The Hunger Games Movie Trailer

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I cannot wait for this film to be released. The Hunger Games Trilogy are probably the best young adult books I’ve read since Harry Potter. Collins’ tells an amazing story with rich, beautiful, and sometimes painful, details. Her heroine is not the bravest or strongest but she has the greatest will. Collins also reminds us that there isn’t always a “happy” ending to every story, that sometimes you have to settle for good enough, which in and of itself, is kind of happy. I will definitely be re-reading the series before March. Check out all of the movie info at imdb.com and the official site.




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Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

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Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

“When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Escaping from his unbearable Muggle guardians to Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles into a sinister adventure when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous, or both.”

It was 2000 when I first read Harry Potter. My friend Super Suz recommended the series to me but I put off reading it for ages. I wasn’t into reading much young adult stuff back then and my argument for not reading them was that I wasn’t interested in reading children’s book. How book-snobbish of me.

It was around the time the first film was coming out and I was hearing a lot about the controversy that was being stirred up over witchcraft and censorship. Censorship and banning books is one of my pet issues so it piqued my interest in the books a bit more. I finally broke down and borrowed the first three books.

I read them all in less than a week! I couldn’t put them down. Didn’t want to put them down either! I was hooked from chapter one of the first book. I immediately told my mom that she needed to read them. After she read them, she and my daddy went to see the first movie. After they saw the movie Daddy decided to read the books as well. Now we’re all three addicted to the entire series.

I own several copies of all seven books. This edition of HP & TPS is a Bloomsbury edition that they put out to satisfy adult readers in the UK. Adults didn’t want to be seen on the train reading books with cartoon covers so they released these with adult covers to satisfy that audience. These editions are hard to find as they are only sold in the UK. I was able to get mine on eBay but even then they’re hard to find at a good price.

I read the entire series once a year. I always try to stretch it out and read one book a month so it’ll last for seven months, but I usually end up reading them all back to back and finishing them in a month or less.

Paperback
332 pages
Published July 10th 2004 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN13: 9780747574477
British Fantasy Award (1999), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adolescent Literature (2008), British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year (1998), Smarties Prize (1997), Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002)
Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (2000), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (2001), South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2001), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2000), Charlotte Award (2000), Nene Award (2000), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2000), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2001), Blue Hen Book Award for Chapter Book (2001), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Reader Category (2000), Sasquatch Reading Award (2000), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2000), Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2000), Carnegie Medal Nominee (1997), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)

5 stars

Magyk (Septimus Heap #1)

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Magyk (Septimus Heap #1) by Angie Sage


“The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus? “


This series has been on my to-read list for a while. I was pleased, when I finally got around to getting it from the library, with how long the book was. Typically, for me, the longer the book the better. Not so in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story. It was just. So. Freaking. Long. Sage probably could have told the story in half the pages and sped the pace up a little bit and it would have been just as good. I’m going to read the second book in the series next month but if I feel the same about the second book, I’ll probably give the series up as a lost cause and move on. I can see kids getting bored with the book in the middle, but when the action picks up, it is a really good story.


Hardcover
564 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN13: 9780060577315


3 stars

Shadowmaker

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Shadowmaker by Joan Lowery Nixon


Soon after she and her mother come to the small Texas town of Kluney and experience a series of menacing events, Katie begins to suspect there is something sinister going on involving a secret gang of high school students and a company illegally storing toxic waste.


Katie’s mom is an investigative journalist who is known for stirring up trouble in small, corrupt towns. They come to stay in the small town of Kluney so that Katie’s mom can work on her latest book which has nothing to do with Kluney. But, the townspeople are certain that she is there to uncover their dirty little secret. Which just so happens to be toxic waste. Talk about dirty! It’s kind of like the plot of a Steven Seagal movie, if Steven were a teenage girl and not a martial arts specialist. Overall, a good book.


Paperback
208 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1994)
ISBN 0440219426


3 stars

Don’t Scream

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Don’t Scream by Joan Lowery Nixon

When two new guys start at Jess’s high school, she thinks the year is really looking up. What she can’t know is that there is a connection between them. One has been given a new identity by the government. The other is seeking revenge. Jess doesn’t know whom she can trust. Will she be the next victim?


As a teenager, I read pretty much everything Joan Lowery Nixon ever wrote. She was one of my favorite young adult authors. She wrote fun mysteries that were short, light reads but that had enough twists and turns that I couldn’t always figure out who the bad guy was.


Don’t Scream was published in 1996, so it will probably seem a little dated to today’s teens, but I think they would still find it an enjoyable read. The character development is thin, but it typically is in this genre. At less than two hundred pages, there really isn’t time to do much character development.


This genre of book always reminds me of the awesomely cheesy 80’s movies that I love; The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, for example. Like those movies, the book is a little fluffy but a good, quickly told story. Overall, a pretty nice way to pass the time.


Paperback
176 pages
Published September 8th 1997 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1996)
ISBN 0440227100


3 stars

Stargirl

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

” “She was homeschooling gone amok.” “She was an alien.” “Her parents were circus acrobats.” These are only a few of the theories concocted to explain Stargirl Caraway, a new 10th grader at Arizona’s Mica Area High School who wears pioneer dresses and kimonos to school, strums a ukulele in the cafeteria, laughs when there are no jokes, and dances when there is no music. The whole school, not exactly a “hotbed of nonconformity,” is stunned by her, including our 16-year-old narrator Leo Borlock: “She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl.”

In time, incredulity gives way to out-and-out adoration as the student body finds itself helpless to resist Stargirl’s wide-eyed charm, pure-spirited friendliness, and penchant for celebrating the achievements of others. In the ultimate high school symbol of acceptance, she is even recruited as a cheerleader. Popularity, of course, is a fragile and fleeting state, and bit by bit, Mica sours on their new idol. Why is Stargirl showing up at the funerals of strangers? Worse, why does she cheer for the opposing basketball teams? The growing hostility comes to a head when she is verbally flogged by resentful students on Leo’s televised Hot Seat show in an episode that is too terrible to air. While the playful, chin-held-high Stargirl seems impervious to the shunning that ensues, Leo, who is in the throes of first love (and therefore scornfully deemed “Starboy”), is not made of such strong stuff: “I became angry. I resented having to choose. I refused to choose. I imagined my life without her and without them, and I didn’t like it either way.”

Jerry Spinelli, author of Newbery Medalist Maniac Magee, Newbery Honor Book Wringer, and many other excellent books for teens, elegantly and accurately captures the collective, not-always-pretty emotions of a high school microcosm in which individuality is pitted against conformity. Spinelli’s Stargirl is a supernatural teen character–absolutely egoless, altruistic, in touch with life’s primitive rhythms, meditative, untouched by popular culture, and supremely self-confident. It is the sensitive Leo whom readers will relate to as he grapples with who she is, who he is, who they are together as Stargirl and Starboy, and indeed, what it means to be a human being on a planet that is rich with wonders.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Not quite as much as I hoped to but it was still a great YA story. The characters didn’t feel like high school students to me, more like middle schoolers I guess, but overall it was a very well written book. I think it makes you ask yourself some questions when you’re reading it. Questions that most of us choose to ignore on a daily basis, whether we are in school or the workplace.

Mass Market Paperback
186 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Laurel Leaf (first published August 8th 2000)
ISBN13: 9780440416777
Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (2003), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2003), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2003), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2001), Iowa Teen Award (2003), Iowa Teen Award (2003), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2001), Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book for Children’s Literature (2001)

4 stars

The Giver

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

“Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.”

A Newbery Award winner, this book is one that I can read over and over again and I pick up different subtleties each time.

Jonas lives in a supposed utopian society but as he becomes older he finds that fairness comes at a price.

I just read the book a few months ago but I find myself wanting to read it again now, just because it makes me question things. Perhaps I’ll pick it up again this week. At only 179 pages, it’s a pretty fast read. I definitely recommend it for kids as young as middle school, but adults should read it too.

Paperback
179 pages
Published January 24th 2006 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published March 29th 1993)
ISBN13: 9780385732550

Newbery Medal (1994), British Fantasy Award (1994), Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (1994), Garden State Book Award for Teen Fiction Grades 6-8 (1996), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (1996)
Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (1996), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (1995), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award for Senior (1996), New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award (1997)

5 stars