Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tides of War: Blood in the Water


Cory McNab trained to be a Navy SEAL but dropped out when things got too hard.  Then he and his brother Aaron barely survived a shark attack.  Because they were rescued by dolphins, Cory has become a dolphin trainer for the Navy but nothing could prepare him for a dangerous mission into North Korean waters.  Do Cory and Kaj have what it takes to complete the mission?

This book had a lot of action.  I can see it being popular with my boys who enjoy stories of war.  I liked it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

There Will be Bears


Tyson loves spending time with his grandfather Gene.  This year they are supposed to go elk hunting in the Tetons.  But, when his grandfather's health fails and news of a killer grizzly in the Tetons threatens their trip Tyson and Gene have to get creative.  In the midst of that drama there is the typical - one of two best friends becomes popular due to sports theme.  

The book reminded me initially of Never Say Die by Will Hobbs because of the bear.  This one had more heart with the relationship between Tyson and his grandfather.  While I get annoyed with the best friend drama it does often ring true for middle school students.  I enjoyed the book although the actual encounter with the bear seemed rushed and a bit sloppy to me.  Overall a good read.

My Friend the Enemy

I got a little heavy handed on NetGalley and as a result I had a bunch of books that needed to be read by October 1st.  After this one I have one left.  Then I have one to finish by October 2nd.  Plus the pile by my bed.  Can I just quit work and all its drama and read?

Anyway, Peter's father is away frighting in Africa during World War II.  At the very beginning of the book Peter witness a plane crash.  He notices a parachute but that soldier seems to disappear until Peter and his new friend Kim stumble upon him.  Worried that the soldier will be shot and wanting to do what is right and what they hope someone would do for Peter's father or Kim's brother they hide the soldier.

There was a lot of action in the story and some good war details.  I enjoyed the book quite a bit.  What put me off a bit was the innuendo about Peter's mom and the landowner Mr. Bennett.  Why was he hanging around so much?  Were the two involved?  I just didn't feel it was necessary and it will keep me from purchasing the book for my library.  I also felt it ended weirdly - had a letter from the soldier and a reference to Peter and Kim meeting years later. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rise of the Earth Dragon

Drake has just been taken by the king's soldiers to train as a Dragon Master.  He meets his dragon, Worm, who at first seems pretty boring actually but ends up saving Drake and his friends when they get caught in a cave in.

This series is like How to train Your Dragon and Dragon Slayers Academy but maybe even for younger students - good 2nd grade readers and 3rd grade readers.  I liked it for that age...cute, simple plot.  I think it will do well.

Friday, September 26, 2014

How I Discovered Poetry


This is a memoir Of Marilyn Nelson and her growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.  I found it a very interesting look at her growing up years as the "first" African Americans to do certain things.  We also see historical events through her eyes = the Cold War, integration, Sputnik, and so on. 

I really enjoyed this quick read - it would be very good for students studying that era of history.

Girls Like Us

Quincy and Biddy are both graduating from high school.  They are both special education students whose home lives are dismal or nonexistent.  They are put together as roommates and given assistance in finding jobs.  Due to a horrible incident Biddy is quite timid and hides behind her size.  Quincy is disfigured but quite capable.  Can the two girls learn to get along and make their way in the world overcoming their difficulties and finding joy again?

Powerful, powerful book.  Definitely too mature for my students but I loved it.

If You're Reading This


Mike was just a boy when his dad was killed in Afghanistan.  His mom is overprotective and overworked.  Mike himself works and goes to school and has little time for fun.  When he starts receiving letters from his dead father he finds advice and a mystery about what really happened to his dad and who is delivering the letters.

I found this book very interesting.  I felt that the mom was a bit too much - too out of touch for someone who is supposed to be so overprotective.  There was a lot to like however about Mike as a teen and his search to find himself.  Overall, it is probably too high for my school population but I would recommend it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone

Zombie are the craze now for sure.  That's why I had to give this book a try.  Bakari has just found out that his best friend Wardell signed him up as a nominee for hall monitor against Taiq the most popular kid in school.  On top of that he has found a mysterious ring that opens a portal to an icy kingdom of zombies and the zombie king wants his ring back so he can open a multitude of portals and let in his icy zombie hords.  Can Bakari and Wardell go up against Tariq and Keisha who get ahold of his special black marble from his grandfather?  Can they save their school and the world from the ice zombies.

For the younger bunch who want to read zombie books this may work but there is little explanation about what ice zombies are and it is pretty tame.  Not a bad little story - just not great either.

Super Sniffers


The was a very informative book about how dogs are being used in a variety of jobs due to their ability to smell.  What I liked was that it wasn't too long (48 pages), had a lot of great photographs, and covered a lot of aspects of dog work - military, medical, rescue, etc.  For the dog lovers this will be a good read.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky

Auggie lives with her grandfather Gus who is a trash hauler.  That never seemed to bother her until her best friend Lexie started hanging out with a richer girl, a big storm went through town, and the beautification committee started talking about fines for unkempt properties.   Auggie sets out to prove to her friends and her town that beauty can be found in many places - even in recycled materials.

When I started the book I thought  - "not another middle school novel where best friends are no longer best friends after a summer, whatever".  That was a part of the book but not the meat.  There was also the orphaned girl aspect but again while a part of the story it wasn't the meat.  The heart of the story was in a community coming together and using their talents and creativity to beautify and spark pride in that community.  Was the beautification committee over the top and unrealistic?  Perhaps, but from a young reader's perspective I don't think it will matter.