Life As We Knew It

June 25, 2009

lifeWhen Miranda Evans hears astronomers have predicted that a meteor is going to hit the moon, she doesn’t think too much of it.  But when it hits, because the meteor is denser than believed, it pushes the moon closer to Earth.  This change in distance completely alters life on Earth, creating tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc.  Miranda, along with her mother and brothers, must fight for survival in a new world of dangerous weather, decreasing supplies of food and water, lack of electricity and heat, and complete isolation.

Susan Beth Pfeffer wrote Life As We Knew It as a journal from Miranda’s perspective.  This makes the novel extremely compelling as readers get a true sense of what life is like for Miranda and her family.  We see her anger, fear, and sadness when dealing with this drastic change.  The descriptions are so vivid that it’s easy to get lost in the story, believing chocolate chips are rare delicacies and the sight of the large moon is unsettling.  Pfeffer’s second book is called the dead and the gone and follows the same scenario from the perspective of a new character in New York City.  I think I’ll be reading that one soon…

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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.


Uglies

May 1, 2009

ugliesScott Westerfeld’s science-fiction futuristic novel Uglies is the first book in what was originally a trilogy.  Tally Youngblood eagerly awaits her 16th birthday when she will finally become a Pretty, joining the rest of her friends, family, and society by receiving surgery to make her physically, mentally, and attractively superior to the “ugly” littlies.  While waiting for her birthday, Tally meets Shay, a fellow Ugly.  Just before their shared birthday, Shay leaves the city in search of the mysterious city known as the Smoke – where some Uglies have gone to to escape the surgery.  However, before Tally can be changed on her birthday, the secret police – the Specials, tell her she must leave the city and locate Shay and the Smoke or she will remain an Ugly forever.

This was a great, compelling young-adult novel.  The science-fiction elements are very captivating, and although a little preachy at times (for example, the old civilization, the Rusties, destroyed their world with war and pollution), the futuristic aspects are really interesting.  The descriptions in Uglies were so vivid, I could easily envision what was happening.  The characters are also interesting, and for the most part, I didn’t have any problems with them.  I really enjoyed the short chapters in the book, which help push the story along, and the way the book ends leaving you ready for and wanting to read the next book in the series – Pretties.


Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

April 10, 2009

sorceryceceliaWritten in letters between two cousins, this 1987 (re-issued in 2003) book by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer is a fresh change from the typical novel style.  Throw in a setting of early 1800s England and some magical elements and the story becomes extremely interesting.  While Kate is off in London for the season, Cecelia is stuck back in the country without her.  The two describe their encounters with new friends, “odious” men, and mysterious events and soon realize their separate adventures are connected.

The story begins a little slow.  I had to start it twice after putting it down for awhile the first time, but it was great once I got into it.  Both Kate and Cecelia are relatable characters despite the time period that may be foreign to readers.  They possess a spunk that will make readers laugh and forget about the (now) strange customs of 19th Century England society.  Sorcery & Cecelia is perfect for readers who love the elements of Jane Austen but have trouble with the language of the classics.  If you like Sorcery & Cecelia, I’ve just discovered that there are two follow-ups:  The Grand Tour or The Purloined Coronation Regalia and The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After.  I’m adding them to my to-read list now!


Paper Towns

March 16, 2009

green01Ok, I’ll admit it:  I like John Green more than I like his books.  I’ve read Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns now, and I’ll admit that the general plot is different in each, but other than that they’re all the same to me.

In Paper Towns, Quentin lives next door to childhood-friend-turned-popular-goddess Margo Roth Spiegelman.  One night near the end of senior year, Margo appears at Quentin’s window, and the two set off on a mysterious and adventurous night executing Margo’s well-planned pranks.  The next day, Margo is not in school…nor the next, nor the next, etc.  Margo’s parents assume she’s run away from home yet again, but Quentin knows she’s off on another adventure waiting for someone to find her.  Quentin, with the help of his friends, follows the clues he believes she’s left him and embarks on his own adventure to find the Margo he knows and loves.

Although Paper Towns is probably my favorite of John Green’s three YA novels, this one did drag on a little after awhile.  Quentin, the nerdy awkward guy, and Margo, the beautiful I-don’t-care-what-you-think girl, seem just like the lead male and female characters of the other books, although I disliked the incredibly selfish Margo more than Alaska and Lindsey.  Still, Paper Towns has more mystery and adventure, which made it more exciting than the others to me.  Even though I didn’t think it was amazing, I would still go see the movie.


Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens

March 9, 2009

bestfriends1The third installment in Meg Cabot‘s new series comes out today!  Luckily for me, last month I won an ARC for Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens and got to read it early (and then got to have it autographed by Meg when I met her at her signing at Anderson’s Bookshop and the Children’s Literature Breakfast).

I quickly read the first two, Moving Day and The New Girl, and loved them both.  After reading Best Friends and Drama Queens, I concluded that it’s even better.   In this one, a new girl from Canada comes to Allie’s new school and disrupts everything by chasing boys at recess.  Pretty soon she has declared Allie and her friends immature for not wanting to “go with” boys.  Allie tries her best to handle the mean things Cheyenne says, but suddenly it seems too much to take.

Allie is a fantastic character.  She’s so full of spunk and independence and throughout all three books, she writes down rules to help her get through everything.  Some of my favorites:  Don’t stick a spatula down your best friend’s throat, Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good, Treat your friends the way you’d want them to treat you, and It’s impolite not to bump someone’s fist when they are fist-bumping you.

I highly recommend the series, especially for fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, or Clementine!  Allie definitely belongs in their “Spunky Girls” club!


Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little

January 5, 2009

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is a cute story.  The nine-year-old main character has to read Stuart Little before the first day of school – the next day.  She’s carried it around with her all summer “in case of in-between” and although she loves to read, “Moxy liked to read what she wanted to read and not what someone told her to read.”  I don’t know anyone who can’t relate.  In her attempt to put off reading Stuart Little, Moxy gets sidetracked deliberately or unintentionally and ends up getting herself in trouble.

This 2007 book by Peggy Gifford is a very quick read.  That’s partly due to the extremely brief chapters – 42 chapters in only 92 pages.  Gifford clearly displays her fun writing style in each chapter title…”Chapter 5 In Which the Word ‘Consequences’ First Appears,” “Chapter 18 In Which Moxy Has the Most Brilliant Idea of Her Life,” “Chapter 34 In Which the Screen Door Slams and Dum…da dum-dum…”

I loved finding out what Moxy was going to do next.  While reading, two things came to mind that reminded me of Moxy.
1 — the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and sequels)
2 — the comic strip The Family Circus where son Billy went everywhere else before going home

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is also illustrated with photographs by Valorie Fisher, which add a unique flavor.  I will definitely be reading Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes to see what other kind of distractions Moxy finds.