HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 4 – Shackleton by Nick Bertozzi

ShackletonTitle: Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey
Author: Nick Bertozzi
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Age Range: 12 to 18
Lexile Reading Level: GN620L

On Shackleton’s third trip to the Antarctic, he was determined to make it to the South Pole. Unfortunately, the conditions were not ideal and before the crew was even able to set foot on Antarctica, they were forced to turn back. It would take them over two years out on the ice before they were able to get help and make their way back home.

I’d heard about the story of Shackleton when my mother-in-law read a book about him and the crew of the Endurance (I believe it was, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, but I’m not sure). His story amazed me. I could not believe that they were out on the ice, in the elements, for so long and that none of his crew diedShackleton and his crew’s story is so amazing and I think Bertozzi does a really good job translating that story as a graphic novel. He notes at the beginning of the story that, “While [he] strove for historical accuracy in this book, there are some details of the story that are compressed for dramatic reasons”. But he encourages readers who are interested in more details to look to other sources to fill in the gaps. As a reader, I wondered what exactly he meant by having details of the story compressed. After reading the book, I think he means that events seem to happen more quickly in the graphic novel than they actually did in real life. Because of this, I would have appreciated a timeline included somewhere in the book so that I could see where the events were located in the context of other events.

The overall tone of the book is kept fairly light despite the grim events (see page below).shackleton page

In this scene, they had to operate on one of the crew member’s frostbitten toes. Note how the crew still treats this situation somewhat lightheartedly and even the crew member says afterwards, “They couldn’t kill me, lads!”.

This book would work great in an activity or book club about explorers. There could be different stations set up for each explorer with an activity or two that fit. Other books about other explorers:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman (nonfiction)
Freedom Beyond the Sea by Waldtraut Lewin (fiction)
First Flight Around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race by Tim Grove (nonfiction)


October Reading Update

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – Read, review coming
The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch – DNF 14%
We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen – Currently Reading
The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria (blog tour 10/10) – Read and reviewed
Everyday Magic by Emily Albright (blog tour 11/3)
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – Currently Reading

Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (for school) – Finished, assignment
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (audiobook) – Currently reading
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen (for school) – Finished

So far this month I’ve finished 4 books and had 1 DNF.

HW Assignment: Book Blog Entry 3 – Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Terrible Typhoid MaryTitle: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
Age Range: 12 and up
Lexile Reading Level: 980

Mary Mallon was just a cook in New York City but unbeknownst to her, she was a living carrier of the disease Typhoid. Before doctors caught up with her she’d already been the cause of outbreaks in several families that she had worked for. When she refused treatment, she was “arrested” quarantined on a remote island. The case of Typhoid Mary has been a confusing one for years as other living carriers did not suffer similar fates and were generally allowed to live with their families. Mary alone was unjustly villain-ized by the local media at the time. With her name splashed across headlines and her new nickname, “Typhoid Mary”, Mary Mallon’s reputation was destroyed. This is her story from the beginning, when she is first informed that she is a living carrier, to the end of her life.

To young people, a world where germs are widely thought of as a myth is incomprehensible. Hygiene wasn’t as important and cities were often filthy places where disease was rampant. This book does a great job of helping the reader see the realities of what it was like to live in the 1900’s. Medicine was not nearly as advanced as it is now and a lot of medical treatments and operations were little better than guesswork. I think this book would do great in a display with other books featuring diseases–possible in a Fall or Winter month as cold and flu season is beginning. Here are some other books that could go in the display (both fiction and nonfiction):

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (fiction) – Spanish Influenza
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow (nonfiction) – Typhoid
When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS by James Cross Giblin and David Frampton (nonfiction) – Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (fiction) – Yellow Fever
The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing by Suzanne Jurmain (nonfiction) – Yellow Fever
Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks (fiction) – Tuberculosis

BLOG TOUR: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria [GIVEAWAY]

Iron CastIron Cast
by Destiny Soria
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

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SYNOPSIS: It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

REVIEW: The author starts the book with a note regarding her two main characters. She emphasizes that she really wanted to focus on their relationship as opposed to their individual relationships with the boys they like. I always like a little romance in books, but I really appreciated that the romance wasn’t the sole focus. This book has much more depth to it than that. The thing that I really loved about this book is the interactions between Ada and Corinne. They’re so different and the author does a great job of really portraying them as individuals. Their loyalty to each other is inspiring and I love that the author didn’t have them get into any catty arguments or jealous fights. Their relationship is so much bigger than that.

I loved the atmosphere of this book as well. It’s set in a Boston winter shortly before Prohibition is passed. This book makes Boston seem like this really magical and atmospheric city and I think it was the perfect setting for this story. The magic was also very intriguing to me though I don’t think it was explained very well. What exactly is hemopathy? Why does iron effect hemopaths? And how do they get their powers? What determines what kind of powers they have? Even with all of these questions, I like how wordsmiths and songsmiths have their powers so closely tied to emotion. On the other hand thespians and whatever Saint’s hemopathy is called don’t really seem to tie-in. While I like all of the different skills, it seems like there’s a disconnect. The four “powers” don’t really seem to connect to each other. That being said, they’re all extremely cool.

Overall I really enjoyed this book even though the plot was pretty slow at the beginning. There’s a lot of background and character development that the reader needs to get first, but once the plot really got going, I was hooked. I’m just so intrigued by this world! I don’t know if the author plans on making it a series, but I would love to read another book featuring these characters!

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Destiny Soria writes Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel, IRON CAST, will be published by Abrams/Amulet in Fall 2016.

Destiny lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.


Fantastic Flying Book Club

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

September Wrap-Up/October TBR

Wrap-Up & TBR


The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull – Read, review coming
Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige – DNF 25%
The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies – Read and reviewed
Brightwood by Tania Unsworth
When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria – Currently Reading
Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell – Read and reviewed
Fear the Drowning Deep (Blog Tour 9/27) – Read and reviewed

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge – Read, review coming
Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Emeralds and Espionage by Lynn Gardner (Book Club) – Finished
The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright – Read, review coming
The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming (for school) – Finished
Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer (for school) – Finished
Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (for school) – Currently reading

This month I read 9 books with 1 DNF. Not bad for how little time I actually had!


We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen
The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria (blog tour 10/10)
Everyday Magic by Emily Albright (blog tour 11/3)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Blog Tour: Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Fear the Drowning DeepFear the Drowning Deep
by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Release Date: October 4th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction

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SYNOPSIS: Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

REVIEW: First off, that cover is absolutely GORGEOUS. I thought this book had a really promising premise, but then I just had such a hard time getting into it and I couldn’t really figure out why. There were so many names and it was difficult for me to keep people straight, especially the main character’s sisters.

I liked the setting of this small island surrounded by the ocean–which was really a character by itself–and I thought all of the place descriptions were really beautiful. Even when Bridey was looking out at the waves frightened, they were frightening in this beautiful, beautiful way.

That being said, I did have some issues with the plot and the pacing of the story. Like I mentioned at the beginning of my review, I had a really hard time getting into it. The story just started so SLOW in my opinion. It took me over a week just to get halfway through it. I mean, stuff was happening and sure it was exciting stuff, but I just didn’t find myself turning the pages faster and faster to find out what would happen next. I felt like maybe we were in Bridey’s head too much. While I think this was true to her character, I just felt tired by all of the uncertainty and by her dwelling so much on her grandfather and Lugh and Fynn.

The plot itself had a lot going on with sea monsters and magic as well as Bridey’s relationships with some of the islanders. It seemed almost like the drama amongst the characters was fighting with the drama created by the actual plot. Morag was an interesting character, but perhaps a little cliche. There’s a rumored witch that nobody on the island likes…original. Then there’s the mini-love triangle/insta-love situation that occurs (blech).

Overall, I don’t think this book is bad, by any means. I definitely think it has it’s audience, but I don’t think I’m necessarily a part of it. I have a hard time when I feel like books are paced too slow. There were definitely parts I really liked and parts that I didn’t. In the end, I would give this one a 3/5.

Sarah Glenn Marsh writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since.

When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watercolor painting, ghost hunting, and pursuits of the nerd variety, from video games to tabletop adventures. She’s never met an animal or a doughnut she didn’t like.

Sarah lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and their tiny zoo of four rescued greyhounds, a bird, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deep, the Reign of the Fallenduology, and several picture books.


Fantastic Flying Book Club

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Four Teens, One Lightning Bolt | The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies [ARC]

The Odds of LightningTiny, Lu, Nathaniel, and Will all used to be friends–they called themselves the “Science Club”–but everything changed for them the summer before they started high school. Now, they barely even speak or acknowledge each other .Tiny and Lu say that they’re “best friends” but they don’t really act like it. Will calls Nathaniel whenever he needs someone to study with and no one else is around. The night before the SATs they all happen to be at the same party celebrating the “Stormpocalypse”. They find themselves on the roof where they are inevitably struck by lightning and something about each of them changes. As they travel across New York City in a quest to change themselves back to normal, they’ll learn some things about friendship and what it truly means to be yourself.

First of all, I appreciate that each of the characters are individuals. The narrative alternates between each of the four main characters and between the present and the summer before high school started. They each had distinctive voices which made the book more interesting to read. With that being said, I do think that the characters seemed a little immature for how old they were supposed to be. Or…maybe not too immature, but there wasn’t much of a difference between the characters in the “Then” sections versus the “Now” sections. They’ve been separated for three years and the author doesn’t really show the reader how those years have changed each of the characters. Sure, we’re told that Nathaniel is now super studious and Will is a stud when he used to be a chub, but we’re only told these things. We’re not really shown in the narrative how these changes have effected them. Perhaps this is why I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I didn’t not enjoy the book, but I had a hard time bringing myself back to it after I’d put it down for the day.

The plot was a tad unbelievable, but perhaps that was the point. I couldn’t help but think things like “Okay, it’s like two in the morning and there’s still a Sweet Sixteen party going on? In the middle of an epic storm?” Stuff like that just kind of took me out of the story. I understand why the book was set in the middle of the night in the middle of an epic storm, but it made some other elements of the story hard for me to buy. I also could have done without the science-y element of the story. Again, I understand why it was included, but every time the characters tried to explain something about it I just found myself scratching my head. It honestly didn’t make very much sense to me and I would have had an easier time buying a magical explanation than the scientific one given.

One thing I really liked about the book was the setting. I feel that the author was able to really capture New York City in the middle of a massive storm. This book made me want to fly over there and start exploring the city right away. I liked that we got to see a lot of different parts of the city through the eyes of these characters who have lived there their whole lives and the entire storm made everything feel very atmospheric.

Overall, I thought this book had a really promising premise, but the execution was lacking in some ways. While it has a strong conclusion, everything before that was a little jumbled like perhaps the author was trying to do too much.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.