Showing posts with label Young Adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Young Adult. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

YA Wednesday: Mara Daughter of the Nile


Mara Daughter of the Nile
by: Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
A slave girl in Ancient Egypt, all Mara wants to do is to be free. Therefore when she is offered not one but two chances for freedom how could she refuse. All she has to do is turn double-spy and work for both Queen Hatshepsut and her younger brother and contender for the throne Thutmos III.  The game she plays is a very dangerous one and one she intends to win.

This girl is your wonderful hot-tempered heroine. She is feisty and will fight for what she wants, and because of this willingness to fight for herself I found myself rooting for her as well. She is intelligent, calculating, but still grows throughout the novel.

The adventure/political aspect of it is wonderful as well. Mara could very easily sell out her other master Sheftu to the Queen and gain her freedom, yet in the novel she begins to learn to see the bigger picture and wonders if that would be the best choice for Egypt. Her going back and forth on this issue and her intrigues to keep both parties happy keeps the story moving at a wonderful pace.

 I found this book in 7th grade and I am still reading it in college - it's one of the few that I brought with me. I love it and think it is simply wonderful.






Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Birthday Dedication!! Happy Birthday Little Bro - This is for you!


The Lightning Thief
by: Rick Riordan

Genre: YA
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

Let my preface: I am a mythology nut. Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Celt - I love it all. Here there is a really nice in-depth look into the Greek mythology done in such a way that the modern-day youngsters can not only enjoy it but also remember it. It is a perfect series for those young friends of our who really don't like to read normally because it's fast paced and full of action.

I really loved how all of the different mythologies got dropped in here and there. From the invisibility cap to the wonderful use of Iris (who is my favorite little goddess). The book is peppered with details that show that Riordan did his research in regards to the mythology of the novel.

But I do need to mention that it did feel a lot like a HP knock-off, but I will forgive it because HP is a good thing to knock-off of, and the age group that this is intended for probably won't notice.

I really do need to reiterate that this is the perfect novel for the reluctant reader, some of my younger siblings would rather be outside rather than reading but both of them have read this and loved it and the rest of the series. If a book can do that, it definitely has my seal of approval.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

YA Wednesday - General Winston's Daughter


General Winston's Daughter
by: Sharon Shinn

Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Averie Winston, daughter of the great General Winston, is tired of staying at home while he goes off to exciting places. So she and her guardian travel to join him and her gorgeous fiancĂ© in the exotic Chiarrin.  She comes expecting a fun and tame adventure. However she discovers that the Chiarizzi are not at all happy with the occupation and there are rebels everywhere. Not only that her fiancĂ© - the seemingly perfect Captain Morgan - isn't all that she thought him to be. 

I like how this had obvious ties to the British occupation of India and other countries.  It brings up thoughts on occupation in general and how those who are being occupied might feel about the situation.

At first glance it feels like just another female coming of age in a foreign culture. Shinn does a wonderful job in creating a new culture that is detailed and complete. Everything from food to fashion to religion is covered without feeling like the reader is being overwhelmed with the information. So I was up for another fun adventure story. 

Then it took a twist.

The ending made the novel take on a new depth in it's social commentary and perhaps is one of the most substantial novels written by this author. Anyway - I love it, and would definitely recommend it to all of my friends who are looking for a read that is not purely fluff but not too dense to handle.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

YA Wednesday


Calico Captive
by: Elizabeth George Speare

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
In 1754 an Indian raid on her small New Hampshire town leaves Miriam Willard a prisoner of the Indians, forced to take part in a harrowing march north. Not knowing how it will end but expecting the gauntlet Miriam is not sure she can go on. Unbeknownst to her however is the fact that she is not being taken for the Indians but rather for the French. She is traded into the elite society of the French in Canada, with no way back home in sight.

I love stories with a strong female lead (can you tell?) and Miriam is very good at her job. She is neither perfect nor bratty but a wonderful spunky in between. She doesn't accept her new existence without a fight and that fight is what keeps her interesting throughout the novel. She makes the mistake of prejudice and has to grow up and come to terms with these new people who are not at all what she had imagined them to be. 

Another...very specific thing that I love to read about is sewing and dressmaking. I am pretty sure it's because I can't but I desperately want to. And as one could probably tell from the title, there is a lot of fabric in the course of the novel. Miriam happens to be quite deft with a needle and this talent is able to take her a long ways.

Also Speare has done a wonderful job in capturing the setting of the story. She describes everything wonderfully and you can tell that she has done her research.

Adding the above elements together comes a great young adult book which sadly seems to be overlooked. I would recommend this to anyone who wanted an easy read, but still full of fun, adventure and a little bit of growing up.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Birthday Dedication!!


Island of the Blue Dolphins
by: Scott O'Dell

Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.

This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.

Birthday dedications are when - on a follower’s birthday  (so if you want yours just let me know)- I review the book of their choice. This one is for a dear family member.

I read this for the first time when I was in third grade but have come back to it several times. I love the originality of it and how it is pieced together. First of all it teaches all of the the basic skills one needs - making a fence out of whale bone, how to catch an octopus and properly gather and prepare shellfish, all things every self-respecting child needs to know.  I love the stories of her daily routine and how she keeps herself alive.

One thing that really makes this novel is the fact that it is based on a true story. That was something I learned during one of my several re-readings of the book. The woman's name was Juana Maria and sadly after she was found and taken to the mainland she died in seven weeks.  You can actually visit her grave at the mission of Santa Barbra in California. 

After discovering that the novel - though fiction - became more to me. I loved it more because it became all the more real and wonderful. It is a great read and while it is targeted at a younger set it is fun to go back and read it again.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Historical Thursday


Code Talkers
by: Joseph Bruchac

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:
Follow the life Ned Begay. In his childhood people tried to erase all that was Navajo from his live, later during the Second World War, he and his companions become invaluable as code talkers. Ned goes to through the Pacific side of the war  from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima. The things he experiences will change him like nothing else will.

I remember falling in love with this when I first read it in 7th grade. Since then it has been recycled through both of my brothers and several of my cousins. I tells a wonderful story that shouldn't be forgotten. When I first read it, I simply loved learning about the war and all of the separate aspects of it. Now though it seems to me to be something which can show how we mustn't undervalue other cultures. 

It was hard for me to read the first part of this again because it shows to what great lengths the authorities went to ensure that the young Navajo children because as white in culture as possible. Cultural preservation is what led up to the unbreakable codes used in WWII. 

It is definitely written for a younger crowd, simpler language and such, but the story is one that can reach all ages and one which should be remembered.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

YA Wednesday


Backwater
by: Joan Bauer

Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
It is hard to be a quiet person when your entire family isn't. Ivy Breedlove is peace-loving individual in a family of lawyers. Working on her family's history she tries to find out more about her aunt Jo, a recluse who the Breedlove clan claims is "stuck in the backwater." This journey leads Ivy on journey to discover exactly how much strength she has inside.

Joan Bauer is one of my favorite young adult authors. She deals with real life in a way that few authors are able to manage and has created a wonderful character with Ivy.  I am a little more on the introverted side, so I immediately latched on to this shy girl. 

Her journey (a literal one not metaphoric) brings her to Mountain Momma one of my favorite characters in Bauer's books. She is no nonsense and gritty and is brimming with wise tid-bits that really have a lot more depth to them than when you first read them.

I love the realism that Bauer has, she keeps the angst out of the picture - because not every teenager is angsty and whiny so it's nice to not always have to read about them.  I would recommend this to young women (and some not so young) who are looking for a gentle read that can have them laughing and thinking in alternate moments.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday - Science Fiction


Tunnel in the Sky
By: Robert Heinlein

Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
What started out as a test for school turns into a survival trip no one was expecting. After the way home disappears with no sign of returning, several young men and women must fight to survive on a planet on the other side of the universe. Without any of the luxuries from home, including a steady source of food, law enforcement and hospitals these young adults must make a new civilization for themselves.

This is one of the few books that I have read that I feel like I could unquestionably recommend to men as well as women. It is a wonderfully crafted adventure which, due to the fact that it is 55 years old, gets overlooked.  At first it looks like a Lord of the Flies remake, however it is done in such a way that it is much more enjoyable to read, yet is a wonderful examination of human nature and how we form our societies. This is a great book to read even if you aren’t into sci-fi. It doesn’t rely heavily on the futuristic world but rather on this “what-if” scenario -  putting people in a situation where no one is taking care of them and seeing what human characteristics emerge.  It also shows what true leadership is and how it is attained.

As I previously stated, I would recommend this to guys as well as girls, probably in the younger set, 14-16 but because of the content you can still read it when you are older and enjoy it immensely.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

YA Wednesday Crown Duel


Crown Duel
by: Sherwood Smith


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:


Over their father’s deathbed, young Meliara Astiar and her brother Branaric promise to lead their people against the evil King. The impoverished count and countess discover that even when the cause is right, leading a war is much tougher than it appears. When Meliara falls into the hands of the elegant Marquis of Shevraeth, the enemy commander, she knows she has to either escape or die. After a desperate chase across country, she discovers that she and Bran are not alone—but the alliance is offered by the person she hates the most. Once the king is gone, she faces a new type of battlefield: not muddy fields and sharpened steel, but marble palaces. The weapons now are fashion, manners, and the subtle and secret language of fans. Finally, there is the toughest challenge of all, courtship. For how do you defend yourself when the one who draws your eye, and your heart, is your worst enemy?


 


These two books were joined together to form one novel in their latest publication so that is how I am going to review them. 

I must say that this book is among the top of my re-reads. I am not entirely sure how many times I read it in jr. high and high school it is one that I loved that much. Mel has all that I like in a character, she is brave, intelligent, and yet she has flaws. She cares about things going on around her but recognizes her limitations and does what she can to correct them. The first part of the novel is completely action packed – as is customary with revolutions. The second part has a different kind of action. There is a lot of intrigue around the court a new monarchy is being established. Different actions but equally entertaining.

And then there is our hero commonly known as Sheveraeth, he is what I believe Mr. Darcy would be if he were young, in the middle of a revolution and starring in a fantasy novel. **spoiler**It is because of him, and the letter writing between him and Mel that I love writing and receiving letters. (if this doesn’t seem like a spoiler SHAME on you for reading the spoiler before the book because if you had read the book you would understand why this is a spoiler.) **spoiler done**

Even if you have passed young adulthood, if you like a good adventure with believable characters this would be an excellent choice.



Friday, July 15, 2011

It's July 15th...You Know What's Coming.


Today marks the end of the era of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling has somehow managed to create a world which has become deeply entrenched in the lives of almost every American whether or not they read the series.


To this day I am still trying to determine what exactly in this series has captured the hearts of so many and from such a varied audience as well. There is the general premise of it of course - who on earth wouldn't want to be able to wave a wand and fix the problem set in front of them, or be able to fly or disappear? There is also the depth of character that is found throughout the entire series. Constantly there are little unnecessary details - like the Weasleys nightly routine found in book four or Hagrid finally having his own special mug at The Three Broomsticks. These little things make the characters so real to us that we feel it personally when one of them wins at quidditch or gets turned down to the Yule Ball.


This vibrancy of character and depth of knowledge lend themselves marvelously to readers attachment. And if that weren't enough Rowling slips in turns of phrase which simply make you chuckle quietly to yourself. When reading about the mountain troll in Sorcerers Stone the sentence describing Harry as both "incredibly brave and incredibly stupid" remains with readers and comes back over and over during his continuous escapades.

I love this series. I have grown up with it. I waited in line for the books to come out starting with Goblet of Fire (my parents wouldn't let me stay up that late for the others) and devoured them as soon as I could get my hands on them. My siblings don't even remember a world without muggles and now finally my computer accepts the fact that "muggles" is indeed a word.

If you haven't read it yet, for whatever reason, please give it a try. For those of who for whom it's been years since you last picked it up reread it again - it's well worth it. It is magical and while at times dark, the light will shine through.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

YA Wednesday- First Test

First Test
by: Tamora Pierce

Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:
For ten years Tortall has allowed for girls to come forward to train to be a knight but Keladry of Mindelan otherwise called Kel is the first to step forward. With almost everyone set against her, from the training master to the other boys training with her, she must face down bullies, magical creatures and training masters to prove to Tortall that it is possible for a girl to keep up with the boys.

I am a sucker for a strong female character, and if there is one thing that Tamora Pierce has nailed it is this one. She isn't a shadow of Alana from the previous Tortall series, she is her own independent and believable creation. Kel has a fierce determination to fight injustice in all forms and this is what lends this little 11-year-old (goodness I have been reading a lot about those haven't I?) a wisdom which can reach to older ages. 

I would definitely recommend this to a younger crowd, somewhere between 13 and 16, at least for a first read. I came across this when I was in middle school and have reread the whole series a few times since then. All of the characters she creates have a nice depth and consistency with what I see in the world around me. My favorite of this series is Squire which is the third installment but as a whole the series is one of my favorite's of Pierce's.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Classic Tuesday


Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

Genre: YA, Classic, Coming-of-age
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
A story set in the 1860's onward that tells the story of the growing up of the March family. With four daughters as different as can be various adventures can't possibly be avoided.

Alcott as a person is a more complex character than her novels lead you to believe. The daughter of a transcendentalist (the American version of the British Romantic movement) her writings were greatly influenced by the need of morality in a country that seemed to be losing it. This is the most memorable and read of her novels though it isn't my favorite. 

It is just one step short of being a morality novel and the author preaches so much that you want to shut the book. Yes the story lines of the girls lives have a few scenes worth reading between the sermons but they are so few and far between that it is very difficult to get through. The one character who seems to have a shot at breaking the mold and being fiery in spirit of course is Jo. By the end of the story however she is just as humble and as much of a homebody as all the other daughters. 

This is a classic I know, but I wonder if it's fond memories in modern day readers stem from the multiple movies rather than the one book.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Matched

Ally Condie makes her debut with this latest addition to the ever growing  shelves of teenage dystopian worlds.

Cassia has never questioned the Society. She lives the life that has been mapped out for her with numbers and statistics and is the model citizen. Until the day of her Matching. The unlikely happens when she is Matched with her best friend Xander and for a moment everything in her life is perfect. This changes drastically however when she goes home and she sees Ky appear on the computer screen and not Xander. After this glitch in the system, she begins to question everything that the Society stands for and wonders if being the perfect, predictable citizen is what she wants.

Since the Hunger Games trilogy I have been seeing more books that are about YA fighting against the tyrannical government, starting revolutions and just being rebellious teenagers. In a way this isn't that different but it is better written than others that are coming out.

First of all, I don't find the female protagonist whiny and weak. Cassia is a character who is the product of the Society but thankfully can think for herself, can take risks and not quibble too much about it. I will be reading the rest of the series to see if and how she evolves.

However! I am getting terribly tired of books where the first point of discussion amongst readers is Edward or Jake? Peeta or Gale?  and now we have Xander or Ky? Now before I completely write it off as something juvenile I do give props to Xander for ***spoiler***(Highlight it if you want to see) letting go of Cassia at the end and giving her not only permission but contraband supplies to help her find Ky after they have both been exiled to Outer Provinces. He didn't try to make a case for himself, he just let her go and wasn't all dramatic about it as others have been. ***spoiler done*** So it has been put together better than others in the past.

About the world itself, everything is in the hands of the Officials. They determine what you wear and eat; where you live and work; who you associate with and marry. All is done with the help of probability and perfectly matched genes. Cancer and all other illness have been "matched out" of the Society and everything seems perfect. It is happier than Orwell's world of 1984 but there is still the knowledge that you are permanently being watched and monitored to ensure no Abberations or Anomalies are wandering around.

I read this because it was part of my book groups summer challenge and while I don't think it was a complete waste of time and I most likely will finish off the series, this isn't something that I am going to be rereading. I would describe it as a cotton-candy type of book. Something that is fluffy and good on occasion, but too much at once makes you feel sick.

I would recommend this book to those who have devoured Hunger Games and are wanting something new to read.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Beastly

Picture taken from Goodreads
Alex Flinn has written many YA novels though this is one of my favorites. And may I just say that I liked it and had heard of it YEARS before it became popular.

Think Beauty and the Beast in modern NYC.
Kyle Kingsbury had everything anyone could possibly want, money, looks and powerful connections through his father. He was the king of his class. Until a fateful night when after his Spring Formal he was met by a witch from his English class. 

The rest pretty much follows your basic Beauty and The Beast story line.

Let me reiterate, I discovered this years ago sitting on a shelf in the public library and I really liked the story. I reread it recently because of all the hype surrounding it due to the movie. 

The reasons I like it are because it was fresh take on the story for me. This has been a favorite fairly tale of mine and it was nice for it to be told from the Beast's point of view. Kyle was well developed and he didn't go from Beastly to Prince Charming in a single page. Flinn gave him a chance to develop at a believable pace without the story dragging. Another device I like is the structure of the narrative. The chat-rooms that the author has put in between sections of the story help to segue the different plot developments. Furthermore it has been divided into seven parts (six parts and an epilogue) which is a perfect, magical number.

I recommend this for YA readers who are looking for another more modern take on a classic fairy tale.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Silent Governess

The Silent Governess
 Written by Julie Klassen The Silent Governess is one that I have thoroughly enjoyed in the past and have even come back to read again. I am still working on plot summary so until I can really get them concise, here is one from Goodreads:


"Believing herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems…. Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret, which, if exposed, will change his life forever. When he glimpses a figure on the grounds, he fears a spy or thief has overheard his devastating news. He is stunned to discover the intruder is a scrap of a woman with her throat badly injured. Fearing she will spread his secret, he gives the girl a post and confines her to his estate. As Olivia and Lord Bradley's secrets catch up with them, will their hidden pasts ruin their hope of finding love?" 


What I really like is that it isn't strictly romance. Olivia has a sense of who she is and is content with herself. She has a sense of self-worth and refuses to take insults from anyone. Also matrimony isn't her main goal. She is intelligent and wants to keep her education going and continue on to teach at a girls school.



To me this book is a nice mesh of the mystery and romance. It will keep you going until the final pages yet leave you satisfied with an ending that isn't too perfectly wrapped up.

Buried Secrets

Buried Secrets By: Rachel Good Genre: Christian Fiction Rating: 4 stars Summary: Three years after the accident that almost claimed he...