I picked this up for the YALSA Hub Challenge. I had meant to read it ages ago - it looked interesting. The thing is, I hate reading about the Titanic.I picked this up for the YALSA Hub Challenge. I had meant to read it ages ago - it looked interesting. The thing is, I hate reading about the Titanic. I hate watching movies about the Titanic. They make me depressed. I don't know why this subject feels so tedious to me - because it is very interesting. Maybe it was going through high school with girls who tallied up the numerous times they'd gone to see Titanic. I don't know. But even though I told myself that this time, it would be different, I felt that same sort of dread when I started listening. And in the back of my head, as each character and voice was introduced, all I could think was "What're the odds that this person survived?"
This is a good book. It's well-written, the characters are fleshed out, and I enjoyed Wolf's biographies at the end. I hadn't realized that all of these characters (well, leaving out the Ice and the Rat) were real and I loved the tone Wolf used when describing the controversy among Titaniacs over issues like what was the last song played and who was more cowardly. I am also, at the very least by career choice, a big fan of research. And this was researched to the gills. So the detail was amazing. Really, my only hang-up with this was the topic! And despite that, I still enjoyed it. Enjoy is not the right word. I admired the writing, I was compelled by the characters, I got emotional. There's a scene that I think the print version probably doesn't do the writing justice. When the Titanic has sank and the life boats are surrounded by those drowning, freezing, and dying. An earlier poem about promenading the decks is recited over the voices of those in the water. This is gut-wrenching. People are calling out for help, whispering in the boats, crying. And it goes on and on and on. It was hard to even listen to it. Many of the survivors later talk about being haunted by these voices, and you'll understand what they mean.
Callie loves theater, but she's no actress. She loves being part of the stage crew, creating the props and setting that transport the audience into thCallie loves theater, but she's no actress. She loves being part of the stage crew, creating the props and setting that transport the audience into the story. Her middle school is putting on Moon over Mississippi, a play about the Civil War, and Callie has grand ideas that have to fit into a middle school budget. However, she's also struggling with her long-time crush on Greg, who just broke up with his girlfriend. At first, he seems interested, but then he blows Callie off. Is it because she's into drama? Younger than him? As she struggles with being angry at Greg and still liking him, she throws herself into working on the play. It's there that she meets cute twin brothers, Justin and Jesse. Justin is outgoing, loves theater, funny, and gay. Jesse is shy, smart, and just as talented as his brother, but unwilling to audition. Callie and the twins spend the school year becoming friends and traversing all the challenges that can be thrown at a drama department. Callie also starts to feel something more for Jesse - but does he like her back?
This was a quick, fun read that's full of all the awkwardness of being a teenager in love. Everyone has a little bit of drama (ha-ha) and I appreciated that being gay was not the issue of the book, but just part of the overall plot. I loved that Callie came through, after many moments of heartbreak, and realized that she didn't have to be someone's girlfriend. My only beef with this book is that the drama department was so amazing... what middle school has this sort of theater, budget, and supplies? I'm not sure why the setting wasn't high school, though I think in many school districts, that'd still be pushing it. Well, maybe this is the sort of drama department that schools should aspire to. We should all have working cannons!...more
Is it really possible for a book about someone dying of cancer to be funny? Well... yes. Greg Gaines's mission in life is to go unseen. He's a seniorIs it really possible for a book about someone dying of cancer to be funny? Well... yes. Greg Gaines's mission in life is to go unseen. He's a senior in high school and for several years now he's passed through life, being welcomed by any social clique and a member of none. And that's how he likes it. Then his mother orders him to spend time with Rachel, a girl dying of leukemia and sort-of-but-not-really-Greg's-ex-girlfriend. Add in Greg's sort-of-friend Earl, a short, chain-smoking, rage-filled African American kid who likes to make mediocre films with Greg, and you have your general cast of characters. What's so remarkable about this book is that it avoids many of the typical YA tropes - absent parents, romance with the dying character, a miraculous recovery, a moment when the entire school comes together. No, what Jesse Andrews gives us is a very real look at how awkward life is, particularly as a teen trying to cope with someone you kinda know (but should probably know better) who's suffering from a terminal illness. Greg's growing depression is never spelled out - the story is told in first-person - but we do see the powerful impact Rachel's impending death has on him. And throughout the story, we get an authentic teen's voice as he deals with the perils of high school, his friend's anger management issues, crazy over-bearing parents, and a passion for films. This is worth reading just for the accurate depiction of the high school dichotomy! For those whose readers are sensitive to outstandingly strong language and drug use, this is probably one to skip. Otherwise, highly recommended!...more
A mix of historical fiction and fantasy, The Secret Journey of Jack London reimagines the writer's life, beginning with his adventures in the KlondikeA mix of historical fiction and fantasy, The Secret Journey of Jack London reimagines the writer's life, beginning with his adventures in the Klondike. Jack is 17 (a few years younger than the real Jack) and journeying with his aging brother-in-law in an attempt to strike it rich. While Jack is seeking gold in order to save his mother's home, his true purpose is to learn more about himself. The brother-in-law is quickly written out of the story and Jack instead teams up with two other young men. They navigate the Chilkoot Trail and White Horse Rapids and spend the winter snowed in an abandoned cabin. This would be the high point of their trip. When they do finally make it to Dawson, they are kidnapped and forced to pan for gold as slaves.
We've reached the halfway point of the book and you might be wondering where the fantasy comes in. So far, the story has stuck mostly to the facts, with minor tweaking here and there. But midway through, the story shifts, and Jack's camp is suddenly attacked by the Wendigo, a flesh-eating monster. He escapes with the aid of a wolf, Jack's mysterious guide that appears throughout the book, and a young woman named Lesya, daughter of a forest spirit. At this point, we've wandered into a bit of a supernatural romance, with Lesya teaching Jack about the "call of the wild" but also trying to keep him close to her.
Jack must escape the beautiful Lesya, avoid her insane father, and somehow defeat the Wendigo, before returning to civilization.
Expect a lot of action in this survival story, as well as beautiful descriptions of the wilderness surrounding Jack and his friends. The writing is good and I enjoyed Jack's sense of searching and the way the author played with the idea of people becoming feral in the wilderness.
Fans of books like The Monstrumologist may enjoy this. I'm not sure, however, that fans of London's works would pick it up. While there's a connection to his stories, I wonder if they would be put off by the monsters and spirits. The historical fiction and the fantasy elements don't mix well, making this feel like you're reading two different stories.
With more planned for this series, I would say that this isn't a must-have. However, if you have teens clamoring for more books that feature survival, adventure, or even looking for an Alaska-fix, this would be a good buy. Grades 7 and up....more
Just as a note to start, this is one of the best books/series to listen to... Katherine Kellgren is amazing and the accents and music bring the storyJust as a note to start, this is one of the best books/series to listen to... Katherine Kellgren is amazing and the accents and music bring the story to life in a way you don't get from reading the print version. So... go listen to it!
This is one of my favorite YA series, which feels weird to say, because I normally can't stand historical fiction. I've also finally caught up to the end of the series, and now have to wait for the next book. Jacky is a phenomenal character and the sort of person I wish I was a little more like... though a little Jacky goes a long way. She's strong, tough, resourceful, and has an excellent sense of humor. However, I feel like the series is dragging just a little. This book moved fairly quickly and didn't hold me in the same way of previous adventures, particularly "In the Belly of the Bloodhound" or "Under the Jolly Roger." That being said, I will continue to read the Bloody Jack books... I like Jacky just too much to stop! And while I'm not wild about Jamie, I'd like to see a happy ending for the two of them.
Here's looking forward to this September and "The Wake of the Lorelei Lee!"...more
This is, in my opinion, one of the funniest volumes of Girl Genius. I love Castle Heterodyne... I love Castle Heterodyne's skewed logic and twisted meThis is, in my opinion, one of the funniest volumes of Girl Genius. I love Castle Heterodyne... I love Castle Heterodyne's skewed logic and twisted memory... "I can kill people in the sky! - Yay! Do that! Kill everyone in the sky!" This also has Gil's amazing new hat, declaring him to be a Schmott Guy! And then there's the epic stage battle between Gil and Zeetha, with a spork gun and the walking cage! And Mamma Gkika!!! If you haven't read Girl Genius before, none of that will make any sense, but that just means you should hustle over to Girl Genius Online and start reading. Go! Now!...more
It's so hard to know what to say about this book. It's an amazing ending to the series, and it is worthy of all those cliches... my heart was racing wIt's so hard to know what to say about this book. It's an amazing ending to the series, and it is worthy of all those cliches... my heart was racing while I read it, it kept me guessing throughout the very last pages for what would happen to my beloved characters, there were more twists and turns then you could shake a stick at, and I was in tears at the very end. I'm going to do my best to keep this spoiler-free.
This book, like the previous two in the series, deals with weighty issues of love, loyalty, trust, communication, and information. But Ness also delves into relationships between parents and their children, leaders and followers, and the responsibilities associated with all of these roles. And then there's the issue of redemption... can people go beyond the point of redemption?
The story focuses onto Todd and Viola, Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle, and the Sky (leader of the Land - or Spackle as they are called by humans) and the Return (previously known to us as 1017). Outside of these main pairings, we have two settlers, Simone and Bradly, who are friends of Viola's and control the scout ship we saw landing at the end of The Ask and the Answer. And we have the returning Mistresses, Wilf and Jane, Lee, and Angharrad and Acorn (yes, I included the horses, because I LOVE those horses). As in The Ask and the Answer, we can draw the comparisons between the Mayor and Mistress Coyle, seeing how they each use power and politics to try and seize control. But, while I thought they were far too similar in the last book, we see them strongly diverge here as they both realize that the war has changed from the one that they started.
The reader is constantly shifting in this book, from the perspective of Todd to Viola to 1017. The changes are fast-paced and abrupt, which can take a little getting used to, since it feels like you're almost always having the rug pulled out from under you. However, it's worth it to keep with the story and just try to get into Ness's rhythm.
The ending is... ambiguous. It will make for excellent discussion, as will the way that the characters finish their own stories. Ness puts such a strong emphasis on forgiveness, acceptance, and hope throughout the series that I have a hard time not feeling hopeful at the ending. You really would be doing yourself a favor in reading this series. It has a little over everything... sci-fi, survival, adventure, animals, appeal to guys and girls, romance, super powers, and war. Maybe that makes the book sound overloaded, but it's also a beautiful story with characters who will stay with you long after you've finished reading.
On a slightly offbeat note, I don't think I'll ever be able to read or hear the word "Todd?" without getting choked up. Just typing it now has me tearing up!...more
Samantha Kingston has it all - she's one of the most popular girls in school, she has the best group of friends, the boyfriend she's always wanted, anSamantha Kingston has it all - she's one of the most popular girls in school, she has the best group of friends, the boyfriend she's always wanted, and the ability to get away with just about anything. Sam knows that life isn't always fair. After all, she used to be on the lowest rung of the social order until the day Lindsay Edgecomb became her best friend and pulled her to the top. Sam accepts that this is the way high school works, the way her life will be, even if it means that other people get hurt in the process. And then, on Friday, February 12th, Sam is killed in a car crash, on her way home from a party.
Sam wakes up in her own bed, alive, and the day rewound. She gets a chance to do it all over again. And again. And again. Sam doesn't know if she's stuck reliving February 12th for all eternity, if there's a way out, or if the changes she makes, to her life and the lives of her friends and family, will make any difference.
Before I Fall Before I Fall is the sort of book you hate to even put down. Sam isn't someone that you start off liking... she's cruel, manipulative, and has changed herself into a person that she hardly even knows. However, you also feel for Sam because, as she points out, is her day-to-day behavior really a reason for her to die? To miss out on all the things in life that happen after you turn 18? As Sam's days pass, she discovers things about life she had forgotten or never even knew were there, like the joys of eating roast beef sandwiches (not done in her social circle), staying at home with her little sister and watching movies all day, wearing comfortable shoes, or eating The Country's Best Yogurt with her best friend. This is a book that shows high school at its best and its worst, including the bullying and cruelty that goes on and how people justify it until it seems like what they're doing isn't really so bad.
We get to see how Sam approaches each Friday differently and how she herself changes and takes on the social mores of high school and other teens. The writing is amazing, capturing Sam's life perfectly. You want so badly for her to succeed, even though you know that Sam's the girl who would've made you an outcast in school. You root for her to change and to understand why her decisions, even with the best of intentions, have the impact that they do.
I can't say enough good things about this book. If I had anything negative to say, it's that I didn't really like the ending. That doesn't mean it wasn't a good ending, but that I thought something different would happen. This is going to be one that I recommend a lot....more
You just can't keep Jacky Faber down... she ended the last book by helping her classmates escape from slavers, killing several members of the crew, anYou just can't keep Jacky Faber down... she ended the last book by helping her classmates escape from slavers, killing several members of the crew, and surviving a brutal attack by the captain. After their rescue by a British naval ship, the girls were taken back to Boston, and just as Jacky was preparing to walk off the ship, into the arms of her beloved Jaimy, she's pulled back aboard and placed under arrest for piracy. And yet, even with all that going against her, it's not long into this book that she's managed to escape the British crew and set off with the faithful Higgins and friends on a trip down the Mississippi river.
It would be more appropriate to describe this book as the undoing of Jaimy Fletcher. He is only a few days behind Jacky, having himself escaped from the same ship she was captured by, but an incident with two highwaymen leaves Jaimy beaten, bloody, and naked. When a young girl named Clementine discovers him and helps him, she believes him to be a "gift from God" and there to marry her. As Jaimy and Clementine follow on Jacky's trail, he continues to be stripped of his proper British upbringing. Jacky prospers and Jaimy... well, Jaimy gets thrown in jail.
This was not my favorite of the Jacky Faber series... I had really enjoyed the last book and the serious tone. This one, however, was much lighter, sillier, and full of more coincidences than you could shake a stick at. It's not like most of the Jacky Faber books don't rely on coincidences and Jacky's ability to get in and out of trouble quickly, but there were so many near-death experiences here that I was having a hard time with. Despite that, though, I enjoyed the way that Jaimy had to experience a similar set of hardships as Jacky. His relationship with Clementine troubled me, but then again, Jacky has had many relationships that went beyond friendship, and she's always left them for her betrothed.
Even though I didn't enjoy this book as much as the others, it was still a great one to listen to (superb narrator!) and a fun read. I got some American history and was introduced to some great side characters. Now I just need to keep reading!...more