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Showing posts from April, 2013

Wednesdays in the Tower

This is a good year for sequels. Often they can be disappointing, but all the ones I've read thus far this  year have been wonderful. Wednesdays in the Towerby Jessica Day George is no exception. This is a delightful sequel to Tuesdays in the Castle (my thoughts).

There are a lot of things that can hatch out of an egg. A chicken, for example. Or a dragon. And when the egg is the size of a pumpkin, and almost as orange, not to mention burning hot, you know that you're far  more likely to get a dragon than a chicken. So when Celie found the egg-large, orange, and too hot to touch-lying in a nest of oddly vine-like moss in the new tower, she was convinced that it held a baby dragon. Where it had come from and what would happen when it hatched were two more questions that she wasn't sure she wanted answered. 

Thus begins the latest installment in the adventures of the Glower royal family. Celie is continuing to map the castle and it is still showing a special attachment and fond…

Shorter Musings: Contemporary YA

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. Some of those are starting to pile up so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

Here are some YA Contemporary Fiction books I've read recently and my shorter musings on them.


Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison 
I don't know why I put off reading this so long. It has a great title, it's British, and it is an iconic YA book. Maybe if I had read it earlier I would have been more impressed. I can see why so many people like this book. It is entertaining. Georgia is one of those characters that teens can identify with and is seriously flawed enough to be real. I am just not the right audience for this one. Girls like Georgia and her friends were why I was friends with boys in high school. Does anyone have thoughts on the movie? Can't decide if I should watch it or not. 


The Disenchantments by Nina …

Iron Hearted Violet

It took me a while to get around to wanting to read Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill. It looked and sounded like a book I would love, but it also looks dark and dreary.

Synopsis:
In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn't most fairy tales.
Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being -- called the Nybbas -- imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true -- not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas's triumph . . . or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.
Iron Hearted Violet is a story of a princess unlike any other. It is …

The Tragedy Paper

There are books that reader me loves and teacher me exalts in. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan is such a book.

As Duncan enters The Irving School for his senior year he is worried about three things: what dorm he's assigned, what treasure has been left by the previous occupant, and his looming Tragedy paper. The Tragedy paper is the Irving equivalent of a senior thesis and Duncan, more of a Math than English lover, is concerned. There are a lot of traditions at Irving and a big one is that the departing seniors leave a treasure for the upcoming seniors occupying their rooms.  Duncan is dismayed to find that he is assigned the one room no one wants. The room that Tim, the Albino kid, had the year before. On the desk he finds his treasure: a stack of CD's and a letter:
Dear Duncan,
When I was told you'd be living in this room, I have to be honest, I couldn't believe it. 
Maybe you can guess what I'm going to say, but I''m going to tell you anyway. It's …

Favorite Friendships

Often times romance is talked about so much in books that truly great literary friendships are pushed to the side or, in some cases, seen as less important. I love a good romance as much as anyone else, but I also appreciate good friendships. Today I want to take some time to focus on some of my favorites.

Aluna and Hoku in the Above World Trilogy:
Aluna and Hoku are such perfect complements for each other. She forces him out of his shell and to be more proactive than he would be on his own. He forces her to think calmly and not be so heedlessly reckless. Hoku's contribution of technological smarts and her contribution of fighting skills make them a nearly unstoppable team.

The Polygoners in The Ashtown Burials Series:
I use the term "Polygoners" to describe all of the people in both books in the series so far who have allied themselves with Cyrus and Antigone. They are a ragtag motley group to be sure, and that is what makes them so wonderful. They all have different s…

The Thief

Featuring Bit, age 8

I have never reviewed Megan Whalen Turner's books because sometimes it is hard to talk about something you have THAT MUCH love for. They come up in My Favorite Things posts a lot. I wrote this for The Queen's Thief Week Chachic hosted. But writing individual reviews? I just have never been able to contemplate that. Yet if it is possible to write a review for one it is The Thief.

Bit begged for months to have this book as a read aloud. I kept putting it off because a) I thought it might still be too mature for her and b) if she didn't like it I would have been devastated. Recently I decided it was time to give in, particularly as I could make it fit in with the study of Ancient Greece and Rome we have been doing for history. I couldn't have been happier with her reactions.


The Story
(From Goodreads)
The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selec…

Waiting on Wednesday: The Wells Bequest

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

A wonderful surprise  came my way about a month ago when I discovered this book while looking through the publishers' catalogs on Edelweiss. It's always fun to discover there is going to be a companion to one of your favorite books and you had no idea it was even in the works. YAY!

Synopsis (from Indiebound):
Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!
His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository…

Just One Day

Just One Dayby Gayle Forman is a book I was excited about reading. I really enjoyed both If I Stay and Where She Went (my thoughts) and was intrigued by the premise of the new story, particularly as it was going to be another duo with both perspectives.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Shakespeare!!!!

He can be used for both good and bad. I'm happy to say in this case it's a…

Shorter Musings: MG Historical Fiction

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. Some of those are starting to pile up so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

Here are some MG Historical Fiction books I've read recently and my shorter musings on them.

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
One Came Home is solid historical fiction, a mystery, and tale about a gun toting girl who lives on the Wisconsin frontier. The plotting is interesting and the pacing works for the plot. Sort of. The story has several flashbacks and these are sometimes jarring and rambled. I know that was meant to show Georgie's frame of mind, but it made the story rather awkward in places. The mystery and action are wonderfully done when they're included and will probably keep readers engaged, particularly if they are into this sort of story. I would have liked this much more if I had liked or appreciated any of the characters but…

Dodger

Confession Time

Confession #1: I have confessed this before. I'm not a Dickens fan. I LOVE A Tale of Two Cities. It is one of my all time favorite books. Everything else he wrote? Not so much. I have never been able to make it all the way through Oliver Twist.

Confession #2: Until Dodger I had never read anything by Terry Pratchett. I would ask why some of you never told me to. But you did. Repeatedly. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's...Dodger.
Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl--not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

Dodger is a charac…

Stolen Magic

Isn't it great when a series just gets better and better with each installment? That is definitely the case with the Kat, Incorrigible series by Stephanie Burgis. The third, and final, book is the best and that is saying something when the first two were so good. There is so much to love about Stolen Magic.

Synopsis:
With just days to go before her sister Angeline’s long-delayed wedding to Frederick Carlyle, the impetuous Kat Stephenson has resigned herself to good behavior. But Kat’s initiation into the magical Order of the Guardians is fast approaching, and trouble seems to follow her everywhere.
First, Kat must contend with the wretched Mrs. Carlyle’s attempts to humiliate her sister; the arrival of the mysterious Marquise de Valmont, who bears suspicious resemblance to Kat’s late mother; and Frederick’s bewitching cousin Jane, who has Charles Stephenson tripping over his feet. But when a menacing boy with powerful magic starts hunting Kat, a dastardly villain tries to…

The Trouble with Flirting

I have discussed before my complicated relationship with Jane Austen retellings. When I first heard of  The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik I figured I would be pretty safe as it is a reworking of Mansfield Park. Mansfield Park is so much a mess on its own that it's sort of  hard to ruin it. Then Christina at A Reader of Fictions wrote this review that actually made me excited about reading it. So I did and actually really enjoyed it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Franny's supposed to be working this summer, not flirting. But you can't blame her when guys like Alex and Harry are around. . . .
Franny Pearson never dreamed she'd be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she's not, exactly. She's working for her aunt, the resident costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her crush, Alex Braverman. If only he were as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is wit…

Frogged

I love a good fairy tale retelling especially one that adds new twists and is good fun to read. Froggedby Vivian Vande Velde does and is.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
One should be able to say of a princess “She was as good as she was beautiful,” according to The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition), which the almost-thirteen-year-old Princess Imogene is supposed to be reading. Not feeling particularly good, or all that beautiful, she heads for a nearby pond, where, unfortunately, a talking frog tricks her into kissing him. No prince appears, as one might expect. Instead, the princess turns into a frog herself! Thus launches a funny, wonderfully spun fractured fairy tale in which Imogene wonders if she will be forever frogified.

Now if you read the synopsis I know what your thinking: Another retelling of "The Frog Prince" where the girl turns into a frog post kiss. I know. I was thinking it to when I reached that part, but it's different. Trust me. She tu…

SLJ BoB: And the Winner Is..

I can't say I'm happy since this means Code Name Verity lost. I am happy that if it had to lose it lost to No Crystal Stair rather than The Fault in Our Stars. Even if Frank Cottrell Boyce's reasons for choosing No Crystal Stair over it had me shaking my head in confusion. I vehemently disagree with a couple things Boyce had to say: I don't think the treatment of torture in Code Name Verity was flip and I felt Julie's torment powerfully. I also laughed when he said the death in The Fault in Our Stars was a "nasty surprise". No it wasn't. I knew exactly what was going to happen in that book the moment I read the synopsis. I do think No Crystal Stair is a deserving book and I'm happy to see it get more recognition.

The best part of this year's Battle was the kid commentators. They came through with well written and intelligent critiques when the majority of this year's judges failed at this. I think we need to have the kids judge this from …