Monday, October 25, 2010

The Book You Have to Read

Last fall, there was a lot of buzz about a new book: Hate List by Jennifer Brown. I finally ordered it when it was released in paperback, and I am kicking myself for not following everyone's advice and reading it sooner.

I could tell you that it's a book about a school shooting, but that is really not what the book is about. Oh, there is a horrific school shooting, and it is a big part of the book. But it's really a book about moving on after living through a tragedy. It's about living through bullying, and it's about being a survivor. Most of all, I think, it's a book about forgiveness.

If I could, I would put a copy of this book in the hands of every kid in America. And then I would make them talk to each other about it. Sometimes, I think, it is so much easier to talk about a book than it is to talk about our own lives. Thanks to Jennifer Brown for writing a book that will start the conversation so many kids (and parents, and teachers) need to have.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Captivated by Yet Another Series

This one begins with Need by Carrie Jones, and continues with Captivate, both of which I finished this week. What a great series--unlike so many supernatural romances, this one is smart, and focuses on Norse mythology, which is a welcome twist away from the usual (stereotypical) Celtic Fae.

Oh, it's still a supernatural romance and it's still full of teen angst. But this one, this one I could hand to an adult (a smart, literate adult) and expect that they will enjoy it. Which is a nice change.

And without giving too much away (which I try so hard not to do), I would just like to add how much I appreciate and respect any author who makes it a point to have the main character say something like, "It's not that I can't live without him, it's just that it will really suck." Which might seem small, but really, it's huge, because it suggests to all the teenage girls reading the book that they are absolutely strong and smart enough to live through even the really crappy stuff that life is bound to hand them. (Unlike the female protagonist of another series who shall remain nameless who completely stops functioning if she does not have a boyfriend to help her exist. Ahem.)

Need was so compelling that I finished it in about 18 hours--with a good night's sleep sharing that time. Captivate was less compelling, but still I've finished them both in five days...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tormented by Sequels

One of the things I have learned from this blogging experience: it is almost ridiculously difficult to blog about sequels.

The other day, I finished Torment, the sequel to Lauren Kate's Fallen. I am not even sure which characters I should mention, because I don't want to spoil anything for those who have not yet finished (or even started) Fallen! So, a generic reaction: I liked Torment better than Fallen, but it dragged at the end. As with so many YA series, this probably could have been condensed to half the length and still been just as good. I find this very frustrating! But my students' love it, so maybe that's just my life experience coming into play. Who knows?

I'm now reading Need by Carrie Jones. Weird, creepy, and good--so far!

Just for kicks, here are my 2010 reads-to-date:

  1. Notes from the Midnight Driver
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  3. Beautiful Creatures
  4. Ballad
  5. Her Fearful Symmetry
  6. Going Bovine
  7. The Lightning Theif
  8. The Girl Who Played with Fire
  9. Nurtureshock
  10. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  11. Marcelo in the Real World
  12. The Lost Symbol
  13. Murder Takes the Cake
  14. Cador
  15. The Hollow
  16. The Adoration of JEnna Fox
  17. Whose Body
  18. The Great Gatsby
  19. Unwind
  20. An Expert in Murder
  21. Wondrous Strange
  22. Darklight
  23. The Chosen One
  24. Food Rules
  25. Little Brother
  26. Stopping Time
  27. The Hole We're In
  28. Garden Spells
  29. Henry's Sisters
  30. Tales from Outer Suburbia
  31. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
  32. Rubber Houses
  33. Angelology
  34. If I Stay
  35. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
  36. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
  37. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
  38. Three Witches
  39. The Solitude of Prime Numbers
  40. Fallen
  41. Dead in the Family
  42. Night
  43. Tinkers
  44. The Lace Reader
  45. Spooky Little Girl
  46. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
  47. What Was Lost
  48. Little Bee
  49. Hush, Hush
  50. Teach Like a Champion
  51. Heroes
  52. The Map of True Places
  53. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
  54. The Sugar Queen
  55. Mockingjay
  56. Holding onto Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones
  57. Liar
  58. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Tenth Grade
  59. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eleventh Grade
  60. Beautiful Lies
  61. Later, at the Bar...
  62. Sharp Teeth
  63. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Twelfth Grade
  64. The GRITS Guide to Life
  65. The World's Shortest Stories
  66. The Haunted
  67. The Penelopeiad
  68. Torment
My goal is to hit 100 books by the end of the year. I'd better get reading!

Monday, October 11, 2010

So Many Books (and Blogs), So Little Time

When I posted my book updates on Facebook at the end of September, I realized that I had missed blogging about a book--and one that I enjoyed, to boot! It was The Penelopeiad by Margaret Atwood. Perhaps because it was my duty to teach The Odyssey for so many years, I was delighted to read the story from Penelope's point of view. My goodness, but it made me mad every time I had to tell students that Odysseus has been hailed as a hero for millenia (and pitied because he just had to sleep with all those beautiful goddesses...then had the nerve to test Penelope's faithfulness!!!).

Then I read The Haunted by Jessica Verday, the sequel to The Hollow. And like The Hollow, I felt like this book could have packed all the action into half the text. Still, I enjoyed it. I love how Verday has taken the Sleepy Hollow legend (and locale!) and made it such a part of her "new" story. I do wish the whole story had been told in one volume rather than a(n unnecessary, IMHO) trilogy.

Finally, today I finished Troy High by Shana Norris. What a great re-telling of The Iliad! Very accessible, and very clever. My only real concern--if concern is even the word--is that it would be so much better after reading The Iliad, yet most students who can handle The Iliad are so far beyond this (very) young adult novel. Still, it's a stepping stone--and a well-written stepping stone at that. What would you do if Helen of Troy (a/k/a Elena Argos) went to your high school?! I promised my students I would hurry to finish this so they can begin borrowing it...I can't wait to hear their reviews!