Blog Hop and Follow Friday (11)

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by www.crazy-for-books.com. This week's question is: "Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her."

Well, I had to stop reading The Relic Master to reread The Little Prince for a novel study with my students. I absolutely adore this book, so it doesn't bother me too much that I had to stop reading my other book. For anyone that hasn't read The Little Prince, what are you waiting for? Seriously. This is one of the best children's books ever written. Don't be discouraged by the tag "children's books" either, there is deep philosophical material between these pages.

Basically, the tiny prince is traveling through the universe because he is discouraged with his life on his own planet. During his travels he meets many interesting characters that teach him HUGE values about life. The prince is optomistic and open; completely unlike many of the adults that he encounters on his travels. (Personally, my favorite character is the fox.) That's all I can say about the book without giving the plot away. Review will come later for anyone interested.









Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by www.parajunkee.com. This week's question is: Do you have anyone that you can discuss books with IRL? Tell us about him/her.

I guess I am really lucky in this area. My dad is an avid reader so we discuss books all the time. Although, most of his reading material is way over my head. =) Occasionally I loan him a book that he likes. Needless to say, he's not a YA reader.

Since I'm a teacher, however, I talk about books all the time. I chat with the school librarian about books often, but I talk to my workplace BFF daily. We're always swapping books. Of course, I talk to the kids about books as well. I'm constantly pushing books in their direction. 

It's great to have so many people that I can talk to about books. I think I would explode if I couldn't share all my thoughts (about books) with people.


Review: Pride and Pleasure

Pride and Pleasure
Sylvia Day


Well... What can I say about this one? My mother always said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." If I made it a habit to listen to all of my mother's advice, I wouldn't have anything to say about bad books! With that being said, this one was rotten. I was highly disappointed. It wasn't a book, it was a novella-- and a poorly developed one at that. It took too long to get to the point of the book (which I still am unclear of). That's not entirely true... I do know the point, but it took 58 of the 59 pages to reach it. I feel like I wasted valuable reading time on this book. Seriously. No character development. Mediocre plot. Uninteresting characters. I thought it was going to be something like a Pride and Prejudice spin off, but it wasn't. It might be able to pass as a small scene from the book, but that's it.


This was a free e-book from the Sony e-reader store. If you had to buy this book, don't waste your time. You'll be angry with yourself.
 
 
After thought: The free version was 59 pages, but the entire book is 300+ pages. I just looked it up on Amazon. From the 59 pages I read, I doubt the remainder of the book is any better. Don't be fooled by the 4 star Amazon rating. Those people are delusional.


Review: Prom and Prejudice

Prom and Prejudice
Elizabeth Eulberg





Product Details:

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Point; 1 edition (January 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780545240772
Source: My personal book




Who doesn’t enjoy a spin off of a Jane Austin tale? In this version of Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie (Bennet) finds herself at Longbourn Academy on a music scholarship. Although she has an amazing talent for playing the piano, no one at the prestigious Longbourn Academy enjoys her presence since she is not from a wealthy family. Luckily for Lizzie, she has a wonderful, caring roommate named Jane. Unfortunately, Jane’s boyfriend (Charles Bingley) is best friends with Will Darcy.

Lizzie can’t stand to be in the presence of Will Darcy. Upon her first meeting with Darcy, he snubs her when he found out she was a scholarship student. Of course, Lizzie has spent so much time being tortured by the rich students at her school that she instantly takes offense to Darcy, and makes no attempt to change her opinion of him. To make matters worse, she meets the charming George (“Wick”) Wickam one evening while working at the coffee shop. Lizzie is fascinated with Wick because he was a former Pemberly scholarship student that was horribly mistreated by the despicable Will Darcy. (Notice the irony from the original tale?)

Like the original tale, Lizzie has to realize that Darcy isn’t as evil as she assumes, and that Wick is truly a cad. Swallowing her pride, she makes amends with Darcy and forms the beginning of what we can assume is a nice, healthy relationship.

Like most of the retellings of Pride and Prejudice, this version sticks to the main plot points of the original work. Of the other retellings I’ve read in the past, this one was one of my favorites. Darcy is (as always) misunderstood. While Lizzie prides herself on not being prideful, but inevitably ends up acting like the people she so adamantly dislikes. In this version, however, there are a few twists. Since the characters are too young to think about marriage, the conflict in the novel radiates around the prom. At Longbourn, prom is the equivalent of walking the red carpet at the Grammy’s.

There is really no need to go into much detail about the plot of the story, since most readers are familiar with the story of Pride and Prejudice. The plot of this book stayed at a consistent pace. I enjoyed the unexpected connection between Darcy and Lizzie’s musical idol. I think that added a nice dynamic to his character. As in the original, Wick is eventually shown as the despicable scoundrel that he is. Plus, we find out that Lizzie has a mean left hook!


This was a “cute” read that I enjoyed. I was a breeze to read through; I finished it in one sitting. The cover has peeked the interest of several of my female students, which is inevitable when you mention the word “prom” in a title. I’m excited to use it as an introduction to classic literature and one of my favorite authors of all time!


In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

This week's box is pretty empty. I just finished reading and reviewing The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan. I ordered a few books from Scholastic Book Clubs and they came in the mail last week. I'm working on re-reading The Robe of Skulls, which is a really cute series for middle grades. The humor is great. I also ordered a copy of Prom and Prejudice, which I'm reading right now. I love anything that eludes to Pride and Prejudice. That's it for this week.

The Dead-Tossed Waves
Carrie Ryan



Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0385736851
ISBN-13: 978-0385736855
Source: My personal book


Gabry is the type that always follows the rules. She has a safe life within the walls of Vista, and never dreams of traveling to the Dark City. Her life is built around boundaries, until someone pushes those boundaries. When a trip to the abandoned roller coaster beyond Vista’s protective walls goes terribly wrong, Gabry’s life is turned upside down. In one horrible moment, Catcher—the boy she has loved all her life—is infected by a Mudo and her best friend is captured and condemned to serve the Recruiters. Gabry got away before it was too late, but at what cost?


With Catcher lost among the ruins, Gabry is torn between safety and love. If she stays in Vista she won’t have to seeing Catcher turn Mudo; however, if she stays, she risks being turned in by the others who were captured beyond the Barrier. Ultimately, her love for Catcher pushes her into the ruins. On her first visit to the ruins she meets Elias, a boy that is wandering in the wilderness. She is instantly drawn to his mysterious nature, but she is not sure if she can trust him. There are many things about him that seem strange: he lives in the wild, he dresses like a Mudo-worshipping Souler, and he calls the Mudo “Unconsecrated”—just like her mother.


After several surprising events, Gabry finds herself running to the Forest of Hands and Teeth for safety, along with Catcher, Cira (Catcher’s sister), and Elias. As they travel the Forest, the group eventually encounters Gabry’s mother and Harry (both from the first novel) and the secret to Gabry’s past.


I was worried that this book would be too much like the first novel in the series, but it ended up being a pleasant surprise. While it did seem very familiar at times, there were enough differences to make it unique. I’m thankful that this book was full of different characters. (Mary and Harry had minor roles in the plot.) Had this been a continuation of the first novel, I don’t think I would have liked it as much. The descriptions of the Mudo and the Forest were the same in this book. I was slightly disappointed that nothing more profound happened with either in this book, actually. I keep hoping that some hint of what caused the Return would emerge, but there was no such hint.


As before, characterization was great. Gabry was the typical conflicted teenager, struggling with leaving the safety of a life she’s known for the unknown. Her story isn’t unique (In fact, she seemed a lot like Mary from book #1), but she was well developed. You could feel the struggle she faced when she had to choose between Catcher and Elias. Also, the pain she experienced when she realized the story of her past seemed so real. I felt so sorry for her. Elias seemed a little too mysterious to me during the book. When they reached Mary’s village, it made sense why he seemed so stand-offish, but I still didn’t fully buy into it. There was a hint of Elias reappearing in the third book, so I’m hoping we get a better insight into his character then.


I was also a little disappointed with Catcher. He found himself in a terrible situation, but he seemed to use that as an excuse to dismiss Gabry too easily. I really didn’t like how hot/cold his emotions seemed to be. As I read the story of Gabry and Catcher I couldn’t help but feel that there was some huge chunk of history missing. There really should have been more to their story.


As with the first book, the plot is fast paced. Within the first two chapters the problem emerges and stays at a constant pace until the end. The characters added a newness to the book; whereas, the plot was very familiar. The time Gabry, Catcher, and Elias spend in the Forest seems like a repeat from the first book, but it still moves quickly enough (even though I thought it lagged a little at times). In The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Mary and her group were trying to find life outside of the Forest. This book seems to be about finding life within the Forest. Same struggles. Same conflicts—conflicting love, painful choices, the truth about one’s past. All of it was very familiar.


Overall I found it to be a decent book. I’m still not jumping in line to buy a t-shirt or a “Team Catcher” bumper sticker, but it was worth reading. If you liked (or loved) the first book, you’ll feel the same about this one. If you hated the first book, you can give this one a try. If you aren’t sold within the first 75 pages I can guarantee you won’t mind putting it aside.

Review: The Search for Delicious

The Search for Delicious
Natalie Babbitt

Product Details

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Square Fish (August 21, 2007)
ISBN-10: 9780312369828
Source: My personal book


Summary from Amazon: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary. But soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.


Gaylen’s quest leads him to the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest; to Canto, the minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and who gives him a peculiar good-luck charm; to the underground domain of the dwarfs; and finally to Ardis who might save the kingdom from havoc.

My Review: I love this book! It is such a fun, easy, and enjoyable read. It’s an adventure story with a few surprises and fantasy elements added in. Young Gaylen is on a quest to poll the kingdom’s response for the royal dictionary’s choice for something “delicious.” Unfortunately, no one can agree on a response. At first Gaylen thinks it’s all a difficult coincidence that no two votes are alike, but then he realizes that someone is sabotaging his mission. After all, what would an adventure story be without a little subterfuge? As it turns out, the King’s brother is out to start a civil war within the kingdom. He wants to overthrow the king and take the throne. Gaylen realizes this and tries his best to stop the evil uncle, but his plan is interrupted. Just when it seems that the king’s brother will win, a mystical creature (Ardis the mermaid) comes and saves the day!

This book is suitable for young readers, while older readers (teens) may find it a little boring or “childish.” As an adult, I found it delightful. I loved the humor and word play. The puns and subtle nuances added to my enjoyment even more. (The word play ranks high on my list…on the level of The Magic Tollbooth.) There isn’t a lot of deep character development in the book, but it doesn’t take away from the read. You get a sense of the scatterbrained king, Gaylen’s loyalty, and the diabolical nature of the king’s uncle. While it is clear which role everyone is intended to play, there isn’t much insight into the motivations… at least on a deeper level. It seems that the purpose behind the book is simply to tell a good story. It’s a simple story that a younger reader would enjoy.


There isn’t a whole lot I can say about the book. It wasn’t overly thought provoking, although I did find humor in all the differing definitions of “delicious.” Maybe the moral of the story is trying to teach us that we take some things for granted—things as simple as a cool glass of water—and we need to be more appreciative of what we have. That may be a little deep for a 7 year old, but it’s still a good lesson to discuss. Overall, I enjoyed it. It was witty and well written.

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