Friday, January 4, 2013

Four Reviews

To say I am an eclectic reader is an understatement, as you will see from the following reviews.  I spent some time reading the last two days. I was without grand kids and therefore was able to get several books read.  Getting reviews written is something else.  I was constantly interrupted by parent emails,   calls about houses, yes we are still trying to find a place to move. But, I did manage to get four reviews written today.  I hope you find something to make you add them to your wish list.

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea - Ellis Weiner
Publisher:  Chronicle Books
Pages:  232
Source:  Won a copy for review from LibraryThing
Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

I loved this book and I think my students will love it as much as I did.  In an age where we test our students to death, any book that throws jabs at testing is going to be loved.  The narrator in this story reminded me of the narrator in "A Series of Unfortunate Events", one of my favorite series.  John and Abigail are the children of an inventor.  Their mother is dead.  They are kidnapped by another set of twins.  The "evil twins", Dean and Dan want an invention their father have created.  They got the bright idea of getting their hands on it by kidnapping Abigail and John.  They didn't really know what they were getting themselves into by kidnapping these two kids.  You'll have to read the book to see what I mean.  The book also contains questions "for review" at the end of each chapter.  They contain clues to help you as well as letting you KNOW how great the narrator is.  This seems to be a recurring theme throughout the book.  I have to say he was my favorite character.  This is a terrific middle grad book and one I can't wait to put on my shelves at school.

The Thompson Twins: Las Vegas Adventure - Lesa Hammond
Publisher:  Achievement U
Pages 90
Source:  Review copy from author
Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Carlos and Letty are twins.  They and their father are in Las Vegas when they run into Mr. Wilson.  Mr. Wilson and their father were friends when they were children.  Mr. Wilson invites all of them for a tour of the place he works, The New York New York Hotel.  The children are very impressed.  They want to know how he became so successful.  He is more than happy to explain how he became successful.  He focuses on doing their best in school and going to college.  When society is trying to show kids get rich quick schemes, it is important for kids to read books like this one that go in the opposite direction with a realistic and positive message.  So many kids think they can sing, dance, act, or perform in sports  to become successful.  They don't realize that most of those who are successful first put forth the effort in school and college.  I will highly recommend this book to my students.  The great thing is that at only 90 pages, my reluctant readers will see this book as readable.

The Upside of Ordinary - Susan Lubner
Publisher:  Holiday House
Pages: 136
Source:  Received a copy for review from publisher
Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Jermaine Davidson, eleven years old, is like so many kids today who want to be superstars.  What originally starts out as a "reality show" turns into chaos.  It seems that Jermaine thinks her family is boring.  It is this thought process that leads her to stage many scenes for her "show".  These are the beginnings of catastrophies.  Jermaine is typical of many middle schoolers who think only of themselves.  I say this as a middle school teacher.  They don't always think things through first.  This is a great, or off limits.  I heard the voices of many of my students in my head commenting, "if that was my sister she'd be in so much trouble." This is an extremely believable and humorous book.  I loved the decision Jermaine finally makes.  What?  You don't know what I'm talking about?  Then you really must read the book.  I can't wait to do a book talk and recommend it to my students and  our media specialist.

And now one for the adults who read my blog.

Short Straw Bride - Karen Witemeyer
Publisher:  Bethany House
Pages: 365
Source:  Review copy from publisher
Genre:  Adult, Christian, Historical Fiction

I actually started this book the day I received it.  I got through the first chapter, then life happened.  I was so glad to pick it back up.  It is one of many I have begun and not had a chance to finish.
This is the story of a set of brothers known as the Archer Boys.  They are reclusive and are doing everything they can to keep and protect their land.  Meredith, at the beginning of the book is a young girl.  A bully takes her lunch pail and tosses it away.  He didn't mean for it to go onto the Archer property.  After all, everyone has hear all of the stories about what happens to people when they go on the Archer land.  Meredith has to decide whether to be brave enough to go find her pail, or face her parents and tell them the lunch pail is gone.  It is a no-brainer.  She enters the woods and finds the pail only to step in one of the traps laid out by the Archers.  Travis Archer finds this young girl.  Through the entire ordeal she tries to put up a brave front.  He can't get that or the look in her eyes out of his head as he takes her home.
Several years pass and Meredith has been sent to her uncle's house.  It is while she is hear she learns of a plot to take over the Archer land.  She has has a crush on Travis since the day he rescued her.  She figures the least she can do is warn them.  Remember, this is a time when what people perceived or thought could ruin your reputation.  Meredith must stay overnight and thus her reputation is ruined.  The boys must draw straws to decide who will do the honorable thing and marry Meredith.  Truth be known, Travis has never been able to get her out of his mind, so he fixes the straws so that he wins.  They are married.  Meredith is a lovable character who seems to always bumble things or get hurt while trying to prove herself worthy of Travis' love.  Travis comes across as her rescuer, usually rescuing her from herself.  This is a wonderful romance.  Themes of honor, love and trust in each other and in God abound throughout the book.  This is a definite recommendation to all lovers of historical fiction and romance books.

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