The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutoski

I am so glad to be back posting on my blog! It has been a crazy summer so far with working at camp and my brother getting married I have had no time do anything outside out of those two things. I have had fortunately time to read thanks to breaks and long car rides.

 

The Winner’s Kiss

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First of all this was a great ending to an even greater YA fantasy series. YA Fantasy is my favorite genre and I was so excited to have found this series. However the pace of this book was much different than I thought it was going to be and the ending while what I wanted it to be did not happen the way I saw it happening. I thought the majority of the book would be spent on Kestrel in the prison camp but she is rescued pretty early on in the book and then the rest of the book is about the actual war between the Empire and the Herran/Dacran alliance. That being said I am so glad that is the way the book was paced because it made for a real book gripper and many nights where I stayed up way to late because I had to know what happened to Kestrel and Arin. There were many times I growled in frustration because the two of them were fighting again and I just wanted them to kiss already!

This book and series will frustrate you beyond belief but don’t give up on them because it is such a good series that not only has a love story but action, suspense, and teaches one what it truly means to pick a side. It gives a person an insight what it was like for the north and south during the civil war (in the United States) and also any other war that pits family against family. Kestrel not only stood up for the one she loved but she also stood up for her personal convictions and that is something very hard to do when everyone you love and care for is against you. Standing up to one’s family and friends is hard and Rutoksi creates this amazing fierce warrior woman who finds the strength to do such a thing. Kestrel is a warrior but she is also a human being and Rutoksi does a beautiful job of blending both.

I really cannot find fault with this book or the series as a whole. It’s nice sometimes to read fantasy books like LOTR and have the back story but it is also nice to read just about one part of that story and not have to worry about how the history affects the present. This is one series that will pull you in and keep you reading until the very last page of the last book.

 

I also listened to two great books on tape-both by Jerry Spinelli who is a wonderful middle school author.

Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli

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So I cheated this summer and listened to two different books while traveling. I re-listened to part of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins but since I have already read it and didn’t listen to it all the way through I don’t count it. Maniac McGee was the first book I listened to and it was so good!! It is a most definite read aloud in any grade because it touches upon a subject that should be discussed in every classroom in America: Racism. This book shows us through the eyes of a skinny little white boy what racism looks like and how it can be overcome. Maniac McGee is a little skinny white boy from Bridgeport that ends up living in a zoo until one day he comes home with Amanda Beal a little black girl. No one on the East side cares that a little white boy is living with Beal family, until it becomes Maniac is made aware of his color blindness as Harper Lee put it. Scout Finch and Maniac McGee share an inability to see the difference in skin color. To them people are people no matter the color of skin.

One of the best teaching moments of this book comes when a friend of Maniac’s is asking about black people and wanting to know if they are different than white people. Maniac confusedly answers the man’s questions in only the way a child can and clearly points out that the only difference between black and white is the color of their skin.

This is one book that will make you laugh, cry and shout in triumph as Maniac unties the impossible knot, uses a frog as a baseball and finally finds a place to call home.

 

Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

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This is one book that I was introduced to in seventh grade, but the group that presented the book to me did a terrible job so I was never much interested in the book until my mum had me listen to it.

I felt like Star Girl sometimes in high school. I was different and I liked embracing that difference but in a school that was conformist it was hard. I struggled to find my place just like Star Girl did and while I didn’t cheer for the other team I was just another faceless student to many of my classmates.

This is the story of Star Girl or Susan, the name on her birth certificate. She comes into Micah Area High School as a tenth grader and struggles to find her place in a school that demands conformity. Star Girl doesn’t wish to conform and instead forges a place for herself only to end up being shunned when her ways are no longer accepted. Despite these set backs Star Girl continues to be herself until she starts dating Leo. While Leo likes Star Girl he secretly wishes he had a normal girlfriend and when he gets one he thinks he is happy. This happiness is short lived because despite her repeated efforts Star Girl cannot get the shunning to stop. She has only one option left but is she willing to take it?

Star Girl is the story of every one of us. We want to be ourselves and stand out among the crowd but many times we are too scared to do so. We fear being shunned or the loosing friends/respect. Star Girl is the story of high school and what it costs to be different than everyone else. This is another great read aloud because too often the student that chooses to be different ends up like Star Girl.

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