Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Last Orphans by N.W. Harris

Genre: Young Adult, Apocalyptic
Source: I received a copy to faclitate my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

From Goodreads:
One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world. 

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas—an out-of-his-league classmate—who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance. 

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected—the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won’t stop until every person in the world is dead. 

A spine-tingling adventure that will have you gasping for breath all the way until the last page, The Last Orphans is the first book in an all-new apocalyptic series.

My Thoughts:
My first thought while reading this book was that it should be made into a movie.  Any time I read a book and it becomes so visual, I have to believe it would make a great movie.  I also believe that only really talented authors can do this.  I loved the way that the heroes were those people we would least expect to be heroes.  They would be the ones we wouldn't give a second thought to.  The method the author chose to kill off the adults was terrifying to me.  I can only imagine what a teen would think.  This is so different from most apocalyptic type of books.  Would I recommend this?  You bet!  Will I read it again?  Definitely.  Then I'll sit back a wait, impatiently for the next book.  I love finding new authors and I am so glad I have found this one.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Don't Forget Me Bro by John Michael Cummings

Genre:  Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own

From Goodreads:
In this heartfelt journey, families contain all of it. There’s simply no tidy, predictable emotional or dynamic boundary to draw around these most primal of human units. Even those who don’t know their biological families have collective relationships that daily test their autonomy, individuality, self-worth and dreams. Cummings, who’s spent more than three decades writing about human beings, mainly of the everyday American persuasion, excels in uncovering those beneath-the-skin familial stories that realistically probe uncomfortable, often invisible, areas of life. When families and their perceptions of mental illness collide, as happens with such gritty persistence in Don't Forget Me, Bro all the discomfort of relationships, normal and otherwise, comes to the fore.

My Thoughts:
I loved this book.  The author takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster.  We get a look at a dysfunctional family and the damages done through abuse.  We also look at a family dealing with mental illness.  The tension the author was able to write into this book made it so real.  I felt at times as if I was in the room with Mark.  I almost could not breath. This is a story of a dysfunctional family that is dealing with grief and life to the best of their ability.  If nothing else this book made me take a look at my own family, a coloer look.  I believe after reading this book that all families are dysfunctional in some ways, yet we are all still family.  I will definitely recommend this book.

About the Author:
John Michael Cummings’ short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, and The Iowa Review. Twice he has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His short story “The Scratchboard Project” received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007. His novella The House of My Father, from which his debut novel was adapted, was a finalist in the 2006 Miami University Novella Contest.

The Night I Freed John Brown is Mr. Cummings’ powerful first novel for young readers. A native of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, he draws on his own experiences growing up in this intriguing historic town.

John Michael Cummings lives in Orlando with his cat, Sentry

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Student Saturday: Bad Unicorn by Platte F. Clark

Student Reviewer: Luis O.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I picked this book because I thought it would be funny...And it was

This book started with a boy called Max. He finds an old book he used to read whe he was a childe. The book was called "The Codex". It was show and tell and Max wanted to demonstrate teh book he had found. When he read he read aout unicorns. People started laughing so Max went to another page and read about Frobbits. When he finished reading the teacher said, "I believe I said the assignment was to read a chapter from a historical fiction book."  I recoment this book to kids that like humor.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Second Coming: A Love Story by Scott Pinsker

Genre: Adult, Religious and Spiritual
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
In The Second Coming: A Love Story, the devilish new novel by Scott Pinsker, the culture war between Red America and Blue America turns shockingly real when two self-declared saviors appear on earth. The first “messiah” attracts legions of liberal and secular-progressive followers with his message of New Age brotherhood, quickly becoming the darling of the left. The second “messiah” preaches fire-and-brimstone traditional Christianity, gaining a grassroots army of conservative worshippers ready to battle to the death. 

It’s finally happened: Red America and Blue America are headed for Armageddon! 

My Thoughts:
When I was first asked to read and review this book I was intrigued enough to say yes.  I'm glad I did.  I am impressed that the author chose not to take a side in this story.  It is told in a way that you walk away wondering which man is which.  I like that element.  It gives the reader food for thought.  Don't think you will read this book which show us two men both claiming to be the returned messiah, and find out which one is which.  You won't learn this.  I loved that it was set up so that the two me approach it the way politicians would.  The constant question running through the book is "What if"?  Would I recommend this book?  Yes I would.  I would not categorize this as Christian because there are too many questions left open.  I would suggest you get a copy and read it for yourself.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shay West's Trilogy

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Welcome to the world created by Shay West.  

Alexis Davenport is the teen protagonist in this wonderful trilogy. We start out with the book Dangerous Reflections where Alexis and her mom have moved across the country to her aunts guest house. There are so many changes in her life.  She wasn't expecting to see another face in a mirror.  She especially wasn't expecting to time travel through the mirror into the body of that face.  She is special and is out to save the world. For my full review of this book click here.

The second book in the series is called Twisted Reflections.  In this second book in the trilogy Alexis travels back in time to Egypt, and this time she meets someone like herself that can help her figure some of this out.  You can check out my full review to this book here.

The final book in this trilogy is called Desperate Reflections.  In this book Alexis comes face to face with the evil she has been trying to stop. This time he has not only her in his sights, but her friends and family as well.

I have to tell you that if there is one set of books you buy this year then this should be the set.   I have recommended it to several of my students.  I waited for all three books to come out in paperback before I  purchased them for my classroom.  I have students that won't start a series until the books are all out so that they can read them all straight through.  By bundling all of these kindle books together, you get not only a great series, but also a great price. Click here for a link to the Amazon page to order yours.  Understand that I am inn no way compensated for my review.  I just believe that it is one of the best series I have read this year.  So what are you waiting on?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Adelita’s Secret – Christopher Cloud

Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
Lost in a superficial world of materialism and social status-and ashamed of her Latino heritage-seventeen-year-old Adelita Noe is loved by two men, two men separated by a hundred years and vastly different stations in life. One man owns little more than the shirt on his back. The other, a poet at heart, is heir to a vast fortune. Their love for Adelita serves as the backdrop for the Latino girl's quest to better understand herself and her Mexican roots.

My Thoughts:

As a teacher of teenagers the first thing I must say is how authentic the events and dialogue are. Another thing I must say is that overall I don’t care for romance stories. However, if you throw something else in, such as paranormal elements, then it becomes very enjoyable.  The message is very appropriate to teens today. They need to take pride in who they are and where they come from. Adelita has to learn this. I also enjoyed the history sprinkled in. All of the elements make it a book I would definitely recommend to teens and adults.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Student Saturday: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Student Reviewer: Logan C.
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Science Fiction

The setting of this story is on a deserted island where Jacob goes to try to figure out his grandfather's secret, after his grandfather's death. The setting is in different times. Jacob is sixteen and befriends the peculiar children. The major plot points are his granddad is made out to be crazy, and has always told Jacob amazing stories. When Jacob goes to the island he realizes that they weren't just stories, they were memories. He realizes that the monsters that were after his granddad are real and after him and the peculiar children still.

A connection that I had with this book is that I'm curious like Jacob. I would recommend this book because although it's suspenseful it feels like Jacob is mature and smart enough to be successful at anything. I think it's really cool how the author took real pictures from the past and invented a whole imaginary world with them.

The Last Witness by Jerry Amernic

Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:
The year is 2039, and Jack Fisher is the last living survivor of the Holocaust. Set in a world that is abysmally complacent about events of the last century, Jack is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5. His story hearkens back to the Jewish ghetto of his birth and to Auschwitz where, as a little boy, he had to fend for himself to survive after losing his family. Jack becomes the central figure in a missing-person investigation when his granddaughter suddenly disappears. While assisting police, he finds himself in danger and must reach into the darkest corners of his memory to come out alive.

My Thoughts:

Once again we are reminded that if we try to sanitize history, as so many of our school history books do, the we are sure to repeat it.  That is not always a good thing. From the minute I read of the first killing I was hooked.  What is so amazing is that this book is set in the future, not too far from present time, yet we have all heard people say the holocaust didn’t happen.  Are we doomed to repeat history?  Maybe. I hope that if we ever have such an event that I can show as much courage as Jack did as a child and as an adult.  I was able to connect with his granddaughter’s passion for learning about his history not only because I love history, but because I too am a teacher.  I learned a long time ago that almost all teachers strive to continue to learn something new. The fact that someone would kill to keep the truth of the holocaust quiet is so realistic and frightening.  This is a book I will definitely recommend to my friends, especially those who are teachers.  These are lessons that should be taught in schools.  I would definitely read anything else this author wrote as this was an excellent piece of writing.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Maya & Filipppo See Impossible Things in the Garden City

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review

From Goodreads:
Embark on an exciting adventure with Maya and Filippo as they travel around the globe on board the Fun Princess - a cruise ship full of surprises. Discover their fascinating ports of call, join them in activities at sea and explore the remarkable world they create for themselves through their thoughts and feelings.

The children dock in Christchurch. Before getting off the ship, at the youth club, they draw things they would like to see in the future. Their fellow passengers think Maya and Filippo are crazy until all of them see some things they had never expected.

My Thoughts:
In this adventurous book we find our traveling friends visiting the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. The nickname for this city is the Garden City.  While Maya and her brother wait to dock they join other kids in drawing pictures of things they hope to see.  When they share their pictures with the rest of the kids they are told that their pictures are silly and that they are impossible.  This does not discourage Maya or Filippo.  Read the book to see what wonderful things they find in the Garden City.  
As always this is a wonderful book that teaches you about a special place.  This book like the others in the series has a wonderful message.  Just because someone tells you something is impossible doesn't mean you need to believe them.  No one knows everything.  You will be surprised at what you can find in the world.
This is another great story to share with the grandkids.  Go and get yours now.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

When I Grow Up I Want To be in the U.S. Army!

Genre: Upper Elementary, Children, Informational, Middle Grade
Source: I received a copy from the publisher to facilitate my review

My father was in the army, as is my son.  To say that I know a lot about the U.S. Army would be a lie.  I ma almost clueless.  When this book came up for review I requested it because I believe in our armed service,s and figured I would learn a lot as will my students.  This is the story of Jake a young boy who is given an assignment to come up with a creative way to show his classmates what he wants to be when he grows us.  Like Jake, a lot of my students don't know what they want to be.  They would like to be many things.  Jake talks with his father who helps him narrow it down. They visit an Army Surplus store to help Jake come up with the items he will need for his report.  One thing I like so much is how much information there was in the book.  The information is told in a way that doesn't feel like you are getting too much information. The pictures are wonderful and helpful. I loved that they put a glossary at the end of the book because it really helped me a lot. I won't feel so out of the loop when my son and daughter are talking from now on.  When you open the cover you have the "Soldier's Creed".  This is just one book by Wigu Publishing. Wigu stands for "When I Grow Up". Other topics include Teacher, Firefighter, U.S. Navy, Veterinarian, Nurse. There are more to follow.  I think these would be a great addition to my classroom shelves.
I received a copy from the publisher to facilitate my review.