Saturday, December 31, 2011

Matched, Monster, Chains

              The first book I want to talk about in this post is a fairly recent release.  The book Matched by Allie Condie is reminiscent of The Giver in that this dystopian society at first seems like a Utopia.  In Matched the main character, Cassia, is happy with her life and sees nothing wrong with the way the society decides things for everyone.  Her world makes perfect sense and seems to be better than what used to exist.  Then a series of events starts her thinking that maybe it is not the best idea to have everything decided for you.  This is an intelligent book that really gets into the head of the main character.  Cassia is a likeable teen who is faced with some pretty unpleasant decisions and realizations. 

     This next book is a book that I have been meaning to read for quite some time.  I am talking about Monster by Walter Dean Myers.  It is an excellent book for high-interest easy reading.  In this book the main character is a boy in jail going through his trial for murder.  He is interested in film and movie-making so the majority of the book is written like a screenplay.  In this book we get a glimpse of what it might be like to make the stupid mistake of helping some tough guys in the neighborhood.  I highly recommend this book to everyone.  It is a quick read and a great story as most of Walter Dean Myer's books are. 

     Last but not least is the book Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson.  I avoided reading this book for quite some time because I have a hard time reading heartbreaking books and I wasn't ready for another heavy account of how slaves were treated.  This book surprised me because it was set in the north during the Revolutionary War.  The book was an excellent work of historical fiction and I learned quite a bit about what was happening in New York during the war.  Yes, it is heartbreaking to think about slavery and the awful treatment of slaves.  The main character Isabel did experience her fair share of this, but she also is a resilient and intelligent girl that is a fascinating character.  The book is an intriguing story that tells more than just the story of this one girl and this one household.  I especially love the epigraphs that come from historical documents.  Laurie Halse Anderson obviously did extensive research before writing this historical fiction novel.  It is an excellent book. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

More Great Reads

     Since the school year is fast approaching, I have put on hold many of the adult books that I want to read in order to do some quick reading of the young adult books I have on my "to read" shelf.  In the last week I spent a lot of time reading sequels to other great books, but I noticed something that is bothering me about the books I have recently read.  I think it is just the fact that I am an adult, but some of the reactions and insecurities of the protagonists in these books are bothering me.  It seems like the girls in many of the supernatural romance teen books are so insecure and cannot believe that the guy loves them.  Is this something that every teenager thinks??  I wonder if the young adults that read these books even notice this theme.  I hope they do and they are just as frustrated with the main characters so that they are able to reflect on the behavior and avoid it in their lives.  Okay, enough with the frustrations. 

   The first book that I have recently finished is Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick.  This is the sequel to the book Hush, Hush.  In this book Nora is looking forward to a nice summer vacation in which she will spend a lot of her time with her boyfriend and guardian angel Patch.  However, jealousy and suspicions arise and she finds that she has some trouble in paradise.  Add to that some mysterious sightings of her father, who is supposedly dead, and there is a suspenseful adventure waiting for the reader.  I really enjoyed the book and I love the imagination that Becca Fitzpatrick has to come up with some of the twists and turns that occur.  I have to admit that I was a little bothered by the ease with which Nora became suspicious of Patch.  It seems so obvious to me as an adult reader that she is misunderstanding things...I wonder how others react to this.  Overall, it was a fun book to read and I know many teens would really love it.  I am excited to read the third book in the series when I get a chance. 

     Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck is the second book in the series.  In this book Kelsey has just left India and has arrived in Oregon to start classes at the university.  She settles into her life in Oregon but has a difficult time because she left Ren behind.  There is quite a bit of the book devoted to the love story between these two characters.  Kelsey really annoyed me because of her insecurity.  It seems quite clear to the reader that she must be much prettier than she thinks she is from the reactions of the men in her life.  Also, she focuses too much on the physical and does not appreciate the gifts she has.  In this book things happen that make it possible for Kelsey to go on the second quest to work toward a solution for the two tigers.  This time she ends up on the quest with Kishan and has to travel into Tibet to learn about the next phase of the quest.  As a reader I was impressed with the details and the imaginative situations that the two found themselves in.  I am certainly much more interested in looking for and reading more Indian myths to see if some of the ideas came from them.  When I reached the end of this book I was reeling from a great twist to the plot.  I can't wait for the next book to come out so I can see how things work out. 

     Sharon Draper's book Forged by Fire is a quick read but worth your time.  In this book the reader learns about Gerald's life with his loving aunt who takes custody of him after his druggie mother leaves him alone in the apartment and he almost dies in a fire.   Years later his mother returns with a new husband and Gerald starts living with them.  The only thing that helps him keep going in this new home is his sister Angel.  The two of them look out for each other in this unhappy home.  I found myself really rooting for Gerald and Angel and hoping that they would be able to overcome the bad circumstances of their home life.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a great story.  Anyone who has read Tears of a Tiger will definitely enjoy this book.

   Last, but not least is another great book by Walter Dean Myers.  In Somewhere in the Darkness Jimmy is living with Mama Jean who is taking care of him.  His mother is dead and his father is in prison but he gets along fine living with Mama Jean.  One day his father shows up at the apartment and takes Jimmy with him to Chicago.  Strange things are happening along the way and Jimmy is not sure he can trust this man, but he wants to get to know his father.  Once again, Myers writes an intriguing story that keeps the reader guessing about what is going to happen next.  This is another quick read and completely worth your time. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tiger's Curse

    I just finished reading Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck.  This is another series in the new fantasy/romance young adult genre.  I was fascinated by the story which mixes in some Indian mythology with the story of Kelsey an American teenager who has just graduated high school.  Kelsey gets a temp job working for two weeks at a traveling circus and becomes very attached to the white bengal tiger that they have.  At the end of her time there a man comes to the circus and offers Kelsey a rare opportunity to travel and continue working with the tiger.  The story is a mystical adventure and mystery in which Kelsey ends up sleuthing to help with reversing an ancient curse.   Readers do have to suspend some disbelief as the situations that the characters get in are quite hard to believe at times, yet they somehow still feel realistic.  That is the beauty of good fantasy writing!  I would highly recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Mortal Instruments

     I just finished reading City of Glass by Cassandra Clare.  I have to say that I am quite impressed with the three books in this series.  I love the idea of the world in which all of these creatures exist.  I also am always impressed when as a reader I have absolutely no clue in the middle of the book how things will possibly work out for the characters in the book.  Throughout this series there is a tension between the main characters that is both intense and realistic.  There are so many twists in the plot lines but each time it seems that the story must have been meant to go that way.  I love that this third book in the trilogy so neatly wraps up the story but does so in an unexpected way which at the same time made me say..."I knew it."  Anybody who is enjoying all the great fantasy series out there will enjoy this fast-paced series of books. 

    Along these same lines, I saw that Clare has started a new series.  Reading Clockwork Angel was similar to reading City of Bones.  There are a lot of parallels in the stories and it will be interesting to see where the plot line goes in the other books.  I, for one, was glad to see that this talented author is writing more about the fascinating world of the Shadowhunters.  The fact that the new series is set in nineteenth century England was also quite intriguing.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

AHHH! Summer is here!

     It took almost a year before I picked up the book Burned from the House of Night series.  I was so angry with how the last book ended that I didn't know if I wanted to continue reading the series.   I was curious about how the books would continue after what seemed like a definitive ending in the last book.  I am glad that I decided to continue reading the series.  This book was less about the difficult decisions that Zoey had to make and more about her friends and what they decided to do.  I enjoyed the plot line of this book and the hopefulness that was present in it. 

     Another book I have read during the few short weeks of vacation so far is Secrets, Lies, and Algebra by Wendy Lichtman.  This is a fun, easy read with a bit of a mystery.  The narrator is a teenager who thinks about life in mathematical terms.  It starts with Tess finding out that her mother thinks that her friend may be a murderer.  She is not sure what to do about this but is pretty sure that her mom should be reporting her suspicions to the police.  What follows is a wacky mystery with all the middle school angst that you might expect from a young adult book. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Witch and Wizard

      The book Witch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet is a fast-paced adventure book as Patterson's books tend to be.  The premise in this book is the take over in the world of a new radical political party who are trying to rid the world of any possible threats.  Unfortunately that means that they are arresting children who might pose a threat to their power in the future.  The two protagonists in the book are a brother and sister who were never told that they had magical powers but discover throughout the action that they really are a witch and a wizard.  This book has a lot of great fantasy elements but also reads like a lot of the futuristic novels with a warning in them about the state of the world.  I am looking for ward to reading the next book and seeing what happens with the characters and the New Order.

     I also recently read The Princess Bride.  I absolutely love the movie and I wanted to see if the book was as good.  I did not realize that the book is actually an abridged version of the original story written by William Goldman who also wrote the screenplay for the movie.  It was fun to read the story, but there was nothing new in it because the main action was exactly like the action in the movie.