Monday, April 26, 2010

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Keeper, by Kathi Appelt, is a children's novel that probably will mean more to adults.  I don't think I would have understood the meaning behind the story as a ten-year-old.  As a thirty -something adult, I "got it".  Or at least I understood my version of the story.  I wonder if my thoughts line up with the intention of the author? 

Keeper is a ten-year-old girl who lives on a little stretch of land on the Gulf of Mexico.  It is the World Unto Itself according to her neighbor Mr. Beauchamp.  Keeper lives with Signe, who is like her mother but isn't.  She works for Dogie, who is like her father but isn't.  Next door is Mr. Beauchamp who whittles her figurines and tells her stories.  He is like her grandfather but isn't.  Along with the adults who watch over her, she has BD (Best Dog), Captain the seagull, Too (another dog), and Sinbad the one-eyed cat.

Keeper believes that her mother was a mermaid who left her with Signe when she was a toddler.  When the perfect day goes completely wrong, she sets out in a boat to try to find her mother.  She truly believes that Meggie Marie, her mermaid mother will make things right.

I thought this story was beautiful.  It's all about figuring out that you have exactly what you need, even when you don't realize it.  It is perfectly appropriate for the audience it was meant for although there are hints of homosexuality between two characters.  That's only a small caution in a lovely story.  Like I mentioned above, children may not understand the deeper meanings so it's a great book to read and discuss with your kids.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Under the Dome, by Stephen King, is a big book.  A really big book.  Over 1000 pages of big book.  Thank goodness I chose to read this on my Kindle!  First off, I want to say that I loved the book.  I thought it was great.  The only bad thing I have to say is that it took me forever to read it.  I think it took me over a month, which is just ridiculous!  Yet it was all good.  I'm going to blame the Olympics again.  Watching all those events sucked a great deal of my reading time away.

Under the Dome is the first Stephen King novel I've read.  I've read On Writing, which is excellent, and I've read his columns in Entertainment Weekly.  I've also seen many movies based on his books so I'm not completely out of the loop.  That being said, I still wasn't prepared for the chipmunk dying at the beginning of the book.  Wow.   I had to put the book down for a bit after that!  And that was just the start.

The story is about a small town in Maine that is trapped by a dome that clamps down over the town.  Things turn chaotic very quickly as the town Selectman, Big Jim Rennie, starts taking over.  He thrives on the chaos as he wants very much to be in control.  He's very evil.  I don't want to give much away but there is a clear line drawn between good and evil.  There are the rebels, fighting to find an answer and destroy the dome.  There are those who are working for Big Jim who follow orders blindly.  And there are those who are just trying to keep their families safe.

This is a book that makes you wonder what you would do, trapped in a town, freedom taken away.  It's a great big interesting book.  I recommend it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

She's So Dead to Us, by Kieran Scott, is a well -written teen drama.  There are mean girls, crushes, sports, pranks, and miscommunication.  The book centers around Ally Ryan, a high school junior who moves back to her hometown after being away for a year and a half.  When Ally left her town, she was one of the rich kids, a "Crestie" who lived in an exclusive area.  Thanks to some financial mistakes made by her father, she returns to town with only her mom and lives in a condo in the Norm side of town.  Going from Crestie to Norm is rough considering that her old friends are shunning her.

Jake lives in Ally's old house.  He is a Crestie who is immediately drawn to Ally.  He fights a battle between going after the girl he's got a huge crush on and his friends who won't understand.  While the mean-girl Cresties plan pranks to pull on Ally, he grows closer to her.

The novel switched between Ally's point of view and Jake's.  I enjoyed being able to get Jake's perspective on things as most of the young adult books that I read are told from a female view.   The writing is sharp and the dialogue is all very natural.  Both characters have issues to work out and neither are perfect.  This is also a relief as I'm tired of perfect teen characters.

The only problem that I had with this novel, and it's something that is really bothering me lately in Young Adult fiction, is that there wasn't a great ending.  There was a conflict, drama, and then the novel was over.  The resolution was missing.  I'm guessing there is a planned sequel and that is why it was left the way it was.  Maybe not, maybe the rest is up to our imagination.   I'm just seeing a trend and it can be irritating to a person like me who likes happy ever afters and long, detailed epilogues!

One other note. . . I am a child of the 80's and with main characters named Ally Ryan and Jake, you can bet my mind put those names together to be Jake Ryan.  *sigh*  The perfect teen movie hunk.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

I bought Wings after hearing good things about it.  Sad to say that I was disappointed.  It sold itself as a story about a fairy and I suppose it was, but it wasn't anything like I expected.  It isn't a bad book, it's just not a great book.  I wanted it to be a great book.  It took me a long time to read because I couldn't get into it.

Laurel and her family move to a new town and she starts school for the first time.  She's been home-schooled her entire life and is forced to go to a public high school for her sophomore year.  She quickly meets David who becomes her best friend.  When odd things start happening to Laurel, she discovers who she truly is and meets Tamani, a fairy.  Tamani, David and Laurel must work together to save the fairies' land.

Pretty simple story but it didn't have an end.  It seems to be a trend with young adult books.  They don't really end or come to a conclusion.  I know the point is to get the reader to read the next book in the series, but in this case, I don't know that I will bother.  I'm not that interested. 

The book is perfect for teens but I don't think adults will get much out of it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Catching Fire by Suzzane Collins

I'm weak.  I wasn't going to read this book until May but I was pressured into it.  Now I have to wait around to read the third book in the series.  Drat.

Catching Fire continues the story of Katniss, the co-winner of The Hunger Games.  I don't want to spoil anything but the Hunger Games are back and even more twisted.  This story was nothing like I expected.  I had scenarios playing through my mind and none of them fit the reality.

The story moves along quickly and tosses the reader around a little bit.  There are moments of pure action and moments of frustration when you want to smack Katniss to get her act together.  The relationship between Katniss and Peeta grows and I found myself enjoying his character much more than I did in The Hunger Games.  I'm sure that Katniss will ultimately have to decide between Peeta or Gale but frankly she's not a romantic character and would probably be better off on her own.  Yes, I have strong opinions on fictional characters and their romantic lives.

Bottom line, if you've read The Hunger Games, you must read Catching Fire.  I'm not sure how you could resist.   Don't read Catching Fire first though.  These books must be read in order.  Go read The Hunger Games.  I'll wait.