The Lightning Thief

June 12, 2009

lightningthief1Another series that I picked up later than I should have is Rick Riordan‘s Percy Jackson & the Olympians.  I knew it had won awards and praise from pretty much everywhere, but I think maybe I expected it to be a little bit too much of a boy book for me.  I was so wrong!

If you haven’t read the series yet, book 1 is called The Lightning Thief.  Percy Jackson is a 12-year-old boy who tends to get in a lot of trouble.  He’s been in numerous boarding schools already, and he’s about to get kicked out of another one.  Percy eventually learns that he is a half-blood:  His mother is mortal, but his father is one of the Greek gods.  He sets out on a quest to help his father, knowing that he may not return alive.

The Lightning Thief was really enjoyable.  It has a lot of the same elements as Harry Potter – boy hero finding out something about himself that allows him to enter into a new world, heading off on a quest still learning about this new world, and he even has two sidekick friends- Grover, a satyr who also serves as Percy’s keeper; and Annabeth, another half-blood.  True, Harry Potter also had references to Greek mythology, but it didn’t rely on it as heavily as Percy Jackson, nor did it make Greek mythology as interesting.  Several times while reading I stopped to find more information on an important figure.  Rick Riordan deserves a lot of credit for making the subject so interesting.  Another thing that I think is great about this book is that it may help kids with dyslexia and ADHD feel less self-conscious.  Percy and the other half-bloods do too as it’s a sign of being a demi-god.  The book had a lot of adventure, mystery, action, and humor.  I highly recommend it, especially to Harry Potter fans.  I will definitely be reading the rest of the series!

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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.


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.


The Boy who was Raised by Librarians

February 10, 2009

librariansThis cute book from 2007 was written by Carla Morris and illustrated by Brad Sneed.  I just happened to stumble upon it while browsing through the library, and of course, since it involves librarians, I had to pick it up.

The story is about Melvin who grows up going to the library every day after school.  He talks to the librarians, who he says are always happy to see him.  They help him find information, teach him about classification, help him practice lines for a play, and much more.  Melvin also mentions attending all the library programs, including the Spend the Night in the Library party.  Do some libraries really do that?

As Melvin grows up, he continues coming to the library and visiting the librarians.   This is a great book about how the library can affect kids!  This book is also great for helping kids who have library anxiety because it shows children that librarians are kind, helpful, and full of information.  One of my favorite parts is a reoccuring theme about the librarians, whether they help him find information or are proud of him when he succeeds:  “They couldn’t help it.  That’s how librarians are.”


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!


Diary of a Wimpy Kid

July 7, 2008

I had been looking forward to reading this book by Jeff Kinney for awhile because I knew it would be a quick read.  It was. I started and finished in about an hour. It’s written in the style of a “JOURNAL, not a diary.” I loved the cartoons depicting various situations. The story tells of middle schooler Greg Heffley’s year and the various problems he has, such as with friends, bullies, bad Christmas gifts, etc. As I read though, I really started to dislike Greg. He’s a jerk to his “best friend” Rowley…he’s bossy and eternally ashamed of him. I know Diary of a Wimpy Kid is really popular, so I’m interested to find out if anyone else had any problems with the “hero” of the story. Other than that, I thought it was a fun read. The cartoons are great. I may read the next one since it goes so quickly.


Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

April 24, 2008

Not only was this my first exposure to the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer but also to the typical style of graphic novels. Colfer creates a fascinating world of reality and fantasy where fairies, dwarves, goblins, and centaurs exist. However, I was most surprised by the human main character Artemis. He’s a 12-year-old boy genius, rich, extremely knowledgeable of technology, smart-alecky, and generally not a good guy. In this first book of the series, Artemis (and his private bodyguard, Butler) manipulate, threaten, even kidnap a fairy for gold. Another surprise for me in this book was the shift in point of view. Even though the series is about Artemis, readers are still able to hear the thoughts of the secondary characters, which, for me, created even less loyalty for Artemis. Still, the book is plot-driven with a lot of action, which I enjoy. Fans of Artemis Fowl would probably enjoy the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, and vice versa.

Although I didn’t wholeheartedly enjoy the story, I did like the graphic novel version of it. Sometimes I have a difficult time visualizing as I read, so the graphic novel allowed me to give my brain a break, especially since the graphic novel is not very text heavy. Reading this has inspired me to check out other series in graphic-novel form, including Nancy Drew and The Baby-sitter’s Club. I’ll review those soon.