Posted in Book Reviews

Hideout – Review

Goodreads Summary

Twelve-year-old Sam has been given a fishing boat by his father, but he hates fishing. Instead he uses the boat to disappear for hours at a time, exploring the forbidden swampy surroundings of his Gulf Shore home. Then he discovers a boy named Davey, mysteriously alone, repairing an abandoned cabin in the deep woods. Not fooled by the boy’s evasive explanation as to why he’s on his own, Sam becomes entangled in his own efforts to help Davey. But this leads him to telling small lies that only get bigger as the danger increases for both boys, and hidden truths become harder to reveal.

I kept putting this book off because I had read the back cover, and it just didn’t seem that interesting to me. I finally picked it up again when school started last week. It is the 2nd to last Truman nominee for the 2019-2020 school year that I have to read, and then I can focus completely on the 2020-21 list.

This book definitely surprised me. The first chapter, I actually had to look up what some words meant, because I know absolutely zero about boats or fishing.

Hideout was the first book by Watt Key that I have read, and I really enjoyed his style. The book was simple to read (which is great for middle school students), suspenseful, and funny (in places).

The main character, Sam, is at an interesting place in his life where he wants to prove to himself and others that he is brave. This desire comes from having a dad who is a police officer and the fact that he got beat up pretty badly in front of the prettiest girl in school.

This desire to prove himself leads him on an adventure to help Davey, but in doing so, he starts lying to his parents and fighting with his best friend. I liked Sam’s character a lot, and honestly, with how creepy the front of the book looked, I thought Davey might be some sort of ghost. I was wrong, and I’m not ruining the story by sharing that. Just showing how my mind works.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and I am looking forward to putting more of Watt Key’s books on my to-read shelf!

Four out of five stars!

Posted in Book Reviews

The Trial, I mean, The Trail

It’s been about 3 weeks since I last posted. Part of that was due to the school year wrapping up. The other part was that I was dragginnnnnnng through this book. Someone out there liked it. Actually a few people had to because it made its way through the first selection of Truman nominees (usually 50+ books) to the smaller pre-list (around 20ish books), and finally to the last 12 books that officially get presented to students as the Truman Nominees. It’s no surprise to me that this book did not make it to the students’ top choices.

What I liked

  • There was a dog in the story.

What I didn’t like

  • Main character was whiny and selfish.
  • Parents abandoned kid while he was in a hospital after a car accident.
  • Kid runs away.
  • People randomly showing up to save the day.
  • Kid is able to stay on the trail without getting caught even though he left a note that he was leaving, and it was pretty obvious that at least 2 people would have known where to look.
  • BORING. The first part of the book just dragged.

If you have a student or son/daughter that is interested in camping and/or hiking, they MAY enjoy this book. I would say 4th-6th grade readers are the intended audience even though this was a middle school nominee. I can’t think of any of my 8th graders who would have picked up this book and actually finished it.

Posted in Book Reviews

Greetings from Witness Protection!

Last fall, I got a list of 21 books that were up for the Truman nominees for the 2019-2020 school year. I set off to read all 21, but I failed miserably because of grad school. I had about 6 books left when they announced the top 12, and of course 4 of the 6 I had left made the final cut.

Greetings from Witness Protection! was a really easy, enjoyable read. I think middle school students are going to like it.

The story starts off in a center for foster children. The main character, you learn rather quickly, has a mom who abandoned her, a dad in prison, and a grandmother who raised her until she passed away. Nicki hasn’t “fit” with any foster family, and she has a past which has led to her have impulse control problems – mainly with kleptomania.

She gets a chance for a new start with the US Marshalls and the witness protection program. I was intrigued by this story line. It definitely made me want to finish the book and find out exactly what was happening.

The book is told in 1st person, but throughout the book we get little glimpses of what is happening outside the main characters point of view. Just a few pages scattered in between chapters. There isn’t a lot of information, but enough to keep the reader intrigued to want to know what will happen with all the story lines.

Overall, the book is well-written. The characters are easy to connect to, especially the main character, Nicki. And for once, there isn’t a dumb, unnecessary romance to get in the way of the actual story!

How much did it make me cry?

  • Not at all
  • A little sniffle
  • A couple tears
  • A steady stream
  • Ugly cry