle schooler] because it is very good and it is a mystery so if you like mysteries this would be a good book for you.
--Hannah H.

It is funny and sad [but] her mom could have come back to her family.
--Jesus M.

What I liked about this book is that it was interesting. Like how the dog smiled with all his teeth. It is funny when Opal calls the boys bald-headed bablies. That’s why I think it’s good.
I think the end could be redone so the Mom can come back so Opal can see her.
I think [middle schoolers] should read this because I think it is funny and interesting to go on her adventures with Winn-Dixie.
--Jada B.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ghost Crown by J.Gabriel Gates & Charlene Keel

Ghost Crown (The Tracks Book 2)
By J.Gabriel Gates & Charlene Keel
Published by HCI, June 2012
480 pages (paperback)
Source: NetGalley

The martial artists of Middleburg High continue to battle supernatural horrors, and one another, in search of a mystical treasure with the power to save their town . . . and quite possibly, the world. (from NetGalley)

What I liked most about this book is that it has a little bit of everything: fantasy, romance, mystery, action, adventure, conflict, friendships, horror…. This is definitely a book that everyone could enjoy. I think the fact that the authors were able to mix all these elements together into a story that not only made sense but was good is a testament to awesome writing and an engaging story.

I did get a bit overwhelmed by all the characters telling their point of view. However, even the meanest and most annoying of the characters had redeeming qualities so I didn’t mind hearing their voice but it was confusing at times.

I am now looking forward to book #3… WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN???

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The List by Siobhan Vivian

The List
By Siobhan Vivian
Published by Scholastic, 2012
336 pages (hardcover)

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two. (from barnesandnoble.com)

I picked up this book because it had such an interesting premise: a list posted in the fall of the prettiest and ugliest girls at each grade. Now, I sincerely hope this is something that would not ever happen. I mean, not every teacher in a school is that clueless and I KNOW some parent would sue if this sort of bullying occurred. However, I have seen and heard of lists that are passed around where students rate or rank other students according to looks, popularity, etc.

And those kind of lists do affect people.

In this book, the pretty and ugly girls are each impacted in different ways after the list is posted. Some girls’ lives change for the better, some find strength and/or friends they never knew they had, and some completely self destruct due to the increased attention and pressures.

The ultimate question, though, is… just who posted the list? I think the poster and why he/she chose the girls he/she did says a lot about how we view others.

But, really, everyone has pretty and ugly qualities and it may just take a little effort to look past the ugly and see a whole lot of pretty.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY: The Top Ten "Older" Books I Don't Want People to Forget About

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is the Top Ten "Older" Books I Don't Want People To Forget About. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The Secret Garden by Francis Hogsdon Burnett

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Redwall by Brian Jacques

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Monday, October 1, 2012

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
By Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill, 2007
288 pages (hardcover)

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
 (from barnesandnoble.com)

Today is the “World Day of Bullying Prevention” and in the days leading up to this day, Thirteen Reasons Why is the book that kept coming to mind.

Did you know that our words and actions directly affect others? Did you know that we can build someone up through a simple smile or kind word? Or that we can tear someone down with snide comments and rumors? You may not think that your nasty remark could affect someone’s life permanently, but when your statements, other classmates’ giggles, and some boy’s nasty rumors can definitely have a great impact.

Thirteen Reasons Why is an amazingly powerful novel that connects the dots that lead to a devastating decision. It gives the reader a bigger picture about the affects of bullying, rumors, and not being kind to others.

If you want more information on how to eliminate bulling, go to http://www.stompoutbullying.org/.