Fantasy, Fiction, Levine-Gail Carson, Romantic Fiction, Young Adult

#939 Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Kezi lives with her mother and father. She’s an only child, they worship the one true God. There’s an altar in their home dedicated to this god.

She does not know that other Gods exist, including one around her age named Olus. He happens to raise goats on land leased from Kezi’s father. He is the god of wind and loneliness. He has a special interest in Kezi.

One day, Kezi’s mother falls terribly ill and the local medicine man just wants to let her blood and doesn’t give a lot of hope. Kezi’s father makes an oath to their god. He swears that if his wife recovers, he will sacrifice whoever, if anybody, congratulates him on his wife’s recovery.

She does get better and no one wishes congratulations until an elderly aunt comes by. Kezi knows what will happen, so she wishes her father congratulations instead. She must die.

There are thirty days left in Kezi’s life, but she runs into Olus and he whisks her away. He tells her that perhaps she could become a goddess. She would have to become a heroine and pass a test. Could Kezi complete this task? Could she stay with Olus forever?

What I liked

This story was fun. I like the idea of being with someone forever. I believe we do go on after this life. I would like to think we can keep the relationships we have.

I really have no knowledge of other God’s existing, but it’s kind of fun to think about, at least in the mythology sense.

What I didn’t like

This is kind of Twilight.

Overall

If only we could all be rescued from life by some immortal being…*sigh* *teenage love ideals*

Weigh in

If some immortal dude asked you to go with him and leave everything behind, would you?

Would you offer yourself so someone else wouldn’t have to die?

#939 Ever by Gail Carson Levine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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Family dynamics, Fiction, Finding Your Self, Patterson-James, Tebbetts-Chris, Young Adult

#733 Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris TebbettsMiddle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Rafe is at a new middle school. He has a plan though. He has this notebook he’s been working on. He wants to break every school rule, every single one. Things aren’t going so great in his home life. There’s a guy named Bear that lives at his house with his mother and his sister. Rafe doesn’t like Bear very much. He sells Bear’s secret stash of sodas at school.

The plan goes. Rafe is late. He streaks through the hallways. He graffitis the walls. He gets bad grades. He gets in school suspension. He knocks things over. He does this and he does that. He makes fun of Shakespeare.

Things just get out of control. Rafe gets a tutor and tries for a bit, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Meanwhile, things at home seem to have come to a point where there needs to be a come to Jesus meeting.

What I liked

This book is entertaining. I can actually remember it and follow it, unlike some of the other James Patterson books I’ve read. I’m not sure why.

Fun fact, Khatchadorian, which is Rafe’s last name, was also the last name of the main character in We Need to Talk About Kevin. The name is originally Armenian and it’s less common than my last name, which is saying something. It’s the 2,891,080th most common name in the world according to Forebears.io.

I liked that Rafe’s mother didn’t give up on him and she didn’t give up on herself. I think if you are a single parent, you can’t do either.

What I didn’t like

I hated middle school. I hated it. I hated it so much. I would say those years were the worst years of my life if I had not been through a mentally abusive marriage and a drawn-out divorce that took much longer than it needed to because of my ex and some archaic divorce laws.

It was such an awful time. Girls have it harder because of puberty, but compound on depression, medical issues, and hard times at home to get just a cocktail of awfulness. That’s my story. Rafe’s story is a little better, but still not awesome. He is depressed. He is acting out. He is having a hard time at school and he’s having a hard time at home as well. If your mom moved in a guy named Bear, wouldn’t you have a hard time at home? I really feel for Rafe. He’s been upended in several ways and then there’s this loser at his house who apparently does nothing but complain and exude the air of he knows what’s right all the time without actually knowing anything about anything. Those aren’t the kind of people you get into relationships with, even if you’re a single mother working at a diner. Leave those losers alone, especially for the kids.

The whole Bear thing made Rafe’s situation so much worse.

Overall

Middle school sucks.

Weigh In

Would you date a guy named Bear?

Did you ever act out at school because of your home life?

#733 Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Fiction, Finding Your Self, Grabenstein-Chris, humor, Patterson-James, Young Adult

#920 I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

I Funny by James Patterson and Chris GrabensteinI Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Jaime’s uncle has told him about a comedy contest for young people and Jaime has decided that he needs to enter the contest. He practices his jokes out on the people who come to his uncle’s diner and on his uncle’s family. Jaime lives with his uncle ever since the thing that happened that put him in a wheelchair.

That’s what makes Jaime different from other kids; he’s in a wheelchair. None of his friends know why yet. They don’t know why he lives with his uncle and his family instead of his parents.

Some people really like Jaime’s jokes, while others might groan. Jaime looks for everyday events to tell jokes about. At the content, things go well. Some people say it’s because he’s in a wheelchair and people felt sorry for him, but others tell Jaime that it’s because he’s truly funny. He begins to open up to his new friend about his life and about the thing that happened. The thing that happened was actually pretty awful and it took a long time for Jaime to get over it, physically. It’s still hard to get over it mentally, but with the help of his uncle’s family and his friends, Jaime’s doing ok and he is funny.

What I liked

I actually liked this James Patterson book. Granted, he did not write it himself, it’s still the best James Patterson book I’ve read. I think this book does a good job of being comedic, but having a reason for someone wanting to be funny. Jaime wants to be funny to help get over a tragedy that occurred in his life. His life got completely turned upside down, but this stand-up competition, or sit down competition in his case, is an effort on his part to move on with his life. Moving on from something awful is an important part of life. How we move on from things can make or break some other things in the rest of our lives. We have to choose to get up and keep moving, just as Jaime has in this story. It’s quite admirable.

What I didn’t like

The thing that happens to Jaime is a little harsh. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but it’s a lot to think about. It could be a little much for some younger people.

Overall

Sometimes the best thing you can do is laugh about something.

Weigh In

If some terrible catastrophe happened in your life, how long would it take for you to laugh?

What do you think about people who are always telling jokes?

#920 I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Fantasy, Fiction, Stine-R.L., Young Adult

#915 Say Cheese –and Die Screaming by R.L. Stine

Say Cheese --and Die Screaming by R.L. StineSay Cheese –and Die Screaming by R.L. Stine

Julie is the photographer for her middle school. She is highly competitive. She is competing with another student photographer for the best photo of the year for the yearbook, or one of them anyway. At a yard sale, she finds a camera, which wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but strange things happen when she takes pictures with the camera. The digital images do not reflect reality; they show terrible things. Those terrible things then happen.

When Julie ends up with a picture of herself, she’s too scared to take the photo that might be the best photo of the year. She has to figure out a way to get the camera to stop bad things from happening.

What I liked

This is yet another story about how cameras might be able to take your soul. People used to have some silly superstitions about a device that could reproduce their image in just a little while. This story moves it over to the digital realm. If digital photographs steal our souls, we’re all screwed, especially Kim Kardashian.

What I didn’t like

How many times can this darn camera, or one like it, show up? I kind of feel like this concept has been done…to…death. Dun, dun, dun! I wasn’t trying to be scary; I was really trying to say that I think the concept is a little overdone by R.L. Stine. He does put a twist on it in each book, but it’s still very much the same idea.

Overall

Strange cameras–you just never know what might be wrong with them.

Weigh In

Would you take your own picture with a strange camera?

If you found out that cameras did steal part of your soul, how would you feel about photography?

#915 Say Cheese –and Die Screaming by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Fantasy, Fiction, Jenkins-Jerry B., Priebe-Trisha White, Young Adult

#899 The Ruby Moon by Trisha Priebe and Jerry Jenkins

The Ruby Moon by Trisha Priebe and Jerry JenkinsThe Ruby Moon by Trisha Priebe and Jerry Jenkins

In the kingdom, strange things are going on. Teenagers, thirteen-year olds to be precise, are disappearing. One day a kid is there, the next, they’re not. The Olympiads are coming up. The winner of the run will get a private audience with the ailing king. Avery finds out her friend is the son of the king. Currently, the king has no heir and Avery’s friend could be just the ticket.

There are strange circumstances surrounding the first queen and her child. She disappeared, or something.

Avery decides to run in the race even though girls aren’t allowed. Meanwhile more teenagers disappear and others decide to go and live underground. Will the sick king find out about his son? What will happen to Avery?

What I liked

The whimsy in this book is nice. I could tell this wasn’t meant to be a real time or place. There is definitely a lot of intrigue going on here.

What I didn’t like

I obviously missed a book. I would have liked to have known what the deal with thirteen-year olds was. I’m guessing it’s because the lost heir would be thirteen? I’m not sure.

I kind of feel this idea of the Olympiads is out-of-place in this book. I feel like this is a middle ages type of setting, but yet, the Olympics, which is a Greek thing, has a part in the book. More over, the event is something like the 800 yard dash, which is a modern Olympic event. Sure, maybe people in feudal middle ages kingdoms did compete in running, but it doesn’t seem like a real thing. This is, of course, a fiction work, so maybe it doesn’t matter at all.

Overall

The queen is out to get a teenager’s ┬áhead, better hope you don’t end up dead.

Weigh in

Have you read any books in this series?

Would you run a race you weren’t supposed to run because of your gender?

#899 The Ruby Moon by Trisha Priebe and Jerry Jenkins was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Family dynamics, Maguire-Gregory

#893 What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

What the Dickens by Gregory MaguireWhat the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

What the Dickens finds himself alive and names himself “What the Dickens.” He’s not sure what he is or why he’s here. He meets a white creature, he finds out is a cat named McCavity. He gets befriended by a mama bird who thinks he might as well learn to fly. He falls down a chimney and meets and old woman. At one point, he meets another creature like himself. Her name is Pepper. She explains to him that he is a Skibberee.

The Skibbereen fly around collecting teeth, which they plant in the ground, which become candles, which become wishes. Pepper calls herself an Agent of Change. What the Dickens finds out that life isn’t so easy. There are rules in place and societal expectations. Sometimes, someone else can get in trouble for something you did and it’s not fair. What the Dickens knows he has to help Pepper complete her task. He comes to find out that he has a special ability that the other Skibberee don’t possess. He’s still not sure where he came from, but he does find a place to be.

This story is all told by Gage, a cousin watching over his younger cousins during a terrible storm when people were supposed to have evacuated.

What I liked

This book was really fun. I’ve never really thought about the origins of the tooth fairy before. It is a bit of a strange custom. I’m not even sure it’s practiced outside of the United States. All cultures have their customs surrounding growing-up mile-markers, but I’m not sure how many of them make a big deal out of losing a tooth.

I never believed in the tooth fairy. I knew it was my mom. I was a fairly skeptical kid as far as things like the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Clause goes, which is awfully weird, considering how much I like stories about similar things. I’m a bit of a skeptic at heart I guess.

I like that Gregory created this entire world and mythology surrounding the tooth fairy. I don’t think I would have thought up the idea to create an entire race of little creatures with societal problems and external enemies that also happen to be tooth fairies. Good job, Gregory.

I love folklore and ghost stories. The Skibberee part of this book feels like folklore.

The main concept of this book is that someone is telling children a long story. I think we’ve fallen away from telling stories, orally, which is sad, because it’s a great thing. There’s nothing quite like sitting around, huddled close, listening to a story that unfolds as the minutes tick by. You can’t find the story anywhere else; you have to get it from the story-teller, so it’s in everyone’s best interest if you sit quietly and listen.

What I didn’t like

I was a bit concerned as to why these children were left in a house during a storm in which everybody evacuated, except them. There was also a bit of religious fanaticism going on, it feels like. If the government calls for an evacuation because of a storm, you should probably go. I also don’t like the idea of religious fanaticism.

Overall

Gather ’round, let’s listen to a story about the tooth fairy.

Weigh In

Did you ever believe in the tooth fairy?

What would you do if you had to hole up for a long storm?

#893 What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Daniels-Robin, Family dynamics, Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Young Adult

#889 Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Perfectly Oblivious by Robin DanielsPerfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Bianca and Bethany aren’t twins, but a lot of people think they are. The two are less than a year apart. It’s just them and their father. Bianca remembers the day when a cute boy moved in across the street. His name was Cameron, or Cam, as she calls him. With pretenses of practicing basketball, Bianca soon got to know Cam, who called her Bebe.

Bianca is crazy about Cam but has a couple of problems. She doesn’t think he likes her and she also thinks that if she admits someone likes her that it will end badly. She won’t even tell her own sister, Bethany, who is her best friend.

Things are different now, because Cam does like Bianca and wants to tell her, but he doesn’t think she likes him. He thinks he’s been friend-zoned. Bethany soon wriggles the secret out of Cam and they make plans to tell Bianca, big plans, which involve a little dishonesty and some dramatic gestures.

Will it ever be made known that the two actually like each other? Does the universe actually have it out for Bianca and her love life?

What I liked

As teenage romance goes, this was actually one of the better ones I’ve read. Nobody is trying to kill anybody else and nobody is a vampire. It’s about two kids you could have at your school. It’s plausible is what I’m saying.

I identify with Bianca to a degree. I never thought that people liked me. I thought nobody liked me. I thought I was doomed to be alone. There was a large part of this problem which was me. Bianca is in the same boat. There’s nothing wrong with her; she just thinks there is. If you think that nobody likes you and nobody pays attention to you, then you’re not going to pick up on when someone actually likes you. There was more than one boy I kind of dissed or ignored because I thought nobody liked me.

Sometimes, you just have to let people love you despite the many perceived faults that you think you have. I have a boyfriend who loves me even if I’m not super skinny and I do really weird things sometimes, like going around the house saying, “You’ve cat to be kitten me right meow,” or singing, “cat loves food, yeah, yeah, yeah,” when I feed the cats. It’s from a YouTube show called Dragon Ball Z Abridged, look it up.

What I didn’t like

Bianca is identifiable to many young women, but she’s not identifiable to everyone. What about that girl who doesn’t play sports and is on the electric car team? Obviously, you can’t make a character identifiable to everyone. For girls who are in less popular circles in high school, Bianca isn’t going to resonate with them as much.

This book is very sweet and wholesome, for the most part. Despite that fact, I tend to have issues with teenage romance stories, not because of the story itself or the characters in the story, but because of the very idea of teenagers being serious enough to be in a major relationship. Most teenagers are not that serious. They are not that mature. They have no real idea of what loving someone is. Loving someone is respecting that person for who they are, but also being responsible for them to a degree; these two things are very difficult for most teenagers. I do give teenagers who have had to be responsible a little more credit in this area. For example, a teenager who has had to help raise younger siblings or a teenager who has helped take care of a parent or grandparent, will be more responsible and better able to understand the concept of love.

With all that said, I do think Cam respects Bianca, which is certainly a plus because that’s something very difficult for a lot of teenage boys.

Overall

Sweet story to read when you want something a little uplifting.

Weigh In

Looking back on you as a teenager, do you think you would have had the same capacity to love someone that you possess today?

Were you one of those people who thought nobody liked you?

#889 Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels was originally published on One-elevenbooks