Archive for the ‘survival’ Category


      Wahoo Gray and his animal wrangler dad, Mickey, are hired by the producer of the wildly popular survivalist television show “Expedition Survival” to guide their star through fantastic perils with Everglade wildlife.  Derek Badger is well known for his impromptu survival skills and eating anything, alive or dead, for the show.  But Derrick arrives with a flaming red dye job, a phoney tan, and a belly a bit too rotund for sleek man of the wilds.  This prime dona is flown to a luxury hotel each night.  But that does not mean he is not entertaining to Wahoo and irritating to Mickey.  After blasting Alice the alligator as being too tame for a wrestle, Alice takes Derek on a spin in the pond.  He almost drowns.  Other wildies have their nip of flesh from the star in his less than stellar performances of bravado.  He slinks off into the Everglades to meet his fate.  In the meantime, Mickey and Wahoo have whisked Tuna away from her abusive father and are alluding him in a chase through the Glades.  The producer insists that everyone search for her star.  Great action.  Snorts of laughter.  This is such a fun book for guy readers, well, anyone.


Carl’s Website

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Posted: October 2, 2011 in modeling, survival

Teen beauties: jet crash, stranded on a tropical island, power struggles, practicing for the pageant. What? never mind that they need to survive, fight off gigantic snakes, build shelters, find food and their makeup, and deal with the pirates. Libba creates a crazy situation in which beauty business as usual is ridiculously funny. Everyone has their own idea of survival from talent practice to medication to spearing fish. Sure to make you laugh, ponder and wonder.

ENDERS’ Rating: ****
Libby Bray’s Clever Website

If you think the economy is bad now, just imagine if chocolate was hard to find in the United States. Even worse that that: illegal! I think I would join Anya Balanchine’s gangster family that deal in the illegal importing and selling of chocolate. (Me shuttering!!!) Coffee is illegal also, but that is not a big deal. (I used to believe it turned your knees black, so what is the allure? But I digress.) Anya’s older brother, Leo, was permanently disabled in a “hit” meant for his father. In the same hit, their mother was killed. To add to the family trauma, as Anya and her little sister were playing under their father’s desk, hit men broke into their home and executed him while he sat at the same desk. All over the control of chocolate and coffee. Anya’s life is further complicated by a lousy boyfriend who is a villain. She is pursued by the son of the assistant DA, a star-crossed lovers situation if I ever saw one. Her grandmother, who should be the head of the family business, is slowly fading away. Even though Leo is older, Anya has to take on the burdens of her family. The lousy, now ex, boyfriend? He causes so much trouble that Anya ends up in jail at “Liberty House.” The extended family are not helping Anya’s dire situation either. I think the reader will really feel the pressure of a teenager who has far too many worries and responsibilities for her age, the horror of Liberty House, the economic decline of New York City, and the insanity that creates criminals.
ENDERS’ Rating: ****
Gabrielle’s Website

Adam’s mother, Jem, could see the exact date of someone’s death by looking into their eyes. Adam has the sight also, but he has to live with the date and their death. He meets an extraordinary girl, Sarah, in an art class as he models for her sketch. In her eyes he sees a distance death filled with love and peace. It is so different from his usual tormented visions that he is at first mesmerized by her, then quickly loves her. Sarah is carrying a baby from repeated sexual abuse and pushes him away. But there are bigger problems on Adam’s mind: a huge amount of people have a death date of New Year’s Day, just a few weeks away. All kinds of mayhem arises from his attempts to save the city, his nan, Sarah and her “old soul”
baby girl. Prepare yourselves for nasty destruction and a peek at a disturbing “big brother” society that forgets the individual in the quest of becoming the
ultimate nanny society, a society that also ignores what it does not want to see. Excellent, better than the first novel, with lots of hope because of love and compassion shown in the main characters. A sequel called Infinity follows.

ENDERS’ Rating: ****

Rachel’s Website

Adam had pulled Mia back from death in If I Stay. Now he faces the results of a promise he made her in the hospital. Though Mia lives, Adam has lost her. As his rock career rockets, he finds himself anxious, popping medicines a little too often, avoiding the band, and dreading the European tour. His manager gives him an extra day in New York to settle his mind. As he walks through the city he runs smack into a billboard with Mia and her cello plastered on it; and he finds himself in the audience of her concert. Word spreads that he is there, even to the star. In a night a bit reminiscent of a darker Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Mia leads Adam to her favorite NY locations all night long. In a dramatic confrontation, Mia shares a shocking revelation. Fans will love the ending. I know that I did. The main quandary now is when will Forman’s next book be released?

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

Gayle Forman’s website includes a good book trailer

Cuba was an island playground for Lucia and her little brother Frankie, after school was disbanded by the new leader, Fidel Castro, until their parents insisted that they always stay at home. The revolution had begun with bloody evidence in plain view in the city squares. Her father lost his banking job. Valuables from their home were taken by the revolutionary soldier. Lucia’s parents pay to have her and Frankie flown to Miami, as part of Operation Pedro Pan in which parents sent around 14,000 of their children to Camelot (the term for the presidency of John F. Kennedy). For a while they are in an orphanage. But fortune shined on them as the director remembered a kindness that their father had done for his family. He knew of a home in Nebraska where the two of them could be together. They find themselves in the home of chatty Mrs. Baxter and not-so-chatty Mr. Baxter who introduce them to farm chores, hand-me-down repaired clothes, thrift and American Christmas. Lucia attends high school and experiences its cliques and first “like.” Frankie is crazy about baseball and his new friends. Will he forget Spanish and his parents? Why are telephone calls so hard to complete and so expensive to Cuba? Will she ever see her parents, best friend or Cuba again?

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

Christina’s Website with Playlist

The Scorch Trials by John Dashner

Posted: December 27, 2010 in dystopia, survival

This is the sequel to The Maze Runner, so will be an unintentional spoiler if you do not read it first.

In The Scorch Trials the survivors of the Maze, relishing their rescue, discover after their first night in the dorm that Cranks are just outside trying to attack them, their rescuers have been murdered and they are locked up without food. So much for being “saved.”

It starts again. Only this time they are infected with the Flare that turns humans into living zombies before their death. The new test is to make it through The Scorch (earth’s most devastated ring of destruction) in two weeks and to receive the cure. There’s motivation!

The boys discover that there have been two maze groups, with similar experiences and outcomes, except Group B is all girls who are eager to capture and kill Thomas. The tension never lets up in The Scorch Trials, so watch The Sound of Music or Thoroughly Modern Millie before and after reading it.

Oh, book three is coming.

ENDERS’ Rating: ***

Dashner’s Blog

I love this series about a far-too-full moon and its effects on the world. When Susan visited my school years ago she told students that she loved creating “what if” situations. She has outdone herself with this excellent series.

A year has passed since the moon has tilted into a closer orbit around the earth affecting weather, power, and food production. Miranda and her brothers spend their days fishing and searching for food, fuel and anything else they can scavenge. Matt gets married. Her father, with his new wife and child, show up to complicate the situation more, along with three new strangers, Alex, Julie and Charlie. Alex wants to enter a monastery, but his feelings for Miranda are getting in the way. Another horrific disaster surfaces.

(Spoiler coming! STOP reading if you can). As the story ends, Miranda, who has fallen in love with Alex, is ending her diary and ready to start the trip to a safe city for which Alex has a ticket. My vote is for a fourth book, which student reviewers believe will happen, and are looking forward to reading. Susan never disappoints readers who expect the unexpected from her.

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

Susan’ Blog

What book had fans lining up around a block at Powell’s in PDX in the early morning of its release? You guessed it! Mockingjay. I cheated and bought the audiobook before the book released, and I must say, it was riveting.

For those of you thinking of reading The Hunger Games, nominated for the 2011 Evergreen Award, Mockingjay is the dramatic conclusion of the annual “games” that keep the districts of the former United States under the thumb of “the capitol.” A boy and a girl are chosen from each of the thirteen districts to compete to the death with only one survivor. With amazing technologies and with the capitol crowd watching the action with bated breath, THG competition provides the excitement of a District Thirteen girl named Katniss whose skills and logic keep her and her ally alive the longest. But who wins?

I am not going to be the spoiler for those who have not read any of the trilogy. But if my library shows any trends, all 10 copies of The Hunger Games, all 4 copies each of Catching Fire and Mockingjay are checked out with a huge “hold” queue. It is worth the read, or the listening. One tease: no one likes a likable character to die.

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

Suxanne’s Website

Have you seen the commercials with the insurance agent and the little kids? He treats the first one like dirt but when the second one who enters gets everything the first asked for.

Catching Fire has such a feeling of total manipulation from the formidable Snow. In a legal move, he calls the 75th Hunger Games which demands the re-entry of all previous champions with the goal of destroying his least favorite teenage girl, a girl inspiring revolution. The field is a motley crew of dandies (great word), the elderly, the physically maimed, and the emotionally crippled. And of course, Peeta and Katniff are two of the three who are District 12 champions. The team members’ contributions were unexpected and food for thought. But what is in the future for Katniff, the girl of fire, and Peeta? Betcha can’t put it down!

Great recommendation:
“Catching Fire not only lived up to my high expectations, it surpassed them. It’s just as exciting as The Hunger Games, but even more gut wrenching, because you already know these characters, you’ve already suffered with them.”
–Stephenie Meyer,

Mockingjay comments will be coming soon….but I will try not to spoil it!

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

Suzanne’s Website