Tag: middle grades

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: August 25, 2015
357 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

Kim’s Review:

Jennifer Nielsen has joined the ranks of “authors Kim will read no matter what”. She hasn’t written a thing I don’t like. She writes with such emotion and I very rarely look at page numbers while reading her books. With all that established, I have to admit that this is her weakest work so far. That does not mean it is bad, it simply means that A Night Divided is not my favorite of her books. I enjoyed this book very much, the only issue is that sometimes, while the characters were dealing with their boring existence in Communist East Berlin, that monotony came out for me, the reader, as well. That is the only reason I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5.

I love how Donnelly showed the practical side of life under Communism; the little things that we  Americans take for granted like the freedom to listen to music, or say the things we are thinking, no matter what we’re thinking. The scenes where Gerta goes to the market and the shelves being empty of most things except cabbage was especially potent.

I would suggest this book to most millennials, no matter their age. The suspense that Donnelly created, especially near the end, made me forget any boredom I was feeling near the beginning. This is another book that I would tell high school and middle school teachers to keep on their shelves. And the cover is amazing. And everyone should read it. And now I want to visit Germany. And I’m going to start writing all my reviews in this short sentence, list format. Ok, just kidding! 😊 I really liked this book and I think everyone else should read it as well!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness
Inspired by: An idea from Siobhan Dowd
Published: May 5, 2011

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

The bestselling novel about love, loss and hope from the twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness.

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Kim’s Review:

I have read many books that have made me cry. Some made my eyes wet, some made fat tear drops roll down my cheeks, some made me ugly cry . . . but only two books have ever made me ugly cry with sobs that I couldn’t stop: A Monster Calls is one of those books. I had seen it on shelves and on book sites, but I found it for super cheap at Ollie’s one day, so I snatched it up. I decided to read it two years ago when I was looking to fill time between books with something short and easy. Easy, my sweet aunt!

My mother-in-law had come for a visit and Ivan was about to get ready to go to work when I finished it. They both had to get up and leave the room, I was crying so hard. Poor Ivan never knows what to do when I cry and all Meemaw wanted was to say hi and see the flowers in our backyard! I wasn’t expecting to react so dramatically to this book. It broke my heart. But this was before I started reviewing for Jessica’s Reading Room so I decided to read it again so I could write a review: Bad idea. There are some things that I’ll have strong reactions to when I read or watch or experience it the first time, but then try again and handle it better the second time . . . yeah, not with this book! Ivan is just sitting there working on his Legos when he looks up and sees me break down completely. Poor guy just puts his head down and keeps working! 😊 When I finally get control of myself he asks if this is good kinda sad or bad kinda sad and the only way I can describe it is that it’s a feeling kinda sad. Y’all know how shallow I am.

I’ve always considered myself to be relatively unfeeling and emotionally stunted. Then between, Gerda Weissman Klein’s book All But My Life and The Book Thief, I’ve discovered that I’m waaaaaaaay too feeling! And this book brought out so many feelings, it’s not even funny. I can’t even talk too much about the story because it needs to be experienced. I don’t want to give away information that y’all need to read and feel for yourselves and I don’t want to ruin this book in any way. All I can say is that this book is perfect for a dreary day. If you feel emotional, but it’s all pent up inside, this book will help get it all out! I’d recommend this book for slightly older kids who have suffered. Had I known about this book when I was teaching, there are several kids I would have gotten copies for! Rainy days, moody days, PMS-y days, difficult days, days when you need perspective, days when you need to remind yourself that annoying people could be suffering, this book is perfect for them all! I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Willa of the Wood Review AND US Giveaway!!

Author: Robert Beatty
Published:
384 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Escape into the story of a brave and unusual girl brimming with the ancient powers of the forest. From Robert Beatty, the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling Serafina books, comes a thrilling new series filled with the history, mystery, and magic of the Great Smoky Mountains. Kirkus Reviews described WILLA OF THE WOOD as “A moving, atmospheric journey of hope.”

Move without a sound. Steal without a trace.

Willa, a young night-spirit, is her clan’s best thief. She creeps into the cabins of the day-folk under cover of darkness and takes what they won’t miss. It’s dangerous work–the day-folk kill whatever they don’t understand–but Willa will do anything to win the approval of the padaran, the charismatic leader of the Faeran people.

When Willa’s curiosity leaves her hurt and stranded in the day-folk world, she calls upon the old powers of her beloved grandmother, and the unbreakable bonds of her forest allies, to escape. Only then does she begin to discover the shocking truth: that not all of her day-folk enemies are the same, and that the foundations of her own Faeran society are crumbling. What do you do when you realize that the society you were born and raised in is rife with evil? Do you raise your voice? Do you stand up against it?

As forces of unfathomable destruction encroach on her forest home, Willa must decide who she truly is, facing deadly force with warmest compassion, sinister corruption with trusted alliance, and finding a home for her longing heart.

Kim’s Review:

I have been a huge fan of Robert Beatty since the day I read Serafina for the first time. He is a master storyteller and has a knack for capturing the beauty and atmosphere of whatever locale he writes about. You can feel his passion for nature, and history, and culture in every word he puts to page. Willa of the Wood is just another example of his amazing talent. The cover, all on its own, is amazing! I couldn’t wait to open the book and start reading, simply because of the beautiful cover! And then once I did start reading, I realized just how appropriate the cover was for the story!

Willa is a cute little Faeran who tries so hard to serve her clan and to take all the education and warnings from her mamaw and padaran seriously. She shows a maturity that makes you think she’s a flawless hunter/gatherer, so it was a little surprising watching her struggle. And her love for her home, her people, and her friends was so sweet. I will admit that the one reason I gave this book 4 stars is because it gets tree-huggery in that really dogmatic, extreme kinda way. Thankfully, Willa comes back from extremity as she grows and learns and she begins to understand necessity. I’m never one to want to stop necessary progress to save a couple trees, but I do also acknowledge that widespread destruction is harmful and wrong.

This book was incredibly emotional for me. By the time I got to the end, I realized that I was tearing up! My heart just got so warm and full; it was wonderful to get to know Willa and the Faeran and all the members of the forest and then to become invested in the story and taking the resolution so personally. I just love this book so much and this is another one that I would suggest giving to any preteen to read. Mr. Beatty is on a roll and I can’t wait to see where he takes Willa and Serafina! A great, great book!!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Here is Kim with Robert Beatty at his book signing for Willa of the Wood!:


**It’s Time for a GIVEAWAY!!**

Many thanks to Mr. Beatty’s publicist, Scott Fowler for donating a generous Willa of the Wood prize pack for us to giveaway.  This is a great prize someone is sure to love! 

Included in the giveaway is:
A signed copy of the Willa of the Wood
Poster
Pen
Map/pamphlet
Bookmark
Button
Enamel pin

**This giveaway is run through Rafflecopter and will run from today and end on Tuesday, 8/21 at midnight Eastern.

Due to shipping costs this giveaway will be US ONLY. Once the winner is selected, they will be contacted and their address will only be used for this giveaway. Good Luck!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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