Maggie Stiefvater'sBallad takes place in the fall after the events chronicled in the summer of Lament. James, rather than Deirdre, is now the centrMaggie Stiefvater'sBallad takes place in the fall after the events chronicled in the summer of Lament. James, rather than Deirdre, is now the central character. He and Deirdre are attending school at Thornking-Ash, a school for the talented, young musicians who are particularly enticing for the faeries. James meets Nuala, a leanan sidhe, who lives off the creativity of mortals. She's a dangerous faerie, but she's not the most dangerous thing out there.
Out of the three Stiefvater books I read this year, Ballad is my favorite. I really loved James in Lament, and it was nice to see him get his due. Stiefvater continues to impress me with her beautiful, engrossing, and heart-wrenching prose....more
In the second Beka Cooper novel, Beka and Goodwin travel to Port Caynn to find out who is flooding the market with counterfeit silver coins.
Still a yIn the second Beka Cooper novel, Beka and Goodwin travel to Port Caynn to find out who is flooding the market with counterfeit silver coins.
Still a young Dog Beka is very unsure of herself at times, and in this second installment she is really forced to grow as she is taken out of her element, asked to pretend to be something she's not, and left to fend for herself in Port Caynn. (I was glad she at least had Atchoo.) Believe me, she makes some mistakes, but I still love her. I love Beka's world, and most of all I love the language Pierce uses to build that world. ...more
Anna lives in a little town in Northern England. In 1665 a bolt of cloth infested with plague-carried fleas is delivered to the village from London. TAnna lives in a little town in Northern England. In 1665 a bolt of cloth infested with plague-carried fleas is delivered to the village from London. The town members commit to self-imposed quarantine so that the disease will not spread. In less than a year more than half of the village has succumbed to the plague.
I found Geraldine Brooks' novel interesting and readable. I liked Anna. I mourned when her children dies. I mourned when her best friend died. I enjoyed reading about her growth.
However, I really disliked the end of the novel and the revelation about Rector Mompellion's character, his crisis of faith, and his subsequent actions. ...more
My sister and I first stumbled upon Patricia Wrede when we were hunting for a book to listen to on a drive from Utah to Colorado. We found Wrede's DeMy sister and I first stumbled upon Patricia Wrede when we were hunting for a book to listen to on a drive from Utah to Colorado. We found Wrede's Dealing with Dragons and soon fell in love with her Enchanted Forest Series. I then read Wrede's series that begins with Sorcery and Cecelia and loved the concept of the letter writing game. So, I was thrilled when I happily stumbled upon Wrede's newest work of fiction in the recently published section of the library.
Thirteenth Child is about Eff, the twin sister of a seventh son of a seventh son and a thirteenth child. It's the thirteenth child thing that really has Eff worried. She was told her whole childhood that thirteenth children bring bad luck and eventually turn evil. Eff spent most of her younger years just waiting for that to occur. Eff's family moves out west (roughly Minneapolis as far as I can gather) near the Mammoth River (the Mississippi) so her father can teach magic at the college there. Just beyond the river lies land unprotected by the Great Barrier and dragons, mammoths, and all sorts of magically destructive creature live out there.
This first book is about Eff's formative years. Her schooling in magic and her emerging abilities. I quite enjoyed it. I can think of very few alternative histories set in the American frontier, and I liked Wrede's creation. I'm looking forward to the sequels. ...more
Scott Westerfeld's newest book Leviathan is set during an alternate 1914. The world is on the brink of war. Alek is the son of Archduke Ferdinand anScott Westerfeld's newest book Leviathan is set during an alternate 1914. The world is on the brink of war. Alek is the son of Archduke Ferdinand and Princess Sophie. Their murders leave him running for his life in his Stormwalker--a giant, mechanical contraption that walks on two legs and was built for war. Deryn is a Scottish girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can join the Air Services. She finds herself stationed aboard the Leviathan, the crown jewel of the British Air Force. Oh, and by the way, the Leviathan is a giant hydrogen airbeast, fabricated from the DNA of hundreds of animals. On the Leviathan's super-secret, diplomatic mission to the Ottoman Empire Deryn's and Alek's paths cross.
As the events of 1914 unfold its clear there will be war with the Clankers on one side and the Darwinists on the other.
I love alternate histories, and this could be a great series. I think it would be a fantastic read-aloud book that could appeal to both boys and girls, kids and adults. The illustrations by Keith Thompson are also absolutely fantastic. I also love the title of the book.
Morgenstern • William Goldman states that he is adapting The PrinceHere are the questions we used for book club
Discussion Questions: The Princess Bride
Morgenstern • William Goldman states that he is adapting The Princess Bride from a novel written by the great Florinese writer, S. Morgenstern. Do you believe that there really is such a person? Why or why not? And why do you think Goldman might want to confuse readers about this point? Is that confusion necessary for the kind of story he is trying to tell?
The Movie vs. the Book • Goldman wrote the screenplay for the film version of The Princess Bride. There are many differences between the two. Identify as many as you can. Why do you think Goldman made these changes? With which of his choices do you agree? Disagree? Genre • How should The Princess Bride ultimately be categorized: Satire? Adventure? Romance? Fantasy? Is the title ironic? Does it imply a tame love story or a traditional piece of children’s literature? Goldman’s role in the novel: • Why do you think that Goldman inserts himself as a character in his own novel? o Does Goldman present himself as a sympathetic character? o Do you think Goldman is portraying his actual wife, son, and father, or are they also fictionalized characters?
• The Princess Bride can be thought of as two intertwining tales, one focusing on Westley and Buttercup, the other on the life of Goldman himself (or the fictional Goldman, at any rate). How do these two stories parallel and play off of each other?
• Should writers draw a firm line between fact and fiction? If a writer puts himself into his story, does he have a moral obligation to be truthful about himself, or is he free to treat himself (and any other real-life person similarly inserted) as a fictional character?
Characters • When we first meet Inigo and Fezzik, they are working with Vizzini to kidnap Buttercup. Later, they become allies of Westley in his efforts to rescue her. What causes Inigo and Fezzik to change . . . or do they really change at all over the course of the novel?
• In the early part of the story Buttercup’s kidnappers are known only as the Spaniard, the Turk, and the Sicilian. But as each of these men prepares to battle the Man in Black, the reader learns the kidnapper’s name, his history, and how he became part of “the most effective criminal organization in the civilized world.” How does this affect our reading of the subsequent battle scenes? With whom do your sympathies lie?
• Why does Prince Humperdinck build his Zoo of Death? What is significant about the fifth level? How would you characterize the Prince’s brand of sadism—and the sadism of Count Rugen and his life-sucking Machine? How are these elements of sadism and evil necessary to the universe of a fairy tale?
• Discuss the story Westley tells about the Dread Pirate Roberts. How does this tale within the tale influence your interest in Westley? Is he still the same farm boy from the beginning of the book? Women in The Princess Bride • Is Goldman's portrayal of Buttercup misogynistic? Is there a pattern in the way that women are portrayed in The Princess Bride?
• Compare the relationships between men-such as Goldman and his father, Fezzik and Inigo, Inigo and Domingo, and Goldman and his son-and those between men and women, especially Westley and Buttercup. Which are presented more positively? Why do you think that is?
• Is Westley's initial anger at Buttercup for agreeing to marry Humperdinck fair? Based on his actions and words, including, at one point, striking her, might Westley be considered an abuser? Are his demonstrated attitudes toward women reinforced or undermined by the text, both in his own story and in Goldman's comments?
True Love • In the introduction, Goldman writes: "But take the title words-'true love and high adventure'-I believed that once. I thought my life was going to follow that path. Prayed that it would. Obviously it didn't, but I don't think there's high adventure left any more." Later, he adds: "And true love you can forget about too." Does the rest of the book offer support for these words, or does it refute them?
• How does Goldman’s story compare with traditional episodes of fairy-tale love?
• Consider the romantic relationships that Goldman describes throughout the novel (Goldman and Helen, Westley and Buttercup, Miracle Max and Valerie). Does this say something about his views of romance and marriage—or is it all part of a joke? ...more
Aislinn sees faeries. This is not a good thing. Aislinn, thus, strives to remain unnoticed. She can't escape Keenan, the Summer King, who is certain sAislinn sees faeries. This is not a good thing. Aislinn, thus, strives to remain unnoticed. She can't escape Keenan, the Summer King, who is certain she will be the girl who, as his Queen, can restore him to his full power.
I really liked Donia, the Winter Girl, cursed to carry winter's chill and warn girls to stay away from the one she loves....more
Percy is as pale as a ghost. She can see and talk to ghosts. She has visions. She may be the one to fulfill a prophecy given to six members of a guardPercy is as pale as a ghost. She can see and talk to ghosts. She has visions. She may be the one to fulfill a prophecy given to six members of a guard that protects London from spirits. Set in an alternate Victorian England....more
In August I read Maggie Stiefvater's book Lament. I was so engrossed with the book that I immediately went to find other books by Stiefvater. EnterIn August I read Maggie Stiefvater's book Lament. I was so engrossed with the book that I immediately went to find other books by Stiefvater. Enter Shiver.
Grace lives near the woods in Minnesota. Every winter she watches the wolves out her back window, one wolf in particular. Every summer the wolves are gone. Sam spends his summers in town doing odd jobs. In the winter he pines for Grace through wolf's eyes. When the two finally meet they have to figure out how to stay together.
I like Maggie Stiefvater's language and writing style. It really works for me in Shiver. I like the short chapters each with a temperature subtitle, the alternating perspectives (especially those told by Sam). I wasn't entirely satisfied by the ending, but I guess that just means I'll have to read the sequel. I think Stiefvater is an author to watch.
It's 1967 and Holling Hoodhood is in the seventh grade. Life is tough when you are a seventh grader. Holling contends with bullies, diagrams sentencesIt's 1967 and Holling Hoodhood is in the seventh grade. Life is tough when you are a seventh grader. Holling contends with bullies, diagrams sentences, is confused about girls, and thinks his teacher hates him. On top of all of that the Vietnam War is in full swing and affecting everyone. On Wednesday afternoons all of Holling's classmates either attend Hebrew School or Catechism, leaving Holling alone with Mrs. Baker. Soon Mrs. Baker and Holling begin to read Shakespeare during their afternoons together. Mrs. Baker seems to have the uncanny ability to pick the play that mirrors Holling's circumstances at that moment. Or, maybe Holling learns to relate the plays to his life.
Gary Schmidt'sThe Wednesday Wars is really about all the little moments that make a person who he is. Granted there were several plot points may have made me predisposed to like this book--Shakespeare, cross country--but I loved it.
Spoiler: However, I can't stand Holling's parents. I can't believe they stayed home to watch TV while he was in that play, and they didn't go to the hospital when he got hit by a bus, or to the baseball game. They are lousy parents....more
In WingsAprilynne Pikeoffers a new interpretation of the faerie people. Laurel was left in a basket on her parent's doorstep at the age of 3. She's always been different from other kids--unable to digest anything but fresh vegetables, fruits, and Sprite, and she can't stand to have too many clothes covering her skin. At 16 the differences get even more pronounced when she discovers a bump on her back. Soon Laurel discovers a whole new world that explains her origins.
The dialog in this book seemed a bit stilted to me, but the premise is clever....more
With my reading time so greatly diminished due to Little B, I'm pretty proud of myself for finishing this 1200-page (OK so it's only 1163 pages) bookWith my reading time so greatly diminished due to Little B, I'm pretty proud of myself for finishing this 1200-page (OK so it's only 1163 pages) book on time. I found the book interesting. I think that Ayn Rand could have edited significantly and still made her point. And, although most of the characters are fairly two-dimensional, I still really liked Rearden, Fransciso, and Dagny. My favorite part of the book was Rand's reversal of the typical utopia. The traditional utopia is a place where money means nothing, where gold is used as chamber pots, diamonds as children's toys, and everyone has all they need. Rand's write a "Utopia of Greed" where everything (and I mean everything) costs money. ...more
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell attempts to explain success. He basically determines that success is a matter of luck, hard work, and ability (in that oIn Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell attempts to explain success. He basically determines that success is a matter of luck, hard work, and ability (in that order). As in Gladwell's Blink, Outliers uses really cool examples to present ideas that I think are pretty intuitive. ...more
In Anne of the Island Anne goes to college. What I found really interesting about this book is how similar Anne's experiences at college were to my owIn Anne of the Island Anne goes to college. What I found really interesting about this book is how similar Anne's experiences at college were to my own almost 100 years later. Anne lives with a group of roommates who are her good friends. She studies and dates. She, of course, has a live-in chaperon, which I did not. One thing that bugged me about this book is how many proposals Anne gets and rejects. Sure, Anne Shirley is great and all, but must every guy like her? I kind of wish that there had been just one guy that Anne really liked who didn't like her back, but, I guess in the words of Colin Singleton (from John Green'sAn Abundance of Katherines, Anne is a dumper and not a dumpee....more
This play contains some of the best lines. I always use it as the comedy example in my Humanities classes because students can readily identify all thThis play contains some of the best lines. I always use it as the comedy example in my Humanities classes because students can readily identify all the elements of comedy in this play. ...more
I listened to this second book in [L.M Montgomery's:] series at night in bed. It's been a really long time since I read this book as a kid. I had compI listened to this second book in [L.M Montgomery's:] series at night in bed. It's been a really long time since I read this book as a kid. I had completely forgotten about Davey and Dora, Paul Irving, and Miss Lavender. I'm amused by how Davey always says "I want to know" after he asks a question. Like my brother said, you just have to love that old Anne Shirley....more
Deirdre Monaghan is an exceptionally talented harpist. Her best friend, James (who is really her only friend) plays the bagpipes. At a competition DeiDeirdre Monaghan is an exceptionally talented harpist. Her best friend, James (who is really her only friend) plays the bagpipes. At a competition Deirdre meets Luke Dillon, a flute player, who has a lot of secrets. Deirdre is immediately taken with Luke, his inability to tell her about himself, and his uncanny way of saving her life. Deirdre's comfortable life begins to meld with the creepy world of the fey.
I really loved this book. After finishing I immediately went to the computer to see what else Maggie Stiefvater has written. I loved all the music in Lament. I loved the Irish folk lyrics woven throughout the tale. I am creeped out by Deirdre's aunt. However, I am getting a little tired of the "girl who has a boy best friend who is actually in love with her" plot, especially since I think I like James better than Luke. I am so glad that the sequel to this book, Ballad comes out next month.
The Princess and the Bear is a companion novel to Mettie Ivie Harrison'sThe Princess and the Hound. In this book, the Hound and the Bear of the firstThe Princess and the Bear is a companion novel to Mettie Ivie Harrison'sThe Princess and the Hound. In this book, the Hound and the Bear of the first novel must embark on a journey through space and time to thwart the unmagic that is destroying their forest. The Bear must once again face the Wild Man who changed him as a young, arrogant king into a bear. Both the Bear and the Hound take on human form and in doing so discovery that they are more than just a Hound or a Bear, a Princess or a King.
This book was ok. It took me a while to get into the story. However, I do like Harrison's prose....more
I enjoyed the second installment in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Series more than the first. Primarily because City of Ashes is less predictabI enjoyed the second installment in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Series more than the first. Primarily because City of Ashes is less predictable. In this book we see the evil Valentine steal the second of the Mortal Instruments. Things are still rocky between Clary and Jace and Clary and Simon. Clary and Jace discover their special talents. But, I think my favorite part of this book is that Simon's cat is named Yossarian. ...more
I think the premise of this book is absolutely hilarious: child prodigy Colin Singleton has been dumped by 19 Katherines. The last Katherine really brI think the premise of this book is absolutely hilarious: child prodigy Colin Singleton has been dumped by 19 Katherines. The last Katherine really broke his heart so he goes on a road trip with his friend Hassan. It's your classic quest tale; where the quest is really all about the character's self-discovery. Colin and Hassan end up in the town of Gunshot, Tennessee where they get a job recording the memories of the old timers. While in Gunshot Colin works on a mathematical theorem that can predict how long a relationship will last.
OK. Not only is the premise of the book hilarious but the rest of it is as well. John Green has created a group of quirky characters with quirky ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed it. ...more
Clarissa (Clary) Fray thinks that she is a regular kid, but one night she witnesses three teenagers hunters slay a demon. The next day Clary's mother is kidnapped by the evil Valentine, demons try to kill her, and she finds herself thrown upon the mercy of the three demon-slayers. Isabelle, Alec, and Jace are Nephilim, or Shadowhunters. Soon Clary, the three Shadowhunters, and Clary's ordinary friend Simon are frantically searching for Clary's mother and a certain cup that can change ordinary humans into Shadowhunters.
I found this book to be pretty entertaining. I liked the characters, especially Jace, and the atmosphere. I did, however, find that many of the plot twists were more predicable than twisty.
Beka Cooper is in training to become a "dog," slang for the police (more or less). As a "puppy" or trainee, Beka has the good fortune to be assigned tBeka Cooper is in training to become a "dog," slang for the police (more or less). As a "puppy" or trainee, Beka has the good fortune to be assigned to the most successful dog team. Beka also has some unusual talents. She can hear the ghosts that are carried by pigeons. Soon Beka and her dogs are on the trail of the "Shadow Snake" who holds little children for ransom. They also search for the graves of several dozen men and women employed to dig for gems.
One of the things that I really liked about this book was Tamora Pierce's use of slang. I don't think that she ever comes out and tells the reader what the different terms mean, but they are used in such a way that their meaning soon becomes obvious. This made Beka's world seem all the more real. I also enjoyed the diary format, and the great cast of characters....more
I saw this movie in college, but I can't remember where or with whom. If I had to guess, I would guess it was with Janelle at her parents' house. TheI saw this movie in college, but I can't remember where or with whom. If I had to guess, I would guess it was with Janelle at her parents' house. The general tone of the book and movie seems to fit in with the other movies that I know I watched there. When I found out this was the next book for book club the movie started to come back to me. "Was that the movie with the four women? And they went to Italy? And there was a garden? And their husbands came?" Yes, that was the one.
I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth von Arnim's book. The reader gets a much clearer picture of the motivations of the characters and their personalities than does the viewer of the film. While in Italy, von Arnim's characters all discover a part of themselves that has been lost. They grow to appreciate others more, and to have confidence in themselves. I also really like the 1920s setting....more
A baby's family is murdered one night, but the baby escapes to the graveyard where he is adopted by the Owens ghosts who give him the name Nobody OwenA baby's family is murdered one night, but the baby escapes to the graveyard where he is adopted by the Owens ghosts who give him the name Nobody Owens. Nobody, called Bod, grows up in the graveyard. His parents and his guardian, Silas, watch over him. He meets lots of ghosts, discovers secrets of the graveyard, and is taught to Fade and Haunt. However, Bod's killer is still out there in the world looking for him. And Silas and the graveyard can only protect Bod for so long.
I do like Neil Gaiman. His books are so creative. The Graveyard Book is like a book of short stories about Bod's life, the crazy characters he meets in the graveyard, and growing up among the dead. These short stories are woven together by the end of the novel as we see characters and situations come back to play a major role in Bod's escape from the man Jack....more
Mary lives in a post-apocalyptic world infested with a zombie virus. People still die normally, but if bitten by an Unconsecrated they become one too.Mary lives in a post-apocalyptic world infested with a zombie virus. People still die normally, but if bitten by an Unconsecrated they become one too. Mary lives in a little village that is basically run by the Sisterhood, a group of nun-like women. When Mary's mother is infected, her brother forces her to join the Sisterhood. While living within the confines of the Cathedral Mary starts to realize that the Sisterhood is keeping secrets. When her village is attacked by the Unconsecrated Mary's knowledge of these secrets becomes her driving force.
I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed by this book. The whole thing had a very Village-like feel so it didn't seem all that original. Also, I had a hard time really connecting with the characters, including Mary, even though the novel is written in first person. I found Mary to be rather selfish and her dream of the ocean to be kind of odd in the face of all danger she faced. And the secrets that were revealed were not all that gratifying nor very surprising.
I think I might be on the unicorn side of the zombie vs. unicorn war. ...more
I was not a huge fan of Inkheart. I liked Inkspell a lot more. However, by the time that Inkdeath was finally published I couldn't really remember whaI was not a huge fan of Inkheart. I liked Inkspell a lot more. However, by the time that Inkdeath was finally published I couldn't really remember what happened in Inkspell so I wasn't in a hurry to read the conclusion of the series. I finally got around to reading it, and I am so glad that I did because Inkdeath is by far the best book in the series.
I am so impressed by the world that Cornelia Funke has created--I especially love the glass men. Her settings are vivid--the Castle on the Lake, the nests in the trees. And her characters are so rich--Violante, The Black Prince, Fenoglio, Dustfinger, Doria (I loved Doria). And the villains--The Adderhead, The Piper, The Milksop, Orpheus--are awesome.
Inkdeath is certainly more about Mo than Meggie, which I could see as being a disappointment to some readers. However, I find Mo to be such an interesting character. I really responded to Mo's dilemma and the choices he has to make as he finds himself thrown into the role of the Blue Jay while he strives not to leave behind the bookbinder, father, and husband.
My one major complaint is that the book is too long....more
This book is horrifying, fascinating, and it raises more questions than answers. Lia Lee is the child of Hmong immigrants who left their home in LaosThis book is horrifying, fascinating, and it raises more questions than answers. Lia Lee is the child of Hmong immigrants who left their home in Laos after the Vietnam War and settled in Merced, California. Lia has an extreme case of epilepsy. This book outlines the communication problems that arise between Lia's parents and her doctors. Author Anne Fadiman does an amazing job providing both points of view. The reader is left with conflicting sympathies....more