Hey! Watch this.

I was lucky enough to attend the most awesome conference in the world last month, and Adam Gidwitz, who wrote A Tale Dark and Grimm, presented. By presented I mean he told us a fairy tale. And by fairy tale I don’t mean a clean Disney story, but a bloody goopy story with bones being buried.

As a result I am pretty much obsessed and his books are currently the most recommended books in the kid section when I’m working.

So please, if you have some time watch Gidwitz tell a story in this video. He is funny and enthralling and had a room full of adults dropping their jaws and sitting on the edge of their seats  that day I saw him.

This is a video of him speaking at Darien Public Library:

 

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Review: The Six by K.B. Hoyle

The Six
K.B. Hoyle
The Writer’s Coffeeshop
April 5, 2012 

Darcy Pennington hates her life. She is an insufferably average teenager with no real friends, crushing social anxiety, and an indescribable sense of not fitting in anywhere. A change in her dad’s job forces her to attend Cedar Cove Family Camp the summer before her eighth-grade year, and Darcy once again finds herself on the outside of a social circle of teenagers, with her only advocate being an awkward girl named Samantha Palm. The only problem is, Darcy has no desire to be friends with her, but as the hostility from the other teenagers increases, she decides to return the friendship.

When Darcy begins to experience strange magical occurrences, she comes to believe she’s either losing her mind or on the brink of a discovery that could give her purpose in life. After unwittingly stumbling through a magical gateway to a new world called Alitheia, she convinces Sam and the other four teenagers to travel there with her, and despite their earlier hostilities toward her, they eventually concede leadership of their small group to Darcy. Once there, they learn the “arrival of the Six” was prophesied hundreds of years before, and that they must expel an ancient evil from the land. In the end their lives, and the fate of Alitheia, will hinge upon Darcy. Will she have what it takes to fulfill her mysterious purpose? Or will she fall prey to a deadly foe?

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com                                     

I was invited to read and give an honest review for a digital copy of The Six. I have had to be extremely picky with what I read lately, because of trying to manage my time better lately and I am super glad I was able to read this one! The only problem is it got me in the mood to reread a lot of childhood favorites, like Redwall or The Hobbit.

1. One of the reasons why I wanted to read this book was because of the comparison to The Chronicles of Narnia. I remember as a kid I REALLY loved fantasy books. I think part of it was the whole idea that I wanted to be that special one called up for some special task. I wanted to be the hobbit suddenly imposed on by a bunch of loud messy dwarves and a strange wizard. I wanted to be the kid who accidentally found an entirely different world, or found a mysterious cottage. K.B. Hoyle throws you into the world of Darcy Pennington, a 13-year-old girl who has trouble fitting in and gets just what sooooo many kids and adults dream of– thrown into a whole new fantasy world.

2. The writing in this is really interesting. Darcy and her friends are most definitely 13 year-olds emotionally, yet the way this is written I kept expecting them to be older. While that does mean I kept forgetting the kids were so young, I did enjoy the writing. It was reminiscent of Lewis and Tolkien’s writing styles for me. Also, I like how it translated into the story. Darcy and her friends are ONLY 13 and then they come into this world where they are expected to be saviors. It’s easy to forget how little worldly experience they have.

3. Darcy frustrated the bejeezies out of me! As a character she grew a lot from the first page to the last page, but let me tell you. Some of her actions in between, while entirely and totally realistic, made me so angry especially when it came to lying to her friends about certain things. I don’t want to give anything away, but there is a bit where as a reader you know she shouldn’t be doing something– or at least she shouldn’t be hiding things– and she keeps doing it and you’re like “AHHH TERRIBLE THINGS WILL HAPPEN! STOP!” and then she keeps going and you’re left pretty much exhausted trying to convince this character on the page to check herself before she wrecks herself. It’s pretty easy to get invested into this story.

4. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been reading too many fantasy novels lately, but I found the world to be hard to get into at first. I love the narks, I love the six animals and I found the history of the world interesting, but it was overwhelming when you’re first introduced. There are a few things that I am still unsure about, but midway through the adventures of the six kids I was comfortable in the new setting. The way magic works in this setting is interesting, and I liked how we were able to see the kids develop their abilities and discover with them how things work.

5. This is jam-packed with learning lessons and character development. What I like best about this book is how the lessons aren’t thrown in your face. They’re there for Darcy to learn from them, and you too if you want to take it to that level. Also, Darcy repeats her mistakes over and over again, just in different ways. I thought that was genius of K.B. Hoyle to do. It was not repetitive, and it humanized Darcy on another level.

This will be out this April 5th! And you can pre-order HERE!

Overall Review: This is great for adults and children alike looking to step into a new adventure!
If you want more…: K.B. Hoyle’s BLOG. I thought her posts about writing The Six were especially interesting!

Percy Jackson and A Series of Unfortunate Events

So recently I’ve been struck with the desire to read a lot of the books I already own, so I’ve been attempting to work diligently at this little goal of mine. This means, I’ve finally read quite a few fantastic gems sitting on my shelf! I might take a break only reading things that I own in order to finish up the Percy Jackson series, since I only own the first three.

So today, I just finished the third book in….

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse were fantastic books! They revolve around the main hero, Percy Jackson who realizes pretty fast that he’s more than a screw up and more than your typical average kid. Its filled with a lot of adventure. I really like Percy’s friends to death and the genuine love between them makes the book enjoyable to read. Rick Riordan writes well and he did a good job with adding in Greek mythology. As someone who forgets things easily (including mythologies) and thus didn’t know much about the different gods and goddesses coming in, it was very easy to understand who was who and what was going on.

So far I have to say my favorite out of these three is The Sea of Monsters. I really like Annabeth and so I personally enjoyed learning more about her. Also, the ending-oooooooohhhhhhhhman!!! And… the ending to The Titan’s Curse! Gah! I have to give Rick Riordan props for fantastic cliff hangery endings!

I also recently just finished the third book in…

A Series of Unfortunate Events

by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)

These are very well written and very witty fun books featuring Violet (14), Klaus (12) and Sunny (baby) Baudelaire, who are three recently orphaned siblings. With the death of their parents, the overarching goal in the series is to find the Baudelaire children  suitable caretaker within their extended family. While a ton of terrible things happen to the kids the events are pretty ridiculous and funny, so these stories don’t end up to be really depressing. Lemony Snicket directly addresses the reader, which I think is one of the reasons why I’ve been enjoying my copies. Also, the imagination and uniqueness that goes into all the different characters is a big draw.

So far every books has had its own mystery and its own caretaker for the children. I’d have to say my favorite out of the books I’ve read has to be The Reptile Room. The man the kids stayed with grew on me, and watching the Baudelaire’s try to “win the day” kept me on my toes!

Both series are fantastic for kids and adults alike. I’m pretty sure well-written children’s literature is one of my favorite things ever. It really says a lot about an author’s ability if (s)he is able to create a good story able to be enjoyed by all different ages.