Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Book Review Club (September 2010)

If the Book Review Club were a person, it might be trundling off to Vegas for a gamble and a drink. Yes! It's our TWENTY-FIRST meeting!!! Oh, think of all the reviews. In fact, you can easily access previous reviews by clicking on The Book Review Club button on the header.

Today I'm reviewing THE CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne DuPrau. This is one of my little sister's favorite middle-grade books. We have very similar (good!) tastes, so I was pretty sure I'd like it. And I did. Actually, a lot of people share our taste! The proof being that this 2003 book was on the NY Times Best Seller List for several weeks, was an American Library Association, a Kirkus Editor's Pick, and the list goes on.

From, suite 101, here's the summary:

For over two hundred years, the citizens of Ember have lived in darkness, save for the great lamps and flood lights that illuminate the city by day. But now, the lights are flickering, and blackouts are occurring more often. The buildings are crumbling, and the stockpiles of food and supplies are scarce. Sooner or later, this deflating city will face eternal darkness.

Twelve-year-old Lina discovers the remains of an ancient message that was feared lost long ago. The message, left by the Builders of Ember, contains the instructions on how to escape the city. With the threat of eternal darkness looming, Lina and her friend Doon work together to decipher the message. In doing so, they discover the secrets of why and how Ember was built, and they learn that life exists outside of their darkened city—life beneath a bright blue sky.

There are many things I liked about this post-apocalyptic novel. It is perfectly paced. It is beautfully written, one of those books that seems deceptively simple to write. It is, politically, quite realistic. The prologue tells us that over a couple of hundred years ago, the Builders gave the mayor of the time a special box with a timed lock. The box contained those oh-so-important instructions for how to escape to above ground. Each mayor was supposed to pass along this box until the year it popped open. The seventh mayor attempted to hammer open the box for selfish reasons. Then he up and died before giving the box to his successor. And the box ends up in the back of a closet. Love this!

Fair warning, THE CITY OF EMBER does end on a cliff hanger. Thank goodness, I got the sequel, THE PEOPLE OF SPARKS, for my birthday. In fact, there are four books in this series.

I'm planning to get my hands on the audio for our next big road trip (Christmas?). Yes, there is a movie of this book, and, yes, it's out on DVD. But I do love a book on audio for the car.

Without further ado, please give it up for the following amazing reviews from amazing reviewers!! Please, please visit. You'll be so happy you did!


Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: NICK OF TIME by Ted Bell (middle grade)

Keri Mikulski: ELEVEN, TWELVE and THIRTEEN by Lauren Myracle (three middle grade books)

Stacy Nyikos: THE ACCIDENTAL ADVENTURES OF INDIA MCALLISTER by Charlotte Agnell (middle grade)

Sarah Laurence: THE INDIGO NOTEBOOK and THE RUBY NOTEBOOK by Laura Resau (both are young adult)

Thao of serene hours: SPIRIT BOUND by Richelle Mead (Young Adult)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: THE GOOSE GIRL by Shannon Hale (young adult, retelling of a fairy tale)


Stacy of The Cat's Meow: IN OTHER ROOMS OTHER WONDERS by Daniyal Mueenuddin (literary short stories)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE LUMBY LINES by Gail Fraser

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE GIRL WHO KICKED OVER THE HORNET'S NEST by Steig Larsson (mystery/thriller, Book #3 in the series)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: INTERRED WITH THEIR BONES by Jennifer Lee Carrell (mystery/thriller)

Scott Parker: DR. NO by Ian fleming (spy/James Bond)


Linda McLaughlin: THE FOURTH TURNING by William Strauss and Neil Howe

Jenn Jilks of My Reflections: FIFTEEN DAYS by Christie Blatchford

**Exceptional previous reviews are only a click away.**

Note to Reviewers: You know the drill.:) If I missed you, leave me a comment and I'll rectify the situation pronto. And award myself one less treat today!



  1. Wow, I love the premise! It's a literal metaphor for enlightenment. I'm putting this one on my to read list. It reminds me of The Giver, although I never heard of it. The books between my childhood and my daughter's tween years fall in that gap. Great review and happy 21!

  2. Good work, Barrie! I love your graphics. Fabulous job on your OWN books, too!

  3. That sounds so cool. Happy 21st meeting!

  4. I loved this book, too, Barrie--and highly recommend the second one. Haven't made it past that, but expect to. I love the normalcy of the kids, and the sense that Ember IS normal--to them. And you get such a sense of wonder from the discovery that there's another world up there.

    By the way, I gave you the wrong spelling for Stieg Larsson's last name. It's "o-n" not "e-n." Sorry--I wrote you in too much of a rush.

    Thanks for organizing us again this month!

  5. City of Ember sounds really good. I'll add it to my list after Mockingjay. :D

  6. I absolutely loved City of Ember. It was also one of my children's favorite.

  7. Apologies for being tardy today. My "Dr. No" review is now up.

  8. City of Ember sounds really good. Congratulations on 21 book review club posts!!

  9. Ooh, lots of reviews today! Excellent!

    I have not read the book, but I've seen the movie City of Ember and enjoyed it. I always like a book that feels as if the writing is effortless. Wish mine did. :)

  10. Sounds like an intriguing book for young adult readers and definitely an interesting book for discussion as classroom reading. Thanks for hosting our club meetings for 21 months, Barrie!

  11. This book is in my classroom library, but I haven't had a chance to enjoy it yet. Thanks for the review! :)

  12. I love the story idea but I'm not a fan of cliff hanger books, particularly if I don't know in advance. So thanks for the heads' up on that. I'm intrigued and am interested in checking it out - knowing that it's at least a 2-book deal. ;)

    Oh, and happy 21st!

  13. Interesting. I don't think I've ever seen a post-apocalyptic middle grade novel before.

  14. I loved the movie and have wanted to read the book ever since . . . guess I'll have to do that. Congratualtions on 21!

  15. Congrats on 21! I'm a fan of your book club and MY book club has read some you've reviewed!

  16. Sarah L: I think you'll love The City of Ember. Let me know what you think after you've read it. To me, it's lighter than The Giver (a book I loved as well).

    Jenn: Thank you!! And thank you, also, for fitting us in this month. I know you have a ton going on.

    Thao: Happy 21st Meeting back at you!

    Ellen: I'm sure I'll read the entire series. And thanks for the head's up re the name spelling. I'll change it. I should've noticed myself. Ooops.


Comments are always welcome!