I read this book in one day. Okay, it's a kid's book, so it's easy to read. But, I couldn't put it down. I think Erec is a hero that kids can relate t...moreI read this book in one day. Okay, it's a kid's book, so it's easy to read. But, I couldn't put it down. I think Erec is a hero that kids can relate to. He thinks and acts more like a 12 year old than most 12 year old fantasy heroes. The pacing of the story is great and would definitely keep kids interested. (less)
Okay, I admit that I'm hooked. Will Erec ever figure out who he is?
If one were to judge books by their covers, one would suspect that Erec Rex is a Ha...moreOkay, I admit that I'm hooked. Will Erec ever figure out who he is?
If one were to judge books by their covers, one would suspect that Erec Rex is a Harry Potter wanna-be. However, the series is quite different. It's lighter and more fun. Erec is more like most 12 year old boys I know than Harry Potter is. He kind of stumbles from one event to another without really giving much thought to what is going on. He wants to know about his past, but he never puts two and two together. His friend Bethany is very smart, but her smarts aren't all-encompassing. She's a math genius and pretty much ordinary in everything else. Like most girls her age, she is more mature than the boys around her.
I really think Erec Rex is a character boys can relate to.(less)
My sixth grade son made me read "Crispin: The Cross of Lead". He's a really advanced reader, but it's hard to get him involved in books. He'd rather p...moreMy sixth grade son made me read "Crispin: The Cross of Lead". He's a really advanced reader, but it's hard to get him involved in books. He'd rather play World of Warcraft or play his guitar. He couldn't put this book down and insisted that I read it.
I was surprised at the content of the book. Crispin is the bastard son of an outcast peasant woman who never shows him any affection. He doesn't even know his name until after his mother dies. The revelation of his name leads to the murder of the village priest before he learns who his father is. Fortunately, the priest gives Crispin his mother's lead cross before he is murdered.
From that point, Crispin is on the run. The lord of the manor frames him for a crime and puts a price on his head. He encounters a man who takes him under his wing and teaches him about life and the world.
I thought this was an excellent book. It won the Newbury award. I would caution more protective parents that this book does have a lot of violence and may expose children to ideas you may not want them exposed to like adultery and atheism. I'm glad my son read it, but I did have to do some explaining. (less)
I got this book for a reading group. I was going to read it and pass it to my almost-13 year old son. Although I thought the book was very well writte...moreI got this book for a reading group. I was going to read it and pass it to my almost-13 year old son. Although I thought the book was very well written and had a lot of positive things to say, I decided not to pass it on. I'm not sure at what age I will deem it appropriate for my son.
On the positive side, this book is a story about a 14 year old Indian boy who decides to go off the reservation to attend high school in the neighboring white farming community. It's not easy for him because his fellow Indians hate him and he doesn't fit in with the white kids. But, he succeeds anyway. He learns that it's most important to be true to yourself and to have hope than it is to stick with your race. The narrator is refreshingly honest and I'm sure boys would identify with him. It gives readers an interesting look at what it's like to live in poverty and hopelessness and the cost of breaking free from that.
On the negative side, this book talks a lot about mastrubation and erections and beating people up and alcoholism. The portrayal of Indians on the reservation is very stereotypical. I don't know if it's true, but I find it just promotes the stereotypes.
Yes, I know these topics are a part of life, but I really think my son would be very, very embarrassed to read this stuff (especially the sexual stuff) knowing I had read it first. I also think he would be mortified that I had read this stuff and thought it was a good idea for him to read the book. I will put this book in my bookcase, not his. If he pulls it out to read it, fine. If not, fine. It's not something I'm going to insist that he read.(less)
There is a reason why totalitarian governments ban books. The reason is that books can change the world. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and Frederick Douglass' a...moreThere is a reason why totalitarian governments ban books. The reason is that books can change the world. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and Frederick Douglass' autobiography opened people's eyes to the evils of slavery; Anne Frank's Diary taught us that genocide kills innocent young girls; "To Kill a Mockingbird" showed us that justice isn't always just and that people should be judged by their character rather than the color of their skin; "The Grapes of Wrath" opened our eyes to the plight of migrant farm workers; "1984" warned us about the perils of a nanny state. Now, in 2008, a new book of power has emerged. "Little Brother" is "1984" for the 21st century, but with more impact.
I don't recall that the book ever states what the year is. It really doesn't matter. It takes place post 9/11. Terrorists blow up San Francisco's Bay Bridge and everyone's constitutional rights get trampled in the aftermath. This book is aimed at teens, but every American adult should read it too. Parents should read it with their teens and discuss it with them. (There are a few scenes of teenage drinking and sex, but the overwhelming message of this book is so strong that even this conservative mother is willing to overlook it.)
My daughter was 18 on 9/11. My son is only 4 years away from being the same age as the protagonist. I remember how idealistic I was a teen. I read this book with all that in my experience. I read it as a mother; I read it as an idealistic teen; and I read it as a true believer in our rights as American citizens. I read thI didn't is book with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. At 47, I thought I was past the age when a book would have the power to move me and change me as profoundly as "Little Brother." I've read thousands of books in my lifetime. I have very fond memories of so many of them. But, when it comes to real power, "Little Brother" is right up there next to "To Kill a Mockingbird." I'd give it 6 stars if I could. It is that good.
I do have to add that I gave this to my son to read before I read it. He is almost 13. He loved this book. He wants to read more books like it. I'm going to have to tell him that it's just a unique book. And, he did ask me why I didn't tell him it had "adult situations." I had to tell him that I didn't know. I really recommend that you let your teens read it before you do. They'll be less embarrassed that way. You can use the "adult situations" as a tool to talk about those touchy subjects of sex, drugs and alcohol.(less)
It's easy to see why "The Giver" by Lois Lowry became an instant classic. First, it's easy to read. I read it in about 2 hours. I can see that this wo...moreIt's easy to see why "The Giver" by Lois Lowry became an instant classic. First, it's easy to read. I read it in about 2 hours. I can see that this would be a benefit in a classroom where some of the students might not be adept readers. Despite the easy reading level, this book has a lot of big ideas. And, it doesn't just hand them to you. It's an ideal book for discussing with others. I found myself identifying so closely with Jonas that I didn't even notice just how different his world was from ours. If I were a kid, I'd probably have been very surprised by the ending. However, I grew up with "Logan's Run" and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. I knew what releasing was right at the beginning.
I wish this book had been around when I was a child.
I must be a real geek. I laughed my butt off at the phrase "opposition is unproductive." Only a real Star Trek geek would have been able to translate...moreI must be a real geek. I laughed my butt off at the phrase "opposition is unproductive." Only a real Star Trek geek would have been able to translate that to "resistance is futile." I'm in no way sure what "InterWorld" is. It's part science fiction, part fantasy, part allusion to all things in geekdom. Take some of "Ender's Game" and mix it up with "Neverwhere." Toss in some Star Trek, some Twilight Zone, and some Wizard of Oz for fun. I started this book at dinnertime last night and it's almost lunch time now. I stayed up too late; I overslept; and I missed church because of this book. Whatever this book is, it's terrific.n Best of all, I can hand it to my son without worrying about him asking me why I gave him a book with "adult situations" in it.
It's really hard finding books that appeal to young teen boys who are no longer into fantasy that includes dragons and wizards. I think this book fills a niche that really needs to be filled.(less)
“Small Steps” by Louis Sachar is the sequel to “Holes.” Well, it’s really sort of the sequel to “Holes,” in a way. The tone and style aren’t at all li...more“Small Steps” by Louis Sachar is the sequel to “Holes.” Well, it’s really sort of the sequel to “Holes,” in a way. The tone and style aren’t at all like “Holes.” It’s a serious story with serious plot developments. It doesn’t have the humor of “Holes.” While it is a completely self-contained story, I do recommend that you read “Holes” first if you want to understand some of the references to it scattered throughout the “Small Steps.”
“Small Steps” follows up on the story of Armpit after he leaves Camp Green Lake. He’s got a list of small steps he wants to accomplish. He wants to finish high school, work, save some money, and stay out of trouble. He’s doing really well until his Camp Green Lake buddy, X-Ray, shows up and talks him into a ticket-scalping scheme. Alongside Armpit’s story, we get the story of Kaira DeLeon, a pop sensation who befriends Armpit and his young disabled neighbor, Ginny.
The strongest aspect of “Small Steps” is it’s characters. Sachar does an excellent job of putting the reader in his character’s shoes. You really identify with Armpit, a black teen whom trouble always finds; Ginny, a little girl with cerebral palsy; and Kaira, a rising star with a creepy stepfather and no real home or friends. I think my favorite character was Kaira. Through her, you can see how so many young stars end up as screwed up adults.
While “Small Steps” is an easy read, I don’t recommend it for young readers. There is a plot twist that is very disturbing and I believe it takes a bit of maturity to handle it. However, it is a fantastic book for middle-school readers that will give them a lot to think about while entertaining them. (less)
It's taken me a long time to get around to reviewing this book. It took me a long time to finish reading this book. I often see Un Lun Dun classified...moreIt's taken me a long time to get around to reviewing this book. It took me a long time to finish reading this book. I often see Un Lun Dun classified as a young adult novel. If you go by length, it is. However, the content seemed to me made it a children's book. Now, I missed reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a child and just read them recently, in my mid-forties. I didn't like either one. Un Lun Dun is very much like these two children's classics. The first 100 pages bored me to death.
After page 100, the pace of the story picks up and there's a big twist that makes the story more interesting. Once I got to the twist, I finished it pretty fast. That first quarter of the book just took too long. I can't help but wonder if kids would persevere through it or if I'm too old and jaded to be charmed by silly, juvenile fantasy. (less)
"The Graveyard Book" a novel that reads like a collection of interconnected, chronologically-ordered short stories. The scariest parts aren't the ghos...more"The Graveyard Book" a novel that reads like a collection of interconnected, chronologically-ordered short stories. The scariest parts aren't the ghosts and ghouls in the graveyard, but the dangers that lurk outside the gates. I hesitate to recommend this for anyone younger than middle-school age. It is an easy read that most children over 8 or 9 could easily comprehend, but the first chapter is very disturbing. It starts out with the murdering of a father, mother and child as they sleep. The second child, a toddler, crawls out of his crib as his family is being murdered and makes his way to a cemetery. The murderer tracks him, but the child is offered the protection of the graveyard when his mother's ghosts asks the ghosts of the graveyard to take care of him. Needless to say, the child has a very interesting childhood and learns many unusual things.
I loved the relationship between the boy and the ghosts. It was very touching. And, the story resolved itself nicely. Altogether, this was a very enjoyable book.(less)
Howl's Moving Castle is a fabulous book for all ages. I could easily imagine reading it to a preschooler, recommending it to a middle-schooler and I l...moreHowl's Moving Castle is a fabulous book for all ages. I could easily imagine reading it to a preschooler, recommending it to a middle-schooler and I loved reading it myself. It's got wizard and witches and curses and missing princes and a nice, not evil stepmother and a young woman who doesn't understand the power she wields. It has comedy, romance and drama. It falls in the same category of fairy-tale fantasy as Stardust and Lud-In-The-Mist. It was like them, but also nothing like them. I highly recommend this for everyone.(less)
It's such a shame that Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue wasn't picked up by one of the big publishing houses. It's really one of the best young adult...moreIt's such a shame that Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue wasn't picked up by one of the big publishing houses. It's really one of the best young adult science fiction novels I've read. I liked it so much more than Ender's Game. It's so well paced and the characters are so engaging. I can't believe how much action Hugh Howey packed into 283 pages. It never let up and there were surprising twists at every turn. Sadly, the big publications aren't printing much in the way of young adult space fiction. You have vampires, wizards and dystopias, but not many spaceships and alien cultures. You especially don't find much space fiction that have strong female protagonists who should appeal equally to girls and boys. I really loved that she spent absolutely no time worrying about her clothes or her makeup. Molly was a very realistic character. This is a great book if you have a teen you want to turn on to real science fiction, especially if that teen is a girl.(less)
In rating The Looking Glass Wars, I'm going by the GoodReads definitions of the stars. Two stars means "It was ok". I admit that I've never read the L...moreIn rating The Looking Glass Wars, I'm going by the GoodReads definitions of the stars. Two stars means "It was ok". I admit that I've never read the Lewis Carroll novels about Alice in Wonderland and the Disney movie was way too disturbing, so I guess I'm not an Alice fan to begin with. With that out of the way, I found Beddor's retelling of the classic to be dull and flat. The only parts that caught my interest were the scenes of Alyss in England and how she transitions from Alyss Heart to Alice Liddell. I thought she was much better as Alice.
If I had a young daughter or niece who was an Alice in Wonderland fan, I'd consider gifting her with this book. However, it somehow didn't reach the little girl inside of me.(less)
This past Saturday, my daughter and I went to the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA. Our first stop was the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore booth to get...moreThis past Saturday, my daughter and I went to the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA. Our first stop was the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore booth to get the lay of the land. Last year, we stumbled upon Connie Willis at their booth and had a nice chat with her, so we were hoping for some equal luck this year. We started talking to this really nice, intelligent author named D.J. MacHale. There wasn't anyone waiting to get books signed, so we kind of monopolized his time for a bit. I noticed that he had written the Pendragon series. I had heard of it and told him that I'd only heard good things about it, but I wasn't going to get sucked in to reaading a series of ten YA novels. He and I talked a bit about books and series and popularity vs. quality. His latest book, The Light is the first installment of what he promises is only a trilogy. I loved the cover and the synopsis sounded interesting. I bought a copy and he signed it with a reference to our conversation about The Da Vinci Code. Needless to say, I felt obligated to move this book up to the top of my reading pile.
When I was a kid, I loved ghost stories and tales of the supernatural. I read all those Strange but True paperbacks and my friends and I would tell ghost stories in the dark. (Remember Mary White? You'd say her name three times and she'd appear in your mirror?) Once, my best friend and I were playing with a Ouija board under a card table with a quilt over it and it scared the crap out of us by spelling out "I...W...I...L...L...K...I...." We didn't even let it finish spelling and ran out from under that table screaming. My friend, who owned the Ouija board, wrapped practically a whole roll of masking tape around it and shoved it in the back corner of her closet shelf. I think I was eleven and she was twelve at the time. I also remember my 6th grade teacher reading Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart to us and setting me on a path to read everything Poe. I'm dredging up all those childhood memories because The Light brought all of that back to me.
I will admit that The Light is one darned scary book. It starts off slow and builds in creepiness. The ending was completely shocking and unexpected. I would have adored this book when I was a kid. It has a huge appeal to my inner 9-13 year old. I know a lot of people may think that it's too scary for kids that young, but it's exactly the kind of thing I was reading at those ages. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane and I hope Mr. MacHale and his publisher get the next two installments out really soon.(less)
While I didn't like the narrator at all in the audio version of the first book, I think she does a much better job here. It sounds more like she's telling the story rather than reading the story and she makes it more personal than the first installment. (less)
The audio version of Mockingjay has a bonus section at the end where Suzanne Collins talks about how she came up with the idea for The Hunger Games. S...moreThe audio version of Mockingjay has a bonus section at the end where Suzanne Collins talks about how she came up with the idea for The Hunger Games. She was watching TV and flicking between news coverage of the war in Iraq and Survivor. She started dozing and the two started blending together. I'm thinking that Suzanne Collins should watch more TV, because the result is one of the most truly amazing trilogies I've encounted. She pulls no punches. Horrific things happen to characters you care about and the happily ever after ending is haunted by all that has happened before.
Collins digs into some big ideas in this series. She never talks down to the teen audience she's writing for. She gives them credit for being able to handle difficult situations and to rise to the occasion when needed. She doesn't paint the world and its people in black and white, but in shades of gray. I really wish this series had been written when I was a teen. (less)
I had to give Revolution some time to digest before I could review it. I had a hard time with the beginning of the book. The first time I tried to lis...moreI had to give Revolution some time to digest before I could review it. I had a hard time with the beginning of the book. The first time I tried to listen to it, I had to go on to something else. Actually, I had to go on to several something elses. As the mother of a teen, I had a really hard time with the way the book normalized teen drinking and drug use. Most of the teens I've known don't drink or use drugs, and I would hate to have them think it's okay because that's what the really cool, smart kids that Andi Alpers knows does. On my re-start, I was much more aware of the pain that Andi was in. Something so terrible has happened that she can't talk about it. It's led her parent's divorce. She and her mother are living totally non-functional lives with Andi feeling responsible for taking care of her mother who is even more depressed than Andi is. Andi is in the darkest place a teen can be in and comes close to committing suicide more than once.
When the school sends letters to both of her parents informing them that she is in danger of being expelled from her exclusive private school near the end of her senior year, her father comes to New York and takes her with him to Paris for winter break. In Paris, as in New York, Andi spends most of her time fending for herself. Her father's best friend shows her an antique guitar and she finds a hidden diary by a girl her age who does some pretty amazing things during the French Revolution. From this point the stories of Andi and Alexandrine overlap, parallel and converge until they become one and the same. While she is far from healthy and ends up having a serious relapse, Andi begins her healing process with the help of new friends and Alexandrine's diary.
Revolution brought me to tears several times. A big reason for that was the narration of Andi's story. I'm not sure which of the two narrators did Andi, but she was perfect. She sounded young enough and she completely captured Andi's emotions. I really felt like I was listening to Andi tell her own story. The narrator who read Alexandrine's diary was also good. She had a formality and maturity that really displayed the difference between an 18th century 17 year old and a modern girl of the same age. One was a full adult, the other was still in the process of growing up.
I highly recommend this book for older teens and for adults. Because of the content, I would not recommend it for younger teens. I especially recommend it in audio. This production is absolutely perfect and really brings the story to life.(less)
I really enjoyed Railsea. I was a bit surprised that it was a young adult novel. I didn't figure that out from the description. That said, I thought i...moreI really enjoyed Railsea. I was a bit surprised that it was a young adult novel. I didn't figure that out from the description. That said, I thought it was a great book for adults as well as teens. In fact, it may also be the perfect book for those of you who are trying to find good books for those troublesome 8-10 year old kids who read at a high school level. I know how hard it is to find books for advanced readers that aren't inappropriate. This book is a great adventure for everybody.(less)
I probably would have loved this book when I was twelve. It has all the elements that would have excited my imagination in junior high. However, my mi...moreI probably would have loved this book when I was twelve. It has all the elements that would have excited my imagination in junior high. However, my middle-aged self felt like I had read it many, many times already. Westerfeld does a great job of imagining his alternate history and the beasties are terrific. The three star rating is simply my jaded self talking.
As for the narration, Alan Cumming does a great job with the voices. I never had any trouble figuring out who was talking or which viewpoint character I was following. Deryn and Alek were very well differentiated. However, I felt like he was narrating for an audience much younger than the target audience for the book. He was over-the-top dramatic, especially for the action sequences. I don't know if teen listeners would appreciate that level of dramatization, but a third grade audience would love it.(less)
The Raven Boys grabbed me from the first sentence and didn't let go until the last one. It kept making twists and turns that made me say, "I should ha...moreThe Raven Boys grabbed me from the first sentence and didn't let go until the last one. It kept making twists and turns that made me say, "I should have seen that coming." Yet, I didn't see it coming. Sadly, the next book isn't coming out until September. I want more now.(less)
I was prepared to be disappointed by The Fault in Our Stars. It's received so much praise that I thought it couldn't possibly be that good. It really...moreI was prepared to be disappointed by The Fault in Our Stars. It's received so much praise that I thought it couldn't possibly be that good. It really is that good. It's a story about life, love, and death. Two teens with cancer fall in love. You know from the onset it can only end tragically. Generally, a young love cancer book is cheesy. Anybody remember Love Story and that gawdawful line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."? Gag. Fortunately, Green avoids the cheesy trap. Instead, he has written a book that feels honest. By the end, I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. That fifth star is for those tears.
Kate Rudd did an amazing job narrating the audiobook. In fact, I suspect that this is one of those books that is made better by listening to her performance. Maybe it would have been cheese in print, but Rudd is so authentic as the voice of Hazel. The way she captures Hazel's shortness of breath when she exerts herself or the way she talks when she's on the CPAP machine is subtle and realistic. Her narration was probably the main reason I ended up in tears. I really believed her performance.
I cannot express what a good audiobook this is. Wow. Just wow.(less)
If this book were released in a print version (even without the Doctor Who tie-in), I would give it four stars and make sure my granddaughter had a co...moreIf this book were released in a print version (even without the Doctor Who tie-in), I would give it four stars and make sure my granddaughter had a copy. On the surface, it's an absolutely wonderful children's story that compares quite well to some of the best children's literature. On that level, it is pure fantasy. It completely captures what it's like to be a child. My favorite line was on page 33 of the epub edition:
Kate realised she was the only grown-up in the world?
What bright kid doesn't feel like that? At some point, they all start feeling smarter than the adults around them.
The other level it works on is the Doctor Who fan level. This "author" of this book is Amy Pond who travels through time and space with her husband Rory Williams and the Doctor. The Curator is obviously the Doctor. You can tell by the way he talks. The Doctor Who tie in is definitely there for the fans, but it's delightful even if you've never seen a single episode. (less)