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Friday, June 28, 2013

Give-Away!!!

Do you remember when I reviewed this book?:


(Here is the LINK)

Marilynn Halas and 4 Sunflowers Media have so kindly given me an extra copy to give away!!

Do you want it???
Please comment below. Make sure to include your name and email address so I can 
contact you to get your information.

FYI: I rated it PG-13 and recommended it for ages 12-13 and up.

I will put all the names in a drawing and let you know tomorrow morning who wins!!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Delirium (Book #1)


Delirium (Book #1) by Lauren Oliver

(Summary taken from laurenoliverbooks.com) "Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love."

I know there have been quite a few books written lately about a controlling government, and I've read a lot of them. I've read "Matched," "Divergent," "Hunger Games," and there are probably more. Even so, I had heard good things about this book so I decided to pick it up for my trip to Mexico. It did not disappoint. I finished it in less than two days......mind you I was sitting on the beach reading for hours at a time (no kids...). I fell in love with the characters and with Ms. Oliver's writing. Lena, Hana, Grace, and Alex were my favorite characters. I thought Ms. Oliver's character development was very good and I felt as if I had known these people all my life. Hana was a really fun character and I liked her most of the time. She just seemed like your typical, fun, outgoing teenage girl. Lena reminded me of myself. She was not good at spontaneity, she liked order, safety, and seemed mature for her age. Hana was good at adding in the fun. And so was Alex. He intrigued me from the first time Lena saw him. I liked the reality he brought her, along with the romance. Ms. Oliver's writing drew me in from the beginning. It was easy to read, and read quickly, and had this way of just pulling me in. The story was a little predictable, but that didn't keep me from finishing. I did not like the ending at all! I was so mad! I can't tell what happens, but--ahhhhhhh!!!!! I was incredibly angry at Lena. So what did I do? I picked up number two and started reading. Haha, yep, I was hooked.

The language in this book is bad, at times. The "f" word is used at least three times, and there is other language as well. There are some harsh scenes in the prison and some violent scenes as well, with beatings and fighting. There is also some kissing.

Rating: R (This does not follow the movie ratings exactly, it is just my was of saying it is not appropriate for younger readers--language, violence, beatings)

Recommendation: 18 and up. I know my kids, when they are teenagers, will hear this kind of language at school, but I don't want them reading it. I would not classify this book as young adult approved.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wonder


Wonder by R.J. Palacio

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school--until now. He's about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?"

My friend recommended this book to me. She teaches fifth grade at the local school, and my son will be in her class next year. She just went on and on about how much she loved this book. I convinced my book group to read it this month so I knew I would make time for it. My friend was right.....this is an amazing book! I loved it! I love Ms. Palacio's writing style. It is easy to read, flows well, and the characters' voices are very individualized and personal. Her character development is wonderful. Auggie is such a great character. He is so strong, yet so real. You see his brave and not-so-brave moments, and he has such a positive attitude. I felt for Auggie's parents as well. What a tough decision it would be to send him to school. Jack, Summer, and Via were all characters that had their tough moments, but shone through in the end. There was also some humor in the book that helped take away some of the tension and heavier moments. This book is full of morals and teaching moments. It's amazing. Bullying, friendship, loving despite differences, words do hurt, standing up for friends, no matter how hard your life is--there is always someone who has it harder, and  having a positive attitude are just a few of them. EVERY fifth grade student should read this book!!! It should be available in every fifth grade classroom (in my humble opinion). The lessons the kids in the book learned will stay with them forever. If more people acted like them (them at the end of the book....not the beginning) the world would be a different place. 

The chapter written from Via's boyfriend's point of view drove me crazy. There were no capital letters. Fortunately, his words and actions made up for it. The side story of Via and her friend Miranda didn't really need to be in the book, but I guess it just showed Miranda's love for Auggie never died, and that deep down Miranda never really changed. I can't remember any language in the book. There are some scenes that are a little violent with fights, mean words, and bullies. This would be a great book to read with your kids or students. It could be the start of some great discussions and projects. I highly recommend this book!

Rating: PG (Minor violence with fights, mean words, and bullies)

Recommendation: Fifth grade and up (about 10 years-old)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Great Expectations


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

(Summary taken from the inside book cover) "Bound for life as a lowly blacksmith, Philip "Pip" Pirrip desperately wants to impress beautiful Estella, the spoiled ward of Miss Havisham, a wealthy and bizarre woman. But Estella has a heart of stone, and she makes Pip miserable every time he visits her at Miss Havisham's dreary old mansion. Then fate steps in: a secret benefactor sets Pip up as a well-to-do gentleman with a fanciful life in London. But something sinister from his past is lurking in the shadows. Will Pip thrive in his new life? Is Estella his true love and soul mate? And will Pip's past forever haunt him?"

I read Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities" years ago, and remember enjoying it, so I was excited to read "Great Expectations." Unfortunately, this book just didn't meet my great expectations (haha....I couldn't resist). It was Pip. He drove me crazy. He was a spoiled brat. I thought he was ungrateful, mean, condescending, unintelligent, uncaring, and distasteful. I didn't like him at all. And seeing how he was the main character, that made this a long and difficult read. It took me a very long time to read this book. I found it difficult to read, and slow going, because there were many words that I did not know. They may have been well known in Dicken's time, but they are meaningless now, and so I just had to plow through and guess at their meanings. There were some things I liked about this book. I liked Joe. He was so patient, loving, selfless, and hard working. I liked Wemmick and Herbert as well. They brought humor, love, friendship, loyalty, and selflessness to the book, and I was thankful for that.

I do like the cover of this book. The cover is actually the reason I got to read this book. Splinter New York had Sara Singh design their covers for the classics, and I really like them. I think the picture of Pip is right on. I like the expression on his face, and think the simple elegance of it fits the time period well. I think it looks pretty and am definitely putting it on display in the cabinet in my entryway.

Rating: PG+ (A few profane words, violence, murder)

Recommendation: 13 and up, just because I don't think anyone younger would be able to understand the language of the book, or care about it.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What Would The Founding Fathers Think?


What Would The Founding Fathers Think? by David Bowman

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "Join Washington, Franklin, and Madison (via SKYPE/CHAT session) as they discuss our country's current crisis as compared with their original intentions for America. With wit, humor, and a variety of visuals, David Bowman skillfully teaches preteens and teens alike the wisdom of returning to our nation's founding principles and in a way that they will 'get it.'"

This is a tough one. If you remember me reviewing this book: Just Fine The Way They Are, you will remember that I do not think politics belong in children's books. Children have very impressionable minds and they don't have the power to decide for themselves. They can't always hear the other side of the story to choose what they believe. They just believe whatever they hear. And, I don't think children should be burdened with politics when they are too young to really understand and shouldn't need to worry about it yet. This book is a little different than the previous example. It is not a children's picture book (although it has some great illustrations), it is written for an older audience, and it doesn't hide what it is. You know just from looking at the cover that it is a political book, and that it has a conservative bias. Even with all these differences, I think I'm going to stick with my previous thoughts. Politics do not belong in children's books. It doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on or what you believe, children should be left out of it. Now, history is a different matter. Children should definitely be learning about our world, country, and state histories. They need to learn about our constitution and about our founding fathers. They need to be learning about events in our past that have made us who we are today. But, they should be learning it in an unbiased and nonpolitical way.

That being said, for what this book is, it is done well. It is well written, engaging, has some great illustrations, and definitely gets its point across. It is written in an easy-to-read and understand way, and is not boring. My 11 year-old would be able to understand it. There are some references to things that were popular when I was growing up (He-Man), that my son wouldn't get, but they are explained well so it shouldn't be a problem. The author gives quite a few quotes from the founding fathers, so it looks as though he did his homework. There are references to things like "Skype" and "Chat" that are humorous and kids today would understand. He also uses texting terms like "LOL" that make it so teens relate to it. There is also some very good historical information that is not biased: it is straightforward and informative. I like that the book talks about the importance of the family and having high moral standards. I don't think those things are left or right, they are just good things all the way around.

I may be the only person out there that doesn't think politics should be in books written for children, so I'll just say that if it is read, I think it should be the starting point of a discussion. And it should be discussed with the parents. I also think you should read a book that leans the other way so children understand that there are other viewpoints. I don't think this book should be read in schools because it leans too far to one side. It might be okay in a high school government class where the class reads a book written from left and right and they can compare and contrast viewpoints. If you lean conservative, you will probably really like this book. If you don't, you will most likely not enjoy it.

Rating: G (It's clean)

Recommendation: High School and Up. Once you get to high school, you begin thinking on your own. You start figuring out who you are and what you really think and believe, and you're old enough to see hidden (or not hidden) agendas in books or movies.

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Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.