Friday, February 12, 2021

Hilo #7 and some random stuff

Right now, it's 2 December, and if I keep reading the way I have been, I am on target to read about 850 books for the year. The pandemic has not affected my reading very much; reading has always been the way I escape reality, and what better time to embrace that wholeheartedly? Also, since I have to run errands for my 86 year old father, I go nowhere except school and grocery shopping. 

I often get questions about how I am able to read so many books. It's a combination of things. I read quickly and I spend about four hours each day reading. Most of the books I read are 200+ pages, and I review most but not all of them. If I read an entire book and just don't think my students will like it, I often don't write the review. Because the books that I don't like are very frequently the books that other people DO like, it is helpful for me to know what the book is about. 

I often don't review sequels, but today it seemed like a good idea to review a bunch of different things, after a day of talking to students on the phone and fixing their computers, while reminding them that if their brothers or sisters keep switching their keyboards to autorepeat, maybe don't let the sibling touch the computer. 

Will things be different in two months? I hope so. 

Update: Well, we are scheduled to go back to having all but the virtual academy students in person on March 8th. It's been a challenge to keep track of what we're doing each day, but my district is very committed to both following the science and statistics AND getting students into the building as much as possible! 

Winnick, Jud. The Girl Who Broke the World (Hilo #7)
February 2nd 2021 by Random House Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Gina and her friends Hilo and DJ are trying to find their way forward since they defeated Razorwark but lost Izzy in All the Pieces Fit (#6). Hilo is reveling in being human (pooping and mangoes are both awesome!), DJ is helping Hilo adjust to living with his family, and Gina can see magical creatures and has some powers. When a number of large, violent magical creatures start to show up, Gina is worried that they are all looking for creatures called Nestors, who can magnify the magic around them. When she locates two of them, Bek and Cho, the group knows that they have to keep the tiny, vulnerable creatures safe until they can go through a portal back to their world. Hilo manages to hack into the computer and send Gina's twin older sisters to a cheerleading competition with their parents, so the group figures they will have a quiet day... until DJ's older brother Dexter comes over to babysit the group. He's working on a term paper and wants them to sit in the next room so he can see them. Luckily, they are able to distract him with a video game, and are on their way to get Bek and Cho off to their realm. When more creatures come looking for them, it's up to Gina and her friends to keep them safe. Is that really in the best interest of the world, though? We'll find out what happens in book eight, Gina- The Big Secret (Spring 2022).
Strengths: I thought that the first Hilo book was rather brilliant, and the mix of funny aliens stomping all over everything is balanced by some fairly philosophical threads about death, fitting in, and friendship. Having magic is always fun, and Gina uses hers wisely. I was very confused by All the Pieces Fit (#6), so I was glad that this one was  easier to follow. It's fun to see Gina as the main character. Of course, the main fun of this one is Hilo's exuberance about being human. He's VERY excited about tights!
Weaknesses: Gina is very sad about missing Izzy, which is understandable but slows down the story in parts. 
What I really think: I think that books 3, 4, and 5 were checked out last March and never returned. It's just going to depend on how the pandemic is going whether I buy this one or not. If you are in an elementary school and haven't investigated this graphic novel series, you really need to. 

Smale, Holly. Happy Girl Lucky.
February 2nd 2021 by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Like this author's Geek Girl, we see a girl dealing with a level of celebrity. In this case, it is Hope, the youngest of three siblings who are all famous, as are their parents. Hope isn't allowed to be in the limelight until she is 16, and seems to not be all that smart, given the number of misunderstandings she has. The children's mother is taking a break, but it's hard to tell if there is a real mental illness or just fatigue from her lifestyle. I am a huge fan of these British books like Louise Rennison's Angus, Thongs series, but I didn't much care for the characters in this one. 

Kaufmann, Lori Banov. Rebel Daughter
February 9th 2021 by Delacorte Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

I'm a big fan of historical fiction, and there's so little about ancient Egypt (and Rome and Greece, for that matter). Unfortunately, this one was more of an adult title, since it was written in that very particular, stilted way that so much historical fiction employs. Fine for adults, less great for 11 year olds. The 400 page length should have warned me off. From Goodreads:

"Esther dreams of so much more than the marriage her parents have arranged to a prosperous silversmith. Always curious and eager to explore, she must accept the burden of being the dutiful daughter. Yet she is torn between her family responsibilities and her own desires; she longs for the handsome Jacob, even though he treats her like a child, and is confused by her attraction to the Roman freedman Tiberius, a man who should be her sworn enemy.

Meanwhile, the growing turmoil threatens to tear apart not only her beloved city, Jerusalem, but also her own family. As the streets turn into a bloody battleground between rebels and Romans, Esther's journey becomes one of survival. She remains fiercely devoted to her family, and braves famine, siege, and slavery to protect those she loves."

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