Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

In My Mailbox 4 November 14, 2010

Filed under: In My Mailbox,Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:27 pm
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Bemouth by Scott Westerfield


Infinity by SherriLynn Kenyon (audiobook)
Storyteller by Patricia Reilly Giff

 

Reviews written:
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Trance by  Linda Gerber

 

More Greek Hero series from Riordan June 23, 2010

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:43 am
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Thanks to The Reading Zone for the alert that the cover for the new Rick Riordan series The Lost Hero was made public this week. It will be the first in a five book series. You can check out Rick Riordan’s blog Myth and Mystery. Over at Entertainment Weekly, you can see the cover AND read the first two chapters. There is a link that will take you to http://www.camphalfblood.com and you’ll need to enter the secret password newhero. Here’s a teaser first sentence:

“Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.”

Here’s the press release info about the series:

ABOUT THE BOOK:

After saving Olympus from the evil Titan lord, Kronos, Percy and friends have rebuilt their beloved Camp Half-Blood, where the next generation of demigods must now prepare for a chilling prophecy of their own:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

Now, in a brand-new series from blockbuster best-selling author Rick Riordan, fans return to the world of Camp Half-Blood. Here, a new group of heroes will inherit a quest. But to survive the journey, they’ll need the help of some familiar demigods.

 

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen June 12, 2010

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Woods Runner

by Gary Paulsen

2010, 164 pages

Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction

Woods Runner was a great change of pace for me reading-wise. It seems like everything I’ve read lately is either dystopian fiction, fantasy, or a too sad realistic fiction. Despite the book being set during the War for Independence, no tears were shed during the reading.

I would describe this book as a cross between historical fiction and non-fiction. The clever way that Paulsen combines the story line of Samuel and his parents, interspersed with short, non-fiction accounts of the war will have this book flying out of your classroom library. It will definitely be more of a “boy” book, but your female readers who enjoy historical fiction will also like this book.

Reading this book, I was constantly struck by what a simple, yet brilliant way Paulsen has employed with the combination of fiction and non-fiction. As a format to help those readers new to some of the complexities of historical fiction, this type of book would be helpful to slowly provide the background information throughout the story. It’s making me think of all sorts of possibilities for historical fiction reads. Lily’s Crossing? hmmm…read along with short, reading-level appropriate passages explaining parts of World War II.

I hope this is just the beginning of a trend to combine fiction and non-fiction in an appealing and natural way for middle grade readers.

 

Series books April 2, 2010

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I had to run right out yesterday to get Susan Beth Pfeffer’s newest book, This World We Live In, the third in what is now called The Last Survivors, Book 3. It is hard to put down!


Other books in a series that I look forward to:
Mockingjay-by Suzanne Collins-The last book in the Hunger Games trilogy-release date August 24, 2010

Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix-The Missing series-release date also August 24, 2010

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan-new series-The Kane Chronicles-release date May 4, 2010

The Necromancer by Michael Scott-book 4 in the Nicholas Flamel series-release date May 25, 2010

 

Science Fiction (by accident) March 31, 2010

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First Light

Rebecca Stead

middle grade fiction

2007, 336 pages

Rash

Pete Hautman

Young Adult

2007, 272 pages

I have to say that I don’t normally gravitate towards science fiction. It was doubly unusual that I would be reading two sci-fi books at once. Both Rash by Pete Hautman and First Light by Rebecca Stead kept me turning those pages. I didn’t know enough about either book ahead of time to know it was going to be science fiction, which, in my case was good because it might have steered me clear of two good reads.

First Light by Rebecca Stead is the author’s first book, published before her Newbery win this year for When You Reach Me. I picked it up at NCTE when I was getting her autograph. I thought the cover was appealing and I liked that the chapters went back and forth between a boy main character and a girl main character. Set in the Arctic Circle, First Light is a compelling science fiction/mystery that started off in a way that I was fooled into thinking it was realistic fiction.

Here’s good old Wikipedia’s definition of Science Fiction:

Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible withinscientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”.[1] Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possibilities.[2] The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality.

These may include:

  • A setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record
  • A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens[3]
  • Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature[4]
  • Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnologyfaster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems (e.g., a dystopia, or a situation where organized society has collapsed)[5]

First Light has alternative timeline to history, a different political system and  new discoveries.

Rash is a YA has a future setting (2074), new technology (safety equipment out the wazoo), artificial

intelligence and a whole new political system (the USSA-The United Safer States of America).  About twenty percent of the country is in prision, as anything unsafe is illegal. McDonalds still exists, but it doesn’t sell fast food-french fries are illeagal. You need to have your PSE (Personal Safety Equipment) for gym class, and more. If you take a look at Pete Hautman’s web site, you can see where he drew inspiration for this book.

I had picked it up at SSCO’s book review. I’m a huge Pete Hautman fan and think  his books should not be overlooked.

If you’d asked me last week if I liked the genre of science fiction, I would have told you no-I don’t really care for it. Now after reading these two sci-fi gems, I’m willing to give the genre a whole new look. What a happy surprise for me as a reader.

 

Middle Grade Fiction New Reads February 16, 2010

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Anything but Typical by Nora Baskin

Simon & Schuster, 2009

208 pages

A Starred Book by Booklist as well as highly regarded by fellow bloggers:

Literate Lives

The Reading Zone

You can’t help but love the main character, Jason, a sixth grader who is diagnosed with autism along with “numerous disorders, most with labels like alphabet soup”. For any teacher who has ever had a student on the autism spectrum, you’ll be reminded of them while reading. I was cringing when reading the part about the substitute librarian who was trying to get Jason to “behave like other kids” and not freak out over someone using “his” computer. It brings back memories of my first interaction with a student, not then diagnosed with autism,  when I was a young(er) teacher. At the time, I could not understand the intensity with which he blatantly ignored my request that he put on his glasses. Why were my normal teacher charms working?

Written from Jason’s point of view, the author really takes you into the mind of Jason and how he views life with “neuro-typicals” ( his family members-brother, mom, dad; his classmates). I enjoyed the clarity he was able to view himself and others with. I also really enjoyed Jason’s on-line writing community. So many students that I’ve worked with on the spectrum have not enjoyed writing or written output. It made me so glad for Jason that he was able to connect with others in a safe forum.

There is a new paperback cover-coming March 2010-I am trying to soft-sell the book to my daughter to help her with her understanding of the many different types of people we encounter in school and life.

 

Recent Audiobooks January 12, 2010

Filed under: audiobook,book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:44 pm
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I’ve just recently finished listening to two different audiobooks. I enjoyed them both, for very different reasons. The one I finished most recently is John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines.

The other audiobook is Going Bovine by Libba Bray.

Two very different books, but both had me driving around laughing my

head off. I’m sure that makes funny viewing for the other driving, like when you pull up at a stoplight and someone is singing like crazy.

While looking at both covers, I’m struck by another similarity! Both books have teenage boys going on a road trip at a pivotal time of their life! Hmmm…..

That hadn’t crossed my mind until just now.

An Abundance of Katherines is the story of Colin Singleton and his best friend Hassan. They take off on a road trip to cure Colin of his heartbreak of being dumped by the nineteenth Katherine in his life. How does one guy get dumped by 19 Katherines with a K? Colin, child prodigy/hoping to be a genius has managed. The boys end up in Gutshot, Tennnessee, making friends, interviewing townspeople for their summer job, writing mathematical theorems and trying to decide what life has in store for them. Not a YA book you can listen to with your children in the car, as both Colin and Hassan are prone to use “fugging” in place of another curse word frequently throughout their speech.  There are so many amusing parts that I it’s hard to name one, but the hunt for the “feral pig” would be in my top three.

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, is funny in a whole different kind of way. The cover of a cow carrying a lawn gnome, was just too good to pass up! Main character, Cameron, is having a hard enough time surviving high school and that is even before he comes down with Mad Cow Disease of the human form! Hallucinations of fire demons, a road trip with side kick and midget, Gonzo, a punk angel, a quest to save the world. all of which Cameron endures as he either is a: dying in his hospital bed or, b: really going on the trip of a life time. You’ll have to decide as you read (or listen) which you think.  I might need to go back and read Don Quixote.

I do love Libba Bray’s humor. From scanning her blog, she sounds like a hoot to hang out with.

 

The Pioneer Woman Cooks December 28, 2009

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Another category of books I love is cookbooks!
I received this new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond, and love everything about it! It has great wit and humor, great photographs, and great recipes! Check out her great blog/website. Don’t you love the graphics? It doesn’t hurt (except our waistlines) that my dear hubby also loves cookbooks and cooking. My love used to be only baking cookbooks, but it has really expanded in the past couple years.

 

Teacher presents December 10, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,picture books — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:55 am
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My son and I had fun picking out books for his teacher. He likes everything about his teacher (his direct words) and enjoys spending “quality time with his teacher”.  My daughter preferred that I recommend and she approve.  If you are one of their teachers, stop reading or you will ruin the surprise. :)

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

by Brian Floca

Atheneum, 2009

48 pages

New York Times named it one of the ten best illustrated books for 2009.

Simon and Schuster’s website says this:

“Simply told, grandly shown, here is the flight of Apollo 11. Here for a new generation of readers and explorers are the steady astronauts, clicking themselves into gloves and helmets, strapping themselves into sideways seats. Here are their great machines in all their detail and monumentality, the ROAR of rockets, and the silence of the Moon. Here is a story of adventure and discovery — a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away.”

My son loves the detailed illustrations, as well as the story of Apollo 11.

Little Red Riding Hood

by Jerry Pinkney

Little Brown Books, 2007

40 pages

My son’s second grade class has a unit of study in writing on fairy tales coming up after winter break. I love Pinkney’s work and my son loves this tale.

While this Little Red Riding Hood is true to the original and does have the wolf eats the grandmother and Little Red. The woodsman does kill the wolf with his ax and use grandmother’s sewing scissors to cut open the wolf, it’s not gory and shows no sign of the violence that is taking place.  Jerry Pinkney’s beautiful illustrations help set off this fairy tale classic. Here’s hoping this will help some of his fellow students realize that Disney did not invent all the fairy tales, as several of his classmates believe.

Fuse #8′s review

Chester’s Back

by Melanie Watt

Kids Can Press, 2008

32 pages

“A long time ago, in a faraway land, lived a cat named Chester.” This is how the new Chester book starts out. A fun addition to a writing unit on fairy tales or another book by a favorite author. Either way, kids and adults love Chester.

Greg Mortenson’s newest Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan for my daughter’s language arts/science teacher

Sea Clocks by Louise Borden for her math teacher.

National Geographic’s Book Ain’t Nothin’ But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Nelson and Marc Aronson for her social studies teacher. They did a great presentation at NCTE about their book. Loved them!

 

wish you were dead by Todd Strasser December 9, 2009

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:35 pm
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I hadn’t thought about the thriller/mystery genre in quite a while. I went through many a year where I LOVED reading thrillers, mysteries, true crime, etc. That interest came to an abrupt stop with the birth of my first child. Patricia Cornwell had been one of my favorite authors. I had pre-ordered her book Black Notice, hoping it would arrive before the birth of my child. I knew there wouldn’t be much time for reading after that! I remember coming home from the hospital and finding the Amazon box with the book inside. There is sat. Unread. Still. (although it’s out of the box now)

I still haven’t read a Patricia Cornwell. When double checking the title of the book I’ve had since 1999, I was surprised to learn that the author is now on #17 of the series. Black Notice was #10.  It seems funny to me that I would read the first nine the week they came out and then just be completely done with them.

The idea of crimes, thrillers, mysteries, murders had no appeal for me in any form for many years. It is only just recently that I could even begin to think about reading one.

Wish You Were Dead is the first book I would classify in the thriller category since 1999! Yikes! I hadn’t even considered that thriller/mystery was part of the YA niche. I was surprised that this is the same author who wrote all the Help! I’m Trapped series that I had for years in my middle grade classroom. That series was silly and fluffy. This first installment in this “thrill”ology was a creepy  and compelling page-turner!

Even though I wasn’t too sure when I saw the cover of Todd Strasser’s newest book (very Psycho shower), I ended up loving it. I wish that it had been out for a while so I could run right out and read the second one. No such luck.

The main character’s friend disappears out of her front yard in a wealthy, gated community.

While writing this, I was reminded of a YA novel from my own youth. It was called A Question of Survival by Julian F. Thompson and was published in 1984.  It is one of those books that I still have in my basement from my childhood that I read over and over again.  It was set at a Teen Survival Center and was supposed to teach survivalist training in case of “the worst” happening in the United States. I guess there has always been a niche for the thriller, no matter the age group. Face on the Milk Carton, Chain Letter, I Know What You Did Last Summer,

 

 
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