I couldn't finish this, despite starting it twice. The characters, whom I enjoyed in the preceding books, were flat out annoying (especially Tommy's oI couldn't finish this, despite starting it twice. The characters, whom I enjoyed in the preceding books, were flat out annoying (especially Tommy's obsession with his skin and his hyper-awareness of his friends' physical flaws) or faded into the background because we never really heard some of their voices (especially Early--I loved Hold Fast and was excited to revisit her character). Quite a disappointing book after much stronger output from Balliett. Also, I get that the characters are older now (and if I had forgotten, the first couple of chapters seem designed solely to remind readers that the characters are 13), but the made-up swear and guess that FA might begin a mean word and awkward hints of crushes felt neither authentic nor fitting for this book. It is too immature for the 7th/8th grade audience it seems to be aiming for. ...more
Not as similar to The School for Good and Evil as I expected (which is a good thing), this series focuses on the choice between destiny (safety) and cNot as similar to The School for Good and Evil as I expected (which is a good thing), this series focuses on the choice between destiny (safety) and choice (freedom). In Ever After, fairytale characters go to school to train into reliving the stories of their parents. Each generation repeats the story, with new actors in the famous roles, which guarantees a happily ever after for some but also destines many to become evil, whether they like it or not. Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, has never felt right about following in her mom's footsteps, but her Apple White is desperate to keep everyone in their traditional roles so she can end up with the Snow White happily ever after.
The story is fun and original enough to keep me turning pages (I can completely see the appeal to the targeted middle grade audience) but the constant pop culture references and slang with a fairy tale twist were nauseatingly annoying. They use the word "fairy" to mean "very," everyone carries MirrorPhones, the music of One Reflection and Tailor Quick are popular--these references feel forced and artificial, an unnecessary nod to today's world, and are going to quickly seem dated. This is absolutely not the quality storytelling of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy (among my favorites) or Goose Girl. ...more
So terrifying and creepy. I wouldn't have picked this up had the audiobook cover given a better hint as to what this is about, but I had seen it mentiSo terrifying and creepy. I wouldn't have picked this up had the audiobook cover given a better hint as to what this is about, but I had seen it mentioned in several ads and such in SLJ so I thought I'd try it. Not a book to read if you're pregnant or have a baby. I'm not really sure who the audience is for this. Certainly not me. However, it is very well written and affecting, so much so that in spite of having a feeling of horror and disgust throughout most of my listening to it, I kept going till the end (and glad I did)....more
"Little House on the Prairie" meets the Great Depression in this sweet story about 10-year-old Esther and her family. When Pa is laid off, the family"Little House on the Prairie" meets the Great Depression in this sweet story about 10-year-old Esther and her family. When Pa is laid off, the family moves from Chicago to a dilapidated farm in rural Wisconsin. Esther tries to look on the bright side and finds many reasons to be happy, even if some misfortunes seem insurmountable to this emotional and introspective girl. A mother's love is the central theme of the story, as Esther isn't sure if her mother loves her. Ma has a dark secret carried with her from her childhood in Russia, along with a deep belief in superstitions and signs. All Esther wants is for her Ma to hug her and say she loves her; she can't understand what makes her so unlovable when she tries so hard to win Ma's affection.
I could see some readers finding Esther irritating and this isn't the most polished of novels, but it was an enjoyable read and a good fit for fans of historical fiction and family stories. It is refreshing to read more stories about economic inequality for young readers lately. This isn't as good as The Mighty Miss Malone (also Depression era) or Hold Fast (contemporary), but I will be recommending it to many historical fiction readers. Best for 3rd-5th grade, but also suitable as a read-aloud as young as 1st or 2nd grade (depending on the listener)....more
A little hard to follow and get into at first (Rowell imagines a huge, Harry Potter-level world without the space to truly build it), partly due to thA little hard to follow and get into at first (Rowell imagines a huge, Harry Potter-level world without the space to truly build it), partly due to the shifting narrators, many of whom aren't really introduced and the reader doesn't know who they are until much later. Once I got into the story and the relationships, this held my attention and was an enjoyable read. I appreciate that it veered enough from the obvious HP influence to feel original and not like it was just substituting new elements and character names. One thing that bothered me though was that it didn't end with the main characters figuring out all the things (e.g. Snow's backstory) that the reader learned through the shifting narrators. I wanted Simon to learn his history and to read how he found it out and his reaction. I also wish the authors note had come first--I wasn't sure if this was meant to be the "real" Simon Snow story that inspired the fanfic from Fangirl, if it was said fanfic, or what. (Turns out it's Rowell's fanfic about a set of characters and a world which she imagined but which has never actually been written...)...more
Perkins takes readers inside the minds and culture of squirrels. I loved seeing the world from their perspective and the narrative style. The plot wasPerkins takes readers inside the minds and culture of squirrels. I loved seeing the world from their perspective and the narrative style. The plot was fairly simple from a human point of view (squirrel gets lost, friends go to find him, squirrels discover a threat to their homes and race home to warn everyone), but it was presented as the life-or-death, world-changing turn of events that it was for this colony of squirrels. I loved the characters, especially TsTs and Tchke. What a fun story! It would make a great classroom read aloud for 2nd-4th grade (with opportunities to talk about the environment, how our choices impact others, and seeing the world from another perspective/empathy for other beings). Plus it's funny and fun to figure out the squirrelish terms for human objects....more
Bizarre, a bit twisted, and unexpected. I think it's the kind of book that leaves readers wondering (great for book discussions) and reminds me of TheBizarre, a bit twisted, and unexpected. I think it's the kind of book that leaves readers wondering (great for book discussions) and reminds me of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs for older readers. I can see this being a book that readers have very strong opinions about and am curious about who will love it and who will hate it....more
As good as the first two. The Gaither head to Alabama to spend the summer with Big Ma and Ma Charles, across the creek from their cousin JimmyTrotterAs good as the first two. The Gaither head to Alabama to spend the summer with Big Ma and Ma Charles, across the creek from their cousin JimmyTrotter and his great grandma. The girls' relationships with each other are the main focus of the novel, as the family begins to change and Delphine is worried that things are falling apart and she is desperate to hold everything together. (She's also reading Things Fall Apart, which she is disappointed in because none of the characters are any good--I like that she said that, as I generally prefer stories with at least once character I really like. In the Gaither/Charles/Trotter/Johnson family, everyone does things they shouldn't, but that's what makes them come alive. There's no one "good" character, but I can honestly say I like them all, as I feel like I understand them. I haven't yet read Things Fall Apart, but I hope that's the case with that book, too, and that Delphine eventually finishes it and figures out that no one is perfect and everyone is just doing the best they can.) Vonetta steps up the theatrics, fueling the feud between her great-grandmother and her half sister. Fern reads Charlotte's Web on the bus ride south and is awakened to where meat comes from. She refuses to eat the Wilburs or chickens or cows, tearing up when she realizes what happens to her family's animals when they stop being useful or meat is on the menu. Vonetta picks on Fern mercilessly for this, while Delphine is extra harsh toward Vonetta in return. What's more, Uncle Darnell is back in the picture since he's living with Big Ma, but Vonetta refuses to forgive him for stealing from them in the last book. All this family feuding, plus the news of a new baby, comes to a head when disaster strikes. ...more