Monday, January 24, 2011

Ship Breaker - Printz winner

So for those who don't know, the Printz winner is given to the best Young Adult novel of the year. It is like the Newbery for teens. Ship Breaker was the winner in 2011, and I just finished it. It was good, but not great. I can see why it won. It's going to have appeal for boys, it is post-apocalyptic and works in themes of environmental and social havoc (takes place in Orleans of the future). It explores morality, what family means, importance of literacy (main character, Nailer, learns to read and it plays an important part in the climax of the story), strong girl character, potential of sequels, exploration of genetic engineering and even some religion thrown in. Even so, I didn't love it or fully buy into the world that was created. But I know that I tend to like fantasy better than science fiction. By definition, this was fantasy (took place on earth) however it had the feel of science fiction somehow and was very gruesome and graphic at times. I can deal with rough and violent things as long as I like the main character. I think Nailer never convinced me to care that much. And the evil father figure and rogues who populated this dark world seemed too contrived and like something out of a poorly acted movie. Would I recommend it? Yes, but I wouldn't gush about it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2 great reads!!

After a slew of mediocre books, I hit the bullseye (twice!) with Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Stolen by Lucy Christopher. Both are award winning books. A good friend of mine has been recommending Graceling for some time, and I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner! It was excellent: medieval fantasy with a strong, kick-butt heroine with supernatural powers (a killing grace) and a dream-come-true, supportive hero. Lots of action, but the key is the characters and the beautiful writing. I especially appreciated that it didn't drag the story out into a love triangle and make it a trilogy. Sure, there's room for sequels, but it can stand on its own and the ending is satisfying, even if it's not exactly what I wished for.

Much as I loved Graceling, though, I read the book Stolen in one day and it's the one I can't get out of my head. It was a Printz honor book for 2011, and has captivated me with its premise of a 16-year-old girl who is abducted from a Bangkok airport. I had read the reviews and knew the kidnapper was a sympathetic character and quite unlike the evil abductor in Living Dead Girl (an absolutely devastating book that is the antithesis of Stolen). I thought of Ty as somewhat similar to Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird, I guess. I think that's why he didn't scare me, though some of his actions and plotting were creepy and left me thinking about what freedom, captivity, love and protection really mean. I would love to see how Gemma and Ty's lives end up in a sequel, but I think that would probably never live up to what Lucy Christopher did with this beautiful and heartwrenching novel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

80 books in 2010

I fell short of my sorta kinda goal of reading 100 books last year. For once I kept a list of what I read (so I wouldn't forget! Funny how those book titles slip from my mind after I have moved onto another one!). I read about 45 by June, so I stayed on course. Difficult to find the time with the holidays and school and birthdays and, and, and.... Overall, there weren't many outstanding reads in there either. 2009 was a much better year. My favorites were: Sunshine by McKinley, Outliers by Gladwell, Alabama Moon by Key, Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart, Need/Captivate/Entice series by Jones, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Most troubling books that have stayed with me: Living Dead Girl; Nothing; and Orange Houses. I have tons of books on my "to read" pile and more than I can ever finish! So many books so little time!!! Here's to 2011.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

it's the end of the world

So after my run on fairy/pixie fantasy stories, I seem to have entered the realm of charming armageddon type teen books. It started with Gone, then I read Birthmarked, Mockingjay, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Waiting on my bookshelf are The Line and Watersmeet, also similarly plotted with teens facing the apocalypse. Surprisingly, because of the action and the often romantic subplot to these books, they aren't terribly bleak (as Cormac McCarthy's The Road, for instance). But the best so far would have to be Mockingjay. The others start out with an interesting and engaging "hook," but like a hamster on a wheel, they keep spinning the same stuff and going nowhere. If I had to read one more time about the "Unconsecrated" reaching out in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I think I might have hurled the book across the room.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

just some thoughts

Voting for a politician who doesn't believe in government (or claims that little or no government is the best government) is kinda like voting for a Pastor who doesn't believe in God.

I can't imagine people flocking to a church to hear a Sunday message filled with rants against faith and God, so I am amazed that people are so fond of politicians who just rant against the very government they want to be a part of.

Futhermore, what is the incentive for that politician to do a good job?! Seems to me it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: I will do a cruddy job in my govt. position and therefore show you that government is bad. And if someone on the other side (Democrat or Republican) is actually trying to do something productive and build consensus, I will just say no, no, no, no...because being a cranky obstructionist seems to work out pretty well. Plus, if the government actually does something good, whoa, there goes my whole re-election campaign message. Oh, and I will get paid for this, too.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

if you love the card game of bridge...

have I got a great book for you! It's called The Cardturner by Louis Sachar (Yes, THAT Louis Sachar, of the book Holes). I, myself, have never played bridge nor do I have any interest, even after reading this book. That being said, it was a really good book even with the rather long meanderings into the nitty-gritty of the card game. I love that Sachar has these little "whale icons" in the book that warn you whenever he is going off on the card game details, so you know when to skip. He takes the whale thing from Moby Dick, and how that book went off on boring whaling descriptions. Sachar always makes me laugh out loud, and he has a nice way of tying things together plot-wise. This would be a good choice for an older teen or adult.

The writing style of The Cardturner reminded me very much of something I read by Neal Shusterman called The Schwa Was Here. Again poignant storytelling with quirky, interesting characters and hilarious situations.

And other books of note that I've read lately: Evermore (Immortals series), The Summer I Turned Pretty, Linger (sequel to Shiver), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which I reread after, oh..about 10 years, and really appreciated and liked the second time). I'm also currently reading the 4th Percy Jackson, and the first in the Gone series.

Monday, July 19, 2010

and the cure is.....fairies

Needed to cleanse the palate from all that dark, realistic young adult fiction and guess what came to the rescue? Fantasy, of course, and fairies. Fairies are the new vampires. Got a new favorite series: Need, by Carrie Jones, with Captivate the second in the saga. And I just finished Wicked Lovely and really enjoyed it as well. Other lighter fare: If I told you I loved you, then I'd have to Kill You. It's a Gallagher Girls mystery/spy book and came highly recommended by my daughter. I'm reading the second one, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy.