Winners of the ‘First Ever Giveaway!’

The giveaway is now closed.  I tallied up all the extra entries and split the entrants into the specific books they requested and used Random.org to pick the following winners…

*drumroll*

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead — Wrighty, Erica, and Kay D.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale — Kate
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson — Kelsey

An email will be whizzing your way!  Thank you so much to everyone who entered the contest (61 comments, whoo hoo!), and a million thanks to the bloggers and tweeters who helped make my first contest so big!  you guys rock!  :D  check back for another giveaway soon.

Advertisements

First ever giveaway! July 19-Aug 15

Woohoo!  For my first-ever giveaway 5 winners will get one of the following:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
3 new paperbacks*

{In Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, two races of vampires walk our world. The Moroi are alive and wield elemental magical, while the Strigoi are undead and evil–feeding on the innocent to survive. Rose Hathaway–a half-vampire with poor impulse control–is training to be a bodyguard for a Moroi princess. Learning to decapitate and stake is hard enough, but Rose’s real danger may lie in an illicit romance with one of her instructors…}

– – – – – –

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
One paperback, read once, wonderful condition!

{She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale’s likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm.}

– – – – – –

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
One paperback, read once, wonderful condition!

{Maximum Ride and her flock–Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel–are the results of a genetic experiment inflicted upon them from birth that made them recombinant DNA life-forms. Grafted with avian DNA, gifted with wings, and enhanced with the ability to fly, they are on the run from the scientists who made them. They are constantly tracked by lupine-human hybrids (Erasers) designed by the scientists to hunt them down with a childhood acquaintance of the flock’s, the newly-turned Eraser Ari, at their head. When Angel is kidnapped by the Erasers, it is up to the flock to rescue her. As they embark on their mission, fleeing from Erasers at every point, they are also faced with the question of their origins. Ultimately, an even larger and more important mission emerges for Max alone to face–saving the world itself.}

* Mucho thanks to Hannah Flynn over at Penguin Group for providing the Vampire Academy books!

All you need to do to enter is comment on this post (please include some way of reaching you if you are the winner).  You can specify which book you want to be entered for.  The giveaway is open to addresses within the U.S.

To get multiple entries:
+2 for linking to this contest (sidebar, twitter, etc.)
+3 for posting about this giveaway on your blog

This contest ends August 15 at 11:59 pm (CST), so don’t delay!

Faerie Wars

by Herbie Brennan

Very good.  Poor Henry, but he handled the circumstances very well.  So did Pyrgus, I was impressed.

{From faeriewars.com: What’s Henry to do when his parent’s marriage starts to fall apart? What can he do except get on with his summer job of cleaning out Mr Fogarty’s shed. But there’s something in that shed that will turn Henry’s whole life inside out and take him into a whole different level of reality

What’s Pyrgus to do when the animals he loves come under threat? What can he do except rescue those he canand fall foul of those who threaten the entire Faerie Realm? Soon there’s only one thing for it and that’s to leave the realm completely

When Henry and Pyrgus get together, an entire world hangs in the balance and those they love face nightmare dangers.

Faerie Wars is an extraordinary, pageturning read full of tension, adventure and the kind of detail that ensures you‘ll be holding your breath as the story unfolds.}

Healer’s Keep

by Victoria Hanley

A big thank you to Reading Rocks for this book!!  You guys rock :)  Click to see an interview they did with the author, Victoria Hanley.

This book is excellent!  I haven’t read a fantasy this good for a long time.  Why, I believe that if parts of it were longer with more description and emotional depth it could brush the title of epic.  I would definitely recommend this book.

{From Victoria Hanley’s website: Two new students arrive at the Keep. One is Dorjan, a mysterious young man and heir to the family of Dreamwens-people who can walk in dreams. The other is the Princess Saravelda, daughter of King Landen and Queen Torina. Both Dorjan and Saravelda are hiding secrets of the past, but they must trust each other before they can act to overcome the darkness threatening the Healer’s Keep.

Across the ocean in Sliviia a talented slave girl named Maeve is running from Lord Morlen, a man who inspires terror in all who meet him.  Maeve learns that she, too, is part of the Dreamwen line.  She meets Jasper, a freeman of Sliviia who has survived on his wits and courage, who must decide how much he will risk for love.  The destiny of these four people are intertwined.  Together they confront the powers that prey upon their world. }
Continue reading

Catching Fire Contest

This is a treat: an ARC copy of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, brought to you by Alyssa over at http://theshadyglade.blogspot.com (love the name btw!) This is extra special b/c normally the book doesn’t come out until September 1, and if you read The Hunger Games a while back like I did, that’s gonna be a long wait. :)

It ends today but make sure to check out her site for loads of great content and more contests!

What Would MacGyver Do?

True Stories of Improvised Genius in Everyday Life

Brendan Vaughan

Oh how I love MacGyver movies.  This petite book contains anecdotes by laymen and journalists alike about their solutions to diverse problems.  Almost Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul-esque, you can read in short doses about predicaments strange and silly, solutions genius and obvious.  I think my two favorites are the guy who fixed the clutch mechanism with a knitting needle on an 8-hour drive and the guy who forgot his anniversary and pulled a present out of thin air that was better than most guys do with a month and 100 bucks.  Or the handy guy whose name is pronounced… MacGyver.

This is quick read, great to pick up for a laugh.

Queen of Babble

by Meg Cabot

From Booklist: “Lizzie Nichols, a fashion-history major, wants nothing more than to graduate college and then fly off to London to be with her boyfriend, Andy. But at her graduation party, Lizzie finds out that she can’t graduate until she writes a senior thesis. And when she lands in London, Andy turns out to be a liar, gambler, and a fashion disaster. Lizzie, stuck in London with an unchangeable ticket home, escapes Andy via the Chunnel in hopes that her friend Shari, who is catering weddings for the summer at a French château, can help. On the train, Lizzie meets a stranger, Jean-Luc, and spills everything that has happened, only to find out that he is the son of the château’s owner. At the château, Lizzie continues to babble when she shouldn’t, ticking off Jean-Luc, shocking his mother, and upsetting a bride. Will she ever learn to keep her mouth shut?”

Warning, this book lives up to its name.  At times Lizzie’s internal babbling was so distracting I would lose the real conversation.  But I’m sure this was intended, just like in real life when we talk to ourselves and get lost in our own thoughts sometimes we look up and the scenery has changed.  One place though that irked me was when she was illusioning that Luke was a kidnapper/murder preying on innocent travelers.  It’s like, come on, even YOU should be able to see that you will end up together! Continue reading

The King’s Daughter

by Suzanne Martel

Wow, exceeded my expectations.  I hated the cover picture but couldn’t pass up a book about Québec for $1, and I was pleased to find that it as a lovely classic look underneath.  My mother also read and enjoyed this novel, which I would recommend to others interested in the frontier of Quebec from a historical fiction perspective.  I think this book also helped me appreciate Le Premier Jardin more.

{From the publisher:  A historical novel that realistically depicts life in 17th-century Quebec from the point of view of a French teenager.  In 1672, eighteen-year-old Jeanne Chatel has just been chosen as a “king’s daughter”, one of the hundreds of young women sent to the wilderness of North America by the French government to become the brides of farmers, soldiers, and trappers.

Jeanne has been raised in a convent. But with her independent spirit, she doesn’t hesitate when she’s given the chance to go to New France. Her vivid imagination conjures up a brilliant new life full of romance and adventure.

Upon arrival, however, Jeanne discovers that she must put aside her romantic dreams.  Her husband is not a dashing young military officer, but a proud, silent trapper who lives with his two small children in a remote cabin.  Jeanne must draw on all her courage and imagination to adjust to this backwoods life and respond to the dangers that surround her.  She learns to paddle a canoe and fire a musket, masquerades as a man to save her husband’s fur-trading permit, and fights off marauding Indians.  By the end of a year, she has won the love of her husband and his family — and at last feels truly at home in her new land.

The King’s Daughter is a classic story of adventure and discovery, a tale for every young reader looking for a plucky heroine or intrigued by our continent’s colonial past.}

Eskimo.com has great commentary and biographical information on Suzanne Martel.

Cirque du Freak

by Darren Shan

Part of the “Vampire Blood Trilogy”, which comprises the first three of the 12 book saga.  This is a very quick read but I found it very creepy and violent yet juvenile.

On the good side, the description of the freak show was intense and well constructed.  Good writing through most of the book even though it’s in a jejune light.  I would not recommend it.

{From Wikipedia.com: “Darren Shan was fascinated by spiders from an early age. His best friend, Steve “Leopard” Leonard grew up reading horror comics and stories of the Wolfman and vampires.

One day, their friend comes across a flyer advertising the “Cirque Du Freak.”  Darren and Steve are mesmerized by the fantastic and disturbing show, especially by the act of the mysterious Mr. Crepsley and his giant spider Madam Octa. After the show, Steve declares that he knows that Crepsley is a vampire, and Darren sets his sight on Madam Octa, planning to steal her and use his knowledge of Crepsley’s true nature to his advantage as a sort of blackmail.

Continue reading

Deep Secret

by Diana Wynne Jones

Good book.  It gets very involving and although it brushes over some details the ones we have are magnificent.  Jones has created a universe where we see multiple planets, where dynasties crumble, and where very strange things happen at Science Conventions.

{From the publisher, Torr: Rupert Venables is a Magid. It’s a Magid’s job to oversee what goes on in the vast Multiverse. Actually, Rupert is really only a junior Magid. But he’s got a king-sized problem. Rupert’s territory includes Earth and the Empire of Korfyros. When his mentor dies Rupert must find a replacement. But there are hundreds of candidates. How is he supposed to choose? And interviewing each one could take forever. Unless. What if he could round them all up in one place? Simple!}

I would recommend this to everyone, even though it’s probably more likable to 16+ (because of pacing, not language or mature topics, in fact it was marketed towards adults), British-lovers and fantasy/sci-fi enthusiasts.  The next book in the series is called The Merlin Conspiracy.

The Artemis Fowl Files

Eoin Colfer

First ‘extras’ or fan-targeted companion book I’ve read, and I felt like it was a nice read, offering a degree of satisfaction, and furthermore I think it’s good to have a format like this where the author can release short stories or snippets that they really like but do not fit into one of their novels.  This allows some just-for-fun stories with the characters you already love, and more great writing from the author you already love.

The short story about the blue diamond that Artemis enlists Mulch Diggums’ help to obtain is just as intriguing and witty as the rest of the series, but touching, and I loved the ending.  The short story about Holly Short joining the LEPrecon is also good to learn more about the feisty heroine.

Paper Towns

by John Green

Wow.  A good, intense read.  This reminded me slightly of So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (only with out all the fashion and with more deep psychological probing) and The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman.

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar.  So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always and enigma, has now become a mystery.  But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him.  Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

Mr. Green likes his road trips.  I read An Abundance of Katherines, and it also involves a road trip.  But this one is serious fun.  The black Santas were pretty hilarious too.  I was cracking up and laughing so loud that my cat stared at me in a disgruntled manner.

Continue reading

Red Glass

by Laura Resau

I really, really liked this book.  Reading this book is biting into a big, juicy guava.  It tastes amazing and is the most wonderful thing ever, the sticky juice starts trickling down your chin,  and you realize that it’s better that way.

The characters are wonderful in their flaws, their acceptance, their bravery, their open-hearts, and their laughter.  The quotes from The Little Prince were so poignant to me because I just finished reading that novelette en français.

Red Glass is a multi-faceted view of Mexico and the lives that people lead around the world.  It shows how a little bit of discomfort won’t kill you.

{From Minnie at Athena’s YA Book Reviews: “It is a beautiful book about a girl whose life is changed on a journey through Mexico…there’s beautiful imagery, great love stories, and lots of familiar places, food, and music styles that anybody living in a border town or who has knowledge of Mexican culture will easily recognize. I loved it! I’ll be posting a full review soon!” click here to see info from a chat with the author!}

Thanks for that interview, Minnie.  Resau is an amazing person and a talented author.  I hope to read more books by her in the future, especially The Indigo Notebook.

Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely cover, UK version

Melissa Marr

Aislinn is a junior  in Huntsdale, south of Pittsburgh.  She is friends with Seth, an independent guy who lives in a train car made of steel.  That fact is important because they, the fey, don’t like iron or steel.  Aislinn is extremely rare in that she can see the faeries that are so used to being invisible to mortals.  Problems arise when the Summer King, Keenan, inadvertently picks Aislinn to be the next Summer Queen, a choice that cannot be escaped and equals immortality or living death.  The story unravels and Aislinn learns the depth of her love, the futility of cowardice, and that she has the power to make better options for herself.

I really like Seth.  He is almost an Edward Cullen type–perfect lover, always loyal.  He now has the sight, but the issue of his immortality remains.  Perhaps it will be answered in the next two books, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity.  I’m glad Donia didn’t die either.  I liked her and felt really bad about her circumstances.

Worthwhile read.

Talk

by Kathe Koja

Good book!  One day one of our librarians, Lisa, handed this to me and prepared me with the knowledge that this book was written in stream of consciousness style.  I had heard scary things about this mode d’emploi, so I sat down with it, ready for a battle.

Instead I eased into a pleasurable narrative about some teenagers dealing with a controversial school play and the emotions running below the surface.

{From PinkBooks.com: Kit Webster is hiding a secret. Carma, his best friend, has already figured it out, and pushes him to audition for the high school play, Talk. When he’s cast as the male lead, he expects to escape his own life for a while and become a different person. What he gets instead is the role of a lifetime: Kit Webster. In the play, Kit’s thrown together with Lindsay Walsh, the female lead and the school’s teen queen. Lindsay, tired of the shallow and selfish boys from her usual circle of friends, sees something real in Kit – and wants it. But Kit’s attention is focused on Pablo, another boy in school. The play is controversial; the parents put pressure on the school to shut it down. And when Kit and Lindsay rally to save Talk, they find themselves deep into a battle for the truth: onstage, and inside themselves.}

I would recommend this to anyone interested in LGBT or stream-of-consciousness style writing.

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Excellent!  I first heard of this book from The Bookshelf Collection, and knew I had to get my hands on it.

From discussion on Nerdfighters: “The whole concept of a Hunger Games is exciting. Absolutely terrible and awful but I love it… the beginning was powerful, it drew a dark scene and brought out a heroine we could all love… the beginning was powerful, it drew a dark scene and brought out a heroine we could all love… lolcat blurb: Im in ur gamez messin wit ur kapital”

{Summary from Scholastic, where you can hear an excerpt read by Suzanne Collins herself!:  In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.}

Continue reading

Gathering of Pearls

by Sook Nyul Choi

I could personally relate to this short novelette about a girl entering a new world and adapting to college.  A good view of one Korean immigrant’s perspective.  Otherwise very short and moderate.  I think it is best to read the whole series:

{From an anonymous reviewer on Amazon: This book is a sequel to Year of impossible Goodbyes and Echoes of the White Giraffe. Year of Impossible Goodbyes won a Judy Lopez Award and was chosen as an American Library Association Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults. The author of these books, Sook Nyul Choi, also made a picture book titled Halmoni and the Picnic.

This book is mainly about a girl named Sookan who is a foreign exchange student from Korea. She goes to a college in New York City, and finds out how different life in the United States is from Korean life. Sookan struggles with an internal and external conflict. She doesn’t know if she should act Korean and keep Korea’s ways or give up all of that and act like Americans. She is afraid that of she becomes to American-like her family will be dissatisfied with how she has become. Sookan finds that she is becoming more American-like and scolds herself for not following the Korean ways enough. Her external conflict is that she overworks herself with all of her subjects and gets a serious lack of sleep since she studies so much. She would stay up many hours into the night and study, sleep a few hours, and wake up early to study more. It’s very interesting how she fights through all of her difficulties, so I would definitely recommend this book to teenagers interested in college and/or becoming a foreign exchange student in the future.}

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

by Avi

A good book.  “While written for a young audience, the book is well liked by many adults as well.”

“In this fast-paced and suspense-filled novel, 13-year-old Charlotte Doyle describes a remarkable sea voyage that changes her life forever. In 1832, Charlotte crosses the Atlantic aboard the Seahawk, departing from England to join her family in Rhode Island.  Raised to be a proper young lady, she is surprised to learn that she is the only passenger and only female aboard the ship. Frightened by a mysterious crew, at first she trusts only Jaggery, the captain, but soon discovers that he is cruel and slightly mad. She then joins ranks with the mutinous crew but must convince them of her loyalty by tackling death-defying feats unfamiliar to most females of her era. Charlotte is befriended along the way by the old black cook, Zachariah, who eventually helps save her life. When the vengeful captain accuses her of murder, Charlotte is tried and found guilty. She escapes punishment in a life-and-death struggle with Jaggery and is finally reunited with her family. Charlotte misses the Seahawk, however, and, in an unusual twist of the plot, casts aside the comforts of home for the life of a seafarer.” (Summary from McDougal Littell Classzone)

Avi has written a lot of books.  According to his website, Avi got the idea for this one from writing The Man Who Was Poe.  It’s working title was The Seahawk, “but as I [Avi] worked on the story I came to care more and more about Charlotte–and who she was–so that it became her book.”

Just Ella

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Pretty good, but not my favorite.  Enjoyable, but not satisfying.

A good plot summary and character write-ups from Wikipedia:  “This story is a retelling of Cinderella with a feminist twist and is a different version of happily ever after.”

Haddix has a lot of good ideas and topics in the story, like her new conjectures about the myth, Ella’s time in the dungeon, and statements about happiness:  “Happiness was like beauty–in the eye of the beholder.”  I also liked how Ella had a can-do attitude and did not limit herself in her options.  When she was still at her stepmother’s house she planned to run away and become a tutor, a smart solution.

But I found some parts of the book underdeveloped, such as the relationships between the characters, the conflicts in and outside of the castle, and the day-to-day actions of life for Ella.  It didn’t seem like a true portrayal of castle life.  Maybe I’m being too harsh, it is after all a fairy tale and thus the details are up to interpretation. Continue reading

Report on Baby Names

Image from Yahoo.com

Image from Yahoo.com

Social Security just released the list of most popular baby names in 2008.  In the online article “Top Baby Names in the US” Yahoo reports that in the search for a popular yet unique name,

“Many [parents] turn to the Bible; others turn to TV.

Emma debuted in the top 10 in 2002, the same year that Jennifer Aniston’s character on “Friends” gave the name to her TV show baby. In the latest lineup, Emma was followed by Isabella, Emily, Madison and Ava.

“They might want to emulate the stars, but if they do, the name can’t be too far out,” said Jennifer Moss, author of “The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book” and founder of Babynames.com.”

(Click on the picture to read the full story.)

What if parents also turn to books for a name source, i.e. Twilight?  When I read the series I thought to myself, “Why, what a nice name Isabella is, and isn’t Bella the most darling nickname?  I’d love to name my daughter that.”  Maybe the same was true with other expecting couples and the Twilight series was one of the driving factors catapulting Isabella to the number 2 girl baby name in America.

Also interesting to mention, Jacob remains the top boy name while Edward has consistently fallen since the year 2000.  Does this hint at a werewolf favoritism?  Just kidding!

Yay for literacy!

Brave New World

by Alduous Huxley

A vision of our future world from Huxley’s view in the 1930’s when the helicopter was a striking new invention and Ford was changing the world with his mass production lines.  After a big disaster the world has been condensed and formed into nine World States, each with a supreme leader.  People are no longer born but are grown in conveyor-belt style, and specially engineered to fill their regimented social roles.

The reader follows some characters on the top of the scale, the Alphas, Bernard and Hutch.  One struggles to fit into his social role and the other fits easily but longs for forbidden poetry.  They both push the limits of their society and get entangled with a savage from one of the wild tribes left in southwestern America.  Their struggles carry them to the top of society and end in disappointing, exhilarating, and utterly devastating ways.

Good book to read, just to be aware of it, and for it’s good points about society and good descriptive scenes.  Some things are ludicrous, like the fact that this world structure would work, and the parts where John the Savage can argue eloquently and fully understand the depths of Shakespeare from seeing the book some while he was a child.

This book was among the ranks of Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Gulliver’s Travels that we covered in AP English my senior year.   Personally, I wanted to cover more books.   What about Slaughterhouse FiveMiddlemarchIn Cold BloodGrapes of WrathInvisible ManCatch-22The Things They CarriedOf Mice and Men Heart of DarknessDavid Copperfield?  Come on, let’s read people!

I did enjoy Wuthering Heights and Hamlet, but I think Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would be a better substitute for Gulliver’s Travels.  I’ve heard Brave New World and 1984 compared a lot, as Orual said in a conversation about AP books on College Confidential: “I recommend Brave New World over 1984, but it depends on whether you’d prefer to read about how things we like destroy us or about how things we hate destroy us.”

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was lovely; I really enjoyed it.  One thing though, reading this book was like living in a haze.  Maybe Fitzgerald was trying to capture the ambience of the flapper 20’s, or maybe that was how these silly characters’ minds worked.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness…” (pg. 114) These people live the decadent life of the roaring twenties. The mindless, indulgent, irresponsible life style where consequence is just an afterthought.” homework-online.com.

I encountered this story when I saw the movie last year.  Looking back I would say that the film, I saw the version starring Robert Redford, was a wonderful rendition of this book.  And I think seeing the movie first made the book better; it was easier to visualize the period clothing, parties, and attitudes, and to understand the plot to be able to look for important clues and symbolism.

> You can read the whole book online thanks to eBooks@Adelaide.

Continue reading

The Time Traveler’s Wife

by Audrey Niffenegger

I love this book.  Clare and Henry’s love is so awesome, it helps them surmount the meaninglessness and cynicism that could take over their lives.  The settings, beautiful Michigan and diverse Chicago, voice, originality, character development and pacing are excellent.  It does seem a little slow and meander-some at first with no clear problem/solution scheme, but you can look past that and enjoy the sights.

Yes I loved it, but I’d also caution that this book for more mature readers.  Clare and Henry are a very happy couple.  As characters, their emotional depth was magnificent.  I like how Henry grew up and became a much better person.

I hated it when Henry lost his feet.  That was devastating.  Did it have to happen?  I think not.  Neither did I like the inevitability, such as when Henry is 15 and his dad walks in on him and himself, he says that he was powerless to do anything.  I prefer a view of time travel along the lines of Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter III.

Recently I heard that my cousin’s wife had a miscarriage.  Before reading this book I never grasped how devastating and actually dangerous a miscarriage can be, now I am equipped with a new sense of empathy for women who experience one.  Clare had six.

And bonus, after reading it and loving it, I went to a library book sale and got The Time Traveler’s Wife on cassette for 10¢.  Ten cents!!  My car doesn’t have a CD player so this will be perfect for long car trips across Iowa.

Some interesting facts: According to The Straits Times, Audrey Niffenegger dyed her hair red to say “goodbye” to the novel after she had finished writing it.  From The Independent, Niffenegger based Clare and Henry’s romance on the “cerebral coupling” of Dorothy Sayer’s characters Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

She said about the prospect of her book becoming a film, “I’ve got my little movie that runs in my head. And I’m kind of afraid that will be changed or wiped out by what somebody else might do with it. And it is sort of thrilling and creepy, because now the characters have an existence apart from me.” (James Cowan, “Niffenegger’s first book, and it’s about time,” National Post)  Filming began in September 2007 and the movie is scheduled to be released by Warner Brothers on 14 August 2009.  Personally I hope to never see it because I feel exactly like Niffenegger about books turned into movies.

I can’t wait to read what comes next from the great Audrey Niffenegger!  Her second novel, the forthcoming Her Fearful Symmetry, has been called “one of the most eagerly sought-after works in recent publishing history”. (The New Zealand Herald)

Wuthering Heights

by Emily Brontë

Another classic to cross-off of the NEA’s Big Read: Top 100 list!  I liked this book, especially when I got farther into the story.  The novel is framed by the premise of a new tenant learning the turbulent history of two families on the moors, the Earnshaws and Lintons.  It covers three generations, so it is helpful to have a family tree for reference.  Some books include a family tree or you can find one on the internet.  This timeline is also very helpful.

The love between Cathy and Hareton at the end was so wonderful.  When the love was realized, they were so happy together and made their surroundings blossom again.  And probably my favorite part was when Nelly confronted Heathcliff about his new mood, and he explained how he had the means right before him to completely destroy the two families forever, but couldn’t.  He looked into the young lovers’ faces and just let them be happy.  He still looked like a demon when he died but that choice to not wreck the two young people redeems him a lot in my eyes.

Critics of the time thought this to be a horrible book, and one even said, “We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights…” (Reader’s Guide to WH).  I am inclined to believe quite the opposite; I’ve never read Jane Eyre but from movies and my sister’s interpretation I think Wuthering Heights is far more interesting, less depressing, and more thrilling.

This is my favorite book from AP Lit & Comp this year.  Some study questions that could be turned into essays:

  • What role does Joseph play in the novel?
  • Compare the marriages of Catherine (senior) and Isabella.
  • How did Nelly alter the image of Heathcliff through her narration?

Read poignant observations and comments about this book on Only a Novel, also where the cover image comes from.

And if you’ve read this story, you must watch the Kate Bush interpretation.  It’s good for a laugh but also somehow appealing.

Ender’s Game

Ender's Game cover

by Orson Scott Card

Good book!  I’ve been on a sci-fi run lately, and they all surprise me with their ideas and points of view.  So thought-provoking, so intense.  I really enjoyed the Game and its intricacies, I couldn’t wait for their next match or to see how Ender would develop his leadership skills.  Although I did find the ages unrealistic.  Card writes that Ender is 6 when he is taken to battle school; the situation would be more feasible if he were 15.

I really like Card’s way of using omniscient voices.  In some stories such conventions leave me very confused and distracted, but in Ender’s Game, this extra tidbits have just the right effect.  It is well done indeed. Continue reading