Whatevs

Oh wow…

So I just glanced at my syllabus for YA Mats to see where I left off in my reviews.  And found new and exciting proof that I am in fact extremely lazy.  Well not so much lazy, I just don’t think I manage my time very well.  Especially at work.  At 8am 4:30pm is so far away.  My final is coming up so it might be a handy exercise to do a one line review with a yah or nah vote for the title.  And hopefully we’ll get back into some serious reading, like the new Percy Jackson.

Genre Fiction

The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer – Fun, futuristic, interesting adventure story.  Loved the characters, the action and the humor.  Colfer strikes again, Awesome.

Sabriel by Garth Nix – Sorry to say, I just couldn’t get into it.  Too slow, too boring, I didn’t finish. Just didn’t float my boat.  Whatevs.

Peeps by Scott Westerfield – Set in NYC which was fun.  A different take on “vampires” which was fun too.  Sharp writing and great scenes.  Awesome.

Multimedia…uh, I didn’t read any of the books and I’ve already read Potter 7 so hearing it was nice, Jim Dale rules but nothing much to report.  My committment to not reading Gossip Girl stands. 

Nonfiction

Hitler Youth by Susan Bartoletti – I enjoyed that besides getting general information, Bartoletti decided to follow 6 or 7 teens living in Nazi Germany and went into detail about their lives.  Lots of great resources, pictures and well researches.  Awesome

Fields of Fury: The American Civil War by James McPherson – Although the Civil War is not my favorite war, this book was very well made with tons of good features for kids.  Although not as specific as Hitler Youth, it still had some good stuff.  Cool.

Tree of Life by Peter Sis – A book that looks cooler than it actually is.  Although it gives the basics of Darwin and his work, the art work used in the book is a the real draw, yet not used as efectively as it could be.  Still Cool.

Adult Books for YAs

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer – A powerful story about an abused child.  So terrible I couldn’t bring myself to read it again.  But would still recommend. Awesome.

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – Liked the writing, like the perspective, but very depressing story about death and families.  Would recommend but was hard going trying to read on an airplane when there’s a strom out your window.  Cool.

Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah – I would have appriciated it more if I didn’t feel the author’s point breathing down my neck so much.  A cautionary tale about drug life, it was sometimes hard to care about the characters. Whatevs.

And finally Mock Printz Award Night

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party by MT Anderson – I liked it, alot.  Very interesting design, story, writing style.  It was made to look like an 18th century book which was fun.  Would have to make sure to give it to the right kid though.  Not an easy read, writing or story.  Awesome.

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher – I heart Crutcher.  As much as I want to be mad at him for his flat, secondary female characters I still love his work.  Whale Talk is one of his best and it holds up considering I read it over 5 years ago and still loved it.  Awesome.

Burned by Ellen Hopkins – I was trying very hard in class to descirbe why I disliked this book.  It wasn’t the sad ending, I don’t mind when things don’t end happily ever after.  I mind though when an author spends over 200 pages setting up a character only to destroy that growth and progress in less than 4 pages.  Why?  I feel betrayed as a reader when I feel lead around only to be punched in the face, and not in a good way.  I really felt the ending was added for total shock value.  Totally unecessary.  Lame.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers – Another book I read 5 years ago that still holds up well.  Told in screenplay format the story is a common one of youth crime but it is so unique when told from Steven’s perspective.  Leaves the reader thinking too, not frustrated and wanting to set fire to the thing.  Awesome.

Woo, so not so hard as I thought.  But we’ll get around to more good things soon.  Like Breaking Dawn.

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Twofer Tuesday!!

Confession: I started my last set of reviews yesterday but didn’t post them til today, so technically not Twofer Tuesday.  

Reviews for Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah and Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale by Donna Jo Napoli.

Well it was bound to happen so I figure why not do it as one.  My first set of  nonAwesome books came back to back.  And I read both of these.  I tend to be more critical if I just listen to something unless the performer works some crazy voice magic.  Not to say these were horrible books, they have their merits. But one left me underwhelmed and the other intensely frustrated.  Which brings me to a point, what I am looking for when I read a book.

First I’m looking for characters.  I don’t really care what they look like or what they are doing.  But if I don’t know the characters like I know one of my own friends then I don’t care what happens or what they have to say. Hush sounded good as a blurb, medieval Irish princess gets kidnapped by slave traders and must learn to survive.  Wow, I thought.  Not so wow as I began to read.  At the end I did not know enough about the main character to care whether she got home or stayed a slave.  Why did I not care?  Because nothing that happened in the book seem to matter to her.  The events were just things that happen.  The reader never gets to see how she changes, grows because of these things.  We never know her enough.  And since the point of view is through her eyes we get description of her world but never a feeling, emotion, perception.  Hence even the setting feels flat and dull.  It’s medieval Eruope!!  I’m giving it a Whatevs (2 of 4) and that’s being generous.

Second I need a good plot.  Something must happen and then something else must happened because that thing happen and so on.  I don’t need epics, pretty bow endings or even a linear story line.  So Does My Head had great characters.  Amal makes the decision to wear the hijab full-time even though she attends an ultra-conservative and snobby Australian prep school.  I like Amal, I like her family, and I love her friends.  It was easy to see Amal’s world and those she interacts with.  What bugged me was that I felt much of the story was a lesson on what it means to be a young Muslim growing up in a non-Muslim society.  I get this story is somewhat autobiographical and I know the name calling, the ignorance, the outright discrimination happens and far more than it should.  But at times it was like reading Intro to Modern Muslim Culture.  Which might not be bad for some readers who have no interaction with this culture or its people.  But I felt the plot wasn’t there to show us the characters’ lives, but rather episodes designed to teach something.  Yes, it felt preachy.  There I said it.  But maybe this lesson needs to be preached.  It gets a solid Cool (3 out of 4) but I still highly recommend it. I would not recommend Hush.