Bridge to Terabithia
Book Review / May 14, 2016

Title: Bridge to Terabithia Author: Katherine Paterson Genre: Young Adult Fiction Publisher: Trumpet Club Special Edition Release Date: January 1st, 2996 Format: Paperback Pages: 143 Source: Library First Published: 1977 Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side and outruns everyone. That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. (via Goodreads) Amazon   I read this for the first time in my 3rd grade accelerated English class. I was not prepared at the time for this book, but reading and discussing this set me up for a lifetime of book groups. This isn’t the book that really started my reading addiction, but it is a book that helped me realize you can learn a lot from literature, and discussing these ideas with others. The smarter…

Because of Winn-Dixie
Book Review / April 27, 2016

Title: Because of Winn-Dixie Author: Katye DiCamillo Genre: Fiction Publisher: Candlewick Release Date: August 6th, 2001 Format: eBook Pages: 182 Source: Library Kate DiCamillo’s first published novel, like Winn-Dixie himself, immediately proved to be a keeper — a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor winner, the inspiration for a popular film, and most especially, a cherished classic that touches the hearts of readers of all ages. It’s now available in a paperback digest format certain to bring this tale’s magic to an even wider circle of fans. The summer Opal and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket–and comes out with a dog. A big, ugly, suffering dog with a sterling sense of humor. A dog she dubs Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, the preacher tells Opal ten things about her absent mother, one for each year Opal has been alive. Winn-Dixie is better at making friends than anyone Opal has ever known, and together they meet the local librarian, Miss Franny Block, who once fought off a bear with a copy of WAR AND PEACE. They meet Gloria Dump, who is nearly blind but sees with her heart, and Otis, an ex-con…

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Book Review / April 23, 2016

Title: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant Series: Delilah Dirk, #1 Author: Tony Cliff Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: First Second Release Date: August 27th, 2013 Format: Paperback Pages: 169 Source: Library Illustrator: Tony Cliff Lovable ne’er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan’s guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life. A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine…and globetrotting adventures. (via Goodreads) Amazon   Thanks to a friend’s recommendation that I read Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes, a collection of comic book art interpretations of common nursery rhymes, I was introduced to the publishing company First Second. As this collection featured some beautiful art, I knew I had to learn more about this…

Sarah, Plain and Tall
Book Review / April 7, 2016

Title: Sarah, Plain and Tall Series: Sarah, Plain and Tall, #1 Author: Patricia MacLachlan Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Harper & Row Release Date: April 1st, 1985 Format: Paperback Pages: 64 Source: Library “I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall.” A heartwarming story about two children, Anna and Caleb, whose lives are changed forever when their widowed papa advertises for a mail-order bride. Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton from Maine answers the ad and agrees to come for a month. Sarah brings gifts from the sea, a cat named Seal, and singing and laughter to the quiet house. But will she like it enough to stay? Anna and Caleb wait and wonder — and hope. (via Goodreads) Amazon     As part of a quest to read all the Newbery Medal and Honor winners, I knew I’d have to re-read some books I read as a child. Darn. That sounds terrible. Just kidding. In conjunction with a re-read challenge, my first Newbery for this year is Sarah, Plain and Tall. The first time I read it, I remember being mesmerized by the “exotic” lifestyle of living in Wyoming on a farm. I grew up…

The Island of the Blue Dolphins
Book Review / March 11, 2016

Title: The Island of the Blue Dolphins Series: The Island of the Blue Dolphins, #1 Author: Scott O'Dell Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 29th, 1990 Format: Hardback Pages: 192 Source: Library Illustrator: Ted Levin First Published: 1960 Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches. Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. More than this, it is an adventure of the spirit that will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down. Karana’s quiet courage, her Indian self-reliance and acceptance of fate, transform what to…

The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Book Review / February 22, 2016

Title: The Perks of Being A Wallflower Author: Stephen Chobsky Genre: Coming of Age Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books Release Date: February 1st, 1999 Format: Paperback Pages: 213 Source: Library Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. (via Goodreads) Amazon   The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the quintessential…

Illuminae
Book Review / February 15, 2016

Title: Illuminae Series: The Illuminae Files, #1 Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 20th, 2015 Format: Hardback Pages: 599 Source: Library This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to…

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Book Review / February 10, 2016

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go Series: Chaos Walking, #1 Author: Patrick Ness Genre: Dystopian Publisher: Walker Release Date: May 5th, 2008 Format: E-book Pages: 479 Source: Library Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives. But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought? (via Goodreads) Amazon   I wish I knew where to start with this book. This is the story of Todd. Todd has a dog named Manchee, and in his settlement on the New World, he becomes a man when he turns 13. Todd cannot wait to become a man. That is– until his caregivers tell him to run away and never return. Suddenly, Todd learns that his entire life is a lie,…

The Darkest Minds
Book Review / February 8, 2016

Title: The Darkest Minds Series: The Darkest Minds, #1 Author: Alexandra Bracken Genre: Dystopian Lit Publisher: Disney Hyperian Release Date: December 18th, 2012 Format: Hardback Pages: 488 Source: Library When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other…

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Book Review / January 20, 2016

Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Author: Jesse Andrews Genre: Fiction Publisher: Amulet Books Release Date: March 1st, 2012 Format: Audiobook Pages: 295 pages; 6 hours 9 minutes Source: Library Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives. And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight. (via Goodreads)   If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you. – Greg Gaines Greg Gaines has an overbearing Jewish mother and an affinity for avoiding real friendships. He finds the lack of…

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