Rotten – A Review

Title: Rotten

Author: Michael Northrop

Release Date: April 1, 2013

Source: e-book from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads): Jimmer “JD” Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer “upstate.” No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it’s pretty clear that he has something to hide. It’s also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away—a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny’s powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.

Jessica’s Review:

I came across this title as I was clicking through NetGalley.  The cover had me immediately as I am a HUGE fan of dogs.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that.  The idea of the main character connected to a rescue dog pulled me in.  I put in a request, got my approval, and started reading.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  It was a pretty quick read.  It is clear that JD did not stay with his aunt and I felt like his friends, wanting to know how he really spent his summer.  JD did not seem like a “bad boy” at all, so I really wondered what he could have done.  I also loved Johnny Rotten as a character in the book.  He went through quite a bit – being chained and beat – before JD’s mom rescued him from the shelter.  I really liked watching Johnny and JD’s relationship blossom as they learned to trust each other and JD learned there was more to Johnny than his tough outside.  I feared for Johnny’s fate after one of JD’s friends, Mars, claimed Johnny bit him unprovoked and his family sues JD and his mom.  As JD fights for his dog, we see the many sides of JD as he learns to come to terms with his past and his present.

One thing I really liked about this book is how it hit on the issue of stereotypes against “bully breeds.”  Johnny is a Rottweiler, one of the most misunderstood of dog breeds, probably after Pit Bulls.  Being a proud Pit Bull owner and lover of all dogs, I appreciate how Northrop addresses this issue as JD fights for Johnny.  Many dogs have a lot stacked against them just because of the misconceptions that are out there.  Johnny had some growing to do in order to trust people, especially males.  But at his heart, he was a sweet dog that was just looking for companionship.  I’m glad to see a book for teens that brings this up for teens to think about.

This is an enjoyable book and one I look forward to adding to my classroom.  I can see reluctant drawn to this and enjoying it.  Overall – 3/5 stars.


Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Memories

Top Ten Tuesday: Books We Resolve to Read in 2013


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Jacqueline’s Top Ten Bookish Memories

  1. Meeting David Sedaris: my sister and I went to hear David read from his notebook of unpublished works a few years ago at a small theater in  Canton. Before the reading he sat at a little table in the lobby and signed books. Nobody really noticed him sitting there at first, so my sister and I jumped up to the table and chatted with him (in French!) for a few minutes. He signed my book, gave me a little piece of chocolate from his pocket (really, I’m not kidding!) and we went on our way. He taught my sister to swear the French way, and told me that he is glad I don’t go by the name Jackie. True story.
  2. I remember many, many visits to our local Holland library growing up where my mom let me take home entire stacks of books.
  3. Similarly, I remember going to the bookstore at the mall and my parents letting me buy any books I wanted (or, at least it seemed like it to me). I truly believe this is what fostered my love for books.
  4. In 5th grade we had to read a certain number of books each report card time. I can’t remember what it was, but I’m sure it wasn’t much. After you met your goal, the teacher let you choose something from his box of prizes. I remember reading furiously to make sure my total was higher than my friends, and getting to choose countless books and other prizes from the box. Such a smart man, that teacher, for capitalizing on our fifth grade competitive natures.
  5. Discovering Goodreads- what a happy day.
  6. Amazon Prime- makes it okay to order just one book. As if I need more reasons to order more books.
  7. I remember being little and crawling up on my mom’s lap in our old wooden rocking chair at night when she would read to me. I hope my daughter someday remembers us reading to her, too.
  8. Which brings me to #8- every time my daughters bring me books to read, and the true joy they get from being read to. Even the just-turned-one-year-old will bring me a book and climb into my lap to be read to. I truly hope we’re raising them to love books like I do.
  9. The first time I took my daughter to the library: she was so amazed that there were so many books in one place, and a bit overwhelmed at the idea that she had to pick just a few to take home. Even now, a year and many trips later, she has a really hard time choosing which ones to pull from the shelves.
  10. When my first project was funded through, since I meant I got to share more books with more students!

Jessica’s Top Ten Bookish Memories

  1.  Harry Potter.  Basically, anything about the books.  I remember I had not heard of the books until Goblet of Fire was just coming out.  I was in Disney World and saw all of the posters for Goblet and had no idea what it was.  I was looking at the books in a gift shop and a little boy told me that the books were so good and I had to read them.  I had my aunt pick me up Sorcerer’s Stone and after that it was love.  I remember falling in love with the world Rowling had created.  This lead to many laughs, tears, and two midnight release parties with my brother.  Harry Potter was a part of my life for TEN years!  You can’t beat that!
  2. My fourth grade teacher reading out loud to us.  Mrs. Gilliam introduced me to many books I never would have read on my own – Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Great Brain, and The Indian in the Cupboard.  We all loved read aloud time and begged for more every day.  I fell more in love with reading because of her.
  3. Teaching Of Mice and Men.  I love this book.  I never read it until I prepared to teach it during my third year of teaching.  I bawled hysterically at home.  I had no idea how I was going to get through the last two chapters when I read to my students.  Somehow I did, with a choking voice.  My students appreciated it though.  I have seen students wiping eyes when we read the end; two years ago, a girl yelled out “NO!” in the middle of class.  I love seeing how such a small book has such an impact on so many people.
  4. Going to the library as a child.  My parents were readers and made reading a big part of  our lives.  We went to the library all the time.  I always had books to read and I am so thankful for that.  I hope to share this passion with my own children one day in the same way my parents shared it with me.
  5. Reading by flashlight under the covers.  My big “rebellion” as a child was staying up past my bed time to read a book.  I used a flashlight and hid under my covers so I could as much reading in as possible.  I was a real wild child.  I think my parents knew, even tough I thought I was so slick, but they were happy to see me wanting to read.  Books were constant companions in my bed as I grew up.
  6. Reading Speak in college.  Speak was a required book for my literature methods class.  Since the moment I picked it up at the bookstore, I could tell there was something special about this book.  I wanted to be part of the group to present on it, even though it meant going first and being in a group with other students I did not know.  This book was life-changing.  It was my “gateway” book to YA Lit.  I had no idea books like this existed for teens; I never had any like it when I was a teen.  I was so glad I got to teach it my first year and love seeing how it captures readers year after year.
  7. Seeing David Levithan speak in Kalamazoo.  He did a public engagement at the Kalamazoo Public Library my senior year of college.  It was not long after Boy Meets Boy was published and just before Marley’s Ghost was published.  I was so moved by his message and the writing he read from his books.  People protested his speaking since he had written Boy Meets Boy and when asked about it, he answered so lovingly and honestly, I was very impressed.  He signed a copy of Boy Meets Boy for me and I still cherish it today.
  8. Reading Wonder out loud to my tenth graders.  I was terrified to read aloud, thinking my sophomores would find it babyish and boring.  However, they were engaged in Auggie’s story and always wanted to know more.  I loved seeing how they wanted more each day and how quickly they could bring another student up-to-speed about what we read the day before.  This is also the first time I completely lost it – sobbing, could not speak lost it – in front of my students.  (Thankfully, Jacqueline was there to take over for me!)  My students respected me for it and were very understanding to how the novel affected me.  It was a great moment.
  9. Finding other passionate readers.  Whether through Twitter, Nerdy Book Club, or my amazing co-workers, I love having so many outlets to discuss books and reading, especially YA Lit.  I appreciate having people I can share my passion with and who “get” it.  I am very lucky to be surrounded by so many readers.
  10. When a student tells me how much he or she loves a book.  Whether it is the fifth book she has read that trimester or the first book he admits to reading since fifth grade, I love when I see a student click with a book.  I see it all over their face when they talk about it and tell me and their classmates about it.  There is nothing more powerful than seeing the love come from a teen in my classroom.

A Review of Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, # 1)

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

From Goodreads:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.


Jacqueline’s review:

The bookclub that I belong to on Goodreads announced this was the first book we would be reading and I will admit I was not too thrilled. The movie comes out in just a few weeks, and I generally avoid reading books being turned into movies to hopefully avoid all the book-to-movie bandwagoners. Anyhow, I am glad that I picked this book up and maybe (!) even glad that it’s being made into a movie.

Some of the reviews/comments I had heard mentioned that they thought this book started out really slowly. I have to say, I feel that way about books but I did not feel that way at all with this one. Right from the beginning I was sucked into the story and wanted to see where it was going. I purposefully hadn’t read much about the plot, so the twists and turns kept me reading. While the main male character, Ethan, was a little too cheesy for me, I really enjoyed the female main character, Lena. While I can’t pretend I understand what it would be like to have my life decided for me the moment I turn 16, I could put myself in her shoes and feel the terrible pain she must have felt being treated the way she was by the people in her hateful little town.

All-in-all, this book contains a lot of the things I really enjoy in a good book: it’s set in a tiny town in the South, involves a bit of supernatural, features a smart female lead, and kept me guessing until the end. There was just the right amount of description and character development without making me want to skip over pages or paragraphs. While the middle might have been better if shortened up a chapter or two, overall I felt the pacing and writing style were spot-on. I will definitely be sharing this book with my students; I just hope they read the book after I talk about it instead of just going to see the movie.




Top Ten Tuesday: Books We Resolve to Read in 2013

It is a new year and we are starting off our new blog!  We are starting off with the top ten books we each resolve to read.  Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Mrs. Terbrack

After reaching (and exceeding!) my goal of reading 100 books in 2012, I now have to try to match (or exceed!) that number in 2013. My list last year consisted of a wide variety of genres, subjects, and writing styles, some of which stretched my reading boundaries quite a bit. Here are my top ten Must-Reads for 2013, in no particular order.

1. Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by R.L. LaFevers 

Historical, fantasy, nuns who are trained assassins. I’ll be reading this one quite soon.

2. Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

This sequel to Cinder is an absolute must-read for me. I’ll be waiting for the day it is released in February!

3. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A GoodReads 2012 book of the year, this novel is set in a lighthouse on a tiny island in Australia. I love lighthouses, islands, and Australia, so this sounds perfect for me.

4. Speaker for the Dead (Ender’s Game #2) by Orson Scott Card

I know I’m a bit late to the Ender’s Game scene, but when I read the book late in 2012 I knew this would be a series I actually finish. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this “sequel,” especially because Card says this is the book he really wanted to write, and that he wrote Ender’s Game just so this would make sense.

5. Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie

Another series that I started in 2012 and really grew to love. This dystopian society matches teenagers with their mates at an early age. For Cassia, the matching did not go as planned, and her future has been in question ever since. I can’t wait to read this third installment of the series.

6. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I read and adored Anna and the French Kiss in 2012, and was so thrilled to hear that Perkins has written another novel that incorporates the same characters and setting, but through the lens of a completely new couple. I love  boarding school stories, and setting them in Paris just adds to the interest! Waiting until May for this will be difficult.

7. Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me was quite interesting, and I’m looking forward to this sequel. I can’t wait to learn more about the secret gifts that a small sector of this society has been endowed with, and to find out what they do with them.

8. Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones

The true story of four sisters who helped shape the course of history in Europe by marrying kings, running countries, and battling against bitter enemies. Another GoodReads top pick from 2012, and right up my alley!

9. The House I loved by Tatiana deRosnay

I read Sarah’s Key when it first came out, and have been waiting for deRosnay to write another book. This one is set in Paris and features a bold woman who refuses to leave her home despite the destruction of the world around her.

10. Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

This is one of the books I heard the most about in 2012 from other bloggers, so I think it’s time I read it. Celeana is an assassin who has been taken before the Prince- he agrees to grant her her freedom, as long as she assists him in a competition to find a new royal assassin. As the competitors come up murdered, she must figure out why before she is killed too.

Mrs. Crawford

In 2012, I set a goal of 50 books.  I met that goal much earlier than anticipated.  I upped it to 65; I finished the year having read 70 books.  I set my goal for 75 this year.  These are the books I must read:

Classics I have never read

I will admit that there are a few books I should have read at some point but never did.  I missed them somehow.  I resolve to read these three (at least):

1. The Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgerald

I really have no idea why I have not read this one.  I loved Fitzgerald’s short stories I read in high school.  I just never had to read it.  With the movie coming out this year, I must read it before I see it.

2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I had the teacher in eleventh grade that did not have use read this one.  Everyone raved about it, but I never quite got to it.  This is number one on my Goodreads to-read shelf.  I have to do it!

3. Fahrenheit451 by Ray Bradbury

I have read Brave New World and 1984.  My brother has told me since his senior year I need to read this one as well.  Again, I love Bradbury’s short stories.  The time has come to make sure I finally check this one off the list.

Series Books

I found myself caught up in a number of series in the last year.  These are the books coming out in 2013 that I can’t wait to get my hands on!

4. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I read Cinder this summer and loved it.  I can’t wait to see where the series will go.

5. Requiem by Lauren Oliver

I have really loved the Delirium series so far.  Pandemonium went in a whole new direction and while I anticipated the twist at the end, what a great way to leave us all hanging and wanting more.

6. The Madness Underneath by Marueen Johnson

I devoured The Name of the Star this summer.  This was my first taste of Johnson’s writing as well.  I really liked Rory and am excited to see where she ends up next.

Other Must-Reads

These are books I have heard rave reviews about from friends over the last year that will be one of the 75 for sure.

7. Gone Girlby Gillian Flynn

This was a book everyone was talking about last year.  I received it for Christmas from my uncle and will be reading it very soon.

8. Every Day by David Levithan

EVERYONE has been talking about Levithan’s newest novel.  I have been a huge fan since I saw him speak in college.  I bought it with a gift card so it will be read soon as well.

 9. Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

I have heard a lot about this book that deals with the important topic of bullying.  I am trying to get a lot of books dealing with this topic to my students.  I have yet to purchase it but will be soon.

10. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Carr

This is one of the choice books for 11th grade.  Jacqueline has also been telling me it is a must read.  I will probably listen to this one in the car when I am back to work.