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Sunday, October 31, 2010


By Eireann Corrigan

In this book, Finn and her friend Chloe have trained to look good on college applications for their entire young adult lives. When their advisor tells them it isn't enough for the best schools in the country, they gain inspiration from a recent kidnapping and stage an abduction of their own. As Chloe sits it out in a basement, Finn works her way through the next few days pretending to be clueless, distraught, unhelpful to police, family and friends; the idea being that both Finn and Chloe become more interesting to those top-notch colleges. But, not everything goes as planned as some are forced to get the short end of the stick.

When I read this book I peeked at the inside cover at the summary, which I deeply regretted. It had a little teaser which gave me the feeling of impending doom. When I got through the book to the end I realized how much I overestimated: I was expecting something along the lines of a horror book, which left me pent-up and anxious for the entire first half of it. Honestly, not much happened in the beginning. It was mostly focused on the stress Finn got from lying to everyone, and her stress just mostly made me feel stressed, which made my nervousness and anticipation worse. When the action peaked at about 3/4ths way through, I felt a lot more interested through to the end. The beginning/middle wasn't as great because it was all just about Finn and her stressful life for a few days (which were hard to count), and it got slower and boring. The book had rut-like qualities where the action should have been picking up, and the rising action with the climax along with the falling action was smushed into a small space at the end. The resolution, however, was written in an appropriate amount of space. For me, getting through the slower parts to the good stuff was rewarding because the book tied all the lose ends together into a solid finish that made me think a lot about the whole book. Only until the end, but there the entire story made sense and makes it worth reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 10 p.m. Question by Kate De Goldi

Twelve-year-old Frankie is nervous, a worrier if there ever was one. But he he's getting by, doing enough thinking and worrying for everyone. That is, until Sydney enters the scene. Free-spirited, fun-loving Sydney, a girl who has been enrolled in 22 schools and whose mother is a high-end prostitute, leads Frankie to question everything. He starts to wonder if maybe his mother's way of life-- she hasn't left their house in 9 years-- isn't normal.

Kate De Goldi, an author from New Zealand, has written a delightful, smart book about a truly unique character. This is not the kind of book to read in one sitting, but rather, one to be savored. While Frankie is twelve, he is by no means your average twelve-year-old, and this book would best be enjoyed by teens and adults. The characters in this book are exceptionally well-developed, from Frankie's siblings to his dad who walks around naked, to his three aunts, to his cat, Fat Controller. Frankie's mother's dilemma is painfully realized by everyone around her, and yet the moments we share with her show just how complex she is. She has a deep awareness of what she wants for her son, and yet she is completely incapacitated to make any changes in her own life. The way her story plays out over the course of the book is absolutely brilliant. I love how De Goldi engages the bigger themes that anyone can relate to, such as the natural fear of becoming your parents.

But perhaps what I enjoyed most about this book is the writing. De Goldi is such a skilled storyteller, employing a great slow crescendo in the story. I especially love the way she details Frankie's little "horrors" in a way that shows how understandable, but also how funny they are. Readers will be able to relate to these sentiments. It's just that Frankie feels them at a much higher magnitude than the average person. I particularly enjoyed when Frankie related the horror at the public pool:

"And last Saturday when they'd been there he'd had his annual unsavory collision with a Band-Aid. There was nothing more revolting in Frankie's view than freestyling your way, innocent and blissful, into the path of a used Band-Aid. In Frankie's private hierarchy of squeamish experiences, the casual caress of a stained Band-Ad was right up there with accidentally catching the sight of writing maggots in a forgotten rubbish bag. He'd had to get out of the pool immediately last Saturday and lie on his towel in the sun to recover" (p. 30).

Oh, Frankie. He's a delight in precisely the same vein as Sheldon Cooper. So particular about things!

RIYL (Read If You Like): The Big Bang Theory and/or thoughtful books.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Way of Kings

By Brandon Sanderson.
This book was a refreshing counterpoint to the dreary wiles of contemporary fantasy. The first book in a planned series of ten, and already a weighty tome by its own virtue at 1008 pages, it has a plethora of potential; trust me, it'll need the full estimated 10,000 pages to fully complete the world of Roshar. This world is a one that is fully fleshed-out and realized in a way that puts to shame the more conventional world-building techniques used by lesser authors. Indeed, I'll go as far as to say that Sanderson has invented a wholly new technique for world-building.
World-building is a technique used mostly in the fantasy genre of fiction to denote the creation and description of the setting of a world different from our own. Sanderson has taken his to a whole new level; four 'interludes' provide three stories apiece, two of which have as their sole purpose to describe more of Sanderson's world. The third follows a story started in the prologue which spans the whole of the book as a somewhat dark back story. The main story, however, (without going into too much detail) sets up the main plot for the rest of the 9 books remaining, and shows a large part of the world of Roshar. The main premise is that huge storms constantly blow across the world, and humanity has had to adapt to the storms. Wildlife has developed thick shells, and Roshar's flora has developed the ability to retract completely into the stone. The storms give off Stormlight, which powers much of the world. The currency, spheres, is basically spheres of glass with a gem chip inside of them; the gem is charged for about a week every time it is left outside in such a 'highstorm' and gives off light, which the inhabitants of the world use to light their lives. These infused gems also power the magic of transmutation, which is achieved by inventions called 'fabrials'. The characters outline the class balance and premise of the war; a lord and a lowly slave are two characters who are embroiled in the war with a race called the Parshendi, far away on the Shattered Plains. The third character, Shallan, provides the knowledge the reader needs to understand her world. She shares this information through her interactions with the Heretic, Jasnah, the royal princess and her mentor.
At the heart of it all, a benevolent character hides true purpose behind a mask of generosity.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Girl Parts

Featuring two boys and a robot girlfriend designed to solve 'disassociation' among troubled teenage boys, this book was written to explore human relationships. While the beginning held no promises and characters were not very important, halfway through the book met all expectations one can make from seeing the cover. Rose (the robot) forms an interesting relationship with David and later with Charlie, but the end of the book disapointingly only held a promising future for Charlie, minimal reassurance for David, and totally unknown future for Rose. Rose became a very important character that I felt had a lot of potential for further development and exploration, but the end of the book cut this quite short. While the importance of human relationships were emphasised well with robots made to order to a boy's fantasy, there could have been more focus on character development for Charlie and especially David. While the concept was facinating, the overall construction was poor. Yet, still worth reading on a rainy day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

All Just Glass

All Just Glass by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The Vida'a are a family of witches who fight vampires. When Sarah becomes a vampire, her mother orders Adia, Sarah's sister, to kill her. The Vidas declare war on the vampires, and no one is safe until Adia puts a knife through her sister's heart. I really enjoyed this book, it was intriguing, everyone had secrets, and the very foundation of the family was tested. The book takes place over a 24 hour period, so some of it is confusing, but over all it was good. I would suggest this book if you like vampires, but find Twilight to be poorly written, and too happily-ever-after. I would also suggest this book if you are looking for a quick read.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dear CCHS Galley

I hope you can all find this message, and thus the blog. I've set it up to let us all contribute our posts to the blog. If there's anyone I forgot to send an invitation to or couldn't get the email of, you are welcome to tell me so I can fix it. You're also, of course, welcome to invite them yourselves. I trust the permissions are set to allow everyone full access, but if not I can tinker with them. Thanks, and I'll be waiting to fine-tune the blog with all of you!

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