Seriously? I Read That?

Archive for the ‘4 stars’ Category

theroarOn a future version of the Earth where nature and animals are not revered and respected, but instead feared and destroyed, the entire planet’s population lives behind massive concrete walls to protect them from the Animal Plague. Into this dystopian world, in dreary future-London, twins Mika and Ellie are born and raised in the damp, moldy lower level of the city until one day Ellie goes missing. Everyone but Mika believes that Ellie is dead. When the Youth Development Foundation begins running a contest using video games, Mika knows that winning the contest is the only way to rescue his twin from the clutches of sinister Mal Gorman. As Mika moves through the contest levels, he discovers secrets that were never supposed to be revealed. Secrets that change lives and shake the very foundation upon which life behind the wall has been built.

The Roar by Emma Clayton is a fast-paced futuristic adventure with likable characters and an interesting setting. The Sci-Fi aspects are non-technical enough to appeal to those opposed or unfamiliar with the genre.

The Roar is a very kid-centric novel, which is a large part of its appeal. Parents take a back seat and while some might bristle at the portrayal of the parents as uninterested, naive, and oblivious, with the parents out of the way, the kids can take a more prevalent role, allowing them to not be in positions where adults can rush in and save them. This is a kids against the world story and that’s what makes it fun.

The Roar is also a nice social commentary on the treatment of the natural world, the influence of the media, and classism.

This entertaining novel has a wide-open ending, ripe for a sequel.

Rating: 4 packets of Fit Mix out of 5.

shadowedsummerIn a small Louisiana town where nothing exciting has happened since the disappearance of Elijah years before they were even born, fourteen year old Ivy and her best friend Collette, bored with their lives in a boring town, dabble with magic and spirits. It’s all play until Ivy sees the real ghost of the missing boy, Elijah. Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell is a story of a girl haunted by much more than a ghost as she struggles to solve a mystery, navigate a stormy friendship and a first crush, and deal with her own coming-of-age.

While the young girl haunted by a ghost plot has been done before in many incarnations, Shadowed Summer is worth the read. Early on, it becomes apparent that it’s as much a story of a family, a town, secrets, and tragedies both small and large as it is a ghost story. That’s not to say the ghost story is superfluous or feels tacked on to ride the paranormal trend wave. Elijah and his haunting of Ivy is the catalyst that forces Ivy to reevaluate her friends, her family, and all that she has been told.

The setting, post-Katrina Louisiana, in a town named Ondine, where Ivy says people are “bred with God and superstition in [their] blood” is what really won me over. I don’t think this would have worked as well had it been set in suburban New England or amidst urban sprawl. This is an atmospheric novel. It’s very Southern-feeling, mossy and humid.

The characters are likable enough, though at times they seem a little younger than they actually are. Overall, Shadowed Summer read like a middle-grade novel, and I think it would be entirely appropriate for the older members of that audience.

Recommended.

Rating: 4 witch boards out of 5.

Not just ponytails and pom-poms; steroids and bulimia, too.

There is much more to cheerleading than the perky smiles, short skirts, and pom-poms. Cheer! by Kate Torgovnick delves deep into the inner-workings of three cheer squads from three very different colleges and follows them from try-outs to championships, while exposing the dangers, the controversies, and the drama that surounds and at times plagues squads around the world.

Cheer! is a fun and interesting book about a subculture I know very little about. I found myself actually caring about the cheerleaders presented in the book, which surprised me slightly. I didn’t expect to feel for these men and women in the way that I did. I certainly didn’t expect to root for them.

Torgovnick portrays the cheerleaders honestly–highlighting faults and strengths—making them very real to the reader, especially readers who may only know cheerleaders through the many stereotypes.

Recommended, even for those that don’t care for this type of non-fiction, as it’s very readable and fast paced with enough detail and dramatic moments to hold interest.

Rating: 4 basket tosses out of 5.

Challenges:
T author for A to Z Challenge

Cheer! by Kate Torgovnick
Published: March 11th 2008 by Touchstone
Binding: Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN: 1416535969

I see dead people; don’t tell my crazy family.

Sparrow Delaney, the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter can see, smell, and hear dead people, a fact she desperately tries to hide from her eager, psychic-filled family. Ignoring her gift reaches it’s height of difficulty when she starts receiving messages from a very persistent ghost. Sparrow is forced to decide between protecting her secret or helping a friend in need.

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney is a fun book that combines mystery, a little romance, and a traditional coming of age tale. Sparrow is highly likable as a character and as narrator. She’s well-developed and her portrayal is believable and honest. Other characters, mainly her 6 sisters, are not as well developed, and their personalities are basically dictated by their names (all 7 sisters are names after birds). This is a slight weakness, but does not distract from the many strengths of the novel. This is Sparrow’s novel, and her immense likability is what I imagine will win most readers over.

I’d recommend The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney even to those that do not enjoy paranormal plots, as there is much more to this novel than just ghost and seances.

Rating: 4 spirit guides out of 5.

Challenges:
Book #1 for the YA Challenge

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper
Reading level:
Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (May 27, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061131601


Where else you can find me:

Books That Go Bump in the Night- Halloween and scary books for kids and teens. My other blog.


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