Call # FIC AHD
Welcome back to Miss Pickel’s Picks! It’s been a really long time since I’ve written. I came back to school last month determined to turn over a leaf and keep my blog updated, but somehow we’ve been back at school for six weeks and I’m just now writing my first post. I read a lot of really good books this summer, like Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series, which somehow managed to be funny, dramatic, thrilling and chilling all at the same time. I’m so excited because Noah is reading the first book right now – I hope he likes it as much as I did! The other book I loved was The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds; I just read a book co-written by Reynolds and I promise I’ll blog about that next!
I just finished a wonderful book based on the Arabian story collection One Thousand and One Nights; I loved it so much that I had to write about it. The novel is called The Wrath and the Dawn; the author is Renee Ahdieh and I think she’s so amazing that I will read everything she ever writes! The book opens when 16-year-old Shahrzad’s best friend has been killed by the new king. For months the 18-year-old Caliph has married a new woman every night and had her killed the next morning. When Shahrzad hears the news about her best friend she is determined to put a stop to the king once and for all, so she volunteers to be the Caliph’s next bride. Her family is terrified and her childhood sweetheart follows her. However, Shahrzad has a plan and she will not be stopped. When the Caliph comes to her room that night Shahrzad begins a story about Agib, the “thief of Baghdad.” The Caliph is mesmerized by the story and as the sun begins to rise Shahrzad leaves off on a cliffhanger. Of course, the king can’t have her killed now; he has to find out how the story ends! The next night Shahrzad wraps up the story about Agib, but starts another tale and the king must again spare her life. This pattern follows night after night as Shahrzad and the Caliph begin to talk about their lives and she learns that there is much more to the young king than meets the eye.
I adore this book for so many reasons. First of all, the language is so lyrical that I found myself reading passages out loud. I also love the way Ahdieh writes her characters; I was drawn to the supporting characters even more than the main ones, especially Despina, Shahrzad’s servant and confidante. I think my favorite thing about the book, though, is how the author takes an ancient story and updates it. I’ve always been interested in mythology, fairy tales and folklore with a twist and The Wrath and the Dawn has become one of my favorites in that genre!
Call # FIC HAG
Finally I found a futuristic book that I actually like! I picked up Landry Park by Bethany Hagen because I liked the cover – a girl in a gorgeous gown in front of a huge estate. It reminded me of Downton Abbey, a show I am absolutely obsessed with. It’s actually a lot more like Downton than I expected. On Downton Robert, the Earl of Grantham, expects his oldest daughter, Mary, to follow in his footsteps by presiding over their estate and the surrounding lands. Madeline Landry’s father expects her to carry on their family’s great name as well. Like the world of Downton Abbey Madeline’s society, set 200 years in the future, is also based on the class system. In Madeline’s society, however, there is a grave danger to belonging to the Rootless, the lowest in their caste system. The upper class estates are powered by nuclear energy and the Rootless have the jobs of changing the chargers and disposing of them, exposing them to harmful and eventually fatal levels of radiation. Madeline knows that the Rootless exist, but she is sheltered from actually seeing them until she accompanies her friend Jamie to his job at the hospital and sees how the Rootless are actually treated. After Madeline strikes up a conversation with Ewan, the Rootless are no longer a faceless group of subhuman people like her father would have her believe. Not only is Madeline’s family gentry, they are part of the Uprisen; their ancestor, Jacob Landry, is responsible for the nuclear energy that powers their society as well as the extremely oppressive class structure. Once Madeline’s eyes are opened to the world around her she must decide whether to stick with her comfortable lifestyle or fight for what she believes is right.
I don’t usually enjoy books set in the future or any type of science fiction, for that matter. However, this book was interesting because there was a lot more dialogue than action and I liked Hagen’s world-building, especially when Madeline reads the journals of her ancestor Jacob and finds out how much destruction her family has been responsible for. There was a romantic element that I felt was overdone and I didn’t think the ending was concrete enough, but on the whole I think Landry Park is definitely worth a read!
Call # FIC ROW
OK, it’s been almost six months since I’ve written a blog post and it’s finally time for me to get back in the game! There are so many books I want to read and write about I can’t even count them. I’ve decided to start with this year’s Flume nominees, which are chosen by New Hampshire teens. Monsieur has read almost all of them and my goal is to read all of them before we vote for our favorites in April. So far I have read Winger by Andrew Smith and Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. I read Winger a year ago and I really liked it, but I never blogged about it, so all I remember now is that it’s about guys in boarding school. This is why I always have to write a blog post when I like a book. From now on I always will, even if it’s really short. I did read Out of the Easy and loved it; you can read my review here. I decided that the next contender I wanted to read was Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl because it looked like my kind of book: a contemporary novel with a touch of romance and a focus on writing. I ended up loving Fangirl in so many ways. I might vote for it to win the Flume award; I can’t imagine liking any of the other nominees more.
Fangirl is about Cath, who has always had an extremely close bond with her twin sister Wren. The girls’ mother left when they were young and their father raised them by himself. Cath and Wren have always shared a room; when the girls decide to go to the same college Cath just assumes that they’ll continue to be roommates. She’s shocked when Wren announces that she wants to room with someone else. Cath is devastated that Wren has decided that the beloved fan fiction the two of them have written for years is babyish and that she is too mature for it now that she is in college. Cath has never felt more alone after her father drops her off in her dorm room. To make matters worse, Cath’s terrified of her roommate, Reagan, and irritated by the fact that Reagan’s amiable, ultra-laid-back boyfriend Levi is always around. The only place Cath finds solace is in her fan fiction, which is based on a blockbuster Harry Potter-ish series. Cath’s fanfic has a huge online following, yet she subsists on granola bars for a week because she’s afraid to ask anyone where the dining hall is.
Reagan and Levi soon catch on to Cath’s diet and decide to make it their mission to drag her to the dining hall and beyond. Cath realizes that Reagan, who turns out not be nearly as scary as Cath thought, and Levi are no longer an item; Cath might just think he’s a little cute. Meanwhile, Cath is dealing with a suddenly odd relationship with her sister, a writing professor who doesn’t understand the merits of fanfic, and finishing the online story her thousands of fans are clamoring for. Cath has a crazy, amazing year and I absolutely loved following her every step of the way. I hope Rowell makes a series out of Cath’s adventures; I’d love to accompany her through every year of college!