R.I.P.Challenge, reading, Reading Journal, reviews

Mini-Reviews

Can you believe that I haven’t posted a new review in over a week? I don’t know if it’s this confusing California weather (thick fog in the morning and warm during the day) or what. I’m in the weirdest mood though November is supposed to be the month where I get so much done. The week fter the readathon, I didn’t read much. This week I’m in the middle of five books so the next review I write will probably be next week. I don’t have the energy desire time to write longer reviews so I thought shorter reviews would be a nice change for right now.

hale

Rapunzel’s Revenge (2008)
Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale
144 pages

I first heard about this book during last year’s Cybil’s awards. My library just bought a copy last month and I’ve finally been able to read it. The Hales have taken the Rapunzel fairy tale and turned it on its head! After escaping from Mother Gothel, Rapunzel decides to go back and get her revenge on the witch and free her mother from enslaved in a mine camp. On the way she meets Jack of the Beanstalk fame and the two start on a daring adventure.

This was a great read. In this retelling Rapunzel is a daring young girl who won’t take no for an answer. With Jack by her side the duo chases off coyotes, wrestle with giant snakes, and rescue a spoil brat from a group of bandits. This is a book that has a place in my permanent library.

kubuishi 1

Amulet Vol 1: The Stonkeeper (2008)
Amulet Vol. 2; The Stonekeeper’s Curse (2009)
by Kazu Kibuishi

Kibuishi is the genius behind the fabulous Flight graphic series. Last year I found out about Amulet and read the first book in the series. The problem with reading books in a series is that you have to wait until the next volume comes out. Just last month volume 2 arrived and I dove in. Both books are about siblings Navin and Emily. With their mother they move to an old family home to start over after losing their father in a car accident. Only days after arriving, strange things start to happen and their mother is kidnapped by a strange creature and taken to another world.

Book two starts where the first book left off with Navin and Emily trying to rescue their mother. Filled with more action and adventure than book one, you can’t put this book down until you turn the last page. The graphics are so great, there were a few I wanted to blow up and put on my wall. Great read for all ages.

willingham

Peter and Max: A Fables Novel (2009)
Bill Willingham
400 pages

I have been a fan of  Bill Willingham’s graphic novel series, Fables, for years. Peter is a Fable who lives with his wife Bo (Little Bo Peep). When Bigby Wolf, Beast, and Frau Totenkinder informs Peter that his older brother Max has returned, Peter knows he has to go and finish the fight that started between the two brother centuries before.

With that said, I have to tell you this was an excellent read. Because I’ve already read the graphic novels I found the beginning slow-going and almost set the book down. After a while, the book picked up and I set aside almost everything to read it. The plot goes back and forth between the past explaining how Max became the Pied Piper and his jealousy with Peter, and the present as Max flies across the world to confront his brother.Willingham did a fantastic job providing the background information. Bigby and Frau Totenkinder both appear in the brothers’ past and readers find out more about Frau Totenkinder and the life she lead before coming to our world.

The fight that happened between the two brothers wasn’t what I expected after the build-up of so much suspense. It was a pretty crafty fight though. If you love fairy tales and/or love the Fables series, this is a great book for you.

2009 challenges, books, fiction, graphic novel, Library Loot, Readathon, reading

Read-a-thon Pile

dreamstime_readathong

Okay so we all know that I have a tendency to go overboard when it comes to books. Whether it’s my library loot, buying binges, or signing up for reading challenges, it always seems to be all or nothing. My current reading pool for the read-a-thon encompasses almost every genre and ranges from a mere 32 pages for many of my picture books to almost 500 pages for Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels. Maybe instead of thinking of this stack as just my read-a-thon picks, we should also think of it as my October/November even possibly December reads.

Plays I started reading plays during last year’s read-a-thon. I found so many wonderful playwrights that I’ve started slowly reading as many as I can especially Pulitzer prize-winning plays. Plays are usually no more than a hundred pages long and contain memorable characters and great settings. For the upcoming read-a-thon, here are a few plays I plan on reading that won the Pulitzer for Drama.

play row

I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright. 2004 Pulitzer.
Wit by Margaret Edson. 1999 Pulitzer.
Angels in America by Tony Kushner. 1993 Pulitzer

not shown: August: Osage County by Tracy Letts.

Short Stories The great thing about reading short stories during the read-a-thon is that you can dip in and out of collections and still feel as though you’re accomplishing something.

row 2 short stories

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie.
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros. I read this collection years ago and I think it’s really time for a re-read.
Dedicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff.


Graphic Novels

row 3 graphic novels

Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry.
Amulet 2: The Stonkeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kabuishi.
Maus by Art Spiegelman

Not shown: The Professor’s Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert

Fantasy

row 4

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Tigerheart by Peter David
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Other Notables

row 6row 5

Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot

Books not shown:

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
B.P.R.D. series by Mike Mignola
Sprout by Dale Peck
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Little Brother by Cory Doctrow

You see how crazy I went? This is why I’m calling this pile my October-November-and-possibly-December pile. I have a ton of books on hold at the library that will be coming in sometime next week. I can’t wait for the read-a-thon to start but I’m not going to wait to start reading some of these great books.

Have you read any of these graet books? Which ones do you think I should save for the read-a-thon? Are there any that you think I should move to the top of the pile? Have you thought about what books you’re going to read for the big event?

books, fiction, reading, reviews

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

friedmanSea Change (2009)
Aimee Friedman
320 pages
Young Adult
Rating: Re-read

Summary

Miranda Merchant is ready to spend her summer interning at a museum in New York. But when her maternal grandmother Isadora dies, Miranda has to push her plans back and she and her mother travels to Silkie Island to take of Isadora’s estate. While there Miranda finds a strange book at the Mariner, her grandmother’s summer home. The book tells of the legend of the merman who once lived off the coast of the island. These mermen look normal but it’s when they’re fully in the water that you can see their true form.

While on the island Miranda meets Leo, a gorgeous and mysterious native who seems to be everything Miranda needs. But something tells Miranda that Leo is hiding a secret. Does it have to do with the merman legend?

Thoughts

What a great story! I was originally planning on waiting for the read-a-thon to read Sea Change. Last night I glanced through the book and ended up spending the next two hours reading. Miranda is a great character. She’s an intelligent and shy teenager who’s not really into dating and boys. She just tries to stay focused on her passion,which is science, and keep out of trouble. It’s when she meets Leo and also T.J. another boy, that she starts to understand what chemistry between two people feels like.

Friedman’s description of Silkie Island is so believable. I felt as if I was there. You can picture the setting so well, whether it was the Mariner or Fisherman’s Village.

If you’re participating in the upcoming read-a-thon and looking for a short but well-written story, look no further than Sea Change, a light tale about teenage love.

fiction, Young Adult

Book Review: Crazy Beautiful

Crazy Beautiful (2009)
Lauren Baratz-Logsted
193 pages
Young Adult
Rating: Re-read

Instead of just giving you the regular book review format, I’m giving you five reasons why Crazy Beautiful is a great book and why I think you should give it a try.

Reasons why I love Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted:

1. Great characterization. The main characters, Lucius and Aurora, are a blast to read about. After losing his arms in an explosion of his own doing, Lucius and his family moves to a new town for a fresh start. Aurora Belle is also getting a new start in the same town with her father after losing her mother to cancer. The instant they see each other it feels as if they’ve always known each other. The problem: Lucius is deemed crazy by everyone except Aurora and her father while Aurora becomes the new addition to the popular crowd.

2. It’s about seeing the good in people, knowing who you are and being that person instead of what’s easier for others to deal with.

3. The story is so addictive that I read this book in one sitting. It’s not often that a book makes you drop everything you need to do and read it. The reader almost instantly starts to care about the characters. You want to know as much as possible about them.

4. The book is sparse, giving the reader only the details needed for the action to keep going.

5. This book has made Lauren Baratz-Logstead one of my newest favorite authors. I will definitely be checking out her other books.

Have you read this yet? If so, please let me know so I can link to you.

Uncategorized

Jellaby by Kean Soo

Jellaby (2008)
by Kean Soo
145 pages
Rating: Reread

Why I picked this up:

I’ve read great reviews about Kean Soo’s Jellaby on many blogs and when I happened to see it at my local library, I grabbed it to bring it home.

Summary:

Portia Bennett is a young girl who’s still reeling from the disappearance of her dad a year before. One night she hears a noise outside her bedroom windows and investigates. She finds a monster whom she later names Jellaby and brings him home. She’s sure that Jellaby is lost and the only clue she has to where he’s really from is a picture of a door in a nearby city. With the help of a new friend, Jason, the three decide to go alone to this mysterious door.

My thoughts:

What a great book! Kean Soo is such a talented artist and writer. One of the characters, Jason, is a latchkey kid whose parents are never seen or heard from throughout the story. On one page when Portia and Jellaby are going home after leaving Jason’s house and you see the loneliness he feels from being left alone so often. This isn’t just a story about a monster but also about the grief that Portia still feels after her father’s disappearance, Jason’s loneliness, and the mystery of Jellaby’s origins. This is definitely a book I will be rereading.

children's books, Fantasy, fiction, reviews, Young Adult

The Ghost’s Child

hartnettThe Ghost’s Child (2008)
Sonya Hartnett
176 pages
Young Adult Fiction

Matilda, an elderly woman, comes home one afternoon to find a young boy sitting in her living room waiting for her. She has no idea who he is or what he wants. As they sit down for tea, the boy asks Matilda about the picture of her as a young girl on  her boat.

Matilda tells the story of her childhood and growing up as a young girl named Maddy. She was the daughter of a materialistic mother and a father who had to divide himself into two different people: the “Iron-man”, an important and wealthy member of the community who only wants to make money and “Daddy”, a man who loves his daughter and only wants her to be happy.

Matilda describes her childhood self as

an over-lookable child, doubtful and reluctant in her dealings with others, mousey as a mouse. She was easily hurt, deceived and dispirited.

After a year-long journey with her father all over the world to experience life for the first time, Maddy comes back changed and more sure of herself.

Soon she falls in love with a mysterious boy named Feather. They fall in love and though Feather wants to make Maddy happy, one day he disappears to the horizon and a place called The Island of Stillness. Unable to let Feather go, Matty learns to sail and goes off on an adventure to ask Feather for the answer to the only question she has. . .

I really enjoyed reading this book. The Ghost’s Child is a book that has to be read slowly. The book isn’t really plot-driven but focuses more on character-building: Matilda as an old woman and as a young girl named Maddy. One of my favorite things about this book was the language. There were so many passages that I marked to read again later.

I love this passage by Matilda on love:

The world changes when something in it is loved. Words become feeble. Colors glow. Every moment vibrates with possible importance. And the heart that loves wonders how it live, in the past, without loving-and it will live now, now that it loves.

What I didn’t like were the few times that were unbelievable. Maddy as a child was a little too mature. She understood too much about life though she hadn’t experience life yet. Here’s a passage from Maddy as a child:

In the black of night, however, she was wrung with fear. She did not want to be uncaring, and uncared-for. She did not want to spend her whole life taking steps in the darkest, the coldest, the most lonely direction. Yet how, she wondered, does one craft sturdy happiness out of something as important, as complicated, as unrepeatable and as easily damaged as a life?

A beautiful passage but from a child? The Ghost’s Child has few faults and all can easily be overlooked. This is a great fable about the lessons of love and letting go, beauty, and having the courage to live life as you see fit.

Highly recommended.

fiction

Wild Magic by Cat Weatherill

weatherillWild Magic (2007)
Cat Weatherill
280 pages
Middle School Fiction

What led you to pick up this book?

When I heard this was a re-telling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, I wanted to read it badly. I’ve been on a fairy tale kick for a while now. It took about six months for me to get this book from the library so when it finally arrived I was surprised.

From the jacket flap

The Pied Piper had his reasons for enchanting the children of Hamelin and stealing them away—ones rooted in a deep history of wild magic. Mari and her brother Jakob are among the children who followed the piper’s song, and they are now trapped in a beautiful but cruel world inhabited by a horrid Beast.

What I liked most

Everything. Mari and Jakob are great characters to follow. The book’s summary is actually wrong. Mari followed the Pied Piper but Jakob couldn’t because he had a bad leg. Jakob was so determined to get to his sister that he sat at the magical door of a mountain every night for days, waiting for it to open. The effects of Elvendale, the magical city inside the mountain on Jakob almost had me in tears, it was so touching.

In Wild Magic readers find out what happened to the children of Hamelin Hill and also get the background story on the Pied Piper.

Though this book stayed on my shelf for weeks once I opened it, I read it in a matter of hours. I was drawn into this story of three great characters, a beast, and a deadly forest. Even the minor characters were interesting. I definitely recommend this book.

Here’s a description of the children leaving Hamelin Town with the Pied Piper,

He dared to be different. Into a sad, drab world of gray and black he had come, burning bright in turquoise and jade. Dazzling as a dragonfly. He had played a pipe and the rats had followed, dancing till they drowned in the quick brown water of the river. They had to follow him. They couldn’t resist his music. And Marianna couldn’t resist it now. It was glorious. She wanted to dance. She wanted to dream. She wanted to follow the Piper.

And Marianna wasn’t alone. The streets were packed with children. Every boy, every girl in Hamelin Town seemed to be there, and they were all dancing.

fiction, J.Kaye's Y.A. Challenge

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

simner Bones of Faerie (2009)
Janni Lee Simner
247 pages
Young adult/Dystopian fiction
Well-Read Ladies pick for May


Summary

A devastating war between human and Faerie leaves both sides changed forever. Liza, a young girl, has only heard of the Before which is so different from the aftermath. Humans live in small villages instead of cities. Modern technology is a thing of the past. Even nature is now an enemy where trees can attack at will and plants are not to be trusted. The one lesson that Liza has learned from her cruel father is to never let anything magical in. Your life depends on it.

But when Liza’s mother gives birth one night, the child is different. Born with hair as clear as glass, Liza’s father knows the baby is part Faerie and abandons it on a hillside to die. Soon after Liza’s mother disappears and Liza is left alone with her father to fend for herself. When Liza realizes that she has the power to see into the past and future, she too flees in search of her mother and a safe place to live.

My thoughts

I think Bones of Faerie is a pretty good book. The aftermath of the war between the two races was believable. Teh author constantly illustrated the effects of the war: people had to pump their water and grow plants that could possibly kill them if they wanted to live. Liza’s display of strength and her relationship with Matthew, a boy from her neighborhood, was also entertaining.

What I didn’t like was that readers were never given a reason for the war, just a quick explanation that the two sides didn’t get along. I wanted to know the details behind the war and what lead up to it. I wanted a feel for both sides like you do with Hunger Games.

I still think it’s a good read. The story captures your attention and doesn’t let you go until the end.

Other reviews:
Becky