What am I going to do about Sarah Beth Durst? She keeps writing amazing books, and I keep forgetting to clean my house so I can read them.The Lost is...moreWhat am I going to do about Sarah Beth Durst? She keeps writing amazing books, and I keep forgetting to clean my house so I can read them.The Lost is her first adult novel, and I loved every page of it.
I won't lie, it did take me a few chapters to get into. I think I had this block already set up in my mind before I started reading it. I knew it was an adult novel; therefore, I was fighting it. I tend to stick with YA and the occasional middle grades book. I do not do "big people books". Obviously I got over my funk-- this Sarah Beth Durst, after all-- and I finished loved it. Once I got going, I could not put The Lost down.
Two things I have come to expect from Ms. Durst's writing: 1) It's going to be a highly original story, and 2) It's going to be so detailed that I will feel like I've been swept away along with the character. The Lost did not disappoint.
The details of the town of Lost were so fantastic I felt like I was there with Lauren. I could see the mounds of broken, lost things in the middle of the town. I could feel the resentment and anger of the townspeople toward Lauren. I could definitely sense the mystery behind Peter, and I swear I could choke on the dust from the Void. Simply put, it was remarkable. You know it's a good book when you get so caught up in the world you are reading that it begins to feel like your own, or at least a place you could find.
The story itself is something quite unique and wonderful, too. The Lost is like nothing I've read before. Lauren is a tragically believable character. I think readers will be able to connect with her, because on some level we have all given up dreams for life's responsibilities. The most fascinating character for me, though, was Peter. He is an enigma. He speaks in riddles and quotes famous works of literature. He almost seems nonhuman (and I'm still wondering what he is exactly), but he also shows the most humanity of all the characters. He is a very complicated fellow, and I want more!
By the time I got close to the end I had decided that I wanted to know what's coming. The groundwork for this great mystery has been set. There will be questions, and maybe a few not-so-big surprises, but you're going to enjoy the journey. (less)
Some books do a fabulous job of showing what goes on inside of a hormonal teenager’s head. Anatomy of a Boyfriend is very honest and pretty accurate w...moreSome books do a fabulous job of showing what goes on inside of a hormonal teenager’s head. Anatomy of a Boyfriend is very honest and pretty accurate with its portrayal.
Dom is a hormonal mess. She’s been able to resist the lure of boys for most of her time in high school, but then she meets “the one”. Enter Wes. He’s everything that a young Cassanova isn’t. And he’s perfect for Dom.
There is instant chemistry… and a lot of sexual exploration. I mean a lot. They are both horrible niave, so some of the situations they find themselves in are entertaining. Classic teen stupidity.
I have to be pretty honest, however, I was really surprised by the amount of sex in this book. At times, it felt more like a teen Harlequin novel instead of a YA contemporary read. That did not keep me from reading it, however.
Dom is all over the place with her emotions, and I could not help but recognize my younger self in her character. The highs and lows of young (and most) relationships were realistic. The anger and ache that comes from having your heart broken, also believable. Dom is every teenage girl.
After reading the book, I thought about the dedication page. Anatomy of a Boyfriend is devoted to Judy Blume and Dorothy Teenov. That may not seem important at first, but when I started to think about things I realized something. Judy Blume received a lot of crap for some of her stories that discussed sexuality among teens and masturbation. Well, Anatomy of a Boyfriend is part of the new age of teen literature that explores these topics.
I will admit that I did not know who Dorothy Tennov was. So, I looked her up. She was a psychologist that—in simple terms—studied the compulsions behind ‘being in love’. She coined the term “limerence” to describe these feelings of needing to have your romantic feelings reciprocated. This feels pretty accurate for Dom, because a large part of the book deals with her efforts in her first relationship, and whether or not they were returned.
I will also go ahead and mentioned that I never cared for Wes. I think he had a lot of potential, but he always felt selfish to me. I kept waiting for some plot twist to show that he was taking advantage of Dom, or some other explanation to explain his behavior. When that didn’t occur, it left me a little baffled. I never fully bought the relationship and “love” aspect of Wes and Dom. It felt very rushed.
I would probably not be able to keep these on my classroom shelf due to explicit sex scenes that are on just about every page. I would also have a hard time keeping these out of my students’ hands if they knew I had them. They are so interested in this topic, and many don’t feel comfortable asking about it. They would, however, read a book. This series would definitely be the most requested book from my “secret box” in the closet. (less)
How do you like your mermaid stories? Do you prefer them to be Disney-esque? Or do you prefer them to teeter on the edge of creepy? If you prefer the...moreHow do you like your mermaid stories? Do you prefer them to be Disney-esque? Or do you prefer them to teeter on the edge of creepy? If you prefer the latter, Westward to Strange is for you! The mermaids in Westward to Strange are not friendly. In fact, they are downright terrifying. I have to give the author props for coming up with an original take on a siren. There is an element of mythology in the book that is new and unique, at least to me. I also thought the concept behind these killer mermaids helped heighten the mystery of the subplots. Don’t read Westward to Strange thinking it’s just about mermaids. There is so much more going on in this book! For fans of mysteries, there will be much to keep you reading. For me, though, it was the descriptions that kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed reading about this beach community. Being a Florida resident myself, I felt like I could visualize the setting in my own town. I also enjoyed some of the characters. I was instantly drawn to Jake. I didn’t connect with Cass at first, but he grew on me. I’m always on the lookout for books with mermaids. With so many books in the genre already on the market, it’s hard to find something fresh. Westward of Strange certainly delivered in the fresh and unique market! (less)
Conjured was both captivating and terrifying-- all at the same time.
There is a mystery surrounding Eve. She's in a witness protection program, but s...moreConjured was both captivating and terrifying-- all at the same time.
There is a mystery surrounding Eve. She's in a witness protection program, but she can't remember why. People treat her differently than they do others; it's almost as if they are afraid of her. She's different... and she's powerful.
She can bring paper birds to life. She can change the color of her eyes with just a thought. But each time she uses her magic, she slips into unconsciousness. Entire days (sometimes weeks) are erased from her memory. Her life seems to be missing something.
Then she meets Zach. He's a super nerd working along side her in the local public library. He has no trouble telling her how he feels during their first meeting. He's also a huge believer in magic. Imagine his surprise when a simple kiss sends him and Eve floating above the stacks!
On a simple level, Conjured is a huge mystery. Every page is a puzzle to piece together. Every day with Zach brings Eve closer to a truth that she might not be ready to accept. And every day with Eve brings Zach closer to a life he desperately needs.
Eve was very unique. I wish I could say more, but it would blow the whole thing. Just know that Sarah Beth Durst (again) takes us to a whole new place with her characters and plot. Fans of her writing style will not be disappointed. Conjured is magical in every way. I was captivated by the setting of the magical realm. The imagery was beautiful and a pure delight for my imagination. I found myself longing to travel through my own portal and experience what Eve saw. (Only the good stuff, of course!) (less)
While I teach middle school Language Arts, I found this 5th grade test prep book still applicable. I've spent the last 7 years working with below prof...moreWhile I teach middle school Language Arts, I found this 5th grade test prep book still applicable. I've spent the last 7 years working with below proficiency readers. While they may be in grade seven, they often read at a third grade level. I found the materials in the NJ ASK 5th grade book to be a nice supplement for my struggling kids. I'm sure it would be perfectly suitable for 5th graders as well, but I don't have much experience with that grade level.
One of the things I noticed right away was the variety of material. I found poetry, short stories, nonfiction, informational texts, etc. in this book. Each passage also came with a variety of questions, depending on the story. Some stories focused more on the literary elements, while others focused on nonfiction traits or grammar. I also like that there were both diagnostic and practice tests included. When I saw this, I instantly thought "pre and post test" on a unit. That's just how my brain works.
Another perk is that each passage included a relevant writing task. For instance, if a student read a poem about two characters, they had to write a short literary analysis to compare and constrast certain traits between those two characters. Each of the prompts extended the learning in a practical and relevant way. Of course, some people may see writing prompts and think "I'm not a writing teacher" or "how do I score that"? Well, lucky for you there are extensive writing rubrics included for each prompt. The passages are based on a 4 point scale, so each rubric gives a sample paper for numbers 1-4 along with a detailed list of what should be included in the students' answers. That takes away the guess work of grading writing if you don't feel like its your strongest area.
Overall, I found the NJ ASK 5th grade Language Arts and Literacy test prep book to be another great addition to my teacher tool kit. It's not limited to just teachers in NJ (I'm in Florida, after all) because ALL students need these skill. (less)
Mythology is all over the place lately, which makes me pretty happy since it's one of my favorite genres. Hera, Queen of the Gods by T.D. Thomas is an...moreMythology is all over the place lately, which makes me pretty happy since it's one of my favorite genres. Hera, Queen of the Gods by T.D. Thomas is another action packed installment in this genre.
The plot of Hera, Queen of the Gods was quick. It's certainly a page turner. I found myself reading 80+ pages in what felt like minutes. The author did a good job of keeping the reader's interest from start to finish. I really liked the idea of the gods searching for the stolen Fates on earth. Of course that's not the only thing they had to deal with. There was this little thing about an uprising to over throw Zeus and Hera causing a bit of a problem in the background as well. Overall, the plot was solid and well developed.
Unfortunately, there were a few minor things that really hindered me while reading Hera, Queen of the Gods. Hera is supposed to be strong and fearless She's a god afterall. However, this Hera has moments of strength, but overall she comes across as a whiny brat and weak. Now, I know the gods are inhabiting human bodies, which seriously limits their powers on earth, but inner character doesn't change. It took a mortal boy to bring out her inner goddess (pun intended), which contradicts everything I know about Hera. Strike one. Another thing that annoyed me were some of the minor characters. I just couldn't buy into how quickly they accepted the gods and goddesses. It was as if no one questioned their story or anything. I tolerated Justin's quick acceptance, but then there was Beth and Stella. Not buying that as easily. I also didn't like the dialogue in some parts. It felt very stiff, and nothing like what real teenagers would actually say. So that was strike two.
Luckily though, these were minor offenses. The plot was good enough to mask these minor flaws. Overall, I enjoyed the story once I got into it. It was a pleasant addition to the mythology genre. (less)
Calling all paranormal romance fans. (in my taunting sing songy voice) I found a new series for you. I bet even you die-hard Twilight fans would enjoy...moreCalling all paranormal romance fans. (in my taunting sing songy voice) I found a new series for you. I bet even you die-hard Twilight fans would enjoy this one. There is a mortal girl, a swoon worthy vampire, a hot werewolf, and a pack of evil blood thirsty vampires ready to captivate you in Darkride.
But don't think I just described Twilight all over again, because I didn't I can assure you if I had that vibe from Darkride, I would have stopped reading instantly. I am very tired of Twilight knockoffs.
While Darkride had the same human-vampire-werewolf love triangle going on, it was very different. For instant, our human girl was not a whiny baby like Bella. She was pretty hard core. Cicely was conflicted, but she was also very determined. She always had a plan; even if that plan often backfired. The boy toys were also a bit different. They each had different reasons for loving Cicely, and they play very different roles in the outcome of the plot.
What I found a little unfortunate about the book was it's predictability. I don't think that would be a problem for the average reader, but anyone that has read a large number of books will probably be finely tuned to the plot twists long before they occur. With all the hinting about 'change' and the bonds of love, it was easy to guess the direction our characters would take. I really didn't have any surprises, which was a bummer.
I can say, however, that the ending left me intrigued. I am very curious to see what will happen in the next book. I also want to know the role of the new addition to the motley crew of paranormals that are traveling to Maine.
The writing is easy on the eyes and quick. It's very easy to get sucked into the story. Darkride was told in alternating points of view between Cicely, Luke, and Ander. Each chapter offers a fresh insight into the characters telling the tale. I think it's extremely challenging to write alternating points of view and maintaining a sense of uniquess for each character. It could very easily end up sounding like the same story being told by a different "voice." Darkride does not dissapoint. It retains its unique quality and keeps the reader moving on a fast paced paranormal romance rollercoaster. (less)
Ever wonder what it takes to become a YA author? How about learning about the publishing process? Maybe you just want to know more about what it takes...moreEver wonder what it takes to become a YA author? How about learning about the publishing process? Maybe you just want to know more about what it takes to be a better writer. Well, if any of those apply to you-- Wild Ink is for you.
This is not my normal type of book for review, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read this one. Yes, I was interested into learning more about the publishing process for books. I mean, who doesn't have that dream, right? But what I really wanted was insight into the writing process.
I admit it. I was 100% selfish with my decision to review this book. I am a teacher. In fact, I'm a Language Arts/writing teacher. Naturally, I would want to learn more about the writing process so I could share that information with my kids. Duh.
What I didn't expect though, was for a book to fully cover all the skills that I teach when I teach literature. Not only does Wild Ink spend the first 3 chapters hitting all the elements of great fiction, but it also provides exercises for practice. I love that. I'll even admit that I used some of the practice activities with my students. Great teaching tool.
As a blogger, I even found some of the information applicable to my blogging. Awesome, right? For instance, there is an entire chapter on how to interview authors. Yes, it's something you could figure out on your own, but it's nice to have a guide for the newbies.
Overall, I was impressed with the layout and presentation of the material in Wild Ink. I would certainly be interested in picking up other books by this author to add to my teacher tool kit. (less)
I really don’t understand people only giving this book 4 star reviews. Sarah Beth Durst has hit her mark once again with Vessel! I found this story to...moreI really don’t understand people only giving this book 4 star reviews. Sarah Beth Durst has hit her mark once again with Vessel! I found this story to be unique and completely immersive. I didn’t want to stop reading it!
The first thing I noticed about Vessel was the amazing world building that Sarah Beth Durst is so famous for. She didn’t disappoint with Vessel. The first page is so descriptive that it sucks you into Liyana’s world before you even realize it. In fact, I used the first two paragraphs to show my students the “power of sensory details.” (Hope the author doesn’t mind.) It was great timing that we were discussing building your setting and using descriptive details to make your writing more interesting, and then I opened Vessel and viola: perfect example! The opening page’s example was a huge hit with my students (who are also reluctant readers). I booked talked the awesomeness and now they all want to read it. J
If you’ve read any other books by Sarah Beth Durst, hearing that the world she creates for her characters in Vessel is like none you’ve ever read about won’t surprise you. She seems to have a knack for developing unique settings.
The mythology she used throughout Vessel was great. I’m a huge mythology nerd, so anything even loosely based on myth will grab my attention. With Vessel, I could recognize the trickster tale elements, but I had a hard time pin-pointing which culture the myths truly came from. Were they borrowed from many cultures or were they a product of the author’s divine imagination? Hard to say. What I can say, though, is that it was flawless. The way the mythological elements were woven into the characters’ every being was fantastic. From battling glass sky serpents and sand wolves to saving your gods/goddesses from an unknown threat—Vessel had it all! I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved it.
The mythology element in the book also plays a HUGE role in the plot. (Loved it!) It’s rather hard to explain the intricate plot, but I can safely say there were numerous surprises along the way. I usually figure out plots midway through a book, but not with Vessel. I can honestly say I was surprised by the ending. While I was a little disappointed with the turn of events in the resolution, it was still a fulfilling ending.
The characters were also pretty spectacular too. It was hard to make a connection with them because they were so different, but I certainly found myself invested in them. Liyana was the epitome of a strong female lead, and I loved her. She was resourceful and stubborn. Korbyn was mischievous (which makes sense since he was the trickster god). I could just picture the twinkle in his eye! Loved him. Team Korbyn FTW! The other characters that you meet along the way were equally impressive. They were each unique and brought something special to the plot.
I really wish I would have wrote this review the moment I finished reading Vessel instead of waiting two weeks. I feel like now I can only capture the superficial elements that I enjoyed, instead of the overall impact I had when I read the final words. Since this is the second book by Sarah Beth Durst that I’ve read—and I loved it—I’ve decided that I need to read everything else she has written. Vessel was so different from Drink, Slay, Love, but it still managed to find a place on my shelves as a favorite. (For the Record, Drink, Slay, Love is my favorite, non-sparkling vampire book of all time.) I also think it should be noted that truly talented authors (like Sarah Beth Durst) are able to make each book they write unique and special. Vessel was nothing like DSL—seriously. It was if I was reading the author for the first time, and I appreciated that.
So, for all the mythology fans out there, you need to read Vessel. It’s like nothing you’ve read before!
The idea behind this story is very original. It had creepy elements and a few surprises along the way, but I have mixed feelings about The Space Betwe...more The idea behind this story is very original. It had creepy elements and a few surprises along the way, but I have mixed feelings about The Space Between. It was a quick read and kept me turning the pages, but there were many things I found lacking. First of all, the plot moved way too quickly. It felt under-developed for a novel. There were so many questions that were left unanswered. For instance, what happens to Darren? Why were other kids in Anna’s dream? There was no closure. The ending was too open and that bugged me. Also, the characters felt flat. I never had much insight into any of them. There was a lot of potential with Anna, Tyler, and Anna’s father, but we never got any hints about what makes them tick. That was really disappointing. If there was more character development, I think the story would be much better. I would love to know what happened to Anna’s mom, what Tyler’s home life was like. There are many hints about his father, but nothing is clear. I think knowing those key elements would make Tyler’s character (and the plot) stronger. If you want a spooky read that doesn’t take a lot of time, then you should read The Space Between. Be prepared though. It reads more like a longer short story than a novel… and there will be many questions when you finish. (less)
This was actually a super cute read. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to wait until closer to Halloween to read the book, but I thought it would be a per...moreThis was actually a super cute read. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to wait until closer to Halloween to read the book, but I thought it would be a perfect quick summer read… and I was right. I’m glad to say that this will be a series. I really enjoyed the characters. Eve is a human that was adopted by a monster family. She has spent her entire childhood living in the monster realm, so she can relate to the monsters. In fact, she feels more monster than human. That is, until she has to move to the human world. Once there, she finds herself having to overcome many stereotypes that she has held about humans while also trying to fit in at a middle school. The friends that Eve make along the way were also cute. I just got the warm fuzzies from them all. But I do have to admit, that my favorite character was Eve’s mom. She was from a line of Gorgons, so you can imagine the fun stuff she found herself getting into. The idea behind the story was unique. I am anxious to see what will develop in this mystery series as it continues. Eve has a new purpose in the mortal realm which will lead her on many adventures to come. I would suggest this book to 4th-6th grade readers (less)
When I accepted an ARC of Shadow Sight, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would be good because the author’s Spirit Guide series has received su...moreWhen I accepted an ARC of Shadow Sight, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it would be good because the author’s Spirit Guide series has received such high reviews. I also wasn’t fully certain what an “urban fantasy” would be exactly. My brain has a strange way of classifying genres, and urban fantasy is not currently in my vocabulary. All of that aside though, I can safely say that I had a lot of fun reading this book. The main character is a little quirky (along with her roommate named Jinx), which made me like her instantly. I love characters that aren’t perfect and seem to be aware of their flaws. Ivy was definitely one of these characters. She has a special gift—she can glean images (emotions) from any object that she touches. Pretty handy skill for finding your lost car keys, but not so great when you suddenly flash on someone’s worst nightmare. But despite the challenges, Ivy’s made a pretty good life for herself. She runs the psychic investigating operation Private Eye. Her special talents often lead to special clients. Enter Forneus, a demon attorney (I laughed at the irony of that stereotype) representing the Kelpies of the area. No big deal, right? Hardly! Kelpies like to eat humans, but that’s the least of Ivy’s problems. As it turns out, the Kelpies are the victims in a ghastly plot to wipe out the human population of the town. Ivy has to find a way to rescue the kidnapped Kelpie king and stop the each uisge from attacking. Not sure what each uisge are? Neither was I before reading this book! So I did a little research with my friend Google. The each uisge are similar to kelpies in that they both take on the horse-like form (or human at times) to lure their victims to the water, where they drown them and eat the remains. Kelpies, however, prefer fresh water and rivers while the each uisge are saltwater dwellers. They also have their origin in Scottish folklore, and are thought to be the most vicious of the water dwelling creatures. I think that is safe to say after reading this book! Holy smokes. If I saw one of these jokers in person I would pee my pants. No lie. Here is one of the descriptions of the diabolical monsters: “The monster was death incarnate, from the milky orbs of its dead eyes to the dripping fangs, sickle claws, poisoned spines, razor sharp exoskeleton of its legs, and dark mangy fur stretched thin over jutting ribs and hips.” I promise you, this description is all rainbows and lollipops compared to the first encounter with the beasts. You still get an idea of how terrifying this creature would be. No wonder you don’t hear much about the each uisge in mythology books! One of my favorite aspects of this book was the incorporation of so many mythological elements. There were vampires, unicorns, kelpies, each uisge, fae of all types, witches, trolls, mermaids, merrow, and many more. Don’t think that the story is choppy with so many supernatural elements, because it is not. Everything fits in very nicely and sets the stage for future books in the series. I am certain that some of these mythological creatures will be revisited as Ivy’s story progresses. If you’re a fan of mythology or paranormal books, you would enjoy Shadow Sight. There is an element of romance that begins to develop towards the end (which keeps you wondering what will happen in the next book) to satisfy the paranormal romance fans. But if you’d rather read a mythology-based mystery told from the point of view of a quirky, often sarcastic, main character, then you definitely need to read this book! (less)
The great care that was taken to develop the setting in this book was amazing. It completely sucks you in. The stor...moreTwo words: complicated and intense.
The great care that was taken to develop the setting in this book was amazing. It completely sucks you in. The story takes place in Salem in the early 1900s, which makes it the perfect setting for a super creepy story. And boy, did this story get creepy.
The characters were extremely well developed. It's hard to say what I liked about them the most. The "good guys" were more than just vampire fighting teens. They had, well, character. I won't say much about them though. I'd rather talk about the centuries old vampire out to help destroy the world. He was interesting. The way he was described and the detail given to his inner thoughts, made him terrifying. I am such a wimp when it comes to scary things, so I was really taken by surprised. Of course, I also couldn't stop reading because I was so intrigued by the complicated plot.
Since I mentioned vampires, it should be obvious that the paranormal element is strong with this one. There are also demons, witches, and warlocks. The combination of these paranormal elements is what makes this story so fascinating and complicated. You wouldn't think that a book with this much going on would be coherent, but it is. In fact, it's so well thought out that it's terrifying. Every detail fits together like a well planned puzzle.
In fact, "puzzle" is a great way to think about the plot. There was just so much happening in this book! I was rather impressed that I made it to the final chapters before I figured out what was going on. That's very impressive. I do think it's worth mentioning though, that I have mixed feelings about the shocking ending. IF this is the beginning of a series, then the ending is awesome. I mean, blow-your-mind-how-did-I-not-see-that-coming kind of awesome. And also assuming that this might be the beginning of a series, I am super curious to see what will happen next. (Read that last chapter and you'll know what I'm talking about.) That was one heck of a cliffhanger ending! Now, if this is a stand alone book, then I'm mad as hell with the ending. So many unanswered questions! I didn't have a sense of completeness when I finished the book. I felt like there must be more to come. (Which makes me think this is the beginning of a series.)
Don't read this book thinking it's a light and fluffy YA paranormal book. This is a dark fantasy... dark, dark fantasy. If you're a wimp like me, you should read it during the daylight hours for the villains in this book are what nightmares are made of. If you like a more mature book with a strong good vs evil element that leaves you questioning what you've read, you'll love The Darkening Dream. (less)
When I originally finished The Hunger Games trilogy, I had mixed feelings. I was a little disgruntled by the quick wrap up in Mockingjay. But now, aft...moreWhen I originally finished The Hunger Games trilogy, I had mixed feelings. I was a little disgruntled by the quick wrap up in Mockingjay. But now, after reading Katniss the Cattail by Valerie E. Frankel, I realize how brilliant Suzanne Collins really is. Oh. My. Goodness. If you are a fan of The Hunger Games, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of Katniss the Cattail. Why, you ask? The answer is simple. This book explains the symbolism throughout the series. Sure, you may think you have already figured out the majority of the books’ hidden meanings, but let me assure you—you are wrong. The plant names and “big” symbols are easy to dissect. There is no challenging that; but did you realize that almost every name in this book has some link back to Roman civilization? More importantly, to the overthrowing of Caesar? Amazing stuff. I devoured this book the moment I opened my mailbox. Everytime I read something “new” about a character, my brain started turning. I couldn’t help but stop and think about how a particular character interacted in the book; how they were described. It makes me want to reread the series with a more critical eye so I can appreciate the literary genius that is named Suzanne Collins. I do hope the movies can pull off this subtle characterization. Knowing the history behind the names really brings a new depth to the characters. Wondering about what you might find in Katniss the Cattail? Here is a small sampling of some of the information I found so captivating: • First, I must begin by saying that when my father (who is now hijacking my YA books before I can read them—note to self: stop taking books to his house when you visit) saw me watching the trailer for the movie, he stopped and watched it to. I had goosebumps at the end, but he replied, “That seems very Orwellian.” I didn’t pay much attention to his ramblings, because he’s always saying stuff like that (love my nerdy dad). But then I read the books, and I thought: Holy crap. Obviously this is a dystopian read, but there is more to it. George Orwell is the author of one of my favorite books, Animal Farm. (I do hope you’ve read this book!) As the plot of Mockingjay develops, I knew the leaders were important. District Thirteen’s leader was no saint. The events that followed were not by chance. Just like in the Orwell classic, “the pigs lead a revolution to drive out the farmer and run the farm themselves, but soon they elevate themselves over their fellow animals, becoming indistinguishable from the farmers in the end. Here is the true danger of power… The lesson in both series is clear: Absolute power corrupts absolutely; those who conquer tyrants will soon become tyrants themselves” (Frankel 79). Brilliant. Now be honest, when you read Mockingjay, were you thinking about Animal Farm? Seems like I should listen more closely to the ramblings of a middle aged man. Oh, and I’m not even going to start explaining the similarities between the Capitol’s lifestyle and Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World! • There is also a hint of mythology in The Hunger Games. (I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognize this one.) Apparently, Collins has explained in interviews that the Hunger Games themselves were inspired by the story of Theseus. As the story goes, every nine years, seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls would be sent to Crete as Tribute for the Minotaur to devour. Theseus volunteered to be placed with the Tributes, and killed the Minotaur (Frankel 80). Does the plot sound familiar? I don’t want to give away all the gems in this book, but these two I found to be pretty interesting. Katniss the Cattail is divided into three sections: The names of Panem, symbols, and literary allusions. The symbols were pretty straight forward, but the allusions and historical value of the names were insightful. The author has done a fabulous job of putting together the research. When a great work of fiction presents itself, it only makes sense to view it under a critical literary lens. I know The Hunger Games is being taught in classrooms across the country because I have friends that are teaching the book to their students. At first I worried that it would be too graphic or gory for the censorship hounds, but after reading about the plethora of literary devices used in the novels, it only makes sense to teach these books. If you’re interested in other books by Valerie Frankel, she has written several on the Harry Potter series and one titled From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey in Myth and Legend. You can also find her on her website http://vefrankel.com . (less)
What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously...more What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously. Let’s start with the plot. Bumbling heroes, an evil witch, a diplomatic giant, vegetarian trolls, and princesses that don’t need rescuing—a perfect combination for a fast-paced plot full of hijinks and adventure. I fell in love with this story on the first page. The opening line says, “Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that did you?” The light-hearted tone from the opening line runs throughout this book. I literally laughed out loud in places. If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, you will love this book. I guarantee it. There are so many twists to the original tales that this book becomes its own version of a fairy-tale. How great is it to make Snow White slightly off her rocker and Cinderella like a ninja? The characters are extremely enjoyable too. The Princes Charming (there was a grammar lesson attached to this name in the book) are pretty ticked off that they go nameless in all the tales. They want people to know who the “Prince Charming” in the story really is. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But when Cinderella goes “missing,” a true hero senses the opportunity for a rescue. And so this team of misfit heroes is formed (in a rather entertaining way). Gustav is one of my favorite characters in the book. Nicknamed “Angry Man” by a troll, he undergoes the greatest transformation throughout the story. Short tempered and often irrational, he is more of a liability than an asset. But he does learn a few lessons along the way. His slowly developing friendship with Frederick—the OCD Prince Charming belonging to Cinderella—is rather endearing. Of course, Frederick is hilarious in his own right. He’s the smooth talker in the group, which is a good thing because he can’t do anything else. Then there are the princes Liam and Duncan. Liam seems to have things together, except that he thinks he’s unstoppable. But Duncan is the life of the party. There is something “off” about Snow White’s beau. The man names animals that randomly appear in the forest! That’s not normal. I would be wrong to discuss characters and not mention the leading ladies in this story. They were independent, strong-minded, and better heroes than the men. Not your stereotyped princesses by any means. Cinderella could be a super ninja. I enjoyed the side stories that told of her adventures sans the Princes Charming. When the stories finally merge, it forms a great team of heroes that I can’t wait to read more about. (And I do hope they will be recruiting more princesses into the team.) I’m happy to say that this book is the beginning of a series. I am anticipating this book becoming a favorite. It should be read aloud so everyone can appreciate the witty humor and antics in the story. Otherwise, people nearby will wonder what’s wrong with you as you laugh out loud with every turn of the page. (less)
If you’re looking for a book with deeply developed characters and a complicated plot, this is not the book for you. If you want an enjoyable story wit...more If you’re looking for a book with deeply developed characters and a complicated plot, this is not the book for you. If you want an enjoyable story with Native American mythology undertones, then this is the book for you. The Boy Who Flew with Eagles has a certain mythology feel to it. Naa’ki is kidnapped by a desperate mother eagle. Being cunning and brave, he makes a pack with the mother eagle. If she spares his life, he will provide food daily for her young eaglets until they can fly. The mother eagle is wary at first, but agrees. Naa’ki lives up to his promise and eventually begins to think of the eagles as family. In turn, mother eagle teaches Naa’ki a very valuable lesson. I liked the simple story telling aspect of this tale. At about 30 pages, it was short and to the point: There is a problem with the humans and everyone will die if things don’t change. The conflict, of course, comes from the humans being vain and arrogant and not believing the animals’ message. Like all myths and folktales, there is a valuable message to learn. The lesson is applicable to all aspects of our lives, not just to the natural world that surrounds us. I thought the author, Ben Woodard, did a splendid job with his descriptions. I felt like I was sitting around the camp fire listening to this story being told. The descriptive writing was truly beautiful. “They jumped as the old man raised his arms and flames leaped in a tapestry of yellow and red. He lowered his arms and the blaze returned to a flicker.” How could you not find yourself sucked into the story with such great descriptions? I am always on the look out for myths and folktales. Being a fan of such writings, I was instantly drawn to this story. Anyone that enjoys a good myth/folktale would find plenty to relish in this story. (less)
In one word, this book is “cute.” It was a fun beach worthy read. Nothing too complicated. I knew I would like this book when I read that the witches...moreIn one word, this book is “cute.” It was a fun beach worthy read. Nothing too complicated. I knew I would like this book when I read that the witches that use self-serving potions to shed a few pounds or grab the attention of the local hottie would “suffer” (i.e. turn into the hideous witches you’re used to reading about). I could totally relate to the characters’ desire to suffer with a hairy, green wart for thinner hips. The characters were hard to connect with. There didn’t seem to be a lot of depth with the majority of the characters in the book. Anya was super-self absorbed and pretty unlikeable, but I’m certain that was intentional. Jake seemed alright. Typical teenage boy. I would like to see him grow a bit more in the upcoming books. Zoe was unique and likable. Yes, she’s a witch. But she’s a self-conscious humanitarian witch. Her goal in life is to become the scientist that cures cancer. Pretty awesome. The plot was pretty straight forward. Young teenage witch has a crush on her best friend’s ex-boyfriend. Young teenage witch’s parents complicate her love life. Young teenage witch has a colossal mishap and gets in trouble. It’s fairly predictable, but still enjoyable. It seems like the majority of the conflict is going to occur in the next book, at least that’s the impression I got from the ending. Since our poor witch got into a bit of trouble, she has to have a magic tutor. Except, her tutor isn’t what she expects. You might think that a 95 year-old wizard would look like one of the California raisins from the 80s, but he doesn’t. Seems he got into a tad bit of trouble himself when he traded his old self for a super hottie body. So, like I said, the plot will thicken in the next book. As I said, this was a “cute” read. It was quick and fun, and didn’t require a lot of effort on my part. I was turning the pages pretty quickly because I enjoyed the story. If you want a fun book to read while taking a break from the zombie and dystopian books currently flooding the market, then you would enjoy Stirring Up Trouble. (less)