Saturday, December 12, 2009

I am Shivering with Excitement!

Thank goodness for a power outage! Without it, this book would still be sitting on my shelf waiting to be finished (don't worry- it had many friends there). Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater, is just the thing you need to get you over those Twilight cravings. It is full of star-crossed romance, mystical creatures, and a story you cannot get enough of. While it is indeed a book about a pack of werewolves, Shiver is nothing like Jacob and the Twilight pack.

The Shiver wolves do shift between man (or woman) and wolf, but they turn into actual wolves- not the creepy man/wolf combination. The wolves cannot shift at will, but are actually at the mercy of the weather. When it gets cold, they turn into wolves for the winter. In the summer they stay in their human forms. The catch is that the longer they have been werewolves, the shorter the time they will stay human until they become permanent wolves. This final change is what Grace and Sam are dreading.

Sam is a wolf nearing the end of his human years. Grace is a girl in high school who was attacked and bitten by the wolves when she was young. The only thing that saved her was Sam. He stopped the wolves, but knew she had been bitten and would turn. Even though she didn't actually turn, Sam waited for her each and every year- in the winter as a wolf outside her house and in the summer as a boy in town. When a local boy is attacked by the wolves and mysteriously disappears from the morgue, the townspeople decide to take care of the wolf pack once and for all with a hunting party. Grace is terrified for her wolf (who she doesn't know is Sam) and races into the woods to stop it. After she finally succeeds in halting the hunters, they send her back to her house where she finds Sam on her porch, naked, shot, and with the same haunting eyes of her wolf- the wolf who saved her all those years earlier.

This starts a romance that must race against time. With winter fast-approaching, Sam and Grace try everything to keep Sam human, but it can't last forever. This is Sam's last year as a person and he does not want to lose Grace now that he finally has her. With rogue wolves, erratic and angry new wolves, and her friends and family in danger, Grace fights a long autumn.

This book is a fantastic new take on the werewolf sensation. You find yourself drawn to the wolves and their "family" while still wishing Sam could just stay human for Grace. With enough action to please the masses and enough sweet, devoted romance to make the ladies swoon, this is a great book! And the best part? The sequel is coming soon (although not nearly soon enough for me)! So give Shiver a chance and don't forget to snag Linger on July 20, 2010:
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

You will Want to Stay with this book until the End.

If I Stay
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman has a beautiful cover and a beautifully haunting story to tell you. I read this book in one sitting this summer because it was so haunting, and was reminded of it when I saw a student reading it in study hall one night. In one of those moments we teachers of dyslexic children live for, I found myself talking with her about the book with a passion and an urgency that instantly transported me to the day I couldn't put this book down.

In the first few pages, the story begins with a horrific car accident. Mia wakes up on the side of the road in the middle of the carnage. She sees the bodies of her parents and then her own. Mia is still alive after the accident, but just barely. She is transported to the hospital where her body is fighting between life and death and her mind still isn't sure.

Mia's family, friends, and boyfriend come by one by one and share their love for her, but without her parents, is there anything to return for? Mia must make the ultimate choice that none of us can imagine making- whether it is worth fighting to stay alive or easier to just relax into a peaceful end.

This book is beautiful and terribly sad right from the beginning. Hearing the words her family says to Mia's stoic face reminds me of my own family- loving and devoted beyond the average definitions of such words. You can feel how much they love her and still understand how easy it would be for her to just let go and not face the pain of what has happened to her parents. If I Stay is a relatively short read, but one that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Riot by Walter Dean Myers is a rich historical fiction screenplay. The story takes place in New York City in 1863. The Civil War is at its height and the Battle of Gettysburg recently took place. The specific event that Myers chose for the subject of the book was July 11th, 1863, the draft riots. That event would later be known as the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. During the Civil War, one of the many escalating tensions was the federally instituted draft . All male citizens between ages 20-35, as well as unmarried men ages 35-45 could be enlisted into the army by way of a lottery draw. Men who could afford to pay $300 could buy their way out of the draft. That exemption alienated and angered lower class immigrants, including Irish Americans. Black men were not required to serve in the armed services because they were not considered citizens. Vicious riots broke out in New York City after the July lottery. Frustrated by their forced participation in the Civil War, many of the rioters were Irish Americans. Stores and buildings were looted and set afire. Multiple homes were destroyed. Many black Americans, whom the Irish blamed, were attacked and in some cases murdered. The police could not hold out against the rioters, and finally, battle-hardened soldiers are ordered back from the fields of Gettysburg to put down the insurrection, which they do–brutally. Myers' story focused on Clair, a 15-year-old daughter of an Irish mother and black father. Claire is torn between the conflict because of her mix background and is forced to address race issues and her own identity.

Riot addresses race, bigotry, and social class. Myers delivers this story as a screenplay, as he did with Monster, which may appear and read oddly to the traditional book reader. I appreciated Myers’ style of writing because it is not one typically used in historical fiction. Myers style moves the story along quickly and gives the reader an idea of just how tense people were due to their frustration, exhaustion, and emotional turmoil evoked during the Civil War. Myers allows young adults to better understand the reasons that brought on the riots through his unique way of storytelling.

I recommend this book because not only because of Myers’ wonderful storytelling, but also because he covers an event that not many people know about. In addition, its central theme of identity struggle is one that most young adults can relate to.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Catching Fire Sure Caught ME!

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OK, if I didn't convince you to read Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in my previous post, this second installment of the trilogy has got to persuade you. Without ruining either book for you, I have got to share a few important details. First, the Capitol is just an EVIL establishment. Second, how do these people not revolt?!

This second book picks up where Hunger Games left off- Katniss is returning home after the Games and finds herself in a predicament. The President insists she behave and act like a docile, innocent winner in order to squelch the uprisings that are taking place across the Districts. With Katniss as their symbol of hope and a life without the Games or the Capitol, the people of Panem are finally fighting back. But when her family is threatened, Katniss tries to do as she was told. Unfortunately, the new twist to the Quarter Quell- the 25th anniversary of the Games- leads to new levels of horror.

Where Hunger Games was shock and awe, Catching Fire just makes you angry. And the Quarter Quell was a new, morbid twist on things you will never see coming! When I ordered this book, I knew I had to wait to read it until I had the entire day to devote to it- it is just too addictive to put down! So if you choose to partake in the twisted magic Collins weaves, make sure you set aside enough time- otherwise you are going to find yourself calling in to work because you just can't stop reading! And beware of the ending... but at least we know there is a third one on the way!