--------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday, December 7, 2013

One Librarian's Holiday Bookish Gift Guide

I've been sitting on the idea of doing a holiday gift guide for book lovers and it's already seven days into December, so I'm just going to throw it out there now.  Hopefully there will be some ideas for you to get for your bookish friends (or to give some subtle hints for you :)

Holiday Bookish Gift Guide
 
These gorgeous posters created from the text of your favorite books will make a beautiful and unique gift.  Spineless Classics is the slightly pricier option, ranging from $50+.  I'm particularly fond of the Alice in Wonderland or The Hobbit, though I also like the Pride and Prejudice poster (of course).  If you are looking for something a little bit more affordable, you might try out Postertext, which has some more affordable prints (though they may not be the full text of the book), around $30.  I like the Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden prints, though there are a number of other classics available.

For someone who seems to have every book they want, get them a collector's edition of a favorite!  The gorgeous illustrated copies from The Folio Society will make the perfect addition to any bibliophiles collection.  I adore The Dark is Rising, not to mention Anne of Green Gables and if I had unlimited funds, I'd already own The Lord of the Rings set :)

You can pretty much find bookish t-shirts and other clothing items anywhere you want online!  All you have to do is a google search and you will find them (or you can even make them yourself).  These two are just a sample of what's available at Out of Print Clothing, which also has a vast array of jewelry and other accessories, including book totes, mugs, and other goodies.  This Poe-inspired tote from Out of Print Clothing is hilarious!

And to get you drooling even more, check out more bookish related gear available at CafĂ© Press (bookish flip flops!) and at Zazzle (obviously love the librarian tee).   

Since jewelry is its own vast bookish mine, here are some ideas for accessorizing with books:

Love this Les Miserables bracelet and also this Jane Eyre brooch from JezebelCharms.

The BookFiend is another good shop with lots and lots of bookish jewelry, including this Lord of the Rings necklace and Harry Potter leather bracelet.  I really love that you can customize some of their jewelry with your favorite quote.  So many ideas!

Also, there's Bookshelves of Doom's etsy shop of postage stamp pendants, including a Harry Potter one and my favorite, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

      Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For the book-lover who wishes she had more time to read, offer a subscription to Audible or to Audiobooks.com.  You can download one audiobook a month and enjoy it while doing housework, commuting, or exercising!  This is an awesome affordable gift for the audiobook lovers in your life or as an introduction to the wonderful world of audiobooks!

Anyway, as you can see, there are a number of options (in addition to the always welcome gift of books or a gift certificate to a book store) for the bookish person on your gift list. 

Any great ideas you'd like to add?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson AND Bluebeard


Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication date: March 2013
Length: 12 hrs, 28 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: YA Audiobook Challenge

Summary of Strands from goodreads:
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .
When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi. 
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world. 
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
Things I Liked (about both):
I really enjoyed falling into the sort of creepy fairy tale feel of Strands.  Watching Sophia try to figure things out was both frustrating and fascinating.  I was especially creeped out by her tendency to forget what bad things her guardian had done just a little bit before.  It wasn't unbelievable, but rather terrifying.  I was intrigued throughout, especially as I hadn't read Bluebeard before.  I got a hold of two different Bluebeard fairy tales after that.  What a creepy fairy tale!  Definitely one of the more depressing and horrifying fairy tales I've read.  One of the versions sort of glossed over the gory details, but there isn't much you can do to cover up a husband who kills off multiple wives.  The other original telling was quite creepy and Strands could have really drawn on that, but I think fell short.  Strange, fascinating, and disturbing are very good descriptors for this tale.

Things I Didn't Like (about both):
I had some issues with Strands.  I wasn't really fond of the narrator, Caitlin Prennace, though she kind of grew on me (her drawn out s's were annoying).  The book didn't really start to be creepy until the very end, which I thought was a waste of all that building up.  Could have been more suspenseful and scary.  One thing I never would have noticed if I hadn't read Bookshelves of Doom's review is the fact that Sophia didn't talk like someone in that time period would, while the slaves and some others did.  It was jarring, but I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise.  Overall, I thought it was good, but not outstanding.  Also, Bluebeard is not exactly an endearing fairy tale, what with the murdering of wives and all that.  Glad I got a chance to read an unfamiliar fairy tale, but sometimes I just need one that is a bit happier (ok, I know most of the originals were quite depressing and disturbing, but still).

Read-alikes:
Here's a list of some other really good fairy tale retellings

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS (for Strands):
s-factor: !
a few mild ones

mrg-factor: X
mostly innuendo, though some rather sensual moments

v-factor: ->->
mostly just disturbing, but there is some gore near the end

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Classic Double Challenge: July-December


I know, it's ridiculous to have the last six months in one post, but I really want to have a place for people to link if they are still reading for the Classic Double Challenge :)

Hopefully you have all been reading so much better than I have.  I did manage to finally finish The Turn of the Screw and I also listened to Strands of Bronze and Gold (though that was AGES ago and I'm just now working on the review) and read a few short versions of the Bluebeard fairy tale (so, so disturbing).

Anybody out there want to see this challenge back next year?  I'm thinking I'd like to do it, but if interest has waned, then I might skip it and just read for my own enjoyment.  How are you all faring with the challenge?


If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: December 2009
Pages: 563
Source: Gift
For: Dusty Bookshelf Challenge
Series: Beautiful Creatures, Book 1

Summary from goodreads:
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Things I Liked:
It took me long enough to read this!  It's been on my shelf for ages.  I loved the atmosphere!  I loved the Southern feel and the accents.  The small town Southern gossip and prejudices were pitch perfect (if, perhaps, a bit annoying).  I especially liked the Casters and the mythology (or whatever you want to call it) of their magic system.  I loved how intricately things worked together.  Oh, and Marian has to be my favorite of all the characters - the rockin' librarian.  It was pretty unique and interesting.

Things I Didn't Like:
I think my biggest complaint was that it was just too long.  I guess my attention span is getting shorter, because I kept waiting for stuff to happen and waiting and waiting.  It took too long to get there and I got bored a number of times during the story.  Also, I never particularly cared for Ethan.  He didn't feel quite complete to me and thus I never connected to him.  Lena a little more so, but still not enough for me to feel really invested in their future.  I'll likely listen to the next books on audio, but I feel no burning desire to know more.

Read-alikes:
Felt a bit like Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@
here and there, not too many

mrg-factor: X
mostly some sensuality

v-factor: ->
a little bit, nothing too gory

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Book Review: Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: January 2013
Pages: 448
Source: Library
For: Fun
Series: Unearthly, Book 3

Summary from goodreads: *Spoilers are inevitable for the first two books*
The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

Things I Liked:
I enjoyed seeing how the visions and the future turned out for these characters.  I always like seeing an author take something that characters "predict" and then changing them to fit the same scenario, but with unique twists.  I liked Clara, for the most part, because even if she doesn't act like it, she wants to be independent of a boy and not feel compelled to like someone because she's being told to.  Even though she waffles pretty much the entire book, much to my annoyance and the leading on of both guys, she still manages to be strong and interesting.  I also found some of the plot twists exciting, if fairly predictable.  I pretty much skimmed the last 100 pages or so, and found the ending to be a little too convenient, but still mostly satisfying.  Not my favorite series, but probably my favorite angel one.

Things I Didn't Like:
Eh, like I mentioned above, not so thrilled with the romantic back and forth.  It also seemed like Clara was a bit more self-centered throughout this installment.  And some things seemed awfully convenient when they happened at just the right time. 

Read-alikes:
Start with Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan James
BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
maybe one or two

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
a little bit, not too gory

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Review: Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: January 2013
Pages: 368
Source: Library
For: Fun
Series: Everneath, Book 2

Summary from goodreads: *Spoilers are inevitable for the first book*
Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.
Things I Liked:
I really loved reading about the sweet romance that developed between Jack and Nikki.  This was only shown through memories that Nikki shares part way into the book, but it really was my favorite part.  For most of the book, I thought it was all kind of blah and I couldn't make any sense or pattern to the things that happened or to the levels of the Everneath or really anything.  What kind of made the whole thing more interesting and would have convinced me to read it again if it wasn't already late at the library, was the ending.  It was completely surprising to me and kind of made the rest of it make more sense.  Interesting and entertaining and a unique take on mythology and the underworld.  I'll definitely be back for the next installment.

Things I Didn't Like:
It really felt a bit slow and kind of meandering in places.  Nikki seems to learn not to do something and then go ahead and do it a few times anyway.  Which kind of seems pointless - why learn it in the first place?  Still, it was quite entertaining to read.

Read-alikes:
Maybe a bit like The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
maybe one or two mild ones

mrg-factor:none

v-factor:->
maybe a little bit, nothing gory

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: January 2013
Pages: 352
Source: Library
For: Fun
Series: Under the Never Sky, Book 2

Summary from goodreads: *Spoilers are inevitable for the first book*
It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death.

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first. Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a captivating adventure-and a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.

Things I Liked:
I really enjoy this series.  It feels unique, though it has a lot of elements that are familiar in dystopian books.  The characters make really hard choices and they stick with the consequences of those choices.  I like Aria and how she's developed since the first book.  In some ways, she keeps the dweller attitudes and things she's believed all her life, but in many others she's completely changed.  I loved the story and following Perry and Aria and especially Roar in their travels.  Things just seem to get really crazy near the end and I am excited to know where they will end up next.  A fun, action-packed, and enthralling dystopian story.

Things I Didn't Like:
Not much I can think of.  I think I just enjoyed this one a lot!

Read-alikes:
Reminds me of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
Matched series by Ally Condie

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
a handful

mrg-factor: X 
you know, it's been a while, but I seem to recall a scene or two...

v-factor: ->-> 
there's quite a bit of fighting and gore

Overall rating: *****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review: Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication date: January 2012
Length: 8 hrs 55 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: YA Audiobook Challenge
Series: Sequel to Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Summary from goodreads: *Spoilers for the first book are inevitable*
It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

Things I Liked:
I like this series' take on vampires and the vicious world of politics they live in.  I liked Jessica, though I liked Mindy even more.  In fact, the side characters are the ones that shone in this book for me.  Roniero was entertaining.  I thought a lot of the action was very predictable and everyone but Jessica figured out who was behind the murder very early (well, I sure did anyway).  It became painfully obvious after a while too, and she just seemed not to get it.  I was, however, entertained and I really like the audio version with narrators Katherine Kellgren (of course), Jennifer Ikeda, and Jeff Woodman.  They brought the characters to life and had excellent inflections, etc.  Not the most original or clever vampire story, but it was entertaining for the most part.

Things I Didn't Like:
I figured it out way before the end and felt it was very easy to figure out too.  It was also a bit boring in parts, especially when it seemed like people were just sitting around feeling sorry for themselves.

Read-alikes:
Start with Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Not sure of others, maybe Die For Me by Amy Plum

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor:!@
some, not too many

mrg-factor: X
nothing really happens, but it's implied

v-factor:->->
there are some stake-ings that take place :)

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: January 2013
Pages: 384
Source: Purchased
For: Fun!
Series: Across the Universe, Book 3

*Spoilers are inevitable for the first two books*
Summary from goodreads:
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.
Things I Liked:
I really enjoy this space sci-fi story.  Despite having some minor issues with science and logistics in the second book, I truly loved this one.  It was such a unique story and Revis has kept the characters and story fresh and moving.  I loved the idea of landing on the new planet and finding things not exactly as they should be.  While I did guess a few things right off, there were a number of surprises that kept me reading.  The world she's populated was interesting and even believable.  Very well done, I say.

Things I Didn't Like:
I had one minor physics moment near the end where I just had to roll my eyes at the sheer convenience that had to take place.  Otherwise, I really just enjoyed it.  It did take me a while to feel fully immersed, but after that initial problem, I was able to enjoy it fully.  A great book in the eyes of this science geek.

Read-alikes:
This one reminded me of Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor:  !@
a few

mrg-factor: X
mostly kissing and some implied stuff

v-factor: ->->
Quite a bit of violence and gore, but not over the top

Overall rating: *****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Cinders and Saphires by Leila Rasheed

Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication date: January 2013
Pages:400
Source: Library
For: Fun
Series: At Somerton

Summary from goodreads:
Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.

For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.

Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.
Things I Liked:
I liked the Downton Abbey feel of the story.  It was very much the same kind of story, same kind of time period, and same kind of characters.  I thought Ada was interesting and I liked how she didn't want to sacrifice either her family or her dreams, which made for a tricky balance.  I enjoyed seeing the drama playing out with the household staff as well as the nobility.  It's definitely a book for those wanting more Downton.

Things I Didn't Like:
Most of the problem I had was that it was a little too much like Downton.  It felt like Rasheed took all the main points from the series and put them in the book with a few minor twists.  I was really disappointed in the insta-love that Ada and Raji experience.  Really?  They meet once, kiss, and suddenly they are in love?  I just never bought into that storyline.  Also, it didn't have much in the way of subtelty, but it was still entertaining.  I'm kind of ambivilent about any sequels.

Read-alikes:
Kind of reminded me of Eva Ibbotson's books I've read, like A Countess Below Stairs and The Star of Kazan
Also a bit like The Luxe Series by Anna Godberson

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !
a very few

mrg-factor: X
mostly kissing and some implied scandal

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication date: February 2013
Length: 5 hrs 49 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: YA Audiobook Challenge
Series: Sequel to Hattie Big Sky


Summary from goodreads:
"After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie's hero Nellie Bly. Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester's old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her "scoundrel" uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself. But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie's plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. Hattie holds her own in the big city, literally pitching her way to a byline, and a career that could be even bigger than Nellie Bly's. But can making headlines compensate for the pain of betrayal and lost love? Hattie must dig deep to find her own true place in the world."
Things I Liked:
I am so glad she decided to write more about Hattie.  I adored Hattie Big Sky and I wondered where Hattie would go from there.  Her story here is interesting and I loved how she was both so trusting and also so unwilling to give up on her dreams.  She's such a fun character and though I didn't love this story as much as I loved the first one, it was still intriguing.  The time period and her journalist aspirations that were so ahead of the times just made for one great story.

Things I Didn't Like:
As I mentioned, I didn't like it quite as much as the first, but I found that I still fell in love with Hattie and I also really liked her man, who wanted to give her everything she wanted, but also wouldn't take the back and forth from her.  It's an interesting story, but not the big prairie story from the first book, obviously. 

Read-alikes:
Start with Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: **** 

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: February 2012
Pages: 368
Source: Library
For: Fun


Summary from goodreads:
"Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be."
Things I Liked:
I can completely see why this had a huge number of awards at the children's book awards.  It is wonderfully written, in spare prose, but with so much emotion and reality.  I really cared about Ari and Dante.  I wanted to help them face their challenges, put an arm around them, be friends with them.  I really liked how supportive and involved their parents were in their lives.  That's how my parents were and I hate absent parents in literature, even if they happen in real life a lot.  The story was dynamic and interesting and I was figuring things out right along with them.  Really, more of what I'd call an important story.

Things I Didn't Like:
The thing I struggled with, is that I just thought it was ok.  It wasn't the most amazing thing I'd read, which is kind of what I expected with all that hype.  I can understand why people think its important, what with the discovering oneself and accepting yourself.  But, I was not blown away.  Also, it kind of made me want a story about two guys who are just friends.  Not that this should have been that story, since it was exactly what it was meant to be, but I just found myself wanting to read about a strong male friendship, sans romance.  Are there books many books like that?  Raven Boys comes to mind, but has so many other complicated things going on, it's not the main point.  Anyway, good book, important message, not so much for me.  I can see how it will help some struggling gay teens, though.

Read-alikes:
I can't think of any...

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@#
quite a few, with casual f-bombs here and there

mrg-factor: X
nothing actually happens, but teenage boys will talk

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

1, 2, 3...and I'm Back (Maybe?)

Hello blogging world!  If anyone is still out there reading this, kudos to you for sticking with this empty blog.  I think I may be heading back to blogging, though.  Slowly and probably with boring stuff like reviews only (I'm only around 40 books behind...), but still!  I've survived the first three months of baby's life and I think I may be emerging from the dark sleep-deprived cave into the light :)

One month!

Two months! (I think she looks like a queen ruling over her lowly subjects :)
Three months!

Proof that I am alive (or that I was when the photo was taken...)

Some days we just gotta cry :)
Anyway, I've got some reviews written and ready to publish.  I have become a bit lazier, so the summaries are taken from goodreads and the read-alikes are kind of sparse.  Also, they might be a bit boring.  Thanks for sticking with me!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Surprise!

I've been a bit absent from blogging for a little while and here's why:



 
Baby librarian, born on Tuesday and weighing in at a hefty 4 lbs 15 oz; she was about 3 weeks early and apparently anxious to make her debut!  We are smitten with our miracle baby!  Hopefully I'll be back in the swing of things in a month or two, but no promises :)

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer AND Little Red Riding Hood


Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: February 2013
Pages: 464
Source: Purchased
For: Classic Double Challenge
Series: Lunar Chronicles, Book 2

Summary for Scarlet:
*Spoilers are inevitable for Cinder*
Scarlet's grandmother has been missing for weeks and the police aren't helping much. Scarlet decides she's better off searching by herself and sets off, in the uneasy company of Wolf, a street fighter with more than a few secrets. Cinder is breaking her way out of prison and hopes to escape the wrath of the lunar queen. With the help of the quirky Captain Thorne, she goes in search of someone who might know more about herself than she does. When Cinder's and Scarlet's paths cross, they will discover a lot more secrets than either one knew before.

Things I Liked (about both):
I am not sure I can pinpoint one specific thing about this book and series that makes me love it so much.  Maybe it is the fantastic way the original fairy tales are incorporated into the story.  I read a few versions of Little Red Riding Hood (or Little Red Cap) and I just loved seeing how Meyer took such a short, sometimes annoyingly simplistic story and made it into something fabulous.  I kind of hate the original tale, because Red Riding Hood seems to just be so stupid and the moralizing is pretty annoying.  Perrault's version didn't have the mother telling Red Riding Hood to be careful and not stray from the path, but it also did not end with her being freed from the wolf.  She dies at the end.  In the belly of the wolf.  And then Perrault discusses the moral for young ladies to avoid wolves, even the ones that don't appear to be wolves.  The Grimm version does have the moralizing mother and Red Riding Hood is saved from the wolf by a woodcutter.  Either way, not one of my favorites.

I love how the details of the original fairy tale, the significant ones that everyone recognizes, make their way into the story.  We have the girl with her ubiquitous red hood(ie) and a journey to grandmother, the wolf (who may or may not be a bad guy), and even the fantastically iconic "what big teeth you have" scene.  It's absolutely perfect.  Not only does Meyer have these elements incorporated into her story, but the world she built is fascinating and deep and completely stands on its own.  Our favorite characters from the last book come back for more and I loved seeing both old and new interact.  I can't wait to see what happens to Cinder and Scarlet and all their friends next.

Things I Didn't Like (about both):
As I mentioned, Little Red Riding Hood is NOT a favorite fairy tale for me.  The moralizing, the stupidity of the main character, even the obnoxious fact that she has to be saved by some random woodcutter, just make me not like it.  Although, I did hear there are a few versions where she actually gets wise to the wolf and avoids death on her own smarts.  Still, I think the most familiar version of the story is the one where she's eaten and then hacked out of the belly of the wolf.  Bravo to Ms. Meyer for making a version of this story that not only I can stomach (and I LOVE Scarlet) but that I loved every minute of!  I really can't think of anything I didn't like about her book.  :)

Read-alikes:
Start with Cinder by Marissa Meyer
There are loads of other fairy tale retellings, though none quite like this series!

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS (for Scarlet):
s-factor: !
maybe one or two

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
there are a few brutal scenes near the end

Overall rating: *****

If anyone is looking for a nice pair for the Classic Double Challenge, these two stories went down real easy (at least the original fairy tale is short :)! (Also, check out my guest post from Marissa about writing fairy tale retellings!)

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Classic Double Challenge: June

Another month has flown by! Hopefully your enthusiasm for the Classic Double Challenge hasn't :) June is the month of the baby (I hope). My progress on the challenge, however, is once again pretty slow.  I did manage to finish Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, but I haven't read any Little Red Riding Hood stories yet.  I really ought to do that right away, as they are all pretty short and easy.  I also read one very short version of Bluebeard that skimmed over the horror of the story.  I'm thinking I'll try another version of that soon too.  I'm also still slogging through The Turn of the Screw, which is much less accessible than the retelling, but far more nuanced and better written.  I think I'll finish it before the baby comes (fingers crossed). 

I've no idea what kind of reading progress I'll be making once baby librarian arrives, but I'm hoping a few months will see me back in the groove and reading like crazy (when I possibly can).  Until then, I will continue to devour as much as possible and I'll hopefully get to read about your classic double readings!

Any Classic Double suggested readings that are perfect for summer?  I might need to try a beach read or something light soon.


If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Armchair BEA, Day 5, Fresh and Young


Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

 It's day 5 of Armchair BEA and I'm back for more!  To find out more about this fun event, check out the Armchair BEA site.  

Today's topics are Keeping it Real, Fresh, and Fun, as well as children's books.  Since I've struggled with fresh content for a long time, I haven't got much to say.  The best thing I ever did (though I haven't persisted well) is to create original features.  The two I do occasionally are Listless Monday and Name That Book.  It is fun to have something that just you do (well, plenty of others do similar Listless Mondays) and that can help you avoid the meme or same old review rut.  Mind you, I haven't been doing those two things for a few months straight now.  So, in theory these are some good ideas :)

And since I adore and read almost exclusively in children's lit, I have no trouble thinking of favorites.  The trouble is limiting the number.  Also, because there are so many fabulous blogs out there that do YA lit so well, I thought I'd list some of my favorite reads for a slightly younger crowd: the MG/tween group.  There is a lot of fantastic stuff being published for kids and here are just a few of my faves:

For laughs:
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson 
A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck 

For reals:
Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff

For sheer faves:
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
Savvy by Ingrid Law

For fabulous fantasy:
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

What are your faves or tips for keeping content fresh?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA, Day 4, Ethics & Nonfiction



Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads
It's day 4 of Armchair BEA and I'm back for more!  To find out more about this fun event, check out the Armchair BEA site

I've not been one of the unfortunate ones to run into plagiarism of my blog.  This isn't to say it doesn't happen, but I'm not actively looking for it, nor do I suppose any of my readers either.  I have watched from the sidelines of many plagiarism issues blew up in the blogosphere.  I have never really wanted to add my two cents to the fray. 

I work with college students and I know very intimately the importance of citing your sources, giving credit, and the consequences in the real world of plagiarism.  I've given many a lecture on how to cite your sources and when you should, though often when I graded papers later, I wondered if they had even heard me.

 This is not just a blogging problem, it is much broader than that.  What I think is more insidious about it here online is that it is very easy to get away with.  There is no one to "grade the paper" or "check your work."  Many do not make that connection between what you read somewhere else and what you write on your blog.  And it can be hard!  What happens if you read something and it aligns with what you've been thinking.  Does blogging about the same thing make you a plagiarist?  Very likely, no.  But, it never hurts to link back to that other person, if only to say, "My thoughts are similar to this person's."  I've tried to do this when I read a review that says what I wanted to say, only better.

I guess my only advice is to be aware of what you read and what you blog.  Remember to link to those people who may inspire or get your thoughts flowing.  It's better to share the love than end up on the brunt end of a plagiarism "scandal."

I was going to talk about my nonfiction reading, but it is so slim these days it's not really worth mentioning.  I just wish I read more!  I'm totally open for some suggestions of highly readable non-fiction.  Here are a few titles I've enjoyed over the years:

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
Miles to Go for Freedom by Linda Barnett Osborne
The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin
Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
Almost Astronauts by Tanya Lee Stone
Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Longitude by Dava Sobel
Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas

What do you recommend?  And how do you deal with plagiarism?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Copyright © melissa of One Librarian's Book Reviews 2008-2015