Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Anna is an interesting character. In some ways she embraces society’s views of what a 1950s woman is supposed to be. She loves her boyfriend and is sort of prim and proper even though their relationship is becoming very serious. She defers to her parents in all decisions. In other ways she wants more – like a college degree and a chance to enter a male dominated field.
I’m sort of touch and go with historical fiction. Sometimes I really like it, and other times it irritates me to no end. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I thought Anna was a realistic character and that she wasn’t just a 21st century girl plopped down in another time period. So in other words she didn’t suffer from Overly Plucky Heroine Syndrome, a disease that has infected many historical fiction books. I really thought that this could have been someone’s story. It was touching, and heartbreaking, and uplifting and I found I was really pulling for Anna to accomplish her dreams.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Harry was as bitchy and annoying on screen as he was in the book. This was my least favorite of the books and so it made sense to me that I didn't like the movie as much as the previous ones. It didn't have nearly enough Snape (God I love Snape), Ron keeps getting better looking, The twins looked cuter in the Goblet of Fire with their seventies look, they had unfortunate haircuts in this one, and Harry is sort of short. I wonder if he'll have a growth spurt? Dolores Umbridge was PERFECT. She was an unholy terror.
You have to sit through the first half of bitchy harry before the second half picks up and the action starts. Sirius' death felt a bit rushed, and darn it, there wasn't nearly enough Snape! Or for that matter Bellatrix Lestrange. Helena Bonham Carter was fantastic, but they needed more of her. And I never realized before, probably because I hadn't seen it yet, but Hagrid is Robbie Coltrane of Cracker fame. My friend recommended this British crime series to me about a psychologist that is brilliant, but a deeply flawed man. He has a gambling problem, drinks and smokes too much, and uses highly questionable methods. I love it. I always liked Hagrid, but now I might love him.
I really liked Book 6, so I'm sure I'll enjoy that movie more. And not to mention Book 7, only a week away from being released!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
After a fall that causes her to forget the past four years, Naomi must figure out who she really is. She forgets about her parent’s divorce. She forgets her mom remarried and had another kid. She forgets her friends. She even forgets her boyfriend Ace – and why she liked him in the first place. She tries to go through the motions like nothings changed, but it isn’t really working. Especially since she can't stop thinking about that other boy…The moody handsome boy with a dangerous reputation who told her he once wanted to kiss her.
This book was fantastic. It was amazingly well written. A central theme that runs through the book is what makes a person who they really are. Are we still the same person if we don’t have retain our memories? Will we like the same people? Have the same interests? Act the same way we always have?
Naomi wakes from her injury with no knowledge of the past four years. She’s forgotten major family dramas, like her parent’s divorce (and why they divorced – a very painful reason that led to an ugly divorce), she’s forgotten her best friend Will (and what they did together that complicated their friendship), she’s forgotten her boyfriend (He’s hot, but has assaholic friends and an obsession about her ponytail). So she’s got a lot to relearn. She’s depending on gut instinct to lead her to decisions. And she’s finding it hard to be the person that people seem to think she should be. Along the way she really struggles with expectations, both internal and external. She's always too cold, an unfortunate side effect of head trauma. She misses her mom, but feels like she should still be angry at her - even if deep down she knows she's not. She acts poorly and lashes out because of her frustration at not knowing anything at all about people who seem to know everything about her.
Naomi is a richly drawn character. And because she narrates the story, you are completely inside her head for the entire book feeling her shock, anger, frustration, and eventually her healing. The book follows her attempts to figure out a new life for herself, to find her place in the world, to regain her memory, and to reach a place where she can be happy.
The other characters were equally well developed. Will, her best friend will have you wishing you knew him in real life. A best friend who is makes mix CDs and is passionate about year book picture equality. James, the moody dark boy she falls for will have you thinking he’s a typical tragic romantic hero, but he throws a few curve balls along the way. And even her boyfriend Ace, the tennis player who could easily be a stereotype, turns out to be more than you thought he would be.
A fantastic book. I think I even liked it better than Elsewhere and that was a great book. Its got a pub date set for late August according to Amazon.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Mackey and J.R. are best friends. They've grown up together, live in the same building, and play ball together, and have complete confidence that they'll be playing ball together someday in the Rucker Park Tournament. Turns out they're right. They both get picked up by a team sponsored by a big time rapper and their team is moving it's way up to the finals. But things go wrong. A bet is made. It goes sour. J.R. gets killed. Mackey knows what happened. What he doesn't know, is what he's going to do about it.
This is a book your teen boys will fight each other to read. The basketball action is fast, dramatic, and engrossing, and there is a ton of it. The writing is fantastic and the story's got a great moral dilemma - will Mackey step up or will he fail his dead friend? They're going to eat this one up like it's ice cream.
Marina is a bit of a rebel. A big problem in a world where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of movement, and the government rules with an iron fist. Marina cherishes the memories that she has of the time before the Zero Tolerance party came into power. A time before her mother had been labeled a traitor and taken away, a time when her father had a backbone and a personality, and a time when people were allowed to read and write anything they wanted.
She's heard of a resistance, she's even heard that they're growing stronger, but she's never seen even a bit of proof of it's existence. So, she decides, along with two of her friends that since the resistance doesn't seem to be coming to them, they'll start their own resistance. Regardless of the
Dystopian to the max. I enjoyed this novel, but it didn't have a whole lot of new things to say. What it did offer was a really fantastic female protagonist who you want to see win, it had some terrific double crosses that I sort of saw coming, but wanted to keep reading to know for sure, and some really neat surprises (like how Stofs - automaton like guards - get to their positions...whoa!!). And finally, it had good accessible writing (maybe sometimes a bit obvious) that younger teens will really enjoy.
And the author's note was really interesting. I'd like a historical fiction book written on the real White Rose resistance group in Nazi Germany. Someone want to get on that please? Thanks!
Epic - Conor Kostick
Michelle's already written about this one, so I won't say too much. I'm not even remotely a gamer, but I still really enjoyed it. And so I couldn't resist writing about it a little bit.
Colonizers have left earth and started a new life on New Earth. This is a new world without any violence. In fact, all disagreements are settled in Epic. A role playing game that functions as both economy and justice system. But people are spending more and more time trying to earn money in Epic to spend on battles to get the things they need in real life. And in real life things are starting to fall apart. Technology is not advancing, there aren't enough resources to go around. But nobody seems to notice, or even if they do, they aren't doing anything to fix it. Erik certainly doesn't realize the state of decline his world is in until an unfortunate turn of events shakes the foundation of his family. Erik and his friends know something has to be done and they're about to turn the game of Epic upside down.
Lots of double crosses, I wanted to see Central Allocations (the bad guys) crash and burn, and I really enjoyed the game of Epic. The writing was really visual and so I felt like I was right inside the game. Fantastic. There is a sequel and I'm looking forward to it. It will have to be a much different book than the first one and I'm really looking forward to seeing how that plays out. No pun intended :)
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Cooney adds several new characters to the story. There is Swin the Scullery maid who is stealing food to feed her grandfather. Ildred, the lady's maid who is in reduced circumstances as the ninth daughter of a poor nobleman who is no longer able to afford any dowries. And, of course, there is Mary, an innocent girl who has to make some difficult decisions if she is going to survive.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I knew the story, I had seen the play, read the play, acted the play, etc...and frankly wasn't that interested in reading an adapted version. But I really got swept away. The setting, the characters, the mood, it all came alive with fantastic writing. It would be great for teens who have already read Macbeth and probably even better for those that haven't. I have a feeling it would draw them in and make them want to explore Shakespeare further.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I really love this series about 4th grader Amelia who goes through some tough times as her parents get divorced and she moves in with her aunt. This book focuses on the summer after 4th grade when her aunt moves to another house on the other side of town and Amelia and her buds make new friends with the kids there. All I have to say is: I AM A BRAVE GIRL! Oh, go read it to find out.
I'm currently reading this one and am about 1/3 of the way through. It's a lot like The Mixed-Up Files to me: eccentric old lady, precocious & highly intelligent kids, art, museums. I am liking it quite a bit, but I can't help but wonder if it's a little too highbrow for a general reader.
So I finished. It was more and more compelling as I got closer to the mystery unraveling. It helps to have read 19 Schuyler Place, but it isn't necessary. I still stand by my assessment that this book would appeal to a very narrow margin of youth readers.
So has Sonya Sones written a bad novel? This is a sequel to what my mother doesn't know and picks up immediately after that book ends. We have Robin and Sophie embarking on their relationship much to the disgust of their entire school. (Which I found a little outrageous.) But my goodness, it's compelling. Robin's POV is spot on and page 174 is absolutely superb. The book is swoon-worthy. I don't like the dude on the cover - he looks about 20 years old. And Robin has red hair.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Enter Jane, Mary Margaret's new best friend. She is beautiful, funny, exciting, and pushes her to do all sorts of things she never did before. She is all sorts of a bad influence, but mostly in a good way. Its because of her that Mary Margaret approaches the boy she's always had a crush on, its because of her that she begins to see that she doesn't have to just end up married and perpetually pregnant like her mom.
Nothing much happens in this book, but it won me over quickly. I loved LOVED that the girls experimented with drugs and had fun and nothing bad happened. How often does that happen in YA Books? Pretty much never. Usually they'd end up full-blown drugged out losers who have to pull themselves out of the gutter or they'd die or something equally clichéd. And then, of course, we would have all learned the moral lesson the Drugs Are Bad. So the fact that they experimented with drugs and there was no moral lesson? I think that might have been my favorite part of the book.
I liked that Mary Margaret had a good head on her shoulders and understood that she could maintain her sense of self, especially that she could maintain it when Jane wanted her to step into line with her ideas. And I even liked Jane, poor messed up Jane, who was silly and delusional, and ended up with a life that she will surely regret.
A very solid historical fiction.
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood - Ibtisam Barakat
A memoir of growing up Palestinian during the late sixties. Ibtisam is 3 when the Six Day War erupts. Her family flees from their home when they hear the Israelis will kill any who remain. Along with dozens of others, they attach themselves to a water tanker and hold on until they reach the border. There they take shelter along with other families until the war is over.
The author does an exemplary job of telling a story of a Palestinian family in an occupied country. She is able to tell us what it was like to grow up dispossessed and marginalized, without allowing her story to be one of blame or embitterment. This is one of the best books I've read all year.
Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
So we know even before we start that this is going to be a multiple narrator issue story, you know, since everything she writes is...This one about a school shooting stars Peter, our disenfranchised perpetually bullied school shooter; Josie, his ex-best friend turned popular girl is another. We also hear from Peter's parents, his lawyer, Josies' judge mom, and the police detective. The time frame jumps around from after the shooting to when they were kids, to right before, to during the shooting. I don't have much to say about this one, other than I thought it was OK, but lacked the intensity of My Sister's Keeper.
Beastly - Alex Flinn
A retold beauty and the beast story. This one set in modern NYC. Kyle, the incredibly gorgeous, self-centered, cruel popular kid is our beast. A shy, poor, abused and mistreated Lindy is our beauty. After Kyle plays a mean joke on a fellow student (who turns out to be a hot witch in disguise) he is cursed with an outside that matches his inside and can only be cured if he is kissed by his true love within two years. What was cute about this telling is that various fairy tale characters meet in an online chat room and discuss what's going on in their lives. Some of the dialog is clunky, but for the most part a cute story. It has a date of publication set for 10/07.
Green Angel - Alice Hoffman
I had to re-read this one for a book club. This is a beautifully written (seriously Ms. Hoffman must have sold her soul to the devil - everything she writes is wonderful) story of Green who stays behind to tend to the garden while her family goes into the city to go to the market. A fiery disaster occurs and everyone in the city dies. Everything is covered in embers and ashes. Green is lost in her grief and copes by tattooing herself with black ink and thorns. She begins to heal when she must take care of others even if she refuses at first to take care of herself.
Erik lives on a planet called New Earth. On New Earth everything (and by everything I mean the government, the economy, the education system) on the planet is determined by the computer fantany role playing game called EPIC. Everyone from the very old to the very young plays EPIC and the world's leaders are comprised of the very best players. On New Earth, the game is reality.
The need for resources and the need to save his family pushes Erik to try to play the game a different way, a way that may enable him to battle the Central Allocations council for the right to a better world.
This book is filled with non-stop science fiction and fantasy adventure! And layered underneath all of the excitement are thought provoking questions about violence, classes, work, and most of all game-playing. I would recommend this book to anyone who ever even thought about playing WoW or Runescape. A sure winner!