Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review #1034
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I'll read any book written by Christopher Paul Curtis. I love his historical narratives and the way he incorporates humor into all his stories. This book though, was different. It seemed a little drawn-out and I would have liked more action and plot development. I liked the historical aspects of the novel, but I wasn't completely engaged. I was also a little surprised that it won so many awards, because I didn't like it nearly as much as other books he's written. I would probably still recommend it.

Book Review #1033
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Mo Willems always makes me smile. I love the characters of Elephant and Piggie and how they interact with each other. This story made me chuckle and even though it did get a little cartoonishly violent near the end I still thought it age-appropriate. Children will appreciate the humor. I'd recommend.

Book Review #1032
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Rating: four stars (out of four)

This was such a sweet story! I loved the interactions between the two friends and I kept turning the page because I wanted to know what would happen with the friendship. I did cry at the end of the book, but it wasn't completely ruined - for there was a nice ending. The illustrations were gorgeous and I loved how Muth captured the perky personality of the dog and frog and made them come alive. I loved this book and would definitely recommend.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Book Review #1031
The Knight Life by Keith Knight
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This cartoon book bordered on the edge of funny. It incorporated somewhat interesting renditions of people, I wasn't overly impressed with this book. There were a couple comics that made me laugh, but I wasn't amused with the whole book. I think other people might find it more humorous, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Book Review #1030
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I liked this book well enough, but I feel like it was one of those books that you needed to read at a younger age to truly appreciate it. As it was, I felt like it was a little dated. I've heard such great things about this series, but I didn't love it. The characters and plot were fairly entertaining, but it's not going on any of my favorite lists anytime soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review #1029
Life As I Know It by Melanie Rose
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

The first couple of chapters of this book were super intriguing. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how on earth everything would work out. Unfortunately there was one particular scene that pretty much ruined the rest of the book. I don't appreciate sexual content in novels and I especially don't approve of it when it is masquerading as true love. I'm sorry but you cannot be "in love" with someone whom you've only known for a couple days and feel this "instant connection" that leads to sexual escapades. No, I'm not buying it.

When authors tell you that sex is the same as love I get really annoyed and just want to throw the book at the wall. I did not like the relationship Jessica had with Dan because I thought it was superficial and based on selfish needs and desire. I couldn't see them happily ever after because they had already been sleazy in the past - there's no way they are going to shape up into model citizens because they've found "the one."

I also didn't find the whole Jessica-Lauren thing believable because Jessica handled it far too well. She should have been freaking out and on the verge of an emotional breakdown. There is no way her "soul" could have put up with that much stress and pressure. And Jessica's sudden love for children? Especially children that were not hers? That seemed unfounded and I didn't believe how quickly she came to love these kids who were totally out of her league. If you aren't experienced with children and don't appreciate them and then you are suddenly thrust into a life full of children, I'm sorry, but you are not going to take it all in stride.

Well, I was going to try and write a review without spoilers, but I'm not sure I can because of how it ended and my feelings. So here's a spoiler section, pass over if you just want to read the conclusion.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ S P O I L E RS ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I did not like Grant. And I couldn't believe how insensitive he was to his wife who is suffering extreme memory loss. No decent man would ever treat his wife like that or try to force himself upon her. And the whole affair thing - what purpose did that serve but to point out how messed up their lives were. I didn't see how Jessica could have helped any of these people.

The very ending. Could it get any worse? Everybody DIES? Okay, okay, not everybody - but it sure felt like that. Lauren died. Affair guy died killing Grant. Jessica dies, but her soul stays with Lauren's body? What? Why does this make any sense? Why would the author choose to end it this way? Did she really think that Jessica would be happier in Lauren's life and that she could serve a purpose by taking care of these children? And that Dan would be okay with the complete change and eventually come back? Um, no. This would never work out. It just seemed awfully convenient for the author.

Okay, I think I'm done ranting about the ending.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ E N D O F S P O I L E R S ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I did not like this book for several reasons. I thought the storyline was interesting but had major holes and that the character development did not follow through. I wanted Jessica and Dan to grow up instead of giving into their sexual desires and sleeping around whenever they wanted because it was "love" and they knew they had never met someone like this before. I didn't like how the author staged the relationship between Jessica and Dan and I never cared if they would stay together or not. The ending was unrealistic and seemed like a sorry excuse for a happily ever after. I would not recommend this book: it had inappropriate and graphic sexual content and immoral characters who did as they saw fit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review #1028
Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

This felt like a sad excuse for a Newbery Medal. The writing was poor and I couldn't get over how many contradictory sentences there were. The boy would be confused and depressed one minute and then the very next sentence he would be excited and happy. I wished the author would just make up their mind. The story was all over the place. There were added details that didn't have anything to do with the overall plot and I was often confused because I didn't know why certain things were relevant or in the story at all. The plot looped and curved in so many places that I almost stopped reading several times. I couldn't figure out where the story was going and it was shrouded in so much mystery that the two pages of explanation at the ending only left me disgruntled and annoyed that I had just spent my time reading this book. Definitely not worth your time.

Book Review #1027
Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I was greatly surprised by this book. It was vastly different from what I had expected, but I think that's because I got this series mixed up with another that I thought was darker. I rather enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting and I, of course, loved Halt! It can't help that he reminded me of a certain someone from The Lord of the Rings series. After I finished this book I was eager to gobble up the next books in the series!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review #1026
Son of the Great River by Elijah Meeks
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

The names and places in this book were confusing. I wasn't able to follow the story very well and I thought that there were several gaps in the plot. The sentence structure bothered me and I did not like the ending. I was not impressed with this book at all. The characters weren't fleshed out, I didn't see any development in the plot and the book didn't come to a satisfying conclusion. The storyline needed help, it jumped around and didn't make much sense. I wanted to like this book and the characters, but I wasn't impressed with the writing or the plot. I would not recommend reading.

Book Review #1025
Cave of the Dark Wind by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was interesting, but I'm not sure if I approve of how easily the lost boys shoved aside the girls' advice and went into the forbidden cave. The illustrations were fun and fresh; I liked how they captured the moods and personalities of all the characters. The story was pretty unbelievable, but I think juvenile readers will find it entertaining, especially if they are fans of Disney fiction. I'd probably recommend.

Book Review #1024
Frenemies: What to Do When Friends Turn Mean by Hayley DiMarco
Rating: three stars (out of four)

Do you have a friend that is treating you badly and you aren't sure how to deal with them? This book is charged with scriptural references and solid advice on how to get back your friendship or say goodbye for good. I liked how matter of fact Hayley is about how friends are supposed to treat you. She gives readers a chance to evaluate their struggling friendships and see what could be causing such strife and then offers suggestions on how they can change their actions or get out of a negative relationship. This was a helpful book and I would recommend it to others.

Book Review #1023
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was a little random. I liked how fast the story moved and how something was always happening, but sometimes I was a little confused with the reactions of the characters. They seemed to take everything in stride whereas I would have stopped and questioned the circumstances. It was still an entertaining book though and I might recommend to juvenile readers. It's not quite up to mainstream YA though.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review #1022
Spells by Aprilynne Pike
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I was interested to see how the story progressed because I had really enjoyed the first book in the series. I wanted to see how they developed the relationship between Laurel and David. I had really liked their interaction in the first book. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for Tamani and I kind of just wanted him to stay out. I wasn't very impressed with the faerie world, but it was a nice enough diversion and interesting to see their side of the world. I liked this book almost as much as the first, but I don't know if I'll go out and deliberately seek out the sequel.

Book Review #1021
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown
Rating: one star (out of four)

I was not impressed with this book in the least. There were too many pages devoted to a screaming Latke. The ending was a little gruesome, although I know it was played for laughs, I just found it a little unsettling. I felt like Lemony Snicket was trying too hard to make this story work and I was annoyed with how many times the Latke insisted he wasn't part of Christmas traditions. This book is worth skipping and I would even tell die-hard Snicket fans to avoid.

Book Review #1020
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Rating: one star (out of four)

The main character was rather unlikable for a good portion through the book. I wanted her to grow up and learn to deal with things, which she eventually did do, but I was still annoyed with how she handled herself. I wasn't impressed with the plot and didn't see why it had to twist around and involve random scenes that didn't really do anything for the main characters. There wasn't very much character development of the prince either and so I didn't appreciate him at all. The romance wasn't until the very end of the book and then it felt forced, more along the lines of, "Whoops, I forgot to add that part in earlier, I'll just dash everything together at the end." I didn't like how it ended and I felt like it could have been done in a completely different direction and would have had a more salvageable ending.

Book Review #1019
What's Your Sound Hound the Hound? by Mo Willems
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I love the characters in this book series. The cat is just so cute and I love how she interacts with all the other animals in the book. There is always a twist in Mo Willem's picture books and I wanted to see how he would wrap up the dilemma he presented. This book made me smile and I'd definitely recommend, it had a sweet touch and a heart-warming end.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Book Review #1018
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

I do not approve of teenagers who are invovled with sexual harassment and get off scotch-free. There is no way I would put up with that kind of behavior, I was so mad at that character. I think the one thing that bothered me most about this story was how unbelievable it was. I couldn't see any school approving this year-long marriage course designed to help people realize what a commitment marriage was. I don't think schools care about that sort of thing at all.

Most of the characters in this book bugged me because of their lack of morals and decorum. I was appalled with some of the things these kids did in the book, especially to each other. I would have wanted them suspended from school - but most of them didn't even get punished for their actions. I also didn't like how the author portrayed the adults as weak characters who let the teenagers wreak havoc and get away with stuff because they could smooth-talk their way out of a situation. That is not acceptable. Actions have consequences and people who break the rules should be punished. I did not like the language or immoral situations in this book and I wanted all of the people to grow up and get lives. I would never recommend this book. It is a complete and utter waste of time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book Review #1017
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a fairly entertaining book. I liked how the author wove in the personality of Mr. Bowditch and showed how much he loved learning and how hard he worked. I didn't understand all the nautical language, but I wasn't completely overwhelmed by tedious details. I wasn't impressed with the quality of the writing: there seemed to be an abundance of cliches and poorly phrased paragraphs. I also had a slight problem with how the author would jump from weeks, months, years with the next paragraph and fail to give you notice of the time transition. It was an okay book and I might recommend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Review #1016
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book sent shivers up my spine. I was fascinated and horrified with this culture and the attitudes of the people. The story was very engaging and I felt myself turning each page to see what would happen next. Although I enjoyed this novel and thought the concept was intriguing, I did feel like it had some flaws. I wasn't completely convinced that all of the characters were realistic. I felt like several of the characters needed to be fleshed out. I also wasn't a fan of the violence portrayed in the book - it was slightly gruesome and I didn't like reading it. The ending was a little bit of a let-down. I wanted some concrete answers, but it didn't give any. I wasn't a big fan of the romance either. I probably wouldn't recommend this book.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book Review #1015
Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This book reminded me of my childhood and reading Louisa May Alcott. It had a distinct flare for the timeless small town love story genre and portrayed it in a sweet and simplistic manner. I was a little annoyed that the main character could be so shallow and couldn't see what was right in front of her, but I'm glad that she eventually got it in the end. I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review #1014
A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I didn't like this book as much as the other books in the series. I don't know if it was because of the character shift or just because this one was so different. I thought it was interesting to focus on Jeff and his struggles, but there were times in the book that didn't hold my attention very much. I wanted more depth to this book. Maybe I just didn't care for it because the main character wasn't my favorite. I wouldn't recommend.

Book Review #1013
Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I liked seeing the growth of the family and their adjustments to living with their Gram. I thought the story was good, but it wasn't one of those books that firmly stayed in my head for days after. I'm glad I read it, but I wouldn't put it at the top of any highly recommend lists. If you enjoyed the first book in this series you might want to read this one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Review #1012
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The cover for this book really intrigued me. I thought the premise for this book was really interesting, and not at all what I was expecting from the title and cover. I saw the hardships this family had to go through in trying to find a home and I thought the relationship between the siblings was realistic. It wasn't my favorite book though, so I wouldn't recommend.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review #1011
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
Rating: one star (out of four)

I did not enjoy this book. I didn't see the point and I was really tired of all the same names appearing throughout history. I wanted the characters to engage me in some sort of plot, but they fell flat. I was disinterested and it was a little bit of a struggle to finish this book. I would not recommend. The story was strange and the characters were bland.

Book Review #1010
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was an entertaining read. I liked the gutsy main character. I thought the plot was a little unbelievable on a couple of points, but it didn't take away from the story. The heist was intriguing and I wanted to see how on earth she would pull it off. I like Ally Carter's novels because they feature engaging characters and are clean. I don't remember any questionable content. I would recommend this book.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Review #1009
Simple Secrets by Nancy Mehl
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was an engaging story and I was sucked into the plot from the very beginning. I couldn't figure out what was going to happen next and I kept reading because I wanted to see how the mystery was solved. The characters were pretty realistic, but I felt like the romance was just a little far-fetched. I guess I just wanted a little more substance. I got a broad picture of the town and the quirks and mannerisms of the people while reading. I enjoyed this book, but I probably wouldn't recommend unless you were a particular fan of this genre.

I won this book in a goodreads giveaway.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review #1008
And Another Thing! Maxine on Life, Love and Losers by John Wagner
Rating: one star (out of four)

There were one or two pages I found humorous but everything else was either crass or far-fetched. The illustrations were funny, but they didn't make up for the text surrounding them. If you are already a fan of this character you might enjoy this book, but I'd much rather peruse holiday card racks and read snippets then a whole book.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Book Review #1007
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I didn't like this book as much as A Wrinkle in Time. I only read this because I thought the series would help me understand the characters and story better. But I wasn't as interested in this story and I felt like it was lacking something. The lands they visited were strange and the creatures they interacted with were stranger. I can't say that I'd recommend this book.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Book Review #1006
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This is another book that somehow escaped my obsessive reading tendencies as a child. I'm not sure how I could have missed this one, seeing how it was one of my mother's all time favorites. When I finished this book I was disappointed. I hate saying that. But I was expecting it to be something different, something phenomenal, and I didn't quite get that with A Wrinkle in Time. I thought the characters were slightly interesting, but I wasn't pulled into the story and I thought some of the settings were a little random. I don't think I understood everything that was going on in this story either. I wasn't overjoyed at the ending, or breathlessly waiting to see how the story would resolve. I can kind of see why other people love it, but this book wasn't for me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review #1005
Mind-Rain: Your Favorite Authors on Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Series edited by Scott Westerfeld
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This was a really interesting book. I liked how each essay took a different stance on a particular part of the series and gave thoughtful insights into the books. I enjoyed the fiction pieces, especially the short story that inspired Uglies. I also liked how Scott would give a short introduction to each piece and give you his thoughts. I got something out of each essay and there were even a couple that brought up points I had never even thought of. This is a good book for someone who is a devoted fan of the Uglies series, but if you haven't read the books this would contain some major spoilers.

Book Review #1004
500 Art Quilts
Rating: three stars (out of four)

There were some phenomenal quilts in this book! I was so amazed at the images created by fabric, I even mistook a couple of quilts for paintings. I was impressed with the variety of quilts and patterns and only saw one or two quilts I thought were lackluster and not worth being featured in this book. If you are a quilt lover you would probably want to check out this book.

Book Review #1003
The Encore by Sarah Anne Sumpolec
Rating: two stars (out of four)

It's interesting how this series has progressed. It went in a different direction than I had anticipated, but I still liked it. I never really cared for Mark though, I didn't feel like he was completely believable...or maybe that was just me seeing all the signs that Beka couldn't seem to pick up. The book ended well and I thought most of the characters were portrayed realistically.

Book Review #1002
The Reveal by Sarah Anne Sumpolec
Rating: two stars (out of four)

Sometimes I don't understand why people can't see what is in front of them. I'm not a fan of Mark. I definitely think there's reasons her father won't let them date, but will Beka look at the wisdom in this? No, at least...not yet. I enjoyed reading this book, the characters felt real. The author did a good job of portraying a teen who is trying to figure out what to do with her life.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review #1001
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Rating: three stars (out of four)

You know how you have a picture or idea in your head about how something is? A distinct view of a particular book? Well, that's what happened with this book. I had heard about it so much and known people who loved this book, but somehow, I never read it as a child. When I finally did sit down to read it I was surprised by how different it was from the image I had conjured in my head. The story was nothing like I had imagined. I don't know why I had such a different view, but this book was a little shocking in that it didn't meet my expectations. That being said, I did enjoy this book. I just wasn't in love with it like I thought I might be. I probably would have enjoyed it much better if I had read it as a child, but I still liked the plot and characters and I would recommend it.

Book Review #1000
The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
Rating: one star (out of four)

I'm not really sure why this book won the Newbery Medal. It had an interesting concept but I didn't feel like the story or characters were fully fleshed out. I wanted more depth to the story. Instead of having it center around one particular event I think I would have wanted it to include several years. I was disappointed with the follow-through and thought it ended weirdly. I probably wouldn't recommend.