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Posts Tagged ‘Twilight’

I know, I know, I missed it again! This school year is already kicking my butt (literally, I fell down the stairs at school today like a ding-dong!) so I just didn’t have the strength Tuesday or Wednesday when I got home to update and do my TTT post even though I already had it rough drafted out on notebook paper. So, here it is, two days late, my TTT for the week of 814/12:

Romances that I believe would survive this crazy real world we live in:

10. Alice and Charlie from American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

           
image from socionix.com

I was a big fan of the former first lady at one time. She reminded me a lot of myself. I guess I still am a fan, somewhat. I don’t care at all for her husband. I did care a great deal for this book though. It’s a fictionalized account of the relationship that blossomed between Laura and George, including all the gory details of a car crash caused by Mrs. Bush herself as a teenager. Having loved Sittenfeld’s first novel, Prep, I bought this one with the same expectations. However, this is a very different breed of book than Prep, though I did end up enjoying both. I do think that Charlie (George) and Alice (Laura) would have made it it reality, because..well… they did!

9. Jacob Black and Bella Swan from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

        
image from fanpop.com

I choose Jacob over Edward because I am a huge member of Team Jacob (I’m wearing my Quileute Tribe shirt right now) but also because I believe that they would have ended up together in reality. After Edward hit the road, Jack in New Moon and Bella and Jacob became closer, I really believe that they would have stayed together in reality. Being abandoned and dumped the way Bella was, I just can’t believe she’d go back to him. Oh, well, at least Jake got a happy ending, too.

8. Marlena and Jacob from Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

    
image from wwhan12.wordpress.com

If you fall in love over any animal, especially an elephant, it’s just gonna last forevs.

7. Elinor and Edward from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

     

Maaaaannnnn, I wanted these two together the whole darn book. One was so shy and proper and the other was so bent on honoring his promises that they were willing to be apart if needed. Thank goodness it wasn’t needed and they got to be together in the end!

6. Gilbert and Anne from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery

   
image from fanpop.com

This movie was on television the other night and I got caught up in it again. It was the early one, where Anne moves to Green Gables and not the later one where she and Gilbert end up happily ever after, but it did get me in the frame of mind of how these two were so meant for each other and that’s why I just had to include them on this list, because honestly they would so have made it in reality!

5. Allie and Noah from The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

  
image from romanceeternal.org

Sweetest couple ever. And he wrote their story down. And then he read it to her. And then they died together. And then I cried.

4. Jamie and Claire from The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

   
image from outlandishobservations.blogspot.com

Even though this whole series is so totally unbelievable with the whole time travel thing and all, I still deeply believe that the love between Claire and Jamie would have lasted and would have survived whether in ye olden Scotland or in new modern England (or America, or Canada, or wherever in the world they find themselves).

3. Hermione and Ron from The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

  
image from fanpop.com

Upon my first reading of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I knew that these two were meant fror each other.

2. Josephine March and Professor Friedrich Baher from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

   
image from tumblr.com

OF COURSE I would have one of the couples from Little Women on here and OF COURSE it would be my most favoritest gal Jo and her hunka hunka burnin’ love Prof. Baher! When I made my rough draft the other night, I originally had Laurie down as the other half of Jo’s forever heart, but then I started thinking about childhood friends and how they really rarely ever work out romantically in the end. Jo had to grow up and go out in the world and get a job and write her books and learn some more and THEN she could settle down and who better to do it with than Friedrich! This man could help her open her school and publish her books! I truly believe that they would have made it in the real world based on their relationship of mutual honesty and respect.

That’s right, there are only 9 couples on the list because as hard as I racked my noggin, I just couldn’t think of another couple to add on and I didn’t want to get sloppy by just picking some random couple (like Rhett and Scarlett. I honestly do not think that those two would have made it in the real world. Tomorrow may be another day, doll, but I think he’s gonna tell you to shove it again.) so I’m leaving it at 9. Who do you think I left off the list? Who do you think should have been left off the list?

‘Til Next Time!

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Papa was a rolling stone, my son, where ever he laid his hat was his home -The Temptations

“There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep ’em all away from you. That’s never possible.” -Harper Lee

This week I need to do a Top Ten Thursday instead of a Top Ten Tuesday. I’ve got A LOT going on right now. My mom is very sick and my dad has his hands full with taking care of her so I’ve been trying to help both of them and finish up the school year and find a new apartment in a new town to move to and read and rest from the last awful school year and blog and I’m just now getting to the blog part and I haven’t really done any of the other parts. So for this weeks TTT I decided to list my top ten favorite fathers in literature in honor of Father’s Day being last Sunday. (*note: links to the books will now be accessed by clicking the picture of the book. All links will be from IndieBound.org- be a part of the story*)

10. Dr. Murray from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. Publication Date: 1962– The missing, but brilliant, dad.

It has been a really long time since I’ve read this book, and I don’t think I fully appreciated it when I did read it so this is one that I will need to revisit. Dr. Murray isn’t really in the first book very much I discovered (and failed to even remember) after some researching. This is a really cool dad though, he’s a physicist studying space-time continuums who is missing and NO ONE, not even the freakin’ GOVERNMENT knows where he is (and you know how those guys know EVERYTHING).

9. Charlie Swan from the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. Publication Date: 2005-2008. The aloof dad.

The twilight saga hardback.jpg

I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it again: I am a fan of Twilight. I am not sure if I am 100% a fan of Chuck Swan, father to Bella Swan-Cullen, Grandfather to Reneesme Cullen. Charlie is so distant from his daughter when first we meet him that he is awkward and it’s hard to believe he cares and actually wants her to live with him. Charlie develops the love I had hoped he would for Bella (and honestly, it was there all along, but dads can be weird most of the time) and has some touching moments with her, like at her wedding for example. One thing about Chief Swan that I can’t overlook is how he is so meek. He lets Bella fly out of the house and to ITALY without making much of a stink? He watches her become a vampire and yet doesn’t give it much thought? He doesn’t see her for almost a year and shrugs it off? Whaaaaaa? Overall, good guy, loving dad, I like him, but I don’t love him.

8. James Henry Alden from The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Original Publication Date: 1924. The Grandfather Dad.

Though not actually a dad the grandfather in the boxcar children acted as a dad to the four boxcar children in Gertrude Chandler Warner’s AWESOME mystery series for children. After the death of the children’s parents, Grandfather steps in and cares for them. He’s wealthy, he’s kind, he’s patient, he’s full of advice, he’s not overly stern, he’s the worlds best grandfather! Too bad he’s fictional.

7. Matthew Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. Publication Date: 1908. The adorable, adoptive, loving dad.

I promised you a few weeks ago when I did my Mother’s Day blog that I would touch on the awesomeness that is Matthew Cuthbert and here is where I do it. How awesome is Matthew Cuthbert? Let me count the ways:
1. He loves Anne at first sight. Sure he wanted, heck, NEEDED, a boy and ended up with Anne instead. He could have just left her at that train station, but you know that the thought never even entered sweet Matthew’s mind.
2. He had to put up with Marilla. Though she’s really a softy, she sure can come off as a mega b-i-t-c-h.
3. He is SO SHY! It might kill him to have to talk to anyone so he keeps to himself A LOT.
4. He’s Canadian.
5. He bought Anne that dress!
6-infinity. There are so many reasons to love this character, and I do!
(And yes, that is a picture of Richard Farnsworth who played Matthew PERFECTLY in the 1985 movie and not a cover of the book. Farnsworth did such a great job, I had to feature him. I’ll also do the same later in this post for Gregory Peck. See if you can guess which father from literature he played!)

6. Sirius Black/James Potter/Arthur Weasley/Albus Dumbledore/Severus Snape/Remus Lupin/Hagrid from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. Publication Date: 1997-2007. The Harry Potter Dad(s).
The Coat of Arms of Hogwarts, featuring scarlet and gold Gryffindor colours with the mascot Lion, yellow and black of Hufflepuff with the symbolic badger, bronze and blue Ravenclaw colours with an eagle, and Slytherin green and silver with a serpent mascot.

 When the story opens on Harry in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s) Stone we learn quickly that poor Harry is an orphan. Having lost both his parents to Lord Voldemort, Harry now is forced to live under the stairs with his awful aunt, uncle and cousin. During the series progression, however, Harry is able to have many characters step in as surrogate father figures to him. Each character offers something to Harry that the other’s can not. Sirius Black is Harry’s actual Godfather and James was his actual father. But all of the characters mentioned above were Harry’s fathers in some fashion.

5. Steve Miller from The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. Publication Date: 2009. The Dying Dad.

The Last Song was probably the last Nicholas Sparks book I read all the way through. I used to enjoy Sparks’ books, mainly because they are all based in coastal North Carolina which is where I am from and where I grew up. I loved that he used real places that I could actually recognize; it made me feel like I was actually a part of the story and the characters lives since I too had been to those locals! However, after this book I realized that all of his books are exactly the same. Exactly. The. Same. Start off with a dysfunction in a family, throw in a disease or an accident, add a death, and there is _____ by Nicholas Sparks. I wanted to include Steve Miller on my list though because he really is a good dad. He has to contend with a spoiled, selfish daughter and try to connect to a son and try to help a neighboring church all while dying. He does all of these things with grace. Sparks’ characters are generally ones that are good role models for the other characters as well as for the readers and Steve Miller (not the musician, I should have mentioned earlier) is no exception.

4. Robert “Bob” Quimby from Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary. Publication Date: 1977. The fun dad.

 Ramona actually makes appearances in several of Cleary’s books, but I chose this one since this is the one where Ramona gets to connect with her dad after he looses his job. I can’t rave enough about all of the Ramona books in this series and this one is no exception. This book is awesome because it’s difficult to find one where a young daughter can connect with a father the way these characters do. The plotline from this novel makes an appearance in the movie Beezus and Ramona which came out in 2010.

3. Vladek Spiegleman from Maus by Art Spiegleman. Publication Date: 1980-1991. The survivor dad.

What makes mouse Vladek Spiegleman seem so real in Art Spiegleman’s graphic novels is the fact that, well, he is. Through the use of animation and storytelling Art is able to tell his father’s story of his father’s history as Holocaust survivor. The illustrations in Spiegleman’s novels tells more of a story than the actual written words. I’m not a very big fan of comics, but this one flows so smoothly and the story is so gripping that you find yourself reading it as if it were an actual novel.

2. The dad from Go The F*** To Sleep by Adam Mansbach. Publication Date: 2011. The frustrated dad.

I don’t think that this dad ever really reveals his name, but with the honesty given in this book about the sheer impossibility of getting a young child to sleep, we have to assume that the dad’s name is Adam and that he is writing from personal experience. The book is hilariously funny and honest and loving and I dare you to read it without laughing out loud, especially if you have ever been in that boat of trying to get a child to sleep who just wants one more glass of water and one more story. For an even bigger laugh, get an audio copy of the book read by Samuel L. Jackson.

1. Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Publication Date: 1960. The moral dad.

Not only is Atticus Finch my #1 dad in all of literature, but he is also my #1 character. Atticus is the person that I hope that I as well as everyone else in the world will grow up to be. Atticus is revered by people the world overand the group The Atticus Circle which is a group of LGBT Allies named their group after them. Atticus is a hero to everyone in the book and he is the reason that my first born son will be named Atticus. Again I elected to place a picture of Gregory Peck instead of the cover of the book. This picture is perfect- it shows Atticus in court next to the African American man that he is defending much to the chagrin of Macomb County, Alabama. Plus, I wanted to put in a picture of Peck’s Atticus because…well… LOOK at the handsome man!

Who are some of YOUR favorite dads in literature?

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It’s a lot like life and that’s what’s appealing, if you despise that throwaway feeling –Depeche Mode

“I am going to have coffee with Christian Grey. And I hate coffee.” -EL James

I HAD to read Fifty Shades of Grey. I had to. I mean, everyone else in America was swept up in the craze. I started off getting my copy by going to my local public library’s catalog. Surprise, surprise, even people in rural North Carolina just had to read this book. The waiting list for the two print copies was over 14 people long. Okay, plan B, get the e-reader version from Overdrive on my nook. NOT! Over 20 people on that waiting list. Okay, onto plan C now, buy the darn book. The nook version was almost the same price as the print version and when given a choice I will ALWAYS choose the print version. Cut to a Saturday shopping day at Target where there is a HUGE Fifty Shades display. I grab a copy, I thumb through it, and Oh. My. Gah. I sneak it into the bottom of my shopping basket. I will admit that when I first picked up my copy, I honestly did not know what the book was about. I knew that it was considered “erotica” but I had no idea about the storyline or characters or any of that.

Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia (love that name) Steele who is coming up on her graduation from a college in Washington State. Anastasia is very sheltered, smart and reserved, you know, and all around goody two shoes. Anastasia’s (or ‘Ana’ as she prefers) roommate, Katherine (Kate) Kavanaugh is the editor for the university’s newspaper. While fighting off the flu she sends Ana to interview the rich and powerful Christian Grey (CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings) who is the commencement speaker at their graduation in a few weeks. While interviewing Mr. Grey, Ms. Steele makes a connection and viola a relationship blossoms between the two. However, this is not your typical romantic romance, oh no, Mr. Grey has a few surprises (red room of pain, anyone?) in store for the young and impressionable Ms. Steele.

What I liked:
-I found myself actually caring about the characters in this book. It took me a long time to finish it (almost 4 weeks, but I’m very busy with work right now), and I kept wishing I was finished with it so I could move on to something else. I finished it night before last and all day yesterday, I kept wondering to myself what would happen to Ana and Christian? The book ended on a cliffhanger so now of course I HAVE to read the next two books as well.

What I didn’t like:
-So with all of the hype surrounding this book, I’ve read in many places that the book originally started off as Twilight fan fiction. Ok, I can definitely see Edward in Christian (he’s rich, he’s elusive, he’s withholding, he lives in Washington) and I can definitely see Bella in Ana (shortened nick name, brunette, lives in Washington State, mom lives in the sunny south, close to a protective and loving dad, sheltered, shy, virginal, bookish, etc. etc.) As much as I loved Twilight, and I did, and I’m not ashamed of it, I didn’t like that this was a rip-off of that work. I read an interview with Jodi Picoult where she talked about how it seemed unfair that this new author just swooped in and didn’t have to work to build a fan base, she already had millions that she took from Meyer.
-It was not written well. It just wasn’t. It seemed like the author constantly threw in big words just to cover up the fact that it was smutty and to try to fool the reader into thinking it was actually some great work of literature.
-Ana kept referring to her “inner goddess.” Constantly. It was fluffy overkill and I consequently hate her inner goddess.
-The subject matter. Several times Ana spoke about how she did not like being “beaten” by Christian. She was constantly at a loss over what to do about his lifestyle. She obviously didn’t like the lifestyle. On two occasions she openly wept after being “beaten” by Christian. She loved him, but she didn’t love his lifestyle, and you can’t have one without the other. I feel like Christian should have compromised a teensy bit more. I’m hoping that there will be more compromise in the next two books.

Overall I gave it 3 stars (it was okay) on GoodReads. I don’t think that I would recommend it, but I will read the next two in the series.

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“I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore.” -Helen Reddy

In honor of Women’s History Day I present to you my list of the top five (with a bonus six, actually seven) leading ladies of literature, You Go, Girls! 

5. Liza from Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. You Go, Gay Girl!
Ok, I have to start off by admitting that I have never in my life read Annie… (and surprise, surprise, it is not available in my school library or at the public one down the way). However, I did go to graduate school and take several classes in children’s literature and I am a school librarian so I have heard a thing or two about this uber controversial book. The book is 30 years old this year and I can understand the controversy behind it in the early 80s, but today it baffles me that in 2012 we are still having debates about gay characters in books (and women’s rights to contraceptives, but that’s a whole other discussion…). This book is consistently in the lists of the most challenged books, was burned in Kansas City, and had several questions on the Praxis II each year. Kudos to the first popular YA lesbian novel!

 4. Wonapalei from Islandof the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. You Go, Solitary Girl!
I remember reading this in the library of my mom’s school while she was finishing up her workdays one summer. I also remember being simultaneously terrified and intrigued by this premise.  This girl was stuck on AN ISLAND by HERSELF for years?!?! What was even worse was learning later in life that this book was inspired by a true story! The book was made into a movie and won the Newbery in 1961.

 3. Josephine March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  You Go, Historical, Semi-Autobiographical Girl!
If you have read my blog for a while now, you will know that I love Little Women and especially Jo March from this book.  Jo was a brave lady who wasn’t afraid to die alone and who was afraid to not be heard.  The book has been made into two movies. Jo’s character is said to be based on Alcott herself. Jo however was given the happy ending that readers wanted and ended up with Professor Bhear while Alcott died a spinster.

 2. Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. You Go, YA Girls!
Here’s the best thing about these two girls: they are not Isabella Swan, natch. Where Bella whined and moaned and almost died over a boy, these two girls kick ass and take names while relying on no man, dead OR alive. I loved both characters so much I could not choose which one to leave off the list, so I added them both. Both series have been incredibly popular and both characters give girls a role model to really look up to. Both series have been made into incredibly popular movies. (Exactly two weeks until the theatrical release of The Hunger Games! And, my friends daughter has a role in the film, how cool is THAT!?)

1. Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson, You Go, Punk Rock, Semi-Gay, Very fierce, Swedish, Hacker Girl!
What can I say about Lisbeth Salander that has not already been said; nothing. The character is fierce (hello revenge rape scene in Dragon Tattoo), she’s smart, she’s sexy, she’s barely even human. Rooney Mara’s interpretation of Salander was dead on in the 2011 film.  I love her quirkiness, her clever yet snarky attitude towards society and all things in general, and I love her loving nature that is just below the surface, but very much there.

 Bonus Girl: Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights. You Go, Storyteller Girl!
“She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.”
The power of storytelling is very much the theme of this story. I love that a girl can utilize words and tales to keep herself alive and keep a man entertained. This lady forced a brutal king to not only spare her life, but also made him fall in love with her and take her as his queen. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I would want to marry a man who had beheaded 1,000 women before me. God forbid he loose his temper one day! Should that happen I’ll bet clever Scheherazade will just once upon a time him…

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It has been forever and a day since I have written a post, but it has been a heck of a few months for me. Since school got out G and I decided to spend the majority of our summer in the NC Mountains. I had hoped to be able to leave the school that I was at and move, preferably west. Before we left for the mountains, I had not heard anything from any of the schools I applied to so we decided to stick it out where we were for another year and then I would try again next summer. However, the townhouse that we were living in was way too expensive for what we got and we started to have some major problems with the Home Owners Association. So, we put a deposit down for a great stand alone house just down the road. It was roomier, cheaper and without an overbearing HOA. We had been in the mountains for a few weeks when I got a phone call to interview for a middle school position one county over from where we were (in the mountains). I interviewed and the very next day the principal called and offered me the position!

Great, but this meant that we just lost $900 in the deposit and we had to move across the state in about one week! Eek! In the end, we worked it all out and got moved (though it was a nightmare!) and I started my first day as a middle school librarian yesterday!

I love to read the daring librarian blog and I enjoy writing this blog (when I’m not rushing to move across North Carolina, that is!) and so I have decided to start a new blog that focuses on school librarianship. I wanted to do this last year and I rue the fact that I did not. However, I am now in a new school and at a new level and even though this will be my second year as an official, licensed librarian it still feels like I am a first year. The other blog (which I haven’t started yet so I don’t have a URL to share) will chronicle the year ahead. I will be sharing daily life as a MS librarian, relevant articles and issues in school librarianship as well as in public education in general, reviews of YA novels and anything library related.

But, back to this blog…

What have I been reading since I last wrote… Hmm, let me see… the last post I made was about Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home. It feels like so long ago that I read that book (and it kind of was- almost two months)! I read Finding Grace (which I won in a giveaway on GoodReads, so exciting), A Discovery of Witches, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Wench, A Visit From The Goon Squad, These Things Hidden, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Romiette and Julio (for the Battle of the Books competition this year. Another exciting thing about moving up to MS is that I get to coach a BOB team!), and I am currently reading the very lengthy first book in the Outlander series, aptly named Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Since it has been so long, I decided to not just pick one to write about, but rather to do a quick review of each one (save for Outlander since I have not finished it yet, but so far I am loving the book!)

Finding Grace by Sarah Pawley
I liked this book. I liked it. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I liked it. The main character, Grace, strongly reminded me of myself. She was a very precocious farm girl who loved to read. When her overbearing family attempted to force her into marriage, she runs away to Chicago to live with her older brother who had also fled the farm. There she meets and falls for an older man. However, as typical of stories, her past comes back to haunt her. I found this book to be typical. I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened in it. It was well written but it didn’t grab me, and in fact, it took me a while to buckle down and finish it.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I was so excited to read this book. I read about it on IndieBound as it was a recommended on and then it became a top wished-for book on there. I knew it would be great! It has vampires! It has witches! It has England! It has LIBRARIES! I did not like this book. It felt ridiculous and forced and it was nothing more than a grown-up version of Twilight. I skimmed the last fifty pages because I was so ready to read something, ANYTHING, else. which leads us to the next book I read, and enjoyed…

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This book was sent to me as a gift from my aunt who loved it. I took it with me to the beach and I ended up reading it all in one day. It wasn’t anything super special and I’m not exactly sure why it won the Pulitzer, but it was a good, quick and engaging read. It is confusing at times and it is told from multiple perspectives (but not in the Jodi Picoult way that I enjoy (see the review for These Things Hidden below). And as soon as you think that Oscar is going to be okay, he’s not. And that shouldn’t have surprised and affected me as much as it did since the book tells me that his life is going to be brief.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
This is another one that I had been excited to get my paws on since IndieBound raved about it. This one was good. It was so odd though. I finished this book in a chair on a riverbank in the NC Mountains. A man in a kayak rowed by and asked me what I was reading about. And I told him that I honestly was not sure! It’s bizarre and confusing and fun. When I was in Asheville I went to my very favorite bookstore and it was a recommended read there. Good choice, good read, but be warned, you will be craving lemon cake for weeks! (I had to cave in and bake one). Also, check out Synesthesia.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
I bought this one from a used bookstore. It caught my eye in Barnes and Noble one night and the cover said something about how this book is good for those that also enjoyed The Help (which you know I did as I named it my book of the year for 2010, yes even though it was released in 2009- get over it!). Since the cover promised a likeness to one of my favorite books I added it to my to-read list and finally caved and bought it when I realized that the library was never going to get their copy back. It was mediocre. I didn’t care much about the characters. And, it was nothing like The Help. Yeah, okay, so it dealt with slavery. So? Just because there is a book with African American women in it it automatically has to be like The Help? Don’t think so.

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I first heard about this book from a Kindergarten teacher at my old school. She said she really enjoyed it and read it in her book club but she would really like to go back and read it again since everything kind of comes together in the end. Knowing each of the characters and how they connect to the main character, I totally see what she means. I then heard about this book on GoodReads as it was the book of the month pick for July. This book was my second Pulitzer winner I read this summer. I must say I enjoyed this one MUCH more than I did Oscar Wao. Beware though before going in that there are many, many characters in this book. So many that I had to make a character map that expanded into more than one page. All of the characters all are connected through the main one. Super confusing if you don’t read carefully, so do- I highly recommend this book!

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
If I have to choose one book to recommend from the list it’s this one. A mystery of sorts told through multi-character POVs (in a good Jodi Picoult way) with a surprise twist at the end. As soon as I finished this one I gave it to G’s mom to read and she devoured it in a day. I am so excited to read her other book The Weight of Silence

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
Common sense information. I wouldn’t bother.

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper
This was the first Battle of the Books book I read. I just have to say that I am so thankful that not all YA novels are written this poorly, especially Drapers books! Her Hazelwood Trilogy is wildly popular and she wins so many Coretta Scott King awards I had such high hopes for this book. I saw what Draper was attempting to do here, but in my humble opinion she failed. It was a great idea, but it lacked any reality and I don’t think that teens are going to swallow this book. To me, it felt as if Draper wasn’t giving any intelligence credit to youngsters. I can only hope that the rest of the BOB books are better than this one. What a chore to get through.

Enough for now I have again written too much. I will try to write more frequently and smaller posts. Next up, my review of Outlander, stay tuned!

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“I really can’t think about kissing when I’ve got a rebellion to incite. ” -Katniss Everdeen from Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

“We can fight our desires, but when we start making fires
We get ever so hot whether we like it or not” -La Roux

In the spring of 2009 I arrived early to a class on The History of the Book. I always arrive early. To class. To work. To anything, really. I got there to pull out my Harry Potter that I was currently reading and found that for the first time in a long time there was someone who had arrived before me to class. She was a girl that I had had a few classes with and I knew her well enough to strike up a conversation. The Library Science program is small enough at UNCG that everyone knows everyone else and what they are doing at any given time. So, I asked her what she was obviously so engrossed in reading. This girl worked at the on campus Teaching and Resource Center that provided materials to those who may be seeking a degree in K-12 education. They got in tons of YA and children’s books and those that worked there got to read them before anyone else did (jealous).

The book that she was so into, she told me, was called The Hunger Games. She proceeded to give me the gist of what was going on in the plot up to where she was reading. It sounded just plain awesome. Cut to Fall 2010 when I am working in my first real, full-time, library job. I get some cash to order some books for the library and one of the books I pick is The Hunger Games. I will admit that one of the main reasons that I purchased this specific book was because I had been wanting to read it for so long. So, when the order arrived in November I took the book home with me for the weekend where I proceeded to do nothing but lay on my parents couch and read the whole book. It was just that good!

What I adored about this YA novel was how strong the main character was. Katniss Everdeen lives in a futuristic world in which the districts are ruled by an evil Capitol who forces two children “tributes” to play in an annual Hunger Games. During the games the children (one boy, one girl) are thrust into a thematic environment and forced to kill each other off until only one survives. When Katniss’s younger sister, Prim, is called forth to be District 12’s tribute Katniss immediately jumps to take her place. Katniss is a powerful female protagonist which I think that YA literature has been missing lately. The first comparison that comes to mind is Isabella (Bella) Swan in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. Now, I want to say that I adore Twilight, like it or not, I do. I am in line at midnight for the opening of each movie and I’ve devoured the books and I loved them before they became pop culture phenoms. However, my one major complaint with that series was how weak and Edward-obsessed Bella was. As soon as she met the vamp, she lost all ability to think for herself and to consider her own dreams for the future. Everything became about a man (undead, but still) and she was willing to die for him. Katniss Everdeen is the anti-Bella Swan and that is exactly why I love her. Like in the quote I chose, she does NOT have time for kissing, this girls got more important things to think of, like leading rebellions, fighting wars, surviving, providing for her family, and taking care of everyone around her.

I know, I know I know. You can’t really have a YA novel without a little romance now can you? Enter Gale and Peeta- the two young lads who are vying for Miss Everdeens affections. Gale is the friend that Katniss has hunted with since Katniss’s father died in a mining accident. Gale is that first love, childhood friend character that the reader just roots for to win. Peeta is the artistic and articulate son of a local D12 baker. Peeta is the male tribute opposite Katniss. You see where that leads, right? Katniss must either kill Peeta or be killed by him. I won’t ruin the books for those of you who may have never read them, but Peeta AND Katniss are both in all three books. As is Gale. Triangle much?!

The love story is not the  main theme of the book though. It’s not just juvenile sappy romance. It’s about survival in the most chaotic, frightening, and evil of times. Children are killing children in gruesome ways here. The death scenes are amazing and creative. Katniss is a hunter, as I mentioned earlier. She has an acute ability to hit any target be it moving or still, human or not. The fact that this young teen girl has to provide for her poor mother and sister and does so without hesitation is what young girls should be reading about. They should be reading how a girl can beat the boys in something as fierce as a hunger game (spoiler: not once, but TWICE!). They need to be reading that boys are not the be all and end all of life. They need to know that they can all be a kind of Katniss and beat the boys and be in control of their own lives and survival. Are you reading this, Bella and Stephenie? I sure hope so!

My one complaint was completely about the last book. It didn’t read like the first two did. And perhaps this is because this is the only book in the trilogy that does not have a Hunger Games in it. This book felt rushed somehow to me, as if Collins was under an intense deadline to get this book written. It didn’t have the same feeling as the first two. I wasn’t as compelled to read this one. This one was more somber in tone. This one was about nothing but straight up war and revenge. There is an epilogue at the end of this novel that I could have so done without. We find out which suitor Katniss ends up with and what becomes of them. I don’t want to spoil anything, again for those of you who may not have read it all yet, but the future that Katniss has is not one that I envisioned for her. Reading the epilogue and how Katniss talks about her future, I also get the feeling that this is not a future that she envisioned for herself. I wanted Katniss to be out of the games and out of the control of the district and happy. I didn’t get the feeling that she was very happy. I would have rather had the book end open-ended so that readers could envision their own futures of happiness and hunting for Katniss.

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