Monday, January 9, 2012

Drummer Girl by Karen Bass

Sid (short for Sidney) just wants to be a drummer. And, from what everyone says, she's pretty good. When she finally lands a try out with the cool "jock" band at school, The Fourth Down, she knows she's done much better than her competition and class jerk, Wesley. However, the band can't really handle a "female drummer" with a tomboy look, so Sid asks her cousin, Heather, to remake her into a more girly girl. Unfortunately, this brings up another entire crop of issues. Apparently, now she is too attractive and becomes fodder for rumors and sexual advances.

Sid learns who she really is throughout this novel and I am very proud of who she becomes by the end. But, this is about so much more than just a girl making herself over. It's about self acceptance, questioning sexuality and preferences, knowing who to trust,abandonment and turning a single father into less of a workaholic and more of a dad. From the first page readers will root for Sid, but question many of her choices later. She has a short temper and has been raised mostly by men (her older brother and dad), so she can hold her own against the boys. Sid will hang out in your head long after the last page.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fishtailing by Wendy Phillips

This is the second time I've read this novel and I love it more with each read. Told in verse, Phillips gives us four students', a teacher and a counselor's perspective of what is going on in their lives. Kyle, Miguel, Tricia and Natalie are all students of Mrs. Farr. The students pair up and begin "dating" while Natalie, a new and "hardened" student, turns Tricia (a sweet girl) over to the "dark" side. As Tricia creates her new image, Natalie encourages her to do things Tricia doesn't always feel comfortable with. The novel reaches a climax with a life changing for all four of the students.

If you imagine a fishtail braid, then you can see how the novel got its title. After dividing the hair into two pieces, one small piece from each side gets moved to the other side until all of the hair is beautifully intertwined. The lives of Kyle, Miguel, Tricia and Natalie do just that. Mrs. Farr, the teacher, and the counselor are the bookends to these students. I wanted to wring the neck of Mrs. Farr for her distant and seemingly aloof attitude about what was going on with her students. She didn't talk to them about their real lives and it was a constant irritation as I read. But, not a bad one. She was a hard edge in this gritty and incredibly realistic plot.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


This came in the mail yesterday! I have been waiting for this for sooo long and am only saddened that I didn't get it earlier during break. But,....that's OK! I am already engrossed in the pages. A HUGE THANK YOU to the folks at Penguin for sending me a triple boxed set! Graceling, Fire and the Bitterblue ARC! Look for the novel in stores in May, and look for my review VERY SOON!

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

It seems to be a bit late for the review, but I LOVED this book! It kept me entranced the entire train ride back from NCTE in Chicago and I finished the last page as the train pulled into the A2 station.

For those who love classics, this book will not disappoint. Young Victor Frankenstein and his twin brother, Konrad, are playing around in their mansion's library with their cousin, Elizabeth, when they stumble upon a secret passageway. Further investigation leads them to a secret library and workshop where they later learn their ancestors used to illegally practice alchemy. The elder Mr. Frankenstein warns against their ever returning to the "dungeon". However, Konrad becomes ill and Victor is desperate to do anything to save him. As Konrad languishes in his bed day after day, Victor and Elizabeth struggle to seek out help from an invalid alchemist in their town in Switzerland. A search, alchemy and romance ensues as the two try to find the three ingredients needed for Konrad's life saving "elixir of life."
This novel is a true gothic read for young adults, something we don't come across very often. As a lover of historical fiction and classic fiction, I loved this book and am so very glad there will be more. I am anxious to see young Victor turn into the scientist of Mary Shelley's. The characters are wonderfully round and there is a plot twist at the end that made me gasp out loud on the train. Get a copy of this and share it with your students! Mine are fighting over it.

By the way, if you have been struggling over how to pronounce this author's last name (like I have for many years- pronunciation is very important to me), the correct way Mr. Oppel says it is: "Opal" Straight from the horse's mouth, ladies and gentleman.