Monthly Archives: July 2012

Review: Life As We Knew It

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Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)Title: Life As We Knew It (The Last Survivors #1)

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer — Twitter |  Website

Pages: 337

Released: October 1, 2006

Genre: Post-apocalyptic

Source: School library

 Goodreads SummaryMiranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

*** *** ***

In the middle of big life changes for Miranda — she’s growing apart from her two best friends, getting into swimming after a figure skating accident, and just found out her dad and step-mother are pregnant — and even bigger event looms. All the world is excitedly watching as a meteor is scheduled to collide with the moon. This event is predicted by astronomers across the country and is expected to pass with all the world watching but with little fanfare.

As soon as the meteor hits the moon, everyone knows something something is wrong. The moon is knocked harder than expected, tilting and moving it closer to Earth. Too close. In Miranda’s small town it’s the beginning of big change.

Cable is out. Phones are out. Tsunamis start across the world. Miranda’s mom goes into beast mode and takes out all the cash she can before taking her family try to secure any and all supplies they can from the stores. Miranda, her mom, her little brother Jon (future Yankee’s 2nd basemen), and older brother Matt try to settle in and live life as normally as possible…if normal means off-and-on electricity, no school, and rationed food supply. The sky becomes clouded with ash from volcanoes erupting across the U.S.

Winter sets in early, and life is anything but normal. Each day is harder than the last, and with food running low, Miranda doesn’t know how much more she can take.

What I Liked:

Between Ashfall and Life As We Knew It, I’m expecting the end of the world any minute now! This book was so realistic that I can definitely see it happening…and I can’t imagine what it will be like in real life.

I loved Miranda’s mom in this book. I hope that I’m as on top of things as she was when the world starts going downhill. She has a plan and is prepared to hit the supermarkets for anything they might need in the next days/weeks/months. She keeps her head throughout the book and has the perfect balance of hard love and being a softie.

I also loved the relationship between the family as a whole. The siblings obviously love and look out for each other. They all obviously love and respect their mom. Even though the parents are divorced, they get along wonderfully. It’s refreshing to see a family where there isn’t some awkward/awful family dynamic.

I thought the side story of Miranda and her best friends was very fitting. Before the disaster, Miranda and her two best friends are branching off in different directions: Sammi is chasing after boys, Megan is chasing religion, and Miranda is left not knowing exactly what to chase. The disaster seems to push Sammi and Megan even further along the roads they were headed down. Sammi turns to an older man to help her family survive while Megan follows her religious zealot reverend.

What I Didn’t Like:

I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like in this book! There could have been a little more action, but I’ve heard there is plenty in book two.

*** *** ***

I’m thinking of making an “It’s the end of the world as we know it…” display at school for post-apocalyptic books like this! I borrowed this book from my school library, but I don’t remember any of my students reading it this year. Since I hadn’t read it, I didn’t really book talk or push this book…but I will next year! I think my students will definitely like it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series: The Dead and the Gone, which is told from the point of view of Alex who experiences the disaster in New York City, and This World We Live In, which brings together the survivors from the first two books.

When I was looking up information about the author, I found her blog and uncovered some great news…there will be a book 4! The Shade of the Moon just got picked up by a publisher and will hopefully be out next fall. You can read all about it (and even read the first chapter) in this blog post from Susan Beth Pfeffer.

I think I need to go watch The Day After Tomorrow now 🙂

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (12)

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  Mon Reading Button PB to YA

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you can recap what you’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Clicking the covers will take you to the Goodreads page for that book, where you can add it to your “To Read” list!

Last week I read

Picture Books

                                                          Chicken Dance  Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon

                     11 Experiments That Failed  Cat Secrets  Falcon

YA/MG

                              The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)  The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)  Every Day

                              Many Stones  One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies  Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)

Professional

Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook

This week I’ll start/continue reading:

Graphic Novel

Out from Boneville (Bone, #1)

MG/YA

                            Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2)  In A Glass Grimmly (A Tale Dark & Grimm #2)  Demonglass (Hex Hall, #2)

Audio

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)

Professional

Ten Things Every Writer Needs to Know

We’re in full swing of round 2 of #summerthrowdown, teachers vs. librarians, so I’m reading hard for #teamteacher!

What about you? What are YOU reading this week?

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson (debut) – Twitter | Author site | Goodreads

Pages: 424

Released: September 20, 2011

Genre: High fantasy

Source: Harris County Public Library

Goodreads Summary: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young…Most of the chosen do.

*** *** ***

What I Liked:

It was refreshing to have a main character who is REAL rather than a girl who is beautiful-but-doesn’t-know-it. Elisa’s comfort is food, and she’s described as being a bit chubby. I think it’s important to have a character with a realistic body rather than one who is fit, who runs every day, or is so uncannily adept at kicking butt.

Elisa family and kingdom believe that the bearer of the Godstone must stay in the dark rather than be knowledgeable about the Godstone. It’s not until the marries and travels to another kingdom that she learns more about the Godstone and her destiny. This was very beneficial to the reader, because we (as readers) learned about her destiny right along with Elisa.

In the beginning, Elisa feels that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a queen or to be a successful Godstone bearer. It’s only through through the different obstacles that she has to face that she grows into a strong young woman who can wield the power of the Godstone.

The story as a whole is fabulous. There’s a great mix of adventure, excitement, tender moments.

What I Didn’t Like:

There wasn’t really anything that I didn’t like! There was one small plot piece that stuck out, but it’s a bit spoilery. You can highlight here to see it:  A couple days after a castle attendant realizes that Elisa is the Godstone bearer, she is kidnapped by revolutionaries who want her help their cause. But then it takes them a month to reach the site of the revolutionaries. How did the kidnappers get to her in just a couple of days when it takes so long to travel back?

*** *** ***

I really loved this story, and I can’t wait for the sequel, The Crown of Embers, which comes out in September. The story in The Girl of Fire and Thorns was pretty well wrapped up, so I’m curious about this whole new adventure for Elisa and company!

Recommend for readers who like: adventure; high-fantasy (Graceling)

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

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Waiting on Wednesday in a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that lets us gush over books we just can’t WAIT to get our hands on!

I can’t wait for…

Crewel (Crewel World, #1)

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back. (goodreads)

First of all, how can you not love the cover of this book?! It’s beautiful.

I love the premise of this fantasy, and I can’t wait to read it!

Release date: October 16,2012

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (11)

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Mon Reading Button PB to YA

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you can recap what you’ve read this week while planning ahead on what to read next! Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added their own twist by focusing on kidlit, from picture books up to YA.

Clicking the covers will take you to the Goodreads page for that book, where you can add it to your “To Read” list!

Last week I read

I really have no idea what happened this week…it just kind of got away from me, and I barely read anything! I’ve started about 4 of the books I have listed below for my reading this upcoming week, but I didn’t get any of them finished. I’ll have a big list of books read for next week!

Picture Books

Tumble Bumble

YA/MG

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)

This week I’ll read:

MG/YA

                                            The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)  The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)  The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)

                                                                   Every Day  In A Glass Grimmly (A Tale Dark & Grimm #2)

Audio

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)

Professional

Ten Things Every Writer Needs to Know

What about you? What are YOU reading this week?

It’s in a book!

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While watching Sesame Street with my kids, I saw Bert and Ernie singing this song, and I absolutely love it!

If that doesn’t make you want to sit down and cuddle up with a good book, I don’t know what will! I love Sesame Street!

Review: Ashfall

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Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)Title: Ashfall (Ashfall #1)

Author: Mike Mullin (debut) — Twitter | Website |

Pages: 466

Released: October 11, 20122

Genre: Post-apocalyptic, survival, realistic fiction

Source: Harris County Public Library (plan to buy!)

Goodreads Summary:  Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

In typical teenage style, Alex has fought with him mom and refused to go to visit family about two hours away. He won the argument and was left home alone for the weekend. However, before he can enjoy much of his short-lived freedom, his house is hit with a projectile from the super-volcano in Yellowstone. The whole world is turned upside down after this catastrophe, and Alex feels that he must be reunited with his family.

With the ground covered in inches of volcano ash, it is next to impossible for people to travel by vehicle or by foot. Luckily* Alex’s dad used to do some cross-country skiing, so he’s got the gear to set out on his journey to find his family.

Along the way, he meets people — some kind and helpful, others malicious and mean. When he’s stabbed by a psycho in the woods, Alex luckily* stumbles upon Darla and her mother, who nurse Alex back to health. Darla joins Alex on his journey, and together the two of them continue Alex’s quest to find his family.

*** *** ***

What I Liked:

Alex was very reliable as a narrator and likable as a protagonist. Mike Mullin did a great job of writing a character who really has an authentic teenage voice. Readers can also empathize with Alex’s situation…we’ve all heard a story of family or friends who parted way with harsh words or indifference, then never have a chance to make that right. I feel that is Alex’s fear and motivation in the book, to see his family and give his mom the hug he ignored and his sister (“the brat”) a little more recognition.

The description of the after-math of the volcano is truly terrifying because it is so realistic. As I was reading, I just kept thinking, “Oh my gosh…this could REALLY happen!!” In the first chapters, Alex is stuck inside with his neighbors. There is no electricity, and the sun/moon are blocked by ash in the sky, so they must function in pitch black. There is no cell reception. Thunder is deafening outside. They don’t know how others are faring. Alex is worried about his family. There is barely any food to eat. I’ve been through a hurricane, and that was bad enough…I can’t imagine something this bad!

I feel that all of Alex’s encounters with people along the way were realistic as well. It would be expected that crazy people would be out, trying to take advantage of the natural madness so they can wreck their own madness. It’s also believable that once trusting, kind people turn into suspicious hoarders who don’t trust people traveling. I sure wouldn’t be inviting people off the street into my house in that situation!

Darla has some serious girl-power! She’s a small town girl whose father taught her everything he knew about running a farm, and she is forced to keep the farm running after her father passes away. Without Darla, poor Alex would have died…a couple of times. She is used to providing and surviving, and it is refreshing to have a female character with some UMPH who doesn’t have to ask or wait for a guy to take charge of the situation.

What I Didn’t Like:

I put an * when I mentioned “luckily” in my summary, because without those two pieces in the story, Alex doesn’t survive. If he didn’t happen to have snow-skis in his garage, he doesn’t even get out of Cedar Falls. If he doesn’t meet Darla (with her survival knowledge) and her mom, he doesn’t survive his stab wound. If Darla hadn’t accompanied him on his trip after he leaves their house, he wouldn’t have survived his trip. I understand these are things that had to happen to have the story…they’re just so convenient.

*** *** ***

I could not put this down while reading. I couldn’t just abandon Alex and Darla out in the volcano without knowing they were safe! Mike Mulling did a great job with this book! I can’t wait to get a copy of Ashfall for my classroom library because I have a lot of boys who will be drawn in by this story.

The sequel, Ashen Winter, will be out October 16th, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Here is a fan-made book trailer for Ashfall:

Recommend for: high schoolers; people who like survival/adventure stories; boys!