Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Review: Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Description of Copper Sunfrom Amazon:

"Amari's life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present.

Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the illusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger?"

This book was haunting and awful and beautiful all wrapped up in one. Amari's survival through the brutalities and hardships she faces as a slave is just amazing. Throughout the book, I wondered how people could survive these horrors. The answer testifies to the tenacity of the human spirit - hope. I was blown away. I love how it shows Amari struggling to like any white person, even ones who show her kindness or help her. I imagine it was extremely difficult to overcome those feelings of revulsion. Though the part where they run away seems a little lacking in detail, I had to keep reading to know what happened to Amari, Polly, and Tidbit.

s-factor: !

Mostly racial slurs.

mrg-factor: X
Rape is commonplace, but not described.

v-factor: ->->
Violent death and other cruelty to slaves. Not overly descriptive, however.

Overall rating: ****

Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Review: Savvy by Ingrid Law

Description of Savvyfrom Amazon:

"For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a 'savvy'—a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity . . . and now it’s the eve of Mibs’s big day. As if waiting weren’t hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs’s birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. So she sneaks onto a salesman’s bus . . . only to find the bus heading in the opposite direction. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up—and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin."


This award-winner was a fun and hilarious romp through and through. I laughed out loud many times and couldn't help but love the characters, particularly the quirky ones (which was most of them). I love Law's language and many of her word choices: catawampus, scumbling, higgledy-piggledy, and many more. Her highly original voice just colors the whole story in the perfect way. Plus, who wouldn't want a personal brand of special powers?

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: The Alchemyst: the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Description of The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamelfrom Amazon:

"The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time."

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

I have to admit I had a hard time getting into this book. At least at first. The beginning seemed a little stilted - like too much background information and character description was happening at random times. The story, however, is very fun. The excitement never lets up. This book will keep you riveted to the page. And dying for the next installment.

s-factor: none

(that I recall :)

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->

Not terribly violent, but pretty intense - and there is fighting.

Overall rating: ***

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Exceptional Giveaway

I wish it were mine :(

However, if you love Jodi Piccoult (and I know there are many fans) go here for pretty much the ultimate giveaway! Seven signed copies of her books!

Go, quickly!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book Review: Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore

Description of Lorna Doonefrom Amazon:

"First published in 1869, Lorna Doone is the story of John Ridd, a farmer who finds love amid the religious and social turmoil of seventeenth-century England. He is just a boy when his father is slain by the Doones, a lawless clan inhabiting wild Exmoor on the border of Somerset and Devon. Seized by curiosity and a sense of adventure, he makes his way to the valley of the Doones, where he is discovered by the beautiful Lorna. In time their childish fantasies blossom into mature love—a bond that will inspire John to rescue his beloved from the ravages of a stormy winter, rekindling a conflict with his archrival, Carver Doone, that climaxes in heartrending violence."

I loved this book! I read this forgotten (at least I'd never heard of it before) classic a while ago, but I was just amazed at how much I enjoyed it! The story is interesting and I had never really read a good classic book that had humor. Ridd was just so funny, particularly in reference to himself. The language is not easily accessible, but that is true of most works of the time period. And there was a lot of descriptions of countryside, but I still managed to enjoy it - a lot. If you haven't heard of this or read it, I recommend you do it. Now.

s-factor: !

Probably a few of the kind common at the time (though, I honestly don't remember).

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->

There was some fighting.

Overall rating: *****

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Science of Harry Potter?

Since I am currently a librarian at a health science college (collective gasp) I was super thrilled to see the National Library of Medicine involved in this adventure. It looks so awesome! Hopefully it will make a stop near you (and me)!

(And now you're wondering why an academic librarian is reading all these YA and children's books...)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Book Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Description of Jellicoe Roadfrom Amazon:

"Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all. Nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future."

I enjoyed the mystery aspects of this novel most. Jellicoe Road recently won the Printz award for young adult literature, and very obviously deserved it with its engaging descriptions and interesting story. I found there were parts that I thought were a little over the top and a bit too melodramatic, but it also seemed very real in other parts.

s-factor: !@#$

A lot of swearing.

mrg-factor: XX
Some situations and scenes, fortunately not graphic.

v-factor: ->->
Some disturbing and violent parts.

Overall rating: ***

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As promised, I present to you a fantastic quote from Princess Ben. It will give you a taste of the fun:

"Night soil oozed onto my cloak, and I wondered why all my adventures involved foul odor. Why could I not for once frolic in a meadow of flowers or escape in a hamper of fresh laundry?"

I believe I snorted in a very ladylike way at that part.

Doesn't that just make you want to read it?

It inspired me to create a new word:

quotificent [kwo-ti-fi-sent] - a magnificent quotation shamelessly stolen from a favorite book

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Review: Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Description of Princess Benfrom Amazon:
"Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available “specimen of imbecilic manhood.” Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . . But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat facing the castle and indeed the entire country. Can Princess Ben save her kingdom from annihilation and herself from permanent enslavement?"

This was such a delightfully fun story, I couldn't stop reading it! Ben is not your typical fairy tale princess and her story follows no such form. I love the humor sprinkled throughout and the quirky characters and story. I also loved the slight resemblance it has to several different fairy tales. A sweet and funny twisted fairy tale. Watch for a post of my favorite quote from this book (a laugh out loud moment).

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->

A little violence.

Overall rating: ****

Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Review: The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Description of The Wizard Heirfrom Amazon:
"Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it's not his attitude that's the problem. It's the trail of magical accidents--lately, disasters--that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained--and his powers are escalating out of control. After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys' school on the coast of Maine. At first, it seems like the answer to his prayers. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. But Seph's enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students' powers to serve his own dangerous agenda. "

The Wizard Heir

This sequel to The Warrior Heir (reviewed here) is just as exciting and full of adventure as the first one. I like the story and the characters, though sometimes I found the language to be a contrived, but it wasn't enough to distract me from the adventure story. It was a lot more violent than the first one, however.

s-factor: !@

Several throughout.

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->->

Quite a lot of violence, not graphic, but it is quite scary.

Overall rating: ****

Friday, March 13, 2009

I Think I Just Went Up a Notch in the World

I have never won a blog award before, but thanks to Sharon at Shermeree's Musings, I can now officially say I have an award-winning blog! (doesn't that sound prestigious?)

There are rules and everything (see below) about nominating people for this award, but since I am fairly new to the book bloggy world and many of the blogs I read have already been nominated, I am going to do a little rule-bending (I hope I don't offend the blog gods). Instead of seven, I chose two:

Britt @ Confessions of a Book Habitue - I love her reviews, especially her risqueity rating (an awesomer name for my mrg-factor). Plus she's an astronomy lover (and I happen to hold a BS in astronomy) - that makes her doubly award-worthy in my book.

Deanna @ Once Upon a Time - I have a soft spot for children's literature and I love that she doesn't apologize for loving it too. Plus, she's a teacher - she deserves awards!

(Best part is, do these people even know I read their blogs? :)

Here are the rules to keep the award moving: (at least I posted them, right?)

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs (or whatever random number you want :)
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book Review: Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Description of Jamaica Inn from Amazon:

"The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother's dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn's dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls -- or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions ... tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust."

As you probably noticed, I've given up on trying to write my own exciting plot descriptions, since there are so many others so well done (that description made me want to read it - and I just finished)! I very much enjoyed the suspense and mystery aspects of this book. I don't think it has quite the same quality and interest as Du Maurier's Rebecca (which I adored), but it has a similar feel. The setting on the moors is undoubtedly the most prominent part of this book and gives it the isolated, mysterious, perfect place for a mystery. The romance part fell flat for me - did she really fall in love with a man she met twice? Mary was a strange character - sometimes showing courage and wit and other times becoming a frightened child. I guess she is a lot like many women in that way (me included). All told, I was intrigued and entertained.

s-factor: !@

Dirty-mouthed innkeeper.

mrg-factor: X
Rape is threatened, but never happens.

v-factor: ->->
Some pretty terrifying things, but written in a non-gory way.

Overall rating: ***

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Book Review: Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse

Brooklyn Bridgeis the story of Joseph Michtom, the son of immigrant parents, and one very lucky boy. At least, in everyone else's eyes. His parents "made it big" when they invented the teddy bear. Now the Michtom's have plenty of money, but not plenty of time. Joseph misses the family dinners filled with talking and laughter. He dreams most often of going to Coney Island, but fears it will never happen, because the family is so "lucky" they have too much work. This book mixes episodes of Joseph's life with brief scenes from the lives of truly unlucky children into one complete view of Brooklyn life in the early 1900s.

I'm not sure why, but I had a hard time getting into this story. The episodes almost seemed disjointed and unrelated, none of them necessarily having any connection to the others, even if they were interesting of themselves. The scenes from the lives of the Brooklyn Bridge children were sad and powerful, but did not meld well with the other story (at least at first). I liked the stories of the unlucky children a lot more than Joseph's story, though I think the book became more interesting the farther into it I got. Still very well written and pretty interesting.

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->

Some mild violence, not described in detail.

Overall rating: ***

Monday, March 9, 2009

Looking for another good giveaway?

Ha! Me too. Fortunately, I found one.

Go here for a chance to win this book I recently reviewed (and LOVED!)

Book Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovelyis an urban fantasy about Aislinn, a girl who can see faeries. But the faeries in this tale are definitely not the short, harmless type. All her life, she has followed the rules to avoid letting the faeries know she can see them. But now, she has attracted the attention of two faeries, and suddenly the rules aren't working anymore.

Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely (Quality))

I had a hard time putting this book down and managed to read it in one sitting. The story was fast-paced and interesting, though I wasn't as thrilled with some of the decisions made or the way things turned out. The descriptions are beautiful and the language pulls you into the world. A great read alike for older Twilight fans.

s-factor: !@

Not a lot, but a few instances of the "f" word.

mrg-factor: XX
Some suggestive stuff, but not descriptive.

v-factor: ->
Some faerie action.

Overall rating: ***

Sunday, March 8, 2009

If the Suspense is Killing You

The winner of the copy of Life of Pi (from my very first giveaway) is...

(whose favorite book is The Reader by Bernhard Schlink)


Thanks for everyone for participating! It was lots of fun reading about some of your favorite books and I got plenty of new book recommendations! Hopefully I will have another giveaway in the not too distant future!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Book Review: Nation by Terry Pratchett

*There's still time to enter my very first giveaway, click here to enter!*

Nationis the story of Mau and Daphne (also called Ermintrude, but really, who would want that name?) After a huge wave devastates Mau's island and wrecks Daphne's ship, the two of them must fight the ghosts of their past and the terrors of being alone, but together they can be the start of a new Nation.


The book started out kind of slow for me, even with Pratchett's sarcastic humor scattered throughout. However, even if a lot of the story was more psychological in nature than actual things happening, it became more interesting. I really enjoyed Mau's internal struggles with his religious thoughts and his realistic ones. It became a very well-crafted coming-of-age story for both Mau and Daphne.

s-factor: !

A few.

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->

Some fighting.

Overall rating: ***

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Very First Giveaway!

Are you ready faithful readers (all five of you :) and any new visitors?

I am giving away a copy of Life of Pi a fantastic book which I have not reviewed on here, because I read it long before this blog was even conceived. The book recounts the harrowing adventures of Pi, a zookeeper's son, who becomes lost at sea on a boat with, among several other animals, an enormous tiger. His fight to survive this ordeal is inspiring and hopeful. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am sure you will too!

The copy I am giving away is not the same one the above link takes you to - it is this one:

whose cover I kinda like better anyway (still paperback)

If you would like to enter to win this book, leave a comment on this post with your name and also tell me what your favorite book is and why. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Sunday, March 8th at 9:00 pm MDT.

Hopefully more people than just five will enter - but if not, your chances of winning are pretty good! Shipping only in the US (sorry my foreign friends).

This is all part of Book Room Reviews giveaway carnival! Go visit, there are lots of giveaways going on this week!

Book Review: The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

The Underneathtells the story of one lonely old hound dog who decides to shelter a calico cat and her two kittens. Thus begins an unlikely but powerful relationship between the cat, the dog, and the kittens. But, even while they are safe hiding in the Underneath (under the house), danger lurks just beyond that place since Gar Face, the dog's owner, is a cruel and ruthless master. When one kitten ventures out of the safe place, it sets off a chain of events that has been waiting for many centuries...

Like many others who read this, I found the cover to be deceptive. This is not a happy animal tale. This book has cruelty and betrayal, loss and sorrow. It is very beautifully written and the stories (there are multiple threads) are each interesting. However, I was distracted with the jumping around from story to story a little disconcerting. The themes and ending are quite lovely, but I really hated Gar Face and found nothing redemptive about him. He was just mean through and through. I guess overall, I have mixed feelings about it.

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->

There are a few frightening and violent things that happen.

Overall rating: ***

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Book Review: Beast by Donna Jo Napoli

Beastis a very interesting look at the ever-famous Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. Orasmyn, a prince of Persia, is a devout Muslim, but after making a minor error of judgement he is cursed by a wicked fairy. He becomes a beast and must try to remember the man in him and also save his father from doing something he will regret forever. After traveling for a long time, beast finds a young woman in France, Belle, who will possibly change him forever.


I thought this retelling was interesting mostly because it focused so much on the beast's story. I liked his personality and the setting (which is really why I picked it up). I also liked some of the elements of this story that others don't have: beast can't talk like a human (they communicate with writing) and the focus of the story is really not on that most well-known part of the tale. There were a few things I didn't like about it: his lion mating habits (which seemed extraneous) and the cover, which is a bit too sappy for me. But, otherwise a rich and beautiful story. A definite choice for the beauty and the beast fans.

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: X

The lion-mating mentioned above.

v-factor: ->
Beast hunts and eats other animals.

Overall rating: ***

Monday, March 2, 2009

Book Review: The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

The Boy Who Daredis a fictionalized account of the last day of Helmuth Hubener's life. Helmuth was a young man living in Germany during World War II. His reminiscences of what led to his imprisonment and subsequent execution tell of a courageous and dedicated young man who wanted to share the truth with everyone.

I really had a hard time getting into this book. The third person perspective made it very difficult for the story to feel personalized. I thought it was a bit odd too, since it was supposed to be Helmuth remembering his past. However, the story itself is so powerful and Helmuth's courage so inspiring that I still found myself crying at the end. It has encouraged me to seek out some non-fiction about this amazing young man. My local librarian recommended this book for further study, written by one of Helmuth's friends. I am definitely checking it out.

s-factor: !

Maybe one or two.

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->

Some beatings and other frightening things happen, but are not overdone.

Overall rating: **
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Copyright © melissa of One Librarian's Book Reviews 2008-2015