Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: Review

8 comments
a great and terrible beauty cover art

A Great and Terrible Beauty
By: Libba Bray
Fantasy, YA Fiction

After witnessing her mother's murder in a vision that turns out to be true, Gemma is enrolled in Spence, a girl's academy. She is snubbed by the popular Felicity and Pippa, and even her dumpy roommate Ann until she blackmails herself and Ann into the clique. Gemma soon discovers she has a power that she's not sure how to control or whether she wants it.

I have to admit that after I finished this book I couldn't quite figure out what it was about. Ultimately, I determined it was about choices. Every character in the book makes a series of choices that have both negative and positive consequences. Okay, so I know all books are about that, and I know I'm not doing a very good job of explaining the point behind this book. Basically, I really liked the conflict that Gemma had within herself on whether or not to use her powers. I think that kind of struggle is very real, and I really like the conclusion she came to in the end. Each character in the book had their own personal struggle that ultimately was resolved. I really liked the way this book ended.

Things I didn't like... I don't really like cliquey, bratty girls. So, sometimes reading about their stupid little fights was annoying at times. And, sometimes I just felt really lost when Gemma had her "visions."

I gave it 3/5 stars.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Awards, Awards!

5 comments
Over the weekend I was honored with two awards! I'm really grateful to both of these bloggers, and frequent both of their blogs. Thanks again!

Humanity Award 
I was given this award by Natalie at The Book Inn. Many thanks to her!
The Humane Award is in order to honor certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn’t for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world.
 Now, for the blogs I nominate:
  1. Reviewer X
  2. Shooting Stars Mag
  3. Maw Books Blog (even though I already know she was nominated)
  4. J. Kaye's Book Blog (same as above)
  5. Angieville
  6. I'm Booking It
  7. Debbie's World of Books
  8. Marta's Meanderings
  9. Haiku Amy
  10. And my friend Kami. Although she's not a book blogger, she comments on pretty much every post. 

book blog discovery
I was nominated for this award by Debbie's World of Books. Many thanks to her. She always has the nicest responses on Twitter. Which is why I gave her the Humane Award as listed above.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Do you like Harry Potter?

8 comments
How about a Hogwart's Theme Park?  I hadn't heard anything about this, but I've got to say it looks cool. Thanks to Reading Rocks for the heads up on this.

Here are some digital representations of what the amusement park would look like.

hogwarts theme park 
Hogwarts
 
hogsmeade theme park 
Hogsmeade Village
Be sure to head over to Reading Rocks for their 7 Days of Harry Potter Event. Also go to Universal Studio's website to get official information.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson: Review

1 comments
chains cover art
Chains
By: Laurie Halse Anderson
Historical Fiction

While America struggles for independence, Isabel wages her own war for freedom. Even though she is promised freedom upon the death of her owner, Isabel and her sister Ruth are given to a cruel New York couple, the Locktons. She is offered an opportunity to spy for the American rebels, but soon realizes her loyalty lies with those who will give her freedom.

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, especially on the basis of slavery. However, you can't help but just have your heart go out to this girl. Her mother and father are both dead, and she's left to try to secure freedom for herself and her sister, while a war rages on outside her door. Isabel has a lot of grit and works very hard.  There are other good-hearted redeeming characters in the story that make you feel like maybe someday Isabel will realize her dream of being free. The book is almost like a very real series of unfortunate events.

Although it wasn't the kind of book that I usually read, it was worthwhile. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sneak Preview: Wicked Will by Bailey Macdonald

1 comments
Wicked Will Cover Art


I read a post on Shooting Stars Mag done by the wonderful Lauren yesterday. She posted a promo for a book called, "Wicked Will" by Bailey Macdonald. I have to say that I was totally intrigued by the way the post was written, and the premise of the book.

Get this, it's young Shakespeare solving a murder mystery. I think that sounds awesome. At the end of her post she had a contest for the first three people to find the hidden Shakespeare quotes and the play they came from. The winners received a signed copy of the book. So, I of course entered. And I got this email this morning.

You got two out of three!  "The world's a theater" is not from Shakespeare, but from Thomas Heywood's An Apology for Actors.  I'll send you an autographed copy anywyay.
Bailey


I'm super excited for this book to come in the mail so I can check it out. Please head over to Shooting Stars Mag and read the promo. And then watch for my review!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: Review

3 comments
Little Brother Cover Art

Little Brother
By: Cory Doctorow
YA Fiction
Marcus, or w1n5t0n as he's known on the internet, is only 17 years old, but a master hacker. He's infiltrated his school's surveillance system and knows how to manipulate it. When a terrorists attack the Bay Bridge, the Department of Homeland Security increases it's surveillance on the entire city, and takes Marcus captive. After he is released, he takes on destroying DHS as a personal mission.

I have to say that this book was one of the biggest disappointments I've had in a long time. I loved about half the story. The means Marcus uses to hack the system are absolutely genius and innovative. Also, the methods used by DHS and the police are eerily realistic. It's very apparent that this book was well-researched and thought out. Sometimes the technical descriptions were a little heavy, but I thought they were useful to explaining the story.

Here's what I didn't like. I felt like there was just too much sex and references to sex in this book. If that's something you're comfortable with, that's fine, but it seemed just to overwhelm the story at times. I felt like it was a little too mature for a YA audience. I don't mind romance in a book, but there were passages that were just too graphic.

I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars. Were the sex stuff left out, I would have given it 4 out of 5.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zel by Donna Jo Napoli: Review

5 comments
Zel Cover Art

Zel
By: Dona Jo Napoli
Fantasy, YA Fiction
Zel lives with her mother high in the mountains, and all they need is each other. On Zel's birthday, her mother brings her into town where Zel meets a young prince. Zel's mother notices the attraction and decides to take drastic measures to keep her as her own.

The entire book was written in present tense. For some reason I really don't like that style of writing, and it seems like it can be a little hard to follow. Also, the story switched viewpoints, which is something I also don't prefer in a story. I liked the premise of the story, and thought that it was an interesting retelling. I really liked the development of the mother's character and reading about her thoughts and rationalizations for what she was doing. However, I didn't like Zel's character or the Prince's. A word of warning, there is a sex scene in this book, which kind of surprised me in a YA book. I really did feel like it was unnecessary.

Overall, I gave the book 2 out of 5 stars. If you can get past the writing style in the book, you may enjoy it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge

81 comments
bloggiesta

Google Alert Mini-Challenge

This mini-challenge is pretty simple. Using one of the tasks from the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog, we will be creating Google Alerts. I use Google Alerts frequently in my job to keep up on trends in the industry. I have to admit that I don't use them in blogging, but I definitely will be starting some! Head on over to ProBlogger and read the instructions on setting up a useful Google Alert.

When you are finished, post a comment in the comments section to win some fabulous prizes! Make sure you've been over to Maw Books Blog to sign up for the Bloggiesta! Ole!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bloggiesta Wrap Up

9 comments
I had a productive weekend of blog maintaince. Taking the weekend was totally worth it. I feel like my site reflects a lot more of who I am and has a much cleaner look. Here's the run down of the weekend.

Friday:
  • Designed background
  • Designed Header
  • Attempted to upload header
  • Added Tweeple, cleaned up google reader
  • Planned future posts
  • Brainstormed meme and award ideas
Total Hours: 6


Today:
  • Uploaded new site design including header and background. I think it looks fabulous!
  • Fixed all sidebars and links
  • Created and uploaded new Favicon
  • Created a gravatar account
  • Did a web grader analysis. Then, implemented changes
  • Helped out with technical stuff on Twitter
  • Read through comments and started responding through email.
  • Updated Goodreads
  • Made comments on social networking sites.
Goals: Will be updated 6/21 am
  • 10/10 New Subscribers (Thanks everyone! I've got 35 total. Not bad for one month of blogging)
  • 20/15 New Comments (This isn't counting the mini-challenge, btw)
  • 1/10 Backup Posts
Total Time: 10 hours

Mini Challenges Completed:

Rebecca at The Book Lady's Blog: Cleaning up Google Reader
Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading?: Creating Favicons and Gravatars
Michelle at Galley Smith: Correctly Using Anchor Text
Ruth at Bookish Ruth: Grading Your Website

Comments Left: Probably about 10. I will do follow-up comments later, promise

Tweets Sent: Hundreds. I'll have to count another time, lol.

TOTAL Hours: 16

My favorite part of the Bloggiesta was getting that formatting change done. Now, I've got to do some updating on my other book challenges, and most importantly, get some reading done!

Bloggiesta: Day 2

2 comments
My total hours yesterday were 6. I spent most of that time offline working on the new banner and background you now see. I also outlined ideas for new posts and reviews. I also updated my spreadsheet of books.

Today:
  • Uploaded new site design including header and background. I think it looks fabulous!
  • Fixed all sidebars and links
  • Created and uploaded new Favicon
  • Created a gravatar account
  • Did a web grader analysis. Then, implemented changes
  • Helped out with technical stuff on Twitter
Still to do:
  • Read through new comments and respond
  • Write review for "Zel"
  • Finalize award or weekly meme
Goals
  • 5/10 New Subscribers (add me on your RSS reader!)
  • 9/15 New Comments (This isn't counting the mini-challenge, btw)
  • 0/10 Backup Posts
Total Time: 12 hours

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bloggiesta Starting Line

7 comments
This my official starting line Bloggiesta post. However, I have to get to work... like right now... so it's going to have to wait.


Okay, I'm off work. Here's the breakdown of today:

20 minutes spent cleaning up google reader. Made folders for different topics, got rid of old feeds, and added some new ones!

20 minutes spent adding google alerts for my blog. In the back of my mind I had thought of doing this before but never did.

Currently: Thinking of a weekly meme or award to call my own.

Next: Make a fabulous favicon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reviews: What's Important?

11 comments
I'm not a teacher, librarian, writer, editor or in any way a professional in the literary realm. My expertise is in knowing what I like.  I really try to write my reviews in a manner similar to the way I would explain or recommend a book to a friend.  Over the past few weeks I've thought a lot about why I review the way I do, and also why I review the books that I review. As a new blogger, I'm still very much developing my "voice," so I'd like some input from others on how they feel about these particular topics.

First, I have found it more useful in my reading of others' blogs to find books that are easily available in libraries or on most booksellers' shelves.  A book review, in my mind, does no good when it's not readily available. Amazon doesn't count. I don't buy books online that I haven't read, or that aren't part of a series that I know well. When I'm at a bookstore I open up the book and read a few pages to get an idea of the story. You can't do that with online books. The point being, I may miss a few books here and there, but if a book isn't accessible to my readers, what good does it do you?

Second, I'm not well versed in specific literary devices. This is something that I think I need to work a little more on. I don't know literary cycles, character development patterns or anything similar. I've found this to be a roadblock sometimes when writing a review because I'll read a book that I like, but I can't pinpoint why I like it. If I don't like a book, I'll generally know the exact reasons. But, it's harder for me to put into words the magic feeling when you just love a book.

And lastly, I'd really like to know what is important to a reader of a book review blog. Do you want a lot of plot and a little opinion? Or no plot and lots of opinion? Do you like knowing what books are similar? What is the most important thing you want to know about a book before deciding to pick it up?

Your comments are very much appreciated.

Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep: Review

1 comments
Dragon of the Lost Sea
By: Laurence Yep
Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

The banished dragon princess and a young boy set out in search of the stone that will return the sea to it's proper place so the dragons can again live there. Along the way they run into many obstacles that force them to work as a team.

I hate to say it, but this book was a snoozer. The basic idea of the story was the same, tired story. Boy with no family or connections meets dragon, dragon has a problem, doesn't want boy to come, begrudgingly allows boy to come, dragon gets into trouble, boy saves dragon, they become friends.

I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. Don't bother. Unless you have a kid that's obsessed with dragons and won't read anything else.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

KidLit.com

0 comments
Kidlit.com is a fantastic resource for writers and reviewers alike. I was totally blown away by the information she had on her site.  She has a contest going to win one of three books:

"Along for the Ride" personalized and signed by Sarah Dessen
"Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins
ARC of "Shiver"

Definitely check her out!

Zombies and Books that Make it Difficult to Sleep

3 comments
zombie sock monkey
So, as you can see in my sidebar, one of the books I'm currently reading is "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." Actually, I'm not reading it, but listening to it as an audio book. And, so far it's really hilarious, and I'm really enjoying it.

However, I think I may have made a gross error in the time I allotted to read the book. I had decided to listen to an hour a night before bed. Last night I got about 30 minutes into the reading before I fell asleep. This resulted in nightmares all night long about the undead. I have pretty frequent nightmares, but I was surprised that this book gave me nightmares when the whole time I thought the book was really funny. My nightmares were so bad that in my half-awake, half-asleep state, I tried to flee from my bed and the zombies that were occupying it. This caused my husband to have to pin me to the bed until I fell back asleep. Needless to say, neither of us got any sleep, and now I'm incredibly tired. I don't think I'll be listening to the book before bed anymore.

So, have any of you had similar experiences falling asleep while reading?

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George: Review

5 comments
dragon slippers cover art
Dragon Slippers
Jessica Day George
Fantasy; Young Adult Fiction

Creel definitely doesn't need to be rescued. Her aunt, desperate for money, decides that Creel's marriage to a rich Lord or Prince will be the best way to secure the family's future. She forces Creel to be "captured" by a dragon. In exchange for her release and preventing anyone from coming to the dragon's cave, Creel receives a beautiful pair of slippers. After befriending another dragon who rescues her along the way, Creel seeks employment near the castle as a seamstress. Soon, she learns the secret behind the mysterious slippers.

I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to have time to read this book before it was due to the library. I've read so many dragon books that I was pretty sure what this one was going to be like. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Some things were very similar to other stories with dragons, but much of the story was refreshingly original. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I may have shed a tear or two at the end. One of the things I liked best about this book was that the love story/interest was pretty much non-existant. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I will definitely be checking out the other two.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. If you liked the "Dealing With Dragons" series by Patricia Wrede, you'll love this book.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones: Review

1 comments
the lives of christopher chant cover art
The Lives of Christopher Chant
By: Diana Wynne Jones
Fantasy, YA Fiction

Christopher's mother and father are talented in the ways of magic. However, Christopher has very little contact with them and knows little about them. He learns of his ability to travel to other worlds while he dreams and brings back gifts. Soon, others begin to realize the extent of Christopher's powers and use them for their own gain.

This book is the second in a series. I was told that the stories didn't overlap much and it would be easy to follow the story. Well, that was not the case. I was geniunely lost and confused for the first 100 pages. This book may have been good if I had read the first book, but I really don't have much interest now in going back. I felt like the characters were well written, and the story itself was good, but the setting and backstory made it seem like I was just supposed to know all these things about the magical world. The story picked up at the end of the book, and I ended up kind of enjoying it by the end.

I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. Read the first book first.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Little Preview

2 comments
For the Bloggiesta this weekend hosted by Natasha at Maw Book Blog, I've decided to revamp my blog. It's going to have a new look, based on this graphic.

magical books header image 
What do you think? Pretty cute, huh?

Before Midnight: A Retelling of Cinderella by Cameron Dokey: Review

1 comments
Before Midnight Cover Art 
Before Midnight: A Retelling of Cinderella
By: Cameron Dokey
Fairy Tale Retelling; Young Adult Fiction
La Cendrillon is the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Her mother dies soon after the premature birth, before her father can return home. When he does return home, he brings with him an infant boy, Raoul. The father then leaves, and forbids either Cendrillon or Raoul from leaving the house.
This book was pretty similar to other retellings of this story. The two main differences were that the father was alive in this book, and the stepmother wasn't a mean person. I wasn't a huge fan of the way this was retold. It seemed like all that was ever talked about was love. The characters eligible fell in love at first sight with their partners in extremely cliche ways. And, the climax really wasn't a climax at all. More like a resolution to a simple misunderstanding.
Anyway, I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. (For the record, I have reserved the 1 star rating for a special class of book. Want to know what it is? Ask me about it sometime)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier: Review

0 comments
My Last Skirt Cover Art 
 My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier
By: Lynda Durrant
Historical; YA Fiction
Jennie Hodgers first started dressing like a boy to herd sheep in her hometown in Ireland. Later, she immigrated to the US with her brother, and found there were more opportunities for a young man than for a young woman. She takes on the identity of Albert Cashier and joins in the Union Army.
This book was really facinating. It's not the kind of story I really like, but it definitely left an impression on me. I think the thing that got me the most was that this woman pretended and pulled off being a man for nearly her entire life.  She definitely has true grit. She endured the hardship of war, and had to learn to never trust a single soul completely. Not only that, but she had to deny one of the most fundamental aspects of any human being, her gender.
If you like historical fiction, this one is definitely worth reading. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 12, 2009

City of Ember Winner

1 comments
So, using my highly sophisticated method of making an excel spreadsheet with all the entries, and using random.org, I have selected a winner of "City of Ember."

The winner is......

Kami

I will be getting in touch with Kami and arranging shipping. Stay tuned in the next week or so, because I think I may be getting an advanced review copy of a book to giveaway. Thanks so much to everyone for entering. That was a lot of fun!
 

Bloggiesta!

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bloggiesta
I spend hours on my blog every night. I know it may not look like it, but I am constantly tweeking links, pictures, blogs, lists, and everything in between. It's all part of starting up a new blog, I guess. I'm also participating in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog at ProBlogger. It's a fantastic program. So, Maw Book Blog is hosting a 24-hour book blog maintainance event, which coinsides perfectly with all the work I was planning to do on my 31 Days to Building a Better Blog.  Thanks Natasha!

Edited to Add: This is open to anyone with a blog, no matter the topic!
Edited *again* to add: I have been so dutifully informed that it is next weekend, not this weekend. Either way, I'll be participating.

Tasks:
  • Create new blog template
  • Create Favicon
  • Fix all links, and sidebars
  • Add another sidebar
  • Create backup posts
  • Brainstorm ideas for challenges and giveaways
  • Develop a pitch for publishers when requesting ARC's
  • Finish the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog 
Goals:
  • Increase subscribers by 10
  • 15 new comments
  • 10 back up posts
  • More user-friendly blog 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

24 hours left for "City of Ember" Giveaway

1 comments
Just wanted to remind my readers that the contest to win a copy of "City of Ember" ends tomorrow at 10:30 MST. Details and sign up here.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: Review

4 comments
The Graveyard Bookthe graveyard book cover art
 The Graveyard Book
By: Neil Gaiman
Young Adult Fiction

 Nobody Owens didn't grow up like most children. He's the only living person that has a permanent residence at the graveyard. Being raised by ghosts and his guardian, Silas Reynolds, "Bod" learns about the graveyard and the ancient practices of the ghosts while also uncovering his past.

Okay, so maybe I was a little slow on the uptake on this one. I didn't realize until after I'd finished the book that this is basically the "Jungle Book" retold with a graveyard instead of the jungle. After I knew that fact, the whole book really clicked for me and I really liked it. I enjoyed the characters and the storyline while I was reading it, but I didn't really get the point of it until after. However, the illustrations in the book were fantastic, and this book is perfect for the reader that likes their stories to be just a little bit dark and quirky.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Read More Reviews:

Becky's Book Blog
The Book Nut
Natasha @Maw Books Blog
Ready When You Are

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beastly by Alex Flinn: Review

6 comments
beastly by alex flinnBeastly
By: Alex Flinn
Young Adult Fiction
Beastly is a modern retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" through the eyes of the Beast, Kyle Kingsbury. Kyle is the son of a rich and famous anchorman. Due to his selfish behavior, he is transformed into a beast, and disowned by his father and sent to live in a secluded apartment, with his only company being his maid and tutor. Kyle must find a girl that will fall in love with him and kiss him within two years or he will remain a beast forever.

This book was a lot of fun. I haven't read many stories from the viewpoint of the beast. I found this book to be incredibly funny. There were parts that I was actually laughing out loud, and that doesn't happen often for me. I worry though that in a few years many aspects of the book will be outdated, particularly the mention of technology. However, it was a really enjoyable read for me. I'd recommend it to people who like fairy tale retellings and romance, because this book has a fair amount.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

It's the End of the World as We Know It

5 comments
End of the World 2009 challenge

This is probably my favorite genre of Young Adult Fiction. Post-Apocolypse or otherwise the end of the world. I seriously can't get enough. This challenge is hosted by Becky's Book Reviews. Here are the details of the challenge.

Read at least four books about the end of the world.

My list (with links to my reviews):
  1. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  2. Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  3. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  4. Gone by Michael Grant

Take a Chance Challenge

3 comments
take a chance challenge
I am going to embark on the wonderful world of book challenges. The first one comes from Find Your Next Book Here. It's called "Take a Chance." This one should be interesting. I don't know how I feel about the last 3 that involve writing, but I guess that's what happens when you take a chance.

Here are the details of the challenge, taken from the website.
  1. Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)
  2. Random Word. Go to this random word generator and generate a random word. Find a book with this word in the title. Read the book and write about it.
  3. Birth Year Book. Find a book that was published or copyrighted in the year of your birth. Read the book and write about it.
  4. Judge A Book By Its Cover. Pick out a book based SOLELY on the cover. First, write about what you expect the book to be about based on the cover art. Then read the book and write about how the book was different from and/or similar to what the cover art led you to expect.
  5. Phoning An Author. Pick a random last name out of the phone book. Find an author with the same last name and read a book by them. Write about it. (I'm flexible ... if the first random name you pick is Xprxyrsss, you can pick again!)
  6. Public Spying. Find someone who is reading a book in public. Find out what book they are reading and then read the same book. Write about it.
  7. Random Bestseller. Go to Random.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2008 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that Random.org generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.
  8. Lit Riff (inspired by the book Lit Riffs by Matthew Miele.) Choose a song and then write a brief story that is inspired by or further explains the lyrics of the song.
  9. Poetic Review. Write a book review in three different forms of verse: haiku, limerick and free verse. (You can pick any book you want to write about.)
  10. Movie/Book Comparison. Find a book that you haven't read that has a movie based on it that you haven't seen. Read the book and watch the movie within a few days of each other. Write about your reactions to both the book and the movie and compare the two.
If you're going to participate in the challenge, be sure to sign up at Find Your Next Book Here.

My List of Books
  1. TBD
  2. Climb or Die by Edward Myers
  3. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  4. TBD
  5. TBD
  6. TBD
  7. Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith
  8. TBD
  9. TBD
  10. Coraline: The Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

10 Books that Changed My Life

2 comments
We all have those books that we will remember how we felt when we read them. I would also love some feedback on the books that have changed your life. Either list them in the comments, or blog about it, and I'll post a link to your post.
  1. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christthe book of mormon
  2. John Adams by David McCulloughjohn adams
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austenpride and prejudice
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowlingharry potter
  5. Inkheart by Cornelia Funkeinkheart
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collinsthe hunger games
  7. Alliance by Gerald Lundthe alliance
  8. Great Expectations by Charles Dickensgreat expectations
  9. The Goose Girl by Shannon Halethe goose girl
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Leeto kill a mockingbird
Can't wait to see the lists you come up with!

East by Edith Pattou: Review

2 comments
East by Edith Pattou cover


East
By: Edith Pattou
Young Adult Fiction
East is a retelling of the classic fairytale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" mixed in a little with Beauty and the Beast. In Norway, there is a superstition that children take on qualities based on the direction in which they were born. Nymah Rose grew up being told by her parents that she was an East born, and a replacement for her sister that died that was also an East born. In reality, she was born a north-born, and was destined for adventure. When her father's business fails and her sister is sick, the family is forced to choose between losing a daughter to death, or a daughter to the North.

I've never heard of the fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, but when I was reading this story, it was almost identical to the greek myth of Eros and Psyche. Either way, the story was pretty familiar. I liked this book, but I didn't like the shifting of perspectives. I felt like it made the story much more confusing than it needed to be. That aside, the story was beautifully written, and I really enjoyed it. I think it might be a little too long for younger readers and they might lose interest.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Supernaturalist: Review

4 comments
supernaturalist cover art
The Supernaturalist
By: Eoin Colfer
Young-Adult Fiction

In the futuristic city of Satellite, Cosmo Hill is born with no family. He enters the Clarissa Fray Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys, and dreams of breaking out. He gets his chance later, and finds himself part of a band of ghost hunters.

I really enjoyed this book. This is a pretty short book that would be easy to give to a reluctant reader. It's fast-paced and has a great ending.

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Book Thief: Review

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The Book Thief
By: Markus Zusak
Young-Adult Fiction

Death is the narrator in this WWII novel about survival, human suffering, love, and hope. It follows the story of Leisel Meminger as she learns how to read, and with that comes a whole new world of understanding.

This book was, in my opinion, not Young Adult. It's just too heavy for your average teen. That aside, it was a great book that left you thinking. The writing style is different, and kind of neat. I really enjoyed the dialogue that was in German. At first, I wasn't really into the book. However, as time went on, I really got sucked into the characters. Not so much the story, that was only s0-so for me. But, I grew to really love the characters and their different personalities.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys WWII historical fiction. Also, for those looking for a really deep read. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book of a Thousand Days: Review

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book of a thousand days cover art

Book of a Thousand Days
By: Shannon Hale
Young-Adult fiction

When Dashti, a maid, and her mistress, Saren, are locked in a tower because of Saren's refusal to marry a cruel Khan, Dashti begins her book. Gradually their food supply runs low, rats infest the tower, and weather conditions make it difficult to survive. Dashti begins to plan an escape.

I love Shannon Hale's books. However, I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as others she has written. Part of it is personal preference. I don't really like the journal entry style of writing. The story was fun, but nothing really special. It's pretty evident from the beginning of the story who Dashti is going to end up with. But, it was cute, and really enjoyable.

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars

48 Hour Challenge: Wrapup

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Well, that was fun! I seriously diminished my TBR pile, and have a LOT to review now. I'm going to set my posts to publish in the future, so there will probably be 2 or so a day for the next week. I also had some fun connecting with people on Twitter. Here is a summary of the last two days for me.

Saturday:

7:00 am: Time officially starts
9:00 am: Reading: "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman
11:00 am: Reading: "Book of a Thousand Days" by Shannon Hale
1:00 pm: Lunch for 30 minutes
1:30 pm: Reading: "Beastly" by Alex Flinn
4:30 pm: Reading "The Supernaturalist" by Eoin Colfer
8:00 pm: Reading "Dragon of the Lost Sea" by Laurence Yep
9:40 pm: Reading "East" by Edith Pattou
12:00 am: Stopped reading

Sunday:
8:00 am: Reading: "East" by Edith Pattou
10:00 am: Reading: "My Last Skirt" by Lynda Durrant
11:30 am: Reading: "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
4:00 pm: Reading: "Graceling" by Kristin Cashore
5-7:30 pm: Family Time
7:30 pm: Reading: "Graceling" by Kristin Cashore
1:30 am: Finished!

I'm not going to separate my reading time from social networking time. Simply because I took about 15 minutes every hour to update Twitter and such, and it would be too difficult to separate.

Total Hours Read: 28 hours (not quite 30, dang it!)
Total Books Read: 9
Total Pages Read: TBD (to be determined)

Thanks again to MotherReader for organizing this. It was a fantastic weekend.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

48 Hour Challenge: Sunday

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I made it through my first 24 hours of the 48 hour book challenge. Here are the books I've read so far:

My Last Skirt by Lynda Durrant
East by Edith Pattou
Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep
The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Beastly by Alex Finn
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

And, like yesterday, I will be updating this blog throughout the day to keep track of hours.

Time of update: 11:22 am
Hours read: 3 hours
Books read: 7
Total Time today: 3

Time of update: 2:32 pm
Hours read: 3.5 hours
Books read: 7
Total Time Today: 6.5 hours
Currently Reading: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

UPDATE:
Time of updatE: 4:08 pm
Hours read: 1.5 hours
Books read: 8
Total time today: 8 hours
Currently Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Saturday, June 6, 2009

48 Hour Challenge: Saturday

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I will be updating and republishing this post throughout the day to keep track of hours, and what I've read.

Start Time: 7:30 am
Total time read as of this update: 3 hours
Books completed: 1
Currently reading: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale


Time of update 2:40
Total time read as of this update 5.5 hours
Books completed: 2
Currently reading: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Time of update: 4:27
Total time read: 8 hours, 15 minutes
Books completed: 3
Currently reading: The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer

Time of update: 7:53
Total time read: 11 hours, 55 minutes
Books completed: 4
Currently reading: Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep

Time of update: 9:40 pm
Total time read: 13 hours, 52 minutes
Books completed: 5
Currently reading: East by Edith Pattou


UPDATE
Time of update: 12:00 am
Total time read: 15 hours
Books completed: 5
Currently Reading: East by Edith Pattou

I have stopped for the night, and will resume in the morning. I definitely got a lot of reading done today.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Among the Hidden: Review

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among the hidden cover art
Among the Hidden
By: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Young Adult Fiction
Luke is illegal. Not because he's ever done anything wrong, but because his very existence is against the law. He's the third child of his parents when they are only allowed two. In this futuristic society (or alternate reality, you decide), the government is totalitarian. They control the population with population police, the land, what can and can't be farmed, and the type of food that can be produced. The woods around Luke's house are sold to the government, and new houses go up. One day, while looking out the vent in the attic, Luke thinks he sees the face of another child. Is it possible there are more third children?

With the government banning and controlling everything from trans fats to farm subsidies, this book has some very strikingly similar parallels to our time. The book was thought provoking. Sometimes the plot was a little choppy and the character development left a little to be desired. I think my biggest complaint is that this book is clearly a sequel. There is a lot that still needed to be explained, and it wasn't done sufficiently in the first book. But, it's a short read, only 153 pages, and overall very good. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

Calico Captive: Review

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calico captive cover art
Calico Captive
By: Elizabeth George Speare
Historical Fiction
Calico Captive was Elizabeth George Speare's first novel. Another one you might recognize of hers was "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." Calico Captive was inspired by the journals of Susanna Willard Johnson, who was captured by Indians in 1754 (during the French and Indian War). Susanna was captured, along with all her family, including a 14-year-old sister that became Miriam in the story. The book details their capture, and captivity in the indian settlement St. Francis. They were later sold to the French and spent nearly three years in Montreal. Most of the family was split up, and it was many years and under different circumstances that they were finally united.

I really loved "Witch of Blackbird Pond." And, while this book didn't have that same suspense, it was a fantastic historical fiction novel. It really was amazing to see the changes that occured within many of the characters in the story, and just the strength that they had to endure while waiting for their family to be united. My one issue with this story is that I wasn't really happy with the way the romance ended for Miriam, but it was understandable. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Mennyms: Review

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The Mennyms cover art
The Mennyms
By: Sylvia Waugh
Young Adult Fiction
The Mennyms are a creating of a wonderful seamstress. Some time after her death, the life-sized dolls come to life and inhabit a house in England. For the last 40 year, life has remained much the same. They do not eat, or age, but enjoy playing pretend. A letter from their landlord sets of a series of events that bring about some welcomed changes to the family.

This book was really charming. I really enjoyed reading about the dolls pretending to be human, and their quirks. However, the book had a surprising amount of depth and was really captivating. This book was similar in style to "The Borrowers," and I imagine anyone that liked that book will enjoy this one as well. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

48 Hour Challenge

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48 Hour Challenge 
 48 Hour Challenge
Starting tomorrow at about 9 am I'm going to be embarking on my first 48-hour challenge.  This one is hosted by MotherReader.
If you have time this weekend, I highly suggest you try it out. :)

Young Adult Book Challenge

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This one should be pretty easy since it's really all I read! This one is also hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. The requirement is to read 12 YA Novels in 2009.

  1. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmerthe house of the scorpion
  2. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinleyBeauty: a Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
  3. The Supernaturalist by Eoin ColferThe Supernaturalist
  4. East by Edith PattouEast
  5. The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief
  6. Beastly by Alex FlinnBeastly
  7. Calico Captive by Elizabeth George SpeareCalico Captive
  8. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrauCity of Ember
  9. The Mennyms by Sylvia WaughThe Mennyms
  10. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson HaddixAmong the Hidden
  11. Enna Burning by Shannon HaleEnna Burning
  12. Epic  by Conor KostickEpic
COMPLETED!