Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Great Reads Continued...

   Rick Riordan writes a spectacular adventure in the Percy Jackson series.  I had a hard time putting down each of the installments in the series and couldn't wait to read the fifth book The Last Olympian.  The development of the relationships among the characters and the twists and turns really made a fantasy story very realistic.  I was as eager to find out what would happen between Annabeth and Percy as I was to find out how they would save the world from the Titans.
      In The Lost Hero Riordan continues to write a fun-filled adventure story.  This book starts a series that includes a different prophecy that is in the hands of other demi-god children.  There are cameo appearances by some of the favorite characters from the Percy Jackson series and a hint that Percy himself might show up in further adventures.  I am very excited to see what else happens to this set of characters.
      The Red Pyramid was also a great read.  I was intrigued by the egyptian myths and gods.  Just as in the Percy Jackson series, I learned quite a bit about mythology.  I also really liked the author's style of shifting the narration back and forth from Sadie to Carter.  The different styles they had of telling the story added humor and intrigue to the book.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Many Great Reads Later

    I am quite embarrassed by how long it has taken me to get back to this blog. I will have a hard time remembering all the books that I have read since the last post.  First I think I will make a list of the books I have read and then I will begin to review them.  I have read most of the rest of the books in the House of Night series, Fahrenheit 451, City of Bones and City of Ashes, The Lost Hero, The Red Pyramid, The Kitchen Boy, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and a few Holocaust historical fiction books.

    I will start with the House of Night series.  I still enjoy the quick and entertaining reading that those books provide.  I will say that the characters are interesting and it is my curiosity about what will happen to Zoey that keeps me going back to the books.  However, I find the story getting more and more unbelievable and crazy.  In the third book Zoey makes some decisions that I found to be really unrealistic and the rest of the books have continued that plot line.  I would still recommend the series but maybe not as highly as I might have before.

    Part of my mission as a teacher and a reader is to be familiar with classic books as well.  I am a little ashamed to say that until this fall I had not read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  It is a science fiction book that takes place in a world where reading and books are prohibited.  The firemen in this world are called out to start fires in homes where books have been spotted.  The protagonist of this book is a fireman who starts to have doubts about his life and the fire starting that he does.  I found myself wondering throughout the book what a world like that would be like.  I think that is the magic of science brings you into a new place and makes you think about what the world could be.  I wasn't as thrilled with the book as I thought I might be.  It is worth the read and it is good to know that I have read another classic, but I don't think I was missing much before.

     The new Mortal Instruments series is a thrilling adventure/fantasy series.  The first book City of Bones had me intrigued from the start because the protagonist, Clary, has no idea what is going on.  She starts to see things that no one else can see and her mother starts acting really weird all at once.  Throughout the story she starts to discover a whole world of other creatures and secrets that her mother has been keeping.  Besides all the fantasy and intrigue there is a love triangle that develops and makes for some great reading.  City of Ashes continues the adventure and is as fun to read as the first book.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Looking for Alaska, Copper Sun, Tears of a Tiger, Marked

Hello!  I have been super busy with the beginning of a new school year so I haven't posted in awhile.  That does not mean that I have taken a break from reading though!

     First up today is the book Looking for Alaska by John Green.  In this book the protagonist is a high school boy who decides to ask his parents to send him to the boarding school his father went to.  He doesn't really have any friends at his school in Florida and is looking for a new beginning somewhere.  At the new boarding school he becomes friends with a rather motley group of students who enjoy pulling pranks.  One of the group is a girl named Alaska who is gorgeous and elusive and quirky.  There is a sense of suspense throughout the novel because each section has a heading counting down to some event.  This is a novel that contains some mature references but is one I would recommend to many teens.  I was drawn to it first because it is a novel that won the Printz award for young adult books.  Every book that I have read that has had that distinction has been an excellent book.

    The next two books were both written by Sharon Draper.  The first book, Copper Sun, was recommended to me by a fellow teacher.  The book starts out describing a very nice domestic scene in a village in Africa and very quickly turns into a tragedy when the white slave traders come to the village and kill everyone that they do not find to be suitable to bring with them for slavery.  The narration is through the voice of a young woman who then tells of her journey on a slave ship, being bought at auction, and living as a slave on the plantation where she ends up.  Throughout the second part of the book the narration skips back and forth between Amari, the slave, and Polly, a white indentured servant. I learned a few things that I did not know about the history of the United States and a free village that existed in Spanish Florida.  I would highly recommend this book.

    The second book by Sharon Draper that I read recently was Tears of a Tiger.  The book starts with a tragic accident in which a star basketball player dies.  The book explores the level of grief that the other students go through and the struggles of the student who was driving the car with survivor's guilt.  It is a fascinating and sad book.  I really appreciated the way the author used many different formats to narrate the book.  The narration was a collection of letters, newspaper articles, glimpses into students' thoughts, etc.  I know that this book is the first in a trilogy and I will definitely be seeking out the other two books. Be ready to read a tragic story when you sit down to read this one.

   The last book that I want to talk about is the book Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast.  This is the first book in the House of Night series.  I have to say that I was somewhat reluctant to read this one because I am a little sick of the vampire craze lately.  (Not that I haven't also been a part of the craze)  I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  The authors created a whole new idea of what the vampire myth could be and it is very intriguing.  I really enjoyed getting to know the main character and learning about her adventures.  This book is reminiscent of Harry Potter and worth the read.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Incarceron, Shiver, and Cut

Hello All!

I have been busy reading this week and have found some great reads. There is nothing like reading to let you travel to new lands and get inside the head of a character.

The first book that I read is a fairly new release. I was able to buy a set of books for teachers at Scholastic that included three of the books that had just come out in May or early June. This book is Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. The premise of the book is a little bit far-fetched but it is another of the doomsday plots where in the future the people have made a mess of things and found something they thought would be the solution. The narration in the book goes back and forth between the story of Finn, a boy who is trapped in the world of Incarceron, and Claudia, the warden's daughter. The people in Incarceron, a prison, have been told that there is nothing outside and that the whole world that exists is inside of the walls of the prison. Finn does not remember his time before waking up inside of the prison but he has a nagging feeling that he came from outside. He has some dreams that seem to be memories and he is convinced that he came from somewhere else. Claudia is betrothed to the crown prince and once she is married she will be queen, but that is not what she wants. Fisher weaves a story that keeps the reader intrigued and wondering about this mysterious world of Incarceron. I would recommend this book mainly to fans of science fiction.

The second book I read was Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. This is a story about a girl who was attacked by wolves when she was younger. She becomes obsessed with the wolf pack that lives in the woods behind her house and particularly one wolf who always seems to be watching the house. She is convinced that there is something different about these wolves. The narration again goes back and forth between Grace, the girl, and Sam, the wolf. It is a love story and fantasy all wrapped up in one. There is a mystery in the book as they have to search for a boy who was attacked by wolves and died but then his body disappeared from the morgue. I am a sucker for a good love story and this one fit the bill. Fans of Twilight will enjoy this story. I am looking forward to finding the sequel and reading more about these characters.

The last book I want to write about here is Cut by Patricia McCormick. This book is written in first person and is about a girl who is in a mental hospital because she has been cutting herself. The author brings the reader inside the mind of the narrator and the reader is able to feel the experience of day to day life in the hospital. It is a short book and I was unable to put it down once I started. I found myself crying at certain points of the story because McCormick brought out the pain of the character in such a real way. Overall, though, this book is an uplifting story about a girl who is in pain but is on the track to getting better. I would recommend this book to most girls if only to help them to see the things that could be happening inside the minds of those around them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

39 Clues, Percy Jackson, and The Warrior Heir

I have enjoyed reading the many great adventure series out there for a while now. It is such fun to imagine a world in which monsters, secrets, wizards, etc. exist. The best thing about this kind of series is the fact that it usually starts with a kid who has absolutely no clue that these kinds of things exist or that he/she is involved.

The first series that I want to talk about here is 39 clues. I love the idea for this series. I love that it will stay fresh throughout because each book is written by a different author. Each book is in itself a mystery which resolves itself by the end to reveal a clue. The clue hunt is a dangerous game and Amy and Dan find that they know many of the answers because of things that their grandmother did with them. I love that this series is very easy to read. Anybody, even a struggling reader, would be able to get through these books. Each book is short and quick to read and I find myself really curious to see how the whole thing will work out. The only thing that I don't like about the series is that there are some things that happen that are quite unbelievable...the reader needs to use quite a bit of imagination to think that these two kids would survive some of the adventures that pop up for them. I just finished reading the 8th book in the series and am looking forward to finding the 9th book.

I also just finished the 4th book in the Percy Jackson series. The premise of these books is that the Greek gods actually exist and still rule over the happenings on Earth. Percy Jackson is a demi-god because Poseidon is his father. He ends up having to go on quests to keep different bad things from happening. I like the fact that there is a prophecy that the reader finds out about in the books because it foreshadows a big decision that Percy will have to make soon. In this book the battle is shaping up to be a major battle to keep the Titans from returning and overcoming the Gods. I was very intrigued by the hint of a love story taking shape and the two girls that Percy is probably going to have to choose between. I can't wait to get the 5th book and read the conclusion of a great series of books.

The Warrior Heir by Cinda WIlliams Chima is another book along the same lines of the Harry Potter, Pendragon, Percy Jackson line. In this book the protagonist, Jack, has no clue that he actually has a warrior stone and will need to train to play the game that the wizards run. The book describes the struggle that he goes through as he finds out that he is more than what he thought he was and learns about the Weir people. There is a very intriguing story to explain the secret workings of the wizards, sorcerers, enchanters, and warriors. Jack has to take on the new story of who he is and keep it a secret from his mother and his friends who are Anawier...people without special powers. It all comes to an exciting conclusion as Jack has to participate in a fight to the death against another warrior. I am looking forward to finding and reading the other books in this series. If you like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, you will like The Warrior Heir.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hello and Welcome!

I decided to start this blog to write about all the amazing teen books I am reading. I wish I had all the time in the world to do book talks in the classroom, but it is so hard to be able to talk about ALL of the great books out there. I will continue to bring up the awesome reads in class but I also want to give people a place to come to hear all about the books that I am reading.

This summer I have been catching up on many of the books that I had piled up in the house. I will start with the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale. I have been reading this series for a few years now and finally got around to reading books 8, 9, and 10 of the series. This series is a great adventure series and really brings up some great themes of friendship and the nature of humans. Bobby Pendragon is a very likeable character that the reader can really connect to. It is fun to imagine all of the different territories that he travels to as well as thinking about the ultimate battle for Halla. Every book in the series really was a pageturner for me. I found myself staying up until the wee small hours of the morning to finish the last book because I was so curious about how it was all going to end. Pendragon is a series that I would recommend for Harry Potter fans because I felt almost the same sense of adventure from this series.

I also just finished reading the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Now I know why this book was talked about in so many places. I was expecting a very heartbreaking story of a suicidal girl. I did get the story of this girl but in such a suspenseful and interesting way that the focus was not on the tragedy but on the mystery of what happened. I was thankful to the author for that because it made the book one that I really couldn't put down. I was right there with the narrator who could not stop listening to the tapes once he started...I wanted to know how all of the people had affected Hannah. I will be using this book in my classroom this year as a read aloud so that the 7th grade students can reflect on how their actions really make a difference to others. I would highly recommend this book to any teen reader!