If you're like me and you're mourning the end of the Harry Potter series, then you'll want to devour Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. It's a five book series, with the fifth coming out one week from now. Instead of the wizarding world, Riordan takes us into Greek mythology. The series is set for the most part in modern-day New York, where sometime-problem child Percy Jackson learns that one of his parents is a Greek god. This means that Percy is a demi-god and spends his summers at Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for others like him where they learn the skills necessary for any quest they might be sent on by the gods.
The best thing about this series is how much all that Greek mythology information I learned way back in middle school suddenly returned to the forefront of my mind. Even though it's present-day, Riordan uses Greek myths alongside contemporary issues. They mingle together quite well. For example, Riordan explains that Mt. Olympus always sits over the world power at present. When it was in Greece, that's because the Greeks were the center of civilization. Currently? Mt. Olympus resides above the Empire State Building in NYC.
This series is the basis for B&N's summer reading program this summer, and for that I am so excited. I can't wait to get even more kids (and my friends!) hooked on this series. Percy is a likeable, realistic boy who I think most of today's attention-deficit, video-game-loving, always-in-motion youth can identify with. His problems--minus the whole Greek demigod, fighting minotaurs and sea monsters thing--are their problems. His friends are like their friends.
This series is a relatively quick read, but it's educational and adventurous. Recommended for, well, anyone really.
When first told to try the Southern Vampire Series, I was skeptical at first since I had heard about a show on HBO (True Blood) based on them and it didn't really seem like "my thing." I was so wrong! Dead Until Dark is the first of 9 (for now) books by Charlaine Harris about the feisty heroine, Sookie Stackhouse. It took me less than one day to finish and I bought all of the rest the next day so I didn't have to wait for the next book should I finish while the bookstore was closed for the night. This book (and the rest that followed) were laugh-out-loud funny! Sookie is such a dynamic character and she fills the pages with uproarious wit and stubborn panache. Her exploits, while firmly in the realm of fantasy, are so well-written that I felt as though I was right there with her, tending tables at Merlotte's.
The premise behind the Southern Vampire Series is also part of the appeal of the novels. While reading vampire novels in the past, I have always wondered what it would be like if the vampires were no longer condemned to the hidden underworld. Charlaine Harris begins her first novel of the series by answering this very question. In the series, vampires have just "come out of the coffin" due to the invention of synthetic blood. Since they have synthetic blood, they do not need to be a danger to humans and announce themselves to the world. Sookie sees the announcement on television and her bar, Merlotte's begins to carry True Blood, just in case. Sookie meets her first vampire when he comes into the bar for a drink and is drawn into the vampires' no-longer-hidden world due to her own abilities as a psychic and her blossoming relationship with the small town's very own resident bloodsucker.
Dead Until Dark combines so many elements of fiction, I recommend it to everyone. If you are looking for humor, fantasy, romance, drama, or just something new to try, I very highly recommend trying out Dead Until Dark. In the style of truly entertaining reading, it is extremely addictive and very hard to put down so beware! Should you wind up hooked on them as myself and so many others, the next books are Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #2), Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #3), Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #4), Dead As a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #5), Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #6), All Together Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #7) , From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #8), and Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #9) .
Suzanne Collins combines the hot genre of teen fantasy with trendy reality TV. In a maybe-not-so-distant future, teenagers enter a lottery for the chance to participate in the Hunger Games, a competition broadcast on all channels where the winner takes fame and glory back to their home.
What I liked most about the book was that even for people who aren't fans of fantasy writing, The Hunger Games works just fine. The setting may be the future and the United States may not be recognizable, but enough current elements exist in the world Collins created that anyone will enjoy it. Of course I could expound on the universal themes of love and family and independence, but those are just side effects of the novel.
It's one of those books that I couldn't put down. In fact, it didn't even take a long time to get into it, like many books I've been reading lately. It started off quick-paced. It stayed quick-paced. Surprises lurked around every corner. The characters are real. I can compare them to my friends in real life. I want them to be my friends. I care about what happens to them and hope for the best. Those are some of the things I look for in a great young adult read. And The Hunger Games pretty much holds all of them.
I've never read a book that moved me the way The Book Thief did. Narrated by Death, it tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who spends her childhood living with a foster family in Germany during World War II. Naturally, a book with that setting has its fair share of tragedy, and though this one does have one of the saddest endings I've ever seen, at the same time, it is also one of the most uplifting books I've ever read. The characters are what makes this book so special; each one has traits that are likeable and detestable. They are among the most human characters that I've ever seen, and I came to care about what happened to each and every one of them. By the time I reached the climax of the book, I was so emotionally invested in the characters, that I couldn't keep from crying, and yet I still can't think of a book that I've read recently that I enjoyed more than this one.
This is a wonderful book. I can't recommend it highly enough.
The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Series #1) To all of the kids and adults who have followed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and were dismayed when the series ended -The new series from Rick Riordan, the Kane Chronicles is even better ! Rick Riordan still performs that magic that he does so well - creating a fun storyline that takes off on the first page and characters that are believable. He makes us laugh, cry and sit at the edge of our seat . As in the last series kids will learn a great deal about mythology - this time it is Ancient Egyptian Gods trying to take over and it is up to Carter and Sadie Kane to stop them before chaos rules. Things and familiar places are not what they seem and you will love the new gods, goddesses and protectors who come alive in this book. One of the things I love about his books is the way he empowers kids who feel different or have trouble in everyday life. Both brother and sister feel disjointed and powerless because of their parents and their Egyptian alter ego gives them self confidence and special gifts. While the average 13 year old may not feel like he or she has a lot of control in their life these books will speak to them to search for their own gifts. I will have no problem recommending these books to any kids from 10 and up. Reading this series together as a family is a great way to add adventure to a quiet summer.
Whenever someone asks me what the best book I've read this year is, I answer with The Hunger Games. In Katniss Everdeen's world, which is set in a not-so-different future, America has come to be run by a totalitarian government, and has simply been divided into thirteen districts. The people of Katniss's District 12 live mostly in poverty, thanks to the legend of District 13. The story goes that District 13 tried to rebel against the government, which then nuked the entire district. In order to keep the remaining twelve districts from trying anything similar, the government came up with the Hunger Games.
Every year, all children from the ages of 12-18 must enter their name in the Reaping. One boy and one girl from each district are selected at random to participate as tributes in the Hunger Games, in which all twenty-four children must fight to the death in a diabolical stadium. The Games are all broadcast live, and they don't end until there is only one child left alive. The prize for winning? Food, wealth, and a sturdy home for the winner and their family for the rest of their life. Poor children can enter their names into the Reaping more than once for an extra rations of food, making their chances of being picked even greater -- but the risk is worth it, since the government controls the trade of food between districts so tightly. The Games are a symbol of the government's power to the people of the districts, but to those who live in the Capitol (a place of great wealth, vanity, and frivolity), the Games are pure entertainment. It's a twisted mess of survival and reality television where drama and danger can earn you helpful gifts from your sponsors based on how much the Capitol viewers like you.
16-year-old Katniss, of course, ends up as a tribute in the Hunger Games. Katniss is a born fighter -- she alone has provided food for her family since her father died. She relies only on herself, and is very clever and stubborn. She has a real chance of winning the games and coming home like she promised her little sister she would. She steels herself to be ready to do what's necessary to get home, but when the Games begin, she finds that she has more trouble with the concept of killing the other tributes than she realized. This compassion, and the subsequent anger and frustration at the world she lives in, is part of what makes Katniss such a relatable narrator. She is forced to become a person she doesn't like (which includes killing and participating in a fake romance to garner sympathy from viewers) in order to survive.
Once you pick up The Hunger Games, you won't be able to put it down. It's definitely a thrill ride, with Katniss facing inevitable death with every turn of the page, but it's also got plenty of heart, as Katniss struggles to remain herself through this horrible ordeal. The series is classified as Teen, but it has widespread appeal, and adults will love it, too.
And once you've devoured The Hunger Games, you can pick up the second book in the trology, Catching Fire, which was just released. Catching Fire is just as terrifyingly good as the first book, but it delves even more into the history and politics of the Capitol and the Districts, and you'll discover the lengths the Capitol is willing to go to in order to crush any sign of a rebellion.
I recently read this series and I would definitely recommend it to any fan of the Twilight series. It has vampires in it, albeit they don't play a huge part, but they are present. The book is about 15 year old Clary Fray and she is trying to find her place in the world when her mother suddenly disappears. Who is this new guy she's met, Jace Wayland and his friends?
This book has action, romance, vampires, werewolves, and the main species which is Shadowhunters. Great series, maybe a little bit more for the mid/older teens than the younger ones.
PS: this book has 2 more, making it a trilogy. Easy reads, the level is not to difficult making it enjoyable.
I had no idea when I picked this book up how much I would love it. Set in Mississippi, during the turbulent 1960's a privileged, young, white woman dreams of being a writer. Skeeter applies to several publishing houses, but has no previous writing experience. A woman that works at a publishing house sends her a letter and tells her to write whenever and whatever she can. When Skeeter finds a job writing a "how-to" cleaning column for the local paper she realizes she needs help. She finds the answers in the form of her best friends black maid. What starts as a basic request for cleaning tips soon turns into an unbreakable bond.
You will not want this book to end and once it does you will want to tell everybody you know to read it.
If you value your sleep and free time, do not read this book.
If you start this book, you will not be able to put it down.
You will find yourself totally immersed in the unique world Patrick Rothfuss has created. Kvothe is such an instantly likeable character you will immediately be emotionally attached to his plight. Getting to know this mysterious character and his origins, in his own words, on his terms, is entertaining to say the least. This is a great novel to get lost in. From first meeting Kvothe, to his parents and their traveling troupe of performers, to his burgeoning education with Abenthy. From his life living on the rough streets with a knack for putting himself into the sights of danger, to his determination to get into the University and continue his knack for keeping himself in the sights of trouble and danger. From his first meeting with the girl of his dreams to burning down a town. Rothfuss has created a complete world that will envelope you, and leave you craving more.
When Kvothe begins his tale , he says he needs three full days to tell it properly. The 672 pages here are only day one. Which leads us to the second problem, waiting for the next installments of the series.
nook This is truly a revolutionary device designed by readers for readers. It is always a joy to share Nook and all of the wonderful features with others. From the ability to shop anywhere and anytime through the 3G and WiFi signals, to the paper-like eInk display, to not having to pay extra for large print with the adjustable font size; readers of all types and ages can enjoy Nook.
The design makes it simple to use and flexible enough for all of a reader's needs. The easily accessible battery let's users carry an extra battery with them if they are traveling. Expandable memory allows for holding a library of books in the palm of your hand that would normally would occupy a modest library. Access to shop over a million titles on the device (see covers, get an overview, read a sample, etc.) or online without the need for connecting Nook to a computer. Never lose your purchases since Barnes and Noble stores your purchases to your account. Buy once and use in multiple places by simply signing into your account with the eReader application on a PC, MAC, IPhone, IPod Touch, or Blackberry. Want to lend a book to a friend or family member? It's easy with LendMe designated books. Simply input their email address and they can read the book for up to 14 days on their own Nook, PC, Mac, IPhone, IPod Touch, or Blackberry.
There's so much to this device to be shared in just one article. I highly reommend stopping in your local Barnes and Noble and checking out all the amazing features.
Kate DiCamillo has done it again!
Peter, a young orphaned boy was taken in some years ago by an embittered soldier, who was his father's comrade. He has spent the last few years learning how to be a good soldier like his father, and although he wants to respect his dead father, his heart lies elsewhere. One day, a fortuneteller's tent pops up out of nowhere, and a force compels Peter to visit her and ask a question. Once he meets her, he doesn't even need to ask his question, but is told, "You must follow the elephant. She will lead you there." After all these years, he is faced with the hope that his little sister is still alive and that he will actually find her if he can just figure out this elephant of a riddle.
This captivating story unfolds with a dreamlike quality. The chain of events set up by the arrival of the fortuneteller constantly provokes us to ask ourselves "What if?" The beauty of this story lies in that single thought, and questioning the impossible. "What if?"...when the impossible proves not to be, one cannot help but be filled with hope.
This is a timeless fable that could definitely earn a Newbery, but more importantly inspire kids and adults in abundance. This book feels like Amelie-meets-children's-literature, and I can't wait to start recommending it.
Introducing Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde's no-nonsense, smart, funny, and loving heroine of his first series. We meet Thursday in an alternate mid-1980s Great Britain - one still fighting in the Crimea with Russia - and she is hot on the trail of forgers, Shakespeare impersonators, and book thieves. Everyone is mad for literature including Acheron Hades, the most wanted man in Britain, and it is Thursday's job to catch him once Jane Eyre is kidnapped from her book leaving the remaining pages of the beloved novel blank. Fforde's first novel is laugh-out-loud funny, including obscure literary in-jokes that even the most well-read bibliophile might miss, with a drop or two of sci-fi tech, and also quite terrifying when Thursday fights for her life atop the blazing Thornfield Hall. Fforde uses Thursday's world to comment on certain aspects of our own society including government interference by large corporations (signified by the hulking Goliath Corporation), over-commercialization, and the decline in literacy. Fforde's books suck you in, which is great because you'll want to follow Thursday through the rest of her books: Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, Thursday Next, and one more Thursday novel due sometime in 2010 (or so Jasper says); Thursday learns about the Bookworld and Jurisfiction, apprentices with Miss Havisham, fights grammasites in the Well, tracks the Minotaur, takes the indecisive Dane of Denmark under her wing, and saves Pride and Prejudice from the degredation of reality TV (now I've really got you wondering...I guess you'll have to read all the books now ) - it's all very accessibly, absurd, and fun to read. Once you've finished Thursday's published books, and need a tide-over until the next one, you can start on Fforde's Nursery Crime series (Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear), following DCI Jack Spratt and his partner, Mary Mary, as they solve hard-boiled nursery rhyme crime in Reading, and his new series, Paint by Numbers, will debut in December 2008.
Grace was attacked by wolves when she was eleven years old. Given her young age and the traumatic nature of it, her memories of the event are sketchy. But she knows there was a single wolf who saved her life that day. What she has always remembered is this: his yellow eyes. I thought I'd never see them again.
The wolf has also never forgotten seeing members of his pack tearing the life out of her while she just held his gaze, letting the other wolves mutilate her. I thought she was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, a tiny, bloody angel in the snow, and they were going to destroy her. So he stopped it.
Six years have passed, and Grace still feels a connection with her wolf. She watches him at the edge of the woods every winter when the earth is bitter with cold. She spends her summers mourning his absence. However, this peaceful seasonal pattern is interrupted when the wolves attack and kill a human. The community now feels threatened and a hunt ensues. When Grace realizes this, she does everything she can to stop it, lest her harmless wolf be slaughtered. She knows she may too late, though, as she's already heard many shots fired followed by the painful howls of wolves. A police officer forces her to go home that evening, and she is shocked by what she finds on her deck: her wolf, twisted and bloody...and human.
Here's the part where I must curb my compulsion to tell you every heartrending detail of this book (and there are so many!). But I will say that what follows is an exquisitely written story of discovery, love, and loss. This fairy tale unfolds offering ethereal delights and shocking revelations not just about our newly inseparable duo, but also the peculiar events that have been transpiring around them.
Shiver is easily the best Teen Fiction book released so far this year. A bold statement, I know, but I genuinely believe it. A must-read, especially for the Twilight-obsessed reader, any lover of paranormal romance, and those who just enjoy a well-written book.
It will make you shiver.
I have always loved fantasy novels. Growing up I loved to spend time in Narnia, Middle Earth, and Redwall, and even now as somewhat of a grown up, some of my favorite haunts can be found between the covers of a fantasy novel, And maybe that is why I fell in love with The Magicians so quickly. I could really relate to Quentin Coldwater, who even though he is near the end of high school he is still in love with the books of Fillory (think Chronicles of Narnia) even though they are much to young for him. Of course he knows that magic isn't real, that is, until he finds himself in upstate New York at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy.
This isn't just Harry Potter dressed in a new robe. Lev Grossman has created an original, engaging story that melds literary fiction with that of the fantasy genre while paying tribute to some of our favorite fantasy worlds. The narrative really zips along, and I found myself reading it at every opprotunity. Don't expect any "happily everafters" here though, as this one is certainly for the adult audience. Quentin and his friends often find themselves in darker and darker places, as growing up is never as clean and simple as we pretend it will be.
If you are looking for that next fantastic place to escape to, you can't go wrong with The Magicians.
Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;...
Whether we read in Middle English or Modern English, I'm sure teachers glossed over Chaucer's sly humor and more ribald jokes (mine did). Instead of laughing over bickering tradesmen and hypocritical churchmen, Chaucer came off dry, boring and a little stodgy.
Enter Peter Ackroyd. Known most recently for his geographic biographies, Venice, London, and Thames, as well as The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, Ackroyd gives the reader a prose translation of Chaucer's poem. Not a line-by-line translation packed into paragraphs, with annotations and definitions, but a story that emphasizes the human characters that pout and whine, take offense, pontificate, and generally enjoy telling a naughty story or two. Ackroyd's uses modern prose and sentence structure while keeping the original narrative structure, characters and setting of The Canterbury Tales intact. This is a great introduction to Chaucer for those who might be hesitant to tackle the poem, to become familiar with the characters and the enjoy the stories without worrying over rhymes and poetic metaphor; on the other hand, those already familiar with Chaucer will appreciate Ackroyd's interpretation for the warmth and humor of the language without any loss of Chaucer's wit.
Enter also Penguin USA. Penguin has recently launched new paperback "packaging" of many classics and the paperback release of Ackroyd's The Canterbury Tales wasn't left behind (the original hardcover design is at the bottom of this post). Designer Ted Steam created a cartoon cover showcasing all the pilgrims from Chaucer's tales as they pass by the reader on the cover. It's a wrap-around design and worth every chuckle (I particularly like the richness of the Wife of Bath, the silliness of the three monks sharing a horse, and the student doggedly reading while on horseback). It reminds me of old movie posters like that of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Animal House where the actors' characters are charicatured in the drawing. Steam also paneled out "The Man of Law's Tale" and "The Miller's Tale" on the interior flaps. You can see an image of the entire cover at the Superpunch blog (The Canterbury Tales is the third set of images in the post; the whole post is a great overview of some of the new Penguin covers).
Chaucer is a favorite of mine and I own a number of different editions but this one shines a little brighter for the warmth of its story and clever cover art.
It was fortuitous, then, that It's a Book, the new picture book from Caldecott Honor illustrator Lane Smith arrived at my store on Friday. Filled with subversive humor and bold clever illustrations, It's a Book is delightfully contrarian in its celebration of the printed page at a time when customers, retailers, and publishers alike are jumping on the digital bandwagon with gleeful abandon.
Smith's prose adopts a simple call-and-response format as the younger, tech-savvy Jackass peppers his older companion Monkey with questions about what he's reading ("Do you blog with it?" "Does it tweet?"), to which Monkey always answers, "No. It’s a book." The illustrations are equally simple, yet richly textured. In this regard, It's a Book is a perfect example of why eBooks won't completely replace print books (at least, not yet). I shudder to think how Smith's illustrations — which frequently take advantage of the two-page spread by having Jackass on the left-hand page and Monkey on the right — would be completely mangled on the six-inch grayscale display of a Nook, and would even lose something on Apple's iPad (which has a full-color screen and can be rotated to show a two-page format).
Smith, best known for his frequent collaborations with author Jon Scieszka, really strikes a blow for "dead tree books" with It's a Book. Kids will love the illustrations (and snicker at a certain word), while parents will be able to relate to Monkey's patience and perseverance with a child who's grown up in a world of digital ubiquity.
Delirium In Lauren Oliver's world of" Delirium "love is bad. It makes kids act impulsively , recklessly and makes them sick. It is a disease that must be treated by having an operation at 16 (read shock therapy) to cure you forever.
After the operation you pick your future spouse and live happily ever after without those annoying butterflies in your stomach and irrational behavior- right? Lena hopes that her upcoming procedure will go well and that the stigma of her mother's suicide will be gone forever. Until she ventures outside her comfort zone a bit with her friend and meets Alex. Once she feels the effects of amor deliria nervosa there is no going back. Delirium is a clever cross between the utopian society of "Matched" and the thrill of "Hunger Games".
I don't want to be a spoiler but this story will continue and I for one can't wait.
Kafka on the Shore left me breathless.
After years of an unnamed but horrific abuse, 15-year-old Kafka Tamura deliberately plans an escape from his father, a man so evil that he steals souls. As Kafka seeks both his fortune and answers to his past in the seemingly random city of Takamatsu, he finds refuge in the stacks of a library, becoming close friends with the assistant and fantasizing that the head librarian is his lost mother.
Though the magic realism of this novel begins right away - and is at times complex and seemingly random - about a quarter of the way into the book the plot and characters burst into focus and harmony. The secondary plot (involving a mentally-damaged man who can talk to cats and is on his own quest) all of a sudden aligns with Kafka's life, and the entire story dramatically rises in a tornado of crazy events and emotions: murder, incest, and oedipal prophecy.
The ending of this story was so beautiful that I couldn't read for a full day afterward from the emotional hangover. I can't wait to read more Murakami.
Divergent Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Matched, Delirium and now Divergent- young adult dystopia at it's best! Imagine a world where everyone is split up into five groups -Abdignation (selfless), Candor (truth seekers), Dauntless (fearless warriors), Amity (party people) or Erudite (scholars). You are sixteen and must make a choice but remember that if you leave the group your family is from you will not see them often and their point of view will not match yours. Now, imagine that you are split between two or more of these groups- divergent. You must keep this a secret because to be different or a hybrid is not allowed and could mean your death. Beatrice (Tris) is one of these people and is trying to settle into her new life at Dauntless but other factors keep getting in the way and her feelings are not so black and white. The plot moves as quickly as Hunger Games or Maze Runner and has that screwed up world that we all crave. I would guess that this will be the first of three and I could see a movie deal coming out of this as well. Violence is a big part of the book but I would recommend it to anyone who wants more after the end of Hunger Games.
It's hard to believe Sesame Street is now 40 years old. When the show had its debut on NET (a predecessor to PBS) in the fall of 1969, it was a bold new experiment no one was quite sure would work. Over a generation later, it's an indelible part of America's cultural landscape. Veteran TV Guide scribe Michael Davis takes readers not just behind the scenes of this children's TV mainstay, but back to the beginning. He traces the roots of the show's core creative team — Joan Ganz Cooney, Jon Stone, Sam Gibbon, Dave Connell, and of course Jim Henson — as well as the evolution of educational children's TV, from Howdy Doody to Ding Dong School to Captain Kangaroo. The show's debut doesn't even occur until halfway through the book, but by taking this approach, the audience gets a clearer understanding of where Sesame Street came from, and the disparate paths that brought its creators together.
The show's early years are tumultuous, with numerous cast changes and character tweaks (in the first year, Big Bird was quite literally stupid, and Oscar was a sort of rusty orange color) as they fine-tune the format, not to mention behind-the-scenes battles to maintain the show's federal and corporate funding. Later years are marked by numerous departures, including the heartbreaking loss of Will Lee (Mr. Hooper), the painful downward spiral of Northern Calloway (David), and the untimely deaths of Jim Henson, songwriter Joe Raposo, and Muppet performer Richard Hunt. And then, there's Elmo. While I still can't stand the character, Street Gang certainly gave me a greater appreciation for his performer, Kevin Clash, who has taken up Henson's mantle as one of the guiding creative forces behind the show today.
Davis' love for his subject manages to seep from every page without the book coming across as fawning or a puff piece. He certainly doesn't shy away from things unpleasant (as his material on Northern Calloway clearly shows). Street Gang is a fast, entertaining read, and one that will deepen your appreciation for the show which made education fun.
(A chapter on actor Roscoe Orman, the third and longest-running Gordon, is available on the book's website, and will be included in the upcoming trade paperback edition of Street Gang.)