Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

I think I read this book too fast. I zipped through it while my daughter was taking a nap, which I think was only about an hour. It definitely is worth a re-read. I had just seen Jeff Kinney speak at my local bookstore; this book was hot off the press and inscribed with his John Hancock, and I was so inspired to get through this as quickly as possible. Seeing Jeff talk about his book was a real treat. The audience was full of bused-in children from local schools, all of whom were clutching their copies of Diary of a Wimpy kid close to their chest and raising their hands at every opportunity.

I was not surprised to learn that Jeff (I figured since he wrote "to Dejah" in my book inscription that we must be on a first name basis, see) did not intend to market this book as a children's novel. Instead, he said he wrote it to be of the "nostalgic adult" genre like Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story, but that the publishers instantly saw it as a terrific read for younger children. It is most popular now, as I think I mentioned in my review of the first book, with so-called "reluctant readers". Awesome. With both books on the New York Time's best-seller's list, I doubt he's complaining.

The second book absolutely lived up to my expectations. There were no cheap punches or short-cuts taken that tried to cash-in on the first book's success; instead, the sequel took it to the next level and I felt I got to know Greg even better (and perhaps see why he is the way he is).

So, bravo, Jeff ol' pal. You rule!

Author: Jeff Kinney

Love, Stargirl

Stargirl still works her magic, even when she's pining over her lost love.

This follow-up to Stargirl is written in letter/diary format by Stargirl herself, and it's interesting to see what goes on in her head. I loved getting glimpses into what appear to be totally normal trains of thought and actions, until you step back and realize that the actions are so very Stargirl, meaning eccentric and slightly bizzare. This novel is filled with love and compassion, the occasional melancholy and love-wisting, and an overall sense of creating community through random acts of kindness. I see so many elements of people I love in Stargirl, and I will keep these books on my shelf for a yearly re-reading.

Author: Jerry Spinelli

Green Angel

Yeah, yeah, Alice Hoffman writes a young adult book, blah blah blah. I found this to be overly prosy and immaturely crafted. It tried to have a dark goth sense about it and perhaps that's just not my genre. I finished it in about an hour (it's only 116 pages long) so I can't rightly say it's "one I've put back down", but I wouldn't read it again or give it to a friend. I think I would have enjoyed this book when I was an early teenager and going through my "nobody understands me and my deep poetry" phase. So there's that going for it.

Author: Alice Hoffman

Lioness Rampant

I absolutely loves this series. Alanna is a unique and enjoyable character; I raced through these books like candy. This last installment, I felt, was the weakest of the four. I kept feeling like I was missing pages, and the plot meandered a tad. It didn't have the same steam-rolling action that the first three had for me. Still, a highly recommended series for all ages.

Author: Tamora Pierce


This third installment of Scott Westerfeld's post-apocalyptic vision had me up way past my bedtime. As in the first two, we follow Tally Youngblood through her series of surgeries and hope that through it all she retains a sense of self, and yet we as readers can see the ways in which she is altered through Scott's use of language and unique compounds (bubblyheads, icy-making, fashion-missing, ect). I found his style to be unique and engaging. Westerfeld's underlying themes of environmentalism, bucking authority, and self-awareness come through loud and clear in this third book, and I thought it quite strong. I would recommend this series to any sci-fi or fantasy fan, although I think it translates well into many genres.

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Pendragon: the Merchant of Death

This book was recommended to me by a high school English teacher friend; he said that it was really popular with his students. I finally found the first book in the series (is it really so hard to put numbers on the spine? Really?). It's very teenager in tone, since it's primarily written as a diary. It doesn't go too overboard, but sometimes it's annoying. Other than that, it's a story about a teenage boy who finds out he's a Traveler meant to save the fate of a distant world. Gotta love those unknown hero plots. I think they are worth a shot; it was a good, quick read. It won't be the top sequel on my list, but it's definitely on my cue for upcoming reads.

Author: DJ MacHale


The sequel to Uglies is just as good. Missing is the great hippy commune out in the woods, which has been replaced—in questionable taste—by a found group of "primitive" mankind. Still, I enjoyed reading this book and getting back into his post-apocalyptic world of pretty-making. The language is slightly different; or, I should say, the vocabulary is different because even though the book is not in first person it mimics the new "pretty" way of talking. Once you get over that it's well-crafted. These books were recommended to me by my mother-in-law, and I hear they are very popular with both gals and guys. I can see why; there is much to grab on to in this series, and it's an accessible and interesting read.

Author: Scott Westerfeld