Monday, December 27, 2010

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Yep! This one was on my Nook too, thanks to Christmas gifts! I am so glad because I have immediately reread both of Cashore's books.

Comments: This book has some very modern ideas.
Both of these books are overtly feminist. In Graceling, Katsa chooses a sexual relationship without marriage and also chooses not to bear children. In Fire, Fire has a cavalier relationship with Archer. In both books, birth control is mentioned while abortion and some sort of permanent contraception are mentioned. (I do like her mentioning birth control and periods since those are topics girls wonder about.) Both books have SUPER strong female leads. I will assert that Cashore is not a man-hater; both of her male leads are very intelligent, sensitive, and traditionally manly.
Fire mentions a lesbian relationship though it does not go into detail and really only alludes to the comfort found in a friend of the same sex, but I think the relationship is obviously a lesbian relationship. If you read Graceling, please let me know if you think Raffin and Ban were homosexual based on no one line in particular but rather on the overall feel of their relationship.

This book reverts to some rather un-modern themes.
One theme is that in order to truly understand yourself you must know where you came from. This comes across in the rather Shakespeare-like revelation of everyone's true parentage. In the case of the men, one could see how they had chosen the vocation of their real parents but the mindset of their "good" parent. With Fire, she must battler her real parent's (whom she knows) influence to become something he was not.
One of my favorite themes in literature is what I like to call "the cult of the orphan." I suppose this is really an archetype of the orphan, but whatever! Think of Anne of Green Gables, Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, and Daddy Long-Legs. What do all of these books have in common? They were written 1860-1900. It was a prominent idea in that time to have an orphan take on the world and win. This idea is seen in both of Cashore's works. I like it!

Anyway: I really enjoyed both of these books. I am glad to own them and be able to reread them whenever I want. I can't wait for the other 5 books. Please leave a comment if you have an opinion on one of my observations.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

OK. This is up for the VSBA...and it is my WINNER! I LOVE this book! (Please notice the caps; they ARE relevant.)
This is a work of fantasy set in a world with Seven Kingdoms. In this world, some people are born with Graces, or special abilities. The heroine of this story, Katsa, is graced with killing. Her love interest in the story, Prince Po, is graced with the art of fighting.
I really enjoyed the writing of this story. It was character-centered while not ignoring the plot; the plot continued to more forward while the characters were revealing themselves.
I really enjoy her word play and symbolism: humbled vs. humiliate, death vs. survival, and sight vs. blindness. Read it and understand!
I was given a Nook in August when I had my tonsils out. I have just been reading Pride and Prejudice on it (for the 34th time!) because it was free and I am cheap. After reading this novel, I knew I wanted to own it. I decided to purchase it for my Nook with a Christmas gift card from my sister-in-law, Melissa. I have been happily rereading this novel (with my secret knowledge that only readers of the novel possess) and looking for favorite parts to highlight and foreshadowing that I didn't see before. I also like reading for references to Po's secret just because he makes me happy.

Please read this novel! It is not about vampires at all!

Up next: Fire by Kristin Cashore: the second novel in the 7 Realms series. Her blog is at

Monday, December 20, 2010

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

I read this because it is on the VSBA list. It won the 2008 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. While I enjoyed it, I do not think it is better than my other VSBA favorites: Black Box and The Hunger Games.
Background: This book is set in 1947 (post WWII) in New York and Palm Beach, Florida. I really enjoyed the little details about the time period including, but not limited to, references to Victory Gardens and the reason for longer skirts in the late 40s and 50s (decadence after years of rations on cloth).
Reading: It had already been pointed out in the VSBA Book Club that things in this book are not what they seem; in fact, it had been referred to as a mystery. With that in my mind, I read this book looking for clues...and I found them. I wish I had not been told that it was a mystery because looking for clues kind of spoiled the big reveal for me; I had already caught on.
Book Club: Since this book has already been talked about a couple of times at the book club, I think I will pull some 40s and WWII non-fiction to show as tie-ins for people who have already read the book. By doing this, I may be able to show some of the way toward "Life-Long Learning Misti-Style" (i.e. read a fiction book and then parts of a related non-fiction book).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

General Silliness:

Now that that's out of the way...I will try not to make any revealing comments here because I really do hope some of you read this trilogy of books.

General Comments:
1. I wish that at the end of this trilogy the author had gone more Pride and Prejudice and less Animal Farm in her personal relationships.
2. I still don't see how the final arrangement evolved into existence. I get that he was who Katniss should have been with. I just didn't see any redevelopment of what was lost. Yes, I know I can infer it, but I just don't see neediness in her character.
3. A la Harry Potter: I am tired of dead people producing children as if that will make up to readers for the loss of beloved characters. (Do you know who I'm talking about in both books?)
4. I liked the books and I'm not sure there was another way to end the story, but I don't feel triumphant or anything here after reading about 1100 pages.

Natalie: I did it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Exciting: I have read 42 books since I started this blog in October 2009! Yay! It has accomplished one of its goals: to hold me accountable for my reading.

This is book 2 in the Hunger Games trilogy (a word I taught to a VSBA Book Club member at last Thursday's meeting). I read about 50 pages of this and then got distracted with other things (like the previous book entry). When I picked it up again, I was engrossed. I had heard bad reviews of the rest of the series; not bad I guess, but I had heard that the remaining two were not as good as the first one. I did not find that to be true of this 2nd book. I really enjoyed it and am starting the 3rd one tonight; Natalie comes home soon, so I've got to get on it!

Natalie: Do you have a question for discussion or anything to guide me with as I think of what we shall discuss when you visit?

Friday, December 3, 2010

William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls by Katie Nicholl

Why This Book: I have always loved the British royal family. My mom went to England a few years after the marriage of Diana and Charles and brought me home a doll of Princess Diana in her wedding dress. I just loved her! She had a fabulous train! Anyway, I loved her. I remember where I was when she died. I had just returned home from watching GI Jane with friends when Mom told me about the wreck in Paris. I watched the news the rest of the night and then the funeral coverage the rest of the week. I just find them all fascinating!
So, on Sunday morning, November 21, I saw the author on the Today show talking about her new book. I immediately requested it from the NPL. The next morning...the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced. I'm so glad I requested this book before the news broke!
Revelation: I used to dream about marrying one of these brothers. I thought they were so great. I'm not so sure now. They both sound like hard-partying ladies' men (Harry more so). So, I think I have decided not to marry one of them (Gene will be relieved, I'm sure!).
Target Audience: This book was published by Weinstein books in New York. When reading this book, I thought the intended audience was Americans. Once, the author referred to cookies (as opposed to biscuits), a distinctly American term. Another time, she observed that Kate Middleton's parents had attended what, in America, would be called "public schools" (intake of breath in horror!).
Hmmm: What confuses me is this one quote about Harry which the Nicholl says came from an American: "He's so handsome. Cuter than William-I love his ginger hair" (277). I ask you: what American do you know who calls it ginger hair? We call it red hair. Interestingly enough, I heard it referred to this week as ginger hair on The Graham Norton show on BBC America; he's Irish not English, but still, it's not an American term.

Side Note: I just Googled this book to put a link here. The first hit was for Amazon. It pulls up on with a different picture on the cover. I wonder if they made any of the changes mentioned in Target Audience for the American book?
UK Amazon:
American Amzon:
Weird: On the American cover, William is looking away and Harry is facing the camera. The opposite is true of the UK version.