Tag Archives: book reviews

Time to Sit Down to Dinner

I was lucky to see the play God of Carnage when it was playing in New York starring the late James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis, and I loved it.  I also enjoyed the movie version (simply called Carnage) which starred Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz and was pleasantly surprised.  The sheer fact that you could not get over how uncomfortably each character was during the scene was brilliant.  I cringed during the awkward silences, the passive aggressive looks, and the final moments when they confronted each other about views on life, marriage, and parenting styles.  If you never got a chance to see either please check out the movie.

This brings me to the meaning of my post today.  I recently finished (finished I tore through it) the book The Dinner by Dutch writer Herman Koch.  I have never read anything by him before but I promise you will be picking up some more items now.  This book reminded me so much of the play and movie that I wanted to see how the characters would deal with the situation they find themselves in.

9780770437855_custom-0fec8d6bec6f0261063ff3be14ce66895270b9a5-s6-c30In the book, two couples come together to have what else Dinner.  The men are brothers, one is an ex-teacher, the other the shinning star of a political party who looks to be next prime minster.  The wives, are supportive and loving towards their husbands and each other, but they are especially devoted to their children.  Primarily their sons, who are the same age.  The boys become involved in a crime that shocks the country, but they are never identified.  Each parent finds out in their own way and has their own views on how to handle the situation that will be beneficial to all parties.  The book is told from the point of view of Paul, the ex-teacher, and you see how he handled his own personal struggles, how he feels about his brother and his political aspirations, and how he interacts with his son, and wife.  During the course of the dinner you can feel the tension building during each course, as the small chit-chat and pleasantries make way for the discussion that brought them all together.  The situation involving their sons.  It was a book that grabbed right away. I couldn’t put it down and wanted to learn more about each character.  Koch did a phenomenal  job of creating the sort of tension one feels with family when dealing with a crisis with such ease that you feel you are at the table next to them spying on their conversation.  It is a great book and I highly recommend it.


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Review Day!!!

I think I will make Friday my book review day.  I will be reading a lot once the summer comes and I can say so long to school and kids.  I love them I really do but they are draining some times.   So let me start this new weekly update with my first of two reviews.



Slated by Teri Terry
I truly can not begin telling you how much I enjoyed this book.  This is not just another dystopian society book, this has heart and shows how the mind can do amazing things.  Kyla has been slated; meaning her memory has been wiped clean and she is being given a second chance.  When you are slated it means you have done something wrong in your past, something that could hurt the government. And the government, to make sure you won’t do anything like this again, monitors you through a bracelet that shocks you if you dip below 3.5.  But what if you didn’t do anything wrong? what if you were kidnapped, forced to do things against your will, and only after being caught did you get slated?  Kyla soon learns that this might be the case for her.  She is not like the other slated kids her age.  She remembers things, from her past.  With the help of a friend Kyla will have to learn about her past to save her future.  The first book in a trilogy this is a must read.  I loved every turn of the page. Yes it has a strong female lead, and yes it is a dystopian novel, but Kyla’s story is one that you will not be able to look away from.



One + One = Blue by MJ Auch
I must begin by saying when I read about this book I was very excited. The main character is suffering from a condition called Synesthesia. This is when your senses for example hearing is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people’s names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception). Therefore, synesthesia literally means “joined perception.”  In this case the main character Basil Feeney associated colors with his numbers. Each number has a different color. Basil thinks he is all alone in the world until he meets Tenzie a new girl at school who has the same condition.  Now this really got me interested because I have never read a book where the characters have this type of condition.  However, suddenly we are learning about why Basil’s mother abandoned him with grandmother when he was 5 and now she wants back in his life.  He must come to terms with this but also try and help Tenzie realize that her home life is not as bad as she thinks.  The only time the mention of their condition is when they are on the road trying to remember a street address and phone number but their condition is having them mix up numbers.  This is a great coming of age story but the addition of the synesthesia angle is lacking. I would have like to have seen more with this.  Overall it is a good book but I felt it needed an extra umph.


Hope you enjoy these and I hope you find the reviews useful.

Keep reading my friends. Keep reading




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Book Reviews

I have been very lucky to work with Library Media Connection (LMC) magazine as a reviewer.  I enjoy being able to view titles before they come out and get the opportunity to give my opinion.   I take two sides to reviewing.

1) I look from the eyes of a librarian and reviewer.  I look for the quality of the writing, the character development, and the movement of the plot.  I resist the urge to not read other reviews of the title until I am done with mine. I do not want any outside influences.  Because I know that my opinion might be different; and I don’t want their opinion changing how I write my review.  My main goal as a reviewer is, what would make me or my students pick this up?

Which brings me to…

2) I try to look through the eyes of my students.  I am lucky in the sense that I oversee two libraries, it provides me with the opportunity to see a variety of reading styles and trends.  And a majority of the books that I review are geared toward middle school ages readers, so I focus on how my students would react to seeing this title on my shelves.  Would they want to read it?  What can I say to make them want to read it?  As a librarian my goal is to see more students reading for pleasure, so being a reviewer allows me the opportunity to get a jump on who to promote new titles.

So my goal for this post is to share with you some of the titles that I have had the chance to review. I will not be showing all of them, but a good amount and the ones I feel you should check out.  I hope you, and your young readers, enjoy them. (sorry of the lack of cover images. My service is on the fritz today)

The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami

Killer Species #1:  Menace from the Deep by Michael P. Spradlin (this is part of a series)

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

The Last Wild by Piers Torday (this is the first of a series)

Good Crooks series by Mary Amato

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Student Reviewers I give it 4 Stars

Students are reading more.  I love it. They are reading more and they are actually enjoying it.  Well some of them. But a majority of them are finally reading books they want to read and that interest them and as a result they are finding enjoyment. YES YES YES!!  I am thrilled at this.   But now we face the battle of getting them to talk about the books they read.

Some bask in the glow of the spot light, and  can not wait to get up and talk and talk and talk and….talk about anything and everything.  But than you have the shy ones. The ones that would rather crawl under the desk and hide than speak up in class.  Well good thing there are other options, and one that fell across my lap recently .

Allow me to  introduce LitPick (www.litpick.com) an online service that allows the students to read new releases or not yet released titles, write reviews, and then have their review posted on the site for other users to see. They are in essence becoming a book reviewer.  Only they won’t receive payment for it, instead they will be able to keep their copy of the book and have their work published on the world-wide web.

However, LitPick is not just a site for reading, with every review the students write there is a trained editor reviewing their work and editing were needed. Then the editor shares with the student their thoughts and comments, in turn helping to guide the student into becoming a better writer.

This is not a free service and students are not allowed to sign up on their own, they must have an adult signing up with them as well. But there is group pricing for libraries, classrooms, and home schools.  And titles are available in both e-book and standard book format.  This is a great site to get both active and non active readers finding books that peak their interest, learn about writing more efficiently, and most importantly, learning to be vocal about their reading choices and about any topic in general.

I suggest you check it out. It is a great program.


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One Choice Will Define You

So I have finished reading the final installment of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series.  And I am taking this moment to give me thoughts.  I am not going to give anything away, or at least I will try not to, but I will give my honest opinion.

index[1] Allegiant was surprising.  Surprising in the fact that though I was able to see where the author was taking our main characters, I was still surprised by the outcome.  It was a well written story (not like some series I have read or should I say tried to read), but it was one that forced me to go back and reread some parts to make sure I read it right.  I understand why the author did what she did, but it doesn’t mean that I am by any means thrilled.  All in all though Ms. Roth developed a cast of characters that faced down their demons and emerged wiser and stronger.  I commend her on creating a world that both teens and adults were able to get lost in.


So now, with that being said, here are some other books I am looking forward to reading some have come out, others will be out soon.

9781594746123_p0_v4_s260x420Second book in the series





9781250030955_p0_v4_s114x166I have heard a lot of good things about this one





9780547813370_p0_v1_s114x166 I read the first three books in this series last year during Hurricane Sandy. Not the best time to read about the world losing power and suffering through nothing being able to get food, water, or communicate with the outside world. Especially since that it what I was experiencing personally.



9780670012091_p0_v1_s114x166I love her writing





9780312642976_p0_v1_s260x420I can’t keep this series on my shelves. My students (and myself) love it.

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