Mrs. Zed's Book Blog

The right book in the right hands at the right time.

0 notes

So I’m reading two novels again…I must stop doing this, especially since I have two hotly anticipated novels to read after these (Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld and The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey). Fortunately, Serena and I’ll Give You the Sun are very different books! Serena is set in a logging camp in NC in the 1930’s whereas I’ll Give You the Sun is a contemporary YA novel that so far reminds me a lot of John Green (not complaining). I am enjoying both for different reasons, but really like both main characters.

I’ve finished I’ll Give You the Sun and I highly recommend it. Jandy Nelson is a beautiful wordsmith which made the story of Noah and Jude all the more powerful. I felt for both characters, hated some of the choices they made and rooted for a happy ending. I don’t want to give away too much, but the novel deals with sibling rivalry, artists, love, family, grief… ****

Filed under Ron Rash Serena Jandy Nelson I'll Give You the Sun YA lit

0 notes

Violence 101 is a first time novel from NZer Denis Wright.  It’s been out for around 5 years, but it is still relevant and accessible today.  What I really liked was that the main character, Hamish, is convincingly arrogant—I was swept up in his tale and actually felt like I was on his side, when the rational part of me said to believe his teachers and counsellors.  I’m not “an easy sell” but his intelligence and straight forward explanations made me consider his side.  Maybe he isn’t evil / sick…could someone with his makeup be “saved” and eventually thrive in society?  I am also recommending it for anyone who enjoyed Touching Spirit bear because there are some interesting overlapping themes.  Is the story a bit cliche /predictable / unrealistic?  Absolutely.  But, it still might make you think.

Violence 101 is a first time novel from NZer Denis Wright. It’s been out for around 5 years, but it is still relevant and accessible today. What I really liked was that the main character, Hamish, is convincingly arrogant—I was swept up in his tale and actually felt like I was on his side, when the rational part of me said to believe his teachers and counsellors. I’m not “an easy sell” but his intelligence and straight forward explanations made me consider his side. Maybe he isn’t evil / sick…could someone with his makeup be “saved” and eventually thrive in society? I am also recommending it for anyone who enjoyed Touching Spirit bear because there are some interesting overlapping themes. Is the story a bit cliche /predictable / unrealistic? Absolutely. But, it still might make you think.

Filed under Denis Wright Violence 101 touching spirit bear

2 notes

buckets2bookstrinaz:

This is a difficult review to write because I was feeling rather depressed when I read this book about a teenage boy dealing with depression and anxiety.  I feel like I would have enjoyed the book and it’s protagonist, James Whitman, more had I been in a better mood.  Nonetheless, I have to go,with a rating based on my actual reading, so I give it **1/2 but expect I would have given *** or ***1/2 if I had read it at a different time.  There are a ton of Walt Whitman quotes and references interspersed in this novel so I can see it being appreciated by stronger readers even though the actual reading level is quite low (when I was actually sitting and reading I was able to fly through this novel).  It does pose interesting questions about family dynamics, mental health, growing up in a difficult environment, and self-discovery.  I also really liked how James had an imaginary therapist (Dr. bird, the pigeon), but also sought out a real therapist when he felt the need for one grow.
**1/2

Worth a look

buckets2bookstrinaz:

This is a difficult review to write because I was feeling rather depressed when I read this book about a teenage boy dealing with depression and anxiety. I feel like I would have enjoyed the book and it’s protagonist, James Whitman, more had I been in a better mood. Nonetheless, I have to go,with a rating based on my actual reading, so I give it **1/2 but expect I would have given *** or ***1/2 if I had read it at a different time. There are a ton of Walt Whitman quotes and references interspersed in this novel so I can see it being appreciated by stronger readers even though the actual reading level is quite low (when I was actually sitting and reading I was able to fly through this novel). It does pose interesting questions about family dynamics, mental health, growing up in a difficult environment, and self-discovery. I also really liked how James had an imaginary therapist (Dr. bird, the pigeon), but also sought out a real therapist when he felt the need for one grow.
**1/2

Worth a look

1 note

Gone Girl was great! I don’t usually read mystery / murder mystery novels, but I was hooked. I am looking forward to the movie :-). ***1/2

Fangirl was good, but I didn’t really get into the Simon and Baz story. I really liked the main characters and watching her grow as a person and as a writer. ***

Man Made Boy was good…a bit up and down for my likely but I definitely was rooting for Boy and there were “no way!” moments for me which I don’t find all that often. I would say it is worth a look if the back even remotely piques your interest. ***

Filed under gone girl gillian flynn fangirl rainbow rowell man made boy jon skovron

1 note

I loved Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and liked her follow-up Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, so I’m not sure why I didn’t start reading The Birthright Trilogy when it first came up.  The simple answer is so many books, not enough time.  Anyway, I read All These Things I’ve Done this week and definitely enjoyed it and see myself reading the other two books in the trilogy.  The dystopian story includes an orphaned mafioso daughter navigated high school and what remans of her family and is set during a time when caffeine is illegal, chocolate is contraband (thankfully for Anya her family is in the chocolate business—how does one navigate life without chocolate?) and (the worst in my opinion) showers are only 90 seconds long.  I won’t give much away, but I like Anya’s pluck and the layers of the story looking at family and “family.”

***

I loved Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and liked her follow-up Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, so I’m not sure why I didn’t start reading The Birthright Trilogy when it first came up. The simple answer is so many books, not enough time. Anyway, I read All These Things I’ve Done this week and definitely enjoyed it and see myself reading the other two books in the trilogy. The dystopian story includes an orphaned mafioso daughter navigated high school and what remans of her family and is set during a time when caffeine is illegal, chocolate is contraband (thankfully for Anya her family is in the chocolate business—how does one navigate life without chocolate?) and (the worst in my opinion) showers are only 90 seconds long. I won’t give much away, but I like Anya’s pluck and the layers of the story looking at family and “family.”

***

Filed under Gabrielle Zevin All These Things I've Done ya dystopia chocolate

0 notes

Empty is written in a way that makes it easy to fly through, and as a result I found it a bit unfulfilling, but perhaps that is because immediately before it I had read a more literary novel.  The topics in Empty are important and I can imagine many students would be able to relate to at least certain parts, such as the main character using self-deprecating humour to try to get the sense that she is laughing with rather than being laughed at, but ultimately she knows this is a false sense of security.  I cringed repeatedly at the language used surrounding Dell’s obesity.  At 256lbs (a number repeated many times) I’m sure Dell is a bigger girl, but hearing her pick apart her rolls is tough.  Watching her do a sumo stance and Moo for laughs is horrific, but also probably not far off from the reality of many bigger students.  

What strikes me more about the novel and for me is more important than the weight issue is how Dell desperately wishes to be seen and to be valued as a person.  Feeling invisible is painful and can lead to feeling worthless…hence her eventual decision to consider suicide.

The reviews on this novel vary quite widely and I can certainly see the points about sensationalism and a lack of follow up.  The rape and rumours were definitely not fleshed out enough in my opinion.  Obviously it is very very common. Not to report a rape, but if a rumour then went around about the rape, I find it very hard to believe that it wouldn’t be followed up on in some way.  Worth reading for the discussions that could arise…for example, a girl power group or a literature circle…

**1/2

Empty is written in a way that makes it easy to fly through, and as a result I found it a bit unfulfilling, but perhaps that is because immediately before it I had read a more literary novel. The topics in Empty are important and I can imagine many students would be able to relate to at least certain parts, such as the main character using self-deprecating humour to try to get the sense that she is laughing with rather than being laughed at, but ultimately she knows this is a false sense of security. I cringed repeatedly at the language used surrounding Dell’s obesity. At 256lbs (a number repeated many times) I’m sure Dell is a bigger girl, but hearing her pick apart her rolls is tough. Watching her do a sumo stance and Moo for laughs is horrific, but also probably not far off from the reality of many bigger students.

What strikes me more about the novel and for me is more important than the weight issue is how Dell desperately wishes to be seen and to be valued as a person. Feeling invisible is painful and can lead to feeling worthless…hence her eventual decision to consider suicide.

The reviews on this novel vary quite widely and I can certainly see the points about sensationalism and a lack of follow up. The rape and rumours were definitely not fleshed out enough in my opinion. Obviously it is very very common. Not to report a rape, but if a rumour then went around about the rape, I find it very hard to believe that it wouldn’t be followed up on in some way. Worth reading for the discussions that could arise…for example, a girl power group or a literature circle…

**1/2

Filed under KM Walton Empty YA obesity rape high school addiction divorce suicide friendship

1 note

Apologies for taking awhile to post, but I’m having a busier summer than expected and therefore reading less frequently than planned.  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is not YA, but it could be read by any strong reader with an interest in time travel from about age 13 up.  It includes some science talk which forced me to slow my pace, but for the most part it is accessible, just on the long side.

The novel follows Harry August as he proceeds through his life multiple times, trying to prevent the acceleration of the end of the world as well as the loss of his fellow kalachakras.  There are interesting takes on 20th century history, moral questions regarding technology and time travel, and chunks of both mystery and intrigue.  I found Harry to be an interesting character especially in the end when he masks his memory.

***

Apologies for taking awhile to post, but I’m having a busier summer than expected and therefore reading less frequently than planned. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is not YA, but it could be read by any strong reader with an interest in time travel from about age 13 up. It includes some science talk which forced me to slow my pace, but for the most part it is accessible, just on the long side.

The novel follows Harry August as he proceeds through his life multiple times, trying to prevent the acceleration of the end of the world as well as the loss of his fellow kalachakras. There are interesting takes on 20th century history, moral questions regarding technology and time travel, and chunks of both mystery and intrigue. I found Harry to be an interesting character especially in the end when he masks his memory.

***

Filed under Claire North The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August time travel

1 note

Book two has been out a few months so I finally made it a priority to read The Program by Suzanne Young, and I’m glad I did.  This novel has a fairly intriguing dystopian concept where the suicide rate for teens has skyrocketed so the solution is to cart potential infecteds away to mental hospitals where their memories are erased to cure them.  As in any YA novel (seriously, this is so irritatingly common) there is a love triangle thrown in, but I was more interested in the evolution of the main character Sloane.  It was neat to see her as “normal,” react to her newly cured friend, go through the curing process herself, and then falter along as she readjusts to life.  If I brought book two home from school I’ll likely read it soon.

***

Book two has been out a few months so I finally made it a priority to read The Program by Suzanne Young, and I’m glad I did. This novel has a fairly intriguing dystopian concept where the suicide rate for teens has skyrocketed so the solution is to cart potential infecteds away to mental hospitals where their memories are erased to cure them. As in any YA novel (seriously, this is so irritatingly common) there is a love triangle thrown in, but I was more interested in the evolution of the main character Sloane. It was neat to see her as “normal,” react to her newly cured friend, go through the curing process herself, and then falter along as she readjusts to life. If I brought book two home from school I’ll likely read it soon.

***

Filed under The Program Suzanne Young Sci Fi Dystopia YA