Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Monday 10/26! What Are You Reading?

(What are you reading Mondays was started by J. Kaye's Book Blog.)

Lots of good books last week!
  • I finished The Circle of Gold by Guillaume Prevost, last book in the middle-grade/teen The Book of Time trilogy - very exciting conclusion!
  • I'm still listening to Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - I should finish it this week.
  • Jamie (15) finished Leviathan, a brand-new, unique novel by Scott Westerfeld, author of The Uglies series. It's a novel set at the cusp of World War I, except the two sides are battling with Clankers, steam-driven iron machines, and fabricated animals, including the Leviathan, a whale airship. The novel is illustrated with detailed drawings. He says it was amazing!
  • Jamie started a book he's been saving so he could savor it: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini, the conclusion of the Eragon trilogy, one of his all-time favorite series.
  • Craig is reading Half Magic by Edward Eager, one of MY all-time favorite books! He already read it once this summer, but he's re-reading it for his Accelerated Reader program at school.
  • Ken, my husband, is still working his way through Inkspell by Cornelia Funke.
I'm finally feeling better after a lengthy illness, so I'll be posting some new reviews this week!

Check out Book By Book to see what grown-up books I'm reading.

What are YOU and YOUR kids reading this week?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Middle-Grade Review: Charlie Bone and the Shadow

I'm still sick, so today's review is written by my 11-year old son, Craig, of the latest book in his favorite series, Charlie Bone and the Shadow by Jenny Nimmo:

Young Charlie Bone is walking the halls of Bloors Academy awaiting a nice weekend. When he got home, he saw his Grandma Bone carrying something wrapped in canvas. When his grandma went up to her room, Charlie tiptoes downstairs and into the cellar where she had put it. Then Charlie unwrapped the canvas and saw the most horrifying painting ever. He could hear and feel a strong wind, then he was sucked up into the painting.

When he got there, he met a giant, and the giant seemed to be Charlie's ancestor. After awhile of hiding, he used his wand that turned into a moth to get out of the forsaken place. The next weekend, his friend Billy Raven came over and found his way into Bodlock. Charlie found out its name. When he tried to go in and get him, he could not. After at least a month, he finally found a way to get into Bodlock. When he got there and was ready to take Billy home, Billy refused. So Charlie went home and soon figured out that Billy was under a spell! The next book will reveal all secrets and schemes.

Craig says the Charlie Bone series is suspenseful, mysterious, and action-filled.

427 pages, Scholastic

Accelerated Reader Level 4.9, 10 points

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Monday 10/19! What Are You Reading?

More great books last week!
  • Jamie (15) read Wrath of the Bloodeye by Joseph Delaney, Book Five in The Last Apprentice series. He says this is one of the best series he's ever read, and he's been urging me to give it a try.
  • Jamie just started Leviathan, a brand-new, unique novel by Scott Westerfeld, author of The Uglies series. It's a novel set at the cusp of World War I, except the two sides are battling with Clankers, steam-driven iron machines, and fabricated animals, including the Leviathan, a whale airship. The novel is illustrated with detailed drawings. We've both been looking forward to this one.
  • Craig (11) is almost finished with Charlie Bone and the Shadow, part of his favorite series, and is looking for his next book, something worth 5 AR points to finish up his reading requirements for Language Arts class.
  • I've been listening to the teen audio book Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I'm not normally much into supernatural type stuff, but this is very good so far.
  • I'm currently reading the third and final book of The Book of Time trilogy by Guillaume Prevost, The Circle of Gold. Jamie and I both love this time-traveling trilogy.
  • My husband, Ken, is still working on Inkspell, the second book in the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke. He's says it's very good but long!
What are YOU reading this week?

(What are you reading Monday is sposored by J. Kaye's Book Blog)

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's Monday 10/12! What Are You Reading?

Happy Columbus Day!

My 15-year old son, Jamie, was sick this weekend, so he read non-stop for days. Lots of great books this week:
  • I read The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt, a suspenseful mystery about two girls who stumble upon an international art crime. I loved it and will post a review later this week.
  • Jamie read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (he finally got his turn!), Sent, Book 2 of The Missing series, by Margaret Peterson (I'm next for that one), and Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague, Book 3 of the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull, one of Jamie's favorite fantasy series. Now, he's starting on The Time Quake, the third and final book of Linda Buckley-Archer's The Gideon Trilogy.
  • 11-year old Craig finished Bruce Coville's Song of the Wanderer and started Charlie Bone and the Shadow, book 7 in his favorite series by Jenny Nimmo. I hope to post Craig's summary of Song of the Wanderer later this week.
So, what are YOU reading this week?

(What Are You Reading Mondays was started by J. Kaye's Book Blog).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Teen/YA Review: Catching Fire

There was a lot of excitement at our house the day that Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins’ much-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games, arrived. My 15-year old son, Jamie, and I were both in the middle of reading other books, so my husband got first dibs. I finally got my turn last week, and it was well worth the wait. When I finished reading the last sentence and reluctantly closed the cover, I looked at my husband and said, “When does book three come out?”

Collins’ amazing trilogy began with The Hunger Games, in which Katniss and Peeta won the cruel Hunger Games, a forced annual ritual where the government pits representative children from each district against each other in a survival contest to the death. They’ve returned home to District Twelve, but Katniss won’t be allowed to just go back to her old life:

If it were up to me, I would try to forget the Hunger Games entirely. Never speak of them. Pretend they were nothing but a bad dream. But the Victory Tour makes that impossible. Strategically placed almosr midway between the annual Games, it is the Capitol’s way of keeping the horror fresh and immediate. Not only are we in the districts forced to remember the iron grip of the Capitol’s power each year, we are forced to celebrate it. And this year, I am one of the stars of the show. I will have to travel from district to district, to stand before the cheering crowds who secretly loathe me, to look down into the faces of the families whose children I have killed…

Much to Katniss’ surprise, though, the people of the districts don’t all hate her. In fact, she has unwittingly become the symbol of a growing rebellion against the government. Katniss doesn’t want to be a rebel; she just wants to be left alone. Besides, she’s justifiably worried that any show of rebellion from her will put her mother, sister, and best friend, Gale, in danger.

I don’t want to say much more about what happens in Catching Fire because part of its irresistible allure are the frequent plot twists that took me by surprise every time. Collins is a master storyteller, making this post-apocalyptic world come to life with her words, creating characters who seem real, and keeping the reader turning the pages, chapter after chapter, while the real world waits. It’s a hold-your-breath, must-keep-reading roller coaster of an adventure, and I can’t bear to wait for the third and final book!

391 pages, Scholastic Press

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Monday 10/5! What Are You Reading?

Every week, I participate in J. Kaye's Book Blog What Are You Reading Mondays feature on my adult book blog, Book By Book, so I decided to extend the fun and participate with this blog as well. Each week, I'll share with you not only which kid, teen, or YA books I'm reading, but also what the rest of my family is reading.

This past week:
  • I read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the sequel to The Hunger Games. Jamie, my 15-year old son, waited impatiently for me to finish it so he could read it next! It's worth the wait. I'll post a review here later this week.
  • Jamie finished T.H. White's classic King Arthur tale, The Once and Future King. He really enjoyed the Merlin TV series this summer, so he was eager to read this book.
  • Jamie also read The Circle of Gold by Guillaume Prevost, the third and final book of the time-traveling adventure, The Book of Time trilogy. He and I have both enjoyed this series very much, and Jamie says the last book is excellent. I'm next!
  • My 11-year old son, Craig, is reading Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville, the second book in The Unicorn Chronicles series. Craig loves Coville's books, and this series is no exception. Some of his male classmates teased him a bit last year for reading a book about unicorns...until they read it themselves! It's an exciting fantasy adventure.
  • My husband (who just finished Catching Fire while I waited impatiently!) is now reading Inkspell by Cornelia Funke, the second book in the Inkheart series. He's been meaning to read the rest of this series for ages and was motived to get back to it when we saw the Inkheart movie recently. Jamie tells us that Inkspell is even better than Inkheart.
So, lots of great books for kids and teens this week!

What are YOU reading this week?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Teen/YA Review: Living Dead Girl

Living Dead Girl, a novel by Elizabeth Scott about a kidnapped girl held captive, is so deeply disturbing that I considered whether or not to review it here. My goal with this blog, as its name implies, is to recommend great books. To me, a great book is one that makes me feel something – hope, anger, excitement, sadness. A great novel is one where you get pulled into the story so completely that you forget it’s fiction. With those criteria, Living Dead Girl certainly measures up.

It is the story of a girl who is now known as Alice, though that’s not her real name. She was abducted five years ago, when she was only ten years old, and has been held captive ever since and raped daily. Reading about the details of her life was horrifying and heartbreaking, especially in the wake of the recent news story where a California abductee was found 18 years later.

Here, Alice starts her day and thinks about her advancing age:

Eventually I get out of bed and walk to the bathroom. We don’t have a tub, just a shower, but I ignore it and brush my teeth, swallowing the toothpaste instead of spitting it out. I hear it can be poisonous, but I guess it’s only if you’re really young.

I am 15 now, and I keep waiting for Ray to tire of me. I am no longer short with dimpled knees and frightened eyes. I am almost as tall as he is, and his license says he is 5’7”. He likes the picture. He says no one ever takes a good driver’s license picture except him.

I am 15 and stretched out, no more than 100 pounds. I can never weigh more than that. It keeps my breasts tiny, my hips narrow, my thighs the size Ray likes.

I am 15 and worn out, tired of everything.

I am 15, and I figure soon he will let me go.

In putting the reader inside the head of an abducted child, Scott also provides some insight into the most puzzling aspect of cases like this – the question of why the victim didn’t run away. Alice’s answer to that is both pragmatic and haunting. Ray controls her and keeps her there through a combination of physical and emotional threats, but more importantly, Alice feels invisible. As she says herself:

Three Life Lessons:

1. No one will see you.
2. No one will say anything.
3. No one will save you.

When Ray starts to talk about finding a new little girl, Alice thinks she finally has a way out; she’ll do anything to stop her daily torture. But Ray wants her to help him find a new girl and take care of her. Alice’s reaction shows just how much her lengthy torment has damaged her.

The language and format of the novel mirror Alice’s feelings of being a living dead girl. Her words are terse and unemotional, the chapters brief (that first passage quoted above is a full chapter). Despite her spare words – or perhaps because of them – the effect is disturbing yet completely compelling. I finished the book in less than a day, partly because I didn’t want to read it before bed another night and partly because I had to keep reading to find out what happened to Alice. If you’re wondering, as I was, why the author wrote this novel, read how she got the idea for the book – the story is as chilling as the novel itself.

For more information about this and other books by the same author, visit Elizabeth Scott’s website.

NOTE: This book is recommended only for older teens, young adults, or adults as it contains many scenes of rape and violence, although it is not graphic.

Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 170 pages.