IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: mashed potatoes--easy, comfortable, not too spicy or too sweet
REVIEW:Abby Spencer is a cute story with a cute protagonist who behaves exactly as I would expect a thirteen-year old girl to behave in her situation.
Though the story begins in Houston, TX, the setting changes when Abby travels to Mumbai to meet her father for the first time. For me, Abby Spencer (both the book and the girl) are most interesting once Abby goes to Mumbai. I love how Abby talks about the beauty and crowds of Mumbai and notices the extreme poverty of the area. She compares this with her father's movie star lifestyle and her own life in Houston, and she does not miss the gaping discrepancies among them.
I love Abby's parents. They are not perfect, but they both really try to do right by their daughter. I also like that Abby's grandparents (on both sides) play significant roles in Abby's life.
There is a little romance between Abby and a boy she meets in Mumbai who happens to live in Dallas, TX. It's an okay romance, appropriately clean for the young ages of the characters. I didn't like that the boy happened to live in Dallas. It's overly convenient, and the characters are too young to attempt a long-distance relationship/ friendship--I wish the boy lived in Mumbai and Abby could see him when she visited as she grew older. To me, that would make for a cuter romance if Bajaj ever wrote a sequel.
Speaking of romance...if Bajaj ever writes a New Adult romance/prequel featuring Abby's college-age parents, I would be all over that. I would love to know more about how they met and their relationship!
THE BOTTOM LINE: It's cute and clean and will have a middle school audience.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order.
READALIKES:Bindi Babes (Dhami)
Overall: 3/5--cute but somewhat average
Creativity: 3/5--it's pretty typical girl-meets-father fare except for that Mumbai setting
Characters: 4/5--bonus point for the parents
Engrossing: 4/5--I finished it in a few hours
Appeal to teens: 4/5--girls, mainly
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Language: very mild; some simulated profanity such as "Oh, Schmidt!"
Sexuality: mild; one chaste kiss; out of wedlock pregnancy; "sexy" dancing in movies/videos; Abby's toned, shirtless father is all over Mumbai billboards (this embarrasses Abby)
Violence: very mild; paparazzi harasses Abby's father and will stop at nothing to get a photo
Social issues: homeless children, extreme poverty, homeless street dogs (less)
Love the clean layout and colorful illustrations throughout. Interesting enough for me to finish in one sitting. Great for reluctant readers. In-depth...moreLove the clean layout and colorful illustrations throughout. Interesting enough for me to finish in one sitting. Great for reluctant readers. In-depth review to come on pub date in October 2014.(less)
It was on the boring side, but the mystery was interesting enough to keep me from abandoning it altogether. After three weeks of falling asleep while...moreIt was on the boring side, but the mystery was interesting enough to keep me from abandoning it altogether. After three weeks of falling asleep while reading this, I am glad I didn't abandon it. Full review to come on pub date May 13, 2014.(less)
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Red onions. Lots of flavor, but the Shakespearean language may cause younger tee...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Red onions. Lots of flavor, but the Shakespearean language may cause younger teen readers to make a face.
REVIEW:Romeo & Juliet is not my favorite Shakespeare play, but it is probably the one I know best. Still Star-Crossed does a fantastic job staying true to Shakespeare's original, especially in the way it is written. While I do think that is a good thing (and also says lots about author Melinda Taub's writing talent), I believe the language will scare off some potential readers.
I love Shakespeare myself, but even as an adult with a degree in English, Still Star-Crossed isn't the easiest story to read and understand. As tough as Shakespeare is for me now, it was much, much harder when I was a teen. I never would have chosen this book for myself 20 years ago. I understand this story because I have scruntinized R & J for high school and college courses. I have seen tons of R & J spin-off movies and read lots of R & J spin-off books. All of these things give me a prior knowledge base that helps me understand character and language, which most teen readers will not yet have.
It is well-written, but I got bored with the story at times. I skimmed some parts. It picks up when Rosaline and Benvolio make a pact to find a way out of their forced betrothal, but that's not until about halfway through. Action is sparse in places, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to root for Rosaline + Benvolio or Rosaline + Prince Escalus. Readers who make it to the end will be rewarded with a sweet and satisfying story where roguish Benvolio becomes quite the swoon-worthy suitor. I also enjoyed the subplot involving Rosaline's sister Livia and County Paris, who was previously betrothed to Juliet.
THE BOTTOM LINE:Still Star-Crossed is a well-written spin-off that complements Romeo & Juliet nicely.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, but I plan to order it.
Engrossing: 3/5--boring in the middle
Appeal to teens: 3/5--some readers will be thrown by Shakespearean language
Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5
Language: mild--damn, bastard
Sexuality: mild--some kisses; bawdy Shakespearean humor / innuendo
Violence: mild--feuding families; sword-fighting; talk of Romeo and Juliet's suicides
Drugs/Alcohol: mild; drinking wine at a party
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Sour Patch Kids. A burst of flavor from sour beginning to sweet, satisfying end....more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Sour Patch Kids. A burst of flavor from sour beginning to sweet, satisfying end.
REVIEW: Egads, but this is a cute book. I devoured it in one sitting, laughing out loud frequently and soaking up tons of pop culture references from the past 40 years. I loved the characters' witty banter, but I adored the various pop culture quotes and references ranging from The Princess Bride to Army of Darkness to The Big Bang Theory to Shakespeare. I know I didn't even get them all, but that's the beauty of this book. There is something for everyone.
I loved the romance and the friendships that develop throughout the story. There is some minor bullying, but I think the characters dish it out more than they actually experience it. This one poor fellow keeps trying to game with the group, and they keep purposely killing his character because they don't like him. Yes, he's a royal jerk who can't take a hint, but that's still not nice.
The alternating voices, written by two authors, work so perfectly for this story. I especially loved the Easter play from 5th grade. Who doesn't have an embarrassing video from the past lurking around in some closet somewhere? And the 1970s Star Wars holiday video? I'm totally going to have to locate one of those!
As a non-gamer, the gaming scenes go on a bit too long for me. They are well-written, but after awhile, I started losing interest and skimming.
Some reviewers classify this as YA, but with 21-year old college-attending characters, I would say it's more new adult than young adult. True to the blurb, there is no sex, but there are lots and lots and lots of sexual jokes and banter. There are comments about erections and boobies and getting laid. Plenty of language as well. I think high schoolers would love this book, but consider yourselves forewarned.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Super-cute, laugh-out-loud funny, tons of pop culture references from the 70s through today. What's not to love?
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: It's way too mature for middle school, but high schoolers would love it. Adults, too.
Appeal to teens: 4/5--non-gamers may find the gaming scenes go on too long
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Language: very high--nothing off the table here
Sexuality: medium--kissing, lots of crude sexual jokes, but it's all talk
Violence: very mild--video game violence
Drugs/Alcohol: very mild--a stranger asks for weed in a theater
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Sweet potatoes with extra marshmallows and butter. The message is good for you,...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Sweet potatoes with extra marshmallows and butter. The message is good for you, but the story is sweet, filling, and palatable.
WHAT I LIKED: Noelle. She's real, and many teens will be able to identify with her situation. Her clothes are old and ratty, but she tries her best to look nice anyway. She is constantly hungry, but she tries to put together healthy lunches with what little she has. She keeps her head down and doesn't ever think she is good enough. She has contemplated suicide many times, but she has never been serious enough to go through it. And sadly, so, so many teens will be able to see themselves in Noelle.
The uplifting message. Hang in there--you are worth it. Reach out for help--it's out there. Don't give up. These are important messages that could save lives.
The story is easy to get into and is never dull. I read it in two days.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The message, while very important, is a bit heavy-handed. It is so obvious that I felt beat over the head with it. The last chapters actually state the "never give up" lesson outright in several paragraphs from Noelle's point of view. Then there is an author's note about suicide and fitting in and how hard high school can be. After that is a list of teen outreach hotlines and websites. While I would never want to diminish the importance of the message, it's a bit much and assumes the reader didn't get the point already. We did. We hear you loud and clear.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Many teens will relate to this story of bullying and suicide, even if the "never give up" message is a little heavy-handed.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it on our high school shelf. After reading it, I may move it to our Realistic Fiction section.
Appeal to teens: 5/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5
Language: very mild; "asshole" occurs once
Sexuality: mild-medium; date rape discussion (occurred before book), kissing, talk of going all the way (but it never happens); discussion of periods/tampons
Violence: medium; bullying, paintball ambush at bus stop, talk of boys fighting
Other issues: parental neglect, suicide, date rape, skipping school
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Lays potato chips--the regular flavor--total junkfood, but you can't read just o...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Lays potato chips--the regular flavor--total junkfood, but you can't read just one page.
WHAT I LIKED: On one hand, Walter Boys is a quick, fun read that I completed in about a day. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy potato chips or cookies--it's junkfood not meant for a steady diet. Somehow, despite its many flaws, I still enjoyed reading it, and I think many teens will like it, too.
I liked the family. Even though Katherine and George make some questionable parenting decisions (such as leaving two teen boys and an unrelated teen girl alone for the weekend), I really liked them for being the involved parents they are. The brothers' constant pranks are hilarious, and I like how they are not perfect. They argue, disobey, talk back, and fight, but despite all that, readers know they love each other as a family should.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I rolled my eyes. A. Lot. Jackie--an appropriately boring name for this boring character--is a total Mary Sue. She is a "good girl" who strives for perfection and wears boring clothes and studies constantly. She freaks out if she is late and does selfless good deeds all day long. I never understood why this house full of hotties has not one but TWO boys who thinks boring Jackie is the cat's meow.
Details are contrived and inconsistent with human behavior. Jackie mentions the difficulty she has climbing a hayloft ladder in a pencil skirt. Agreed. Pencil skirts are confining and climbing a ladder while wearing one would be tough. But a few minutes later, she's off riding a horse (wearing the SAME pencil skirt) but never mentions that being impossible without having to hike up the skirt to her hips.
Other contrived details for the sake of plot (just a few examples):
(view spoiler)[ --Jackie's deceased sister's clubbing dress mysteriously ends up in a box Jackie packed herself. Jackie is "shocked" when she finds it.
--The parents leave a teen girl and two teen boys alone together for an entire weekend so the rest of the family could go camping. Naturally, the lights go out.
--The rancher/handy-man father can't fix a simple door lock or replace a door knob. (He tried!) Of course, boy + girl get locked in.
--The parents either don't know Alex and Jackie are dating, or they don't care (pick your poison). They live in the same house and spend plenty of time alone in bedrooms.
--Mary was that rude to Jackie, even knowing Jackie lives with Alex and has no reason not to tell him what she said. Seriously?
And those two boys who fall in like with her? (view spoiler)[We'll start with Alex. By the middle of the story, I thought he was the one Jackie needed to be with. He's sweet and quiet, and the two of them are friends. They are alike. They dance in the rain. But suddenly, Alex becomes this totally immature douche, and it seemed like he was just using Jackie to make another girl mad. And at the same time, Cole, a complete asshole who might be cute but is a TOTAL JERK, does a full 180 and becomes this sensitive, sweet, helpful-around-the-house guy who *luurrvveess* the lovely but DESPERATELY BORING Jackie. What?!! When did that happen? (hide spoiler)]
THE BOTTOM LINE: It's fun as long as you don't take it too seriously or look for inconsistencies. Three stars because it was entertaining.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it; it's more high school than middle.
Overall: 3/5--despite my criticisms, it was entertaining!
Creativity: 2/5--a lot like Megan Meade Characters: 2/5--didn't like any of them
Appeal to teens: 4/5--a lot of teens will like this
Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5
Language: mild-medium; a few sh**, no F-bombs
Sexuality: mild; some kissing and chest/ab lust
Violence: very mild; brothers get into fight
Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teen party with drinking; MC gets drunk
WHAT I LIKED: An easy, fun read. Lola's costumes are definitely over-the-top, but readers who are into costume design...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
WHAT I LIKED: An easy, fun read. Lola's costumes are definitely over-the-top, but readers who are into costume design will love reading about Lola's creative endeavors.
Despite his weird name, I really liked Cricket and how he wasn't your conventional hottie-in-a-romance. He isn't a "bad boy," and he has no tattoos. He's smart and crazy-tall and, let's be honest, probably a bit on the geeky side. I kept picturing Einstein or Cosmo Kramer whenever Cricket's standing-up hair is mentioned. Same with the high-water pants. While he's not your typical Romeo, he's quite refreshingly normal.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Lola. She's too weird for my taste, and she takes forever to finally see her boyfriend Max for what he really is. She lies frequently to pretty much everyone and gets all pouty when they call her on it. And while I love all the costume designing stuff, Lola's wearing costumes as her normal attire is just too over-the-top for me. It's all about Lola, and her costumes definitely scream "Look at me!"
Maybe it's because I had little love for Lola, but for me, this one just lacks the charm of Anna and the French Kiss. I didn't hate it or anything--it was fun and cute enough--but I won't remember it by next week.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Cute but forgettable. Love the unconventional love interest, but the heroine is too weird.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and with Lola having sex multiple times in the book (see notes below), I am not planning to get it.
Creativity: 3/5--Predictable romance. I did love Lola's costumes though!
Characters: 3/5--liked Cricket; Lola too weird
Engrossing: 4/5--some parts page-turning, some parts not
Appeal to teens: 4/5--Fans of Anna will want to read it
Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5
Language: medium--2 fu**; a handful of sh**
Sexuality: medium--Lola mentions sex with boyfriend maybe three times, but nothing is described; some kissing
Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium--cigarettes, marijuana
Oh, wow, I don't think I've ever been the FIRST person to review any book on Goodreads! Well, I can't really give my full review until the pub date (I...moreOh, wow, I don't think I've ever been the FIRST person to review any book on Goodreads! Well, I can't really give my full review until the pub date (I also reviewed it for SLJ), but I really enjoyed this one! If you liked A Thousand Splendid Suns or My Forbidden Face or anything about oppression of civil liberties in the Middle East, you won't want to miss this one!
Gave up at 32%. Wanted to abandon at about 14% but hung in there because the reviews were so hugely positive. It started out great but ultimately it's...moreGave up at 32%. Wanted to abandon at about 14% but hung in there because the reviews were so hugely positive. It started out great but ultimately it's just too much for me. Too much blood-soaked clothing, too many vampire celebs, too many stupid decisions, too many WTH moments. I'm out.(less)
REVIEW: Okay, so it's probably not the most memorable book I'll read this year, but Roomies is a cute, fun Saturday a...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: Okay, so it's probably not the most memorable book I'll read this year, but Roomies is a cute, fun Saturday afternoon read that I really enjoyed. Viewpoints alternate between Elizabeth and Lauren. Chapters end with the girls' email responses to each other. I like that sometimes, the tone or intent of the emails gets misunderstood, which certainly happens in real-life. Elizabeth and Lauren are both well-developed, and I like how this was written by two authors to give each girl a voice of her own.
There is romance, but it does not overwhelm the plot. The story is mainly about the tentative friendship between these two very different girls; while their romantic lives play a part, their love lives are just a piece of the many things going on.
I really liked the emphasis on family. Lauren is the oldest of six siblings, and all but Lauren is under the age of seven. Lauren has had tons of responsibility thrust upon her, and she cherishes peace and quiet. Elizabeth only has her mother. Her homosexual father left the family years ago, and she has no siblings. She longs for companionship and feels alone much of the time. Her mother flaunts her relationship with a married man in front of Elizabeth and allows him to stay overnight. There are tons of family issues here, and many teen readers will find something to identify with. It's all done realistically and without judgment on the authors' part. Neither girl likes her situation, but with time and communication, they manage to work through it and accept those things they cannot change.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Cute, relevant, and easy-to-read. Give this to high school girls who want about friendship, family problems, or pre-college anxiety.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it. Elizabeth and Lauren talk about losing virginity often, and one of them does lose her virginity in the story. With 18-year old characters, I think this one is better for high school.
Creativity: 4/5--like the email format
Characters: 4/5--EB was a little whiney
Engrossing: 5/5--I read the whole thing in one sitting
Writing: 5/5--I love when two authors write for two different characters
Appeal to teens: 4/5--cute, colorful front cover; easy to get into the story; HS girls will especially like it
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Language: medium--includes lots of sh** and a handful of fu**
Sexuality: medium-high--virginity is discussed frequently; one character loses virginity (off page, not described); extramarital relationships and one parent has overnight guests; EB's father is gay
Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium--drunken kissing at a party (followed by regret/awkwardness)
If Beautiful Disaster were real life, it would end with Travis going to jail for assault, Abby going on Celebrity Pok...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
If Beautiful Disaster were real life, it would end with Travis going to jail for assault, Abby going on Celebrity Poker, and America and Shepley getting married and naming their children Canada and Fido.
So yeah, I enjoyed reading this, but "disaster"is absolutely the right word. I rooted for Travis and Abby the whole way through, but I really don't see these two making their relationship last long-term. They constantly vacillate between insatiable lust and uncontrollable anger. Oh, the drama!
Beautiful Disaster reads like a "what not to do" of healthy relationships. It's is kind of like watching reality TV: it's entertaining as long as you remember that it's a fictional drama made up for the sole purpose of entertainment. (less)
WHAT I LIKED: The characters. Lynn is awesome. She's tough and unpolished and knows almost nothing of the world outsi...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
WHAT I LIKED: The characters. Lynn is awesome. She's tough and unpolished and knows almost nothing of the world outside the home she grew up in. In her whole life, she's only met one other person--a gruff older neighbor who keeps his distance but seems to be watching out for Lynn and her mother. I love how she slowly learns to trust--and even love--other people. She learns that she is stronger with others than she is by herself.
Other characters such as Stebbs (the gruff neighbor), Lauren (Lynn's mother), Neva, Eli--are equally well-drawn. They all have their own baggage and weaknesses and are perfectly flawed, something that I always LOVE in my characters.
The story reads quickly, and I had a difficult time putting it down. I especially love the slow-building sweetness of the romance between Lynn and Eli. Lynn is very careful with her heart, something Eli understands and respects even as he works to melt her heart little by little.
A war over water is very interesting, and I love how McGinnis claims that most wars are really over water, not religion, and that propaganda to keep the people uninformed was rampant in the media. That part of the premise makes absolute sense even though the reason for the water shortage in the USA is unclear--see below.
The ending is realistic. Yes, it was unexpected and broke my heart, but I love it when authors aren't afraid to be real. The world these characters live in is dangerous and wild. Out in the country, there is no law. There are no rules. I love that there is no sequel planned, even though there are no fairytale endings for our characters. They may win the battle, but the war is far from over.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Rape is mentioned frequently. The details are scant, but readers will know what is going on. While I am certain that rape would occur in this lawless society, I don't like the use of rape as currency in this story. Women, particularly pretty ones, are bartered like cattle. Need some milk to feed your starving baby? Just give us 30 minutes of your time... It's just gross. How many times did the bad men in the story have sex in one day? It seems like a few of them raped several women each day. They held and hijacked lots of women, but very few outside men came by their little settlement for some "entertainment" from their captives. Most of the people who stopped by the makeshift town were starving, sick, and desperate. I would think they should be too hungry/cold/tired to even think about sex. For a book marketed as YA, I think in this case, rape is overused as a plot device.
I was kind of bothered that we never got much history of why the world became this way. It rains and snows several times in the story. Lynn's pond isn't the only water source around; there is also a stream and a river nearby, as well as water flowing underground. Why did the cholera spread so quickly? Why did the water treatment plants stop working? There was no catastrophic disaster kicking all this off, but the world sure did go bad quickly. Why? Why? Why?
THE BOTTOM LINE: Though plot gaps exist and rape is overused as a plot device, I really enjoyed reading Not A Drop To Drink. Fast-paced with well-defined, likeable characters. And no sequel--yay!
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and with all the rape references, I can't get it.
Characters: 5/5--loved the characters!
Engrossing: 5/5--read almost in one sitting
Writing: 4/5--lots of unanswered questions about the world
Appeal to teens: 4/5--the rape stuff will bother some readers
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Language: medium--includes fu** and sh**
Sexuality: medium--some kissing; tons of rape references (not described)
Violence: high--gun violence, wild animal attacks, suicide
Drugs/Alcohol: medium--the "bad guys" drink alcohol and barter for alcohol/cigarettes; OTC and RX medical drugs used for medical emergencies
REVIEW: Cute but silly, Once Upon A Marigold is mildly popular in my school, particularly with the sixth grade girls....more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: Cute but silly, Once Upon A Marigold is mildly popular in my school, particularly with the sixth grade girls. I think I would have enjoyed this one more if I were about 25 years younger. Christian is a really cute protagonist, and I love that both Marigold and Christian are intelligent and enjoy reading. Ed, the troll who raised Christian, is super cute with his mixed up phrases and his not knowing what to do with a precocious six-year old.
While it's very predictable, I think teachers and librarians should make this series available. It's very clean, cute, and young readers will love it.
THE BOTTOM LINE: For me, a bit silly and predictable, but for young readers, it will be a hit.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have all three books in this series, and I will be recommending it a lot to my sixth grade girls.
READALIKES:The Sweetest Spell (Selfors); Ella Enchanted (Levine); Princess Academy (Hale)
Overall: 3/5--cute, fun, predictable, a little silly
Characters: 4/5--loved Christian, Marigold, and Ed; the queen was flat
Engrossing: 3/5--read quickly because it is short
Writing: 4/5--simply written for the younger audience
Appeal to teens: 5/5--more for younger readers though (ages 9-12)
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5--short and sweet
Sexuality: very mild; a chaste kiss; forced royal marriage
Violence: mild; fairytale violence
Drugs/Alcohol: mild; poisoning
REVIEW: Although I read the New Adult genre from time to time, I do not typically review New Adult books on my blog u...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: Although I read the New Adult genre from time to time, I do not typically review New Adult books on my blog unless they are something special. Ten Tiny Breaths is definitely something special, and I am reviewing it here because I think it will make readers out of non-readers. Any book that can do that is worth its weight in gold as far as I am concerned.
As a New Adult book, Ten Tiny Breaths includes intense (but not pornographic) sexual situations. It has plenty of profanity. And sure, there are some high school students who are not yet mature enough to handle that. BUT, for older high school students who can handle it (the majority, in my opinion), Ten Tiny Breaths is an absolute gem. If I had an upper-high school daughter, especially one who didn't like reading, I would totally give her this book.
The characters are well-developed, as is the plot, which tackles post-traumatic stress disorder. This is more than your typical NA read--PTSD is not something I've seen explored in fiction for young adults, and Tucker handles it realistically and with sensitivity.
I loved the romance! For teachers and librarians worried about content, it definitely has mature content. There are multiple sexual situations and some intercourse, but none of it is pornographic. Parents, you know your teens. If your older teen likes romantic movies but doesn't like to read, this book might be just the thing you've been looking for to turn that around.
THE BOTTOM LINE: An excellent choice for adults and older teens who love romance, especially those who do not like to read.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I think this is too mature for most HS libraries to offer in the general collection, but I think parents should consider this book on a case-by-case basis for older teens (like 17+) who can handle mature sexual content. It's a no-brainer for public libraries--get this book now!
Appeal to teens: 4/5--it's NA, so not intended for younger teens
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Language: high--includes multiple sh**, fu**
Sexuality: high--more than Perfect Chemistry, less than 50 Shades Violence: mild; protagonist is a kick boxer and sometimes uses it as a defense/coping mechanism
Drugs/Alcohol: mild; remembered past drug/alcohol use; protagonist works as a bartender but never drinks alcohol; protagonist's loved ones were killed in drunk driving accident years ago
REVIEW: Holy long book, Batman! I've had my eye on Eon for years in my library, and I finally sat down and read it. I...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: Holy long book, Batman! I've had my eye on Eon for years in my library, and I finally sat down and read it. It is definitely well-written, but must admit I skimmed some of the middle parts. Excellent world-building, but the action scenes are spaced between a mountain of info-dumping. I'm also sad that there was no romance, but that really is probably better since most of the characters think Eona is a castrated 12-year old boy.
With plenty of East Asian influences such as the Chinese Zodiac, dragons, and hua, Eon's worldbuilding is absolutely incredible. Possibly due to some boredom with the plot, I kept stopping to research things like the Chinese Zodiac and hua and eunuchs. All very fascinating, and I'm ready for a Chinese New Year category on Jeopardy now!
Characters are well-done, but I wasn't sure how much I actually liked Eona. She's tough, no doubt, but she seems way too eager to throw away her femininity in favor of being a boy. Does she really expect to keep this charade going for the rest of her life? She's done it this long, I suppose! Eona isn't the only gender-bending character; there is another very important character (who I LOVED!)--a man living life as a woman. This self-aware individual says that "this is just who she is" and "she's always been this way." The gender identity stuff didn't bother me so much, but it will raise some eyebrows in more conservative circles.
There is one part at the end that I REALLY did not like. (view spoiler)[One particular "bad" character is given a reprieve that he absolutely did not deserve. After all his misdeeds and abhorrent treatment of Eon (assault, attempted rape, attempted murder), I would think she would want to dispatch him the first chance she got. Instead, she gives him a chance to escape with her. Huh? (hide spoiler)]
THE BOTTOM LINE: Excellent worldbuilding. Well-drawn (but sometimes unlikeable) characters. Overlong. Horrible ending. I can see why Eon gets high praise from fantasy readers, but it isn't so much my cup of tea.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. Librarians in very conservative schools might want to read this one first due to gender identity, cross-dressing, and two near-rape scenes.
READALIKES:Seraphina (Hartman); Leviathan (Westerfeld); Shadow & Bone (Bardugo)
Appeal to teens: 3/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5
Language: none--at least I don't remember any
Sexuality: medium--two near-rapes, 2 cross-dressing characters, multiple mentions of breast binding and menstrual cycle
Violence: medium--plenty of beatings for young apprentices; murder and attempted murder; fighting with knives and swords
Drugs/Alcohol: medium--tea that prevents menstruation; a steroid-like powder that increases muscular bulk
WHAT I LIKED: As soon as I saw that Ms. Dickerson had a new fairytale spin-off published, I knew I'd HAVE to read it...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
WHAT I LIKED: As soon as I saw that Ms. Dickerson had a new fairytale spin-off published, I knew I'd HAVE to read it ASAP. After working my way through a waiting list for the Overdrive e-book at my local public library, I finally got the book at 3AM on the day after Christmas. Yippee! I downloaded it immediately and started reading.
First, I had no idea that The Captive Maiden is a companion novel to The Fairest Beauty, which I absolutely adored. In The Fairest Beauty, Gabehart rescues his brother Valten's betrothed from her evil, jealous stepmother. Together Gabehart and Sophie escape to the Cottage of the Seven, where despite their efforts not to, Gabehart and Sophie fall in love. In The Captive Maiden, Valten finally gets his turn at romance after seeing a beautiful and courageous maiden dressed in rags at the market. He follows her and ends up intervening on her behalf when she is accosted by an unsavory man, who already has a grudge against Valten.
Another thing I really liked is Gisela's determination not to allow her current situation to take over her life. Unlike the Disney Cinderella, Gisela defies her stepmother and fights back frequently. She has money saved and a plan to leave whenever she decides she can't take anymore. She does not wait passively for her prince to come and rescue her--she plans to rescue herself. When things get rough for Gisela and Valten, Gisela again takes an active role in their rescue.
Some will like that this story is squeaky clean. For me, it's a bit Mary Sue (more on that in a minute), but librarians/teachers/parents looking for clean romances for their middle school girls will be hard-pressed to find anything morally objectionable in The Captive Maiden.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Both Valten and Gisela are so "Mary Sue" that I found them not believable. While they may have been tempted to do something scandalous--ooh, no kissing!--they ALWAYS end up doing the "right" thing. The bad guy hurts them over and over and over, yet Gisela actually pities him. Valten, a knight perfectly within his right to dispatch the bad guy holding them hostage, never even thinks about killing him. I understand why Gisela, at the mercy of her stepfamily, has never kissed anyone at age 17. There are plenty of beautiful girls in our own time who at age 17, have never been kissed. But Valten is 24-years old, devastatingly handsome, supremely wealthy, and totally free to do as he pleases. Unlike Gisela, Valten has lost his way a bit where his faith is concerned, so there is no moral reason he would not kiss a girl. But I am expected to believe he has never kissed anyone before. Seriously?
Also, The Captive Maiden--especially the first half--reminded me a lot of Drew Barrymore's 1998 movie Ever After. While I enjoyed that movie, this was too close to the plot. I dare you to read The Captive Maiden and NOT think of Ever After or picture Drew Barrymore as Gisela. It can't be done.
The first half wasn't nearly as interesting as the second half. The jousting scenes went on too long for me, and I found myself skimming. Yeah, yeah, yeah, perfect, noble Valten fights fairly and wins every. single. time. I get it. Let's move on, please.
THE BOTTOM LINE:The Captive Maiden is not as good as The Fairest Beauty, but Dickerson fans will enjoy it all the same. A very sweet romance with lots of chivalry, a sweet romance, and pretty dresses.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. I have recommended The Fairest Beauty plenty, and this one will no doubt be popular in my library. Fairytale retellings are arguably the hottest genre in my library right now, especially with the girls. Librarians concerned about sexual content and language in YA fiction have nothing to worry about with this book.
Creativity: 2/5--due to similarity to the movie Ever After Characters: 4/5--loved Gisela's independence and lack of passivity
Engrossing: 3/5--read it in one day, but found myself skimming the knight tournaments
Writing: 4/5--well-written, especially the dialogue
Appeal to teens: 4/5--this will be popular in my library
Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5--302 pages is neither too long nor too short
Sexuality: very, very, very mild--a couple of temple kisses and one actual kiss
Violence: mild-medium--knights fight in tournaments; kidnapping; assault; brief mention of animal cruelty
Drugs/Alcohol: very mild; mention of possible poisoning
REVIEW: After more than two weeks of trying to get into this book, I am giving up on page 137. It's not that interest...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: After more than two weeks of trying to get into this book, I am giving up on page 137. It's not that interesting, and even more bothersome, Nil has an implausible premise. It appears that the wormholes bringing people to Nil are randomly placed throughout the world because there are cheetahs, lions, tigers, and zebras on Nil. There are also a few teens on the island from countries outside North America. But no matter where they are from, the only people taken through the wormholes are devastatingly beautiful teenagers. No elderly people. No screaming toddlers. No polished 50-year old corporate softie who cries himself to sleep every night. No one with a disability or a chronic illness. No one who has acne or bad teeth or athlete's foot. Seriously?
With few exceptions, all the Nil hotties are really nice! Though there is at least one nefarious deed-doer, Nil is no Lord of the Flies. And you can easily spot the bad guy because he's the only one using the F-word. Other than that one boy, the teens on the island of Nil are polite, well-socialized, smart, work well with others, and are--let's not forget--so darn gorgeous! Oh, the loincloths!
To me, this is sort of a bad version of Libba Bray's Beauty Queens. I didn't care for that book much, either, though I did at least finish it. The girls on the Beauty Queens island were also all gorgeous, but since they were all beauty pageant contestants involved in the same plane crash--at least that made sense. And the whole tone of Beauty Queens was satirical--it was far-fetched on purpose. It makes a statement about commercialism and corporate-sponsored "reality" TV. Nil--at least up to page 137--has none of that going for it.
Oh yeah! There's insta-love! As if I needed another reason to DNF Nil.
To be fair, I am linking a particularly insightful early review of Nil that is much more positive than mine. If you are thinking about reading Nil, know that I've seen several reviewers who said that Nil does take time to get started but gets better in the second half. Those reviews managed to get me all the way to p. 137--I was ready to abandon just after page 100. Sarah's Goodreads review of Nil
THE BOTTOM LINE: An implausible premise and a bunch of beautiful, goodie-goodie teenage characters drove me to DNF this one. For a better survival-romance story, read These Broken Stars instead.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and I have no plans to get it.
Creativity: 3/5--it's a nice effort at something different
Characters: 2/5--an island full of really nice hotties!
Engrossing: 1/5--I couldn't finish it after several attempts
Writing: 2/5--I hear it gets better in the second half
Appeal to teens: 4/5--I think this would be easy to "sell" to teens, but I know plenty of my middle schoolers would question the weak world-building
Appropriate length to tell the story: 1/5--Too long for me!
Language: medium-high--includes fu** and sh**
Sexuality: mild up to p. 137--some kissing
Violence: mild up to p. 137--a human skull is found
Drugs/Alcohol: none up to p. 137
REVIEW: I read That Boy in one sitting, staying up until 4AM to finish it. This adorable book reminds me a lot of Kin...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: I read That Boy in one sitting, staying up until 4AM to finish it. This adorable book reminds me a lot of Kinsella's Shopaholic series and Abbi Glines' The Vincent Boys, both of which I loved. The protagonist, JJ Reynolds, starts out pretty annoying because she is young and immature and silly, but she mellows out as she grows older. JJ is a happy, confident young lady, but she doesn't always have the best judgment. She makes plenty of mistakes, and through it all, her best friends Phillip and Danny are there to guide her through. JJ can be bonehead-clueless, especially when it comes to both boys' romantic feelings for her, but I believed in their friendship and the chemistry among the characters.
I loved getting a window into the lives of these three characters. The story follows them from about first grade all the way to just past college graduation. While it is fluffy fun at times, it also has a serious side. As in real life, the characters sometimes experience heartbreak, tragedy, and pain. They all make mistakes and must learn to move on. But through it all, they rely on each other and help each other through. I really loved that. Yes, there is romance--plenty of it--but the friendship among these three people is the main story.
I do not normally include new adult books on my YA blog, but in this case, the book does not really contain anything most high school readers could not handle. There is sex and kissing, but none of it is described in detail. For at least the first half of the story, the characters are in grade school and high school, and during this part, it reads like YA chick lit. When they go off to college, there is some college drinking and partying and sex, but again, none of it is described in detail beyond "we had sex" or "his hand went under my shirt." I think many high school girls--especially those who don't really like reading--would love That Boy.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Cute and fun for high school and beyond. Perfect for reluctant reader girls.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: It's too mature for a middle school library, so I can't get it. I do recommend it for high school libraries. Though it started out as an e-book only, a paperback version is now available from Bandit Publishing.
READALIKES: anything by Sophie Kinsella, Abbi Glines, or Jennifer Echols
Overall: 5/5--I loved it!
Creativity: 5/5--Readers get to watch these characters grow up in detail, which I have not seen in chick lit before.
Characters: 5/5--Loved them all. Lots of chemistry and a believable friendship.
Engrossing: 5/5--Read in one sitting; finished at 4AM.
Writing: 5/5--Good enough for me to read in one sitting.
Appeal to teens: 5/5--will especially appeal to reluctant reader HS girls
Appropriate length to tell the story: less than 300 pages and never dull
Language: mild-medium; includes fu** and sh**
Sexuality: mild-medium; sex occurs and is discussed, but none of it is in detail; brief mention of menstrual period; some sexual promiscuity in college (again, not described)
Violence: mild; fight at a party
Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teens party in college; plenty of drinking; characters drink socially as adults and sometimes get drunk
REVIEW: As the daughter of a Navy sailor, I've heard lots of seafaring songs and tales throughout my life. Mistwalker...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: As the daughter of a Navy sailor, I've heard lots of seafaring songs and tales throughout my life. Mistwalker reads like one of my Dad's sea stories, full of mysterious creatures, dangerous waters, and enchanted boats. The coastal Maine setting is so well-described, it's almost like it's a character all by itself. Haunting, beautiful, and creepy.
While it can be slow-paced at times, I really enjoyed Mistwalker. Unique and well-written, Mistwalker features a haunting (but not scary) view of a sad, lonely once-human creature who longs for his own freedom. There is a lot of thinking and reflecting and as such, this will appeal most to patient readers who don't need to know all the answers right away.
Mistwalker alternates between Willa's and the Grey Man's viewpoints. Willa is understandably grief-stricken and angry, and Grey is all but resigned to his fate. Though Grey doesn't want to hurt Willa, he can't fathom remaining in the lighthouse until he collects a thousand souls, either. I particularly love the relationship between Willa and her father and how much the two of them are alike. Even though Willa's dad is (again, understandably) furious with her, he loves her and is afraid for her and wants desperately to keep her safe.
This story kept me guessing. I had no idea if Grey would end up switching places with Willa, or if there might be a romance between Willa and Grey. I felt so sorry for Grey and wanted him to find his freedom, but he couldn't do that without taking Willa's freedom. That was a cool juxtaposition that could have ended in lots of different ways.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The somewhat slow pacing may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed this creepy tale of a haunted lighthouse and a teen girl's grief after her brother's murder. The writing is beautiful, as is the Maine setting.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: It's not out yet, but I plan to purchase it. I already lent my ARC to an eighth grade girl who I think will really enjoy it.
Appeal to teens: 4/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 4/5
Language: mild-medium; includes a handful of fu** and sh**
Sexuality: mild-medium; talk of "sleeping together" and a couple of kissing scenes; Willa's best friend is gay
Violence: mild; a murder is a big part of the story
Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teens drink at a party, get drunk; smell of cigarettes
WHAT I LIKED: Honestly, not much. The setting is nice and creepy, with well-written descriptions of the small town an...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
WHAT I LIKED: Honestly, not much. The setting is nice and creepy, with well-written descriptions of the small town and its deep, dark river with no-telling-what lying in wait at the murky bottom. I like that it is only 240 pages; at least my misery was short-lived.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The narration. Jane narrates the story as though she is speaking to Holly. It's a weird kind of second person narrative that is unique, but for me it was just awkward. I kept forgetting that Jane was talking to Holly when she said "you did this" or "you remember that." I have never liked second-person narration, and even though this was technically first-person with Jane telling the story, it reads a lot like second-person.
The scripture. This book contains SO. MUCH. Scripture. And though I didn't go back and count them, I would bet money that there was at least one bible reference or quotation on every single page. While I am not personally a very spiritual person, biblical references and scripture from time to time in a story do not bother me. I've read (and enjoyed!) several Christian Fiction novels for teens (here, here, and here) so it is clearly not the mere presence of religion that bothers me. But in The Drowned Forest, the scripture is just overwhelming.
The slow-pacing. Seriously, you have a few major events with a LOT of internal dialogue (Jane talking to Holly) and thinking and praying and quoting of scripture in between. "Holly" is not so much scary as she is sad, and while some might find the lack of romance refreshing, I wanted to see more romantic spark between Jane and Tyler.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Clearly, I did not like this book, and I don't recommend it.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and I would only get it if students requested it.
REVIEW: There is a Seinfeld episode where Jerry dates a girl who is pretty in certain lighting and scary-looking in o...more More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.
REVIEW: There is a Seinfeld episode where Jerry dates a girl who is pretty in certain lighting and scary-looking in other lighting. George calls her a "Two-Face," like the Batman villain. And that's exactly how I felt about this book. I absolutely LOVED the first half. You have Alexa, a kick-butt girl who will do anything to survive and stay with her twin brother. She's tough. She's smart. She's a brilliant fighter who is practically unbeatable. You have a corrupt king who must somehow be stopped. There's a breeding house, where orphan girls go, and, well, I'm sure you can guess what happens there. There is a hint of romance, but at least at the beginning, it isn't the main story.
And then, about halfway through, it all comes crashing down. Alexa sees our spoiled, lazy prince's ripped abs, and it's curtains for my tough girl. Gone is her resilient, anything-to-survive attitude. Suddenly, Alexa becomes whiny, needy, and such a GIRL. As if that's not enough, there is another boy--her best friend, as if we haven't heard that before--who has known Alexa's secret all along and has loved her from afar for years. Alexa is conflicted between the two boys, and much of the kick-butt stuff going on in the first half is replaced with Alexa trying to figure out who she loves and wants to be with.
So who does our lovely Alexa choose? (view spoiler)[Does she choose the loyal best friend who knows her better than anyone and has loved her and helped keep her safe all these years? NO! She chooses instead to fall in insta-love with the prince who she could barely stand to be around for most of her time as a guard. The prince whose personality is almost as vapid as Alexa's. The prince who lied to her and intentionally deceived her all while asking her to trust him. WTH? (hide spoiler)]
Don't get me wrong; I LOVE romance in my fantasy stories. I love it to the point that if it isn't there at all, it feels like something is missing. But I have to believe it. I have to fall in love with the characters myself, characters who are well-developed who make good and bad decisions, for better or for worse. But really, none of the three major characters is developed well. I didn't even LIKE the stupid prince, and I know little about Rylan (the best friend) beyond his love for the lovely Alexa.
And how can I forget the world-building? It's easy--there was none. There's this castle surrounded by a rainforest jungle area. There's some other kingdoms far away trying to usurp King Hector's vice-like grip on his people's freedom. There are some sorcerers who it appears were born with magical abilities. And um...well, that's it.
THE BOTTOM LINE: This book is a Two-Face. The first half is great; the second half just made me mad. Romance overruns the plot, and characters and the fantasy world are grossly underdeveloped. Skip it.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: It's not out yet, but I do not plan to get it. Despite my irritation with it, the breeding house scenes are pretty horrific and mature for middle schoolers.
Appeal to teens: 2/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 2/5
Sexuality: medium--some kissing; the breeding house scenes are disturbing but nothing is shown
Violence: mild; sword fighting, bow and arrows, a few deaths
REVIEW: I am a devoted Simone Elkeles fan, and as such, Wild Cards did not disappoint. As with the Perfect Chemistry s...more More reviews at Mrs ReaderPants.
REVIEW: I am a devoted Simone Elkeles fan, and as such, Wild Cards did not disappoint. As with the Perfect Chemistry series, I wolfed down Derek and Ashtyn's story almost without stopping. I adored Derek's flippant, sarcastic style and ability to see right through the front Ashtyn puts forth. Ashtyn is a little annoying and whiny, but her banter with Derek cracked me up.
Derek's grandmother is one of the most annoying characters I've read in awhile; I could have done just fine without her and her purple umbrella and her expecting everyone to do her bidding. The Texas accents were also annoying. I've lived in Texas for almost 18 years, and I don't know a soul who talks that way.
As with all Elkeles books, Wild Cards would be a great choice for reluctant reader girls. The engaging dialogue and quick-moving plot make the story easy to get into and stick with.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Elkeles fans will love it, as will anyone who loves romance and new adult novels. The romance is steamy and has plenty of sexual content. As such, it is best for upper-high school and adults (see content notes below).
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: The sexual content is high, so I can 't get it.
READALIKES:Pushing the Limits series (McGarry); Perfect Chemistry series (Elkeles); Hundred Oaks series (Kenneally)
Appeal to teens: 5/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
Language: high (but not as high as in the Perfect Chemistry series); multiple fu**, sh**, others
Sexuality: high; multiple references to arousal, two intercourse scenes with some detail, loss of virginity, promiscuity
Violence: mild; fighting
Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teens get drunk at party, get served alcohol in a club
Other: one minor character is described as having two dads