Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi

Does every stand have to cost you dearly? Susan's life has been turned upside down by the Civil War. She is a daughter of the South and wants to help any way she can. So she gets involved in finding a way to give the South its own balloon even if she has to leave her comfort zone. But the war's effect on her life is not as big as the secrets her family has. Once those secrets are learned, how can she be the same? Choices you make once you find the truth don't always affect only you. One choice will be deadly. If you think your family may be strange, you have not read about this one. Modern soap operas have nothing on some Southern families before the Civil War and once war comes the drama only gets harder on those involved. Which side would you have been on if you were in Susan's shoes? Are you sure of that answer? You have to read to find out that those in history had reasons to do stuff we condemn today.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Lincoln's Flying Spries: Thaddeus Lowe and the Civil War Balloon Corps by Gail Jarrow

Before airplanes and satellites, armies still needed to know what each other were doing or even if they left under the cover of darkness. 150 years ago, balloons were the new high tech and brave (or stupid depending on your definition of those words) men rode high to do the spying. Thaddeus Lowe was the most famous and daring - he wanted to prove that he could take a balloon across the Atlantic Ocean but war broke out, so he volunteered to help the Union cause. How much trouble could a man in a balloon could get into? Being shot out of the air or being captured was a possibility any time you went up, but something else stopped them cold. Was it the technology that was lacking or was it humans' lack of vision?   When did the first aircraft carrier really exist? What were those "Quaker Guns" the balloons helped to find? (FYI - Quakers don't believe in war, so what is with those guns???) When did the first balloon trip happen across the Atlantic? Did those Confederates get their own balloon? How did Custer get involved with all of this? If you want the answers, keep reading this book.  If you have missed pictures in those books you have to read for school, you will enjoy the ones here.  They are really from the era so don't ask me why they are in black and white.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Constable and Toop by Garerh P. Jones

I promised the author if I liked his book I would put it on my book blog. (Yes, I met him in person and have a signed copy for the junior high to prove it.) If you enjoy humorous ghost tales with lots of "interesting" characters, action that jumps between tales that meet with a bang at the end, and lots of surprises between, you will love it also. Sam sees ghosts and can talk to them, but he doesn't want the gift because when you live with your father above his undertaking business you see too many ghosts. When a mysterious man shows up late one night, even Sam's strange life takes a twist. Lapsewood is just a ghost working his afterlife in the Ghost Bureau and it is just as boring as his human life. But when he is assigned to the housing department and sent back to Earth to find a missing outreach worker, his life isn't boring anymore. If he is not careful, he will end up in "the vault", a place whose name alone will scare even a ghost. Throw in teenage Claire who likes her haunted house and a reverend who is setting up a horrible plague for both ghosts and humans with every exorcism he does, not everyone will survive to see the last page.  How do ghost dogs and rogue ghosts fit in? You will have to read to find out. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Across the Great Barrier by Patricia Wrede

I have not let myself read a whole series in almost 20 years, but I had to read the sequel to The Thirteenth Child.  The reason the sequel made this blog is you don't have to read it to understand the story (but you will want to anyway after you read this book). Eff has always had trouble controlling her magic. She has lived in the shadow of her twin brother and liked it that way. But now she has to figure out what she will do with her life as she graduates school. With others starting to believe she could be a powerful magician, she just wants to be left alone. But a trip across the great magical barrier brings her to a land where regular animals can kill you if the magic ones don't get you first.  If you don't understand the rules, you can get killed even if you are on the "safe" side. Her twin, Lan, has never been one who respects the rules and learns that with magic, not doing so will get someone killed quickly. But it will take both of them to help the settlers when a new magical animal shows up and there is evidence it has been in the area before with terrible consequences. If you like history and fantasy, just imagine what our country's history would be like if there was really magic in the world. Beware, you may have to read the last in series The Far West just like I did. I have too many authors to read to keep reading books by authors I have read but this series made me read it. Will it make you?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Giant and How He Humbugged America by Jim Murphy

How you ever wondered how those who took other people's money by hook or crook did it? How did the crooks get those ideas and how did those who were tricked not know what was up? Is "too good to be true" really a clue or does something in ourselves make us suckers for these type of activities?  To learn how one of the biggest hoaxes in the late 1800s was pulled, we get a host of shady characters that you would not think were that smart, a mix of different kinds of beliefs that clash, and an example of the fact that when money is involved nothing is impossible. Even the famous P.T. Barnum gets involved. Learn how this hoax changed the way scientists and other academics did research and deemed things real.  For those of you who think we have all gotten too smart to fall for this, would you believe a very famous organization who has a television channel got fooled in the last 20 years?  You can even visit a copy of Cardiff Giant in Farmington Hills, MI. Just read the book to find out how.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How to use this blog to find a great book

Four years have passed since I started this and the list of books are getting longer. Please use the headings to the left to help you find the book you will love. Some of the best were put on at the beginning. While this has users all over the world, it is aimed at students in a small junior high that I miss. I started this because I was there only half time and for the last 2 years, not at all. No money is in the budget next year, so I am still working with the younger brothers and sisters, but not my favorite students. I need those students help now. I miss hearing about the books you love and I might. While I pull books to read in the summer from junior high collection, I am missing some that I might need to add for my readers all over the world. Can you let me know any books I am missing, so I can read them next summer (I refuse to take books away  during the school year from my students). You will find my email address on the school's website. I look forward to hearing your suggestions for this book blog. Hopefully, money will be found so I can join you again.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes

Some boring summer!! Just when Ben and Rachel think the summer would be boring, they find a secret in the backyard. What they find sends all into an international mystery years in the making. How does a British government clean-up car, the Cold War,  Chernobyl, and a missing uncle help solve a 50 year old mystery? Can they really trust that helpful librarian? (Can you ever trust a helpful librarian??) The biggest question could be how do teens from the 1950s learn to be like teens today when everything you do was not allowed during that time? Will help arrive in time or will Ben and Rachel's new friends not make it to get to the bottom of what really happened to their father? For those of you who love a great mystery wrapped in one of the wildest sci-fi inventions, you will not want to put this down.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer

Have you ever wondered if life is out to get you?  Junior high schooler Duncan has that feeling every day. His single mom tries to help, but will life get any better or will it just get stranger? Duncan does have one gift and when the rich kid Carl learns of it, he has a plan - using that gift to win the national Scrabble tournament. Will winning really change Duncan's life? To do that he has to get past 2 other teams that have their own reasons to win. April Blunt needs this win to prove to her family that she really does belong to her sport jock family. Nate Savano just wants to get his father off his back and be allowed to go back to school. Does all of them becoming friends interfere with winning or does it end up keeping them alive when some adult takes the "winning-at-all-costs" idea a little to far? Who knew that Scrabble could be dangerous to your life? Who wins in both life and game? You will never play Scrabble the same way again once you read this.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Crunch by Leslie Conner

What would happen if our country really does run out of gas? How would you get around? What about getting food? Going to work or school? While others worry about these things, Dewey has bigger problems. Even though he is only 14, he told his dad that he would take care of the bike shop his family runs on the side. His parents went up north for their anniversary in his father's semi as he makes a run. The crunch stops their plans and strands them.  Could you as teenager find a way to help everyone who now needs bikes? Dewey does have help but the overwhelming need keeps growing. As the days pass, his older sister and younger twin siblings find what others will do to each other when society starts to come apart. But the worst happens when his dad is attacked far from home. All he wants is to see his parents again, but can that happen when there is no gas left in the United States? When things look the worst, some will rise to help, some will sink to hurt. What would you do? Let's hope you never have to find out, but until you do, enjoy this story about what we hope is not our future.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blizzard! by Jim Murphy

125 years ago this day, many people in New York city found themselves fighting to stay alive.
Without the modern weather forecasting we have today, no one saw it coming. Even other places in the Northeast were hit even harder.  Hurricane Sandy hit the coast with wind and water, but this blizzard was just as powerful and it lasted 3 days. Who will survive, the young woman trying to make to the city on the trian that use coal stoves to heat the cars, the lawyer who decides to walk the long blocks or the factory workers trying to get home? What about the animals? Horses pulled everything and how can they survive being outside in this storm? Life and death struggles that  we think could not happen today, but please read and learn from their mistakes. Mistakes in a blizzard could cost you. If you like the Weather Channel, you will love this.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Izzy, Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voight

Sometimes when an author hasn't published a YA book in a while, they are forgotten. Cynthia Voight should not be one of them. Izzy, Willy-Nilly is just one of her books that still relates to today's problems. Do you really know who your friends are? Will they be there when the chips are down or will they walk away? Izzy had it all, great family, popular friends, even on the cheer team. But all it takes to upset her life is trusting the wrong person. Izzy has to put her life back together again and she really needs support. It comes from someone who she thought she didn't even know, but sometimes it takes someone who knows how to be a real friend when you need one. Look around your school and find the people who are overlooked by the in crowd. You may find true friends there. Even with her new friends, can Izzy stand up to the person who took her old life away?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

Elizabeth's life takes a turn for the better when she helps a homeless woman and her teacher takes notice. He helps her get a job at the most unusual library -New York Circulating Material Repository. (I think I might have gone to library school with a few of the librarians) There is where she starts to find some real friends and gets pulled into solving who is taking some of the most interesting items which are kept in the basement in Grimm Collection.  Who can be trusted and who can't? When Elizabeth leaves her sense of direction as collateral for one of the items from the Grimm Collection so she could borrow it and the item can't be returned as she got it, she has to find the answer to the mystery.   (After you read about a few items in the Grimm Collection, you may be tempted to leave your first born just to get your hands on them.)  Is that a real bird that keeps showing up or is it magic? Is it really a good idea to run out of a library when you are only 6 inches tall? Could some of the patrons be the key? How does her and others interesting magic sense help?  Is her stepmother somehow involved? Can a girl whose life is so similar to Cinderella's really save herself from ending up in a new Grimm Fairy Tale? Please let me know which special collection in the basement you would love to get into. I might get back to you about which one is my favorite.