Monday, July 29, 2013

Boy by Roald Dahl

Boy: Tales of ChildhoodThis book is on the new BOB list, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. It is an autobiography about the author's life, although it's full of anecdotes, shorter stories, rather than a bunch of factual information. The book opens with a story about how his father had his broken arm amputated after a drunk doctor thought he'd dislocated his shoulder. Other chapters talk about his life growing up in Wales and England and summer vacations in his parents' homeland of Norway. One time, he had his adenoids removed without pain killers, while still awake! He recalls his walks to elementary school with his buddies and how they often bought candy from a small store. Roald got the idea to put a dead mouse in one of the mean store owner's candy jars, but the plan went bad when they thought they killed her from fright! Then the principal found out what they'd done. Another time, the author had his nose almost cut off in a car accident.

The book is written in the style of Roald Dahl, with a humorous tone. The events are often unusual, much like his novels, The BFG, The Witches, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you need to read a biography for school, you'll reading this book for your assignment.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Fizzy Whiz Kid by Maiya Williams

The Fizzy Whiz KidI found this book on the shelf of recommended titles at my local library, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Mitch moves to a new school in Hollywood, and he doesn't fit in. Most of the other students have parents involved in movies and television, but Mitch's family doesn't even own a television. And his dad is an expert in cockroaches. Mitch decides he needs to do something after he's embarrassed by his dad's visit to school, so he goes to a talent audition. He's chosen to become the face of Fizzy Whiz pop, and his life skyrockets. Everyone recognizes him, and he starts to meet new people and have new experiences. However, fame has its price. Will Mitch be able to recover from his fame and learn to enjoy life again?

This book is not classic literature, but I found it interesting and fun. Many people want to become famous, but Mitch's character learns that there's a downside to it. He tries to keep things "normal", but he develops the internal conflicts as his life changes. The plot has a nice theme to it, as Mitch learns his lesson. I found the plot humorous, and Mitch's mom is a really cool lady!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mystery at the Army-Navy Game:The Rivalry by John Feinstein

The Rivalry (Final Four Mysteries, #5)This is the fifth book in the "Final Four Mysteries", and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Stevie and Susan Carol are freshman reporters working for major newspapers in Washington D.C. They are going to cover this year's Army-Navy football game, and President Obama is scheduled to attend. They are assigned to write stories concerning security for the game, and as usual, some surprising events arise. Susan Carol gets some unexpected attention when she writes an article accusing the officials at the Navy-Notre Dame game of incompetence. They'll be working the Army-Navy game, so the story won't go away. Then, there are some uninvited intruders who manage to sneak into a pregame public relations event at the stadium. And the father of two players in the game is a member of a white supremacy group. The Secret Service is on high alert.

I enjoy how Steve and Susan Carol work together as they try to interact in the adult world but still lead "normal" teenage lives. I like sports, so I appreciate a good plot about football. Sports lovers will enjoy the information shared about the sport and the history of this big game. The setting changes in various chapters, so be aware there will be unannounced flashbacks.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake

The Skin I'm InThis book won the Coretta Scott King Award, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Makeela is a seventh grader who is learning to accept herself. She's reluctant to do well in her classes, and she's pressured to remain friends with Char, the self-centered bully at her school. She's constantly teased by her classmates, but things will get even worse if she doesn't do whatever Char asks. Then, a new teacher comes to school. Miss Saunders takes an interest in Makeela and slowly gets her to think about her life. For extra credit, Makeela continues to write diary entries about a 17th century slave named Maleeka. The diary is a way for Makeela to express feelings about her own life. She continues to struggle with friendships at school, but will she make the right decisions before it's too late?

The author was able to effectively share the personal turmoil experienced by many adolescents. The peer pressure and desire to be accepted are endless battles. Makeela knows what she should so, but reality makes it more difficult. The plot may not appeal to all readers, but I thought the book was well-written.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dairy Queen #1 by Catherine Murdock

Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen, #1)This book is on the new BOB list, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. DJ is a junior in high school, living on a farm in Wisconsin. Since her father needs a walker to get around, and her older brothers have gone off to college, she is left doing all of the daily chores. It's a hard, thankless job, and she's feeling like a cow, not thinking for herself and always doing what everyone else tells her to do. Then, Brian, the quarterback for her high school's big rival, is sent by his coach to work on the farm,. The handsome whiner doesn't appreciate the work, and DJ is pretty annoyed at his laziness. However, in time, he helps DJ reflect on her life and motivates her to change. She's even thinking of trying out for her school's football team!

Some readers may want more action, but I enjoyed the book. DJ is an interesting character, and the plot brings up many of her internal and external conflicts. She has: flunked English, gotten annoyed about chores, a demanding father, a silent little brother, a mother who's rarely at home, a complicated relationship with her best friend, and new feelings for Brian. The story is told in a first-person point of view, so the author is really able to describe her feelings and thoughts. The interaction between DJ and Brian brings up many warm and funny situations that made me smile. There is a sequel to this book called The Off Season.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Panic by Sharon Draper

PanicThis book is pretty intense, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Diamond is part of a dance group and is kind of bummed when she doesn't get a bigger part in their upcoming presentation of Peter Pan. She meets a stranger at a food court who offers her a chance to audition for a part in the movie version of the same show. Bad choice. All of the bad things you were ever told about talking to strangers come true. Diamond is drugged and sexually assaulted, and her chances of surviving are very slim.

The main characters are dancers, and a large part of the plot revolves around Layla and her abusive boyfriend. Justin is a great, heroic character who is afraid to share his true feelings with Layla, but he is very willing to come to her defense. Again, although the description is not graphic, the plot is pretty intense. It's the not the kind of book you're necessarily going to read for enjoyment. Each chapter is told from a different character's point of view.