Last Five Posts

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Batty About Books - Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac - Part 1

Maria (@mselke01) and I are reading together 
and we are now 
Batty About Dragon Castle

We chose this book after failing to love The Beyonders by Brandon Mull.  We spent two weeks and 190 pages before we decided to abandon it.  That's much longer than I think a student would stick with it.  We used the same list - The Cybils SciFi/Fan 2011 nominations list - to pick Dragon Castle which made it all the way to finalist for MG.

Maria's words are in the funky pink - too lazy to change it!

Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac - Part 1 - pgs. 1 - 113

I love the voice in this one. Part mocking part serious. It reminds me of Jonathan Stroud’s Heroes of the Valley.  In that one Halli is also different from his family. He feels ugly and unworthy and thinks he has to prove that he is every bit the hero as his ancestors were. Though, he was none too bright.
Maria: Yes! I love the little twists of sarcastic humor mixed into the serious tales.

Speaking of not being bright. I love how Rashko can’t see how cunning his family really is. He thinks he has to protect them when they seem to be doing alright by themselves. Except for the case of Paulek vs. Poteshenie.
Yes! It’s like the other three are all in on the “joke” (scheme?) but for some reason Rashko hasn’t figured it out. I’m also not convinced that Paulek is completely under her spell. The more I read of that family, the more I’m feeling like all of the buffoonery is an act.

Speaking of Poteshenie. It’s obvious she’s not the Baron’s daughter but who is she? And how can the daughter of a Baron be a princess?
Ooo... good point! I’m pretty sure she’s not human. It seems like we keep seeing a glint of something behind her eyes. Maybe she’s on the dark end of the sidhe.

Speaking of the Baron. Do you think he’s related to the Dark Lord? Is he real? The mention of glamour and mist caught my eyes!
I’m still betting on more Fairie tie ins. We’ve seen the light side of the fey (tricky, yes, but the King and Queen seem relatively content and safe there), but we haven’t yet seen the dark.

Speaking of Pavol - I love the alternating story lines! I keep waiting to see how the two will intersect! Can’t decide if Gregor from earlier times is Black Yanosh of the present time. They have the same habit of appearing at certain times of the year and training the boys - Pavol and Rashko
Maria: Hmm... didn’t even think of that. I like it!

Speaking of Rashko - What did Georgi mean by “there’s never been a better time to begin remembering”? Must.Not.Read.Ahead.
Maria: See? This is why I didn’t read ahead. I wanted to respond to you with no extra knowledge. Now that I’m sitting down to write back, I can read on.

Overall, I like this one! Even though Bruchac uses flowery language and doesn’t always explain his terminology - the voice is compelling! It keeps you entertained and mystified! I can’t wait to learn more about “Cesta - The road teaches us to give one thing for another.” (p42) You know that has to come up again later! Someone must take something without giving in return. Gah, I need to stop trying to predict everything!
Maria: Agreed. The language use flows in this one, it fits. And I have faith that I’ll figure out the terms and such as I progress in the story. That’s part of the deal when you read a fantasy novel, right? I loved how he “earned”’ his wolves (and I love wolves anyway, they rank up there with dragons and dolphins on my loved creatures list) Maybe something with the bag? I’m sure it will tie in again, dragons are notorious for trades, too.

Be sure to check out Maria's Melange to read the rest of the story!
 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Letter Q - Review and Giveaway - Part 3

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes To Their Younger Selves
edited by Sarah Moon
Arthur A Levine Books
978-0-545-39932-6
$17.99

We've all heard of the "It Gets Better" or the "Dear Bully" campaigns. Scholastic took those projects a step further and gathered over 60 authors to write letters to their younger LGBTQ selves. What a great way to reach those teens who may be struggling to hang on.

Monday - Friday, I will highlight a different young adult author, as well as Arthur Levine himself, and give you an excerpt of their story.

Julie Anne Peters
Peters has written many books including By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead, Luna, Keeping You a Secret, and Define Normal. Check out her website - Julie Anne Peters.


Peters comforts her younger self after a devastating breakup.
I wish there was a time machine because I would've jumped aboard and set the controls to that park. I'd have held you tight and told you that it wasn't you; that in a few short years you'd meet the love of your life...  ...wasn't until college that you came out to yourself. You didn't even have a word for it. Lesbian. Even now it makes you cringe a little. You prefer gay. It makes you happy, that word, and all you ever wanted was to be happy.
Giveaway
Open to US Residents only
Enter by completing the form below. 
Be sure to leave your email address so that we can contact you.
The giveaway is open from
May 28, 2012 - June 1, 2012 11:59pm
You may enter once per day. 
2 copies will be given away.






Trailer

 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Letter Q - Review and Giveaway - Part 2

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes To Their Younger Selves
edited by Sarah Moon
Arthur A Levine Books
978-0-545-39932-6
$17.99

We've all heard of the "It Gets Better" or the "Dear Bully" campaigns. Scholastic took those projects a step further and gathered over 60 authors to write letters to their younger LGBTQ selves. What a great way to reach those teens who may be struggling to hang on.

Monday - Friday, I will highlight a different young adult author, as well as Arthur Levine himself, and give you an excerpt of their story.

David Levithan
Levithan has co-authored several of my favorite books: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Noami and Eli's No-Kiss List, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.  He also has many novels of his own, including Boy Meets Boy, Wide Awake, and Every You, Every Me. Check him out online - David Levithan.


Levithan chastises his younger self for bullying a teacher.
I know many gay people now who honed their caustic wit s a defense mechanism - this particular rapier was the best thing in their own arsenals, so they made sure it was sharp as possible, and sometimes they went in for the kill. Hell, sometimes they still do.  Don't fall into this trap. It doesn't make you safe. It only makes you mean.


Giveaway
Open to US Residents only
Enter by completing the form below. 
Be sure to leave your email address so that we can contact you.
The giveaway is open from
May 28, 2012 - June 1, 2012 11:59pm
You may enter once per day. 
2 copies will be given away.






Trailer

 

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Letter Q - Review and Giveaway - Part 1

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes To Their Younger Selves
edited by Sarah Moon
Arthur A Levine Books
978-0-545-39932-6
$17.99

We've all heard of the "It Gets Better" or the "Dear Bully" campaigns. Scholastic took those projects a step further and gathered over 60 authors to write letters to their younger LGBTQ selves. What a great way to reach those teens who may be struggling to hang on.

Monday - Friday, I will highlight a different young adult author, as well as Arthur Levine himself, and give you an excerpt of their story.


Jacqueline Woodson
Woodson is the author of the Newbery Honor Show Me as well as  If You Come Softly, Locomotion, Peace,Locomotion and other books for children and teens. Visit her website - Jacqueline Woodson.


Woodson writes of her best friend Maria. Maria has an aunt that Woodson is simultaneously drawn to and afraid of:
Alma scares you - she is tall and thin and dresses like a man. Your mother calls her a a bulldagger and this word alone - when said the way your mother says it - makes you afraid to get close to Alma. You think, That isn't me. You are already thinking, That isn't me. Because somewhere deep, you know that it is.
Giveaway
Open to US Residents only
Enter by completing the form below. 
Be sure to leave your email address so that we can contact you.
The giveaway is open from
May 28, 2012 - June 1, 2012 11:59pm
You may enter once per day. 
2 copies will be given away.






Trailer

 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Middle Grade Monday - Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan

Riordan, Rick. Serpent's Shadow, The. Hyperion Books for Children, 2012. 416p. $16.99. 978-1423140573.


Genre: MG Fantasy
Rating: 4/5




This is the final book in The Kane Chronicles trilogy. Sadie and Carter Kane need to save the world again.  This time from the God of Chaos, Apophis.  Apophis is determined to eat the Sun God, Ra and plunge Earth back into it's primordial days.  He's going to wait until the equinox to do that though.  Meanwhile, he's been destroying a particular scroll that the Kanes believe hold the secret to his destruction.

For most of the book, The Kanes are split up. Sadie travels with Walt as they try to figure out where the dwarf God, Bes', shadow is so they can reunite the two. Carter and Zia, on the other hand, are following Setne around so they can get the Book of Thoth to help them do an execration. This provides a great opportunity for L-O-V-E.

Now, in Throne of Fire (TofF), 12-year-old Sadie was obsessed Anubis and Walt Stone. So much so, that I found it unrealistic. She is this strong-willed, purple-haired, combat boot wearing destruction magician who becomes consumed by her attraction to a  5,000 year old god. It didn't fit the girl we met in The Red Pyramid. It actually made me not like TofF as much as I would have without the love triangle. It's one of the reasons I only gave this one four stars. Now we have 13-year-old Sadie obsessed with Anubis and Walt Stone. In a way that adds nothing to the story. Sadie's overbearing personality never lets up so you can't see either boy making any headway. You don't get to see a relationship being built between Sadie and the boys either. It appears to be more of a plot device that I leads to something I can't speak of here. This plot device will probably show up in a spin-off series involving those two and Setne.

Carter and Zia also found love in TofF. At least Carter did. Zia was pretty much entombed or a shabti. Now that she's a "real girl" she's busy taking care of Ra. Traveling with Carter gives her an opportunity to get to know him as they spend time talking. It's not a lot of time, as we are on a doomsday schedule, but the conversations seem heartfelt. I can't shake the feeling that Zia is much too mature for Carter though. She seems more like she's in her early twenties compared to Carter's 15 years.

I had a small beef with how EASY many of the challenges were. This book felt more like a setup than a final book. This pretty much was more of what we read in Red Pyramid and Throne of Fire. The series has been a nice introduction to Egyptian mythology, though. It reads slower than The Percy Jackson and The Olympian series but I found that enjoyable. I thought Riordan gave us more mythology than questing in these books, possibly because Egyptian mythology just hasn't been explored as much in children's books. Overall, I recommend this one to students who like mythology. Pair it with the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series which I'll be talking about in two weeks.

Trailer


I'm an Amazon Associate. Links may redirect to Amazon.

 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Batty About Books - A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull - Part 2


Maria (@mselke01) and I are reading together and we are now 
Batty About The Beyonders, 
or  NOT!

Oh Noes! I was totally NOT feeling this book. Here we are 190 pages in and I hadn't bought into it. After a short twitter conversation - Maria graciously let me quit reading. 
So, this is the final installment in A World Without Heroes! Please check out Maria's Melange where she's given this book more than it's due!



As Always, my words are in blue and Maria's are in purple.

A World Without Heroes - Part 1 - p1-99

A World Without Heroes - Part 2 - p99 - p190

Kathy: BE FOREWARNED - I DO NOT LIKE THIS BOOK!
Maria: I tend to try to “look for the good”, and I found a few things I liked, but overall I agree. I do see upper elementary boys enjoying it. My own fourth grade son devoured this book and insisted I buy the second. I now regret spending the money on the hardback copy. He’s a voracious reader, and maybe he’s not yet as discriminating as I thought.

Kathy: I feel like Mull is simultaneously reading a book about hero fiction and trying to write one incorporating the things he’s learning: evil ruler who will toy with you, mentor who will bestow gifts upon you - including the use of his name, “rightful heir” ousted by evil ruler.
Maria: Laugh! No, seriously, I can see this. This is about the same way I felt when I read the first Paolini book. My students were GAGA over it, and I read it thinking, “You can really tell he was only a teenager when he wrote that.” I did finish that book, but I never really enjoyed it. 
Kathy: That's another one I didn't finish! I've made it halfway TWICE!

Kathy: That whole paragraph about what it means to be a hero. Gag.
Maria: Yes! That was one of the first things I decided rubbed me the wrong way.

Kathy: I don’t understand how they know their way around this “other world” so easily. We’ve been told time and time again that maps are forbidden, so how do they know which way is east? Are they assuming things work like they do “beyond”?
Maria: You know, that didn’t occur to me. Now that you mention it, I agree. I’m not sure why that one didn’t jump out at me. Most of my favorite “high fantasy” includes maps galore.

Kathy: At least I can look forward to trying to figure out “The Word”! Kind of reminds me of Westing Game in that aspect. A _ _ EN _ _.  Other than that? Reading just to finish.
Maria: Didn’t you like Westing Game? I did love that one, and I often have student reading groups read it. Some love it, some find it so very confusing. I hate to give up a puzzle. 
Kathy: Oh yes, I loved The Westing Game. I meant this as a compliment to World Without Heroes!

Kathy: Gah! I don’t have much to say about this section! I am forcing myself to read it and I am NOT enjoying it.  We are almost 200 pgs in and I haven’t thought of one student I would give this to! I could barely keep my eyes open through this! It took me HOURS to read the less than 100 pages in this section.
Maria: As we chatted about on Twitter last night, I think it’s time to give this one a burial at sea. Wave goodbye to Beyonders and let’s move on with our lives. I may still try to burn through the rest, just to find a glimmer of what my son loved in it. But I’ll be happy to not have to pull it apart or take notes on it. I’m hopeful our next choice will be more appealing!
Kathy: You are a gem! I may re-visit it this summer when I have more time. For now, I can't wait to find a palate cleanser!

Maria and I decided we would do a post discussing how we decide to abandon books.  I will say, the more I read, the more I abandon.  I'll talk about why during the discussion.



 

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's Monday: What Are You Reading - 5/7/12

Check out Teach Mentor Texts with Jen and Kellee to find more #kidlit bloggers joining in this special meme.


In The Past
I finished 6 books these past two weeks.




The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour - we are discussing this over at Goodreads Mock Printz. Road trip book.


Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin - reviewed here.


Grave Mercy by RL LaFevers - we are discussing this over at Goodreads Mock Printz 2013.


Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver - followup to Delirium by Lauren Oliver.  Lena's voice was strong in this one. 


Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan - reread this one in preparation for the final book in the Kane Chronicles, Serpent's Shadow.


Insurgent by Veronica Roth - followup to Divergent by Lauren Oliver.  


In The Present
A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull - this month's Batty About Books pick.  Check out what Maria and I had to say about Part 1.


Girl in a Steel Corset by Kady Cross - reading with Aneeqah over at My Not So Real Life.




I'm also reading Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan.




In The Future
Turning my head to the Young Hoosier Book Awards (YHBA) committee reading I need to do.  I'll catch up on some reviews and try to fit in Bitterblue, Froi of the Exiles, and a host of Mock Newbery and Mock Printz titles over the next few weeks.  I look forward to June's 48 Hour Book Challenge, hosted by Mother Reader, which always signifies the start of summer reading time for me! 


I'm an Amazon Associate. Links may redirect to Amazon.
 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Batty About Books - A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull - Part 1

Maria (@mselke01) and I are reading together and we are now 
Batty About The Beyonders, 
or at least we hope to be!

Each week, time permitting, we will share our thoughts about a section of the book.  My thoughts are in blue and Maria's in purple.  On her blog, Maria's Melange, you can read the other side of the story!


Welcome to our second foray into buddy reading! We're readingA World Without Heroes (Beyonders). This is the first book in Brandon Mull's new series. This book was nominated for a Fantasy/ Science Fiction Cybil Award for Middle Grade readers.


A World Without Heroes - Part 1 - Beginning to 98




Kathy: Let me start by saying that if we weren’t reading this together, I would have given up already!

In the beginning - the prologue set me up for some exciting and fascinating intrigue! Who was this prisoner that was fooled by the evil King? Why was the King so evil? I was hooked.  Then we went to present day Jason and the whole mood was different.  Mull is trying hard to be funny and it’s not working.  When Jason goes into the hippo’s mouth, it becomes very confusing. 



Maria: Agreed. I adored the prologue. It was mysterious and JUST right. Then it was like another author stepped in. I hope we get that other style back soon. Kathy: That’s it! It seemed like a different person was writing, the style was so different!

Kathy: In the middle - I hope he will get back to why these people felt it necessary to commit suicide.  All I feel right now is disjointed.  Is that because Jason feels that way having traveled through to this new world? And what’s with the loremaster. Again, a change in mood. Now the new language and names he’s introducing are too much to handle and follow the story too. 



Maria: Yes, disjointed is the right word. I am hopeful about Rachel, but it still feels like Mull is just jumping around. What award did this win again? I wanted more about the musicians, too. They intrigue me, and I hope we get more of that piece of the story. Kathy: It didn’t win but it was nominated for a Cybils. They try to find books that are well written and have great kid appeal.

Kathy: In the end - Now that he’s on his quest and past the lady with the bread, I feel like the story is picking up. I love the Gamemaster and The Blind King.  Interesting that the King actually knows the state of the country but pretends for the people.  I also like the introduction of Rachel.  I can’t wait to see how the relationship between those two play out.  She seems smart and capable.



Maria: I do like the Blind King. My son (who just finished the first book) keeps asking me if I’ve figured out who he is yet... so hopefully that will pull the intrigue level along a bit more. Kathy: OMG! Prologue?

Kathy: Overall - the book seems to be on the upswing but it took a L-O-N-G time to get there.  I can’t see kids sticking with this.  I hope it continues to improve because I really want to recommend it! 



Maria: Well, I know my son loved them. He hated Fablehaven, though. (Just confirmed that with him - he thought Fablehaven was “too slowly paced”) So it does seem like this is Mull’s style. My son thought Beyonders had a quicker pace. Guess I’m not trying Fablehaven!! Kathy: HA! Agreed!

 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Classic Double Challenge - Eyre vs Lindner



vs Jane









The Classic
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This is the tale of a girl who grew up in a house where no one liked her, let alone loved her. Her cousin, John, would constantly bully her. In fact, all her cousins were considered "better" and had the clothes, food, and fun to prove it.  Jane endured this until the glorious day, at the age of ten,  when Mr. Lloyd took her away to Lowood Institution. At Lowood everyone has the same clothes, terrible food and basically no fun. But, Jane has Helen Burns! and Ms. Temple! People who love her and teach her how to love and life is, at least, more bearable.  Jane grows up and becomes a teacher at Lowood herself.

But Jane's good fortune does not end there! She gets a governess position at Thornfield Hall with Adele, the ward of Mr. Rochester! He of the average but brooding visage.  They soon grow to love each other but, as everyone knows, there is a Mrs. Rochester hidden in the attic. So, peripeteia, again! Jane is thoroughly humiliated and forces herself to leave Thornfield. "Farewell! was the cry of my heart..." Poor Jane! She doesn't have anywhere else to go! But she leaves anyway and she endures hardships. Yes, but she endures!

After much begging and wandering, Jane ends up at the house of Mr. St. John Rivers and his sisters, Diana and Mary. Almost turned away by the maid, St. John himself rescues Jane from the doorstep and assured death.  St. John, the parson, soon to be missionary, took a special interest in our Jane.  Sure, the sisters loved her but he knew she was destined for greatness, for something more than teaching the poor. But first, let her teach the poor. And she did. And then fate turned and Jane got rich and found out she was cousins with the Rivers! She has a loving family! But her story doesn't end there, no! I told you St. John wanted more for Jane? He wanted her to be his wife! Not for love but to help him with his mission work! But, Jane's heart did not belong to her anymore. She could not give it to him.

Do you remember Mr. Rochester who needed the governess? So does Jane. And he remembers her.

The Contemporary
Jane by April Lindner
And now, dear Reader, we turn to Jane Moore. Poor Jane had to drop out of college due to lack of funds. She decides to find a job as a nanny. This Jane has two siblings, a sadistic brother and an unfeeling sister.  But, family issues aside, due to her lack of love for modern music, Jane gets to work at Thornfield Park and work for Mr. Rathburn, a huge rock star who has custody of his only child, Madeline.

But, more about Jane. Her siblings are five and six years older than she is, which isn't much but their lives were very different.  Jane and her mom just never gelled.  She was like the forgotten child.  Her brother, Mark, was cruel to her but her mom always took his side. Her sister, Jenna, was a child model who their mom doted on. Jane was used to being invisible. Jenna is now a rich girl married to an investment banker and Mark has disappeared after selling the house and taking all the proceeds. For reasons unknown, Jenna is loathe to help Jane out so she must find a way to survive.  Nanny it is.

While nannying at Thornfield, Jane is falling in love with Nico Rathburn the rock star.  But, she gets a strange call from her sister and drops everything to go home and help Jenna out. Mark, it seems, has blown through his cash and now wants to sleep on Jenna's couch. So she calls Jane. Who has no house and no money. Who she hasn't spoken to nor likes. And Jane goes.

So Jane settles her sister and brother and hightails it back to Thornfield Park where she is reminded that Nico is engaged! But, he starts hitting on her. And says he doesn't love Bianca, he loves Jane. And they celebrate their love. For reals.

Then Nico starts buying her stuff and takes her out on tour with him and proposes to her. Jane's head is swirling. But, alas, the wedding is not to be! So Jane leaves. And mails away her cell phone. Really. No, she doesn't change the number or turn off the location, she gets rid of it so Nico cannot find her!

She makes her way to the big city and she is lonely and broke. But, thankfully, she is rescued by Diana, a waitress with a big heart. Diana takes Jane back to her humble apartment and she moves in with her, her sister, Maria, and their brother, River. The St. Johns are good to Jane. River gets Jane a great administrative assistant position where she can finally start earning her keep. Along the way River tries to get Jane to become his wife and help him with his missionary work to Haiti.

You can guess the rest!

The Contest
For me, there was no contest. Jane Eyre is by far the better book. It was all I could do to write about Jane Moore without letting my feelings for that book come through.  I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped. I was constantly reminded I was reading an update instead of a story of it's own.  It was as if Lindner did some sort of search and replace. This felt less like a homage to Jane Eyre and more like a ripoff. And the story itself didn't seem believable to me. Jane Moore speaks in the beginning of seeing a poster of Nico Rathburn on her brother's wall at the age of 11 and then she doesn't recognize him when she sees him. There is talk of Nico taking off his "stockbroker's jacket" and then you could see his tattoos. So stereotypical. And why would she go to the aid of a sister and brother who were never kind to her? Who had more money than she did? Who led to her dropping out of school and not helping her? Nothing in the past said she would help them.  I did not see that compassion. And why did she have to sleep with Nico so easily? He really didn't have to say more than a sentence to change her mind. I just couldn't get behind this story.

Jane Eyre wins this one.



I'm an Amazon Associate. Links may redirect to Amazon.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Saturday Stories kit by Lien