Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1)Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up Eon this year at the book fair because I like dragons (loved Chris D'Lacey's Last Dragon Chronicles), and because the cover (though not the one you see above) was intriguing. I'm a fan of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, kung fu movies, and between the image on the cover and the blurb on the back, I was intrigued.

Eon is a Dragoneye apprentice--he hopes to win the favor of the dragons (See the Chinese zodiac for each animal dragon) and help, essentially, save the Chinese empire from being overthrown by an evil, power-hungry general. The problem, however, is that Eon is actually Eona, a girl. And in a patriarchal society there aren't female dragoneyes.

Besides the complex plot that follows the steps of the archetype of the hero journey quite nicely, I was most interested in the issue of gender as it played out in the novel. Not only was Eona passing as male, but there is an issue with another character who presents as the opposite gender. In a time when there is a call for more young adult literature that deals with transgendered issues, I liked how Eon dealt with transgenderedness--not forefronting the issue. Readers see both reactions to the character, from acceptance, to utter disgust.

My favorite statement in the entire novel was made by Lady Dela. In discussing the power of women, especially in a time period when women do not hold the same power as men, Lady Dela said to Eon, "'You are wrong when you say there is no power in being a woman. When I think of my mother and the women in my tribe, and even the hidden women in the harem, I know there are many types of power in this world...I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life? I don't think I could do it'" (p. 245). I'd offer up commentary, but I think Lady Dela's words speak for themselves.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review: Where She Went

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)Where She Went by Gayle Forman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where She Went is Gayle Forman's sequel to If I Stay, a novel about Mia, the survivor of a car accident that killed a family, who is trying to decide whether to hang onto this life or move on to the next. Where She Went picks up three years after the end of If I Stay and is told from the point of view of Adam, Mia's ex-boyfriend. Adam is a rock star who has lost the love for music. Coincidence places Mia and Adam both in New York City, where they spend an evening wandering the city, exploring, trying not to be seen, and dealing with anger.

When I started this novel, it felt too much like I was reading a diary, which was kind of off-putting. As the story picked up speed, I was drawn back into the world of Mia and Adam, not sure at any given point what the outcome would be. As a musician, I could identify with Adam--something happened that caused his love for music to be tarnished, and he wants to give it up in order to get it back.

All in all, this is an amazing and well-written novel about love, loss and finding the music. In that way, it reminds me of August Rush (one of my favorite music movies, anyway).

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review: Everfound

Everfound (Skinjacker, #3)Everfound by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Everfound, the final battle between Mary Hightower and her followers, and The Chocolate Oger, Mikey McGill and Allie the Outcast. While Mary is asleep, her second in command continues to follow her orders to bring more and more children into Everlost.

As someone who likes to read books in a series, I was a little wary going into this one when I found out that a new character had been added. Jix, another skinjacker with a fancy for jaguars, fits seamlessly into the plot as it was set up in Everwild. His introduction does not solely serve to move the plot forward, but also to round out another character, and to lead us back to other characters that we haven't seen in a while.

Everfound is a character driven story. Each character has his/her agenda that they, for whatever reason, are working toward. And none of the characters are flat. That there, for me, is the mark of a well written story, especially when one has as many characters as the Skinjacker Trilogy does. To be able to trace a character's agenda from the first book to the last, and watch how the decisions made further that agenda while staying true to each character...Awesome.

I don't want to give anything away, so I'm going to stop there. Everfound, the third book in the Skinjacker Trilogy, will be released on May 3. As always, I'm excited to read anything Neal writes. Keep an eye on his Facebook page and his twitter feed for more information about projects he's working on.

If you get a chance, check out my video blog (links in the sidebar)
Happy reading, and don't forget to be awesome.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Name Change: From One Eighth Grader to The Supplier

For a few years now my blog has been called "One Eighth Grader." Most of the posting I did here was related to the activities I did in my classroom. With the pressures of graduate school mounting, I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do with this space, and as I look back on most of my posts for the 2010-2011 school year, I find they're mostly about books.

The executive decision that I have made, then, is that I am going to dedicate this blog to reviewing the young adult novels that I read.

I joined The Centurions of 2011 on Facebook this year, and do monthly updates of books that I read. From there, I started a video blog, called The Supplier (which I may change to The Book Supplier for consistency). I'm thinking about doing a huge overhaul of this blog come summer. Reorganize, add pages with titles for genre/theme.

A URL change is coming soon, I think, however I'm not sure how soon that will happen.

Until I'm here again, happy reading, and don't forget to be awesome.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Building Community

The other night on my way home from class a colleague and I were discussing creating community, and how cool the fact that so many YA authors have an online presence is. This came from a conversation about how I won a book from. Neal Shusterman and a contest he posted on his Facebook page. We went from there to talking about Nerdfighteria, a community created by vlogbrothers Hank and John Green.

I'm proud to say that I've recruited some students and turned them into Nerdfighters. To show his loyalty, he tattooed himself with calligraphy pen. I thought I'd share it with you because I thought it was particularly awesome.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

#bookstack for 4/3/2011

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Books I Read in March

The entire list of books I read in March:

Paper Towns by John Green
Why Reading Literature in School Still Matters by Dennis J. Sumara
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe by Brian Lee O'Malley
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour by Brian Lee O'Malley
Beastly by Alex Flinn
A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
The Color of Success: Race and High-Achieving Urban Youth by Gilberto Conchas
The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell
Mindquakes: Stories to Shatter Your Brain by Neal Shusterman
Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
I, Q: The White House by Roland Smith
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen
Storm Runners by Roland Smith
The Killer's Tears by Anne-Laure Bondoux
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
Scrawl by Mark Shulman
More Bones by Arielle North Olson