Something is rotten in Denmark, Tennessee, where the Elsinore paper plant is spewing toxic chemicals into the Copenhagen River, and the heir to the pa...moreSomething is rotten in Denmark, Tennessee, where the Elsinore paper plant is spewing toxic chemicals into the Copenhagen River, and the heir to the paper kingdom, Hamilton Prince, suspects his uncle Claude of murdering Hamilton's father Rex.
Fun YA mystery, especially if you like Shakespeare's HAMLET.(less)
As the forty-year anniversary of a peace treaty between dragons and humans approaches, a prince is assassinated in a particularly draconian fashion. S...moreAs the forty-year anniversary of a peace treaty between dragons and humans approaches, a prince is assassinated in a particularly draconian fashion. Seraphina, our heroine, finds herself in the center of palace intrigues, plots and prejudices. Hartman has done extraordinary world-building: books, history, theology, music, architecture and philosophy create a rich environment. Seraphina is complex, smart and brave, and slightly unreliable as a narrator. The novel has a satisfying ending, while leaving plenty of loose ends for future books. Dragon Slippers meets Stranger in a Strange Land.(less)
Scott Westerfeld has created an interesting version of 1914 and the lead-up to World War I. In his alt/steampunk world, Germany and Austria (the "Clan...moreScott Westerfeld has created an interesting version of 1914 and the lead-up to World War I. In his alt/steampunk world, Germany and Austria (the "Clankers") use huge mechanical walkers, while Britain and France (the "Darwinists") use genetically engineered biological creatures. The two protagonists are Alek, an Austrian prince on the run from the murderers of his archduke father, and Deryn, a British girl who pretends to be a boy so she can join the Air Service. Both protagonists are clever and courageous without being two-dimensional.(less)
I didn't like this one as much as Cassandra Clare's other series (The Mortal Instruments). I like the alt-historical London setting, but my biggest pr...moreI didn't like this one as much as Cassandra Clare's other series (The Mortal Instruments). I like the alt-historical London setting, but my biggest problem is with Will Herondale. He's a jerk. Unlike Jace Wayland in the other series, who is amusingly sarcastic, Will is annoyingly sarcastic.(less)
Before NATION, I only knew Terry Pratchett from the DISCWORLD series and GOOD OMENS. NATION is completely different, and very good.
Mau is between boyh...moreBefore NATION, I only knew Terry Pratchett from the DISCWORLD series and GOOD OMENS. NATION is completely different, and very good.
Mau is between boyhood and manhood when he becomes the sole survivor of a tsunami which destroys the population of the island Nation. The tsunami also shipwrecks Daphne, daughter of the colonial British governor of another island. Mau and Daphne learn to communicate and offer refuge to other survivors who straggle onto the island. Together they all rebuild the Nation.
Part alternate history, part theology, part sociology, and all good storytelling.(less)
I read THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie for the Salt Lake County Library’s Banned Books Challenge. It has been challe...moreI read THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie for the Salt Lake County Library’s Banned Books Challenge. It has been challenged or banned multiple times.
The “part-time” Indian is Junior, the first-person narrator, a 14-year-old boy with a neurologic disorder. He lives in poverty on the rez with his parents. His best friend is Rowdy, a temperamental kid who is frequently beaten by his alcoholic father. Junior knows he’s going to end up like everyone else on the rez—depressed and impoverished and drunk—if he doesn’t escape, so he transfers to a white high school. The Indians beat him for being a “traitor,” while the white kids beat him for being an Indian.
This novel is YA (young adult), meant for kids in the roughly 13-18 range. High school students have a right to read books like this. You want an eighteen-year-old to ship off to Afghanistan but you don’t want him to read about an Indian kid getting beat up? You trust a sixteen-year-old to drive but don’t trust her to know the difference between fact and fiction? Sure, I wouldn’t want to see this book in the elementary school library, but I would have no problem with it in the high school or public libraries.
Native Americans have been persecuted and marginalized in this country for three hundred years. Hiding our heads in the sand won’t help our society move past this deplorable history. PART-TIME INDIAN is hopeful because in the end, the story is about perseverance; surviving discrimination, betrayal and loss; redemption; and love. (less)
I started to read this book for Banned Books Week. It's on the list of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books for 2000-2009 (see the list at http://ww...moreI started to read this book for Banned Books Week. It's on the list of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books for 2000-2009 (see the list at http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy...).
I didn't get past the first two chapters. Too much info-dumping, stilted internal monologue, and a cliche scene in which the protagonist studies herself in the mirror so the author can describe her appearance: "She stood in front of her closet mirror in her T-shirt and twisted this way and that. What's wrong with me? she wondered. There was nothing the matter that she could see. She was tall and leggy, like her mother, with full breasts, small waist, and slim hips..."
I suspect that if this novel had not been banned, it would have died a natural death long ago.(less)
Only one book left in the series and things are looking bad for Percy and his friends. Kronos has risen and war between the Gods and Titans is imminen...moreOnly one book left in the series and things are looking bad for Percy and his friends. Kronos has risen and war between the Gods and Titans is imminent. I need to get the fifth book asap!
One funny scene: Annabeth challenges the Sphinx. The Sphinx has embraced 21st century education, complete with a #2 pencil and automatic grading machine.
"Now second question, what is the square root of sixteen?" "Four," Annabeth said, "but--" "Correct! Which US president signed the Emancipation Proclamation?" "Abraham Lincoln, but--" "Correct! Riddle number four. How much--" "Hold up!" Annabeth shouted. "These aren't riddles." "What do you mean?" the Sphinx snapped. "Of course they are. This test material is specially designed--" "It's just a bunch of dumb, random facts," Annabeth insisted. "Riddles are supposed to make you think." "Think?" The Sphinx frowned. "How am I supposed to test whether you can think?"(less)
I like that Percy befriends people who are bullied or unpopular. In the first book, his best friend wa...moreAnother fun entry into the Percy Jackson series.
I like that Percy befriends people who are bullied or unpopular. In the first book, his best friend was Grover, a scrawny kid with a funny gait who was revealed to be a satyr. In the second book he becomes friends with Tyson, an awkward, big, ugly kid who turns out to be a Cyclops.
We also learn why chain restaurants and coffee shops pop up so quickly in so many locations across the country: every time a hero cuts off a Hydra's head, another chain outlet appears. Explains why there may be two Starbucks stores on the same intersection!(less)
Kyra was born into a polygamist community in remote Utah. Although her family situation (father, three mothers, and twenty-something siblings) is fore...moreKyra was born into a polygamist community in remote Utah. Although her family situation (father, three mothers, and twenty-something siblings) is foreign to most of us, they are a loving, happy family. But then the sociopathic, megalomaniac community leader, the Prophet, declares that Kyra is to become the seventh wife of her cruel, sixty-year-old uncle, and she fights back.
Well written, thought provoking, with strong characters.(less)
I was hesitant to read THE LIGHTNING THIEF; in my mind I had lumped it with other recent, wildly popular, boy-appeal, urban fantasy series which were,...moreI was hesitant to read THE LIGHTNING THIEF; in my mind I had lumped it with other recent, wildly popular, boy-appeal, urban fantasy series which were, frankly, underwhelming. But I was pleasantly surprised by this fun, well-written story.
Percy Jackson is a likable hero. He has dyslexia and ADHD, but doesn’t use the diagnoses as excuses. He’s twelve years old and is about to be kicked out of the sixth school in as many years. The only people at school who like him are Mr. Brunner, the Latin and Greek teacher, and his best friend, Grover, a scrawny kid with a muscle disorder. Percy loves his mom, and believes her story that his father was lost at sea. We later learn that Percy’s father wasn’t so much lost at sea but returned to the sea.
Strange things start happening to Percy, beginning with his pre-algebra teacher’s scary transformation into a vicious Fury from Greek mythology. Other supposedly mythical monsters and heroes crop up, and Percy soon finds himself at a summer camp for demigods (the offspring of gods and mortals). Ares’s kids are big and ugly and warlike; Athena’s kids are grey-eyed and wise. The camp is run by Dionysus, who is perpetually grumpy because he’s been ordered by Zeus to abstain from wine and must settle for Diet Coke.
Percy learns that he is the prime suspect in the theft of Zeus’s master lightning bolt (“a two-foot-long cylinder of high-grade celestial bronze, capped on both ends with god-level explosives”) and sets off on a quest to retrieve it, accompanied by Grover (who turns out not to be a kid with a muscle disorder) and Annabeth, daughter of Athena.
Rick Riordan’s writing is spot-on, with snappy dialogue, as in this scene:
Mr. Brunner pointed to one of the pictures on the stele. “Perhaps you’ll tell us what this picture represents?” I looked at the carving, and felt a flush of relief, because I actually recognized it. “That’s Kronos eating his kids, right?” “Yes,” Mr. Brunner said, obviously not satisfied. “And he did this because…” “Well…” I racked my brain to remember. “Kronos was the king god, and—” “God?” Mr. Brunner asked. “Titan,” I corrected myself. “And… he didn’t trust his kids, who were the gods. So, um, Kronos ate them, right? But his wife hid baby Zeus, and gave Kronos a rock to eat instead. And later, when Zeus grew up, he tricked his dad, Kronos, into barfing up his brothers and sisters—” “Eeew!” said one of the girls behind me. “—and so there was this big fight between the gods and the Titans,” I continued, “and the gods won.”
The characters are interesting, and there are bits of humor interspersed (the Naiads enjoy underwater basketweaving, and the Minotaur wears nothing but bright white Fruit of the Loom underpants). Overall, a very entertaining read, and may have a side-effect of encouraging kids to learn about Greek mythology. (less)