What Happened to Goodbye #48HBC

Ahhh….Sarah Dessen.  It is predictable – WHAT is up with her mothers? but it is comfy too.  It is like hearing your best friend tell you a story, the details may be different but you know how it is going to  go.

Usually I have lit crushes on her boys who are damaged perfection (cuz THAT exists in real life but whatever) but in this it is the girl who I really liked.  McLean (or Liz, or Beth, or ELiza)  – well you don’t really meet all of those girls but that is a large point of the book.  Can you lie to yourself, be someone different, run away from yourself?  Well probably not really.  Also if only Coach K turned out to have such poor personal judgment and had a scandal- don’t tel me Defriense isn’t Duke! –  actually it was pretty much  totally fictional and if I wasn’t aware of Sarah Dessen’s rabid UNC fandom (stalking Tyler Hansbrough in the deli dept – its ok if it was a diff. team I might too) I might of not spent half the book thinking Duke/UNC.  And not that Peter the coach who the mom takes up with and has twins (again what is it with her Moms?) was an ass.  It just seemed the adults were a little clueless that is was McLean’s story/life too.  I think it is probably comforting to divorcing people to think that a marriage is between two people and not about the kids but come on!  Then again what do I know?

I do love how SD always peoples her books with people from other stories – Heidi from ALong for the Ride showed up, as did the Last Chance, I caught a glimpse of Annabel and Owen (I think) and Jason from The Truth About Forever seems to have had a life bump and is now a prep cook.  Nice touch.   Probably missed a few here and there.

Pages – 402

Time 5 hours.

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Mockingjay #48HBC

GRRRRRR!!!!!!!  I spent most of the time reading this being pissed off at what was happening to Peeta.  I kept thinking of how mad I was when almost all the way through Knife of Letting Go the author killed of Manchee,  I felt like that.  I can’t even freaking believe I finished this because it was relentless until the last 5 pages.  And that is all I have to say about that.

Time: 4.5 hours

Pages : 400.

 

I am still MAD!  I feel bad though because I gave the blogging short shrift.  But I am so MAD!

Catching Fire #48HBC

Oh dear Katniss, you are a bit hard to like some times, so naive and dense.  I can see why everyone is so stunned I hadn’t finished the series.  It is breathtaking (breathless) the action in the story, not to mention as annoying as Katniss can be you really feel for her.  (Although, and I hate these designations I find myself on Team Peeta).   The descriptions are fabulous, particularly of President Snow’s smell, the blood on his breath – pretty chilling.  I am going to download and read Mockingjay – must finish it up now.  No, I haven’t read a single spoiler – that is HOW OUT OF IT I have been.

Pages – 391

Hours- 3.5 (had a break when ten minutes after I started my mom called, an hour or so later I got off the phone).

Yo bro!

Beloved Nephew is only eight years old, but I am compiling YA fiction for him.  I like to plan ahead.  I picked up Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver for his four-years-down-the-line-collection.  It is the first of a series of six books (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness) about Torak, a young boy faced with defeating a hidden enemy, one hiding in the form of a monstrous bear.  Thus, begins Torak’s quest in hunter/gatherer Europe.  Along the way he acquires a wolf cub that has also lost his family.  Torak faces different challenges — surviving in general –, meets a hostile clan and makes a new friend, a girl named Renn.  She helps him as he pieces together an offering of “brightest souls” for the World Spirit.  

For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit that I am a complete sucker for The Hero’s Journey and quests, vision or otherwise, of any kind.  Metaphors for life, all of them.  I’m not surprised that I enjoyed Wolf Brother, but what stands out to me the most is the setting of the story.  Can a genre be historical fiction-ish?  Reading a story set in pre-history appeals to me, as does a forested, wild Europe.  

While I think this is a book that both boys and girls will enjoy, it is definitely a 12-14 year old “boy book.”  It is a coming of age adventure novel that expresses a boy’s worst fear — death of father, while assuring him that with courage, self-reliance and by remembering his father’s wisdom, he too can go forth into the wilds of the unknown.  

Die hard readers might enjoy visiting or becoming part of this online community for Torak fans: http://www.torak.info/index.php?categoryid=1

In 2014, I think this is a series Beloved Nephew will enjoy.

C’mon Baby, Light My Fire

So, I know I’m supposed to be reading the book about wolves, Shiver.  And, I will finish it.  It just has not grabbed me yet.  Lots of smoldering thus far.  My Kindle assures me that I am 21% through the story.  Plus, at the insistence of one of the 8th Grade Chicas, I began The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Of course, I couldn’t help but cheer for Katniss — a teen in post-apocalyptic former North America, now known as Panem.  She is “reaped” and has to participate with other young people in a competition reminiscent of the Running Man’s game show.  Katniss’ contest is broadcast to other folk in this dystopian nightmare in which people are controlled by hunger, violence and censorship.  But, rebellion against the Capitol is brewing and the “districts” might be going the way of  Twisted Sister.  That’s right, “we’re not gonna take it!”  

I can always tell when I’m reading a really, really good story because I don’t move from the couch, and my husband does my bidding by delivering Kleenex, snacks and drinks.  (Thanks, Honey!)  What is so great about The Hunger Games and the sequel, Catching Fire?  In the words of the Chica: “I don’t know.”  Incidentally, my boys love the books too.  There is nothing new about a plot that revolves around a rebel who inspires the downtrodden to rise against a tyrannical, blood-thirsty government.  But Katniss is an exceptionally tough cookie who has to balance family obligations, survival, love and killing with, well, growing up, not breaking hearts and being kind to her mom.  

In the words of selfsame 8th Grade Chica: “She won’t play the game. Katniss doesn’t want to conform.”  Did I have you at “won’t play the game”?  It reminds me of what 
a jaded, bitter person once told me: “high school is all about learning how to play the game.”  Is it all an elaborate game for our students?  For ourselves?  Perhaps.  Maybe that’s why we love The Hunger Games (third and final book, Mockingjay, out on 8/24).  We love the story of a person who fights to live an authentic life because we know that the struggle is heroic.  And since the beginning of story telling, human beings have loved heroes.

The Unwritten Rule

Boy was I grumpy last night and this book is to blame….. I will explain but let me give you the set up first.

You know what the unwritten rule between girls is right?  You do not, I mean do not, steal your best friend’s boyfriend (yes connections to recent read – 6 Rules of Maybe).  You don’t crush on him, and you most certainly do not KISS him when he is still with your best friend, and maybe not even after.  Now we can debate this rule – and I suppose it has been, but it is the unwritten rule, at least of this title.

Sarah has a crush on Ryan, she has since the 8th grade, but no one really knows that, not even her best friend, Brianna.  Which might be why when Ryan turns up totally hot at the end of the summer Brianna turns her full wattage on him and now they are dating.  And since a) Sarah never said anything its not like Brianna broke that unwritten rule and b) since Sarah assumes no boy would like her over Brianna she just accepts this fact.  But it isn’t that easy, because there is something there – between Sarah and Ryan, and Ryan and Brianna may not be working out.

So grumpitude….. here is the thing about the story.  Brianna is both casually mean and totally fragile.  She has pretty much destroyed Sarah’s self esteem over the years, although Sarah’s personality allowed that to happen.  And it wasn’t on purpose.  The situation with Brianna’s parents (bitter divorce, working all the time, and casually and not so casually mean themselves) has left her self esteem pretty f’ed up too.  Sarah has the loving family that Brianna has slowly become a part of, but Brianna has all the attention.  The constant “brush your hair” or “we can find you a freshman to date” are what I mean by ‘casually mean’.  So you hate Brianna just a bit, but you also feel sorry for her.  And while the inevitablity of the ending is obvious to the reader, it is going to hit Brianna like a freight train, and because ultimately she is fragile you feel a little sorry for her.

I had this friend.  She could make you feel like the coolest, most important person in the world one minute, and like nothing the next.  She had unwritten rules she wasn’t afraid to break, but Lord, you didn’t want to be the one to break them.  And the thing is for a vast lot of people I don’t have an identity separate from that relationship, and frankly we haven’t talked in 20 years but I am still guilty/angry/sad/insecure about all of that.  So reading this book just dredged a whole lot of crap up – hence, grumpitude.

I am not sure what this book is – romance? well sort of.  friendship? yes that too.  Finding yourself? yep.  Families in all their glory and horror?  Oh yeah.  I’ve been reading mean girls lately (here for example) so it was interesting to read a mean girl who wasn’t intentional, at least at first.

I really like Elizabeth Scott, and in some way this reminded me of The Boyfriend List in similar theme.  The casual meanness, the girl relationship, etc. but boy was I grumpy.

Others thoughts:

The Bookologist liked it.

So did Insanity of Writerhood

An interview:

Vampires: A phase or eternal?

I have been waiting for today ever since I pre-ordered the final Sookie Stackhouse story to download directly to my Kindle…two months ago.  Unlike my friend, I am obsessed with vampiric fiction.  It is shamefully trendy, I know!  From Vampire Diaries to Cirque du Freak to Twilight, I am a vamphile.  I was excited to see the Eclipse trailer on a friend’s Facebook page.  That’s where I am at the moment. 

When considering this entry, I’ve racked brain: what is the metaphor?  (I was destined to be an English teacher).  What do vampires represent?  Why the vampire-mania?  In Buffy’s time, vampires were only good for slaying, but now, they are objects of desire — undead heroes that cause females to swoon and swear undying love. And yeah, the pun is intended.  Because, according to one of my 7th grade girls, some girls are just obsessed with Edward Cullen only and some are obsessed with the idea of him: the idea of true love lasting forever and forever inhabiting perfect, youthful bodies.  

And maybe that’s what they represent: youth, beauty, love and reliability.  At the moment, I think it’s fair to say times are hard and that those universally admired attributes seem to be in short supply.  Have you read CNN today? Oil slicks, teacher strikes, car bombs and the ever-present missing woman, presumed murdered by boyfriend or husband.  Unlike real life, when you snuggle into the couch with popcorn, a diet 7-Up and a novel with a dashing vampire, you know what you are going to get.  You can count on them to stick around because they never die.  Remember, the good vampires, Stefan and Edward, don’t kill humans.  They are noble and self-sacrificing.  They struggle with the moral implications of being the undead and just need a good woman to love ’em up!  

Vampire fiction is cheesy, predictable and a little embarrassing, and it gives readers the means to escape into the dream of true love forever and ever and ever.  And they lived happily ever after, forever, and never grew old. The end.