Showing posts from April, 2012

Review: The Foretelling - Alice Hoffman

The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman Young Adult Read From: Apr. 9, 2012 - Apr. 10, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Before starting this book, I had two thoughts: Either this book is going to be surprisingly good, or I'm going to really dislike it. Well, I didn't end up really disliking it, but I certainly didn't love it, either. Or even really like it. Stories of sisterhood kind of nauseate me to begin with because they are more often than not lectures against men, and all of the female characters have major chips on their shoulders and the "I-can-beat-anyone" attitude. I'll give the Author this: her women were believable. They seemed like tough Germanic women - the type that the Romans wrote about as being fiercer fighters than the male warriors. The type of women which the Romans absolutely did not want to fight. So, thumbs up to the Author for getting that right.
But. That's where my praise pretty much ends. I didn't care about any of the characters, least of al…

Review: Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick Middle Grade Read From: Apr. 9, 2012 - Apr. 9, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~ I'll admit, I didn't like Wonderstruck as much as The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and here's why: half of it takes place in the modern world, it didn't focus on clocks and awesome automatons, and it just lacked some of the magic that Hugo Cabret had. I still liked Wonderstruck - don't get me wrong. Just not as much as Brian Selznick's first book. The storyline was a bit more inspirational and not quite as mysterious (though I was extremely curious to see how he was going to connect two stories together that were fifty years apart). The story being told half in pictures and half in words still has the same silent-movie-on-pages feeling, and it's a method that works for this story just as well as it did The Invention of Hugo Cabret. No other Author could pull it off like Selznick. And the characters, Ben and Rose, are both likable. But because half of it was told…

Review: Princess of the Wild Swans - Diane Zahler

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler
Genre: Middle Grade, fairy tale retelling
Published on January 31, 2012
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 224
Read From: 4.6.12 - 4.7.12

Princess Meriel's brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment - cast by their conniving new stepmother - has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam - a pretty half-witch and her clever brother - Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved. But if she fails, all will be lost.
The Wild Swans was one of my all-time favorite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, and I have always wished that someone would do a retelling of it. I am…

Review: A Pickpocket's Tale - Karen Schwabach

A Pickpocket's Tale by Karen Schwabach Middle Grade Read From: Apr. 5, 2012 - Apr. 7, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is a book that at first I was a little dubious about, but ended up really enjoying in the end. While Molly, the heroine, takes forever to trust people, it is a realistic attitude for a character with a background like hers, so her lack of trust was less annoying than it usually would be in most. She does get into a lot of situations that are her own fault because of it, of course, and I wanted to smack her upside the head, but poor Molly doesn't know any better, and she is a naturally-honest person, so it's hard to dislike her for these errors. It's easier to get angry with her new employers, who don't seem to take into considering that she's come from a rough life and may be easily alarmed at things. Mrs. Bell is always upset with things that Molly does, not once wondering if maybe on the streets of London, Molly was taught no differently.
Still, des…

Review: Born Wicked - Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1
Genre: YA, historical fantasy, romance
Published on February 7, 2012
Published by Putnam
Pages: 330
Read From: 3.26.12 - 4.6.12

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship - or an early gave.

Review: The Hunt for the Seventh - Christine Morton-Shaw

The Hunt for the Seventh by Christine Morton-Shaw Young Adult Read From: Apr. 2, 2012 - Apr. 5, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Caution: this is a book you don't want to read at night, unless you want to be seriously spooked. This is a ghost story that stood my hair on end more than once, and it was awesome. Different from The Riddles of Epsilon, it still retains all of those elements that I loved about that book. Clues, riddles, a chilling mystery, ancient folklore, a sense of urgency, and quirky characters that always seem to live in small towns and villages.
It's hard to compare The Hunt for the Seventh to The Riddles of Epsilon. The characters and the plotline are just different enough to make it difficult. Jim is more likable than Jess in The Riddles of Epsilon if only because Jess started out with a bad attitude, and Jim doesn't. He tunes in to the estate's mysteries quickly, and his curiosity and feeling that something isn't quite right fuels him on, despite the poten…

Review: The Education of Bet - Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Education of Betby Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Genre: YA, historical fiction, romance
Published on July 28, 2010
Published by HMH Books
Pages: 192
Read From: 4.1.12 - 4.2.12

When Will and Bet were four, tragic circumstances brought them to the same house, to be raised by a wealthy gentleman as brother and sister. Now sixteen, they appear content with the life fate has bestowed upon them.But appearances can be deceiving. Bet can experience only what society allows for a girl. Will is afforded much more freedom, but still only as society dictates. Neither is happy.So Bet comes up with a plan and persuades Will to give it a try: She'll go to school as Will. Will can live as he chooses.But when she arrives at school, the reality doesn't match what Bet imagined. Boys are very different when they don't think there's a girl in their midst. In fact, they can be rather brutish. But brutish Bet can deal with. It's the stirrings of attraction for her roommate that get Bet int…

Review: London Calling - Edward Bloor

London Calling by Edward Bloor Genre: Middle Grade, time travel, supernatural Published on February 12, 2008 Published by Ember Pages: 304 Read From: 3.30.12 - 3.30.12

SYNOPSIS Martin Conway comes from a family filled with heroes and disgraces. His grandfather was a statesman who worked at the US Embassy in London during WWII. His father is an alcoholic who left his family. His sister is an overachieving Ivy League graduate. And Martin? Martin is stuck in between - floundering.But during the summer after 7th grade, Martin meets a boy who will change his life forever. Jimmy Harker appears one night with a deceptively simple question: Will you help?Where did this boy come from, with his strange accent and urgent request? Is he a dream? It's the most vivid dream Martin's ever had. And he meets Jimmy again and again - but how can his dreams be set in London during the Blitz? How can he wake up with a head full of people and facts and events that he certainly didn't know when he went …

Review: The Pirate Captain's Daughter - Eve Bunting

The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting
Series: Pirate Captain's Daughter #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, romance
Published on February 14, 2011
Published by Sleeping Bear Press
Pages: 208
Read From: 3.29.12 - 3.29.12

At age fifteen, Catherine's life is about to change. Her mother has just died and Catherine can't stand the thought of being sent to live with her aunt in Boston. She longs for a life of adventure.Ever since Catherine discovered her father's secret life as captain of the pirate ship Reprisal, her only thoughts are to join him on the high seas. Catherine imagines a life of sailing the blue waters of the Caribbean, the wind whipping at her back. She's heard tales of bloodshed and brutality but her father's ship would never be like that.Catherine convinces her father to let her join him, disguised as a boy. But once the Reprisal sets said, she finds life aboard a pirate ship is not for the faint of heart. If her secret is uncovered, punis…

Review: The Princess Curse - Merrie Haskell

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Genre: Middle Grade, fairy tale retelling
Published on September 6, 2011
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 328
Read From: 3.25.12 - 3.26.12

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling - a downright silly - curse. Ridiculous though the curse may be, whoever breaks it will win a handsome reward.Sharp-witted Reveka, an herbalist's apprentice, has little use for princesses, with their snooty attitudes and impractical clothing. She does, however, have use for the reward money, which could buy her a position as a master herbalist.But curses don't like to be broken, and Reveka's efforts lead her to deeper mysteries. As she struggles to understand the curse, she meets a shadowy stranger (as charming as he is unsettling) and discovers a blighted land in desperate need of healing. Soon the irreverent apprentice is faced with a daunting choice - will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?
In many ways, this particular retelling of T…

Another Year, Another Birthday, Another Gray Hair

Yes, yesterday was my 20th birthday, and I am still trying to decide what my opinion of it was. See, my birthday also happened to coincide with my very first microbiology test - yay! - and while I think I probably did fine, I do not, as of right now, know for certain how well I truly did. I am unhappy to confess that I did a lot of guesswork on the last half of it. Microbiology is fascinating, but when it comes to bacteria genetics and metabolism, my brain gets a little muzzy.
After that torturous exam, I had several hours free, in which I had the assistance of some friends in forgetting about my stomach, which was tied up in a thousand knots. But as soon as my friends had gone their respective ways, I had to remember that I had a two-hour lab to prepare for. A lab which my instructor had described as The Lab from Hell. Oh dear, I thought. This is going to be just lovely! Actually, it wasn't that bad. My team got a rhythm down and we were done in an hour.
At last, I could turn my at…

Review: Dragon Flight - Jessica Day George

Dragon Flight
by Jessica Day George
Middle Grade
Read From: Mar. 24, 2012 - Mar. 26, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ At first glance, a Reader might think that Dragon Flight is going to have the same storyline as Dragon Slippers, just slightly different. And while that may seem fine, because Dragon Slippers was a wonderful story, one always hopes for a new and even better story with a sequel. Well, Jessica Day George does not disappoint. There are plenty of surprising new twists in this one that really spice things up and create a brand new and exciting second adventure. Creel is, as always, at her wittiest and bravest, and even though she is struggling with her feeling for Prince Luka, it doesn't get in the way of the adventure. All of our favorite dragon characters are back, too, of course, and just as fun and wonderful as we remember them. The only character that seemed to slip a bit was Luka. I still loved him, but it almost felt that he slipped into the background; his role was a lit…

Review: The Gypsy Crown - Kate Forsyth

The Gypsy Crown by Kate Forsyth
Genre: YA, historical fantasy
Published on July 15, 2008
Published by Hyperion
Pages: 400
Read From: 3.16.12 - 3.24.12

Emilia Finch and her cousin Luka are Rom - Gypsies. For them, that means they live a traditional life, rich with story, music, dance, and magic. To the repressive Puritan government, however, the Gypsies are thieving, fortune-telling vagrants.

Review: Legend - Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu Series: Legend #1
Genre: YA, dystopian, action, futuristic
Published on November 29, 2011
Published by Putnam
Pages: 305 Read From: 3.23.12 - 3.24.12

Once known as the western coast of the United States, the Republic is now a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors, the Colonies.Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic's highest circles.

Review: The Apothecary - Maile Meloy

The Apothecaryby Maile Meloy Series: The Apothecary #1 Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction, action Published on October 4, 2011 Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons Pages: 362 Read From: 3.22.12 - 3.23.12

SYNOPSIS It's 1952 and the Scott family has moved unexpectedly from Los Angeles to London. Janie Scott feels uncertain in her strange new school until she meets Benjamin Burrows, the local apothecary's curiously defiant son, who dreams of becoming a spy.

Author Interview: Kevin McGill

On March 31st, the first book in the Nikolas and Company series was released: The Merman and the Moon Forgotten. After reading it, I was thrilled to have its author, Kevin McGill, agree to a Q&A session with me! But before I delve into that, let me first announce that on April 14th, The Merman and the Moon Forgotten is going to be launched into space! Click here for more details. And now, without further ado, here is the interview: