Monthly Archives: March 2011

Hunger Games Movie News and Other Items of Interest

It seems that the buzz keeps alternating between City of Bones movie news and The Hunger Games movie news. While we all wait to hear if Alex Pettyfer is going to play Jace, let’s obsess about The Hunger Games. As you’ve probably heard, Katniss has been cast. Congratulations to Jennifer Lawrence for landing this huge role. I haven’t seen any of her performances, but I hear she was great in Winter’s Bone and from what I have read about her she sounds pretty tough (she’s the only girl in a family of boys and she had to learn to skin a squirrel, chop wood and start a fire while filming Winter’s Bone. She should make a great Katniss, as long as she loses the blond tresses.) I know a lot of people were hoping for Hailee Steinfeld or Abigail Breslin, but maybe we’ll see one of them play Rue or Prim? So, now it appears that we are waiting on the men. Who will play Peeta and Gale? Stay tuned.

In other news, that I find equally exciting, I came across the new cover for the next Heist Society book, Uncommon Criminals, by Ally Carter.

I can’t wait for this book! It is due out June 21, so if you haven’t read Heist Society yet you have plenty of time to catch up. What’s it all about you ask? Well, it’s about fifteen-year-old Kat, who is the daughter of notorious art thieves, and a pretty clever con artist in her own right. All she wants is to get out of the family business and be a normal teen, but when her father is accused of stealing from a powerful mobster it is up to Kat to clear his good name (he he, his good name!). This book has is all-mystery and intrigue, humor, romance, action, and one super sassy female lead. Ally Carter definitely tops my favorites list. I think I am more excited about this than The Hunger Games movie. Both of her series, The Gallagher Girls and Heist Society are perfect for readers who like tough girls like Katniss without all the intensity and gore.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Helloooo? Anybody Out There?

Hi everyone (or should I say, hi reader 1 and 2?)! Seriously, where is everybody? Did you all start your St. Patty’s Day festivities early this year? Here in Cleveland it is a gorgeous day for a parade (if you’re into that sort of thing), but this lucky Irish gal is working and looking forward to corned beef and soda bread for dinner.

Here’s a little Irish tune from The Three Irish Tenors to help you pass the day:

Looking for an Irish read? Try Siobhan Dowd. Her novels Bog Child and A Pure Swift Cry painfully but beautifully portray life in 1980’s Ireland. She is the also the author of Solace of the Road, which was published posthumously and I have not read.

A Pure Swift Cry tells the heartbreaking story of Shell who is left to care for her younger siblings and their alcoholic father after their mother dies. The one bright spot in her life is her relationship with Declan and a budding friendship with a young priest. Things quickly fall apart when Declan leaves to find his fortune in America and a pregnant Shell finds her self at the center of a devastating scandal.

In Bog Child 18-year old Fergus finds himself and his family directly involved in the battle over Northern Ireland. At his age he should be focusing on finishing school and learning to drive. Instead he and his uncle discover a body buried in a peat bog and the mystery surrounding the body haunts his. To complicate matters tensions are mounting around the country and he finds himself acting as a messenger for Sinn Fein while his imprisoned brother participates in the hunger strike led by Bobby Sands.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Ranger’s Apprentice #2: The Burning Bridge

I am so happy to have discovered this series! I am really happy that I don’t have to wait for the next book in the series to be published. The second book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Burning Bridge, ended on such a cliffhanger that I want to read the third book immediately. I don’t think that is going to happen, but I am taking it home with me anyway.

The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan, 2005

Picking up where The Ruins of Gorlan ended, the kindgom is preparing for war. The Ranger Halt is charged with a diplomatic mission with Alyss while Gilan, Horace and Will are sent on a mission to warn another province about the looming war with Morgarath. This separation of Ranger and apprentice is meant to help Will regain his faltering confidence. As the three young men proceed they make a shocking discovery-Morgarath’s army is better organized than they imagined and he has devised a way to pass the impassable cliffs which will allow his army to ambush the King’s men. They also encounter the sole survivor of a Wargal attack, a servant girl named Evanlyn who is hiding a secret about herself.  Hoping to prevent a disaster, Gilan hurries ahead with the news of the planned ambush, leaving the two apprentices and the girl to follow. Instead of following the three decide to take matters into their own hands, with disasterous results.

The second volume in this series really packs a punch! The pacing is superb as tension builds with edge-of-your-seat moments that are balanced nicely with snapshots of the goings on elsewhere in the kingdom. Despite his initial apprehension over his separation from Halt, Will thrives among his peers and emerges as a true leader, earning the trust and respect of his small group. I was pleased to see the growth and development of Horace as well. Like Will, Horace gains a great deal of confidence on their journey and his swordfighting scenes are just plain cool. An impulsive act of courage by Horace at the end is truly amazing. The list of enemies continues to grow in this book as the King’s army face not only Morgarath and his Wargals, but the viking-like warriors know as Skandians who have pledged allegiance to Morgarath. The apprentices’ training is put to the test in this page-turner as battles and fights erupt throughout the book and the cliffhanger ending will have readers rushing out for the next book, The Icebound Land. If you stopped reading after the first book, I highly recommend you give the series a second chance. It really has something for almost everyone-world-building fantasty, action, adventure, war strategy, swordfights, great characters, interesting relationships, and even a touch of humor.

Want more adventure reads? Try The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix, the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer, the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale, or the Hunchback Assignments series by Arthur Slade. I know I will be working on The Rangers Apprentice series while I wait for the next Rick Riordan book!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

P.S. Spell check function is not working, please forgive any errors!

Iron King Review

I did it! I read and enjoyed a faerie book! Over the weekend I finished The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. In fact, as soon as I am done with the Western that I need to read for book club, I will be starting the second book in the series, The Iron Daughter (unless someone beats me to it!).

Iron King by Julie Kagawa 2010
Iron Fey, book 1

Meghan Chase’s life stinks. She suffers a public humiliation at school, her best friend Robbie is acting strange, and her little brother Ethan is acting even stranger. On the eve of her sixteenth birthday Meghan gets some disturbing news: she is the daughter of the faerie king Oberon. Her brother’s life is in danger and it is up to Meghan to venture into Nevernever, the land of the fey, to save him. Her guide on this dangerous quest is her best friend Robbie, who she discovers is actually a faerie better known as Robin Goodfellow, or Puck. Accompanying them on their journey is Ash, a prince from the rival faerie court and Grimalkin, the talking cat faerie. The travelers discover that they must face an unknown enemy that threatens the very existence of Nevernever and the fey. Can Meghan find her true powers in time to save her brother and faeries who have risked their lives to help her?

I liked this book very much. I really appreciated the mixture of the familiar and the unknown. Oberon and Titania? Puck and Queen Mab? Thank you Shakespeare, I have heard of them! Faerie tricksters? Thanks Kiersten White, Paranormalcy taught me all about the tricky fey. Iron Horse? Whoa! Hold on a minute…this is not very fairie-ish, is it? Actually, yes, it sure is. Welcome to the world of the Iron Fey. I won’t spoil things for you, you’ll have to find out for yourself what these new breed of faeries are all about! I will say it is a pretty cool twist on faerie lore.

I loved Grimalkin. In fact, I needed to know more about the cait sidhe (pronounced caught shee). I learned that the cait sidhe (or cait sith) is a faerie from Celtic mythology that is said to be a black cat with a white spot on its breast that haunts the Scottish Highlands. Some say that it is not a faerie, but a transformed witch. In The Iron King, the cait sidhe turns out to be both a manipulative and helpful companion, offering wisdom (at a cost) and comic relief.

I also liked Meghan as a main character. She was a bit impulsive and jumped to conclusions, which was annoying at times, but she was also tough and loyal. Her attraction to Ash is not very well-developed, but I suspect that more about the Ice Prince will be forthcoming in the next book, The Iron Daughter. Overall, this was an enjoyable introduction the world of faeries. I would recommend this to people looking for a good paranormal adventure with a touch of romantic tension. I would also recommend it to people reluctant to get involved in the faerie world (like me!).

Pair with Need by Carrie Jones, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, and Wonderous Strange by Lesley Livingston.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan: Favorite YA Heroines

I am taking a well deserved day off today, but never fear, I have prepared a list for you. I love lists and I especially love lists of books. In honor of Women’s History Month I have prepared a list of books staring some of my favorite leading ladies.

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
3. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
4. Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
5. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
6. Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
7. The Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
8. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
9. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
10. Gone by Michael Grant
11. Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
12. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
13. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
14. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
15. Stork by Wedny Desol

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

What to Read Next?

My reading pile is getting dangerously close to tipping over and burying me alive! I have got to do something about it, but I am not sure which of my “what to read next” techniques to employ. I have a number of highly unscientific and totally random methods to keeping my TBR pile out of the danger zone. First, books I am dying to read are always at the top. Forget about wait lists, due dates and sleep, if it’s a must read, then I see no choice in the matter. I must read it. If there are no highly anticipated, sleep deprivation-worthy books on my pile I move on to other means of decision-making. Sometimes I like to see how I am doing on my goals. For example, I noticed that I did not read any historical fiction in February, so my next book might be historical fiction (I know there’s one somewhere in that pile!). Or I might look at how many times I have renewed an item. If I have renewed it more than once I like to either read it or give up the idea that I will read it any time soon. Due dates are another good determining factor. What ever has the nearest due date automatically gets moved to the top of the pile. This method often involves a second and third step. Step one, move the soon-to-be-due to the top. Step two, try to renew. Step three, read items that fail to renew, and be quick about it because someone else wants that book! I have also been known to do a little eeny-meeny-miny-mo. Do you have a tried and true method for picking your next books? If so, please share!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

 

Teen Pizza Pagers Read Tangerine

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I picked a book that the majority of the group did not like. There were only 5 pizza pagers present today to weigh in on Tangerine by Edward Bloor and the lone rating of 5 was not enough to cancel out the other four low marks. Here’s the scoop:

Paul Fisher, who used to play goalie on his soccer team despite being legally blind, moves from Texas to Tangerine, Florida with his family. Strange things take place in their exclusive middle class neighborhood-muck fires, deadly lightning, and disappearing fish from the pond.  Natural disasters finally work in his favor when a sinkhole destroys his school, allowing him to transfer to a school that will allow him to play soccer despite his disability. As Paul works to fit in at his new school he struggles with nagging memories from his childhood that involve his football star older brother, Erik. A series of disturbing events shed light on the truth behind Paul’s blindness and reveal to all Erik’s true nature.

I would agree that this was not my favorite read, but I was definitely more generous than the teen critics! This book has a lot going on and is full of excellent discussion topics. The biggest complaint I heard was that it was boring. It’s true that Tangerine is not an action-packed thriller, but there is plenty of dramatic tension and some pretty shocking revelations that certainly held my attention.

I will tell you what I told my group-everyone’s taste is different. It’s ok to not like a book and discussions can be more interesting when there is disagreement. While four out of my five teen readers would not recommend this book, I would and I will try this award winner again with a new group.

Pair this with No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman or Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Here is how they rated it:

Tori- .5 (she really disliked the book!)
Carla- 2.5
Maddie- 1.5
Dell- 2
Claire- 5
Total- 2.3 out of 5 pepperonis

Curious about our next book? It’s Readers Choice! I pulled a handful of books that I thought would make good Book Club choices and asked them to pick one and report back.  I am looking  forward to hearing what they think of the following:

Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
Notes From the Dog by Gary Paulsen
Endgame by Nancy Garden
Pop by Gordon Korman
All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall
The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

I am also excited about implementing some of the Teen Pizza Pager’s awesome ideas for making book club even better! I love this group-they want to play character charades, write alternate endings, act out favorite scenes, and do crafts related to the books. Great ideas guys! Keep ’em coming! If you have any recommendation for books that are great for a 7th and 8th grade book club let me know.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan