March 10th, 2011

deer faces

Book Reports (34-35)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact the I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool). 'R' means it's a re-read. Different colored font means it's an ARC for 2011 (and I'll try to remember to put the month it's released, as well). I'm linking to Tattered Cover's pages for the ARCs.

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

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The Deadly Sister, by Eliot Schrefer *** This was interesting. It took a while before I suspected what was really going on, but I still guessed around halfway through. It was a decent mystery, and I thought the set-up was pretty strong. I guess the narrator's distance kind of kept me at a distance too, so I didn't completely engage in the story. Still, there aren't many YA mysteries out there, so I'm glad this is here. The story: Abby finds a dead classmate while running -- and she also finds her sister's phone next to his body. Her sister, Maya, has had problems for years, and Abby seems desperate to save her from the latest mess...but it's complicated, especially when the dead boy had many enemies and had few compunctions about using people, including Maya. (YA mystery, released 4/10, publisher: Scholastic)

Stork, by Wendy Delsol ****+ I really enjoyed this! I liked the bits of mythology thrown in. I didn't realize (until I'd finished) that it was loosely based on The Snow Queen, so if I did some research (as I'm not that familiar with the story), I'd probably understand more of what happened at the end. But I still enjoyed the characters (including the character of the town) and the plot -- and definitely the passionate and sweet romance between Katla and Jack. There seemed to be a lot of symbolism in this too, and I always love books where I can figure out stuff :) I'm guessing there might be another one coming? (There's room for more, although this story comes to a satisfying ending.) The story: Katla moves to her mom's childhood town after her parents' divorce. Once there, she's pulled into a strange (bizarre, really) group of older women who call themselves Storks. Katla begins having dreams about a baby, and along with the other Storks, she has to learn how to give the baby the right mother. On top of that surreal twist, Katla learns that she almost died the last time she was in the town -- and that a boy named Jack tried to save her (and almost died, as well). Her reaction to him is stronger than she's ever experienced, and she has to wonder what's really going on in this small, Minnesota town... (YA paranormal/mystery, released 10/10, publisher: Candlewick)

Currently Reading: I promise, I'm truly getting closer to finishing the books which have been here for a while. I go through periods where my reading is very scattered (where I'll read five or six books at once), and this is definitely one of those!


So this morning, I helped out in E's class for a while. I always enjoy working with this teacher (D had her, as well) -- she's funny and smart and very good at what she does.

Anyway, the students are working on creative writing. Last week, their teacher modeled how to write the beginning, middle, and end of a story (including a problem and solution). This week, they're on their own (kind of).

E decided to write about a haunted house. Her story is fine -- but man, I can really see that she doesn't read very much! D has always been a voracious reader, but E is closer to a reluctant reader. Even books she 'reads', she mostly skims through or reads in a non-linear fashion. She looks at the pictures (she's not interested in chapter books without pictures) and jumps around. I have no idea if she's getting any sense of actual story through all of this.

The result is that when she writes fiction, it's very pedantic. She doesn't know how to make those intuitive jumps using creativity. So she started with a problem (the kids were trapped in a haunted house). When asked how they got there, she didn't know. And she couldn't seem to think of any reason. Then her teacher asked her how they would escape, and after a couple minutes of thinking, she said, "The door?"


Yeah, I need to get her reading more...but that's not easy, as many of you know. The funny thing is (interesting thing?), when it comes to expository writing, she's amazing -- far ahead of everyone else in her class. In all honesty, I was very similar to her. I never had the patience for creative writing -- the difference was, I thought of too many possible directions the story could take and was far too lazy to explore any of them in depth. But when it came to non-fiction writing (of any sort), I could do it in my sleep.

Anyone have suggestions for E? :)