I love these girls! The fact that Bean eats "ice cream soup" at the end pretty much sums up everything about this series that is so perfect. Ivy + BeaI love these girls! The fact that Bean eats "ice cream soup" at the end pretty much sums up everything about this series that is so perfect. Ivy + Bean are like a time machine back to second grade, for me....more
I'm not sure why I waited so long to read these. I guess, like Bean being told to hang out with Ivy, I just wasn't interested. The books looked... cutI'm not sure why I waited so long to read these. I guess, like Bean being told to hang out with Ivy, I just wasn't interested. The books looked... cute. Not particularly interesting. And they sell themselves, as most chapter books do. But man, was I wrong. I was gafawing out loud while reading these, surprised by how "inappropriate" (by which I mean true to actual child behavior and play) it was. These aren't just great because they're funny, but because they're so accurate. And weird and random and a little gross. Real little girls paint themselves to look like witches (blood tears and all) and fill buckets with worms, and get mad at their bossy older sisters. As a grown person, this was a pleasure to read because it reminded me of what it felt like to play with my own best friend in second grade. And the illustration, though sometimes the expressions strike me as garish, at other points really pleased me; I'm a sucker, as most kids are (or at least as I was as a kid) for any sort of mapping. Blackall maps their route through the court backyards (stinky piles of dog poo included) and she dissects Ivy's bedroom as described in the book. I loved it. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 star rating is the fact that, while I appreciate how well Barrows captures childhood experience, this is still a story. It's not real life. I don't need to be taught a lesson, per se, but our heroine Bean seems to be bad just to be bad, without repercussion.
One another note, the boxed sets for these books are fantastic little packages. Set 1, including books 1-3, contains a fourth bonus "book" -- a hollowed out novel to house a "top secret" notebook. Totally awesome....more
If it weren't for Good Reads, I never would have picked this up. I work at Barnes & Noble and the "Paranormal Romance" section generally doesn't dIf it weren't for Good Reads, I never would have picked this up. I work at Barnes & Noble and the "Paranormal Romance" section generally doesn't do much to pique my interest. In fact, I was ready to begin full on scoffing until I saw all of the almost unanimously positive reviews for "Paranormalcy" online. So I gave it a try, and I'm glad I did. This was a really fun book. Fluffy, sure, but that's no crime, and Evie's realization that she's actually been harboring and helping spread some major prejudices in a serious way is heavy stuff. Or has the potential to be heavy stuff, anyway. Evie isn't quite the badass the Buffy comparisons might prepare you for, but she was funny and self-conscious enough to make her both entertaining and relatable. And of course she's got a dark side to battle with as well. I would argue that her prejudice against paranormals is darker than her own supernatural status... but the plot's focus disagrees with me there. Perhaps most importantly to the actual YA though, the relationship between Evie and Lend would have utterly melted me at 15, of that I'm sure.
If you can get past the fact that Sara Shepard is doing the identical twin thing AGAIN... then you'll find... er... writing that never lives up to theIf you can get past the fact that Sara Shepard is doing the identical twin thing AGAIN... then you'll find... er... writing that never lives up to the potential of the plot? For starters, the narration was a bit annoying. I thought it would have made more sense and possibly been more interesting if it had been told in a consistent first person point of view. And details like Emma talking about reading the Harry Potter series 13 years ago, when she was 5, despite the fact the first book was published in 1998, made me wonder who was to blame for editing this book. Check yo' facts!
I really enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars books. They're fluff, but they're supposed to be. They're fun. They're addictive. The girls were bitches, but they were also comic in that they were caricatures we've all seen before, like the characters on Degrassi, trying to see how many coming of age taboos they can knock out in a single episode (or book). The girls in the Lying Game weren't memorable. Maybe they will be later in the series; I have to assume she'll flesh them out. Here, though, I could hardly keep them straight, and I didn't care, because it didn't seem to matter. Hell, I can't even remember their names now, and I finished reading it TODAY. Shepard's descriptive devices --- they way she constantly notes the scent of everything and everyone (somehow every character in PLL is able to easily identify at least 3 different aromas on a single person. lol.) and all of her product placement ---amused me in Pretty Little Liars. I knew it was dumb, but it felt intentional and a bit tongue-in-cheek. Seeing Shepard do the EXACT same thing again -- even the smells! -- made me snicker at the writing, not with it. Is that really the only way she knows how to describe anything?
Eh I say. Of course I was expecting a light, fluffy read, but I thought it'd be more fun than it was. And badass, frankly. The first chapter promised much more than was actually provided in the end. Now, if you really want to read a GOOD teen book, with a REAL badass, that also starts at the end, with a death scene, and then spends the rest of the book explaining how you got to that point ... read Devilish by Maureen Johnson....more
**spoiler alert** Strong start, seemed quirky, I really liked Lucia as narrator, and the bond between siblings was well established and felt natural,**spoiler alert** Strong start, seemed quirky, I really liked Lucia as narrator, and the bond between siblings was well established and felt natural, but in the end, the plot really didn't hold up for me. I don't understand how they didn't run into Casper, their father, until the end of the book if he was supposed to have been at Kneebone Castle the whole time. And why do I care about Haddie? And why does she have their mother's name if she isn't their mother? A plot based on a single lie (your mother is in an institution), is always pretty weak because after they've uttered that single truth-revealing sentence there's nothing left to do but end the book and wonder why dad didn't just tell the truth in the first place. And finally, while I liked that Lucia was our "mystery" narrator (her asides were for the most part humorous), I didn't like it when she said things like "and then this really scary thing happened but I don't want to talk about it because it was so scary"... I want to hear the scary part. Constantly talking about omissions kept me bored.
Between this and Olivia Kidney, it seems Ellen Potter is pretty invested in tackling darkness in her children's fiction (an insane, institutionalized parent, abandonment, death/suicide of a sibling... things that actually happen to actual families), and I appreciate the endeavor. Her approach, though, hasn't worked for me in either case. ...more
In theory, I'm frequently intrigued by fairy tale retellings. They always seem like they'll be fun. Then I read them and end up feeling I've wasted myIn theory, I'm frequently intrigued by fairy tale retellings. They always seem like they'll be fun. Then I read them and end up feeling I've wasted my time reading something I've already read.
That wasn't the case here. Maybe it's because Bunce picked the right tale. Rumpelstiltskin has always frightened me, and here, Jack Spinner legitimately creeped me out. Also, here, I don't mind knowing how things are ultimately going to go down ahead of time (not that Bunce doesn't mix it up and make it her own), because... I mean... a baby is going to be be stolen. Knowing that ahead of time doesn't make the act any less intense or worrisome.
That said, I was utterly frustrated when, given the choice between her son or her mill, Charlotte didn't IMMEDIATELY choose her son. I realize that might sound ridiculous. Of course she didn't. This wouldn't be a fairy tale retelling if she had made that choice. She had to break the curse. I get it. But that's one big way being tied to another story limited Bunce. As someone who knows the story of Rumpelstiltskin, I can understand her hesitation, because I know things will end up okay. But if I'm to approach this is a new story, I can't read Charlotte struggling to make that decision and not think she needs to let go of the damn mill (which doesn't work anyway) and be a good mother. Frustrating.
One way (and she did this in several ways, really) Bunce updated and IMPROVED the story, was through her female characters. They were so strong. And real. I liked her characterization in general, and I liked that Charlotte herself kept moving forward (she married, she had a baby, but that wasn't where the story of Charlotte or the story itself ended). Life didn't stand still because of the curse. While I can appreciate that Bunce made a lot of effort to be true to a time and place, to be honestly, at no point did I not find the discussion of mill work boring. It certainly made Charlotte a credible miller, but it also made the story drag at times.
I actually really liked the narration, overall. I liked the asides. They were a bit gimmicky, but I was never annoyed by them. Instead I found they brI actually really liked the narration, overall. I liked the asides. They were a bit gimmicky, but I was never annoyed by them. Instead I found they broke up the text in ways that were sometimes humorous or (mildy) suspenseful in their foreshadowing. Concise, powerful little summaries. The effort to be poetic throughout the rest of the text sometimes felt like a burden, though. While my attention was kept throughout, I still recognized this as a slow-moving story. I wasn't bored at any one point, exactly, but there were a few moments where I wished Zusak would get on with it. He could be quite repetitive; the "saumench/saukrel" was overused like whoa, and Death spoke of Liesel's book "thieving" with such a bleeding heart, and with such frequency, it started to feel overly sentimentalized.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY: I like Leisel. I like Hans. I like Rudy. I like the whole Hubberman family. I like the depiction of everyone in this book. The characters are wonderfully realized and their bonds (or vendettas, as the case may be) feel very true. The scope and perspective of the novel are, of course, it's most important factors. We're made to sympathize with someone whose point of view has often been overlooked, a German family during Hitler's reign. We experience everything with them, their fear and their helplessness....more
I really did enjoy this. There were parts of it that completely creeped me out and, I'm sure, must have caused me to look a bit crazed while reading aI really did enjoy this. There were parts of it that completely creeped me out and, I'm sure, must have caused me to look a bit crazed while reading aboard the CTA. There were parts that lagged a bit too, though, and I started waiting for something to happen. And the "exploding" grandma stigma didn't seem as worth lingering on to me as it apparently did to the entirety of Bad Munstreifel. Maybe that's because I heard Pia's side of things. Certainly children can be cruel, but I found I was a little tired of hearing about it after awhile. It didn't make me feel any extreme on either end -- I didn't find it hilariously absurd and I didn't feel a terrible amount of sympathy after a while either. Dunno. I liked Pia just fine, and of course, the creepy German folktales are the heart of this. It really did keep me wondering whether something supernatural was going to happen. I won't give that away though.
Straddles the line between YA and adult fiction, which is a place I like to be!...more
Much more readable than Savvy; while Scumble is still very distinctly Law, Ledger's voice and vocabularly isn't as over-the-top golly-gee-darn darlingMuch more readable than Savvy; while Scumble is still very distinctly Law, Ledger's voice and vocabularly isn't as over-the-top golly-gee-darn darling as Mibs, which I appreciated. And I liked his savvy better. I just liked the whole book better, really. More mature on every level. Well done! ...more
I read this because Louis Sachar wrote Holes, and I haven't read anything by him other than Holes. I was kind of intrigued by his introduction, which,I read this because Louis Sachar wrote Holes, and I haven't read anything by him other than Holes. I was kind of intrigued by his introduction, which, in summation said this: Look, I know kids don't care about Bridge. I'm sure they don't really even know what Bridge IS, and if they do, they just think it's a game played at retirement homes. Obviously it's a crazy topic to write about for teens, but I'm going to do it anyway. Here you go."
I was wondering if he had in fact succeeded, if I could possibly enjoy a novel about Bridge.
And the answer is... sorta. But not enough.
I didn't know how to play Bridge before reading this and I certainly don't know how to play it after having finished it. But I feel like I should. I feel like I could pick it up a lot faster now, at least. But mostly I've just got a couple rules and terms floating around in my head, popping up out of nowhere and irritating me since they don't really MEAN anything to me (like when I play Dr. Mario or Tetris, and then see tiny colored puzzle pieces (or pills) floating around in my brain. Utterly useless use of my brain.) That I can say I'm now INTERESTED in Bridge, at least a little bit, may be enough of a success for Mr. Sachar here. Surprisingly it was the characters and plot that worked for me less than all the card rules.
The whole ghostplaying, especially when it became not just one but TWO people "channeling" dead folks was just ridiculous to me. I had to quit the book for a day because it was too hard to read while simultaneously rolling my eyes at the silliness of what was happening at the end of the book, after Trapp had died. A lot of unlikable characters too, in retrospect. Cliff sucked. Both Alton's parents sucked. I guess that was part of the idea, though. Tripp, the big grump, was actually the coolest guy Alton knew. But they were all archetypes. It's not like I was surprised to find out what a good guy Uncle Lester was. Even the family history's unraveling didn't feel like much of a revelation to me.
whoooo boy. well i wasn't expecting THAT. while i couldn't have taken another plot twist without my head exploding, i'm still sad to have reached thewhoooo boy. well i wasn't expecting THAT. while i couldn't have taken another plot twist without my head exploding, i'm still sad to have reached the end. LEAST WE GOTS THE TV SHOW TO MAKE FUN OF NOW, AMMIRIGHT?!...more
At this point I can't tell if Sara Shepard herself has any idea what's going on or who done what. Spencer reached new extremes of stupidity this timeAt this point I can't tell if Sara Shepard herself has any idea what's going on or who done what. Spencer reached new extremes of stupidity this time around. Almost had to bash my head against a wall. That said, I'm already 60 pages into book seven......more
I absolutely recommend reading this... just not while eating. At least not the chapter on taking a deuce in space. I had to make a choice between my bI absolutely recommend reading this... just not while eating. At least not the chapter on taking a deuce in space. I had to make a choice between my bagel or the book at one point.
I'm not sure Mary Roach will ever be able to top Stiff. Probably not for me, at least, but with Packing for Mars, she approaches a subject that I - and most of us - have next to no real familiarity with. What really impressed me here, and that left me so wide-eyed after reading Stiff as well, was how Roach shows me not just strange things (cadavers in beauty school, dogs in rockets, etc), but makes me realize... goddamn... people have some seriously strange jobs. There are people whose life work is dedicated to figuring out how to stop you from sweating through your undercrackers in a shuttle. I'm constantly going "huh" while reading Roach's books. Every chapter is surprising in some way. In Packing for Mars, the biggest surprise was finding out... space is boring.
Don't confuse that with the book though. The book is interesting and the writing is, as ever, delightfully, hilariously written. I just don't ever, ever want to be an astronaut. Ever. ...more
Can see this one taking home a Newbery honor this year. The story covers a single day in the life of Keeper, a 10 year old Texan who fancies herself pCan see this one taking home a Newbery honor this year. The story covers a single day in the life of Keeper, a 10 year old Texan who fancies herself part mermaid, and her Oyster Road family, essentially a foster family of neighbors who have been looking after Keeper since her mom ran off (or did she swim off?) when she was just three years old. And it's a doozey of a day. What is supposed to be a perfect afternoon of preparation followed by a perfect blue moon evening (with a traditional blue moon gumbo simmering on the stove and a wedding proposal planned), turns into a huge mess, when every effort Keeper makes to rectify a mistake, turns into an ever bigger, and increasingly more serious problem; screwing up dinner plans seems like small potatoes when you're stranded out at sea, afterall.
A clever weaving of myth and heart-yanking painful truth, where the fantasies of childhood feel more like lies when the reality behind their origin is revealed. But the truth, though sometimes hurtful to stumble upon, can also be way more magical. Turns out your parents generosity is actually more amazing than Santa Claus. That sort of thing. What you've got is better than the fantasy you'd be playing at.
One of the things that surprised and pleased me most about this story was how much I enjoyed and cared for the animal characters. I don't know that I've ever said that about a book before. Animal tales aren't my thing, and never have been. Black Beauty bored me, I never had any interest in Shiloh or Winn Dixie, but Captain the seagull, Too the pup, BD the dog, and Sinbad the cat and their relationship to one another and the human characters as well are all completely endearing. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that they're real animals. I can believe their behaviors. Appelt describes their companionship, their protectiveness, their instictiveness, and their humor perfectly.
There were points in the book where Keeper's loses felt so great, even the ones she inflicted on herself (throwing her beautiful mermaid carvings out to sea, for example. I know I wouldn't have been able to part with them) that I found myself shouting "no! don't do it!" in my head. And I was seriously going to be upset if anything happened to BD.
Another thing Appelt does well is time the release of her information. We learn about the history of Meggy Marie and Signe right along with Keeper, as she has time to ponder things while carrying out her quest. We learn about Jacques de Mer/Jack and Mr. Beauchamp slowly, throughout the text. Same thing with Dogie. We have to work for that information, but you're always kept interested, and you're always rewarded by the details and characteristics Appelt choses to share, because they're all quite enriching, some are surprising (Beauchamp's relationship with Jack, for example, and the very nature of Jack himself) and tie together so nicely in the end. My only complaint with the novel would be that this slow unraveling creates a longer story than you'd otherwise have. That's fine, of course, but lead to quite a bit of repeating. A lot of things were stated over and over again for what I assume was intended as poetic effect. I wasn't exactly charmed though. Instead I felt like okay, we're here. We're reading the story. No need to keep telling us what's already happened.
Really beautiful illustration, and at just the right moments, though I certainly would have liked to see even more.
This is kind of like the Weight Watchers of attitude management. It's not mind blowing information, there are no big surprises, but the information anThis is kind of like the Weight Watchers of attitude management. It's not mind blowing information, there are no big surprises, but the information and experiences of Gretchen Rubin are stated in a straight-forward and friendly way, and it's helpful. Isn't that the point?
If you're looking for a dazzling narrative, this isn't it. It won't make your spirit soar, their is no poetry in the language. It is repetitive and systematic. There is no real strife or beautiful pain here. It's not exactly a self-help book and it's not exactly a memoir. It's something in between. But who cares what it is? It's helpful, and for me, that was enough. So you're looking to make a practical change (or even if you aren't. I had no "goals" in mind when I started reading this. I didn't even buy it, I was given an advanced reader copy. But in reading it, I did find myself wanting to self-examine as Rubin did, and having finished it, there are certainly some ideas I'll be copying) and want real life, do-able ways to self-examine and make yourself a more grateful and, of course, happier person. Then you should read this. It's quick, it's simple, and it's ultimately a satisfying read....more