Friday, October 14, 2011

Mini Reviews 2

It's time for another episode of...mini reviews (which, I've been calling "minis" in my head).  Here are several short reviews with even shorter summaries.  Enjoy!

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce
Source: ARC sent by publisher

Nate's chance to be Fleeceball captain is tainted only by having A-plus Gina on his team - and as his history partner.

My thoughts: This series is a fun glimpse at sixth grade life according to one underacheiver boy.  I liked the rivalry between Gina and Nate and how that played out.  I thought it was really a fun story and both Elementary School and MG kids will love the format - cartoons mixed with text and illustrations.  Nate's approach to research was also a fun part, adding a little substance to the silliness of the book.  A perfect series for reluctant readers and Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans.  This one can stand alone quite well (I haven't read the first), but I'm sure kids will want to read them all - boys and girls alike.

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong
Source: Won ARC from Ally Condie

A collection of short paranormal stories, all dealing with a journey of some kind, featuring fairies, vampires, ghosts, psychics and everything in between.

My thoughts: It's hard to review a book with such a diverse collection of stories!  There were some I loved and a few I thought were forgettable.  I'm sure there will be something here for everyone.  A few favorites: Carrie Ryan's "Scenic Route" (vivid), "Niederwald" by Rachel Vincent (makes me want to read her series), "Let's Get This Undead Show on the Road" by Sarah Rees Brennan (almost solely for the title), "Leaving" by Ally Condie (oh, I hope she writes a series in this world) "At the Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show" by Jessica Verday (so wild) and "Gargouille" by Mary E. Pearson (what an interesting idea).  There were quite a few short stories from series I hadn't finished or read, so those might be factors in why I didn't like them.  Definitely worth the read!

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood and the Duchess of Northumberland
Source: Review copy sent by publisher

Jessamine, the daughter of a well-known apothecary, is forbidden from entering the poison garden, but when a stranger comes to stay, she might just end up there anyway.

My thoughts: I liked learning a bit more about poisonous flowers and plants, not to mention the healing powers of them.  The story kept me reading, to see where she was going with it (I really had no idea, since I hadn't heard much about the book and couldn't quite decide where she'd take it).  But I was a bit bored by the characters.  Jessamine was not interesting to me, simply a naive girl who did what her father told her to and fell in love with the first person to come along.  I knew what was happening before the big reveal at the end, though there were still a few surprises.  What bothered me the most was how disjointed and strange the story became near the end.  The apothecary garden and its inhabitants played such a weird part, I honestly had no idea why they were in the book.  The ending felt abrupt, though there are sequels, but I was pretty disappointed, so I doubt I'll read them.  I think someone really into gardens and plants might like this, but the ending might be too much to swallow.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
Source: Audiobook from the library

Jenna wakes up from a coma to find everything is different, including herself.

My thoughts: Since I've reviewed this once before, I thought I'd just do a quick recap after my recent listen. I was annoyed occasionally with the young-sounding narrator for Jenna.  She sounded a bit too young for 17 (like 14 maybe).  But, most of the time, she did a really good job. I love the sticky medical ethics issues; I loven how nothing is black and white (in the interview Pearson gave at the end, she said she loves to write about gray areas) and you can't decide what you should think, let alone what Jenna should.  It has such a great teen feel woven into the futuristic science fiction feel.  It's definitely one of my favorite "dystopian" books ever.  I need to read this one for a book club so I can discuss it in depth!

The Flint Heart by katherine and john paterson
Source: Audiobook from the library

A mysterious rock from the past affects people and creatures alike - making them angry and violent.  It's up to Unity and Charles to find out how to free them all from its evil influence.

My thoughts: Short, sweet, and filled with interesting creatures, this fairy tale would make an awesome read-aloud for younger kids.  I really need to get my hands on a hard copy to see the illustrations, since I'm sure they add so much to the story.  Admittedly, I found some of the story boring, but that might be just my adult sensibilities getting in the way.  


Read any of these?  
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

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