Posted in Young Adult Lit

Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick

10836471Midwinterblood
Marcus Sedgwick
2011 Indigo
ISBN – 9781780620091
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Young Adult, Adult
5 Stars

The year is 2073, the location is Blessed Island. Eric is a visiting journalist who is on assignment to investigate this strange island where it is rumored that no one seems to age. While on this island Eric’s mind begins to cloud over, and he forgets his reason for being there. On top of this, he has this overwhelming feeling that he has been there before. As his story ends, six more are intertwined into the same setting. Although the times and characters may change, the mystery is still present.

This book was fantastic! It is almost impossible to say anything of substance about the book without giving it away, so I’m just not going to. I will say that the writing is impeccable, beautiful, and gripping. I would have enjoyed each story separately, but together they become so much more. Once I finished I seriously contemplating just turning to page one and starting over again. This is one I will definitely buy! Read it, that is all.

Posted in Picture Books

Superworm, by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

61v1i7nSY1L__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Superworm
Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
2014 Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN – 9780545591768
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4.5 Stars

Superworm is super long, and super strong, and super good at saving the day. His long body can turn into a lasso, a jump rope, a fishing line, and so much more. The evil Wizard Lizard sees how handy he is and he kidnaps him to help find treasure in the soil. When all the other garden critters realize that Superworm is in trouble, they devise a plan to save him. Will he make it back to his own lovely garden, or will the Wizard Lizard control him forever?

This book is “super fun!” The story is great. It is suspenseful, and action packed. The text is also super fun. It has rhythm, rhyme, and repetition. Best of all it has a little chant that all of the creatures sing about Superworm. I love the illustrations, as each little character has its own personality painted on its face. They are bright and bold pictures, with a sort of charming simplicity. They greatly compliment the text and storyline of the book. I also like that it has a bit of a dark element to it, but it may be a little scary to some of the younger kids.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

If You Could Be Mine, by Sara Farizan

17302571If You Could Be Mine
Sarah Farizan
2013, Alqonquin Young Readers
ISBN – 9781616202514
Genre – Reallistic Fiction, Cultural Fiction, LGBTQ
Age – High School
3.2 Stars

Sahar and Nasrin have been in love ever since they were little girls. Unfortunately they live in Iran, where it is dangerous and illegal to be involved in same sex romantic relationships. As they get older, it becomes more difficult to imagine a future together. Nasrin has been betrothed to marriage with a man much older than her, and soon will not be able to steal kisses and embark on romantic adventures with Sahar the way she once was able. Sahar is desperate to find a way to be with Nasrin. In Iran it may be a crime to be homosexual, however, to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is nature’s mistake and the government will help pay for and support the decision to have a reassignment surgery. Is Sahar willing to give up the person who she has always been to be with the person she has always wanted to be with?

I have such mixed emotions about this book. It was heartbreaking to read about the very real truths about being homosexual in Iran. It was eye opening to learn about a culture that some openly and adamantly opposed same sex relationships. It was also interesting to learn about their support of gender reassignment surgeries. So while I enjoyed the harrowing learning aspect of this book I was really disappointed by the characters. I really wanted to root for them and be on their side, and while on the surface I was, I just didn’t really like any of the characters. Even though the story was good, I couldn’t get past this feeling. I just couldn’t relate to them.  I thought this was to a certain extent understandable, being from a very different culture, but I couldn’t truly like them. I actually wanted to reach my hand through the speakers in my car (audiobook) and slap each and every person. They all seemed to be shallow, self important jerks. It is not that I didn’t feel for them and sympathize with them, I just didn’t enjoy them.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen

51737The Truth About Forever
Sarah Dessen
2004 Penguin Group
ISBN –  9780142406250
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – High School
2.8 Stars

Macy’s life has been anything but perfect lately, she is recovering from the death of her father, and her mother has completely checked out. On top of that Macy’s perfect boyfriend Jason left for brain camp and she has taken over his job at the library information desk for the summer. Very quickly it becomes obvious that this will be a miserable job, and not much better of a summer overall. Just after Jason leaves, he sends Macy an e-mail saying that he would like to take a break from their relationship. Reeling from this information, Macy spontaneously decides to take a job with a local catering company, just to get a break from her normal life. During this stint she realizes that she doesn’t need to be perfect, she learns about good friends, and she learns how to be herself for the first time in years.

Oh Sarah Dessen, we meet again. Am I finally becoming nostalgic with your crappy boyfriend, messed up dad situation, weak girl learns something over the summer and miraculously becomes strong formula? I think not. This is the third Dessen book I have read, and I have yet to be surprised by any part of the plot. I have yet to be anything more than vaguely amused by the sad mentality of the main characters. More importantly I have yet to read a book of hers that makes me want to read another. Not only is the plot shallow, but so are the majority of the characters, and much of the emotions. They are however a fast and easy read that helps to pass the time.

Posted in Adult Literature, Young Adult Lit

Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion

7619057Warm Bodies
Isaac Marion
2010 Random House Vintage
ISBN – 9780099549345
Genre – Apocalyptic, Humor
Age- Adult, High School
4 Stars

 

R is a zombie who lives at an abandoned airport. He meets a girl named Julie on a hunt for food, and begins to have strange feelings. Having feelings is particularly weird for R since he hasn’t had any in quite some time. When he brings Julie back to the airport to keep her safe, they begin to form a very interesting relationship, and R starts to change even more. He seems to be more and more human every day. Can he and Julie show the living humans that there is hope for the undead before all humanity is lost?

I am sure many of you have seen this movie, as have I. I heard from a friend that parts of the book were very different so I gave it a try. I have to mention that I listened to this book, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. The narrator was fantastic. His voice perfectly captured a zombie who was teetering in between living and dead. His inner monologue was perfect in pitch, speed, and tone! There definitely were things in the book not included in the movie that I thought really added to the story. For instance, in the beginning R falls in love and gets married to a fellow zombie and is assigned kids. This is weaved into the plot in such an interesting way, and although it doesn’t majorly impact the outcome of the story, I really think it adds to his character building. Overall, I loved this book, and I wish that I would have read it before seeing the movie. Not that I disliked the movie, I just would have liked to listen to it with a fresh mind instead of with a comparative attitude. My favorite part about this book was the originality of viewpoint. I don’t mean R’s point of view. I liked the way that it was humorous, but not super funny. It had serious parts, as well as a smidgen of social commentary. I liked that I had a hard time categorizing it into a genre!

Posted in Picture Books

Don’t Push the Button, by Bill Cotter

17586501Don’t Push the Button
Bill Cotter
2013 Sourcebooks Jabberwockey
ISBN – 9781402287466
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler, Preschool
4 Stars

There is only one rule in this book…Don’t push the button. But curious minds would like to know, what would happen if you do press the button. Find out in this super fun, interactive book. The illustrations are amazingly simple, funny, and colorful. It also reminds me of one of my childhood favorites “The Monster at the End of this Book.” It is not quite as suspenseful, because Larry the creature in the book, encourages button pressing! There will be fun and laughter with this one!

Posted in Young Adult Lit

City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare

6752378City of Fallen Angels
Cassandra Clare
2011  Simon & Schuster Children’s
ISBN – 9781442403543
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
3.7 Stars

 

Spoiler Alert for those who haven’t read City of Bones, City of Ashes, or City of Glass!

The Mortal War is over, and Clary’s mom has woken up from her self-induced coma. So everything can go back to normal right? Absolutely not. Clary’s mom and Luke are planning their wedding, Clary is training to be a Shadowhunter, and Simon is still coming to terms with being a vampire and the thought of telling his mother. At least Clary and Jace can finally be together after discovering they are not brother and sister. Just as everything seems right in the world, Jace begins to pull away from everyone, especially Clary, someone keeps attempting to kill Simon, and someone IS killing other Shadowhunters. In short nothing is right!

I liked this book, although not as much as City of Glass, definitely more than the first two books in the series. I like the story. I liked that for the first time in the series there was a calm. It made an upset even that much more exciting! Some new characters and folklore history have been added, and I thought they brought a solid new plot line to the table. In reading the reviews it seems that some people really didn’t like the ending to the book. As far as I figure it may not have been what I would have written, but I liked it, and I thought it was great that Clare finally ended a book with a cliffhanger! I don’t feel ambivalent about reading the next book, in fact City of Lost Souls is in my pile now.

 

 

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Ascend, by Amanda Hocking

11947829Ascend
Amanda Hocking
2012  St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN – 9781250006332
Genre – Fantasy
Age – High School
3.2 Stars

 

Ascend is the third book in the Switched trilogy. If you haven’t read the first two and don’t want spoilers please skip. Here are my reviews of Switched and Torn.

Wendy is preparing for her 18th birthday, her wedding to Tuve, and her coronation as queen. On top of that she is trying to prevent a war between her kingdom and the Vittra. Recently they have been attacking Trylle communities, and killing their citizens. When she realizes that the only way to stop an all out war is to sacrifice herself, she has big decisions to make. Will she continue to give up her life and her happiness for the greater good of a kingdom that she just recently became a part of?

This book was about the same caliber as the rest of the series. The characters continue to grow, and the plot thickens. I liked that Wendy is very adamant in changing many age old social injustices that are imbedded into the Trylle society. I like the way I think she will lead her kingdom. Despite the fact that the heads of society battle her at every idea and decision, she continues to do what she believes is right. She is already unpopular, so she doesn’t have much to risk. Now I’m going to vent, and if you don’t want to know about the ending…Stop Here.

Everything was wrapped up into a neat little package. Nothing went wrong, minus a broken leg, it was actually perfect. The two kingdoms battled and there was no loss at all. Wendy got to live happily ever after with the man she loves, and so did everyone else. COME ON!!! I understand that Hocking may have wanted a nice ending, but really. Nothing ever happens that way. Every once in a while I would like to read a book that has the exact opposite ending. Where the worst case scenario came true, but I understand that most books will have a decent middle ground. After reading three books, this was a huge disappointment.

Posted in Young Adult Lit

Tarnish, by Katherine Longshore

16101031Tarnish
Katherine Longshore
2013, Viking Juvenile
ISBN – 9780670014002
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – High School
3.2 Stars

Anne Boleyn has recently returned to the Tudor court in which Henry VIII is king. She is just a bit of an outcast. Doomed to marry a man she is disgusted by, she is desperate to change the course of her life and her nuptials. Her sister is the King’s mistress, so why can’t Anne find a desirable match? She quickly strikes up a friendship with Thomas Wyatt, a married poet. They enter in a bet together that will help her become more desirable to the other men in court. Little does she realize how her emotions will be affected by their relationship. Will she follow her heart or her head?

So it seems silly to try and not give away the end of the book. We all know the story, and have seen the movie if not read the multitude of books on the topic. Even if we haven’t we know that eventually Anne marries the king and has her head chopped off. Sorry if I gave away anything that you should have already known! I don’t know why I am a sucker for the Tudor reign, but I am. This book was a decent read, fast and juicy, but the good ends there. Nothing new, nothing original, no artistic creativity. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t read anymore, because I absolutely would. They just may not jump to the top of my “to read” list. Great beach or vacation read!

Posted in Picture Books

Thesaurus Rex, by Laya Steinberg

1298271Thesaurus Rex
Laya Steinberg
Debbie Harter
2003 Barefoot Books
ISBN – 9781841480428
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler, Preschool
4 Stars

This young T-Rex takes us through his day as he stretches, drinks milk, explores, and more. With each activity that he partakes in we learn several different words that are similar. For example he goes “exploring: hunting, searching, foraging, poking. I love the idea of this book. It is such a simple word to teach young children the meaning of the word thesaurus, as well as provide some examples. I also think it would be great for kids a tiny bit older as you can ask them if they can think of any more words that would be similar. You can also include a lesson on antonyms and ask if they can think of opposites! What a great learning opportunity. The illustrations are bright, big, colorful, and fun. What great fun you can have with this one!