This fifth and final book in the Heir series does much to redeem the inferior and infuriating fourth book. I still prefer the first three books, but tThis fifth and final book in the Heir series does much to redeem the inferior and infuriating fourth book. I still prefer the first three books, but this is a fitting ending to the series. ...more
This book is, as its name suggests, straight-up romance. I thought it might be a little more literary, but nope, it's YA romance, the end. If you areThis book is, as its name suggests, straight-up romance. I thought it might be a little more literary, but nope, it's YA romance, the end. If you are looking for something else, you might be disappointed. But it's actually quite well-written romance, and it is refreshing in that I might actually let my daughter read it, unlike many of the YA books out now. Very little language, no sex, and any somewhat mature content (not much) is appropriately handled.
I thought it would be a three-star read most of the way through, but it turned out to have a little more depth than I expected, and I found myself reading it straight through in one day. For that, it's four stars.
Hadley is a flawed heroine, but she does do some growing up along the way (despite the 24-hour time period covered in the novel). Oliver is fairly charming in a dry British kind of way, which happens to be one of my favorite ways to be charming.
One major plot point of the novel is that (minor spoiler but really not) Hadley's dad left her mom for another woman, and understandably, Hadley is messed up and finding it hard to cope. Hadley's dad never really redeems himself, but I don't think the point of the book was to say that what he did was okay--rather that he really did some damage to his family, but it can't be undone, and maybe forgiveness and moving on is all that is left.
Still, I spent much of the novel being mad at her dad. Even if he does seem to be a pretty decent guy overall. If you don't count the whole cheating and abandonment thing. Which I do.
I liked the writing style well enough that I put some of Jennifer Smith's other books on my to-read list. I like it when I find an author who is pleasant to read, not too demanding, but not too fluffy. This author, and this book, fit the bill.
This book owes much of its inspiration to Willy Wonka: Eccentric billionaire stages contest for 12 lucky children to win a chance to have an overnightThis book owes much of its inspiration to Willy Wonka: Eccentric billionaire stages contest for 12 lucky children to win a chance to have an overnight adventure in his amazing state-of-the-art library. Some kids drop out, some are mean and dishonest, some are whiny, and some are awesome.
This middle grade novel is fun from beginning to end, although it starts on the slow side and picks up speed and interest along the way. I have hopes that it might capture the imagination of my reluctant reader, who so far appreciates only the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. With a cast of creative and smart kids, who range from brainiacs to avid gamers, and a series of puzzles to be solved, the book is designed to draw in a variety of readers.
It is also a love letter to book nerds everywhere. I mean, the main puzzle in the book (how to escape the library once they're locked in) is centered around the Dewey Decimal system, for Pete's sake. Mr. Lemoncello spouts ridiculous dialogue peppered with references to all sorts of books that parents will recognize from their childhoods. He is a lovable but odd character who says things like, "I'd like to say a few brief words. Here they are: 'short,' 'memorandum,' and 'underpants.'"
Groan. And yet, you'll smile as you groan, because lame puns are the standard for middle school humor, and if your kids get it, they'll laugh. Even if they don't get it (and many probably won't, because how many of them will know all three definitions of "brief"?), they'll laugh anyway, because underpants.
The accessible writing sometimes belies the subject matter--how many young readers will be familiar with Agatha Christie, or Edgar Allen Poe?--and that might turn off kids who are only in it for the adventure. But it might also challenge them a little, and that's never a bad thing.
Any book that references From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler gets a thumbs up for just plain coolness. Give this one a chance.
I picked this up on a whim from the teen fiction display at the library, for two reasons: one, it's by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, whose Boy/Girl War booI picked this up on a whim from the teen fiction display at the library, for two reasons: one, it's by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, whose Boy/Girl War books kept my children happily entertained in elementary school. Reliable author. Two, it's about an 8th grade girl who is dealing with 8th grade life. Should be perfect for my 8th grade daughter, right?
No. No, it's not perfect. Not even in the ballpark. This is essentially a 175-page sex ed manual masquerading as a novel. The first 30 pages feature Alice asking questions she's always wanted to know about sex, and getting answers from her 20-something cousin. Boring as all get out for a plot, but very informational for a birds-and-bees talk, if that's what you're looking for.
It's not that the questions or the answers are wrong (although some are iffy), but that they come out of the blue in a novel marketed to middle schoolers, with no indication on the cover or description that it contains sexually explicit material. Totally inappropriate for the age group. If my daughter asked me those questions, I'd answer them, because I'm her mom and that's my job and my right. But I'm not fond of the sneak attack from some random author whose opinions have no place in the discussion.
To add insult to injury, the entire book is preachy. Even when I agreed with what was being preached (which I often did--it is big on waiting until you find someone you love and/or are married, and doesn't advocate irresponsible behavior), I still wanted to shake whichever character was doing the preaching. SO. ANNOYING. And of course, there are a few things I heartily disagreed with, which made it even more aggravating to sit through the sermonizing on those topics. Gah. At least make it sound like real dialogue, and not a question/answer section in a brochure you picked up at the school maturation program.
A little research tells me that there is an entire series of Alice books--28, to be precise--that somehow I missed in the last 30 years. Probably because the first one was published when I was a junior in high school, and wouldn't have been interested in a book about a 6th grade girl, and then they simply haven't been on my radar until now, when I have daughters of my own who are always looking for good reads. This one is #11, so I guess I jumped in somewhere in the middle of the series. Apparently there has been some controversy surrounding certain books in the series, which isn't surprising if there are more like this one....more
What I liked: the symbolism of the birds, the deeper meaning of the chapter headings, the overall arc. Much of the writing. The character growth.
WhatWhat I liked: the symbolism of the birds, the deeper meaning of the chapter headings, the overall arc. Much of the writing. The character growth.
What I didn't like: the doormat of a main character, who does eventually lose her doormat status, but only after many tooth-grinding moments. The family dynamic that had me itching to hand out a few slaps (although that was kind of the point, so it's not bad, just annoying). The needless, subtle, snarky jabs at religion, including the way anyone in the book who is religious is also hypocritical and kind of a jerk. The author seems to be working out a few issues of her own.
Content: A little language, a scene that isn't for the younger crowd (though not too graphic). Best for high school and up....more