Hello friends! We're reading THE GOLDEN COMPASS together throughout the next few weeks as part of our goal to read more classic YA/MG books this year.Hello friends! We're reading THE GOLDEN COMPASS together throughout the next few weeks as part of our goal to read more classic YA/MG books this year.
Please join us if you can!
-- Discussion on blog: February 28th -- Hashtag #tmgreadalong if you'd like to discuss as you read on Twitter.
Wildly imaginative and thrilling, this complex and beautiful story follows brave, fierce Lyra Belacqua in her quest to save her childhood friend. The book is filled with dazzling adventure and marvelous inventiveness, as well as many scenes that will fill readers with utter horror and pity.
There are witches, gypsies, daemons, and best of all--armored polar bears! The warrior bears have a spectacular battle scene towards the end that still shakes me to the core when I read it. There aren't words enough to describe what an important work of literature this is, not only for children, but also for thinking, feeling, dreaming adults as well....more
**spoiler alert** Certainly a well-written novel...but did I like it? I'm not sure. Getting hit with axes and drowning critters and eating spiders isn**spoiler alert** Certainly a well-written novel...but did I like it? I'm not sure. Getting hit with axes and drowning critters and eating spiders isn't really my thing. Giving it 3 stars for the writing, though....more
A premise full of promise, but after 150 pages, how can there still be no answers? Deliberately withholding information becomes frustrating not only fA premise full of promise, but after 150 pages, how can there still be no answers? Deliberately withholding information becomes frustrating not only for the protagonist, but for the reader as well. The fact that Thomas does not demand more answers from his fellow captives makes it difficult to sympathize with or care what happens to him. The spoilers for the book make it sound intriguing, but I can't wade through another 200 pages before it gets to the point.
Aside from a few physical differences and "bad" or "good" actions, the boys tend to blend together as well. They're not fully fleshed out or unique in any way, and for a book that's centered around characters in a bleak environment in a desperate situation, this is a most unfortunate weakness....more
Peeps, which treats vampires as thoroughly unromantic parasites, is a well-written story about a boy infected with a "carrier" gene who must hunt thosPeeps, which treats vampires as thoroughly unromantic parasites, is a well-written story about a boy infected with a "carrier" gene who must hunt those who have turned into vampires. It kept my interest because it's such an unusual premise, but after awhile the alternating chapters that present random biological terrors became a little tiresome. I enjoy books with visceral descriptions and count Richard Preston's The Hot Zone among my favorite non-fiction books, but the lessons here would have been a little less intrusive if they'd been a short paragraph or two at the beginning of each chapter instead of making up literally half of the book--or if the overarching story and character development were better balanced with them. I also wasn't a huge fan of the way Cal would sometimes address the reader directly, or of Lace's non-stop use of the word "dude" to address someone (and this is coming from someone who actually does use "dude" on occasion).
Overall, this is a really interesting premise, but the actual action and story weren't compelling enough for me to really love it. I picked up the second book in this series too, but after skimming through a few chapters, it didn't really hold my interest either. Still, Peeps has a lot of fans and I can see why. In the end, it just boils down to a matter of personal taste....more
What a cool concept! For one secret extra hour each night, a small group of teenagers is able to move about freely--even though the rest of the town aWhat a cool concept! For one secret extra hour each night, a small group of teenagers is able to move about freely--even though the rest of the town around them is frozen in time. What's going on? Why is the town like this? What do the evil darklings want with Jessica Day, the new girl in town?
I really enjoyed this book. The idea is incredibly intriguing, and I liked the descriptions of focus/out of focus, the kids' purple eyes, the wondrous flying, the injections of humor, and the beautiful night when Jess sees the frozen world for the first time, with the air filled with suspended raindrops. The author does a great job of gradually weaving the story together (though much of the book is spent on setting up the concept), and it'll be interesting to what everyone's motivations are and how certain powers will be utilized.
A couple of quibbles: while I like all the characters so far and don't really mind the multiple narrators, I think reducing the number of POVs would have made the narrative stronger. In such a short novel it's already hard to get to know the numerous characters, so spending more time with just a couple of them might've tightened things up a bit. Since Rex is turning out to be a mysterious figure and it seems that Jess is actually more of the central character, I would also have flip-flopped the POVs for Chapters 1 and 2 so the book starts off from her perspective. Could be the author had a reason for doing this (deliberate misguidance, perhaps), but if so I think more time with Rex would have made this stronger.
I also have to mention that the town's name gets used...a lot. I noticed this happening so many times within the first 7 pages that I decided to keep a tally as I was reading. The grand total in 274 pages? 18 mentions of name Bixby High and 95 mentions of Bixby itself. This was so unnecessary (at page 194, do you really need to explain that the sheriff you're referring to is the one "here in Bixby?") and intrusive, and I'm surprised that an editor didn't catch this repetition throughout the book.
Still, the little things I'd fix are minor and my enjoyment was huge. The story set-up reminded me a lot of William Sleator's young adult sci-fi in a very good way, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing where the story goes in the next installment of the series. Splendiferous!...more
A haunted house, a forbidding lady, a master who has gone mad, and a servant girl caught up in the middle of the whole mess. If this premise appeals tA haunted house, a forbidding lady, a master who has gone mad, and a servant girl caught up in the middle of the whole mess. If this premise appeals to you, there's no doubt you'll delight in this book. I'm a big fan of Victorian fiction, and the author does a superb job of making the era come alive and keeping the language and decorum pretty true to the period.
Abigail Tamper is a 14-year-old servant at Greave Hall, where she's lived all of her life. Her mother died under mysterious circumstances not long ago, and the troubled Master of the house seems to know more about her death than he will admit. Abi has few confidants among the other servants, and her only protector against the cruel Mrs. Cotten, who rules the household, is her childhood friend Samuel, who is the Master's son who is badly wounded from his service in the Crimean War. Abigail's terror and loneliness are palpable, and readers will feel for her as she tries to unravel the mystery and figure out whether there is more danger in the supernatural forces present in the house...or from the earthly ones.
This is an enjoyably creepy, atmospheric Victorian murder mystery with a strong heroine and wonderfully detailed, moody setting. The descriptions of Abigail's duties as a housemaid are particularly well done, as well as the hierarchal interplay between the servants. While experienced readers may guess the villain before he's revealed, this is a quick, enjoyable read and a terrific addition to the gothic genre, especially for the younger teens for whom it's intended. Plus there's an embroidered fabric Ouija...how fun is that?
A fantastic series that I loved as a kid and still holds up for adults. Well-written, engrossing mysteries with engaging characters and just enough ofA fantastic series that I loved as a kid and still holds up for adults. Well-written, engrossing mysteries with engaging characters and just enough of Sherlock himself to whet the appetite for investigation and adventure....more
There are few well-written horror novels available for young adults, so it's great to have a new entry that's both intelligent and imaginative. With tThere are few well-written horror novels available for young adults, so it's great to have a new entry that's both intelligent and imaginative. With the visceral descriptiveness of Stephen King and a black humor all his own, Cliff McNish has created a darkly nightmarish novel with a heroine who possesses a fascinating paranormal ability. Savannah Grey doesn't understand the dreadful thing in her throat, but she knows that she must protect it at all costs.
The narration, most of which is from Savannah's point of view, is decisively British and strikes the appropriate tone for a teenage girl. It's also filled with horrifyingly enjoyable, twisted humor that pops up at the most unexpected times, often right in the middle of a massive fight scene with monstrous enemies. I liked Savannah and many of the smart choices she makes, as well as how the plot zips right along from one exciting sequence to another.
What knocks this book down a whole star for me, however, is the author's choice to leave Savannah's POV throughout so much of the book in order to bring us the back story of the monsters that are pursuing her. This book is sorely in need of a Wise and Experienced One who explains why things are happening and what they mean, something in the vein of a Yoda, Oracle, Magnus Bane, or Haymitch. The explanations are instead big info-dumps written in the third person, treating the creatures as remarkably sentient and reasoning beings. Since these sections are written in a way that's almost like a fairy tale, they completely interrupt the flow of the book and the urgency of action. Readers will also need to suspend their disbelief over aspects which don't quite make sense, such as why surgeons succumb to Savannah's demand for an operation so easily, and why she's lived in the same place all her life if she's really been with foster parents since she was a baby.
Still, this is overall a very enjoyable read and an author gifted with a gruesome touch. Cliff McNish is definitely one to watch.
All three of us ended up liking, but not loving it the way so many of our feThe final discussion post for our Book Thief Readalong is up on the blog!
All three of us ended up liking, but not loving it the way so many of our fellow readers seem to. What did you think?
3.5 stars I loved Max, "The Standover Man," Hans, and few other moments, but overall found that the writing style distracted from the story for me. Disappointing that I don't love this as much as so many of my fellow readers seem to.
Believe it or not, this is actually a really funny book. You wouldn't think so based on the title and the subject, but 15-year-old Jeff will have youBelieve it or not, this is actually a really funny book. You wouldn't think so based on the title and the subject, but 15-year-old Jeff will have you laughing out loud throughout his story. He's in a mental hospital because he tried to slit his wrists on New Year's Eve, he's surrounded by kids who are clearly crazier than he is, and his doctor (nicknamed "Cat Poop") doesn't seem to understand that there's nothing wrong with him and won't leave him alone. Neither will the various patients who come and go who keep wanting to fool around with him in the wee hours of the night.
All Jeff wants to do is to do his time and to get home--partly because his sister Amanda might call dibs on his vacant room. And he does not want to talk about what happened with his best friend Allie, and how their relationship changed after she started dating her boyfriend Burke.
The novel is set up so that each chapter follows a single day in Jeff's 45-day treatment program. As the narrator, Jeff is hilariously dead-pan, self-deprecating, and easy to listen to. He is also kind, curious, confused, and sad beneath the typical teenage guy "I'm fine" attitude, but this takes a little while to come out. What's really interesting about the book being from Jeff's point of view is that the author reveals Jeff's avoidance and self-delusion without our main character really being aware of it, which is a pretty neat trick. And it's all all done with a deft hand and an unerring eye for genuine emotion.
I'm still undecided as to whether I should go into detail about what this book is actually about, but I will say that it's pretty important that readers who go into this story are fairly open-minded. In the middle of the drama involving the various patients at the hospital, there are frank discussions about (and depictions of) suicide, abuse, identity, sexuality, and self-loathing that are realistically and honestly portrayed. I did, however, appreciate the author's choice to make Jeff's secret both more complex and less of an extreme situation (view spoiler)[i.e., it was not abuse in his case that led to his suicide attempt (hide spoiler)], as I think it's important that we see more stories from this standpoint. The confusion and embarrassment and hurt and fear can sometimes be enough.
Maybe I can convince my parents to move to France. No one in France cares if you tried to kill yourself. In fact, I think they like you better because you're all tragic.
It's not like I've never jacked off. I'm fifteen years old. Of course I do it. Any guy who says he doesn't is lying. That would be like having the coolest video game ever and never playing it. No one's that stupid.
The humor and the depth in this exceptionally well-written novel felt incredibly true to life and poignant. I worried about this boy and his denial about himself and I was anxious about whether the people in his life would accept him. We don't get to read stories like this nearly often enough, but they are such an important part of the human experience and I hope we'll see more of them.
I also really appreciated the hopeful and optimistic tone that this novel takes, however. It's nice to be reminded not only that there are kids out there who are hurting, but also that there are people out there who care. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more