Tonight (6/18) I want to review a book I read a couple of weeks ago, but never wrote a review on.
At the risk of labeling my self “old,” I must confess I had always heard the term “fan fiction,” but never knew what it meant until I read this novel. Several of my students have mentioned various semesters that they wrote fan fiction in their teens, but later branched out and wrote stories, poems, and “pieces” of their own. Cath,(twin to Wren) the protagonist of this YA novel, is the ultimate Simon Snow fan and writes alternate stories to Snow’s author, sometimes even before the next book is published. She has a huge following, but she keeps her identity a secret from her followers.
The twins are ready to start college, and Cath is bemused by Wren’s decision to room with another girl rather than with her twin sister. As they begin their freshman year, apart for the first time, the girls begin separate lives and separate interests and friends.
The novel includes the themes of a parent who left, roommate relationships, romantic complexities, betrayal, and the true meaning and kinds of friendships.
I heard about this book in a magazine review and ordered it online from a bookseller. It turned out to be a “darned good read.”
Triple W Wednesdays is a meme where one tells WHAT you have finished, WHAT you are currently reading, and WHAT you will read next. I prefer to keep it simple, dealing only with one of the W’s, WHAT I have just finished.
This 2021 publication was picked as a Pure Belpre Honor Book, and definitely earned that honor. Petra Pena, the twelve-year-old protagonist, only wanted one thing to become a Cuentista, a storyteller like her abuelita, her grandmother. As the narrative opens, Halley’s Comet is going to collide with earth. Petra, her mother, father and little brother, Javier, blast off on a spaceship headed for a new planet. The trip will take hundreds of years, so the family is put in a sleep-state, frozen until their arrival. The family keeps Petra’s bad eyesight a secret, and they are cleared to start the survival mission.
When “they,” an evil Corporation that has taken over the ship and trip, awaken Petra, her parents’ and brother’s sleeping pods are empty. The Corporation had intended to erase every sleeping person’s memories of earth from their minds, but with Petra, for some reason, it didn’t work. Petra fakes being brainwashed until she can solve the mystery of what became of her parents and brother. Secretly, she recounts stories of earth to her brainwashed roommates, and slowly their memories come back. They escape in a small spacepod/ship and land on the target planet. Higuera’s fast-paced, sci fi story has a very satisfying ending. It is a story of friendships, family loyalty, mystery , and adventure.I definitely would describe it as a darned good read.
Dive, the sequel to Discover, (reviewed some time ago here on PWR) takes up literally where the first book left off, as the boys leave the desert in Ari’s truck after sharing their first kiss. In the second book, Ari drops Dante off at his house and begins to ponder all the “hard questions” the second book explores. Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World has been described as “sincerely insightful ” and “achingly romantic” as we see the boys experience their new relationship through the eyes of their friends and society. What they find is a hostile world. As Ari begins his senior year in public school, he learns to reach out to friends and even one old enemy, something he’s never done before. In the first book, Ari and Dante fall in love, in the second, they learn what it means to stay in love as they “forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them.”
In Diving , there is a shocking loss I didn’t see coming, which forces Ari to become a man. Dante and Ari will be separated at the end of their graduation year as Dante gets a summer internship in Paris (sooner than the expected separation when they matriculate at different colleges). It seemed to me that the second book focused on Ari as it chronicled his relationships with his father, with his mother, with Dante, and with the world.
There is a germ of hope at the end that a sequel to the sequel, transforming this love story into a trilogy, might be forthcoming.
Today’s Friday First Liner comes from Pony by R. J. Palicio.
“It was my bout with lightning that inspired Pa to become immersed in the photographic sciences, which is how this all began.”
I have just begun the book, but it is already marvelous.
I had the opportunity to read quite a bit this weekend, as I was not feeling up to par and didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything much. When not sleeping the extra hours from feeling bad or the additional hours gained from going to bed extra early Saturday night, and then another hour from the end of Daylight Savings Time, I did nothing but read. Here are the results:
This novel, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philipp Sandker is interesting. It presents protagonist, Julia Winn, whose father disappears without explanation. She travels to Burma and learns of his early life before he was her father and of his return to Burma shortly before his death in search of his one true love. Julia learns what real, pure love is as she learns of her dad’s love for Mimi. The book is filled with family mysteries and is a “magical and uplifting tale of hardship and resilience and the unyielding power of love.” It is a darned good read.
Described as a “frank tale of teenage girlhood,” this novel tells the story of Jemimina, a complex character who is fighting the male patriarchy with all she’s got. In her school, she is chosen as part of the Triumvirate who “rules” the school, and with Jemima’s strong desire to “make things different,” changes the ways things are done at this posh private school. It is also a story of first love, “the first time,” and first impressions. It is frank, relevant, and challenging to YA readers.
I finished four Cybils nominees this weekend, one of which made my shortlist. I understand that a panelist for the first round in poetry (mostly novels in verse) should list 5-7 candidates for the award. I believe the one I added makes 5. I still have many to read, so I will have to do some “adjusting” to my list.
I HOPE YOU HAD A PRODUCTIVE READING EXPERIENCE THIS WEEKEND TOO!
Between Two Skies by Joanne O’Sullivan, published in 2017 discusses “post-Katrina (Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans around 2005) relocation and renewal.”
The story is told from Evangeline’s point of view and involves her sister, Mandy and the other members of her family. Mandy is dying to be crowned an Orange Queen in the popular Bayou Perdue parade. Evangeline is a queen of another parade (her first time at winning a title), but she is an unwilling Shrimp Queen.
Hurricane Katrina makes a direct hit on Bayou Perdue, wiping out the town. Fortunately, Evangeline and her family evacuate in time and stay with a relative. As the plot progresses, the family is split apart, some wanting to stay with the relative, others wanting to re-start their life in Bayou Perdue.
Bittersweet emotions emerge as the story revolves around teen romance and other teen issues: underage drinking, friendships and loyalties, betrayal, and “mean girls.” The author, through Evangeline, expresses a strong love of nature, the bayous of Louisiana and its wildlife. When Evangeline and her father are out on their boat, the reader can “see” the surrounding environment.
Full of “richly drawn characters,” this YA novel proves that “not even a hurricane can defeat the human heart.” It is a darned good read.
Mantivore Dreams by blogging friend S.J. Higbee is an exciting novel aimed at YA target readers. This far from YA reader, LOL, enjoyed it immensely.
After having read the Sunblind trilogy by this friend, my appetite was whetted for more, and this new series, The Arcadian Chronicles really delivers.
Kyrilla, a teenage heroine lives in a Cinderella world, a slave to her hateful mother and her disabled uncle. Her inner Mantivore, Vrox, often directs her thoughts and actions as she lives out her miserable live on a strange planet.
The book is full of young love and young like, as well as family secrets and mysteries that affect Kyrilla and the entire planet. Higbee’s writing style is engaging, and her word choices are original and spot-on. Reading this book was a pleasure, even though sci fi, specifically space operas and life on other planets is a tad distant from my standard reading tastes. This book, however, is extremely readable as any good novel, full of plot twists and turns and strong on character development, things I specifically enjoy.
I fully intend to read the other books in the series and know I will enjoy what I have come to expect from this author–a darned good read!
This is the first book I read in 2020, beginning it on New Year’s Day. I chose it because one goal I have for 2020 is to deplete my TBR shelves. Sanchez’s novel has been sitting on a TBR shelf since it was chosen as the “required read” of all freshmen at UHCL, where I teach, a year or so ago. It is both humorous and heart-warming, plus according to students who read it, authentic.
Julia, the younger sister can not live up to her parents’ expeditions for her to be like Olga, her perfect older sister. When the novel opens, Olga has been killed in a horrible accident, and the family is unraveling in the wake of the tragedy. Lorena, Julia’s best friend does her best to bring Olga out of her grief and anger at her parents’ demands, but Julia sinks lower and lower into depression and begins to find out mysterious things about Olga’s life. Maybe Olga was not so perfect after all. Maybe Julia will never achieve her dream of gong to college and becoming a writer. The Latino culture and the family’s issues and relationships provide good reading for anyone interested in an engaging story.
This 2010 publication won the Bellwether Prize for fiction (an award featuring social justice) that year. It could be categorized as a YA novel, but it had great appeal to me as an adult reader. The heroine, Rachel, whose unusual blue eyes are often mentioned, is the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I.
After the family tragedy that happened in Chicago, which defines the rest of her life, she goes to live with her grandmother (on her father’s side) in Portland. The novel deals with the issue of whether Rachel is “black” or “white”–she doesn’t fit in with either. A parallel story finds Jamie, later known as “Bricks,” who lived in the apartment projects where Rachel’s family “ended,” leaving her the only survivor. Jamie is a witness to the tragic event.
The story unfolds, layer by layer, with anecdotes about each of the main characters alternately, until they meet serendipitously near the end, and Jamie helps Rachel find her identity–herself. Rachel’s quest and ability to overcome great loss testify as to the strength of her character and her tenaciousness. Jamie is also an overcomer, and the adding of his strength to Rachel’s allows the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, which is the plot, to fit together in a satisfying way. Durrow writes a poignant story which makes the reader sigh as she reads the last words.
Hoarding Books hosts a meme where bloggers/readers copy the first line of a book they are reading to give a “feel” for what the book is about. Can one decide from the first line whether she/he wants to read the book? Read my Friday Firstliner from Kate DiCamillo’s Beverly, Right Here:
“Buddy died, and Beverly buried him, and then she set off toward Lake Clara. She went the back way, through the orange groves…she saw her cousin Joe Travis…[who was] nineteen years old. He had red hair and a tiny little red beard and a red Camaro…Beverly didn’t like him all that much.”
This is not just the story of a runaway. It is an excellent character study set in a complex plot with poignant relationships at stake. YA author DiCamillo is well known by readers everywhere in grades 5- high school, and doesn’t disappoint in this excellent tale.