Necessary Roughness – Marie Lee

July 30, 2008

Sixteen-year-old Chan Kim is less than pleased when he is told that his family will be leaving L.A. for Iron River, Minnesota. He will be leaving his friends, his girlfriend (who happens to be his twin sister’s best friend), his family’s shop, and everything he knows. Iron River is completely different from L.A. The biggest thing that’s happened to it was 10 years ago–State Football Champions. The Kims are the only Asian family around in the small town.

On the first day of school, Chan and his sister, Young, dislike it. They find the people to be less than friendly. Before long, Chan is recruited to try out for the football team. He ends up making the Varsity team. His father is less than thrilled.  A favorite saying of his being “Anyone can build muscle, but building brain is more difficult.”

Necessary Roughness was an engaging read. I finished it in a day which says a lot for me. As I was reading I realized that this was the first time I’d read a book about an Korean-American, or any Asian-American for that matter, but I had an idea what to expect. Strict parents. High expectations. Meaning of being Korean. I enjoyed reading it like I enjoyed watching Bend It Like Beckham.

Now my two negatives. First, about three-quarters of the way, the book takes an unexpected turn. I suspect the idea was to give the novel a deeper meaning, but sometimes less is more.  Second, I did not find the novel to be entirely credible. I can’t say much about this with spoiling something.

Still, it was a pleasure to read, and I also learned two new words: hotdish and weeg.

Marie Lee’s website

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The Annotated Alice

July 28, 2008

I first read Alice’s Adventues in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass when I was in sixth grade. I remember absolutely loving them. For a while, it was one of my favorites, and I immediately bought The Annotated Alice. Now, I have finally reread it. First off, let me just say that I absolutely love The Annotated Alice. It’s so PRETTY. I also love all the footnotes, but I admit, I skipped some of the longer ones. The footnotes helped me appreciate the Alice books and Lewis Carroll. Now that I’ve reread this, I would love to read a biography on Lewis Carroll. I’ve heard all the rumors of him being a Victorian pedophile, but I’d love to learn more. Especially the mathematician, or should I say Charles Dodgson. Anyone know any good biographies? The only negative about The Annotated Alice is the size. It’s hard to really curl up and read it. A paperback edition would be nice.


Hero – Perry Moore

July 21, 2008

I just recently got into the whole superhero craze. When I was at my friend’s house earlier this summer, we watched the X-Men trilogy. Soon after, I watched Spider-Man 1 & 2 and Batman Begins. I have yet to see The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger looks like an AMAZING villain. 😉 Once I found out about Hero, I knew I had to read it. It does not disappoint. I was on the edge of my seat for almost the entire novel.

Hero is about Thom Creed, a teen with the power to heal. His father, Hal Creed, was an ex-member of The League–a group of superheroes. The most spectacular thing about Hal is that he has not a single superpower, but after one mistake, Hal was banned from the League. Thus, Hal removed all mention of superheroes from the household. Where is Thom’s mother, you ask? Thom’s mother left him and his father under mysterious circumstances a few years ago. And, if this wasn’t enough for Thom, he also faces another obstacle. Telling his father he’s gay. After finding a series of photographs and one bus ride, life soon changes for Thom.

Next, my favorite quote from the novel:

“You can’t go on like you’re going to start really living one day, like all this is some preamble to some great life that’s magically going to appear. I’m a firm believer that you have to create your own miracles, don’t hold out that there’s something better waiting on the other side. It doesn’t work that way. When you’re gone, you’re gone. There’s no pearly white gates with an open bar and all the Midori you can drink. You can only get one go-round and you gotta make it count. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. Don’t wait.”

-Ruth

If you’re wondering, Ruth is a character that Thom soon befriends.

I believe Hero will appeal to a wide variety of people. From people who love reading about superheroes to people to who want to read about a father/son relationship to people who want to read about the struggles of being a gay teen. I’m amazed at what all Perry Moore put into one novel.

Perry Moore’s website. If you’ve read Hero, I suggest you read this interview Perry Moore gave.


Book Award Challenge Choices

July 18, 2008

I’ve made my list of choices for this challenge. They are:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz (2008 Pulitzer Prize)
Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones (2007 Commonwealth’s Writers’ Prize)
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle (1963 Newbery Award)
American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang (2007 Printz Award)
American Gods – Neil Gaiman (2002 Hugo Award)
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein (1962 Hugo Award)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick (2008 Children’s Book Sense Award)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party – M.T. Anderson (2006 Young People’s Literature National Book Award)
Atonement – Ian McEwan (2002 National Book Critics’ Circle Award)
Jesus Land: A Memoir – (2006 Alex Award)

Of course, these could change at any moment. I mean, I still haven’t started school yet…I don’t want to overwhelm myself with books then. 😉


It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini

July 12, 2008

Craig Gilner is determined to get into his dream high school–Executive Pre-Professional High. He studies for hours each day and carries flashcards with him. He takes the entrance exam and makes a remarkable score. 800 out of 800. This is when things go downhill.

At Executive Pre-Professional, he realizes that he’s nothing compared these kids. His grades are mediocre–93s, he doesn’t do any extra-curricular activities, and his homework is piling up. All he does is hang out with his friend Aaron. Soon, the pressure builds up.  He begins having trouble sleeping and can’t keep his food down. Then, one day Craig checks himself into a psychiatric hospital for depression. Among the patients is a transsexual, a girl who scarred her face, two ex-druggies, and an Egyptian who spends his day in bed. At the hospital Craig has time to think things over and change things about his life.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is an enjoyable read. Craig’s stay at the hospital is a funny one. One of my favorite scenes is when all the patients do art with Joanie. It’s like a preschool class. I also liked that Craig’s a very relatable character. The book would have fallen flat if he wasn’t, really. I recommend you read this book. It’s over 400 pages, but the print is large. It can easily be finished in several hours. I look forward to reading more by Ned Vizzini.

Ned Vizzini’s website.


Book Awards Reading Challenge

July 9, 2008

My first reading challenge.

  1. Read 10 award winners from August 1, 2008 through June 1, 2009.
  2. You must have at least FIVE different awards in your ten titles.
  3. Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.
  4. You don’t have to post your choices right away, and your list can change at any time.
  5. ‘Award winners’ is loosely defined; make the challenge fit your needs, keeping in mind Rule #2.
  6. SIGN UP using Mr. Linky below.
  7. Have fun reading!

Right now, I am going to compile a list of possible choices which will be posted in the next few days. Here are my choices!

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz (2008 Pulitzer Prize)
Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones (2007 Commonwealth’s Writers’ Prize)
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle (1963 Newbery Award)
American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang (2007 Printz Award)
American Gods – Neil Gaiman (2002 Hugo Award)
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein (1962 Hugo Award)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick (2008 Children’s Book Sense Award)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party – M.T. Anderson (2006 Young People’s Literature National Book Award)
Atonement – Ian McEwan (2002 National Book Critics’ Circle Award)
Jesus Land: A Memoir – (2006 Alex Award)


Pretty Little Liars

July 9, 2008

I just wanted to mention that Pretty Little Liars is available to read online for free here. 🙂