Beyond the Bright Sea

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Beyond the Bright Sea (ebook)

by Lauren Wolk

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I was a little cynical about this book, because I read a lot about Wolf Hollow by the same author, and I heard it was a children’s book written for adults.  I have yet to read Wolf Hollow (I brought it home to read this summer), but I let it taint my initial feelings.  Luckily, I read the book and developed a better opinion of Beyond the Bright Sea.

Crow washed up on the shore on one of the Elizabeth Islands near New Bedford, Massachusetts.  She was only a few hours old and in a tiny leaking boat, but luckily, Osh found her and raised her like he would his own, although she always knew he was not her real father.  It was rumored that she was born on Penikese Island, where there was a leprosy colony, so Crow was shunned by the townspeople, except for Miss Maggie, who isn’t afraid to touch her.  One day, Crow discovers she has roots on Penikese, and she discovers who her parents were, as well as what they left behind for her.  This is a story with a good mystery, but it it is also sad and humorous, and you will grow to like Crow, Osh, and Miss Maggie.

What I liked about this book was the way it kept me going.  I started to figure out parts of the mystery, and I was frustrated that I would have to read the entire book for Crow to figure it out, but the author knew better- Crow figured it out shortly after I did as the reader, and I looked forward to unexpected twists after that.

What I didn’t like about this book was that Osh was so sad and hurt by Crow wanting to know about her real family.  Osh, a tough, quiet man, was the stand in for Crow’s family, and he realized that she might not need him now that she learned who her family was.  That made me sad, because I can imagine that my own (step) dad would feel the same if I wanted to spend more time with my biological father.  I could relate to the situation.

Book 9 of summer 2017!

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Tell Me Three Things

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Tell Me Three Things (ebook)

by Julie Buxbaum

 

Imagine your mom (your best friend) dying of cancer.  Then your dad remarries someone you’ve never met.  Then he moves you into her fancy home in California, away from your friends and all that is familiar.  Then you have to adapt to a new climate, a new step brother who seems to hate you, a new school, and culture shock.  When you’re on the verge of a breakdown, you start receiving mysterious, but helpful emails from a person named Somebody Nobody, who gives you advice on how to survive at your new school.  Jessie narrows the identity of Somebody Nobody down to 3 people, and the end may surprise you.

What I liked about this book was that the end didn’t surprise me.  I pretty much guessed who it was, and it was who I was rooting for.  This is a cute, romantic story that won’t leave you feeling depressed or angry.  It won’t make you want to throw the book away, and you’ll likely finish it as quickly as I did!

What I didn’t like about this book was that the end didn’t surprise me.  Ha ha… I like and don’t like books that are predictable, depending on my mood.  I didn’t like the idea of being “peened” and the word “peen” to begin with.  That made me feel old and prudish.

Book 58 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Three Times Lucky

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Three Times Lucky (paperback)

by Sheila Turnage

AR Level 3.9, 9 points

Have you ever read a book and though, “This would be a great movie!”?  Well that’s Three Times Lucky.  I could see the scenes in my head, and I started casting the movie as I read.  It opens up showing the workings of a small Southern town: kids riding bikes to the local creek (or crick), old pick up trucks being worked on, women in big hats drinking iced tea… and after the credits, you hear the dinging of the door chime in the small local cafe.  It may catch you off guard that a smart-mouthed, quick-witted child is running this cafe.

Mo is the protagonist of the story.  She is the smart-mouthed, quick-witted incoming sixth grader, and her “adoptive” parents, Miss Lana and The Colonel, run the local small-town cafe.  She was found as a newborn afloat in a creek after a hurricane, apparently wrapped and placed on a board during the storm by her “Up Stream Mother.”  Hence her name, Moses.  Mo writes letters to her mother in a series of books, her autobiography.  She has a best friend named Dale (after the race car driver), and he is also a detective in their agency.  There is a murder in their community, and a detective from a bigger neighboring town comes in to solve the case.  Mo and Dale do their part, but things start to go sour for Mo, and she needs to use her intelligence and cleverness to save her family and friends.

What I liked about this book was the quirkiness and humor that Mo brought to the story.  I would classify her as GATE just based on her creative thinking and use of vocabulary.  In fact, most of the characters in this story are quirky in some way, some more than others.  I enjoyed getting to know the characters and their antics, as well as the sense of community in their town of Tupelo Landing.  I look forward to reading The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, the companion novel.

What I didn’t like about this book was that for me, it got off to a slow start.  It took me a few days to get into the book.  It shouldn’t have taken me two weeks to read, but it did, partly because I was so busy, and partly because I couldn’t get into it right away.  I read more than half the book last night and today, and was able to finish.  My advice is to keep going, and don’t get sidetracked by the first few chapters, which are full of character development, but still kind of slow.

Book 1 of 40 (Year 2)

All the Wrong Questions “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”

All the Wrong Questions: “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”

by Lemony Snicket (hardcover)

AR Level 5.5, 6 points

I am a huge fan of Lemony Snicket.  If I had to compare, he would be my Johnny Depp of authors.  Meaning, I’m a fangirl and would probably squeal like a sixth grader at a One Direction concert if I ever actually got to meet him.  Hopefully, if I ever do get the pleasure, I’ll show some restraint as not to embarrass myself TOO much.

I have been recommending A Series of Unfortunate Events to my students for many years.  I usually read “The Bad Beginning” to my class and then let the awesome writing take over, and I don’t see any of my books until the end of the year when they have to turn them in (begrudgingly).  So when I found out (from a former student, no less) that he was coming out with a prequel, I was, of course, excited.

“Who Could That Be at This Hour?”  is book one, and the main character is an adolescent Lemony Snicket.  We follow him as he starts out his apprenticeship solving the case of the Bombinating Beast in a town called Stain’d by the Sea.  He proves, of course, to be smarter than his chaperone.  Just like ASOUE, we are left hanging at the end of the novel.  The problem is somewhat resolved, but the villain is still out for the capture, and we look forward to his next chance.

What I loved about this book: Besides Snicket’s wit (the cab drivers work for tips, but instead of money, he gives them book recommendations and bits of advice), his strong adolescent characters (himself, being one of them), and his vocabulary mini-lessons, his use of figurative language makes me want to reread paragraphs over and over to my students just to say, “This is how you use figurative language!”

What I didn’t love about this book: It made me feel a little lonely.  Maybe I’m used to ASOUE where there are 3 orphans to keep each other company.  I felt like his characters are always so well-developed, maybe they just weren’t as “meaty” in this one.  However, that will not deter me from picking up the next book!  I look forward to reading the next book, if I can hold off until this weekend.

BOOK 1 OF 52