Review: Gone by Michael Grant

images-1Okay, first things first.  I HATE the cover of this book.  In fact, I had put off reading this book for so long because I was embarrassed to be seen reading a book with such a teen romance-y looking cover.  But you know what they say…. about judgments and books and their covers.

We chose this book for our second book group book.  The really big and exciting news?  I got my boss at the bookstore set up with a skype account and we were able to skype the author (Michael Grant) for our meeting.  We had some minor technical difficulties (sound, but no video) but it was still amazing.  See what he had to say at the bottom of this review.

Summary: In an instant everyone over the age of fifteen disappears. Just like that, with no explanation, leaving only children ages 14 and under.  To make things even more interesting (because a society completely run by kids is not interesting enough apparently), some of the kids start developing special powers like telekinesis or shooting rays of burning light out of their hands.  Oh yes, and did I mention the mutant animals?  Talking coyotes, flying snakes and such.  Now add to the mix a power struggle between the kids at the private school academy and the kids from the public school and you have the makings of Michael Grant’s first book in his Gone series.

Review: Well, when I first read this book I had serious mixed feelings.  I liked the power struggle between the kids.  I liked seeing how they began to function as a society.  I could even deal with the special powers.  But the mutant animals?  The shining green darkness in the cave?  Not so much.  It was a little bit overload for me.

But then our book group talked with the author and suddenly I am itching to read the next one, Hunger.  Michael Grant is FUNNY.  He discussed where he got inspiration for the book- watching Lost and watching The Sopranos.  Okay, I watch those.  I see the connection.  He even said that when he first started writing the novel he realized that he was using a lot of different genres and that most adults would resist the combination of them (as I just previously stated), but that this book was written for teenagers and teenager were much more accepting and open to those kind of possibilites.  And you know what?  He was completely right.  The kids in the book group LOVED this book.  They were all drawing connections between themselves and the different characters.  They were speculating what causes all the adults to disappear and where they were now.  They were discussing a book because they liked it.  Sigh.  What every teacher wants to happen.  I now feel safe about recommending this book to kids, I know firsthand that they will devour all 5oo and something pages of it and will want to read more.

So, I guess it is true.  You can’t judge a book by its cover.

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2 Fantastic Book Giveaways.

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Acclaimed novelist Anne Rivers Siddons’s new novel is a stunning tale of love and loss.

For as long as she can remember, they were Cam and Lilly–happily married, totally in love with each other, parents of a beautiful family, and partners in life. Then, after decades of marriage, it ended as every great love story does…in loss. After Cam’s death, Lilly takes a lone road trip to her and Cam’s favorite spot on the remote coast of Maine, the place where they fell in love over and over again, where their ghosts still dance. There, she looks hard to her past–to a first love that ended in tragedy; to falling in love with Cam; to a marriage filled with exuberance, sheer life, and safety– to try to figure out her future.

It is a journey begun with tender memories and culminating in a revelation that will make Lilly re-evaluate everything she thought was true about her husband and her marriage.

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A Tale of two Shakespeares…

Struggling UC Santa Cruz grad student Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is trying to write his thesis about the Bard. Kind of…

Cut off by his father for laziness, and desperate for dough, Willie agrees to deliver a single giant, psychedelic mushroom to a mysterious collector, making himself an unwitting target in Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs.

Meanwhile, would-be playwright (and oppressed Catholic) William Shakespeare is eighteen years old and stuck teaching Latin in the boondocks of Stratford-upon-Avon. The future Bard’s life is turned upside down when a stranger entrusts him with a sacred relic from Rome… This, at a time when adherents of the “Old Faith” are being hanged, drawn, and quartered as traitors.

Seemingly separated in time and place, the lives of Willie and William begin to intersect in curious ways, from harrowing encounters with the law (and a few ex-girlfriends) to dubious experiments with mind-altering substances. Their misadventures could be dismissed as youthful folly. But wise or foolish, the bold choices they make will shape not only the ‘Shakespeare’ each is destined to come… but the very course of history itself.
To enter the contest, you can do the following:

1.  Leave a separate comment for each book you would like to win.

2.  For an additional entry, you can add a link to this giveaway on your own blog.

3.  For an additional two entries, subscribe to this blog.

Thanks for entering and good luck!  Contest will end July 30th and winners will be announced August 1st.

Summer Reading Update

Here is my list of books I wanted to complete this summer:

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink  (saw the movie.  Does that count?)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strut

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (re-read)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (re-read)

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb  (reading right now)

Made in the USA by Billie Letts

Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

I’ve been reading, just not off this list.  Oops.  I started a teen reading group and that has been consuming a lot of my reading.  I also read Tana French’s The Likeness, which I highly recommend by the way.  I will write a review on that one soon.

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

images Summary:  Colin Singleton only dates Katherines.  Nineteen of them to be exact.  When he is dumped by Katherine the XIX, he and his friend Hassan decide to take off on a road trip.  Did I mention that Colin is also a former child prodigy?  A borderline genius and an annagramming master, Colin Singleton must find logic and reasoning in everything he does.  So when he is dumped by the nineteenth Katherine, Colin decides there must be a way to predict the nature of a relationship and when exactly said dumping is going to occur and by who.

As Colin and Hassan embark on their road trip they make their first stop in Gutshot, Tennessee.  Here they meet Lindsey, their Gutshot tour guide.  Before they know what is happening, Hassan and Colin decide to stay in Gutshot for a while and work for Lindsey’s mother, interviewing factory workers.  In Gutshot, Colin works on his theorem for proving the predictability of a relationship, but discovers that not all things make sense in the world.  Especially falling for a Lindsey from Gutshot.

Review: Well, this was the first book that the teen book group from DDG chose.  I have to say, I really enjoyed Katherines.  The narrator, Colin Singleton, is somewhat neurotic and annoying, but the supporting characters balance him out and add a great deal of humor to the story.  Hassan is a riot.  When Colin starts spouting off facts about something that nobody really cares about, Hassan will cut him off with a “Not interesting.”  Lindsey is a sharp observer and has keen insight into Colin’s character and his nuances.  The story is fun and entertaining and definitely worth reading.  It makes a great teen summer read.

For our book club, we were joined by Sara Shumway, the editor of An Abundance of Katherines.  She had a lot of interesting ideas to share with the group.  Shumway talked about the storytelling arc (of beginnning, middle and end) that Lindsey teaches to Colin and how the author followed this same arc in telling Colin’s story to his readers.

All in all, this was a nice way to start off our book group and I am looking forward to our next read:  Michael Grant’s Gone.