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Category Archives: Scholastic

Paranormal Week: Werewolves

Werewolf: a human with shape-shifting abilities after being bitten by another werewolf or put under a curse.  After said human is bitten or cursed, they shift into a wolf or wolf-like creature, usually with the cycle of the moon.  Werewolves are often attributed with superhuman strength and senses.

Okay, technically, I did read Sisters Red a while back, but I am featuring mostly book series this week and have really been wanting to read the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, so I did.  And wow, can Maggie Stiefvater write.

In this series, we meet Sam, a teenage werewolf with his eyes and heart set on a human girl, Grace. Grace has had a strange obsession with the pack of wolves living in the woods in her backyard ever since she was bitten as a child.  Sam and other werewolves are members of the pack that she has faithfully watched, but when human-form Sam enters her life and she falls in love, her world is turned upside down.  I will admit that I didn’t fall in head-over-heels love with SHIVER, but LINGER was a heart-stopper for me.  The introduction of Cole and the expansion of Isabel’s character were brilliant.  Stiefvater’s ability to create, maintain consistency yet allow elasticity with characters is something to be noted with this series.  Her poetic style of writing (not poems, but poetic) sucked me in, making me feel as if the book had no edges or folds, just flowing and flowing until the brilliant ending.   I love books that make you want to re-read them directly after finishing them for the first time, and LINGER was one of them.  The only downfall with this series is that the final book, FOREVER, doesn’t come out until summer 2011.

Reading about werewolves has generally left a good taste in my mouth, but it probably doesn’t hurt that I am featuring and “losing my paranormal virginity” with the most-recommended werewolf series in YA books.  I am interested in reading more books about werewolves and their packs, but not necessarily racing out to read every one.  Similar to my take on Richelle Mead’s writing, I am just a huge fan of Stiefvater’s writing.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Book Review, Paranormal, Scholastic

 

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games was chosen as my book club’s book choice for the month of February.  The participants were asked to write a review of the book prior to our discussion and I thought I should post it here as well.  I am very much looking forward to hearing the thoughts of my fellow readers and IRL book lovers.  Get ready for some huge fangirl action on this review because I absolutely love this series.

In the nation of Panem, the residents of the districts are controlled by the people of the Capitol.  While the districts reap harvests and nearly starve to death, the residents of the Capitol live in luxury, with every amenity at their fingertips.  Not only do the districts provide food and energy sources to the Capitol, they provide entertainment.  Each year, 2 teenagers from each district are chosen to participate in the bloodbath called The Hunger Games, in which the 24 “tributes” go head-to-head knowing they are literally fighting for their lives, knowing that only one will reign victorious and the others will meet their early graves.  So when 16-year-old Katniss’ sister is chosen as a participant, she finds she has no choice but to volunteer to take Prim’s place and enter the fight for her life.

Believable world-building is critical in dystopian novels such as this one, and Suzanne Collins gets it done.  While no reader wants to believe that the world can exist in such terrible form as Panem, it is easy to get caught up in this world and forget that The Hunger Games do not actually exist.  The author gets it down to every detail, including the geography, the lives of the Capitol residents and the emotions of starvation and vulnerability.  Facts are coupled with emotions, drawing us deeply into the lives of the tributes and their fight to stay alive.

Katniss, while not my favorite female protagonist in literature, is fabulous from the get-go.  After her father died, she was forced to start hunting and bargaining in order to keep her sister and mother fed and alive.  She is tough, brave and smart, though her deep love for her sister and best friend Gale bring her character full circle in emotionality.  Her ability to think quickly and take risks makes her likable, yet her vulnerability in certain situations make her character believable.

Without ruining the rest of the series for those that have not finished it, I will say that the symbolism and foreshadowing in this first novel are brilliant.  This novel is more than just a story of a brutal society, it is possibly an ode to free will and democracy, an imploration to consider each other as individuals with merit and value.

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Published by Scholastic

October 2008

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Book Review, Dystopian, Scholastic, YA Books

 

Book Review: Smile

I am not an artist and  I am no expert on graphic novels.  I will say however, that I enjoyed Smile tremendously.  Based on the author’s actual experience with dental work, Smile is a graphic novel that moves from Raina’s sixth grade year to her sophomore year, telling the story of how she went from losing her two front teeth in a fall, to having beautiful teeth perfectly aligned.  She experiences everything from head gear to basic braces during this traumatic time in her life.

The author, while portraying the woes of teenage years, expertly weaves in the ways in which she matured during these formative years.  By the end of the book, I felt like I WAS Raina, understanding her pain, even though I never experienced braces. I rooted for her as a character, not because she was perfect, but because she became so real and genuine to me as a reader.

It is my understanding that Ms. Telgemeier is a cartoonist by profession and her work has appeared in numerous publications and been nominated for various awards throughout the years.  That being said, the illustrations were wonderful and perfectly fit to the tone of the book.  She is obviously qualified to illustrate graphic novels, and I will most definitely be picking up any she publishes in the future.

Smile

by Raina Telgemeier

Published by Scholastic

February 2010


 
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Posted by on January 8, 2011 in Book Review, Graphic novel, Scholastic

 

Book Review: The Crossbones

****SPOILER ALERT****

If you have not read the first two books in the Skeleton Creek series and have every intention of reading them, do not read any further.  This review will contain spoilers.  Also, if you missed my review of the second book in the series, Ghost in the Machine, check it out here.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised to find that there was going to be a third book in the series.  The end of Ghost in the Machine brought resolution to the mysteries that main characters and best friends Ryan and Sarah had been investigating.  I would have been satisfied just reading the first two books.  However, I didn’t stop there and I am happy that I proceeded in reading The Crossbones.

The Crossbones brings a whole different light to the friendship of Ryan and Sarah and the mysteries of Skeleton Creek, as Sarah and her family move across the country and she is forced to travel the country in search of answers to who exactly The Crossbones are.  Ryan’s dad uses the money they gained discovering gold in the “haunted” dredge to open a fly fishing shop, of which Ryan is forced to help run.  So, once again, Ryan finds himself stuck at home while Sarah gets to seek adventure (and danger) following the clues left behind in the dredge.

While the characters of Ryan and Sarah were written well in the first two books, we find them developing even more in this third book.  As they are forced to separate, we begin to see them as individuals, Sarah pursuing a film career and Ryan’s love for fly fishing.  But the best part of the story, their solid friendship, remains throughout this book, making me a very happy reader.

Also something to be noted is how the videos change in this volume.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the series, author Patrick Carman and Co. have turned the series into a multimedia interaction, scattering website links and passwords that send the reader to videos created by Sarah, all of which are vital to understanding the storyline and mystery of The Crossbones.  While the lack of Sarahs face in the videos was a disappointment, the change follows her character well, as she is trying to develop her filming abilities more now.

To be honest, I wasn’t as creeped out with this story as I was with the first two.  If you are looking for a lot more danger and scariness, you might be a bit disappointed.  If you are looking for mystery, however; this is the book for you.  One of the great aspects of this series is being able to follow along as Ryan and Sarah solve the mysteries that abound in Skeleton Creek.

Thanks to author Patrick Carman for the complimentary signed copy of The Crossbones!

The Crossbones (Skeleton Creek #3)

by Patrick Carman

Published by Scholastic

September 2010

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2010 in Book Review, Mystery, Scholastic

 

Book Review: Ghost in the Machine

For those of you that have not heard about Patrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek series, you are in for a real treat.  That is, if you like to be scared out of your shorts.  Ghost in the Machine in the second book in this multimedia series, written by Patrick Carman and directed by Jeffrey Townsend.  The story itself involves a small town that has a lot of history and holds a mystery deep within its past.  Teenagers and best friends Ryan and Sarah work to uncover the mystery very stealthily, even when they are banned from even speaking to each other.  You see, Sarah is a video expert and uploads videos of her discoveries to send to Ryan, all of which the reader gets to view as well.  Kind of a cool concept, huh?

Let me tell you, these books are creepy.  I had no idea what I was getting into with the first book, Skeleton Creek, and still didn’t learn my lesson with this one, as I let myself get scared silly while watching the videos and following the story in Ryan’s journal.  I would consider the books to be middle grade books, but are definitely are not for the faint of heart.

The characters that Carman has created are fairly dynamic and most definitely well-written, with the help of the videos of course.  The plot moves pretty quickly, but there are still relationships to be observed, mostly the friendship between Sarah and Ryan.  While there is not a touch of romance between the two, young lady readers will enjoy the loyalty Ryan shows to Sarah and the fact that Sarah is the instigator of all of their adventures.  Honestly, readers, the only complaint that I would make is that the online videos do isolate some readers without Internet access.  Yes, libraries do offer free Internet, but these are not the kinds of videos you watch in the library.  We might assume that all students these days have Internet access, but that is simply not true.  Props to the author, director and producers for a very innovative conceptual series.  If you have students or children that love a good mystery and can’t get away from a computer screen, put these books in their hands and they will be flipping pages like you have never seen them flip before.

Ghost in the Machine

Skeleton Creek #2

Written by Patrick Carman

Directed by Jeffrey Townsend

Published by Scholastic

October 2009