November Treasure

November is my birthday month and my sweet husband has once again loaded me up with enough goodies to last me till Christmas 🙂

Today is an absolute treasure as the kids are home from school and all happily occupied – so no school run for me!
A cold front moved in making it perfect snuggle-on-the-couch weather.
My blanket is soft and fresh from the laundry 🙂
And I have ‘The Unbound’ by Victoria Schwab in my cozy little hands.

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Book for the summer (or not)

I picked up ‘Feed’ by M.T. Anderson last time I was at the secondhand book store after seeing it mentioned in ‘Writing Irresistible KidLit’ by Mary Kole.

The end of school was fast approaching so I knew I wouldn’t be able to dive right in, but I placed ‘Feed’ on my desk ready for those brief moments of downtime (aka the kids are asleep and the husband is gaming.)

I finally picked it up last week and tried to get into it… and failed. I’ve only managed seven pages and I can’t bring myself to struggle through any more. This is (almost) a first as I try very hard to get to the end of each and every book I start reading. (My only other failure-to-finish books being ‘Gerald’s Game’ by Stephen King and the infamous ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by E.L. James.)

What is the problem with ‘Feed’?

Well, it won an award (Los Angeles Times Book Prize) and is held up as an example in Mary Kole’s excellent book on writing, there are also many good reviews to be found so other readers have enjoyed it.  I’m not saying it’s a bad book. I can’t even say if it’s a good story or not because I haven’t made it far enough in.

MY problem with this book is the language used, I can’t follow it! Maybe if I gave it more time and spent that little bit more energy figuring it all out, I would understand what the author is trying to say and enjoy the story. But I don’t want to do that. When I pick up a book I want to fall into that other world, I want it to welcome me with open arms and show me all of it’s charms. I don’t want to feel like I’m studying.

‘Feed’ is set in a future where humans have a ‘feed’ directly into their brains which tells them what they like, what they should buy, what they should think. The main character is a teenage boy named Titus and the opening scene has Titus and his friends heading to the moon for a vacation. Sounds pretty interesting so far, yeah? The back cover of the book tells me that things change for Titus when he meets a girl who wants to fight the feed. It sounds great! I really wanted to read this story and see what happens, but to me the language used is so convoluted I just couldn’t get in to it.

The MC is a teen, so he uses slang. The problem is that he uses future world slang which means nothing to me, so I read a few lines and then have to decipher what it means. Which to me, feels like this:

We were all going to *made up word* but then she *made up word* and that was really *made up word* so then we just *made up word*.

 

What my kids are reading

Little One was very disappointed last week when she finally had to turn in the school library book she’d been checking out on an endless loop for the past month.

‘Fern the Green Fairy’  by Daisy Meadows is the first chapter book my first grader has actually obsessed over  (I’m so proud!) she wanted to read it even when she was clearly too tired to function (we’ve all been there, right book lovers?) We didn’t actually get to the end of the story, because she kept rereading her favorite pages so I may have to go book shopping and buy her her very own copy, perhaps the entire Rainbow Fairy set. http://www.rainbowmagiconline.com/books/books_rainbow.html

The Boy had been reading ‘A Boy at War’ by Harry Mazer for his class book club. (I applaud the teacher for trying. I also shake my head and sigh in a knowing kind of way.)  My son was semi-interested in this dramatic tale of the attack on Pearl Harbor as witnessed by a 14 year old boy. As soon as discussion of plot and theme came up, my boy drifted away. He did like me reading with him, I did not like the mention of burned people, the be-a-man’s-man vibe or having to read the American word ‘fanny’ because for Brits it has a different meaning

I bought my son  ‘My Life as a Stuntboy’ by Janet Tashjian in an attempt to reignite the reading spark.

My newly minted teenaged daughter (oh god, I have a teenager? Great googly moogly! and Holy shit Batman!)  is now reading ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ by Ned Vizzini which has a really cool cover and is the story of Craig, a really smart New York City teen who cracks under the pressure of keeping up with the other geniuses at his snazzy new school and tries to kill himself. Craig ends up in the mental hospital where he makes some interesting new friends. I haven’t read this one, but my kid is enjoying it and from other reviews I think it looks good.

My teen (gulp!) also recently devoured ‘Out of My Mind’ by Sharon M.Draper, the story of an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who cannot walk or talk, but who’s smarter than anyone around her realizes. Melody is determined to make herself known, to overcome her limitations and communicate with the people around her. My kid liked this one so much she had to come tell me about parts of it, I need to add this title to me ‘to-read-once-I’ve-stolen-it-from-my-kid pile.’

 

 

 

A review: Thirteen Reasons Why

While I was reading Thirteen Reasons I thought it was okay, well written, something different but nothing special. Once I had finished though, I started to think about the story more and somehow in hindsight I liked it a bit more.

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher is a heartbreaking tale of teen suicide.

It’s one of those stories you read where you know what’s coming, you know that you can’t change what lies ahead, but you find yourself talking to the book, telling that one character what to do, what not to do, how to avert the disaster which so obviously awaits them – except it’s worse than that because from the very first sentence, the first word, it’s too late. Hannah Baker is dead.

Hannah has left behind a shoebox full of cassette tapes*  The box of tapes is making the rounds to a select list of people, people that Hannah feels are to blame, in part, for her death. Clay has just received the box. He has no idea why anyone would send him old audiotapes, but he heads into his garage and dusts off his dad’s stereo. He loads the first tape, hits play, and is shocked to hear Hannah’s voice. The voice of a dead girl. The girl liked.

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ follows Clay as he struggles through each of the tapes.

Seven tapes, thirteen stories. He doesn’t want to listen, doesn’t want to hear his own name, but he can’t stop. He needs to know, he needs to understand.

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ is Jay Asher’s debut novel. It’s very well written. The characters are real. The tragedy and loss, palpable. It’s also a story of how each of us touches, connects with, has an influence upon the lives of others around us and how we need to be more aware, more sensitive to that.

There is some content which I feel is not suitable for younger teens, namely sexual assault, so I won’t be passing this one to my daughter anytime soon, but I will make it available to her when she’s a little older.

*History lesson: Cassette tapes are from the stone age, ask your parents if they have any fossilized remains they could show you. Before Ipods and MP3s music came on CDs and before CDs music came on cassette tapes.

A review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent

Divergent (Photo credit: prettybooks)

Divergent is another tale of dystopia. And it’s really rather good.
The main character, who is telling you her story, does not introduce herself… you don’t even find out her name ’til page 10… because she is Abnegation and the way of Abnegation is one of selflessness.

The Abnegation dress in gray clothing, they have plain hairstyles, live in plain homes and have quiet, simple lives. They believe in always putting the needs of others first. They keep their mirrors covered, ask few questions and follow a strict set of rules which ensure that their every action, every thought, exists only to benefit others.

It’s a lifestyle with which the MC, Beatrice, struggles to feel comfortable.

Along with Abnegation, there are four other factions into which all of the citizens are divided.

Candor values honesty above all else, and the truth must always be told, no matter how difficult.

Amity values peace and happiness, they strive to find joy in all things.

The Erudite value knowledge, they believe that the best life is one of constant learning.

Dauntless value bravery, and insist on a life of challenge and risk.

At the age of sixteen, each citizen takes a secret aptitude test to determine which of the five factions best suits their nature. After the test comes the choosing ceremony, where each teen declares publicly which faction they will join, where they will stay for the rest of their life.

Beatrice loves her family, but she does not love Abnegation. As she prepares for the aptitude test, she is worried. She does not want to live her life in Abnegation, but she does not want to reject her family. Even the idea that she has a choice causes her distress, would a girl raised Abnegation choose for herself?

There’s a lot more to the story, but I don’t like spoilers.
To find out what happens to Beatrice, and to find out what the title means, you’ll have to read Divergent.

I’d love to pass this book along to my 12yo but she fears all novels which may dilute her love for The Hunger Games.