Friday, December 11, 2009

Fallen by Lauren Kate

I read an advance review copy of Fallen by Lauren Kate (it was recently published on December 8). I finished it last week sometime. It is an attempt to steal some of that vampire thunder from teenage girls by refocusing it on fallen angels who are among us. Weird. I don't recommend it.
Strange idea that among the fallen angels there are good and bad fallen angels. The heroine, Luce (for this font), is reborn every 17 years and meets her fallen angel love, Daniel, right before she dies. When she finds out about his status as a fallen angel and their past loves, they always kiss and she is then consumed in fire as his punishment for telling his secret/loving a mere mortal. (Don't worry too much, though, because, like a phoenix, she will be reborn again and he'll meet in 17 years when she's 17 and just ripe for the kissing/fire consumption.)
Also included are references to one of the 24 elders living at the reform school with them (did I leave that bizarre detail out?) and speaking in tongues. (By the way, the last time I read the book of Revelation the elders were in the throne-room of God, not working as LIBRARIANS at a reform school.)
Question: Does anyone else find it strange to read a story about angels and 24 elders (Christianity), reincarnation (Buddhists and some Muslims), and a phoenix (myth)? Aren't those from opposing world views?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

I just finished reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. This book was up for a Volunteer State Book Award. I am confused about how I feel about this book.
I really like the heroine's insights into boyfriend/ girlfriend relationships in high school. Some examples of great observations include:
"[Lots of girls] are so focused on their boyfriends that they don't remember they had a life at all before their romances, so they don't become upset that their boyfriend isn't interested [in their friends, interests, lives]."
"'He's letting me go,' she told Trish./ 'Letting you? Since when does he let you?'"
"Don't let him erase you."
The story is full of commentary on teenage relationships. I think this is a good story for a girl who is losing her identity in a relationship.
Where I become confused about my admiration for the character is when she infiltrates an all-guys secret society and starts living a life of lies. I still don't quite get her motivation for this. If you read the book, I think she should have just asked the guys (or just Matthew) at lunch one day if they had found the "Disreputable History." If she had done this and nothing more, she would have "show[n] them the tiniest edge of your secret, but the rest you keep under wraps." She would have made the guys feel like they were living in the panopticion.
Finally, I like the discussion of neglected negatives and other random grammar thingies. They made me smile.
Discussion: If someone reads this book, let me know what you think of it. Are you confused about Frankie's motivation as well?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter

I just finished The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts by David Colbert (I don't think he's any relation to Steve...). It was so interesting because it explores the origin of many of the names and creatures in the Harry Potter books.
Unfortunately, it was written in 2001. Can you believe it has been that long since Goblet of Fire came out? That date really didn't sound that old to me when I picked the book off the shelf (I mean, I graduated in 1999 so anything published after that is way fresh, young, and hip, just like me...right?). One example of this book's datedness comes from the chapter entitled 'Who Was the Most Amazing Animagus?": "No doubt Harry, who often pushes himself beyond the usual boundaries, will face this risk [i.e. the risk of taking on the form of an animal]. But first we must wait to learn what sort of Animagus he will become." Dun, dun, dun...suspenseful music plays...still waiting on the answer to this question.
There is a revised edition out there.
Question: Should we purchase the revised edition, or is the time of Harry over in the dawn of Edward Cullen (get my play on celestial words...Twilight, Eclipse, New Moon, Breaking Dawn?)?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Radiant Darkness

Over Fall Break last week I read Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman. It was published in May 2009 and its target audience is age 14 up and grade 9 up.
I confess, I enjoy reading Greek myths. I always have. I really enjoyed teaching The Odyssey, and I have been in a bit of a funk since I haven't been teaching it this fall; so when I found this book on our shelves of "advance copies" for the kids to read, I took it.
Book: It is a retelling of "The Rape of Persephone." You know, the story in which Hades comes from the Underworld to earth through a hole in the ground and steals Persephone, which causes her mother, Demeter the goddess of the harvest, to be so devastated that she causes no rain to fall and the earth falls into a drought. Finally, Zeus intervenes and Persephone stays with Hades 6 months (3 in some accounts) and on earth 6 months (or 9), thus explaining the origin of the seasons.
This book is an inventive retelling of the story with Persphone being a rebellious teen who meets Hades by accident and then begins meeting him secretly while her mother is out "goddessing" around. The two fall in love and she runs away with him without telling anyone...then the rest of the story covers the teenage ground of finding your place in the world and convincing your parents that you are an adult. I enjoyed the book as a light read and plan on purchasing it for my high school library.
Observation: When I finish a book, I always find myself imagining that I am the heroine and how I would have behaved had I been in her situation. I took me about two days of imagining what it would be like to be married to this nice hero named Hades and to be the queen of a realm before it dawned on me that the Greek god Hades is a type of Satan. He really is a nasty guy, what with his underworld realm and all. Why would I want to imagine being married to him? Answer: because the author made him attractive.
Discussion Question: What examples in modern works of literature or film can you think of when someone/something/some behavior that is actually bad/evil is made to appear acceptable or, at least, understandable?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My New Blog

I am sitting in a classroom at the main branch of the Nashville Public Library, which is probably my favorite building I have ever been in. I am at a conference for librarians. People are talking about the role of librarians in the modern school, and I realized that I have been avoiding major elements of modern technology. I am a librarian for crying out loud! I can choose to be the old-school bun-and-horn-rimmed-glasses-shhh type or I can choose to jump into the world of technology and become involved in things my students will actually encounter (while still wearing stylish horn-rimmed glasses). I am choosing the latter!
In this blog, I'll comment on life sometimes. I mostly plan to comment on the books I am reading to fill the hole left in my life by my not teaching in a traditional English classroom anymore.
I have visions of students following my blog to create booklists; hey, I dream big.