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Showing posts with label PatSchmatz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PatSchmatz. Show all posts

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2015

Well this has been a good quarter. 47 books read not counting what I reread with the children. I have been reading with the kids almost every night before bed and helping them develop reading habits. There have been some great reads this quarter both in fiction and non- fictions books. So here they are The top ten books of the first quarter 2015!

Fiction:
1. The Blood Gospel - James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell - Sanguines Book 1.0
2. Stone in the Sky - Cecil Castellucci - Tin Star Book 2
3. Welcome, Baby - Barbara Reid
4. Blood Brothers - James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell - Sanguines Book 1.5
5. Skeleton Cat - Krystyn Crow and Dan Krall
6. A Bad Case of Stripes - David Shannon
7. Jack Plank Tells Tales - Natalie Babbit
8. Polar Bear Night - Lauren Thompson and Stephen Savage
9. Lizard Radio - Pat Schmatz
10. Thief of War - Beth Bernobich

Non-Fiction:
1. The Manual For Spiritual Warfare - Paul Thigpen
2. Reboot with Joe Fully Charged:7 Keys to Losing Weight, Staying Healthy and Thriving - Joe Cross
3. Fat Business Man: A Cautionary Tale - Mark Campanale
4. God Rides a Yamaha - Kathie Shaidle
5. Grit in Your Craw: The 8 Strengths You Need to Succeed in Business and in Life - Robert Luckadoo  
6. 7 Ways to Practice Lent - Joe Paprocki, DMin
7. Bad Yogi Cleanse Kit: Be Good, Fell Good. - Erin Motz
8. Redacted
9. Redacted
10. Confessions of a Failed Slut - Kathy Shaidle - Thought Catalog

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

47 - 2015 - January-March
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996






Sunday, 1 January 2012

Top 10 Fiction Books 2011

I only read about a third as many books in 2011 as I did in 2010. In Part dues to having a newborn in the house and in part due to changing roles and training for work. Between with that in 2011 I read 163 books and my top ten fictions books for the year were:

1.
This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein - Kenneth Oppel
2. Clockwork Prince - Infernal Devices book 2 - Cassandra Clare
3. Beauty Queen's - Libba Bray
4. Gardians of Ga'Hoole and Wolves of the Beyond - Kathryn Lansky
The Capture - The Journey - The Rescue - The Siege
Lone Wolf - Shadow Wolf - Watch Wolf
5. Underland Chronicles -
Suzanne Collins
Gregor the Overlander - The Prophecy of Bane - Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
6. Bluefish - Pat Schmatz
7. Empire of Ruins - Hunchback Assignments #3 - Arthur Slade
8. First Day On Earth - Cecil Castellucci
9. Spiderwick Chronicles - Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizziThe Field Guide, The Seeing Stone, Lucinda's Secret, The Ironwood Tree and The Wrath of Mulgarath
The Nixie's Song, A Giant Problem, The Wyrm King
10. The Unwritten Girl - Unwritten Book 1 - James Bow

This year I limited my top ten picks to books read for the first time in 2011. I did not include rereading for the best of the year.

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 10 Fiction Books of the 4th Quarter 2011

Top 10 Fiction Books of the 4th Quarter 2011

1. Clockwork Prince - Infernal Devices book 2 - Cassandra Clare
2. Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O. - Pat Schmatz
3. Watch Wolf - Wolves of the Beyond #3 - Kathryn Lasky
4.
Beauty Queen's - Libba Bray
5. Shideshow - Ed. by Deborah Noyes
6. The Visitors - Clone Codes Book 3 - The McKissacks
7. The Start-Up - Sadie Hayes
8. The Battle Begins - Underworlds Book 1 - Tony Abbott
9. Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk - Megan McDonald and Peter H Reynolds
 
Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More
 
Statistics Books Read By Year:
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996

Monday, 19 December 2011

Mrs. Estronsky and the UFO - Pat Schmatz

Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O.
Pat Schmatz
Orchard House Press - Blue Works

ISBN 9781883573850

This was the first book that Pat Schmatz published but the last one that I read. I discovered her as an author earlier this year and have since read all the books she wrote. What amazed me most about this book in particular is that even though it was her first published novel, the skill shown in the writing and the craft in the storytelling is amazing. I find that with many authors you can tell when they wrote certain books during their career by the skill in the writing. That is not the case with Pat. That is not to say there has not been a progression in her writing - there has, but that this first book was an absolutely wonderful read.

The characters in this story were stunning in how real they appeared. As I was reading the book, I thought that these would be people I would like in my life. The story revolves around Jackie Riley and the events before and after her twelfth birthday. The story deals with issues of separation and split families, with learning to enjoy learning, with alcoholism and recovery and just plain growing up. The story spans the better part of the year, from early summer until Thanksgiving weekend. It is a mix of Jackie remembering back, and time progressing forward. The nuances of the story are subtle and I know that I will go back and read it again. It is a great book by an awesome writer. Give this or any of her books a try. You will enjoy them all!

Books by Pat Schmatz:
Bluefish
Mousetraps
Circle the Truth
Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O.

Author Profile Interview with Pat Schmatz

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Pat Schmatz - Author Profile

Pat Schmatz is an author whose Young Adult novels can speak to any reader. She writes with a power an passion that is contagious and she tackles hard topics, in her writing. I was first introduced to her writings by an electronic ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of Bluefish from Candlewick, via NetGalley. I am incredibly thankful. In under a week I read three of her four novels. Pat grew up in rural Wisconsin and has settled back there. But her journeys have taken her through stints of living in Michigan, California, and Minnesota. She is a travel enthusiast who journeys when ever she can, From Vancouver, to New Zealand, to Japan, and any other place she can and back again. Pat volunteers and does administrative work for the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis. In the summers, she is on the staff of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. In between she's running or skiing in the woods or swimming in the lake, she studies Spanish and Japanese and reads and rereads and writes and rewrites.

1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?

I have no idea what I'd be doing. I finished my schooling with an M.A. in Physical Education and worked as a fitness consultant for a while, but I didn't love it. Writing is the only thing I've loved. Everything else is a job - I give my time, I receive money. Some jobs I've liked better than others, and I prefer to work for someone who is doing good in the world, but for me jobs have been mostly interchangeable.

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?

I talked about wanting to be a writer from very early on. When I told a middle school adviser, Mrs. McQueen, that I wanted to be a writer, she gave me a notebook and said "Then write." That's the best and most nurturing advice I've had to date, and I have followed it.

3. In writing Bluefish, what sparked you to write mainly from a guy's perspective, and specifically a guy with a learning disability?

I can't say I was sparked on either count. Travis came to me loud and clear, and he was a guy, and he loved the woods and swamp, and school was not working for him. Everything else grew out of that.

4. Mousetraps revolves around the themes of friendship, but also someone who was harassed at school who seeks revenge. That is a controversial topic to approach with all of the school attacks that have taken place. What gave you the courage to present Rick in such a sympathetic light?

I don't think it was a matter of courage or choice. The day Columbine happened, Rick began to talk in my head and I felt as if I knew him. The specifics of the story developed from there, but Rick was fully formed from the beginning. Knowing him the way I did, I couldn't possibly present him in any other way.

5. Your approach to truth and reality in Circle The Truth was rather unique. A young man who does not know the truth about who he is, and because of that the relationships he has. It was an amazing story, but how did you come up with the concept of a character who only communicates by reading Bible verses?

The first scene I wrote was Rith finding that spiral staircase in the middle of the night, based on a dream I'd had about my own house shifting in the night. As I wrote the next scene, where he descends the stairs, I discovered Bible Man along with Rith. I don't know where the concept came from - it was just there. The great thing about Bible Man was, whenever I got stuck in the plot of the book, I'd close my eyes and stick my finger on a page in the Old Testament, and whatever I found, I wrote. That's how I found the dog vomit verse.

6. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?

Don't worry about what other people think, or money, or practicality. If you love an art, do the art. Do it all the time. If you are afraid (and we all are), do it anyway. If you're not afraid, then you're playing it too safe. Take a risk, and then take a bigger one. It's best if you're not comfortable.

7. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

S.E. Hinton, most of all. Others are Stephen King, Lois Duncan, Joseph Krumgold, Willard Motley, Madeleine L'Engle, Jim Kjelgaard, and Mary O'Hara.

8. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

I start with a grain of an idea - from a dream, or a news story, or a conversation, or any combination of impressions. I begin to play with the idea by writing sketches, scenes, conversations, poems. I work on getting to know the characters. I might write conversations (or arguments) with them. I'm currently working on a book called Lizard Radio, and I spent almost a year sketching and reading about lizards before I began the first chapter.

Once I start the actual first draft, I work my way through, a chapter at a time. When I get stuck, I free write by hand for fresh material. I might write a scene by hand that I realize will come late in the book, and I save it. If I'm really stuck, I write letters to my characters and they write back to tell me what I'm doing right or wrong. Sometimes they yell at me. I rarely know where I'm going, but I follow my nose. I work with a critique group, chapter by chapter, and their feedback helps me to shape the direction of the next chapter.

When I finish a first draft, I let it sit for a while. Then I begin the revision process, retyping the entire story as I go. I make out a time line, with a few words to describe the scenes in each chapter. I typically move through several full revisions before I send it to my agent. She gives me feedback, and then it's more revision. At some point, when she thinks it's ready to sell, she begins to shop it to editors.

Once an editor buys the manuscript, I enter a much more focused revision process with that editor. Once that revision is complete, we move to line-editing and copy-editing for the fine detail of word choices and accuracy. I love working with editors - including the copy editors. They have my book's back, and take care of it in ways I could never do on my own.

9. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?

Oh yes, for sure. I don't listen to music while I'm actually writing, but I put together a list and listen to it when I exercise, or when I go out for a walk to think about the story. When I'm early in a first draft and getting to the know the characters and setting, I adjust the playlist a lot and listen to the music all the time.

10. What were your favorite books and authors to read as a youth?

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Jim Kjelgaard were my favorite authors until I stumbled on The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. That locked in at the top of the list, and has been my favorite ever since. I love many books, but no other has grabbed my heart in the same way.

11. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?

I'm a total Ann Patchett fan. I love The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I still love Stephen King. All three of them do something I haven't been able to figure out how to do - beautiful character ensembles with shifting viewpoints. Among YA books, I closely follow Markus Zusak, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kate DiCamillo. All three of them take risks and leap ahead to some entirely new place with each book, and I admire that.

12. Some of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

Honestly, I don't think about it much. What happens to my stories once they're released is none of my business - I no longer own them. I figure if I do my art, tell stories as honestly as I can, and try to move with integrity in the world, good things will happen. I know I'm not a particularly good businesswoman, and that's okay with me.

13. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?

Hm. I don't even know what a torrent site is, so I'd have to say no…

14. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

My characters are very real to me. I might think about what Mrs. Estronsky would say about something, or how Rick feels about something on the news, or how Travis would like that bird in flight. I hear their voices in my head, and think their thoughts, long after the book is published. But they usually don't grow or change beyond the bounds of the book itself.

I have found myself thinking about what happens to Velveeta in high school though, and that makes me think another book might be starting in my head.

15. One of the greatest strengths of your books is the characters. Which of the characters that you have created is your favorite and why?

Ohh, that's hard. Velveeta is the easiest character I've ever written because she never shuts up. I'm fond of Mrs. Estronsky and Bible Man because they both came out of nowhere and keep giving me good advice. Travis is the character that has been the hardest to write - because he never talks - but I spent so much time trying to get to know him that he has a special place in my heart. Really though, I love all my characters. I have to, or I wouldn't want to have them in my head all the time. To me, those characters in my head are the best part of being a writer. Many of them enrich my life in huge ways, and they make me be better in the world. I realize that I create them, but it doesn't feel like that. It feels like they come and hang out with me and I'm the luckiest person in the world.

16. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

Hm. I don't disagree with that goal. My education taught me how to think, and that's been useful. More importantly, it taught me how to learn, how to focus, how to take ideas from others and shape them and form them and own them. In my experience, higher education wasn't particularly helpful in developing my art, but it showed me how to find what I needed on my own, and gave me the confidence to seek sources that resonate for me. Higher education provided me with the tools to access whatever I needed. Maybe that's the most important thing - to see education as access to maps and tools. It's up to the individual which maps we use, which tools become our favorites, and how to decide where we actually want to go.

17. Many people have commented on how each of your books would make great films. Have any of them been optioned or has any interest in actually developing them begun?

I haven't had any offers or interest yet in film rights for any of my books.

18. What books are currently in progress for you? Writing, researching, planning or even just ideas that you would like to work on?

I just finished a first draft of a new YA novel with a working title of Lizard Radio. I have a vague idea of a book about Velveeta tapping on the back of my brain, but I have a lot of work to go on Lizard Radio before I can dip into that.

19. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?

I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and watch all seven seasons over and over (sometimes in Spanish). I don't watch much current TV, but occasionally I'll Netflix a series - recently, I've liked Glee. Some of my favorite movies are Rocky Horror Picture Show, Stand By Me, Empire of the Sun, and Billy Elliot.

20. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

For today, it would be:
Lisey's Story by Stephen King
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Rumi - The Big Red Book
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Knock on Any Door by Willard Motley
Essential Neruda Essencial (Neruda poems in English and Spanish)
The biggest kanji workbook I could lay hands on (I'm an ongoing student of Japanese)
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

21. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

For aspiring authors - write! And read. Read and write and write and read. For artists in all mediums, know the masters, find your favorites, soak in the work of those who have gone before and those who excel in the field now, and do your art every day. And know your truth. If you don't know your truth, set out to find it and never stop. You can't lie in art. You may be talented and understand the craft, but if you're afraid of the truth it will trip you up every time.

Thank you pat again for taking some time to answer some questions for the readers at Book reviews and More. I for one anticipate your next book, and know I will be rereading your existing books soon.

Books by Pat Schmatz:
Bluefish
Mousetraps
Circle the Truth
Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O.

Author Profile Interview with Pat Schmatz

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Circle The Truth - Pat Schmatz

Circle The Truth
Pat Schmatz
Carolrhoda Books
ISBN 9780822572688

Pat Schmatz is an author I discovered this year, and immediately she became one of my favorites. In under a week I read three of her four available books. She writes powerful stories that delve deeply into the questions of who we are and finding our place in the world. This book is about learning who you are. It part about learning to be, and to be good at being, no matter what life has thrown at you.

Rith is a young boy coming of age. He lives with his mother, his step father and his step sister who adores him. But strange things are happening to Rith. When he awakes one night and goes to the top of the stairs, he finds that the normal staircase has been replaced by a spiral staircase. This new staircase leads to a living room that is not his own. He is led to these stairs and to this room by a strange cat that again is not his own and yet seems to belong to him or at least has a plan for him. The cat leads him down the spiral stairs to a bizarre old man in an armchair sitting in front of a fire. This old man only speaks in quotes from the Bible. No matter what Rith asks or how much he persists, the Bible man only speaks in verses. Yet His words ring with truth to Rith and soon he starts looking up the verses and reading more. Rith shares this story with his new friend, Toby and soon Toby's father. As Rith circles the truth and tries to figure out what is going on he starts fighting more with his step father, causing tension with his mother. And soon even his little sister seems to be in danger. Can Rith figure out the cryptic quotes from Bible man? Can he find his place in his family and his world?

This was an amazing story. I find myself thinking about it often and know that I will reread it soon. This book will make you think. It was well worth reading and I give it the highest recommendation I can.

Books by Pat Schmatz:
Bluefish
Mousetraps
Circle the Truth
Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O.

Author Profile Interview with Pat Schmatz

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Mousetraps - Pat Schmatz

Mousetraps
Pat Schmatz
Bill Hauser (Illustrator)

Lerner Publishing Group
ISBN 9780822586579

Mousetraps revolves around the theme of friendship, but also someone who was harassed at school who seeks revenge. That is a controversial topic to approach, with all of the school attacks that have taken place. And yet Pat Schmatz not only tackles it but does so with a sensitivity and insight few would have. She examines the complex issues around harassment and bullying at school, and the aftermath of it. It follows a young man who returns to the High School where he had been attacked as a child by a group of other boys. Pat has stated; "The day Columbine happened, Rick began to talk in my head and I felt as if I knew him. The specifics of the story developed from there, but Rick was fully formed from the beginning. Knowing him the way I did, I couldn't possibly present him in any other way." And in doing so she presents a wounded young man who is working to seek his revenge but in the process starts his own true healing.

The story also revolves around the theme of friendship. Maxie and Rick were friends in grade school - they were best friends. They would design elaborate mousetraps, crazy inventions. Rick would come up with the ideas and Maxie would put them to paper. After Rick was attacked at school he disappeared from school and from Maxie's life. Then years later he shows up the first day of High School. To Maxie, in some ways he is the same person, but in other, darker ways, he is not. As Maxie works out her feelings for Rick, things around Rick seem to be unraveling fast. Maxie needs to figure out what she wants and if she can be the one to help Rick.

This story was written with skill and craft. It portrays a conflicted young man on the verge of violence. Yet Schmatz does an amazing job of showing us what can shape someone and push them to the brink of violence, and does it with understanding and grace. It was an amazing book and I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Books by Pat Schmatz:
Bluefish
Mousetraps
Circle the Truth
Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O.

Author Profile Interview with Pat Schmatz

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bluefish - Pat Schmatz

Bluefish
Pat Schmatz
Candlewick
ISBN 9780763653347

Few books have as immediate an impact on me as this book. As someone who grew up with a learning disability, a dual form of dyslexia, reading this book was much like reliving some of my own childhood. Schmatz does an amazing job of capturing the feelings, emotions and immense frustration of having a learning disability and being different from other people. She captures the sense of being an outsider at school and the embarrassment of going out to special education classes. She also captures how that frustration can lead to physical outbursts as it often seems like the only outlet available.

Our cast of characters includes Travis, a young man with anger issues, and a learning disability who is living with a recovering alcoholic grandfather; Mr. McQueen, who is more than just a teacher, but also an educator; he knows how to reach students that others give up on. He is the type of teacher we all need at one point or another in our life, who really connects with us. And the immensely enjoyable Velveeta, a young woman in the special education class also who is an outsider but one with a big heart.

As these characters and their stories start to intertwine, we have a story that unmasks us as readers. With such strong believable characters this story is driven both by the action and the silences between the characters. As Travis and Velveeta begin to trust each other, they make a connection to one another, and that connection is the beginning of their own process of growth and healing. This book was an amazing read, and I know that it is one I will read over and over again.

Schmatz has written a book that should become a classic in Children's literature. It should really be required reading for all middle school children to help them see the people and world around them differently. This book was so amazing that I bought and read two other of Pat Schmatz's books in under a week. Get it! It will not disappoint.

Books by Pat Schmatz:
Bluefish
Mousetraps
Circle the Truth
Mrs. Estronsky and the U.F.O.

Author Profile Interview with Pat Schmatz


Friday, 30 September 2011

Top 10 Fiction Books of the 3rd Quarter 2011

Top 10 Fiction Books of the 3rd Quarter 2011

1. Bluefish - Pat Schmatz
2. First Day On Earth - Cecil Castellucci
3. Circle the Truth - Pat Schmatz
4. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods - Underland Chronicles Book 3 - Suzanne Collins
5. Gardians of Ga'Hoole - Kathryn Lansky
The Rescue - The Siege
6. The Unwritten Girl - Unwritten Book 1 - James Bow
7. This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein - Kenneth Oppel
8. Empire of Ruins - Hunchback Assignments #3 - Arthur Slade
9. The Brimstone Key - The Grey Griffins Clockwork Chronicles #1 - Jon S. Lewis and Derek Benz
10. Mousetraps - Pat Schmatz

Honorable Mentions
(Made Top Ten Lists Last year but upon rereading still great books.)
11. LA Trilogy - Cecil Castellucci
Boy Proof - Queen of Cool - Beige
12. The P.L.A.I.N. Janes & Janes in Love - Cecil Castellucci & Jim Rugg
13. Rose Sees Red - Cecil Castellucci
(Note: Some of these were digital ARC's from NetGalley and reviews will be posted closer to the publication date. Some of the reviews are scheduled over the next few weeks. I will link to the reviews once they post.)

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011
 

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
 
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:
106 - January-September 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996