Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Book Club News

It is the first week of school and the library will officially open for business tomorrow. I am so excited! I can't wait to hear what students have read this summer and share the things I enjoyed.

At Highland the Lunch Bunch Book Clubs will be back as well. The titles and dates for the first meetings have just been posted.
The 6th grade group will meet on Wednesday, October 1, to discuss Rules by Lord.
The 7th grade group will meet on Thursday, October 2, to talk about Turnabout by Haddix.
The 8th grade goup will meet on Friday, October 3, to talk about Acceleration by McNamee.

Any interested Highland students are welcome to attend book club. We meet about once a month to talk about the book we read for that month while we eat lunch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

I've been totally bitten by the Vladimir Tod bug!

I picked up the first in the series, Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer. It looked kind of gory and gruesome from the cover. I really liked the book. Vlad has lived with his aunt for the three years since his parents died. Vlad has all the problems of a normal teenage kid including dealing with bullies and working up the nerve to talk to his crush. He also has to deal with being half vampire. He feeds from blood donated from a blood bank and has blood capsules embedded into his PB&J sandwiches at lunch. When his teacher disappears and a strange substitute takes his place, Vlad has to try to figure out what is happening and what his dead father has to do with it.
The story had action and humor. As soon as I finished the first book, I wanted to get started on the second.

In Ninth Grade Slays, Vlad and the crew are back again, as this book picks up right where the first left off. Vlad starts high school and finds out aside from the bullies and STILL working up the nerve to talk to his crush, he has some new problems. First, Eddie Poe suspects that Vlad is not totally human. Second, a vampire slayor has been sent to "take care" of him. Vlad gets to do some training and discover more about the mysterious prophecy of the Praxus.

I'd definitely recommend this series. It's very entertaining and a good mix of vampire stuff, humor, action, and realistic fiction. I'm anxious to see what happens to Vlad and best friend/drudge Henry when they are sophomores!

Image Citations
"Eighth Grade Bites Cover." Online image.
LibraryThing. 19 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34886156

"Ninth Grade Slays Cover." Online image.
LibraryThing. 19 Aug. 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rat Life

I picked up Rat Life by Tedd Arnold tonight and almost before I knew it I had finished the entire book. It was partially a mystery with a little bit of history and realistic fiction mixed in.

Todd is an aspiring teenage writer and the events that he is part of during 1972 certainly lend themselves to his stories. During an incident that haunts Todd when a stray dog he had tried to protect gets struck by a truck, his path crosses with a slightly older boy named Rat. To say Rat has had a difficult life would be an understatement. He has abusive, often absent parents and a mom who arranged for him to serve in Vietnam when he was just 14! Todd is interested in Rat and wants to really understand this mysterious kid who seems to somehow be linked with a dead body found in the river.
This book, with its short chapters and layered storytelling, was a quick read that was as much an exploration of character and story telling as it was a mystery.

Image Citation
"Rat Life Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 16 Aug. 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Alabama Moon

I just finished the last 2009 Caudill book that I brought home for the summer, Alabama Moon by Watt Key. I think this brings my total to eight of the books so far.

Moon is a ten-year-old who has been raised in a shelter in the middle of the forest by his survivalist, anti-government father. When his dad breaks his leg, refuses to leave the forest for medical attention, and then dies, Moon is left alone with his father's dying words that he should go to Alaska. He is taken to a boys home and has his first of many run-ins with the increasingly sadistic, vengeful Constable Sanders. He somehow manages an escape with all the boys in the boys home - this kid not only knows everything about surviving in the wilderness, he may be a long lost relative of McGyver (please excuse the 1980s TV reference). Ultimately, Moon connects with some other boys, Hal and Kit, and finds an unlikely ally in a wealthy lawyer. This was a strangely compelling book, but at times it also struck me as a bit out there. There was something really unsettling about Moon, like an absolutely wild child out of place in the modern world. I did learn somethings about natural living, and ultimately I wished Moon a life where he could find a family to care for him.

If you read Alabama Moon, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the book.

Image Citation
"Alabama Moon Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 15 Aug. 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Gossamer by Lois Lowry is a Caudill 2009 nominee. It was a quick read about little sprites who are dream givers. A young trainee, Littlest, works with Thin Elderly to gather fragments from people's belongings that are the basis for dreams. These fragments are delivered to the woman, dog, and foster child within the house where the work each evening. Woven into the fabric of the story about Littlest is the story of Jack healing from an abusive father and being placed in a foster home. The story had a bit of magic. I like the thought of these sprites visiting me to deliver dreams each night.

If you read the book, I'd love to hear about what you think these dream givers look like and what you thought of the book.

Image Citation
"Gossamer Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 13 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34668238

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wolf Brother

I felt like I hadn't read enough of the Caudill 2009 books yet this summer, so I grabbed Wolf Brother to take with me on a weekend trip. I wasn't too excited when I opened to the first page, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by this book. That's one of the things I really like about the Caudill program, it stretches me and gets me to read some books that I wouldn't pick up on my own.

Wolf Brother, the first of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series by Michelle Paver, takes place 6000 years ago when people are mostly nomadic and live in clans. Torak and his father live away from other people, and it turns out there is a pretty good reason for that. After his father is killed by a bear, who turns out to be demon possessed - the bear, not the father, Torak is on a quest to try to stop the bear. He has to journey to the Spirit Mountain and find three items to give to the great spirit that answer the ancient riddle. Torak finds an orphaned wolf cub who helps guide him on his mission, and it turns out he has the ability to speak the language of wolves. Renn from the Raven clan also is a helpful companion on the quest. Although I won't be running out to read the rest of the series, I think this book will definitely appeal to many of the students participating in the Caudill program. And this book managed to wrap me into its world.

Image Citation
"Wolf Brother Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 11 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/26051/book/34520992

Breaking Dawn

I was in Arizona when Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer was released. After stopping in at a local book store the night of the release, I was really impressed as there were at least 30 people participating in the release party activities and it was only 9:30, hours before the book was available for sale. I did listen for a few minutes to the trivia contest and even managed to score some free stickers when I answered a question correctly!

I didn't wait around to get the book that night, but I did pick up a copy a couple days later. I was really anticipating the end of the series. And like some things that you look forward to for a long time, this book didn't quite meet all my expectations. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it and finding out what happened to all the characters I had grown to like so much during Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. I'm glad I read it, I enjoyed it, but it was missing a bit of the magic of the earlier books in the series.

I'd love to hear what you thought of the book. If you've read it, please leave a comment.

While I was in Arizona, I saw the Twilight movie trailer in a theater. I'm really anxious to see how the world of the book is translated onto the screen. It'll be interesting to see what I've imagined in my mind compares with the movie.

Image Citation
"Breaking Dawn Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 11 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34309234

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Acceleration by Graham McNamee has been on my want to read list for the past two years. I finally had a chance to read it and found I couldn't put it down!

Here's the review I wrote on my LibraryThing page:
Ohh...this book was creepy and action packed. Duncan gets stuck with a horrible summer job. Working in the back room in the lost and found at the subway in Toronto, he finds a diary. He starts to read it and is shocked by what he finds - a detailed account of animal killings, arson, and a desire to do something bigger. Duncan is being haunted by his own demons. He tried to save a drowning girl the summer before, but didn't quite get to her in time. He talks his friends, Vinnie and Wayne, to help him investigate this mystery man after the police refuse to take the issue seriously. Wow, I couldn't put this book down - especially the last few chapters!

I would definitely recommend this book. If you've read it, leave a comment about what you thought!

"Acceleration Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 3 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/book/34116392

The Recruit

I got my copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer this afternoon. I'll write more about that after I finish the book. I did stop in to a release party on Thursday night, but I was there too early to get a copy. I did, however, answer one of the trivia questions while I was in the book store and won some cool Twilight series stickers.

I'm on vacation this week and turned in the big paper I have been working on this summer before I left, so I have been reading for fun by the pool! I read a couple books in the last few days. The first was The Recruit by Robert Muchamore. It is the first book in the CHERUB series. Lots of eighth grade guys at Highland were reading the series last year, so I just had to check it out. I really enjoyed it, it was action packed! The first book in the series follows James as he goes from a troubled kid whose mom dies to his experience as a recruit for a secret organization called CHERUB, a division of MI5 for under 18 spies. In order to go on a mission, recruits have to get through a gruelling 100 day training. James' first mission puts him undercover investigating a possible terrorism threat. It was surprising at times how much these kids could do and experienced when they were so young - like 10 or 12 years old! This series has a lot in common with the Alex Rider series. Although, it is a little grittier with more emphasis on action and spying and less on the gadgets.

If you've read any of the CHERUB books or Breaking Dawn, feel free to leave a comment!

"The Recruit Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 3 Aug. 2008 http://www.librarything.com/work/3102579/book/34115678