Friday, January 21, 2011


Double kudos and an Atta Boy! to Alex Flinn for writing a modern fairy tale that is still exciting even though we probably all know how the story will pan out.

Kyle Kingsbury is picture perfect - wealthy, popular, and most importantly gorgeous.  Kyle scorns and mocks those he thinks are not attractive.  When he plays a joke on an "ugly" girl at his school by pretending he will be her date to a dance, he discovers that appearances aren't all they seem.  The girl is really a witch and she sees how ugly Kyle's heart is.  The witch puts a spell on him that transforms him into a terrifying beast, claws and all.  Kyle is afforded a second chance because of one small act of kindness he showed the night of the dance - giving a rose, rejected by his real date, to a girl taking tickets.  He has two years to find someone to love him despite his appearance, and receive true love's kiss to break the spell.

This was a delightful read!  While the bones of the story follow the Disney version of this classic fairy tale somewhat, the modern setting, language, and characters blend remarkably well.  This book was on the 2009-2010 YARP list so chances are that many SD libraries will already have purchased it (I know...took me long enough, to read it, huh?).  I now own my own copy and was very excited to learn that it's being made into a movie.  As with many movie adaptations of books, liberties were taken with how things are portrayed on screen.  And while I'm very partial to The Girl in the book rather than the actress picked to play her in the movie, I will be in line to see this movie the weekend that it opens!  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


"Do not go gentle into that good night...Rage, rage against the dying of the light." -- Dylan Thomas

Those words remind me of a dear friend and how I feel about her battle to live.  They are also the words that inspire Cassia to fight against the Society that has always dictated how she will live.  The Society tells you how much you will eat, who you will marry, what job you will have, what songs you will listen to, what poems you will read, what history you will know, and even when you will die.  Varying from their rules results in punishments.

The day after her Match Banquet she inserts the data card that holds the information about her future husband, who turned out to be her best friend Xander, into her data port. But a different face momentarily comes up on her screen - Ky Markham.  Cassia feels that there must be some mistake, but the Society doesn't make mistakes.  This sets into motion a series of events for Cassia that she would have never imagined possible because Cassia starts doing something most people in the Society never do: she starts making her own choices. Set in a time when humans attempt to create a world free of hatred, starvation, and disease, Cassia's world is happy on the surface, but just underneath lurks the truth that humans are still human.  Some human or humans are always in control and therefore, nothing is truly perfect.  When Cassia discovers the words to Dylan Thomas' famous poem she decides to fight for her own life.

Recently the NY Times had a little discussion about why dystopian fiction is so hot with teens right now.  Several different YA authors and others offered their opinions about why this is....this reflects how teens feel about their own lives....teens see more clearly how our world is on this big precipice and how easily we could end up like these stories...blah, blah, blah.  My theory: people, including teenagers, like stories about good vs. evil and dystopian fiction deliciously blurs the lines between the two making it more fun to read.  While dystopian fiction certainly isn't a new concept (Bradbury, Lowry, etc.) recent authors threw in the clincher for females: swoon! 

So Ali Condie, you best be writing at this very moment both of the next two books in this series because I need to read them pronto!

p.s. I wonder if this series will spawn a whole new series of debates along the lines of Team Peeta vs. Team Gale?  I'd like to think so :)

Monday, January 3, 2011


I'm not sure why but every time I think of the word "impossible" or read it I can only hear it in my head as the character of Susan in the most recent movie adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe says it the first time she enters Narnia.

But this is definitely not Narnia...this is a Nancy Werlin book!  So here is the summary as I remember my mother telling it to me in the bookstore (which convinced me to purchase it*) with a few more details thrown in for good measure.

Lucy Scarborough comes from a line of women cursed to bear daughters and go crazy.  Her ancestress, Fenella, scorned the love of the Elfin Knight making him so angry he cursed her: she will be his lover and bear a daughter, unless she completes 3 impossible tasks: to make a shirt with no seams, to find an acre of land between the sea and the sea strand, and to plow it with a goat's horn and plant it with one seed of corn.  If she fails, the curse extends to her daughter and if she fails, to her daughter....  Generations of Scarborough women could not defeat the curse and nearing her 18th birthday the Elfin Knight comes for Lucy.  However, she has advantages that none one else in her family ever has: the internet and foster parents who will stand with her through anything.  As my mom said, that sounds kind of hokey but it works - and she was right.

Hooked yet?  This is one seriously fabulous story if I do say so myself, and I can because it's my blog after all.  Oh and if I didn't have you at generational craziness or Elfin Knight, I'll play the trump card - sizzling romance between Lucy and her childhood friend, Zach.  Inspired by the lyrics of Simon & Garfunkle's song "Scarborough Fair" Werlin weaves a story so old yet completely modern.   

I have posted here the cover of the paperback because that is the copy that I read.  Also, I think it's a better cover than the hardback version. 

*I went in with the intention of buying one book....I left with 4.