Please browse here to find books that I think are worth your time.... or are real stinkers. I will let you know what I REALLY think of what I am reading. You might not find the newest and most popular books here, but I would LOVE it if you find something unexpectedly great!

I will indicate on each post the Lexile level of the book.
To find out more about Lexile levels, go HERE.

Use the labels list on the right side of the screen to find a title about something you are interested in. You can also search by Lexile levels.

Happy Reading!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Skellig

By David Almond
Lexile = 490

Why is it sooo hard to quit a book? I did NOT like this, and after reading reviews in all my favorite sources, I think I am the only one on the planet that doesn't like Skellig. Sorry, world. I finally gave up and am throwing this in the stinker pile. Makes me feel like I must be missing something or that I am not smart enough to like this. I have even put off writing this because it seals my fate as not wise enough to know better.

Skellig has been made into a movie.... HERE is the movie trailer. Maybe you will find what I missed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What to Say Next

By Julie Buxbaum
Lexile = 760

I loved Buxbaum's last book, Tell Me Three Things. The cute cover sucked me in to a likewise cute tale of finding your place in high school. Well, same story here right down to the cute cover art. Told in alternating chapters, David and Kit are trying to find their place in high school. But it's waaayyy harder for David, who is on the autism spectrum. Everything is harder for him... except for anything academic. David's older and very popular sister has helped him make a notebook to guide him through the social morass of school. Lists of who to trust, who is likely out to get him, and how to respond in a variety of situations are excruciatingly detailed in the book.

And then comes Kit. Her father has just died in a tragic car accident and all of her friends don't know what to say. David, given his lack of social gloss, tells it like it is which Kit finds refreshing. Yup.... you know where this is going.

I felt like this was rather predictable, but there is a twist or two at the end. And, the author has stated that of the five books she has written, What to Say Next is her favorite, which is kind of like declaring that one of your children is your favorite! Watch a student made trailer HERE.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The House of the Scorpion

By Nancy Farmer
Lexile = 660

First: I think the Lexile number that gives a reading level on this one is way off.... too low. I imagine that there aren't giant words in this book, but a Lexile of of 660 implies that it is approximately for sixth grade students. Huh. I would argue (at least for the first half of the book) that this is a great high school read. I mean human cloning, drug lords, opium farming using human slaves.... I think that these themes and subjects aren't interesting or digestible for 11-year-olds. But I guess I agree that the reading level is low.

The House of the Scorpion is a big award winner: Newbery, Printz, and National Book Award. No question of the literary quality here. I think the story is very thought-provoking. Here's a snippet: Little Matt Alarcon is being raised in secrecy on the estate of a "El Patron" located in between the United States and (the former) Mexico. Matt was cloned; he is a perfect biological match of the Drug Lord El Patron. Most clones are "fixed"... their brains removed and the bodies maintained as spare parts for the original person. Ick... just typing that bothers me. Matt was not fixed. He is educated, cared for and even loved by his caretaker. But most people on the estate think of him as not even human... even less than an animal.

I really liked the family structure portrayed in the house of El Patron. It actually felt a lot like a telenovella.... the afternoon soap operas popular on Spanish TV. Matt's story will raise lots of ethical questions for most readers, beginning with, "Is Matt a person?" I actually came to this book after a suggestion of a comparison with Shelley's Frankenstein. There is also a sequel! The Lord of Opium is also available in the library!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Caraval

By Stephanie Garber
Lexile = 830

It is difficult to slap a label on this one. There's magic, so is it a fantasy? There's definitely romance. Seems historical, but also kinda realistic.

Tella has always wanted to attend the Caraval. It is like a circus; like a carnival. It travels around and you must be invited. Tella has been writing to the Master of Caraval for years asking him to bring his show to her little island and to send her a ticket. Finally, her dreams come true and she receives a ticket for herself, her sister and her fiance. They sneak off into the night and travel to the Caraval.

"Before each game, the performers are bound by magic that prevents them from confessing certain truths - like admitting they are really actors. They're given guidelines to follow, but their actions are not all predetermined. I think you already know this, but during Caraval there's always a bit of real mixed in with everything. There is some free will involved."

So, this is magical adventure where things may or may not be real. Things are NOT what they seem. Watch a very good trailer HERE.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rebecca

By Daphne Du Maurier= 880

Rebecca is the kind of book you read because you have to, because it is an assignment. In fact, this was a re-read for me. I originally HAD to read this for a college course. I recall liking it, but had never tackled it since. In my mind, it seemed to loom large as an "assignment" book. Well. I sped through this! It was pretty easy, actually and so fun to read! Here's the story:

Rebecca is dead. I am sure we could have some argument about if she is the main character of the book... but she is definitely dead. Her husband, Maxim de Winter is vacationing in Monte Carlo when he meets a much younger woman and ends up marrying her and taking her back to his legendary home, Manderley. But the specter of Rebecca invades every corner of the grand house. The new Mrs. de Winter is naive and unsure of her role. She thus allows the creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, to control both her and the house. The new bride (we never know her name) second guesses herself constantly, creating fantastic scenarios in which her husband doesn't love her, the staff hates her, and happiness eludes her... all due to Rebecca. Can't even begin tell you all the blunders she makes.

Du Maurier is a master at slowly unfolding the secrets of the plot. Twists and turns abound here. Read the book first, then enjoy the Hitchcock version. There are many film adaptations. Enjoy!

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah
Lexile = 740

This is the story of sisters: Vianne and Isabelle. It begins just before World War II in France. Vianne is married to her school sweetheart and lives on the small farm that has been in her family for generations. Next door is her best friend, Rachel. Life is sweet and simple. Isabelle is 18 years old and is dismissed (again) from a finishing school. Isabelle is rebellious and unpredictable. She returns to the farm because she has no place else to go.

Vianne's husband, along with most of the men of the village, head off to fight against the Nazis. When France capitulates to the Nazis, the Vianne's farm house is assigned as a billeting location for Nazi officers. Isabelle can't keep her mouth shut and leaves so as to not put the little family in danger. Isabelle's choices are much braver than her family gives her credit for and Vianne must decide how much bravery she has to risk.

Watch a great interview with the author HERE!


Monday, April 16, 2018

Jenks Book Reviews


















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