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It’s time for the 2014 YA Reading Challenge!

2 Apr

Alice is in the mood for a YA book reading challenge! I have qualifying exams to study for, exam questions to write , work to get done, barre classes to attend, but sometimes…at the end of the day, a girl just needs an escape! I found this list on mashable here that I thought was perfect to get me reading (and I can just file this away as part of my Ph.D studies, no?). I’ll let you know if Alice has read them, if they are worthy of roses, or if they are worthy of heads rolling! If you have read any of these, let me know what you think so I know which ones to start off with!

In Darkness

1. In Darkness
Author: Nick Lake

This is the story of “Shorty”-a 15-year-old boy trapped in a collapsed hospital during the earthquake in Haiti. Surrounded by the bodies of the dead, increasingly weak from lack of food and water, Shorty begins to hallucinate. As he waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, a mystical bridge seems
to emerge between him and Haitian leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, uniting the two in their darkest suffering-and their hope.

A modern teen and a black slave, separated by hundreds of years. Yet in some strange way, the boy in the ruins of Port au Prince and the man who led the struggle for Haiti’s independence might well be one and the same . . .

Ask the Passengers

2. Ask the Passengers
Author: A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives—and her own—for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything—and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Code Name Verity4. Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

Seraphina5. Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

6. Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Alice’s Take: We know Alice likes this book. Yes it has some plot issues, and yes– its ANOTHER dystopian novel. But it is worth a read. Also, it lacks a love triangle. I love the lack of triangle. The simple love story kinda rocks my world. Lack of werewolves + the linear (hell, I would have taken trapezoid over triangle) love story = worth a read. And honestly, Tris is more likable that some of the other heroines we have met recently.  Read Alice’s entire review here. 

This is why I hate love triangles….



7. The Book Theif
Author: Markus Zusak

A New York Times bestseller for seven years running that’s soon to be a major motion picture, this Printz Honor book by the author of I Am the Messenger is an unforgettable tale about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Alice’s Take: This book has pacing issues and some serious racial issues that as a grad student I can not overlook, but as a children’s book– it is a good read, almost a great read (and defiantly better than Number the Stars). Any introduction to the Holocaust and the world we live in is good in my book. It is an easy way to talk about very hard issues. Alice says give it a try. We (as in, those of us who are out of training bras and fully embracing adult acne) can talk about the “german people saved the jews” problem in Children’s Lit (ERMAGERD) later.  Over some wine and cheese, ok? For now, you can enjoy Hermione’s face. 

We will deal with this LATER

8. City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments)
Author: Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. And she’s more than a little startled when the body disappears into thin air. Soon Clary is introduced to the world of the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of warriors dedicated to driving demons out of our world and back to their own. And Clary is introduced with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque monster. How could a mere human survive such an attack and kill a demon? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Alice’s Take: I hate this book. Kill it. KILL IT WITH FIRE. I hate the THREE book incest plot line. I hate the Harry Potter plot line rip off. I hate all of it. Alice says: OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!

Actually — this is how I feel about it.

How I Live Now9. How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.

The Fault in Our Stars10. The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Alice’s Take: Ok. Full Disclosure– you know how I feel about Harry Potter (ok- maybe you don’t. You know how I feel about my dogs? Ok- I LOVE MY DOGS LIKE I LOVE HARRY POTTER– to the ends of the cosmos). I love this book more than I love Harry, guys. This is, without a doubt, my favorite YA book. I don’t know why. It isn’t as creative as HP. It is clearly heartbreaking. I think what I love is that Green writes the most realistic teens I have ever read. I love his writing. I love his teens. I could live in his world forever. I recommend this book to anyone. 1000 red roses and then some…

Don’t even think for a hot second you are emotionally ready for this book. You are not. But read it anyway

The True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 11. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie’s YA debut, released in hardcover to instant success, recieving seven starred reviews, hitting numerous bestseller lists, and winning the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Monster12. Monster
Author: Walter Dean Myers


Steve (Voice-Over)
Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady prosecutor called me … Monster.

Where Things Come Back13. Where Things Come Back
Author: John Corey Whaley

Just when seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. . . .
In the summer before Cullen’s senior year, a nominally-depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he spots a species of woodpecker thought to be extinct since the 1940s in Lily, Arkansas. His rediscovery of the so-called Lazarus Woodpecker sparks a flurry of press and woodpecker-mania. Soon all the kids are getting woodpecker haircuts and everyone’s eating “Lazarus burgers.” But as absurd as the town’s carnival atmosphere has become, nothing is more startling than the realization that Cullen’s sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother Gabriel has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared.

While Cullen navigates his way through a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young missionary in Africa, who has lost his faith, is searching for any semblance of meaning wherever he can find it. As distant as the two stories seem at the start, they are thoughtfully woven ever closer together and through masterful plotting, brought face to face in a surprising and harrowing climax.

Complex but truly extraordinary, tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful. It’s about a lot more than what Cullen calls, “that damn bird.” It’s about the dream of second chances.

14. When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney

Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity.

Danny’s mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn’t know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom’s property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother’s memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

Second Chance Summer15. Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson

From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak.
Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Beauty Queens16. Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, a desert island classic.

Survival. Of the fittest.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

Shatter Me17. Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi

“You can’t touch me,” I whisper.

I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him.

He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him.

But things happen when people touch me.

Strange things.

Bad things.

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

Alice’s Take: I really liked this book. It has an X-men-ish vibe that I enjoyed, especially amongst all the weird crappy dystopia that has been coming out after the Hunger Games success. I just started the sequel so we will see if it falls pray to sequel sadness, but this first one, Alice approved. I mean, lets be frank here. There is a fair bit of whining and dress talking in this book, but I’ve become fairly use to that by now with this genre. There was enough badassery (yea- I made the word up) to keep me going.  Read my full review here

Close enough to keep me reading…

The Selection18. The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Alice’s Take: OH GOD NO. If I wanted a dystopian novel set in the Miss America Pageant (oh yea– the lead character’s name is ‘MERICA) well…no. I would NEVER ASK FOR THAT. Come on now. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!!!



















The Raven Boys

19. The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater

An all-new series from the masterful, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them-not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all-family money, good looks, devoted friends-but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys.

Alice’s Take: SKIP IT. Or don’t. I just was really disappointed with it. It just was not anything to write home about after her wonderful Scorpio Races. It has a gothic feel to it that I was really hoping to love, but just fell flat. Looking for something to both chill you bones and make you read like a mad person, read her Scorpio Races. Alice’s Review is here


Delirium20. Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver

They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

Alice’s Take: Ok. Here is my initial review. Time has softened me on this. As politics has gone loco about sex and all things love related (or mostly having to do with women’s bodies– lets be frank here), I think this type of dystopia grows on me more and more. Im going to go with YES. Read it. 

The perfect gif for this book. BOOM.

The Moon and More22. The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?

Sarah Dessen’s devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

Eleanor & Park23. Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.


So…..are any books here missing for a YA book challenge? Have you read anything that Alice needs to read? Paint the roses red with your comments!!!

Hello New Year, New Posts!

3 Feb

Hello! Hola! Bojour!


Well…it has finally happened! I am free! Free to blog. Free to work! Free to obsess over my internet/interwebs/culture obsession! I am officially done with my Ph.D. coursework. Let the blog entries and blog actually begin. Also- I just turned 28 and feel like this is a good beginning for the RHR!

Let’s Paint the Roses!!

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge!

13 Sep


This isn’t entirely Children’s Lit/ Young Adult lit– but because so many of us watched Gilmore Girls in our teens, I could not help but post this completely ridiculous list that someone has so nicely compiled of every book that Rory Gilmore mentions while the show was running. It is a challenge. It is a challenge for young readers, old readers, good readers, bad readers, braver readers, and not so brave readers. This is ONE HELL OF A LIST. Rory– you still inspire me today. I can’t see a Yale sweatshirt and not kinda/sorta think of you.

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire – read – June 2010
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – read
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daisy Miller by Henry James
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown – read
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR) – read
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – read
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – started and not finished
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – read
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (TBR)
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (TBR)
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare – read
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby – read
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I need a break……. ok…..keep going….

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien (TBR) – read
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy – on my book pile
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee – read
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Well…..I’ve read everything in red. I have a WAYS to go…..

This looks like a Qualifying Exam list for a Ph. D. I applaud you Ms. Gilmore! Anyone want to take on this challenge? How many of these books have you read?

Jana Riess, Molly Weasley, and how hospitality saved the world!

13 Sep

A Weasley Christmas

(this gem is from Loleia at

Over at, Jana Riess has written a lovely little blog piece on Molly Weasley and hospitality. Everyone knows I can’t resist a blog post on Harry, especially when focused on the ever lovable and controversial Molly!! Enjoy!

Everything I Need to Know About Hospitality, I Learned from Molly Weasley

Jana Riess

The first time we meet Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter books, she welcomes the stranger. At King’s Cross Station, she patiently teaches Harry the trick of finding Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, not because she knows he’s famous — she has no idea who the scrawny boy before her might be — but simply because the very core of her person is suffused with hospitality.

And when, later in the scene, she does discover his identity, her immediate thought is not that he is famous but that he is alone in the world and needs a little mothering. She cautions her daughter that Harry won’t want to be gawked at like some creature in the zoo.

A few months later, she sends Harry a homemade Weasley sweater for the holidays, much to Ron’s chagrin. But to Harry, who has never received a Christmas present, the hand-knitted sweater signals belonging. It brings a message: You are part of us now.

As I explore our spiritual practice of hospitality throughout September, I keep circling back to Molly as the hospitable person I want to become. She’s not a perfect person by any means; she has a fierce temper, succumbs to a dubious Author Crush, and has lousy taste in music. But she is always, always one who welcomes the stranger. In Book 2, when Harry visits the Weasley family, Molly immediately treats him like one of her own children. He’s given a little extra food to fatten him up, but he’s also allowed to go out and de-gnome the garden, doing household chores like everybody else.

She regards him as both special and not special, which is just about right, I think. One trick of hospitality is treating people not as you would want to be treated yourself, but as they want to be treated, which is usually much harder.

Treating people like we would wish to be treated ourselves is great in theory, but in practice it can be an extension of our own ego and selfishness. Molly and Harry butt heads a few times in the later books over his growing adolescent need for independence, but she ultimately respects his need to not be, quite literally, mollycoddled.

It’s not just Harry who benefits from Molly’s open-handed generosity. The Weasley home is a safehouse for all sorts of flawed humans (Mundungus Fletcher, anyone?), not to mention assorted creatures that others might censure, such as werewolves. Molly feeds everyone her famed cooking, despite the fact that it’s not like her family is drowning in cash. The Weasleys are perpetually short of money with their own large family, but you never see either Molly or Arthur turning guests away because they’re poor. She refuses to accept Harry’s Triwizard Tournament prize money when he attempts to press it on her, even though a thousand galleons would go far to alleviate her own family’s poverty.

Molly’s no saint, except when she is; her fierce love for her own family extends outward to create an entire community with bonds of love. Until the end of the seventh book, we only see her magical power in terms of housewifely arts — she can make potatoes jump out of their jackets (please, please teach me how to do that) and knitting needles clack amongst themselves. But in the Battle of Hogwarts, we get a glimpse of a different, powerful Molly Weasley – a strength that has informed her character all along, but is galvanized into action when her daughter is attacked. “Not my daughter, you bitch!” Molly hurls, singlehandedly dueling Bellatrix Lestrange to the death in order to protect the Weasley family.

But that’s just it. Molly’s protectiveness has never been reserved just for her own seven children. From that cocoon it has ever extended outward to include the stranger and build community. In a fantastic twist of irony, the woman who is best known for welcoming the stranger kills the woman whose very name means “the stranger”; Bellatrix has spent a lifetime as the anti-Molly, and she is about to pay.

And so it is that Molly Weasley, housewife, deals the penultimate death blow to the Death Eaters.

Her hospitality helps save the world.

Any thoughts? Hospitality vs. Love? Is it the same? Lets get talking here!  Paint the ROSES!!


YA Highway: Road Trip Wednesday

15 Aug

It’s time for a ROAD TRIP AGAIN!! We are heading over to YA Highway for their weekly question!

This Week’s Topic is: In honor of the end of the Olympics, share your favorite sports book!  The Olympic Ceremonies have come to a close, but there are some amazing sports books out there to keep the competitive spirit alive—at least until the next Olympics in 2014! List one or more of your favorites. The Road Trip Song of the Week:  “Rocky’s Theme” by Billy Conti. So–I don’t think it would surprise anyone that I am not a sports girl on a day-to-day basis, but I am an AVID Olympics watcher. I have even been trying to figure out if it is too late for me to make it to the games (archery? equestrian sports? shooting?). Is it too late??? A girl can dream. This was a hard ROAD TRIP WEDNESDAY! I did however come up with a couple of books I read when I was younger that were somewhat sports oriented, though the actual topic might surprise you….Lurlene McDaniel…QUEEN of the Cancer TEEN Books.
Seriously, the title is Someone Dies, Someone Lives. My mom would have to hand me tissues while I read. Each of McDaniel’s books had a story about an athletic kid who gets cancer, falls in love, either lives and goes on to win a race, or dies tragically and their loved one goes on for them (or some variation of this). It was morbid, romantic, amazing cheese–and I ate it up during my tweens like it was ice cream (I also learned way too much about teen terminal illness–I was depressed for weeks after a book).
This is the best this non-sporty girl can do. It really is shameful but kinda laughworthy. Both the books and the fact that I can’t come up with anything more sporty is humiliating. Does Hunger Games count? Archery??? Flour-bag throwing?ur
I think there was enough of a sporty edge and training to count for something :)
Maybe you guys can do better??? Paint the Roses!!!!

Alice is back! NPR gives us the 100 Best Teen Novels

7 Aug

After a hard couple months of medical and rabbitty hole hardship, I’m back! To start off, I give you NPR’s list of the Best 100 Teen Novels. I think some are missing and some are missplaced. Any thoughts? Sound off!

NPR’s 100 Best Teen Novels

Enjoy some of the highlights and lowlights below and click on the link above to read through the entire list. As always, paint the roses in the comment section!

1. Harry Potter


2. Hunger Games- maybe a bit high there?? I mean–I love the series, but it is not the second best ever. Everyone needs to CALM DOWN.

21. Mortal Instruments Series- Seriously? …………………………………………………………….Seriously? I will leave my ranting out of this. But SERIOUSLY? It beats out Tuck Everlasting?? The Giver? Bridge to Terabithea and A Wrinkle in Time (which were missing)? Ugh.

At least my favorite redhead was represented….

14. Anne of Green Gables

The Mad FRIDAY Tea Party

23 Mar

I wanted to start a new type of post on Fridays! I read quite a few of the YA literature blogs (way toooooooo many and not nearly enough) and thought I would post my top three favorite posts of the week in a Friday roundup called the The Mad FRIDAY Tea Party! This is an easy way to share what I have been reading and to share with you how great the YA literature blog world is! So here we go! My favorite posts of the week!

3. Clockwork Reverie’s review of Shatter Me blew me away. I have been following her on goodreads and I can honestly say this is one of the best reviewers I have ever read. This is one of her older reviews but it is just an example of how great her work is. She is brutally honest, dynamic, thorough, and just so smart.  She is also funny. I like funny when being sarcastic about a crappy book. That is the only way to go really…..

2. The ladies of Love Ya Lit commenting on 5th Annual Audiobook Tournament (at  made my day. Brent and I are audiobook junkies and sometimes feel like we are the only ones….. We even have favorite narrators (Jim Dale anyone?). This is like March Madness for me. Thanks for letting me know!!!!

1. Forever Young Adult takes the number one spot with their amazeballs drinking game for the Hunger Games movie. My friends and I have decided to wait until the DVD release to try this gem (mostly because we probably would have drunkenly “hunger-gamesed” some screaming tweens at our midnight showing while simultaneously heckling the Twilight trailer) but I love them for this. POUR ONE OUT FOR RUE made me die laughing and secretly shed a tear and reminisce about Dobby for some reason!

23 Mar


While I agree with the title of the CNN post, I disagree with the sentiment that Bella is an “okay” role model for girls and Katniss is a better one. A girl who says “SAVE ME” to a boy and goes along for the ride is not a role model for anyone….period. A lost girl does not need to be saved by a boy and that message needs to be stopped PRONTO. It is so harmful for girls AND boys. Young girls and women have agency and are perfectly capable of being the persons they were born to be–even when the “odds are NOT in their favor”. They can rise above every circumstance through their own uniqueness and do ANYTHING. SPARKLY VAMPIRES BE DAMNED! Bella may be the worst thing to hit literature and girlhood since the early Disney princesses. Katniss is a fantastic role model for girls (hearts for Katniss!!!!!), but she is not a novelty–and we should celebrate those that came before. She stands in a long line of female heroines and female leads that teach girls (and boys) what badassness looks like. So today I offer a toast to Hermione, Lyra, Luna, Minerva, Molly, Lily, Ginny, Anne, Leia, Juniper, Galadriel, Arwen, and the many other strong girls and women that have paved the path for our GIRL ON FIRE! Have any more? Paint the Roses!!!

Originally posted on GeekOut:

Editor’s note: Colette Bennett, aside from being Geek Out’s main otaku, is an obsessive fangirl. Recently, her love of “The Hunger Games” series led her to call it the “thinking woman’s YA series.” As fans across the country camp out to buy tickets to “The Hunger Games” movie premier, Bennett explains the singularity and relevance of Katniss worship.

In the era of obsessive young adult literature fandom, a new heroine towers above all the others — Miss Katniss Everdeen.

Friday marks a great day for avid fans of “The Hunger Games,” as they anticipate public vindication for their devotion to the book’s 17-year-old lead character, who has a handsome boy on each arm and a political uprising to lead.

The first movie adaptation of the popular book series opens Friday night, and the trailers have already whipped fans into a frenzy. The madness is sure to soar…

View original 909 more words


21 Mar

Title: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStephano

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Date: March 22, 2011

Pages: 358 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fertility, Polygamy

ISBN: 1442409053

Publisher Description:

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?


Book Trailer:

Cover and Title Critique: I like this cover. It was what first attracted me to the books. The broken down doll look of the girl fits so well with Rhine and her character. I can’t pretend to not find it beautiful and haunting. Well done Simon and Schuster. I know I complain about the pretty girls on the covers but there is something haunting about this cover. I like it–bordering on love it.


Ok…I have a love and hate relationship with this book. I read through it really quickly because it reads like a fun read–think Davinci Code. That makes for light, fun reading, but this is not light fun reading. I hate getting all dark and GOLLUM up in here but Wither has to receive my lowest score because it glorifies some of the most horrible things in my world–child rape and child marriage. There is a time and place for these things in dystopia, but it takes a strong author to repeatedly condemn them. Oh wait, no it doesn’t. Even a five-year-old knows to condemn these things.  This can not go unnoticed and it can not go tween love story glorified. DeStefano’s world is creepy and sad and wonderfully dystopian but she begins her world by marrying off Rhine and her sister brides, a 13-year-old and 18-year-old, to Linden and not drawing some clear lines. These are forced marriages. This is clearly wrong–it will NEVER BE OK.  Rhine and Cecily’s are statutory rapes if and when consummated. Jenna’s is rape. All of it is abuse of women, their bodies, their free will, and their unimaginable positions in a horrible world. Even with the rape and forced marriages–ok, its dystopia–fine lines, or even blurry lines, are not drawn about how it is wrong. There are flowers and Lisa Frank stickers all over the place about how it MIGHT not be the worst think in the world. Is this a joke? Am I on hidden camera YA Book Edition? The author proceeds with her story telling in a way that I can not pretend was not romanticized. Linden and his shiny black hair and sad eyes now  lives in a world where any 14-year-old reading might confuse these him and these convoluted relationships as normal or romantic (a million times worse than when it was deemed ok to have Edward sneaking into Bella’s room and watching her sleeping without her permission). Money, doe eyes, and looks are made to soften the blows of horror–they are used to confuse Rhine, the reader, and obviously the author.

In reagrds to the plot, there is intrigue and mystery in regards to why the virus kills all the new generation at 20 and 25 and outrage at how the older generation is using young “brides” to populate the wealthier survivors with “younguns” to keep the human race going. The grotesque imagery of older men buying young brides for themselves and for their many sons is worthy of discussion and did give me chills–I just could not get over the building of a love story/triangle in this horribleness and trying to hand this down to the reader. Without handing out spoilers–it just was not PLAUSIBLE. It was impossible. It was really pathetic. I don’t think I’ve ever been that annoyed with anyone romanticizing something so harmful to women (or men–Rhine was taken from her twin brother and sees the virus harming everyone–particularly the young (the poor young?)). It was like looking at Atwood through a lens she would be horrified by.

I don’t have an opinion on Rhine because she seems unreal. Everything is spelled out for me by the author. I am told she loves her brother tremendously, that she is trying to escape, that she is daring and smart–but she does not act like it. She is very one-dimensional and very dense. Her inability to see Linden as an agent to her horror makes her one-dimensional.

So, what did I like (to make me say I had a love hate relationships?) I think the groundwork for a world that I could have like is laid. I think the issues are all in Rhine and the decisions she makes (or should I say what is decided for her by the writing). I have never said that before which feels weird. Maybe the second book will redeem this one–I don’t know. I don’t see how but I am not one to leave a story on the first book–especially one that makes me this furious. Ugh. I will have to read the second one to see what is going on. Like I said, there is a great foundation for a dystopian world, but Rhine acts like a love-sick confused girl who does not seem to understand the world around her, the horrors around her–what is being done to her sister-wives and herself.  Does the author? I hate picking on an author–I never have– but I have serious beef. I hope the sequel redeems itself and doesn’t turn into a taboo celebrating trashy novel again but I don’t want to get my hopes up.

Rabbit says: Ages 14 and up.

I could not find an age recommendation for this book. I leave it at at least 14 and up. There is child rape and continuous rape and romanticization of rape and child marriage (child brides) in this book. Dystopia does not make it any better. There is the constant discussion of older men with younger women. Just because Linden is younger does not make it any better.  I can’t wrap my head around it. Even the publisher description says that Rhine can’t bring herself to hate Linden, a boy who rapes a very young girls. I am sorry but I draw the line in dystopia there. I would hope 14 is old enough to understand how horrible the themes being discussed and romanticized by the author are in this book but I also hope that parents are aware that these themes are becoming prevalent in books, though other authors and reviewers have condemned this book as well. The idea of girls as wombs is condemned more heavily than the rape so at least that is dealt with well.

Caterpillar says: Manor of Horrors

Ok…so this was just a weird book, but it did bring up so many different topics. SPOILER ALERT!

1. This reminded me so much of the child brides that have been taken out of fundamentalist compounds lately (which is why the making it romantic bugged the F*&#$ out of me). This felt like a carnivalesque fun-house discussion on compound polygamy. Did anyone else get this feeling?

2. Another fertility genre book–any thoughts on why this is emerging?

3. Is Linden a villain? Does he willingly participate in murder? In the experiments?

4. How does Cecily read to you? Does she read like a child? Does she read like an adult? Does she have agency? Is she a villain? A victim?

5. Does there seem to be a discussion of rich vs. the poor here? Is DeStephano commenting on how only the rich will rise above?

Am I the only one who found this book so disturbing? Paint the Roses!!


14 Mar

Divergent, Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Harper Collins

Date: May, 3 2011

Pages:  496 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Futuristic, Combat

ISBN: 0062024027

Publisher Description:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.


Book Trailer:

Cover and Title Critique: I like this cover. It reminds me a bit of  THAT other dystopian book everyone is talking about, but I appreciate it. I like the simplicity of the city at the bottom and the emblem at the top. It is both subtle but engaging. It draws you in ( and I am tired of the covers with a model on the front pouting–honestly they make no sense in this genre–STOP IT PLEASE).

Alice says: Like it!

So the good stuff first. I like the premise of this book and the underlying themes that Roth is working with. Unlike other dystopias that do not particularly question what went wrong with their original society, Roth’s entire premise is the question of what ruins society–or better yet–what ruins a person.  Though the setup of how the world came to be is a bit too vague, I think I allowed myself the suspension of belief that their new government and system of “living by the virtues” just happened to work because I could fill in the dots in most places. I also liked where her underlying questions about society were headed, allowing me some room play in this world. So, in regards to a dystopian world and the set up–I loved it. I loved all the questions it posed and was left wanting to talk about it for days (though most of what we talked about we had to infer or just create new scenarios because the background info is so sparse). Though the rules of how each faction lives its life (Dauntless must live dangerously ALL THE TIME, Amity are ALWAYS forced to be friendly and amicable, ect. ect.) seemed to lack actual logic, I could see how characters were struggling within their factions, making my questions about the system’s sustainability valid questions.

Beatrice, or Tris, is an interesting lead character. I could not make up my mind about her. This might be one of the first leads that I leave feeling “meh” about, leaning towards dislike. This is not a critique of the books. My husband HATES Katniss with a passion but loves the Hunger Games. Maybe that is what Beatrice will look like for me. She just never seems to stay in character and makes decisions that I could not support. Tris and me–we would not have worked out as friends. I can’t get spoilery, but here is the thing. This girl is obviously a brave girl, but she starts making decisions that I think each faction would look down on. Violence is praised heavily in this book, and there seems to be little to no discussion of whether or not it is an appropriate reaction to fear, humiliation, or pain. I would like to have that discussion.

There is also violence for violence sake which bothers me quite a bit. I am not talking about violence against a group in the name of war or injustice. I’m talking about a whole bunch of senseless violence that seems glorified by the characters we are supposed to gravitate towards (I am looking at you TRIS). I would have like a lead character who, from the beginning said, “This is BULLSHIT.” The characters that do stand up against the senseless violence either die (from senseless violence) or disappear from the narrative. Roth just never develops from the character she starts off with (Beatrice) into the one that we end up with (Tris). The leap there is just too big for me. I did not find it believable. Did you?

Also, friendship seems to be stepped on everywhere in the book. A boy you can like and LURVE (and yes…there is a boy named Four), but friends (and family) you can not trust.You have to be wary of them. Your life and safety have to be in the hands of your love interest ONLY. I found that take on friendship and family pretty sad.

Overall, the premise is great (though lacking some structure), but it did seem like one huge setup for the next book–which I will read. My curiosity is peaked.  As for Tris, well, we will see. We have some making up to do.

Rabbit says: Ages 14 and up.

I agree with HarperCollin’s assessment that this book is for ages 14 and up. The concepts alone are pretty complicated, and the violence is extreme and glorified. I would not hand this to someone who was not in highschool. Half of the greatness of this book is the world itself, and I think you need some maturity to fully grasp it.

Caterpillar says: Free or Free Will??


So Divergent is dealing with so many different questions it is hard to know where to start….

1. A world separated into our virtues would inevitably be separated into our faults–would this have been taken into consideration? Can you see or imagine how faulty this is? I would like to know how long this system has been in place because I would give it a week in real-life.

2. What faction would you choose? I think I would choose abnegation–not because I am not brave, but because they take care of the factionless and so far seem to have their heads on straight. Maybe I’ll change my mind later.

2. Does violence equal bravery? With the Dauntless initiation–do we get a sense that they are trying to make their initiates braver or just hazing them. What does it mean to have a book that glorifies hazing (it you think the initiations are hazing).

3. Has anyone else noticed the trend where authors feel the need to assure us that the lead character is PLAIN and UGLY but that her love interest is not (Twilight–as far back as Jane Eyre). Could they both not be plain, or regular, or spectacular looking? This set up, I think, is pandering to insecurities in adolescents, and it is popping up everywhere. If Four is as HANDSOME, and AWESOME, BRAVE and WONDERFUL as he is described, why would he fall for the girl who is described as ugly, plain, not strong, and a “stiff”. It doesn’t line up. Roth didn’t give us any good qualities to go off of other than her new-found love of violence. They have to be there– Roth obviously loves her main character and wants us to. So we have to leads that value hazing, violence? We have leads who both look down on knowledge and selflessness? It almost feels like Four likes a plain, forgettable girl because she can beat the shit out of people for fun? I dunno….. Their “ship” has very little build up. This bothered me too. Though you see them both grow in the final parts of the book and their character flesh out, I think my inital impression was just too stark. It is hard to accept them in the final character development we see towards the end…..

4. Do you think the 16 year olds have free will? When they go through their initiation process, they take a test that shows them where they should be–but family ties hold them close to their faction regardless. Does the test hinder free will? Do the family expectations? Can anyone just BE themselves?

Any thoughts? Paint the ROSES!


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