• My affiliate links won't hurt you, but they might help feed my kids. See my full disclosure policy in the main menu.

YA Book Review: Haven by A. R. Ivanovich

1-12-16

Haven by A. R. Ivanovich

I have to start by saying this a really good book.  Sure, there is a believable world created here as a backdrop.  But what I loved was that it was really well-written in a strong female voice.  Katelyn Kestrel is the kind of hero a girl can believe in.   She lives in a mountain valley called Haven–and I mean a valley completely surrounded by towering mountains through which there is no way out.  Supposedly.  No one has been outside of Haven in over 700 years.  It’s sort of a steam punk meets epic fantasy kind of place.  Mechanical carriages to help the horses out.  Running water.  Weather men.  In a land where things are simple.  I like true fantasy, where the setting is more medieval, but I have found that I also enjoy the modernized take on the old standby.  Ms. Ivanovich pulls it off with vigor.

Katelyn is a curious girl, and she wonders what lies outside those mountains.  So one night, after a particularly humiliating experience among her school peers, she decides to try to find her way out.  And some strange pull inside her leads her directly to the only path out of the mountains.  She finds her way Outside.  What awaits her there makes high school look like a day at the park.  A war is waging Outside and she gets caught up in the middle of it.  Her allies Outside are Dylan and Rune, two very different young men who affect her very differently.  Dylan is charming and flirtatious while Rune is distant to the point of cruelty.  What’s cool here is that Katelyn isn’t a gullible girl.  She sees through to who the true good guy is, even from the beginning.  Though she grows to trust Dylan, it takes him a while to get to her.  She trusts Rune from the start.  I liked that I wasn’t supposed to be believing that this girl just trusted and threw herself at everybody.  Believing that anyone could be so… stupid.  There are books like that out there.  You know it’s true.

But that’s not the main story.  Oh no, the main story is that Katelyn has to find her way back to Haven without leading all the crazies from Outside to her home.  Because the Outside world has been searching for Haven for centuries, and it has sinister plans for its inhabitants.  And Katelyn is a prisoner, one way or another, from the moment she reaches Outside.  Super sinister bad guys, untrustworthy good guys, new friends, and bitter disappointments pepper Katelyn’s action-packed adventure, but she stays true to herself and her motives and fights back even when there seems to be no fight left in her.

I can’t say much more without giving too much away, so I’ll leave it at this–this book is kind of epic.  I can’t think of a single protagonist who made a foolish mistake that made me want to put the book down (that happens, too.  You know it does).  They all made right choices.  Human choices.  Believable choices. It rocked.  And the last paragraph… Let’s just say it punched me in the heart.  Pick up this wonderful book for yourself your teens and tweens if your looking for something to truly engage them.  Read it with your littles if they love adventure and you want to teach a lesson about loyalty and courage.

Happy reading.

Love wins,

KT

Admission of Guilt

Can I tell you something?  Last week I let you know that I’m reading David Copperfield for Christmas this year.  I also said I would keep it to a chapter a day and that I’m not reading it with the Littles so we can do Jekyll and Hyde together.

David-Copperfield-by-Charles-Dickens

Well, let me be perfectly honest with you here.  One, there is no freaking way I could ever restrain myself to a chapter of Dickens a day.  Two, I Really, Really wish I had elected to read this one with the boys.  Their loss.  For now.  We Will read it together one day.  Because it is, as all of Dickens’ works are, a miracle.

One of the reasons I love Dickens so much is that he always tells you this really sad, heart-rending story that seems to have no hope to it and them whammo!  Hope arrives!  Poor little David is Littlest’s age, so I can’t help but keep that in mind as I’ve read his (thus far) misadventures.  I want to scoop this kid up, cuddle him, and show him that there are people in the world who will love him for his own sake, just because he’s him.  Now, how can you argue against an author who makes you feel so strongly?  How can you not think of him as your Dead Author Boyfriend?  I ask you!

David Copperfield 1

But it is the hope that always glimmers over the horizon that keeps your heart from breaking into a trillion tiny pieces and your eyes glued to the page.  Of course, Dickens keeps it real, so the hope may dwindle or diminish and pick back up in some other way.  Just like in life, you rollercoaster up and down, never knowing for sure how things will turn out in the end.  But even if the characters lose something, they always gain something, too.  Just like we do daily. And because it is so real, it is hard to put the story down and walk away from it.  You just keep wanting to know what is going to happen Next?!

Dickens rocked storytelling.  He rocked description, both of setting and emotion; he rocked dialogue–sometimes people are talking and you’re thinking, “Why the hell am I privy to this conversation?” and thirty chapters later you’re like, “Oh!  I remember when they were talking about that!  So that’s why…”

He rocked wisdom.  Every single one of his books is full of gems that we use today as commonplace cliches.  And you might not even realize it to be the case!  For example:

My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today.  Procrastination is the thief of time.

Here is my favorite Dickens pearl so far from David Copperfield: Never… be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel.  Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.

That is going up on my classroom wall.  Wasn’t I just saying yesterday to be kind and have courage?  See why Dickens is my Dead Author Boyfriend?  I am totally smitten with this guy.

David_Copperfield_09

I’m totally smitten with this book.  Listen, here is another beautiful novel to introduce your homeschoolers to Victorian England, to the plight of the poor and downtrodden, to the wonderful language of classic books.  I know I’m reading it to myself this time, but I can’t recommend it enough for children of all ages.  I’m seriously trying to figure out how to wind this post up right now so I can get back to reading.

I know.  I’m a mess.

Never let it be said that I didn’t share my passions with you.  It’s free for Kindle.  You can get all this goodness For Free!  But I must admit, you’re going to want to have this one on hand forever, so don’t rely on technology.  Find a good paperback copy and love it well.   Pick up David Copperfield.  Give it to your littles.  Read however many chapters a day you want to.

Leave me alone now.  Sheesh!  I’m reading.

Love wins,

KT

Dickens for Christmas

I have mentioned before that I like to read Charles Dickens at Christmas time.  I’ve also mentioned that for the past couple of years, I’ve included the Littles in my Dickens reading.  We read A Christmas Carol together 2 years ago, and last year we read Oliver Twist.  This year, they are on a slightly darker kick, and they’ve decided that after we finish Something Wicked This Way Comes this week, they want to read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I’m down with that.  Too many people don’t get the opportunity to read that book and take all their impressions of it from the various movies out there (my favorite of which is Mary Reilly).  So I’m thrilled the Littles want to read it now.

Dude, shave that crazy beard

Dude, shave that crazy beard

But I still have to read Dickens for Christmas.  One thing I’ve learned in the last two years is that I enjoy reading Dickens slowly.  A chapter a day?  I think I can hold myself to that.  So I started David Copperfield this morning.  Slipping into a Dickens novel is like sliding on your favorite, old, worn pair of blue jeans for me.  I’ve read A Lot of his books, several of them (think Great Expectations) many, many times.  But I’ve never read David Copperfield, believe it or not.  So I’m very excited to read this one.  Of course, I know the story.  But it’s kind of like if you’ve seen those stupid Hunger Games movies… Ugh! the books are infinitely better.  I’ll put it this way… I’ve read the Hunger Games series twice.  It is literally in my top 3 favorite trilogies of all time.  But I stopped watching the movies after the second one.  Truth?  I only watched the second one to see if they did something to make up for all the enormous gaffs in the first one.  They didn’t.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

But don’t let me step up on that soapbox.  I might never come down.

My point is that reading the book is Always Always Better.  You know that, right?  So I’m really excited to be reading David Copperfield.  So excited that maybe, yeah, it’s going to be Very Difficult to stick to a chapter a day.

The thing about reading a chapter a day, whether it’s aloud in your homeschool or on your own, is that you are better able to savor what’s happening in the book.  If you know me, you know I read roughly 3-5 books per week.  I have since I was 5.  I love books.  I love stories.  I find the oddest times to read.  I listen to books on my Kindle when I’m driving.  I’m not kidding; I can’t remember the last time I heard music.  I listen to books when I’m cooking.  I sneak out of the house when it’s all rowdy and testerone-filled and go sit in the woods and read.  I read while I’m in my deer stand, waiting for deer to show up.  I literally Cannot Go To Sleep if I don’t at least read a couple pages in bed.  If I have a morning when I don’t have to be up moving and Martin gets up before me, I read in secret while everyone thinks I’m asleep.  See why I might have trouble sticking to a chapter a day?  I may have to read two books at once for the next 2 months.  Or maybe I’ll finish this one and read Great Expectations or A Tale of Two Cities again.

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

Ever read A Tale of Two Cities?  Wow.  Excellent stuff.

Wait.  Where was I?  Oh, savoring your book.  Dickens’ writing style can be difficult, especially for early readers and people who haven’t spent a lot of time with the classics.  We don’t talk that way anymore, and in this world of instant gratification, we definitely don’t write that way anymore.  Sentences that have more than 40 words?  Not just a couple of them, but most of them!  Yeah, we don’t have the attention span for it these days, do we?  Remeber, when Dickens was writing, there were no TVs, no internet, no social media with its limited characters.  Books were the most highly valued form of entertainment.  That’s why the classics are the best kind to read.  They don’t just rush through the story with as much action as possible.  They help you think a bit more about life, they slow you down.  So savoring them makes them all the sweeter.

If you are tackling a classic novel with your littles, be it The Secret Garden or Black Beauty or The Grapes of Wrath, going slowly and discussing Everything is the best way to make sure they’re following.  Reading the book twice within a few years (as we have done with Something Wicked) can help your child catch things he may not have fully understood the first time around.  If you’re reading by yourself and I’ve convinced you to delve into the world of Dickens, a chapter a day can give you time to think about what you’ve read, mull it over, and come to a deeper understanding.  And to email me, maybe, if you’re lost and need an explanation.  I’m pretty good at those.  When I’m not rambling.

David Copperfield

Come on, read David Copperfield with me.  It’ll be fun.  I Swear.

If I didn’t give you anything useful today, I apologize fully.  I realize I rabbit-trailed through this entire post and I’m totally owning it.  Okay, so I don’t apologize.  Sometimes I just like to let you in on what I’m thinking.

Love wins,

KT

This post definitely contained affiliate links

Book-Lovin’ Lit Mama and a New Free download

Finally, Finally, FINALLY, the Lit Mama Homeschool is hitting its stride and finding its rhythm.  This year has been an eye-opener for me–a pleasure while also (at one time) bordering on a travesty.  I had a plan.  It was So Not Working.  I ditched the plan.  I came up with some other stuff.  Somehow, it started working alongside the original plan.  Now we are having fun, pursuing many interests, and I feel like I can relax a little.  If you know me, you know that means I’m still sleeping with one eye open and eating in front of the computer while I figure out our Next Big Thing.

But at least I can eat now.

something wicked

One of the things I really did throw out

(wait for it…)

was my original ideas about literature materials for this year.  I was going to have us read books related to our Asian, African, and Australian unit studies for the year.  Instead, as autumn approached, I got in the mood for some Bradbury.  If you’ve never read Something Wicked This Way Comes, holy cow, read it now in time for Halloween.  This book is spooky and intriguing from the word go (or in this case, the word First).  It’s also told mostly from the POV of two boys who are on the verge of turning 14, so it’s a great read for young boys who like a little mystery in their October.  Or girls.  Or heck, anybody.  And Bradbury… Listen, this guy knew how to form a sentence.  Sentence after sentence that sticks to your soul like honey, sweetening the way you look at the world forever.  Like this description of the two boys taking off running:

The wind flew Jim away.

A similar kite, Will swooped to follow.

Oh. Yeah.

The Littles love this book.  We have read it before.  We have no problem reading it again.  You always get something new the second time around.  The Littles completely humbled me by picking Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for their next book.  You know the Lit Mama is all about the classics, and you know I believe no one is ever too young to be introduced to them.  Since my boys have read the unabridged Robinson Crusoe, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and several other classics, I feel they are more than ready for some spooky Stevenson.  I’m pretty excited about reading it with them.

I could read Bradbury all year long, so I’m thinking it’s time for Fahrenheit 451 after our little dive into Multiple Personality World.

And you know what?  I’m not locking us down on anything.  Sure, I’ll be writing study guides all year, but I Love writing study guides.  Besides, where would I be if I couldn’t complain to all my lovely readers about how busy I am?  (I know, being busy in some other way so I could complain about it. haha)

And since I’ve talked about reading so much in this post, here’s a new free download–October Bookmarks straight from the book-lovin’ Lit Mama to you.

october bookmarksHave a great weekend, my friends.

Love wins,

KT