Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hidden by Dauvillier, Lizano and Salsedo

by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo
80 pages, 2014

When grandma was a little Jewish girl, she lived in Paris.  But life wasn't all sweetness and roses- she lived in the time of World War II- when Jews were discriminated against, families were torn apart, and children were hidden in closets.  But Grandma Dounia has never told her story.  Until she tells it to her granddaughter in the middle of the night.

What a gentle way to discuss the horrors of the Holocaust with a young child.  The reader can see how deeply it affected Dounia as a child (at one point she can't talk for a few days), you see the emotions that fill her and how the horrors around her change her life.  But you don't see the horrors.  The reader sees the changes that come- people treating them differently, police taking people away, how different her mother is once she is returned.  It addresses all the issues that the Jews faced during WWII, but at the same time shows it in a manner appropriate for children.

Great read- worth looking at.  Should be appropriate for most children, but might invoke more questions about the events of the Holocaust.  Great way to tell this story.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson
416 pages, 2013
High School

What would happen if super heroes used their powers to rule and oppress instead of help others? Imagine if Superman wanted to run the city, not save the city! That is the world that David lives in. 

At the age of eight, David sees his father and everyone else in the bank killed by Steelheart, an Epic- someone with super powers. Nobody knows what can harm Steelheart, no one has seen him bleed and survived to tell, except for David. Seeking revenge for his father's death, David joins the Reckoners, a underground group out to upset the tyranny of the Epics. But despite all their research and David's notes, they still can't figure out how to harm Steelheart. Yet someone has to try.

I really enjoyed this book. While it seemed to take me a while, it read really face. Great pace, lots of action, but also lots of emotion behind the action. Sanderson has created a great balance between the action/fighting/getaway scenes and the emotion that drives people. That creates an interest in the character, a need to know what happens next, plus a connection between character and reader. Excellent balance of these various elements. 

I will definitely be recommending this book to people. I'll say teenager, high school ages, mostly because of violence in it- lots of gun fights, injuries, high speed chases, that sort of thing. Not really swearing (at least what we consider swearing- they have their own made up stuff) or anything inappropriate. Great read if you like action movies!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gone a while....

So, to any of my loyal readers out there, I've been gone a while.  Like more than 6 months without a post.  EEK!

Part of it was health issues: figured out that I can't have gluten.  Weird....  But it's been a lot of adjustments and just having energy to focus on reading and blogging hasn't been there lately.  Plus summer time is always so busy that it just wasn't the right time to start back up.

But I'm back!  Woo hoo!  Let's get this going! Any requests?  Book types you want more in?  Specific titles you want me to read and review?  Let me know!

InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves

by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
260 pages, 2007
Late Elementary to Middle School

Joey Harker's day started just fine.  His social sciences teacher is testing them on finding directions in the city, and he finally feels like he's got a handle on it.  He knows where he is, he's got a cute girl on his team, and even stood up the the bully.

And then he walked around the wrong corner and Walked into another dimension.  And then another.  Joey has the strange ability to walk through dimensions like most people walk to the park.  As he starts travelling, he starts meeting people that are strange versions of himself, humanoid and otherwise.  The more people he meets, the deeper involved in the bigger struggle he becomes.

When I first saw this I thought "How did I not know that Gaiman wrote something else???" I was super excited to read it and see what crazy world he came up with this time.  And Mr. Gaiman did not disappoint.

This was great! I had a hard time putting down.  The reader becomes quickly attached to Joey as the underdog, and you want to cheer for him.  He's the kid that is always trying to work hard and do the right thing, but it turns out wrong.  Many people will be able to relate to him.

I also liked the variety of Joey-like characters- so many different variations, but still have connections to him.  Very believable that they could be a Joey from another universe.

Overall- exciting, action-packed read.  Great characters, interesting multiple-universe structure, and fun to read.  Definitely will recommend to people, especially boys.


by Brandon Sanderson
643 pages, 2006
High School

Today we have something new!  I asked someone I know to do a review of a book he's read recently.  Here's what I got!

Review by Simeon!
Vin’s world is grey and black as the ash continues to fall every single day. The world is always dangerous for a street urchin in one of the largest cities, Luthedal, the seat of the Lord Ruler. She has been living with a street gang with a leader that only uses her as his ‘good luck charm’. However, street gangs and thieves are the least of her problems as rumors spread of a ‘survivor of hathsin’ and a mysterious man shows up to the street gang’s hideout. He uses her ‘luck’ to subdue all of the thieves. Curious, she decides to join them. However, things are stirring as Vin is learns of a daring, almost suicidal, plan that this mysterious man is doing. Can she trust this man enough to both learn her powers and to carry out this plan?
Where to begin with this book?
The characters feel real. Vin starts off not trusting other people. She is only staying with the crew master because he views her as something ‘useful’ and very much a loner. Then she meets Kelsier, where he introduces her to a whole new world, a world where people trust each other. Then Vin begins to change, very slow at first, then quicker until she seems a complete different person at the end of the book, a person that could trust her friends. Also, the banter between the friends is something that will leave you laughing well after you have read it. So, I like to repeat what I have said earlier, the characters feel real.
Also, the magic system is simple! Okay, maybe not as simple, but it was well defined, you know what’s going to happen and how it happens. It has advantages, and disadvantages, and there are ways to get around it. It doesn’t make the characters indestructible, or unbeatable (believe me, Vin gets beat on again and again throughout the whole series) however, it gives them that extra edge in battle that allows them to take on their opponents.
I will say one thing about Mistborn. It is dark. Imagine our world, where the sun is a blazing hot orb that would beat about the world in a wave of heat so suffocating that all life would eventually shrivel up to its relentless heat. Where mountains belch out ash day in and day out, making the sky an ugly grey black color. Ash falling constantly, there is no green plants. The fields are covered in black from the ash, the buildings, black as ash fall upon it day in and day out. The plant life, sick, and near death, struggling to survive in a hostile world. The humans… if noble born, always sneaking around each other in intrigue and sabotage, the workers, or more commonly known as the skaa. Are treated only a little bit better than slaves at best, at worst they are the slaves. Thieves fill the back ways of the most powerful city constantly trying to scrape off a living, stealing from the rich. This is the daily life in Mistborn. Yet despite all of this, the characters try to make it a better world of it. They try to fix it.

I would recommend this book to most people if they were into adventure, dark world’s settings, slightly humor, and a around good book. However, I must make a quick note, I would not recommend this book if people are a little squeamish, there is lots of blood and some rather grotesque killing involve.

That One Spooky Night

That One Spooky Night
Written by Dan Bar-el
Illustrated by David Huyck
80 pages, 2012

Creepy crawlies and things that go BUMP in the night...  If you like being scared, then this is the book for you!

This collection of three short stories is scary and makes you think about what is behind those masks at Halloween time.  Is that little girl just dressed up as a witch, or is she really one?  What is under all those bubbles in your bubble bath?  And be careful who invites you over for a party....

Fun, cute collection of stories.  Nothing super scary, perfect for the younger elementary aged kids.  Great illustrations, just enough text to drive the story, but not so much it's cluttered.  Lots of action oriented frames.  Overall, fun quick read!  Great for short attention spans since it's divided into the short sections.