As you can probably imagine, I read a ton - and it's mostly children's books. I also have a yen for YA (Young Adult for all y'all non-hip-with-the-lingo people!) and once in a blue moon I allow myself to read something adult. Then I feel all snooty and pretentious and have to wander around talking about the Lacanian imagery in and the Foucaulian bent to whatever book I'm reading. It's really obnoxious - steer clear of me at those times.
ANYWAY - here are some quick and dirty book rambles about a few books I've read recently.
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
The Magic Thief was on Anderson's Bookshop's Mock Newbery list for 2009 and I was working my way through that list ... starting with the fantasy first because I'm obnoxiously predictable like that, and because I was also trying to read all the Rebecca Caudill books as well as all the local school district's Battle of the Books (BOB) books ... so I didn't really get very far in any of them. This year I started the 2010 Rebecca Caudill list the day it came out, and I plan on being just as speedy when they announce the new BOB books in May. So anyway - I was pointed toward this book by the mock Newbery list, and I am eternally grateful to whoever at Anderson's picks their Mock Newberies!
Conn is a pickpocket who knows he is supposed to be a magician. When he picks the pocket of Nevery and steals his locus magicalus, by all rights he should drop dead on the spot but for some reason he doesn't and that piques Nevery's curiosity so the two pair up. Someone is stealing the city of Wellmet's magic and Nevery is out to figure out who.
This book was so utterly brilliant. When Conn is narrating out on the streets by himself he falls into this language that reminds me almost of Cockney rhyming slang (says the yank who knows very little about Cockney rhyming slang) but without the actual Cockney rhyming slang bits. I'm probably explaining this all wonky, but as a few examples from when Conn and Nevery first met: Conn "caught a glimpse of his keen-gleam eyes" (p. 5), the wizard "loom-doomed up before me" (p. 8), and then with a "quick-dart for the door and back out into the steep, rain-dark streets" (p. 10) he's away. See - it's not really at all like Cockney rhyming slang (which involves replacing a word with a word that it doesn't actually rhyme with but that works with a word that rhymes. Yes?), but it reminded me of it and that's what I'm sayin'!
I also loved the discussions of magic. Lots of fantasy books just blip right over this - magic just is. That's how the world works and why would it be any different? Conn, being a smart inquisitive student of magic does the obvious thing and asks Nevery what magic is and where it comes from and how it works. Nevery, being a pretentious, brilliant magician of course tries to explain it and just angers Conn because Conn is convinced that Nevery is wrong.
For more traditional reviews, check out The Well Read Child, Ms. Tingling, or The Purple Cow.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This book was recommended to me by absolutely EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD! And I am NOT EXAGGERATING AT ALL! By which I mean I am completely exaggerating, but lots of people did tell me to read this. It is very popular, had a massive hold list, and was YA, though, so I kept putting it off ... but then it was on the hold shelf waiting for me and I had just finished off whatever I was reading when it came in (probably Dealing with Dragons) so I actually read it. I am SO glad I did!
The Hunger Games is one of the best post-apocalyptic fiction novels I have ever read. It's right up there with Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.
A couple hundred years ago things started to go wrong with the world. Famine, flood, earthquake, etc. The usual. On North America, from the ashes rose the rich and prosperous Capitol surrounded by 13 poor Colonies. Eventually the colonies rebelled against the Capitol and were severely trounced. To prove their superiority, the Capitol destroyed Colony #13, and the rest of the colonies must each year send two tributes of a teenage boy and a teenage girl who will compete against the other 22 tributes in THE HUNGER GAMES! The Hunger Games are a The Most Dangerous Game-esque type of reality show where whichever tribute survives the longest wins. They will live a life of ease until they die and for the next year their colony will be showered with riches like sugar and butter and flour. ANYWAY - Katnis is a hunter from the one of the poorest colonies who provides for her mother and her 12 year old sister Primrose. When Prim's name is called in the lottery, she volunteers to take her place and joins The Hunger Games.
(someday I will learn to write a concise summary. There will be rejoicing in the streets and free cupcakes for all. This will be a beautiful day.)
The characters in this novel were amazing. Katnis is the main character, so of course I was rooting for her, but the other tribute from her colony was the son of the baker and I want nothing but good for him. Then there was the youngest tribute who was this sweet girl who was so scared and so shy and so wonderful! Then there are the tributes who have spent their lives training for the games and who are just so cocky and so cruel and so scary.
Just read it - seriously - and if you don't believe me, read Abby (the) Librarian (LOVE her), Fuse #8, or The Book Nut.
There are more books I need to talk about, but I'm going to take a break and come back with more books later.