Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Monday, November 20, 2017

Posting without consulting my reading team....


It is a great start to the Smackdown when you get to read two books and you enjoy both.

Terror At Bottle Creek is an adventure story and with the many hurricanes in the news this past fall, it is certainly pertinent to current events happening in our world.  Cort,  a kind teen, who has his own uncertainties about himself saves the day when a series of events goes from bad to worse.  This book read similarly to The Hatchet and you are drawn to cheer for Cort and hope that all ends well.

Holding up the Universe:  High School is difficult to navigate at the best of times.  When you are a teen who cannot recognize faces it can be tremendously challenging.  However, if you are a teen returning to school after several years of home schooling because you couldn't leave your house due to obesity the challenges are equally great.  This story asks the reader to question their presumptions and examine what does it mean to be true to yourself.  Although, I don't know if the teen romance was needed, I did enjoy the characters and the story.

My vote (let's see if I match the other readers in the group) goes to Holding up the Universe.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

And So It Begins!

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It may have snowed to signal the beginning of our traditional five months of winter but we are staying warm with the Octomom Edition of the Mighty Smackdown! Never have so many smacked so hard! We have 84 participants eager to read and hopefully blog their super smacky opinions of the books placed before them in 16 different match ups. Check out the brackets below to see which books are battling each other and know that NOVEMBER 28th - 16 books will fall and 16 books will notch their first victory. Winter is com…..oh wait….yeah, it’s here. Might as well read!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I’ve been taking part in the Mighty Smackdown for a few years now and I think this has been a really tremendous edition. Not only because of the exceptional quality of the books - even the ones I was critical of were still pretty darn good, and these final three are all exceptional - but also because of two significant changes for me: 1) I have two of my wonderful colleagues from Callingwood, Beth and Christy, taking part in the Smackdown this year and 2) My daughter Sara is now old enough to read and enjoy most everything the Smackdown has thrown our way.

It says a lot about the level of books on offer in this year’s Smackdown that I feel really honored and inspired to be able to share these books with these important people in my life. Choosing between three books of this caliber is tough not only because they are such uniquely good reads, but also because I think they share an ethos and maybe even a moral compass. And not to get all political on y’all, but you don’t have to look much further than the leader of the free world’s latest transgression (Note: I’m referring to the FBI director’s firing, but I haven’t checked twitter since I started typing this, so there may be an even more egregious betrayal of fundamental democratic principles occurring as I write) to see that we live in very perilous times, where our hearts and minds are being battered by violence that seems so absurd it sometimes masquerades as the comical. But, of course, there’s not much funny about revolting abuses of power and this is at the heart of each of these three books, and perhaps, most profoundly, it is the core of Echo, our choice to be the Smackdown victor. I have a bit of a tendency in these posts to justify my choice by poking holes in the other book and sometimes that feels OK, but it wouldn’t feel very good With The War that Saved My Life and Wolf By Wolf. We all deeply enjoyed both of these books and I don’t have anything bad to say about them. Why Echo then? Well, it is beautifully written, with characters that are fully realized through restraint rather than excessive detail and these characters have a resonance that continues even after one closes the book for the night. The three primary stories at the heart of the novel (excluding that framing narrative) are wrapped up and tied together neatly for us in the end, but even before we see how everything comes together there is a unity to the narrative that runs through all three of those stories. The musical thread serves an important narrative function, but I think it also, to come back to my earlier point, conveys a powerful and devastatingly important point about the power of the arts to transcend tyranny, from the petty to the grandiose. But I don’t need to tell any of us that, because that’s at least part of why we keep coming back the Smackdown every year. See you next year! Thanks Arlene and Dia, as always!

Echo Heard Above All

This is the first season of Smackdown where in the finals, I will be happy with whichever book makes the cut.  I read each of these books in previous rounds, so I put together a compare and contrast organiser with my opinion...

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Echo, Echo, Echo, Echo!
This was not an easy decision for the Ottewell team. We read the zombie pick Wolf by Wolf and one member really liked it. The rest of us found it to be an interesting 'what if' story but still had the usual teenage angst stuff. There was quite the twist at the end though and at least Dianne is willing to join Renee in reading the sequel.

Alisha really liked The War that Saved My Life. We definitely agree with her that it is a great fit for a junior high novel study unit. But should we base our selection solely on the book's appeal to our students? Well Alisha was swayed a bit and in the end agreed that Echo was a carefully planned and very interesting read. Although the use of the harmonica as a unifying element is not entirely a new concept because it is similar to the adult novels Accordion Crimes and The Red Violin this book was suspenseful, well written and again nicely geared toward junior high.

In the end there is something to be said for a book that tugs at the heart strings. Our combined four votes go to Echo!

The Ottewell Team: Dianne, Renee, Alisha, Deb

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Votes scattered everywhere

Well, if it still matters, Westminster has votes to add to every pile.  Wendy liked The War That Saved My Life most, because she found the characters most real and thought the book was lovely.  Krystal liked Echo most of all, and highly recommends the audio version.  Brianne and Laura both pick Wolf By Wolf as the most engaging of the books.
So:  War - 1
Echo - 1
Wolf by Wolf - 2

Monday, May 8, 2017

Short and Sweet

The Final Round - Short and Sweet

For me it came down to Wolf by Wolf and Echo - loved them for different reasons but in the end, Echo won it for me.  And that's all I have to say about that! #EchoForTheWin