Showing posts from September, 2012

Review: The Lacemaker and the Princess - Kimberly Brubacker Bradley

The Lacemaker and the Princessby Kimberly Brubacker Bradley Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction Published on May 22, 2007 Published by Margaret K. McElderry Pages: 208 Read From: 9.8.12 - 9.9.12

Eleven-year-old Isabelle is a lacemaker in the town of Versailles. One day as she delivers lace to the palace, she is almost trampled by a crowd of courtiers - only to be rescued by Marie Antoinette. Before Isabelle can believe it, she has a new job - companion to the queen's daughter. Isabelle is given a fashionable name, fashionable dresses - a new identity. At home she plies her needle under her grandmother's disapproving eye. At the palace she is playmate to the princess.Thrown into a world of luxury, Isabelle is living a fairy-tale life. But this facade begins to crumble when rumors of starvation in the countryside lead to whispers of revolution. How can Isabelle reconcile the ugly things she hears in the town with the kind family she knows in the palace? And which side is s…

Review: The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivanby Katherine Applegate
Genre: Middle Grade, animal fiction
Published on January 17, 2012
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 307
Read From: 9.7.12 - 9.8.12

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he's seen and about his friends Stella, and elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home - and his own art - through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it's up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.


Cover Blurb: The elephant, Ruby, is so cute! I love how the illustrator di…

Review: In My Father's House - Ann Rinaldi

In My Father's House by Ann Rinaldi Genre: YA, historical fiction Published on November 1, 1994 Published by Scholastic Pages: 336 Read From: 9.5.12 - 9.7.12

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cover Blurb: It’s very dated; I wish they would start revamping the covers of Rinaldi’s older books. Everything about it screams cheap paperback - one of the those books old ladies always read.
What I Liked: Oscie at times is a real brat, but for the most part she really is only trying to help and do what she thinks it right, and she is overall a strong protagonist. I liked McLean half of the time, and the other half I didn’t, which I actually liked, because it allowed me to better understand how Oscie felt about him.
What I Disliked: Nothing.
Believability: As always, Rinaldi has done her research, and she does a splendid job with believable accents and portraying the undoubted confusion that some people felt over the war.
Writing Style: As noted above, Rinaldi writes convincing accents, and her style flows nicely an…

Review: Keeping the Castle - Patrice Kindl

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
Genre: YA, historical fiction, comedy, romance
Published on June 14, 2012
Published by Viking Childrens Books
Pages: 261
Read From: 9.4.12 - 9.5.12

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~ Cover Blurb: It’s a pretty purple color, has a castle, and fancy writing - yep, I like it! The cover is what caught my attention when I first saw it at the library, and I continue to likes it’s simplicity. But it does hint at a far more serious story than it really is.
What I Liked: Althea at first comes across as kind of an unlikable protagonist. Her reasons for marriage are mercenary, she’s the county’s “pretty girl,” and in short shares a lot of similarities with Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse. But Althea quickly grew on me - she was all of Emma’s good qualities, her purposes for marriage were, considering her situation, born from a practical mind, and she was funny. Her shortcomings weren’t annoying - they lent to the story’s satirical aspects. Both the male leads - Lord Boring and Mr. Freder…

Review: Dust Girl - Sarah Zettel

Dust Girlby Sarah Zettel Series: American Fairy Trilogy #1 Genre: YA, historical fantasy Published on June 26, 2012 Published by Random House Pages: 304 Read From: 8.31.12 - 9.4.12

Callie LeRoux faces harsh realities in Dust Bowl-era Slow Run, Kansas. The relentless dust storms, which have driven almost everyone from town, leave her fighting for every breath. Still, her half-mad mother insists they stay at the hotel they own, certain that the father Callie has never known will return to them. Now Callie fears she's losing her mind too. Suddenly she's hearing voices - menacing whispers that make her feel as if she's being watched.When her mother goes missing in a violent storm, Callie is plunged into a whole new reality. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man who holds a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in "the golden hills of the west." Alone for the first time in her life, confused and terrified, Callie lets her guar…

Review: The Flame of Olympus - Kate O'Hearn

The Flame of Olympus by Kate O'Hearn
Series: Pegasus #1
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on May 22, 2012
Published by Aladdin
Pages: 385
Read From: 8.28.12 - 8.31.12

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~ Cover Blurb: I do like the cover; it’s well done and interesting. It caught my attention when I first saw it, and of course I picked it up, thinking, This sounds similar to Percy Jackson. Might be good.
What I Liked: Emily is a relatively good protagonist; she thinks quick on her feet and is practical. The rate at which she accepts what’s going on is a little fast, but I’m not going to complain, because a protagonist who insists on denying what’s going on just bogs a story down. Paelen was probably the best character, though - the one with the most personality. Joel was so-so; I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t particularly care for him, either.
What I Disliked: The nickname Pegs really got on my nerves. And the agents of CRU being called “Agent J” or “Agent O” just reminded me of Men in Black, therefore…

Review: Crossed - Ally Condie

Crossedby Ally Condie Series: Matched Trilogy #2 Genre: YA, dystopian, romance Published on November 1, 2011 Published by Dutton Childrens Pages: 367 Read From: 8.27.12 - 8.28.12

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his sure death - only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of a rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.
Cover Blurb: I do like how each cover follows a specific theme; Matched had Cassia stuck in a green bubble; now she’s breaking out of a blue one, and Reached has her emerging from a red one. It’s neat.
What I Liked: Characters are all good still. The romantic aspect is upped a bit more in this installment, and Ky and Cassia experience a bit of tension in their relationship…

Review: Long Lankin - Lindsey Barraclough

Long Lankinby Lindsey Barraclough
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, supernatural
Published on July 10, 2012
Published by Candlewick Press
Pages: 455
Read From: 8.24.12 - 8.27.12

When Cora and her little sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their great-aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Ida's life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and how her nieces' arrival has reawakened an evil that has lain in wait for years.A haunting voice in an empty room; a strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard; mysterious words scrawled on the walls of an abandoned church. . . .all point to a horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries, a truth that Cora, along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, must uncover - before it's too late for Mimi.

Cover Blurb: It did catch my attention, and is largely why I re…

Review: Insurgent - Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth Series: Divergent Trilogy #2 Genre: YA, dystopian Published on May 1, 2012 Published by HarperCollins Pages: 525 Read From: 8.20.12 - 8.24.12

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~ Cover Blurb: I like the colors better than Divergent, but the cover honestly doesn’t do all that much for me either way. It’s cryptic, it’s kind of pretty while ominous at the same time, it’s . . . a cover.
What I Liked: The premise was interesting enough, and I liked some of the twists. Tris remains a relatively OK protagonist, and I do still like Four, for the most part.
What I Disliked: I really, really don’t like Four’s real name. I didn’t mind it so much in Divergent, but then I had to put up with it for an entire525-page book, and that solidified my dislike for his name. The little episode with Tris and the “peace serum” was just silly, and I got so sick of all the emotional breakdowns. It’s like every single character decided that Insurgent would be a perfect time to be emotionally compromised. Yes, the …

Review: Changeling - Philippa Gregory

Changeling by Philippa Gregory
Series: Order of Darkness #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery
Published on May 24, 2012
Published by Simon Pulse
Pages: 256
Read From: 8.13.12 - 8.19.12

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~ Cover Blurb: Quite honestly, I don’t care for it much - the only reason it caught my attention was because of the obvious era. Not only does the cover leer at me, but neither of the people look how I imagined Luca and Isolde, and the cover looks a little cheap; a amateur PhotoShop job.
What I Liked: Isolde and Ishraq are both strong female protagonists. Ishraq can defend herself without appearing macho, and she can be a bit sarcastic without having an Attitude. Isolde is practical and strong-willed, while being proper and feminine at the same time. They are women appropriate for the era. It took me a couple of chapters before I grew to like Freize, but I soon decided I liked his humor, and he was amazingly even funny when he tried to flirt with Ishraq.
What I Disliked: I liked Luca, and des…

Review: The Man from Pomegranate Street - Caroline Lawrence

The Man from Pomegranate Street by Caroline Lawrence Series: The Roman Mysteries #17 Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction, mystery Published on July 1, 2009 Published by Orion Pages: 262 Read From: 8.11.12 - 8.13.12

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~ Cover Blurb: The wolf on the cover doesn’t make much sense until you start reading the story itself. I like the color backdrop, but out of the many covers, it’s just not my favorite. No particular reason; it just isn’t.
What I Liked: As always, I love Nubia’s character, and I liked how twisty-turny the mystery was. At times, I exclaimed in dismay when something was “revealed” because it, at first, seemed like a lame explanation. But then it turned out that that isn’t what happened at all, and this worked rather well.
What I Disliked: The romantic mix-ups between Flaccus and Flavia are way, way, way, way, way overdone at this point. I always found their misunderstandings tedious, but it is downright aggravating in this installment.
Believability: Caroline Lawrence…

Review: The Poisoned House - Michael Ford

The Poisoned House by Michael Ford
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, supernatural
Published on August 1, 2011
Published by Albert Whitman & Company
Pages: 319
Read From: 8.9.12 - 8.10.12

Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850s London. Fifteen-year-old Abi is a scullery maid in Greave Hall, an elegant but troubled household. As an otherworldly presence makes itself known, a deadly secret is revealed - a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.
Cover Blurb: It is definitely far creepier than the story is. I like the cover; the hand grasping out from the dark is very attention-grabbing. But it is somewhat misleading, in the sense that the story isn’t that scary.
What I Liked: The era, obviously, and the premise of the story. Abi was a fine protagonist, though I confess that there was nothing especially memorable about her.
What I Disliked: Abi and other characters kept commenting on how cruel and horribly mean Mrs. Cotton was, but I failed to see much of her cr…

Review: The Dead of Winter - Chris Priestley

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, supernatural
Published on January 31, 2012
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 218
Read From: 8.5.12 - 8.6.12

Review ~~~~~~~~~~~ Cover Blurb: It’s properly creepy, with the skull buried in the snow and the bold title font.

What I Liked: I have nothing negative to say about this story. It scared me, I love the writing style, and the characters, and the time period, and how isolated it feels. It reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. I kept picturing Michael’s guardian, Sir Stephen, looking like Vincent Price.

What I Disliked: Nothing.

Believability: Not really applicable. The time period is ideal, and the dialogue feels authentic, as well as the narration voice.

Writing Style: This books is getting a 5-star rating largely because of the writing style and the fact that it actually scared me to the point that I slept with my light on. The writing style fits the time period exact; it very much echoes Ed…

Review: Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on July 10, 2012
Published by Random House
Pages: 467
Read From: 8.1.2012 - 8.4.12

Four decades of peace have done little toe ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend the court as ambassadors and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift - on…