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Neverwhere

In YA Book Reviews on December 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

neil-gaiman-neverwhere

by Neil Gaiman

Fantasy/©1996/370 pages

Publisher’s Blurb (Goodreads):

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

My Thoughts: Technically, this is an adult fantasy book, but kids love it as well (it won the YALSA award as an adult book that Young Adults enjoy). It is a quirky story, but very engaging. Well written, with fascinating characters (especially Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar as the most entertaining – yet horrific – villains) and an incredible underground London setting. This is a story that can be read for the sheer entertainment value, or read and reread to unravel, examine, and discuss the many layers of themes that run through it.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Other Reviews:

http://www.teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/33175/neverwhere

http://www.mindful-musings.com/2011/11/review-of-neverwhere-by-neil-gaiman.html

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Tell the Wolves I’m Home

In My Book Club Books on December 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm

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by Carol Rijka Brunt

Publisher’s Blurb (Goodreads):

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

Book Club Discussion: We all really enjoyed this book. The quality of the writing was incredible, and each of us had particular passages that seem to be permanently etched in our minds. This is a book that has so many layers and themes that the reader is sure to discover more upon re-reading it. This is definitely a book you want to talk about with others who have read it.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Other Reviews:

http://www.respiring-thoughts.com/2013/01/01/book-review-tell-wolves-im-home-by/

http://insatiablebooksluts.com/2013/02/24/review-tell-the-wolves-im-home-by-carol-rifka-brunt/

Some of my favorite lines:

“I don’t know. None of those things should have mattered, but I guess they did. I guess they were like water. Soft and harmless until enough time went by. Then all of a sudden you found yourself with the Grand Canyon on your hands.” — pg. 36

“When you have a watch, time is like a swimming pool. There are edges and sides. Without a watch, time is like the ocean. Sloppy and vast. I didn’t have a watch.” –pg. 288

Favorite lines from other readers:

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/18028067-tell-the-wolves-i-m-home

Our Book Club Menu

Vanilla Plum Martini (http://www.swoonedmagazine.com/blog/post/signature-cocktail-8-vanilla-plum-martiniIMG959402

IMG956994Chinese Take Out (Uncle Finn was big on eating out) IMG_0386

Scrawl

In YA Book Reviews on December 4, 2013 at 12:47 am

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by Mark Shulman

Contemporary Fiction/@2010/230 pages/Recommended for 7th grade and up

Publisher’s Blurb (Amazon):

Tod Munn is a bully. He’s tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.

Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn’t know why he’s there, but she does. Tod’s punishment: to scrawl his story in a beat-up notebook. He can be painfully funny and he can be brutally honest. But can Mrs. Woodrow help Tod stop playing the bad guy before he actually turns into one . . . for real? Read Tod’s notebook for yourself.

My Thoughts:

This is a book that begs to be discussed with others who have read it. I am still trying to process my thoughts on this one. I appreciated that it showed the value and power of reading and writing, but I hated that the teachers portrayed were an absolute embarrassment to the profession. That said, it is still the story of a misunderstood and powerless boy that deserves to be read. I liked the format of notebook entries, I liked the rich vocabulary, I liked the main character, I liked the unexpected turns. And I LOVED the ending. It made the language arts teacher in me laugh out loud.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Other Reviews:

http://owlforya.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-review-scrawl-by-mark-shulman.html

Ready Player One

In YA Book Reviews on December 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm

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by Ernest Cline

Dystopian Novel/©2011/370 pages/Recommended for 7th grade and up

Publisher’s Blurb (Amazon):

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

My Thoughts:

The book has an intriguing premise, and I felt fairly engaged in the plot even though I don’t know much about the gamer’s world of on-going vide0 games (complete with alternate life and new persona) that never quit. I liked the main character and his humorous comments, as well as his close circle of associates and how their relationship evolved throughout the book. The plot was interesting, at times riveting, but I still skimmed when the gaming thing became too much for me. There were many references to the 1980’s, which I would think would be lost on the intended YA audience. It will be interesting to see how “Ready Player One” becomes (as is planned) a movie based on this book about songs, TV shows, games and movies.  Overall, Ready Player One is a good book. It’s a fun and fast-paced read with great characters and an interesting plot. There are some slow parts, but I, nevertheless, found myself turning pages rather quickly as the climax hit. I recommend the novel to anyone who’s a gamer, a fan of pop culture, a child of the 80s, or who just wants a good science fiction/dystopian read.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars