The Long Weekend By Savita Kalhan

The Long WeekendThe Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan was one of those books where I really didn’t know what to expect. In the beginning I was a little nervous about how I would like this one because it seemed to be a middle grade read with younger protagonists but I wanted to give it a try because Melissa had said such good things about it and I thought the premise was pretty creepy.

The Long Weekend is frightening. Not in a jumpy slasher film type of way but in the kind of way you get frightened when you sit down and watch the news for a few minutes. It’s totally plausible, makes you fear for the children in your life and makes you thoroughly disgusted with the capability of the human race. This book may be short but doesn’t lack in intensity. Two eleven year old boys, unsure of who is picking them up from school, get into the car of who they both assume to be the others parent. They are both horribly wrong….and they realize that as the weekend begins to unfold.

Through the beginning of this book I kept thinking it was definitely for middle grade students but as I kept reading I realized that the content would definitely not be appropriate for a younger reader. It’s not inappropriate or anything…it’s just frightening and deals with some more mature content as the story goes on. I would definitely take caution and read this before giving it to younger readers. I was SO impressed with the way that the author carefully and tactfully dealt with a certain situation in the book. It wasn’t explicit but you could very much deduce what had happened…and that’s all you needed. Anything more and you would be sick to your stomach. This book is thrilling and definitely horrifying..but not so much that you can’t stomach it. As I said, I’m really impressed with how carefully crafted this story was.

The most shining aspect of this book– Sam –the eyes through which we see this incredibly scary event. I felt that Savita nailed it with him. He felt genuine and very much like an 11 year old. He wasn’t too smart for his age, his feelings and fears were that of what you’d expect an 11 year old to have and he was just absolutely endearing. You find yourself rooting for the best possibly outcome for him and feel as though you want to just hug him if he makes it out of this ordeal.

My final thought: Don’t be fooled by the fact that the protagonists are young — this book is thrilling and deals with some mature and terrifying subject matter that will make your skin crawl because you KNOW it could happen.

Savita is awesome and is going to give one of you lovelies a chance to win a copy for yourself! Just leave me a comment and tell me either something that makes you cringe when you watch the news OR tell me, as Savita did below, a book that you think would be great for reluctant readers!

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This blog tour is hosted by Melissa at I Swim For Oceans. Go check out the rest of the blogs on the tour! I have Savita Kalhan here to participate in a special top ten list as you all know my love for top tens (a la Top Ten Tuesday)…and today is Tuesday! Because I’d consider The Long Weekend to be a good pick for reluctant readers (especially teen boys)…Savita is going to share her list of Top Ten Books For Reluctant Readers!

Hi Jamie! Thanks so much for inviting me here today.
The blog tour for my book The Long Weekend has just kicked off and it’s a really exciting time! You asked me for a list of my top ten books for reluctant readers, so I put my thinking cap on and came up with the books below. Generally I think easy-to-read thrillers, short stories, books that combine action and adventure, whether they’re straight fiction or fantasy, are great starting points for reluctant readers. Once you find the right books for you, the right genre and style, the rest is easy!
I will just say that I do find doing a top ten list pretty hard as I hate to think that I might have missed out something really important! But here goes…
Top Ten Books for Reluctant Readers – boys and girls
The Cherub Series – Robert Muchamore
The Cherub series combines action and adventure, both essential ingredients in enticing reluctant readers to become committed readers. They feature a group of difficult or orphaned kids who are invited to join a secret organisation called CHERUB, which trains them to go on missions where kids can go more easily than adults. The series is highly addictive and easy to read, the characters are great, and the stories are full of danger and suspense and appeal to both boys and girls.
Thirteen Treasures, Thirteen Secrets and now Thirteen Curses – Michelle Harrison
If you like a bit of a fairy story then look no further than this series by Michelle Harrison. The books are suitable for age 9 upwards. I don’t think you’re ever too old for a fairy story! I’ve read them all and thoroughly enjoyed them!
Diana Wynne-Jones’ The Enchanted Glass is very good too, as is the brilliant Troll Trilogy by Katherine Langrish, which is about an orphaned boy called Peer.
Anthony Horowitz – collection of short stories
Short stories are a great way to encourage reluctant readers who are often put off by the size and length of a book. Horowitz’s collections are entertaining and very readable. His longer books in the Alex Rider series and the Power of Five are good fun too.
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
This series is excellent. The books are well written, and easy to read, moving and challenging in their storyline. I highly recommend them. Blackman’s other works including, The Stuff of Nightmares and her new book Boys Don’t Cry, are great for reluctant readers too. They are easy to read and combine great stories and great writing – all with a thought-provoking edge, but maybe not suitable for younger readers.
Flush – Carl Hiiasen
So easy to read and get into, all his books for kids also have an ecological or environmental aspect to them. I’ve read three of them – Flush, Hoot and Scat, and they are great for reluctant younger readers for boys and girls.
The Demonata – Darren Shan
Darren Shan is the master of horror writing, so if you’re into demons and monsters and are looking for a good read then look no further. He has written a couple of series, and all the books are easy reads – unless you’re a scaredy-cat like me! Alexander Gordon Smith’s Lockdown series is another series that’s very good and so easy to read and be absorbed by.
Chronicles of an Ancient Darkness – Michelle Paver
This is a great series for younger reluctant readers, boys and girls. It’s set in an ancient time when people lived in clans, hunted for their food, and when faced with evil spirits, were forced to fight to preserve their way of life. The books hook the reader very quickly, they are not long, and they are easy to read.
The Road of the Dead – Kevin Brooks
Kevin Brooks writes for teens and this book in particular is easily accessible to reluctant readers. It’s essentially a thriller set in England about two brothers whose father has died, but behind his death lies a mystery that involves a group of travellers and a strange secluded village. His new book iBoy, is also very accessible – fast paced and full of action.
Boy in the Burning House – Tim Wynne-Jones
This is another thriller. It’s set in Australia about a boy whose father has gone missing and is presumed dead, who befriends a girl that everyone thinks is a little mad. It’s a great mystery and very easy to read.
Hidden – Miriam Halahmy
Hidden is hot off the press with a release date of 30th March. I have been lucky to get an advance copy – and it’s very good and very readable! Set on Hayling Island, an island off the south coast of England, it’s the story of a girl and a boy who save a drowning man and gets embroiled in a story of high drama involving an illegal refugee. The themes are topical, the dilemmas facing the character are well drawn out, and the books fast pace keeps you hooked. It’s the first in a cycle of three books.

                                      
 I’m going to sneak my book, The Long Weekend, in here, Jamie, as you said you would be recommending it to reluctant readers you know – thank you. It’s a thriller, it’s not too long, and it’s very hard to put down! Check out Jamie’s review and look near the end of this blog post for a chance to win a copy.
I wish anyone who has found reading hard to get into lots of luck. It simply is a matter of finding what you like and then giving it a good chance.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

ChainsTitle/Author: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher/Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster Imprint) 2008
How I Got This Book: I bought it before I went to the LHA signing.
Why I Read This Book: My love for history, particularly the Revolutionary period, coupled with the fact that I really enjoyed Speak and reading LHA’s blog, I just had to read this one. I also, as a child, had a period where I read anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding slavery.
Rating: A well-deserved 4.5 stars!

I typically provide my own synopsis but every time I tried to write a compelling synopsis it fell short of the one written on Goodreads.

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. 

I need to divulge the fact that I don’t typically read Middle Grade fiction but I could not pass this one up. My fascination with history, coupled with the fact that my stepdad is a huge Revolutionary War buff (he even does the Washington’s Crossing reenactment every Christmas morning) and my childhood obsession to read everything ever written about slavery, made this novel a must read for me!

This book did not disappoint me in any way. I felt the shackles come out and bind me to this novel immediately; I knew I couldn’t put this down. What a thoroughly captivating novel with memorable characters and moments. Laurie Halse Anderson proves herself to be a masterful storyteller as she deftly weaves together an evocative fight for freedom through the eyes of Isabel, a Loyalist’s slave, and the history of a nation’s fight for freedom. The novel doesn’t openly “tsk tsk” the nation’s gross injustices on the slavery front but rather shows, through Isabel, the implications of such a practice and the glaring hypocrisy of a nation who wants to be free yet are not willing to release their slaves but want nothing more than for them to fight for their cause.

At certain points I forgot I was reading a novel meant for a younger audience. The perfectly paced adventure will hook younger readers (as I saw at the LHA event)  as well as adults but the impeccable writing and the complexities that lie within the heart of the story, as well as this period in history, will keep adults reading.  It was fun to read this book and then converse with my Revolutionary War genius stepfather  about the events that were happening in the novel only to learn even more about the particular event–e.g. the fire in New York City–not a spoiler as it is in the history books!

I really appreciated Anderson’s dedication to keeping the novel pretty much in line with the historical facts. I loved that she focused on the struggle between the Loyalists and the Rebels in New York City as it is an area that often gets overlooked and it really is quite compelling–as I learned further from my step dad. I found the inclusion of pieces from real documents and letters from this time period at the beginning of the chapter to be fascinating and was glad that she added them.

Isabel is a character that you will find yourself remembering for a long time to come. She’s strong, resilient and entirely loyal to the ones that she loves and cares for. Reading this book felt reminiscent of the feelings that I felt while reading Little House on the Prairie or Little Women as a child. I felt myself wholly transported to another time and side by side with Isabel in her fight. There were moments where I felt like Isabel wasn’t quite true to the times, either because of speech or questionable actions, but for the most part I felt like she was convincingly written.

The only thing I found to be irksome was the incredibly short chapters. I’d get really into the story and then I was jolted into a new chapter. However, I thought about the fact that this was written for a younger audience with a shorter attention span than mine and found that it was probably perfect for them and I just needed to deal with that minor inconvenience.

My final thought: Amazing! I don’t care if you don’t read MG or YA books, if you like a good historical novel–pick this up! It isn’t a wonder that the kids at the signing I went to were hanging on to every word that Laurie uttered and were completely enamored with this novel. It is compelling and the ending will leave you rushing out to by Forge! I think this would be an awesome novel to complement a social studies lesson on this time period.

Found this AWESOME video a kid made about the novel for what I’m guessing is a school project (listen to the words!):

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