Well, okay, so maybe I’m being a little melodramatic. Actually, my (early) New Year’s resolution is to quit blogging and writing book reviews. Crazy, I know, but anyhoo…I need to make time to focus on what I really want to do, i.e. write my own novels. It’s been a hard decision to quit blogging. It is majorly addictive, and I’ve had a great time hearing everyone’s comments. Some posts have been way more successful than I ever expected. My Last Olympian post has had over 700 comments as of today. I will still check in on the comments every once in a while, but I don’t plan to add any additional posts in the future. So, it’s been fun world. I’m glad I embarked on this blogging journey over a year ago, but it’s time to say my goodbyes and fade into that crazy web of particles called the blogosphere. Peace and love, and to all you diehards out there, happy blogging!
Nov 30, 2008
Nov 22, 2008
December 2: The 39 Clues 2: One False Note by Gordon Korman
Maze of Bones, the first book in the series, introduced Amy and Dan Cahill, siblings who embark on a quest around the world to discover the amazing secret to their family’s power (please tell me it’s not love or the philosopher’s stone…). Anyway, Rick Riordan (author of the super awesome Percy Jackson series) rocked the first book, and the online game was pretty fun (until I got bored and gave up). Let’s just hope this second in the series lives up to the first…and moves beyond the massive marketing hype.
December 4, 2008: Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
If you’re like me, the postponement of the Half-Blood Prince movie was like the Grinch stealing Christmas (or Kwanzaa, or Chinese New Year, or just some really awesome holiday with lots of candy). The release of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is at least one small consolation in my overwhelming mire of disappointment at having to wait for the movie (by the way, I saw Twilight last night, and the Harry Potter trailer at the beginning was the best part of the movie). Originally produced in a limited run of seven copies (all handwritten and illustrated by Rowling), the book is finally being mass produced to the delight of Potter fans worldwide. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Tales is the book given to Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore. In the book, Hermione finds clues that help her (and those other guys) discover the meaning of the hallows. So, it’s kind of like we’re going to be able to read a book that Hermione actually read, except for real, only it won’t be exactly the same…but still awesome!
Nov 10, 2008
Last week, the Nerdfighters, brothers John and Hank Green, rocked the OKC Downtown Library. Hank sang songs about Harry Potter and his childhood love, actress Helen Hunt. John talked about his new book Paper Towns, and I tried hard not to wet myself. Over 150 people attended this super awesome event, hosted by some of the coolest librarians in the world (you guys know who you are). And the most awesome thing? Well, yeah, I totally got to go backstage and stare at John and Hank Green in anxiety-induced silence for several minutes while they acted completely awesome. That’s right. And after the show, I went to a bar with them, where I proceeded to drink a screwdriver and try not to have a full-on panic attack. Eat your hearts out Nerdfighter fans!
Oct 15, 2008
It is no secret that 16-year-old Baoliu resents his father’s new wife. So when the new wife turns up dead, Baoliu quickly becomes the main suspect. At the trial, no one, not even Baoliu’s family, speaks up in his defense, so the judge has no choice but to sentence the boy to death. The night before the execution, Baoliu’s father comes with bitter news. Baoliu will be set free, but only because his father has paid for a substitute to die in his place. Once he is free, this gruesome ritual plagues Baoliu. He is shunned and harassed by people in the street, and his own family will no longer speak with him; so he is forced to live on the street and forage for food. In a desperate attempt to understand what has happened, he seeks out the family of the man who died in his place.
This intense mystery set in Yongjia, China in the year 1199 will hook readers who like punchy action, a little history and a new twist on the urban survival tale. Wulffson includes occasional Chinese dialogue to lend authenticity, though many of the English phrasings sound far too modern for the time period. Baoliu is a sympathetic, though not fully-developed character. However, the length (168 pages), action and fast-pace make this a good choice for young readers interested in the topic.
If you like this book, check out Don Wulffson’s critically acclaimed Soldier X, a story about a boy who is unwillingly recruited into Hitler’s children’s army.
Oct 12, 2008
13-year-old Elissa struggles to find her place in the close-nit community of High Crossing. With no connection to her parents and no friends, Elissa finds solace in nature and her ability to talk to animals. Her life changes forever when her father arrives in town and takes her away from her healer grandmother on an expedition to visit the Khan. She is troubled by her father’s cold demeanor, but she holds out hope that he will come to love her with time. These hopes are dashed as she learns that her father plans to trade her to the Khan in exchange for soldiers. Consumed with anger and grief, she agrees to live with the Khan, and her father gets his wish. In the Khan’s Citadel, she is horrified to learn that the Khan plans to marry her as soon as she comes of age. Elissa escapes his notice for a time, but in the end she must call upon her Gift of talking to animals to overcome the evil ruler.
Steeped in myth, this adventure/fantasy will appeal to readers who liked Patrick Carman’s The Dark Hills Divide. Elissa is a realistic, sympathetic protagonist. However, like in Carman’s series, some plot twists feel contrived, the triumph comes too easily and the mythology elements introduced in the beginning fail to come to any satisfying resolution in the end. Verrillo has managed to craft an appealing fantasy world peopled with mysterious characters, especially the Blue People. She also has created a host of strong female characters, from the plucky Elissa to the wizened healers. A good choice for reluctant or beginning readers, though established readers will find more depth in Laini Taylor’s Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, another fantasy about a courageous heroine who can talk to animals and finds herself in the middle of a larger mythological tale.
Oct 8, 2008
After the Heartland Wars divided the nation, the two sides (pro-life and pro-choice) came together to form a resolution. Abortion would be strictly banned, but parents could choose to “unwind” their children once they reached the age of reason, thirteen. Pro-lifers agreed to these measures, since the teens would not really die from the unwinding process. 99.44% of their body parts would be grafted into thousands of other people, and in this way they would continue to live on, only in a divided state.
16-year-old Connor has always been a troublemaker, but he never expected his parents to sign the orders to unwind him. Rather than be sent to a harvest camp and sold for parts, Connor runs away. Soon, fate leads him to meet state ward, Risa, a piano virtuoso who wasn’t quite good enough to warrant any more government funds, and 13-year-old Lev, a tithe, who has spent his entire life preparing for the day he might make the ultimate sacrifice to god.
Short chapters, a fast pace and an emotionally-charged theme make this a sure-fire hit for fans of Scott Westerfield’s Uglies or Shusterman’s Everlost. Though the story focuses on Connor, Risa and Lev, Shusterman includes chapters from a range of viewpoint characters, including a juvey cop, a boy who received part of an unwind’s brain and a former admiral who now works to save unwinds. Though the premise is hard to accept on first glance, this story of survival, teen rebellion and (in)humanity hooks readers fast and keeps them turning the pages till the bitter end. Along the way, Shusterman forces readers to consider profound issues such as the definition of life, the connection between our conscience and our body and the dangers of choosing the collective over the individual good.