Throw Back Thursday - The Bailey School Kids

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The hugely popular early chapter book series re-emerges with a new look! Brand-new eye-catching cover art brings a modern feel to this classic monster series for young readers.
The kids in the third grade at Bailey Elementary are so hard to handle that all of their teachers have quit. But their new teacher, Mrs. Jeepers, is different to say the least. She's just moved from the Transylvanian Alps and she seems to have some strange powers that help her deal with these mischief-makers. Her methods may be a little unconventional, but, then again, Mrs. Jeepers may be just what the Bailey School kids need.

Throw Back Thursday is a post in which I talk about books that I loved and read as a child - and still remember fondly of today!

June 12, 2014 - The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series, by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones. These were the first real chapter books I read on my own, probably around second or third grade. We had several - I'd say maybe ten different books in the series - at our school library and I quickly exhausted the supply, then began begging my mother for additional books from Books-A-Million.

The Bailey School Kids was a little mystery series involving monsters and spooky things coming to the school, which would inevitably catch the attention of the four main characters: Eddie, Howie, Liza and Melody. It would be up to them to unravel the mysteries and save the day. More often than not, the "mysteries" ended up being the children's wild imaginations getting away with them, but they were full of huge laughs and suspense for any seven or eight year old.

The book pictured was the first book in the series, but not the first one I ever read. I think the first one I read was called Mermaids Don't Run Track, and was book #25 in the series. Overall, there are over fifty books in the series and I believe they're still being written today, nearly twenty years later. It's definitely a series that had survived the test of time and I would love for my future children to get the chance to read and enjoy the series as much as I did. 

Waiting on Wednesday - Ruin and Rising

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for."

This week, I'm waiting on Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, which releases June 17th! Less than and week away! Yay! I was a little late to jump into the Grisha bandwagon. My friend kept insisting I needed to read the book and loaned it to me. I swear it sat on my shelf for nearly six months before I finally got the notion to pick it up and give it a try. And I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read it! I inhaled the unique world Bardugo wrote - and I adored both the Darkling and Mal. It's so hard to choose a "team." I know, I know. The Darkling is even and maniacal, but there is just something about him! And Mal is super adorable, too. After the second book, Siege and Storm, ended on such an action-packed cliffhanger, I'm interested to see where it goes. Hurry up, Tuesday!

Review - Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

Monday, June 9, 2014

By Karen Ann Hopkins
Released: June 26th, 2012
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

I’ve been a huge fan of Amish fiction from the time I was in high school – in fact, one of my first serious drafts of a novel idea was based off an Amish backstory. Oddly enough, my fascination with the Young Adult genre happened later, when I was just reaching my twenties – right around the time that Hunger Games became so popular. So after spending my entire high school career trying to read more adult titles like Wuthering Heights, The Maltese Falcon and The Secret Life of Bees, I dove back in to middle grade and young adult books with zealous fascination.

So, last year when I found out that Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins was a combination of my two favorite genres, I just had to get my hands on it. Not only that, but I was even able to get my copy of the second book in the series, Belonging, signed when she came to my hometown on a book tour! So now, a full year later, I’ve finally gotten around to writing the review.

Temptation is set on the backdrop of Ohio, where Rose Cameron and her father and two brothers just recently moved from Cincinnati. Rose’s father, David Cameron, is an ER surgeon who recently accepted a position at the local hospital. To the children’s’ dismay, their new home is located in the middle of nowhere – which also happens to be Amish country. In fact, the first day they arrive their new neighbors, Amos Miller and one of his sons Noah, arrive to welcome them. Noah is certainly a sight for sore eyes, even in his Amish garb and straw hat, and Rose is immediately intrigued by him.

The rest of the first installment deals with the Camerons accustoming themselves to their new surroundings and learning to interact with their Amish neighbors. Rose and her family get invited to several Amish gatherings, such as a traditional church service and family dinners. There are certainly aspects of the Old Order lifestyle that she can’t understand or even /want/ to understand. Why do all the women wear those unseemly dresses? Why do the women serve the meals /and/ get to eat last? Why aren’t women allowed to have their own voice?

In between the culture shock, Rose also had a budding relationship with Noah. Though they can’t be seen spending time with each other out in the open – it would break too many rules – they share short moments with each other while out riding their horses. As the summer progresses, they grow so in love that they decide they want to be together – whatever the cost. Between that, Rose’s father inviting a new woman into their lives, and an unfortunately accident at the climax, this book has what every hopeless romantic wants in a good read!

One of the best things this book has going for it, in my personal opinion, is the Amish themed angle. Amish fiction books that aren’t geared toward Christian women are few and far between. (Not that that’s a bad thing – I read Beverly Lewis and Cindy Woodsmall all the time!) But this was one of the few books to combine this literary niche with something that could connect to a broader audience. Many people have a vague concept of the Amish – primitive people who choose to live in an even more primitive way. But that’s certainly not the case. The Amish are a resourceful, patient, dedicated and highly religious people. They chose to live in the world but not as a part of it and for that, they have my deepest respect. (You can tell what I did my term papers in in college, can’t you? Haha!) The fact that Hopkins combined this intriguing lifestyle with the young adult genres brings it not only a new and refreshing twist, but it brings to the table culture that teenagers and young adults alike might not have ever experienced before.

I guess not everyone can be as fortunate as Karen Ann and I to live close to Amish settlements.

From what I’ve read and researched, many of the facts and traditions concerning the Amish aspects in the novel were pretty spot-on. Many Amish sects vary from one another. How things are done in one settlement might differ from others – so a little variance is expected – but Hopkins did a great job of sticking true to the Amish customs in the book. Kudos to you, Karen Ann!

The only qualm I had with the book was that the romance between Rose and Noah seemed to come on a little too fast. I’m not a big fan of “insta-love,” as that happens far too often in young adult novels, but that’s something that could certainly be left up to interpretation. Some might see what I saw as “insta-love” and just see it as mere attraction, which can certainly be instant. But that’s neither here nor there. The fact still remains that his is a great romance, with just enough action and drama to leave you wanting more. I have books two and three sitting on my shelf and I just can’t wait to read them!