Mara James is well known for acing her tests, being super organized, making lists and just being a huge overachiever in everything. Because of her well documented reputation for perfectionism, when she has a meltdown in her calculus exam, rips up her test and walks out, it gets videotaped and then posted to You Tube where it goes viral in an astoundingly short time. Deciding that she just can't face school and her friends after her psychotic break, she decides to escape to Tahoe to live with her ski bum father, Trick, about whom she knows almost nothing. He agrees, and she goes to spend the rest of that school year with him. Tahoe turns out to be nothing like what she imagined but also more than she could have hoped for. What will happen when her school year is up, and it's time to head home? An entertaining story for young adults who have had moments in their lives when they realize that trying to make everybody else happy doesn't make sense.
Salt & Stone picks up right where Fire & Flood left off. The remaining competitors (64 from the original 122), are recovering at base camp, waiting for the next leg of their race. Tella, Harper, Guy, Olivia, Jaxon and Braun have formed close bonds, and intend to stay together until the end if possible. All too soon, the next leg of their journey, crossing the sea, begins.
I'm not usually able to say this, but I enjoyed book two even more than book one. Tella asserts her independence, which, while increasing the tension between her and Guy, is necessary for her development as a believable character. There are some deaths, a reunion, a new character, and some great twists, some predictable and one that blindsided me. Towards the end of the race, there are three challenges that must be met in order to advance to the finish. If you've read The Testing, Independent Study and Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau, the feel of Tella's challenges is very similar to what Cia experienced. If you haven't read the series, you might like to consider it.
The ending leaves some unanswered questions, and I'd really like there to be a third book, but Scholastic has only bought the rights to the first two, so there might not be a third. That would truly be disappointing. Guess I'll have to get more people reading these two books! :-)
Definitely stock this on your middle school library shelf, but be warned that it does contain quite a bit of violence. If your readers can handle the Hunger Games and Divergent violence, they can handle this. Tella is morally strong so she does the right thing, even when survival instinct says to do the opposite.
All I have to say to myself in order to remember this book is Hunger Games meets Pokemon in a Survivor setting. This is not a new book. It was published in 2013, but since I just finished book two, I thought I'd review them together.
Tella Holloway has a brother suffering from an undiagnosed and seemingly incurable disease, and her parents have moved the family to the middle of nowhere in the hopes that fresh air might help, or at least that's the story Tella was given.
Understandably, she feels hopeless so when a mysterious invitation appears, advising her that she can compete in the Brimstone Bleed to potentially win a cure for her brother's ailment, she's all in.
Before the race begins, each Contender has a scavenger hunt opportunity in a barn to find a Pandora egg which will hatch to an individually genetically mutated creature designed to increase the Contender's chances of success. If you have any experience with the affection that fictional cartoon character Ash, a Pokemon handler, has for his creatures - that's what I imagine most Contenders feel for their Pandora. I really enjoyed the crazy modifications to the animals. Scott clearly has a vivid imagination.
The Bleed takes about three months and spans four ecosystems; jungle, desert, sea and mountain. The single winner gets a Cure for their loved one. Alliances have started to form, and the rugged environments and the not knowing who you can trust are the parts that made me think of Survivor.
This book really left me wanting more since it ended in the middle of the race; they've only crossed the jungle and the desert. I think it will be extremely popular among middle school readers who like adventure, survival violence and even a little romance.
This is a surprisingly scary tale featuring two orphans who come to work at a house in the middle of nowhere. The family they work for is acting strangely and eventually the children figure out that the family's very essence is being sapped by the night gardener who is using the sweat of their bad dreams to nourish a tree that grows near the house. The children, Molly and Kip, initially escape, but then realize they have to go back and save the family from the night gardener and the tree.
Madeline Whittier has SCID, which is an autoimmune disease where she can't go outside because she will react to everything and die. Think about the boy in the bubble movie, and that's what I'm talking about. Madeline is a strong character who doesn't whine about the unfairness of her life. She has come to accept her existence as it is UNTIL Olly moves next door and they become friends and more. This book is more mature than I expected so I recommend it for students in grade eight up. If they've read The Fault in our Stars, they can read this.
I love the twist which I DID see coming. Only thing that didn't work for me was the source of Maddie's funding. I know she applied for a credit card, but those have limits and so, unless mom was okay with it, her seemingly inexhaustible credit card limit was a bit far fetched, but hey... it's fiction. :-)
Since you might not have read the book yet, this isn't making any sense to you, but I have to write it like this because I don't want there to be any spoilers. Recommended MOSTLY for those looking for something to read after TFIOS.
I will always write back is the true story of Caitlin, a girl living in Pennsylvania, and the pen pal she writes to when she is in the seventh grade, Martin a studious boy living in abject poverty in Zimbabwe. Although most of her friends stop their correspondence, something clicks between Caitlin and Martin and they keep writing years beyond the initial pen pal project. She initially has no knowledge of his living conditions, and the story is told in an honest way that informs without making the reader feel sorry for Martin. It is a story that illustrates how important school is to many children, and what they will endure in order to be able to attend. I highly recommend this as a read aloud for reluctant readers in grade seven or eight who have lost their appreciation for education. It is extremely thought provoking and is sure to lead to many interesting discussions.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a wonderfully engaging young adult retelling of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
Khalid is the eighteen year old boy-king or Caliph of Khorasan and, true to the original tale, he marries a new bride each night and then has her put to death each dawn. There is great mystery behind why he is doing this, and as the reader, I really needed to know why he kept having the girls executed. One of the executed brides was Shahrzad’s best friend. Shazi is determined to seek avenge her friend's death and decides to get close to the Caliph the only way she can; by volunteering to marry him with the intention of killing him. Shazi is just the kind of female character I love; strong physically, intelligent and resilient. She has no idea whether her plan is going to work or not. She believes that Khalid is a heartless monster but she soon finds out that all is not what it seems. She is very strong-willed and that is what almost gets her killed because Khalid is determined to keep his secrets and she is determined to find them out. I especially enjoyed that their relationship was a complex one that took a while to grow. It would have felt wrong if they just fell in love instantly one evening. This is best read by a decent reader, but I suspect it will become a favourite among young adult romance readers.
I'm telling you right now, this book is The One Thing you need to read this September.
The voice of the narrator, 17 year old Maggie Sanders is brutally honest, insightful and laugh out loud funny and blunt which explains why the publishers have suggested it for ages 14 - 18. For example, when Maggie's English teacher at Merchant's School for the Blind, Mr. Huff, asks her if she has something to say because she's sighing dramatically and rolling her eyes hoping he'd understand that she was sick of his stories about being a testicular cancer survivor and living with adversity and overcoming obstacles, she replies, "Actually, I can't seem to grasp the correlation between your nutsack and our eyesight."
This is one of those books that will NEVER spend any time sitting on the shelves. It will pass from reader to reader, and it will inspire students to desperate acts. Students who can't wait to return their overdues will be tempted to just walk out with it! This I already know! If you look up "sizzling hot popularity" in September you will see the cover of this book.
When 10 year old Ben Milton meets blind Maggie for the first time, he has just witnessed her wipe out and because she is behaving strangely, he thinks she's using drugs. He explains how good looking girls always have some tragic flaw.
"Well. The thing is? I used to be totally in love with Jessica Baylor. She sat next to me in math. She was hot. Like, she had shiny hair and shiny eyes and a shiny smile. But then? She told me she hates cake, and I'm fundamentally opposed to cake-haters. Then there was Hannah. From band? She had boobs. They were magnificent. Just thinking about them was enough to make a guy go bonkers.... He blinked once. Hard. Like he was using his eyelids to wipe the image off his brain. But the thing about Hannah was that I caught her throwing a rock at a squirrel. A squirrel, for Pete's sake. It just wasn't right. Then today when I saw you - hello - I thought you were perfect. That fall? Wow. Just... wow. But then I find out that you're a pothead. He huffed out another huge gust of air. It's tragic."
Ben is unquestionably my favourite character because he's so vibrant and loveable that I feel like I'm watching a movie instead of reading text. I should also reveal however, that I always thought it would be neat to have a baby brother. I would love to discuss the plot with you and gush over all my favourite scenes but I refuse to ruin the pleasure you'll have by reading them, unspoiled, for the first time, yourself. This book is being released September 8 2015, and I, for one, will be buying copies to have on my shelves. Although the content is definitely mature (there's a scene where Maggie goes to a club where she's underage, and then, unknowingly, gets drunk), if you have students who are reading the Fault in Our Stars, they can definitely handle the content in The One Thing. Thanks to Net Galley and Disney Hyperion for providing an electronic copy for advanced reading.
Shea worries when her brother Odin goes missing because she knows that his social skills are severely lacking. She decides to head to L.A. to find him, and when she does, she is dragged into quite the adventure. Odin has broken into an research lab that experiments on animals, and while escaping, manages to acquire a bionic dog. Shea ends up getting some help from a fellow named Twist, and together they go up against the ruthless Singular Corp. Fast paced and entertaining. Will be enjoyed by reluctant older readers, especially boys. Rated mature due to violence and language.
I've been waiting quite a while for book two to come out, and I'm almost out of patience.
Alina Starkov and her childhood playmate and fellow orphan, Mal are drafted into an army and sent to cross the Fold, a place of darkness where terrifying creatures called volcra threaten the life of the soldiers. When she and her friends are attacked, Alina reveals a power she had no idea she possessed, and after unknowingly saving everyone, is subsequently whisked away to meet the Darkling and be trained as a Grisha. Separated from Mal, envied by some, feared by others, and treated with suspicion by most, Alina is easily lured by the luxury of her new life, the ability to control her power and the allure of the Darkling. She discovers a secret however, and she is the only one with the power to battle head to head with the most powerful force in the kingdom. Warning. This is book one. You are going to want to buy book two and three just to have it on hand for when you finish the first one. It's REALLY good.
Middle School Teacher Librarian - I believe there's a book out there for everyone!