Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Shannon Hale's companion to The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, is, in my opinion, not as satisfying a read as the first book. Its sluggish start really got to me. The only thing that really kept me going was that I had to read it for work because we may change it from a J to a YA. Thank goodness that the story picks up in the last 117 pages. I was about ready to throw the book across the room and maybe set it on fire (I was a bit influenced by Enna and her talent with fire). There were themes and heavy-handed metaphors throughout the story about desire and sex and drugs and lust that were interesting, but overbearing within the story. The author could have lightened up a bit on these and still gotten her messages across to the reader. I guess you would have to read it to see what I mean, but I don't highly recommend it.

Here's a little summary: Enna discovers that she can create fire and decides to use this skill in the war that her kingdom is fighting against a neighboring kingdom. She keeps her skill a secret from her closest friend, the Queen, and for a time, from her closest male friends. As if the burden of her secret isn't overwhelming enough, she is captured by the enemy and almost manipulated into teaching her evil captor how to tame the fire. Luckily, she is rescued in the nick of time. Enna is scarred though and close to death when her friends succeed in rescuing her. They travel to a far away land to help her overcome her fireborn illness. Within the story she faces the death of her brother, lusty feelings for her captor, true love for her friend Finn, fear that she has ruined her friendship with the Queen, and the highs and lows of addiction--addiction to fire.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Just wanted to chime in with a "me too" on The Misfits by James Howe -- we just read it for Popular Paperbacks this year (and it's on the nominations list -- I'll let you know if it makes it on the final list!). I loved it, both for its sense of humor and the, well, sense of less weight about the whole outsider deal. Many, many teen books make being an outsider like it's the weighto of the world on your shoulders, and often entwine it was some major trauma or drama of some sort. It was kind of refreshing to just have a simple story about a few kids who are outsiders, yes, but are not going to be crushed under the weight of that.

I really must read Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime -- someday I'll actually be able to read for myself again, rather than for book clubs and comittees. ;)

Monday, December 13, 2004

I listened to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I also borrowed the book from a friend so I could look at the little pictures. I loved the narration though and I am really glad I listened to it because I liked the way the narrator portrayed Christopher, the main character who is a 15 year old autistic boy. You really get a sense of Christopher's character throught the narration. I think this is just a brilliant book...I can't believe how Haddon crept into the mind of an autistic teenager and was able to speak in his voice and give birth to this very compelling story. It is really a remarkable book...read or listened to.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I like books that use just a little bit of text to impart a strong message. Worth by A. LaFaye does just that. Young Nathaniel is seriously injured in an accident on his family's farm in Nebraska and as a result, is unable to help his Pa with the farmwork. His leg badly crippled and his heart hurting even worse after the death of his sister and the loss of the time he used to spend with Pa around the farm, Nathaniel seems to shut down emotionally and boy, does he get angry. This anger and his bad feelings only get worse when his Pa adopts a young boy, John, from the orphan train to help with farmwork. Nathaniel's mood plummets with the anger and jealousy of having another young boy around to be with Pa. But John has his own troubles after being orphaned when his entire family dies in a fire in the city. Slowly, John and Nathaniel find that they have a couple of things in common. They become worth something to each other and their relationship makes Pa see the worth in both of them.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I haven't posted in forever because I've been reading a grown-up book for my new book club. We just read Empire Falls by Richard Russo. It is an excellent novel about a small town in Maine and the so-called small town life happening there.

I've been enjoying some shorter J fiction books since then. I loved The Misfits by James Howe. A group of friends, all considered misfits, form a new political party at their school to represent all those who aren't well represented. What a great cast of characters!

Eoin Colfer's new book, The Legend of Spud Murphy, is about some boys whose parents force them to spend a couple of hours a day at the library over the summer. Oh, horror of horrors! The boys hate the idea of doing something educational, but they are even more repelled by the idea of having to spend time with the librarian, Spud Murphy. Does the evil librarian really shoot spuds at her patrons? What does she do with all those rubber stamps? Will the boys really have to sit on the one tiny rug in the children's area while at the library? How will they go to the bathroom if they can't move off the rug? Librarians will love this! Teachers will love this! Kids and parents will love this too. The book has funny illustrations and is perfect for reluctant readers.

I am trying NOT to have a new favorite book every minute but Baby Brains is the best picture book since .... well, since The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard!
Baby Brains is a very funny idea with very funny and cute illustrations, a must read! Would also make a nice gift for a child with a sparkly sense of humor! To me it is on par with Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems so if you are a fan you need to read this one.

Mmmmmm .... I just love The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard by Gregory Rogers. It is simply delicious.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I have a confession to make ... I don't like reading "long" books. Ok...hear me out...it's actually one of the dangers of my job...I have so much to read! There are so many great new books coming out but I still need to catch up on the classics! So I try and avoid long books. When I saw Harry Potter 5 I knew right then and there I would never finish that series. So I was a little intimidated by Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson but it's one of my review books from Hyperion and it has gotten some great reviews so I put away my fears and dug in.
I finished it in 3 days. Which is impressive for me. I read half the book Thanksgiving morning and finished that Saturday with a big grin on my face. I know I have said this before but it's completely true... this book was hard to put down! This story is a prequel to Peter Pan, a book I have yet to read but now I am tempted to and I think today's young reader's might also after finishing this book. Barry and Pearson have the talent for moving the story along, leaving you with little cliff hangers that would make a kid stay up under the covers all night with a flashlight. This is one of the best adventure stories I have ever read and I can't wait to booktalk it. Even though it's 450 pages (yikes!) kids will fly through it (pun not intended but cute, right?). All you have to do is tell them about the pirates and the magic and that it is humorous...oh and show them the amazing illustrations by Greg Call...they are beautiful. I also see a sequel to this prequel ... and I will be dying to read it. And of course since Disney is written all over this book (well, just on the spine, title page and verso as far as I can tell) I am sure there will be a movie version. But read the book first, all 79 chapters are well worth it.