★★★★1/2 (4.5 out of 5) Official Synopsis: In a squalid ancient city on the edge of a desert (based in part on the Empty Quarter in Arabia) a weary, thrill-seeking thief named Omari sets his home afire to start anew and to cover his many crimes. When the entire city is unintentionally destroyed by the flames, […]
★★★★☆ (4/5) – You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman is an insane story that is beyond a brief description.
Grab a bushel of oranges, put on a white sheet, and enjoy the ride ’cause you ain’t getting those Kandy Kakes until you join the cult of Conjoined Eaters.
A very original and disturbing read.
From Amazon: An intelligent and madly entertaining debut novel reminiscent of The Crying of Lot 49, White Noise, and City of Glass that is at once a missing-person mystery, an exorcism of modern culture, and a wholly singular vision of contemporary womanhood from a terrifying and often funny voice of a new generation.
A woman known only by the letter A lives in an unnamed American city with her roommate, B, and boyfriend, C, who wants her to join him on a reality show called That’s My Partner! A eats (or doesn’t) the right things, watches endless amounts of television, often just for the commercials—particularly the recurring cartoon escapades of Kandy Kat, the mascot for an entirely chemical dessert—and models herself on a standard of beauty that only exists in such advertising. She fixates on the fifteen minutes of fame a news-celebrity named Michael has earned after buying up his local Wally Supermarket’s entire, and increasingly ample, supply of veal.
Meanwhile B is attempting to make herself a twin of A, who hungers for something to give meaning to her life, something aside from C’s pornography addiction, and becomes indoctrinated by a new religion spread throughout a web of corporate franchises, which moves her closer to the decoys that populate her television world, but no closer to her true nature.
★★★1/2 (3.5/5) – Recycled Science by Tammy Enz and Jodi Lyn Wheeler-Toppen is a book filled with ideas about how to recycle common household items and use them to create things like lava lamps, flashlights, and smartphone speakers. Throughout the book, there are great photos of items in different stages for each experiment and lessons about scientific principles that relate to the projects described.
There are some very interesting science projects in this collection, but many of the better experiments require a heavy amount of adult help or supervision. Many projects require the use of a hot glue gun and/or a utility knife. At least one project requires lit matches. These are not projects that you can trust an elementary-school or middle-school aged child to do alone. Because of the potentially dangerous items required, most of these would also not work in a traditional classroom setting, as the projects would require one adult per group of students engaging in the experiment.
Other experiments are safe for children to perform with minimal supervision, but can seem a bit silly. The “stomp rocket” for example is just a snack package filled with air that is attached to a straw with a small piece of a wet, balled-up paper towel inside (like a spitball). Once it’s created, the experimenter stomps on the package and launches the wet ball into the air. I think a project like that one is not very engaging and the final product will quickly end up in the trash.
This book would be great for children ages 9-13 with an interest in science and experimenting. As most of the projects do require adult help and/or supervision, these experiments would be lots of fun for parents and their children to work on together.
From Amazon:Why recycle cardboard tubes, plastic bottles and jugs, craft sticks, and snack bags when you can reuse them yourself? These fun and informative science experiments and projects will keep readers entertained as they learn about scientific principles.
★★★★☆ (4/5) – Ivy in Bloom by Vanita Oelschlager (Illustrated by Kristin Blackwood) is a charming children’s book about a young girl who looks forward to experiencing the beauty and adventure of spring. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! Most children will empathize with Ivy’s feelings about winter and her longing for spring. This is also a great introduction to poetry for children, as the author cleverly uses portions of famous poems to tell Ivy’s story. At the end of the book, longer sections of these famous poems are included in a bibliography for further reading. I recommend this book for children in grades K-3, though it could also be used with slightly older children (grades 4-5) while studying poetry.
From Amazon: Ivy in Bloom captures the weariness of a young girl tired of a long winter. “I stare out the window,” she says on the first spread of brown and gray, “looking for birds or flowers / or even warm showers / but I don’t see any such thing.” But then Spring comes when “March is out of breath snow melting to flowery waters and watery flowers spring rose from its wintry rest.” And Ivy’s “heart dances with daffodils.” As these words also dance across each spread, Ivy’s world erupts into a riot of color. Ivy In Bloom introduces the poetry of Dickinson, Longfellow, Browning, Wordsworth, Frost and others. Excerpts from their writings, as seen through Ivy’s eyes, will open up poetry as a way for children to express their own feelings about the changing of seasons. This book includes longer excerpts and brief bios of each author.
★★★☆☆ (3/5) – The Storyteller (The Riverman Trilogy #3) by Aaron Starmer is not a bad book, but it’s not great either. I definitely expected more answers in this final novel in the series. Looking back at the full story, I feel like this trilogy could have been a single book that was extended by the publisher to make more of a profit. There were some good moments (I liked parts of Luna’s story), but overall it just felt like the author didn’t know where he wanted the story to end up. There were more than a few unanswered questions.
Keri Cleary is worried about her brother, Alistair. Everyone is worried about Alistair. As the one witness to a shooting, he has been shocked into silence. But everyone needs to know three things: Who shot Kyle Dwyer? Where is Charlie Dwyer? What does this all have to do with the disappearance of Fiona Loomis?
Perhaps the answers lie in stories. As Alistair makes strange confessions to his sister, Keri becomes inspired. She tells stories, tales that may reveal hidden truths, fiction that may cause real things to happen. In the concluding volume of the Riverman Trilogy, readers are asked to consider the source of inspiration, the borders of reality and the power of storytelling. They are asked to forgive monsters, to imagine alternate dimensions, and to believe in a phosphorescent wombat who assures us that gone for now is not necessarily gone for good.
Check out my husband’s review of And Then the Sky Exploded by David A. Poulsen!
And Then the Sky Exploded is the story of Christian Larkin, a ninth-grade student who discovers that his recently-deceased great-grandfather was a member of the Manhattan Project. He travels to Japan in order to make up for what his great-grandfather did in the past.
The first half of the novel features flashbacks to a young girl named Yuko, who survived the attack on Hiroshima and the subsequent years of hardship. These flashbacks offer an unflinching look at the horrors of war.
The rest of the first half focuses on Christian’s life at school leading up to his trip to Japan. And this is where I have some issues.
There are LOTS of subplots here that honestly offer nothing…
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★★★★☆ (4/5) – Readers on Stage: Resources for Reader’s Theater by Aaron Shepard is a great introduction to the reader’s theater process for elementary and middle-school educators. The author provides sample scripts that are suitable for all ages, but would mainly be of interest to students in grades 3-5. The book also contains a host of resources for scripting, teaching, and directing reader’s theater workshops in the classroom. I believe that reader’s theater is a great way to integrate the arts into a traditional language arts curriculum and motivate reluctant readers to participate in read-aloud activities and build reading fluency. Though the sample scripts are a little childish for late middle-grade and high school level students, the other resources in this book seem like they will be very useful for any educator who wants to teach reader’s theater.
From Amazon: ****A “CENTRAL TEXT” IN NEW YORK STATE’S COMMON CORE CURRICULUM****Want to try reader’s theater but don’t know where to start? Or have you tried it but want to find ways to bring it more to life? Or are you just looking for a fun, easy way to lure young people into reading fluency, cooperative effort, effective communication, and love of literature?“Readers on Stage” is a collection of resources for scripting, directing, and teaching reader’s theater, primarily to ages 8 and up. Part 1 offers three sample scripts to learn from and enjoy: “The Legend of Lightning Larry,” “Peddler Polly and the Story Stealer,” and “The Baker’s Dozen.” Part 2 highlights each major aspect of reader’s theater — scripting, staging, and dramatic reading — offering tips and tricks you’re not likely to find elsewhere. For instance, you’ll learn how young readers can easily create their own scripts!Part 3 provides all the plans, notes, handouts, and worksheets from actual reader’s theater workshops, ready for copying. Use them to start with reader’s theater tomorrow in a classroom or library, or to lead your own workshop for adults. Finally, Part 4 gives listings of additional resources.Whether you’re working with young readers, training teachers, or directing a professional company, you’ll want this unique, detailed guide.
★★★1/2 (3.5/5) – The Whisper by Aaron Starmer is the second novel in The Riverman Trilogy. While very well-written, I found that this book was not grounded enough in reality for me. I’m still looking forward to reading the final novel in this trilogy.
From Amazon: Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There’s something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart. All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of starlight, a megalomaniacal boy king, and astronauts who peddle riddles are hard enough to outwit, but they’re only the beginning. To find Fiona, Alistair must travel from world to world. He must confront the mistakes of his past. And he must face countless monsters, including the soul-stealing stalker that some people call the Riverman, the merciless but misunderstood servant of Aquavania who refers to himself as the Whisper.
Check out my husband’s review of the soon-to-be-released Repo Madness by W. Bruce Cameron!
★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)
Like the first book in the series, Repo Madness is an enjoyable, comical tale about various mysteries in and around Kalkaska, Michigan. There were, perhaps, a few too many antagonists that muddled the story, but in the end, everything was resolved. Well, almost everything — W. Bruce Cameron clearly leaves enough unanswered questions for another volume somewhere down the line. I can’t wait to read it!
Ruddy McCann is back in “Repo Madness–the “laugh-out-loud, thrilling adventure from bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron!
Ruddy McCann, former college football star, now Kalkaska, Michigan repo man, is finally getting his life back on track. He has a beautiful fiance, Katie Lottner, a somewhat stable job stealing cars, and a lazy, lovable basset hound.
With his job suddenly in jeopardy, his fiance wanting a break, and a new court-ordered psychiatrist insisting he take his medication or…
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★★★★★ (5/5) – The Riverman by Aaron Starmar is a very creative and interesting young adult novel! The ending was abrupt. It’s a good thing that this is the start of a trilogy!
From Amazon: Alistair Cleary is the kid who everyone trusts. Fiona Loomis is not the typical girl next door. Alistair hasn’t really thought of her since they were little kids until she shows up at his doorstep with a proposition: she wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into the mind of a potentially troubled girl. Fiona says that in her basement, there’s a portal that leads to a magical world where a creature called the Riverman is stealing the souls of children. And Fiona’s soul could be next. If Fiona really believes what she’s saying, Alistair fears she may be crazy. But if it’s true, her life could be at risk. In this novel from Aaron Starmer, it’s up to Alistair to separate fact from fiction, fantasy from reality.