Posted in Children's Lit

Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar

1391101Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Louis Sachar
1978 Follet Press
ISBN – 9780695409647
Genre – Humor
Age – Elementary School
4 Stars

The builder of Wayside School made a big mistake. He built all thirty of the classrooms on top of each other instead of next to each other on one floor. All the kids in this book have class on the thirtieth floor. They are silly, and quirky, and fun, and they each have a tale that can be told about them. I remember this book fondly from when I was a kid, and decided to revisit it again. It was a bit more simplistic than I remember, but then again I think I was eight or nine. However, it was still funny, and just the right amount of depth for the audience that it is geared at. Great for reluctant readers due to short stories, and laugh out loud hilarity!

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Posted in Young Adult Lit

Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard

162085Pretty Little Liars
Sara Shepard
2006 Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN – 9780060887308
Genre – Drama
Age – High School
2.7 Stars

Ali, Spencer, Emily, Aria, and Hanna are all the best of friends. They are united by a secret, something that occurred in middle school, that they can never tell anyone. A year after this occurrence Ali mysteriously disappears during a sleepover, and is never found again. Now, three years later, the remaining four girls have grown apart and hardly speak to each other. Now that their lives have completely changed, their pasts have mysteriously resurfaced. Someone keeps e-mailing and texting the four girls about the secrets they are carrying. Has Ali come back, or is someone playing a really mean game.

I’m slightly embarrassed by this one, but a friend tried to get me to watch the TV series, so I compromised and read the book. In NO way is this quality writing, it does not set forth an important message, and there really is no depth to anything within the pages. That being said, it is brain candy. I zipped through the book in 3 hours, and have since started the second one. Ugh. They are fast paced, each chapter focuses on a single girl and rotates throughout the book. It is suspenseful, and fun, and mind-numbing. I am not sure how many I will read as there are 13 so far, and you can guarantee that this will be my only review on this series. Now I can go back to reading them in silence!

Posted in Children's Lit, Graphic Novel

The Lost Boy, by Greg Ruth

17265276The Lost Boy
Greg Ruth
2013 Graphix
ISBN – 9780439823326
Genre – Graphic Novel
Age – Middle School
3.5 Stars

Nate and his family have just moved to a new place, and while he is not happy about this, he still begins to explore. When he finds a tape player under the floorboards of his new bedroom, he enters into quite an adventure. The original owner of the tape player disappeared from town many years ago, it’s actually the town’s most famous mystery. As Nate and his new neighbor friend learn more about what happened, they find that there are some others that would also like to uncover mysteries of the past. Unfortunately these others are not the most friendly of beings!

This book was decent. I’ll be honest, it took quite an interesting and unexpected turn about halfway through. I’m not super into graphic novels, but every so often I attempt to branch out. Honestly, I really enjoyed the art. It was not simple, but not hugely detailed either. The best way I can describe it is gritty. It had a realistic yet dark feel to it, that complimented the story and theme really well. I did not feel that the characters in the book were very fleshed out or had much depth to them, which was disappointing. Still, this would be great for reluctant readers that enjoy fantasy as well as adventure.

 

Posted in Picture Books

Animal Opposites: A Pop-Up Book, by Petr Horacek

17262362Animal Opposites: A Pop-Up Book
Petr Horacek
2013 Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763667764
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler
5 Stars

Animal opposite pairs like quite rabbit and loud lion, heavy hippo and light butterfly, and more. Not only are the illustrations incredible, like pretty much everything else by Horacek, but the pop-ups add an extra element of fun! The pictures are bright and full page, and the text is simple and to the point. One super awesome thing about this book is that Horacek uses some common animals, and some not so common animals. This helps children to identify all sorts of wildlife! YES!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys

11178225Out of the Easy
Ruta Sepetys
2013 Philomel Books
ISBN – 9780399256929
Genre – Historical/Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
4 Stars

Josie Morraine lives in New Orleans in the 1950’s. He mother is a prostitute, who can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Josie has bigger dreams for her life, but is still struggling to achieve them. After meeting an East Coast college girl, Josie cooks up a plan of escape. However, when a rich out of towner is murdered and her mother is implicated, things get rather sticky!

This is a great story of rising from your upbringings, for having hope. It demonstrates that no matter how bad life seems we should strive to attain our goals. This book is full of colorful characters, events, and settings. The characters are great because they are not all loveable, and they are not completely loathsome, well not all of them. They are complex and realistic, and just plain fun! The twists and turns really highlight the struggles and triumphs of everyday life. Sepetys has an incredible talent for building meaningful worlds and well rounded characters that tend to stick with you.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

45 Pounds, by K.A. Barson

1342425045 Pounds
K.A. Barson
2013, Viking Juvenile
ISBN – 9780670784820
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
2.9 Stars

Ann is sixteen years old, and has been in an ongoing battle with her weight for most of her life. While her mother is perfectly skinny at a size 6 she is perfectly unhappy at a size 17. When her Aunt announces that she is getting married in 10 weeks, she vows to lose her goal of 45 pounds, or somewhere close to it by the time of the wedding.

Oh realistic fiction, we meet again. Maybe I am starting to see some value in you after all. This one, however, falls a bit short of my expectations. While the message is a good one, and one that many young girls can relate to, the writing is a bit short of profound, and the characters a little shy of memorable.  I guess I am learning that we don’t necessarily have to be deep and profound to get an important message across. And, often it can be the easiest way to accomplish the goal.

Posted in Picture Books

The Lamb Who Came For Dinner, by Steve Smallman

2886232The Lamb Who Came For Dinner
by Steve Smallman
Illustrated by Joelle Dreidemy
2007 Tiger Tales
ISBN – 9781589250673
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4.3 Stars

 

The big bad wolf was tired of eating vegetable soup everyday. As he wished to himself that he had the makings for lamb stew, a little lamb conveniently knocked on his door. As he prepared to cook the lamb, he came across some difficulties. At first the lamb was freezing from being outside, and the wolf hates frozen food. So of course he gave her a blanket. Then the lamb’s tummy was growling, and the wolf didn’t want to get indigestion. The list goes on and on. Will the wolf ever get his lamb stew? This book is funny, adorable, and great for a read aloud. There may not be rhyming or repetition, but the story is sure to get a laugh out of the little ones. Between the sweet face of the lamb, and the endearing ending, you’ll be melting! 

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Fangirl
Rainbow Rowell
2013 St. Martin’s Press
ISBN – 9781250030955
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
2.5 Stars

Cather and Wren are identical twins about to head off to their first year of college. Unexpectedly Wren tells Cath that she does not want to be her roommate, that she would like to branch out in this new stage of their lives. Cath is deeply hurt, but is assigned a new roommate. She take her own classes and soon becomes mostly estranged from Wren, who has chosen the drinking and partying college life. Cath keeps true to herself as she makes friends with her new roommate and her cute boyfriend, not to mention Nick, the boy from her fiction writing class, who she seems to have an extraordinary writing connection with. Throughout the year, she faces her own setbacks as well as those of her family, all while staying true to her fans as the writer of one of the most popular fan fictions on the web.

Ughh, if I was reading this, I would have never finished it. Audiobook was the only way I got through it, and mostly because I have a long commute. I just really don’t think I like Rainbow Rowell, despite my multiple attempts. She writes well, but she doesn’t tell a very good story, not to mention the fact that I dislike 90 percent of her characters. Towards the end of the book, I started getting a little bit more into the plot, but she just kept upping the fan fiction. So on that note…Cath’s Fan Fiction is based on Simon Snow books (pretty much Harry Potter.) So the entire time I just kept thinking that 40 percent of the book is a rip off of a rip off. Now my guess is that she wanted to portray a scenario that a lot of people could relate to, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I know I am in the minority here, but that’s that.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Lonely Hears CLub, by Elizabeth Eulberg

6609714The Lonely Hearts Club
Elizabeth Eulberg
2010 Point
ISBN – 9780545140317
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
3.3 Stars

Penny has been hurt by boys for the last time, she’s had enough. Instead of battling with dating she decides to start The Lonely Hearts Club, a club for girls who do not want to date during high school, who can focus on their lives and friendships. What starts as a very small club becomes a sensation in her high school. Soon all of the popular girls have sworn off dating, and have made new friendships and rekindled old friendships. Everything is going great until the boys start complaining, and the school principle is beginning to have a problem as well. Then at the oddest of times, Penny seems to find herself crushing on a boy who seems decent. Can she let go of her reservations against boys? Will she be able to maintain her awesome strong identity and date? Will her friends accept her decision?

So many questions! So, as far as realistic fiction goes, this one isn’t bad! Ok it has all the writing and dialogue that I really don’t like, but the resounding message is positive and important. So much so, that I can let go of the big negatives. Too often girls who are just beginning to date, seem to think that they must change when in a relationship. They blow off their friends, they change the way they eat, dress, and act, all to impress someone. They have trouble realizing that any partner worth having will like you without change. So this book proves it, and it shows that there are decent guys in this world (few and far between as they may be in high school.) More importantly it shows the importance of solid and wonderful friends, and the great impact they can have on your life. So all cheesiness aside, I appreciated the message for teenage girls within this book.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Gone, by Michael Grant

2536134Gone
Michael Grant
2008 Harper Teen
ISBN – 9780061448768
Genre – Science Fiction
Age – High School
2.8 Stars

It starts off as a normal day, and then all of a sudden everyone fifteen and older are gone. They disappear in the blink of an eye. There is no television, and no methods of communication, and a giant impenetrable dome blocking the children from the outside world. Chaos ensues as the bullies attempt to rule the new system. Odd creatures are appearing and attacking humans, not to mention that the humans are developing very strange powers. What is causing these strange changes? Can they all be connected?

This book has been on my “To Read” list for way too long, and when I finally get around to it, I am immensely disappointed! The theory is interesting, but in my opinion it just got too weird too fast. While I do appreciate Michael Grant’s writing and detailed world building, I didn’t necessarily like the world that developed. It was very long, and the longer that it went on the weirder and weirder it got. Now I understand the premise behind why it got so strange (which would be a huge spoiler if I said anything,) I just honestly couldn’t get past the oddities. I also hate the idea that so many kids are just inherently not very nice, even if it is true. Lesson learned as to why kids don’t rule the world…