This book was *so* creepy, but so well done. Imagine Stepford wives drawn, by magic, from the bodies of seals. The basic storyline is that the men of Rollrock Island hire a witch named Miskaella who uses her magic “make” them wives from the seals who visit their beach. Once the woman has been drawn out of the seal, her husband only needs to keep her seal skin hidden away so that she cannot leave. The seal-women are beautiful and obedient, but they desperately miss their lives and families in the sea. The human-born women all leave the island in disgust, but the men don’t seem to be phased because they would rather have the beautiful creatures who bow to their every whim. I loved how the story was told from the perspectives of multiple people, including Miskaella herself. Not quite as dark as Tender Morsels, but a dark tale nonetheless.
I usually love David Levithan’s books. And I definitely started off loving this book, too. It was great to see an author who would help teens empathize with the people around them by creating a character who lived inside a different body every day and got to experience life from so many different angles. That is, until I got to the day where “A.” woke up as a fat person. I was horrified that Levithan showed so much more compassion for a heroin addict than for someone who weighed “at least 300 pounds.” I mean, I just don’t understand Levithan could insinuate that readers should be more accepting of all the complications that arose from A. living in bodies of people from different ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, and sexual orientations and then be so downright cruel in his descriptions when A. woke up in a fat body. If a person is addicted to food, which this kid Finn very well could have been, just imagine how much harder it could be for him to exist anywhere in society. A heroin addict can always go to rehab and then move away from the area where s/he is likely to run in to his/her old drug dealer and druggie friends… But a fat person can never get away from food — it’s necessary to eat if you want to live! Don’t understand how I can be so livid? Take this paragraph for instance:
When I finally take a look around and take a look inside, I’m not very excited about what I see. Finn Taylor has retreated from most of the world; his size comes from negligence and laziness, a carelessness that would be pathological if it had any meticulousness to it. While I am sure if I access deep enough I will find some well of humanity, all I can see on the surface is the emotional equivalent of a burp.
Sure, Finn could be lazy. But it’s also likely that there is *something* that caused him to “[retreat] from most of the world” and let himself go. I’m sure some people probably love this story and aren’t very upset by this chapter, but I am completely pissed at David Levithan right now.
P.S. I decided to do a quick search to see if anyone else out there had similar feelings about this book, and I was happy to find this review — http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2012/08/body-image-and-every-day-by-david.html — in which Christie Gibrich reacted with just as much indignation as me. So, yay that someone agrees with me, but boo that this is even an issue! /sigh
First of all, I just have to say that I read this book a few years ago and only now realized that I never reviewed it… Shame on me! Second, I feel compelled to tell you all how much I love the complete/crazy-long title of this book — Princess Ben: Being a Wholly Truthful Account of Her Various Discoveries and Misadventures, Recounted to the Best of Her Recollection, in Four Parts — which is a lot! It has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, I think it helps to set the tone for the book. Because this is not your typical princess story!
It is true that Princess Ben (short for Benevolence) has been hidden away in a tower by her overbearing aunt, Queen Sophia, since her parents and her uncle (the king) were assassinated. Queen Sophia has plans to marry Ben off to the first mildly suitable man to present himself, but Ben is not the kind of princess who would be content to wait for a prince to come to her rescue. Thanks to her inquisitive/mischievous nature, she manages to find an enchanted room in the tower and begins to teach herself some magic with the books therein. Not only does this magic give her something to do with all of her “free” time, but it also buys her some freedom and increases the odds that she will be able to save both herself and the kingdom from Queen Sophia.
P.S. If you like this story, I also recommend the sequel — Wisdom’s Kiss: A Thrilling and Romantic Adventure Incorporating Magic, Villainy, and a Cat.
Since I heard last night that Rhode Island legalized gay marriage, I thought a review of a book focused on GLBTQ issues was in order this morning!
Liz was born female, but has always felt male. Being Liz in public and being Gabe inside was very difficult, but Liz started to make the transition to Gabe in 12th grade. Having an understanding best friend helped a lot, but having a family that still used female pronouns and refused to use the name “Gabe” was pretty hard. When the next door neighbor, a fellow music nut named John, found Liz a radio show on a local community radio station, it presented an excellent opportunity for Gabe to come out… But, it also meant that Liz would have to find a way to tell John about Gabe sooner rather than later.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children was not just a radio show. It was Gabe’s chance to introduce himself to the world and to work through his feelings with music. Before long, Gabe had fans — the Ugly Children’s Brigade — who would perform random acts of crazy art in honor of his show. It gave him quite a confidence boost to know that people liked the “real” him. Unfortunately, a casual date with a member of the UCB threatened to ruin everything when the girl recognized Gabe as Liz and spread the word on the UCB fan page. I won’t ruin the ending by telling you exactly how things played out, but I am sure you can guess [based on real life] that Gabe’s life got pretty tough after that.
I loved the realistic portrayal of Liz/Gabe’s struggle, the supportive best friend, and the fantastic “soundtrack” throughout. As a former college radio DJ, I especially appreciated the authentic setting of the run-down community radio station and Gabe’s trials and tribulations while he got used to being on air. I had more than a couple of “been there, done that” moments as I read this book.
So, it appears that people who follow my blog via RSS feed readers got quite the surprise earlier today. I heard from a reader that my work of editing old posts [to consolidate the categories "award winners" and "book awards"] put a whole bunch of posts back through her feed reader even though some of the original posts were years old… Sorry about that! In the future, I will do my best to avoid updating old posts unless absolutely necessary so that y’all don’t have to deal with that again.
Although I don’t generally “do” the whole Twitter thing, I technically have an account through which I [supposedly] follow a few people. One of those people is the amazing John Green and, because I actually read one of my Twitter digests last month, I read this Tweet. Though I hadn’t previously heard about this book, I trusted John Green to know what he was talking about and requested a copy from another library in my system. I absolutely loved it, so I made sure to order a copy for my library AND bumped this book to the top of my “to review” list. FYI, in case you were not aware, I am way better at reading books than following through with reviews, so my “to review” list contains no fewer than 5 books at any given time and often has books that I finished months ago!
You may be wondering, “What was so great about Poison?” How about the fact that it had action, adventure, humor, magic, romance, AND strong female characters all rolled up into a unique fantasy story? Kyra, a potions master, used to be best friends with the princess. Until, that is, she tried to kill her. Since no one seemed to understand that trying to kill the princess was a good thing, she had to run away to avoid being jailed/hanged for the attempted assassination. And, while being the infamous “Princess Killer” made it rather difficult for Kyra to travel through the kingdom unnoticed, her bag of potions and the help of a cute little enchanted pig was enough to give her hope that she could find the princess and finish the job before it was too late…
The only thing I didn’t like about this story, to be honest, was learning that there won’t be a prequel or a sequel [since the author passed away before this book was even published]. I wish I could learn more about Kyra, but I guess it’s better to have loved and lost [a character] than never to have loved at all.
Period 8 is a class like no other. Regardless of how they get along outside of class, everyone is equal in Period 8. The teacher, Mr. Logsdon [a.k.a. Logs], has a lot to do with that. His only rules are that everyone has to be honest and that nothing leaves the room. Students are encouraged to share or discuss anything they wish, but they are also allowed to just listen to the others if they don’t wish to talk. When one of the Period 8 students — Mary “Virgin Mary” Wells — goes missing, everyone is worried. She never misses school, and her dad is known for being insanely strict, so the fact that she went missing AND that her dad waited three days to report her missing has people feeling very unsettled. Paulie Baum [a.k.a "Paulie Bomb"] is acting strangely too. And even though Paulie is known for ALWAYS telling the truth, Logs can tell he is holding something back. Could Paulie know something about Mary’s disappearance? And, if he does, why wouldn’t he say?
If you’re looking for a story that relates to teens’ lives without talking down to them and seamlessly combines everyday situations with a mystery/thriller scenario — while appealing to guys and girls alike, no less! — look no further. This book was everything fans of Chris Crutcher have come to expect with a little extra thrown in — fast paced, lots of action, and so many twists and turns that I honestly couldn’t guess them all before the story’s conclusion.