**spoiler alert** For a ghost story, it wasn't particularly scary. Now, it is a middle reader book, so take that with a grain of salt, but: I'm a huge...more**spoiler alert** For a ghost story, it wasn't particularly scary. Now, it is a middle reader book, so take that with a grain of salt, but: I'm a huge wimp. Huge. Usually children's-book-scary is about as scary as I can take.
The actual ghost bit was pretty standard: cold spots, the feeling of someone watching you, weird whispers. But then Hahn lost what little creepy factor she had built up, because the ghost was a bratty, spoiled little girl with a mean streak.
Altogether, the book seemed disjointed. In a failed attempt to create suspense, none of the characters wanted to tell our heroine Florence (and thus the reader) how Sophia had died, just that it was a terrible accident, and that her brother James somehow felt responsible. Then we arrive at the climactic scene, and the three of them are up on the roof, and there was an info dump: they were on the roof a year ago today and Sophia dared James to walk the roof line but he said he wouldn't unless she did and she fell and died so she's haunting him because she's mad she died instead of him because she's so much cooler than him so she's decided she's going to make him walk it now because if he dies she'll come back to life and everything will be just like it should have been originally. (whew!)
And the ending... My best guess is that Hahn got bored halfway through writing this one, and figured "Eh, close enough. I'm Mary Downing Hahn, they'll read it anyway. Now, I'll just tack on a sentence about how my villain probably isn't defeated yet, and THE END! Writing!"
Hmmm... This review is probably a pretty bad representation of how bored I was reading this, huh? Let's try again: Florence is lame, Sophie is a psychopath, James is 6 and not in the fun way, and everyone else is vague and creepy in a way that only characters in bad horror stories are vague and creepy. THE END!(less)
Cute and clever, with a tongue-in-cheek narration and set in an imaginative world. The plot seemed to become a little disjointed at the end (this one...moreCute and clever, with a tongue-in-cheek narration and set in an imaginative world. The plot seemed to become a little disjointed at the end (this one was headed for 4 stars up until the climax), but still an entertaining read.
I will never be able to see Mary Granpre's illustrations without thinking of Harry Potter, so it threw me a couple times to turn the page and think "wait, when did Hermione and Hagrid show up?" for a second. But they were lovely, as always.
I was reading a first edition, which means that everything - text, illustrations, copyright page - was in blue ink. A clever gimmick, because it ties in quite nicely with the story.(less)
Fortunata was fantastic - clever, pragmatic, and very determined. She was what made the book. The plot by itsel...moreI liked this one, but I didn't love it.
Fortunata was fantastic - clever, pragmatic, and very determined. She was what made the book. The plot by itself didn't really grab me, especially because a couple of the - hmm, let's go with "coincidences" for lack of a better word - coincidences were a bit to easy for my liking.
Fans of fairy tales will enjoy this one, and I certainly liked that it was a more modern treatment of what could have been a very traditional fairy tale-type story.
I'll certainly be picking up Fagan's next book when it comes out later this month.(less)
I had that awful sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach from page one. Felix is in an orphanage, but he knows that he's not like the other children...moreI had that awful sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach from page one. Felix is in an orphanage, but he knows that he's not like the other children - his parents are still alive. They're just having adventures across Europe, trying to figure out why the Polish economy was so bad for Jewish booksellers.
And I guess we all know how this one is going to end, don't we?
Kids' books that deal with the Holocaust can be tricky, because, well, how do you write a book about the Holocaust for kids? Gleitzman does a good job at not shying away from the horrors of the time, using them to tell his story rather than overpower it.
Felix worried me (he's the type of naive, blissfully unaware character that makes me turn off movies or tv shows before reality hits him and breaks him), but I adored Zelda and Barney. Especially Zelda.(less)
I adored this take on the traditional fantasy Chosen One Goes On A Quest tale. Mieville created a fantastic world, and I was a complete sucker for all...moreI adored this take on the traditional fantasy Chosen One Goes On A Quest tale. Mieville created a fantastic world, and I was a complete sucker for all of his word plays (it reminded me a bit of the fun Jasper Fforde has in his Thursday Next series).
I read it in one day, which I wouldn't recommend. I found myself skimming in a couple parts, but less because the story wasn't interesting, and more because there was just so much of it.
I'm really excited to see what Mieville comes up with next.(less)
This was far more supernatural that I expected - I think I expected a "ghost" story rather than a ghost story.
Just creepy enough to make you shiver, b...moreThis was far more supernatural that I expected - I think I expected a "ghost" story rather than a ghost story.
Just creepy enough to make you shiver, but not so much that you can't sleep at night, this would be exactly the level of scare I would have been into when I was in Avi's target age. Which was a few years ago.
I really enjoyed the look at old fashioned photography and how photos were processed. Spirit pictures look ridiculous to us today, but in the 1870's, they were considered real - and Avi takes full advantage of that.(less)
I almost feel bad giving this book a 3, because not only was it a very good book, but the friend who lent it to me is going to so disappointed in me....moreI almost feel bad giving this book a 3, because not only was it a very good book, but the friend who lent it to me is going to so disappointed in me. I enjoyed reading it, I plan on reading the next in the series, but I just didn't connect with this one.
Skulduggery is a ton of fun - both the book and the character. A review on the back cover refers to it as a screwball fantasy, and that's exactly what this is: magic powers, fantastic names, witty banter, and an entire secret society a la Harry Potter.
My one real complaint was that Stephanie got dragged into the search for her uncle's murderer (and the resulting immersion into the world of magic) far too easily - there was no hesitation on her part, there was only the slightest protest from Skulduggery regarding taking an untested teen girl on dangerous and highly important investigations, and no one from her everyday life seemed to notice anything. But when one of the lead characters is not only named Skulduggery Pleasant, but is also a living skeleton who throws flames at people, realism isn't exactly the strong point of the book, so I moved on.
I highly recommend this one to kids looking for something to read now that Harry's left us. Between the strong female main character, and the non-stop action, all fantasy (and screwball) fans will find something to enjoy.(less)
Underwhelmed would be the word with this one. I adored The Thief Lord, but Funke never managed to grab my attention through the whole 400+ pages of th...moreUnderwhelmed would be the word with this one. I adored The Thief Lord, but Funke never managed to grab my attention through the whole 400+ pages of this one.
The characters felt flat, the prose dry, and there was a complete lack of humor that really put me off. I wonder how much of it was Funke's writing vs. the translation, because some of the dialogue was painfully stilted, which doesn't seem at all like her earlier work.
It's a neat premise, and if I ever get bored enough, I have the second one sitting around somewhere, but it's definitely at the bottom of my to-read list.(less)
**spoiler alert** I spent so much of this book writing rude comments in the margins, which I have to be pretty frustrated to do. But - the levels of s...more**spoiler alert** I spent so much of this book writing rude comments in the margins, which I have to be pretty frustrated to do. But - the levels of stupid reached by the main character... it's not Bella Swan, but she's pretty stupid.
My favorite moment coming when Cecelia has a long paragraph of back and forth thinking - should she head towards the home of the knight who has protected and educated her all her life? where, as she explicitly says, she will feel safe? (keep in mind, this is LESS THAN AN HOUR after armed men on horseback stormed her house and would have captured or killed her had she not snuck out to tell her best friend her secret identity - because, you see, she was SO SCARED FOR HER LIFE SHE WANTED TO EXPLAIN WHY SHE MIGHT TURN UP DEAD SOON.) Or should she head towards the capital, where she has never been before, with only her friend to help her, so she can inform Princess Desmia that she, Cecelia, is here to take her rightful throne and Desmia can go away now?
So, logically, she decides to be noble and go to the capital to SAVE DESMIA FROM THE DANGERS OF PRETENDING TO BE THE PRINCESS.
OH MY GOD MARGARET PETERSON HADDIX. THE GIRL IS SUPPOSED TO BE 14 AND WELL EDUCATED. NOT A COMPLETE MORON.
The entitlement complex just WAFTING off the page made the book hard to stomach, but I bulled through because I wanted to see how it connected to her earlier Cinderella retooling, Just Ella, which I just might retroactively subtract a star from, because it somehow spawned this.
Well, Ella shows up, having braved a long journey across enemy territory to join her fiancee because she missed him (and, of course, because she must have known that peace between the two countries would never come about unless SHE was there to make it happen), at which point she immediately became BFF with Princess Desmia, who quickly told Ella all her secrets and fears. So Ella then helps convince Cecelia and Desmia that they should work together, despite the fact that they are, technically, competing for the same throne.
Oh, right, did I mention the 11 other girls who all claim to be the TRUE PRINCESS?!
And, finally, it turns out that none of them are the TRUE PRINCESS, because the TRUE PRINCESS died when the king and queen were murdered. So in the three days it took her to die, the queen - INSTEAD OF, I DON'T KNOW, SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION OR WHATEVER - adopted THIRTEEN INFANTS and sent all of them off with loyal knights, telling ALL THIRTEEN KNIGHTS that they were caring for the TRUE PRINCESS. BECAUSE THAT COULD NOT IN ANY WAY COME BACK TO BITE THE ENTIRE COUNTRY COLLECTIVELY ON THE ASS.
THE MORE I THINK ABOUT THIS BOOK THE ANGRIER I GET.
And then the book ends with ALL THIRTEEN PRINCESSES RULING THE COUNTRY. TOGETHER. THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH CAPITAL LETTERS IN THE WORLD FOR THIS BOOK.
THIRTEEN FOURTEEN YEAR OLD PRINCESSES IN CHARGE OF A COUNTRY THAT WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A BLOODY WAR. BUT IT'S ALL OKAY NOW.
Fun as always! This one felt a little rushed, with several storylines going at once - all of which came together, but it almost felt as if there wasn'...moreFun as always! This one felt a little rushed, with several storylines going at once - all of which came together, but it almost felt as if there wasn't enough time devoted to any of them.
The time travel was awesome (as was the insight into how the character's relationships will/could develop), while the mystery was pushed to the side. The twist at the end was excellent!(less)
(I have trouble reviewing LMM books, because of course they're good. They're LMM books.)
First, the bad: what litt...moreI'm rationing my remaining LMM books!
(I have trouble reviewing LMM books, because of course they're good. They're LMM books.)
First, the bad: what little plot there was was underdeveloped and predictable, but that certainly didn't take away from my enjoyment. (No one reads LMM for the plot, honestly.) The "Jane is a natural homemaker" seemed a little too much of a stretch for me, but I can work with it.
I liked this one. Jane is no Anne (nor is she Valency or Emily, but we all know Anne is the true standard in these cases), but she's a delightful little creature all her own, surrounded by the endearing and frustrating characters that LMM was so good at.
Now that that is out of the way: nosy neighbors, varying styles and degrees of superiority complexes, orphans and quasi-orphans, peppermints as oddly religious candies, raptures over the sea and various stages of daylight, and blossoming young woman, and a good number of kittens.
I finally got around to reading this one, and I can see why it's been so popular. Very funny, very believable, and the cartoons are very appealing. Th...moreI finally got around to reading this one, and I can see why it's been so popular. Very funny, very believable, and the cartoons are very appealing. The lack of a central plot and thus any kind of resolution bothered me a little (and, awesomely enough, my brother picked it up from where I had left it and read it - which he doesn't do - and said the same thing), and the second half of the book wasn't as funny as the first.
Still, a great book for reluctant readers. I'm planning on reading the rest of the series.(less)
A neat idea told in a way to make it as boring as possible. There were pacing problems, but decent characters; the writing was competent but certainly...moreA neat idea told in a way to make it as boring as possible. There were pacing problems, but decent characters; the writing was competent but certainly not amazing.
My one big issue, believe it or not, was that the plot was so unrealistic. I'm willing to go with the "everything Gracie writes in her journal comes true" plot, but you have to meet me halfway. I was with her through "make my parents stop fighting" and "get my sister a date with her crush" and "help my brother pass his test", but then she and her best friend turned invisible, and I lost any interest I had in the plot.
The book could lend itself to some interesting discussions - that is, "what would you write in the journal?" or "who would you give the journal to?" - but as a story it was kind of lame.(less)
These were hugely popular at the bookstore, but I never paid much attention to them until I read about them in Book Crush (Book Lust for the younger g...moreThese were hugely popular at the bookstore, but I never paid much attention to them until I read about them in Book Crush (Book Lust for the younger generation).
A solid story with excellent suspense. There are now, what, 10 books in the series? I'm planning on reading them eventually, but I'm not rushing out the door to get my hands on them.
A great series for reluctant middle readers, especially boys - good male protagonist, realistic setting with hints of 1984 or Brave New World, and a bit of a cliffhanger at the end (which leads me to believe the rest of the series would follow suit).(less)