It’s difficult to write reviews of books that I read more than a week ago, but I’ll do my best. Although the reviews are short, I recommend each of these books. I’ll start with my favorite:
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
My goodness did I love this book. I had read many reviews of it and was eagerly awaiting its arrival in my book shipment. It’s the first Shannon Hale book I have read and now I plan to go back and read the rest. The story is based on one of the Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales and is the story of a young maid, Dashti, who has promised to follow her mistress, Saren, wherever she may go. Saren’s father wants her to marry a man that Saren doesn’t love and is deathly afraid of. In anger her father places her and Dashti in a tower, promising to leave them there for seven years. When the man that Saren is in love with (but has never met – she’s only exchanged letters with him) shows up at the tower, Saren gets Dashti to pretend to be her. Of course, Dashti falls in love with the prince, but then he leaves and doesn’t return. As their store of food dwindles, Dashti begins to search for a means to escape with her mistress.
There is so much to love about this book. It is beautifully written and has a true timeless quality. While one cannot help but love Dashti, I also loved the portrayal of Saren. I think that many authors would have portrayed Saren as a selfish rich girl but instead Hale chooses Saren to be a frightened girl who at times is self-centered (aren’t we all?). Saren apparently has a learning disability – she is unable to read and she relies on Dashti to make many decisions but Hale doesn’t make a big deal about it – these are just characteristics of who Saren is. This book is one to share with as many people as possible.
Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm
The subtitle of this book is “A Year Told Through Stuff.” At first glance, it looks quick read. While it was a quick read, and sections of it are cute, it is a much like a cute, deeper book than I expected.
Ginny Davis is starting seventh grade. She has a to-do list, starting with “Get a dad” and including such items as “get the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the Nutcracker” and “Do something in with hair to make nose look smaller.” As the year goes on, she gets the new dad (and finds out that it’s harder to get a new dad than she thought), doesn’t get to be the Sugarplum Fairy, and watches her older brother get in more and more trouble, finally being sent away to military school.
This is going to be a popular book at my school. My sixth grade daughter has already read it and gives it a thumbs up.
devilish by Maureen Johnson
Jane Jarvis and Allison Concord are seniors at an exclusive Catholic girls’ school. Neither have been popular, but they are surviving the high school experience until the day that the freshmen and new students choose seniors to be their Big Sister for the year. Allison suddenly and inexplicably gets violently ill, vomiting on one unfortunate freshmen. A new sophomore girl does feel sorry for her and volunteers to be her Little Sister. Then Allison begins to change. She is no longer timid but is now sophisticated and comfortable speaking out in class. Eventually Jane learns that Allison has sold her soul to a demon in order to become popular. Jane has one chance to save Allison, but the cost may be her soul as well.
I enjoyed this one, but not as much as the previous two books. I will recommend it to my eighth graders who enjoy high school stories.