Thursday, June 30, 2011

Soul Screamers series

I'm in the process of getting through City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, so I thought I would blog about one of my all time favorite series Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent. This series, which has 8 books so far, is about Kaylee's life as a bean sidhe - a banshee. Everytime someone dies around Kaylee, she gets this urge to scream until she can't talk anymore.


At first Kaylee has no idea what is wrong with her. She goes into psychiatric care, thanks to her aunt and uncle, and after that vital mistake, Kaylee resists the urge to scream, holding it in until it brings her to tears. Surprisingly, Kaylee is able to find answers to what she is and how she can control it through Nash, another bean sidhe, at her school. She just might not like all of the answers that she gets.


Along with finding another bean sidhe, Kaylee discovers that there are demons in the underworld that she has to fight off, and some reapers as well. Life is never dull for Kaylee, that's for sure!  The storyline is very easy to follow and the interaction between Nash and his brother Tod (who turns out to be a reaper! Talk about brotherly rivalry) will make you literally laugh out loud with amusement. All of these books are on sale and the newest installment, If I Die, will be out in September.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Gathering

I read The Gathering in a matter of hours. This was a quick, easy read but the story content was amazing! We first start by reading about Maya's experience when she sees her best friend drown in their lake. The strange part is that her friend, Serena, was the best swimmer at her school and she always swam in that lake.

After that, Maya's life dims down and she just lives day by day. She lives in a small town, literally 200 people make up the town and it's mostly set in the middle of the forest that Maya has grown up with for most of her life.

A new guy transfers to her school, Rafe, and this is very unusual as Maya's town does not get newbies - everyone that goes to school has known each other since they were in diapers. For some reason, Rafe is set on becoming friends with Maya, even though he has been seen with almost every girl at school, even though he will just chase them and then leave em once he gains their attention. Maya didn't want anything to do with him, but there was a certain attraction between the two of them...

This was very well written. I was not bored at all throughout this novel and I didn't want it to end (a note about the end - Armstrong has a sequel following it so it's not concluded at the end :-/ ). The second book, The Calling won't be out until April 2012! I do know, though, that when April comes around I will definitely be checking it out to find out what happens to Rafe and Maya.

Oh, and did I happen to mention that Maya has a collection of pets? Like a pet cougar and how the wild cougars (not her pet one) protects her from strangers? I would definitely like to have a wild animal protect me rather than hunt me for dinner!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fearless

I'm currently in the middle of The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong so I'm going to write about an absolutely, amazing series called Fearless by Francine Pascal (the famous writer of Sweet Valley High). I got these books when I was in high school (about 6ish years ago) and I went to the story and about the books in bulk - I couldn't wait for the next installment of the series. Thankfully, I read the books when they were already done in the series so I didn't have to wait forever for the next book :)

This series is 42 books long and through the all of the books I thought that the story was strong and I didn't feel like the story dragged on. Gaia, the main girl, was born fearless - without the fear gene. Her father was part of the CIA so he took advantage of her no fear and gave her martial arts training, having Gaia study Latin and topics that a 3 year old girl would never even think about.

The novels follow Gaia when she's in high school. For a girl who can't feel fear, she doesn't care about her appearance - doesn't brush her hair, wears baggy clothes, and always looks others in the face when being confronted. She attracts attention from everyone, and not in a disgusting, why can't she dress right, kind of way. She has an attitude that says she doesn't give a care what others think, and it's absolutely true.

Throughout the novels Gaia learns more about her family's secrets (I mean her dad was in the CIA - very secretive) and she always wants to be a normal girl. Gaia goes out of her way to try and be a normal girl, but the information and deception she finds along the way will change everything she knew.

Even though there are 42 novels from start to finish, I would definitely recommend everyone to read this! It's not the norm for today's YA books where most of them are paranormal and about fictional ideas, but it's also not about a girl going through a crisis - it's in the middle where a girl was born differently and she has to learn how to live with that change.

I'm not sure if they are currently in print, but libraries could have them in their collection. If not, they might be available for cheap online through eBay or Amazon. It's a great series to start reading if anyone is interested in a longer story full of twists and turns!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Delirium

If I thought Perfect Chemistry was a Romeo and Juliet story, Delirium is Romeo and Juliet x10! Who wants to live in a world without love? Without the frustrations, anticipations, expectations, or annoyances? Lena was brought up in a world where love was a bad thing, a curse, and it was something to be avoided.

Lena was counting down the days until she turned 18, when she would get the procedure that would cure her of love - she would never have to feel the evil love effects and can start her life with a partner that was chosen for her based on statistics of a test she took.

Life was going great for Lena; that is, until she met Alex. Mysterious, older, handsome: Lena didn't know what hit her when she met Alex. She denied the signs indicating that she was starting to fall in love. She tried to avoid Alex, but it was like a magnetic force always brought them together...

This is under the cover for
the hardback book! (Take a
look at the above photo now
- You'll definitely see her face!)
I absolutely loved this book! It is completely different than Lauren Oliver's other book Before I Fall, but this dystopian novel shows a common, every day feeling that our society finds accepting as a curse - something that NO ONE should ever give into because it will eventually kill the people who find love.

Also, I just saw on Goodreads that it's a series! The second book, Pandemonium, comes out March 6th, 2012 (a year?!? Boo!!). I might have to reread this book before the sequel comes out - it's just one of those books that you'll want to reread again :) Kinda like the City of Bones series by Cassandra Clare... But I definitely recommend this book to all of my friends!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dawson's Creek

I went on a binge about a month ago and bought all 6 seasons of Dawson's Creek and the last "movie" conclusion. So instead of reading my YA books for fun lately, I've been rushing through season 6 of DC. I absolutely love this show! And I am completely jealous of Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) because all of the cute guys in this show? Yeah, she gets to date them! Although so far she hasn't kissed Jensen Akeles, who surprised me by showing up in season 6, she got to kiss Chad Michael Murry and Oliver Hudson, among many, many more. 

Now some may wonder why I like this show - most of the time I feel that it is a soap opera. Actually, I think it was showed on the soap opera station, but that's not the point. At times, most of the problems that the cast has can be real life related. I especially think that the experience the characters went through when they were deciding what college to go to and how their friendships were fragile with the changes. 

Hopefully I will finish the 6th season soon because I miss my fun reading :) It seems that the episodes are very addicting and I've been a couch potato for far too long. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

True Blood vs. Vampire Diaries

I'm very excited that True Blood is coming back for another season! It starts tomorrow and while I don't have HBO I will be searching bright and early Monday online to find a link that will allow me to watch it for free (I know, I know, but I watch tons of shows online for free).

When I first started watching this show, I wasn't sure if I was going to continue to the next season. I mean, I would laugh hysterically when Bill would say Sookie's name and Eric's hair was just too much. But then, Eric cut off his hair and it was like a new person on the show! It was then that I became a fan and watched the show by the season, not taking too much of a break between each episode (Thank you Charles C. Myers Library for buying all of the seasons :D).

Now, I know many tv watchers are fans of Vampire Diaries so True Blood is not liked among many (for some odd reason viewers are only fans of one vampire show or the other, not both).

I happen to love both, but for different reasons. Vampire Diaries cast members are ALL beautiful (even the female actresses!) while I only think less than a handful are beautiful in True Blood (thank you Eric for cutting your hair!).

The age difference is also a big factor for why fans like one or the other. I happen to be a YA fan so the younger ages in Vampire Diaries doesn't faze me as much, plus I'm at the age between each of the casts' ages, so it works well for me. I'm hoping that True Blood will finish it's season before Vampire Diaries because, while I won't get the story lines mixed up (hello?), it will be nice to not have to watch two vampire shows at the same time - I won't be overwhelmed by vampires and my fascination for vampire stories won't dim away.

In my opinion, there can be no comparison between these two shows because they are so different (if you overlook the vampire characters that is ;D).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer's Crossing (novella eBook)

I just downloaded and read Summer's Crossing by Julie Kagawa, #3.5 of her Iron Fey series. I have been a fan of this series since the first book came out and I stumbled upon it at the bookstore - it was a great pick to just randomly choose one day! 


This ebook novella is a great addition to this series. It is only 57 pages long as right now it's free at eHarlequin online store for a limited time! Puck, (also known as Robin Goodfellow from a Midsummer Nights Dream?) is up to his tricks in the Fey Court, causing mischief and stealing from the Queen of the Summer Fey. Julie Kagawa yet again brought humor, entertainment, rivalry (between Puck and Ash, the Winter Prince - Puck's sworn enemy), and adventure - all in 57 pages! I'm definitely excited to read the next enstallment: The Iron Knight coming on October 25 of this year!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Great Night with an Amazing Person!

Instead of reading books tonight, my usual forte, I had dinner with my close friend Emma! We haven't seen each other for awhile and decided to make dinner tonight and catch up on our library and personal life. Homemade Lasagna, white grape peach juice, and ice cream for dessert - delicious!

This is an old photo from when we both went to UD (Emma! I think we need to get a new photo of us before you leave! :D)
Emma is another librarian to be and she got accepted to University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne for the Fall! I'm so excited, Emma will be a wonderful librarian in the near future! I'm hoping to make many trips to UIUC and visiting with Emma while she gets her master's degree while I'm bumming around trying to find a job after I graduate ;)

It was a great night in with Emma and it makes me realize how much I miss all of my friends. I'll definitely have to keep in touch with her throughout her studies and well past that when she is an amazing librarian helping patrons find the information they need!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Upcoming to-read YA novels

Now that my class doesn't require me to read books for homework, I finally get to read books for fun! I'm very excited as some of these books are a long time-reading and have been out for forever (or so it seems!). Here is my upcoming to-read list:




City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (I have been waiting very impatiently to read this book! I hear it's really good.)








Delirium by Lauren Oliver (I'm actually half way through this - amazing so far! Definitely not like Before I Fall, but still a great book!)










Passion (Fallen #3) by Lauren Kate (Just got this, very glad to have the final book of the series!)









Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck (I got this through a free giveaway on Goodreads last year and just haven't gotten around to it - I think it's about time to fix that!)







Angel, a Maximum Ride novel by James Patterson (I actually have to read the previous books to this series because it's been so long that I'm not sure if I remember what happens in the stories haha!)





Can't wait to get started on these!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Booktrailer on Survival

So I'm not sure if this is going to work or not, but I'm posting a link to a booktrailer that I created for my YA class... Hopefully it works alright and everyone can hear me talk, along with a few minor glitches that I stumbled upon when booktalking! Enjoy!

http://screencast.com/t/GOKVNT9ufQ

Jeraca

Monday, June 20, 2011

Unearthly (No spoilers!)

Have you read Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick? Or any other Fallen Angel book, such as Fallen by Lauren Kate? I just read Unearthly by Cynthia Hand and I could not put it down! I really loved the book, but I think what I liked the most about it was that the main character wasn't the human giving the story, but the angel (or part angel as it is in this story). This gave it a distinct uniqueness that was able to set it apart from Hush, Hush or Fallen.

Clara is a quarter angel so she has certain "powers" that angels have - not as strong, but still there to make her different from humans. She has golden hair that shines as bright as the sun when she's in glory (connecting with God), she has wings and can fly, and she is stronger, faster, and smarter than humans. It's tough being part angel because she can't be her true self around her friends; she always has to hold back on activities and make sure she doesn't stand out from everyone else, only sometimes she slips up and forgets, causing a lot of weird looks every once in awhile from her friends.

Because Clara is part angel, she also has a purpose - one thing that she has to do as the purpose of her angel life. She starts to get visions about a mysterious boy in a forest fire, so after doing some extensive research, Clara finds the location of the place (Wyoming) and once her angel family moves there, she finds the mysterious boy (Christian). After that, she just has to wait until fire season to save him. Easy, right? Nope.

Clara meets new people, dyes her amazingly gold hair orange (an attempt at red, but the hair just wouldn't cooperate), and she starts to act like a normal girl, not a part angel girl. Soon, she starts to forget that she even had a purpose for being in Wyoming...

I really loved this book and I wish I didn't have to wait until 2012 for the second book in this series. Just another book to add to my "To read in the future" list with all of the other series books!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finished!

So now I've completed my 22 YA novels and reviews! I haven't been reading too many YA books since I finished the project, but I'll be reading a couple of new books for a workshop in a couple of weeks so that will give me a chance to review the books and post it on here for fun. I also won't be doing the plot or any of the other criteria that I did for the previous reviews, so there won't be any spoilers (hopefully)!

I'm also going to create a booktalk for my YA class and if I can figure out how to upload it, I'll post it on here. Still have to figure out how to create it though haha.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Audiobook Review: Solace of the Road

Solace of the road by Siobhan Dowd; read by Sile Bermingham. Weaverville, NC: Random House Inc., 2009. 7 hours and 5 minutes.

     1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Holly was in an orphanage, wanting to be with her mother again who left one day and never came back. When Holly got a foster family, Holly didn’t want to be there and decided to go look for her real mother, along with a wig she found at her foster parents house. [Rising Action] When Holly wore the blonde wig, she was transformed into an older woman named Solace who knew more things that Holly would know. [Climax] When Holly gets close to Ireland, where her mother was last known to be, she remembers what happened when she was with her real mother: her mother burned her with an iron and then left her, not coming back for her. [Falling Action] After Holly remembers that, she returns to her foster parents without ever finding her real mother and Holly learns to appreciate her new life. [Resolution] Holly will always remember her adventure as Solace, but now she realizes that she doesn’t want to be someone else – she wants to be just Holly. Theme: The themes of this audiobook included adventure, family, loneliness, and memories. Tone: This was a very serious novel/audio book because Holly, a 14 year old, goes out on her own and meets many strangers who she was not sure if she could trust or not. Style: The narrator’s reading style of this audiobook was unique – if I had just read this novel and not listened to it, I would never have imagined Holly with a British accent, even though she is from England. Hearing it read in that accent gave me a different scene for the story than what I had pictured when reading the description. Characterizations: Holly is very mature for her age, except for running away. She knows what she should and should not do while traveling to Ireland looking for her mother. She is very bright but also very childlike when she imagines Solace talking to her and giving her advice. I also think Holly was very lonely, which is why she was able to make Solace a real person so easily. Readability/Listen: I was very suspicious about just listening to a book, so I did get the physical book to follow along with. In the end, I stopped following along and just listened. Bermingham did a great job narrating and I did find out that I remembered the whole story just by listening to her read it. There were some parts where I might have fazed through, but overall I really liked the direction she took and think that it was very easy to listen to.

2. My reactions to the book. Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was a nice story to follow Holly on her adventure. I think one of the best strengths is the language – there are different words that I wasn’t used to and it showed me that this story was definitely set in a different country. One weakness I found was the repetition – I thought it was a little bit too much. For any teenager who has run away from home, this may be very accurate to their experience, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not overall.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this audio book is very intriguing. I think that many will pick up this book because of the cover, because of the mysterious girl facing the road and not looking back. It definitely shows adventure and traveling based on the cover and it’s very eye appealing to viewers. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. New York: Walker & Company, 2009. 357 pages.

     1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Brittany gives off this vision that she has a perfect life: she lives in a big house, has a lot of money, the perfect boyfriend, captain of the cheerleading team, and going to have a “perfect” senior year. Alex is just trying to graduate high school since he’s in a Mexican gang, taking care of his family, and trying to live another year. However, both Alex and Brittany’s dreams were crushed when they were assigned as chemistry partners. [Rising Action] Brittany and Alex don’t get along: they are from two different households and put stereotypes to one another, automatically hating one another. [Climax] After being together for their project, both Alex and Brittany realize that they misjudged one another and fall in love, against all of the differences. [Falling Action] Alex gets out of the gang because he wants to be with Brittany without having that past following him the rest of his life. [Resolution] In the end, many years later, Alex and Brittany get married and live in the town they grew up, where their children were raised with no as much stereotypes as their parents went through. Theme: The themes in this novel include romance, stereotypes, gangs, identity, love, and discrimination. Tone: The tone of this story was very romantic but also serious. This story dealt with a lot of gang related scenes, making the story very serious for Alex when he had to do business with the leader of his gang. Style: The author’s writing style was very good: she wrote alternating chapters from Brittany and Alex’s viewpoint, letting the reader see what Alex and Brittany were both thinking throughout the entire story. Characterizations: Brittany was supposed to be this perfect blonde, white girl, but she was very generous, open hearted to everyone because her older sister was mentally disabled and she had to take care of her. Brittany was the only one that understood her sister, Shellby. Alex was perceived as a tough, bad boy who didn’t care about anything when really he just wanted his family to be safe and not have to worry about what might happen because he was in the gang. Readability: This was very easy to read – I flew through it and wished that the story never ended. Simone Elkeles did a wonderful job writing this novel to capture her readers into her story.

2. My reactions to the book. I loved this book! It was a Romeo & Juliet story where the characters were actually able to get a happy ending, even if it was a rough journey to get to the end. I think that the best strength of this book is that both teenage girls and boys can read this. There is gang related topics and half of the book is through a male’s perspective which I think many teenage boys can relate to. This wasn’t based on a true story, but I think some of the content might be accurate, depending on what Elkeles looked up before writing her novel.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art might be what throws off teenage boys from reading this book. Many males won’t want to read a book where it looks like it will be full of romance. The cover definitely shows what the book is about, but at the same time there is more to the book than just romance and I think the cover isn’t revealing all of the contents that it could to get a bigger audience. I’m not sure how the cover might be changed, maybe in a Romeo & Juliet scene and have Alex’s motorcycle with his gang or something to that effect – I think then more teenage boys will be willing to pick up the book and read it. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Breathing

Breathing by Cheryl Renée Herbsman. New York: Speak, 2009. 262 pages.


      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Savannah was going to enjoy a nice, boring, relaxing summer vacation, reading books and working at the library; however, she met Jackson, a boy she could not stop thinking about and found out that he felt the same. [Rising Action] Savannah was excited that she was going to spend the whole summer with Jackson when unexpectedly he had to go back home to take care of his brothers and his mothers. When Jackson left, Savannah, who has asthma, started to get asthma attacks more often, thinking it was because Jackson wasn’t there to help her breathe. [Climax] In the end, Jackson came back, decided to go to the community college there and work on painting houses. [Falling Action] Savannah realized that she can breathe on her own and went to a college for high school students for a semester, leaving Jackson at home. [Resolution] She understood that what Jackson and her had was unique and special and will last for a very long time, no matter how far away they are from one another. Theme: The themes in this novel include romance, summer, dreams, love and independency. Tone: This was a very relaxed tone, set in summer on a beach. Savannah and Jackson enjoyed just hanging out and doing nothing when they were together. Style: This was written in first person with Savannah narrating the story, telling the reader all of her thoughts and emotions on the events that occurred. Characterizations: Honestly, I found Savannah spoiled, annoying, and selfish through ¾ of this novel. She always wanted Jackson by her side and to be with her all of the time, not realizing that he needed to be there for his family. Toward the end she realized that she can be independent, so she got better personality wise. Jackson was very dedicated to his family and to Savannah, always being very helpful, determined, and honest with everyone. Readability: This was a very easy book to read and many readers will fly through this novel.

2. My reactions to the book. I wanted to like this book, but in the end, I was annoyed with Savannah more than I care to admit. If she wasn’t so clingy and whinny, it would have been a great novel, but I found that all that really happened was Savannah not getting what she wanted and complain about it. That was the weakness of the novel. A strength was how Savannah conquered those obstacles that kept her from Jackson and in the end got what she wanted overall. I think the information about Savannah’s asthma might be accurate overall, but nothing from this book was based on a true event.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this novel will definitely attract a female audience. I think the cover portrays the story really well, although the characters never do go sit in a tree. However, the beach is certainly part of the story and I think that a viewer who sees this cover will think it’s a nice romance story in the summertime. As stated before, many young teen girls will be picking this up based on the cover, but if someone gives it to a teenage boy, I think there might be some trouble persuading him to read it. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kare Kano Manga Series

Kare Kano series by Masami Tsuda. Los Angeles, CA: Tokyopop Manga, 2003. 126 pages.


      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Yukino is a straight A student, the best at everything at school and wants to be at the top all of the time, but then a new student came to her school, Arima, and he ended up being better than Yukino, which then made Yukino determined to out beat Arima. [Rising Action] Yukino studied harder and also started doing Arima’s homework when he needed help, all to try and get the best grade in the class. [Climax] When the final grades came out, Yukino beat Arima by 6 points, making her the “smarter” one in the eyes of her classmates. [Falling Action] After Yukino got her goal, she started to realize that she liked Arima as a friend, but those feelings grew stronger the more she started to hang out with him. [Resolution] In the end, both Yukino and Arima confessed their love to one another, and their competing days were over. Theme: The themes in this story included competition, winning, determination, and love. Tone: The tone was very comical because Yukino basically embarrassed herself in front of her school and Arima trying to be the best in her class when no one really cared except Yukino. Style: Since this is manga, the writing style was definitely different than what I’m used to. There were Japanese symbols that I wasn’t able to figure out and reading from right to left was difficult. Also, I wasn’t able to figure out right away that I was supposed to read from the top to bottom, right to left so it took some getting used to. Characterizations: Yukino is very competitive, and smart, which she knows so she’s kind of a snob to others. She wants everyone’s respect but, at the beginning, didn’t give her respect back. Arima was very helpful to everyone, never judging others for their lack of smarts, and overall a nice guy. Readability: For people who know how to read manga, this would be a very easy book to read. After I got used to it, I flew through the story quickly.

2. My reactions to the book. This was a cute romantic story. It wasn’t the best, but for my first manga experience I was glad that it was a realistic story that was easy to follow. I think the best strength it had was the drawings – the artist really did a great job showing the story through their artistic ability. The only weakness I saw was that while this is a Japanese story, having Japanese symbols on the side with exclamation marks made me want to know what they were saying but I had no way of figuring it out. As for accuracy, I don’t think much of this story was very accurate, just a cute story about a girl and a boy falling in love after being “arch enemies”.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this novel definitely shows that it’s a romance story, and how well the drawing is in this manga volume. I think it will definitely attract a female audience that likes to read manga, but that will be the only audience that would appreciate the cover because I wouldn’t think that too many males would want to read it based on the cover. However, the cover does show the viewer what the novel is about for those interested. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weetzie Bat

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. 109 pages.

     1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: This book really doesn’t have a conflict where the characters rise against all conflicts and win in the end. Rather, this book follows Weetzie Bat and her friends in Los Angeles and talks about her life and adventures she has with them. Weetzie meets her best friend, Dirk, who is gay and finds the love of his life, Duck. Weetzie has a child, for the experience, and starts dating a guy who makes movies and that’s how they make their living. Although this was a short book, it had a lot of content about Weetzie’s life and the events/places she goes to on a normal day in Los Angeles. Theme: I think the main theme of this novel is living life: Weetzie lives life as if every day is her last day and she has fun everyday with the people that she loves. Tone: The tone is very happy, for the majority of the novel. There is only a few sad, serious moments when there is a death in the family, but the rest of the novel is happy and carefree, living the dream life every day. Style: The author’s writing style is different and weird. Block capitalizes unique words, she uses different terminology that no one that I know of says in real life, and half of the book was a narration of the actions Weetzie did that day while the other half is Weetzie talking to one or more of her friends. It’s definitely not like anything that I have read before. Characterizations: Weetzie is a fun, carefree, wild and unique girl. She dresses however she wants to, usually as a Native American and has her own style. She looks at life with possibilities and positive thoughts rather than negatively. Readability: While this book was short and easy to read through (only 109 pages) the content really needs to be taken slowly and read very carefully. I’d say it’s a little difficult to read, despite the short story, because I had to go back a few times and reread a page just to try and figure out what I was reading. 

2. My reactions to the book. This was a strange and unusual book, I’m not sure if I liked it or not. It basically just followed Weetzie around explaining her everyday life and there was no purpose to the story. One of the strengths I saw, though, was the different, original language that Block used, even if it did confused me a little bit. Block is very talented in created another language and meanings. However, I’m not sure many will like this book because of the lack of story and also because of the unusual language. As for accuracy, I don’t think anything in this novel was true or related to any true story.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art shows the dream state that Weetzie and her friends live in. It’s kind of blurry and the girl on the cover seems to be content, which is a normal day for Weetzie. I think that many might pick this book off of the shelf to look at it because of the shortness of the novel and the coloring of the cover – bright and it looks cheerfully. I think it was a good cover for this book. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Forever...

Forever by Judy Blume. New York: Simon Pulse, 2003. 192 pages.


      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Katherine met a boy, Michael, and knew right away that he was the one for forever. They didn’t go to the same school and Katherine was still a virgin, but none of those problems mattered between the two of them. [Rising Action] After Katherine and Michael started dating while, Michael stated that he loved her and also wanted to have sex – but the two weren’t reasons for one another. [Climax] Katherine finally did lose her virginity and she thought that she was going to be with Michael for the rest of her life. They had a summer apart, right before they were going to different colleges, but they both said that nothing would change and that they will always be together – forever. [Falling Action] Katherine became attracted to another boy at the camp she was at for the summer, making Katherine realize that Michael may not, in fact, be the one for forever. [Resolution] In the end, Katherine and Michael broke up because she realized that she was too young to make a decision that big – to be with Michael for the rest of her life when she just turned 18, but she would always remember the love she had toward Michael and would never forget it. Theme: The themes in this novel included romance, friendship, sex, love, and growing apart. Tone: The tone was definitely serious in this novel because the main theme was rotated around sex and Katherine wanted to make sure she was making the right decision in the end. Style: There was nothing unusual or remarkable about the author’s writing style. The reader read what a normal high school teenage girl goes through when she is thinking about having sex for the first time, and the decision making Katherine went through before having sex. Characterizations: Katherine is a very shy, reserved girl. She didn’t give into pressure, but rather went through the right actions before having sex with Michael to prevent diseases or pregnancy, showing that she was a responsible, mature teenager. Readability: This was a quick, easy novel to read. It’s short and takes very little time to get through the storyline.

2. My reactions to the book. I think this was a good book. It was very short but a great story and it shows Katherine’s reaction to sex and love and moving on. It’s a romance novel, but it’s realistic – I think many teenage girls today will definitely be able to relate to this story and maybe even learn something that they hadn’t realized before reading it. The downside is that not many boys are going to read this novel, so it’s a one audience viewer, but the content is very accurate and helpful to any reader wanting to find out more about sex but just wants to read a novel about the subject and not a textbook.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art for this novel will definitely only attract female viewers to read it. However, with this version of the novel, I really think that high school females will pick it up because of the cover. It definitely looks like a romance novel and the viewer will want to know more about the content inside of the novel, intriguing them what forever… means and because it’s a small novel it might be a popular read to just pick off of the shelf. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman. New York: G. P. Putman’s Sons, 2010. 325 pages.


      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Elizabeth just enrolled in a new school and has no friends or money, so she gets a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository where this library checks out materials, items, rather than books. When Elizabeth gets there, though, items are missing from the collection (especially the Grimm Collection where all of the items are magical and are from the original Grimm stories) and previous workers are missing as well. [Rising Action] Elizabeth and 3 other pages (library student workers) start trying to find out who the culprit is that is taking the items out of the library. [Climax] One of the members of the Repository club (Wallace) had been taking the items and selling them to the highest bidder that wanted the magical items. [Falling Action] Elizabeth, with the help of her new friends, were able to stop Wallace and find most of the sold items. [Resolution] In the end, Elizabeth not only had a cool job that involved magic and new friends, but she was able to save the day and find true love. Theme: The themes in this novel include adventure, magic, history, education, friendship, trust, and fairy tales. Tone: The tone in this novel was very serious but also fantasy. It was serious when Elizabeth was trying to figure out the mystery of the missing items, but there was also a lot of magic so it was very fictional and fantasy atmosphere throughout the entire novel. Style: The author’s writing style was really good: she was really good at describing all of the items in the library and what its’ purpose was, why it was in the library in the first place. I really enjoyed the descriptions and the dialogue between the characters. Characterizations: Elizabeth was portrayed as Cinderella at the beginning of the novel, always doing chores for her stepmother while her two older stepsisters were at college. However, she got to live out her own magical world and be the heroine, who was smart, brave, and sometimes fearless when trying to find the culprit and the missing items. Readability: This novel was very easy to read – I got it done in one sitting and I was not confused about any of the Grimm stories featured, even though I haven’t read the Grimm Brother’s fairy tales.

2. My reactions to the book. I really loved this book (although that might be biased because the main setting was inside of the library). I think one of the best strengths is focusing this novel not on the library (because many young adults probably wouldn’t enjoy reading about that) but rather about the Grimm’s Brothers fairy tales and the “props” from those stories. A weakness that might be seen, though, is the same feature: it’s based on the Grimm’s stories. Not many young adults may know any of the Grimm’s stories, so when they read this book they might be lost as to what the characters are talking about when discussing an item. However, I think for the most part, this was a great way for young adults to read about those fairy tales in a new, different way. As for accuracy, the portrayal of the Grimm’s stories is correct, but since they are fairy tales, it’s not accurate overall.

3. Comment on the cover art. I love the cover art of this novel! This is a great example of a person looking at the cover and wanting to read it even though they don’t know what it’s about until they read the extract. It is mysterious, has a little bit of what goes on in the novel, but overall it’s intriguing to young readers, of both female and male genders.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Water for Elephants

Water for ElephantsA Novel by Sara Gruen. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006. 331 pages.

      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Jacob’s life was turned upside down when his mother and father died in a car accident, leaving Jacob with no family, no home, and no money to finish veterinary school. He jumped a train cargo, hoping to find somewhere to go and ended up joining the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, where he was their “vet” for the animals. [Rising Action] Jacob, after working with the circus for awhile, fell in love with one of the performers, but she was married to another performer. After awhile, Jacob and Marlena decided that they want to leave the circus and her husband. [Climax] Right before Jacob and Marlena were going to leave, there was a stampede during one of the acts, killing many and ended the Benzini Brothers circus group. [Falling Action] Both Jacob and Marlena had no money, but they did have an elephant, eleven horses, and a orangutan, so they went to work with the Ringling Brothers circus until they retired years later. [Resolution] Jacob was 93 and still kicking, alone, and decided to run away with another circus, living life to the fullest while he still can at the end of the novel. Theme: The themes in this book include death, survival, romance, family, and living on the circus. Tone: The tone in this novel is, for the most part, very serious. Jacob lost his identity at the beginning of this novel but was able to regain it back and start a new life, after the hardships of living on the circus train for a summer. Style: The author’s writing style was very creative. Jacob was telling this story when he was 93, recalling that summer that changed his life. For a few, brief chapters, it would be the 93 year old Jacob remembering his life while at the retirement home, but the majority of the story was Jacob reliving his life when he was 23 and working on the circus. Characterizations: Jacob was very resourceful, able to do anything that he could on the circus to be able to stay and work his keep. He was very strong and didn’t like seeing anyone or any animal be beaten for any reason. Marlena was a very shy, sweet girl who happened to marry the wrong man and had to live with his temper for 4 years, always waiting for the worst to happen. Readability: This novel was very easy to read; I think any reader will zip through this book, not wanting to put it down for any reason.

2. My reactions to the book. I really liked this book. There were no flaws to it and I think that a lot of readers will like the circus atmosphere and see what circus workers did when they traveled on the trains in the 1900s. While there wasn’t a Benzini Brothers circus, the author did use content that was true, about the elephant especially.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art for this novel is really good, I think. It shows the circus-y atmosphere even though a typical viewer looking that the cover might not know that it’s about the circus. I do think, though, that putting an elephant on the cover might have been more beneficial because, in a way, this novel does focus a lot on the elephant in the story. Since this has been made into a movie recently, though, the new cover basically covers Robert Patterson and Reese Witherspoon, so that might attract both young males and females to read it (or watch it) because they like one or both of the actors. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Whole and Perfect Day

One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Front Street (An Imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc.), 2006. 250 pages.

     1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Lily has an old spirit for such a young girl at age of 15: she takes care of the house chores because her mom is always working to pay the bills and her brother moved out of the house to go to school, so she really never has time for herself. [Rising Action] Lily wants one day where it is absolutely perfect, where she doesn’t have to worry about what to fix next in her family and can enjoy “one whole and perfect day”. [Climax] When Lily’s grandma decides to throw a party for her grandfather’s birthday, Lily thinks that it is a disaster in the making, but in the end, it was Lily’s one whole and perfect day. [Falling Action] There are many characters in this novel and by the end of the story, all of them have solved their personal problems and had a great time at Lily’s grandfather’s birthday party. [Resolution] In the end, Lily sees a future where she won’t be burdened by too much house hold events and will finally have a teen life, with the boy she had been crushing on for awhile. Theme: The themes in this novel include family, life, complications, love, friends, and happiness. Tone: The tone is actually quite comical in a serious manner. Lily thinks her life is doomed to be boring, an old maid routine and finds out that she was just overreacting. Style: The author’s writing style take a little bit getting used to. There are over five different main characters in this story and the author will alternate which chapter features which character. The farther the reader gets through the novel, the more the reader will understand the connections between the characters. Characterizations: Lily is very serious and old for her young age, always taking care of the house, bills, and groceries, among other things. At the end of the novel, though, she loosens up and starts to act like her age, enjoying the last few years of high school before she actually has to grow up. Readability: This was very, very easy to read. It’s a short novel and not very hard to read; I flew through it in a few hours.

2. My reactions to the book. This was a cute, very fast read novel. It wasn’t my favorite because I felt the author gave too much description on places and things that didn’t need describing and left out better details that could have made the novel better – more interactions with Lily and the boy she had a crush on; more details about Lily’s brother and his fiancée, events like that could have been improved. I can’t tell what is accurate or not in this novel – probably not too much since there was no mention from the author about real events occurring in this novel.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this novel was not the best. If it wasn’t on the list of Michael Printz Award books and the description didn’t sound interesting, I would not have picked up this book to read, solely because of the cover. There is nothing interesting about it, nothing that stands out and makes a viewer want to read it. It almost looks boring and after reading the novel, I can’t really understand why the cover artists would pick the cover that they did. There are many different characters that they could have featured on the cover, of different ethnicities, that would have worked better than the Chinese decorations hanging in the air. I definitely think that if there is another edition, the cover should be changed to something more interesting and attention grabber. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jellicoe Road

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. New York: HarperTeen, 2006. 419 pages.


      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Taylor was stranded at a Seven Eleven gas station when she was a little girl by her mother. After that Taylor was sent to Jellicoe School close to where she was stranded, and throughout the next 4 years of her life always wondered who she was and who her family was. [Rising Action] Taylor also got visits from a young boy in her dreams who would tell her stories about 5 friends who lived near Jellicoe Road, while Taylor always wondered who the boy was and why he talked to her. [Climax] After searching for her mother, Taylor finally figures out who she is and how the 5 friends fit into Taylor’s life. Unfortunately, Taylor’s mom is sick, dying with cancer but Taylor is able to finally see her again and hear her mother’s stories from when she was a little girl. [Falling Action] Taylor’s mom passes away, but then Taylor is reconnected with her aunt and finally has a purpose in life, whereas before she didn’t know who she was or what she should look forward to in her future. [Resolution] There is finally peace between the 5 friends from 18 years ago and Taylor finally has a real family to go home to. Theme: The themes in this novel include friendship, family, love, war, mystery, and understanding. Tone: The tone is very serious in this novel, especially when Taylor remembers certain parts of her past when he mother was a drug addict and Taylor got caught in the middle. Also, it’s very serious because of Taylor’s mom’s history and what occurred all of those years ago. Style: The author’s style of writing is very unique. Some parts are in italics which I later found out were the memories of Taylor’s mom and her friends 18 years ago. The rest is Taylor’s viewpoint. All of the text, though, helps uncover the mystery of Taylor’s life. Characterizations: Taylor was very reserved at the beginning of the book, learning not to get too attached to anyone because they will just break your trust and hurt you in the end. However, at the end of the novel, Taylor had more people that she loved than she knew what to do with and she was a very open, honest, and loving girl. Readability: This novel was a little difficult to read at first, just because I didn’t know what was going on between the italic chapters and the normal chapters. After five chapters, or so, though, I was able to get clues as to what was going on and then I flew through the book, all 400 pages of it.

2. My reactions to the book. After getting through the tough part of trying to figure out what was going on between the two stories and how they relate to one another, I loved this book. There were so many different relations between all of the characters that definitely were not explained before hand, but the reader was able to see the connections when the author revealed them. I think that once the readers can get past the first few chapters, they will love the mystery and answers that the author creates in this novel. I’m not sure how accurate the information is, but I think that most of the information about roads and towns might be accurate since the author is from Australia and this is set there.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this novel is different. I think the one thing that will attract viewers to read it is the text of the title. It’s like scribbling and unique, it almost relates to young adults and maybe how they write. As for the flower, I’m not sure if that was a great choice because I’m not sure how young adults will relate to this cover when seeing it. I think it’s a poppy flower which is a key part of the story, but for those who haven’t read it, it won’t mean much to them. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stolen

Stolen by Lucy Christopher. New York: Chicken House, 2010. 299 pages.

     1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Gemma, a 16 year old girl, was kidnapped at an airport in England when traveling to Vietnam with her parents. She was drugged and taken to Australia with a man she didn’t know (named Ty), waking up stranded in the middle of a desert. [Rising Action] She spends every waking moment trying to find a way back home, running away but never actually succeeding. [Climax] Right when Gemma starts to get used to the life she was forced to live with Ty, she gets bitten by a poisonous snake and has to go to a hospital, freeing Gemma from her captivity that Ty forced her in. [Falling Action] Gemma’s psychiatrist tells her to write down her story because she refuses to talk to anyone about her experience when she returns home. [Resolution] At the end of the novel, Gemma has to make a decision about what she’s going to say at court when faced with Ty’s future. Even though Gemma feels that she fell in love with Ty, she is going to tell the truth and send Ty to jail for kidnapping her. Theme: The themes included in this novel are kidnapping, loneliness, survival, understanding, and friendship. Tone: The tone of this novel is very serious: Gemma is surviving against a kidnapper and trying to find a way to run away from him. She is stuck in the middle of the desert with no hope of escaping. Style: The author’s writing style was amazing: she wrote it as if Gemma was writing to Ty in a letter. Instead of using their names and writing in third person like many other novels, this book is written in first person, allowing the reader to get inside of Gemma’s head and see her feelings. Characterizations: Gemma is a survivor. She never gave up trying to escape and go home, she did different tactics to get Ty to change his mind, and she always tried to look toward the future of eventually getting home to her family and friends. Ty is misunderstood – he had a hard, rough life growing up and it made him different than other people. He saw things differently, making his actions wrong according to the governmental rules but right according to himself and his mindset. Readability: It was very addicting and easy to read after the first few pages, once the reader gets used to the first person writing.

2. My reactions to the book. I loved this book. The intense, addicting rollercoaster I went through while reading Gemma’s thoughts and feelings, her experiences that she had to encounter and get through was enthralling. The storyline overall was told amazingly by Lucy Christopher and I think others will enjoy the way she depicted Gemma’s experience in the desert, trying to survive but also trying to understand Ty and his reasons for his actions. There was no note that this was based on any real story, so I can’t say if this novel is accurate in the content talked about.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this novel is actually pretty plain, but I think it fits this novel. Most of the cover is black, which is how Gemma’s future looks to her throughout most of the novel. But once she comes to understand Ty, there is hope of a future to come, which is where the butterfly comes into play. I’m not sure if many teenagers will pick up this book because of the cover, but once they read the excerpts on the front flap and back cover, I think the cover will have very little part of their decision to read this novel. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Northern Light

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 2003. 389 pages.


      3. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Mattie Gokey was born before her time; she lives in 1906 and wants to go to school to learn to write so she can become a writer, but her father wants her to stay at home, taking care of her family and get married to Royal Loomis who seems interested in Mattie. [Rising Action] Mattie goes to a hotel to earn money so she can marry Royal. While there, Mattie gets possession of a girl’s letters to her lover, right before that girl drowns in the lake. [Climax] Mattie realizes that the girl was murdered by her lover through the letters and makes her final decision about what she’s going to do with her life: go to school to become a writer instead of marrying Royal. [Falling Action] Mattie gives money and letters to all of her family and friends before she decides to go to New York. She also gave the girl’s letters to the police so the girl’s death will be avenged. [Resolution] Mattie starts her life in hopes of achieving what she sets out for, going for her dreams rather than her father’s dreams. Theme: The themes in this novel include the future, murder, mystery, romance, life, and hope. Tone: The tone of this novel is very serious. Mattie is very conflicted about what she should do, either respecting her father’s wishes or going after her own dreams that she’s been thinking about all of her life. Style: The author’s writing style was very unique. For a few chapters, Mattie is in the present, reading the murdered girl’s letters to figure out what really happen; the following chapters goes back a few months, leading up to the murder, telling Mattie’s story and her life before she made her ultimate decision. Characterizations: Mattie is very bookish smart – she just wants to write and live a book life where there are happy endings. She takes care of her family and is very conflicted about disobeying her father, but she decides that she wants to see the mysteries of the world than to be a wife following her husband’s rules. Readability: This took a little time to read. The reader really needs to know when Mattie is talking in the present or the future, but once that is recognizable the story flies by, making the reader want to find out what happens next and how the novel will end.

2. My reactions to the book. The mystery, romance, and life complications really drew me into this novel. Mattie is very young for the decisions she has to make in her life and seeing her strength and decision process is a great attribute to this novel. The one downside, though, is trying to figure out which tense Mattie is telling her story throughout the chapters, but as stated above, once that’s realized the novel is a great read. The author stated at the end of the book that the events that happened with the girl who was murdered and her lover (Grace and Chester) actually did occur in real life. The information about Mattie, though, was fiction and was just to add to the storylike text in this novel.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of the book that I read was the original hardback, rather than the updated edition of the novel. This older edition is very telling about what happens in the story, with the lake where Grace was killed and the lettering in the background showing Grace’s letters. It is a bit plain, though, and probably won’t grab a viewers attention because it looks old and not interesting. The newer cover will attract young girls because of the portrayal of the girl on the cover, looking mysterious and tortured, but not knowing why she looks that way. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Almost Astronauts

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2009. 134 pages.

     1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] The problem is that the 13 women want to become astronauts but it was 1960 and women were not allowed to do anything but be a mother/housewife. [Rising Action] Jerri Codd started taking the tests that the Mercury 7 men took in order for them to go into space, seeing if she was capable to also go to space. [Climax] Codd excelled at the tests, making headway for all females and 12 other qualified females to try the test as well. However, NASA and the government decided that they didn’t want to send women to space. [Falling Action] Even though Codd and the rest of the women tried their hardest, they were unable to go into space. They worked different jobs, most involving flying aircrafts until they retired. [Resolution] The 13 women did get the motion started for years to come when women would be allowed to go into space, which is where the book ended on a happy note. Theme: The themes of this book included history, science, women, leaders, and fighting for what the characters believed in. Tone: The tone of this book was very serious. The female astronauts wanted to be able to go into space very much and they fought NASA, stereotypes, and the government. They were not giving up without trying every last method. Style: The authors writing style was very formal, giving facts, but doing it in a story type manner to ensnare the reader into the story. The author also used short, concise sentences rather than long sentences and paragraphs. Characterizations: This didn’t have one sole character, but it was about 13 females who all had one mindset in track: achievement, success, loyalty. They wanted to show America that with hard work and dedication that anyone can be an astronaut – even if they were female instead of male. Even though they weren’t able to make it into space, they still were able to achieve their goal when females were allowed to become astronauts years later. Readability: This novel was very, very easy to read. I finished it within a few hours and I think young readers will find it easy to read as well.

2. My reactions to the book. This book surprised me. Going in, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it since I don’t like Non-fiction – I was dead wrong. This story not only taught me history, but I enjoyed the story like writing about the 13 women in the 60s. I think that is this books best strength – the way it’s told. The reader gets entrapped by the story and wants to find out more. A weakness, even though there aren’t many, is the format of the book. It looks like a boring, educated book. I think the author could get more readers if the book looked more interesting on the outside, because the content on the inside is amazing. The content is very accurate to what had happened in the 60s with these 13 women.

3. Comment on the cover art. I think the cover art needs to be spiced up a little bit. As I said before, many won’t want to pick this up based off of the cover, which looks like the book will be boring and “educational” to the extent that the readers will want to stay away. If the book was smaller and had 1 image of the females, or something to attract attention, I think public would want to read it more.