Swim the Fly #48HBC

Swim the Fly is like reading a YA Apatow movie, although maybe not quite as crude as say, Superbad.  But there is explosive diarrhea, projectile vomiting, ugly naked people, crude talk about sex.    It is quite funny, the boys dressed up as girls to invade a locker room and see a naked girl sidelined by an unfortunate bout of diarrhea brought on by a fiber drink made me laugh out loud.  It turns out I have a little bit of adolescent boy humor.

352 pg

3 hrs 40 min.



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!

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 6 Rules of Maybe

1. Respect the power of hope and possibilities. Begin with belief.  Hold on to it.

Perhaps it should say don’t fall in love with your sister’s husband, because that is what Scarlet does, and when that happens all the anger, and hurt, and confusion of her life comes pouring out in some not so attractive, but entirely understandable ways.   The thing is I get that Scarlet is angry at her sister for a while lot of reasons but I am not so sure she treats her all that well for someone who is supposedly a caretaker, and this may be the part that Caletti didn’t quite capture me with in this novel.  That said I love Deb Caletti’s novels (The Nature of Jade is my favorite).  She writes literary romance quite well.

If I were to dissect Scarlet – I’d point out that falling in love with Hayden is the easy way out, no risk taken.  Like her sister who won’t fall in love – no risk.  I get that falling in love with your sister’s husband is not ‘safe’ but it is because Scarlet can’t act on it, not really, and it keeps her from truly engaging with the world around her – recognizing the obvious in people her own age.

This is of course Caletti’s point – no risk, really no possibilities of truly experiencing love, hope, even life.  So sometimes you have to leap, move to Africa to start a cocoa plantation you bought over email, say no to the marriage proposal so you don’t settle, let yourself fall in love with the father of your child, and kiss the boy who you hadn’t thought of kissing before.

You know I said Scarlet isn’t engaged with the world around her, and that isn’t really true – she cares about her neighbors, to the point of creating something wonderful for one of them.  And she sets up a couple at school (with some serious consequence) but all of that is a bit of not engaging with herself you know, not noticing the friend that takes advantage, or the source of why she is really pissed off, and how to respond to that.

It has taken a bit to write about this – I wasn’t totally sure about what to say.  It was a hard book to get my head (and my heart) around.  Caletti does that for me sometimes, but ultimately I end up respecting the story, and fundamentally the writing.

Letting Go of the Knife

So despite some loud epithets and book throwing (spoiler at link)I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go.  What is 120 pages right?

It wasn’t really my cup of tea – set in some unnamed future on some unnamed planet.  Men, boys, and animals thoughts are broadcast, but interestingly enough not women’s or girl’s.  They call it noise, and while some secrets can’t be hidden, some can. In  Prentisstown only men exist, and on your 13th birthday you become a man – in some mysterious way.

Todd is forced to flee shortly before he becomes a man, running though a forest away from an army  and a mad man with a strange girl.  Viola is not the only surprising thing Todd discovers, as he had thought New Prentisstown was all there was on the new world, and that girls had long ago died off.  Along the way he learns the horrible secrets of the men he had always been surround by, including the fate of Prentisstown women.  It is fast paced, adventurous, overloaded with ‘stuff to talk about’, included the nature of good and evil, information overload, colonization.  But despite all of  that I had to force myself to finish and found myself getting bored.  This is because it isn’t my reading preference, not because it wasn’t plotted well with enough character development.  I would book talk it, recommend it particularly to middle school kids, but I won’t read Book 2 or 3.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – SPOILERS

He killed the dog!!!!!! I freakin’ hate it when they kill the dog. I am on page 353 of 479 and now I don’t know if I want to finish because HE KILLED MANCHEE!