The Rookie Bookie

It’s time, once again, to bring you one of the nominees for the 2016-17 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. Today’s post focuses on The Rookie Bookie by L. Jon Wertheim and Tobias Moskowitz.

This book is an interesting, quick read that will appeal to both math and sports enthusiasts, but I’m not sure how many upper elementary school students (the target audience for the SCCBA nominee list) will be able to follow all of the economics, statistics, and sports strategy talk presented in this book. I think they’ll enjoy getting to know the characters and seeing how they get into and out of trouble, but I think this book may be more suitable for middle grade readers than many of my little ones.

Mitch Sloan is the new kid at school, and he doesn’t have the best luck when it comes to fitting in. At his old school in California, he was bullied for being a nerd. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen here in Indiana, so Mitch tries out for the football team and attempts to tone down his love of math, money, and correcting people.

One person who seems to connect with Mitch immediately is Jamie, a girl who loves sports as much as Mitch does. She examines strategy just like he does, and he finally feels like someone finally gets him…and he absolutely does NOT have a crush on her.

One day, Mitch and Jamie take their love of sports to the next level, and they bet on a pro football game. Mitch uses his love of strategy and statistics to skew the bet in his favor, and, though Jamie is upset at first, an idea begins to take shape. What if they can get other kids at school to bet on some games? Mitch and Jamie could serve as middle-men–or bookies–and make a little money with no risk to their own wallets. What could possibly go wrong?

Pretty soon, kids are lining up at Mitch’s locker to make bets and receive their winnings. Mitch and Jamie are making money, their “customers” are having fun, and Mitch feels what it’s like to be popular. He kind of likes the feeling, even though he wonders just how many of these people are really his friends.

Eventually, this business begins to spiral out of control, and Mitch and Jamie find themselves in more trouble than either of them have ever been in. (Who knew that operating a middle school gambling ring was against the rules?) Can their friendship recover from this huge mess? And can they find a way to redeem themselves in the eyes of their parents, their classmates, their teachers, and the whole school?

Answer these questions and many more when you read The Rookie Bookie!


I think The Rookie Bookie is a good fit for readers who enjoy football, particularly those interested in fantasy football or anyone who grew up in a town where high school football is a community-wide event. I also think this could be used as a novel study in a math class. It could help students with real-life applications of statistics and finance. Additionally, this book could teach some life lessons, like the importance of honesty, what it means to be a true friend, using talents to help others, dealing with bullies, and owning up to one’s mistakes and trying to make amends. 

While I do think The Rookie Bookie is more suited to middle grade readers, I know some of my older readers (4th and 5th graders) will enjoy it. Hopefully, they won’t decide to start up an elementary school gambling ring. We shall see.

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine

Given that school starts this week and I still have 795, 463 things to do, I’ll endeavor to keep this post short. Here goes…

If you or any teen readers you know like Sherlock, then you definitely need to give Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly a try. If Sherlock Holmes were a 16-year-old American boy, he would be Digby…and awesome. In this highly entertaining book, Zoe (a teen girl version of Watson) encounters Digby after moving to a new area, and life as she knows it is about to get a lot more interesting.

Zoe Webster is just biding her time. All she really wants to do is transfer to the elite Prentiss Academy and get out of this new town, but she’s got to deal with her present circumstances first. A clueless mom, a new school, and no friends.

Well, the “no friends” thing may be easier to change than Zoe thinks. One day, a weird kid named Digby shows up at her door and basically informs Zoe that they’re going to be friends. Almost against Zoe’s will, Digby is right. Even when it leads her directly into the path of trouble, Zoe follows Digby into odd and often dangerous situations, but this strange and brilliant young man usually manages to talk their way out of nearly anything.

Digby and Zoe, along with a couple other colorful characters, manage to find themselves involved in a mystery that includes drugs, kidnapping, cults, attempted murder, and more mayhem than they ever could have expected. (Well, Digby may have expected some of it. Not much gets by him.) They’ll have to break every rule on the books–and some laws of common sense–in their attempt to uncover what’s really going on.

But why is Digby so invested in this stuff? And why does he insist on bringing Zoe along? Is Digby just a manic genius, or is something more going on? Read Trouble Is a Friend of Mine to find out.

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After reading Trouble Is a Friend of Mine, I must say that Digby is one of the most entertaining, charming characters I’ve encountered lately. He really keeps this book going simply because the reader never knows what he’s going to do or say next.

The parallels between Digby and Sherlock Holmes (as played by the delightful Benedict Cumberbatch) are unmistakable and wonderful. Digby has his own version of the Homeless Network, he bends the rules to get answers, he works with law enforcement (when it suits him), and he observes every little detail around him.

Zoe, for her part, is something of a stabilizing force for Digby, much like Dr. John Watson. Yes, she follows him into danger, but she also, in my opinion, keeps him grounded and lets him know that she’ll be his backup. Through the course of their friendship, both Zoe and Digby learn more about themselves, who they can really count on, and just how important their relationship is.

At various points, I think this story wanted to be a romance between Digby and Zoe. It didn’t quite happen, but I can see how it might if there were a sequel. (If there is one on the works, I haven’t heard about it yet.) Part of me wants Digby and Zoe to get together, but a bigger part wants them to be “just friends.” There are too many books out there that force a romantic relationship between two characters, and it would be nice to see a story–or series of stories–where male and female characters can keep things platonic. It would be refreshing, to say the least, and these two characters simply don’t need to hook up to continue being their hilarious, charming selves.

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine was released on August 4th, so it’s available wherever books are sold. I highly recommend it to any library serving teens (or older readers) who love Sherlock.

If you’d like more information on this excellent book, you can connect with author Stephanie Tromly on Twitter. As far as I can tell, Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is her first book. I sincerely hope this is only the beginning.

Anna Was Here

Forgive me if this post is not quite like others I’ve done. I’m writing this while attending an online meeting for webmasters in my school district. This is the only “free” time I have, so there you go.

A couple of days ago, I finished another of the 2015-16 South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees. The book was Anna Was Here by Jane Kurtz.

Anna Was Here is a book that, in my opinion, will appeal to many readers in elementary and early middle school. What’s more, I think this book may have a place in many church libraries. (That’s not something I often say about the books I read.)

Anna Nickel is a safety expert. She knows just what to do if disaster strikes near her home in Colorado. There’s one big problem, though. Her family is moving to Oakwood, Kansas for a while. (Her dad is a preacher, and he’s been asked to help out an ailing church in his hometown.) Anna doesn’t know a lot about Kansas–and she doesn’t really want to. She’s not happy about the move, and she hopes that she’ll be back in Colorado before her birthday. Well, Anna may not get her wish.

Life in Kansas is much more complicated that Anna thought it would be. She’s encountering family members she’s never met. Her dad is totally wrapped up in the church, her mom is too busy to write, and, worst of all, Anna’s room is pink! Anna also seems to be instantly loathed by one of the kids nearby…who happens to be one of her distant cousins.

Eventually, Anna finds a few things to like about her temporary home. She’s connecting with her dad’s family (something she’d never done before), and she’s learning about farming, emus, and how one should stay safe in all sorts of situations…including tornadoes. There are still many things she doesn’t like about Kansas–the time her dad spends at church, missing her family and friends in Colorado, going to a new school, or her pink room–but maybe it’s not all bad.

When disaster hits Oakwood, Anna must put everything she knows about safety to work. She must come together with everyone in this new town to find something very valuable to her. In the process, Anna learns just what it means to be part of a community. She realizes that others will do whatever they can to help her…simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Join Anna as she discovers more about her family, her faith, and herself when you read Anna Was Here by Jane Kurtz.

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I really, really wanted to like this book. I liked parts of it, but much of the book felt a bit jumbled to me. It was difficult to follow what was going on sometimes, particularly with many characters being introduced fairly quickly. It was hard, in particular, to keep all of Anna’s aunts straight. I’m still not sure who’s who.

One other issue I had with this book was the character of Simon. We saw glimpses of him and got to know a bit about his background, but his part of the story felt unfinished to me. There’s no resolution between Simon and Anna. He kind of fades into the background at the end of the book, and that bothered me. If he’s so important that Anna wants to learn more about him–and even try to get revenge for his actions toward her–then he’s important enough to warrant some kind of ending, happy or not.

I don’t know that my students will feel the way I did about this book. I’m sure many of them will enjoy it, and, since it’s on the Children’s Book Award list for my state, I’ll promote it to all of my 3rd-5th graders. (Do I think this book should be on the SCCBA nominee list in the first place? Well, I may not mention my feelings on that to my students.)

I do think this book has a place in many church libraries, even though Anna does get kind of angry at God and question why he does (or doesn’t do) certain things. (Whatever faith you practice–if any–I’m sure you can probably relate to that sentiment in some way.) In the end, though, Anna does begin to reconcile her faith with the situation around her, and she finds a way to make peace with everything that has happened.

If you’d like more information on Anna Was Here and author Jane Kurtz, you can visit her website here or follow her on Twitter.

Double Dog Dare

First of all, let me wish a happy Independence Day to all of my American friends and followers. It’s pouring rain here in South Carolina, but that’s not stopping my neighbors from shooting off fireworks every time there’s a break in the thunderstorms. It’s kind of annoying, but I can’t begrudge them celebrating this holiday (unless they persist with the fireworks when I’m ready to go to sleep…like they did last night). However you decide to celebrate–fireworks, cookouts, camping, staying inside reading, whatever–I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July!

Moving on…I’ve just finished reading yet another of the 2013-14 South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees. (For those keeping track, I’ve now read sixteen of the nominated titles. Only four to go!) My latest read is Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graff, and, in my opinion, it is a great addition to libraries and classrooms that serve both elementary and middle grade students. Double Dog Dare, told in alternating voices, revolves around two fourth-graders, but I do think a lot of middle school students will find this story both relatable and entertaining. (The title alone, which brings to mind the fantastic movie A Christmas Story, may be enough of a hook to get some more precocious readers interested in this charming book.)

Kansas Bloom and Francine Halata are up for the same job. Both of them have been nominated to be the fourth grade Media Club’s news anchor for next semester, and their teacher is leaving it up to them to figure out who should get the job. Well, that may not be the smartest idea when a group of fourth-graders is involved. It seems that the job will go to whoever wins a Dare War. The members of the Media Club will vote on dares for Kansas and Francine to complete, and the person who finishes the most dares before winter break will win the anchor job. What could go wrong? (If you guessed pretty much everything, you’re on the right track.)

Almost immediately, the dares in this war get both Kansas and Francine into a bit of trouble. But their troubles are not limited to vying for the anchor position. Kansas has just moved to California from Oregon, and his mom is divorcing his dad after years of turmoil. His little sister is convinced that Dad will eventually return for good, but Kansas isn’t so sure. Kansas is sure, though, that he absolutely must win this Dare War…even though he didn’t really want the anchor job at first.

Francine, who has longed to be anchor for a while, will do whatever it takes to get the job…even if it means eating eighty-seven packets of ketchup, dying her hair green, or going into the boys bathroom. But there may be something she wants more than this position. She wants her parents to get back together. Her dad has moved out, and he and her mom are getting divorced. Francine wonders if there’s anything she could do to fix her family, but how can she do that when her own life is quickly spiraling out of control?

It’s clear than Kansas and Francine have more in common than either of them realize. And when the Dare War comes to a head, will they be able to put aside their battle, work together, and form a friendship in the midst of so much uncertainty? Who will win the coveted anchor job? I double dog dare you to find out when you read Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graff!

Double Dog Dare was equal parts entertaining and moving. I think many readers will find the dares (and their results) very funny (even though the responsible adult in me cringes at some of these antics). I also think this might be a good book for young readers dealing with divorce. Both of the main characters are dealing with different–yet similar–divorce situations, and this book may let readers experiencing this trauma know that they’re not alone.

This book is also a good fit for any student who has ever been a part of his/her school news team or media/broadcasting club. (As a matter of fact, I may have found a Christmas gift for my own school news team. Shhh! Don’t tell!)

If you’d like more information on Double Dog Dare and other books by author Lisa Graff, visit http://www.lisagraff.com/index.html.

Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles

I admit it.  I am a doodler.  Sometimes, that’s the only thing that gets me through long, boring meetings or conferences.  (You should see my notes from some of my college classes.  You can barely make out the actual notes because of all the doodles on the sides of the pages.)  I totally sympathize with students who feel the need to draw a little bit when I’m teaching.  (I don’t particularly like it when I’m the one doing the teaching, but I do understand it.)  Sometimes drawing helps students to focus…and that is the case with the main character in Doodlebug by Karen Romano Young.  This book–written almost entirely in doodles–tells about a girl who moves from Los Angeles to San Francisco and how she tries to find her voice–even when it seems like no one understands her.

After a bit of trouble at her school in Los Angeles–and her dad getting a new job–Dodo (real name Doreen) and her family are moving all the way up to San Francisco.  Dodo is not really happy about the move, and she decides to cope in her own special way…by doodling.  She doodles about her parents, her sister Momo, the new apartment they’re staying in, and her new school.  She even uses her doodles to reinvent herself.  Dodo is now known as the Doodlebug.

Doodlebug kind of likes her new school.  In a very short time, she makes a couple of pretty cool friends.  Unfortunately, she also gets in a bit of trouble (also in a very short amount of time).  She doesn’t want to screw things up at this school, but she just can’t seem to help it.  Things don’t get much better when a couple of her teachers try to make her quit doodling.  (The horror!)

While Doodlebug’s worrying about staying out of trouble (or at least covering up the trouble she’s already in), her sister Momo is dealing with her own brand of defiance, and her mom and dad are trying to keep the jobs that brought them to San Francisco in the first place.  Doodlebug does her best to be a good student (while still being able to doodle), and she may find some help–with a number of her problems–in some unexpected places.

Doodlebug is yet another nominee for the 2012-2013 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.  It’s a good book, an extremely quick read, and it’s different from a lot of other books out there, but part of me feels like it’s more suited to readers in middle school.  The main character is kind of sarcastic and has very little problem with rule-breaking.  (She is a seventh grader, after all.)  She’s impulsive and hard-headed as well.  I guess I just think that middle school readers will relate to the character of Doodlebug more that my sweet little angels in elementary school.  (See…I can be sarcastic, too!)

Additionally, I don’t think many of my elementary school students will be able to focus on some of the writing in this book.  A lot of it is cursive, which can be confusing for kids who’ve never really been exposed to much cursive writing.

Even though I am a visual learner, it was sometimes hard for me to focus while reading this book.  My eyes didn’t know where to look first on some of the pages.  (I may be visual, but I’m also a very linear thinker.  I like order.)  Some readers may be turned off by the “busyness” of the pages.  On the other hand, it will be just what other readers are looking for.

I would recommend this book to readers in upper elementary (mature 4th or 5th graders) and middle school.  It’s a fast read that Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans will most likely enjoy.

If you’d like to learn more about Doodlebug and author Karen Romano Young, visit http://www.karenromanoyoung.com/.

How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog)

So, one of my goals this summer is to read all of the nominees for the 2012-13 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.  (Those that regularly follow this blog have probably already figured that out.)  I’m about halfway through the list, and there have already been some standouts (The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, and a couple of others).  Unfortunately, there have also been a couple that I wasn’t overly fond of.  (The worst was probably What’s for Dinner?, a poetry book about animals’ eating habits.  It was nothing short of disgusting.  Then again, I probably shouldn’t have read it right before lunch.  Lesson learned.)  Anyway, my latest read, How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog) by Art Corriveau, is one of the SCCBA nominees that I didn’t particularly like.  Don’t get me wrong.  The story was decent.  I just didn’t find the main character, Nicky Flynn, to be especially likeable or admirable.  Maybe my students will disagree with me, but I kind of hope they use Nicky’s character as an example of what not to do in most circumstances.

Nothing is going well for eleven-year-old Nicky Flynn. His parents are getting divorced. He’s been forced to move from his big house in a great neighborhood to a small apartment in a less-than-great neighborhood. Nicky’s mad at his mom because he thinks she always lies to him and tries to keep him away from his dad.  He’s in a new school and is becoming the target of bullies. He has to go to therapy every week to talk about his feelings. And now, his mom has decided to bring a dog into his life (totally without talking to him about it, by the way).  She got Reggie, a German Shepherd, from the animal shelter, but this is no ordinary dog.  Reggie is a retired seeing-eye dog, and, right away, he makes Nicky’s life a bit more interesting…

Nicky and Reggie grow closer (become best friends, really), and Nicky wants to know more about Reggie’s former life as a guide dog.  He investigates a little and learns more about Reggie’s previous owner.  He lies A LOT in his quest for the truth about Reggie’s past.  Will he ever figure out what happened between Reggie and his former owner?  Well, kind of, but that won’t really help with the mess his life is becoming…

Nicky is on the verge of losing everything, including Reggie.  As his whole life spirals out of control–and his lies are uncovered–how can Nicky hold on to the one being that is always there for him?  And what will Nicky do when his own selfishness and recklessness places both him and his beloved dog in a situation that is more dangerous than he can possibly realize?  Will Nicky ever get back in control of his own life?  And will he be able to stay with Reggie when the truth is revealed?  Find out when you read How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog) by Art Corriveau.

As an elementary librarian in South Carolina, I will promote this book as part of the SC Book Award program, but I definitely plan to discuss this book with my students.  I’d like to talk to them about why Nicky is not a character to be emulated.  Sure, he had some strong points–his love for his dog, for one–but, like I said before, he was not a very admirable character.  He lied at the drop of a hat, he had a rather bad temper, and he didn’t think about how his actions impacted those around him.  He did learn a few things in the end, but the adult in me still cringes at some of the stunts he pulled throughout the book.  (I wasn’t impressed with the adults in this book either.  They were clueless.)

There were a few things I did like about this book (lest you think I’m being completely negative).  I enjoyed how Nicky wanted to learn more about seeing-eye dogs.  He applied his research and knowledge to strengthen his relationship with Reggie.  I also liked the setting of this book.  It’s set in and around Boston, and Nicky and Reggie explore several sites that are of interest to readers learning about the American Revolution.  The ending was also kind of satisfying.  Nicky learned a little about himself and his mom, and I think, if there are future books about this character, those lessons might make him a little more likeable.

There are a couple of instances of bad language (not too bad, though) in this book.  That, in combination with the discussions that need to take place about Nicky’s behavior, make this book more suitable for upper elementary (mature 4th and 5th graders) and middle school students.

For more information about this book and others by author Art Corriveau, visit http://www.artcorriveau.com/.

Unearthly

What do you think of when the word “angel” comes to mind?  Personally, I think of celestial beings wearing white robes, sporting huge white wings, playing the harp, watching over the mere mortals below, and worshiping God.  I don’t typically think about fallen angels or the how and why of their fall.  I don’t think about angels serving a purpose here on Earth.  Thankfully, that’s where Cynthia Hand, author of Unearthly, comes in.  She has thought about these things, and she’s crafted an amazing story of a girl struggling to reconcile her divine heritage with the thoughts, dreams, and desires of a teenage girl.  I was utterly captivated from the first page, and I hope you will be, too.

Clara Gardner is an angel-blood.  She’s not 100% angel, but she’s got enough angel in her (25% to be exact) that her life is less than normal.  She can speak any language, birds follow her around, she’s smart, athletic, and beautiful, and she has wings.  Clara is also trying to figure out her purpose.  (Clara’s mom, who is half-angel, tells her that all angel-bloods have specific purposes in their lives…the reasons they were created.  No pressure.)  She begins having visions of a fire and a boy, and her purpose, seemingly, has been revealed.

Clara’s vision lead her and her family from sunny California to the mountains of Wyoming.  So, not only does Clara have to figure out her angelic purpose, but she also has to start a new high school where everyone has known each other since kindergarten.  And she has to do all of this without telling anyone that she’s part angel.  (Again, no pressure.)  On Clara’s first day at this new school, though, things immediately begin to unravel when the subject of her vision, a popular guy named Christian, is standing right in front of her…and he’s gorgeous.  Could her purpose be to simply fall in love with the hottest guy in school?  Nah…fate is never so kind.

As Clara tries to figure out her purpose and where Christian fits in, she’s also confronted with some unexpected, and not-so-angelic, feelings for another guy in school, Tucker.  How can Clara be expected to focus all of her attention on one guy, who may hold her entire destiny in his hands, when there is another who could hold the key to her heart.  Decisions will have to be made.  Is Clara strong enough to serve her purpose if it means sacrificing those she loves?  Read Unearthly by Cynthia Hand to find out.

I absolutely adored this book.  Clara’s voice was perfect, and she wasn’t too whiney like so many female protagonists in YA novels.  I also loved how the author highlighted the differences in the characters of Christian and Tucker.  We may have another Edward vs. Jacob type war on our hands soon.  (If that reference made no sense to you, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past few years.)  Unearthly ended on quite a cliffhanger, so I’m hoping we’ll be hearing more from these wonderfully divine characters soon.

For more information on Unearthly, the debut novel by author Cynthia Hand, visit http://cynthiahandbooks.com/.

The Cupcake Queen

Well, it’s day one of Thanksgiving break, and I’ve already finished one book.  I’ve got three more on the back burner, and I hope to finish them before I return to work on Monday.  (Yes, I do plan to bring a book with me to dinner at my aunts’ house tomorrow night.  It’s my escape from endless questions about my job, why I’m still single, my weight, etc.  Sue me.)  Anyway, the book I just finished reading is The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler.  It’s a fun, quick, light read that will appeal to both middle and high school female readers.  It will be a hard sell for any male readers.  (There are pink cupcakes on the cover.)

Penny Lane (great name) and her mother have just moved from Manhattan to Hog’s Hollow.  Quite a change, yes?  Penny’s parents are going through some personal stuff, Penny is torn between the two, and she doesn’t really know where she stands.  Her mom won’t talk to her about what is going on, it’s hard to communicate with her dad when he’s so far away, and Penny has no one to talk to other than her grandmother.  Her only solace is in making cupcakes in her mom’s new bakery, The Cupcake Queen.

Things begin to change, however, when Penny starts high school in Hog’s Hollow.  Almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of the school’s “mean girl,” she makes friends with the town’s weirdest residents (who have a disturbing obsession with Rock, Paper, Scissors), and she finds a guy she kind of likes.  Even though things are still rough at home, Hog’s Hollow isn’t so bad after all.  Sure, she comes to school each day to find something humiliating in her locker, the mean girl, Charity, likes the same guy as Penny, and Penny is dealing with moving from the fast-paced city to laid-back country living, but she’s dealing as best she can.

After some time, Penny begins to think of Hog’s Hollow as home…just in time for her parents to drop something else on her.  Will this change send Penny into a tailspin, or will she use it to find out what she really wants and how to deal with the life she has?  Read Heather Hepler’s The Cupcake Queen to find out.

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s not too deep, but it does have some poignant moments and teaches a couple of valuable life lessons.  And, even though I’m diabetic and cupcakes are a no-no, the descriptions of the cupcakes in this book were absolutely mouth-watering.

If you would like more information about The Cupcake Queen or author Heather Hepler, I encourage you to visit http://www.heatherhepler.com/.  Enjoy, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Firelight

As many people know, I’m a fan of fantasy novels.  I like vampires, witches, werewolves, mermaids, and many other seemingly mythical creatures.  One creature that has never appealed to me, however, is the dragon.  I don’t really know why.  Well, that may have all changed after finishing my latest read, Firelight by Sophie Jordan.  This book is freakin’ awesome!  If you haven’t guessed by now, dragons, or at least their descendants, play a major role in this book, and I am now convinced that dragons are awesome and not just a cruel part of the first challenge in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Jacinda is draki.  She and those in her pride are descended from the dragons of old.  Unlike the dragons that came before them, the draki can take on human form.  This is their greatest defense and how they escape the hunters that are always after them.  Even among the draki, though, Jacinda is different.  She is a fire-breather, the first born in her pride in generations.  She is constantly watched, and her fate does not seem to be her own.  She yearns for freedom, and this urge to fly free causes Jacinda to break one of the most basic rules of her kind.  She is nearly caught by a hunter, and she and her family must flee the pride in order to remain safe, both from the pride and those that would hunt and kill her.

Jacinda’s mom decides to settle in the desert.  The hope is that the arid climate and inability to transform will kill the draki inside Jacinda and force her to become wholly human.  Jacinda fights against this and wonders why her mother and her twin sister, Tamra (who never managed to manifest into a draki), cannot accept her as she is.  Why do they want to kill such an important part of her?

Jacinda is convinced that she will wither in this miserable new environment…until she encounters Will at school.  They’ve met before, but he doesn’t remember.  He was a hunter who let her go.  Despite knowing what Will is, Jacinda is as drawn to Will as he is to her.  She knows it’s dangerous to be around him, not just because he could discover her secret, but also because she feels her inner draki stirring whenever he is near.  He may be the only way to keep her draki self alive.  Her greatest threat could be her ultimate salvation.

Can Jacinda survive in this new life?  Will she try for her mom and sister?  What will become of her relationship with Will?  Is there any hope for Jacinda to truly be herself when she feels that those who should love her most wish part of her would die?  Will she stay?  Or will she return to the pride who wishes to control her?  Discover these answers and more when you read Firelight by Sophie Jordan.

I may have given too much away in the post above, but it’s hard to know when to stop talking about such an amazing book.  I especially got engrossed in the relationship between Jacinda and her sister.  I spent most of the book extremely mad and irritated at Tamra.  She was just so self-centered.  So was the mom.  I know they had their reasons, but it was still very frustrating.

Firelight is just the first book in this new series, so look for more information on upcoming sequels.  I know Firelight  has already been optioned for a movie.  If done right, that could be pretty awesome.  Fore more information on Firelight and author Sophie Jordan, visit http://www.sophiejordan.net/ya/news.html.

I Am Number Four

I really don’t know where to start when it comes to my latest read, I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.  This book absolutely blew me away.  I haven’t felt like this about a book since I first read The Hunger Games.  It’s that good.  It is an awesome example of what science fiction for young adults (and even older adults) should be.  You know the book is phenomenal when the movie adaptation is in post-production before the book is even released.  (The movie comes out in February of 2011, and I can’t wait to see it!  I just hope it lives up to this wonderful book.)

In I Am Number Four, readers are introduced to a group of aliens from the planet Lorien.  Just before their planet was destroyed, a group of children and their guardians left Lorien.  Their plan was to grow, train, and prepare for the day they could fight those that destroyed their home, the evil Mogadorians, and reclaim and begin to rebuild Lorien.  These children had special gifts, or legacies, that would develop in time, and their guardians’ objectives were to train the children and keep them hidden from the Mogadorians.  There were nine children in the beginning.  Number One was killed in Malaysia.  Number Two was killed in England.  Number Three was killed in Kenya.  Number Four is next.

Number Four, or John, as he is now called, and his guardian, Henri, are on the move again.  They know that the Mogadorians are looking for them.  Their next stop is Paradise, Ohio.  It is here that John begins to develop his legacies.  It is also here that John makes a friend, has a girlfriend, and finally feels like he belongs.  Unfortunately, John is not as hidden as he had hoped.  The Mogadorians are on his trail, and he has to decide if he’s going to run again or if he’s going to stand up to the evil that destroyed his people and is trying to destroy him still.  What would you do?  Would you run and hide or stand and fight?  Find out the fate of Number Four when you read Pittacus Lore’s I Am Number Four.

I am fully aware that I have not done justice to this wonderful book in this post.  I don’t think there even are adequate words to describe it.  Just read it, and judge for yourselves.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

For more information on I Am Number Four, the Lorien Legacies, and the mysterious Pittacus Lore (the book’s author, who is apparently Lorien’s ruling elder and is just biding his time here on Earth), visit http://iamnumberfourfans.com/.  This is one of my new favorite websites.