Guest Review: Readers on Stage by Aaron Shepard

Check out my wife’s review of Aaron Shepard’s Readers on Stage from her blog, Fresh Reads.

★★★★☆ (4/5) – Readers on Stage: Resources for Reader’s Theater by Aaron Shepard is a great introduction to the reader’s theater process for elementary and middle-school educators. The author provides sample scripts that are suitable for all ages, but would mainly be of interest to students in grades 3-5. The book also contains a host […]

via Readers on Stage: Resources for Reader’s Theater by Aaron Shepard — Fresh Reads

Review: And Then the Sky Exploded by David A. Poulsen

★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)

I recently received an ARC of And Then the Sky Exploded by David A. Poulsen courtesy of NetGalley and Dundurn Press in exchange for an honest review. So, here it is:

And Then the Sky Exploded is the story of Christian Larkin, a ninth-grade student who discovers that his recently-deceased great-grandfather was a member of the Manhattan Project. He travels to Japan in order to make up for what his great-grandfather did in the past.

The first half of the novel features flashbacks to a young girl named Yuko, who survived the attack on Hiroshima and the subsequent years of hardship. These flashbacks offer an unflinching look at the horrors of war.

The rest of the first half focuses on Christian’s life at school leading up to his trip to Japan. And this is where I have some issues.

There are LOTS of subplots here that honestly offer nothing to the larger story. We have Christian’s deaf friend Carson, who only exists to send a website address to the protagonist later in the second-half. We have pages upon pages dedicated to a high school football game. Why is it there? I have no idea. We have Christian’s foil in the character of Lorelei. As far as I can tell, she exists only for a moment of redemption at the very end of the novel that makes very little sense (“swish-swish”).

I briefly thought that the author was purposefully contrasting the horrors of war with the frivolity of Christian’s daily goings-on. But, honestly, the Christian subplots simply seemed frivolous and superfluous. In order to better serve the overall story, they should have been edited out.

The second half of the novel fared far better. The descriptions of Japan made the trip seem exciting and I definitely learned a thing or two about the culture. The eventual meeting between Christian and an elderly Yuko was handled particularly well.

If I were to suggest this novel to my students it would be mainly for the second half and the overall message of redemption. It could also be used to teach empathy as Christian and his friends are all very caring.

Overall, I would give And Then the Sky Exploded ★★★. A nice story with heart that could use a little bit of editing.

Review: Repo Madness by W. Bruce Cameron

★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)

Like the first book in the series, Repo Madness is an enjoyable, comical tale about various mysteries in and around Kalkaska, Michigan. There were, perhaps, a few too many antagonists that muddled the story, but in the end, everything was resolved. Well, almost everything — W. Bruce Cameron clearly leaves enough unanswered questions for another volume somewhere down the line. I can’t wait to read it!

From Amazon.com:

Ruddy McCann is back in “Repo Madness–the “laugh-out-loud, thrilling adventure from bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron!

Ruddy McCann, former college football star, now Kalkaska, Michigan repo man, is finally getting his life back on track. He has a beautiful fiance, Katie Lottner, a somewhat stable job stealing cars, and a lazy, lovable basset hound.

With his job suddenly in jeopardy, his fiance wanting a break, and a new court-ordered psychiatrist insisting he take his medication or violate the terms of his probation, Ruddy finds himself missing the one thing he thought he would be happy to be rid of–the voice of Alan Lottner, dead realtor and Ruddy’s future father-in-law.

When a woman tells Ruddy that the tragedy that defines his life may, in fact, be a lie, Ruddy starts to investigate the disappearances of women in the area and soon discovers that his own redemption may be within reach. Alan’s voice returns, and Ruddy and Alan work together to bring down a corrupt banker, win back Katie’s love, and stop a serial killer before he can strike again.”

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the digital ARC.

Repo Madness will be released on August 23, 2016