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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-23 21:46
The Awesome by Eva Darrows (2017 Review)
The Awesome - Eva Darrows

The Awesome by Eva Darrows
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Margaret Cunningham isn't your typical teenager. For one, she's well acquainted with the monsters that lurk in the shadows - well, most of them, anyway. Unable to aid her mother in hunting vampires, Maggie goes about rectifying the rather frustrating issue. As it turns out, her virgin blood works against her, its purity potent enough to send the bloodsuckers into a deadly and uncontrolled frenzy, and that's not good for anyone. Problem is, with little friends, and a small amount of social skills, the quest for "The Sex" may be the most difficult job yet.

(WARNING: this review may contain spoilers.)

I admit, the stylised and colourful artwork of the cover is nice to look at and undoubtedly draws the eye. As such, it was a pleasant gift to receive and probably one of the most unique covers in my sizeable collection. Now let's get to the actual review, shall we?

One thing's for sure - I would've enjoyed this one a lot more in my teenage years. For me, on a personal level, my sense of humour has changed considerably in the last decade, and whilst there were moments that brought a smile to my face, I just couldn't fully appreciate the adolescent banter (and the abundance of synonyms for "penis"). Regardless, the book was short enough that it didn't impede or become a chore to pick up, and overall there's one word I would use to describe it as a whole - fun. It didn't require much energy; the writing was quirky, and the plot easy enough to entertain. Certainly not a masterpiece, and nothing that'll stay with me for a long time to come, but it succeeded in filling up a few hours.

A major aspect of the story is the close bond between mother and daughter, however I found it a stretch to call it a normal parent-child relationship, and it struck me more of a friendship than anything else. Maggie referred to her mother by her first name, and Janice even went so far as to push her daughter into losing her virginity as quickly as possible, which seemed completely irresponsible and truthfully, a bit weird. Indeed, sex had a large part to play, and it all came down to Maggie striving to take her hunting apprenticeship to the next level. In Darrows' universe, monsters are public knowledge and often a threat to society, however we learn throughout that they don't necessarily have to be evil. Vampires however, the freshly turned in particular, simply can't resist that virgin allure, and thus we have the general plot - a seventeen year old trying to use sex to get a promotion.

Sounds a tad off, right? Either way, I tried not to overthink that aspect, and instead take it for what it was supposed to be; which was, first and foremost, lighthearted amusement. Maggie's inner monologue didn't irritate me much at all, as I'm generally fond of over-confident, snarky protagonists. Yes, she was immature as all hell, but she wasn't the worst, and by God, I've been infuriated by some main characters before. I digress...

Several events unfolded along the course of the book, and it was by no means boring as the story spiralled in different directions. As characters were introduced, they were likeable, but not lovable. I especially enjoyed the zombie side-plot of Julie, despite feeling it wasn't properly explained or concluded (the living dead need love too). The romance between Maggie and Ian was cute, regardless of the somewhat questionable means by how they originally met. Janice, well, I touched upon her further up. I'm not saying she was a bad mother... Or am I? I'm really not sure. As I said, it was weird.

It occurred to me more than once, that this would've been a decent first instalment of a series, however as of writing this review, I believe Darrows has no plans to continue with Maggie's adventures.

Notable Quote:

She skimmed the tip of her finger around her mouth to capture any unappealing smudges, and then did Duck Face. Duck Face was supposed to be a 'come hither' kissy pucker thing, but it more resembled a genetic deformity. I was pretty sure if I wanted The Sex, Duck Face was not the way to go.

© Red Lace 2017

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/23/the-awesome-by-eva-darrows-2017-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-23 19:53
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine - Julia Cook,Anita DuFalla

Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook is a new favorite Children's book of mine. This book spreads awareness of anxiety disorders in Children and young students. This topic is rarely discussed in the classroom, if ever. This book discusses anxiety in a way that is appropriate for all ages but also beneficial. This is a way to help students in a classroom without singling them about their anxiety, or worry. Many students will be able to relate to the main character, Wilma Jean, and her many worries about school. This relation to the text may be comforting to many students because they will realize that they are not alone in this feeling. 

 

This book would be an excellent read in the first week of school or once school has picked up and students have grown to dislike certain parts of the day. I would read this book aloud to the class, stopping to discuss the obstacles Wilma Jean is facing. At the end of the class I would have a discussion about the problem (Wilma Jean getting the worry flu because she was worrying so much) and solution (finding a way to concur her fears at school and wearing the worry hat). While discussing, I would create a class chart to document the student's responses. Then, I would ask students to draw a hat in the writing journal and draw a horizontal line in the middle (similar to how it was drawn in the book) to separate their personal worries that they can control and can't control. This would be private and would not be shared with the class.

 

Lexile Measure: AD630L

 
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review 2018-02-23 01:11
Animal Graph
Animal Graph (SFF Post-Apocalyptic) (Graph World Book 1) - M. Black
In the recent future, a nuclear war has changed the face of the world.  The Americas are ruled by a dictator, King Borran, who enforces a rigid class system.  The Prestige receive access to  health care, food and safe living conditions, while everyone else must fend for themselves.  Anyone who has been burned by the radiation is now an outcast.  Beyond this, Borran wants control and has implemented a system to create a stronger army by combining animal and human DNA in order to give humans animal traits.  The result is a human with an animal graph, but the animal graphs can be unpredictable and deadly.  In order to perfect the animal graphs, Borran experimented on prisoners.  Jin is imprisoned for stealing bread for her family when she is experiment on and graphed with a poison dart frog, Harpy eagle and Jaguar.  After her Graphing procedure she is released into the jungle to be hunted by Borran's soldiers for practice.  While figuring out her new capabilities, Jin is assisted by another Graph, Adan.  Adan seems to know a lot more about their predicament and is skilled in survival, but Jin has trouble trusting the fellow Graph. 

Animal Graph introduces us to an exciting and dangerous new dystopian world for YA readers.  We are immediately thrown into the action with Jin as she is released from prison and trying to figure out her new graphs.  I was very intrigued about how the world came to the state it is in, how Borran functions and how the Animal Graphs work.  This is revealed as Jin recounts her time in prison, her family and as she meets Adan.  Jin was very easy to get to know and seemed like someone that I would like to know in real life.  After Jin met Adan, the suspense intensified and I was hooked further into the story.  I was personally very interested in the human and animal connections that were made, not only with the Graphs, but through thought connection.  I think Jin's connection with Jade the Radguar, a radiated Jaguar is the best relationship. I am really excited to see what else the Graph powers can do as well as what other animals can be graphed with humans in the next books.  Faced-paced writing, an action-packed story line and short chapters kept my interest up throughout the book. 
 
This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 
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review 2018-02-22 23:35
Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London
Froggy Gets Dressed - Jonathan London, Frank Remkiewicz (Illustrator)

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London is such a fun read for young readers! This book provides a great deal of exposure to onomatopoeia and dialogue. This is great for beginning readers because they can read it to themselves and become familiar with these literary devices. The vivid illustrations are also engaging for readers of all ages as it draws you in and keeps you wanting to keep reading. I also think this book does a wonderful job of sequencing. Froggy undresses and redresses several times in the story. This opens up the door for a lesson on sequencing.

 

I would use this in the classroom by asking students to write a story explaining how they get dressed for school in the morning. I would ask them to use adjectives to describe the color and style of the clothing they put on. I would also ask the students to include everything that they put on including socks and hair ties. In upper grades, I would ask students to include as much detail as which shoe they tie first, what do they button/zip, and more. At the end of the writing, I would encourage students to share their morning routine with their classmates so they can compare their routines with each other.

 
Guided Reading: K
Lexile: 300L
Accelerated Reader Level: 1.8
 
 
 
 
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review 2018-02-22 23:19
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
Duck for President - Doreen Cronin,Betsy Lewin

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin does a phenomenal job of educating readers on the process of nominating and electing a person in office as well as gives an insight on the responsibility of the President. I love the concept of using animals rather than people in this story because children are more likely to be engaged. This also encourages imagination as animals do not truly have these roles but are being given human characteristics. I really enjoy how smoothly this book transitions from a conflict in the story, to nominating Duck for President, to election day, etc. The story line is written so well, readers may not even notice that they are learning in the process.

 

I would use this book in the classroom to introduce a lesson on electing a president or the roles of a president. After reading the book, I would ask students to make a poster that has a picture of a person in their lives (favorite TV show character, friend, family, teacher, etc.) who would make a great president and list words or phrases explaining why people should vote for them. These signs would then be displayed around the classroom and in a confidential voting, I would ask my team teachers to vote on their "Team President" based on the posters. The person who made the winning poster will get a shoutout and have their work displayed in the class e-newsletter but I will remind students that there will be more opportunities for student's work to be displayed in the future and that we should congratulate the "winner."

 

Lexile Measure: AD680L

 
 
 
 
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