This is an absolute gem of a book. I loved the characters from page 1, I shed tears at the terrible things that had happened to Joseph in his young life, I desperately wanted things to be ok for him. This tiny and completely perfectly formed novel is one I meant to read ages ago but didn’t quite get to, I’m so pleased I’ve read it now. It is the story of Joseph who has been removed from his abusive father, sent to prison due to something terrible that he did to a teacher because a kid gave him drugs and he went crazy. He loved a girl and fathered a child and now he is being fostered by the kindest family you could ever meet. But Joseph is so damaged it seems like he might never thaw from the angry, het up, damaged young man he has become. His foster brother desperately wants to melt him and over time you see the relationship between the two boys develop over a shared love of cows and the trials of going to school in the most miserable climate you can imagine.
Gary D. Schmidt does place so well, you feel so much for these people living in this miserable cold, you feel the skin on their fingers freezing and their breath turning to ice crystals. You feel the warmth of the animals and your emotions are tugged and pulled at the beautiful sparse writing. Crikey this is good!
If you are a high school librarian and you haven’t read this and don’t have it in your collection you are missing a gem. Buy 3 copies and share this with your reluctant readers, your country kids and your teachers.
And look! Molly made a book trailer for it.
Well, thank goodness for that! It would have been so upsetting if this novel hadn’t lived up to the first in the series. The ending sets us up brilliantly for a third and gives us a new hero, but that is getting ahead of things.
The story picks up with Rowan reinventing himself from Scythe to justice maker, he is taking the bad out of the Scythes. Expunging the bad and keeping the good. This is of course totally outside the rules and he is in hiding. Citra is now a fully fledged Scythe and is working alongside Marie, her humane approach to killing is not efficient and she is under pressure to work faster. She gives people time to prepare for death and there is an argument that she should be working more efficiently. Back from the dead is Goddard, evil as ever, he wants control of all the Scythes and sets about making that happen. Citra is a threat to him, so he is out to get her.
This story is full of great twists and turns, unexpected characters from the past and with an ending which sets you up nicely for the next one. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t loved these books and I think this is an author who is so reliable that you can trust him to take you on an exciting and thrilling ride. That is certainly the case with this book. As we powered towards the end, the tension was full on!
My boys are fighting to get their hands on this and I’m going to need lots of copies. A very good read.
One of the best books I’ve read this year! Scot Gardner is one of my favourite authors, he gets teenagers and he writes them well. This one is particularly good. It is the story of a boy called Sparrow, it takes place in dual time settings, beginning on an uninhabited island where he has washed up after his ship sinks, this island is far from idyllic, there are terrible creatures everywhere all of which want to hurt (or even eat) him. We also meet Sparrow before this happens when he is living on the street, helping out in cafes to try and get free food to keep himself from starving. We begin to find out how he ended up in this situation and there is nothing good about his past life. He has been abused, mistreated, lied to and abandoned. Despite all this Sparrow is loveable and kind to others.
Sparrow’s journey from abandoned urchin to imprisoned youth is gripping. I fell in love with him from the very first sentence and I cried at some of the appalling things that happened to him. Sparrow’s relationship with the cafe people is wonderfully written, very realistic, full of pathos and at times raw and edgy.
If you are looking for books for teenage boys just head out and buy all of his books for them. They are properly real and beautifully constructed, but their real beauty is in the characters of realistic boys who deal with the crap life throws at them in amazing ways. A real contender for my YA book of the year.
Below is Scot Gardner reading the first chapter. You should definitely listen to it. Definitely!
Well first I discovered the website for this book. Have a look here (you’ll have to sign in with a Facebook or Twiter account) and tell me you aren’t a little intrigued. A friend of mine had read this book and just loved and adored it so I thought “best I give it a whirl” The Night Circus is the result of a challenge, a long standing competition between two magicians. In this case a young girl, Celia and Marco a young boy in the early days, rescued from the streets and trained to high levels of magicianship. The two have studied, trained and honed their skills, which are then shown off in the Night circus. The mysterious circus all in black and white which arrives in a town in the middle of the night and then after a few days, just as mysteriously disappears only to turn up in another location.
This is however a love story, Celia and Marco despite themselves, fall in love. This is not in the plan! They have a dilemma. They compete for superiority of magic within the confines of the circus, the performers and the public love the circus and don’t want it threatened, and yet there must be a winner in the competition of skill which will probably lead to the destruction of the circus.
It is a lyrical book, magic and imagination run wild in it. I found myself liking it instantly but then getting a bit bogged down in the details in the middle, I put it down, wandered off reading something else for a bit, then came back to it and polished it off in an afternoon. It is a gorgeous story, full of the mystical and mysterious and if you are looking for that in a book then this is bound to be a treat. My favourite characters were the twins and Bailey. Read it to find out who they are. Book trailer below.
I’m doing a crosspost here, this is also posted on the school blog. This book is so aptly named. It is a wondrously beautiful book. It is big, it is beautifully designed and it contains a really well crafted story, both in words and in pictures. Wonderstruck is one of those books which will appeal to lots of people for lots of different reasons. If you read books for a great story this book has one. If you love art, drawing and design, this book has loads to offer you. If you think books are things to be treasured then Wonderstruck is certainly one which people will want to treasure. It is a book to buy as a present, it is a book to own. But first you might want to borrow it from the library. The first book by Brian Selznick is a poor battered thing in our library because it has been so widely read over the years. There is a blog post about it here.
Wonderstruck is two stories, one told in pictures and one told with words. It is the story of a young girl living in New York who runs away from home, and it is also the story of a young boy 50 years later in a small lakeside town. You know that somehow the two stories will connect and when they do it is a moment of wonder.
Below is a video of the author, walking around inside the incredibly detailed drawings from the book. This author is truly one of the great authors for young people today and I hope lots of our students pick up the book and take it home and spend time in the world of Wonderstruck.
I am a sucker for a concept novel. I like novels around a theme, with extra bits and pieces, with added online content, it it has bells and whistles, quirky goodness, tricky little gizmos, I’m going to buy it. This does not always guarantee an excellent read! I have spent a vast fortune – well a small fortune – buying the book with the awesome cover, just because it had an awesome cover. That folks is why I bought this book. Oh but it was a gooden, yay!
Filled with weird old photos of children who were the residents of a home for ‘peculiar’ children, this book is the story of Jacob’s Jewish Grandfather, and Jacob’s search for the truth behind his death, the dreams that plague him, the bizarre sight he saw as his beloved Grandfather lay dying in his arms. Jacob is on a quest for the truth. The truth it turns out is very scary, very hard to believe – in short very peculiar. The photographs sit alongside the story, helping you to visualise the peculiar children and their very peculiar attributes. I’m not giving more away than this for fear of ruining the surprises.
This book kept me up until 1am last night. I just had to get to the end and find out what happened to Miss Peregrine and what decisions Jacob would make. I was hooked from page 1 and basically did nothing else yesterday but read this book. It is a cross-over novel, fits nicely into Young Adult or Adult and is a treat book. Lovely! Book trailer below.
It has taken a bit of mulling over this book. It is so cleverly done that it seems simplistic, but it really isn’t. Not in the least. This book is told through the eyes of a five year old boy who has been cooped up in a room (the Room of the title) for all his short life. His mother was kidnapped at the age of 19 and has not been out of the room since then, her kidnapper visits at night to take what he feels is rightfully his and he hasn’t seen the child since he was a small baby. An impressive feat on behalf of the mother who has set up a bed in a wardrobe for the child and has kept the child and the father completely apart despite the confines of the tiny space they live in.
Jack (the child) is comfortable in his world, understands his world and his Ma has nurtured, loved and taken care to teach him all she knows without him even realising that the world outside is not just on the television he is allowed to watch from time to time. Jack’s view of the outside world is one of the most fascinating things about the book, but there are plenty of other wonderful and insightful things that this author has done. The naming of things, the concept of ‘The Sunday Treat’, the subtle hints along the way that Ma is realising what the future trapped in this tiny space will mean.
This book is one of those books which people find it hard to discuss with those who haven’t read it. You don’t want to give too much away. You want to encourage everyone you know to read it. You need others who have read it to chat with and discuss lots of the issues the book raises. It is a tricky thing, I don’t want anybody who hasn’t read the book to have an inkling of what the two characters in the book will have happen to them. So really, if you haven’t read it then get hold of a copy and devour it in a day or so like I did, then spend a week with it haunting you. Below is the publishers book trailer.