Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Tale Dark & Grimm

     "Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome."  I love the first line of A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz.  It is a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel.  It is dark, funny, and just scary enough for older kids to squirm with fear but still sleep well at night.
     Like most fairy tales, Hansel and Gretel go through many scary events to find their happily-ever-after.  Interestingly, all of the adults in the book harm or endanger the children, but together the brother and sister survive with grace and dignity.
     This book can be read as a fun fairy tale or as a symbolic view of life.  "The land of Grimm can be a harrowing place.  But it is worth exploring.  For, in life, it is the darkest zones one finds the brightest beauty and the most luminous wisdom.  And, of course, the most blood."
     A great read for the young or old at heart, especially in October when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hush, Hush

     Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick was a rip-off of Twilight by Stephanie Meyers, but I was unable to stop reading it.  It was like watching a soap opera.  You know it is stupid and a waste of time, but you have to know what happens to these characters.
     The plot was an obvious ripoff of Twilight.  Nora and Patch are even together in high school and sit by each other every day in biology.  They have a love-hate relationship, but alas, love is elusive when she is human and he is...a fallen angel.  An evil force is plotting to kill Nora, but luckily Patch is the one who keeps coming to her rescue.  (Sound familiar?)
     The characters were two-dimensional and predictable.  The writing was mediocre.   I have no great reason to recommend this book, but I could not stop reading it.  I must have a weakness for angels or something.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


      I absolutely LOVED Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.  After
Caitlin's mother died from cancer, her older brother Devon helped her deal with life, growing up, and acting normal.  Now that Devon is dead, Caitlin has no one to help her navigate the world the rest of us take for granted.  Caitlin searches for the closure she and her father so  desperately need and learns about life in all its messy glory.
     Caitlin helped me see the world in a totally different way.  Thanks to her, I understand what it is like to grow up with Aspberger's Syndrome.  Through Caitlyn's eyes, I have a new understanding of empathy, finesse, and things I take for granted - like making friends.  This book made me laugh out loud one minute and sob the next.  I LOVED this little girl.
     Kathryn Erskine breaks all the rules of writing in this book, so it takes a while to figure out what is real.  Once I caught on to her style, I enjoyed the way it mirrored Caitlin's world.  It is beautifully written and captures the character perfectly.  It is a short book, but because of the author's play with style and theme, I recommend this book to advanced readers.

Among the Betrayed

     Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the third book in the Shadow Children series.  I liked this book, but it wasn't my favorite in the series.  Luke (AKA Lee Grant) was only in the book at the end, and I didn't get attached to the other characters.  There were so many double crossings, I was totally confused by the end.  I don't recommend this book, unless you liked Among the Hidden.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011


     Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is the third and final book in the trilogy.  I loved the first two books, but I did not like Mockingjay.
     The characters did not act like themselves, and it was frustrating to see they way they treated each other.  I didn't like any of the main characters anymore.
     Although Peeta was tortured to get back at Katniss, she refused to let him get close to her.  Peeta thought Katniss was the enemy and she considered him another tragedy of the war.  Without their love hanging in the balance, the fight against the government didn't seem to matter.
     It was obvious from the beginning of the book that the rebels would be betrayed by the new leaders, but it wasn't developed sufficiently.  It seemed like Suzanne Collins ran out of time and just tacked an ending onto the story.
     I didn't believe Snow or Coin were fit leaders, but the people who could have been effective leaders, were killed.  If these are the only two choices, everyone in all three books died in vain.
     The last chapter of the book should have been a fitting conclusion to all Katniss and Peeta had sacrificed, but instead it felt like a Hollywood conclusion.  I was disappointed in the whole book. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Catching Fire

     Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is an incredible read.  I usually hate sequels because they are pale imitations of the original, but this book is even better than The Hunger Games.  I read this book in a day because I could not put it down.
     Catching Fire starts a few months after The Hunger Games have ended.  Katniss and Peeta live next door to one another in the Victory Circle, but are further apart than they were during the games.  They rarely talk to one another anymore and Katniss is confused about her feelings for Gale and Peeta.
     President Snow appears unexpectedly to threaten Katniss' family if Katniss does not stop the rebelling colonies.  When Peeta hears the threats, he proposes to her and the two spend their victory tour acting madly in love.  When they fail, President Snow determines the Quarter Quell tributes will be reaped from the victors in each district.  Katniss and Peeta reenter the arena.
     The new arena brings new threats and new opponents inside the arena; forces outside the arena are controlling Katniss and Peeta in ways they can not understand.  Tick Tock, the countdown begins.
     This book is action packed but character driven.  I could not stop reading this book.  I was surprised by the plot twists and the way everything fit into the bigger scheme behind the scenes.
     My favorite part was seeing Katniss' wedding dress transform into the Mockingjay dress.  I was proud of Cinna for taking a stand, even though it cost him his life.
     This book made me think about life.  Where is the line between following the law and standing up against corruption?  How do we decide who to trust?  What is worth sacrificing my life?  What is love?  What am I willing to sacrifice for the people I love?
     This book is a must-read, especially if you already loved Katniss and Peeta.        

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Hunger Games

     I really liked The Hunger Games.  Although it is hard to be in such a bleak and brutal world where children are forced to kill one another, it is a book you can't put down.
     This dystopian world seems too close to reality for my comfort.  Seeing people beat each other at sporting events, voting for our favorites on reality t.v. shows, and our love of action and violence today isn't far from The Hunger Games tomorrow.
     My favorite part was when Katniss put the poisonous berries in her mouth to save Peeta and force the government to back down.  I love Little Rue and cry every time she dies and Katniss sings her to "sleep."  I was thrilled to learn how Peeta survived his attack in the water and loved how he used his talent to survive.  I also liked Cinna and the beautiful costumes he designed for Katniss and Peeta.
     My least favorite part was finding out the government stooped so low as to use the bodies and minds of the dead children to create muttations.  This part of the book disgusts and depresses me.
     It is a great read, especially in the fact there is so much to think about after you read it.  You won't be the same person you were before you read the book.