Friday, December 30, 2011

Book 26 - Where the streets had a name by Randa Abdel-Fattah - Bethlehem

We first meet Hayaat and her family at the supermarket during the short time they have to shop for groceries between curfews. They are so anxious not to get caught out after the curfew they split up and shop in certain aisles. In the mayhem that ensued for all the families in the neighbourhood they still forget to buy Hayaat a new toothbrush.

Thirteen year old Hayaat lives in Bethlehem with her family. Her older sister is about to be married to a young man who works in Lod so they will live in Ramallah. Her grandmother lives with them and does not keep good health. Her father dreams of the land they were forced off. Her whole family remembers what was while they live in the reality of what is. When her grandmother has a stroke Hayaat decides to take the risky trip to Jerusalem to get her beloved Sitti Zeynep some soil from her ancestral home.

Hayaat's best friend Sammy insists on helping her negotiate the checkpoints, curfews and travel permit ssystems. Together they manage to make their way through many dangers.

Randa Abdel-Fattah takes the reader to the world of Palestine and shows the realities of life for the people there, Palestinian and Israeli. It is a very enjoyable read and I thoroughly recommend it.

Randa Abdel-Fattah's official website

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book 25 - Cyberia Monkey see, monkey don't by Chris Lynch - Cyberia?

This is the second book in the series called Cyberia by Chris Lynch and we (IICS library) only have this one - we don't have the first book. Don't you hate it when that happens? Oh well. This is a difficult book to categorise in terms of possible audience as well. Is it a tweens book or is it Young Adult? I think it is more for tweens. Zane is a guy whose whole life is wired. He wears an anklet that connects him and his body to the technology that is part of everyone's life. He rarely sees his parents in the flesh but is connected to them through technology as well. In the first book Zane discovers a part of the world that is technology free and full of animals fleeing from the technology controlled world Zane and his friends live in. He discovers he can talk with the animals through an invention he makes himself. This makes him very attractive to the evil scientist and vet Dr Gristle. The second book begins with Zane coming to the end of a punishment period where he was isolated from the world and disconnected from all technology. He immediately discovers that Dr Gristle has made huge progress towards controilling animals. Zane's own dog has come under the evil Doctor's influence. Zane becomes determined to free them from the Doctor's manipulations.

A futuristic novel which causes the reader to think about how much we want technology to invade our lives. It is light hearted in tone and the animals bring an interesting range of characters and foils into the story line.

Chris Lynch has written book three in the series already, Cyberia; Prime Evil. Here is the Teen reads review of the first book. Kids World Review of the first two books.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

100 Librarians shout out

I have been reading this on the bus on the way home from work. It is an inspiration and certainly made the journey go so much faster. This is a FREE ebook downloadable to many devices. It has over 100 essays on so many topics including Digital and Emerging Literacies, Reading, Learners, Collaboration, the physical and virtual library.the Future...I highlighted so many passages. The contributors come from all around the world including a few brilliant kiwi librarians. It is called a crowd-sourced collection - I had to look at wikipedia to find out that
Crowdsourcing is the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call. Jeff Howe established that the concept of crowdsourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to a group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.

This is an inspiration and I want to thank all the contributors and Buffy Hamilton and Kristin Fontichiaro for editing the collection.

To download for free Smashwords

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book 24 - Slam by Nick Hornby - London, England

This book was not what I expected - at all. I decided I would read it for this Blog and to promote to skaters at school. The main character, sixteen year old Sam is a dedicated skater whose one hero in life is Tony Hawk. He has read Tony's biography many times and talks to the poster of Tony on his wall, imagining that Tony speaks back with sound and sage advice. Sam's divorced parents had him when they were 16 years old themselves and were forced to marry for his sake. He sometimes feels the unspoken burden of having ruined his mother's chances for success. At a business party for his mother's work Sam meets Alicia. Their relationship becomes sexual very quickly and Sam finds himself going from absolutely consumed by it to finding it very suffocating. Just as he call it off he is told by Alicia that she is pregnant. SLAM is a hard fall in skating terminology and the slam Sam experiences is so intense as he lives in the guilt of repeating his parents past mistakes. 

Sam's narration of the story is very believable. Hornby's characters are always realistic and in this his first novel for teens he strikes the right note again. There is an added twist as TH somehow transports Sam into the future. This happens a couple of times and seems to serve to reassure Sam about the events to come and give him hope that it will not be the disaster he fears. I enjoyed this novel's humour and honesty. I am not sure teenage boys will read it though. Here is Nick Hornby himself chatting about the book. Also a review by Brian Farrey for Teen Reads

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book 23 - Silverfin by Charlie Higson - Eton and Scotland

With the name Bond it is almost essential to keep up with the James Bond movies. This is, however, the first Bond book I have read (apologies to Ian Fleming). I really enjoyed the way Higson created the Young James Bond character. Many of the details of James' background were revealed and seem to me to be very credible. The adventure that he finds himself involved in is as globally impacting as the ones 007 is assigned to. The villan is suitably sinister and maniacal.

We meet Bond as he is starting school at Eton College. He is out of place and awkward but quickly learns the rules and shows he has endurance and strength. He makes an enemy of the bully George Hellebore and discovers that George's father, Lord Hellebore, has inherited the property near his Uncle's house in Scotland. As he travels to Scotland to holiday with his Aunt and Uncle he helps a young lad, Red Kelly, hide on the train. Red is going up to the area James' family lives in to try to find his cousin who has gone missing. James takes up the challenge to assist Red and together they discover that the Hellebore property holds some sinister secrets.

This is a fast moving novel which was very enjoyable. Lots of foreshadowing of the adult Bond were skilfully weaved into the plot as well. This is the first of a series following the Young Bond as he grows up during the 1930's.

Young Bond website                                      Charlie Higson's webite