Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: The Adventures of Ook and Gluk by Dav Pilkey

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future by Dav Pilkey
Publisher: Blue Sky Press (Scholastic)
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780545175302

Source: Review copy provided by publisher

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future

Things I Liked:
This book is pure silliness.  The kung-fu cavemen are solely designed to bring out the laughs.  The illustrations match perfectly the style of the writing and story.  I loved the almost childlike drawings that tended to go along with the "caveman" talk.  I got the most entertainment out of the flip-o-rama action pages though.  It was loads of ridiculousness that will entertain all, reluctant readers especially.  I passed it right off to my 10-year old nephew who devoured it in a very short period of time.  Definitely a winner.  Here's a peak inside:

Things I Didn't Like:
While I tried to ignore the adult reader in me, I did find the spelling and grammar mistakes to be super annoying.  Yes, these are my own sensibilities projected onto the book.  Still, I must mention that I was bothered.  I don't think it will bother many kids, though.  It's sheer entertainment and silly humor and that's the way it should be.

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

It will probably also appeal to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid crowd

s-factor: none
potty humor doesn't count, right?

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
nothing but a bit of kung fu action 

Overall rating: ****

Don't forget to enter the Huge Scholastic Prize Pack giveaway to win a copy of Ook and Gluk, along with several other awesome books!
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, November 29, 2010

Huge Scholastic Prize Pack Giveaway!

I'm so lucky to be hosting another giveaway this week! To bring laughs to a child you know this Christmas, any of these books will be a big hit. Thanks to Big Honcho Media and Scholastic, you could win these books.

Give the gift of reading to your child this holiday season! Scholastic books make the perfect stocking stuffer for any child on your list.

We have a HUGE prize pack filled with the most popular children’s books in the marketplace to offer one lucky reader! Titles include CAPTAIN SKY BLUE, IT’S CHRISTMAS DAVID, OOK and GLUK as well as TONY BALONEY, ODIOUS OGRE and I SPY CHRISTMAS A CHRISTMAS TREE!

One (1) Winner will receive a HUGE gift pack, including:

I've had a chance to read Ook and Gluk and I assure you that the tweens in your life (especially the boys) will get a big kick out of it.  I'll be reviewing it tomorrow as part of Tween Tuesday, so be sure to check back.

You have until next Monday, December 6th, to enter the giveaway.  You must be 13 or older and have a US shipping address to enter. Just fill out the form below.  

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

Gratitude Giveaway Winner!

It's time to choose the winner of my Gratitude Giveaway: the signed ARC of Matched by Ally Condie!  It was a great contest and thanks again to all my readers and followers.  Before I mention the winner, I just wanted to (finally) share some of my favorite quotes from this awesome book.  Even if you didn't win, you should definitely still read Matched - it comes out on Tuesday!
The meal seems like a dance; as though this is a ball as well as a banquet.  The waiters slid the plates in front of us with graceful hands; the food, wearing herbs and garnishes, is as dressed up as we are.  We lift the white napkins, the silver forks, the shining crystal goblets as if in time to music. p 10 of ARC
They created commissions to choose the hundred best of everything: Hundred Songs, Hundred Paintings, Hundred Stories, Hundred Poems.  The rest were eliminated.  Gone forever.  For the best, the Society said, and everyone believed because it made sense.  How can we appreciate anything fully when overwhelmed with too much? p 29 of ARC 
Nothing I have written or done has made any difference in this world, and suddenly I know what it means to rage, and to crave. p 96-97 of ARC
I'll tell her and everyone else that I know: they are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing.  And I'll tell her that I don't want my life to be samples and scraps.  A taste of everything but a meal of nothing. p 249 of ARC
Reading these quotes makes me want to go read it again - there is so much in the book to make you think!  And now we come to the winner:


Congrats! I'll send you an email and I'll be sending the book out later today. And as one last plug for Matched, check out the very awesome website created for the trilogy. I had a lot of fun playing around on it. You can even get matched! 

Thanks again, readers, and Kathy of I Am a Reader, Not A Writer for hosting the event.

If you're sad you didn't win, be sure to check back later today, since I'm hosting a fabulous Scholastic prize giveaway!  

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner

Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: October 2010
ISBN: 9780823422852

Source: review copy provided by publicist

Nightshade City

Deep beneath Trillium city there lies a hidden city of rats. Run by an evil dictator and his vicious army for the last decade, the rats of the Catacombs are oppressed and run down.  But, a secret rebellion is stirring among the inhabitants, led by a mysterious figure from the past and three young rats who all lost their parents in the overthrow of the last ruler.  Will they be able to defeat these wicked rulers before it is too late?

Things I Liked:
The book has an exciting non-stop action story that carries the reader along.  I got sucked into the adventure and suspense of not knowing if our favorite characters would survive.  It's a well-written and thrilling fantasy story with plenty of familiar themes, but fleshed out with the unusual rat characters.  It also had just a touch of a creepy element, with the cruel and wicked leaders who have no pity.  Kids will fall in love with the rat heroes and be taken in by the story.

Things I Didn't Like:
I had a hard time getting into the book at first.  I thought it might be because I'm not usually a fan of animal stories (never read many when I was a kid), but I also think it might have been just a bit slow at the start.  I did get pulled into the story, even if it seemed pretty predictable.  While the ending wrapped up almost neatly, the last chapter (and prologue) seemed a bit odd to me.  I'm not sure if its setting up for another book or just an open and rather creepy ending.  Didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the story though.

Redwall books by Brian Jacques and Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: X
some things are implied, but nothing explicitly stated

v-factor: ->->->
quite a bit, some of it a little gory, but nothing overwhelming

Overall rating: ****

Are you a talking animal book fan?

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Name That Book, Episode 5

Name that Book is a biweekly game where you get to guess a book title from the photo clues. 

Hope this will give you a bit of bookish fun on this dreary (at least here) Monday.

Book 1:

Book 2:
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Saturday, November 20, 2010

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

A Bit of Me(Me) is hosted by Danielle of There's a Book.

For this week's question, we are supposed to list at least one thing we're grateful for.  Let's be honest, I've never been good at only picking one thing :)  Here's the short list:

I assume this is number one on pretty much everyone's list.  Where would we be without family or the people in our lives we consider family?  They offer us support and love and everything we humans need.  My husband who is, you know, always there for me (and on and on and on about him).  I love living near most of my family - the get togethers are wildly entertaining (so looking forward to Thanksgiving).  I know I'll miss them when we finally move :)

A Job
This was a hard one for me to say, because I've been struggling so much with my job recently.  But, because of my job, we've been able to pay for my husband's schooling without going into debt.  We have enough to eat and a place to stay warm.  I'm glad to have one, especially in this economic situation.

Yeah, it's cliche I know (considering I blog about books), but it's true.  Books are what keep me sane (some of the time) and help me relax and unwind at the end of the day (or the beginning or the middle).  I love to have something on hand to keep my mind from worrying about stuff I can't control (and some that I can).  This even makes me grateful for parents who taught me to read, for teachers who encouraged it, and for libraries who provide what no one individual could.  I love my books :)

What about you?

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

Book Review: No Going Back by Jonathan Langford

No Going Back by Jonathan Langford
Publisher: Zarahemla Books
Publication date: October 2009
ISBN: 9780978797195

Source: e-copy provided by author

No Going Back 

Paul is an unusual young man.  He's gay, but he's also a Mormon and he'd like to stay one.  When he finally tells his best friend, Chad he freaks out.  But, Chad doesn't want to end their friendship over that.  As they continue to hang out, despite some awkwardness, Paul struggles to find a place he fits in and feels comfortable.  Paul faces all kinds of challenges from seemingly every direction, but also finds help from several unexpected places.  

Things I Liked:
This is definitely an author with guts.  With a main character professing to be both gay and Mormon, there are lots who could take offense.  I found myself entirely impressed with the skill and ability that Langford was able to capture the essence of what it must feel like to be torn in such a way.  Paul felt very realistic to me - a teenager with the regular problems and a whole lot more stacked on his plate.  I found myself getting a bit teary in places over his conflicting feelings and decisions. 
I particularly loved the bishop in the book, who showed compassion and help instead of judgment and condemnation.  I also think the book shows the many varied attitudes and reactions of people both Mormon and non-Mormon to a gay Mormon teenager.  Being LDS myself, I liked the perspective it gave me, because it had correct church doctrine, but also how individuals in the church interpret the doctrine (correctly or incorrectly).  It's a unique book in its subject and its treatment of that subject.  I especially liked how the ending was not so much happy as hopeful.  I thought this quote from the book described essentially what it was about:
"I guess I was just hoping...I don't know, maybe I culd find some kind of balance.  Some way I could stay in the church and do what I'm supposed to do, but still spend time with people who understand what it feels like to be gay, who won't get all freak out about me liking guys." p 211
Things I Didn't Like:
I did find the other story lines to be distracting, even if I understand why they are included.  It felt like it was getting off track sometimes when it followed them.  Also, I'm with Britt of Confessions of a Book Habitue in stating that I don't know who to recommend the book to.  I think it would offend some Mormons and I think non-Mormons might misunderstand it or just get bored with some of the doctrine and preaching that goes on.  Definitely for Mormon teens struggling with this issue and their parents.
I honestly can't think of any, perhaps a bit like The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith, though I haven't read it yet

s-factor: !@#
lots, but no f-words

mrg-factor: XX
teenage boy talk and one incident, not described in detail

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Any thoughts on this?
Please keep your comments polite or I shall be forced to delete them :)

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier


I've decided to join in Angie's Retro Friday Reviews meme (hopefully I'll do it regularly).  From her site:
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted here at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!
What I'll be doing for the most part, is reviewing books I've recently discovered that were published two or more years ago.  I know I read a LOT of new stuff, but I'd like to review some things from the past too.  I find it especially appropriate that I'm starting with a book from a series Angie originally got me hooked on.

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Publication date: 2001
ISBN: 9780765343260

Source: Library

Son of the Shadows (The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Book 2) 

This sequel to Daughter of the Forest, follows the story of Sorcha's daughter, Liadan.  Liadan inherited much from her mother - her skill in healing, her strong spirit, her stubbornness.  But, when Liadan is taken from her family to care for a sick man in the company of mercenaries, she finds her future is changing before her eyes.  As she falls for one of those mercenaries - an enemy to her family - she must decide for herself where her future leads, despite influences both from her family and from otherworldly creatures. 

Things I Liked:
Once again, I am enthralled by the skill Marillier has as a story teller and as a creator of a world full of depth and history.  The story is complex and takes many twists and turns that are both expected and surprising.  I fell in love with Liadan as I did with Sorcha before her.  She was a strong and resilient woman, who ends up being the one who saves, rather than being saved.  I love a good, strong heroine.  Marillier has a skill with words and with folklore, weaving a gorgeous setting and brilliant characters that seem as real and flawed as any I know.  I find myself completely immersed in the drama that unfolds at Sevenwaters and beyond.  The flawless way she includes magic in the ancient historical background of Ireland is just a testament to her skill as a fantasy writer.  Oh, and the bitterness of this book just broke my heart.  It is not a happy tale like Daughter of the Forest is (for the most part).  It is filled with heartbreaking moments and broken lives and lies that tear families apart.  And yet, I'm looking forward to reading the next books just as much.  Some of my favorite parts:

I wove into this story as much wonder and magic and enchantment as I could.  But I did not forget the ordinary things, the things that are wonderful in themselves, without being in any way unusual. p 182
The question was not so much did they trust me, as did I trust them?  Bran had dismissed trust once as a concept without meaning.  But if you could not trust, you were indeed alone, for neither friendship nor partnership, neither family nor alliance could exist without it.  Without trust, we were scattered far and wide, at the mercy of the four winds with nothing to cling to. p 370
I do not seek to make these wounds vanish as if they had never been.  I know he will always bear the scars.  I cannot make his path grow broad and straight.  It will always twist and turn and offer new difficulties.  But I can take his hand and walk by his side. p 551
Things I Didn't Like:
Once again, the book is long and not for those with very short attention spans.  I had to return this book twice to the library before I finished it.  It takes time and patience, but you will be richly rewarded at the end for it.

Start with Daughter of the Forest by Marillier

I also love Marillier's Wildwood Dancing and Heart's Blood

s-factor: !
perhaps a few

mrg-factor: XX
there are a few scenes, fairly tasteful, but descriptive nonetheless

v-factor: ->->->
there is fighting and some gruesome images, but not a lot of scenes

Overall rating: *****

Do you have a favorite fantasy author?  One you haven't yet been disappointed by?

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: Poison by Sara Poole

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780312609832

Source: ARC provided by publisher

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance

Francesca Giordano is the daughter of the poisoner for the powerful and corrupt Borgia, a cardinal in the Church in Rome during the 1400s.  When her father is brutally murdered, she must fight to take his place as poisoner.  Her purpose now is to avenge her father's death, but she is drawn into a much more deadly game involving a desperate struggle for power.  Now she is in a race for her life and the lives of thousands of other innocent people.

Things I Liked:
The book certainly had the ability to keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing what will happen next.  It calls to mind books like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, but in a historical and somewhat more interesting setting.  It is very well written, interweaving historical detail and action very well, for the most part.  I loved Francesca and her weaknesses as well as her strengths.  She was a real character to me - one stuck in the religious corruption and deceit that surrounded her, but was still able to make smart choices.  There were several twists that kept your interest from waning during parts where the time period was described or poison was discussed in detail.  I was also intrigued by her discussions of religion, particularly in a time when it seemed so difficult to believe in the rightness of the church when there was so much corruption.  It definitely made me want to learn more about the Borgias and to keep reading the rest of the books she plans to write about them.  It felt refreshing to read some Italian historical fiction rather than the typical English fare.  Here are some favorite parts:

Should you visit Rome or be fortunate enough to reside within it, I recommend that you find occasion to rise early and observe how each new day transforms the city from the monochrome of night to the blushing hues that the sun draws from this remarkable stone.  Later, you will see the colors deepen almost to purple before finally yielding late in the day to muted gold.  It is said that Rome possesses the fairest palette of any city and I know of no reason to disagree. p 17 of ARC
You may mock my foolishness but for just an instant, there in the darkness on the brink of death, I was overwrought enough to think that I heard the Almighty and that He was not remotely what I had been taught.  Far from the omniscient majesty before whom we must tremble in blind adoration, He sounded a caring, if somewhat exasperated shepherd who went in search of us, his straying flock.  Of course, I know I was wrong.  And yet I know no such thing.  The thought lingers: Surely the God who created Heaven and Earth can speak through the mouth of a man?  Indeed, how else would he speak to men?  Or, for that matter, to one particular woman? p 178 of ARC
I was and I remain a doubter; it is my curse.  Yet in that predawn world, I discovered a truth I had not suspected.  Whether by my own desperate need or just perhaps by divine intervention acting even through so deeply flawed a man, I found comfort and meaning in the act of forgiveness. p 267 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
The first half of the book was a bit bogged down by setting the scene.  The historical details were less well integrated into the story during that section.  It seemed a lot of it was just getting us ready for the rest of the story by letting us know what the time and place was like.  While I found it interesting information, it did not flow well with the rest of the story.  Some of Francesca's choices were quite stupid to me, but perhaps more in character for her.  Mostly these were choices that didn't affect the rest of the story and were personal, so I overlooked them.

The White Queen or any other historical fiction books by Philippa Gregory

Reminded me of The Golden Web by Barbara Quick

s-factor: !@#
not a lot in number, but some quite strong

mrg-factor: XXX
she has plenty of interludes, not to mention the general corruptness of the time

v-factor: ->->
a few situations, nothing described in great detail

Overall rating: ****

What time period do you crave historical fiction to be about?

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway: Signed ARC of Matched by Ally Condie

Welcome to my giveaway as part of the Gratitude Giveaways: a signed ARC of Matched by Ally Condie.  My review posted yesterday, so if you want to know more about this book and what I thought, check it out.  (That is, if you haven't already seen the millions of other reviews out there.)  Let's get right down to it.

I've got one extra ARC of Matched that I got signed by Ally Condie (read about my experience meeting her here).  You can earn one extra entry by being a follower of my blog.  Just fill out the form below to be entered (US only, must be 13 or older).  The giveaway will run from today until Sunday, November 28th.  I'll post the winner the following Monday.  Good luck! 

Let's not forget the excerpts of some of my favorite parts: [forthcoming, I promise!] [or let's just forget it, because I keep forgetting it - maybe in a separate post?  Sometime?  Maybe?]

And for lots of other bookish giveaways, go to any of the blogs listed below for lots of other great giveaways going on as part of the Gratitude Giveaways

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication date: November 2010
ISBN: 9780525423645

Source: ARC provided by publisher/publicist


Cassia has grown up longing for the day she will be Matched to her future husband.  When that day finally arrives, she is surprised and pleased with her Match, Xander, who is someone she's known all her life.  But, when a face that is definitely NOT Xander shows up on the screen for an instant, she is shocked and confused.  That sight sparks her curiosity and she finds herself falling in love with someone else entirely.

Things I Liked:
I love, love, love the writing.  Ally is one of my new favorites, almost just for the way she writes.  Her words seem simple and clean, but there is a poetic and complex depth to it.  I love the way the words flow on the pages.  I also happened to really enjoy the dystopian world she's created - a world where there are no choices, but everyone seems happy with what they have.  It does have lots of similarities to The Giver, which just makes me want to go reread that one.  The people might not have options, but they enjoy the small freedoms they do have.  It was interesting to watch how Cassia changes over the book, how she begins to see small things at first and larger ones later that make her dissatisfied with the Society.  The love triangle, which I am the first to admit is so overdone in literature, was actually quite good, I thought.  (*slight spoiler*) Not only was she unafraid to admit she loved both boys, but she straight up told the one she didn't choose that she chose the other.  They remained friends after. (*end spoiler*)  I wish there were more books whose triangles resolved that way.  I was pleased and satisfied and also ready for the next installment!  And really, there is so much to talk about with this book.  We were really fortunate that Ally, who is a local author, was doing a program at our local library.  We visited with her after reading the book.  I'm super glad we decided to use it as a book group read.

Things I Didn't Like:
Looking back at the reading experience, it seemed to move really slowly.  There isn't a lot of action and things that happen, it is more a steady flow of regular every day things mixed with minute irregular things.  So, while it isn't your typical action-packed dystopia, I think it still moves quickly and will keep the reader engaged through other means. 

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (I've got an awesome double feature review of this book coming)

s-factor: none
that I recall 

mrg-factor: none
some kissing

v-factor: ->
there are some scary moments and a little violence

Overall rating: *****

Intrigued by this book? Want to read an excerpt or two? Good, because I've got a Gratitude Giveaway coming up tomorrow for a signed ARC of Matched and I intend to put some of my favorite quotes in that post so you can get a taste for this excellent book. Come back tomorrow to enter for your chance to read this fabulous addition to dystopian lit.

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Listless Monday, Reclining Ladies Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

Instead of a typical list of books on a topic, I decided to go this week for a more visual group of similar books.  I've noticed a trend recently in what I like to call the "reclining ladies" cover.  This list of books would make an interesting display, if nothing else.

Reclining Ladies Edition

Before I Fall  If I Stay All Unquiet Things
Love You Hate You Miss You Kiss of Death When Rose Wakes
 Far from You Ash Darklight (Wondrous Strange (Quality))
The Dead-Tossed Waves (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 2) The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth) Here Lies Bridget (Harlequin Teen)
Front and Center Small Town Sinners Cracked Up to Be
We even have a few reclining ladies with their reclining gentleman too!
Dairy QueenKisses and Lies (Scarlett Wakefield Series)The Secret Life of Prince Charming

Any additions?

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