I'm a teacher, which means that once school ends my family hits the road and goes on vacation. This summer we road tripped it out to Yellowstone, Grand Teton NP and the Badlands. This is my favorite place in the whole world. It is home, despite the fact that I've never lived there. (I'll post more about my love affair with Wyoming when I do my photo post).
Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
Summary: Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.
Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.
When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…
Ramblings: This book was WAY better then I anticipated. I thought it might be a simple action story that played off of the comics and movies. I didn't expect a book full of back story and relationships. Natasha is historically kind of non-feeling, which has helped become the agent she is, but this book takes that trait and makes it her weakness to overcome by introducing new characters that become part of her family. Some of the plot was a little too easy to figure out, but I liked the twists and turns that kept the story moving. This is a good one and I'm really excited to see what comes next.
Kalahari by Jessica Khoury
Summary: Deep in the Kalahari Desert, a Corpus lab protects a dangerous secret…
But what happens when that secret takes on a life of its own?
When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.
But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.
Ramblings: This one took me a little while to get into. At the outset i wasn't sure what the book was supposed to be about. Was it about a girl whose been isolated learning to make friends? Was it about city kids trying to survive in Africa? Was it about some strange science experiments? The story jumped a round a little bit and I struggled to get into it. However, when it found its groove it really worked. The story worked best as a mystery- with the kids trying to figure out what the hell was happening and survive long enough to tell the story. In the end I really liked this one and I'm going to pik up the other 2 books in the series (Origin and Vitro) soon.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne
Summary: Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Ramblings: It's been a few weeks since I finished this one and I am sure unsure how I really feel about it. Published in script form this story is a pretty quick and easy read, and revisiting the magic of a world I've missed was great. All the magic was there, as well as my favorite characters (including some that I thought I would never see again). The new characters, especially Albus and Scorpius had the potential to be really great. Which is where the book lost me a bit. We sped through their backstory, skipping through several years in a matter of pages. I wish we had been given more time to really get to know these characters since the plot revolves around their actions. I wonder if the play allows for more connection when you see it on stage? Overall this was a good story and I'm glad we got to reconnect with old favorites and meet new players and I'm hoping that as the world expands more we get some more back story and spend more time with the kids.
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Summary: Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.
Ramblings: I had the chance to see Andrews speak at the Rochester Teen Book Festival back in May and I basically bought this book based purely on his awesome presentation and personality. I really hope that the book would be as awesome as Andrews was. Luckily it is! My favorite part of this story was that it felt real. Being a teen is awkward at best and when things get shitty it can get even weirder. There are books and movies out there about death and dying, about relationships and love and finding happy ever after even when things end badly. This is that book, but better, because the kids involved act like kids. It's not all easy and Andrews allows the characters to mess up (a lot) and learn hard lessons without it feeling like he is trying to teach the reader a lesson. This was a great book.
Stung by Bethany Wiggins
Summary: There is no cure for being stung.
Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she awakens, her world no longer exists. Her house is abandoned and broken. Her neighborhood is barren and dead. And there is a tattoo on her right hand. A tattoo Fiona doesn’t remember getting…but somehow she must conceal at any cost. Because humanity has been divided.
Those bearing the tattoo have turned into mindless, violent beasts that roam the streets and sewers, preying upon the unbranded, while a select few live protected inside a fortress like wall, their lives devoted to rebuilding society and killing all who bear the mark.
And Fiona has awoken branded, on the wrong side of the wall, and…normal.
From the author of Shifting comes this remarkable reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, where the sting of a bee, rather than the prick of a needle, can destroy the world.
Ramblings: This book was up and down for me. The story is compelling, especially once you get into who is pulling the strings. Fiona is a great character, and Wiggins allows for her confusion, fear and desperation to ring true. What I struggled with was that there were some devices that just seemed to not quite fit into the story. Especially the romance. I didn't feel like Fiona needed that aspect to get from point A to point B, and that making it about a unfulfilled crush seemed to simplify the story too much. I would have loved to see some of the relationships take more time to build and for friendships to be cultivated. Still- the story was good and I am definitely going to grab Cured, the next book in the series.
Until We meet Again by Renee Collins
Summary: They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time
Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it's his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.
As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence's life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
Ramblings: So I held onto this book until the end of my trip, because, to be honest, I kind of thought it was going suck. I bought it based solely on the cover and when I got around to picking books to read this one just didn't make me excited. It seemed like it was going to be cliche, I thought it would be cheesy, and I wasn't sure I was in the mood. Still... once I picked it up I was totally hooked. This is a great book. It could have been a story that we've read a million times, but it wasn't Collins avoid falling into the traps of a time travel love story and when I got to the last page I was booth pissed (because it doesn't have the exact happy ending I thought was coming) and also so very happy (because it doesn't have the exact happy ending I thought was coming). I'm going to leave it at that. Go read this book. Fall in love with the characters and close the book knowing that Collins gave us the ending we needed, even if it wasn't the exact one we wanted.
The Memory of Light by Francisco X Stork
Summary: Vicky Cruz shouldn’t be alive.
That’s what she thinks, anyway—and why she tried to kill herself. But then she arrives at Lakeview Hospital, where she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
Yet Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up—sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide—Vicky must find her own courage and strength. She may not have any. She doesn’t know.
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression,The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one—about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.
Ramblings: This is a good book. But beyond being a good book, it's an important one. It looks at kids who suffer from mental illnesses and it doesn't gloss over anything. I find it hard to recap this book simply because you have to read it to understand. These kids are hurting, some more then others, some are barely hanging on. They make bad decisions and they hurt themselves and others in the process... but they keep moving forward and that's the part that's important. This book gives you a sense that while they won't all be okay 100% of the time, it reminds you that no matter what there are people who will support you when you can't support yourself. It's a reminder I need sometimes and I'm glad this book was written for teens, because at that age you can feel isolated and alone. Go read this book. Buy it for a teen you know. Stick it in your library. This is one that needs to be out there.
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by: Chester Nez
The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos. Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty- nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.
In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.