Whip It by Shauna Cross

Oh young adult books. I saw the movie Whip It (starring Ellen Paige, produced by Drew Barrymore) and I really enjoyed it. It’s one of those feel good, root for the main character movies. Not quality, just happy and fun sort of like Bring It On but less cheezy. (I’ve always been slightly interested in Roller Derby, ever since that show Rollergirls, so it was exciting.) Anyway, the movie inspired me to read the book.

Whip It is about Bliss Cavendar, a teenager growing up in Bodeen, Texas. Basically, she lives in the middle of nowhere and her social life consists of working at the Oink Joint with her best friend and competing in beauty pageants thanks to her pushy mother. But then she is introduced to Roller Derby and a whole new world of excitement and fun is opened up for her. She’s found something she’s passionate about and good at. Only a couple problems: you have to be eighteen to play and the big game is on the same day as an important pageant.

Shauna Cross captures the tone of a teenager perfectly (she says in a Q & A at the back of the book that it’s just the way she speaks which might be a little sad), which makes it slightly tougher for me to get through than the other Young Adult books I’ve been reading. That whiny, annoyed tone is tiresome at times. But the derby stuff is interesting and so underexposed.

The movie is better than the book, but both are fun ways to spend your time.

Read the book: Whip It

Acacia (War of the Mein and the Other Lands) by David Anthony Durham

A more adult version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this story revolves around four siblings of the royal family who are separated when their father is murdered. They grow up in separate worlds but unite once again to reclaim their rule. And much more.

Durham’s world is fully imagined and rich in detail. Each character has their own distinct story, goals, motivation, personality…The characters are each sympathetic in their own ways, though occasionally the urge to smack the oldest sister arises. The degree of detail is quite impressive. There is everything from plotting to betrayal to love to hate to ancient magic and mythology, among other things. I don’t know that I could come up with something so thought out.

Acacia is a three part series and the end of the first book seems to end, only for the second book to set up a whole new story picking up where the first left off with a surprising turn. The only complaint I really have from the series is the story gets so complicated that sometimes it’s hard to keep track (and sometimes has the feel of pushing too far).

I can’t wait for the next book; I hope I don’t have to wait too long.

On the upside, the first book is being made into a movie, expected for release in 2011.

(Also, random fact, Acacia is a type of tree and also means “everlasting.”)

Read the books: Acacia: The War with the Mein (Acacia, Book 1) and The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2)

Carnival Undercover

What food should you eat at the carnival? What seat is the best seat on a rollercoaster? How can you make the log flume make a bigger splash? What are the danger signs for rides? Are games fixed (or gaffed, as it is called in the amusement park/carnival/fair world)? Find out the answers to these and so many more mysteries of the carnival.

Bret Witter writes about every aspect of the ride/booth based life. From how to get involved to how to have the best time while attending, Witter manages to touch upon every curiosity. Subjects are marked with symbols- Top Secret Information, Tips to Improve Your Skills, and Terrible Tales.

It’s not a must read. There’s no page turner quality to it. It’s more like the kind of thing you pick up every so often and read a section or two. Or you read it before or take it with you when going to a fair, carnival, or amusement park of some sort. There are certainly some fun facts and interesting details. If you have a friend who loves going to the county fair or the carnival or who is obsessed with amusement parks, this is a fun gift for them. For me, it needs some sort of a narrative, just reading the facts of a carnival isn’t as interesting as it might have been to follow a few people in each setting.

But, it has a recipe for Funnel Cakes! What could be better than that?

Buy the book: Carnival Undercover