Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I get so wrapped up in keeping up with the newest, latest, greatest YA books, that I often neglect the classics.  I read lots of them in my college English classes, and I know the ones I teach often (Hamlet, Frankenstein, etc...) very well, but I only get through one or two "classics" a year.  I want to do more of this reading, so while my student teacher organized literature circles for my students, I decided to read Wuthering Heights along with one of the groups.

I loved this book.  It made me happy; it made me sad; it annoyed me; it made me want to holler at people; it made me smile.  I read Jane Eyre last summer and liked it a lot, but Wuthering Heights moves far beyond Jane Eyre as my favorite right now.

There's so much story in the book, but it all starts when Mr. Lockwood moves in to Thrushcross and visits his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff.  Heathcliff is a weird dude, and Lockwood, who isn't the most sociable guy in the world, feels like he's outgoing and nice compared to Heathcliff.  Lockwood visits once and then again and gets stuck at Wuthering Heights before he can make it home.  He spends the night in a room that he really isn't supposed to be in and encounters the ghost of a young girl at the window.  He's completely freaked out and what's more is that Heathcliff rushes in at the disturbance screaming:

"Come in, come in!...Cathy, do come.  Oh, do--once more!  Oh! my heart's darling, hear me this time, Catherine, at last!"

Amazed by this outburst, Lockwood gets the whole story out of his housekeeper, Nelly Dean.  You just love Nelly to death by the end of this book, as she is your eyes and ears into this story, this world.  Nelly has been working for the family for years and she tells Lockwood every exciting, terrifying, lovely bit of the story.

It all began when Old Earnshaw who had two children, Hindley and Catherine went away to Liverpool and came back with a new little rough-looking, black-haired, wild child with him.  You may expect a give when your father goes out of town and returns, but certainly not a new little brother, and a wild, gypsy seeming child at that.  Hindley doesn't like the new little one, Heathcliff, and Catherine doesn't care for him at first either.  But time goes on, and life steps in.  Hindley leaves, and Catherine and Heathcliff become best of friends.  Old Earnshaw dies, Hindley comes back and treats Heathcliff badly.  Catherine likes Heathcliff, but can't marry him because he's "lower" than her...but she really does want him.  Heathcliff hearts Catherine say something about this and leaves and disappears....and it all gets going from here.

This book has so much love and so much hate that it seems impossible sometimes.  The story spans generations and turns and twists all the time.  I was always wondering what was going to happen, who would be together, why the characters just couldn't be honest with each other.

I was completely happy and satisfied with this book, and it is one that I will read again and again definitely.  This is one classic you should pick up if you haven't already.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

I've had this book on my shelf forever and finally picked it up.  I loved it!  It took me a little while to get used to the narrator, senior in high school, Sutter Keely, but once I did I was along for the ride with him on his adventures (and a wild ride-it definitely is!)

So, Sutter has a curvy, beautiful girlfriend, Cassidy.  He's a senior.  He is a party-man.  As long as he's got a whiskey and 7 up - he's golden.  Cassidy gets sick of his antics, though, and dumps him.  He's sort of stranded in a weird place.  He's single again, and his best friend Ricky finally got a girlfriend (Sutter made it happen, of course).  Sutter's kind of in a weird place.  He turns to his whiskey and drinks and drinks and ends up asleep in a strange yard.  He wakes to see a girl, Aimee, who says she knows him because she goes to his school.  Aimee is different from any one Sutter has ever hung out with, and he kinda likes her.  They hang out and Sutter sort of takes her under his wing.  But when there's Sutter Keely and whiskey...there's always going to be fun (and trouble, perhaps) ahead...

Like I said, this book was different.  Sutter is such a strong narrator.  I appreciate the voice that Tim Tharp created here.  I loved Sutter's vocabulary words such as, "spanktaculicious" and "fandangulous."  Sutter's a mess but you just can't help but love him.

I was a little weirded out by the amount of alcohol that Sutter drank.  The thing is, he's really the only who who drinks that much in the story.  His friends don't.  Ricky has cut back on partying.  Sutter's got his own little world....So while this book does center around and involve alcohol, I don't think it shows drinking in a positive light at all.  It's honest.  It was interesting because while I read, I was pulling for Sutter, but I also felt like I could understand the other people who told him maybe he shouldn't drink so much anymore.

I really liked this book.  Sutter is a unique character I've never met before, and it was nice to meet him.  He's a fun guy - no one can deny that.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weetzie Bat by Fancesca Lia Block

I've never read any of Francesca Lia Block's books, so I thought I'd start right at the beginning with Weetzie Bat.  It's been on my list forever.

Weetzie Bat is a hip young lady who finds her soul mate/best friend in Dirk, the cutest guy in school.  They do movies and hang out and are bffs forever.  Dirk and Weetzie both want to find someone to love them so they go "duck hunting" together - each hoping to find that one special man who will make them happy.

One day Weetzie actually gets the chance to make sure this happens for both her and Dirk.  She makes three wishes and sets their life on an adventure-filled path that they love.  They live, love, and go through life's down times, too, but they always stay together and do their best.

I liked this quick, fun little read because it took me away to LA and let me hang out with some fabulous new friends.  It's got movies, beauty, palm trees, dancing, music, babies, loving, everything.  I liked the style and enjoyed how short and simple it was.  Yet, there were still things under the surface to think about.  A simple story about love with a colorful cast of characters.  I loved this description of what you are to me...this was about Weetzie,

You are my lake full of fishes, you are my sky set, my 'Hollywood in Minature,' my pink Cadillac, my highway, my martini, the stage for my heart to rock and roll on, the screen where my movies light up.  

Who doesn't love that?  Weetzie Bat was fun and full of love. 

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Jenna Fox wakes up after being gone/out/something for a year.  She knows there was an accident and that she was in a coma for a year.  She doesn't know much of anything except that they tell her she is Jenna Fox.  She's got discs to watch of her past, but none of it seems to click at first.  She feels awkward in her body and tries to get used to being awake and back with the real world.

Jenna doesn't feel like the girl that she sees on the videos, but bit by bit, she starts to remember things and piece together voices, memories, and parts of her past.  However, with some memories and feelings, Jenna becomes even more confused about what exactly happened during the year she was "in a coma."  Her family isn't the same as she sees/remembers, and her grandmother doesn't seem to want to deal with her at all.  She tries to make life somewhat normal by going to school and making friends, but she is haunted by what she begins to know and what she still has to figure out about herself.

This book is a nice sci-fi/teen mix.  It's got some creepy futuristic mysteries yet focuses on Jenna's relationships with those around her.  Sometimes figuring out who you are is hard enough when everything in your life is "normal."  Well, for Jenna, whose situation is way far from normal, it's even worse.  Her parents have made decisions that will affect her for the rest of her life.

I liked this book a lot.  It was fast paced and interesting.  The reader gets to piece together bits of Jenna's life right along with her, so you're always guessing how it all fits.  I was interested in the science-y stuff, but also pulled in by the relationships.  As I read this book I thought of Frankenstein.  This book has some things in common with Frankenstein...especially when Jenna confronts her parents about what happened during her mysterious "year off."

A great read and a unique concept. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What happens when you die?  Well, for Sam Kingston, you wake up and get a chance to do it all over again - six more times.

Sam and her girls, Lindsey, Ally, and Elody, are on top of the world and the social landscape of their high school.  They rule the roost and are, well, a little bitchy.  Sometimes a lot...

In Before I Fall you get to follow Sam and her friends during their day - Cupid Day at school - the day when roses get delivered with notes to people.  The girls get tons of roses, of course.  They eat at their usual lunch table.  They giggle and discuss Sam's "big plans" that she has for the night with her boyfriend Rob.  They plan to attend a party that night at Kent McFuller's house.  They go, they have fun, they get into a little drama, and then they're on their way home.  It rains, they swerve, Sam hears something, and then....

Beep, Beep...she wakes up.  And it's still Feb. 12.  Sam is caught in some kind of strange time and relives this last day of her life over and over.  Each day she notices things, changes things, and realizes things.  She sees people differently.  She notices things she never even paid attention to before.  She appreciates the little things that she will miss when she's really gone.

This book was amazing.  While the chapters are long, it's so good because you get to notice the details right along with Sam.  This book reminds us of what really matters, and it reminds us to notice what's going on around us and not take things for granted.  I loved being on this journey with Sam.  I felt like everything unraveled and made sense to her and me one precious second at a time.

You will love this book - that's all there is to it.  It's got love, drama, kisses, bullies, high school, friends, questions, answers, excitement, terror, sadness, EVERYTHING.  Read and see what happens during these seven won't regret it!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash is a wonderful and beloved daughter.  Sadly, she loses her mother when she is young.  When her father comes home from the city with plans to remarry, Ash's life will change forever.  People in Ash's world believe in the real world and no longer feel that the fairy tales of the past are real.  Ash loves the stories though and knows that the land is still enchanted by the fairies because she feels it and catches glimpses of them indirectly every now and then.

When Ash's father dies, her stepmother and stepsisters make her move her childhood home.  When her stepmother runs out of money, Ash is forced to be a servant.  Her only friend is a fairy, Sidhean, to whom she is mysteriously drawn to.  She wanders into the woods to see if she can encounter him or any other magical folk and meets the king's huntress, Kaisa.  She immediately feels herself attracted to the huntress, and they spend lots of time together.

All of this is complicated when Ash realizes that she can't be in two worlds at once.  Will she be able to be a part of the world she wants to be a part of?  Can she even have love at all when her stepmother monitors her every move?

Ash is a unique Cinderella retelling with a twist.  The setting is magical and the love is very real.  Read this for a new twist on a classic fairy tale.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I was lucky to snag an advance reading copy of this book.  I loved the previous two Moon books, so I was anxious to see what happened to Miranda and how she and Alex met.  If you don't know, this series is about life in the world after an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it closer to earth.  The gravitational pull changes, volcanoes erupt, tsunamis wipe out the gets bad.  The worst part is that the ash from the volcanoes blocks out the sun.  It gets cold and no one can grow crops.  In this last book of the series, Pfeffer brings her two main characters, Miranda and Alex, together.  Life picks up in Pennsylvania, but eventually Miranda's dad, his wife, a new baby, and three strangers show back up at Miranda's house.  She's glad to see them, but life with all these people now crammed into their house is a little more hectic than it was before.  There are people everywhere, and moreover, they only have food for their family and now it has to be shared.  As Miranda's family grows, she has to deal with all the hardships that come with this new world.  Interestingly though, a real-live teenage boy, Alex, is with the new group, so maybe there's hope that Miranda can have some happiness after all.  This book follows the family as they try to survive in the world they live in.

I really liked this third book.  Honestly, I didn't love it quite as much as the first two, but that could be because I already knew the basics, and this book didn't hold any new moon information.  I liked knowing what happened to the family and seeing what had happened since I left the characters on their own.  What I will say about these books is that they are painful to read but yet so interesting.  I don't know what it is about reading about life like this.  It scares me and makes me wonder if I would survive if something this bad happened.  But it also gives me hope because I know that many people will do what they can to keep being good, strong, honest people even in the face of the worst adversities.  I love this series.  Scary but fun, compelling reads.