Sunday, June 26, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson

CHAINS
Laurie Halse Anderson
Atheneum Books for Younger Readers
Ages 10 - 14


If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?
 
As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.

MY REVIEW:

Riveting tale of a strong-willed slave girl with little hope for freedom. But it is freedom she desires and is willing to go take great risks to obtain it. Chains is a must-read, in my opinion, for kids to take an honest look at American history and slavery. It requires readers to look at the American Revolution from a different angle than we are used to, our fight for liberty--why didn't it apply to all Americans?

Knowing at the start that Isabel's story takes place a century before the Civil War, I was drawn into her story, wondering how the story of a slave in 1776 could possibly end happily? But Chains offers no easy, tied-up-with-a-ribbon kind of ending. In fact, the story is riddled with harsh realities of the era and situation in which the protagonist finds herself. The author does not sugar-coat anything. The story is at times heart-wrenching and bleak, and yet Isabel's strength and determination to be free kept me turning page, kept me rooting for her. And the end of Chains is not the end of her story. It continues in Anderson's sequel, Forge.

Brilliant writing. A compelling story that will stick in your brain long after you've finished the last page.



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity: None
Violence: Moderate
Sexuality: None

Friday, June 10, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: BLOODLINE by Joe Jimenez

BLOODLINE
Joe Jimenez
Pinata Books
Ages 14 & up

In his junior year, seventeen-year-old Abraham learns how to drive a stick shift. He falls in love for the first time. And he has been in three fights and suspended twice, all before Thanksgiving. His grandmother and her girlfriend, the ones who have raised him, fear for his life and the hard future that awaits him. “He needs a father,” his grandmother says. “He needs a man. I can't do this, Becky. We can't. Not on our own.”

Soon, his Uncle Claudio—the son with a fat police file who has hurt his mother so many times—is back in the house. Determined to make a man of his nephew, he takes the boy to the gym and shows him how to use free weights and become bigger and stronger. Meanwhile, Abraham's feelings for his friend Ophelia grow, and she tries to understand why he fights. “This will end badly,” she warns. “Nothing good can come from this.”

At school, Abraham learns about genetics, and he wonders if people are born bad. Is it in their DNA? Was he born to punch and kick and scream and fight and destroy things because of the genes in his body? Is that what happened to his father? All he knows is that his father is dead and his mother is gone. In Joe Jiménez's striking debut novel for teens, a young man struggles with his family's refusal to talk about the violence that has plagued it and what it means to become a man. Does a boy need a father to become a good man?

MY REVIEW:

I received several advanced titles from the publisher a while back and just randomly picked out Bloodline to read. So glad I did. The author, Joe Jimenez, is a remarkable storyteller. The tale of 17-year-old Abraham is told in second person--in other words, YOU are Abraham. Normally, I shy away from books like this, but the writing is so compelling, so beautiful, I was soon deeply absorbed into the story. Bloodline is about a boy from a rough neighborhood and a broken family. But Abraham's tender heart is revealed through his love for his girlfriend, Ophelia, and the lyrical language in which he relates his life. I was hooked from the first page, and my heart nearly imploded on the last. Warning: Read this with a box of tissue nearby. Bloodline is sure to haunt me for years to come. A very powerful five stars!



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity: Moderate
Sexuality: Moderate (one mention toward the end of the book)
Violence: Moderate (more subject matter than actual content)



Friday, June 3, 2016

BLOG TOUR: CRYPTOGRAM CHAOS by Linda Covella

BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the middle grade virtual reality adventure Cryptogram Chaos written by Linda Covella. The tour will run from May 23 - June 13, 2016 Tour Button



About the Book

CryptogramChaos 

Title: Cryptogram Chaos | Author: Linda Covella | Publisher: IngramSpark Publication Date: March 9, 2016 | Genre: Middle Grade Adventure | Number of Pages: 197 

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Book Description:

What if you were 8, or 11, or 14, and you could race cars at 150 mph, bungee jump, fly, eat all the ice cream and candy you wanted, or become powerful avatars such as Robobug, Kulshedra the dragon, and Altai, the gryphon avatar? All this and more is possible in the ultimate virtual reality game The Cryptogram Connection created by 14-year-old computer whiz Cody Reynolds and his two classmates, Nicole Nash and Kerry McCorkle. To advance to different levels in the game, players must solve cryptograms, or secret codes. (Readers also get to solve the cryptograms.) They create their game to be used with the latest VR technology developed by local game manufacturer NuVision Games–a headset with biosensors that transmit signals to the brain, fooling it into tasting, hearing, feeling, seeing, and smelling what was programmed into the game. The games are as close to reality as reality itself. The game becomes every kids’ virtual dream, and Cody, Nicole, and Kerry, besides becoming national celebrities, make more money than they ever imagined. But The Cryptogram Connection turns into “cryptogram chaos” when an evil presence inhabits Zazar, the laser avatar and the most powerful, and takes control of the game. It’s up to the three partners to enter the game and fight Zazar to save the gamers from virtual—and real—disaster.

Take a look inside the book...

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Cryptogram Connection: Level 1
cryptogram3Cryptogram Connection: Level 2
cryptogram2
Cryptogram Connection: Level 3
 

About the Author: Linda Covella

Linda Covella AUTHOR PHOTO 

Linda Covella’s varied background and education (an AA degree in art, an AS degree in mechanical drafting & design, and a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing. Her first official publication was a restaurant review column for a local newspaper. But when she published articles for various children’s magazines, she realized she’d found her niche: writing for children. She hopes to bring to children the feelings books gave her when she was a child: the worlds they opened, the things they taught, the feelings they expressed. She has published one young adult historical romance Yakimali’s Gift, and, besides Cryptogram Chaos, two other middle grade novels in The Ghost Whisperer Series: The Castle Blues Quake and The Ghosts of Pebble Brook Lodge. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband, Charlie, and dog, Ginger. No matter what new paths Linda may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment. Learn more about Linda and her writing at http://lindacovella.com/.

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Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a 25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Giveaway ends: June 13, 11:59 pm, 2016
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Linda Covella and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cryptogram Chaos Excerpt


I followed my brother Brad down the long hallway. Video displays flush with the walls flashed scenes from NuVision’s games: Androids fighting with laser swords, transformer-type machines battling it out on desert planets, and alien assassins targeting places and people on Earth.

“So where are we going?” I asked.

“The lab,” Brad said.

“Cool.” I’d only been in the lab one other time. Having a brother who worked at the number one computer game manufacturer had its advantages. He’d started his afterschool job at NuVision as a sophomore. In just two years, he’d made it into the inner sanctum, which is what I called the lab.

 He stopped in front of the elevator and pushed the “down” button. Jamming his hands in his pockets, he practically bounced on his toes.

 “What are you so amped about?” I asked.

He just grinned. I picked at my name tag. Something was up, and my legs suddenly tensed like coiled springs: I couldn’t wait to get to the lab.
 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

EXCERPT: THE SIXTH EVENT by Kristen Morie-Osisek

* COMPETING WITH A STAR by Krysten Lindsay Hagar
* REVIEW: SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys
* GARY PAULSEN, Author of Hatchet
__________________________________

THE SIXTH EVENT
Kristen Morie-Osisek
Evernight Teen
Ages 14 & up

Eighteen-year-old Raquel isn't eighteen anymore...

During Raquel's first semester of college, she witnesses the end of the world, only to wake up in her old room at her parents' house two years in the past. Even worse, it seems she's the only one who remembers—until Chris Lyley, a boy Raquel always thought was a loser, tells her he remembers the catastrophe.

Before long, they both discover new abilities. They're able to understand any language and teleport through time and space. If Raquel and Chris can figure out what caused the end of their world, maybe they can stop it.


EXCERPT FROM THE SIXTH EVENT:


My heart pounded as my white ceiling greeted me when I opened my eyes.
 I blinked frantically, the vision of the rock hitting me still fresh in my mind, the instantaneous crushing sensation throughout my body fading to a dull, residual mental ache. Fear crashed and faded in a wave of relief when it all resolved into the deep blackness of my dorm room.
That had been one hell of a dream.
I narrowed my eyes, still staring up at the ceiling. My dorm ceiling was gray, not white.
I sat up and turned to the left expecting the glaring green glow of my digital clock. Instead, I was greeted with the dim shape of a dresser, outlined in the rosy hue of a rising sun.
My pink and white dresser at my parent’s house.
Shock spread through me, sending tingles down to my toes. My bedroom was coming into view, not my dorm room.
A stuffed dog sat at the foot of my bed. Instead of the giant glass window over the football field, my lace pink curtains fluttered in a warm California breeze, a copy of Teen Vogue sitting on the sill.
I rolled over and stood, grabbing the magazine. Justin Bieber smiled at me from the October 2010 cover.
Impossible. This was impossible.
“Elsie!” I shouted my roommate’s name. The magazine hit the floor with a ruffle of pages. The plush, carpeted floor, not the hard tiles of my room at college.
My comfy bed, complete with a feather mattress, took up the same side of the room it always had. My computer desk sat at the far side of the bed, the blocky Dell PC taking up most of the space. A life sciences textbook lay next to it, the image of a tiger on the front coming into focus as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. On the floor, my giant shoulder bag from high school lay with papers strewn around it. I took a step closer, peering at the letters, my heart pounding so hard I didn’t think to turn on the light.
High school biology notes. I had taken biology in my junior year.
I fled, my door banging against the wall as I ran to the bathroom, flicking on the light.
Elsie wasn’t here. I stared into the mirror of my parent’s bathroom, at my frizzy brown hair. I didn’t look so different. A little bit shorter, a little bit ganglier. No freshmen fifteen. I still had that annoying pattern of three pimples that kept coming back on my chin.
But I was still younger. Not eighteen, not a college student.
A girl in high school. High school. Again.
I stared in shock. This couldn’t be true. It must still be part of the dream, part of the green sky and rocks hitting me. I blinked hard, touching my nightgown, pinching my arm until I winced with pain.
“Mom!” I shrieked so loud I thought the mirror would shatter. “Mom, Mom, Mom!”
My mother came rushing in, her robe pulled tightly around her. “Raquel, what is it?” Her hair framed her face in an unruly brown cloud, her eyes wide and face pale. “What’s wrong?” She was as scared as I was.
“What happened?” I shouted as I grabbed her. “What happened?”
“What do you mean?” She pulled me out of the hug, looking into my eyes. “Raquel, what is wrong? Are you sick?”
In the glaring bathroom light, I stared into her wide eyes. She stared back at me, full of concern, full of worry for her daughter.
“The…I died. There were birds dying, and a rock hit me, and I should be in college…” I babbled, and she shook her head, gripping me tight.
“Raquel, it was a nightmare. That’s all.”
“What’s going on?” My dad’s voice shouted from the dark hallway.
“Nothing, dear,” my mother shouted back. “Raquel just had a little night terror.”
“At sixteen?” Disbelief and exhaustion edged his voice. “Go to sleep, Raquel,” he added, mumbling.
My heart pounded harder, even as I shut my mouth, looking back into the mirror. The mirror in my parent’s house, where a sixteen-year-old me stared back. My stomach flipped, then sank into my feet.
I was two years younger. The world was two years younger.
And no one else remembered anything.