Friday, February 27, 2009

Authors I'm Obsessing Over

So lately I've been obsessed with young adult literature ever since I took a YA lit class at BYU. There are a couple authors that have impressed me enough to read more of their works, even if there may or may not be a sequel to the book I read. With this new blog category I wanted to kind of spotlight the author and write a little something about them, why I like them so much, and what I've read by them. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson

Books Written:Twisted, Prom, Catalyst, Speak, Fever 1793, Chains, Wintergirls - she also has some picture books and juvenile books
Notable Awards:
For her book Speak: The Printz Honor Award (which is the teen lit Newbery award), National Book Award Finalist, Edgar Allen Poe Award, LA Times Book Prize, as well as many others
For Fever, 1793: American Library Association (ALA) Best Book for Young Adults selection, and a Junior Library Guild selection.
For Chains: National Book Award Finalist, Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction
Books Adapted into Films: Speak, starring Kristen Stewart- the same girl who plays Bella in Twilight
Her Niche: She usually writes about high school and the teenagers who end up being left out of a stereotypical category. She does an excellent job of capturing the essence of a teenager's life and the somewhat painful and awkward experiences that come with high school. In between times of writing teenage high school lit, she's written a variety of historical fiction that is almost as popular as her teen lit.
Why I like her (a lot) and why I think you should too: My first encounter with Laurie was her award winning novel Speak. This book is on my all-time favorites list and I have re-read it countless times because it's just that good. Laurie has a way of channeling and expressing the thoughts of teens during the most awkward and, one could argue, "defining" points of their lives. Her stories have a way of bringing the characters to life; you can't help letting your thoughts drift to the situations and people she's created once you're finished reading her novels. Upon reading her books for the first time, you can see that she writes more than just about a girl or a boy in high school- she sells you their story and their pain. I don't think I've "met" any other YA author quite like her.
Which of her books I've read: Speak, Twisted, Catalyst, and Wintergirls. On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being "This book was sent by the gods for us mere mortals to read" and 1 being "This book wouldn't even make good toilet paper") here's how they rate:
Speak- 5
Twisted- 4
Catalyst- 2.5
Wintergirls- 3

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Princess of the Midnight Ball

Jessica Day George has done it again with another fairytale classic in The Princess of the Midnight Ball. Not unlike Sun and Moon Ice and Snow in the reconstruction of a classic fairytale, Midnight Ball does the same yet tells the story from the point of view from both protagonists (male and female). This is a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses with a twist that I've never read of before.

Rose is the oldest of 12 daughters (all have names of flowers) and the princess of a land that seems to be based loosely on Germany. Each night she and her sisters are forced to dance for King Under Stone to fulfill the contract that their mother made with him prior to her death. The girls are forced to dance all hours of the night, every night, driving them and their father insane. The other protagonist, Galen, is a soldier returning from war. He tries to transition from the life of a soldier to that of working as a gardener in the King's garden, and ends up falling for Rose. At this time the King has posted a reward for the prize of one of his daughter's hands, and his kingdom, to figure out the riddle of where his daughters go each night, and how they escape when he locks them into their bedroom. I won't give the rest away, but I'm sure you can predict the ending (it is a fairytale after all).

Overall I really enjoyed this book, though it was odd for the narrator to switch from Rose to Galen and back again. I think the part that really freaked me out was reading how Galen felt about Rose (don't worry- it's just puppy love). Just hearing romantic thoughts from a male perspective was just a little freaky and unusual seeing as I've never been inside the head of a boy. I did like this book a lot though but just not as much as the book I've read by her, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random History Facts...

...that have contributed to the making of literature as we know it. I'm in a Medieval literature class as well as an Early British Literary History class (there's a lot of overlap) with the same professor- who is quite hilarious and keeps me in raptures every time she begins "lecturing". I thought it would be interesting to share my wealth of knowledge seeing as I had no idea that any of these things happened. Who knew there were so many interesting things about history? (I did- as well as many professors at BYU).

Anne Bradstreet is called the mother of American poetry, though she personally never published any of her poetry- her brother in law took her writing and published it in The Tenth Muse without her knowledge

Thomas Paine helped sell the American Revolution to the people with his pamphlets.

John Adams said there were 3 reasons why he shouldn't write the Declaration of Independence but Thomas Jefferson should: Jefferson was a better writer than himself, people didn't like him as much so they wouldn't take him as seriously, and he thought it should be written by a Virginian.

Herman Melville dedicated The White Whale or Moby Dick to fellow author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The word "hell" and "jello" are etymologically connected. In the North (as in Scandinavia), hell is a place of freezing, not burning- it's so cold you can't move.

There is a different Christ for the Anglo-Saxon's than the suffering Mediterranean Christ.
  • Anglo-Saxon Christ- heroic/king-like, wants to get the job done right now, fully clothed, and "takes it like a man"
  • Mediterranean Christ- sorrowful, pitiful, emaciated, naked
The uncle-nephew relationship was more important than the father-son relationship in Anglo-Saxon times.

Richard the Lionheart was king of England for 14 years and only spent 10 months of it in England.

The word "gang" comes from the Old English word "gangr"- means a person who owns nothing; has no ownership or inheritance, which ultimately results in anger and destruction.

A monster isn't just a destructive force of nature- monsters are scary because they have consciousness that they are a monster.

During the Middle Ages, people bathed probably more than twice a week.

If you got the plague you died within 2 days.

It was the least nourished, and those that were not well exercised that were the ones who died of the plague.

Two good effects of the plague- it raised the language and status of the common people.

When people died of the plague their clothing was tossed into the street; popularity of rag paper came forth because it was so cheap. Half of Chaucer's writings were on rag paper.

Robin Hood is most likely a descendant of the Green Man/Pan.

The Dark Ages changed the climate of England from vineyards to frozen wasteland.

"Fitz" means "bastard son of..." whereas "O' " and "Mac" mean "son of..."
Examples of these are Fitzpatrick- means the illegitimate son of Patrick
MacDonald- means son of Donald
O'Brien- means son of Brien

York in England claims to be the most haunted city in the world- they have tons of ghost tours from the plague.

Jack 'o' lanters are the oldest part of Halloween- Halloween was part of Celtic samhain which is the harvest festival celebrating the death of the crops. Tricksters would steal a chicken or some farm animal if you didn't have lanterns out because you weren't paying your respects to death and how he helps bring life.

A rhyme to help you remember how Henry VIII's 6 wives died/ended up, here's a poem that the schoolchildren of England recite:
  • "Divorce, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived."
  • In order his wives would be: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Kathryn Howard, and Katherine Parr
Henry hired the best French swordsman to cut off Anne's head. (so kind of him)

I hope you enjoyed learning these random facts as much as I did. I'm sure I'll post another fact blog once classes finish.