Book Review: And Then There Were None

“Ten little indians boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self, and then there were nine”.

AndThenThereWereNone10 characters.

A desert island.

A mysterious host.

That’s the setting of the Agatha Christie masterpiece, And Then There Were None. The plot of this amazing detective novel, which is the world’s best-selling mystery ever, has as its starting point a rhyme entitled “Ten Little Indians”. After being mysteriously invited by an unknown host to stay at a mansion on a deserted island, the ten guests are invited ​​to listen to a disc on which the voice of the owner of the house is recorded. The voice tells them that they were gathered there to expiate their crimes: in fact each of them is accused of a terrible crime for which they were never punished. It is with horror that, one by one, the characters in the house begin to die. And every death reflects a verse of the nursery rhyme…

The power of this novel lies in the suspense. In fact, as each character progressively dies, the circle of suspects narrows down and the tension rises. Trusting people becomes more and more dangerous and, as a macabre signal, each of the guests finds a copy of the rhyme in his room. Who’s going to be the next one? And, more important, under whose identity is the murderer hiding? But the writer manages to surpass herself. Clues, hidden symbols, amazing twists: Agatha Christie manages to write a finely crafted thriller where nothing is taken for granted and anything can happen.

If you like detective stories and thrillers, this is the book for you! Furthermore, several movies were made from the novel. The first film adaptation was in 1945 by director René SinitiniAvatarClair.  Even though the film is not the most recent, in my opinion, it is extremely well done and could be an excellent way to complement the reading of the book. – Thanks to Bianca S., Year 12 student, for writing this book review.

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Kindle Connection: Book Tasting!

The coolest ASA in school for term 3 is the Kindle Connection, LIS’s very own eBook Club!  For our first meeting, you will have a “book tasting” where you explore several different samples to decide which book you will read first this semester.

Hungry For Books!

Hungry For Books!

Your choices are:

Artmeis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Before you make your decision, read the descriptions above, watch the book trailers below and explore the samples on your Kindles.

Trailers

Book Tasting Selection

Book Review: Across the Universe

 

 

AcrossTheUniverseCover“Across the Universe” is the first book in a gripping science-fiction trilogy by Beth Revis. In the novel, seventeen-year-old Amy is cryogenically frozen along with her parents so that they can endure a 300-year journey to a new Earth on the starship Godspeed. However, she is woken 50 years too soon. She then meets Elder, the future leader of the ship. Together, they join forces to find out who is responsible for unplugging the other cryogenically frozen passengers. This only leads them to a series of overwhelming lies, hidden for generations within the cold, metal walls of Godspeed.

Across the Universe is an enthralling tale of murder, mystery and action with a tinge of love. Beth Revis does an excellent job of bringing all of these elements to the table as well as truly immersing the reader in the atmosphere of the starship Godspeed.

Recommended for: Fans of science fiction, mystery and fast-paced action.

Want to try it? Check the book out from the LIS Secondary Library or purchase a Kindle copy on AmazonIf you liked “Across the Universe”, remember to check out “A Million Suns” and “Shades of Earth” the second and third installments in the Across the Universe trilogy.

– Thanks to Isabela C, Year 12 student, for writing this book review about Beth Revis’s Across the Universe. 

Book Review: Zebra Forest

Zebra ForestZebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With both parents out of the picture and a grandmother who can barely keep it together as her depression manifests itself in paranoia and hoarding, eleven-year old Annie B. is raising her younger brother Rew the best that she can. Then, as the Iranian hostage crisis rages in the background, Annie, Rew and Gran suddenly find themselves held hostage by the most ironic of captors. There are elements of this book that remind me of so many books I’ve read before (Dicey’s Song, that one book about the girl with the hoarder for a mom, Dead End in Norvelt, any book where parents are missing and kids fend for themselves, Room), but it is refreshingly new.

Oh! I so enjoyed this novel. Let me recount the ways:

* The beautiful writing. As the story progresses, the descriptions of the weather and the forest made me long for home, building a setting that reminds me of some kind of Walden-esque escape, if it weren’t for the secret that looms beyond the black and white striped forest our likable main character Annie B calls the Zebra. When Gewritz talks about the branches of the late summer birches criss-crossing against the sky, I was immediately transported to a place more beautiful and peaceful.

* A deep, inextricable connection to the power of stories and reading. It made me want to pick up Treasure Island and reminded me that young children are so capable of rich, complex texts. It also shows how reading is the pathway to everything: empathy, life, education, compassion, understanding, travel. And how about the librarian shout-out? Me too, friend. Me too.

* Gewritz forcing you (and therefore also the young reader, albeit more hypothetical, less meta) to reflect on the parts of you that are your parents, nurture be damned. Who we are, how why are, why we are. And forgiveness for all of those things.

* Allowing people to be real: Annie B.’s parents are complex, screwed up people. So is her grandma. Life has gotten to them, stripped them down and left them to be ravaged. But as the social worker says, even though Annie’s situation isn’t the best, nobody’s taking her away from there. It’s a matter of making the life you want to lead. This story forces the reader to recognize the enormous gray area that exists within us all. No one is completely good or completely evil. We’re all just trying to get along the best we can with the bodies and minds we’ve been given.

This book comes highly recommended. It’s scary and heart warming and the language is fantastic. It doesn’t offer any easy answers to the complicated things that befall us in our lifetime. It toys with the existential moments we all have about family and loyalty, about right and wrong. And it does all this is a manner which is accessible to middle grades students.

This book was courtesy of Candlewick Press (another favorite publisher of mine!) through NetGalley. It is scheduled for publication on April 9, 2013.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan

***As part of my journey to grow as a librarian, I will be posting on this blog about all issues relevant to librarianship, not just topics covered in our COETAIL course.   Recently, I was introduced to NetGalley, a service which connects professional readers with publishers who want their books to be read and reviewed.  The book I’ve reviewed below is my first through NetGalley, but it certainly won’t be my last! It is funny to me how even in the most traditional section of librarianship,  technology still has a role to play as we do old things (reading and recommending books) and in very new ways (having an ARC delivered to my Kindle, writing my review on GoodReads, cross-posting this review to “On The Edge“). ***

Chengli and the Silk Road CaravanChengli and the Silk Road Caravan by Hildi Kang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“He did, however, like to watch the foreigners. They talked with words strange to the ear and ate foods strange in taste and smell. Chengli loved this part of the city, the Western market, and always slowed the cart to look at the silver and gold jewelry, the woven straw baskets filled with dried fish and a smell so strong it made Chengli’s nose crinkle long before he even got near them. He listened to women bargaining to get the cheapest price, and he watched the seller of herbs mix medicines with strange sounding names, and he stopped to gaze at the piles of vegetables he knew and those he feared even to touch. But today the sights and sounds made him feel restless.”

This description of Chengli comes about 5% of the way into the story, and it made me feel like I had something in common with this thirteen year-old boy in 630 AD China. Like Chengli, I have spent most of my life happy enough where I am, but yearning to go somewhere new, see something different, meet someone unusual. Like Chengli, I love a market full of people I don’t know or understand with customs that sometimes make my nose crinkle. I wasn’t immediately sucked into this book, but this quote made me pay attention and want to know where Chengli would go and what he would do.

Hildi Kang’s tale of a young boy on a caravan on the Silk Road is an excellent introduction to the Silk Road, to adventure and to historical fiction for upper elementary or early middle grades readers. What was occasionally overly simplistic for me will be “just right” for my 9, 10 and 11 year olds. It’s fascinating to imagine this point in history, particularly from the perspective of an early teenager, an orphan, someone with no standing in his society.

There were a lot of things I liked about this novel. I enjoyed the perspective I was given of life in 630 AD China; I liked the journey Chengli gets to travel from being an underappreciated to orphan to a heroic young man. I liked the suspense Kang built as Chengli’s met the worst possible fate, the responsible adults fled and Chengli was the only hope. At times I felt that Kang tried to hard to interject historical information and her characters spoke in a manner which didn’t match their age or societal standing. The beginning could have sucked me in more quickly, but after I pushed through a bit I couldn’t put it down. In the end, however, this book made me long to explore the Silk Road, to visit China, and to live in times gone by. That’s a pretty good endorsement. While I wouldn’t add this to my favorites list as an independent reader, as a librarian this will be making my order list for next year. It will be an excellent text to recommend to students interested in historical fiction or adventure, and it would be an excellent complement to a humanities class.

This book was courtesy of Tanglewood Press (a favorite publisher of mine!) through NetGalley.

View all my reviews

A Snapshot of the Library in Action on a Friday

Today was an amazing Friday in the LIS Secondary Library.  Here are a few photos from throughout our day. If you would like to see more photos of the LIS library community in action, visit our LIS Secondary Library – 180 Project.

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A Poet-Tree Grows in Luanda!

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Mr. Manuel has been working very hard over the last several days to put together a “Poet-Tree” for the Secondary Library and it has turned out quite nicely. Now all it is missing is some leaves of poetry!  If you have a favorite poem or poet, please come by to write it on a leaf and add your leaf to our Poet-Tree.  If you don’t have a favorite, come by anyway.  We’ve got poetry books out on display, and you can choose something from our collection.  This bulletin board and Poet-tree display is located next to Ms. Katy’s desk in the Secondary Library.