Thursday, October 28, 2010

[BIR] Glimmerglass and My Blood Approves

Here is the second part of this blog which I'm calling BIR or Books I've Read.

Because I am a book reading monster, I go through a lot of books very quickly, however, some I can't necessarily recommend in an academic sense, but I do think they are great fun reading for students and any YA fans. Therefore, once in awhile I'll have a post where I give some brief reviews of books I have recently finished...Ie, like I'm doing now.

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

This book suffers from what I would refer to as "series disease". The author was probably asked to produce a 3 book series and therefore the events occur rather slowly and sometimes I wasn't quite sure where the plot was headed. The best part about this book is definitely the characters and their motivations. I'm really interested in seeing what happens with their relationships and what the Fey want with Dana. I just wish that more had occurred. This might be a personal preference on my part, but I like my novels to have a bit more action in them. I definitely suggest that fans of YA check this out and I do look forward to the next book in the series, Shadowspell.

When this book arrived in the mail, I was a little taken aback because I realized that I couldn't find the publisher anywhere in the book. Turns out this series (as well as the rest of her books) are self published, something that I'm not a big fan of ...but BOY, was I pleasantly surprised.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Alice and Jack, and the blossoming of their friendship into something more. The vampire mythology in this novel is also a mixture of many other authors, but also takes an interesting view point. The book has a lot of aspects (such as the structure of the family) that remind me of the Twilight Saga, but it also has a voice that is completely its own. I have actually been on the fence about recommending this as an academic reading suggestion, because near the end it does cover the ideas of choice, homosexuality and family that I felt were very powerful. I think I will have to wait to see how the rest of the series plays out before I flip this one into that category, but for now I'll leave it as a STRONG recommendation.
The next books in this series are, Fate, Flutter and Wisdom.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Which I try to do NaNoWriMo....again.

Soon it shall be that time again!

And I shall be trying NaNoWriMo....again. For those of you that don't know nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month. From November 1-30th the goal is to write a novel, ie 50,000 words.

I tried this event last year and failed miserably ( I never started). However, I think that my problem was that I tried to start it with a new story and got stuck in the brainstorming. This year I already have a story in mind and I'm going to use NaNo to flesh it out. I think that way I'll be much more productive and actually be able to get it done.

So wish me luck! Here is my NaNoWriMo site!! Keep posted!

[Review] Matched by Ally Condie *****

So, I promised reviews, and therefore, here we go.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to get my hands on an advanced reader copy of Matched by Allie Condie. The story is set in the future where everything from the food people eat to who they will marry and what they wear is controlled by the Society. The book takes the idea of "for the better of the whole" to the extreme, and each person fits into their own little space in the wheels of the greater world.

The Story
The story centers around Cassia, a young girl who begins the novel attending her Match Banquet, the moment in which she will find out with whom she will be Matched with (ie. eventually marry). Instead of seeing one face, she sees two, and is torn between the young man she is supposed to be with, and one whom she can not get out of her mind.

What's so Great about It?
Perhaps the best part of Matched is the existence of a dystopian world in the center of a "perfect" one. As the book progresses, not only does Cassia begin to see the threads unraveling, but the reader as well.  The topic of feeling different, or like an outcast, is one that many young adults struggle with, and seeing Cassia's inner thoughts and how her thoughts progress is an interesting ride. The thing that I like most about Cassia is that she isn't a rebel. For much of the book she follows the life that she is supposed to lead. We see her rebellion, not in her actions, but in her thoughts, and there is a quiet, but driven fight that she carries out below the level that can be detected by those around her. This is something that I haven't seen much in these types of novels and gives it a much needed refresher. I think that novels where the characters are gung-ho about their beliefs and "sticking it to the man" are great, but this is a side of rebellion that I believe is much more realistic and a very interesting view. What about those that fight quietly? Of course, as the events of the novel rise in action and Cassia needs to come to a decision, she does break out and show the courage and determination that she has held within her throughout the novel. But I think it's her quiet fight and her thoughtfulness is really where she shines.

Why This Book?
I found a lot of topics and thought processes in Matched that I think a lot of students from 7-12 could identify with. The idea of feeling like an outcast, that there is more out there than meets the eye and even making tough decisions are ones that every student will come up against during their entire lives. Cassia's choice of whether to follow the path set out before her or to take her own road is also one that I think many students can identify with in a time of their lives where they're told they need to pick a path. The setting of the Society and the world Cassia lives in is also a great comment on modern society today. Could we one day become like the Society? Controlling everything in order to create a "perfect world" where everyone lives to be 80 and no one has any diseases? Is that even a "perfect world"? Matched brings up a lot of topics about society and people that would be fantastic spring boards for other subjects, not just English. Not only can Cassia's fight for her freedom to choose light a fire in the students that read about her, but HOW Cassia chooses her freedom and how she goes about it bring to students a new idea of what it means to rebel.

I give Matched by Ally Condie  a 5 stars out of 5 (*****) for readability in the classroom. I highly suggest picking this book up for your own classes or just for a great read. I am definitely looking forward to the next two books in the series.