Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Hi, Readers!

       The time has come for another Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish blog!  These lists are super fun to make, but they also test out my reading memory when I decide which books to include.  This week, readers were asked what their Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters were.  In order for me to love a secondary character, they must bring humor to the story, support the main character, and add to the plot.  Secondary characters that are too serious or not supportive are definitely not enjoyable to read about.  I have compiled a list of my favorites below.  Click on a series title for more information about that series on Amazon Books.

1.   Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
Hermione and Ron

These two characters are possibly the most-loved sidekicks in all of Young Adult reading history.  It is impossible to choose just one of them to review.  They each have flaws, but they manage to stay loyal to Harry Potter throughout the series and are always there to lend a hand.  Ron, played by Rupert Grint in the movie franchise, shares comic relief to lighten up tense moments, and his background knowledge about the wizarding world comes in handy.  Hermione, played by Emma Watson, is one of the brightest witches at Hogwarts, and she helps Harry figure out solutions to a number of problems, such as the tasks in The Goblet of Fire.

2.   Grover from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

This young satyr is funny to read about, as well as to watch in the Percy Jackson movies.  I just recently watched The Sea of Monsters in theaters, and when Grover dressed up as a female cyclops, I cracked up.  The way that he disguises his hairy horse legs by wearing magical pants is so genius!  Plus, although Grover may seem like a wimp at times, he always pulls through and does what is needed to save Camp Half-Blood.  His constant fawning over the female mythical campers always gives me a chuckle.  He is a great protector for Percy.  Grover is played by Brandon T. Jackson in the movie franchise.

3.   Primrose Eve from The Hunger Games series
Serving as the little sister of the Girl on Fire, Prim definitely has to live up to the family name and become a hero in her own way.  Prim is Katniss's motivator throughout the first novel.  Although she does not play a large role in the story, she makes up for it in Mockingjay, where she puts her medical knowledge to use by serving as a nurse to aid the rebellion effort.  Katniss's tale of Prim selling goat cheese to help her family survive show how kind and caring the young girl is.  She is played by Willow Shields in the movie franchise.

4.   Lilly Moscovitz from The Princess Diaries series

Lilly's pessimistic and judgemental point of view may be the reason why she argues so much with the future Genovian princess, Mia Thermopolis, but it sure makes her an interesting character to read about.  She definitely knows what she wants and goes for it.  Lilly's cable show, Lilly Tells It Like It Is, becomes popular in Korea and reports about social issues such as racism at the local deli.  Lilly may be jealous of all of Mia's princess power, but she is usually there to stick up for her best friend.  She is played by Heather Matarazzo in the movie.

5.   Jacob Black from the Twilight series

I have to give credit to Jacob for being persistent and sticking around Bella throughout the entire series, even when she repeatedly tells him that she is not interested in his company.  He goes from being the childhood friend to Bella's rebound to a werewolf (Didn't see that one coming...) to Renesmee's future husband.  Jacob also brings an exciting bad-boy aspect to the somewhat slow series by teaching Bella how to ride a motorcycle and creating his own werewolf pack.  He gets a negative image makeover in the Twilight movies, played by Taylor Lautner, because of his constant shirtlessness.

6.   Rowley Jefferson from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

This kid is literally hilarious.  Enough said.  He manages to remain Greg Heffley's best friend throughout the Wimpy Kid series, despite the efforts of his grumpy father to seperate the two.  Rowley is a lady's man without even knowing it, and his childish nerdiness makes readers laugh out loud.  He loves DinoBlazer action figures, "Joshie" (a singer whose audience is kindergarteners), and his comic strip, Zoo Wee Mama.  His innocence also counteracts Greg's troublemaker tendency.  Rowley is played by Robert Capron in the movie franchise.

7.   Piggy from Lord of the Flies

Piggy Poor Piggy.  I feel bad for the kid, getting stranded on an island with a bunch of killer boys that he doesn't know.  He is one of the most homesick children on the island.  Piggy's glasses are stolen almost immediately in order to start a fire, and then he can't see for the rest of the novel because of his myopia.  He is constantly being made fun of, and no one ever bothers to learn his real name.  All Piggy wants is for someone to listen to his brilliant ideas, but both Ralph and Jack shove him aside.  Sadly, Piggy's story does not have a happy ending.  He is played by Danuel Pipoly in the 1990 film.

8.   Lila from the Rot and Ruin series

This "Lost Girl" lived in the wilderness surrounded by vicious zombies throughout her entire childhood.  She even had her own zombie card because she was so elusive!  Lila once had a younger sister and a fill-in father, but both passed away and she was left alone.  She was tourtured in Gameland by being forced to fight zombies without any weapons.  When Benny and Tom Imura manage to (somewhat) tame her and reintroduce her into civilization, Lila is suspicious of everyone and too quick to draw her weapon.  Despite her flaws, she is fiercely loyal and will silence a zombie without a moment's hesitation.  Talk about a tough chick.

9.   Leslie Burke from Bridge to Terabithia

Leslie's quirkiness instantly sets her apart from the crowd when she attends a new school and meets her neighbor, Jess.  She tells her entire class that she doesn't watch TV, for goodness' sake!  Leslie helps Jess to create a fantasy world, called Terabithia, where they rule over a kingdom of magical creatures along with their puppy.  Leslie brings happiness to a world filled with depression, lack of money, and endless work.  Her heartbreaking demise at the end of the novel is enough to make anybody shed tears.  Leslie is played by AnnaSophia Robb in the movie.

10.   Grandma Sorenson from the Fablehaven series

Grandma Sorenson
Ok, this poor lady puts up with everything.  First of all, she has two troublemaker grandchildren who tend to ruin and destroy her preserve for magical creatures, called Fablehaven.  Plus, throughout the entire first novel, Grandma Sorenson is stuck in the form of a chicken, named "Goldilocks", because of a jinn's curse.  Finally, she has to give a massage to an ogre to save her grandson, Seth, from being indebted to the ogre for life.  After going through all of that, Grandma Sorenson has definitely earned her right to be on this list.

       I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters.  Each and every one of them plays a vital part to the novels that they are in, and they all serve as wonderful sidekicks to the main characters.  Feel free to check out all of the novels and series that I have listed above - they are all great.  Are there any other secondary characters that you think should be included on this list?

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back-to-School Books Part 2

Hi, Readers!

       Thanks for tuning in to Part 2 of Back-to-School Books!  If you missed my last post on Monday, Part 1, click here.  All of these books are fun reads that will get you jazzed up for the first day of school.  They include relatable characters and interesting plot lines. Each novel is followed by an age recommendation, genre, and short summary.  Click on a title for more information about that book on Amazon Books.

6. Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld
Age rating: 16 and up
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Lee Fiora, a quiet girl who would rather observe than participate, transfers to the Ault School, a private school filled with stereotypical students.  She learns more about everybody there than they even know about themselves by watching from a distance.  Instead of participating in constant partying, Lee chooses to stay in her room alone.  However, she ends up being more similar to the prep school students than she could ever imagine.  This novel is filled with the insightful observations of the self-conscious teen.

7. School Spirits, by Rachel Hawkins
Age rating: 10 and up
Genre: Fantasy
Izzy Brannick is a trained monster-fighter, but she is no match for high school.  When a strange ghost is sighted at a local school, Izzy gets the chance to attend this school for a month and makes friends with some unusual characters.  She struggles to focus on the case because she is too busy having sleepovers with her new buddies, studying for tests, and playing dodge ball in gym.  Will she be able to banish the ghost, or will she crack under the pressure of being a high school monster hunter?

8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney
Age rating: 7 and up
Genre: Realistic fiction
Greg Heffley is probably the only boy who keeps a diary, but his cartoon drawings of school make readers of all ages laugh out loud.  Some of Greg's tormentors include his older brother, Rodrick, his best friend, Rowley, and his middle school classmates.  His silly tips about making it through middle school and his descriptions of his stereotypical classmates include just the right amount of teenage angst and comedy.

9. The Secret School, by Avi
Age rating: 8 and up
Genre: Historical fiction
In the year of 1925, all Ida Bidson has to do to become a teacher is to finish the eighth grade and attend high school.  However, her plan is thrown out of the window when her local high school is forced to shut down.  Ida has to keep the school opened if she wants to become a teacher.  The fourteen year old must take over the school all by herself, keep up with her chores, teach her classmates, and somehow manage to pass the eighth grade final exams, all in less than a year.

10. Going Vintage, by Lindsey Leavitt
Age rating: 13 and up
Genre: Realistic fiction
Finding out that your boyfriend is cheating on you is bad enough, but Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is with a girl that he has never even met!  Jeremy is flirting with a girl in a social media game, causing Mallory to swear off of technology.  She finds a list that her grandmother made in 1962 about her school year goals, and she pledges to complete all of the tasks.  From becoming pep-squad secretary to sewing her own homecoming dress, all without the help of technology, Mallory sure has some hard work cut out for herself.

       Reading a few of these books will help to get you excited for the upcoming school year.  Many of them are great for both kids and adults alike.  Whether you are interested in reading about a monster-hunting student or a boy who is writing in his diary, you will enjoy these books with a school setting.  Give some of them a try and get excited for the first day of school!

Read on,

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back-to-School Books Part 1

Hi, Readers!

       I'm sure that all of you are looking forward to the upcoming school year. (Yeah, right.)  A new school year means new pencils, new paper, new backpacks, new clothes, and NEW BOOKS!  Although people's schedules start to get busy during school, make sure you squeeze in some quality time with a good book.

       One of the popular settings for Young Adult novels is school.  Books that are set in school have endless plot line possibilities, from realistic fiction to fantasy.  Characters in these novels are usually relatable to middle- or high-schoolers.  I have compiled a list of ten back-to-school books for readers of all ages that tell the stories of young adults trying to find their way in the world.  This post includes Part 1, the first five books.  Tune in on Friday for Part 2, with five more great reads.  Each title is followed by an age recommendation, genre, and short summary.  Click on a title for more information about that book on Amazon Books.

1. Marked, by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Age rating: 13 and up
Genre: Fantasy
When 16 year old Zoey Redbird becomes marked as a vampyre, she is required to attend the House of Night school.  Her powers are much greater than expected, and Zoey gets initiated into the exclusive Dark Daughters group.  She must decide who to trust, as well as control her powers, in order to make it through her high school experience alive.

2. Viola in Reel Life, by Adriana Trigiani
Age rating: 9 and up
Genre: Realistic fiction
Viola Chesterton has been sent to Prefect Academy for Young Women against her will, and her pessimistic attitude doesn't make her many friends.  Luckily, her roommates instantly take a liking to her.  Viola loves filmmaking, and she begins making a film to enter in a competition.  Life seems perfect when Viola gets her first boyfriend and becomes popular at school, but underneath she is still unhappy.  Viola's realistic story of school and love is the perfect read for students who are anxious about school.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling
Age rating: 8 and up
Genre: Fantasy
The magical Harry Potter novels have been thrilling Young Adult readers since J.K. Rowling published The Sorcerer's Stone.  Harry is stuck living with his horrible aunt, uncle, and cousin, until he is swept away to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  He meets his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, as well as some enemies.  Harry discovers the real reason that his parents died, and he embarks on an adventure that will span through seven books, a movie franchise, and an amusement park.

4. Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg
Age rating: 15 and up
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rafe has gone through his entire middle- and high-school life being openly gay.  When he transfers to a private school as a junior, Rafe decides to hide his sexuality so that he can be viewed as a 'normal' boy.  He instantly becomes a jock and makes tons of new friends, but he also has to hide a part of himself.  As soon as Rafe meets a boy that he may be in love with, he has to decide whether or not he should come out again and give up his wonderfully new, straight life.

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life
5. Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, by Rachel Renee Russell
Age rating: 8 and up
Genre: Realistic Fiction
The Dork Diaries series is like a girl version of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series: it is told in the form of a diary and is embellished with drawings and comics on every page.  The diary is narrated by Nikki Maxwell and describes her experiences at a new school.  She meets new friends, a new crush, and... new mean girls.  Nikki struggles with typical middle school drama that is presented in a fresh and funny way.

       Check some of these books out at your local library to be enthusiastic about the upcoming school year.  Plus, read my next blog post, Part 2 of Back-to-School Books!  In order to be alerted about Part 2 as soon as it is posted, sign up to follow Book Savvy by typing in your Email to the "Follow by Email" section on the right side of the page.

Keep up your reading,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Pick Out a YA Library Book

Library signHi, Readers!

   Going to the library to check out Young Adult books is the perfect alternative to buying them from a bookstore.  Barnes and Noble is great, but there are many advantages to borrowing books from your local library. For example...
  1. The books, as well as library cards, are free!!!!! 
  2. Most libraries loan out books for a two or three week time period, and it is easy to renew them online. 
  3. There is an enormous selection of titles, from classics to the newest books on the market.  If your local library does not have a book that you are looking for, you can either request that they purchase a copy, or you can check it out via inter-library loan.
  4. You can also check out comic books/graphic novels, audio books, digital books, magazines, movies, and TV shows from your local library. 
  5. It is an environmentally friendly way to read - books are reused instead of collecting dust in the attic. 
       Because libraries have such a wide variety of reading materials, it is easy to get overwhelmed when picking out a Young Adult novel. If you are looking for a specific title, the easiest way to find it is to look up the author's last name, either on a mobile device or on a library computer, and then find it in the shelves.  On the other hand, browsing for books is much harder.  You first have to take your age into consideration. There are many Young Adult novels that are actually mixed in the Children's section.  If you are a reader aged 8 to 14, novels from the Children's section would appeal to you.  If you are an older reader, aged 14 or above, you may prefer novels specifically from the Young Adult or Adult section.

       The next step to picking out a library book is to determine the genre that you are interested in reading.  Knowing a genre or subject that you are looking for makes picking out a book ten times easier because you can use book covers to help you in your search.  Although it is important to remember the motto, "Don't judge a book by its cover", each genre of book has a stereotypical cover to draw in readers.  Here is what I can judge from a book cover:
Book Cover vs. Genre chart
Just note that all of my descriptions above do not describe every book, and some novels will be difficult to judge by their covers.  

       After you've found a few books with interesting covers, read the back (for paperbacks) or inside flap (for hardcovers) of each book for a short summary.  This summary tells you the novel's setting, main characters, and basic plot line. Also, keep in mind the author of the book, because each author has a particular writing style and favorite genre.  Finally, if you are looking at a series, make sure you get the first book so you know what is going on.  I know from experience that it is devastating to borrow a new book and then realize it is a sequel!  
Library card
       Feel free to check out as many books as you want to.  You don't have to read them all in the two or three weeks that you have them, because it is easy to either renew them online or check them out again when you have more time.  If you decide that you love a book that you have read, buy it for yourself at a book store.  The library is definitely my go-to place for checking out books.  Make sure you put your local library to good use.

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review: Dream Factory

Title: Dream Factory
Author: Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
Publication Date: May 17, 2007
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 250
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 13 due to some teenage partying
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

       Who doesn't love Disney World?  It's the Happiest Place on Earth, the place where dreams come true, where people of all ages can create memories to last a lifetime... right?  Well, there is a lot hidden under the surface at Disney World, both figuratively and literally.  Dream Factory, by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler, tells the story of two teens who view Disney World in a brand new light.

Chip and Dale statue in front of Cinderella's Castle
Chip and Dale statue in
front of Cinderella's Castle
       Ella and Luke, along with a number of other teenagers, are hired as characters at Disney World after the original workers go on strike.  Ella gets the role of Cinderella because the costume fits her.  She has trouble living up to the expectations of "being" a princess, such as having a fake accent and pretending that her favorite color is pink.  Luke, on the other hand, slaves away as Dale, the chipmunk, in a sweaty body suit.  He is dating the perfect girl and has his entire future planned out, but for some reason, he is attracted to the mysteries of Ella.  While exploring the underground tunnels that hide Disney World's imperfections and pretending to be who they are not, Ella and Luke struggle to sort through their twisted relationship, survive a Disney summer, and figure out their futures.

       Dream Factory accurately captures the teenage perspectives of Ella and Luke.  Both want to forge their own paths, but they are unsure what they want in life.  The novel is narrated by both Ella and Luke.  Each one has quirks that make reading interesting.  Also, the relationships between Ella, Luke, and the other Disney character actors have depth that make them realistic and relatable.

Ella is not happy as Cinderella
       The coolest part about this book is it's new perspective on Disney World.  The authors include many fun facts about Disney.  For example, did you know that there are underground corridors, called Utilidors, that run underneath Disney World?  These hallways are used for maintenance, storage, and moving quickly from place to place.  Of course, the entrances to the Utilidors are expertly hidden to preserve the parks' perfect images.  When Ella, Luke, and the other characters participate in a park-wide scavenger hunt, readers discover even more interesting tidbits about Disney.

      Dream Factory is one of my favorite books, not because it has a happy ending and everything ends up working out, but because of its hard-hitting insight into the teenage perspective and the imperfections of Disney World.  It gave me a completely new viewpoint on the Happiest Place on Earth, and I loved reading about the growing relationship of Cinderella and Dale.

Make sure you check this book out!
P.S. I included the beginning of Dream Factory on my Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings In Books post. Take a look!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Release Book Review: Indelible

Title: Indelible (Book 1 of The Twixt series)
Author: Dawn Metcalf
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 10
My Opinion: 5/10

Hi, Readers!

       I personally like to believe that everyone loves a great fantasy novel.  Fantasy is the only genre that can completely take readers away from reality and into a world of mythical beings and wacky scenarios.  Indelible, by Dawn Metcalf, is a decent fantasy book, but it also has some odd qualities.

My vision of what Ink would look like
My vision of what Ink would look like
       Indelible starts off in an under-18 club, where the main character, Joy Malone, is dancing with strangers.  She is having a great time until a mysterious teenage boy with black eyes, named Ink, tries to stab her eyes out.  What a way to start a book!  Joy's eyes are fine, but her adventures are just beginning.  Over the next few days, she is visited by various creatures claiming to have messages for Ink.  Out of the blue, Ink reappears with his sister, Inq, to claim his messages.  Ink explains that he accidentally "marked" Joy as his servant and lover in the Twixt world, where all fantastical creatures live.  Joy learns all about Ink's role of marking humans to signify their pasts.  Meanwhile, a malevolent sorceress, Aniseed, is threatening to upset the balance of the Twixt and all of Ink's hard work.  Now, Joy must stay safe from Aniseed and protect Ink while dealing with earthly problems, such as her parents' divorce and her brother's sexuality.  A fast-paced battle scene culminates the novel, bridging the way for the next book in The Twixt series.

       One of the quirky aspects of Indelible is Dawn Metcalf's descriptive wording.  I had to read certain sentences a few times in a row to understand what she was trying to say.  For example, when describing symbols on the wall in Aniseed's lair, Metcalf wrote, 
"Archaic symbols fought one another for space - anorexic in some corners, a traffic jam in others."       
In my opinion, "anorexic" and "traffic jam" are unique word choices for inanimate drawings on a wall.  However, in certain instances, Metcalf's descriptions also create vivid images in the reader's mind.

       The main reason that I rated this novel a 5/10 is that Joy Malone is not a strong main character.  There are so many new novels with tough heroines who don't need help from any Prince Charming, such as Katniss from The Hunger Games, and Tris from Divergent.  In the case of Indelible, Joy relies too heavily on Ink's protection and is constantly getting taken care of.  She is always falling into traps, and she does nothing to help defeat Aniseed.  Joy becomes obsessed with Ink and feels that she needs to be in a relationship with him in order to be happy.  Teenage girls in modern society should be reading novels with strong heroines, not frail girls who rely on a hero to save the day.

Joy is not a strong heroine, unlike Katniss and Tris.
Joy is not a strong heroine, unlike Katniss and Tris.
       On the whole, Indelible has a very interesting and new plot line.  It has a few quirks, such as bizarre descriptions, and lacks a strong heroine, but Indelible is still a fun read.

Pick up a good book!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New Release Book Review: SYLO

Title: SYLO (Book 1 of The SYLO Chronicles)
Author: D.J. MacHale
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genres: Action, Science fiction, Mystery
Pages: 336
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 12, specifically boys
My Opinion: 6/10

Hi, Readers!

       Are you looking for an action-packed novel to read over the summer vacation?  SYLO, by D.J. MacHale, is filled with explosions, high-speed chases, fighting, and more.

       Tucker Pierce lives on Pemberwick Island, Maine, and enjoys riding the bench on the varsity football team, as well as going on midnight bike rides with his best friend, Quinn.  However, Tucker's peaceful lifestyle is thrown out of wack when a branch of the United States Military, called SYLO, quarantines Pemberwick Island due to a mysterious "virus".  All communications are cut off from the outside world - no phones, Internet access, or live television.  When a so-called drug dealer offers Tucker a performance enhancer called Ruby, Tucker discovers that there is no virus on Pemberwick Island.  He, Quinn, and their friend, Tori, investigate the real reason why the US Military invaded the island.  After being captured and put in jail, they end up in the middle of a war zone and try to escape through flames and wreckage while being shot at.  Will Tucker and his friends make it out alive and discover the secrets of SYLO?  

Look to the sky because Pemberwick Island is only the first stop.
D.J. MacHale's ending to SYLO

Storm, the sequel to SYLO
Storm, the sequel to SYLO
       What SYLO lacks in depth and originality is made up for through mystery and adventure.  Although I could not sympathize with Tucker throughout his adventures, I wanted to find out what he would do next in order to survive.  The most interesting part of the novel is Tucker's relationship with his parents, who know a lot more about the SYLO organization than they initially let on.

       I would recommend Sylo to boys between the ages of 12 and 18.  It has a movie-like quality in that there is always another explosion or surprise to come.  Sylo definitely leaves readers hanging at the end of the book, finishing with "To be continued...".   It is part of The SYLO Chronicles trilogy, followed by Storm, which will be released on March 18, 2014.  D.J. MacHale has also written the vastly popular Pendragon series.  Make sure you check your library for this thrilling new novel.

Read on,