Ramona books are like palette cleansers. They're so nice and airy, but Beverly Cleary still manages to give the correct weight to the concerns of chil...moreRamona books are like palette cleansers. They're so nice and airy, but Beverly Cleary still manages to give the correct weight to the concerns of children. Sorry I've finished this series, because I love them. Took quite some time to make my way through, but I always found that each book would be there when I had the time to read them.(less)
Not my favorite from this series, but another good addition to the Ramona story arc. In Ramona Forever, Ramona is more of an observer than a central c...moreNot my favorite from this series, but another good addition to the Ramona story arc. In Ramona Forever, Ramona is more of an observer than a central character experiencing the world. She is not the focal point, but her impressions of the adult world are shown with the appropriate level of child-like wonder. Beverly Cleary's writing is delightfully ordinary. It's not particularly descriptive or lyrical, but the sentences matter. Cleary's writing is among the sharpest out there, and for children such writing hits at just the correct point. (less)
This was a lot of fun. The hapless superhero of the title longs to make a name for herself in the superhero world, though she frequently comes up shor...moreThis was a lot of fun. The hapless superhero of the title longs to make a name for herself in the superhero world, though she frequently comes up short through various pitfalls. While possessed with a lot of talent, Superhero Girl is plagued by skeptics, and she doesn't help her cause by refusing to play the part according to comic book conventions. The story was funny, and I liked the illustrations. This got a little disjointed toward the end, and the story just kind of finished up without exactly concluding. I imagine this is the first in a series, because it needs something more to finish it off properly.(less)
The perfect early reader encapsulates the importance of the ordinary in the life of a child. In fact, the perfect story encapsulates the ordinary in t...moreThe perfect early reader encapsulates the importance of the ordinary in the life of a child. In fact, the perfect story encapsulates the ordinary in the life a person of any age. This is a short, illustrated, early chapter book for ages 6 to 8, about the emotions a little girl experiences upon starting school and meeting her best friend. Dani is so happy she can't describe it, but when her best friend moves away, she becomes forlorn and is unsure whether she will recover from such a profound loss. Such an experience can impact an adult in a different but no less profound way. I like books that focus on the ordinary aspects of life, and with children this is especially important, because everything in their lives takes on the deepest significance, and it's unfair to undercut such experiences by labeling them as mundane. There's certainly value in stories about much more serious experiences, but I think it's easy to lose sight of the importance of something like losing a friend or taking a trip away from home, etc. This book has a lot of great illustrations throughout the text that bring to mind the layouts of the Shel Silverstein books. The text, meanwhile, recalls Beverly Cleary's Ramona. Awesome.(less)
Equal to the first in terms of level of depth (there isn't as much as I would like), pacing (which is pretty good for the most part) and level of fun...moreEqual to the first in terms of level of depth (there isn't as much as I would like), pacing (which is pretty good for the most part) and level of fun (fairly high). I like the concept of this series, which riffs on classic fairytales, but thus far the Cinder books don't go deep enough in regard to the themes set forth: what it means to be human, what love is, the nature of oppression. Cinder was primarily about what it might look like if Cinderella was a cyborg mechanic covered in dirt from fixing androids and hover crafts in stead of cleaning the house. The story didn't go much further than that, though it was funny and quick-paced.
Scarlet takes up that same mantle to the same effect: Little Red Riding Hood wears a hoodie instead of a cape, pilots space ships and is not merely tricked by "the wolf," but falls in love with him. This book alternated between Cinder's continuing story as a fugitive and Scarlet's search for her missing grandmother. The wolf in this case is a human sent to kidnap and ultimately kill her. However, he comes to like her and turns out to be a Byronic, conflicted and adoring assassin. The boys in these books are rather flat and underdeveloped, though the girls are just slightly above the mark in that regard.
As much as I find these books lacking, though, I'll be reading Cress to see what happens. The story is so easy to digest, it's ridiculous, and sometimes that's enough.(less)
This was great. The classic summer vacation rife with expectation that somehow manages to simultaneously fall short and yet exceed one's hopes for the...moreThis was great. The classic summer vacation rife with expectation that somehow manages to simultaneously fall short and yet exceed one's hopes for the experience. I don't think this book could have been improved. It's a great coming-of-age story for middle-graders, but it's also timeless in its feel, and adults would enjoy it, too.
I loved how the story ended on a hopeful note, but things hadn't wrapped up. Life is like that. I also really enjoyed the subtle illustrations and the amazing blue color palette. Everything felt washed out and carried a sense of nostalgia about it without seeming trite. Touched on a lot of great topics for kids between the ages of elementary school and high school. It's an uncertain time, and it's hard to know what you think about things. This author and illustrator really got this story.(less)
Despite being intensely outlandish and anachronistic, this story zipped along nicely. Reviewers have said this is reminiscent of The Mixed-Up Files of...moreDespite being intensely outlandish and anachronistic, this story zipped along nicely. Reviewers have said this is reminiscent of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and in some cases that's true. There is an art mystery, and kids solve it. However, the similarities generally end there. The characters were tenacious and dedicated to solving the mystery of a found painting, and readers will enjoy all of the research the characters do, which somehow is not boring. I think this book is good for what it is, but it could have been vastly improved easily. Most of the issues involve utterly insane coincidences, lack of detail about certain supporting characters and illogical plot lines that don't make sense in the real world. All in all though this was a good story. It's a fun read, but that's about all.(less)
This was good all in all, despite a few issues. This isn't a graphic novel exactly, but it does use elements from that format. Passages of regular pro...moreThis was good all in all, despite a few issues. This isn't a graphic novel exactly, but it does use elements from that format. Passages of regular prose are interspersed with comic panels to tell the story of how two friends deal with loss. Holly's twin brother Corey is killed when she and her friend Savitri (also Corey's girlfriend) are out free-running through a bad neighborhood in Chicago. Corey is shot while trying to protect Holly, who lapses into a coma from her own injuries. Savitri witnesses the incident. At first I thought this story was a futuristic fantasy, because free-running, which is apparently just acrobatic running, confused me. Despite some of the other fantastical elements in the story, readers should know this book is rooted firmly in the real world. Savitri is understandably upset after Corey's death, but Holly spirals rapidly out of control after waking from her coma. She is obsessed with tracking down the killer and also with bringing Corey back. Savitri tries her best to support Holly, but feels helpless as she watches her slip away.
I would give this book to reluctant readers. The illustrations would appeal to graphic novel fans and perhaps cajole them into reading full novels in the future. I thought the portrayal of grief was realistic despite some otherwise iffy writing at times. Random capital letters, sentences broken apart to reflect the physicality of emotions, etc., were distracting at times, though would probably appeal to the intended audience. I found the grief aspect of the story to be the strongest, and this book might also help someone who could relate to the situation. At times the plot was outlandish, but it does mirror the often-hackneyed plot lines of comic books. This book was certainly an homage to that style, and it did work in that regard.(less)
Kind of a less exuberant Ramona Quimby. I'd give this to kids who have finished the Beverly Cleary series and need something else to read that's simil...moreKind of a less exuberant Ramona Quimby. I'd give this to kids who have finished the Beverly Cleary series and need something else to read that's similar.(less)
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Georgie Burkhardt is convinced that her missing sister Agatha is not dead, even if the local she...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Georgie Burkhardt is convinced that her missing sister Agatha is not dead, even if the local sheriff has found a body wearing her dress. Despite what others try to tell her, Georgie believes Agatha is still alive. So, as any determined kid with some extra money would do, she procures a mule, a traveling companion and her grandfather's gun so she can set off to find her sister. Along the way, Georgie has encounters ranging from hilarious to dire, and she discovers less about what happened to her sister than she does about herself.
This book is pretty tight in construction, though it got a little choppy toward the end. A few scenes felt a little contrived, and at times it was hard to distinguish whether or not Georgie was telling the story from a distanced, adult perspective. However, the story was satisfying and filled with action and the appropriate amount of self-introspection. Georgie was a great character, and readers will appreciate her tenacity, even if it is at times foolish.
I liked the descriptions, and I also enjoyed the style, which was pretty much evoked the tone and setup of a western, though not the ridiculous, cliched kind of movies and TV. I think adults and children alike will enjoy this.(less)
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Ben Hatke pulls out all the stops in his final installment of the Zita the Spacegirl series. I'm...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Ben Hatke pulls out all the stops in his final installment of the Zita the Spacegirl series. I'm sad to this series go, because the last one was the best yet. The illustrations and how they were delineated frame by frame were excellent and added a great sense of dynamism and pacing to the story. Zita remains indefatigable and courageous to the end. She's a great character, who's instantly relatable. All of her sidekicks, from the flying robot One to the space pirate Piper, add something to the narrative. She even has time to make a couple of new friends before her adventures end, and they're just as necessary to the narrative.
These are great books for reluctant readers who might be wary of longer titles. The illustrations are a great gateway into building reading confidence. Boys and girls alike will enjoy this series, which is inspiring without being over the top or forced. Zita has to make it through one final confrontation in order to save her friends and Earth itself. This is a must for any children's graphic novel collection.(less)
This was a really easy and engrossing read, but much like the rest of Laini Taylor's work, it had its' ups and downs. Each story in this set focuses o...moreThis was a really easy and engrossing read, but much like the rest of Laini Taylor's work, it had its' ups and downs. Each story in this set focuses on a kiss and its outcome. Sometimes the kiss is good and sometimes it's bad. Sometimes it's something else. Illustrations bracket the beginning and end of each story, and readers glean their full meaning as they make their way through to the end. I didn't love the illustrations. They were OK. I didn't feel like they added that much to the text that they were a necessity. Still, the concept was original.
This set is an obvious precursor to Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which makes use of the same main ideas and themes found here. Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone lives in a real world so surreal it might as well be a fantasy. Her blue hair and artistic leanings, however, serve as a mask to hide her loneliness, longing and unfulfilled sense of self. In Lips Touch: Three Times, the characters are all starving in some regard. They want more than what they have, though they can't pinpoint it, and Taylor does a really good job in each story of depicting this aching void, at first. Her writing usually starts off so pleasantly theatrically, well-paced word by word and propulsive enough to hide the fact that her stories include weaknesses. These weaknesses, however, tend to become apparent a little over half-way through her stories. The writing stops being so lyrical, and the fact that she seems to think all international locales are exotic, magical and filled with their own individual brand of caricatured foreigner is troubling at best. This book drew flawed and anachronistic pictures of Romani, India and the ancient Zoroastrians. Of course these are just stories, but I'm unclear why she repeatedly chooses to portray people from other cultures in such a carnivalesque manner.
The descriptions in her stories, again, are the best part. These tales are no exception, though they tend to peter out in quality as you read on, as I mentioned. The first and second stories, while problematic, were fun and really cool stories about the nature of isolation. The final story was so convoluted and messy that it almost-outright failed. In any case, I enjoyed it, and it was a nice break from some other crap I can't seem to bring myself to finish.(less)
Enjoyable, but could have been better. The concept was amazing, with Cinderella recast as a cyborg mechanic living in a hyper-mechanized, but utterly...moreEnjoyable, but could have been better. The concept was amazing, with Cinderella recast as a cyborg mechanic living in a hyper-mechanized, but utterly decrepit, future Asia. However, the story fell short of its potential, merely scratching the surface of such issues as what it means to be human, a just ruler and a family. I found the characters fairly shallow and too archetypal to be truly unique and individuated. Still, one managed to root for them all the same, and I found the writing brisk enough to get me to the end, even if at times certain passages seemed pointless. I think I would have liked this better if it wasn't a riff on the Cinderella story, which is a good enough fairytale, but not my favorite. I expect this author would be able to do more with Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, the characters upon which her next two books focus.(less)
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Saints is the second volume in an amazing two-part graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, and though a...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Saints is the second volume in an amazing two-part graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, and though about half the length of the first installment, Boxers, I would say Saints is the more compelling of the two. Boxers and Saints tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion, a violent uprising against white imperialists that took place in China in the late 19th Century and part of the early 20th Century. Part of what some Chinese considered to be part of this imperialism was the introduction of Christianity into the country. In the first volume, main character Little Bao believes the missionaries are an invasive and oppressive imperialist presence harming China. However, in Saints, main character Vibiana sees Christianity as a refuge from her crushing family life.
Vibiana is the fourth and only surviving daughter of a widow whose father-in-law resents girls and merely calls Vibiana by the number of her birth order "Four-Girl," the word four in Chinese also being a homonym for "death." She is ill-treated and disrespected by her family and so believes she is evil and worthless. Vibiana has heard the Christian missionaries are devils and misguidedly believes that because she is a devil herself she should fall in with this group. In the beginning she is uninterested in the religion and merely desires to fulfill the nature of the identity she has been given by her family. Her self-loathing is the most poignant aspect of the story.
Vibiana later begins to be visited by the image of Joan of Arc and hopes to emulate this warrior maiden who fought for God and the liberation of her country from invaders. Four Girl takes the name Vibiana, because of its Christian origin and eventually begins to believe that she is also a warrior maiden like Joan of Arc. Vibiana feels the Boxer rebels are butchers and opposes their cause.
While Boxers tells the story of this rebellion from the point of view of the rebels, Saints shows how a beaten-down person might find refuge in the values of the opposing side because the world she in which she has been brought up has betrayed her. One doesn't need to read both volumes to enjoy and understand the story, but the reading experience is richer if both books are read together. I was really impressed by these stories, and I look forward to reading more by this author.(less)
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One of the more interesting examinations of gender I've read in young adult literature. Highly r...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
One of the more interesting examinations of gender I've read in young adult literature. Highly referential and often quite funny, this book forces readers to think about perception by making use of pop culture and fairytales in an unusual way. Bennett Madison creates a heightened reality in this story about 17-year-old Sam's summer vacation with his father and brother; their trip is more like a summer escape, as it transpires suddenly at the whim of their father, who has abruptly quit his job following the departure of Sam's mother for the "Land of Women."
At first what seems misogynistic gives way to a smart and layered examination of how men and other women often perceive what Simone De Beauvoir referred to quite adroitly as the second sex. Those familiar with that philosophy will love this book, which dissects the male gaze and other patriarchal constructs in a way that readers may not even realize at first.
The story is told from the point of view of Sam and also a collective narrative from the Girls, who inhabit the vacation town where Sam is staying. Sam is bewildered, bitchy and depressed following his mother's departure. And, his father and brother aren't dealing well with it either. When they arrive on an island off the cost of North Carolina, Sam immediately picks up on the fact that these Girls, who all seem to look eerily alike, are also all eerily interested in him.
Perception is the point form which this story pivots. That in itself is the force behind the male gaze, so readers should not be surprised that Sam (and his brother and father) still grapples with what he doesn't understand until the last pages, even if his feelings and views originate from a place of benevolence. I like that the author did this. It's worthwhile to leave things open ended in most cases.
Last thing: I loved the setting in this book. By "love" I mean I loved how it was described but didn't actually want to visit this fake beach town. Bennett Madison likely hung around the same shore towns I did growing up, because the way he constructed this place reminded me far too much of the way I felt while visiting the beach as a kid: listless, bored, repelled, disgusted, depressed, filthy, but also sort of at peace in quiet moments. The sense of dread and impermanence and also deflation was all there on these pages. A really interesting read that should justifiably generate a lot of discussion.(less)
If I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be: boring. This book was boring. It was so boring I couldn't stand it. The premise was uniqu...moreIf I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be: boring. This book was boring. It was so boring I couldn't stand it. The premise was unique and had a lot of promise. A 12-year-old girl who has recently recovered from a bout with malaria spends her summer with her brother and grandparents wheat harvesting in the Midwest. Several things provide the basic construct for the story. Summer is so afraid of catching malaria again that she obsessively scrubs her skin with DEET (a worrisome choice that is never fully resolved or addressed but is consistently mentioned); her brother Jaz exists somewhere on the autism spectrum, and Summer occasionally reflects on his difficulty with making friends; and, finally, Summer meets a large cast of characters while wheat harvesting that teach her a lot about the different ways people can behave under different circumstances.
All of the above could have made for an interesting story, but it wasn't so much the plot itself that was problematic. Summer must take over for her grandparents in their duties because they are often under the weather. Through this, she gains confidence in herself and learns a lot about how people sometimes make their own luck and when they don't, they have to adjust as best they can. Kadohata's main hangup was in the writing style, which was tedious and extremely flat. She spent too much describing the process of wheat harvest, providing literal instructions on how this is done. There were also pointless illustrations scattered throughout the story that added nothing to the text. Finally, the story in general felt underdeveloped. Concepts were introduced and then wrapped up quickly and clumsily.
Summer's parents are away in Japan taking care of sick relatives, and they never actually enter the action at any point in the story. This didn't hurt the narrative, though. The grandparents prove to be valid and interesting authority figures, helping Summer to understand the nature of hard work, relationships and life. They were about the only interesting thing about this story, but even their personalities left something to be desired in terms of development.
There were also periodic references to the World War II-era novel A Separate Peace, about the troubled relationship between two friends. The author's desire to tie that book to this story was clunky at best. I don't see much relation between the two, and nor will readers, most of whom probably have not and will not read A Separate Peace. I've seen this before in children's books. I'm unclear why authors of books for young people feel the need to draw comparison between other stories. The only book I really felt effectively did this was When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. But more often than not, I see no reason for the inclusion of such a device.
This won the National Book Award. I could see why judges might choose this book, which rapidly became very philosophical in the last 30 pages, but I would make a large case for skipping over this story. I felt like I was reading a news article rather than a novel. (less)
I love this author-illustrator team, particularly the illustrator Gabbi Swiatkowska, who does such unusual and fanciful illustrations that resemble th...moreI love this author-illustrator team, particularly the illustrator Gabbi Swiatkowska, who does such unusual and fanciful illustrations that resemble the Art Nouveau style. A cool little book about manners and pets. Good for acting out too.(less)
Excellent book about those who were left behind in the struggle for American independence. Isabel is a slave girl caught between the rebel cause and t...moreExcellent book about those who were left behind in the struggle for American independence. Isabel is a slave girl caught between the rebel cause and the British effort to squelch the opposition. She is stirred by the writings of Thomas Paine, and the inspiring words about equality from the revolutionaries. However, she soon learns that not all men are created equal after all, because the revolution is designed only to give whites independence; not freedom for black slaves.
Anderson interweaves quotes from famous historical figures of the day, which bring to light the hypocrisy of the revolution and also the inhumane treatment of prisoners, slaves and servants, white and black alike. The author has clearly done her research on this topic, as she effortlessly weaves real historical events into her fictional narrative.
My one issue with Anderson's writing, however, has always been that her characters seem less like unique individuals and more like mouthpieces for whatever issue she is examining in her novels. Other than Melinda from Speak, I've never been able to get a fully realized picture of her narrators. They certainly go through important struggles, but they lack nuance. Anderson is definitely a great writer, and her use of description and setting are excellent and evocative of the plights of her characters. A good class discussion book for sure.(less)
This short graphic novel about a girl who has recently been exiled from her peer group for undisclosed reasons is excellent. The illustrations are pro...moreThis short graphic novel about a girl who has recently been exiled from her peer group for undisclosed reasons is excellent. The illustrations are probably my favorite part, and they complement the writing so well. Helene deals with isolation, bullying, body issues and longing for friends who will accept her, as she goes about her life. The illustrations are primarily done in grey tones, but they explode with color when she tells the reader the story of Jane Eyre, her only consolation. While much of the story is somber in nature, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Helene, and by the end she is hopeful things will improve for her. This was a realistic look at bullying and also the ways we find comfort when isolated.
I'm not sure the ending of Jane Eyre was related that well within the context of the story of Helene, and the fox from the title has little to no bearing on the plot. Readers may also find the timeline confusing. I think the book is set in the 1980s, but it's hard to tell. Those are small weaknesses, though. This is a really good book that can be enjoyed by kids, teens and adults.(less)
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Kate DiCamillo's latest book deserves an A+ just for originality alone. Flora and Ulyssses: The...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
Kate DiCamillo's latest book deserves an A+ just for originality alone. Flora and Ulyssses: The Illuminated Adventures mixes allegory with a superhero storytelling sensibility to excellent effect. Flora is a self-described cynic, who frequently reminds herself never to hope, but only to observe. She loves escaping her lonely and flat existence with her mother, a self-absorbed writer of romance novels, by reading comic books about a mild-mannered individual who becomes a superhero.
Despite her cynical nature, Flora is convinced that she has come across a very unusual squirrel, who survives certain death at the hands of a vacuum cleaner. She names him Ulysses, after his failed executioner the vacuum cleaner, and takes him in, much to the chagrin of Flora's mother. Along the way, the reader meets Flora's neighbor and her visiting great-nephew William Spiver, Flora's father and several other characters are who surprised but mostly pleased to learn of Ulysses' unbelievable talents.
DiCamillo has a real knack for communicating the profound in a subtle way. Without being preachy or overly didactic, the author showcases the loneliness inherent in Flora, the value of friendship and faith in others and oneself and the importance of effective communication. The fact that she does this by telling the story in a style similar to a comic book's narrative adds a fresh level of nuance to a book with an otherwise-well-trod concept. Finding one's self-worth is not a new idea in children's literature, but the way DiCamillo brings this theme to light is almost surreal. Ulysses is not so much a character, as a reflection of Flora's own hopes and dreams that she doesn't allow herself to feel out of the threat of being disappointed.
I don't normally like books with animals, whether they talk, think or merely exist as the focal point of a story without any special abilities. But, this isn't really a book about a squirrel. It's about the things I mentioned above, and the illustrations add a whole other dimension to this great book. (less)
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An interesting premise that unfortunately doesn't fully pay off. It's Bunning Day, and Ruby Pepp...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
An interesting premise that unfortunately doesn't fully pay off. It's Bunning Day, and Ruby Pepperdine has been chosen to read her winning essay during the city's annual founder's day parade. While the town is abuzz with excitement, Ruby is awash with anxiety over whether a wish she has made to correct the past will come true. Chapters alternate between the events of the day and what has brought the reader to this point. Ruby has burned two bridges; one with her oldest and best friend and another with a friend she was certain she was about to make.
If her wish comes true, perhaps her final moments with her grandmother will make sense and she'll have some resolution about her death. And, maybe her friends will forgive her.
I liked Ruby's character. She had an authentic voice, and her worries about her behavior toward her friends and family (and her lack of awareness of the world around her in the wake of her grandmother's passing) will resonate with young readers. But, the narrative was flawed in several ways. First of all, I hate second-person point of view. It's ridiculous and something all creative writing students are told not to do on almost the first day of creative writing class. This was not the only way the story was told, however. Sometimes the narrative would shift to first-person, present, and other times the story would change to past tense. I couldn't keep track of what had happened in the past and what was currently happening. I thought the author's attempt to heighten Ruby's anxiety, by alternating between past and present, was highly interesting, but the author bit off more than she could chew. The story also beat readers over the head with a drawn-out doughnut metaphor that was really unnecessary. Kids are smarter than a long-winded doughnut metaphor.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't count it as a possible award winner this year. It's sweet and possessed some profound elements, but it's not as clever as it would like to be.(less)
This wasn't bad. However, the writing dragged through the middle, and I felt the story was kind of underdeveloped. It seemed like it needed to be long...moreThis wasn't bad. However, the writing dragged through the middle, and I felt the story was kind of underdeveloped. It seemed like it needed to be longer despite dragging. The ghost subplot was a little odd, but it could provide readers with some interesting discussion in the classroom. This reminded me of Everything on a Waffle a little, as cooking is a major theme, as is foster care and uncertainty.(less)
The best one yet in this series. The main mystery that drove the action was intertwined with the continuing mystery of Mary's past, along with the con...moreThe best one yet in this series. The main mystery that drove the action was intertwined with the continuing mystery of Mary's past, along with the continuing evolution of the relationship between Mary and James. (less)
Another interesting read in the Agency series. These are a lot of fun, though the second volume was just a little bit of a drag compared to the introd...moreAnother interesting read in the Agency series. These are a lot of fun, though the second volume was just a little bit of a drag compared to the introductory story in the set. This time Mary Quinn is posing as a boy on a construction site, in an effort to find out the truth behind the mysterious death of one of the workers. Mary is also reunited with her sometime love interest James Easton. Their bickering still packs humor, but their interactions in this story are just a little more angst-ridden than in the last book. In all, this story had an altogether heavier aspect to it than A Spy in the House. The prose also dragged a little from time to time. All the same, lots of intrigue and back alley skulking to keep readers entertain. These books are super short and super engaging, even when they lag a little at times.(less)
Super cool book about the woman who instigated a massive strike in the garment industry. Nothing like a book about workers' rights to get you going! A...moreSuper cool book about the woman who instigated a massive strike in the garment industry. Nothing like a book about workers' rights to get you going! Awesome.(less)
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This was a little difficult to get through, more so than I was expecting, considering it read so...moreCheck this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.
This was a little difficult to get through, more so than I was expecting, considering it read so quickly when I did sit down and make a go of it. This fantasy was light and pleasant, but had a little too much going on for it to be completely engaging. The world-building wasn't fleshed out all that well, and the language was a little awkward. Additionally, the way the author chose to tell the story was distracting.
What I did like about this book was the examination of what it means to be beautiful and a good leader as well. The princess Violet is a spunky girl with unusual looks, which sometimes give her enough pause to doubt her worth as a princess. This leads to the central conflict in the story, though what started out as a fairly straightforward narrative became convoluted and poorly explained in the second half of the book.
Despite its length, I would recommend this book to children in third of fourth grade. Third-graders who are good readers would enjoy this, though it's most appropriate for fourth-graders. The illustrations are inconsequential, but their presence makes this book a bit basic in nature for students in fifth grade and beyond. This story wouldn't be at the top of my list of fantasy to recommend to fans of the genre, but it's got some unique elements that make it fresh in a genre mostly frequented by boys. (less)