Better Off Friends

It’s becoming pretty clear that I’m going to like any book that Elizabeth Eulberg writes.  I’ve now read four of her books–Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, and Better Off Friends–and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every single one. Last night, I finished reading Eulberg’s latest, Better Off Friends. This book takes aim at that age-old question: Can a guy and a girl really just be friends?

The two main characters in Better Off Friends, Macallan and Levi, have been friends since they first met in the seventh grade. In fact, they’re best friends. They have a special bond that seems to be unbreakable…even when Levi starts dating one of Macallan’s other friends. (As you can probably imagine, this doesn’t really end well, and Macallan is forced to choose between friends. Quite the pickle.)

As Macallan and Levi exit middle school and enter the exciting world of high school–dances, team sports, serious relationships–their strong friendship is tested. No one really gets the closeness between Macallan and Levi, and that leads to problems with boyfriends and girlfriends.

As this dynamic duo examines just why their other relationships fail, they’ll be forced to face how they really feel about each other. This is not exactly a comfortable process. In fact, at one point, Macallan escapes to Ireland for the summer just to avoid facing her feelings for Levi! Levi, meanwhile, is trying to balance being a guy’s guy with having a girl for a best friend…a girl who he may love as more than a friend.

Life is quickly becoming an emotional whirlwind for both Macallan and Levi. When mushy feelings are thrown into the mix, their friendship undergoes some changes. Sometimes, the two can’t even speak to each other without arguing. At other times, the two are inseparable.  Their newly-discovered feelings for each other–feelings that each one denies at one point or another–are quickly making a mess of everyday life, and something’s got to give soon.

Would becoming a couple change everything that is special about their friendship, or would it make them stronger than ever? Should Macallan and Levi explore their feelings, or are they better off friends? There’s only one way to find out…

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Part of me wanted this story to steer clear of anything romantic. I think guys and girls can be just friends, and I think it would have been refreshing to see that play out. However…

SPOILERS!

That’s not what happened here. Love–and not the platonic kind–got thrown into the mix, and I’ll admit it made for a great read. I imagine every reader will wonder when Macallan and Levi are going to wake up and see that “The One” is right there in front of them. This struggle made for some tense moments, but I held out hope that these two would find some way to eventually be together.

I did have reason to believe things would turn out okay for Macallan and Levi. In between chapters, readers see conversations between these two–mostly reactions to what happened in the previous chapter or hints about what’s about to happen–so we know that, at the very least, they remain friends. That was definitely a comfort when their friendship hit a few low points.

If you’re looking for a fun, often hilarious, romantic, light read, I urge you to give Better Off Friends (and other books by Elizabeth Eulberg) a try. Even though the book doesn’t really answer the question of whether guys and girls can be just friends, it does show that sometimes the best relationships start with amazing friendships.

Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Attachments

Well, it’s been quite the week. After an unexpected winter vacation, it was very difficult to get back into the swing of things at work. Add to that a colossally bad mood, and my reading just wasn’t what it should have been this week. Today, though, I think I finally got out of my funk. At the very least, my urge to read returned, and I was able to finish reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, who is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite authors. Now, unlike Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Attachments can’t really be considered YA fiction. I would classify it simply as realistic, romantic fiction, but even the romance is somewhat understated.

Attachments begins in a newspaper office in 1999. Lincoln O’Neill has been hired as an Internet security officer, which basically means he gets paid to read “flagged” emails. You know what I’m talking about–dirty jokes, sexist remarks, profanity, pornography, etc. (Man, I would rock that job. I’m nosy, but I really don’t like interacting with a lot of people.) Well, with most people aware that Big Brother is watching, Lincoln’s job tends to be rather boring…until he gets sucked into the emails between Beth and Jennifer.

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder spend a lot of company time emailing each other. They talk about their relationships, their jobs, their pasts, and just the day-to-day minutiae of their lives…and Lincoln is enthralled by these conversations. Yes, he should probably send them a warning to stop using company email for personal communication, but he can’t make himself do that. That would mean cutting ties with these two women he’s never met but who make his work hours more that just finding something to occupy his time.

As Lincoln learns more and more about Beth and Jennifer, he also seeks to improve himself. He examines his past relationships, his current living situation (still with his mom), his friendships, and his own health. Why, you ask? Well, a lot of it has to do with his desire to be ready when/if he ever meets Beth. You see, as he’s read about her life, he’s developed feelings for her. And when he finally sees her in passing, those feelings grow stronger. (No, he’s still never actually spoken to her.)

Beth, on the other hand, is dealing with her own stuff. She’s been in a committed relationship for a long time, but she’s starting to realize that it may not be the best thing for her. She is kind of obsessed with an unnamed Cute Guy at work (who happens to be Lincoln). At the same time, she’s got her own issues with family and friends.

Can these two crazy kids find their way to each other? What obstacles will get in their way? If they do get together, is there a way to get past their secret obsessions with each other? (I mean, it would be kind of hard to say, “Honey, before we started dating, I was secretly reading your personal emails to your best friend for months. We’re good, though, right?”) What will happen with Lincoln and Beth? Dive in to Attachments, and find out!

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Like Rowell’s other two books, I thoroughly enjoyed Attachments. The characters felt real to me, and I could see so much of myself and my friends, not just in Lincoln and Beth, but in the motley assortment of supporting characters as well.

Some YA readers may be drawn to this book just because of the author, and, to a certain extent, I think that’s okay. Like I said before, though, this is not a work of YA fiction. It addresses some situations that many teenagers just haven’t had to face yet–workplace politics, what happens to adults after college (moving out vs. moving in with parents), being unhappy with a chosen career path, deciding whether or not to have a baby and what happens when that choice is taken out of a person’s hands, and choosing to end unhealthy relationships. (At least, I hope most teenagers haven’t had to deal with this stuff.) I think this book is best approached by readers who have a bit of life experience and who can truly empathize with and relate to the struggles of the main characters.

Published in: on February 23, 2014 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett

Warning you must heed! Read first three Origami Yoda books you must! Annoying yet, is this?

So…as you’ve no doubt gathered, this post will focus on the fourth book in Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda series, The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett. (In case you can’t remember, the first three books are The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back, and The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.) You really need to read the first three books to fully grasp what’s going on in the fourth. If you’re a Star Wars nut like me, that shouldn’t be a problem.

In this fourth book, the students of McQuarrie Middle School are facing a terrible evil.  More evil than the Empire. More evil than a Sith Lord without his morning coffee.  More evil than Jar Jar Binks. (Well, maybe not that bad.)  This semester, the school is eliminating all electives–Lego robotics, drama, music, yearbook–and forcing kids to spend those class times watching the horrible FunTime videos that are supposed to help increase standardized test scores.

As one can probably imagine, the students are not happy about this, and, with the help of Captain Dwight and Origami Yoda, they decide to do something about it. The students of McQuarrie Middle form their own Rebel Alliance and try to figure out a way to put an end to FunTime (and it’s stupid singing calculator). Their plan is risky, but it may just work if they can get enough kids on board. Armed with a battalion of origami Star Wars figures, the students of McQuarrie Middle seek to restore order and balance to the Force at their school.

Will the Rebel Alliance succeed in defeating the dreaded FunTime Menace, or is this war bigger than they realize? And what will this rebel band do when help comes from a surprising source? Learn just how much a determined group of kids can accomplish when you read The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Angleberger! May the Force be with you!

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I must say that I enjoyed this book just as much as the other three books in the Origami Yoda series.  I do think, though, that it’s basic message might just be geared toward adults as much as kids. (I hate to say it, but it’s definitely a message that the “powers-that-be” in my own state and district could stand to learn.) If you ask any quality educator, they’ll probably tell you–at length–how they feel about standardized tests.  (In short, we hate them.)  Our hands are tied, though.  We have to do what we’re told…just like our students do.  It doesn’t make anyone happy, and I honestly don’t think you can measure a student’s achievement by looking at one test.

This book, quite frankly, gives me hope that change can happen…and it will begin with students. Once students and their parents have enough of being tested to death, things may just start to shift. I can almost guarantee teachers will get on board fast. Will it happen while I’m still an educator? Only time will tell…

Aside from all of the stuff about the evils of removing electives to focus on test-prep, The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett is like candy for Star Wars fans. Every student we meet has their own origami Star Wars figure (which are often matched to the students’ personalities). It’s really cool and kind of makes me want to start a Star Wars club at my school. (That would probably be the greatest club mankind has ever known.)

This book is a great read for the Star Wars fan (or the frustrated educator) in your life.  It demonstrates what a determined group of people are capable of accomplishing if they work together. Good times.

For more information about the Origami Yoda series and author Tom Angleberger, visit http://origamiyoda.com/.

One more thing! This Saturday is Star Wars Reads Day! For information on an event near you, check out http://starwars.com/reads/!

Every Day

I started reading Every Day by David Levithan way back on August 18th.  It took me until September 5th to get through the first 75 pages of this book.  I honestly don’t know why I wasn’t super-engaged in this book.  The premise is right up my alley–someone wakes up in a different body every day.  Why then, did it take me so long to get invested?  Maybe I’ll figure it out through the course of this post.  (In case you were wondering, I read pages 76-322 yesterday while in a hospital waiting room.  More on that later.)

What would you do if you didn’t know where–or who–you’d be from day to day?  That’s reality for “A.”  One day he could be in the body of the most popular boy in school.  The next day he’s experiencing the life of a suicidal girl who lives hundreds of miles away.  Every day, A is someone different.  This existence is all A has ever known, and he’s pretty sure there’s no one else in the world like him.  The best he can hope for is not to screw up his hosts’ lives too badly.

But everything changes when he inhabits the body of Justin. Justin is normally not a great guy, but he has one thing that changes everything A has ever felt about himself or the world around him.  Justin has Rhiannon, a girl that A almost immediately falls in love with.  But how can A cope with only having one day with this remarkable girl?  One day during which she’ll only know him as a kinder version of her boyfriend?  Is there any way for A to keep a relationship with Rhiannon going?  If he can, what will be the cost…to both A and Rhiannon?

As A grows closer and closer to Rhiannon, he begins breaking more of his own rules.  He’s tampering with his hosts, and it’s not going unnoticed.  A is also growing to resent the only life he’s ever known.  When you’re a different person every day, how can you hold on to anyone or anything?  But could there possibly be a way out of this life without A hurting himself, his hosts, and Rhiannon?  Only time will tell…

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Even after finishing this book, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I still think the premise is great, but I would have liked a bit more resolution at the end. I feel like too many things were left up in the air. I’m not sure if there will be a sequel or not, but I would like to know how things end up for A. (Spoilers! Every Day did not, in my opinion, end on what I would call a positive note. Maybe the lack of happy ending is what’s bothering me.) Apparently, there will be a companion novel, Rhiannon, which–you guessed it–tells Every Day from Rhiannon’s point of view. This book is not scheduled to be released until sometime in 2015. I don’t know if I’ll pick it up or not. We’ll see.

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Now, for those still reading who are curious as to why I was in a hospital waiting room most of the day yesterday, here we go.  My sister was giving birth to my second niece!  Yesterday, we welcomed Sarah Elizabeth “Ellie” Payne into the world!  Mom and baby are doing well, and my entire family is ecstatic about our new addition!

If you’d like to see a picture of Ellie, check out my Twitter feed in the sidebar here.  (For those who are not following me on Twitter yet, my handle is @KnightReaderSC.)

Published in: on September 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Amazing Adventures of John Smith, Jr. AKA Houdini

This will not be a standard post, but please bear with me.

Like most avid readers, I use books to escape from the pressures of everyday life. Something happened a couple of days ago, though, that even books can’t really help me with. (Please allow me just this little bit to get this out, and I’ll get to my latest read.) On Sunday morning, my uncle was killed in a tragic accident. Anyone who knew my wonderful uncle knew that he was larger than life, so the news of his death was a shock to everyone. I still don’t fully believe it. I’m waiting on him to walk through the door with his huge smile and a hug for everyone he encounters. Everyone adored him, and none of us can really process why this happened. Right now, the platitudes that people offer during times like these mean absolutely nothing to me (or the rest of the family, I imagine). We simply want David back.

I haven’t mentioned this to anyone except my mother, but my uncle’s passing has hit me very hard. You see, Sunday wasn’t just another day for me. It was my birthday. For the rest of my life, I’ll associate that day with the loss of one of the men I loved most in the world. I’m sure the rest of my family will feel the same. My birthday is no longer something to celebrate. That date is something to mourn. I don’t even know how to reconcile that in my own mind, and I know my uncle would fuss about this, but I just can’t help it. Maybe one day I’ll be able to get past my feelings about this, but it is not this day.

I do ask everyone to keep my family in your thoughts and prayers. We’ll need all the help we can get to make it through this tragedy.

I did try to escape through a book during the past couple of days. I put away the book I was reading (which dealt with way too much death), and I began reading a somewhat light-hearted novel that I thought would lift my spirits just a little. That book was The Amazing Adventures of John Smith, Jr. AKA Houdini by Peter Johnson. (I’ll be calling this book Houdini from this point forward. That title is a little long to keep typing.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I read this book because one of the teachers at my school was concerned about some swearing in it that a third grader had brought to her attention. Before I made any decisions on whether to keep or remove the book from my school library, I knew I had to read it, so I figured now was as good as any time. Yes, there is a little swearing (the “d” word a couple of times), but, in my opinion, it was not gratuitous, and it fit the character’s situation. (Not every kid is raised in a wholesome, religious, stable, conservative family.) The main character also mentions that a good, publishable kid’s novel (which he’s trying to write) shouldn’t contain any explicit sex. (He’s right, by the way.) Some kids and parents might simply see the phrase “explicit sex” when browsing through this book and decide to throw a conniption fit. I was a little concerned as well…until I actually read the book.

Houdini tells the tale of a thirteen-year-old, nicknamed Houdini as the title suggests, who has decided to write a novel about his life after hearing an author speak at his school. He explores what makes a good kids’ novel and proceeds to write the happenings of his rather eventful life. He talks about his family’s struggles with making ends meet, his brother’s deployment to Iraq (and what happens when he eventually returns), dealing with the neighborhood bully, and his relationships with his friends and neighbors. At the end, even Houdini is surprised at how writing (and noticing) everything around him changes not only him but his family and friends as well. He realizes that nearly everything is interconnected and that, if he takes the time to really get to know someone, they may just surprise him.

Even in this dark time in my own life, Houdini put a smile on my face. This was a good book that I think a lot of readers, particularly boys, will relate to. After reading it, I will say that this is not a book I would recommend to a third grader. I think this book is okay for readers in fifth grade on up. Middle grade readers will enjoy it.

Here’s the big question: am I going to remove Houdini from my school library? No. I think it does have a place in the elementary library, but I do believe library professionals–including myself–should know their readers and be mindful of which readers are mature enough to handle a book like this one. (Also be aware of which parents or teachers will have a problem with a bit of swearing or frank talk between a group of thirteen-year-old boys.) As I’m sure everyone knows, maturity levels vary greatly between a group of kids (or adults). What one reader may find offensive or scandalous, another will view as commonplace or even funny. As always, keep this in mind when recommending any book to a reader, no matter what his/her age may be.

Splintering

I finished a book last night that was very short and extremely easy to read. (It’s a novel in verse, so I flew through it.) The subject matter, however, was kind of disturbing. The book is Splintering by Eireann Corrigan, and it explores what happens to a family after a violent attack and home invasion. (Since I was the victim of a home invasion in September, I related a bit to the characters. Thankfully, I wasn’t home when some lowlife broke into my home. I shudder at the thought.)

Splintering is told in two distinct voices:  Paulie, a fifteen year old girl who has endured way too much in her young life and is barely coping with the horror that she faced on that fateful night; and Jeremy, Paulie’s older brother, who hid in the basement while his family was being attacked by a drugged-out monster. These two teenagers reveal to readers what life was like before, during, and after the attack that would change not only their lives but also the lives of their parents and their older sister, Mimi.

Even before everything went pear-shaped, things weren’t great for Paulie and Jeremy. Paulie, in particular, dealt with being a punching bag for their mother. After the attack, Paulie suffered from horrible nightmares, and she found solace in the arms of a much older boy. Jeremy, on the other hand, retreated into himself. He grew pot in the basement, and he lived with being thought of as the coward who hid in the basement when a madman was beating on his family. Both them are dealing with strained and changing relationships with their parents and worry over how everything impacted their big sister, who is just short of catatonic.

Things are looking pretty bleak for Paulie, Jeremy, and their family, but, somehow, they hold onto a small measure of hope. Hope that things will eventually get better. Hope that they won’t have to live with this fear forever. Hope for some sense of normalcy. Will they ever recover from the attack that changed everything, or will their lives continue to splinter? Read Splintering by Eireann Corrigan to learn how a family comes back from one terrible, horrifying, life-changing event.

In my opinion, Splintering is too mature for most middle grade readers, but it might be a good fit for reluctant teen readers who want to read something that isn’t all sweetness and light. There is frank talk about violence, drug use, and sex, and, even though most adults might not want to admit it, these things are parts of some teens’ daily lives. They might be able to relate to what Paulie and Jeremy are going through (even if they haven’t experienced the exact circumstances themselves).

Looking for Alaska

Over the past year or so, I have experienced a great deal of grief because of my emotional attachment to fictional characters. Most of the blame for my grief can be laid at the feet of two men. The first (and worst) offender is one Steven Moffat. (I’m sure my fellow Whovians and Sherlockians can sympathize.) The second man to bring on copious feels is author John Green. I read The Fault in Our Stars in July of last year, and I was an emotional wreck for days because of that book. Well, earlier today, I finished reading Green’s Looking for Alaska. This Printz medal winner was released way back in 2005, but, for whatever reason, I didn’t get around to reading it until this week. The simple fact that Looking for Alaska is a John Green book should have let me know that I would need tissues by my side while reading, but I was woefully unprepared for how overwrought I would become because of this book. I read the latter part of the book without wearing my glasses because the tear residue was too much to see through. Yes, it’s that good.

When Miles Halter–or Pudge, as he would come to be called–began attending Culver Creek, a boarding school in Alabama, he didn’t really know what to expect, but he was hoping that his life would become something more than what he left back in Florida. Almost immediately, he gets more than he bargained for thanks to a couple of new friends that will change his life forever. The first is his roommate, the Colonel, who is some kind of math genius with a fondness for video games, cigarettes, and booze. The other friend is a girl named Alaska. This girl is quite probably the most beautiful creature Pudge has ever seen…and the most volatile. Despite the roller coaster that comes with knowing Alaska, Pudge is drawn to her and the excitement and mystery that seem to be a part of Alaska’s very being.

The first part of Pudge’s year at Culver Creek is one filled with friends, pranks, laughs, and his first experiences with smoking, drinking, sex, and breaking school rules. The second part of his year takes a turn, however, when something terrible happens that shakes the foundation of his entire world. (If the title didn’t clue you in, this horrible event revolves around Alaska.) As Pudge, the Colonel, and a couple of other friends look for answers, they all begin to question why things happen the way they do and if there’s anything that could have been done to stop tragedy from striking their lives. Will they find the answers they seek, or will they forever be looking for Alaska?

I’ll be the first to admit that the recap above…well, it kind of sucks, and it doesn’t come remotely close to conveying just how amazeballs this book is. It contains so much awesomeness that, quite frankly, it’s probably impossible for me to write a decent blog post about it. Looking for Alaska forces readers to examine some pretty deep existential questions. It alludes to great works of literature and gives us information on famous last words. It teaches us about relationships and how much they mean to us. And it shows us that some emotional damage may be too much to overcome…or it may just make us stronger for having gone through it. I cannot say enough good things about this book, and, despite the grief I’m experiencing right now, Looking for Alaska made me love John Green even more.

One word of caution.  Looking for Alaska is not a book that I would recommend to readers younger than about sixteen. It contains quite a bit of cursing, and the characters are not shy about enjoying smoking, drinking, sex, and subverting authority. (I’ve taught middle school, so I’m not naive enough to believe that younger readers don’t have experience with this stuff, but I do think librarians, bloggers, teachers, and others should be careful when recommending this book to readers who may not be mature enough to handle it.)

In closing, read Looking for Alaska if you haven’t already. It’s an exquisite book that will stay with me for a long while.

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Comeback Season

A couple of days ago, I finished reading The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith.  (If that name rings a bell, it’s probably because she also wrote The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight…which I reviewed in March of this year.)  As a baseball fan, I was intrigued with the idea of a love story that essentially centered on a baseball team—even one that I’m not crazy about.  (The Chicago Cubs are featured in this book.  I’m a life-long Atlanta Braves fan.  Sadly, fans of both teams have grown accustomed to disappointment.)

Anyhoo, I was prepared for a light, fun read with lots of sports metaphors and a couple growing closer through their love of the game.  In one sense, I got what I was expecting.  In another, however, I got so much more.  The Comeback Season is much more than a love story.  Yes, there’s a tale of young love, but it’s also a book about moving forward and surviving…even when all hope is seemingly lost.

Ryan Walsh loves the Chicago Cubs.  It’s something she shared with her dad.  She loves the Cubs so much that she’s skipping school to catch opening day at Wrigley Field…on the tenth anniversary of her dad’s death.  (She’ll probably have more fun there anyway, even if the Cubs lose as they so often do, and even if this day brings back some pretty painful memories.  School is not exactly a good experience for Ryan.)  She doesn’t know what to think, though, when she runs into Nick, the new kid in school, also trying to score a ticket to watch the Cubs play.  Sadly, neither Ryan nor Nick gets a ticket to the game, but they do strike up a tentative friendship based on their mutual love for the Chicago Cubs.

When Ryan returns to school the next morning, she’s not quite sure how to act around Nick.  Are they school friends or baseball friends?  Will he be like every other person in school—even people Ryan once considered friends—and act like she’s invisible?  Much to Ryan’s surprise, Nick acknowledges her existence and seems to not care that she’s an outcast.  Their mutual love for the Cubs—and the hope that the team will have a good year—brings them together like nothing else could.

There may be something else, though, with the power to tear Ryan and Nick apart.  Something that neither of them knows how to fight.  Something that makes them question everything they’ve ever known or hoped for.  Nick is hiding a big secret, and when Ryan discovers what’s going on, she begins to lose faith in everything…including the baseball team that’s carried her through some of her toughest moments.

Ryan doesn’t think the Cubs will be enough this time, and she doesn’t know how to deal with the turmoil that is sure to come.  Ryan is losing the hope that is a part of every Cubs fan’s world, and she’s not sure how to get it back…or if she can, especially when it becomes clear that Nick—her only friend in the world and the boy who’s stolen her heart—is about to face something much more difficult than a baseball game.  Will this be a losing season for Ryan and Nick, or will they be able to come back from the biggest slump either of them has ever faced?  Read The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith to learn how true Cubs fans hold onto hope even in the toughest of times.

I did enjoy this book, even though I was less than thrilled with the ending.  I hate to say this, but The Comeback Season reminded me a little of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (probably the best book I’ve read so far this year).  I didn’t like this because, even at the beginning of this book, I had a feeling that I knew what was coming…and how I was going to react to it.  (I was right.)  Now, The Comeback Season, in my opinion, wasn’t nearly as good as The Fault in Our Stars, but the trials of at least one of the characters were similar to what happened in TFiOS.  Do with that what you will.

For more information on The Comeback Season and other books by Jennifer E. Smith, visit her website at http://www.jenniferesmith.com/, or follow her on Twitter @JenESmith.

The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee

Warning!  Read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back before continuing.  The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee picks up right where Darth Paper left off.

It’s no secret that I’m kind of a Star Wars nut, so no one should be shocked that I’m a big fan of Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda series.  Getting kids hooked on Star Wars (especially the original trilogy) can only be a good thing.  Yesterday, I finished the third book in this series, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, and it was just as wonderful as the previous two books.  It’s a funny read with a bit of mystery thrown in…not to mention loads of wonderful Star Wars references.  The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee is a perfect read for anyone, no matter what age or gender, who loves Star Wars or just a really good book.

When we last saw the students at McQuarrie Middle School, Dwight (the “owner and operator” of the famous Origami Yoda) had been suspended.  He is now attending Tippett Academy, and his friends (Tommy, Kellen, and the gang) aren’t quite sure what to do without him…or Origami Yoda.  Who will give them the advice they need?  Who will keep them from embarrassment and trouble?

Chewbacca to the rescue!!!   Sara has arrived with the Fortune Wookiee!  This paper fortune teller, along with his companion Han Foldo, has come to McQuarrie Middle to guide students in the ways of the Force (even though Chewie and Han never used the Force).  But why does the Fortune Wookiee’s advice seem to get the guys to do exactly what the girls want them to do?  This is one mystery that needs to be solved!

Another mystery that is plaguing the students at MMS concerns Dwight.  According to reports, ever since he transferred to Tippett, Dwight has become normal (boring).  He does his homework, he behaves in class, he’s given up origami (even Origami Yoda), and he’s just not as lively as he used to be.  What’s going on here?  Can Dwight’s friends—and even his arch-nemesis Harvey—discover the truth before both Dwight and Origami Yoda are gone forever?

Just like the other Origami Yoda books, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee combines humor, Star Wars, art, and mystery to create a fun, fast read that everyone will enjoy.  And this isn’t the last we’ve heard from the students of McQuarrie Middle!  Something horrible is about to happen at their beloved school, and they’ll need to harness the power of the Force to fight it!  (I’m not sure yet when the next book will come out—or even what the title will be—but you can bet that I’ll get my hands on it as soon as possible.)

If you’d like to learn more about this fantastic series (including how to fold your own origami Star Wars characters), visit http://origamiyoda.wordpress.com/.  Have fun!

Published in: on September 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm  Comments (1)  
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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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