Posted in Young Adult Lit

All Our Yesterdays, by Cristin Terrill

yesterdaysAll Our Yesterdays
Cristin Terrill
2013 Hyperion
ISBN – 9781423176374
Genre – Science Fiction
Age – High School
4 Stars

Em wakes up in a maximum security military prison. She doesn’t know what is going on, but is comforted by the voice of a male in the next cell. While imprisoned she finds a list of instructions that she must follow in order to set “things” right. The ominous instructions read in her own handwriting, “You have to kill him.” She has tried time and time again to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart, and the final resort is that she has to kill the man who created it. The only problem is that her best friend from childhood is the person that she must kill in order to prevent catastrophe!

Ok so did that confuse you enough? It is pretty hard to explain the plot of a book that deals with time travel, but seriously. it is not confusing when you read it. Actually I think that Terrill did a pretty great job of defining the future/present/past or whatever the time frames are at the time. It is interesting to see how the characters have matured, and grown. I also like how friendships and other relationships change and meld the test of time. I had quite a hard time putting this book down, as Terrill was great at leaving each chapter on a cliffhanger. I like the way that while this book was surrounded by the premise of war, and world demise, that it did not focus on that, it was actually a very small part of the book. Instead it focused on the characters, and how they interacted with each other throughout the times. I thought it did this well, and in a way that I could relate to, without the preachy undertones that often come from this kind of reflective book.

Posted in Picture Books

Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers
2011 Philomel
ISBN – 9780399257377
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool, Early Elementary
4.5 Stars

Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree. He tried to pull it but it wouldn’t budge. In order to free the kite he threw his shoe at it, but then his shoe got stuck. He continued to throw bigger and bigger things at the tree, in order to free his kite. Will Floyd ever get his kite unstuck?

This book is hilarious. There is some humor in there that the littler kids won’t get. Like when Floyd finally decides to get a saw, and he lines it up just right, and then….throws it at the kite! Ha. The pages are bright and colorful with the simple and messy illustrations. I also like that the text is that almost half print, half cursive. It adds to the fun and unpredictability of the book. On a side note, I just bought this for my niece for Christmas, I am hoping that it helps her to learn to read cursive.

Posted in Children's Lit

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

milkFortunately, the Milk
Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Skottie Young
2013 Harper Collins
ISBN – 9780062224071
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Elementary
4 Stars

When the kids realize that they have no milk for their morning cereal, dad must go to the store to buy some, but he takes an awful long time. He finally returns to the kids questions about what to him so long. He explains that he went to the store, bought the milk and then…he saw a flying saucer, which spurred an adventure including dinosaurs, pirates, time travel, and more. Throughout his adventure, he is very careful to hold on to the milk. We all know that dad and the milk make it home safely, the surprise it what happens in between!

As with most of Neil Gaiman’s books, it is full of imagination, humor, and adventure. Although the book may seem to take some pretty strange left turns, it all makes sense in the end (well, sort of.) I loved the fun characters and worlds that Gaiman built in such a short and simple book. The illustrations match the tone of the book, and add to the whimsy as well. This age group has always been really hard for me to actually enjoy, so I was very pleased by this book.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Just One Day, by Gayle Forman

dayJust One Day
Gayle Forman
2013 Speak
ISBN – 9780142422953
Genre – (Un)Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
3.9 Stars

After Allyson Healy finishes her last year of high school, her parents send her on the trip of a lifetime. She has been travelling around Europe with her best friend for three weeks. As her trip nears its end, she meets an attractive and outgoing boy named Willem, and spontaneously decides to change her plans and go to Paris with him for a day. The day is amazing to say the least, but when she wakes the next morning he is gone without a trace. She is left wondering where he went, and why he left so suddenly. She returns back home and heads off to college, but it is clear that she is in a rut. Her grades are terrible, and she is massively depressed; She can’t stop thinking about Willem. The only way to turn her life around is to try to find what she lost that day.

I actually enjoyed this book. I am starting to think that not all realistic fiction is bad. However, one of my major qualms with the genre is still present here. First of all, I think Allyson, is pretty pathetic. She is the opposite of strong and independent. Blah. Telling my other issue would give away too much of the storyline. So that being said, I did like that it was suspenseful, until just about the very end. This may have been the main reason I read it so quickly. I also like the idea of new beginnings, and being able to become a better you. I like the lessons that Allyson took from her day with Willem, and learned from them, even if it took almost a year! It was a cute, easy, fast read.

After finishing Just One day, I immediately started Just One Year, the sequel. Don’t worry, I am not revealing any spoilers…Just One Year is from the perspective of Willem, and what he did in the timeframe of the first book. I liked this one too, but for completely different reasons. First off, there was no suspense…However, I liked Willem as a person so much more than Allyson. He was just an easier character for me to get behind. That’s all I can say, without saying too much!

Posted in Picture Books

Carnivores, by Aaron Reynolds

Aaron Reynolds
Illustrated by Dan Santat
2013 Chronicle Books
ISBN – 9780811866903
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
5 Stars

The lion, the great white shark, and the timber wolf are all carnivores. But just because they eat other animals doesn’t mean that their feelings don’t get hurt. None of the other animals are nice to them. So all three get together and decide what they must do. Their first solution is to become vegetarian, but that didn’t seem to work for them. Next they tried to dress up to blend in, but the other animals saw through their disguises. In the end they decide to consult with the wise old owl and he teaches them how to live happily as carnivores.

I love love love this book! First of all it is hilarious. Everything about it is funny. The text, the subject, and most of all the illustrations. They all meld together perfectly. One of my favorite things about the illustrations is the eyes of every animal, especially the timid little bunnies. The ending just seems appropriate, and there is quite a surprise twist with the owl! Warning, this book is probably not for those who are avid vegetarians for certain moral reasons. It may not be your kind of humor, but it sure is mine!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Kristing Cashore
2008 Harcourt
ISBN – 9780152063962
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
4 Stars

In Katsa’s world, which made up of seven different kingdoms, some people have an extreme skill called a “grace.” In most of these kingdoms, people who are graced are exploited by those in power. They are also often feared. Katsa’s grace is feared most of all, as it is killing. For many years her uncle, who is King of The Middluns, has been using her as his henchman, sending her to torture or kill anyone who crosses his path. When she befriends Prince Po, who is graced in combat skills, she learns much about who she is, and who she wants to be. The two embark on a special mission and learn many secrets of their realm, that may change both of their lives for ever.

Hmmm, I feel like my description does not really do this book justice. Then again any description that would do it justice, would also give too much away. I really like this book. It miraculously has pulled me out of the reading rut that I have been in for close to two months! Hooray. So I am pretty picky on the Fantasy genre, and this book did not cross any of my lines. There were clever and interesting names for people and places, but not so many and not so difficult that you needed a cast of characters at the beginning! I loved both Katsa and Po, and who they were in the beginning, but I also loved how they interacted and shaped the characters that they each become. They both learn to concede and compromise when necessary, but not in a way that makes either of them weak. The story was clever, and I felt like it was original. This could be because I haven’t read much in the genre, but alas, I am excited to read the companion and the sequel.

On another note, I am really trying not to get back into my reading rut, wish me luck!