Showing posts with label Young Adult Science Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Young Adult Science Fiction. Show all posts

Monday, July 1, 2024

They Came For Utopia by Christopher Francis

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: I received a copy from StoryOrigin. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This series has come a long way. We start the series with aliens invading the earth. The main character, Sheldon Hickory is infected and must fight to remain human.  Jump ahead to this final book and we have another infected person called the Queen. She is taking people like Sheldon and those who are pure humans and trying to infect them to follow her rules alone.  We have gone from a setting of a normal earth at the beginning of the series, to a world ravaged by war and destruction. Area 32 is trying to rebuild life on earth, underground. They are hoping they will one day be able to live above ground. In this book Sheldon is married with a baby on the way.  His humanity is grounded in that relationship.
We take a journey with him and his colleagues as they look for carbon for the air filters in Area 32. From there the tension and danger just keeps going up.  You read a bit and wonder who will survive and how. Then you have that temporary relief only to find the danger more intense.  It pulls you along and a quick pace.  This is another book I read in one sitting, because I couldn't put it down.

Once again  we have themes of survival, family, forgiveness, cherishing life.  The story leaves the reader feeling that whether in that world or our own, we can count on the good in humanity to provide us with hope.  I have loved all of this author's books.  I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.  Who knows, maybe one day we will see this series in the movies. I would definitely buy tickets.


Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Return by Laurie Stevens


Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I loved this book for so many personal reasons and connections. The author has created a future world that is pretty much run by AI.  From the minute a child is born they are implanted with a device that links them to DAPHNE, the AI that runs the country. One day the impossible happens. DAPHNE is hacked. World War breaks out and to save everyone, DAPHNE and the other AIs around the world shut themselves completely off. Imagine a world where every decision is made for you by an AI. Things like whether you should get mental health for your child, or take someone to the doctor.  When this very scenario happens one person is able to find the help they need. Aiden, hates the way this technology has taken over everyone’s life.  He enjoys spending time outside with nature. He is constantly in trouble at school and at home because he questions everything.

He borrows physical books from Chris, a man who is called a grid-skipper.  Think of homeless people living in one area receiving a stipend from the government because they refuse to have a device implanted into their head.  Most of these people were in high paying tech positions who lost their job when they refused the implant. These are the very people who must teach the others how to survive when their world goes silent.  As I read I kept telling my husband that we would be in that group who could survive off the land. My husband is a beekeeper and we have recently gotten it using bees wax and other products from the bees to make other items.  I do a lot of work with fabric and yarns and recently started using plants to dye them.  The author of this book did so much research because there is so much info within the book.  As a teacher I give my students a scenario to write about every year. It is a survival scenario. I am so surprised how many of them just give up, not because they don’t want to write. They give up because they said they feel there is no hope.

This book has something for everyone. I am hoping there will be a sequel to this one. I want to know so much more.  I would love to spend a day discussing her research techniques and other writerly things with her. This is an author I definitely need to keep an eye on.


Friday, June 14, 2024

They Came From the Shadows by Christopher Francis


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

This is book four in the series. Unlike a lot of prequels, this one serves two purposes. For those who have read the first book in the series, you will understand the characters better.  We open once again with the alien's first visit.  We are shown a glimpse of what happened before the second wave came.  We still see the same bubbly, smart, and talkative Margaret, her best friend Bailey and Sheldon who has always been their protector.  This book not only tells us what happened with the first wave of aliens, but what happened after. We learn about area thirty-two and how those who were infected are now surviving and where they are today.  We learn so much, yet at the same time this book is written in a manner that the author could continue the story. Consider it a flashback in time with benefits. The benefits of learning something we didn't in the first book. Like all of this author's other books, it draws you in and holds you, forcing you to continue reading until the last page. But that isn't all it does. It leaves you craving more.  So I say, we all beg the author to add more to this story.  I would love to see this series made into a movie.  I believe it would be a blockbuster.  Well done Christopher Francis.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Student Saturday: Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Science Fiction

Student Reviewer:  Susan T.

I was not sure how I would feel about this book since it has a slow-paced climax, but I ended up enjoying it. The characters have great development that really builds the storyline. The setting and language used really emphasizes the point in time and what the setting is like.

Gathering Blue is about an orphan with a twisted leg who gets sent to what is called “The Council of guardians” and that is where she is fostered, she is a talented threader and is looked up to fix the robe. She later reveals the truth behind her home.

While this book was slow-paced, I did really like the plot twists.  It kept the book interesting while still making sense and connecting with the rest of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who finds interest in a good storyline and more aged literature.


Sunday, February 12, 2023

They Came For the Heart by Christopher Francis


Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: I own a copy

In this final book in this wonderful series we see Sheldon come up against Rennick once again. The author, who has taken us on this wonderful dystopian journey ties up all of the loose ends. In a world where aliens came and healed the sick, then turned on humanity, we learn that things aren't always what they seem. We see people willing to sacrifice themselves for those they love. We see them have to make tough choices. We see the resilience of the human race. For me the biggest take away from this series is that no matter how bad situations became, you always had those who fought for what was right. You had those that carried hope within them no matter what terrible things happened to them. You had those who knew that people could change no matter what horrible things they had done in their past. For me this series was a book of hope. Well done!

Sunday, January 22, 2023

They Came To The Island by Christopher Francis

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: I own a copy

I loved the way the author ended this story. We have an alien invasion. We have a young boy named Sheldon who fights them with a band of other survivors only to find out he himself is merging with the aliens as he was infected. But not everything is as Rennick, the leader of the area's aliens, would wish it to be. How do you stay human when your brain has an alien trying to merge with you? In this story we are introduced to new characters. The fighting between the two sides heat up. We see perspectives change. For me the greatest thing was watching the human spirit and the message that we need to embrace our differences. 

The story line is great. The descriptions are so well done that I felt I was actually watching a movie. Although the setting is in Canada, where I have never been, it felt like it could be any place in the world. This author is definitely a master of his craft and I highly recommend this book.

Monday, January 16, 2023

They Came From the Trees by Christopher Francis


Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: I own a copy

We have a great young adult novel with characters from one of the author's previous books. Margaret, Bailey and Sheldon have returned from, "That Thing in the Sky" which was about an invasion where aliens healed a lot of people on earth. They healed Margaret's mother of her cancer and Sheldon's father of his blindness.  In this book the aliens are back, but they aren't like the ones before. We have aliens who decide who is worthy to live and who should die. They want to merge with the healthy humans to create a "perfect" world. For everyone who has ever read dystopian/utopian books such as, "The Giver", we know there is always a flaw in those types of worlds. Sheldon, Bailey, and Margaret join up with a group of other teens who are doing their best to survive. They face some tough life changing situations and have to make some tough questions. I like that Mr. Francis didn't water this down as far as the fight scenes with the aliens. It truly was like watching a movie. I must continue with the next book, "They came to the Island."  This is really a must read for everyone who likes Science Fiction.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Child of Etherclaw by Matty Roberts


Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction.

From the very first page of this book the reader is taken on a Science Fiction ride where the action is non-stop. The author has created a very realistic world where society lives on the fringes. Only those in New Cascadia  who work for the major company, controlled by a "religion" live a good life. Fenlee and her brother Elliott live on the bottom tier of New Cascadia. Fenlee is pretty much raising her brother as their father is away for work. I mean away as in somewhere in space.  The lives of Fenlee and hear two best friends are put in danger the day Eliott is kidnapped. 

Fenlee learns just how corrupt the government is, and it is so much worse than she ever imagined. I was hooked from page one. The world building is so realistic I was drawn in and felt the fear, anger and range of emotions that Fenleed and the other characters felt. The book ended in a way that was nice and tidy. However, I am hoping that there will be a sequel as there were a couple of things that were not tied up a neatly as I would have like. This is definitely a book I want to put in the hands of my students.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Catalyst by Tracy Richardson

Genre:  Young Adult, paranormal, Science Fiction

Source: I received an ARC. The opinions expressed here are my own.

 Marcie, her brother Eric and his girlfriend Renee are spending the summer with their mother. She is the head of an archeological dig  called Angel Mounds. Marcie has been having some strange feelings since she stepped foot on the site. These are enhanced when she meets Zeke and Lorraine who are their team leaders.  Their team leaders reveal to Marcie, Eric, Renee, and another young man named Leo that they have a purpose. They are special, connected to the Universal Energy Field and have a role to play in saving the earth.

 This story kept me reading. No matter what your spiritual belief system is, the underlying message was that we as humans have trashed the earth and if we don’t do something now then we can expect it to destroy itself.  The setting was in my home state of Indiana. I have been away from there for so long that I was not aware that they were fracking up there. I grew up on a farm and could only imagine how I would have felt if  they had come by our farm trying to buy up the rights to frack on our land. We had an artisian well. The thought of it being contaminated by fracking made the story more personal for me. The story line was well written and the characters were well developed. This was an interesting book by an author I have read before. I will recommend this book.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Chronicles of a Nuclear World First Post-Apocalyptic Journal: “ Under the Ground” by Radislav Borr

This book will be available July 12th.

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

I really enjoyed this book.  In the beginning, I felt it started a little slow. The more I read the longer I read. I sat up until three in the morning finishing this book. A book has to be extremely good for me to stay up that late.  This book is written as the journal of Robert Williams a fourteen-year-old when World War III started.
Robert Williams was one of the lucky ones or was he. When World War III became imminent he and his mom were flown to an underground bunker. Why were they one of the lucky ones?  His father’s position in the Department of Defense gave them a spot in the bunker.   His grandfather on his dad’s side is in a leadership position as well. From the very beginning, we see what led up to WWIII and what life might be like is you were lucky enough to be one of the chosen to survive in a bunker. But this book did something that most dystopian, futuristic books have never done. Instead of focusing on the survivors on the outside, it focused on the survivors on the inside. We get a look through Robert’s eyes of what life like that would possibly be like. I honestly believe that this is probably the most realistic outlook of what that life could be like.
Our main character grows up and becomes a man in this book. He sees his mentor in charge of the library die. What he learned from that man is what turned him into the person he became. There is so much I could say about this book, but this is one that I want to not give away any plot points. Think about what you think life would be like living in a bunker underground. Then read this book and get a new perspective, a fresh look. How do you think you would stack up to all of it?  I will definitely shout the praises of this book to everyone I know.

Author bio: I am a Ukrainian citizen who served as an airborne trooper and in the Security Service of Ukraine. For more than five years, I have been a digital artist in the field of video games development. I write under the pen name Radislav Borr.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Monsterland Reanimated by Michael Okon

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Horror

Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

While going through a notebook I found a handful of book reviews I had written but had not posted. What you will find for the next few days will be those reviews.

In the first book we find a situation that has gone terribly wrong. By gathering up zombies, werewolves and vampires and putting them into one area and opening it up to the public Victor Konrad has created a situation that almost destroys the world.

Reading this is like watching a movie. I think it would make a wonderful movie.  You have it all, governments that do things for the wrong reasons, scientists who have their own agendas, people who are greedy and looking for power. You know in the movies when all of these things come together you are going to have the ride of your life. This book is no different.  The author even addresses the issue of stereotyping people.  Wyatt and his friends and family are out to save their town from what is coming.  The author introduced a new monster to the book, the Glob.  I grew up watching every Saturday night a show called, “Nightmare Theater”. One of the most terrifying things a young middle school aged kid can watch, ALONE, is a blob that devours people.  This book brought back those horrifying, yet wonderful memories.  This is a book you can easily lose yourself in and read in one sitting. Highly recommended.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Field by Tracy Richardson

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, paranormal
Source: I purchased a copy. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This book starts out with Eric and his best friend Will trying out for the soccer team. Eric has an uncanny ability as the goalie of knowing just where the ball is going to go. He doesn’t understand why he gets these feelings, he just accepts them. He and his best friend are both taking an AP science class. This is where he meets Rene, the new student and learns that her father, a French scientist is going to guest teach some classes and offer an internship. After his first guest class he has forms for students to fill out if they want to be considered for lab experiments. Naturally Will and Eric are pulled in to this.  Eric and Will have some issues. Eric must use his new found abilities to help get things back on track with his friends. I was hooked on the premise of this book the minute I first read it. If you are a science nerd and really like science fiction then you will really like this book. However, you don’t have to be a fan of science or paranormal to like this book. Those things just make it really enjoyable. It is a quick easy read because it grabs you, pulls you in and you don’t want to stop reading.  I really enjoyed this one and will definitely be adding it to the science fiction section in my classroom. This is one I will recommend to our school librarian.

About the Author
Tracy wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way her life reflects the book through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in Biology like Mrs. Murry and without realizing it she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents. (Really, it was not intentional, because that would be weird)!

Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environment issues and metaphysics. Growing up, Tracy’s younger brothers called her ‘sarge’ and once when she took a personality test for a job, the evaluator said she could give a Drill Sargent a run for his money. If you need someone to boss you around, Tracy’s your gal! Tracy lives in Indianapolis.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

To Save a Race by Kandi J. Wyatt

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

From Goodreads:
When Duke Callon divorces his wife and decides on an uncanny way of choosing his next duchess, Arianna's left with little choice. Faced with the intricacies of politics, Arianna struggles to find her place. Just as she thinks she has her footing, a decree, issued with the blessing of her husband, calls for the extermination of her entire race. 

A young innocent girl, a capricious duke, and a decree that will change everything. What will it take to save a race? 

My Thoughts:
I love everything Kandi has written so far.  However, out of all of her books her Bible based stories, set in an alternate time have become my favorite. In her newest book “To Save A Race” we have a steampunk version of the Biblical story of Esther. Arianna is a young girl who had lived with her uncle Marcos. Realizing she needed more ladylike training. For this reason she now lives with Lady Hemma and Lord Praus. Her uncle works for the Duke. She thinks it would be wonderful to be in the castle. The Duke divorces his wife and then eventually decides he wants to get married again.  He decides to screen the eligible women over a two month period. Each girl who passes the screening gets a night of dinner and sleeping with the Duke. This is of course appalling to Lord Praus and his son Kenden.  If a girl is engaged before the Duke makes this decree official then they are out of the running. Lord Praus wants to protect his daughter Pasha and his charge Arianna from such a fate. Kenden is willing to marry Arianna to protect her from this. Her uncle is content to let Arianna make the choice for herself.
If you know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible you will recognize it in this story. Kandi has once again taken a familiar story and put it in a different setting and been successful.  I loved the depth the story line takes. There was all the familiarity from the Bible with a fresh steampunk vibe. She creates characters that you love to hate. They were so realistic that at one point I wished I could grab the Duke by the collar and shake some sense into him. This is considered an adult novel. However, since it is such a clean read this is one I will place on my shelves at school. Young adults are looking for books with a touch of romance that is not so overpowering it makes them want to throw up. There are many themes, the biggest of which is love conquers all. These are themes that teens can and want to explore in a safe manner.  I can’t think of a better book to accomplish this.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monsterland by Michael Okon

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

From Goodreads:
Welcome to Monsterland, the scariest place on earth.

When world markets are decimated by a crippling plague, philanthropist, and billionaire businessman, Vincent Konrad decides to place monsters in a theme park setting to promote education and tolerance. Copper Valley is chosen as the primary site for the park in the United States. 

Wyatt Baldwin, a high school senior is dying to go to the opening and when he lands special passes to the park, he and his friends are expecting the experience of a lifetime. 
After all, in a theme park where real zombies, werewolves, and vampires are the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

My Thoughts:
Wyatt Baldwin and his friends are excited about the new theme park opening up in their town. Monsterland will be opening seven theme parks around the world on the same date. They have taken the werewolves, zombies and vampires living hidden in the world and put them in these theme parks under the guise of keeping the viruses from spreading and hoping to find a cure. Wyatt and his friends are given VIP tickets.  Wyatt’s step dad is a cop and he and Wyatt don’t agree on the opening of Monsterland.  From the minute they entered Monsterland, both Wyatt and his step-dad feel something is off.  This was a book that picked up speed and took you on the ride of your life. I could not put it down and had to read until I was finished. This is a book my students have been lining up to read. Well written from beginning to end.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dawn of Dreams (Destiny Book 1) by Bronwyn Leroux

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

From Goodreads:
Jaden and Kayla’s lives couldn’t be more different. It’s 2073 and the two strangers are living worlds apart. Then something strange and terrifying brings them together. No one can see the hideous, malevolent creature but them. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the two discover that the beast stalking them isn’t the only thing they have in common. Venturing further down the path they have been forced onto, they join forces with strange and unusual comrades, suffer attacks from enemies beyond their imagination and begin unraveling the complex mystery of their mission. 

But discovering the answers to their questions comes with a price. Their lives will be forever changed. In a world on the verge of destruction, can this unlikely couple find a way to save it, all while trying to make sense of this inexplicable connection they feel for each other?

My Thoughts:
From the minute you begin this book you know something is not right in this world. The author has taken something as benign as a hike into the mountains and set the ball rolling into something that becomes terrifying for one of the  hiking team.  Jaden keeps seeing a creature and feeling its evil while no one else on the team can. They think he is losing it.

The second chapter introduces us to Kayla, a very likeable person from the very start. She reminded me of kids I’ve known who have had to move every couple of years because their parent(s) are in the military. You have just enough time to make friends and then poof they are gone. Kayla was lucky in that she found a friend by doing what she loved the most, running. However, like Jaden she too has seen the creature and felt its evil.

The first two chapters set everything up for an adventure I dove into head first. I liked both Jaden and Kayla. The connection they felt between each other seemed intense. However, they kept pulling away from each other and that annoyed me. The fact that there are secrets being kept and the story unfolds a little at a time is what kept me reading. Each of them discovered a medallion that had been in their family and passed down through the generations.Then there is the strange librarian, a mysterious book, a strange owl like creature who tells them they are the hope for the world Add the strange reactions of their mothers and you know the suspense can only get better. The book was so intriguing I had to know if the sequel was out. I am happy to say the second installment, "Dogs of Doom" came out in July. Yes, I did purchase it and will be reading and reviewing it soon. I also purchased a copy for my classroom shelves. This is exactly the type of book my kids will love. I am looking forward to continuing this awesome and at times terrifying journey with Jaden and Kayla.

 Author Bio From Amazon
From the gold mines of Africa to the glorious Bay views from Golden Gate Bridge to the spectacular Rockies, Bronwyn is an explorere at heart who loves to solve mysteries and avidly listens to audiobooks while playing in her sandpit (aka gardening). When she's not juggling the many balls she has in the air, she's following her passion and writing books for young adults.

You can find her::

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Penitent Part II Blog Tour and Giveaway

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

From Goodreads:
The next novel in The Immortality Wars series continues . . . Her parents are viciously murdered by a band of killers. Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby in swaddling clothes, Evangel is only steps away from them. An old hermit, Matthew Greatworth, finds her the day after this tragedy unfolds. She is touched by a rare spiritual power and raised by Matthew in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. Evangel grows up in the quaint hermitage Matthew built years ago. In her 17th year, outlaws terrorize Matthew while she is away. The young girl reaches him just as his eyes are carved out of their sockets and placed on a stump before him. The miracles and struggles against those seeking to kill her, as well as those disbelieving the power of her presence, all come together in a battle of good versus evil. In a vision of clarity and prescience amidst her struggle for survival and meaning, she finds her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Evangel's remarkable journey to save herself, her newfound friends and then those who believe in her, brings to the reader a hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.

My Thoughts:

This book far exceeded my expectations, I loved the premise when I read it. The characters are so well developed. It is extremely believable.  I love both Matthew and Evangel.  Their spiritual growth and strength are what you want to read about in a book like this. At one point, Evangel sees a wolf give birth. The mother and all but three of the pups die. She takes the pups home where she and Matthew raise them.  It was at this point as the story began to unfold I was reminded of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe".  The wolves had a role I had not foreseen which made this so endearing.  I really don't want to say too much. I had not read the first book in this series. I did purchase it because I loved this one so much and I wanted to find out what came before. This one reads as a stand-alone book, so if you have not read the first one you will be pulled in from the very first page. I had not heard of this author before. I will definitely recommend this book to others.

A. Keith Carreiro's Bio: A. Keith Carreiro earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Education, with the sequential help and guidance of three advisors, Dr. Vernon A. Howard, Dr. Donald Oliver and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Israel Scheffler. Keith’s academic focus, including his ongoing research agenda, centers upon philosophically examining how creativity and critical thinking are acquired, learned, utilized and practiced in the performing arts. He has taken his findings and applied them to the professional development of educational practitioners.

Earlier in his teaching career he was a professor of educational foundations, teaching graduate students of education at universities in Vermont, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. He currently teaches as an adjunct professor of English at Bridgewater State University, as well as teaching English, philosophy, humanities and public speaking courses at Bristol Community College.

He lives in Swansea, Massachusetts. He has six children and 13 grandchildren. He belongs to an eighty–five–pound golden retriever, an eight–pound Maltese, and an impish Calico cat.

Due to his love of family, he has seen his fervor for history, as well as his passion for wondering about the future, deepen dramatically.

Starting on May 23rd until October 9th of 2014, he sat down at his computer on a daily basis and began writing the first book of a science fiction/fantasy thriller in a beginning series about the quest for human immortality. 


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Thursday, July 6, 2017

When Work Gets in Your Way or How to Forget to Post Reviews You Wrote

Every year I find reviews that I had written and never posted. How does that happen you ask? Well usually it happens when I have had a couple of days of downtime and tell my family that I am going to work on my book stack. My days are finished I go back to work and think to myself, "Well, I have an extra ten minutes of my planning period. I think I'll try to work on reviews for the books I read this weekend. "  Along the way the pages get ripped from my notebook and put into my calendar to be typed up. They get moved from there to any number of places and then forgotten. As I do every year at the end of the year I try to organize and clean up before I leave school.  When I am finally home I begin to do the same thing, clean and organize things on my bookshelves, my notebooks, and folders.
In this case, I was going through my composition notebooks preparing for my writing retreat and came across all types of papers. Some were notes to go into my writing notebook and some were school papers I'd scribbled a valuable writing idea on and kept the whole paper until I could transfer that small idea. In the midst of all of those papers I found not one book review, but ten I had written and never typed up.  So, I might as well get them up now. I have a couple of other books that when I see them on my TBR list I keep searching for their review because I've read the book but can't find where I wrote the review, and I know I wrote it.  Guess I need to just rewrite them and post them, because who knows when or where I will find them?  I hope you enjoy these reviews. These have been some of the most popular books in my classroom or with other teachers in my school.

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Source: Classroom shelves

This series has been one of my favorite. It is also one of the most stolen series in my classroom. I don’t know if they are keeping them, passing them on and they never return or what. I have bought this entire series twice just this year. Desires of the Dead is the second book in the Body Finder series. Violet has always been able to locate dead bodies. That doesn’t mean she can go into a graveyard blind folded and point them out. I’m talking about those bodies that have been disposed of.  Her family has been very supportive as has her boyfriend Jay.  This “gift” has been passed down in her family.  Unfortunately, in this book she has two people after her, the FBI and a creepy stalker. We see her relationship with Jay build, we meet new characters, Rafe and others. We see the toll this “gift” take on her and her relationships.  This is a series I would definitely recommend to more mature readers. On my shelves this one required parental permission because of some of the content and the fact I was teaching 6th graders.  I definitely recommend this book.

Skull Creek Stakeout by Eddie Jones
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Classroom Shelves

This is the second book in the Caden Chronicles and is what I call a clean read. Nick Caden has so many qualities for a reader to like. First and most important to me he loves to solve mysteries. He is trying to discover who murdered a man found dead on a golf course. As a fourteen year-old boy, Nick is a very likeable character for all ages who read this book.  My students will love the fact that he puts himself in danger to solve murders. In this book they will love the creep factor of an old mansion. Who wouldn’t feel creeped out if locked in a creepy old mansion? Dead Low Tied is the third book in this series. I have not yet read it, but it will be purchased for my shelves at school. If you have read any of Max Elliot Anderson’s “Sam Cooper” books you will definitely enjoy this series. Highly recommended and on the to be purchased list for my granddaughter for Christmas.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

As so often happens I plan on reading a book, but because of all the hype behind it my students get before me. It doesn’t matter I have four copies of this book on my shelves. That just meant more students would get their hands on it. I will always let a student read it first unless they find it on my desk because I am trying to read it for a requested review from the author. Okay, sometimes I let them read it before me.  This book was awesome. In this conclusion to the trilogy we find those we loved throughout the books coping. They are coping with the devastation of a war that was largely thrust upon them. They are coping with physical and mental loss.  One thing I really loved about this book is that the author didn’t take the easy way out. She lets us see the effects war has on all parties and how each deals with it. She tied everything up neatly, yet for some they will hate the ending. Me, I loved it. Everyone wants a happily ever after ending. But, this is a realistic outcome.  I like that even better. It makes it relatable to everyone. Listening to my students talk about the book before I could read it and seeing the connections they made to real life and how something like this could really happen opened my eyes to how deep some of my students are.  Books like this make them really think about their future. That is why I loved this book and will continue to recommend it to my students.

The Cassini Code – Dom Testa

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

The Cassini Code is the third book in The Galahad series. If you haven’t read the first two you must. I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite some time. The problem has been my students have had it checked out so much I’d not gotten to it. I took advantage of it coming in on a Friday to read it. Each book in the series seems to be better than the previous one. That to me is amazing since the first book has long been one of my favorites.  It becomes very obvious why Triana was chosen as leader. We have a new leader emerging. Merit has started a movement to return to Earth.  This discord keeps the tension going throughout the book. We have the same excellence with all of the other characters we’ve come to love, or hate and those who are freshly introduced to us.  My favorite is and probably always will be ROC. If you don’t know who this is then you definitely need to get the series and read it.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlit
Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I first purchased this book because of the cover. That rarely happens. This is a beautiful book both in story and the pictures within. Flory, a night fairy has lost her wings in a tragic accident. For most fairies this would have caused them to give up. Not so with Flory. She can’t fly, but she can survive and make the best of the situation. She makes friends with a squirrel and goes about life the best she can. Her one dream is to be able to fly again. This is a hopeful book, full of adventure. I am sure it will be loved by all who read it.

The Real Boy  by Anne Ursu

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

Oscar works for the magician Caleb. He works in the basement. He strikes up a friendship with Callie who is an apprentice to the village healer.  He is constantly tormented and put down by Wolf who also works for Caleb and thinks himself so much better than Caleb. One day Caleb disappears and Wolf gets killed. This means that Caleb must leave the basement and wait on the customers. He is shy and backwards, yet he truly has a gift. When the children of the village get very sick, Callie and Caleb set out to find out why, and to solve the problem. I loved the feeling of being vulnerable the author created with Caleb. With the boy ‘Wolf’ she created a perfect bully. One the reader could easily despise. Caleb is happy staying out of everyone’s way in the basement. He reads at night when he’s had nightmares. He waits until everyone is in bed then he sneaks into the Magician’s library and reads.  There is plenty of adventure and suspense in the book to keep you reading. The best part about all of it is the ending you don’t see coming.  This was one book that was consistently checked out of my classroom this last year.  Such an awesome and fun book to read.

Tuesdays at the Castle – Jessica Day George
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I absolutely loved this book. To me Castle Glower was almost like a character itself.  On Tuesday’s in particular the castle would get bored and create a new and hidden room. For our main character, eleven year old Celie would be off exploring the new addition. When Celie’s oldest brother graduates Wizard school her parents go off for his graduation.  This leaves siblings Celie, Rolf, and Lilah in the castle alone. Their parents are attacked on their journey and word gets back that they have been killed. As people from other lands come to pay their respect it becomes clear they are there also in the hopes of obtaining the kingdom. What they don’t realize is that this magical castle hasn’t changed anything in the king and queen’s suite and this lead the children to believe their parents are not dead. With the castle’s help they will defend their kingdom at all cost. This is a wonderfully, adventurous book to read. I really need to read the other books in the series.

Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

Most books I have purchased in the past along this line give students sentences to correct. Jeff on the other hand has taken sentences from great works and used them to teach students.  These are mentor texts.  You can take examples he has there and use them in your classroom.  Great examples to help you with your classroom writer’s workshop.

Polishing the PUGS by Kathy Ide
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

PUGS, in case you were unfamiliar with this acronym stands for punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling. Kathy Ide has taken information teachers are always searching for and placed in one book to make a great resource.  I have recommended this to other teachers. However, I find this most useful for my own writing. This should be on every writer’s bookshelves.

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
Genre: Adult, Educational
Source: I purchased

Donalyn is by far one of my favorite authors when it comes to reading about ways to inspire kids to learn to love reading. I purchased this book and addedbook she makes recommendations about the right way to encourage students to read, the right way to recommend books and genres. The right way to make sure your kids are reading “in the wild”, when they are away from you, instead of only when they are in your class.  This should be a must read for all beginning teachers no matter what subject they teach. In the real world of teaching, no matter what subject you teach, if your student can’t read well then they won’t really do well in any of their classes. All subjects require the ability to read and comprehend.  Put this on your list of must read books for this year.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Enslaved Series by Katie Clark

This review is for all three books in this series.  This is a must read.

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

Vanquished Book 1
Imagine a future where society is divided into three classes; Lessers, Middles, and the Greaters. Every dystopian society must have someone at the top who perverts life. In this case the Greaters have control of everything that affects the Middles and Lessers including medicine that could cure people. They have also outlawed religion. In this story we meet Hana who's mother has become deathly ill. She has cancer. Hana's society is so controlled she has a curfew, isn't allowed to date, and has grown to believe everything the Greaters have told her. But, when her mom gets sick and she is told there is no medicine for her mom she begins to open her eyes and look around at what is really happening. A medic named Fischer at the hospital tells her that there is a power higher than the Greaters who can help her mom. He shows her a forbidden Bible and encourages her to seek the truth. Her eyes are opened to so many things that are wrong in her world. She realizes that a lot of what is wrong has been created by the Greaters who supposedly have society's best interest in mind.
This is a great and unique dystopian because it isn't just about questioning the upper end of society, but their forced outlawing of religion.  Unfortunately, it is beginning to parallel our world way too much.  This is a book I would definitely recommend. 

Deliverance Book 2

This book picks up right where the first one ended. In this sequel we get more of a Hunger Games feel. Hana is in the Greater City where the president takes and interest in her, just as President Snow did in The Hunger Games. However, this is not as similar to the previous mentioned series from this point forward. Hana really wants to help. Unfortunately what she does is often inadvertently  at the cost of others. She is now a 'Greater'. This puts her in a position to learn what is truly happening with the government. It also puts her in the crosshairs of the president. He knows she has become a threat. She has found a pocket of Christians that have not let the government take away their belief system. Now she must find a way to let people know what is really happening, and at the same time protect those she loves. The suspense just keeps getting higher and higher.  One suggestion for the reader is make sure you own all three books because you are going to want to read them one after another.

Redeemer Book 3
In this book there are so many changes for Hana. She's been stripped of being a Greater. This in itself opens the door for her to truly find and do what she must for the greater good of society.  This book is so suspenseful and full of twists and turns you can't put it down.  The author has done an excellent job of tying everything up. It has a very satisfying ending. This is also a series I would definitely reread. I believe every time I read it I will see something a little bit different, something I missed the first time. Will I recommend it?  You'd better believe it. I will also be looking for other books by this author in the future. She is one awesome writer.

Author Bio

Katie Clark's published works include multiple children's books including A Tour of Your Muscular and Skeletal Systems, Animal Actors, Police Horses, and more. She is available for classroom visits and Skype chats to discuss her books. 

You can find her in the following places:


Book Trailers
Enslaved Series
Beguiled Series