Archive for September, 2009

How I Live Now

September 28, 2009


How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-Daisy, 15, a troubled New York City teen with a distant father, a wicked (and pregnant) stepmother, and an eating disorder, is sent to England to stay on a rambling farm with her deceased mother’s sister’s family. It is made up of Aunt Penn “who always has Important Work To Do Related to the Peace Process” and her brood of children: Osbert, 16; 14-year-old twins Isaac and Edmond; and 9-year-old Piper. As the kids spend more and more time together, Daisy warms to them, beginning to tune in to a seemingly psychic bond that the siblings share. When Aunt Penn travels to Oslo, Daisy begins a sexual relationship with Edmond. At the same time, hostile forces invade England. Originally enjoying the freedom of a world that seems to have forgotten them, the cousins are inevitably separated, leaving Piper and Daisy to struggle across the countryside and rejoin the others. Daisy’s voice is uneven, being at times teenage vapid, while elsewhere sporting a vocabulary rich with 50-cent words, phrases, and references. In addition, Rosoff barely scratches the surface of the material at hand. At times, this is both intentional and effective (the enemy is never named) but for the most part the dearth of explanation creates insurmountable questions around the basic mechanisms of the plot. There is no explanation of how a small force could take out all communications (including cell phones) and proceed to overrun and to control an entire country.

My Thoughts

 This book was very strange but I still enjoyed it. I was intrigued by this book and found myself enjoying the stream of consciousness writing narrated by Daisy. It was shocking at the end when she started using correct puncuation and giving characters actual lines but I think that was the point. The book took me a few days to read because it dealt with so many different things I had to put it down and reflect. Daisy is a character that sticks with you because of her problems such as anorexia, falling in love with her cousin and surviving a war.


Crispin:The Cross of Lead

September 28, 2009


Crispin: The Cross of Lead

From School Library Journal

As with Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice (Clarion, 1995), the power of a name is apparent in this novel set in 14th-century England. “Asta’s son” is all the destitute, illiterate hero has ever been called, but after his mother dies, he learns that his given name is Crispin, and that he is in mortal danger. The local priest is murdered before he can tell him more about his background, and Aycliffe, the evil village steward for Lord Furnival, declares that the boy is a “wolf’s head,” less than human, and that he should be killed on sight. On the run, with nothing to sustain him but his faith in God, Crispin meets “Bear,” a roving entertainer who has ties to an underground movement to improve living conditions for the common people. They make their way to Great Wexley, where Bear has clandestine meetings and Crispin hopes to escape from Aycliffe and his soldiers, who stalk him at every turn. Suspense heightens when the boy learns that the recently deceased Lord Furnival was his father and that Aycliffe is dead set on preventing him from claiming his title. To trap his prey, the villain captures Bear, and Crispin risks his life to save him. Avi has done an excellent job of integrating background and historical information, of pacing the plot so that the book is a page-turner from beginning to end, and of creating characters for whom readers will have great empathy. The result is a meticulously crafted story, full of adventure, mystery, and action.

My Thoughts

Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi won the Newbery Award in 2003 and I do not remember hearing much about it when it came out. I believe it was picked to win because of the accurate portrayal of a boy in medieval England and how he is on the run from his current master. Children would learn about the toil and tribulations of the serfs and how the rich reaped the rewards. Crispin is also an engaging character who matures and learns valuable lessons about freedom and making choices for the first time. Will this book have staying power? I’m not sure. I know Avi’s books are popular and I enjoyed reading the historical fiction that he wrote. My favorite was The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

Dragon Spear

September 23, 2009


Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George

From Kirkus Reviews

(Fiction. 8-12)This third installment in the series about Creel that began with Dragon Slippers (2007) and followed with Dragon Flight (2008) continues as the alliance between humans and dragons develops. Luka’s father, the king, has exiled the dragons from his land, but they are happily ensconced in the Far Isles-until a foreign group of dragons kidnaps their queen, Velika, whose eggs are almost ready to be laid. Characters such as Creel’s brother Hagen step to the fore while many that will be familiar from past books stay more offstage, with the clear assumption that most readers will be familiar with this world. The clash is between good and misguided for the most part, but evil lurks and there is a strong element of danger and threat to both humans and dragons. Creel is her usual strong-minded self, driven by her love of her dragon friends, and as she and Luka inch forward toward their wedding, her elaborate gown and the womanly art of sewing provide counterpoint to the more serious kidnapping. A tasty snack for dragon lovers.

My Thoughts:

Great ending to a fantabulous trilogy!  Creel is as spunky as ever and trying to marry Luka but wedding dresses keep getting ruined in the attempt to keep the dragons from going to war. Jessica Day George is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. Be sure to check out Princess of the Midnight Ball, a retelling of the twelve dancing pricesses!

The Truth About Forever

September 23, 2009


The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-Macy, 16, witnessed her father’s death, but has never figured out how to mourn. Instead, she stays in control-good grades, perfect boyfriend, always neat and tidy-and tries to fake her way to normal. Then she gets a job at Wish Catering. It is run by pregnant, forgetful Delia and staffed by her nephews, Bert and Wes, and her neighbors Kristy and Monica. “Wish” was named for Delia’s late sister, the boys’ mother. Working and eventually hanging out with her new friends, Macy sees what it’s like to live an unprescripted lifestyle, from dealing with kitchen fires to sneaking out at night, and slowly realizes it’s not so bad to be human. Wes and Macy play an ongoing game of Truth and share everything from gross-outs to what it feels like to watch someone you love die. They fall in love by talking, and the author sculpts them to full dimension this way. All of Dessen’s characters, from Macy, who narrates to the bone, to Kristy, whose every word has life and attitude, to Monica, who says almost nothing but oozes nuance, are fully and beautifully drawn. Their dialogue is natural and believable, and their care for one another is palpable. The prose is fueled with humor-the descriptions of Macy’s dad’s home-shopping addiction are priceless, as is the goofy bedlam of catering gigs gone bad-and as many good comedians do, Dessen uses it to throw light onto darker subjects. Grief, fear, and love set the novel’s pace, and Macy’s crescendo from time-bomb perfection to fallible, emotional humanity is, for the right readers, as gripping as any action adventure.

My Thoughts

This is the first book by Sarah Dessen that I have read and I have to say that her books are awesome! I am currently reading Along for the Ride and it has a brief cameo by someone in this book! Anyways, Macy is a character on the brink of crashing and doesn’t know what to do about it. Her father died a year ago and she has not let herself grieve because she has to be the strong one, the perfect one. This is another book that has lots of characters that have life! I have become tired of all the cardboard  characters in most books and find that these are all characters that could be real! Great find!

The Thirteenth Child

September 22, 2009


The Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede

From School Library Journal

Gr 7–9—In this alternative history, a magical barrier protects most people from the dangerous magical creatures of the Wild West. Eff is a 13th unlucky child who supposedly will cause doom and misfortune, and is twin sister to Lan, the lucky and extra-magical 7th son of a 7th son. This novel covers a lot of ground both in time, following Eff from when she’s 5 until she’s 18, and in distance, as Eff’s family moves to the Western frontier when Eff’s magic-professor father and practical mother decide that the move will hide Eff and Lan’s differences. Then Lan’s potential is revealed after he causes an annoying classmate to float. When he leaves to go to school back East, Eff follows her own path to learning more about magic, including assisting in caring for the magical creatures at her father’s college. Her narration provides background about life in this version of early America, where magic helps with daily chores but brings its own dangers. Eff’s life in Lan’s shadow will ring true to all siblings of a particularly talented child, but at the conclusion it’s Eff who uses her own magic to rescue her twin.

My Thoughts:

I was so excited when I saw that Patricia C. Wrede had a new book coming out and it was worth the wait. Althoug not as funny as he Enchanted Forest Chronicles, this book was a fun look at how peoples perspection of a person can make them doubt their abilities. Effie was a character who constantly doubts herself because she was born a thirteeth child in a place where birth order is everything. Being the unlucky thirteen is hard on Effie but as she grows she learn we make our own path with her pioneer spirit. Great book for teens who are looking for a book about magic with a pioneer twist.

The Hunger Games

September 22, 2009


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

From School Library Journal

 Gr 7 Up Suzanne Collins’s first book (Scholastic, 2008) of a planned trilogy introduces an easy-to-imagine, cruel future society divided by wealth and obsessed with media and celebrity. The controlling Capitol broadcasts the Hunger Games, mandatory watching for all citizens of Panem. The annual event pits 24 Tributes-a girl and boy teen from each of the 12 Districts surrounding the Capitol-against one another in a desperate battle to the death. When 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her younger sister’s place as District Twelve’s girl Tribute, she is thrown into a media frenzy, complete with stylists and costumes, literally fighting for her life in the arena. Intense, graphic action, along with a touch of romance, makes this dystopic adventure a great choice for older reluctant readers.

My Thoughts:

Wow, was all I could say when I finally put this book down. I did not have high expectations for this book because I thought it would just be a rip-off of Battle Royale but I was wrong. It was emotionally packed full of fear, rage, and love. Katniss is a strong character who does what she must to survive, even if it means fighting to the death or falling in love. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves action packed books with great character devlopment.

North of Beautiful

September 22, 2009

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Sixteen-year-old Terra seems to be a typical high-achieving high-school student. Under her heavy makeup, though, she hides a port-wine colored birthmark on her cheek that makes her feel like an outsider. During yet another attempt to remove the birthmark, Terra runs into Jacob, a gorgeous Goth with a cleft-palette scar. That encounter initiates a transformation in both Terra and her subservient mother. Headley has written an exquisite book that explores the difference between physical and true beauty as Terra and her mother travel from Washington state to China, and from the home of a shame-faced, cruel cartographer into the presence of an adventurous, strong woman and her insightful teenage son. Headley uses map metaphors throughout, even in the activity, geocaching, which helps bond Terra and Jacob in both Washington and China. She also uses Terra’s artistic medium, collage, as a literary device to create layer upon layer of experiences and insights into a artfully written journey of self-discovery, self-actualization, and love. With every carefully chosen word, well-crafted sentence, and fully developed character, Headley maps out a wholly satisfying reading experience that takes readers from terra nullis to terra firma. Grades 9-12.

The Countdown Challenge

September 15, 2009

I am going to try and complete this challenge!

I have to read tons of books for my Literature of Youth class, so I think I will stick with YA books.

  • The goal of this challenge is to read the number of books first published in a given year that corresponds to the last digit of each year in the 2000s — 10 books from 2010, 9 books from 2009, 8 books from 2008, etc. The total number of books required, therefore, is 55.
  • This challenge lasts from 9/9/09 through 10/10/10.
  • Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and your lists may change at any time.


    1. The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

    2. Runaway by Meg Cabot

    3. The Chestnut King: Book 3 of the 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson

    4. The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas

    5. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

    6. Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

    7. Captive by Carrie Jones





    1. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen 09-26-09

    2. Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George 09-19-09

    3. North of Beutiful by Justina Chen Headly 09-15-09

    4. Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson

    5. The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore 09-27-09

    6. Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede 09-18-09

    7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins 10-25-09

    8. The Hallow by Jessica Verday

    9. Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble


    1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 09-21-09

    2. Impossible by Nancy Werlin 10-25-09

    3. Kitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe

    4. The Red Necklace by Sallie Gardner 11-06-09

    5. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson


    7. Gone by Michael Grant

    8. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson 09-24-09


    1. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart








    1. The Dream-Maker’s Magic by Sharon Shinn

    2. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

    3. The Mislaid Magician, or Ten Years After by Patricia C. Werde and Caroline Stevermer

    4.Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer 10-10-09










    1. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen 09-20-09

    2. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi 09-22-09

    3. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff 09-25-09



    1. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler







    1.On the Bright Side I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison