Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dark Triumph

Exactly three years ago I read the first in this series, Grave Mercy, and absolutely loved it. I don't know why it took me so long to read the sequel, Dark Triumph, but I do know that I will be starting the final book in the trilogy today. Robin LaFevers is an author who can hook and surprise me.

Sybella is a handmaiden to Mortain and her skill is in death: spotting who is marked for death and carrying it out. It is this talent that leads to her placement in the castle of d'Albret, with the mission of killing him to protect the Duchess from his evil desires. As in the first book of the series, things don't go as planned and Sybella must learn who she can trust, before she is out of time.

I found Sybella to be an even more fascinating character than Ismae from the first novel. Her complicated past affects all her actions, but she is still able to open herself up to love. And what a love! I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that the love interest in Dark Triumph is the best I have read in a long time.

Clearly, this is a book for an audience far older than my fifth graders. I greedily read it for my own pleasure as I will do with the next, right now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Question of Miracles

I have a huge pile of books to read, and to be honest, I chose The Question of Miracles because it was the shortest. Still, it took me far longer to read this book than others twice its length. It is sad and slow and I can't see it appealing to my students.

Iris' family moved from California to rainy Corvallis after the death of her best friend, Sarah. Resistant to her new life, Iris doesn't want to enjoy anything about it, including her new friend Boris. She wants to know why some people are granted miracles and some aren't.

Really, that's it. There are some mild peaks in the book, but for the most part, I was irritated by Iris. She had wonderful parents who cared for her, but didn't appreciate it. Boris is the boy version of a golden retriever - kind, funny, smart, and eager. Iris spends most of the book thinking negatively about him. Losing a best friend is something no child should have to face, but I don't know if reading this book would help a reader in that situation.

I won't be passing this one on.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Lie Tree

What better way to celebrate my birthday than with a feminist Victorian mystery?

I checked out The Lie Tree based on its glowing review from The Book Smugglers. After a slow start, I was hooked and eager to know what would happen in this suspenseful novel.

Faith's family moves to a remote island to avoid a scandal involving her father's scientific research. Since she has always idolized her father, Faith refuses to believe in the rumors. When he is murdered, she must find the answers, even if she doesn't like what she learns.

I loved the statements that Frances Hardinge made about women in The Lie Tree. "There as a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly at the table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet, too. A few stale lessons from tired governesses, dull walks, unthinking pastimes. But it was not enough. All knowledge--any knowledge--called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen." In a time where women were supposed to be invisible, the females in this novel seem to follow the rules. Under the surface, however, they are fascinating, passionate, full of motives, and fully formed. I plan to keep this in mind when I read about the famous men of this time period. What were the women really doing?

This is a great book for eighth graders and older.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Who Stole The Wizard of Oz?

What happens when you have a student whose reading level is below the rest of the class? You spend the summer reading books at that child's level so you always have something to recommend.

Who Stole The Wizard of Oz? is a simple mystery that will keep even developing readers wondering what will happen next. When a copy of The Wizard of Oz is stolen from the library and Betsy is blamed for it, she and her twin Toby must find the true thief. Although this book was originally published in 1981, it doesn't feel dated. Avi is clever in making books central to the mystery, which may lead to readers checking out the novels he recommends.

It's not groundbreaking and probably won't become a favorite, but it is good for getting those struggling readers' eyes on print.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Surge and Eruption

After reading the first book in the Storm Runners series, I rushed to read the other two books. 
Since they are so short and so closely tied, I thought I would combine my reviews. 
The Surge picks up right where Storm Runners lets off, with the water rising, post-Hurricane Emily. Not only do Chase and his friends have to worry about flooding, there are also many hungry circus animals hiding in the shadows! Once that issue has been resolved, they need to help the rest of the circus members who are threatened by an earthquake and volcanic eruption in Mexico. 

I loved this series and how well it will fit in with our weather unit. I'll read the first book with my class and know that they will fly through the rest of the series. They are quick reads that will appeal to struggling readers who need action to hook them page after page. While the final book in the series wasn't as strong as the previous two, it tied up everything nicely with a satisfying ending.