Monday, December 24, 2007

Fall Into Reading 2007 Wrap-Up

Yea! I actually finished all of the books on my list this time. Of course, I only put 15 titles on it, but still, life is busy at this time of year, so I wasn't sure if I would be able to complete the list or not. If you want to read a synopsis of the book, check out the FAME Florida Teens Read site.

In no particular order:

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I saved this one to read last because it's actually part of a series. I wasn't sure what to expect at first because I've heard so many different and mixed reviews. I will say, it does start off a bit slow because you as a reader have to understand that this story takes place in the future, and this society is somewhat different from our own. Once you understand the basic premise of their society: everyone is born ugly, but at the magical age of 16, you become pretty for life... you can settle in for the rest of the story. The characters are likable and I can't wait to read the rest of the series to find out what happens next.

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? by Melissa Kantor

If you're interested in fluff-this book is for you. It's the typical "Cinderella-esque" plot with a "wicked" stepmother and stepsisters. Told from a teenage point of view--lots of drama--there are some serious decisions that were made on the dating scene and the family front to build a bridge to better relationships. This book didn't require any thinking, which is great when you want a feel-good story with a cutesy ending...FLUFF.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

A very quick read--the main character receives letters from her aunt to go on the trip of a lifetime. Boy do I wish my aunt would do this for me! I would love to grab a backpack and my passport to travel around Europe! Each of the letters reveals insight into the aunt's character and her life--including unexpected character surprises. Great book--with some cutesy parts.

Black and White by Frank Volponi

Guys and girls are grabbing this one off the shelves because it's such a wonderful read. Black and white are best friends--yes, one's black and one's white--they decide to rob people to get fast money when they need to pay their senior dues for school. One of the robberies goes wrong and the police come into play. Each chapter is told from either Black or White's point of view. While griping and somewhat predictable, the ending leaves the reader hanging with no hope for a sequel. Grrr....

Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs

Oh boy...this book was extremely hard to focus and get through. I was hoping that its slowness was a part of the author's craft in showing how painstaking it is for immigrants to illegally cross the border from Mexico into the United States, but I don't really think that's the case. While the characters are likable enough, I had a hard time reading this book because I completely disagree with the whole illegal immigrant thing. So...while an okay storyline, good luck actually wading through it--especially if you're tired of hearing about the illegals gaining rights in our country without becoming citizens, etc....

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

When I first saw this book on our list, I did not want to read it--even after all of the wonderful reviews I read. As a librarian, I know that you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but when I opened it up and saw the tiny text and very little white space on the page, my heart dropped and I knew this was one I'd have to trudge through. Fortunately, the author and I have a few similarities as far as life situations go, so I was able to read a bit each day until I finished it. It's a wonderful book and I'm still in awe at how the author was able to overcome her life's situations and remain on top of her sanity.

Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney

This is another cutesy story about a girl, her grandmother, and kidnapping her grandmother's friends for their college reunion. While laughable at times, this story does get to be somewhat tedious in all of the details that are shoved in at points. (Was the author trying to make a deadline?) If you don't mind the slow parts, the bottom line is about how important family and friendships are to our lives.

This book is absolutely hilarious! Told from a guy's perspective, I was able to relive my freshman year of high school through this character. From being stuffed into lockers and joining clubs and groups to try and get close to someone he likes, this character had me laughing out loud many times. (My poor neighbors probably think I went crazy.) This humorous book takes a look at friendships in high school and within our own families. A great read for everyone.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Wow! I can't believe this is a true story and it's not brought to any one's attention. This has got to be stopped, and I have no idea what to do to help this situation come to an end. Imagine, living in your village wondering where your next meal is going to come from when your step-father sells you to someone else as a maid (you think) to get gambling money for himself. Imagine being thrust into a situation where your dignity and virginity are robbed from you with no one else to turn to for help. This is the reality that MANY young girls are facing daily--whether here at home, or abroad like this character's village. This book is graphic and if you plan to let your daughter or son read this, I would read it together and discuss your thoughts and feelings on this very real and horrifying situation. It's a remarkable book and I think everyone should read it so that they are aware of what's happening around us. Maybe then, someone who is smarter than I, or who has more resources than I could come up with a plan to help rescue these children.

Rash by Pete Hautman

A futuristic look at what the world would be like when our "protection for children" runs a muck and everyone must wear helmets when they run to help detect overheating and exertion (didn't I just hear about this on the news?) as well as a gazillion other laws on the books to help protect our society. When a strange rash breaks out among the high school students, it's linked back to our main character, which lands him in jail. The jail is owned by a corporation like McDonald's and uses the labor in the jail to make prepacked foods like pizza. Told from the male perspective, it's really a commentary on how our lives are going out of control by the silly lawsuits and laws that are being passed because voters are uninformed. While it has its highlights, they are few and far between. I'd skip this book, unless you just want to read about this crazy society.

Runner by Carl Deuker

This is probably one of my favorite books from this year's list. Since I've told a few people about it, I can't keep it on the shelves. With the books link to drug smuggling and possible terrorism--especially when another teenager is involved--make sit a high demand book. The ending has an unexpected twist that will leave you reeling. Definitely read this book!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect form this book because the text is huge and there are illustrations in it, but over-all it's a decent story. Basically, the seventh son of a seventh son becomes an apprentice to the Spook who roams from village to village getting rid of evil spirits, ghosts, goblins, and witches. It's a quick read and great for those who need an easier reading level. There's actually going to be a whole series tied around these two characters because the apprentice is "the last" one, which leaves the reader speculating what's going to happen next.

Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde

After reading this terribly slow book, I realized that I read this a few years ago when it first came out. The author wrote the wonderful book-Pay It Forward, which is the only reason why I picked up this book. The first paragraph has a rape scene in it and one of the characters is gay and has a few unscrupulous relationships--which thankfully were not expound upon. The two characters are trying to find their meaning in life and often wonder what the point i to their existence. Basically, after a country-wide expedition, they decide that they're around to appreciate the beauty in life--things they haven't sen much of until they begin their journey. It's an okay story, but VERY slow and sometimes painful to read.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

I actually enjoyed this story--despite its slowness at times. The characters are all facing very difficult obstacles (eating disorders, attempted rape, loss of friends, etc.) and the storyline twists around each of their problems and weaves a wonderful tale about friendship and forgiveness.
I do have to tell you that someone is challenging this book in our district because of the very brief attempted rape scene at a party where everyone had been drinking. (Hello--does this person even know what their child does on the weekends? I don't think she wants to know, because then she wouldn't be challenging this book. ) Grrr.... just because you don't want your child to read a book, please don't tell other people what they can and can't read! Maybe this parents should sit down with her daughter and discuss the book with her and maybe discuss why this situation occurred--maybe then it could be more of a teaching experience and she and her child would have a closer bond.
I think this book is helpful to those naive students who are unaware of the dangers at parties and in life. I've had several teens tell me that they really liked this book because of the friendship that is forged between two of the characters, which ultimately blossoms into a possible romance. THOSE are the things teens are focusing on--not a minute part of the book that if it hadn't happened, these two characters would have never become friends. Grrrr..... (I think I'm done now...I'm putting my soap box away.)

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Another book that I really didn't feel like reading, but I'm glad I did. I thought it was going to be about how horrible slavery is and how the black people were wronged and how horrible white people were during this time. Thankfully I was way off base on my assumptions because I would have really missed out on a wonderful book. It starts off in Africa and shows the village life before the villagers were captured and made into slaves. We travel with them throug all of the steps from Africa until they are sold to their "owners" and thei new life in America. There's also an indentured servant girl who is kept with the slaves because she's must work for another 14 years to pay off her dead parents' debt. The characters really come alive and every injustice they suffered, I felt too. The ending is kind of contrite, but I did learn a little bit about Florida history and Fort Mose (which is now under water). It's a wonderful read!

Thank you for hosting this challenge Katrina! It was fun and I was able to complete the books I needed to read for my job!


Literary Feline said...

Fifteen books is a lot! Congratulations on completing the challenge. Of those you listed, I have read The Glass Castle and The Kite Runner. The Kite Runner is a special favorite of mine. :-)

It sounds like you had a good reading season!

Misadventures of the Dynamic Uno said...

It was good. I usually try to read more than that, but you're right--15 is a good number.