Tag Archives: Young Adult Books

The Fantasy World of Funke’s Reckless

Cornelia Funke is a genius. She just is. I listened to her newest book (although not that new anymore – first published in September 2010), Reckless. It captivated me from start to finish. The beginning of the story drops on the reader like a parachute out of nowhere. You are immediately immersed and confused with your surroundings. As you make your way from beneath the parachute another layer drops and another. I love this type of storytelling when it is done well. William Faulkner does this incredibly well. As a reader, you are forced to take a leap of faith that all will become clear or at least somewhat clear.  Funke can join the ranks of Faulkner-esque storytelling.

Reckless re-imagines fairy tales. Actually, it creates its own fairy tale but within a world of familiar fairy tales — however, these familiar fairy tales have become darkly twisted. The witch and the gingerbread house are real, a tailor with scissors for hands hunts people for their skin, and fairies are selfish creatures. Jacob Reckless has been living in both the real and this fairy tale world. He has been traveling through a mirror and finds solace in escaping to this hidden world where he steals enchanted artifacts for money. Everything changes when Jacobs younger brother, Will, follows him into his strange world. Will becomes infected with a curse that slowly changes his skin to stone (becoming a Goyl)–jade to be exact. Once Will’s skin becomes completely jade he will be lost forever. Jacob, Fox–a beautiful shape-shifting vixen/fox–, and Clara–Will’s girlfriend from back home–must race time to find something or someone to save Will.

Age Group: 14 and up
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Themes: Magic, Fantasy, Fairy Tales,
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, imprint of Hachette Book Group

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The Human Experience: Stick Review & Giveaway Winners

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

I’m drawn to stories about family-life. Stories so lush with genuine character that I start to use the framework of the story to emphasize, or explain, or dramatize aspects of my life, my story. I live within the story, however fabricated. As readers, we love this. We live for it.

At the end of the day, we yearn for the relatable, the real, the story that will speak directly to us. Whether that’s within the world of fantasy or science fiction or romance or contemporary fiction, it doesn’t matter. They all—the lot of them—in one way or another, and on varying levels, hold some invariable truth that is uniquely relatable and salient to us as humans—readers, bibliophiles, book junkies.

Andrew Smith’s books take this concept to an entirely new level. Not only do they provide the reader with characters to love and to relate to, they also inspire us to think differently about the world.

In Stick, Smith’s most recent novel, the world he creates is very much our own. It’s recognizable. And the characters themselves, they are people we know, or apt representations of people we know of.

Stick, the main protagonist of the story, is disfigured. His ear is a mess of mangled cartilage and dulled hearing. And he lives with it. It’s part of who he is. Bosten, Stick’s older brother, is the more raucous of the two. And he loves his brother, and would do anything for him. Emily is Stick’s best friend, the two of them sharing an important bond. The rest of the story is replete with both the highs and the lows: characters that support and provide care for the protagonists and characters that hinder and harm.

It’s these latter kind that inspires Bosten to leave home. And it’s his absence that inspires Stick to find him. Over the course of the story, the brothers take part in their own unique journey—to escape the pain caused by parents that either relish in or pay no mind to said pain, and experience something that will build character out of the goodness and joy and revelation.

We know this world. It’s here, it’s there. It’s us and it’s those people there. It’s a world in which people exist as unique individuals, journeying to find out what it means to overcome, what it means to glean, what it means to live.

Readers, Stick is the type of book we live for. It is the human experience. In these words and these characters, we learn and we relate and we love.

Bosten and Stick know this. They lived it.

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And the winners of the Andrew Smith Giveaway are:

Doppelganger – Stick

AnnieMooreBooks.com – Ghost Medicine

Charles DeMoss, Charlesthereader.blogspot.com – In The Path of Falling Objects

Winners were chosen randomly using Rafflecopter. Please email your mailing addresses to ReadSchmead at Yahoo dot com. If I do not hear from you by December 15th then a new winner will be chosen. Thank you so very much for all of the love and support.

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Measuring Up to Other Dystopian Worlds: Divergent Review

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

In reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent, two other book series came to mind. One, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. And the other, the massively popular Hunger Games trilogy from Suzanne Collins. While I don’t think Divergent packs the same amount of punch like that of Uglies or Hunger Games, I do believe it has just enough exciting elements for an enjoyable read.

Akin to the different houses at Rowling’s “Hogwarts,” Roth’s world is separated into factions. Five factions, in this case. Each of which dedicate their lives to a particular culture and ideal. Candor values honesty. Abnegation values selflessness. Dauntless values bravery. Amity values peacefulness. Erudite values intelligence.

And like all the other kids turning 16, Beatrice (or “Tris,” as she calls herself) has to decide which faction is for her. She does, but the result is something she wasn’t at all prepared for.  What follows is an enjoyable and often exciting dystopian tale that has the right idea about how we live. Ms. Roth, it seems, understands that things are not always so black and white; that the narrow-minded can, in fact, be quite dangerous; that it’s important to recognize individuality as it pertains to the cultures or “factions” we live within; and that each culture holds inherent value we as individuals need to recognize—for ourselves and our factions.

Unfortunately, even with the above mentioned, I was mildly disappointed in the story’s originality. It just seemed, as I was reading, that I had read it before—in Uglies and Hunger Games, for instance. I wanted something more. Something that I didn’t see coming. Something that was going to surprise me.

All in all, it was fairly enjoyable. And, being the dystopian junkie that I am, I will continue reading the series. But with some trepidation.

Age Group: 12 and up
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Themes: Science Fiction, dystopian, identity, discrimination
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books

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Giveaways are Crazy – Andrew Smith

Thank you to all that participated in the last Giveaway Schmiveaway!  Now it is time for the new one!!!

This Giveaway is a doozy:  Win a signed Andrew Smith book!!

This contest allows for three winners who will be picked randomly.  Enter into the contest by being a subscriber and get an additional entry by posting a comment (or comments) from now until December 10th!!!  The more comments the more entries!

Check out Non’s review of Ghost Medicine and soon there will be a review of Stick.  If you haven’t read anything by Andrew Smith then you are seriously missing out on some amazing storytelling.  Now is the time give him a try.

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Hunger Games Trailer

I kind of love the trailer.  All right, I don’t kind of, I really do.  I am not skeptical about this movie.  I am very hopeful and I can’t wait to see it.  If I am disappointed when I actually get to see it then c’est la vie.  For now I am going to be super excited :

See the Hunger Games Trailer

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The Why Chromosome and Books

Post by Non T. Wels

I, along with Jessica of Read Schmead, went to the ‘Why Chromosome’ event that was held at Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Bookshop and put together by Bridge to Books, a cool non-profit organization run by Alethea, whose blog is Read Now Sleep Later, and Alyson, whose blog is Kid Lit Frenzy. The event (full title: The Why Chromosome: Why Boys Do Love Books) was delightful. Despite my meager standing amongst the crowd of prolific bloggers and literacy heroines, I felt right at home, welcome, part of the troupe. I mean, I am a simple bibliophile. I don’t manage a book-related blog, like this one or like the blogs from Tessa or Kristen (although I do occasionally contribute to Read Schmead). I don’t teach kids the wonders of reading books, like Alyson and others. And I don’t write books, like the group of “boys” who spoke at the event.

These boys, or authors, were Jonathan Auxier (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes), John Stephens (The Emerald Atlas), G. Neri (Ghetto Cowboy), Greg Van Eekhout (Kid vs. Squid and The Boy at the End of the World), Allen Zadoff (Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have) and Andrew Smith (Stick); all of which seemed to be just as gleeful about this event as us book bloggers, educators and, to be inclusive of my own standing, simple book junkies.

The impetus for the event was—and is—the culture of reading as it pertains to young boys. And the intent of the event itself was to be a rousing defense of boys and their evident (to us) love of reading. It was decidedly successful. Boys do love to read. They do. The hole in my blanket from the lamp I pulled under there to finish those last few chapters of the Choose Your Own Adventure series is a testament to that.

Here is a great group shot of the authors with some of us bibliophiles - Photo Courtesy of From The Bookshelf of TB, http://www.ftbotbblog.blogspot.com

Here’s some video from the event:

Jessica cut off the beginning of this next video.  The question was asked, “What kind of literary character do you most associate with?”

For more information on boys and their love for reading (as a pairing; she doesn’t blog necessarily about boys solely. That would be weird) take a gander at Kristen Pelfrey’s blog Kristen Pelfrey Writes. She does it right.

And, of course, the authors are doing it right. Support them by reading their blogs, commenting, and buying their books! Jonathan Auxier
John Stephens
G. Neri
Greg Van Eekhout
Allen Zadoff
Andrew Smith

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Don’t forget about the Giveaway Schmiveaway –  SIGNED copy of Oliver Jeffers’ book, The Way Back Home!!!

Enter to win by subscribing to Read Schmead and by posting comments. Every current and new subscriber is entered into the contest automatically. If you happen to leave comments on posts then those will count as additional entries. Winners will be picked randomly.

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Silly Rabbit Kids Books are for Adults Too, You Know

I received this photo from the amazing Penguin Rep., Nicole.  It is very true.

Not Just For Kids

Don’t forget about the Giveaway Schmiveaway –  SIGNED copy of Oliver Jeffers’ book, The Way Back Home!!!

Enter to win by subscribing to Read Schmead and by posting comments. Every current and new subscriber is entered into the contest automatically. If you happen to leave comments on posts then those will count as additional entries. Winners will be picked randomly.

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