Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I know it has been a really long time since I posted anything. Mostly because I have been busy posting these reviews for work. If you want to check out those reviews you can click on the link to KHCPL Teen Scene on my sidebar, or go to http://khcplteenscene.blogspot.com/.

That said here is my latest review. To be honest, I am not entirely sure how I feel about this book. It is a tough one to pin down. Yes I enjoyed it, but I think I want more...

Unwind Unwind by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Connor Lassiter is an AWOL Unwind. In a society that has eliminated abortion, they have a new solution to the problem of unwanted children. At the age of thirteen a child’s parents have the option of having their teen unwound. With unwinding, a child doesn’t die because all of the parts of him or her are harvested and used in other people. Connor wanted to keep his parts to himself, and decided the best way to do that was to escape.

Risa Ward grew up in Ohio State Home 23. As a ward of the state she knew she had to be exceptional in her chosen vocation. Who knew five small mistakes in a musical recital would have her on a bus to Harvest camp where she would be unwound.

Lev always knew his purpose. He was one of God’s chosen, and was willingly giving himself to God. Lev is his parent’s tithe of 1/10. They have 10 children and Lev is going to be their tithe to God. He planned to fulfill his role dutifully, until the freeway accident that killed a State Home bus driver and led an AWOL unwind and a crazy state home girl to kidnap him for their escape. Who knew that those grand plans could change in an instant?

They are three teens on the run to keep themselves whole in a world that only wants them for their parts.

Unwind by Shusterman was an interesting read. As a parent myself, I can’t believe that parents would willingly unwind their children, so the concept of unwinding is difficult for me. Once I got past that aspect of the story, it is interesting to see the society that Conner, Risa, and Lev live in. In the beginning, you have difficulty liking Connor. You can understand his reasoning for getting away, but you can’t understand why he did the things he did that got his parents to sign the unwind order. Risa is a more sympathetic narrator. Nothing she did has gotten her into this situation—she tried to be perfect, but perfection isn’t something that comes easily to humans. Lev’s ideas were the most foreign to me, I had difficulty understanding why a child would willingly become an unwind, but Lev has had his whole life to prepare. He knows his purpose in life.

This novel is shocking, violent, alarming, and thought provoking. You keep wondering throughout the novel, how did this world get so messed up that something like unwinding would become an acceptable solution? These characters and their stories are well developed. You can’t help feeling the urgency they feel and the betrayal.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is quite a bit of violence in this book and what might be considered a graphic surgical scene. There is mild language, but no sex.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Review: Need By Carrie Jones

Need (Need, #1) Need by Carrie Jones

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Need by Carrie Jones is in simplest terms Twilight meets Melissa Marr’s books Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. It is another vamp…oops…I mean fairy novel about malicious fey following a helpless girl who runs into a hunky werewolf who is the sworn enemy of the fey. Personally, I am beginning to feel the vampire, fairy, werewolf thing is becoming a bit over done in today’s teen literature, but hey—vamps, werewolves, and fairies are still selling so what do I know.

Once again we are stuck with a lack luster heroine sent away from her mother to the far north (Maine this time—at least it is on the other coast). Zara is attempting to recover from her depression over the recent death of her stepfather. At a new school she meets the resident hunk who drives a nifty mini cooper and helps her out on an ice slick parking lot.... Hmmm…. this is starting to sound familiar—icy parking lot, flashy car with a fast driver….where have I heard this story before? Add in a few malevolent stalking fairies who drink blood and voila—you have another Twilight wannabe.

I would recommend this to fans who just can’t get enough Twilight type books. It does have a somewhat interesting, though predictable story, but will definitely appeal to those who like books similar to Twilight. The character development isn’t very good, and the repetition of information gets a bit redundant at times.

Cautions for sensitive readers: The book can be a bit gory at times—especially in the descriptions of the fairy behaviors. Although there is no sex in the book, there is a mention of some characters engaging in sexual activities.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review: The Host

It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading this very long book. It was interesting and different from what I normally read, but enjoyable.

The Host The Host by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In The Host Stephenie Meyer tells the story of life on Earth after the planet has been taken over by an alien species that steals the bodies of humans. Wanderer has been placed in the body once belonging to Melanie Stryder. In most cases the host’s mind is supposed to fade away, but Melanie refuses to leave. She fights Wanderer and shows Wanderer images of the people she loves causing Wanderer to love them too. When circumstances force Wanderer to run away, she and Melanie seek refuge with an unwilling host of humans who would just as soon see them dead than shelter them. However, Melanie and Wanderer do find the man they love and seek acceptance in this unusual community of humans.

This was an extremely long book. I think Meyer’s editor could be a little more forceful, this story did not need to be over 600 pages. That said I did really enjoy this book, more so than the Twilight Series in many ways. This book made you think from time to time and ponder moralities in these unusual circumstances. Wanda is a noble character and she is admirable in many ways, but sometimes you just found yourself wishing she would act.

This book may appeal to fans of the Twilight series, but that is not a guarantee, because it is so different. Both Wanda and Melanie are likable characters, and Uncle Jeb is an interesting treat. You will find some romance in this book, but not to the same extent as the Twilight novels.

Good read for someone looking for something different and doesn’t mind the exceptional length.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is a lot of violence and violent deaths in this book. Although there is no sex in the book it is mildly alluded to. I don’t remember any foul language, but I can’t say for certain that there isn’t any.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Yippy, yippy, I'm done, I'm done! This was my last book on my list for the committee. Yes there are still others to work on, but at least my assigned list is complete with this last book. I can't believe how happy I am to have this list behind me--now I can read Catching Fire by Collins, like I have been dying to since it came out. I may have to finish The Host by Meyer first though--I have been listening to the audio in my car and it has kind of caught me up. We'll see though--at least the decision of what to read next is now in my hands and not that of a committee list! Yippy!

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being on the committees I am on and have been on in the past. They get me to read books I wouldn't normally have chosen for myself. I even sometimes discover that I really liked a particular book that I wouldn't have read on my own if I hadn't been on the committee. It helps my reader’s advisory because it forces me to read outside of the box. But any committee member who has ever been on a book award committee will tell you, when you finish with the list it is a wonderful to feel free to choose again.

What I Saw And How I Lied What I Saw And How I Lied by Judy Blundell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
What I Saw and How I Lied is at its essence a story of deception. On an impromptu trip to Florida with her mother and stepfather, Evelyn (Evie) falls in love with a young man who served with her stepfather in World War II. To Evie, Peter is perfect, handsome, smart, and polite. To her stepfather Joe, he is a threat, a reminder of what happened and what they did during the war. To her mother, Peter is an escape. Evie, Joe, and her mother all lie to each other either by omission or face to face. None of them wants to come to terms with their relationships with each other or with Peter.

Evie is a teen in a hurry to grow up. She wants to be exactly like her beautiful mother, Bev. She wants Peter to see her as a woman, not as a girl. When tragedy strikes, Evie learns that sometimes you do have to grow up fast, and sometimes you don’t like what you have to do as an adult.

In the end, I think I did enjoy this book, though I was thoroughly frustrated with the pacing. The book was too slow, and it takes you a while to get interested in what is happening. It is an interesting book in it nuances, but not my cup of tea. The book is exceptionally well written and researched. The author knows that time period very well.

The rating system for Goodreads is based on how well I liked the book not on quality. Since I only marginally enjoyed it and didn't like the pacing I give it two stars. If the rating was based on quality, I would have had to score it much higher with a score of 4.5 stars.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some sexual references and brief encounter, very little or no language, but some violence.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review: The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

One more down, one more to go for my committee reading list! Yippy!!! The only one I have left is Judy Blundell's What I Saw and How I Lied. I am so glad I am almost done. Now if I can just get though this last book!

The Last Exit to Normal The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon is the story of Ben Campbell and his life after his dad suddenly announces to Ben and his mother that he is gay. What happens tears Ben’s family apart. His mother leaves him with his dad and doesn’t look back. Ben tries to get even with his father by doing drugs and getting in trouble with the law. Finally Ben’s father and his boyfriend Edward move with Ben to Edwards’s hometown in Eastern Montana in hopes that they can get Ben away from the bad influences in his life. While there Ben learns a new way of life, and learns respect through a few knocks on the head by the incredible Miss Mae, Edward’s mother.

I really found myself enjoying this book a whole lot more than I thought I would. Although Ben was often belligerent, and sometime crude, he was a decent guy struggling to get through a very difficult situation. His life was essentially blown apart by his father’s sudden announcement, and Ben was reacting to it. It is at its essence, a story of a boy attempting to find his identity, do the right thing under difficult circumstances, and discover what kind of man he wants to be.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book was very good, but the language could be very crude at times including references to sex acts. There is some violence in this book, as one of the major subplots deals with a young neighbor boy being physically and verbally abused by his father.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Review: My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

Okay one more down and 2 more to go and I will be done with my list for the committee.

This one surprised me. I thought I wasn't going to like it, but it turned out to be a really lovely book. (More than a bit unrealistic, but lovely.) This is the way you wish high school could have been--the dreamy Disney automatic acceptance. The narrators are intelligent, nice kids, who probably act a little too adult for the age they are supposed to be portraying. All in all, this is a fun light read and makes me wish high school could have really been like this.

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some of the other reviews that I have read of this book accused the narrators of sounding too old, too alike, and too unrealistic. To me this book was like a dream. It is how high school and friends should be. This book has humor, friendship, bantering, but most importantly love. Some moments are laugh out loud funny, while others are more serious.

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park is the story of three friendships as they traverse their “most excellent year.” T.C. Keller loves Alejandra, Alejandra is best friends with Augie, Augie is a “brother” to T.C. As you can see these kids lives are heavily intertwined. This book shows how friendship is supposed to be—you should accept your friends no questions asked. It is a fun light read and even the parents are perfect.

On a more critical note, sometimes things are too perfect, but I liked that—it is nice to see things work out right in a piece of YA fiction for once. Sometimes YA fiction takes itself too seriously and there is always a lesson to be taught or issue to address. It was nice not to have that hanging over my head in this book, and to just be able to enjoy three characters who enjoy each other.

Highly recommended to teens who like a fun, light read.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is no foul language, violence, or sex in this book. One of the most charming characters in the book is just discovering that he is homosexual and dealing with his first crush.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels

One down, and three to go. Unfortunately these are the three that I am least excited about reading. Nothing to do but put my nose to the grindstone and keep on reading!

Genesis Alpha Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Josh and his brother Max have always been close. He was born to save Max’s life when cancer was killing him. Josh admires his brother and is similar to him in many ways. They look similar, they both share an interest in the same online video game, Genesis Alpha, they even meet online to play while Max is in college. Until one day when Max doesn’t show up in Genesis Alpha, and Josh finds out it is because his brother has been arrested for the brutal murder of a college girl. Josh can’t believe that his older brother could commit such a heinous crime, but as fact come forward Josh learns that everything isn’t always how it appears.

This book was a page turner. It hooks you from the beginning and draws you though the novel at breakneck pace. It raises some interesting ethical questions, and might make for an interesting book discussion. Josh is a likable character and you can see how he struggles with the idea that the brother he loves could be a vicious killer.

This book is well written and highly enterataining. I would recommend it to readers who like mysteries and thrillers. I especially found Rachel’s character interesting, and perhaps one of the scariest characters in the book.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some violence in the book, but no sex. I don’t remember any foul language in the book.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yippy!!! Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)
Just picked up Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins at the bookstore over lunch! I can't wait to start reading it. Maybe tonight I can set aside a little time to start. I have been waiting so long for this book to come out, I am so excited!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Another one ticked off my book list. I have four more left to finish before the end of September, Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels, Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon, My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger, and What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. Unfortunately, it looks like most of them (not all of them) are realistic fiction, which isn't my favorite genre, but I guess that is the point of being on a committee-- to read things I normally wouldn't choose for myself. Once this list is done though, I can't wait to read what I want. I don't know what my first book will be--probably Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Catching Fire comes out tommorrow--it may be read before others on the list though, because I can't wait to read it. It is the long awaited sequel to Hunger Games which I loved last year. I just have to finish this list soon!

Stealing Heaven Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Danielle has been stealing since she was a child, and she is good at it. She and her mother have wandered from town to town, never making any permanent attachments, stealing from the wealthiest homes and moving on. It worked well for them, until Dani discovers that she wants more.

Dani, despite being a thief, is a very likable character. Her mother is a master manipulator, who you are sometimes left wondering, who she really cares for and does she really care for Dani. The characters are well developed and likable and the dialogue and banter between characters is often humorous—sometimes even laugh out loud funny.


Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some language, and some sex, although there are no graphic descriptions.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Book Review: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Well, I finally got around to finishing this one. I have had so much to do lately I just kept putting it on the backburner. Yesterday I sat down and decided I was going to find out how this series ends. It was worth it!

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the final book in this wonderful series Percy Jackson must finally lead the other demi-gods against Kronos to save Olympus from the evil influence of the Titans.

I loved this series from start to finish. Riordan is a wonderful author and knows how to keep a series interesting. Each book was filled with wonderful friendships, surprising twists and turns, and a healthy dose of humor.

Highly recommended! (Especially for fans of Harry Potter who don’t know what to read next.)

Cautions for sensitive readers: Only cautions for this book would be the violence, but since it is intended for a middle school audience it doesn’t have any other cautions.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009


Well, the cats have been gone for about a week and a half, and Zachy seems to be doing better with his allergies. He did wake me up coughing last night, but his sinus problems seem to be going away. Keep your fingers crossed.

I will be glad when I am done reading all the books for the committee I am on. I don't know what I will do when I can read something that I choose for myself--what a novelty that would be. On the otherhand, I have read some really good books this year, some that have surprised me.

AirmanAirman by Colfer was my favorite so far and I admit this is not one I would have read on my own.

Wildwood DancingWildwood Dancing by Marillier was better than I thought it would be, and I really enjoyed it despite the slow start.

Jellicoe RoadJellicoe Road by Marchetta surprised me, and I really did enjoy it, but it was another with a slow start.

There were many others that I enjoyed, and only a couple that were real disappointments (Thaw by Roe).

And of course there are many books that just fell in between.

Despite being stuck to a reading list the committee is good because at least I do read a variety of books. Still, I can't wait to be reading on my own again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cats! and other stuff

I have two adorable cats, but unfortunately my son is now allergic to them and we have to find them a new home. I wish I could say this was an easy task, but unfortunately no one seems to want any more pets lately. I know I will miss them, but if it will get the baby off of all his allergy medicine, what choice do I have? I can't imagine living without them though. I grew up with cats so saying good bye is going to be rough. It also seems like the ASPCA is out to get me. Ever since I made the decision to get rid of them, I have seen all these commercials about pets needing love and homes and it makes me feel so guilty--I don't know how they get those kitties to look so sad but they all do.

On another note, I am currently reading Airman Eoin Colfer and I love it! Swashbuckling adventure, flying machines, prisons, injustice, and romance. It is kind of the Count of Monte Cristo with a nobler hero and flying machines. It is wonderful. I just hope it ends as well!

Book Review: Thaw by Monica M. Roe

Thaw Thaw by Monica Roe

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
First let me say that my dislike of this book is no reflection on the author’s abilities or skills. In fact, I found her writing style appealing. The story has a fascinating premise, a young man is sent to a rehab hospital in Florida to regain the use of his body after suffering from Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome. Her depictions of the syndrome were interesting as were many of her characters, with the exception of one character—our main character Dane.

Dane is an extremely caustic narrator. He is self centered and selfish, and cares for no one but himself. Although he begins to “thaw” throughout the course of the book, I found it difficult reading about this highly intelligent teen with the emotional capacity of a computer. For instance, after one of his ski teammates injures himself in a meet, Dane states that he wishes we humans were like the rest of the animal kingdom and followed Darwin’s survival of the fittest. He says, “Why can’t we just cull out the dead weight so the rest of us can achieve the way we’re meant to?” He later goes on to show that his only interest is in himself and winning when he says “In spite of Forrester’s crap, I think we’ll still win this one.” Dane shows no concern for his injured teammate, and it is ironic that he ends up being the one that becomes dead weight that others have to help to survive.

As Dane struggles to regain the use of his body, he does begin to soften and become a little more considerate, but still for the most part he is obnoxious.

The book is well written, but I found a difficult read because I didn’t like Dane. It will find it s audience, but it definitely isn’t me.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some sex (although nothing explicit) and foul language are present in this book.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer ***SPOILER WARNING*** This review does contain spoilers.

Life As We Knew It (Moon, #1) Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a difficult book for me to review. In many ways I enjoyed the book immensely, and up until I finished the book I probably would have given it four stars. The ending, however, really pulled that rating down, and my rating would have been lower, if not for the fact that the rest of the book was so strong.

Life as We Knew It is the story of Miranda and her family’s fight to survive after an asteroid knocks the moon into an orbit closer to the earth. The change in the moon’s orbit results in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and eventually the complete blockage of the sun. Survivors are left without easy access to food, gas, heating oil, and electricity. It because a fight for survival.

A few things bothered me about this book. First, Miranda’s age was hard to pinpoint. I know that they say she is 16 and a sophomore in high school, but her voice and actions seemed more like that of a middle schooler than a teen in high school. Some people may disagree with me on this, but I really did feel like I was reading about a younger teen than Miranda was supposed to be.

The second thing that bothered me about this novel is as I said the ending. Pfeffer had a convincing story going here until everything got neatly resolved at the end. This ending did not feel natural and left a lot of loose ends. For example, where did the food and the gas to power the snowmobile come from? How are they going to get food in the future—growing it isn’t an option since the sun has been blocked out, and given those circumstances even the animals will start dying off. Processing food will be difficult too due to the lack of power. I just couldn’t buy this ending. I love a happy ending as much as anyone. In fact when I choose to read a book, I often try to choose ones that will end well, but it didn’t feel right with the story Pfeffer was telling here. It felt tacked on.

The third thing that bothered me was the description of religion in the book. I believe she could have told the story well, without painting religion in such a negative light. Or at the very least she could have counterbalanced this perspective on religion with a healthier one. I think anyone who reads this will understand that she was describing an extremist view, but it would have been nice to have that counterbalanced with a healthier perspective.

Finally, you can see political leanings in this book, and I understand that often books subtly include these, but in a few instances I almost felt like I was thrown out of the story by them.

As I said, a few things bothered me, but there are some very good points to the book. This story had a way of enveloping the reader into its’ world. I often felt as if I and my family were living through this disaster and struggling to survive. This realism is actually why I finally decided to award this book three stars. Maybe it is the current situation with the economy, gas prices, and even the layoffs at work that made this book get to me so, but I can’t count the number of times while I was reading that I was also thinking about stocking up on my pantry and getting more bottled water. It was kind of creepy trying to leave behind the setting of the book. A story that can pull you in and make you believe is definitely worth three stars.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book does contain some mild language and violence. It is a struggle for the characters to survive and their world has become a hostile place. There is no sex, but there are some references to it.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Book Review: How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler

How Sweet It Is How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Deena Livingston almost died in a car accident with her fiancé in Atlanta, Georgia. Now several months later she is still reeling from the accident, the news that her fiancé was cheating on her, and attempting to hide the scars from the accident. She decides to leave Atlanta for her Grandfather’s cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. Her Grandfather, has left her his cabin in his will with one condition; she must teach cooking to the middle school students at The Center. There she finds kids who are as scarred as she is and the patience to work with them.

I love the cooking aspects of this book—I wish there were more fiction books like this about chefs. I loved many of the characters in this book. They have all lost something yet fight to go on. Jonas, the plumber, has to be my favorite character. He accepts people as they are with faults and all. The book is published by Bethany House and is definitely Christian fiction. It is not preachy, but still manages to convey the message of faith and hope.

Well written and entertaining.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Marcelo, a teen on the high functioning end of autism/Asberger's Syndrome, had planned to spend his summer working with the Haflinger ponies at his school, Paterson. Instead, he ends up working for his father’s law firm in the mail room in order to earn the right from his father to choose where he wants to go to school next year. His father wants him in a regular high school, while Marcelo wants to go back to Paterson. After years of being protected from the real world at Paterson, Marcelo must learn to navigate the complexities of everyday life at the law firm.

Marcelo is a likeable character, who is often mistaken for being dumb because of his condition. It is despicable how some of the people at the law firm treat him and attempt to use him, especially Wendell. Despite the belief that he is less intelligent because of his condition, we know Marcelo to be a highly intelligent and thoughtful narrator. He thinks things through, often in great detail, something we could all learn from. This intelligence is evident from the very beginning of the novel.

The issues in Marcelo in the Real World are many and complex. Interpersonal relationships are hard for Marcelo to understand, and it is interesting watching his development, as he makes more and more sense of the world around him. His special interest in religion gives him the ability to determine what is the right and moral course for his actions and his life. As the summer progresses Marcelo becomes stronger in character and his skills at reading people continue to develop.

This was a wonderful book, both interesting and complex with a completely likeable narrator in Marcelo. Definitely a must read. Highly recommended.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Review: Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum, #15) Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have to say I love this series and it never ceases to amaze me how many humorous situations Stephanie Plum can get herself into. The supporting characters, including her family, Lula, and even her skips are always interesting and well developed. After fifteen books, there are few surprises, but I still find everything enjoyable.

In Finger Lickin' Fifteen, Stephanie’s friend Lula is the sole witness to the murder of celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle and becomes a target for his murderers. Meanwhile, Ranger enlists Stephanie’s help with a security problem at Rangeman. And to add some spice, Morelli and Stephanie are on the outs due to a dispute over peanut butter, leaving Stephanie in Ranger’s crosshairs. The fun has just begun.

Evanovich has created a winning series with Stephanie Plum. She sticks true to what has made her successful; quirky characters, humorous situations, inept criminals (and bounty hunters), and the now traditional and always inventive car demolition. Even with the predictability, I find myself anxiously awaiting the next installment. She has simply created a series I can’t get enough of. I can’t wait to see what is in store for number 16!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweethearts Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jennifer Harris created a new life for herself after the death of her best friend Cameron Quick in elementary school. He was her only friend and confidant. She was an outcast, overweight, and picked on. After her mother remarries, Jennifer recreates herself. She changes her name to Jenna Voughn, loses the weight, and resolves never to cry at school again. Until the day Cameron Quick returns to her life and everything begins to unravel. Who is she really Jenna Voughn or Jennifer Harris? And how can she face the secrets of her childhood now that Cameron is back.

This book was an interesting read. The characters are well developed and the story is paced nicely. I can’t say that this book was a favorite though, because I am not sure how I feel about the main character, Jenna. She is a contradiction, and very hard to peg. Parts of her are still Jennifer Harris, while she struggles to be Jenna Voughn. It irritated me when she began to fall back into the old bad habits she had as a child, stealing and overeating, mostly because I couldn’t understand why she was doing it. Maybe for comfort, but then again maybe not. I would say the stealing bothered me the most, because there was no reason for her to do it…she wasn’t stealing because she needed to, she stole because she could and given the rest of her character that didn’t make sense to me. I guess it is one way of showing the reader that they can’t know Jenna Voughn because she doesn’t know herself.

Overall, I did like the book but I wouldn’t say it was a favorite—mostly because of my frustration with the main character. It is realistic though in the sense that people tend to fall in and out of our lives and they do make an impression on us.

Recommended for older teens who enjoy realistic fiction.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some language and verbal abuse by a parent, but no violence.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Keeping the Moon Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sixteen year old Colie is used to being picked on. At her school she is commonly known as “hole in one,” due to a malicious rumor that one of her adversaries spread around the school. This summer, Colie is traveling to Colby, North Carolina where she will stay with her eccentric aunt Mira. There she will find friends and a job in a place that isn’t familiar with her past.

I love Sarah Dessen’s books. She has a knack for writing realistic teen characters and situations. We have all been Colie at one time or another, picked on for what we looked like or who we were. Dessen’s characters remind me of that time, but these teens find hope. Although there are a few aspects of the story that are now a little dated (i.e. Cassette tapes, and a walkman) the story is still relevant. It explores a teen’s search for identity and the friends she makes along the way.

This is a great book and still very relevant. Highly recommended!

Cautions for sensitive readers: There are some references to sex in this book, although nothing is depicted. Violence is not present, but there may be some mild language, although I am not recalling any at the time of this review.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really don’t know where to start with this book, and my feelings about it are a bit confused. Did I like the book? Yes, definitely. Did I like the setting? Yes. Did I like the main character? I think so, although this could require more though. Did I like the plot? Hmm…this is where it gets more difficult. The events in the plot and the pranks the Loyal Order plays were amusing and ingenious, but my plotting dilemma goes back to the main character Frankie. At moments I think I like her, while at others I don’t think I do. I know—I need to make up my mind!

Frankie Landau-Banks is a sophmore at Alabaster Preparatory Academy, a boarding school, once attended by her father and his friends. Known to her family as Bunny Rabbit, Frankie longs to show people who she really is. Frankie knows she is not Bunny Rabbit, but she can’t make anyone else see that. Her father and his friends were once members of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a secret society that often played pranks on the grounds of the academy. After locating the secret history of the Order, entitled “The Disreputable History of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds,” Frankie concocts a plan to get people, including her senior boyfriend Matthew who sees her only as an adorable girl, to see her for her own genius and ambition.

I could understand Frankie’s plight. Her intelligence and even her worthiness are sometimes questioned in her male run society. She felt the need to prove herself and her intelligence to everyone around her. The problem was the manner in which she decides to do this. Instead of confronting the issue head on for fear of rejection by her boyfriend and his friends she decides to trick and use the people around her to prove her point on a larger scale. When it isn’t obvious that she is the culprit or people don’t interpret her message, she gets angry. On one side I understand what she is saying, on the other hand, she is not a very good friend and uses people.

This book was well written and entertaining. A good read. One I think teen girls may enjoy and appreciate.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Book Review: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Bloodhound (Beka Cooper, Book 2) Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have to say this book was worth the wait. I have been a Tamora Pierce fan for years, but this book has to be one of her best. I have never been a fan of prequels, so when I saw that Tamora Pierce was going back in time to write about a relative of George and Alanna's, I was a bit apprehensive. However, when I first read Terrier, I was quite pleased and looking forward to what would come with Bloodhound. Although The Song of the Lioness Quartet will always be my favorite series, I believe that Pierce’s storytelling improves with every new book.

Bloodhound was gripping to the point where I didn’t want to stop reading it. The story drew me in and kept on going. Some reviewers have complained about the lack of certain favorite characters in the story such as Pounce or Tunstall, but I think it was nice to see what Beka could do without those characters there to bail her out. Beka grew both as a dog, and as a character in this novel. It was interesting to see how Beka would operate in a different city, and it brought out new sides to her character, making her more human.

I would highly recommend this book to Tamora Pierce fans and girls who love fantasy. My only hope is that we don’t have to wait quite so long for Mastiff.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book Review: Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain LP The Art of Racing in the Rain LP by Garth Stein

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'll admit, I have trouble with books featuring animals that talk--I honestly don't even like them in the kids books. Silly I know. This book is original because it is an adult book told from a dog's point of view.

Enzo is a very unique dog, he thinks, he is intelligent, and extremely loyal to his master, Denny. Enzo is ready to die, he has lived a long life, and served his master well. He believes that he will be reincarnated as a man, and eagerly looks forward to that life. But on the eve of his death, the story he tells is Denny's too. Denny falls in love with a woman named Eve, who Enzo both loves and is jealous of. When tragedy strikes, Enzo stands by Denny and tries to help him through the most difficult time in his life.

The book is well written and told from an interesting point of view. It however, isn't my type of book. I can see how this book will have broad appeal to dog lovers, and realistic fiction lovers, but since I am a cat person who prefers fantasy I guess this one isn't for me. Despite that, it is interesting to have a dogs-eye view of events and the story itself is appealing. I think many will like this book.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
First off, let me say that this wasn't high on my priority list to read, but working in a library sometimes you get assigned reading. I was given a choice of titles to read and this one sounded intriguing. In the end I am glad I read this book because it made me think about how I can change my life and my eating habits.

At first I didn't like the book much. I thought the author was being a bit pushy and overbearing. Her project was to go a year eating only locally grown vegetables and foods. I admit this is something that never crossed my consciousness before reading this book. Her goal was to reduce her family’s carbon footprint by buying foods that were grown closer to home and didn’t require the fuel that transports our store bought fruits and vegetables across the country.

In the beginning, I felt the book was a bit preachy and it made me feel bad because I love my out of season tomatoes—yes I know they are not as good as homegrown, but they are an adequate substitute when you don’t have the opportunity to have homegrown. I don’t like books that beat you down for the way you live, or in this case the way you eat. I don’t mind books that introduce a new way of thinking or attempt to educate, but at first I felt like she was saying that her way is right and my life is wrong. When I mentioned my frustration to my husband, he helpfully pointed out that our family reduces its carbon footprint in different ways. We have fuel efficient cars, have replaced all conventional lighting with compact fluorescents, we recycle, etc… After that I began to understand that this was her way, and while it may not be perfect for me I could learn from her ideas and apply the ones that work to my own life if I choose.

Once I got past that first hurdle, I began to enjoy the book. She has some really good ideas, and I loved the descriptions of her gardening, canning, harvesting, and of course the turkeys. I found the book informative, and it has made me eager to check out our own farmer’s market to see what we have available locally. She mentioned some failures in the end that made me wish she had mentioned them sooner—it would have eased the feeling that she was telling me that this is the only way to do this.

In the end, I would highly recommend this book. It did frustrate me, but I learned something and even got a couple of chuckles out of her exploits. I think I would like to try making my own mozzarella cheese and I think I want to try planting a tomato plant or two this year. (I don’t expect much from the tomato plants—I’ve killed every plant I have ever owned.)

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Book Review: O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King

O Jerusalem (Mary Russell Series, #5) O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
O Jerusalem the fifth book in the Mary Russell Series actually takes place during the events of the first book The Beekeeper's Apprentice. The story fills in the events that occurred when Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell are forced to leave England to escape the mysterious person who has been pursuing them. During their escape from England they land in Israel, and find themselves caught in the middle of another mystery. Forced in to the company of prickly Ali and Mahmoud, Mycroft-s "spies" in the Holy Land, they try to piece together the puzzle concerning the deaths of other agents.

This book was a fun read. It was nice to see Holmes and Russell in new surroundings, and to see Russell prove herself to the men around her. For most of the book, Russell is disguised as an Arab boy. A good mystery.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Book Review: Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl, Book 1) Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
First a disclaimer...Please keep in mind, the number of stars for this book is a rating of whether I liked it or not, I am not rating the author or the people who do enjoy these books. To be honest, this book isn't my cup of tea. I am a diehard fantasy fan, and would, in most cases, prefer that to any other genre. In the case of Gossip Girl I will loosely refer to it as realistic fiction. Which is definitely not one of my favorite genres, with few exceptions.

That said, I really didn’t like this book. I didn’t like the drinking, the drugs, the casual sex, the gossip, and in my opinion Chuck should be locked up for the safety of women everywhere. It was like a self indulgent tabloid of the life and times of the young, the rich, and the famous. The designer labels, and booze, and outlandish behavior, did not impress me, in fact I found the book disgusting on a whole.

On the other hand, I can understand the appeal of the books. There are teens who want to read about how the other half lives, without any serious parental oversight, and with wild parties. It is in its very essence gossip and many teens will appreciate this type of escapist literature. As I said earlier, my preference for escapist literature was for fantasy, but I know many teens who appreciate and enjoy literature that is more realistic in nature. Also with the popularity of shows like Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives, and now even the Gossip Girl TV show, I can see the draw. Not one I will recommend, but to each his own.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This is the first time that I have ever said this, but I would not recommend this book to a sensitive reader. There is sex, drugs, alcohol, and yes some language.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, Book 1) Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Glass Houses is the first book in the Morganville Vampire series. When scholastically brilliant Claire Danvers sets off for college in Morganville, Texas, she gets more than she bargained for. Claire quickly makes an enemy of one of the most popular girls in the dorm and finds her life in danger because of this girl. After leaving the dorms, Claire finds a home in Glass House with three mysterious roommates who are willing to risk their own lives to keep her safe. In Glass House, the mystery of Morganville and its vampire heritage are slowly revealed.

Although vampire fiction is not usually my favorite genre, I have to admit that this book was a fairly quick read. As a librarian, I was disappointed in the lack of professional reviews for this book or this series. I could have used them since people were requesting that we purchase the books.

It is a fast read, and not a bad one either. Is it original or profound, no, but it was an enjoyable read and a good light vampire story. It is definitely meant to be read as a series, and ends with a cliff hanger that will have you dying for the next book. Recommend this to teens looking for the next vampire read. Entertaining.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book contains a lot of violence and profanity is used in some of the more extreme situations. As of yet, there is no sex in the series, but I can not say what will happen in the later books.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Still Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I am still reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore. It seems to be a very good book, I unfortunately haven't had much time to spend reading it lately. I have a number of books I have to read, and not enough time. Most of my must reads are for work, so I have to get to those first.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

It has been a while since I updated this. I have been reading, but I haven't had much time to finish anything. I really enjoyed this book, and it definately deserves the Printz Award!

Jellicoe Road Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I will freely admit that I didn’t really get hooked on this book until I was over a hundred pages in. In fact, this is a book I have picked up and started several times before and ended up putting it down. I think the only way I got through it this time is because I made a commitment to read it, and I am so glad I did. Jellicoe Road is a story about tragedy and triumph, family and friends, hope and loss. It tells the story of two families, the Markham’s and the Schroeder’s, and their lives on the Jellicoe Road.

Our primary narrator for the novel is Taylor Markham, who was abandoned by her mother at a 7-eleven on Jellicoe Road when she was 11 years old. As Taylor reluctantly accepts a leadership role at her school and leads the war against the townies and cadets, she also starts down a path of self discovery, where she discovers her own history and who she really is.

Nothing in this novel is as it seems and it takes quite a while for the pieces of the puzzle to begin to fall into place. Once you get to that part, though, it becomes nearly impossible to put the book down. Highly recommended.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some profanity in the book and some sexual situations. There is also a violent car accident that is referred to with some graphic depictions.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review: The Moor by Laurie R. King

Wow! I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted something. I have been so busy updating pages for work that, I forget about my own. I have been noticing that I have been spending a lot of my personal time updating the library webpages. Oh well, I want them to do well and be fun.

Here is my latest review. I finally got a chance to re-read Laurie R. King's The Moor. I love her books and her heroine Mary Russell. I can't wait for her new book to come out, The Language of Bees.

The Moor (Mary Russell Series, #4) The Moor by Laurie R. King

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mary Russell and her husband, the famous Sherlock Holmes, return to the setting of his most famous case (Dartmoor and Baskerville Hall) to solve a new mystery plaguing the moor. Once more a ghostly dog is prowling the moor accompanied this time with Lady Howard’s ghostly carriage.

Called to Devonshire and Dartmoor by the ailing Squire of Lew Trenchard, Sabine Baring-Gould, Holmes and Russell investigate the death of a moor man, and try to figure out what exactly is happening out on the moor. Only Holmes and Russell can get to the bottom of this ghostly mystery.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Review: Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

I finally got around to typing up the review for this one. It took me a while to get into the mood I guess. Part of it was I didn't know what I wanted to say--I liked the book, but that isn't enough for a review. So here it finally is:

Ink Exchange Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr is the second book in what could be called the Wicked Lovely series. Although reading Wicked Lovely first would give you more insight to the world, I believe both novels can stand alone.

I have to admit that I didn’t like this book as well as I liked Wicked Lovely. While Wicked Lovely is what I would call a dark fantasy (or the more modern term urban fantasy), it wasn’t nearly as dark as Ink Exchange. This book dealt with many addictions, and the answers presented in the book were not clear cut. I guess it is a more accurate reflection of the world in that sense, but I have to admit a fondness for nice tidy endings in my fiction.

After a slow start, the story of Leslie and her tattoo begins to pick up. Niall, a fairy sworn to the Summer Court, is assigned to protect Leslie, but he is unable to protect her from her choices that lead her into the grasp of the king of the Dark Court. This novel has a much more gritty feel than Wicked Lovely, but it does begin to appeal to you later in the book.

While I don’t believe reading Ink Exchange will be necessary to understand Marr’s next book Fragile Eternity (due out 4/28/09) which will pick up where Wicked Lovely left off with Aislinn and Seth, I think it offers interesting insight in to the world of fairy courts that may be beneficial to the readers.

Recommend this to fans of Wicked Lovely, dark fantasy, and urban fantasy.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book is definitely written for older teens. There is sex, drug additions, and a mention of the main character’s rape before the events of this book. There is also violence among the fairies.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Review: Neptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin

Neptune's Children Neptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
It happened when they were at the Isles of Wonder, designed to be the “ultimate theme park.” For them it would soon be their home.

When a mysterious, genetically engineered virus kill all the adults and older teens, the younger teens, children, and infants, have to find a way to live in a world with no parents or any other adult. They have to recreate their own world and new lives. For Josh and his little sister Maddie this means creating their new life where the old one had abruptly ended in the Isles of Wonder Amusement Park.

As the older kids come to terms with the tragedy, they begin to organize and follow the charismatic Milo who steps up as the leader of the Isles along with a core group of kids who volunteer to help him. They create borders and try to protect the Isles from those from the outside who would try to steal what the surviving islanders have. As time progresses, Josh, his new friend Zoe and some of the other islanders begin to wonder if there are other reasons the core insists that they shouldn’t venture out of the Isles.

This novel was terrifying. In a sense it was a modern Lord of the Flies. The thought of infants and small children suddenly left to be raised by older brothers and in some cases complete strangers was a difficult concept. At the same time it was a book that was very hard for me to put down. I had to know what would happen next. I recommend this to anyone who likes books about survival, dystopian futures, or is looking for a quick read.

Cautions for sensitive readers: In the very beginning of this book all the adults die and the kids have to organize the burials for all of the dead while this is not explicitly described it is referred to. There is also violence in this novel. As the teens get older they do form families, and some sex is referred to although there are no explicit details.

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Finished Neptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin and Ink Exchangeby Melissa Marr

Well I finally finished Neptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin and Ink Exchangeby Melissa Marr. I hope to have the reviews done later today, but I haven't really had much of a desire or chance to write them. It has been an interesting day at the library--the fire alarm went off at about 12:45 and we all got about a 10 minute parking lot break. Since then it has been a little difficult to sit down and focus on what needs to be done. Maybe I will have better luck this evening. I do have to say that I liked both of the books, but they need some thinking about.

I started Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. It seems interesting, but some of it is so poetic and stream of consciousness that I lose track of what the narrator is saying. It seems like it may be a good book though, once I get into it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still Reading

I know it has been a while since I last posted something. I have been busy attempting to learn a glut of new technology--new to me at least. The library is social networking now and I get the chance to try it all out. It is interesting, but many of the sites are so different in the way they are formatted you really have to think about what you are doing.

I am still reading Melissa Marr's Ink Exchange. It started out a little slow--I wasn't sure I was going to like it. Now that I am getting towards the end I can't wait to find out what happens to Leslie. At first I thought I liked Wicked Lovely her first book better, but I may change that opinion. The jury is still out though until I get to the end. Endings so often have the ability to change a book you thought you really liked into one you hate. I guess I will just have to finish it to find out which one this will be.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finally Finished Paper Towns by John Green ***Review May Contain Spoilers***

Well, I finally finished Paper Towns by John Green. I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. It was fun, and funny, and I couldn't wait to get to the end.

Paper Towns Paper Towns by John Green

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Let me start off by saying, I loved this book. It had a very likable narrator in Quentin Jacobsen (Q), and very well developed characters.

When Margo Roth Spiegelman show up a Q's window late at night and dressed all in black, Q knows something big is going on. She enlists him in an all night campaign of revenge against some of their classmates. Q thinks this might be his chance to reconnect with Margo, but she runs off the next day leaving him some very cryptic clues. While Q and his friends Ben and Radar try to find the missing Margo Roth Spiegelman, they actually find out more about themselves and their lives along the way.

There were moments that were laugh out loud funny. But my favorite part of the book has to be the road trip, with all the wild antics and the crazy wardrobes.

A must read. I found this book very enjoyable, and the characters well drawn and likable. Highly recommended.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book does use some foul language in parts. There is actually references to sex and sexual acts and organs--these are not descriptive, but they are there. There is also some drinking in the novel. There isn't much violence in the novel, although there is some bullying.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Review of The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce

The Realms of the Gods (Immortals, Book 4) The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I just finished reading The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce for the umpteenth time. I have to say this is one of my favorite books and a very good comfort read. It is the 4th book in the Immortals series and concludes the series quite nicely.

On one of the great holidays Daine and Numair are sent to fight some monsters called skinners. They are pulled from a battle they were losing into the realms of the gods by Daine's mother Sarra and her father the god Weiryn. Trapped in the Divine realms, both seek to return to help their friends fight against those who want to harm those they love in Tortall. But the fighting in Tortall is just the tip of the iceberg. Chaos, a goddess imprisoned by her brothers and sisters, the great gods, is trying to break free so she can consume the world. This story is action packed. Definately a great read!

Cautions for sensitve readers: No foul language. There is violence and battles. Some nudity, but no sex (although sex is mentioned).

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce

Emperor Mage (Immortals, Book 3) Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
It has taken me a while to get back to this series, although I have to say it is one that I love. I haven't wanted to write a review for it though, because it wasn't fresh in my mind.

This book is the 3rd book in the Immortals series. Daine and her friends from Tortall travel to Carthak to attempt make peace with the powerful southern neighbor. Daine accompanies her friends in order to heal the Emperor of Carthak's sick birds. She is under strict orders to behave herself, but the gods, who are angry and Carthak and their Emperor Ozorne have something else in mind.

This was a facinating look at another country in the Tortall universe and a new batch of characters. I almost wish that Tamora Pierce would write a series based in Carthak. Highly recommended.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Violence and war, no sex, no foul language.

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Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce

Wolf-speaker (Immortals, Book 2) Wolf-speaker by Tamora Pierce

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I finally had a chance to reread this book, so now it get a review. I love Tamora Pierce's books set in the Tortall universe. I love revisiting characters from her previous series and seeing how their lives have changed since the series.

This is the second book in the Immortals series. While I loved the first book, I found this one a little tedious. I didn't like how close minded Daine was during this novel--it almost seemed out of character at times.

Of the series this is my list favorite, but it is still worth reading. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the book, but it served more as a stepping stone for Daine than a continuation of the series.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Violence, some nudity (when Daine shapechanges, and changes back she doens't have clothes--nothing is described it is just mentioned), no sex, and no foul language that would mean anything to anyone in the real world.

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Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

Wild Magic (Immortals, Book 1) Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I refuse to do reviews for books that I haven't read recently. I don't want the reviews to be inaccurate, but since I recently reread this book, I feel it is time that it had a review.

Of all of Tamora Pierce's series, I think this one is quickly becoming my favorite. The first series I ever read by her was the Song of the Lioness Quartet, and I loved it, but Immortals is gaining ground.

After running away from her small mountain village after her family is murdered by bandits, Daine, takes a job with Onua the horsemistress of the Queens Riders and travels to Tortall where she begins to develop her own unique brand of magic that allows her to connect to animals. This book brings back many familiar characters from the first series Song of the Lioness Quartet, but it is easily a stand alone novel. You will definately want to find out more about Daine in the other novels of the series.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book in the series doesn't have anything sexually explicit in it. There is some violence in this book, and battles. The language in this book is suitable for middle school readers--the swearing in the book are not swear words that people would use in the real world. For instance most of the swear words or swearing refers to the names of gods or goddessses in the fantasy for instance "Mithros".

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Vacation...Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich and Relaxing Reads

I have been on vacation the past week and despite having to chase a one-year old around the house I did get some reading done. Since I mostly wanted to relax I did a lot of rereading--Tamora Pierce's Immortals Series. I wanted some comfort reads during my vacation and those fit the bill. I have to say I love them. I also did some adult reading since I haven't read an adult book in a while. I picked up Evanovich's Plum Spooky and found it very enjoyable.

Plum Spooky (A Stephanie Plum Between the Numbers/Holiday Novel, #4) Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series--they are often hilarious and just plain fun reads. However, I am not a big fan of her between the numbers books--I have trouble with the mystical qualities that these books seem to center around. That said, I did enjoy this one very much--unlike the previous Between-the-Numbers books, the supernatural elements didn't bother me so much and I was able to let go and enjoy the fun of this novel. A good book.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Still Reading

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I am still reading. It is taking me longer because everyone in the family is sick--including me. Nothing like a 102.4 degree fever to put a damper on your reading enthusiasm.

I have taken a temporary break from teen fiction to read Janet Evanovich's Plum Spooky. I love her Stephanie Plum books they are hilarious, and I could use a little cheering up. I have started The House of Dies Drear, but I am not sure that I have the patience for that one. I am hoping for some light fun reading for now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak **May Contain Spoilers**

I have finally finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Below you will find my review. This is one book that I am very glad that I read. For some reason I kept putting off reading, finding excuses to put in on the back-burner while I read something else. This has to be the best book I have read in ages.

The Book Thief The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I think about this book all I can say is WOW! This book was intense. I read reviews of other reviewers, who thought that this book was slow, and were unable to finish the book. I have to say that it is well worth the time and effort it took to get through it.

The Book Thief is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who is sent to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann. The story is narrated by Death, a somewhat distant character until you get to know him. Death is intrigued by Liesel's story and what happens in her life. He first meets Liesel when her brother dies on the way to the Hubermann's. What follows is the story of a poor German family trying to live through WWII. Liesel Meminger's foster parents are good people in a bad time, and do not agree with the Nazi party. Over time Liesel comes to love her foster parents, and makes friends on Himmel Street where they live. It tells the story of both the good time and the bad, and shows Liesel strength to confront both.

It is a touching story of a young girl who steals books, and finds life in reading them. The ending is heartbreaking, but definitely a wonderful read. Highly recommended!

Cautions for Sensitive Readers: There is a lot of foul language in the book, but no sex (although there is a brief story about Rudy being naked). There is some violence. This story takes place during WWII and the Nazi regime is present--there are whippings of Jews and of Liesel's foster father when he offers a Jew a piece of bread. Liesel too is beaten when she tries to save her Jewish friend Max as he is marched to the Dachau concentration camp. Some fighting and bombings.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review--**Far From You** by Lisa Schroeder

Far from You Far from You by Lisa Schroeder

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Alice, named after the character from Alice in Wonderland is still realing from the death of her mother. Her father has remarried and has had a baby with his new wife. Alice feels like he is pushing her away and that she isn't part of the family. She resents her stepmother and the new baby and struggles to come to terms with the death of her own mother.

Alice expresses her feelings in her music and to her boyfriend Blaze, but feels largely misunderstood by her father, stepmother, and even her best friend, Claire. When disaster strikes April has to learn to rely on her new stepmother and her faith to see herself through, and learn to let go of her painful past.

This novel written in verse is well written. It is a quick and enjoyable read with well developed characters. It should appeal to fans of Lurlene McDaniel and teens who like a story about finding hope in tragedy.

Cautions for Sensitive Readers: There is some foul language in this book, but it isn't overdone. Alice and her boyfriend talk about having sex and even go to a hotel, but when Alice says no, her boyfriend respects her decision. The situation is handled well. There is no violence in this book

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Still Reading "The Book Thief"

I took some time off this weekend to read Emily Whitman's Radiant Darkness. It was an enjoyable read and a nice departure from the intensity of The Book Thief. Radiant Darkness is due out in May--I can't wait to get it for the library and to see what other reviewers thought.

Review "Radiant Darkness" by Emily Whitman

Radiant Darkness Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this stunning debut, Whiteman elaborates on the myth often called The Rape of Persephone. Whiteman’s Persephone however, is not the damsel in distress that you often find in the traditional myth. What sets Whiteman’s Persephone apart is that everything that happens to her is by her own choice.

Tired of being treated like a child and ignored by her mother the goddess Demeter, Persephone silently rebels against her mother who refuses to acknowledge that her daughter is no longer a child, but a young woman. When Hades appears to Persephone in the protected vale Demeter has created, Persephone finally has someone who treats her as an adult rather than a child. Hades offers her the choice to stay in the vale or become his queen, and Persephone makes her choice. What follows is the story of how Persephone transitions from self absorbed child to a caring and determined young woman and finally to a radiant queen.

Radiant Darkness was a quick read. I have always loved mythology and truly enjoyed this version of the story. It was engaging from the beginning. Although I felt that it took Persephone a little too long to catch on to both her husband and her mother’s desire for more power, the story is still entertaining. Persephone’s chafing at the beginning under her mother’s over-protectiveness will be something that teens ready to experience their own independence will easily empathize with. Recommend this to teens that enjoy fantasy and the Greek myths.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Persephone is married to Hades, but nothing that happens in the bedroom is shown—everything regarding sex happens off screen. There is no language and no violence.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Still Reading--The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I am still reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I am enjoying the book, though I haven't had much time to read lately. I can see why the book is so well reviewed, it is an intriguing story narrated by death. I will definately keep reading, but it is taking a while to get through. I need to move on to other books, and I need more time.

I have been busy trying to select the 10 titles for the 2009 Battle of the Books competition. The non-fiction title is always the hardest, but I think I have a current favorite, Small Steps: The Year I got Polio by Peg Kehret. My only concern is that the book may be too young for the age group (Gr. 7-9). The book meets the rest of the criteria though--more than 100 pages, available in paperback, and there are enough copies available for purchase. Hopefully this will be the one.

Now I just need to choose the other 9 titles...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Small Steps by Peg Kehret

I know it has been a while since I posted, but it has been a surprisingly busy January. I haven't gotten to read as much as I would usually like, but I am still reading. I am in the middle of reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It is an interesting read, but not one I would recommend to every reader due to the lauguage and subject. I have been busily seeking my next books for 2009's Battle of the Books competition. Nonfiction is always tricky for me because I need something long enough that I can get 100 questions out of, interesting enough and age appropriate for grades 7-9, and finally it needs to be available in a quantity of 20 in paperback. Believe me, it can be a challenge. Small Steps by Peg Kehret looks like a possibility. Enjoy the review!

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a very well written and engaging autobiography about the year author Peg Kehret got polio when she was 12 years old. Even though the events of this book occured in the late 1940s, Kehret writes in a style that makes it easy for teens to relate to her situation, and feelings. She reacts in the same ways modern teens may react to an illness, bridging the gap between the generations. She descibes the debiliating illness, introduces the reader to the victims who were teens who had feelings and thoughts the readers could relate to. You could feel her loneliness when she isn't allowed parental visits and the loneliness of her roommates when their families can not visit them on vistiting days. This book was a very quick read too, I was able to finish it in 2 days which is unusual for me. A very well writting biography.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Not really any unless you are squimish about hospials. An excellent book.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chaos Code by Justin Richards Review

I know it has been a while since I have posted anything. It was a busy holiday season and I still have a lot of catching up to do. That said, here is the review of the latest book I have read, needless to say--I loved it!

The Chaos Code The Chaos Code by Justin Richards

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was just plain fun. It has a lot of action, mystery, and excitement. When Matt Stibling is sent to his father on his school break he doesn't expect to wind up in a mystery that ties to the hidden technologies of the fabled city of Atlantis. This book is fast paced and well written.

I would compare this book to Indiana Jones for teens--fast paced and action packed.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some violence, but not explicit and some horror like creatures (Golems). Other than that the book is free of sex and I can not remember any instances of foul language.

View all my reviews.


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