The truth is, she was ornery and stubborn, wouldn't listen to a n y b o d y, and selfish beyond selfish, and filthy, caked with mud and dust, and mooThe truth is, she was ornery and stubborn, wouldn't listen to a n y b o d y, and selfish beyond selfish, and filthy, caked with mud and dust, and moody: you'd better watch it or she'd knock you flat.
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Reena has always been a city girl, and she doesn't know what to expect when her family moves to rural Maine. She certainly doesn't expect, along with her seven-year-old brother, Luke, to be volunteered by their parents to help out a cranky elderly lady. Mrs. Falala lives alone, except for a pig, a cat, a parrot, a snake, and a cow. The cow is Zora, and Reena and Luke are tasked with grooming her for an upcoming fair.
Review: There are a few short chapters written in prose, but most of the book is in free verse and concrete poetry. This writing style, packed with sensory details, brings the reader well into Reena's experience. Reena and Luke are believable city kids plunked down in an unfamiliar rural setting, and Reena's thoughts and feelings will resonate especially with (sub)urban kids who are curious about life in the country. It's a quiet book, focused more on emotions and personal growth than action. The poetic style and short chapters make it a faster read than it appears at first glance. There is a good deal of gentle humor, but be prepared for some realistic sad moments.
Personal Thoughts: I wanted to read the book based on some information given at a Book Buzz segment at an ALA Conference. By the time I got it, I mistook this book for another book that I also heard about at the same presentation, with left me a little bit confused for a chapter or three! But I was quickly engaged by Reena's story. I grew up in the suburbs, and I clearly remember the first few times I encountered a real, live cow; Reena's reactions rang true. I also loved the moment Reena and Luke realize where hamburgers come from, as well as the follow-up discussions with local boy Zep, their tutor in things livestock-showing-related, and with their parents. This would be a great choice for a parent-child book club.
What was Nick Moriarty, her ex-best friend, now her mortal enemy, doing in her bedroom? And why was that old red Formica table there, and that tiny oaWhat was Nick Moriarty, her ex-best friend, now her mortal enemy, doing in her bedroom? And why was that old red Formica table there, and that tiny oak cupboard, and that awful yellow beanbag chair?
Synopsis: Waking up on board the Moriarty family's boat face-to-face with Nick - once her best friend and now her sworn enemy - is just one more confusing thing for Amanda Lester to cope with. The split between the factions of teachers at Legatum Continuatum sent half the instructors to Scotland to establish a new school, and the headmaster, several students, and Amanda's cousins are missing. The acting headmaster is hiring new instructors, and Amanda's mother is among the applicants. As if that's not enough going on, her filmmaker idol is coming to England, her mother is dating a new guy, and her complicated feelings toward Scapulus Holmes are compounded by his relationship with her friend Amphora. Then there are the rare all-blue peacocks who have become mysteriously ill and an archaeological discovery that may turn the public against the detectives. Amanda and her friends have to keep a running list of the problems they need to solve!
Review: The fourth book in the series is packed with a lot of things happening at once. Background information is provided in the first few chapters, but it's probably best not to jump into the series with this volume. The relationships between the characters take on great importance, whether they are bonds of family, friendship, or romance. The main characters all gain some development over the course of the novel. Ivy's family plays a significant role in the story, providing details to round out her character. The perspective of the novel occasionally shifts away from Amanda, giving the reader a chance to glimpse what else is going on. The cliffhangers at the end of the book ensure that readers will be eager for the next installment! The Q&A section with the author in the back matter provides links to further information about the scientific facts that play a part in the story.
Personal Thoughts: Okay, I'm hooked. In my not-so-humble opinion, Berinstein's writing gets better with each book, and I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with next.
Source: Kindle e-book courtesy of Lola's Blog Tours...more
Life was already weird enough at Legatum Continuatum, the secret school for descendants of famous detective, in England's Lake District. After the eveLife was already weird enough at Legatum Continuatum, the secret school for descendants of famous detective, in England's Lake District. After the events of the last few months, including her father's kidnapping, two murders, a teacher's disappearance, an explosions, and a criminal plot to corner the world's sugar market, she was battered, fed up, and downright depressed, especially since one of the kidnappers had turned out to be the boy she thought was her best friend.
Synopsis: As classes resume at Legatum Continuatum after the Spring Holiday, Amanda and her friends are joined by a new student: Scapulus Holmes. Nearly everyone is impressed and/or intrigued by him, much to Amanda's disgust. But she has other things on her mind, too, as she overhears the teachers panicking over a missing object, her filmmaking idol Darius Plover asks for her input on his new film, and one of her classmates is several days late returning from the break. And then there is an earthquake, causing extensive damage and revealing some unusual orange crystals and a skeleton. Amanda and Scapulus are going to have to find a way to work together to keep the crystals out of the hands of the Moriarty gang and maybe help the school recover the mysterious missing object.
Review: The second book in the Nancy-Drew-meets-Harry-Potter-minus-magic series picks up the loose ends from the first volume and weaves them right in to a new adventure. The characters are realistically flawed, and their interactions ring true to anyone who has spent time around tween and early teens. The cast of characters is diverse without feeling forced, which is refreshing. Less refreshing is the fat-shaming that occasionally pops up in the close third-person narration, which generally reads as Amanda's internal voice. All of the characters are facing challenges and hiding secrets, sometimes putting them at odds with each other just when they need to come together, and sometimes making their character development uneven and unconvincing. Berinstein brings in some interesting scientific ideas, taking understandable artistic license, and includes pointers to more information in the Q&A section at the back of the book.
Personal Thoughts: I want to like this book more than I did. At one point, Amanda explains that, "Voiceovers are stupid. You're telling rather than showing the audience what you want to get across." That rather summed up one of my issues with the book, which is that too much is told flat-out in the narration rather than revealed through dialog or action. Still, I like the world and the characters too much to stop reading.
Source: >/b>Kindle e-book courtesy of Lola's Blog Tours...more
At first I couldn't tell what was going on - just a bunch of skating, hitting, and falling.
Synopsis: Astrid and Nicole have been best friends sinceAt first I couldn't tell what was going on - just a bunch of skating, hitting, and falling.
Synopsis: Astrid and Nicole have been best friends since first grade, after an incident involving the class Mean Girl, Rachel. They do everything together. Astrid assumes this means that they'll spend the summer following fifth grade together at Roller Derby Camp - Astrid's newfound passion. She is stunned to discover that Nicole has other plans, namely, Dance Camp... with Rachel. With middle school looming and things changing all around her, Astrid rolls into the toughest summer of her life.
Review: A smart and funny realistic look at that stage so familiar to anyone who was once an almost-teenager, when friends start growing into their own people, and sometimes growing apart. Astrid speaks, thinks, and feels like a regular kid, someone you might know (or remember). She likes the way things are and doesn't want them to change, but she ultimately faces those changes with good humor and strength. There are lessons in her story about growing up, accepting yourself and others for who they are, and working hard to achieve a dream, even when it doesn't turn out quite the way you hoped, but it avoids didactic condescension easily. Totally charming.
Personal Thoughts: I happen to love roller skating, and I am a little sad that I didn't encounter the whole roller derby phenomenon at an age/time/place when I might have joined in. I'll just have to live vicariously through Astrid, I suppose. I loved everything about this book, from the painfully realistic depictions of the way pre-teen girls interact to the wonderful relationship between Astrid and her mother. (There's a fourth-wall-breaking moment in which Astrid literally winks at the reader about an interaction with her mother that cracked me up.) I adore this book.
Recommend to: Fans of Raina Telgemeier... and pretty much any tween girl, actually. (Although I'd *love* to see some tween boys reading this one.)
Source: Checked out from my public library....more
What if Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Arsene Lupin all met as children?
That's the question this series sets out to answer. Irene is 12 years oldWhat if Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Arsene Lupin all met as children?
That's the question this series sets out to answer. Irene is 12 years old in the summer of 1870, when she arrives with her mother and their butler (her father having stayed behind to conduct the business that keeps them in their lovely Paris home) in the seaside resort town of Saint-Malo. Her very first day there, she encounters a strange, skinny boy tucked up on top of the wall with a book. Irene, of course, isn't supposed to be wandering about town all by herself, but when the butler tries to fetch her home, she follows Sherlock to the harbor, where he and his friend Lupin take her in a "borrowed" boat to their regular spot, an abandoned manor house falling into ruins.
Their afternoon jaunt comes to a strange end, though, when they discover a dead body washed up on the beach. Since the official police seem to make no headway with the case, the three new friends take it upon themselves to investigate.
There are secret identities, clandestine criminal societies, fights, chases, and plenty of adventure packed into the story. Irene is a spirited character, smart and self-reliant, a girl just on the cusp of becoming a young lady and chafing at the constraints that role will place on her. It's easy to see her becoming The Woman of the "Scandal in Bohemia" one day. Holmes is also recognizably himself, only younger, though the clues given about his family situation are sometimes puzzling.
All in all, this is a fun mystery for young readers. I'm looking forward to seeing how some of the threads left dangling are picked up in future installments of the series. ...more