Showing posts from May, 2012

Review: Vanished - Sheela Chari

Vanished by Sheela Chari Genre: Middle Grade, mystery Published on July 26, 2011 Published by Disney-Hyperion Pages: 336 Read From: 4.22.12 - 4.27.12

SYNOPSIS Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother - intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it turns out that Neela's instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?
This was not quite as strange as I was expecting, though don't get me wrong - it was still strange. My expectations were just high in t…

Review: Chains - Laurie Halse Anderson

Chainsby Laurie Halse Anderson Series: Seeds of America #1 Genre: YA, historical fiction Published on October 21, 2008 Published by Atheneum Pages: 316 Read From: 4.20.12 - 4.22.12

SYNOPSIS As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight. . . .for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
It has been so long since I have read a fairly recently written book set during the Revolutionary War this good. I had my doubts about this book at first …

Review: The Scribes from Alexandria - Caroline Lawrence

The Scribes from Alexandria
by Caroline Lawrence
Middle Grade
Read From: Apr. 22, 2012 - Apr. 22, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Compared to the last one, this one was more exciting. It had more purpose to the things that happened, more mystery, and I was very curious to see how things turned out. But it also had tons of flaws. For one thing, no book intended for this age bracket should go intosuch detail about how a male is turned into a eunuch. It came pretty darn close to being graphic. And I also don't think that kids from that time period - even girls - would not know about what makes a male a eunuch.
I also found it more than a little annoying that the character who was serious about his Jewish faith, Seth, was also the character with the pompous and self-righteous attitude and was always making derogatory comments about pagans and eunuchs. And when Seth asks another character to marry him, the Author managed to make him sound arrogant and pompous when he tells her that if they are to…

Review: Death Comes to Pemberley - P. D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James Adult Read From: Apr. 15, 2012 - Apr. 20, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What I liked first: the Author did an incredible job in imitating Jane Austen's writing style. While there certainly were times that I could tell the difference, the imitation was just amazing. P. D. James has certainly earned the right to be called a good writer. As far as Miss Austen's characters go, the Author also did justice in portraying them as closely to their original personalities as any person who isn't the original Author can. They conducted themselves in the exact manner that I imagine Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy and all the others would in a murder case. And any "Austeneer" will appreciate to cunning ways P. D. James makes little alludements to some of Austen's other books, like Persuasion and Emma.
What I didn't like: as the story progressed, it began to feel less like a murder mystery and more like the Author had written the book because …

Review: The Solstice Cup - Rachel Dunstan Muller

The Solstice Cup by Rachel Dunstan Muller Young Adult Read From: Apr. 18, 2012 - Apr. 20, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is essentially a retelling of the Tamlin ballad, only it's with sisters - and no, I am not counting that against the book, because it actually worked really well. And for being such a short book, the Author was able to capture a lot of suspense and depth. Mackenzie is a heroine easy to sympathize with  and like. Meanwhile, her twin sister Breanne is positively horrid. The Reader is not supposed to like her, naturally; Breanne is an absolute jerk. I so badly wanted something bad and irreversible happen to her, and I must admit that if I had been Mackenzie, I might not have even bothered to rescue Breanne from the Fair Folk. Especially when by the end of their trials and tribulations, Breanne doesn't seemed to have altered at all.

The Author's rendition of the Fair Folk is one of the better ones that I have read, though I have to admit that I wasn't a big…

Review: Belladonna - Mary Finn

Belladonnaby Mary Finn
Genre: YA, historical fiction, romance
Published on June 14, 2011
Published by Candlewick Press
Pages: 384
Read From: 4.13.12 - 4.18.12

When Thomas Rose first spots the girl concealed in a ditch outside his rural village, she looks as drab as a large, blending with the English countryside. Only her bright-red kerchief gives her away. Yet French Helene, who goes by "Ling" - for the year is 1757, and England and France are at war - is no ordinary bird. She is tiny and agile, with huge dark eyes and hair as black

Review: Juliet's Moon - Ann Rinaldi

Juliet's Moon by Ann Rinaldi Young Adult Read From: Apr. 14, 2012 - Apr. 15, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Even though this particular Ann Rinaldi book only earned 3 stars, I still liked it. Compared to her other books, it was not my favorite for several reasons: Juliet is a pretty spoiled girl, and even though she does usually act for selfless means, I had a hard time completely connecting to her, and part of what makes Rinaldi's heroines so good is the ease in which the Reader can connect to them. Juliet also was not a real figure in history, and I always tend to like Rinaldi's fictional characters less than the real ones that she brings to life with her outstanding writing. And then the story just kind of ends. This is a book that could have been longer, and been made better because of it.

However, there were things I did like. I have never heard of this particular event in history until now, and I found it to be very interesting. One thing I love so much about Ann Rinaldi'…

Review: The Throne of Fire - Rick Riordan

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan Middle Grade Read From: Apr. 7, 2012 - Apr. 14, 2012

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Every bit as good as The Red Pyramid. Sadie and Carter continue to be witty and intelligent heroes, and their sibling banter very real. I still have a difficult time comparing this particular series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians because they are different enough. I will venture to say, however, that I actually am growing to like the Egyptian gods better than the Greek ones, from the standpoint that the Egyptian gods seem more human than Ares or Zeus. But they also don't seem as powerful. As I said in my review for The Red Pyramid, such differences work for The Kane Chronicles, but if the Author had portrayed the Greek and Roman gods like this in Percy Jackson and The Heroes of Olympus, it probably would not have worked.
Needless to say, The Throne of Fire is full of new perils and villains. Apophis is still not as scary as Kronos or Gaia, but he works for the series. Meanw…

Review: Sapphique - Catherine Fisher

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher Series: Incarceron #2 Genre: YA, dystopian, futuristic Published on December 28, 2010 Published by Dial Pages: 462 Read From: 4.10.12 - 4.13.12

SYNOPSIS Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn's escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison's warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn's and Claudia's very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn't full believe.Meanwhile, Finn's oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says S…