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“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
― B.B. King

by Julie Hooper

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Article posted February 3, 2014 at 08:00 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 330



This epic ranks as one of the best fantasies I have read in years! Thankfully the sequel has already been published, because I could not get enough of Kvothe’s story. I actually had trouble deciding whether to reread The Name of the Wind or start on The Wise Man’s Fear. A student wanted the first book, so I am now deep into the second, looking for answers raised in The Name of the Wind . In addition to all my questions about Kvothe and the mysterious Deena, the characters of Bast and Auria in particular have me wondering.

I love what Bast is saying in this conversation, but is he really who he pretends to be? Is he simply Kvothe’s student or something more sinister?

”…. We all become what we pretend to be." Chronicler relaxed a bit, sensing familiar ground. "That's basic psychology. You dress a beggar in fine clothes, people treat him like a noble, and he lives up to their expectations."

"That's only the smallest piece of it," Bast said. "The truth is deeper than that. It's..." Bast floundered for a moment. "It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."

Frowning, Chronicler opened his mouth, but Bast held up a hand to stop him. "No, listen. I've got it now. You meet a girl: shy, unassuming. If you tell her she's beautiful, she'll think you're sweet, but she won't believe you. She knows that beauty lies in your beholding." Bast gave a grudging shrug. "And sometimes that's enough." His eyes brightened. "But there's a better way. You show her she is beautiful. You make mirrors of your eyes, prayers of your hands against her body. It is hard, very hard, but when she truly believes you..." Bast gestured excitedly. "Suddenly the story she tells herself in her own head changes. She transforms. She isn't seen as beautiful. She is beautiful, seen."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Chronicler snapped. "You're just spouting nonsense now."

"I'm spouting too much sense for you to understand," Bast said testily. "But you're close enough to see my point.”

Auria at first seems a pathetic figure, living in the tunnels below the University. As her relationship with Kvothe develops, though, she teaches him and becomes almost maternal in her dealings with him. What is really going on with Auria? How did she come to live under the University? Why is she so afraid of interactions with others? What role will she play in the rest of Kvothe’s story?

Article posted February 3, 2014 at 08:00 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 330



Article posted January 21, 2014 at 07:03 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 46





Sixteen year old Sophie became the adult in her household five years ago when her mother’s mental illness made impossible for her to function. Sophie makes sure her mom takes her meds, the rent is paid and dinner is on the table, all while going to school full time. Her life changes the day she comes home from school and finds her mother has tried to kill herself.



Sophie’s mother is hospitalized, and she goes to live with her aunt’s family. She feels she has failed her mother, and she feels alienated from her cousin, who used to be one of her best friends. Sophie also feels guilt about her mother’s suicide attempt; could she have prevented it? But worst of all as Sophie begins to slip back into a normal teen life, she feels guilty to be glad not have to care for her mother.

Article posted January 21, 2014 at 07:03 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 46



Article posted December 12, 2013 at 02:29 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 40





I loved, loved, loved this book! Here are exerpts from John Green's, review in the New York Times March 8, 2013 (hey there's a reason he makes the big bucks to write):



…I have never seen anything quite like Eleanor and Park . Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story….

There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen Eleanor and Park. Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading.

Eleanor is a "big girl" with bright red hair (kids on the bus call her Big Red, and she describes herself as resembling a barmaid) who has just returned to her home in Omaha, after being kicked out for a year and forced to stay with acquaintances. Every moment Eleanor is home is terrifying and claustrophobic — she shares a room with a mess of siblings and lives in constant fear of offending her abusive alcoholic stepfather, Richie. She’s also poor — she cannot afford a toothbrush or batteries for her Walkman.

Park is a half-Korean kid who’s passably popular but separated from the larger social order of his school both by his race and by his passion for comic books and good music. On the first day of school, Eleanor sits down next to him on the bus. Over time, she begins reading his comics over his shoulder. Then he lends them to her. They bond over music. Eventually, they begin holding hands on the rides to and from school.

The hand-holding, by the way, is intense. "Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat." Evocative sensual descriptions are everywhere in this novel, but they always feel true to the characters. Eleanor describes Park’s trench coat as smelling "like Irish Spring and a little bit like potpourri and like something she couldn't describe any other way than boy." Every romance has its obstacle: I have another boyfriend; my parents say we can’t; you’re a vampire and I’m not; etc. But the obstacle in Eleanor and Park is simply the world. The world cannot stomach a relationship between a good-looking Korean kid and Big Red. The world cannot allow Eleanor a boyfriend of any kind, because she’s poor and fat and dresses funny. The world cannot allow Park a girlfriend because he likes wearing eyeliner, and everyone knows that’s gay. The world is the obstacle, as it always is when you’re 16 and truly in love. Park’s parents — two of the best-drawn adults I can remember in a young adult novel — serve as evidence that sometimes love conquers the world, and Eleanor’s family is a reminder that sometimes it doesn't. As for Eleanor and Park . . . well, I won’t spoil it.

Article posted December 12, 2013 at 02:29 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 40



Article posted November 25, 2013 at 08:53 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 42



From Booklist’s starred review:

… his most gripping work yet, a sweeping saga of unfathomable greed and revenge that grabs the reader’s attention from the first page. The Depression-era tale is centered on newly married George and Serena Pemberton, owners of a logging company in the mountains of North Carolina. Their operation is aimed strictly at maximizing profits, with no regard for either the safety of their workers or the future of the land they’re pillaging. The tragic result of environmental disregard looms large in all of Rash’s fiction, and the Pembertons are his worst villains to date in that respect—leaving behind a “wasteland of stumps and slash and creeks awash with dead trout.” Side plots involve the drastic means, including murder, the couple employs to avoid losing land to environmental groups and Serena’s unflagging pursuit of the young girl who bore George’s son shortly after he and Serena were married. With a setting fraught with danger, and a character maniacal in her march toward domination and riches, Serena is a novel not soon forgotten.

Article posted November 25, 2013 at 08:53 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 42



Article posted November 12, 2013 at 04:51 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 37



Spanning 200 years and six generations, The Son tells the story of the McCulloughs, one of the richest families in Texas. Eli, born in 1836 on the day Texas became a republic and captured during an Indian raid at the age of thirteen, is taken under the chief’s wing and becomes his adopted son. He learns the Indian language and ways, fighting with his tribe against the white men. Eli’s chapters in the book, particularly those dealing with his time with the Comanche, are violent and disturbing. Eli seems more at peace with the Indian way of life than the life of a white man, to which he must return after his tribe is decimated by disease. Although he does not feel he belongs there, Eli conquers the white man’s world through ambition, ruthlessness and luck.



Told in alternating chapters narrated by Eli’s son, Peter, and his great-granddaughter, Jeanne Anne, The Son traces one family’s rise to power and riches. Peter, in vivid contrast to his father, empathizes with the Mexican neighbors whose murder resulted in more land for his family. Jeanne Anne, who brought the family into the oil and gas business that enlarged the fortunes of the McCulloughs, idolizes her great-grandfather and his exploits while making her way in a man’s world.



An interesting side note: the author, a high school dropout, went to great extremes to research this book. For example, he drank the blood of a buffalo in order to be able to write accurately about Eli passing this test which led to his acceptance into the tribe. Read the entire article here: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323648304578497460628668172.

Article posted November 12, 2013 at 04:51 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 37



Article posted September 16, 2013 at 05:56 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 42



I really liked this book. Here is a review of this unusual and touching story from Booklist:

Finley pretends his earliest memory is shooting hoops in the driveway, where it was easy to zone out and forget what happened to his family. Now a senior, Finley doesn’t talk much. “My mind is a fist and it’s always clenched tight, trying to keep the words in.” Keeping the silence is important in his neighborhood, where the Irish mob and black gangs clash. Snitches and their families are ruthlessly punished. He and his girlfriend, Erin, play varsity b-ball and dream of getting away. When moneyed Russ moves to the neighborhood, Finley is worried about the newcomer’s basketball superskills, but Russ has problems, too. After his parents’ murder, he adopted the persona “Boy21,“ a benevolent, emotionless alien stranded on Earth. Finley’s glum reluctance to help Boy21 grows into surprising grace and friendship, and when Russ begins to heal, Finley confronts his own tragic past. Finley’s relationships are sweet, supportive, and authentic. The revelation of what happened in Finley’s childhood is heartbreaking, but the hopeful ending pays off.

Article posted September 16, 2013 at 05:56 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 42



Article posted August 30, 2013 at 03:46 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 40



Kate, a partner in a big law firm, is summoned to her teen daughter's private school because she is being expelled. She arrives hours later to the news that Amelia, her daughter, is dead. The death is ruled suicide, but Kate begins getting anonymous texts telling her Amelia did not jump off the roof to her death. This gripping book told from multiple points of view deals with parental guilt, teen angst, sexual orientation, bullying and the repercussions of social media. Mature content.

Article posted August 30, 2013 at 03:46 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 40



Article posted August 30, 2013 at 03:41 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 46



This book is an interesting blend of historical and science fiction which includes graphic scenes of violence and other mature themes.

Here is the starred review it received from Booklist: … Atkinson delivers a wildly inventive novel about Ursula Todd, born in 1910 and doomed to die and be reborn over and over again. She drowns, falls off a roof, and is beaten to death by an abusive husband but is always reborn back into the same loving family, sometimes with the knowledge that allows her to escape past poor decisions, sometimes not. As Atkinson subtly delineates all the pathways a life or a country might take, she also delivers a harrowing set piece on the Blitz as Ursula, working as a warden on a rescue team, encounters horrifying tableaux encompassing mangled bodies and whole families covered in ash, preserved just like the victims of Pompeii. Alternately mournful and celebratory, deeply empathic and scathingly funny, Atkinson shows what it is like to face the horrors of war and yet still find the determination to go on, with her wholly British characters often reducing the Third Reich to “a fuss.” From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game.

Article posted August 30, 2013 at 03:41 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 46



Article posted August 30, 2013 at 03:08 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 35



From the publisher: This contemporary coming-of-age story centers upon Maya Vidal, a remarkable teenager abandoned by her parents. Maya grew up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandmother Nini, whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973 with a young son, and her grandfather Popo, a gentle African-American astronomer.



When Popo dies, Maya goes off the rails. Along with a circle of girlfriends known as "the vampires," she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime--a downward spiral that eventually leads to Las Vegas and a dangerous underworld, with Maya caught between warring forces: a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol.



Her one chance for survival is Nini, who helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. In the care of her grandmother s old friend, Manuel Arias, and surrounded by strange new acquaintances, Maya begins to record her story in her notebook, as she tries to make sense of her past and unravel the mysteries of her family and her own life.

Article posted August 30, 2013 at 03:08 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 35



Article posted August 30, 2013 at 02:41 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 38



I loved this book! Here is the *Starred Review* it got from Booklist:

Frenenqer—a name meaning restraint—was born inside her father’s imagination and sculpted into his vision of the perfect daughter. She has felt his invisible finger between her shoulder blades her whole life, forcing her meek, obedient, and modest actions. To compound the oppression, Frenenqer lives in a blazingly hot oasis in a Middle Eastern desert, marked by dirty white buildings, an unforgiving landscape, and no place to go, save to school and back home again. In an act of defiance, Frenenqer saves a black cat from certain death at the animal souk and brings him home. The cat is a shape-shifter, a Free person whom Frenenqer names Sangris. He has no constraints, no family, no rules to follow. Sangris, often taking the form of a boy, sprouts wings, and Frenenqer flies with him at night to places both real and magical. It’s this juxtaposition of subjugation and freedom that propels Rossetti’s spellbinding debut, as a girl owned by her father begins to experience life outside of narrowly defined spaces. With taut, lush writing (“the wind shut my eyes for me and rioted in my hair”), a stunningly imagined setting, and a premise that’s unique among the stacks of paranormal romances, this one—written when Rossetti was a teenager—feels like a breeze in the desert. Grades 7-12. --Ann

Article posted August 30, 2013 at 02:41 PM GMT0 • comment • Reads 38



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