Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: Darth Paper Strikes Back

I while back, I read a YA reviewer's blog who named Tom Angleberger's The Strange Case of Origami Yoda as her favorite book of the year. This really struck me, since she'd read and reviewed most of my favorite YA titles. I was excited to finally read the series with Son #1, and we just finished the second book, Darth Paper Strikes Back. Son #1 is busy creating a new cereal to promote the book for a book report, and I couldn't let him have all the fun.

The summary, adapted from Goodreads:   NOT SUCH A LONG TIME AGO, IN A MIDDLE SCHOOL NOT SO FAR, FAR AWAY...

Something amazing happened. A weird kid named Dwight made an origami finger puppet of Yoda that gave great advice. He could predict the date of a pop quiz, tell a guy if a girl likes him or not, and keep kids from embarrassing themselves in a dozen different ways. Most of the sixth graders were convinced he was using the Force.

But a year later, Dwight has been suspended and may be expelled, which means no more Origami Yoda. Even worse, Darth Paper, a puppet created by Dwight's nemesis, Harvey, has taken Yoda's place. He spews insults and evil and just may be responsible for getting Dwight kicked out in the first place. Now the kids of McQuarrie are building a case to save Dwight. This is their case file.

The review:

Something amazing DID happen. This book, even more than the first, managed to get Son #1 reading when he didn't HAVE to read. He laughed out loud. (And so did I.) He read chapter after chapter for fun. (And so did I!). Angleberger has an easy, distinctive voice that keeps the pages turning. Perfect for the 8-12 age range, the series is both multi-media and interactive, with illustrations and origami instructions. Those things alone would have made me recommend Darth Paper, but this sequel has so much more.

The characters have unique quirks and believable motivations. The vignettes in the case file could have easily worked by themselves, but the plotting carefully developed one of those great "Ah-ha!" moments in the end in which everything comes together. And just like the reviewer who spurred me to give these books to my son, I really enjoyed Darth Paper as a reader and not just as a mom.

5 out of 5 stars.

Music for today: My Number by Foals



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"It's okay to take a break."

My husband said this to me yesterday. It's one of those things I know to be true, but it helps to hear someone else reaffirm it. In the ever-shifting balance of life, family time and writing time keep up their antagonistic struggle. The blog usually gets the shortest stick in that draw, but I wanted to stop in with a run-down on my time away.

In Reading:

Used book store finds have been filling my reading list, so instead of long reviews, I thought I'd give a shout-out to two oldies that really stuck with me.

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves blew my mind. Imagine a world of infinite dimensions, with an incarnation of the boy who can save the universe in each one. Now imagine they all get together, form an army, and fight the magic and science extremists who want to take over.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson made me think of what would happen if Chuck Palahniuk wrote for teen girls.  Anderson's chilling voice explores anorexia with depth, intrigue, and complex characters.

In Writing:

Revisions on my WIP are trudging along. I'm over half way through, but the further I get down the line, the more early changes start affecting later events. Also, shiny new ideas keep popping up and begging to be explored. I've been debating taking them on in short story form, even though I don't have enough time in the day for all my other obligations.

In Music:

The Muse concert in Ft. Lauderdale was phenomenal, as expected. On the horizon, we're taking Son 1 and Son 2 to their first rock concert to see Imagine Dragons in May.  Happy Mother's Day to me!

And happy reading and writing to all of you! Until next time...