Friday, September 28, 2012

Teen/YA Review: 1NF1N1TY

--> I have enjoyed each book in the paranormal thriller trilogy Num8ers by Rachel Ward (book 1 was Num8ers and book 2 was The Cha0s, and book three, 1NF1N1TY, provides an exciting and satisfying conclusion that kept me glued to the page. I will try to tell you a bit about it without giving away too much for those of you who haven’t read the first two books.

INF1N1TY deals with the third generation of Adam’s family who have special gifts. Adam sees the date of a person’s death when he looks into their eyes and feels what they will feel when they die. Sarah, Adam’s girlfriend, dreamed about the Chaos, the apocalypse that destroyed modern civilization two years ago, and drew what she saw before it happened.  She hasn’t drawn anything since.  The two of them have been living a vagabond existence with Sarah’s little brothers, and her two –year old daughter, Mia.  Mia has her own gift – she sees colored auras when she looks at a person – though she is too young to explain that to anyone.

Their little family is just struggling to survive, like thousands of other people in England, left behind in the aftermath of the Chaos.  But Adam’s and Sarah’s attempts to warn people of the coming disaster attracted attention from some dangerous people who are now hunting them.

I have loved this entire series.  The characters are realistic and likable – so much so that it is easy to suspend belief and accept their gifts.  In some ways, this is classic post-apocalyptic fiction, though their special talents add another layer of interest.  The exciting conclusion to the trilogy is fast-paced and suspenseful, keeping you guessing right until the climactic final scene.

249 pages, Chicken House (a division of Scholastic)

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's Monday 9/24! What Are You Reading?

I am sitting in the Surgi-Center waiting room while my 14-year old son has knee surgery.  We are hoping this arthroscopic surgery will do the trick and he won’t need another surgery, but we won’t know for a few weeks.   Hopefully, today won’t be too tough on him – it’s hard to see your baby go into surgery!

So, I will distract myself by telling you about the books we are reading this week:
  • I finished Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (not quite in time for my book group discussion!), and I absolutely loved it!  No surprise there – I have loved all of Brooks’ novels, including March, The People of the Book, and The Year of Wonders.  This one was just as good, about a young woman in the 1660’s who becomes friends with a native American who ends up being the first of his people to graduate from Harvard (did you know Harvard was around in the 1600’s?).  It was fascinating and compelling.
  • I wasn’t feeling well last week, so my next book was a fast-paced thriller I have been looking forward to, 1NF1N1TY by Rachel Ward, the conclusion to her Numb8ers trilogy.  I have loved this whole trilogy, and the third book was just as good, providing a satisfying conclusion to the series.
  • Next, I decided to read a book from the list of frequently banned classics, in honor of next week’s Banned Book Week, so I am reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  It was assigned for my son’s World Lit class last year, and I have always wanted to read it.  I am loving it so far – it is incredibly clever and somewhat prophetic, especially given the fact that it was written in 1931!
  • My husband, Ken, is reading Full Black by Brad Thor, a thriller I gave him for Father’s Day this year.
  • Jamie, 18, and Craig, 14, have been too busy with school work for any reading on their own – they are both really enjoying their new schools (college for Jamie and high school for Craig).

Because of my poor health week, I wasn’t able to write any reviews for my blogs, but I did write a fun post about the 25thAnniversary of Where’s Waldo?.

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kid/teen version hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.)

P.S. We are back home now (no WiFi in the medical building!), and Craig came through his surgery just fine.  We will have to wait to see how effective it was - he is on crutches for the next two weeks. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Waldo!

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of Where's Waldo, that iconic, bespectacled guy in the red and white stripes who's been hiding in plain sight for a quarter of a century!

My kids LOVED the Where's Waldo books.  Well, actually, we all loved them and spent many happy hours searching for Waldo and his companions, Wenda, Odlaw, and the Wizard.  We even dressed up like them for Halloween one year!

There are all sorts of events and special honors to commemorate this milestone, so you can expect to see a lot of Waldo (if you can find him!) over the next few months.  Read about all the fun celebrations in this article, including the Empire State Building lighting up in red and white stripes today!

Or visit the official Where's Waldo website to play games, get travel tips, and buy all sorts of Waldo merchandise.

Have fun searching for Waldo with your favorite kid today!

Yes, that's me, as Wenda!

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Monday 9/17! What Are You Reading?

Monday morning - ready to start a new week!  We had a pretty low-key weekend, with everyone at home and not a lot going on.  I really enjoyed having my college-aged son home for the day, and I cooked a lot this weekend.  And we read:
  • I tried - I really did! - to read this month's selection for my neighborhood book group, The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes, but I only got about halfway through the book by our meeting Wednesday night, and I just gave up on it after that!  A very difficult read.
  • With relief, I turned to my other book group's selection for this month, Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.  I have wanted to read this novel for ages, since Brooks is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I am loving it so far.
  • I am still listening to Young Fredle by Cynthia Voight, an award-winning middle-grade audio book.  It is very good, but slow going for me since my son took the car with the CD player to school with him!
  • My husband, Ken, is reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  He said it started slowly, with main characters that weren't very likable, but last night he said he'd gotten to the point where he didn't want to put it down!
  • Jamie, 18, has still barely started The Maze Runner by James Dashner.  He says he hasn't had much time to read during these first weeks of college!
I didn't post any reviews last week, but I did have some fun with my blog.  I posted links to my four favorite book blogs for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, a link and discussion of 15 book-inspired movies coming out this fall (15!), and - better late than never - my August reading summary.

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kid/teen version hosted at Teach Mentor Texts.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's Monday 9/10! What Are You Reading?

Another hot & humid, very busy week.  My husband was out of town all week, so I had my hands full on my own (though it is amazing how much easier it is to keep the house clean with just 2 people here instead of 4!)  So, things were still hectic, but I am beginning to get into the new routine, with my oldest off at college and my youngest in high school now.

Last week:
  • I finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King and wrote a review.  I loved this unique time-travel historical novel!
  • Next, I moved onto this month's selection for my neighborhood book group, The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes.  I am really looking forward to seeing everyone in my group this week after our summer hiatus, but I am struggling to get through this book.  It has very dense prose and switches often between perspectives and time.  The slow pace is a real drag after finishing a Stephen King book!  It has gotten slightly more interesting (though I am still only a quarter of the way through) but is still very confusing.  Not sure if I will finish it in time.
  • Though my car has no CD player (my son took the newer car to college), I have found a little time to listen to my audio book in the kitchen.  I am really enjoying Young Fredle, a middle-grade novel by Cynthia Voight.
  • My husband, Ken, left his hardcover, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, at home last week and took his Kindle on his week-long trip with him, loaded with a couple of suspense novels.
  • Jamie, 18, who read several 1000-page novels on our vacation this summer, has slowed down his reading considerably now that he is away at college with so many other things vying for his attention!  He started The Maze Runner by James Dashner this week.
I finally had a little time to catch up on posts last week.  I wrote two reviews:  11/22/63 by Stephen King and Drama by Raina Telgemeier, a middle-grade graphic novel.  I also posted a Wrap-Up of the Big Book Summer Challenge, so if you participated, be sure to add a link to your own wrap-up post!

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kids/teen version hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Middle-Grade Review: Drama

I don’t normally read many graphic novels, but I really enjoyed Drama by Raina Telgemeier, a graphic novel with more depth than I expected about a middle-school drama production.

Callie is a 7th grader who is in love with live theater.  She figured out a while ago that she doesn’t have the talent for singing or acting, but Callie has found her place in the world of theater on the stage crew, working on set design.  She and her friends are excited about helping to put on this year’s production of Moon Over Mississippi.  Adding to the fun are twin brothers Callie just met who share her enthusiasm for the stage.

Of course, there are the usual mishaps and challenges inherent in a school play, but this novel has several  features that make it different.  The first is the emphasis on the stage crew instead of on the lead actors.  My son had the lead role in his own middle-school’s musical last year, so I was fascinated to learn about what goes on behind the scenes and back stage.  Kids will like finding out that there are ways to be an important part of a school play even if singing in front of a crowded auditorium isn’t their thing.

The other feature that makes Drama stand out is its emotional depth.  Yes, there are the puppy love crushes and unrequited love you expect to find in any middle-grade novel, but this book deals with more complicated issues as well, including homosexuality and the difficulty of trying to figure out who you are as an adolescent.  But these serious issues are dealt with in a fairly light way, not overshadowing the fun and, well…drama of putting on the school play.  With romance, humor, and the fascinating world of the theater, this graphic novel is sure to be a big hit with tweens.

233 pages, Scholastic


Monday, September 3, 2012

It's Monday 9/3! What Are You Reading?

Ah, September....fall is my favorite season!  Of course, it was in the mid-90's here this weekend and horribly humid, but the calendar tells me that fall is coming.  I'm ready!

We had a busy week - first week of college for our oldest son, first week of high school for our younger son, and house guests for the weekend.  So, none of us had much time for reading, but we continued making our way through some good books:
  • I am almost finished with 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  It is soooo good that all I want to do is read all day!  Hopefully, I will finish today, just under the wire for the Big Book Summer Challenge!
  • My husband, Ken, is reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, the hot book of the summer, though he isn't loving it yet.
  • Jamie, 18, finished A Feast of Crows by George R.R. Martin (book 4 in the Game of Thrones series).  He can't wait to read book 5!  He hasn't decided what book to read next yet.
And that's about it - I told you it was a busy week!  I didn't even get in any audio book time because my son took the car with the CD player to college with him.

I did manage a bit of blogging last week.  I wrote a review of Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, an amazing middle-grade audio book, and I posted a list of my favorite book podcasts - I hope you'll give some of them a try and let me know about your favorites! 

What are you and your family reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kids/teen version hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.)