Thursday, July 15, 2010

Project 50 Redux: May, June Backlog

I'm sorry that I've been so lax in posting new book reviews. I feel like I haven't been reading very much at all, so it doesn't occur to me to write reviews.

"A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy" by Lemony Snickett
I plugged along with this series even though I was getting kind of bored with it, but this book did not disappoint! There was an actual cliffhanger involving some new characters, two triplets at a boarding school to which the Baudeliere children are sent. I'll keep reading this series after all! A-

"A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator" by Lemony Snickett
I think the vocabulary in these books is getting more advanced as the series goes on. This was probably the first time since Book 2 that I was kind of afraid for the orphans' lives because the action was pretty intense, and the problem from the last book was still not resolved, so we'll be seeing the triplets again. B+

"Are All the Giants Dead?" by Mary Norton
This was one that I read out loud with one of my students that I watch after school/during the summer. It's kind of a fairy tale, except that it borrows characters from multiple fairy tales, ages them, and throws in a boy from modern times who gets to the fairy tale land apparently by way of a dream and a journalist guide. I found the story kind of wanting for new material, especially in the first part of the book. And of course, it's all a dream, so there's that old ending. C

"The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwoods" by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddle
This is another one that I read out loud with my student. It's nicely illustrated by Chris Riddle. Twig, raised by woodtrolls in the Deepwoods knows that he's not really a woodtroll. When he is 13, his mother tearfully tells him that she found him in the woods and raised him as her own, and that he needs to leave their home. On his journey to find his destiny, he runs into dangerous and wondrous races and creatures in the Deepwoods. What I liked and also disliked about this story was that EVERY chapter had him happening upon some other form of danger. The poor boy doesn't get a rest until the end when he finds out who he really is. It's a good start though, and there are several in this series that I'm going to keep trying to read. A-

"1984" by George Orwell
This was one of my favorite books in high school, especially because of the concept of Newspeak. I love how you can tell from the first sentence that something is just not right in this distopia. The story is thick with warnings about control of the media, control of the police, prescribed jobs and behavior. Upon rereading it, I could tell that Winston was doomed the whole time. If anyone has never read it, I kind of consider you a poor human being. In the 2008 election, the term "Orwellian" was used a lot by people who didn't get it, even from my own grandmother, who had never read Orwell. I found that really sad. It's a wonderful frightening book. A

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