Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Review #570
How My Parents Learned To Eat by Ina R. Friedman, illustrated by Allen Say
Rating: one star (out of four)

I liked the premise of this story, but I didn't think the actual storytelling of it was as interesting.  It was a little wordy for a child's picture book, I don't know if it would hold their attention.  The story had a couple parts that I thought were a little unrealistic, but they didn't damper the plot much.  I probably wouldn't recommend this book, only because it just didn't do anything for me.

Book Review #569
I Will Hold You 'Til You Sleep by Linda Zuckerman, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Rating: two stars (out of four)

There is a sweet message conveyed through the pages of this book.  From child to adult, the mother says that she will always love him and you see throughout the course of his life how his mother is always there for him.  I enjoyed this book and would probably recommend.  

Book Review #568
Burnout by Rebecca Donner, illustrated by Inaki Miranda
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

What was the point to this graphic novel? Oh yeah, that's right...there wasn't one. I have no clue what the author was thinking when she wrote this novel, I kept waiting for a reason behind the plot and why the characters were acting a certain way, but I never found anything to justify it. The characters were not developed and I never cared an ounce for anything that happened to them. The illustrations were marred by the story's lackluster plot and I wondered why I had wasted my time reading this novel. Needless to say, I would never recommend this book.

Book Review #567
Confessions Of A Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Drannen
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I thought that this book would be more on the light-hearted side, but it had a surprising amount of depth to the story. I liked how the author tied in the element of the main character's family life and how she was acting out in school. The story was sometimes a little unbelievable and I didn't know whether I was going to like the outcome once I finished the book, but it had a nice resolution. The main character learned some life lessons and took notes on her mistakes. She made a point of moving past her short fallings and trying to do better in the future. There is some traces of humor in this book and while I found it an enjoyable read, I don't know if I would recommend it to everyone.

Book Review #566
Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim, illustrated by Jesse Hamm
Rating: one star (out of four)

I was not impressed with this book in the least. The characters were not fully developed and I could care less what the main character said or did. The story was the same old predictable outcome and I was a little annoyed with how it ended. The illustrations were okay, but because of the general feel of the story I couldn't bring myself to like them. This book was lame and not worth reading, I wouldn't recommend.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Book Review #565
Corking by Judy Ann Sadler, illustrated by Linda Hendry
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a fairly interesting little book.  It had a couple techniques and ideas that I though kids would definitely enjoy.  I also thought there was a wide assortment of things you could make.  There were even instructions on how to make your own corks, including larger sizes so you could makes socks and hats.  If you have a crafty child who likes using their hands, you might want to check out this hobby, and I would recommend browsing through this book.

Book Review #564
Our Gracie Aunt by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This book had really sweet sentiments, I liked how the message wasn't watered down just because it was a children's book.  At the same time though, I did feel like it was a little serious for a picture book.  But I do think there are kids who are in the same predicament as the two in this story and they might take comfort in reading this book.  I enjoyed looking at the illustrations as well.  I would recommend, but not if you are looking for something fun and light.  

Book Review #563
Nonsense! He Yelled by Roger Eschbacher, illustrated by Adrian Johnson
Rating: two stars (out of four)

If you like books that feature the alphabet and have loopy illustrations, you will probably enjoy this book.  I found this book entertaining, but it didn't make any of my favorites lists.  It had just the slightest bit of seussicalness to it and that added attraction.  I would probably recommend.  

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review #562
Good Babies by Tim Myers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Rating: four stars (out of four)

I really liked this book, it wasn't what I expected to be like at all, but I thought the author and illustrator did an excellent job of making this story humorous, thoughtful and amusing.  I would definitely recommend this book.  I did like a lot of the illustrations as well, they generally made me smile.

Book Review #561
Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a fairly amusing little tale.  I liked how no words were needed, you simply followed the illustrations and could see the story play out before your eyes.  Some children would especially love doing the mazes in this book.  I would probably recommend.

Book Review #560
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow
Rating: four stars (out of four)

This book has a great message, one of accepting yourself and loving you for who you are.  I especially liked the illustrations, they were my favorite part.  There were a couple pictures where I just thought the particular expression on the little girl was absolutely precious.  If you want a picture book that will boost you child's self esteem and have zany pictures to boot, you'd better check this book out.

Book Review #559
A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This is a cute book about a whimsical little penguin who knows there has got to be something more than white, black or blue.  So he sets out to find it, and what does he find?  Well, I guess you'll just have to read it to find out!  I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations for this book, they gave it a very modern and yet simplistic feel.  And I must say, the last page of the book was simply my favorite.  I'd recommend this book.

Book Review #558
Jane Austen's Guide To Dating by Lauren Henderson
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I thought it was in a rather impressive show of distaste that this author tried to mix Jane Austen's novels with her own immoral ethics and worldly knowledge. This book fell short on so many levels I can't even count them all. While the author did manage to put in snippets and examples from most, if not all of Jane Austen's most popular works, I was not impressed with her dating advice. I thought she had a completely different stance on dating than Jane Austen would have approved and I didn't like her lack of ethics and standards. I think the author was just trying to be modern and innovative, but she failed miserably and offered a one-sided opinion. There are other ways to go about dating and her rules and advice did not follow the principles of everyone who might be reading this book. I did not like this book at all and would never recommend.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Book Review #557
Clubbing by Andi Watson, illustrated by Josh Howard
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

Okay, who published this novel? Did they even read this book or did they just take a quick glance at the first couple pages and go, "this looks interesting" and print it off right away? There is no excuse for this kind of book being published. The main character was so stereotypical goth/girly-girl I wanted to gag. I could not stand the way she acted and I wanted to slap her for being so annoying and whiney. I think a lot of girls would find this book offensive because of the way the main character is portrayed, especially with her outrageous and revealing outfits. No normal teen dresses like that. Don't even get me started on the plot for this book. I seriously have no clue how someone thought this was a good story line. The ending of the book was one of the most ridiculous and crazy things I have ever read. I have no clue why they thought they needed to throw THAT element in and than the main character basically shrugs off all the drastic things that have happened to her and goes about her normal business. This is ludicrous and stupid. I would never recommend this book. Actually, I'd recommend that someone take it off the shelves of libraries and bookstores so that other people don't have to read this nonsense.

Book Review #556
Janes In Love by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg
Rating: one star (out of four)

I'm not really sure why I even read this book because I totally did not care for the first one. I guess I thought this story might pick up where the other one left off and offer some more closure. Well, this story was even worse than the first one and I found myself not caring for any of the characters or their "plights" of love. The illustrations were okay, but I was annoyed with how stereotypical the characters were. The ending was lame and I wondered why I had wasted my time. I would not recommend this book.

Book Review #555
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg
Rating: one star (out of four)

I was expecting this graphic novel to be interesting because I had heard about it on another author's blog, but I was sadly disappointed. The illustrations were okay, but I felt like the text of this novel was lacking because it expected the artwork to fill in the rest of the details. The characters were unbelievable in their actions and I found myself terribly annoyed with their cookie-cutter thoughts. If this novel wanted to succeed it would have needed more character development and a more fleshed-out plot. I didn't see any reason to feel any sympathy for the main Jane and I thought that her little "art" schemes were stupid and/or foolish. The ending of this book was really bogus and I felt like it completely did not work because it just left you there, as if saying, "well,that's all I have for you." I would not recommend this book.

Book Review #554
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was simply okay. I'm not sure why it won the Caldecott Honor, it was interesting and told from a different perspective, but I'm not sure a child would be very impressed with it. The illustrations were nice, but I wasn't a big fan of this book. I might recommend, but only if you were trying to read all the Caldecotts.

Book Review #553
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This is one of the most bizarre books I have read in a long time. I really enjoyed it and thought the plot was interesting, but the end is what really threw me for a loop. I liked the story and the characters were different from the norm. When I finally finished reading the book I kind of had to sit there and let my mind process the whole thing. After that I still wasn't really sure what I thought about it. But I think the only thing that really bothered me was that it didn't end as happily and neatly packaged as I would have liked. Instead, it ended the realistic way, which annoyed me, because the book was a fantasy novel and if it already had these crazy things going on inside it the author could have totally twisted the ending to make it happy for everyone. I still enjoyed this book though, even if I wished for a slightly different ending. I'd recommend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Review #552
Generation T by Megan Nicolay
Rating: one star (out of four)

This book is a very cool idea, it's just the that follow through isn't that great.  Most of the t-shirt designs in this book are things that I would never wear.  They are sketchy and a little too revealing for my taste.  There were several designs that I also thought looked impossibly cheesy and hand-made.  I'm all for making your own style, but not when it looks tacky and cheap.  There were a couple interesting patterns in this book, but not enough to tempt me.  I would not recommend this book, it's overall feel wasn't very appealing and most of the t-shirt designs consisted of items I don't think half the public would wear.

Book Review #551
Alternation by Shannon Okey and Alexandra Underhill
Rating: one star (out of four)

I was not really impressed with this book at all.  Sure, there were a couple patterns that I thought were slightly interesting, but definitely nothing I would want to make myself.  The cover of this book seems to me a tad bit misleading, because I expected it to be ultra hip and modern, when it was only slightly so.  The layout of the book was nice, it had a "coolness factor" going for it.  And I especially loved the blue hair on that cover model.  But I'm afraid I cannot recommend it.

Book Review #550
The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Carson Ellis, music by Nathaniel Stookey
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was fairly amusing, right up Lemony Snicket's alley, with his typical style of using large words and then explaining them to the reader in his tongue-in-cheek voice.  I did enjoy looking at the illustrations, they suited the book rather well.  The CD was also a nice added bonus, I enjoyed hearing Lemony Snicket read the story, as well as hearing his little asides that were not in the book.  I especially liked the French Horn's song about the old country, it made me smile.  I was entertained by the book, but it was definitely not one of my favorites, I would probably recommend to Lemony Snicket Fans.

Book Review #549
97 Things To Do Before You Finish High School by Steven Jenkins and Erika Stalder
Rating: one star (out of four)

This book was really lame. Most of their suggestions were completely bogus and were things I would never do or I had already done in middle school. I couldn't even finish reading it. I just browsed to see if there would be any cool suggestions but there weren't any. Totally skip reading this book, I wouldn't recommend.

Book Review #548
River Of Words by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The way this book was put together was quite neat.  I liked the colorful and yet muted illustrations that portrayed William Carlos William's poetry.  I thought the author and illustrator did a good job.  I would recommend if you were a fan of William Carlos Williams.

Book Review #547
Bogus To Bubbly by Scott Westerfeld
Rating: three stars (out of four)

For anybody who couldn't get enough of the Uglies series, this is the book for you! There were all sorts of interesting tidbits and random little information that Scott Westerfeld included to make this book a very enjoyable read. I am fascinated by this world he has created and so I was intrigued to see how he came up with all these ideas. I would definitely recommend this book.

Book Review #546
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Rating: four stars (out of four)

I absolutely loved this book! There were so many imaginative descriptions and sentences in the story. I fell in love with Ingrid Law's word choices. I smiled at all her fancy, fun words and her fantastic use of alliteration. The story was simplistic, but had a touch of magic to it. This novel felt a little like something similar to Kate DiCamillo's writing. I thought the characters were well-rounded and intriguing, I was always interested in what someone would say or do next. The main character was my favorite and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the world from her perspective. The ending was different then I thought it would be, but I felt like it was perfectly suited for the book and I had no qualms with it. I would totally recommend this book - it was superb!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Review #545
Yikes! A Smart Girl's Guide To Surviving Tricky, Sticky, Icky Situations by American Girl
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book had a nice concept and I would probably recommend as a light read for juvenile readers. I wasn't as interested in the advice because I was definitely too old for the situations in the book, but I thought the advice was sound and could prove helpful in a stressful situation. I might recommend.

Book Review #544
Speed Knitting by Kris Percival
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This is a fun little book, the layout design is very modern and colorful, you can't help but feel warm while glancing through this book.  The patterns in this book were pretty simple, but still resourceful and amusing.  I saw a couple things that I might like to knit in the future.  Overall I would probably recommend this book.

Book Review #543
Knitting On The Edge by Nicky Epstein
Rating: three stars (out of four)

There is an amazing array of patterns in this book, 350 designs to be exact!  Once again, Nicky Epstein has pieced together a fabulous collection of knitting patterns you oh and awe over, as well as practical ones that you are just dying to knit onto the edge of a sweater.  I enjoyed looking through this book and will probably come back to it for inspiration.

Book Review #542
Knitting Beyond The Edge by Nicky Epstein
Rating: four stars (out of four)

This book is amazingly creative.  The borders, necklines and cuffs and collars are simply astounding.  I would love to knit a sweater with all of these designs.  The layout of this book is very hip and inviting, the color scheme is a nice accent as well.  I was very impressed with this book and would definitely recommend.

Book Review #541
Anticraft by Renee Rigdon and Zabet Stewart
Rating: one star (out of four)

I picked up this book because the title made it sound slightly intriguing.  But what I found inside was less then desirable.  Most of the items to "make" in this book were slightly off-color.  I don't understand why you can't be anti-bright color/fluffy bunnies and have to be dark and sketchy with questionable content.  I also found some of the designs to be very disturbing.  There is no need for me to knit something and have people question my mental sanity.  That is definitely not what I am looking for.  Granted, the layout of this book was pretty ingenius, but the content it was centered around was what made its downfall.  I found nothing that I would want to knit/make because I was afraid I would knit it in good faith and it would be something completely different then I thought.  I would not want to go around wearing what I thought was a simple scarf and not know that that one symbol actually meant something Quite different.  I cannot recommend this book, it was dark, parts of it were lame, and the authors were trying too hard to be "uncool."  All around, I think it was a worthy effort, but this book fell short on so many levels.  Don't bother reading.

Book Review #540
Great Hair by Davis Biton
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was pretty fun to look through.  I thought most of the hairstyles were elegant or fantastically well put together.  There were a couple that I thought were just plain lame or dumb, but that is my opinion entirely.  I only saw a couple that I would actually like to model on myself, the rest were either too fancy or just took too much effort.  I wouldn't recommend buying this book, but if you are interested in hairstyles I would check it out of the library.

Book Review #539
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This is a Printz that I actually didn't hate with a burning passion - impressive. I liked the idea for this story, but at times I felt it was a little random, and I wasn't sure how things were going to add up at the end. The beginning was really weird and I was trying to adjust to how the story was moving along and keep track of all the characters. The backstory that was interwoven throughout was really intriguing and I kept reading because I wanted to know what had happened. The ending was unsuspecting, but still fulfilling. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone because some of the content was objectionable and it wasn't as fast moving of a story as I would have liked. It had potential though, it just needed a little bit more tweaking to have made it a really good read.

Book Review #538
I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
Rating: one star (out of four)

I started this book with good intentions and even though it was a little slow going at the very beginning it soon picked up speed and I found myself enjoying it. I thought the main character was an interesting person and I liked seeing the world through her eyes. Somewhere in the middle though, there was a shift and I felt like I had lost my grip on the novel and the flow wasn't as it should be. The ending was really jarring for me and kind of ruined the whole book. I didn't like how it ended at all and was annoyed with the author. I wouldn't recommend this book because I didn't care for it.

Book Review #537
Princess Of The Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I liked the author's different version of this fairy tale. I thought she added some more details that were left out and put in some other surprising elements that made the story more dimensional. I wasn't as hooked with the characters as I would have liked, but there was a sweetness to them that I couldn't help but admire. The plot was a little predictable, but I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend.

Book Review #536
The Lump Of Coal by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist
Rating: two stars (out of four)

While I thought this book was very much in the style and humor of a typical Lemony Snicket book, I wasn't as enthralled with it as his Series of Unfortunate Events. I did like this story and I felt myself smirking as I read it. I would recommend, it was an amusing and original tale.

Book Review #535
My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This book had Janette Rallison's typical humor throughout the story and all the crazy antics her characters seem to find themselves in. I really enjoyed this book, but I didn't like it as much as some of the previous books I've read by this author. The characters were likable and I would often find myself wondering how this would all end, but thoroughly enjoying the process it was taking to get there. I'd recommend this book.

Book Review #534
Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This novel is almost heartbreakingly good. It shed light into a region of pain that I had never encountered before. I have known about the Aids crisis, but I had never been this close to it. Through reading this book I got a glimpse into what peoples' lives are like and it changed me. The story moved at a fast pace, but I was still able to get the characters and hear their stories. Parts of this book made me extremely sad and depressed. I wanted to jump into the book and help the people, but another part of me was scared as well. The author did an excellent job of exposing harsh truths. This book is not for the faint of heart though, there is violence and some older content. I also cried at the end. I would definitely recommend though.

Book Review #533
Postcards From No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers
Rating: one star (out of four)

I try hard to start all books with an open mind, but some books just give me trouble from the get-go. I was repulsed with the opening pages about this young man's journey, it seemed inappropriate and only influenced my decision to put this book down. I also had trouble with the slow beginning, I was quickly bored from reading the text and wanted something to happen. I did like the historical aspect and the characters from that time, but because I had to put up with the annoying present day I decided to stop reading. I would not recommend this book. It isn't even surprising, since there are so few Printz books that I actually like, but I still make an effort to read them.

Book Review #532
The Dirt On Drugs by Justin Lookadoo
Rating: four stars (out of four)

Well, Mr. Justin Lookadoo has done it again. He has taken a subject that might seem taboo and exposed its faults. You wonder why people would even try something like that in the first place. I love how he applies cold-hard facts with snippets of absolute hilarity. Not only am I learning useful information about illegal substances, but I am also laughing my head off. I would highly recommend this book whether you are looking for some answers or just want to pique your curiosity.

Book Review #531
After Tupac And D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
Rating: one star (out of four)

Being a Newbery Honor, I had high expectations for this book. I was vastly disappointed in the content though. The plot seemed to drag along and I was annoyed with how the characters acted. I could care less what happened and ended up dropping this book, I didn't even finish it. I don't know if it was the style this was written in that caused me to not "click" with it or what. I was not impressed and wouldn't recommend it.