Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank you, Mr. Sendak.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January Reading

Goliath by Scott Westerfield.

Third in the Leviathan trilogy, Westerfield delivers another page turner that combines fact, fiction, and fantasy in a seamless narrative. His note at the end, as in the others, informs readers of what is real and what is not, making for an enjoyable history lesson.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.

The final book in what was supposed to be a trilogy, now four, was initially confusing due to the complexity of the characters and plot as well as the time lapse since the last installment. Nevertheless, once I gave up trying to remember it all and instead relied upon Paolini's sense of when to remind me of details the story was, like his others, thoroughly engrossing. Cheers for the logical, though not happiest, of endings. I love an author who can kill off characters we love and disappoint our craving for a neat ending.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

I started this book in the afternoon, went out to dinner, and came home and read until 2:30 a.m. I could not put it down. A fan of holocaust fiction who has read a ton of it, this offers a parallel story of what was happening to the people in the Baltic states while Stalin and Hitler competed for most evil leader in the world. The story is told from the perspective of fifteen year old Lina, beginning with her family's deportation from Lithuania aboard a cattle car. Rousted from their home and given twenty minutes to pack followed by six weeks aboard a train bound for Siberia, the story ends with the protagonist in a labor camp in the arctic circle barely surviving in a mud hut. The author's end note makes clear that she has a personal, familiar stake in the story but also that she did a ton of research to bring us a story that speaks for millions of people who were kept silent well into the 1990s. Incredible.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.

For some reason I thought that this was a WWII era novel, but it is not. Amazing. Perfect british voice, though some trouble capturing the american one. A chilling look at what could easily be the future through the eyes of a 15 year old.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

October Read

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Apologies. Technical difficulties have kept me away from the slog, er, blog. What happened to Amazon Associates' easy peasy image factory? Anyway.

Night Circus came out early September, and thanks to a great english teacher I was reading it within the week, aware of the buzz, and to another great english teacher, left my couch to go see the author speak.

Very hard to describe. Fantasy, yes. Vampires and witches, not so much. Magic, illusion - think The Prestige, in tone and subject, if you've ever seen that film. Dark, mysterious. But more than anything, the descriptions are so fine that you will be craving caramel apples and smelling woodsmoke. The first of our book club discussion books for the year, every student gave it a 10. Not a fast read - you really have to slow down and savor it in small bites.

Reading, Reading, Read

 Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan.

The title explains it all, I think. Levithan never disappoints. Me, anyway. Although the town in which this takes place seems somewhat (okay totally) unrealistically enlightened, the characters ring true. Love the cover art, too.

Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams.

An Aussie romance featuring a 16 year old stroke survivor, twins born in different years, and some great twin experiences in periodic doses. A different kind of read. Beatle is that hapless teenage boy. But I had to find out whether Destiny McCartney would, in fact, end up with John Lennon (Beatle).

Deadly by Julie Chibarro.

This was a gentle, slow moving story set at the turn of the last century in New York city where the infamous Typhoid Mary is doing her thing. A bracing look into the life of immigrants, the poor, and women at this time, I had hoped it would be more thriller. But it's not. I was surprised how few of my students had ever heard of Typhoid Mary.

Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan.

Ah, Percy returns at last. Fans of the last (first) in this series can guess at the location and subject of this one. A page turner, as usual, but is it me or is it losing it's spark? I miss Grover.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Brown is Back

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

With another book about another violent subject that makes us all uncomfortable. After taking on school shootings and high school status in Hate List, she tackles an abusive relationship in Bitter End. The thrill of being asked out by such a good looking and confident boy manages to eclipse Alex's common sense, her friendships, and eventually her self respect. I'm guessing it will have parents upset and be a draw for readers, but the age cut off is tricky.