Nightshade

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor is a wolf. And for as long as she could remember she’s always played by the rules. She’s never crossed any lines, nor questioned the future that has been carefully mapped out for her – the future that involves a union with the Alpha male, Ren Laroche, and the coming together of a new pack. As the Alpha female, she knows the importance and dangers of questioning. She’s always done right by her pack of wolves, and plans to keep on doing right.

But when Calla saves an innocent boy, Shay Doren, for a wild grizzly, her world shifts just as quickly as she does. Shay is suddenly thrust into her life, throwing everything off-balance. She starts questioning everything she’s even known and believed in. But more than that, she finds herself acting upon impulses and feelings that could lead to her untimely end.

As Calla and Ren’s union swiftly approaches, will she be able to ignore these impulses, feelings, and Shay altogether, and live the life that she’s always known? Or will she follow her heart, even if it means abandoning the life and the pack she’s always known and loved?

Nightshade written by Andrea Cremer is the first book in a trilogy  based around the two tribes of wolves. Unlike other paranormal books featuring shapeshifters this book is one of a kind. For one thing it goes beyond human falling in love with the not so human. Readers will not be able to guess what will happen at every twist and turn.

Full of relatable emotions, what makes Nightshade thrive as a book is the characters. All are well-developed, and carefully crafted. Calla, as the main character, is assured and assertive. Readers will appreciate just how authentic her voice is, and surprisingly familiar. Readers will feel as if a strange character isn’t telling Nightshade’s story, but a familiar friend recounting their own experiences.

Cremer’s writing is clear and concise, making Nightshade a well written book. It’s a perfect start to a great trilogy!

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Book of the Week: ZooZical

Zoozical by Judy Sierra Illustrated by Marc Brown

Published: 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

It’s a book with animals as main characters. What’s not to love about this book?! Oh wait, the end papers portraying dancing animals. (I especially love the dancing owls.)

The text rhymes

I love how this book shows how any bad situation could be turned into a fun one in a matter of minutes.

This book stresses readers use their imaginations. It’s just a highlight to an already fun book.

The animals rap, it makes me giggle.

I love how the book shows the importance of team work.

Instead of the “Wheels on the Bus” the seals like to sing “The Seals on the Bus.”

The writing was really smart, and precise. Readers will definitely appreciate the attention to detail that was put into the making of this book.

The illustrations are fun and whimsical, as would be expected.

What I loved about this book is that it holds one’s attention. It’s not drawn out nor was it overdone.

All the animals have their own personalities. And even though those personalities sometimes clash, this books shows that we can put aside our differences for the sake of something better.

There werer many laugh out loud moments.

The colors of Zoozical’s illustrations are bold and beautiful. It makes the inviting text pop and come to life.

 

Tris & Izzie

Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Izzie’s life is perfect. Or at least she thinks it is. She has a mother who’s a witch (a good witch that is), a best friend who’s always been there for her, even if she’s a third wheel, and a boyfriend that most girls would kill to have.

But when Tristan, a boy who seems like he’s from a strange land rather than a neighboring school mysteriously shows us, Izzie is strangely drawn to him.

Maybe it’s the hazy glow surrounding him. Or that he always around when she seems to be in trouble. Or maybe, it’s the love potion she accidentally gave him. Either way, Tristan isn’t leaving, not without Izzie anyways.

See, Izzie isn’t just an average girl, she’s a powerful witch who’s destined to save a small magical town. But Izzie’s never used her magic before.  Will it help her or will it hinder her?

Tris & Izzie written by author Mette Ivie Harrison is a retelling of the German classic fairytale Tristan and Isolde.  Harrison’s retelling is uniquely her own. Set in a modern world, readers will quickly relate to Izzie, simply an average high school girl with not so average abilities.

As enjoyable as Tris & Izzie is, there were certain elements that made it a not so pleasant read. Izzie, the books leading lady is often whiny, and wasn’t as strong as she should have been. Too often relying on Tristan, Izzie isn’t the heroine she’s expected to be.

Harrison’s elements of fantasy really worked. She has a knack for making every creature from a three-headed dog to flying baby dragons come to life. Tris & Izzie’s writing may be conventional – far from spactacular – but it’s a fun, light read that will capture reader’s attention.

Book of the Week: Those Darn Squirrels

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Published: 2008 by Clarion Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I really loved this book because of the apparent sense of humor. Author Adam Rubin doesn’t take for granted that he’s writing for children.

I love how the main character, Old Man Fookwire is described. He’s so old ” that when he sneezed, dust cam out.” I can’t stress how hard I laughed at this.

From the get go, readers will know that this is one imaginative story. ANd a good one.

Old Man Fookwire loves birds. I found this interesting that he’s not a bird watcher, but a bird painter.

Old Man Fookwire is in control of his own happiness. When he knows the birds are about to leave (which makes him sad) he makes a bunch of bird feeders in the hopes of keeping them around. I love how this shows readers that there are things we can control and things we can’t.

I love how this book points out just how smart squirrels are. Most think that they oversized rodents with fluffy tales, but the truth is there actually very clever.

They may not be birds, but squirrels really do love bird feeders. They ar e quick and easy ways to gather food for winder.

The illustrations are just as charming and funny as the writing. I especially adore the illustrations of the squirrels after too much bird feeder food: laying on tree branches, they’re bellies swollen with food.

No matter what Old Man Fookwire does to keep the squirrels away the squirrels keep coming back, as if up for the challenge.

A lot of people do not like squirrels. They consider them pesky, and annoying. But these squirrels are different from others – when the birds finally leave and Old Man Fookwire is sad – they try to cheer him up. First they give him money, and when that doesn’t work, the disguise themselves as birds.

Old Man Fookwire is a great character, who has some great lines: “Great Googley-moogley!” is just one.

He’s so impressed at what the squirrels has done for him, he has a change of heart and makes squirrel feeders.

I love how this book shows the importance of giving something or someone a chance.

It also shows the importance of not being judgemental.

Friends come in all forms and could be found is unlikely places.

The writing of this book is great. It’s fun, and really makes the accompanying illustrations pop!

Ashes

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

When Alex leaves her aunt’s house to say one final goodbye to her parents, she doesn’t realize that it will be the last time she’ll ever see her home or her aunt again. And why should she realize it, after all she’s only going camping a few hours away?

When that camping trips turns disastrous after the Zap, an electromagnetic pulse that has wiped everything out – people included, Alex knows the monster growing in her head isn’t going to be what kills her. Trying to survive this will.

Or will it? With the help of a little girl named Ellie and a strong soldier named Tom, Alex learns to survive almost anything – cold weather, no shelter, and a withering supply of food. But she may not survive The Changed – a group of kids who have turned to cannibals eating everything and everyone who crosses their path.

Ashes is a spine-tingling post-apocalyptic thriller written by author Isla J. Bick. Full of unexpected twists and turns, readers will not be able to tear their eyes away from the pages.

What makes Ashes such an enthralling read is the fact that even though its post-apocalyptic fiction, it reads as if it’s real. Bick’s  authenticity is startling to the point of borderline terrifying, but in the best way possible. Readers will think “what would I do if I were in Alex’s shoes?”

Well written and fast paced, Bick’s Ashes is a great start to a sure-fire hit trilogy.

Book of the Week: Clink

Clink by Kelly Dipucchio and Matthew Myers

Published: 2011 by Balzer + Bray

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

It’s about an adorable robot. I love robots. Need I say more?!

I love how the end papers are diagrams of the inner workings of a robot, specifically Clink.

Clink isn’t old, he’s antique.

I love how this book shows that we all have flaws, and those flaws make us who we are, what sets us apart from others. Clink shows us that we should embrace those flaws, and love ourselves.

A big part of the book shows us that new things come along all the time, but those new things aren’t always better.

Clink’s robot friends are all supportive, and always try to cheer him up when he’s feeling down. And sometimes they give him things like red polka dot underwear.

I love how all the robots featured in the book have their own personalities. One makes cookies, one gives nifty haircuts.

I illustrations are a perfect fit for the overall story. The rich and inviting. Readers will fall in love with this book.

Like the illustrations, the writing is rich.

I love how Clink is willing to try new things, even if they turn out disastrous.

This book really shows that there is a friend out there for everyone. And everyone no matter how old, young, or different deserves friendship.

Clink is a funky little robot. Not only can he make toast, but he can also make music and bust a move (a.k.a. dance). And boy he can dance!

Click is really lovable.

This book really shows how one persons trash is someone else’s treasure.

Clink is a must read for kids of all ages.

 

The Chosen One

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen year old Kyra Carlson is one loved girl. She’s loved by her twenty brothers and sisters. She’s loved by the community in which she calls home, a cluster of trailers in the middle of the desert. She’s loved by her father and his three wives.

Kyra has grown up in a polygamist cult, never questioning life outside the fences keeping her in, never questioning her freedoms or lack thereof. Maybe it’s because she’s found her own freedoms: sitting quietly in her tree watching over the community that watches over her, reading books she’s smuggled in from the bookmobile, and secretly meeting with Joshua, the boy she’s in love with.

But when Prophet Childs, a leader who is more feared than revered, tells her that she is to marry her sixty year old uncle she suddenly starts asking questions that she shouldn’t even think, questions that go against everything she’s been taught. Why does she have to marry him? Why can’t she marry the boy she loves, afterall isn’t that how marriage works? Why would her parents choose to live a life like this?

Not knowing the answer to all of her questions, Kyra must decide to stay and follow through with the Prophet’s order or to run far away from her family, the only life she’s ever known, and her sixty year old uncle.

Kyra’s loved. But how much love is too much love?

Carol Lynch Williams has written a poignant novel that will not only shock, but will open young readers eyes and minds to the harsh realities that exist in our very own world. The Chosen One is sincerely realistic. And so are the emotions that pour from the pages. They’re overwhelming. So much so that readers will experience everything alongside Kyra. What she cries, readers will too.

Williams’ characters all play pivotal roles in the book, and in Kyra’s life. They are all exceptionally realized and genuinely real. But no other character stands out as Kyra herself. She’s smart, strong, and above all brave – a good example to stand up for what you believe in, even if no one wants to stand up with you.

The Chosen One is a novel that will grip and shock readers alike. And leave them questioning  life, humans, love and all the cruelties that come along with all of those things.