Great Reads

I am ridiculously behind in my Literature posts, but work sometimes gets in the way.  Here are my top picks.

First, some outstanding Young Adult fiction.

Such Wicked Intent (2012) by Kenneth Oppel follows This Dark Endeavour (2011), the story of a teenaged Victor Frankenstein intent on discovering the mysteries of alchemy with tragic results.  In this book, he and his brother’s betrothed, young Elizabeth, enter a spirit world to once again investigate a way of bringing the dead back to life. Very suspenseful.

At last! The third book in Caragh O’Brien’s Birthmarked trilogy, Promised (2012), which concludes female protagonist, Gaia Stone’s quest to have the power-hungry and powerful Enclave live in harmony with her people, but needless to say, they have become more ruthless in their drive to end the problems of infertility with methods reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Perfect introduction to dystopic fiction for young readers .

Promise the Night (2011) by Michaela MacColl was an unexpected find.  The story chronicles the early life of the famous pilot, Beryl Markham, who became the first woman to fly a plane east to west across the Atlantic.  Beryl Markham wrote her own biography in 1942 called West With the Night. Recognized by none other than Ernest Hemingway for its beuatiful prose, the book was re-issued in 1983, three years before her death, and received wide acclaim. In MacColl’s book, Markham, then Beryl Clutterbuck, presents as a wild child growing up with little parental supervision on a farm in Kenya, spending most of her early life with the local tribes and trying to foil any attempts to turn her into a lady. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and very suspenseful when it comes to her trans- Atlantic flight.

Rebel Heart (2012), the second in the Dustlands series, follows Blood Red Road, where Saba rescued her brother and defeated the Tonton – or did she? She fiercely defends her beloved Jack until mounting evidence makes her doubt her faith in him. Some say this is better than The Hunger Games . . .

Now for some senior student favourites.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) by Stephen Chbosky – obviously not a new book, but the movie (also very good) inspired me to read the book – very much a teenage angst book – relationships, dark secrets, homophobia – I can’t say much more or I will give away the story. Very well drawn characters.

The Headmaster’s Wager (2012) by Vincent Lam – a gripping tale set in Vietnam  from the time it was part of Indochina through the horrific Japanese occupation of WW II, to the Vietnam War – describes the comfortable life and later the plight of a womanizing, gambling Chinese businessman, Percival Chen, who runs a prestigious English Academy in a small community outside Saigon. Somewhat the stereotype of the Chinese national living in Vietnam, Percival believes he can buy his way out of any difficulty. Until he can’t.



About phansenvsb

I am passionate about teaching reading and writing to a diverse audience from those experiencing challenges in reading and writing to those who seek deep enrichment in literature and its connections to the world in which it was written and to the present day. I also present workshops on assessment for learning, differentiated instruction, literature circles, disciplinary literacy, and inquiry.
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