Posts Tagged 'Graceling'

My Top Ten Young Adult Novels – Jill

I’ve been working on my list for a few days, and I think I finally have it ready.  My list, like Jen’s, includes my favorite books, not necessarily what I think every teen should read or whatever – although I’m a big fan of every one of these, so in a way I do think everyone should read them.  🙂

Here we go…

10. Graceling/Fire by Kristin Cashore
Sometimes I get these two books confused because they’re sort of related but not really.  Fire is a companion book, not a sequel. Both books had compelling plots, strong female main characters, great male love interests, and different but realistic worlds.

9. Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer
This is a book that REALLY sticks with you after you’ve finished reading.  And while you’re reading, it’s hard to put down because you want to know what’s going to happen.  I love that the plot starts out just like any other day that could happen now, but as soon as the moon is hit and pushed out of orbit, everything falls apart.  Probably the best sci-fi books are the ones that *could* actually really happen.  Plus, I’m pretty sure I have never heard a bad thing from anyone who has read this.

8. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian – Rick Riordan
For me, this series was perfect for attempting to fill the massive void left when Harry Potter ended.  I love books where I learn something while reading without realizing it!  I kept getting on Wikipedia to look up gods and other things from Greek Mythology.  The whole Percy Jackson series rocks, but this one might have been my favorite because it tied up everything and brought some satisfaction.

7. Forever Princess – Meg Cabot
It’s been too long since I’ve read this.  It was awesome and wrapped up the whole series exactly the way we all wanted.  I don’t think I could say it all any better than Jen did.  But I know what you’re thinking: Why isn’t this one higher?  Well, I guess that’s a testament to how much I love the top 6.

6. The Arrival – Shaun Tan
So here’s where I start to get into the fuzzy “Is this a YA book?” area.  Yes, it’s a graphic novel, but it’s still usually considered a young adult book, so I’m including it.  Because it’s my list.  🙂  This book rocks SO MUCH.  Amber and I were assigned it in one of our classes in grad school (though I think it was Children’s Lit but whatever).  I read it one day, and the next I had gone out and bought myself a copy.  The illustrations are GORGEOUS, and I love the sepia colors.  The story is also incredible, and since it’s entirely wordless, it allows readers to interpret the details themselves.

5. The Hunger Games/Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
I promise I did not look at Jen’s list before I made my own.  It just so happens that we love the same books because they’re awesome.  What can I say about this book that we haven’t already said on this blog?  I’ve reread The Hunger Games, which is kind of a big deal since I don’t make much time for rereading, and I read it just as quickly the second time as I did the first.

4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare
Ah, now we’re getting into the books I loved growing up.  There are a lot of books I loved that have not made the list because I haven’t reread them lately to know whether they still stand up (ex. The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi…LOOOOVED this book like 10 years ago but haven’t read it since).  BUT I did reread The Witch of Blackbird Pond last weekend, and it was just as good as I remembered.  A great strong female character + an extremely lovable male character (oh, Nat…) + historical fiction = winner for Jill!

3. Princess Mia – Meg Cabot
Ah ha, look, more Meg!  Now you’re probably wondering why is  book 9 higher than book 10?
Princess Mia was such a great book for me.  I just loved it.  I don’t think I’ve read it since, but I REALLY want to right now.  I loved the relate-able Mia was.  Really, who hasn’t felt like that before?  I know some people don’t like it because she’s depressed and things are terrible and Michael’s hardly in it, but Mia really pulls herself together in this book and has to truly figure out who she is since the guy she’s in love with is gone and her best friend is being AWFUL.  Whenever I’m upset about something, I should just reread this book.  It’s like therapy.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
Again, I made my list independently of Jen. Promise!  Obviously I love the whole series, and I’m not even 100% sure this is my favorite, but it’s so….fitting for the finale.  It has suspense, actual deaths, reminders that even though it’s just a book, things are not all light and fluffy.  There were so many ways she could have ended it, and honestly after awhile I wasn’t sure how it was going to, but the way it ended is perfect.  Plus, every time I read it, I’m pretty sure I cry through all of the final chapters.

1. The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
Not entirely sure this is considered YA, but darn it, it’s my all-time favorite book and it’s one of those borderline books, so I’m including it!  I have read this book more times than any other, mostly because I used to reread it annually.  If you’ve never read it, it’s a fun mystery…sort of like The 39 Clues only way better and less multi-volumed.  I’m not doing this book justice at all.  Please just know that it’s AWESOME and you should read it NOW!  🙂

[Oh, and fun tidbit about me and this book.  I interviewed for a job once at the place where the manuscript (the REAL MANUSCRIPT with Ellen Raskin’s HANDWRITTEN NOTES) is kept and studied.  When I realized this, I was convinced this was a sign, and I was going to get the job (which felt like my dream job), but alas I did not.  But I still love the book.  Maybe that tells you how much I like it.  …And, you know, things have worked out in the job area, so it’s ok now anyway.]

– Jill


ngtjill: Book Review #1

…in which I rave and rant about two books on my challenge list and rave about one of my favorites EVER.

So far I’ve only read two books on my list for the challenge (way to go, Lindsay, for already having 3 done!).


Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa was born with a Grace to kill.  At the age of 8, she strikes a man in self-defense and unintentionally kills him.  Because her parents have died, she is under the control of her uncle, the King Randa of Middluns, and forced to grow up serving as his torturer/killer.  Nearly everyone fears her.  She does her best to do good among the seven kingdoms, and when the book begins, she and two other members of Randa’s court secretly rescue the kidnapped grandfather from Lienid.  Then she meets Prince Po from Lienid, who also has a Grace, and her life begins to change.

I loved this book!  I think it’s kind of like a cross between The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings – but it’s still unique!  If that makes sense…  But really, it’s awesome!  I read all but 3 chapters yesterday, and it’s not a short book.

messengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

One day pathetic Ed Kennedy stopped a bank robbery.  After that he receives his first card in the mail with three addresses on it.  He soon learns that it’s up to him to go around solving the problems of the people on the cards.

I read Zusak’s The Book Thief about a year ago and hated it.  But my older sister loves it and told me after reading When You Reach Me that I might like I Am the Messenger.  Um, NO.  I hated this book too.  Lindsay, I think this book is on your list, so you should go ahead and try it, but I just hate Zusak’s style of writing.  It seems like he’s trying too hard to be a good writer.  In grade school, did your teacher ever tell you that when writing, you can mix long complex sentences with short sentences to create surprise or sarcasm or just a variation in your writing?  Zusak uses way too many short sentences and it REALLY annoyed me.  Also, Ed is a total loser through most of the book, and yes there are some good moments, but it mostly just annoyed me.  I almost quit reading.  I know this book is popular – it’s an Abraham Lincoln Award nominee (IL award) – and some people do enjoy it but not me.  So Lindsay if you do still read it, definitely review it.  I’d be really interested to know if you liked it!

extremelyExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Ok, so this isn’t even on my list for the challenge and I haven’t even read it lately, but I kept being reminded of it while reading I Am the Messenger.  Extremely… is one of my all-time favorite books (and it’s my favorite adult book)!  It’s amazing.  You know how you might read a book one time & love it?  That happened when I first read this about three years ago.  Then I read it again a year ago to see if I still liked it – yep, still amazing!

This book takes place after 9/11/01.  Nine-year-old Oskar has lost his dad in the attack, and one day he discovers something that leads him on a mission all around NYC.  Mixed in with Oskar’s story are two other stories that eventually all connect.  The reason I kept being reminded of this while reading Messenger is that the writing style seems similar – yet were totally different.  Foer’s writing is beautiful, funny, etc etc etc.  Somehow he succeeds where Zusak failed.  As I was telling my old roommate last night who’s about to start reading it, this is the only book I have ever dog-eared and underlined lines.  I think it’s always kind of risky telling friends about books/movies/songs/etc that you truly love because they may hate it (at least I feel that way), but I really want everyone to read this.  Ok, I’m done gushing now.  🙂

– Jill

Back By Popular Demand

This is for Jill, Abby, Amber and Lindsay!

The quality isn’t as great on this video because I was having problems with uploading it to YouTube….stupid wireless connection kept timing out!  I hope you enjoy!


Update:  I totally hadn’t checked Amazon in forever, but I guess you CAN buy the soundtrack for like $18!!!!