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review 2018-02-13 04:40
The Nerdy Dozen
The Nerdy Dozen #1 - Jeff Miller


The enemy fighter jets surged past Neil Andertol, soaring over desolate, sandy terrain.

- opening line



So, another 6-8 grade Sunshine State nominated book. I wasn't planning on reading this one because I didn't think I would like it. That's what I get for judging a book by its cover. Anyway, one of the 4th-grade students was really enjoying it and she asked me to read it with her. It's actually pretty good and I can't wait to talk to her about it tomorrow. Though I finished it and she is probably around halfway through.


Neil loves video games, like most 13-year old boys these days. He especially enjoys one called Chameleon. Chameleon, it turns out is a training tool used by the Air Force to teach pilots to fly an actual plane called the Chameleon that is capable of seeming invisible. Neil and a bunch of other kids get recruited by the Air Force to find a lost plane and save the day. I know, I know. Big suspension of disbelief here, but kids love that sort of thing.


Anyway, Neil ends up meeting a few people in real life that he only previously knew online. So, there are expected surprises there. And the kids make a couple of decisions that mess up something that Major Jones had planned, resulting in more unlikely situations. At least the kids don't make some half-assed decision based on their guts and end up being right over the Major who is an adult and should know better than them.


This is a fast-moving story that kids will devour. And now that there are 3 books in the series, it will keep the kids reading.


Good for 4th - 8th graders who enjoy video games, strong female characters, soldiers, edge of your seat adventures... it has something for everyone.

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review 2018-02-09 01:41
The Zombie Chasers #4: Empire State of Slime - John Kloepfer
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I found this in the Little Lending Library by my house and thought it looked right up my alley. I love zombies and gross-out books like Captain Underpants and The Day My Butt Went Psycho. Unfortunately, this one did not live up to my expectations. 

This is the first book I have read in The Zombie Chasers series, so I didn't really know what to expect. The writing was okay. Kloepfer comes up with some truly gruesome and impressive descriptions to describe the slimy zombies. But sometimes it just felt like his looked up synonyms for "gross" and "monster" online and threw them into the text haphazardly. Sometimes they just didn't fit all that well, like when he randomly referred to the zombies as hellhounds. That is not a word I would have expected used to refer to humanoid zombies. 

Also, the plot was pretty loose. I'm not sure exactly what happened in the first three books, but based on this one I can pretty much guess. Basically, in this one, people become rezombified and the group has to once again save humanity. However, it really just turns into a string of zombie encounters. They are entertaining, but don't really tie the story together. The story drags on with the lack of story. Also, the cliff-hanger ending was a huge disappointment.
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review 2018-01-28 04:44
The Hero Two Doors Down
The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend - Sharon Robinson


I read this book to the students in my Sunshine State Club. It's the story of a boy (Stephen) living two doors down from his hero, Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn in the year 1948. The book was written by Sharon Robinson (Jackie's daughter) and is based on "the true story of a friendship between a boy and a baseball legend."


The kids loved the book and it was fun to discuss what it was like to live in the 1940's. It's hard for them to imagine life without a cell phone, let alone life where you can only hear baseball on the radio, instead of watching on tv. We learned about Jackie Robinson and his courage and integrity. We learned about egg creams, transistor radios, and stoopball. And we learned about what it was like to live in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1948. It was also fun to talk to the kids about who their heroes are and what it would feel like to be friends with them.


This book is great for elementary students, especially sports fans.

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review 2018-01-11 06:58
Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country
Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country - Craig Pittman

I'm not sure this is the kind of book that has broad appeal, but as one of the rare true natives of the Sunshine State (as are three previous generations of my dad's side), I had a very vested interest in reading it.  I grew up in a blissful bubble of ignorance regarding Florida's off-the-charts location on the crazy scale, and it wasn't until after I moved away that I started hearing all the jokes.  I own that I was more than a little bit indignant.


Now that I've read this book, I get it.  What felt totally normal to me for decades, while living in the midst of it all, when looked at objectively from a distance, is decidedly ... eccentric, to say the least.  I'd like to blame all the carpet-baggers, but if I'm being truthful, Florida was invaded by the nutty centuries ago.


However, as Pittman points out, we may be crazy, but we're also history makers and trendsetters.  For better or worse, a lot of what's good and bad in American can be traced to Florida.  NASCAR (admittedly, a matter of perspective as to whether this is a good or bad thing), the space program, USA Today, and authors like Carl Hiaasen, Meg Cabot, Ransom Riggs and Donald J. Sobol.  We also have to own the highest rate of concealed carry permits in the nation and the lowest level of funding for mental health programs, a combination most rational people would say is unwise.  Also, The National Enquirer.  And threaded throughout all the good, bad and ugly are the most hilarious kinds of crazy.


"Does it seem strange to you that the beloved figure of Walt Disney would wind up working with a guy tied to the CIA, drugs, Cuban revolutionaries and the Mafia?  Does that odd juxtaposition make you feel uncomfortable?  In Florida, we call that feeling 'Tuesday'. " 


Pittman does a great job making just about all Floridians look like the cracked fruitcakes we probably are to some extent, and he does almost as good a job tying all the crazy in to the rest of the country.  Occasionally, his tone veers into derisive and it's clear that while he may be a native too, he's not a kool-aid drinker.  Floridians should be proud of their eccentricities, but they should be appalled by the truly horrific way we allow our state to be run.  I'm not sure we've ever elected a sane politician on a state level; hell, I'm not sure we've ever elected one that was law abiding.


Still, I miss my home state.  Florida is a part of my soul; a big reason why I can be both conservative and tolerant, why for me anything less than 50mph winds is a breezy day, and why a 10 foot long reptile won't make me blink an eye, but a 2 inch cockroach will send me running, screaming bloody murder all the way.


If you've even wondered why Florida is the way it is, this book won't be able to explain why, but it is going to make you laugh.

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text 2018-01-10 10:45
Reading progress update: I've read 64%.
Enemies of the State - Tal Bauer

Love had been ripped from his life. Let vengeance take its place.


This book is ‘edge-of-the-seat’ stuff. I do not have time to be at work right now!

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