Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Boy Book Choices

I love the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters and the latest, The Titan's Curse are a lot of fun for anyone (chicks included!), but I put them in the boy book "genre" because of our main character, Percy Jackson. Percy is a guy's guy; I think we all could have him in class. :) His life is a very adventurous one after he finds out his real father is a greek god! Filled with all sorts of mythological monsters, immortals and weaponry, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is a sure-fire page turner. I had so much fun reading all three, but I think one of my favorite parts was having to remember all of the gods, goddesses and minor deities from greek mythology-- I had forgotten a lot of them!

After you've read one or more of these, enter this discussion with me: Do you think these books would make good movies? If so, what actors could play the main characters? I'm especially wondering who would play Apollo? How do you picture Olympus? Give me the details!

Mrs. P

Chick Lit Choices

Okay folks, it's time to hear what you think of Eclipse! Did Bella pick the right guy? Is she making the right decision for her life after she graduates? What do you think will happen with her family? I'll join in once you start posting your opinions!

Anyone else want to comment on excellent chick lit/brain candy out there? Do tell!

Mrs. P

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nonfiction/Survival Choices

Although I read it some years ago, I am going to mention Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer here. This is definitely not for a younger audience-- 8th graders only, please. :) The reasons I'm choosing to discuss this book in particular are:
1. I really enjoyed reading it-- of course!
2. It's a good book for people who think they don't like nonfiction to read (as is his other crazy outdoor nonfiction novel, Into Thin Air!)
3. It's being made into a movie that is directed by Sean Penn and stars Emile Hirsch, so you may be seeing it soon!

Into the Wild traces the true story of Christopher McCandless, a guy who graduates from college, gives away his savings to charity and then drops "off the grid", meaning there is literally no record of him anywhere-- no bank accounts, no social security info, no rent payments... nothing. He does this intentionally. He does not contact his family or any old friends. Chris becomes a hobo on purpose. He attempts to live off the land in Alaska with no sort of modern aide, and it does not go well for him.

This book explores why Chris made the choices he did and tries not to judge his actions. It is not a long novel at all-- it's around 200 pages-- and it flies by as you become fascinated by his story.

What other survivalist nonfiction have you read that you enjoyed? Has anyone read the book about the girl in Hawaii that had her leg bitten off by a shark? Do tell!

Mrs. P

Sci Fi Choices

This isn't exactly a new book, but it's won a ton of awards and acclaim, and therefore I've been meaning to read it for a while. I am glad I did! I found this book an interesting study of our potential near-future in terms of what is possible with cloning technology, societal and government choices. How far will we go to live longer? What should be the boundries for technology in medicine? And tapping into real-time current events, how should our government handle the issue of illegal immigration? Follow our protagonist, Matt, as he discovers his history, his present, and his frightening future and then report back here what you think of the novel!

I am all the way through Pretties/Uglies/Specials at this point, but I just discovered that Paul Westerfeld is now intending to put out a fourth installment in the "trilogy" called Extras. Therefore, we can assume that our protagonist Tally Youngblood will hoverboard onward! For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you'll just have to give it a read. :)

This series deals with What It Means To Be Perfect, and how far we should go to get there. It also tackles the idea of what the world would be like if we were all almost the same-- would that be better or worse? How important is our individuality? I also like the way Westerfeld talks about the government in these stories-- even if the people are happy, how much power is too much?

Hey guys, even though there is a female narrator and, I admit, there are some girly moments in these stories (and on the covers-- why would they do that?!!), it would be interesting if you could bring yourself to read them too, because I would love to hear your opinions on this futuristic world that could be right around the corner!

Also, what other sci fi recommendations do you have?

Mrs. P

Historical Fiction Choices

I know I'm behind the times, but for my summer class I read The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. I found this book really enjoyable on many levels. Because it's not overloaded with historical references and it's more just really funny stories about a family, it doesn't really read like historical fiction, so those of you not into this genre will still find plenty of entertainment.

I used to teach a class at Westview called History Through Film, and one of the films I would show was a documentary called Four Little Girls directed by Spike Lee. This was a pretty harsh movie that got pretty graphic at times, but it was really well done and my students learned a lot about the struggles and losses during the civil rights movement. It would be a good companion piece for Watsons to explain the ending of this book.

Who else has read this book? Did you like it? What other historical fiction books have you read?

Mrs. P

Fantasy Choices

Just finished this one! I recommend it for all of you hardcore fantasy/medieval wargames fans. Jack finds out he is part of a magical secret society, where wizards are the ruling party and warriors, such as himself, are their pawns in The Game. Jack and his friends face life-and-death adventures as they try to figure out what is going on and who can be trusted.

There will be a companion novel for this one coming out called Wizard Heir; check out the teaser chapter in the back of Warrior Heir! And hey, let us know what you think of this one if you choose to read it! I'm thinking guys might like it more...

I have joined those of you enjoying the Inheritence Trilogy! Although I will argue with you guys all day long that there is hardly an orginal idea in these books, I have to admit, Christopher Paolini puts them together in a very readable way. And for those of you who don't know, THE BOOKS ARE WAY BETTER THAN THE MOVIE! If you thought the movie wasn't that good, you should still give the books a try. :)

Let's play a game... what influences (you can cite either books or movies!) can you find in Eragon and Eldest? Do tell, and be specific!

Mrs. P

P.S. Don't forget-- feel free to comment on other fantasy books you have read here as well!

Realistic Fiction Choices

For my summer class I am taking, I recently read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This book is tailored for girls in upper middle school and high school. It is a first person narrative, and I think you will really like Melinda's voice as she lets you in to her world with its problems and its slow healing process. Although we may have never been in a situation like hers, I think we can all relate to the feeling of being on the outside looking in at some point! This book, while somewhat painful to read, is very well done and provides an optimistic ending. I think you would enjoy it!

What are some other realistic fiction books you have read recently? Would you recommend them? Why or why not?

Mrs. P