This is definitely the type of book that lends itself to discussion; if you'd like to read a discussion of it, go here There are so many ideas in this...moreThis is definitely the type of book that lends itself to discussion; if you'd like to read a discussion of it, go here There are so many ideas in this short book to mull over, such as the loss of emotion leading to losing the ability to see color, which could lead to the idea that what you don't use, you lose. So, letting others think for you and make all the decisions leads more and more to a strong dependency on having others make all decisions. And I love it when an author leaves events open to the reader's interpretation, I think the ending is perfect, because the reader can decide what it means or what you want it to mean. But it also means that I definitely want to read the rest of the trilogy!
As with almost all dystopian novels, this shows how good intentions often go too far, and so many positive things are given up or lost in the search for utopia. (less)
The House on Mango Street is a quick read, but parts of it will stay with you for a long time. It's made up of little snapshots - vignettes - in Esper...moreThe House on Mango Street is a quick read, but parts of it will stay with you for a long time. It's made up of little snapshots - vignettes - in Esperanza's life growing up in a very poor neighborhood in Chicago. Much of it is written almost like poetry, and creates mind pictures both silly and heart-breakingly sad. You can sense both the hopelessness of some and the dreams of others of getting out to a better life. At the end she says "For the ones I’ve left behind. For the ones who cannot out.”(less)
In this engaging tale, 11-year-old Calpurnia talks about herself, her family, and other people and events in the year 1899. This was especially intere...moreIn this engaging tale, 11-year-old Calpurnia talks about herself, her family, and other people and events in the year 1899. This was especially interesting to me as this time in history is very close to that of my dad's growing-up years. Callie talks about the advent of the new drink, Coca Cola, and the viewing of the new auto-mobile, which looked so strange without any horses in front of it. And I loved her growing relationship with Granddaddy, who decided he'd devoted enough of his life to things he had to do and now could concentrate on what he wanted to do, which was study nature. Callie was pleasantly surprised at how much she enjoyed her activities with Granddaddy, especially since her original purpose was to avoid having to do all the 'girl' things her mother kept insisting on. (less)
Well-told story of a troubled teen's first year of high school. Melinda was not a troubled teen until she snuck off with her best friend to attend a s...moreWell-told story of a troubled teen's first year of high school. Melinda was not a troubled teen until she snuck off with her best friend to attend a summer beer party, got drunk, and was raped. When she called 911, the other kids assumed she was reporting a wild party, and ostracized her once school started. Since she told no one what happened to her, her parents, teachers, and former friends could not understand her antisocial behavior. In fact, at a meeting, her dad turned to the school principal and demanded, 'What have you done to her? She wasn't this way before you got hold of her.' Her savior turned out to be her art teacher, Mr. Freeman, and slowly Melinda starts to come out of the silent deep freeze she surrounded herself with. I really liked the ending.(less)
Louise and Caroline are twins, but although Louise is the older, she spends her growing-up years resenting her talented twin and feeling sorry for her...moreLouise and Caroline are twins, but although Louise is the older, she spends her growing-up years resenting her talented twin and feeling sorry for herself. Since this is told in Louise's voice, it is sometimes difficult to see whether or not she has just cause for her feelings of being unloved and unappreciated. I admit I lost a lot of sympathy for her over the way she treated her childhood friend Call, at times telling herself it wasn't fair that he was her only chance at a friend/playmate. It wasn't really until the ending pages, when as a nurse-midwife, she delivered twins and had to ignore the healthy one while she labored over saving the weak one, that she really grew up. There was no obvious 'oh, now I understand', but the last two pages gave the message loud and clear.(less)
This is apparently an often-banned YA book. Since it was written in 1975, it has appeared on many annual banned-book lists. The reasons are varied, an...moreThis is apparently an often-banned YA book. Since it was written in 1975, it has appeared on many annual banned-book lists. The reasons are varied, and IMO mostly ridiculous. One reason given was 'foul language' - the word damn was used once or twice, and perhaps even bloody, a British cuss word. Another reason given was 'extreme violence' - the Revolutionary War was going on, and descriptions were given of what had been seen in battle, including a beheading during a fight between British soldiers and armed Patriot sympathizers. 'Unpatriotic behavior' was another reason used for banning the book, because one of the characters in the book expressed her scorn and dislike of both sides of the conflict - her civilian husband had died in a British prison for selling beef to the wrong side, and her son was about to be executed by the Patriots on a false charge of stealing a cow.
This Newbery-winning book is worth reading on its own merits, but perhaps even more because so many people have tried to make sure it isn't read.(less)
This is a review of Both Sides of Time & Out of Time. I picked up these two YA time-travel books thinking I'd do some light-hearted reading. The b...moreThis is a review of Both Sides of Time & Out of Time. I picked up these two YA time-travel books thinking I'd do some light-hearted reading. The beginning of the first book focused on Annie's wish-fulfillment of living in a time when women were sheltered and treasured and men had elegant manners. But then the books turned darker, showing the other side of life for women in the 19th century - their total dependence on the men in their lives & the lack of any real ability to choose, especially when the man in charge is not a caring or benevolent figure. And the author also focused strongly on how easy it was to change events just by being in the wrong time, and how dangerous it was for other people who belonged in that time. So I definitely did not get a light-hearted read!
I was also very glad I had picked up both books, as the first one doesn't really end - the two books definitely go together. There are at least two more books in this series to get to the conclusion of Annie & Strat's story & see if this love-across-time has a happy ending.(less)
I haven't read this since high school, and I think perhaps I enjoyed it more now than I did then. London's descriptions of the sled dogs' emotions was...moreI haven't read this since high school, and I think perhaps I enjoyed it more now than I did then. London's descriptions of the sled dogs' emotions was masterful.
The Call of the Wild belongs on a classics list and on Children/YA reading lists, so it's hard to realize that Jack London did not enjoy writing (except for the "serious" works that were critical of the industrial system, and part of that comes through here in his love of the untouched wilderness) (less)
Wintergirls live in the borderlands, and their existence in the real world is the surreal one. The trick is to try to avoid all the pitfalls of the re...moreWintergirls live in the borderlands, and their existence in the real world is the surreal one. The trick is to try to avoid all the pitfalls of the real world, i.e., the evils of eating, and the lies of people who tell you that you're not fat, that your arms are like sticks when you can clearly see that they're as fat and heavy as logs. But when you fall off the edge of the borderlands, you're lost - Cassie is lost/dead, and Lia feels both betrayed and guilty about Cassie's death; she sees and talks to Cassie's ghost constantly.
This was not an easy book to read. I knew that I would be reading about a girl with anorexia, but not that I would be living in her head, which was very scary - to see the total lack of self-esteem, of hating what she thought she was. I've read other books about cutters, but this was the first one that gave a reason for cutting other than creating designs on the body or inflicting deserved pain (in the opinion of the cutter), Lia's main purpose in cutting was to let the fat and toxins ooze out of her body, so her cutting appeared to be completely tied to her anorexia, which was tied to her lack of self-worth, and so on.
Lia's lifeline appears to be her young sister Emma - she loved playing with her, baking for her, and I think in the end that Emma was Lia's reason for wanting to come back to the real world rather than joining Cassie.(less)
A delightful YA book with strong elements of magic. Eleanor and Edward discover a previously unknown *to them* attic room, and learn about The Mystery...moreA delightful YA book with strong elements of magic. Eleanor and Edward discover a previously unknown *to them* attic room, and learn about The Mystery of the Disappearing Children. When they begin sleeping in the attic room, they have strange shared dreams in which they see and hear Ned and Nora - the missing children - but can never catch them. And then their dreams become downright dangerous!
Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau figure strongly in this story - at least their busts do!! Uncle Freddy speaks daily to Ralph and Henry, and Eleanor loves Louisa - in fact, she decides to marry Louisa and Henry, but Uncle Freddy stops the ceremony!
This would be a wonderful book to read to, and share with, your pre-teen children or students. It has a rather abrupt ending, but there are more books in the Hall Family Chronicles.(less)
Catherine makes simple rules for her autistic brother David to remind him of what she considers the basic and important rules of public behavior.
I par...moreCatherine makes simple rules for her autistic brother David to remind him of what she considers the basic and important rules of public behavior.
I particularly liked the idea that this book is told from the viewpoint of a young teen with an autistic sibling. Catherine just wants to be able to hang out with her friends, and have uninterrupted conversations, but too often she has to be the caretaker for her brother "just for an hour" or "just for the afternoon", and her frustration and anger war with her genuine love for David.
This book is an excellent reminder that the genuine needs of the 'low maintenance' child are too often lost sight of in a family that is struggling to meet the needs of the 'high maintenace' special-needs child.(less)
I love reading about medieval times, so when that was coupled with a Newbery Honor award, I expected to really love this book. It's well-researched, a...moreI love reading about medieval times, so when that was coupled with a Newbery Honor award, I expected to really love this book. It's well-researched, and I loved the comments Birdy made about each Saint-of-the-Day, but the book just didn't really keep my interest, so it gets a weak 4* from me.
This is about the 14th year of the life of Catherine, called Birdy, "of the village of Stonebridge in the shire of Lincoln, in the country of England, in the hands of God...in the year of Our Lord 1290." Birdy just wants to be able to play with the village children, but must spend most of her time on 'lady-lessons'. She also spends a lot of time trying to foil her father's plans to see her married soonest. And in the process, she grows up a little bit - enough to see that there may be more to people than she first thought, as when her brother Robert (whom she calls the abomination) goes out of his way to help save an abused bear and find a home for it.(less)
In Hunger Games, after a failed rebellion, the government annihilated District 13, and forced the other districts to have teenagers participate in an...moreIn Hunger Games, after a failed rebellion, the government annihilated District 13, and forced the other districts to have teenagers participate in an annual only-one-can-live elimination. Katniss and Peeta both survived, however, because they portrayed themselves as young lovers who would rather die together (by eating poisonous berries) than have to decide which one will live and which will die. The president was less than pleased, so for the upcoming Quarter Games he has decided that the participants will be drawn from previous district winners, which guarantees that Katniss & Peeta will be right back in it.
There are some interesting twists in this one, which the readers figure out way before our heroes do, especially single-minded Katniss, who has decided that Peeta must be the one who survives, so she pretty much misses all the hints and clues. In her defense, she's got a lot on her mind.
Fortunately for my peace of mind, I knew the story would not end until book 3, but that was still quite a cliffhanger at the end!(less)
Czech freedom-fighters, rebelling against Hitler's takeover of their country, attempted to assassinate his #1 man in Czechoslovakia. In retaliation, H...moreCzech freedom-fighters, rebelling against Hitler's takeover of their country, attempted to assassinate his #1 man in Czechoslovakia. In retaliation, Hitler orders the elimination of a Czech village - men and teen boys are executed, women and girls are placed in concentration camps, and the town is burned, bulldozed, and wiped out of existence. The town was Lidice. All of this is factual - this book itself is fiction based on these facts, and follows the young Milada who is dragged into Hitler's 'Perfect Aryan Race' idea because she is blond and fits all the facial measurements dreamed up by the purists (this program also existed) I always thought they only focused on Germans who fit this concept of perfection, but the goal here was to 'Germanize' them and wipe out any memories of who they had been, so Milada became 'Someone Named Eva'
This is a heart-rending story of civilian victims of war, but also an uplifting story of the indomitability of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book!(less)
In Hatchet, 13-year-old Brian Robeson was forced to spend 54 days alone in the Canadian wilderness when the bush-plane pilot had a fatal heart attack...moreIn Hatchet, 13-year-old Brian Robeson was forced to spend 54 days alone in the Canadian wilderness when the bush-plane pilot had a fatal heart attack and crash-landed in a lake, leaving Brian with nothing but his hatchet.
Now a government survivalist organization wants him to do it again, so they can improve the way they teach survival techniques. Things are going fairly smoothly - well, Brian learned a lot in his ordeal - but lightning strikes the government man through their 2-way radio, sending him into a coma and frying the radio. This time he doesn't even have his hatchet -just two pocket knives, a map, and the clothes they're wearing. But somehow Brian must get an unconscious, injured man 100 miles downriver to a trading post before Derek dies of dehydration.
Too often, a sequel doesn't live up to the original story, but this one definitely does. Once the lightning struck, I could not put this down.(less)
In this story, we meet Eustace Scrubbs again (you remember Eustace, the smarmy cousin of the Pevensie children), just 5 months after his adventure on...moreIn this story, we meet Eustace Scrubbs again (you remember Eustace, the smarmy cousin of the Pevensie children), just 5 months after his adventure on the Dawn Treader with Prince Caspian, although in Narnia it's been 70 years. Prince Caspian is now King Caspian - an old King Caspian whose only son was taken hostage and has been missing for 10 years. So Aslan has called Eustace and his schoolmate Jill Pole to Narnia to rescue Prince Rilian, and on their quest they encounter gnomes, giants, betrayal, and errors in judgement. Aslan has told them to watch for four signs to help them - "remember the signs and believe in the signs" - but of course they are distracted and miss the signs, and things go wrong until they get back to their purpose. The message is obvious: if we don't follow the signs, we may take the wrong road and lose our way.
I liked the idea of the quest, and I loved the brave but extremely pessimistic Puddleglum, but I did miss the Pevensies.(less)
Aislinn sees faeries. She's seen them all her life, but she has always followed Gram's rules - don't let them know you can see them and they'll leave...moreAislinn sees faeries. She's seen them all her life, but she has always followed Gram's rules - don't let them know you can see them and they'll leave you alone. It's been working for years, but suddenly the rules are changing and she doesn't know why. She only feels safe with Seth, who is her very good friend. Of course, Seth wants to be more than her friend, but it takes Aislinn quite a while to figure that out. And now the Summer King wants her, and the Winter Girl is warning her, and the Winter Queen is a nasty witch (with a capital B!)
I really liked that Ms Marr used such a great and different resolution to the situation the four main characters faced. It made for a somewhat unexpected ending.
A weak 4*, but definitely deserves more than a 3* rating.(less)
In the previous book, Lord Arthur had successfully defeated Sir Thursday, and therefore controls The Glorious Army of the Architect. But no rest in si...moreIn the previous book, Lord Arthur had successfully defeated Sir Thursday, and therefore controls The Glorious Army of the Architect. But no rest in sight for poor Arthur - Superior Saturday has closed the front door of the House and shut down the elevators. While Arthur is trying to decide what to do, he receives a message, but discovers after he touches it that it's really a transfer plate and *zoom* he's landed in a pile of snow! He's not sure where he is, but soon finds Suzy Blue and Fred (or they find him), and now it's time to do something - but what?!
Meanwhile, poor Leaf is in danger of being inhaled by Lady Friday (who is a doctor in the hospital Leaf ended up in at the end of book 4). Leaf is trying to save her Aunt Mango, so she follows the line of sleepers who are under the mind-control of Lady Friday. Inhaling the essence of humans is Lady Friday's drug-of-choice, and obviously it would be to everyone's benefit to put a stop to her habit!
These books have become my habit-of-the-moment! The Seven Days of the Week = The Seven Keys to the Kingdom = (perhaps) The Seven Deadly Sins?! It's always interesting to see how different authors take essentially the same theme and end up with totally different approaches.(less)