Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nothing But the Truth, Avi

I feel bad admitting this, but this is actually the first book by Avi that I've ever read. I remember trying to struggle through The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle when I was in middle school, but I hated it; I hadn't picked up one of his books since. However, Coach Tucker recommended Nothing But The Truth to me, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised!! The novel is about a boy named Phillip who gets suspended for - you won't believe this - humming along with the National Anthem as it plays each morning. Phillip maintains that he's just exercising his patriotic rights by singing along with the Anthem, but his teacher views it as violation of the rule, which states that students are to "stand in respectful silence," during the song's playing.

Phillip's suspension soon spirals into national news as people lash out against the teacher, blaming her for a decision that was really made by the school's assistant principal.

The book posed a really interesting question about which takes precedence: school rules or national pride? It really had me thinking, and I felt terrible for the teacher - I guess we tend to sympathize with those in similar situations :)

Also, the novel is written in various formats: some pages were memos from the principal, some were transcriptions of phone conversations; there were entries from Phillip's journal, newspaper articles, and even an excerpt from one of his English tests! This made the novel go by really quickly and kept my interest.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Strings Attached, Judy Blundell

I've been reading many boy books lately, and I needed to venture back into the land of the girls. So, I picked up Strings Attached , a book I purchased a while ago from the book fair.

It's about a girl named Kit Corrigan, who's a triplet - one of the "Corrigan Three" - living in Rhode Island in the 1950s. Kit likes to sing and dance, and moves to New York City to become a dancer. While she's there, she becomes entangled with a ruthless mobster, Nate Benedict. At first she doesn't realize he's in the mob; she just knows him as the father of her boyfriend from home. Nate gets her a job, helps her find an apartment, and even buys her nice clothes. But soon enough, she realizes that he's using her - he's asking her to spy on people for him and do other small favors. By the time she realizes, though, it's too late to escape his grasp. He knows too much about her and she knows too much about his business. She has to keep going.

To make things more complicated, her boyfriend (Nate's son, Billy) soon comes to New York. He gets the wrong impression about what's going on between Kit and his father, and doesn't know which of them he can believe.

Kit's world is turned upside down when her role as a mob informer is published in a newspaper, and she has to figure out how to pull herself out of the web she seems to be entangled in.
There is some mature content in this book, but it was definitely a good read - especially for those who like to read about history and crime!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Burn for Burn, by Jenny Han and Siobahn Vivian

Burn for Burn was one of those impulse-buy books that really let me down. Usually I'm good at randomly picking up books that I like, but that was not the case with this one.

Burn for Burn was about classic high school drama, and three girls - Kat, Mary, and Lillia - who vow to get revenge on their sometimes-torturous peers. Kat is harboring hatred for a girl named Rennie, her used-to-be best friend who is now a classic mean girl. Mary has recently returned to public school after being scorned in middle school by the stereotypical jock, Reeve. And Lillia is plotting against her supposed best friend, Alex Lind, who she thinks is dating her little sister, Nadia, behind her back.

This ulikely trio comes together to take down the "popular" crowd and champion the underdog. But, their plan backfires and they eventually find themselves in way over their heads.

The plot of Burn for Burn was relatively predictable, and there was quite a bit of mature content. The characters kind of blended together, and I don't think their personalities were as developed as they could have been. Kat had the strongest voice, but even then, it was odd to me that she was so well-developed while the rest just seemed like stock characters.

Overall, this book was just okay, but I wouldn't really recommend it to middle schoolers due to the sometimes-mature language and content.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Witch and Wizard, James Patterson

I just finished James Patterson's Witch and Wizard, which has been on my "to-read" list for quite some time. I wish I'd read it sooner, but this book was WELL worth the wait.

The main characters in Witch and Wizard are a brother/sister duo named Whit and Wisty. I found this quite difficult to keep track of at first, but it got easier as the novel progressed. Anyway, Whit and Wisty live in a changed world, led by the omnipotent leader "The One Who is The One". "The One" has (as is common in other dystopian novels) outlawed certain books/movies/music/activities, etc. in order to create what is - in his opinion - the ideal society. However, there are witches and wizards getting in the way of his supposed utopia. Whit and Wisty are two of the supernatural, but they don't realize it until they're mysteriously taken from their house one night and thrown in jail. The two manage an escape from the prison, and vow to save their parents, and the world.
Cover Photo
Of course, troubles abound, and the pair are never entirely sure who they can and cannot trust - who will betray them.

This novel is so fast-paced (the short chapters really helped with that) that I couldn't put it down. Aside from an amazing, carefully considered plot, there were little details along the way that I just loved. For instance, the novel is divided into "books" or parts, and each book's title is an allusion to another work. Also, the musicians/movies that "The One Who is The One" has banned were all references to real artists. I loved it!

Now I just have to find time to read the rest of the series...