Saturday, August 22, 2009

Zach's Lie by Roland Smith

One normal night at the Osborne house, Jack along with his mother and sister are confronted by men breaking into their home. They are told not to tell the police or their father will be killed. The next morning as they are still trying to decide what to do, the FBI arrive and start searching their home. With their heads still spinning the Osborne family learns that their father has been involved in some dangerous things with some dangerous men. Now, the family has to enter the Witness Protection program. Jack now has a new name- Zach.

When Zach enters his new school, he finds it challenging to live a different life from what he was use to. Slowly, he makes friends and watches his mother and sister start to settle in as well. However, one wrong move and Zach can put the whole family in danger.

I think boys would really like this book. Zach/Jack is a very believable character who gets involved in some strange situations. Another great hit by Roland Smith.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis

Mazzy is a young girl trying to hold everything together. Her dad left town for 'a week' over two months ago and her mom won't get out of bed. Now Social Services has come for a visit and the neighbours are offering to help. Mazzy doesn't want any help, she just wants her family back. She knows why they have fallen apart and over the course of the story there are hints as to what has happened to this family.

This is a fairly short story told with an interesting voice. I think it would be a challenging read because the reader really has to pay attention to the subtle hints throughout the story, but it is worth it.

Peak by Roland Smith

This was another book by Roland Smith that came in a package from Scholastics at the end of June. I really like Smith's writing- I can see why boys are so drawn into his writing- there is adventure, action and enough scary bits to make it a compelling read.

In this story, Peak is a climber- he will climb anything- and that has lead to big trouble for him. The book opens with him being arrested for climbing buildings in New York. The judge wants blood- Peak's blood. In order to avoid being sent to juvie- Peak's absent father agrees to take him home with him. The one thing his father fails to mention that his home is a base camp at the foot of Mount Everest.
As Peak gets to know his father, he also learns a lot about himself- all while climbing up the mountain.

I thought this book was quite interesting, I learned a lot about climbing. The climbing vocabulary was a bit overwhelming at times, but it didn't detract from the story at all. This would make a great read aloud or a book for a literature circle.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I just finished reading this book by a new author to me- Neal Shusterman. He has written one strange story here!

In Unwind, the world has gone a little crazy. No longer are abortions allowed, instead, life begins at conception. Parents who don't want their children have choices though- they can 'stork' them by leaving their baby to another family who MUST care for them. The other choice though is to wait until their child is between the age of 13-18 and then 'unwind' them. They aren't killing them, they are just taking all of their body parts and organs and implanting them in other people. The people in power reason that the 'unwinds' are still alive, just in a separate state.

In this book, the reader learns all of this through the story of Connor, Risa and Lev- all 'unwinds' with a different past that lead them to be labelled 'unwinds'. As their stories are told, the reader is drawn into this crazy world that Shusterman has created.

I think I would read this aloud to a class, but I would suggest you read it first. There is one scene that I found very hard to get out of my head after reading it. But, I will be recommending this book to many kids this year!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I have to say, I am on a reading roll right now- I just keep picking books that get better and better. Yesterday I finished reading Thirteen Reasons Why and I LOVED it! This is Asher's first book and I really hope he writes more.

The story line is very unique. There are really two stories going on here. One is Hannah, a young girl who committed suicide two weeks ago, she left a recording of the 13 reasons why she killed herself. The other story is Clay, after he becomes one of the 13 people receiving these tapes to listen to. The story flips between both characters- with Clay listening to Hannah's story and interjecting his thoughts and feelings. You get a fascinating look at how there can be different perspectives from the same event. This story is so compelling, at times it was so sad listening to Hannah's life and how she was treated at the high school. Then, there are the times when Clay was sharing his attraction to Hannah, but at the same time his fear of getting to know her.

This story really shows how words and actions have far reaching consequences. A great read for older readers.