Thursday, July 30, 2015

Araminta Spook: Gargoyle Hall


Not sure where I have been but I didn't know this was part of a series when I requested this on NetGalley.  It was a bit hard at the beginning to follow because there were a few pieces missing but overall I feel it could stand alone.

Araminta wants to be a detective and she certainly has a bunch of mysteries in this book.  Why is her Uncle Drac not sleeping in the turret?  Why are the bats trying to escape the turret?  Why is she being sent to Gargoyle Hall?  What is the Beast at Gargoyle Hall?  Why are all the girls leaving Gargoyle Hall?  With the help of her best friend Wanda, Araminta sets out to solve the mysteries and save Gargoyle Hall from being closed down.

This was a fun little mystery - good for 4th grade and up.

Listen Slowly

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Mai is furious that she is being forced to go to Vietnam for the summer insteading of hanging out in Lagun a with her friends and HIM.  But her grandmother, Ba (accent missing), has gotten information about hr husband who has been missing since the war.  Her grandmother raised 7 children by herself but has never given up hope that her husband will be found.

The writing was beautiful, the characters were well done, especially Mai, and the story revealed itself slowly but expertly.  This was a great one.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First Man: Reimagining Matthew Henson

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I must confess, I do not know much about Peary and Henson.  For that reason I found this book informative.  The format of the book was interesting with the Inuit references and also im images and reflections of Henson as a young man and as an older man.  An older audience would certainly appreciate the book and the history of it.  For my particular audience of mainly 4th and 5th graders there was a bit too much swearing and some situations with Peary, his wife, and a native woman.  Good book, just not for my group.

Fuel Under Fire

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Not sure exactly why I requested this from NetGalley.  Probably because I am always looking for good nonfiction for MSBA.  

To be fair, this topic really doesn't interest me.  I know my political views, etc are in the minority so I shouldn't be surprised that a book like this seems highly political and biased.  I know that we have gotten ourselves in a bad situation with our dependence on petroleum products but there was a bit too much finger pointing and calling out specific people and companies.  I would like a bit more balanced treatment which is very difficult.  For students highly interested in this topic this would be a decent book or for teachers discusses energy use but I would want it balanced with something else as well.  Just my opinion of course ;0

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Goodbye Stranger

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This is mostly the story of Bridge, a girl who almost dies several years ago and is now in 7th grade.  Things change in seventh grade - one of her best friends now has developed and is getting attention from boys - maybe the wrong attention.  The other is all of a sudden into women's rights.  Bridge is trying to manage everything plus negotiate her first friendship with a boy.  

Interspersed with this story is another story, with a mysterious character who seems to also be struggling with friendship issues.  

It isn't until the end that everything comes together.  Very powerful book that deals with middle school social issues.  Excellent book!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chasing Secrets


Lizzie htes being stuck in a girl's school learning etiquette.  She would much rather be out with her father learning to be a doctor.  But women doctors are rare in 1900.  When a rumors of a mysterious illness hit San Francisco, Lizzie uses her wits and the help of her friends to help rescue their servant Jing from the quarentine of Chinatown and then to help save family and friends from the plague itself.

Historical fiction is a hard sell.  This one had a strong character and a bit of a medical mystery.  I felt like it lagged a bit in the middle during Lizzie's numerous attempts to get Jing but then the book ramped up for the ending.  Overall, I found it to be enjoyable and informational at the same time.

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

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Winnie and her mother have just inherited a new home and a "guest" from her Aunt Amelia who recently died.  The "guest" is Miss Drake who is a dragon that has been a pet to the family for hundreds of years.  Or is it the other way around?  Is Winnie the pet?  Although they get off to a rough start Winnie and Miss Drake soon develop a strong bond, especially when Winnie accidently creates some magical creatures of her own and they have to find and capture them.

I enjoyed this book.  Winnie was a spunky character and Miss Drake was a lot of fun.  The length makes this accessible for the younger readers.