So, I'd definitely target this to younger readers. Maybe readers who are moving their way on up from more wordy picture books, into the world of chaptSo, I'd definitely target this to younger readers. Maybe readers who are moving their way on up from more wordy picture books, into the world of chapter books. Suitcase of Stars has a great premise, and a really quick moving plot. The downside, is that it's extremely simplistic. Which, again, is great for emerging readers! Just maybe not for the entire Middle Grade set.
This was a sweet story about Finley McPhee, a boy with his head in the clouds and penchant for unknowingly causing trouble. I admit, I wasn't 100% sold on the reasoning behind why Finley ended up in his magical situation. It almost had an air of "school isn't important" about it. I was willing to forgive it though, because Finley's opinion of school is fleeting and only sets him up to meet the people who will forever change his life.
I did enjoy the fact that there are riddles used copiously in this story, as well as references to magical items from well known fairy tales. I also loved the fact that Finley's dog, Patches, is such a big part of the story. A boy, and his dog. Getting caught up in all sorts of adventure. It's the type of story that a lot of young readers will really enjoy, especially because Patches is so brave. In fact, all the characters are pretty interesting. Maybe not as well fleshed out as they could be, but interesting just the same.
A solid three stars to this book. It's quite possible that the subsequent books in this series go more in depth on Finley and his friends. I might have to find out! In the meantime, I'd state once again that this seems like a great book for emerging readers. A little magic, a little mischief, and a quick moving plot....more
To me, the testament of a good story is how long it sticks with you after you finish. My favorite books are the ones that, no matter what else you migTo me, the testament of a good story is how long it sticks with you after you finish. My favorite books are the ones that, no matter what else you might be doing, are always at the back of your mind. Wooing you. Reminding you that they exist. Begging for another read through. Kat Howard's Roses and Rot hasn't unleashed me from its magical confines yet. I finished it well over two days ago, and it just won't leave me be. I tell you, I'm not even upset. All I really want is a hardcover of this so I can lovingly read it over and over again.
I love fairy tales, with all of my being. To be more specific, I love the fairy tales that are a bit on the darker side. The ones where people might be changed forever, or even die. The ones were love only prevails after sacrifice. That's exactly how Howard's writing captured me. Imogen's story is equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. It deals with the definition of love, with sisterhood, and with all the blood, sweat and tears that go into passionate art. Imogen's life is revealed in tandem. Both her present, and her past, play a part in the fairy tale that she is unknowingly being woven into. It's magical, and trust me when I say it's easy to get lost in.
Which brings me to my next two points. First of all, this is a very difficult book to read at times. It does deal with childhood abuse, both of the verbal and physical varieties. Like all good fairy tales, it also has its very sad portions, so be warned. My biggest warning though, is that this book is extremely hard to put down. Chances are high that you won't want to set it down at all. So this is me giving you a heads up, before you end up staying up well into the wee hours of the morning because you started this before bed. It's addictive.
I don't hand out five star reviews very easily. A book has to truly sweep me up, in order to make its way onto my list of favorite books. Roses and Rot did just that. I'm thrilled that I was able to read this, and saddened that it's over. I'll miss Melete, and all its magic. Another read through can't come soon enough....more
BRAVO! Truly, a around of applause is owed to Sophie Cleverly and The Lost Twin. I'm well out of the age range that this book is aimed at, but I absolBRAVO! Truly, a around of applause is owed to Sophie Cleverly and The Lost Twin. I'm well out of the age range that this book is aimed at, but I absolutely adored every bit of it! I can only imagine how much excitement younger Jessica would have had, upon discovering this story. So many things I love are expertly wrapped up in here. Forbidding boarding schools, terrible headmistresses, brave girls, and tons of secrets. What more could a reader ask for?
If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know that one of the biggest points in any book for me is character development. In MG fiction, that's even more important. A character needs to grow, to change, and to find themselves in situations that cause them to step outside the box. Cleverly has that down pat. Ivy's character was brilliant. Quiet, meek Ivy learned so much about herself while posing as her much more outgoing sister, Scarlet. I loved watching her come out of her shell, and face down the danger. All for the love of her sibling.
Oh, and the mystery! Pardon my overuse of the word brilliant, but it truly was brilliant! The highest compliment I can extend to this story, was that it made me think of my love of Nancy Drew, as a young reader. The clues. The chase. I was head over heels for all of it. The fact that Cleverly gave Ivy the perfect little sidekick, and best friend, was just the icing on the cake. I couldn't love this story more if I tried.
As you can tell, I am a big fan of this story. The ending was just pure perfection, and I am so eager for more! I'm smitten with Ivy, and so excited to meet her sister. This series and I are going to get along just fine....more
I've pretty much given up on writing "real" (read: semi-coherent) reviews of books that I don't have a commitment to review. It's easier to just tellI've pretty much given up on writing "real" (read: semi-coherent) reviews of books that I don't have a commitment to review. It's easier to just tell you all the random thoughts running through my head, and my pure elation at having found a new Fantasy series that actually captured my attention. I really missed being so absorbed in a new world, that nothing else existed outside of it. I'm just head over heels in love with Richard, Kahlan, and Zed.
Wizard's First Rule is lush. It's vividly written, with that perfect amount of description, that never falls over the line into obnoxious. Terry Goodkind's writing quickly pulled me into the world that he wove for me. The line in the sand, between the magic free Westland and the magic riddled Midlands, made me giddy with excitement. If there's one thing I know, a place with no magic that borders its exact opposite, always ends in some kind of war. I hoped for a deliciously evil villain, and I wasn't disappointed.
Which brings me to characters, who impressed me just as much as the plot itself. I fell hard for Richard, and his chivalrous personality. Let's be honest, I have a soft spot in my heart for perpetual "good guys". The ones who might have to make some hard decisions sometimes, but never lose their inner spark. That's Richard, plain and simple. Kahlan had to grow on me a bit, mostly because she's shrouded in mystery for a fair bit of the beginning of this story. As the story progressed though, and I understood her better, I started to fall for her too. By the end of the book, my heart bled for these two. Kahlan and Richard forever, and I don't care who knows it.
I could go on and on about the other amazing characters, especially that deliciously evil villain. I could wax poetic about how Goodkind has mastered the art of the grey area. He manages to write characters who aren't fully evil, or fully good, but somewhere in between. It makes for a much more interesting story. Wich prompts me to warn you that there are a fair amount of torture scenes in a portion of this book. They're important to the story, but also tough to read.
Anyway, If I wrote about all of that though, this review would end up as long as this book. It's testament to how much I loved this that I listened to 36 hours of this story on audio, without blinking an eye. I was actually sad when it was over. Book two has been borrowed, and is in my possession! Let's hope it's as good as the first....more
The Girl Who Stayed is billed as a mystery/thriller, but trust me when I say that it's so much deeper than that. This is the story of Zoe Rutherford'sThe Girl Who Stayed is billed as a mystery/thriller, but trust me when I say that it's so much deeper than that. This is the story of Zoe Rutherford's return to her childhood home of Sullivan's Island. A place of memories, most of them unpleasant. What begins as a quick trip to clean and fix up her childhood home, quickly turns into an introspective look at Zoe's life. Be warned, there are a plethora of emotions here, with childhood and adult abuse mixed in. This isn't the easiest story to read, but it was definitely more intriguing, than I expected it to be.
Zoe's head is a tough place to be. She's a prickly, and initially rather unlovable character. There's a wall miles tall between her and everyone else, set in place to protect her from more hurt. The fact that she obsesses over the same things, in an endless loop, makes for a tough read at times. As her abuse at the hands of both her father, and her recent ex-boyfriend started to come to the surface, I began to understand her more. It takes a lot of guts to finally walk away from something so damaging. Zoe ended up being stronger than I expected her to be, and I slowly grew to appreciate her for that. She may have been a bit broken, but only because she kept all the people who could have helped at arms length.
The mystery part of this is two-fold. One the one hand, Zoe has never let go of the unsolved disappearance of her younger sister Hannah. Her childhood was broken enough as it was, but Hannah's possible death has never let Zoe go. Crosby slowly unearths snippets of this traumatic event, bringing the reader further and further into Zoe's mind. When the second part of the mystery is presented, which I won't spoil for you, it actually fits in quite well. While I was pretty committed to this story for most of the book, the ending was what really brought it all home.
This wasn't a perfect story. It dragged at times, and Zoe isn't a character that everyone is going to love. However The Girl Who Stayed pleasantly surprised me. It ended up being much deeper than I expected it to be, and well-written at that. If you're in the market for a mystery/thriller that has a contemporary feel to it, this fits that bill. It's a worthwhile way to spend a few hours....more
So, I'm left feeling confused and kind of conflicted. I finished this first volume with a ton of questions, and a kind of "What did I just read?" vibeSo, I'm left feeling confused and kind of conflicted. I finished this first volume with a ton of questions, and a kind of "What did I just read?" vibe about the whole thing. Here's the skinny: the art is wonderful, the characters are charming, the storyline is where things seem to fall apart. I'm all for a slow build up, but honestly? I'm not even sure where this is headed.
If I had to guess, I'd say that Gilbert Hernandez was using this first volume as a means of introducing the "world" that's being built. The characters are fairly built up, going so far as to peek into their backstories and see why they are the way they are. I was smitten with the art style too. It seemed to fit this story just perfectly, with it's careful sense of whimsy. As far as the build up goes, that completely made sense.
It's the series of events that occur that really had me scratching my head. I fully support vague panels, and working up to something epic. Still, if I'm left wondering what on Earth (or possibly not on Earth) is even going on, it takes some of the magic away. None of my questions were answered. Nothing made sense. I admit, it all drove me a little mad.
Would I read the next volume? Probably. If only to find out what is actually happening to this village. I only wish this first volume had drawn me in a little more....more
There's way more to Spawn then just a hellspawn who murders the wicked. He's troubled, and torn. Al Simmons is literally a man possessed. I'm thinkingThere's way more to Spawn then just a hellspawn who murders the wicked. He's troubled, and torn. Al Simmons is literally a man possessed. I'm thinking most of the people who say those kinds of things haven't read any Spawn since they were older because, let me tell you, this read through actually rocked. I haven't touched any of these comics since I was a teen, and the nostalgia was real.
First off, let me explain the 3-star rating. I think at the time when these comics were brand new, I was enraptured by them because it was something that wasn't the normal "capes and tights" set. Spawn was an anti-hero. Violent, angry, and sad. I loved him for that. That being said, I may or may not have overlooked a lot of the dialogue in these first few issues. Let's be honest, Todd McFarlane's art is amazing. His writing in these first 6 issues? Not so much. The story is solid, but the dialogue sometimes is just giggle-worthy. I admit, I cracked up laughing when Spawn told the Devil to "go to hell". We'll leave it at that.
Truly though, there's so much about this first volume to love. The art, which I've already praised, and will happily praise again. The introduction of a character who is beautifully flawed. I can't get over the concept of a finite amount of time on this Earth, that slowly drains away as you try to do good deeds. That counter at the bottom of the pages still gets to me. Poor Al. You poor, poor man.
Anyway, I've rambled enough. Suffice it to say that I'm definitely continuing with this series! I need more Al, more Malebolgia, and more Violator. Is it weird that he's kind of my favorite?...more
So, I have a soft spot in my heart for Middle Grade books. I also have a probably not so secret crush on Wonder Woman. Which means, that when you mashSo, I have a soft spot in my heart for Middle Grade books. I also have a probably not so secret crush on Wonder Woman. Which means, that when you mash those two things together I get very, very excited about it! I'm thrilled that female superheroes are finally getting a chance to be in the spotlight, and that millions of young readers everywhere will have strong female characters to look up to. Wonder Woman at Super Hero High was adorable and, in my opinion, a very much needed book in today's world.
Although this is aimed at the MG crowd, and very well written for that group I might add, there's a lot that older readers will love about Wonder Woman's high school experience. She's an instantly likable character. Plus, she faces a lot of the same trials that all of us did when we were in high school. Mean girls, popularity contests, and trying to find your niche in such a big place all are tackled in this book. If I had to make a comparison, this is kind of a Sweet Valley High meets DC mash up. A little bit of tension, a lot of lessons, and plenty of adorable moments as well.
What I liked most about this book though, and I hope continues throughout the series, is that there is no strong delineation between villains and superheroes yet. Since these characters are still young, and coming into their own, Yee has chosen not to put them into a box yet. I loved that! Harley Quinn, for instance, is a budding reporter who is actually really sweet. As Wonder Woman's roommate, she's actually a fairly big part of this story. As a reader of the DC universe, I kept trying to pin her down as the villain in my mind. Yee kept me from doing that, in the best way possible. Maybe Harley will turn later, maybe not! For now, she's a great example of someone who is still growing.
If I had one complaint, it was that I felt at times that this book put a little too much emphasis on the "cute" factor. Oh sure, I loved the funny classes that our characters had to take, and their general high school banter. What I wasn't a fan of, was that it cut somewhat into the strong nature of Wonder Woman as a character. She was a little air-headed at times, and I'm not going to deny that any time someone called her "Wondy" it made me cringe. I'm an adult, who has read Wonder Woman in many a comic. So I know I'm a little biased in that respect. I just really want young readers to look at these characters and see how amazingly strong they are as women. That's the important part.
That being said, this series has made an very solid start. I see a lot of potential and a lot of love coming from readers of all ages! Anything that puts these super women in the spotlight deserves all the love that it can get. If this creates some new ravenous comic book readers? Well, that's just a bonus....more
Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge is the third book in the Singaporean mystery series. Keep in mind, while reading this review, that I haven't read the firsAunty Lee's Chilled Revenge is the third book in the Singaporean mystery series. Keep in mind, while reading this review, that I haven't read the first two in the series. I'm also not generally a big reader of cozy mysteries, so this was a bit outside the box for me. That being said, I actually enjoyed this very much! Rest assured that this is an excellent standalone novel.
Aunty Lee is one of those characters who is instantly likable. She's that incorrigible family member that everyone loves, but also has a tendency to be a bit nosy. Which, of course, makes her the perfect character for a story like this. I loved Aunty Lee, and her amateur sleuthing. She was definitely my favorite part of this story. Even though this was the third book in the series, I didn't feel like I missed out on one bit of her personality, which was great.
I can't say the same for the other main characters though. This isn't the book's fault, obviously. Coming in after the initial book is always a gamble. However, that was one of the things that made me a bit wobbly with my foothold in this story. Aunty Lee is an extremely clever, and well drawn out character. So it was just a tiny bit frustrating not to feel that same way about all the characters she interacted with, especially since they were so close to her. The good news is that it makes me want to read the first two!
As for the story itself, it was a perfectly paced mystery. It kept my attention extremely well, throwing out little bread crumbs here and there to keep me following the same path as Aunty Lee. I got a good feel for the way she does things which, well, let's just say that it isn't always exactly orthodox. It was interesting to watch her interact with people, and see the little pieces of her culture thrown in with the standard sleuthing practices.
Overall, this was a pretty solid read! I can attest that this is fine as a standalone, although you'll probably end up like I did and want to go back and catch up on the first two. I enjoyed Ovidia Yu's writing, and I would absolutely come back for more....more
Just Like Me chronicles the story of Julia, a girl who is lost in a sea of labels. This story doesn't shy away from the fact that adolescents deal witJust Like Me chronicles the story of Julia, a girl who is lost in a sea of labels. This story doesn't shy away from the fact that adolescents deal with a lot of this in their lives, even from adults. If Julia was adopted from China, that makes her Chinese. Or at least it does in the eyes of everyone around her. Nevermind that she doesn't feel like that is her heritage, and wants to find her own place in the world. Nancy J. Cavanaugh takes us on a journey of self-discovery, and it's sweet.
I admit, Julia wasn't my favorite character at first. She's obstinate as an adolescent can be, especially when it comes to anything to do with her cultural background. However, as the story went on, I slowly started to see where Julia was coming from. To live in a world that tells you over and over again that you should identify as Chinese, when you were raised as anything but that, is definitely tough. This book deals a lot with the expectations that others push on us, and how they can sometimes feel stifling.
Truth be told, there's a lot of great lessons in this book. It pulls in characters who are adopted, fostered, and even children whose parents have split. I forsee a lot of young readers really connecting with this story. If it seems a bit juvenile in narrative sometimes, it's only because Nancy J. Cavanaugh really channels the adolescent age. A time of growth, and a time of turmoil,
This is a sweet read, that goes by quickly! I see this as a fabulous mother/daughter read too, since there's so much to talk about....more
I do believe I've found my favorite graphic novel of the year, so far. I'm sure you all know that I love fairy tales. If you've beenOh. My. Goodness.
I do believe I've found my favorite graphic novel of the year, so far. I'm sure you all know that I love fairy tales. If you've been following me for any length of time, that should be evident. What you might not know though, is that my favorite fairy tales (especially as a child) were the creepy ones. The unsettling ones. The ones that dealt with all the things that lurked in the dark.
Which is why Emily Carroll's Through The Woods has my heart, forever and always. These five stories aren't so much terrifying, as they are wholly unsettling. They creep in under your skin, and send shivers up your spine. It's beautiful how simplistic, and how short, all of these are. And yet, they manage to push across more atmosphere and depth than a lot of what I've read lately.
A lot of that has to do with the art. Oh, that sumptuous art. Again, it's simplistic. Yet, it's also not. The color palettes aren't varied too much, there's no stark definition, but each panel goes perfectly with the story that it's telling. One of my favorite panels was in "A Lady's Cold Hands". Our narrator talks of how cold and unfeeling her new husband is, and there's this panel where it slowly zooms in on him devouring bloody meat with his teeth. Are they really sharp? Is it your imagination? I leave that up to you.
This was brilliant! Gorgeous, gripping, and compulsively readable. I'm buying this in physical format as soon as possible, because I feel like it deserves to be shared....more
Well then, this was much darker than I expected. Truth be told, I didn't read the synopsis for this before I started it. I just really liked the art sWell then, this was much darker than I expected. Truth be told, I didn't read the synopsis for this before I started it. I just really liked the art style, and it intrigued me enough to request it on NetGalley. What can I say? I'm a visual person. Greg Hinkle's art caught me.
Now, I can't say too much because I'll spoil this for you. What I can say, is that this is quite the twisted tale. Stephen Thorn starts out as your normal, everyday character. It all comes down to circumstance, to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and suddenly his whole life is turned inside out. The man that Thorn becomes after that, well let's just say that his life definitely isn't filled with sunshine and roses. It's just about as far to the opposite of that as one can possibly get.
This story is very bloody. Drenched in it, in fact. It's violent, and definitely not for the faint of heart. If you can't handle graphic deaths, I'd suggest you stay away. If you can handle that though, the story underneath it all is actually really interesting. Admittedly dark and dreary, but interesting just the same. Make sure you read the author's note at the end. I promise you, there will be shivers running up and down your spine....more
Zombies! Let it be known that if you offer me a book revolving around zombies for review, I'll likely snatch it up. I love the visceral nature of storZombies! Let it be known that if you offer me a book revolving around zombies for review, I'll likely snatch it up. I love the visceral nature of stories like Greene's. Watching people fight against not only impossible odds, but against the someone who is essentially the darkest part of themselves. Zombies are terrifying because they are us. Our friends, our neighbors, even our children. It's a great jumping off point for a story, but it's up to the author to bring it home.
Which Daniel Greene did, and did extremely well. This story was paced out perfectly. From the moment that I was dropped in the middle of the Congo, I was immersed. Greene lays out just enough scientific background, to make the spread of this disease feel realistic. As the story progressed, and I got to know our cast of characters better, I realized that Greene is simply excellent at giving just enough information without bogging things down. I always felt like I knew what was going on, and it made this an easy and exciting read.
What made End Time even better, was Agent Mark Steele. I'm used to zombie stories through the eyes of survivors. Mere people who were caught up in the madness. Mark is tough. A kind, thoughtful guy who is used to violence and the unpredictable. You'd think it would have made him the perfect candidate for this kind of event. Which is what makes this story so raw. A man who should be prepared, who realizes that he isn't. If he's not, what chance to we stand? Looking through the eyes of Steele, through the eyes of someone who is trained for anything and is still terrified, took this story to a whole new level.
My one gripe, and it's a small one, is that I really didn't like Gwen's attitude towards things. I was impressed at how much spotlight was on Mark's wife, and how brilliant she was taking care of herself. After all, zombie books often focus on the men being the keepers of the women. Still, Gwen had that typical female attitude that drives me crazy in zombie stories. I wanted to see her being strong, and rational. Not whiny, and irresponsible.
I'm glad that there's more of this to come! End Time surprised me with how well-written and fascinating it was. I'm ready to follow Agent Steele wherever he goes next....more