**spoiler alert** McDaniel, L. (2002). A rose for Melinda. New York, NY: Laurel Leaf.
Melinda has one wish: to be a famous dancer. Jesse has one wish:**spoiler alert** McDaniel, L. (2002). A rose for Melinda. New York, NY: Laurel Leaf.
Melinda has one wish: to be a famous dancer. Jesse has one wish: to be with Melinda. Both their dreams are derailed when 13-year-old Melinda discovers she has leukemia. Told in letters, emails, and diary entries, this epistolary novel is sure to appeal to future and present Nicholas Sparks fans. While McDaniel never manages to make her different character voices unique enough, the lovesick Jesse comes across as genuine and heartfelt. Jesse grounds the novel, and makes it less manipulative or monotonous. So while Melinda's life is the story's tragedy, Jesse's reactions are the real tearjerkers.
So a teen patron asked me to read this. I hated it for about 50 pages. Then it got better. Maybe I just submitted to it, or maybe it really got better. McDaniel doesn't have an ear for dialogue. All her characters, young or old, sound exactly the same. Melinda and her friend Bailey come off as whiny little teenagers. At least Melinda is driven, what is Bailey's excuse? Oh, and Melinda gets cancer so she gets off a little easier. That said, everything about Jesse is surprisingly honest and heartwarming. When he sells his skateboard to buy Melinda roses, well, that got me. Maybe his undying devotion isn't realistic, but plenty of young boys obsess over childhood friends. And McDaniel does bring home the ending. If I wasn't invested in the characters, one-dimensional and whiny or not, I wouldn't have cried.
Similar titles (read-a-likes):
If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Anything by Nicholas Sparks, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, Anything by Melody Carlson...more
Johnson, A. (2004). The first part last. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.
Bobby is sixteen and a single father. His mother is distant. His father works all tJohnson, A. (2004). The first part last. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.
Bobby is sixteen and a single father. His mother is distant. His father works all the time. His friends just wanna have fun. But he has to learn how to balance all these relationships, school, and his new daughter, Feather. Johnson is a beautiful writer, and she gets into the thoughts of the tender Bobby. Where she really succeeds is in building up the question of, “What happened to Feather’s mother?” It’s a short book, but the poetically powerful writing will get under the skin of the reader, drawing out powerful emotions. Recommended for 9th grade and up.
Additional thoughts (SOME SPOILERS):
When discussing this book in my YA Lit class we had a discussion of the femininity of Bobby’s voice. I am of the mindset that he has always been a tender kid, and the birth of his daughter has matured him more.
*SPOILER THOUGHT* Most of the book I hated Nia, the mother of Bobby’s child. I thought she’d abandoned her child. But, after she suffers a stroke during childbirth (or some other coma-inducing condition), I nearly bawled. It’s extremely powerful.
Similar titles (Read-A-Likes): Mahalia by Joanne Horniman, Slam by Nick Hornby, Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff, Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson, Autobiography of my Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers...more
Le Guin, U. K. (1968). A wizard of earthsea. New York, NY: Spectra.
Le Guin's classic fantasy novel introduces a Ged, a young wizard who needs to learnLe Guin, U. K. (1968). A wizard of earthsea. New York, NY: Spectra.
Le Guin's classic fantasy novel introduces a Ged, a young wizard who needs to learn how to harness his powers. During his wizard training Ged accidentally releases a great evil. He spends most of the novel trying to defeat this foe, which proves difficult. Some fantasy uses magic as a way to get its characters out of trouble. A Wizard of Earthsea, however, doesn't let the wizards practice magic without consequence. And while the beginning is slow-going, Le Guin builds suspense through her story and packs it full of danger and the dark arts. As Ged matures, and comes to understand his power, the reader will get wrapped up in the wonderfully built world. Recommended for 8th grade and up.
Similar titles (Read-a-Likes): Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynn Jones, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien...more
Oswalt, P. (2011). Zombie spaceship wasteland: a book by Patton Oswalt. New York, NY: Scribner.
Oswalt, a bit of a cult comedian, mixes memoir and bitOswalt, P. (2011). Zombie spaceship wasteland: a book by Patton Oswalt. New York, NY: Scribner.
Oswalt, a bit of a cult comedian, mixes memoir and bit comedy in his strange and nearly perfect first book. Told in short vignettes, starting with his time working in a movie theater and moving to his time as a comedian, Oswalt shows he is a surprisingly gifted writer. He is capable of laugh-out-loud moments, his notes on an improbably fart and masturbation filled romantic comedy are pure gold. He is at his best in this book though when he is observing his life. His matter-of-fact, terse style can manage to give insight into his life as well as destroy the reader in 10 words or less. The collection is still a bit of a hodgepodge with not enough of his soul-piercing insight. Recommended for 9th grade and up.
Those familiar with Oswalt's standup will not be surprised by the hit-and-miss nature of this book. He is a great observationalist, and he rarely goes for easy jokes, but he can sometime miss his mark entirely or drag a joke on a bit too long. That isn't really the problem here. He doesn't drag out joke or stories, he just doesn't have enough of the really good stuff here. The stories "We're Playing in a Snow Fort" and "Peter Runfola" manage to capture his off-kilter view of the world, while also destroying me as a reader with simple truths. And many of the stories are like that, interspersed with really funny gags, "Punch-Up Notes" is one of these (that's the one about the romantic comedy). I loved laughing at the funny parts and loved reading his stories, which prove he is a truly talented writer. The two never seem to co-exist though, and that is probably my problem.
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes): The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (No, I am not joking), Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin by James Sullivan, I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All edited by Judd Apatow, Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians by Dan Dion, I Drink for a Reason by David Cross
Full Disclosure: I checked this book out from my library....more
Teller, J. (2010). Nothing. New York, NY: Atheneum
Janne Teller's thought-provoking Printz honor book explores life and if it has meaning. When 7th graTeller, J. (2010). Nothing. New York, NY: Atheneum
Janne Teller's thought-provoking Printz honor book explores life and if it has meaning. When 7th grader Pierre Anthon stands up in class and proclaims, "Nothing matters," his classmates are determined to prove him wrong. So they collect everything they believe has meaning and gather it up in a pile in an abandonded sawmill. When they realize it isn't enough they push the limits of their beliefs. According to the jacketflap, Teller is a controversial author in her home country of Denmark. It's easy to understand why. Here she offers an existential novel that questions everything. Everything. She also explores the depth of the human psyche. With beautiful writing and a thought-provoking premise, Nothing challenges readers like few books before it.
It's so hard to write about this book without giving anything away. So I will stop. Some people will hate it, some will love it, but it will challenge all readers.
Read-a-likes (similar titles):
Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, Gone by Michael Grant, Hunger by Michael Grant
Other stuff you may be interested in:
Lost, The films of Lars von Trier or Michael Haneke...more
Bacigalupi , P. (2010). Ship breaker. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Nailer scavenges ship parts on the beaches of a hurricane raBacigalupi , P. (2010). Ship breaker. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Nailer scavenges ship parts on the beaches of a hurricane ravaged New Orleans. When him and his friend, Pima, come across an expensive clipper ship they hope they can earn enough money to get them out of a miserable life. Bacigalupi creates a violent and hauntingly prescient future where children literally scavenge to stay alive. Everyone in the world dreams of discovering a way above their current status, and Nailer finds just that. The writing is crisp and vibrant. Blood feels like it could be coming from the reader. And when Nailer finds himself immersed in viscous oil early in the book, his lack of breath is so clear, the reader may find themselves struggling to get free as well. The world is bleak, but the characters are hopeful. The novel reads as a standalone, which is a plus as it is part of a proposed series.
I totally recommend this book. Especially to those looking for some violent dystopias (Hunger Games?). The action is quick, and there is plenty of meat to keep readers minds active. Not to mention the fact that there are a few times that Paolo Bacigalupi keeps the reader on edge. Literally.
Pima and Nailer find a girl, whom they think is dead, upon the clipper ship. Pima tries to take the rings off of the girl’s fingers. It doesn’t work, so she tries to cut the girl’s fingers off. Her eyes fly open. HOLY CATS! I COULD BARELY SLEEP AFTER THAT!
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes): Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Hourse of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer, The Big Empty by J.B. Stephens ...more
I can think of few books I hated more than this one. I may write more thoughts later.
Basically: It feels like a cop-out. She seems to just making excusI can think of few books I hated more than this one. I may write more thoughts later.
Basically: It feels like a cop-out. She seems to just making excuses for Kristina/Bree.
Why are all of Ellen Hopkins female characters sooooo obsessed with being in love. And then they define themselves by those relationships.
The verse format has been a problem for me and Ellen Hopkins books in the past. This one wasn't quite as bad, I could see the reason the poems existed more here than in her other books. In fact, it actually helped on a few occassions. Very few, because . . . THIS WRITING IS BAD. Her writing gets considerably better in later books. Here it is just awful. There was nothing that rang true. The sentences are boring, cliche, or just plain silly. UGH....more
Urasawa, N, & Tezuka, O. (2009). Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media LLC.
When one of the most beloved robots on earth, Mont Blan Urasawa, N, & Tezuka, O. (2009). Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media LLC.
When one of the most beloved robots on earth, Mont Blanc, is murdered under strange circumstances, a detective named Gesicht most solve the crime. He must also keep 6 more of the world's most powerful robots from meeting the same end as Mont Blanc. Based on a story arc from Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy series, Pluto is a bold re-imagining. It's grim and beautiful, filled with great, complicated characters (many of them robots). It also has a strong suspense, mystery element that keeps the reader guessing. The art is also deep and beautiful.
Similar titles (read-a-likes);
Watchmen by Alan Moore, Maxwell Strangewell by the Fillbach Brothers, and Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan...more