People, this is not a little book. It’s 320 pages long. I started reading it at 9:30pm thinking I’d get a few chapters in....moreOriginal review posted here
People, this is not a little book. It’s 320 pages long. I started reading it at 9:30pm thinking I’d get a few chapters in. Next thing I knew I was closing the book and looking at my clock where the time of 4:30am was looking at me with accusation. I haven’t stayed up like that to read a book in one setting, or I should say, to read an adult book in one setting, in… never.
I was simply blown away by this story. Susan Schoenberger flawlessly moves between the past and present, connecting the story of Harlan’s death to Lucy’s life and the decisions being made. Add into the equation the realistic portrayal of the difficulties of adopting, especially from another country, the struggles of dating and the coping of grief from unfulfilled love and you have a knockout of a story. And in spite of all these elements, not once did I feel overwhelmed, or that there was too much stuff going on for the story to be effective.
I wept and rejoiced with Lucy, I fell in love with Mat, I grieved for Harlan and felt the sting experienced by Louis as Lucy struggled to adapt to her new life.
If you are looking for a book that will knock your socks off and grab you by the shoulders and shake you until you cry, this is it. By far, one of the best books I’ve read this year.(less)
So, I expected good. I mean, when Pam from Bookalicious started hyping this book I figured it had to be good – I trust her...moreOriginal review posted here
So, I expected good. I mean, when Pam from Bookalicious started hyping this book I figured it had to be good – I trust her judgement, and so I took the leap. I was not disappointed.
There’s something about good, wholesome, feel-good, fairy-tale-like fantasies that just make my heart warm, give me goosebumps and cause my to walk around my house with my nose buried in the book (or in this case, pressed to the screen of my Kindle). Arley Cole takes tried and true methods to set up the scene, providing her readers with an incredibly strong female heroine who is smart, sassy, strong, clever, and magical – all combined into a short package. And I loved her.
This book has tricks being played, wars being planned, good and evil wizards, mean fathers, a ditzy girl, loyal followers, strong hero and heroine, history, world-building and more. And best of all – for those of you who are scared of getting into the reading of a fantasy book, this is what I like to call “Fantasy-lite”. Yes, there are strange names and beings – but it’s all put together in a nice package that will have you flipping pages in your hurry to get to the next one, rather than using the book (like some seriously intense fantasies inspire me to do) for a coaster.
I very much recommend picking up this book, especially if you have a teenage son or daughter interested in fantasy. It’s good, clean fun.(less)
I’m not even joking – I devoured this book in three hours. I could not put it down. Out of tea? Oh well. Cold and need to m...moreOriginal review posted here
I’m not even joking – I devoured this book in three hours. I could not put it down. Out of tea? Oh well. Cold and need to move to the bed to get under electric blanket? Nope. Don’t wanna stop reading.
Yet this book was so filled with such emotionally corny scenes I’m a bit ashamed of myself.
This goes back to that idea of entertainment. Was Proof of Heaven a challenging, literary read that had me pausing to collect my thoughts and ponder over the wonders contained in those pages? No. It wasn’t. But it was entertainment, and it made me “aw” a little, and it made me think about faith, and love, and hope, and joy, and sadness and all sorts of other human ideas and feelings.
While parts of the story did feel contrived (I’m sorry, I understand why the author was wanting her 5 – 7 year old boy to be that insightful, it was just a bit too jarring), there were parts that were beautiful as well – specifically the exploration of the relationships. Each character’s connection with Cathleen was unique and beautiful, in their own ways. I felt the frustration and the anger of Sean, the faithful steadfastness of the Cathleen’s priest, and sympathized with the Doctor as he grew closer to the small family he was helping.
While this isn’t one of those summery beach reads, it is a perfect read for a chilly winter day – provided your mug of hot tea doesn’t rudely empty itself before you can finish the book.(less)
With Dark Parties, Sara Grant jumps on the dystopia train and offers her version of a future that might be. Neva lives in...moreReview originally posted here
With Dark Parties, Sara Grant jumps on the dystopia train and offers her version of a future that might be. Neva lives in a dome, a place where people are disappearing, where the calendar has been reset to 01/01/01 and where life’s luxuries, things we take for granted today, are disintegrating quickly.
Honestly, the book was okay. But just that – okay. I kind of felt as if Sara Grant took a stock “this is the outline for dystopia” booklet and filled in the blanks with her own special tweaks (in fact, a part of the book made me wonder if she was intending to just outright rip part of George Orwell’s 1984 ideas out of his book and make them her own). The world was not put together very well, I mean, it was okay, it was a world, but there wasn’t much detail and it was sort of like reading the text equivalent of standard background painting in a low-budget film.
It’s funny, but as I write this review I wonder exactly why I had a hard time putting the book down. I think the answer is that it was entertaining fluff. Just enough interesting material to keep me from wanting to put the book down, but not enough to fill me up with yummy book goodness. In fact, the book really started getting interesting just as it ended – which made me a bit upset. Although the ending wasn’t as bad a cliffhanger as has become quite the fashion, it still was enough of one to let me know that there would be more.. and I’m ready for stand alone books to make their way back into fashion again.
So, long story short, interesting enough book, will scratch the itch if you want to read yet another dystopia novel, but if you are picking and choosing your way through them, this is one you might want to put on the “maybe one day” pile.(less)
Review to comeI’ve been in such a melancholy funk lately – I go through these stages where I need to read about tragedy a...moreReview originally posted here
Review to comeI’ve been in such a melancholy funk lately – I go through these stages where I need to read about tragedy and redemption, life moving on, just to feel as if I’m not the only one out there feeling these moments of sorrow and pain and to remind myself that there is worse and that I really am not all that bad off.
So with that in mind, it’s inevitable that I’d gravitate toward The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle – the story of a girl with two parents and a younger brother all taken from her in the blink of an eye. Laurel is a Junior in high school at the time of the accident and she has to struggle.
There are things I loved in this book. I thought the portrayal of her grief stages, of her wants, wishes and eventual acceptance were very realistic and portrayed well. I felt for her, but it was hard to really feel moved for her because, in spite of it all, she still had so much and was so self-centered through it all. She was not the only one affected by the accident, but it takes quite some time before she is even able to acknowledge that and… honestly, when a girl has to choose between ivy league schools and maintains a high GPA through a tragedy of this level, it just gets a bit unrealistic. That was the part that turned me off – that in spite of this crippling event, she still manages to live a life that most of us would have loved to have.
Don’t get me wrong, a love a good “happily ever after”, but sometimes it’s too much and in the case of this story, it came off that way. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and was saved from being terrible with some fantastic writing and character building on the secondary characters, but still – I admit to rolling my eyes more than feeling as if I wanted to shed a tear.
Still, The Beginning of After is a worthwhile read and I read it easily in an afternoon sitting. I’d highly recommend supplementing it with Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver or even something by Elizabeth Musser.(less)
Okay, this was a cute book. I was homeschooled, so I don’t have memories of bullying or being picked on (although I was pic...moreOriginal review posted here
Okay, this was a cute book. I was homeschooled, so I don’t have memories of bullying or being picked on (although I was picked on a little bit by other means), but if I had the types of memories most people seem to have – then I would have loved to have an Odd Job Squad firmly on my side.
Karl Fields reaches out through middle-grade humor to teach a subtle lesson. Through the pranks and hijinks of the Odd Job Squad, he highlights the feelings and emotions that are cascading through the bodies of all middle-graders- the need to be accepted, to be who they are and more. And while some of the pranks are absolutely hilarious (fish eyes, I’m looking at you), I was actually more touched by the friendship bonds being displayed.
The Odd Job Squad is a great middle-age book, especially if you are looking for that book to get a boy interested in reading. It’s funny, smart and teaches a good lesson without being preachy.(less)
Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is a stunning, stunning debut novel. Brilliantly conceived, filled wit...moreThis review was first posted to my blog here
Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is a stunning, stunning debut novel. Brilliantly conceived, filled with masterful descriptions that provoke not only the imagination with sights, but also with sounds, smells and touch. From the first few paragraphs I was spiraled into a story, much like Alice falling down her rabbit hole, and caught up in a tale of the completely fantastic and I loved every single second of it. Every one.
Now and then I'll pick up a middle grade book and, more often than not, I'll put it down feeling an overwhelming urge to pet a kitten or cuddle a puppy, but sometimes, those rare, few, precious times, I put the book down and feel as if I've been transported back in time and I'm 11 years old again and surrounded by a word of magic and mystery; a world where a boy without eyes can overcome impossible odds, where a knight without bravery can overcome his cowardice, and where a lost fantasyland can be found again. Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is one of those stories.
One of the most brilliant, fantastic things about this book is way Auxier describes not only the people Peter comes in contact with, but also the places he visits and the things he does. Peter is blind, he has no eyes, and since the book (even though it's in third person) is from Peter's main point of view, we're treated to smells, touches and sounds. If a man is tall, we know because of the sound of his tread, if two people are related it's due to their smell. All this is done in such an exquisite way that it slipped by, unnoticed, until a moment came and I felt as if I'd just woken up and the world around me began to sparkle.
Bravo, Jonathan, bravo.
I cannot rave about this book enough. If you loved Gregor and the fantastic world Suzanne Collins made in her books, if you loved Plain Kate by Erin Bow, then you will adore this story of Peter Nimble, the blind thief. There are books I love, books I tolerate, books I cannot stand - but every now and then I come across a book like this one where I feel privileged to be allowed to read and experience the story.
Thank you, Jonathan Auxier, for giving us this story.(less)
Elisa is not your typical heroine. She likes to eat, and her figure shows it. She’s the second born girl, with an ol...moreOriginally posted at my blog here.
Elisa is not your typical heroine. She likes to eat, and her figure shows it. She’s the second born girl, with an older sister who has been trained to be a Queen. Elisa loves to read and is incredibly smart, but rarely gets to show that off due to a low self-esteem.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns begins with a wedding. Elisa’s wedding. She is being married to a King and sent away from her family on her 16th birthday, and so begins her adventures.
What I really appreciated about this book was, although Rae Carson went just a little overboard with Elisa’s “fat” figure (references to eating, to calling herself a ‘pig’, etc), she also made sure to give a fairly accurate picture of what it feels like to be large. The whispers and glances, even a wedding night – all made sense, especially during later events. I was worried that this would be one of those stories where the fat girl loses weight and all of the sudden everyone likes her, but Carson manages to skirt around that cliche and still maintain the integrity of the story.
There is a lot of religion on this book, it’s a world based around the premise of religion and of Elisa being the first “chosen-one” in about 100 years. It’s fascinating stuff, but also very, very religious so it was interesting to me to read a fantasy based so heavily on prayer.
I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I loved that, although there is love, it is not the central focus of the story, but rather Elisa’s growth and confidence is. The fantasy world was interesting, but could have been a little more fleshed out (with less prayer next time, please!) and I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series to see where Carson takes us next.(less)
I’m really conflicted on this book – because first of all, it read like a big-time Twilight rip-off, and second of all… I w...moreOriginal review posted here
I’m really conflicted on this book – because first of all, it read like a big-time Twilight rip-off, and second of all… I was entertained by it. That entertainment means I’m not going to go all crazy in my review, because, frankly, there are quite a few reviews out there that do that for me.
However, I do want to say this – if you are an author looking to write a book to appeal to the young adult crowd, think long and hard before making an “instant” relationship happen between two teens. It’s unrealistic and it sets a really bad example and I don’t see it well received well at all in reading reviews and looking around the blogosphere (this is also in general, not just with this book – although it is guilty).
Now – I will admit I was fascinated by the magic system in this book, and aside from the relationships, everything else seemed pretty solid. The setting was fantastic, the group of friends plausible, and the writing pulled me in and kept me entertained, despite the lack of original story-line.
All that said, I cannot blame Fallon for taking inspiration from the Twilight books. They are a huge success. I think for those people who love the story, this book will be a great read for them, and for those who had some of the issues I had (the breaking of rules, the implausibility of parts of the Twilight story), you might actually enjoy this one more.(less)
With all the stories of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons and witches/warlocks out there - of course the time of the mermaid was bound to come.
I'v...moreWith all the stories of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons and witches/warlocks out there - of course the time of the mermaid was bound to come.
I've read a few mermaid novels in the past year or so, and Lost Voices has to be the best of the bunch, but that said, it still lacks that extra umph I was hoping for.
Sarah Porter does a beautiful job with crafting a thought-out version of mermaid lore. Gone are the beautiful mermaids in The Little Mermaid a la Disney and, instead, here are mermaids that are more like the ones in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
How do they get that way?
Through intense pain and struggle. Each of the mermaids in this tribe has been abused and now they have formed a band of beautiful girls living under the ocean waters. But for Luce, there's an issue. She cannot bring herself to hate mankind because of the love she had for her father.
Oh, and there is a lot of singing.
The singing is actually what made the book for me. Sarah Porter did a beautiful job describing the sounds, the practice and the results of the songs. The scenes in which the mermaids sing are exquisitely written and I loved them so very much - but they made the dialogue and the juvenile descriptions of the girls interaction that much more painful.
Overall, the book seemed to be a jumbled bit of a mess, background stories tossed in here and there when absolutely necessary, an entire group of girls brought into the story for.. what purpose, I'm not sure. A Queen Bitch added in and a struggle between Luce and her "best" friend that switched around so often I felt like I was getting whiplash just from reading it.
I don't know if I'll pick up the book to follow this one (and it's plainly obvious there will be another). If I do, it'd just be to see if the writing has improved on the character interaction level. I know Porter is capable of doing it - those musical passages in the book really did leave me breathless.(less)
When I was a kid I used to love those "choose your own path" books. I felt like no matter the decision I made, the story would come alive and I'd have...moreWhen I was a kid I used to love those "choose your own path" books. I felt like no matter the decision I made, the story would come alive and I'd have consequences or rewards based on the path of my choosing. Sometimes, when I was in a feisty mood, I'd make the bad choices, or if I was feeling particularly good, the right choices - but either way I was highly entertained.
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior is a "choose your own adventure" book - but with one slight exception. What I remember of those books was that the ending was always affected by your choice - whereas in Cinderella: Ninja Warrior the ending is the same, no matter your choice. So yes - you can have eight different paths through the book, but no matter the path you choose you end up in the same exact spot as all of the others.
This, folks, defeats the purpose of a "choose your own" adventure.
Now, granted, I should have expected something silly and mildly entertaining from a book titled Cinderella: Ninja Warrior - and I think had I been a middle-grade student reading through the book would have been highly entertaining and lots of fun, but even as a pre-teen, I would have been disappointed by the predictable ending. The adult in me was hopeful, thinking if I made the right choices, if I gave Cinderella the opportunity to show that life isn't always about marrying the prince, that the story would change a little bit - but I was disappointed.
So, in short, cute book, but does not live up to the potential that could have been there. (less)
I am admittedly a cover fanatic. I cannot resist a good cover, unfortunately the story contained within the cover doesn't always live up to that initi...moreI am admittedly a cover fanatic. I cannot resist a good cover, unfortunately the story contained within the cover doesn't always live up to that initial hook.
While I wasn't displeased with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I do admit to having struggled a little bit with it. Honestly, were it not for the inclusion of some of the most peculiar, fascinating photos I've ever seen, I don't think the story would have had enough strength to stand on its own two feet.
However, because the pictures and the story were blended together so incredibly well (although it felt a bit stilted toward the beginning, at times feeling as if the story had been forced into fitting with the pictures, this improved through the book very quickly) the story takes on a more masterful life of its own and about 50 pages in or so I was hooked and couldn't put the book down. It was those initial 50 pages though that has me struggling with my opinion on the book overall.
Because, frankly, that first part was slow. Even a death, pictures and strange things happening couldn't keep my interest and I had to force myself to keep going knowing just how much I loved the cover and how much I'd been anticipating this book. I was rewarded though, so please don't be put off by that part, I just felt it was necessary to give full disclosure regarding why I feel so torn.
The last half of the book was fascinating, filled with adventure, fun, spookiness and mystery. I loved getting to know the "peculiars", I loved every moment that I turned the page to see a new picture and I loved following Jacob's journey as he found out about his history as well as his own special talents. In some ways, I was almost reminded of the new X-Men movie which made me laugh and appreciate this WWII/Modern story even more.
This was dark, twisted, exhilarating fantasy - just push through those opening scenes if they don't immediately grab you because you will be rewarded. And the pictures make this one a great addition to anyone's shelf.(less)
First of all, I want to thank Beth Hoffman for bringing Rebecca Rasmussen to my attention. Not only is she a completely sweet lady, but she writes a f...moreFirst of all, I want to thank Beth Hoffman for bringing Rebecca Rasmussen to my attention. Not only is she a completely sweet lady, but she writes a fantastic story.
Milly and Twiss are a bit eccentric, but also real, breathing characters that give this story so much charm and make it a joy to read. In spite of the books careful pathing through the story, I found myself unable to put it down until I reached the conclusion - and even then I turned the page whispering "Please, just a few more pages..."
The Bird Sisters is a solid example of why books do not need to be filled with over-eager drama or romance to keep the readers attention. Careful building of characters and plot works wonders and Rebecca has done that well here.
I do have one little complaint, however. It took a bit for me to get used to the back and forth between the present and the past. There was no real line drawn and I'd find myself thinking that it was the present when it had shifted to the past and vice versa. But, that was a small issue in the light of the story and I figured it out enough to be able to follow the story well.(less)