48 Hour Book Contest

June 8, 2009

48hbcOver the weekend I participated in the 48 Hour Book Contest hosted by MotherReader.  If you haven’t heard of it, the basic idea is to read as much as you can or want to over a consecutive 48 hour period.  Time you blog about your process or the books you’ve read also counts toward your time.  This year socializing – time you spent reading other participating blogs, commenting, or twittering – was also allowed to add into your time.  My friends and I decided to participate together at NerdGirlBlogging, the blog we share, so head over there if you want to see our posts.

I ended up with a grand total of 15 hours, 30 minutes and 1162 pages.  It was a great experience, and I got to read & hear about a lot of great books.  These are the books I read.

specialsSpecials by Scott Westerfeld

This is the third book in the Uglies series, published in 2006.  It has quite a bit of action in it, especially toward the end.  I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I had Uglies.  Probably because then the series and concept of the books were still new to me.  I  see Specials as the final act of the UgliesPrettiesSpecials trilogy.  However, there is a fourth book called Extras, but Tally is not the main character.  I wasn’t planning on reading it, but I’ve been told by others that they really enjoyed it, so maybe I’ll pick it up after a little break from the series.  I would definitely recommend Uglies to any YA reader, and you can read my review of that book here.

drums20girlsDrums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

This is a really great story from 2004 about Steven, a geeky 8th grader trying to deal with school,  a girl who doesn’t know he exists, and an annoying five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, all while finding time to get better on the drums.  Steven’s year quickly goes downhill when he learns that Jeffrey has lukemia.  Written in first person, Drums really gives us a feel for what Steven and his family are going through.  It has a lot of really sweet, sad, funny, angry, and quirky moments, and I cannot recommend it enough.

devilishDevilish by Maureen Johnson

This was my first Maureen Johnson book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It turned out to be a fairly quick read with supernatural elements.  Jane attends an all-girl prep school with her best friend Allison, who has somewhat of an inferiority complex.  Allison changes drastically when new girl Lanalee arrives at school, suddenly owning expensive things, dying and cutting her hair, and stealing Jane’s ex-boyfriend.  Jane soon discovers Allison has sold her soul to Lanalee, a devil-in-training who also wants Jane’s soul.  I enjoyed the character of Jane; she’s intelligent, witty, and fiercely loyal and protective of her best friend.  Devilish is a pretty light read, though it does have some slightly graphic descriptions at times, so I would recommend it to older readers who like out-of-the-norm supernatural books.

savvySavvy by Ingrid Law

This 2008 book has won numerous honors, including 2009 Newbery Honor and ALA Notable Book for Children 2009.  Main character Mibs is about to turn 13.  A big deal for anyone, yet in her family, turning 13 means you get your savvy — a special talent.  Mibs’ oldest brother creates electricity and another brother can cause hurricanes.  Two days before her birthday, Mibs’ father is in a bad car accident.  Mibs KNOWS her savvy is to wake him up, so she, her older brother Fish, her younger brother Samson, and the preacher’s kids Will & Bobbi embark on an adventure.  Along her journey, Mibs learns a lot about herself, her family, and growing up.  This was a fantastic story with great characters and an exciting adventure.  Highly recommended!  I’m looking forward to more from Ingrid Law.

lincolnsThe Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary by Candace Fleming

I have only read the first two chapters of this massive book so far, but I’m enjoying it.  It’s a nice book to pick up every now and then to supplement reading typical chapter books.  I love the scrapbook feel, with the pictures and various chunks of text.  It’s such a great way to learn about two important figures in history and what living in their time was like.  I’m looking forward to finishing the book and learning more, but I can already see why it’s so popular and has earned so many praise.  A great book for a variety of ages!

masterpieceMasterpiece by Elise Broach

I’m still working my way through this chapter book too, but so far it’s very enjoyable.  Published in 2008, Masterpiece is the story of Marvin, a beetle who lives in a NYC apartment with a human family, including 10-year-old James.  Of course, the humans don’t know they are there, until one day when Marvin goes into James’ room to leave a birthday present and ends up creating a beautiful ink picture.  When James awakes and sees the picture, he’s amazed and even more surprised when Marvin reveals himself as the artist.  I love that the book is from the perspective of a tiny beetle.  I can’t to find out how Masterpiece ends.


The Wednesday Wars

February 5, 2009

wednesday-warsHave you ever seen that episode of The Cosby Show where Theo is convinced that his math teacher, Mrs. Westlake, is out to get him?  The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt is a little like that, only better!  It’s a Newbery Honor book from 2008.  I loved it, and I highly recommend it!

Holling Hoodhood is a seventh-grader in 1967/1968.  The setting has some effect on the story, but readers won’t be overwhelmed by people and facts.  Reading The Wednesday Wars would be a great way to get introduced to the Vietnam War and the turbulent times of the ’60s.  Holling’s older sister supports Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and their dad (who made me furious most of the time) watches the news every night, which often reports on President Johnson and Vietnam.

Each chapter in the book covers a month of Holling’s year in school, and each month something happens either at school or at home.  The story is very episodic, which reminded me of Huckleberry Finn.  There are a lot of great characters in the book, including Holling and his teacher Mrs. Baker, and they encounter several funny, frightening, and heartbreaking things throughout the book.  Definitely a must-read!


ALA Awards Announced

January 28, 2009

If you haven’t heard by now, on Monday the ALA awards were announced at the Midwinter Conference.  Here are winners:

Newbery
winner…. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book (listen/watch him read it here!)
honors…. Kathi Appelt – The Underneath;  Margarita Engle – The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom;  Ingrid Law – Savvy;  Jacqueline Woodson – After Tupac & D Foster

Caldecott
winner…. Susan Marie Swanson – The House in the Night
honors…. Marla Frazee – A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever;  Uri Shulevitz – How I Learned Geography;  Melissa Sweet – A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

Printz
winner…. Melina Marchetta – Jellicoe Road
honors…. M.T. Anderson – The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves;  E. Lockhart – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks;  Terry Pratchett – Nation;  Margo Lanagan – Tender Morsels

I have to admit that so far I haven’t read a single one of these.  I’m hoping that changes soon.  I’ve heard great things about Savvy and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, so those will likely come first.