Archive for August, 2014|Monthly archive page

Freak the Mighty

In YA Book Reviews on August 27, 2014 at 1:06 am


by Rodman Philbrick

Contemporary Coming-of-Age/©1993/160 Pages/Recommended for 7th Grade and Above

Publisher’s Comments:

Two boys – a slow learner stuck in the body of a teenage giant and a tiny Einstein in leg braces – forge a unique friendship when they pair up to create one formidable human force. A wonderful story of triumph over imperfection, shame, and loss.

My Thoughts:

This is such a good book and, considering that it was published over twenty years ago, one that has stood the test of time. Max and Kevin are such amazing characters that they will stay with you long after you have finished the book. The whole story is about the power of friendship, how good each one was for the other despite how very different they each were. The book is rich in life lessons couched in a plot that is filled with twists and turns. It will grab your attention and make you want to be a better person. As a book aimed at middle school students, I love that the story makes a point about the value of reading and writing, as well as spurring the reader’s interest to learn – and use – new words. The ending will break your heart, then put it back together.

This is just the book that keeps on giving! Freak’s Dictionary is included at the end, and you definitely want to be sure to read this. It is incredibly clever and hystrically funny. You will fall off your chair laughing! Also adding value to this book, the edition I read included AFTER WORDS with a Q & A with the author and his writing tips. Fascinating stuff, I assure you.

Other Resources (Especially Helpful to Teachers) 

Sample Book Talks for Freak the Mighty

 Nerdy Book Club Blog (middle school teacher’s review)

Other Books by Rodman Philbrick

Max the Mighty

The Young Boy and the Sea

The Last Book in the Universe




The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

In YA Book Reviews on August 26, 2014 at 3:59 am


 by Jennifer E. Smith
YA Contemporary/©2012/236 Pages/Recommended for 7th Grade and Above

Publisher’s Comments (Goodreads):
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything? Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row. A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

My Thoughts:

This book is a fun, enjoyable read that I zipped through in a matter of hours. I just couldn’t put it down.  I was immediately drawn into Hadley’s story with the Charles Dickens’s quote that preceded the start of the book, and I appreciated every literary reference interspersed throughout. I liked the writing style (well paced and descriptive), the characters (likable but not perfect), and the plot set over just one day. I appreciated that the romance part was seamlessly intertwined with Hadley struggling to come to terms with her parents’ divorce and her father remarrying. This is not just another mindless romance; this one has some substance to it, giving you some serious things to think about.  All in all, it was a heartwarming and endearing story from beginning to end (with the part explaining the title of the book). Don’t be surprised if you find yourself hugging it when you  finish reading it.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Additional Thoughts from Other Book Bloggers

Teen Reads:

Words on Paper:


Shatter Me

In YA Book Reviews on August 25, 2014 at 4:02 am


by Tahereh Mafi

YA Dystopian Novel/©2011/338 pages/1st in a Trilogy/Recommended for 7th Grade and Above

Publisher’s Comments (Goodreads):

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

 The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

First Line:  “I have been locked up for 264 days.”

My Thoughts:

This is a debut novel that has certainly generated a lot of hot and cold responses. I think the author showed incredible creativity in how she went about writing this book. All those crossed out lines kept me engaged in the story, and I liked her colorful use of language. This book, being the first in the trilogy, spends a lot of time introducing characters and setting the stage for books that follow. There were parts that were just a bit too much romance and not enough meaningful plot for me, but there was something about it that kept me reading. I am glad I did. I did not see the ending coming and I am definitely intrigued enough to continue reading the next two books. It is not my favorite YA dystopian novel, but I think it is a worthy addition to the genre.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Other Reviews That Present Interesting Perspectives to the Discussion

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog

The Testing

In YA Book Reviews on August 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm


by Joelle Charbonneau

Dystopian/©2013/336 Pages/1st in a Trilogy/Recommended for 7th Grade and Above

Publisher’s Comments (Amazon):

It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

My Thoughts: This book definitely redefines the idea of “high stakes testing”! The plot is fast paced, with so many twists and turns and one cliff hanger after another.  I will tell you right now, it is difficult to put down. The story is told from Cia’s viewpoint. I found her to be a well thought out character with some interesting skills in math and science that I fully appreciate seeing front and center in a female character. I was fascinated by how she figured things out. Tomas and Will…those two, I am not so sure about. I had to keep rethinking my initial perception of them, and I am sure that I will be in for some surprises as I continue reading the series. The author did a great job setting up the society with its Stages of Destruction, different colonies, and its method of government and choosing its leaders. It is thought provoking on so many levels. Definitely a worthwhile and engaging read.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Recommended for: Fans of Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent

Other Reviews:

The Book Smugglers

Steelheart (Reckoners #1)

In YA Book Reviews on August 8, 2014 at 6:36 pm


by Brandon Sanderson

Dystopian/©2013/384 pages/Part of a Series/Recommended for 7th Grade and Above

Publisher’s Comments (Goodreads):

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

My Thoughts:

Brandon Sanderson has created quite an imaginative new world. The plot is fast paced and action packed, and the ending packs quite a punch. The story is told from David’s viewpoint. He is a bit quirky and not perfect, but he is persistent in his goal.  He likes to improvise to the consternation of his partners, and he loves using metaphors, especially really bad ones. This aspect added much needed lightness to all the intense battle scenes. Overall, it is a fast, satisfying read.

Note: Firefight, Reckoners#2 is out on January 6, 2015

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Mentor Text: Great source for metaphors (good ones and terrible ones!)

Recommended for: fans of: The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Hunger Games, Ready Player One

Other Reviews:

The Book Addict’s Guide

The Book Addict’s Guide (Firefight, The Reckoners #2)