Sunday, May 31, 2009

Get Thee To This Giveaway

Or really, since I want to win it so badly, I suggest you don't and it will make my odds better.

Don't forget to enter mine too - only a few more days before I choose a winner.

Book Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

*Sorry for the random blank post that was up for...an embarrassing amount of time. We went on a short camping trip, so I didn't notice for a while*
What I Saw And How I Liedis exactly what Evie tells us in this book, beginning with her family's fateful trip from New York City down to Palm Beach, Florida. Evie meets Peter, a man who served in World War II with her stepfather, and from that moment on, none of their lives will ever be the same.

I was rather surprised by this National Book Award winner. I really liked the post-World War II setting and the noir film feel, but I found myself hating the characters. Evie was just stupid in a teenager-who-hasn't-got-a-clue way (which isn't to say I wasn't when I was one). Her parents are both idiots when it comes to her and themselves. I definitely hated Peter who really was a "heel" in my opinion. While the story was interesting and the mystery elements were excellent, I just really couldn't love this book, mostly because of all the stupid things the characters did. That said, it was really well done and the writing was beautiful - it isn't terribly difficult to see why it won an award.

A Northern Lightby Jennifer Donnelly (which I also hated but thought was very well written :)
It also reminded me of the movie Casablanca, mostly for the Bogie references (and all the smoking).

s-factor: !@

Some scattered throughout.

mrg-factor: XXX
Two scenes in particular that are pretty descriptive.

v-factor: none
(though as a side note, there was a lot of smoking and drinking)

Overall rating: **

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Wingsare just the beginning of Laurel's troubles, when she happens to discover that she is not quite human. She is swept up into a battle to protect something only she might be able to save - if she can survive.

I have heard a lot about this one. There has been much hype and, well, now it is #1 on the New York Times Bestseller children's chapter books list (which is saying something)! I did like the story. I thought it was sweet and fun and fairly exciting near the end. However, I did not get as into it as many people have. I found myself hoping for more information and explanation. The most interesting parts were in discussion of the faeries and their history. There was just not enough about them. Some of the ending was a little too neat, but I am definitely intrigued enough to pick up the next one. I think Pike has a lot of potential as a writer and is already on her way up!

of course, it was reminiscent of Twilightby Stephenie Meyer
and a little like Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, though less mature and dark
and for no obvious reasons, it reminded me of Impossible by Nancy Werlin, maybe it was the guitar...

s-factor: !

A very few

mrg-factor: none
Though there is a lot of cuddling

v-factor: ->
A little blood and fighting.

Overall rating: ***

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What I Got

So, I've seen a lot of bloggers do the "library loot" weekly posting. I'm not very good with weekly postings, but I thought that, since I have about eleven books in my TBR pile from the library, now would be a good time to get a post in. Dying to know what's on the menu?

An Abundance of Katherines
by John Green (my first by him, if you can believe it!)

Airmanby Eoin Colfer

Dragon Spearby Jessica Day George (sequel to Dragon Slippers and Dragon Flight)

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indianaby Haven Kimmel (about time I got some adult reading in there)

The Porcupine Yearby Louise Erdrich

Schooledby Gordon Korman (I need a good laugh)

Tender Morselsby Margo Lanagan (finally something for this challenge)

Midnighters #2: Touching Darknessby Scott Westerfeld (sequel to this book)

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild Westby Sid Fleischman (so excited to read this!)

What I Saw And How I Liedby Judy Blundell (just started this National Book Award winner)

Wingsby Aprilynne Pike (just finished this - stay tuned for the review tomorrow!)

And there you have it! My reading for the next little while.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nostalgia Slaughtered

I just came across this blog which has some hilarious Nancy Drew "reviews." I about died laughing at them. Unfortunately, they are all too true. Still, I loved my Nancy.

Why is it we adore some of the most horribly-written books as children? (or adults?)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review: The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

The Girl Who Could Flyis the extraordinary story of Piper McCloud, a girl who just can't keep her feet on the ground. When she is taken to a facility for children with interesting skills, she makes several new friends and some frightening discoveries that could change her future.

There has been a lot of hype about this, probably due entirely to Stephenie Meyer's recommendation. I admit I had a hard time getting into the story for the first half of the book. When things finally began to pick up about then, I thought it was very well done. It was a satisfactory and unique story. I loved Forester's writing, particularly her flying descriptions. This was one of my favorites:
"The fact of the matter is the minute you get a mouthful of blue sky dancing across your taste buds there's no keeping you from it." pg. 21
reminded me of Savvy by Ingrid Law and maybe a tiny bit like Graceling by Kristin Cashore
reminded Stephenie Meyer of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men :)

s-factor: !

I think there were one or two.

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Monday, May 25, 2009

Book Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glasscompletes the story of Clary and Jace as they face off against their father Valentine and his plans to destroy the entire clave. Can shadowhunters overcome their hatred for downworlders before both of them lose to Valentine?

I really enjoyed this series (first two books reviewed here and here). It had action, romance, and twists and turns throughout. While I actually saw the big surprise a long way off (which may have been Clare's intention), I didn't lose interest in the story for a moment. The conclusion is satisfying and the descriptive writing is beautiful. I was really impressed that Clare wrote such a compelling teen story in the popular urban fantasty style with so little mrg-content. She proves very well that it can be done.

Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Twilightseries by Stephenie Meyer
a bit like A Great and Terrible Beautyand sequels by Libba Bray

s-factor: !@

Remarkably few for the type of book it is.

mrg-factor: X
There were a few suggestive parts, but they stayed simply suggestive, nothing more.

v-factor: ->->
There is some violence and fighting described, not in detail.

Overall rating: *****

And don't forget to enter to win a signed copy of Fablehaven by Brandon Mull!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Book Review: Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel

In StarclimberKate and Matt are together again flying higher than ever - to outer space. Discovering new life and dealing with their romantic feelings during life-threatening adventures are only part of this exciting adventure story.

I thought I might not be as interested in this book as in the first two, but Oppel did a great job. The story is different enough to make it interesting and the danger keeps you turning pages to see how things work out. I always love the characters, particularly Miss Karr and Sir Hugh. This is a fun and exciting story, satisfying as an ending to Kate and Matt's adventures (maybe). As evidence of the delightful humor sprinkled throughout, here is one of my favorite parts:
"When you see a fellow with his tartan underpants down around his skinny ankles, and know his bum as been sucked into a toilet bowl, it's hard not to feel a bit sorry for him, even if he is a pompous monster" (pg 286).
for the alternate history element:
The Golden Compassand The Subtle Knifeby Phillip Pullman

Also rather reminded me of the movie Apollo 13

s-factor: !

I think there were about three.

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
Some action, but not really violent.

Overall rating: ***

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nostalgic Books

Before the children's book festival started, I spent a little time perusing the friends of the library book sale, where I picked up these two gems:

That is classic Nancy Drew on the right. I adored her and read every one I could get my hands on. Formulaic, but still so desirable. And a Boxcar Children book on the left. Also a huge fan of those.

What fabulous (or not so fabulous) books or series were you addicted to as a child?

Don't forget to enter my most excellent signed book giveaway!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Give It Away Now

I have hopefully piqued all your interest in just which delightful signed book I am giving away! Are you ready for it?

I'm giving away a signed paperback copy of the first Fablehaven book. If you haven't read this series yet, start now! And what better way than with a free copy? I got Brandon Mull to sign it "To a very lucky winner," and hopefully that's you! I'm also gonna throw in a book mark for the fourth book, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary.

I don't have reviews here for the first three books in the series, since I started reading them before the existence of this blog; however, I assure you they are all packed with adventure and unexpected twists, not to mention some fantastic creatures.

So, if you want to win this signed copy of Fablehaven, leave me a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite fantasy creature is (dragon, fairy, etc).

If you want a second entry, blog about this contest and leave me a link to the post.

You have until Tuesday, June 2nd to enter. I will randomly select the winner and announce that lucky individual on Wednesday, June 3rd.

Now, get to it! And best of luck!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Review: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Short Synopsis
Anne of Avonlea
the continuing adventures of Anne Shirley, chronicles her debut as the school teacher of Avonlea public school, her uncanny ability to get into scrapes, and her discovery of so many more kindred spirits than expected.

(Don't you love that cover?) I listened to this second Anne book while doing my gardening. I simply love the writing in these books! Anne is one of my favorite characters of all the literature I have ever read. I have been in love with the miniseries made from these books for a long time, so I compare the two. I think the movie was right to cut so many of the supporting characters, since there are so many in the book. It makes the story much easier to follow and the supporting characters that they do have are stronger. All around, a classic story that comes to life almost entirely on the strength of Anne's personality.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery
Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
also reminded me of Little Women
and of course the rest of the Anne series

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Children's Book Festival

I spent a wonderful day at the Provo Children's Book Festival! This was my first year going, and I will definitely be there again next year!

I first attended a panel of fantasy authors, including Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, J. Scott Savage, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, and James Dashner. It was a lot of fun to hear their thoughts on the future of fantasy, particularly in middle grade and young adult. Unfortunately, the fire alarm interrupted the event, making it difficult to hear and concentrate. (No worries, there was no fire, just an unattended young mischief-maker. I'm sure if I had kids, they would have been equally as mischievous.) Also unfortunate was my lack of forethought in bringing a camera. While I would have loved to snap some photos, I am not the most photogenic person. I might not have even posted a photo of me with any of the authors, so you aren't missing out on much.

The highlight, of course, is meeting the authors as they sign your books. I have a really hard time striking up conversations with strangers, let alone strangers whose books I adore. Our conversations were not exciting enough for me to post. However, here are all of the books I got signed:

I will probably have to go six months before I buy another book to make up for my splurging. All in all, it was a lot of fun and I simply love having signed books.

Do you crave having books signed or do you not really care, as long as the book is good?

Oh, and stay tuned, because I am giving away one of these signed books on my blog shortly!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Book Review: Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

A brief summary of Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow

An overview of the role youth played in Hitler's Germany, including members of the Hitler Youth, those who rebelled against the Nazis, and Jewish youth.

I was blown away by this book! I couldn't believe much Hitler depended on Germany's young people! From the rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany and throughout the war, Hitler had well-structured programs in place to train young people according to his ideals. As Hitler himself said, "I begin with the young... With them I can make a new world." Which is exactly what he tried to do. I was astonished at how loyal the Youth were - willing and wanting to sacrifice their lives for Germany and for Hitler. So many of them went to battle when they were still just children! I was also really impressed with the stories of the resistance members - those who fought back against Hitler. Their stories are bitter sweet.

Oh, and one last thing that really struck me. It is amazing how some of Hitler's ideas were actually good - at least how they started out. No wonder he was popular with the things he was promising - jobs, enough food, a stronger country.

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak
Milkweedby Jerry Spinelli
Three Against Hitlerby Rudi Wobbe (haven't read it yet, but this is nonfiction about Helmuth Hubener and his friends who distributed anti-Hitler propaganda)

Reminded me of Swing Kids, a great movie, more for older teens

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: *****

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book Review: The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

A very brief summary of The Amaranth Enchantment

A valuable jewel could send Lucinda from rags back to riches, or it might just make her life much more complicated. Add in a handsome prince, a cocky thief, otherworldly beings, and a horrible aunt and things will definitely never be the same for Lucinda.

This short but sweet story, reminiscent of Cinderella, will appeal to younger girls who can't get enough fairy tales. While it was unique and interesting, I found myself wishing I knew more about Beryl and also Lucinda's family - her parents and her uncle and aunt. Her writing and descriptions are simply beautiful. I think with more explanation and development, this could have been a much stronger book.


The Two Princesses of Bamarre and Ella Enchantedby Gail Carson Levine

Dragon Slippers
and Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***
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