Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bridge to Neverland


What if Peter Pan was real? What if starstuff was real? And what if you found a secret note from a starcatcher that led you on a crazy adventure to find and save starstuff? Well, then you would be the main character of Bridge to Never Land. 

But really. Let's be honest here, m'kay? This book was not a page turner; it took me waaaay longer to read this book. It was an okay book, but just not up to par. Not really what I expected. Plus it was super current. iPhones, iPads, etc, are mentioned far to frequently. However, I could tell that Barry & Pearson had done their research on Disney World. They even used the term "cast member"!! 

Anyway, this is super random. But the point is: maybe don't waste your time with this one. Save it for the kiddies.

Peter and the Sword of Mercy

In our final Peter chapter, which takes place directly prior to the Peter Pan story most common with Wendy, John, and Michael, Molly Aster is now grown up. She has married her friend, George Darling, and they have three children: Wendy, John, and Michael. George, as you know, is a very practical man, and has encouraged Molly, now Mary, to put all this nonsense and magic talk behind her. 

But then strange things start to happen. John, and original lost boy who chose to grow up with Molly, came to visit. And then he disappears, a victim of the underground kidnappings. Mary/Molly starts investigating, and she too disappears. It seems to be up to Wendy to save the day . . . 

And so our novel unfolds and the baton is handed off. I really did like this adventure and totally recommend it! Read On! 

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon

"I'll be careful," said Peter, grinning. "Aren't I always careful?'
"No," said James 

In the third adventure of Peter's, we are taken to Rundoon as the starstuff is once in danger of evil people obtaining it. The dark is rising, and it is up to our heroes, once again, to save the day. In this adventure we meet the lost boys: Curly, Tootles, Nibs, and the twins. They had been sent to Rundoon to work for the King, but Peter invites them to escape and join him.

The shadow-man, the dark, is returning. It's kind of neat, actually, because he tries to use Peter's shadow, but can't get full control over Peter. At one point, Peter's shadow is separated from himself, which explains that right there. 

So I don't really have much else to say about this book. I liked it though! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peter and the Shadow Thieves

In this thrilling adventure of Peter's, a mysterious dark force who can control shadows is after the starstuff, and it is up to Molly and Peter to save the starstuff, Molly's parents, and themselves.

Some fun things:
-Peter and Tink meet a man by the name of Barrie in the streets of London
-Molly Aster is friends with a boy named George Darling
-A main part of this story happens at the Tower of London. Molly tells us that her father has taken her there before, but left her outside with a guard, "if I asked why, Father would make some joke about not wanting me to get my head chopped off"

I did enjoy this book. Barry and Pearson keep it as exciting and page turning as the first as they give us more of Peter's history. As this one is based on shadows I thought it would give us some insight into Peter and his shadow . . . but you'll have to wait for the next one: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Double Identity

In Margaret Peterson Haddix's Young Adult Mystery Double Identity, we read of Bethany, a young girl who is suspiciously left at a stranger's house. A stranger who is her aunt. All over town people are "recognizing" Bethany, looking like they've seen a ghost. Yet noone will tell Bethany anything. Bethany strives to figure out not only who she is, but all the mysteries of her family. It turns out *SPOILER!* that Bethany had a sister, a sister who died years before Bethany was born. A sister who grew up in the town where Bethany has been stranded. A sister Bethany resembles almost perfectly . . . because she is her clone. 

Near the end of the book, Bethany starts to think about what it means to be her instead of a clone of her sister. Thinks of how she can be unique. And for a children's book, MPH has this covered. I would like to see this concept tackled at a deeper level though, where they already know they're a clone and are striving to make themselves their own (which isn't really what Double Identity is about. It's more solving the mystery of her origins) as opposed to a copy. But overall I did enjoy and do recommend this book. Read on!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Almost Moon

"Alice Sebold may be our true heiress to Edgar Allan Poe, a novelist who dares to write honestly about the banality of violence, and about how it lives next door to normalcy, in a mist." -Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer

Romano's analysis of Sebold and Almost Moon is completely correct; Sebold is eerily Poe. For a book about mother-daughter relations  and accountability for actions, it is a gripping story with an element of intensity and disgust. Our main character, Helen, is a mother and a daughter, but has always been primarily a daughter. Her mother holds an uncanny grip on her, despite Helen growing up and making a life of her own. Eventually Helen's mother becomes old and feeble. Helen is the only one who can take care of her, continuing to be insulted by her mother. Finally she can take it no longer, and kills her mother. The rest of the novel unfolds with the repercussions of Helen's actions and her resulting emotions. The emotions Helen struggles with are much more exciting than the actual action; it's really intense and makes you think. What would you do in this situation? 

This is a typical creepy book for me and I really enjoyed it! I recommend it, with the caution that it does delve into some un-mormon behaviors as well as touchy emotional subjects. Enjoy! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Slated as a cross between Twilight and Hunger Games, I was surprised when Cass brought this home from the library. He read Matched first, said it was clear that Ally Condie is from Utah, and it was reminiscent of The Giver and, despite similarities, he liked it better than Twilight. 

So I read it. It does start out very Giver-esque, with the banquets and the ceremonies. In this society they have the ability to predict everything. They predict who will be your best match. How you will react in a given situation. The figure out what your caloric intake should be and provide appropriate meals. They assign your job, tell you where to live. Tell you when to have children, when to stop having children. And when to die. They have exacted what makes the optimal life and are providing it for their society. Yet there is a mix up at the Matching, and Cassia has been given two matches -- one a mistake, he's an aberration and disallowed to be matched, Ky, and one a childhood friend, a best friend, Xander. See the Twilight similarities? Guess which boy she chooses?? And of course, I like the other one.

So that bothered me. I liked parts of it. I like the idea even though it's not super original. She's also been signed by Disney I guess. She's definitely writing to her target audience -- Twilight -- and it's a little predictable, but I just can't get over the boy problem. I think Ky is a creeper. But there are a lot of occasions where I find boys to be creepers in media and I'm the only one. Overall, I did like this book. And I will read the next one, I'm sure, when Cass brings it home from the library in a month or two. And maybe I won't hate the ending. Hopefully it solves some of the mysteries Condie has laid out for us in the first book and doesn't turn into a ridiculous teenage love story with the cover of having more to it. Because this book, the series I'm sure, is ultimately about free will, agency, the power to choose. It's much deeper than Twilight, and I really hope Condie doesn't sell out just for numbers. Quality over Quantity, right? Please?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shadow Children

Once upon a time*, when I was ten or eleven or so, I brought home a book order from school. I had circled the many books I wanted my momma to buy for me, and I was sure we would sit down later and narrow down my selections. And in that book order was a book, Among the Hidden, by an author I had read before, Margaret Peterson Haddix.  
"Do you really want this weird book?" momma probably asked me. "It looks strange. The government says you can only have two kids? What kind of weirdo are you, Jayme?"

"But Momma!" I'm sure I argued, "We liked Running out of Time, the weird book about those kids who thought they lived in pioneer days and escaped! And this lady wrote that too! So it must be good!"

"Okay, fine, whatever, you odd child of mine. At least you're reading."

And I was reading. The problem was, Haddix came out with a sequel a few years later. But I was older. I was reading other books. And Among the Imposters was never at the library. And then it was another year and another book, and so on. And I always meant to read the Shadow Children series and never quite made it. I kind of forgot about them until I would see Among the Hidden sitting on my shelf, which wasn't often. I have lots of books. 

Yet at CMS, kids are still reading the Shadow Children series. The last one, Among the Free, didn't even come out til 2006. Good thing I wasn't holding my breath. :) But I digress. I was reminded. And so while I was at the library, getting Peter and the Starcatchers, I thought to myself: I should go look at Haddix's section. See what they have of her. And low and behold, they  had the whole series. So I got them. And read them. They're children's books and short, so I pretty much inhaled them. 

These folks live in a society where, due to the famine a few years back, they have limited the number of children to two per family. But that doesn't stop everyone, and I'm not entirely sure the government has provided adequate birth control. So there are lots of illegal third, sometimes fourth and fifth, children in hiding throughout the country. And that is where the series starts, with Luke, an illegal third child in hiding. Through the course of the series we meet other illegal children and see other problems within this government. But  many of these illegals have fake IDs. The end up meeting each other and banding together, hoping that one day they will become free. Hoping they will have the right to exist. 

But they were pretty great. I love the concept, I love all books like this. Of course. I like weird books. Lucky for me, they're pretty in right now (ie: Hunger Games).  I'm a little worried they're getting ruined (see my next post) but I'm not too concerned. So yeah, go on. Read these books. You'll love 'em!

*some facts have been exaggerated for the enjoyment of the story telling. But the concept of this is completely true: I was a strange child. I read strange books.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Peter and the Starcatchers

Last year Matthew read this book at school and suggested it to me, but I didn't really listen. I have lots of books to read; even placing one in my hands is no guarantee I'll get to it. But then I got my job at CMS and the sixth graders are reading it there too. And it is a really good story!!! It is pretty exciting and gives a lot of interesting background and linking of Peter Pan with other characters and situations. While not keeping entirely true to JM Barrie's works -- Dave Barry (haha -- Barrie, Barry) and Ridley Pearson are commissioned by Disney and this is clearly based more upon the movie, which makes sense because the target audience would have seen only the movie and probably not know about the book -- there are still links and it is a good Peter Pan story. It is to serve as a prequel to Barrie's Peter and Wendy despite obvious contradictions -- especially The Little White Bird. So I just couldn't help it. I couldn't possibly wait patiently and read with the sixth graders. I had to get my hands on this book and read it for my self. And I did. 

And I loved it. There's a whole series, so I will be trying to get the next installment at the library tomorrow, and I really look forward to reading them all. The book is written for children, but there are little asides meant for adults, and it appeals to all ages. It starts with Peter - no last name - and four other boys: James, Prentiss, Thomas, and Tubby Ted boarding a ship called The Neverland, along with some characters that seem vaguely familiar . . . And showcases their adventures upon the high seas with a young girl, Molly Aster, Pirates, and the titled Starcatchers. But I sure enjoyed this book and recommend it for all ages, especially if you have an interest in Peter Pan! I look forward to the second novel: Peter and the Shadow Thieves  and hope you'll keep tuning in! 

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Diamond of Darkhold

The fourth and final installment of DuProu's Ember series, I felt The Diamond of Darkhold fell just a teeny bit short. Everything had a nice happy ending, including an awkwardly told, unchronological almost-epilogue. It vaguely had a tie in with Prophet of Yonwood summarized in one sentence. And everything was just so easy. She really could have stopped at People of Sparks, yet she still leaves this open for continuation.

Those minor complaints aside, I enjoyed this book. It was a nice denouement for the series, yet wasn't quite as thrilling as the others. Parts of it were clever and unpredictable, and it was rather enjoyable. What I really would like to read is about the first people to go to Ember, which would tie in Prophet of Yonwood much better in my opinion. As a series, I'm not sure this one is a winner. I don't feel my time was wasted, but there are other YA authors in this vein (Haddix, Lowry) who I would suggest first.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Flashback Friday: Masquerade

 I'm in the back -- Snow White

When I was in high school, the school had a dance practically every month. In October the dance is Masquerade and everyone dresses up in costumes. This picture is of my Jr year. I'm with one of my close friends, Adam. For this date we did some other halloweeny things, including watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (Ashley and Jack are Nightmare-ing it up in the front of the photo) before we went to the dance. We had a great time. 

Aside: At the dance a random girl, who I had never met before, approached me and asked me how I got my face so white. Yeah, I didn't do anything special. I'm just pale, yo.  


Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Long Way From Chicago

The eighth graders at CMS are reading A Long Way from Chicago right now, so I decided to read it up real quickly so that I can better help the students. 

This is another coming-of-age story, taking place during The Great Depression; each chapter is a different summer Joey and Mary Alice spend at their grandma's house.  Grandma is quite the character and the children learn many different life lessons from her, from how to use illegal fish traps to how to take care of other people. 

I liked this book well enough. It's not really something I would suggest over other books, but it a good reading level for the kids and it is a Newbery winner as well as a nice quick read. As far as crazy adventures or trying to solve a mystery or a cliffhanger ending . . . not so much. This book is much more real life than that, which is always a nice contrast. Soooo, it's up there, but not the best ever.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Florizella and the Wolves

As ya'll know, I love one Philippa Gregory and her many works. And so I read everything she writes, even if it is juvenile fiction. She wrote these books for her daughter, which I thought was super cute. And I liked the story. It mixed fairy tales with real life, had a moral, and the princess didn't need a hero. I think Jordyn would like this book, so maybe I'll let her read it sometime. It's right on her level and has few enough pages that she could finish it quickly enough without getting bored. So yes, I enjoyed a book for first graders. So there.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Prophet of Yonwood

The Third Book of Ember, The Prophet of Yonwood, is a prequel, well over 100 years prior to The City of Ember and in the town of Yonwood. A young girl, Nickie, is visiting Yonwood with her Aunt to clean up and sell her great-grandfather's home. Yonwood is the home of a prophet who has seen terrible visions of the future -- war -- and is now in a comatose state. The town is all aflutter trying to follow the visions, trying to follow God, as the verge on fanaticism. They are accusing sinners left and right, and adding new "commandments from God" every time the comatose prophet mumbles something. 

This book was okay. It just wasn't what I was really expecting. It was nothing like the other two books, even for a prequel. And to be honest, I found it pretty irrelevant. It covers the space of a few weeks and then in the last chapter it gives a mini epilogue of sorts for the characters. And then, in one sentence, it is linked to Ember. Maybe in reading the fourth book everything will tie together. I'll let you know!

Friday, October 7, 2011

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

A murder-mystery told from the point-of-view of a boy on the autism spectrum, this novel is a very interesting read. It offers a unique perspective into the mind of a boy with autism/Aspergers. While not an especially exciting read, if you are interested in this point if view, I do recommend it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The People of Sparks

The sequel to The City of Ember , The People of Sparks begins feeling a little big like Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. The ground is dry and dusty, the people are unfamiliar. And then we continue with the story of the "Emberites", who, having left Ember, eventually stumble upon the city of Sparks. Sparks takes them in, offering to help them for six months. What they do not tell them, is that in six months it will be winter. The Emberites will be forced to leave, homeless and foodless. 

Things begin well enough for a city doubled in size and not resource. But tensions continue to grow, and an Emberite named Tick is the most unhappy and wants to fight. Doon tries to be the peacemaker, but he is accused of throwing tomatoes, a huge offense for those already short on food. And Lina, our hero, has disappeared with a Roamer, headed for the ruins of an old city. 

The conflict continues and war between Sparks and Ember seems inevitable! Tune in for the exciting ending next week! Or read the book yourself :) 

I enjoyed this book and really recommend it -- especially for those into YA novels and the YA crowd themselves!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daisy Fay & the Miracle Man

Once upon a time, a baby girl was born. Her parents couldn't agree on a name, and so grandma looked around the room. There was a vase of flowers in the room, daisies to be exact. And that is how Daisy Fay Harper got her name. She begins her journaling at age eleven and gives us all the details of her life, her parents' fighting, and the town gossip. A southern coming-of-age story, Daisy Fay makes a name for herself while making the best of her difficult situation. Her dad is a drunk who can't hold onto a job, or his wife, and Daisy Fay's life is rather unsteady. Yet she shares with us her zany adventures, crazy pranks, friendships, and coming back from the dead, as she makes her way to the top, paving her own road, making her own break, and giving the gossip. 
First off, apparently I'm way more into coming-of-age stories than I thought! 

But really. I did enjoy this book. It was long, and their were a few spots I found to be a little boring or unnecessary, and most of the story was not related to the title, which I found odd. I would rate this book probably a 7 or 8 out of 10. It was enjoyable; I do not regret reading it. It was well written and a good story, yet not amazing. Then ending was definitely worth it though! It was expected, but still nice. Daisy Fay is a great role model, determined, driven, and (eventually) successful. So read on!