Friday, July 25, 2014

Also Known as Elvis by James Howe

Also Known as ElvisThis book is a 2014 release, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Skeezie is thirteen, and he's living with his mom and two little sisters. His mom is working two jobs, so he gets a job at the Candy Kitchen to help pay the bills. Skeezie seems to constantly argue with his mom, and he envies his friends and their family time. Then, his father shows up with a couple of major announcements that will affect Skeezie's life. He tries to talk to his co-worker, his friend, and a popular girl (girlfriend?), and it's all so confusing. He's not sure what to do, but his life will certainly never be the same.

The plot is typical for many books, but it's unusual to be told from a boy's point of view. I haven't read many books that focus on boys' feelings about girls, family, and divorce. Skeezie is upset about being responsible for his sisters, helping to pay bills, and missing his father. He wants to have a normal family life, but it's not that simple. I enjoyed reading about his anger, sadness, and kindness. Action is not found in this plot, but it has very strong character relationships and emotions. The climax and resolution were a little surprising, although I kind of expected them in the back of my mind.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Gollywhopper Games: The New Champion by Jody Feldman

The Gollywhopper Games: The New ChampionThis book is the first in a new series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Cameron wins a chance to compete for one million dollars. It's like the golden ticket in the Willy Wonka story, but there are 900,000 contestants, including Cameron's brother. Each round of the contest requires Cameron to solve puzzles and riddles, and it's all caught on camera. He makes some friends along the way, but some other competitors make things difficult and uncomfortable. Slowly, other kids are sent home, and Cameron gets closer to the  life-changing prize. As a twist, there is a spy who is poisoning the contest.

This book is made for puzzle lovers. Every part of the plot allows readers to see the clues along with the characters and to try coming up with the correct answers. The characters' bonding and conflicts keeps things interesting. The climax was a little surprising, and the resolution was very unexpected.