Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wesley the Owl - by Stacey O'Brien

I haven't read an animal story in a long time, and this one was amazing.  It touched my heart and taught me things about nature and animals that I didn't know before.  

Wesley the Owl is about a young woman named Stacey who is given the opportunity to take a baby barn owl home and raise him.  The biologists at CalTech where she works can't keep him, and Stacey could learn a lot about him and record he findings for them while raising him at home. She agrees and takes the baby owlet home and they live together and develop an amazing relationship for the next nineteen years.

I was blown away by the things that this bird did.  He was so cute and his antics were adorable, hilarious, weird, sweet, and a little scary every now and then.  A lot of us have dogs and cats as pets, but this owl seemed to be more like a person, like a thinking, feeling being than any dog or cat I have yet to meet.  

I usually don't read a lot of nonfiction...but I raced through this book, eager to follow Wesley's growth and watch the two become closer and closer.  You will love this book if you pick it up - no doubt about it.  It is sweet and heartwarming.  If you are bored and blah here during these last weeks of winter, pick up this book and it will warm you right up.  

Grade:  B

Dope Sick - by Walter Dean Myers

186 pages

Dope Sick tells the story of a young man named Lil J who has gotten himself into a world of trouble.  How he ended up in an abandoned, rat-infested building with a strange man named Kelly is a long story, and Myers's book shows you glimpses into Lil J's life that show us how he came to be stuck in this run-down place and how he plans to escape from the cops outside...if he escapes at all.

After a drug deal gone bad, Lil J's friend Rico ends up shooting a cop which sends Lil J on the run.  When he runs into Kelly he thinks that man is just some homeless dude, but Kelly turns out to be much more.

Kelly talks to Lil J about his life and throughout the book Kelly takes Lil J back to important moments from his past.  Lil J sees mistakes that he made and Kelly offers him a chance to look back at his life and decide what he should change. 

I liked this book.  Lil J and Kelly live in a rough world of drugs and gangs.  Myers captures the language of the street with these characters and others, but also helps readers and Lil J himself take a good objective look at the life choices Lil J made.  Kelly doesn't push Lil J at all; he just shows him how his life went, and we along with our main character can see things that Lil J did wrong that he could go back and fix.  It's tough to read about some of Lil J's drug use, but it's also good to understand why he felt driven to do such things.  Lil J isn't glad about the decisions he's made, but he alone has the power to change them.  No matter how bad things get, we always have a choice of what to do next.  Hopefully we can move away from bad choices and make better decisions.  What will Lil J do?  End it all?  Try to get better?  Keep on down the same path?  Kelly helps him see the different stories of his life and hopefully he will make the right decision.  Read to find out.

Grade:  B-

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Knife of Never Letting Go - by Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is a young boy about to turn thirteen, but his life is a little different from ours.  He lives on a different planet, settled years when men ventured out for new lands in search of peaceful harmony on a new Eden.  He lives in a town with no women.  He can hear the thoughts of all the men in his town.  He can hear the thoughts of animals, too...but they don't usually have too much to say.  This makes for a very Noisy life for Tood, the last boy in Prentisstown.  Strange as his life may be, Todd works on his farm with his guardians Ben and Cillian and lives his life the best he knows how.  Until one day, all that he has known is called into question.  Used to constant Noise, Todd hears something different one day when he is own in the swamp - silence.  Once he and his dog, Manchee, give this thought away, he learns that the town he has lived in his entire life isn't what he thought it was.  Ben and Cillian immediately get Todd out of town, sending him off into the swamp without an explanation, carrying only his rucksack and a book with a map, a journal written by Todd's mother years ago.  What was the silence Todd heard?  Where is he supposed to go now?  What is wrong with all the men in Prentisstown, and why doesn't he know the true history of his hometown?

The Knife of Never Letting Go follows Todd on his journey out of Prentisstown into a world that he didn't even know existed.  REad and follow him on this amazing adventure.  He has Manchee at his side, but will soon find a very unexpected friend in the swamp to be by his side as he battles the evil he finds in the New World.

I was disappointed when I finished this book.  Not because it was bad, but because I couldn't immediately begin reading book 2 of the Chaos Walking series...and believe me, you will want to begin book 2 right away.  I got wrapped up in this book from the very beginning, thanks to chapters that urge you on and exciting, quick-paced writing that takes you into the midst of the action.  Luckily, the book is divided into six sections, so when I had to make myself put it down, I read to the end of a section and waited until the next day to pick back up.  

Todd is a brave young man who is good at heart, unlike many of the "bad" guys you meet in this book.  He just wants to figure out what is going on in his world and make sense of all the Noise around him.  He hears so much and needs to find out what is true.  

This book is great for people who like action/adventure.  It also is good for people who like science does have some aliens (spackles) but the sci-fi details don't drive the story, the characters and struggles do.  So even if you aren't to keen on science fiction, I still think you could get drawn into the plot of this book.  

I was also reminded of Pullman's Dark Materials series when I read this.  The main characters here in Chaos Walking are similar to Lyra and Will in Pullman's story.  

Grade:  A

Friday, February 13, 2009


I have no idea why I deleted my other Mrs. Wood's book blog...but I did.  But I am back and going to keep up with reading and discussing all the books I am reading here on this new page.  Mostly I will be reading young adult, but I will also chime in on some of the British lit that I am reading with my seniors this year.  

So far in 2009 I have read:
The Graveyard Book - by Neil Gaiman
Coraline - Neil Gaiman
1984 - George Orwell
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Firmin - Sam Savage

All great!

I am working on The Knife of Never Letting Go right now, and it's really intriguing so far.  
Once I am done...back to the book blogging.  

Happy reading to all!