Zoey Is Back In Second House of Night Book With Even Better Tattoos

 betrayedIn Marked, Zoey had an incling that she shouldn’t trust Neferet.  She was right.  Something very freaky is going on with the fledglings which do not survive the change.  Everyone thinks they are dead.  But Zoey has seen them and they are definitely not ghosts.  When football players from Zoey’s old school start disappearing, Zoey and her friends know they have to figure out what’s going on.  Then Zoey witnesses something terrifying and disturbing involving Neferet and one of the fledglings that is supposed to be dead.  The search for the truth about the undead fledglings becomes more painful for Zoey as she loses one of the friends she loves the most.

At the same time Zoey has to plan her first Full Moon Ritual as the leader of the Dark Daughters. And she’s juggling three guys, her old human boyfriend, Heath, her new hot vampyre boyfriend, Erik and the mysteriously delicious vampyre poet laureate, Loren.  Zoey’s blood lust deepens in this book and we learn more about the powerful imprinting between vampyre and human blood host.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

1.  Zoey has strong feelings whenever she should not say something to her mentor, Neferet.  Have you ever had a similar feeling about an adult you were close to?

2.  Zoey is juggling three guys.  Who would you pick?  Loren, Heath or Erik?

3.  Zoey learns more about Aphrodite as she watches her getting yelled at by her parents.  Would witnessing this make you think differently about Aphrodite?

4.  Aphrodite starts to help Zoey.  Do you think they should become friends?  Have you ever been in that kind of situation?

5.  What are your predictions about book 3, The Chosen?  What do you think will happen with the undead fledglings?
Book two kept me interested enough to move onto book three. I love the different world P.C. and Kristen Cast created between humans and vampyres. How they are not really undead and have

Next – House of Night Book 3 – Chosen, House of Night Book 4 – Untamed, House of Night Book 5 – Hunted

I love John Green’s latest masterpiece!

paper-towns

Like many of you, I am a huge Looking For Alaska fan!  I could not wait to pick up John Green’s new book, Paper Towns.  There are so many things I want to talk about; I will have to number them to keep them straight. Margo Roth Spiegelman, is popular, beautiful and lives next door to Quinten.  They were childhood friends and once found a dead guy in the park together.  Once the teenage years hit, she largely ignored him until one night she knocks on his window and takes him as her accomplice on a night of delicious revenge.

 

1.       John is so great at creating strong, misunderstood, beautiful female characters.  Both Margo and Alaska are not what they seem.  Margo is so tormented and searching for meaning in what she views as her meaningless “paper” life. 

 

2.      John describes fantastic pranks.  As in Alaska, John takes his characters on a journey of humiliation as Margo and Quinten use fish and cameras to get back at those who have done Margo wrong.  She says, “we bring the f***ing rain, Q.  Not the scattered showers.”

 

3.      His supporting characters are fantasic!  I loved Radar the best.  He is obsessed with Omnictionary which is best described as Wikipedia.  His parents have the world’s second largest collection of black Santas which is a constant embarrassment to him (In the book the largest collector dies, so the parents hone in to buy his loot.)  Seriously, they have black Santa wall paper and everything.  The house is set up like a museum, very funny!

 

4.      John takes the opportunity to educate while he tells us a story.  His books teach us about works of poetry, literature (Looking For Alaska) or mathematical theory (An Abundance of Katherines).  In Paper Towns, he helps us better understand Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.   We also learn what a paper town actually is.  I would tell you, but I don’t want to ruin anyone’s ending. 

 

This is one of my favorite quotes, when Margo says this to describe her town, Orlando, “It’s a paper town.  I mean look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart.”  (p57)

Margo disappears the day after their night of revenge.  Q becomes obsessed with finding her.  She leaves him clues so he can solve the riddle she has left for him.  Why does she go to an abandoned strip mall?  What is hidden in the door jam and what is really a paper town? 

Some ideas for discussing it with teens:

1.      Do you think Margo is brave or a coward for running away?

2.      How do you feel about her description of paper towns?  Does this resemble your community?

3.      Why do you think friendships like Q and Margo end after childhood?  Why didn’t they stay close before the night of revenge?

4.      Why do you think Margo picked Q for the night of revenge?

5.      Discuss Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

6.      Q’s mother is happy one of the bullies got into college.  When she describes how hard school was for him did it change your perspective?

 

You will not be disappointed by John Green’s latest story.  John, please keep writing!  I can’t wait for the next one!  This book has Printz Award written all over it!

 

Life As We Knew It really freaked me out!

life-as-we-knew-it

Every so often a book will get under my skin and alter the way I think.  Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is still swimming around in my head.  The main character is a teenage girl named Miranda.  The world witnesses a huge event, a meteor is heading straight for the moon.  Families stand outside with telescopes to watch the impact.  But not even the scientists predict what will happen next.  The meteor hits with such an impact the moon is knocked off kilter, pushing it closer to earth.  This creates a change of catastrophic events with tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and winter in August.

The story is told through Miranda’s diary entries as they try to survive.  They live in rural Pennsylvania, so while the tsunamis cannot reach them and there are not any volcanoes nearby, the ash covers the sky, blocking the sun.   They have little information about what is happening outside their small town.  They know large parts of the county have been wiped out.  Her family is lucky though.  Her mother has the foresight to purchase as much canned food, medical supplies and batteries as possible.  They also have a wood burning stove.  Miranda tells her story as they slowly starve; making each can last as long as possible.   

Let me just say, as I was reading this book, my power went out and the house became a little chilly.  So many aspects of the book stick with me.  Although the chance of a meteor hitting the moon that hard is remote, it is not outside the realm of possibility.  Once disaster hit, all the technology became irrelevant.  They had to survive primitively. 

I discussed this book with the mother/daughter book group at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.  The mothers and I all shared the same fears about the economy.  The girls enjoyed the story, but the book made us mothers very nervous.  When someone losses their job and the source of food and heating fuel become in jeopardy it is very terrifying indeed.  You take on the same mindset, how can we make what we have stretch? 

This book also reminded me of the power outage in 2003, when the all the cities in our region went without power.  I remember the fear as I first heard it was not just Cleveland.  Was it a terrorist attack?  I am sure this is the same feeling of fear and uncertainly as Miranda and her family tried to figure out what was happening with the rest of the world.  When we lost water during that outage it was truly terrifying.  I remember going to the store to pick up a few things and watching the panic as people filled carts with bottled water. 

This book made me want to take a trip to the wholesale club and stock up on canned goods and water.  It may not be such a bad idea. 

Susan Beth Pfeffer has also written The Dead And The Gone, which takes place in New York City as the tsunamis hit.  I will read this one too, as soon as I can get up the courage.  She is also writing a third book in the trilogy which continues the Miranda storyline called The World We Live In.

 

Reverse Psychology For Reluctant Readers

do-not-open

Do Not Open This Book!  It says so on the cover.  John Farndon created a treasure trove of freaky facts and outrageous theories.  I had so much fun flipping through this book.   I first noticed this book in the latest copy of VOYA.  This book is full of colorful photos and cartoon drawings.  It has the feel of a website because this book is meant to be browsed, not necessarily read from front to back.

Did you know in Japan that it is considered rude to blow your nose in public, but it is perfectly acceptable to pick you nose? 

Did someone sink the Titanic on purpose?  Was the Titanic really a patched up older ship sunk to reclaim insurance money?  See page 197.

On page 124 you can find out what was built in Hitler’s secret laboratory.  What was he making in the mountains of Norway?

Some of Houdini’s secrets are reviled.  Did you know the rivets around his milk churn were fake, allowing him, an easy escape?

Where are the divorce papers of Henry VIII hidden?

My personal favorite is page 138 where we hear about Anastasia the Lost Princess.  When the bodies of the murdered Romanov Czar and his family where found, the body of son, Alexei and a girl.  This started the rumor one of the princesses escaped.  Several claimed to be Anastasia, but the one who captured the most attention was Anna Anderson who was found in a hospital with memory loss in 1920.  DNA matched against UK’s Duke of Edinburgh, the closest genetic relative to the Romanov’s proved she was not the lost princess.  Even more interesting, measurements of the skull revealed a different princess may have either escaped or been lost. 

This has endless possibilities for teens to discuss.  Just pick a theory and go crazy.  Farndon does not seem to try to really debunk theories; he merely offers the different opinions gathered over time.  This is one for putting out on the table and saying to a group hanging out, “Hey guys, did you know….”

What I Was should be a Printz contender!

I was such a big fan of Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, I couldn’t wait to read What I Was.  What I was… was not disappointed!  Rosoff completely changes her writing style in this latest book.  In How I Live Now, her writing was more of a stream of consciousness. Her prose is beautiful in What I Was.  I have a feeling this will be a contender for the Printz award. 

Our main character is H.  He is sent to a boarding school at St. Oswalds.  It is a stark, cold place.  Then H meets Finn.  Finn is a beautiful young boy who seems to not have a past.  Finn is not gifted with conversation.  So H must clumsily move the friendship forward.  H risks getting in trouble as he makes trips to Finn’s fisherman’s shack.  H has feelings for Finn that are a mixture of love, intrigue and loneliness.  Rosoff has a gift for describing relationships that are often taboo in a beautiful manner.   In How I Live Now, the two first cousins fall in love.  In What I Was, there is a relationship seemingly between two boys.  But we soon find Finn is not at all what he seems.

Here is an example of Rosoff’s wonderful writing.  H is speaking of Finn:

“He listened politely, without comment, head turned away from the sound of my voice.  He might have been asleep for all I knew, so complete was his lack of response.  And yet I thought I could feel him listening; I could almost see my words wandering in long trails around his head, circling, searching, until he sighed and yielded and granted them entry.”

The story takes a much unexpected turn I did not see coming.  It was brilliant.  I can’t say any more.   I do not want to ruin it for anyone.  It is like the Sixth Sense where Haley Joel Osment sees dead people.  You will find yourself replaying scenes in the story to see if you could detect the foreshadowing.

Teen Discussion:

1.      Talk about the foreshadowing.  Did they see it coming? 

2.      What clues did Rosoff leave along the way?

3.      Discuss the levels of friendship?  Do they think H and Finn have a taboo relationship?

There are more ideas, but I don’t want to ruin the ending!

 

 

Vampires and Magical Tattoos, What’s Not To Love?

Mother and daughter team, P.C. and Kristin Cast created a series called A House of Night.  In the first book, Marked, Zoey is tapped to become a vampire, literally.  It happens at school.  Some creepy undead guy is waiting by her locker, taps her on the forehead, creating the outline of a sapphire blue crescent moon tattoo.  Zoey is chosen to make the dangerous change from regular teen to vampyre.  Vampyre is not a typo.  This is how they spell it in the book.  She is both horrified and intrigued.  She must go the House of the Night, a vampyre finishing school where she learns about her new life and how to worship the vampyre goddess. 

What the grownup vampyres eat is still unclear, but the fledglings do not yet have the bloodlust.  That is except for Zoey.  The Casts describe the bloodlust in a way we can all understand.  Imagine what you most love to eat in the world.  How the smell affects you.  This is how Zoey feels when she witnesses another fledgling slice the leg of another.  Then when she is tricked into drinking human blood she is ravenous and disgusted at the same time.

Zoey figures out really soon that she is no regular fledgling.  She runs to the comfort of her grandmother who is a Native American while her conservative mother and step-father convene their prayer circle.  While searching for her grandmother, Zoey falls into a crevasse and into a dreamlike trance where the vampyre goddess herself appears before Zoey.  She awakes to find her sapphire tattoo completely colored in.  This is something that is not supposed to happen to a new fledgling.  She is also the only witness to something truly creepy about several fledglings that did not survive the change.

Being a new vampyre fledgling is a lot like being the new kid at school.  Zoey has to make new friends.  She gets a crush on a handsome boy.  She is extra special which does not make life any easier for her.  This is a fun twist on the new girl story only this takes place in a magical nighttime prep school. 

This could be a good series to recommend to teens waiting who have just finished Twilight.  I give this one to teens when I put one of the Twilight books on hold for them.  Sorry, Twilight is never on the shelves.

Ideas for discussion:

1.    Talk about the differences in the vampyres in The House of Night compared to the Cullens in Twilight.

2.    What is it like to be the new girl in school?  Especially if you have an extra talent.

3.    What do you think is happening to the kids who do not survive the change

I went back and forth whether I really like this book.  I like it enough to keep reading the series.  I will start Betrayed, the second book in The House of Night series very soon.

 

Pretty soon Zoey learns she is no regular fledgling.  She has special powers and is not sure who she can trust.