Seventeen-year-old “Hank” doesn’t know who he is or where he came from, he only knows that he woke up at Penn Station in New York City with ten dollars in his pocket and a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Waldon in his hands. So Hank decides to start on his own journey to Waldon, trying to discover what it was that Thoreau discovered and, hopefully, in the process discover who he is and what his own journey is about.
I have to admit that Being Henry David is not the usual YA novel that I read, I read it because my book club chose it for the book for this last month. That being said, it was an interesting read. It took me a little while to get into it, especially since the beginning made me think it was going to be about teenagers and the underground drug culture, which it is NOT about. But once I started to get into I found myself traveling with Hank as he discovered who he is and what was so horrible in his past that his mind caused him to forget it (totally NOT what I thought it was going to be). Armistead mixes quotes from Waldon throughout the novel, weaving an interesting mix of the old and new as Hank experiences new things and discover old things he has forgotten. Being Henry David is worth a read.
Title: Being Henry David
Author: Cal Armistead
Format: Paperback, Hardbound, eBook
Page Nos.: 317
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Release Date: April 2013
Available for purchase: Amazon
Gwen has spent her entire life in her cousin’s shadow in Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. She is a normal teenager, well except for the fact that she can see and talk to ghosts. Oh, and her family has a certain gene that allows some members of the family to go back in time. Gwen’s cousin, Charlotte, has been training her whole life to go back in time for the secret society. The gene begins to manifest itself as teenagers and Gwen gets the surprise of her life. She gets thrown into a society that she understands nothing about. Her partner to help her adjust to going back in time is a gorgeous Gideon and Gwen immediately begins to crush on him big time. Not only is Gwen dealing with the troubles of being a teenager, but now she has so much more she has to deal with as well as trying to understand the leaders of the secret society she has unexpectedly found herself involved in. Can Gwen work her way through historic London with the help of Gideon? Will she be able to find who, in this strange new world, that she can trust?
I picked this book up on sale and absolutely loved it! Within two days, I had read the first two books in the series and had to figure out with the third book would be released. Gwen is a character that you love and can relate to so easily! She is an average teenager that loves to watch movies with her friends and is trying to survive the troubles of being a teenager. Gwen isn’t considered beautiful, she isn’t a straight A student, she is slightly overweight, and she is sarcastic. All of these qualities combine to make a heroine that anyone can love.
You can read an excerpt here.
The Ruby Red Reading Order:
Title: Ruby Red
Author: Kirsten Gier
Page Nos.: 322
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: 2009
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson starts out on the first day of Melinda’s freshman year. She is a social outcast, shy, and isn’t very pretty. Because Mel calls the cops while she is at a party before school starts, everyone in the school is way mad including her “best friends”. Mel also has a difficult home life because her parents fight frequently and have stopped talking almost at all. When the new girl, Heather, befriends her, Mel finally thinks she is needed by someone. She kind of starts making friends with her biology lab partner, David Petrakis, and things are looking up until she sees the man that ruined her life is starting to date her ex-bestfriend Rachel.
Speak keeps you interested enough to keep reading, even if you’ve read it before. Melinda is a fascinating character and her internal struggle is very potent for readers. Speak should be required for all teenagers to read because while it deals with a very specific problem, it also doesn’t go into such details so as to make it too graphic. Not only does Melinda have to struggle overcoming this huge event in her life, but she also has to deal with an unhappy family life. She also struggles fitting in at school, which is another problem teenagers face today. Anderson does a fabulous job really getting into the teenage mind and uses it to help other teenagers who read her books. While I did enjoy this book, the characters are a little flat and could have been developed a little more. I also felt like people would have noticed the change in Melinda’s personality (like her parents or classmates). The ending still left some questions unanswered (why didn’t she get him arrested?!) and seemed a little abrupt. Overall it is a good book and I think teenagers (and adults with teenagers) should read this book. It could open the gates to talking about some of the more delicate topics.
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Format: ebook, hardcover, paperback
Page Nos.: 244
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: October 1999
Available for Purchase: Amazon
Tiffany Aching, a nine-year old witch in the book “The Wee Free Men” by Terry Pratchett, starts to see creatures from fairy tales that she shouldn’t be able to see. When her brother is taken, she decides that is the last straw and she starts demanding answers. She grabs her grandma’s book on common sheep ailments, a frying pan (because it is made of iron and monsters don’t like iron), and enlists the help of some very unusual clans people. The Nac Mac Feegles are six inches tall, have shocking orange hair, are covered in blue tattoos, and wear only kilts. Oh, and they are famous for stealin’ (anything that isn’t nailed down is fair game), drinkin’ and fightin’. It is what they do best, afterall. After following them back to their home, the elderly Kelda tells her what she wants to know in exchange for becoming the new Kelda of the clan. She then has the unpleasantness of trying to decide which of the Feegle’s hand in marriage she wants because as the new Kelda, she must marry one of the warriors. Tiffany does her best with this rowdy bunch as she enters the dreamland where the Queen lives that took her younger brother. She fights her way through the monsters of nightmares to find the Queen and her younger brother and along the way picks up the Baron’s son (who was missing for a year) and they barely escape with their lives.
The Wee Free Men, although not really a romance, was hilarious! No one can understand how funny the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett are until they start reading. This is a good one to start with to get the feel for his writing. His writing style is a bit unique and generally contains quite a bit of satire. The Wee Free Men is a bit different because the wee free men use a very heavy Scottish dialect that does take a little bit to understand in some places, using words like ‘ken’ and ‘dinna’. Once you get the hang of how they talk, it goes smoother and you can pick up the pace again. The Wee Free Men has a lot of flashbacks to stories about the protagonist’s granny. It is easy to recognize those because it changes to italicized font. This is nice because it is a lot easier to keep straight what has happened so far. This book followed the typical story line for a “quest”. The protagonist is living a normal life, strange things start happening, her brother gets kidnapped and she must go rescue him. It is a typical “hero’s journey”. The plot is paced well in the first of the novel; it does slow down a bit in the middle, and then picks back up in the last few chapters. I really love The Wee Free Men and have read it several times over the year! The idea of traveling through dreamland (where your nightmares come true), is very intriguing to me. Overall, The Wee Free Men is exciting and hilarious, a perfect combination!
You can read an excerpt here.
Tiffany Aching Series Reading Order:
Title: The Wee Free Men
Author: Terry Pratchett
Page Nos.: 375
Release Date: October 2009