The Selection

Before I started reading The Selection by Kiera Cass, a friend of mine related it to watching The Bachelor.  Now, I have never (and will never) watch this horrible excuse for entertainment, but I must admit that I kind of liked the premise as it applied in this book.  Maybe adding a dose of political intrigue would make “reality television” more palatable…or maybe it would make it even worse than it already is.  Who knows?  But the combination of a competition to win the heart of a prince and a “dystopian-lite” society at war was definitely enough to pique and keep my interest when it came to The Selection.  The gorgeous cover didn’t hurt, either.  (I am a sucker for pretty book cover.)

America Singer lives in the young nation of Illéa (made up of what used to be the countries of North America).  The world she lives in is based on castes, and America’s status as a musician places her closer to the bottom than the top.  Life is not always easy, but her love for Aspen, a young man in a caste lower than hers, gets her through the hard times and gives her some measure of hope for the future.  That hope, however, is about to be tested by circumstances well beyond America’s control…

In Illéa, a monarchy reigns supreme, and it is time for the young Prince Maxon to choose a bride.  But he does not choose from other royal families.  No, Prince Maxon must choose a true daughter of Illéa, a “commoner” with ties to this young country…and he must make his choice a public spectacle.  Thirty-five girls from around the country are selected to compete for the heart of the Prince—and a chance to one day be Queen.  They will live in the palace for the duration of the Selection, their castes will be elevated, and their families will be well paid.  For most girls, this would be the chance of a lifetime.  But America Singer is not most girls…

America does not want to be a part of the Selection, but her family and even Aspen convince her to at least submit an application.  After all, what are the odds that she’ll even be chosen?  Well, as it turns out, pretty good.  When America’s name is called for the Selection, her entire world changes.  She becomes an instant celebrity (something she’s not exactly comfortable with), and she’s forced to leave her family and the only boy she’s ever loved…all to compete for the hand of a man she knows will never hold her heart.

But life in the palace isn’t exactly what America expected.  Sure, it’s more glamorous and extravagant than anything she’s ever experienced—and the food is truly spectacular—but America is surprised by how quickly she adapts, makes friends, and even grows closer to Prince Maxon.  She realizes that his life isn’t quite as easy as it is portrayed on television—what with invading rebels from the north and south, trying to keep a young country intact, war as a constant threat, and choosing a future wife in front of a national audience.  No pressure there at all.  Maybe America was too quick to judge Maxon as a poor-little-rich-boy who never had to work to survive.  Maybe she could grow to love this young man who is becoming such a dear friend to her.  And maybe events will unfold that throw Illéa, America, Maxon, the Selection, and everything else into even more of a tailspin.

The Selection is an excellent book for readers who like their dystopian literature with a heavy dose of romance, especially a juicy love triangle (or, in this case, whatever type of polygon has 30+ sides).  Give this book to fans of Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, and, yes, even Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.

I, for one, was more intrigued by the historical and political aspects of this book than I was the romance.  (We can probably blame that political science degree that I’ve never really used.)  I loved the lessons on the history of Illéa, and I hope to learn much more about how this young monarchy came about in the next book.  Based on what little we learned about what led to the breakup of the United States in The Selection, I would say the events are entirely plausible, so I’m eager to see what the author does with the mysterious history of the U.S. and how it relates to Illéa’s current circumstances.

The next book in this series, The Elite, will be published sometime in 2013, and there’s not a lot of information available yet on the plot of this book, but I have no doubt that it will be just as gripping as The Selection.

In the meantime, you can find out more about this series and author Kiera Cass at http://www.kieracass.com/, or you can follow the author on Twitter @kieracass.  FYI, according to the author’s webpage, The Selection is being turned into a TV show by the CW network.  It won’t be out this fall, but it could be out as early as this coming spring.  I don’t quite know how I feel about that, but I’ve got plenty of time to think about it.

If you’re still not convinced to give The Selection a try, check out this book trailer from HarperTeen, and enjoy!

Published in: on July 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Dog’s Way Home

I’m happy to report that I just finished reading the last of this year’s South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees.  I’ll admit that I was reluctant to read this final book, A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron.  Even though most of my students absolutely love “dog books,” I confess that they aren’t my favorites.  These books are almost always heart-breaking, and, contrary to popular belief, I’m extremely tender-hearted, and I can’t stand starting a book knowing that there probably won’t be a happy ending…especially for the poor animal around which the book is centered.  (I blame Old Yeller for this.  That book/movie scarred me for life.)  So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I began to read A Dog’s Way Home, and I was right about this book being a heartbreaker, but, unlike so many other “dog books,” this one offered a fair amount of hope that dog and owner would somehow find their way back to each other, even when so many obstacles were in the way.

Abby’s best friend is her beloved Shetland sheepdog, Tam. The two are always together, and they even compete in agility competitions (which they usually win because they seem to read each others’ minds). On the way home from a competition in Virginia, however, a horrible accident on the treacherous Blue Ridge Parkway separates Abby and Tam. Abby is sure that her precious dog is still alive and trying to find his way back to her…all the way home to Harmony Gap, North Carolina.  Even when Abby and her family move to Nashville (something Abby is not happy about), she never loses hope that she will be reunited with Tam one day.

Tam is lost and alone for the first time in his life.  He has only two goals:  survive and find his way back to his girl.  As Tam makes his way south toward where he’s sure he’ll find Abby, surviving is becoming more difficult.  Winter is on its way, and Tam must rely on all his instincts–and the help of some surprising new friends–to live through the season.  As the days, weeks, and months pass, Tam begins to forget much about his old life as he becomes more like a wild animal and less like the pampered dog he once was.  But, somehow, he always remembers that he belongs somewhere else, and he is doing everything he can to get back to the place–and the girl–that is his true home.

Both Abby and Tam are facing new situations and dangers they never expected, but these two friends have a bond that transcends everything.  It’s this bond that helps both of them hope for the day when they’ll see each other again.  Even though hundreds of miles separate them, Abby and Tam are determined to find each other…and they’ll stop at nothing to make that happen.  Find out how Tam makes his way home to Abby’s welcoming arms when you read A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron.

I’m confident that my students will devour this book.  Books about dogs are not exactly a hard sell in my library anyway, but I think this one stands out from the crowd.  A Dog’s Way Home is told from both Abby’s and Tam’s perspectives, so it shows how strong the relationship between pet and owner can truly be.  Anyone who’s ever had a pet will appreciate this.

There are so many things to love about A Dog’s Way Home–the setting, the relationships, the will to survive, and the love between Abby and Tam.  I sincerely believe that my students will enjoy this book as much as I did (even though I really didn’t expect to).  I highly recommend this book to all readers, especially those in 3rd-6th grades who have a special bond with their own pets.

For more information about this heart-warming book and author Bobbie Pyron, visit http://www.bobbiepyron.com/.  Enjoy!

Dreaming Awake

Warning!  Read Falling Under before proceeding.  If you don’t, you will be totally lost without any hope of finding your way out!  (Sorry.  Dreaming Awake messed with my head a little bit, and I’m still kind of stuck in the world depicted in this captivating yet disturbing story.)

A little over a year ago, I read a really cool book called Falling Under.  This book by Gwen Hayes was the very definition of the word “macabre.”  It was at once haunting and beautiful.  Well, this week, I finally got around to reading the sequel, Dreaming Awake, and everything I felt about Falling Under definitely applies to the second book.  Dreaming Awake picks up where Falling Under ended, and it further explores the extremely complicated relationship between Theia and Haden.  Things are more convoluted now than they were before.  Now that Theia has been “infected” with demon blood (from Haden’s mother, no less), Theia, Haden, and everyone they care about are about to enter a world of nightmares that is more horrifying than they ever thought possible…

Theia has just returned from the mysterious nightmare realm of Under…but she’s not returning to the same life she left. Her father is almost unbearably distant, everyone at school looks at her differently (especially the guys), and she’s got the little problem of demon blood running through her veins.  Theia feels more powerful than she ever has, but she doesn’t know how to control her new “abilities.”  A couple of things haven’t changed though.  Her friends are still completely devoted and understanding and are doing their absolute best to help Theia find a way out of her current predicament.  And then there’s Haden…Haden Black, the half-demon who is still the love of Theia’s life.  Sure, his mom, Mara, is totally evil and determined to ruin their human lives and drag them to Under, but Theia never doubts Haden’s love.  Sometimes, he’s the only bright spot in her scary new life.  But evil has a way of destroying every happiness that Theia manages to find, and it’s coming back to claim Theia…whether she likes it or not.

Theia is trying as hard as she can to hold onto her humanity, but it’s getting harder and harder to deny the dark urges that have taken hold of her.  People around her are suffering, and, even though Theia knows it’s not entirely her fault, she feels she must do something–anything–to make things right.  But is she willing to give up the love of her life to make that happen?  Maybe her relationship with Haden was never meant to be, but Theia doesn’t know if she can truly sacrifice her love for Haden to escape the nightmare in which she’s currently imprisoned.  Could she possibly ask him to give up his last shred of humanity so that her life could go back to normal?

Theia must make some tough decisions…and she must make them soon, or everyone she’s ever loved will be in mortal danger.  Will her love for Haden and her friends be strong enough to fight the darkness in Under and even in herself?  Can Theia hold onto her humanity when the urges to embrace the darkness are growing stronger?  Do Theia, Haden, and their friends have any hope of defeating Mara, the demon queen, or will they all be dragged Under…forever?  Find out what one girl is willing to sacrifice–and even accept–in order to save the people who matter the most to her when you read Dreaming Awake, the gripping sequel to Falling Under, by Gwen Hayes.

Like Falling Under, Dreaming Awake, creeped me out just as it drew me in.  Both of these books remind me of Tim Burton films (but without Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter).  Yes, there is a definite nightmarish quality, but there’s also a weird kind of beauty in the world of Under.  I highly recommend this book to teen (and adult) readers who are fans of Tim Burton, The Addams Family, or anything else that depicts love with an edge of darkness.

If you’d like more information about Falling Under, Dreaming Awake, or author Gwen Hayes, visit http://www.gwenhayes.com/ or follow her on Twitter @gwenhayes.

Published in: on July 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Wonder

Sometimes, books come along that have the power to change the world.  I believe that Wonder by R.J. Palacio is one of those books.  Wonder has been the talk of reading teacher and librarian circles for the past several months, and I finally made the time to read this book, and it was better than I ever thought possible.  I thought nothing I read this summer could possibly top John Green’s The Fault in Our StarsWonder has me rethinking that.  It is a beautiful, powerful book that every person should read.  Its message–one of choosing kindness–is one that all of us could stand to receive.

Wonder tells the story of August Pullman, a boy who’s about to enter fifth grade. This will mark the first time Auggie has ever been at school with other kids. He’s been homeschooled up until now, and he’s not entirely certain he wants that to change. Auggie’s nervous about how the kids at school will react to his face. See, Auggie was born with a facial deformity–for lack of a better word–and he doesn’t exactly look like most kids. But everything else about him is perfectly normal. He’s a good student, he’s funny, he loves Star Wars (a kid after my own heart), and, most of all, he just wants to belong somewhere. But will anyone be able to look past his appearance and really be Auggie’s friend?

As it turns out, there are a couple of kids who befriend Auggie, but Auggie worries that he’s some kind of charity case to them.  Nothing about middle school is easy–especially when your face might as well be a target for bullies–but it’s a lot easier when you’ve got a couple of friends who have your back.  Even though Auggie has doubts (sometimes justified) about his friends on occasion, he’s forming lasting relationships with people who see him for the wonderful person he is. 

Read Wonder to discover how one very special kid can change the minds, hearts, and attitudes of those around him and turn an entire school–even a community–into a model of kindness.  This book gives me hope that the world we live in can change for the better.

I haven’t touched on a lot of what happens in Wonder–Auggie’s relationships with his parents and sister, how he deals with all of the changes in his life, etc.–but these are things you need to experience for yourself.  This book isn’t just Auggie’s story.  Yes, it’s told primarily from his point of view, but we also get glimpses into the minds of his family and friends.  It’s eye-opening and humbling, and I challenge readers to examine their own thoughts and prejudices against people who may look different from them.  We’ll all relate to the characters in this book in different ways, and reflecting upon how we relate to these characters could have the power to change our attitudes about ourselves and others.

If you’d like to learn more about this unbelievably awesome book, visit http://rjpalacio.com/, or check out the super cool book trailer below. 

You can buy Wonder wherever books are sold.  I read my school library’s copy of the book, but this is one that I definitely want to purchase for myself.  I know I’ll want to reread Wonder soon.

Published in: on July 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Romeo and Juliet Code

I freely admit that I tend to judge a book by its cover.  After all, it’s the first glimpse of a book that I get.  A good cover will tell me what genre the book falls into, what the target audience is (young readers, middle grade, YA, adult), and just a smidge about the book–without giving anything critical away.  It will also show me a little about the book’s tone.  For instance, a dystopian book with a bright pink cover is probably a bad idea.  I want the covers of these books to be as bleak as the environments depicted on the pages. 

The cover of my latest read, The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (another nominee for the 2012-13 South Carolina Book Award), was, in my most humble opinion, a failure on all counts.  The book itself was okay, but it did not match the cover in any way.  That bothers me.  Anyway, here’s the cover:

Now, judging by the cover, and even the title to a certain degree, one would likely expect this book to be a middle-grade, contemporary–possibly geeky–romance. Well, one would be wrong. The Romeo and Juliet Code is a work of historical fiction. It takes place from May to December of 1941 in the town of Bottlebay, Maine. Is there anything about this cover that suggests historical fiction to you? If there is, please let me know!  There is a small bit of romance in this book, but certainly not enough to warrant this cover.  Maybe I should have my students design a more fitting cover for this book. 

Moving on to the story…

The Romeo and Juliet Code introduces readers to Felicity Bathburn Budwig, a young  British girl who is moving to Maine to stay with relatives for the duration of World War II.  Her parents leave her with family members she’s never met, and Felicity doesn’t really know where her parents are going or when–or if–they will return for her.  They don’t even write to her…but they do send letters to her Uncle Gideon.  Felicity is barely allowed to touch these letters.  That, of course, makes her want to know what the letters are hiding.

With the help of Derek, a boy who lives with the Bathburn family, Felicity learns that these mysterious letters are codes being sent from her parents.  But what do they say?  What is the code’s connection to Romeo and Juliet?  Do the codes have anything to do with the war that is sure to involve America at any moment?  Just what are her parents involved in?  And can Felicity and Derek figure everything out–including the mystery surrounding the turmoil in the Bathburn family–before they lose their minds?  Discover the truth when you read The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone.

While this book is a decent historical mystery with a dash of young love, it wasn’t exactly a quick read, and that–along with the misleading cover–will make this one a hard sell.  I know some of my female students will pick up the book because of the current cover, but the “bait and switch” here might turn them off once they start reading.  Most of my male students won’t pick up this book at all because the cover makes it look like a “girl book.”  Again, a redesign would help tremendously, and that may well be how I get students to read this one.  I’ll give them the opportunity to recover my library’s copies of this book with their own designs.  They’ll have to create covers that accurately depict the book without giving too much away.  Of course, they’ll have to read the book to enter the cover design contest.  Something to think about…

If you’d like more information about The Romeo and Juliet Code and other books by author Phoebe Stone, visit http://www.phoebestone.com/.

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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True (…Sort of)

I love it when new books remind me of old favorites.  My latest read, True (…Sort of) by Katherine Hannigan, brought to mind such favorites as The Great Gilly Hopkins and Maniac Magee.  This nominee for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award tells the tale of Delly, a young girl who has a very close relationship with trouble.  (I have a feeling quite a few of my students will identify with Delly.)  No matter what she does, or how good her intentions might be, Delly gets into predicaments that get her labeled as a “bad kid.”  Now, Delly knows she’s not really bad, but the people around her are starting to make her think that she’ll never outrun the trouble that always seems to follow her.  With the arrival of a new kid in town, however, Delly may have a chance to turn everything around…

No one knows much about Ferris Boyd. The new kid never talks, can’t be touched, spends all her time alone, and is often mistaken for a boy.  Delly Pattison, though, sees Ferris Boyd as her way out of trouble.  When Delly–and her little brother RB–are with Ferris, trouble seems to stay away.  And Delly desperately needs to keep away from trouble, or her parents will send her to a reform school–or a reDellyformatory. 

Even though Ferris doesn’t talk, Delly, Ferris, and RB find a way to communicate and form real friendships that will help all of them through the issues they’re facing.  Even though Delly is quite familiar with her own brand of trouble, Ferris is dealing with something much more serious…something that has robbed her of the ability or desire to speak.  With the help of Delly, RB, and Brud, another unlikely friend, Ferris will be able to come to terms with the fear that has held her captive.  And Delly will learn that some things–like the safety and well-being of a dear friend–are worth the risk of getting into a little trouble.

True (…Sort of) is a quick, often hilarious, read that will grip readers from the first page.  Delly is a character that is often misunderstood by those around her, something that nearly everyone can relate to on some level.  Her quest to stay out of trouble is admirable, and readers will rejoice in her successes, but they’ll also be wowed by Delly’s ability to find a bit of fun in the small things around her and turn even the most mundane things into Dellyventures. 

I also think young readers will be inspired by Delly’s vocabulary.  Her made up words tell so much about her personality, and I hope that my students will create their own vocabulary to explain the truly unique things about their own lives.  (There is a “Dellyictionary” at the back of this book with a list of words and definitions for all of the words Delly uses throughout the book.)  Even the non-cuss words Delly makes up tell readers how unique–and creative–this character is.

Even though this book is lighthearted at times, it also deals with a serious issue.  This issue is personified in the character of Ferris Boyd, and it will be all too easy for readers to realize that something is really wrong in this young girl’s life.  Her selective mutism and aversion to touching tells everyone that this girl has been through something awful.  She may still be involved in something no child should ever have to deal with.  Delly sees what others don’t.  She sees that her friend is sad and afraid, and, even though Delly knows she’ll get into trouble for helping Ferris, she does what no one else has before.  She puts Ferris’ safety above everything, and that decision changes more than one life…for the better.

True (…Sort of) is a book that will resonate with readers of all ages, and it is my hope that we’ll all pay a little more attention to children who might otherwise be overlooked, especially the “troublemakers” and the “invisible.”  Sometimes, these are the kids who need us the most and who are just looking for their chance to shine.

For more information about True (…Sort of) and other books by author Katherine Hannigan, visit http://www.katherinehannigan.com/.

The Scorpio Races

Unlike nearly every girl I grew up with in rural South Carolina, I never had a fondness for horses.  (I’ve always been more of an indoor kind of gal.  Horses are for those outdoorsy types.)  I should have known, then, that The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater might not be my cup of tea.  Honestly, I only picked up the book because I thoroughly enjoyed Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, and I thought this one would be just as wonderful.  In a way, it was. 

The action in the book, while horrifying at times, was still understated and even beautiful and natural in its own way.  The author didn’t hit readers over the head with the relationship brewing between the two main characters.  It was subtle and true to the characters’ personalities.  It did take me a while to get into this book, however, and I often found my interest waning.  The Scorpio Races is not a light-hearted romp of a novel, and the seriousness of the book kind of put me off a bit.  It didn’t help that the book made me even more wary of horses than I already was.

The Scorpio Races take over the island of Thisby every November. It is the island’s most exciting, money-making, and tourist-attracting event. It’s also a fight for survival. While struggling to tame the vicious water horses that are the focus of the brutal display, racers put their lives on the line for the chance to cross the finish line first and become legends.

Sean Kendrick is already a legend when it comes to the races.  At the age of nineteen, he’s already a four-time champion, and it’s looking like this year will be his fifth victory.  But Sean, a serious young man with a rather taciturn nature, is battling for more than just another mark in the win column.  He’s fighting for his own taste of freedom.  But there may be someone on the horizon that needs to win more than Sean ever has…

Puck Connolly is a young woman who is on the verge of losing everything she’s ever known.  Her older brother is determined to leave her and their younger brother behind on the island, so Puck does the only thing she can think of to get him to stay a little longer.  She enters the Scorpio Races.  The odds are stacked against her from the very beginning.  Puck is the first girl to ever enter the races, nearly everyone on the island tries to bully her or convince her to change her mind, and she’s not racing on one of the fierce water horses.  No, she’s racing on her own dependable land mare, Dove.  No one thinks Puck has a shot of winning–including Puck–but everyone will soon find out that there’s more to Puck Connolly than anyone ever suspected…

Sean is intrigued by this girl who has entered the races despite the odds.  Puck is fascinated by the boy who seems to always have one leg on land and the other in the sea, the boy who has a special bond with the beasts that claimed her parents’ lives.  The two young people are inexorably drawn together by the very races that could tear them apart.

Sean and Puck both need to win the races that are sure to claim lives before all is said and done.  Both of them need to win to preserve everything that they hold dear.  Who will win?  Who will lose?  Will Puck and Sean be strong enough to handle the races that are sure to change their lives forever?  Will the races draw them together or destroy them forever?  Find out when you read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

I don’t know what else to say about this book.  It was good, but I’m ready to move on to somewhat lighter fare.  If you think you might enjoy The Scorpio Races, I strongly urge you to read the author’s note at the back of the book first.  I stumbled over the name of the water horses–capall uisce–and the author’s note has a handy pronunciation (CAPple ISHka) as well as some of the myths surrounding the mysterious water horses.

If you’d like to learn more about The Scorpio Races or other books by Maggie Steifvater, visit her website at http://maggiestiefvater.com/ or follow her on Twitter @msteifvater.

Published in: on July 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Clockwork Princess cover!!!!!

Oh my God!  The pretty!!!!

I don’t know if words alone can adequately express how much I freakin’ love this cover! I know the pages within will totally live up to this beauty! I cannot wait until March 19th!!!!!

Published in: on July 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel

*Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the sequel to Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything.  It’s not absolutely essential that you read the first book before this one, but it would definitely help.  Also, the first book is made of awesome, so you need to read it anyway.*

If there is a perfect summer read for kids who just finished the fifth grade, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, written by Steve Cotler and illustrated by Adam McCauley, might just be it.  As a matter of fact, this is an excellent summer read for kids of all ages, especially those of us who have ever been to summer camp!  (It made me fondly recall my own summers at Camp Marietta.)  Everything that made Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything a great read also holds true for this sequel.  Cheesie’s voice is delightful and laugh-out-loud hilarious, and I know my students will love this book as much as they are currently eating up the first one (which is nominated for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award).

In Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel, readers follow Cheesie, his best friend Georgie, and a whole cast of characters to Camp Windward (for boys) and Camp Leeward (for girls) in Maine. (Events in this book pick up right where they left off in the first book.  It’s the summer after fifth grade graduation.)  Cheesie is sure that this will be the best summer ever because he and Georgie will be the oldest of the Little Guys at camp. Unfortunately, thanks to events that occurred in the first book, things don’t quite work out the way Cheesie had hoped. Now, Cheesie and Georgie are the youngest in the Big Guys group at camp. (Not a big deal if you’re already kind of big like Georgie, but it’s bad news if you’re already a little guy like Cheesie.)  This presents a whole new set of problems, and the biggest one is probably Kevin Welch, his sister Goon’s boyfriend.

Camp Windward is not off to a stellar start, but Cheesie comes up with a way that might help him to make the best of things.  He challenges Kevin to a Cool Duel.  Whoever is voted the coolest in their cabin at the end of a week is the coolest guy at camp!  Kevin gets out to an early lead, but Cheesie isn’t a quick-witted kid for nothing.  He comes up with a couple of things that are sure to earn him some votes.  But will he get enough votes to win the Cool Duel?  You should definitely read this book to find out!

Even though the Cool Duel is a big part of this book (hence the title), there’s also a lot of other stuff going on:  a dance with the girls from Camp Leeward, sneaking into the computer lab, snakes, a talent show, and the most epic scary story in the known universe.  Cheesie also introduces readers to exciting new words (only a few of which are made up) and questions to ponder.  Cheesie’s website, http://cheesiemack.com/, also plays a big part in this book.  This wonderful site makes this book, like its predecessor, truly interactive. 

All in all, Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel is the perfect follow-up to the first book, and I can’t wait to see what Cheesie gets up to next!  (FYI, the third book, Cheesie Mack Is Running Like Crazy!, will be out in June of 2013.  I can’t believe I have to wait that long!  Ugh!!!)  I’m working on organizing an author visit with Steve Cotler to Greenville County (South Carolina) elementary schools in February.  I’m so looking forward to having discussions with my students and the author about both of the wonderful Cheesie Mack books and, hopefully, what we can expect in the third!

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Fault in Our Stars

I don’t know where to begin.  I just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and I am emotionally spent. During the last hour and a half, I’ve alternated between reading, sobbing, cleaning my glasses of tear residue, and reaching for Kleenex.  After all that, I’m honestly not quite sure what to do next.  I am drained (and a little dehydrated), so I’m sure this post will not be my greatest, and that is rather unfortunate since this book is one of the best I’ve read all year…maybe ever.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ll say much more about this fantastic book.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry throughout this book, so I went with wracking sobs.  I think you will too.  Everyone needs to read The Fault in Our Stars, and, trust me, that is no exaggeration.

If you want a synopsis or review before diving in, check out Goodreads or reviews on several other book blogging sites.  You can also learn more about this book and others at http://johngreenbooks.com/.  I’m simply too wiped out by The Fault in Our Stars to do much more than weep on my laptop.

Published in: on July 6, 2012 at 10:17 am  Comments (1)  
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