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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rot & Ruin

I usually don't read horror novels, but Jonathan Maberry's Rot & Ruin is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2012 and the students at my school who have read it absolutely love it. This is labeled as YA (Young Adult) and portrays the violence that exists in an apocalyptic world where the dead rise again as human hungry zombies unless killed in a specific manner. Although that may be the initial draw to the story for readers, it is the emotional storyline, well-developed characters, and representation of our human need for meaningful relationships that makes me want to read the next book. Fourteen years have passed since First Night – the night that dying people rose from the dead as zombies…the night Benny Imura, just a toddler, was saved by his older brother, Tommy. Benny remembers seeing his mother scream and their zombie father attacking her while Tommy was running away with him. Benny has never understood how Tommy, now a respected Zombie Hunter, could have acted so cowardly that fateful night. Although he has very little respect for Tommy, he agrees to learn his brother’s business – ending zoms’ lives once and for all. Tommy teaches Benny to remember that the zoms were once someone’s loved ones and deserve to be at peace. Despite Tommy’s lessons, Benny idolizes Charlie Matthias and his sidekick, Marion Hammer – two tough guys who control the area – they are the real heroes to Benny. When Benny and his friends collect the most recent Zombie Cards (one of the limited forms of entertainment for the teens) to add to their collection, Benny stumbles upon the card of The Lost Girl. Things begin to spiral out of control, people who matter to the brothers are killed and Benny’s good friend, Nix, is kidnapped and will be forced to compete in Gameland – a place where young kids are forced to fight zombies for others’ entertainment. This book had me cringing, cheering, and at times crying – I loved the characters and their determination to survive. Book 2 is Dust and Decay. Recommended for 8th grade and up. Click on the video below to hear Jonathan Maberry tell you more about his amazing book.

Friday, June 8, 2012


My students love Sarah Weeks' novels - I can't wait to share her book, Pie, with them. This endearing novel is about doing the right thing, building community, helping others,and leaving your mark in this world. Alice's Aunt Polly was known for baking her delicious pies for others in the town without charging them a dime. When Aunt Polly dies suddenly, Alice's world is torn apart - not only because she misses her Aunt so much, but because the whole town is acting strange and some people want to fill her Aunt Polly's shoes and win the prestigious Blueberry Award. Aunt Polly had won the last 13 annual Blueberry Awards for her tasty pies. Even Alice's mother is bitter about Aunt Polly's giving ways and is determined to become an even better pie baker than her sister. When Aunt Polly's will is read, the town discovers that the secret pie crust recipe has been willed to Lardo (Aunt Polly's fat white cat) and Lardo has been willed to Alice. It is up to Alice and her cute classmate, Charlie, to find out who has broken into Aunt Polly's bake shop, stolen and drugged Lardo, and will stop at nothing to obtain the secret recipe. Alice learns something about herself in solving this mystery. I love that Weeks included a pie recipe at the beginning of each chapter - yum! Other wonderful reads by Weeks include As Simple as It Seems, Jumping the Scratch, Regular Guy, and So B. It.

This Dark Endeavor

Ever wonder how Frankenstein came to be? Talented author, Kenneth Oppel, creatively gives his readers a prelude to the monster Frankenstein in This Dark Endeavor. Victor Frankenstein and his high-achieving twin brother, Konrad, love to fence and play make believe with their distant cousin, Elizabeth, who lives with their family at Chateau Frankenstein. Although the twins are identical, Konrad has always been better than Victor at everything they do. When Elizabeth accidentally opens the secret doorway to the Dark Library in the estate, Victor becomes enchanted with the books about apothecary and alchemy. His interest peaks when his father catches them and forbids them from entering the library again. When Konrad becomes bedridden with a mysterious illness that no doctor can find a cure for, Victor decides to find the answer in the forbidden Library. When he finds a mysterious burned book that holds the secret Elixir of Life, he recruits Elizabeth and his friend, Henry, to help him find the one man in the village who can help them read it. Will they end up sacrificing everything to obtain the cure for Konrad? Will the jealousy Victor feels over Konrad's and Elizabeth's relationship affect their journey to find the one thing that may be able to help Konrad? This dark, chilling tale will keep readers turning the page for more. Other great books by Oppel include Airborn,Darkwing, Firewing, Silverwing, Skybreaker, and Starclimber.