The book, narrated by Lucy Carlisle, starts out with Lockwood & Co investigating a string of murders at a local boarding house and their ghostly cThe book, narrated by Lucy Carlisle, starts out with Lockwood & Co investigating a string of murders at a local boarding house and their ghostly connections. The reader finally learns the truth about Lockwood's sister Jessica and get more of a glimpse into Lockwood's past and personality. Because of their success described in the previous book, The Whispering Skull, Lucy, Lockwood and George have been taking way too many cases and getting burned out. Lockwood decides it is time to hire a part-time assistant, and promptly hires the super-efficient and perky Holly Munroe. Lucy takes an immediate dislike to her. One important case that falls in their lap are bloody footprints found in a townhouse, and the solving of this case leads to them being involved in the main part of the book, a giant ghost outbreak that has been taking place in Chelsea for the past two months. Will the team be able to overcome their differences and work together to solve the Chelsea outbreak? Will Lucy ever tell Lockwood how she really feels? Recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars.
OMG I freaking loved this book! I found out about it by accident as I subscribe to Jonathan Stroud's author thing on Goodreads and he mentioned that was coming out soon. I thought it was a totally unrelated book to this series, and was shocked that I hadn't heard anything about it before (as I really have been loving this series). Emily Bevan did a great job with the narration, really capturing Lucy's character (which was brilliantly described by the author) and her angst about the whole situation with Lockwood. The build-up during the main parts of the story was incredible and really kept me hooked on the story all the way through. The Whispering Skull was one of my favorite parts, as it was always snarky comments about Holly Munroe with Lucy. The only thing I didn't love was the cliffhanger ending and making me wait for another year before I find out what happens to everyone....more
Written as an epistolary novel, seventeen-year old Calvin has always thought of himself as emboding Bill Waterson's comic strip character Calvin fromWritten as an epistolary novel, seventeen-year old Calvin has always thought of himself as emboding Bill Waterson's comic strip character Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes. After all, he was born on the day the last strip was published, his grandfather gave him a stuffed tiger named Hobbes when he was a baby, and his best friend's name growing up was Susie. Calvin has pretty much been coasting through high school not really applying himself when he is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes the tiger comes back into his life as a delusion, but can't control anything that he says or does. Calvin decides that the only thing that will make him better is to get Bill Waterson to draw a comic strip of a healthy Calvin with no Hobbes in it. So he sets out on journey across Lake Erie in the middle of winter to get to Mr. Waterson's house, with the aid of Susie and Hobbes. Will he be able to make it there in one piece? To find out, read this delightful book. Recommended for ages 16+, 4 stars.
I originally picked up this book because I was a big fan of the comic strip and I'd always been curious about schizophrenia and its effect on people. I had an aunt with it but I never really knew her. The book kind of glazed over the main character actually having schizophrenia (a major mental illness), focusing instead on Calvin and the person he becomes after this life-changing journey. And I will admit that I was okay with that, because the language and the story were so good. I read the book back in October, but the review took me forever to write. I liked the book, but it was hard to summarize it because it was so much more than just dealing with a mental illness book. The book ended up being really profound and thought-provoking. It talked about what things you really need to be to be happy and have a good life, the kinds of things you can live without, and first love. It was about acknowledging your problems and dealing with your life instead of just cruising through it.
It also had some brilliant quotes. In the beginning of the book Calvin is talking to the Doctor about mental illness and tells him "It's the death of normal." and that "Normal is not sick. Normal is blending in, like not having a psychotic episode in the middle of school, which makes you stand out." Or when Calvin is trying to convince himself that Hobbes is a figment of his imagination and Hobbes replies "Humans are doofuses,"which has a very large ring of truth to it on many levels. Or later towards the end when Calvin can't quite figure out if Susie is real and did accompany him on this trip or is a figment of his cold-addled brain, and she tells him that she loves him because he has "the guts of a tiger, a space explorer, a race car drive, a luge athlete. You have this amazing imagination. You're never boring. You aren't afraid to ask hard questions and find out there aren't any answers. And you - you also know me in a way nobody knows me." That is exactly how I would love to be described by someone I love.
Disclaimer: I received this book, from Netgalley and the publisher Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review. ...more
Yael was a six-year-old girl when she was sent to a concentration camp with her mother. A Dr. Mengele like figure takes her to be part of his experimeYael was a six-year-old girl when she was sent to a concentration camp with her mother. A Dr. Mengele like figure takes her to be part of his experiments, and she gains the ability to change her face into any other female she sees. She uses this ability to escape the camp and eventually joins up with the Resistance. The book is set in 1956 in an alternative universe where Germany and Japan won WWII and the Reich stretches pretty much all over the globe. Every year in celebration of their victory and the power of the two countries, they have a motorcycle race from Germany to Japan with their twenty strongest competitors. The Resistance has recruited her to become Adele Wolfe, the female victor of last year's race, who got a dance with Adolf Hitler. She plans to assassinate Hitler and start up a revolution against the Reich. But this is no ordinary race and Yael has to deal with not only Adele's twin brother Felix who joined the race at the last minute, but also a host of young men who are out for blood, and a possible romantic connection with another of the racers named Luka. You just have to read this amazing story! Highly recommended for ages 15+, 5 stars.
I couldn't put this book down because it had a very interesting concept. I mean tons of people do alternative history, especially what would have happened if the Germans won World War II, but this has that little twist in Yael's character is just so original. On one hand, she's bad-ass skin-changer who can fight and hold her own in an almost all-male incredibly aggressive motorcycle race. On the the other hand, she is so incredibly fragile and completely alone in the world (although no one can see this part of her). The wolf tattoo stories are incredibly fascinating and helped create a fuller richer glimpse at her life and how she became the person she is now. I thought it was also one hell of a creative way to cover up a Holocaust tattoo as well. One of the annoying parts of the book for me was the gratuitous use of the word "Scheisse," which I know because my mother, who never curses, uses this one swear word in German after being stationed there in the Air Force when I was born. The ending was a bit of a surprise as the author managed to keep it secret to the very end, but set the stage perfectly for the follow-up book which doesn't come out until Fall 2016. I will definitely be looking out for the next book in the series!
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more
Crenshaw is a giant seven-foot-tall black and white cat that is the imaginary friend of a ten-year old boy named Jackson. He was originally invented bCrenshaw is a giant seven-foot-tall black and white cat that is the imaginary friend of a ten-year old boy named Jackson. He was originally invented by the boy five years earlier after his family suddenly became homeless and started living in their car, after his father was diagnosed with multiple schlerosis. Jackson can’t believe his eyes when Crenshaw shows up again just as the family is facing eviction from their apartment, as he’s not thought of him in years. The story jumps back and forth between the original homelessness and the family’s present situation. His parents try to downplay their financial struggles to Jackson and his five-year old sister, but Jackson knows better. He’s seen it all before. Crenshaw is a cat who will tell the truth no matter what and wants to help Jackson through this tough situation. Will his help be enough though? Recommended for ages 8-12, 3-1/2 stars.
This book is a great example of those times when you read an excellent award-winning book and are so excited when the author comes out with a new one, that you jump at the chance to read it. Katherine Applegate wrote the Newbery Award winning book The One and Only Ivan, which I adored and am actually planning on using in November for my tween book club. Another reason this book grabbed my attention was the imaginary friend aspect. I don’t remember having an imaginary friend as a child, but if I did, a giant black and white cat would’ve been a cool one for me to have as it reminds me of the cat we had as a pet as a child. Overall, I enjoyed the book but not as much as Ivan. As a parent, I know how hard it is to keep up appearances when you don’t have as much money as you would like, especially to provide for your kid. While I have not become homeless myself, I can understand the parent’s attempts to hide the fact from their kids and make things as normal as possible. As this reviewer put it, “It was very difficult as a parent to watch Jackson try to be so brave and not let his emotions show his parents how angry and frustrated he really was.” I did like that Crenshaw was like Jackson’s conscience, who encouraged him to do the right thing and speak his true thoughts, even if doing all that is really scary.
Disclaimer: I received the Advanced Readers Copy from MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group, via Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review....more
How can I not love this story?! It was created by William Joyce, one of the most imaginative and brilliant children's writers and illustrators out theHow can I not love this story?! It was created by William Joyce, one of the most imaginative and brilliant children's writers and illustrators out there, plus Kenny Callicutt, a graduate of my alma mater, VCU. It is a clever take on the Jack and the Beanstalk story involving a young boy, a talking bean, a wizard, a massive drought and a giant taking a bath. Check it out for the full story! Great illustrations and cute story. Recommended for ages 4-7, 4 stars. ...more
Painter Laura Matthews has moved to the Welsh countryside from the busy city of London in the hope that a new setting mTo be published: August 4, 2015
Painter Laura Matthews has moved to the Welsh countryside from the busy city of London in the hope that a new setting might help her. After years of infertility, the one thing that Laura desperately wants is a child with her husband Dan. But this is made harder as Dan is working in London during the week and only in Wales on the weekend. She meets Rhys, a loner obsessed with Merlin and they have a brief affair. Laura's story is interwoven with that of the magician Merlin and the short time he spent in the area with a young woman named Megan, who is the nursemaid to the children of a local evil nobleman named Lord Geraint. Laura has glimpsed a man and his wolf in the forest, but he never speaks to her and always disappears before she can reach him. Could this be Merlin or just her mind playing tricks on her? Is Rhys Merlin? Will she ever be able to have the baby she so desperately wants? To find out, read this intriguing take on Merlin. 3 stars.
First off, the cover was gorgeous. That originally drew me in to the book, then the possibility of a Merlin retelling of the classic legend was another draw. I, for the most part, liked Laura's character (especially because she was an artist), despite her weakness. Because what woman hasn't felt neglected at one time or another and then flattered when a good-looking mysterious guy pays attention to you? But then, her inability to get rid of Rhys drove me nuts, especially after she knew something wasn't quite right with him, not to mention the whole cheating on your husband thing. At first, I was convinced that Rhys was Merlin (how badass would that be!), but then he turned out to be a creepy psycho. My biggest issue with this book was the jumping back and forth between Laura and Megan's story. I felt like the author should've either divided the books into more chapters (like one for every switch of character/time period) or at least put one of those "~" marks in-between, so you could differentiate between the two. I sometimes got lost.
Disclaimer: I received this advanced reader's copy book from St. Martins Press on Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more
It is 1888, and the British are still controlling the American colonies through the use of magic. Sixteen-year-old Verity Newton has come to New YorkIt is 1888, and the British are still controlling the American colonies through the use of magic. Sixteen-year-old Verity Newton has come to New York City to become a governess to a rich magister's (magic-users) family. She soon discovers that everything is not all as it seems, with the family and in the city. Verity finds out that there is an underground organization of mechanics and engineers called the Rebel Mechanics who are developing non-magical sources of power by creating steam-powered inventions. She ends up becoming a spy for the Mechanics due to her connections with the magisters, but she harbors a secret herself. Will she be able to help the right cause? Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars.
I love alternative history books, especially steampunk ones, so I jumped at the chance to read this one. Add in an independent YA heroine, and I'm sold. I really liked Verity's character because she questioned everything, and wasn't afraid to speak her mind. I liked that she was educated like a university student. She was very naïve in the beginning but her character definitely developed as the story progressed. I honestly would rather she have gone for Henry, than the Rebel inventor Alec (who was exciting at first until the reader found out he was just using her).
Disclaimer: I received this advanced reader's copy from the publisher Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review....more