Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review #1264
Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a historical story I had never heard of before. I enjoyed seeing the portrayal of this daring woman and her amazing stunt. This story didn't turn out exactly how I would have imagined, but it was told reastically and I appreciated that. It was a little bittersweet though, and that was a little sad. I still liked it though.

Book Review #1263
Marty McQuire by Kate Messner, illustrated by Brian Floca
Rating: two stars (out of four)

From the first line of the book you definitely saw Marty's spunky personality! The first page made me laugh out loud and I loved how Marty's voice animated the story. There were some pretty comical lines throughout and I couldn't help but smile. My only major negative was that it was a super quick read. I wouldn't have minded it being longer. I feel like I read it in 30 minutes. The story was sweet and I liked seeing how Marty grew from her experiences. I'd recommend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review #1262
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The title is kind of lame, and I almost didn't read it because of the cheesy title. I was a big fan of the witty banter back and forth and some parts of the book made me laugh out loud. I also thought the characters were pretty well-fleshed out and developed. The story was interesting and wove in all the predicable we-can't-be-together-because-of-this-factor bla bla....the first 2 thirds of the book I immensely enjoyed. I thought it was funny and light-hearted and I was impressed with Anna for seeing she needed to be a friend and that she kept her distance and restrained herself.

Then things slid a little and some things were taken too far (for my standards). And that's when I became disappointed with the characters. I was disappointed in Anna because of the choices she made. I was also disappointed in some of the relationships and how they worked/turned out/were dealt with. The friendships and squabbles near the end of the book kind of bugged me because I felt like they weren't realistic and didn't fit in with the earlier parts of the book at all. I was annoyed with the turn the story had taken.

I was also disappointed in how St. Claire acted. My musings while reading: "Really? You're going to do that?" It made him seem a whole lot less perfect because of the decisions he made and how he treated people. In the beginning I was totally charmed with him, but by the end of the book he had definitely lost a lot of his luster and I wasn't sure I liked him any more. As far as objectional content, in heated scenes people would swear and there's also some sexual content/conversations. It wasn't enough to make me hate the book or anything like that, I just didn't think it was necessary and was slightly annoying.

While this book did have some perks, I was disappointed after the good buildup and I just wished that the people had lived up to their potential. I can't stress how much I wished they had made better choices and done things differently. Sure, it would have made the book shorter, and sure it wouldn't have been as exciting - but I felt like parts of their character were lost and they weren't able to completely regain my trust. Bleh, not a fan.

Book Review #1261
Mice Squeak, We Speak by Tomie dePaola
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was a pretty interesting story. I liked the animation and all the different sounds the animals made. The text was simple, but still had a rhyme and cadence. I might recommend for families who like books about different animals noises.

Book Review #1260
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This book cracked me up! The little dust bunnies were crazy and animated. The illustrations were fun and colorful. It's crazy to say, but there were even some twists in this picture book. I wasn't sure where it was going to go from the first couple of pages, but then when I picked up on Bob's proclamations I couldn't help but smile. The antics of the other dust bunnies and their rhyming ways were comical as well. I think kids will get a kick out of this book! I'd recommend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review #1259
The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Christa Unzner
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I really liked the fairy animations. I'm not sure how I felt about mixing photography and illustrated felt a little disjointed, especially whenever there were pictures of real kids. I was amused by the playful expressions of the fairies, but the story wasn't as engaging as the little illustrated creatures. It was okay, but not quite up to my usual fantasy snuff.

Book Review #1258
Surprise Island by Rob M. Worley, illustrated by Mike Dubisch
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

There were some major problems with this book. The dialogue was stiff and disorganized. I felt like the people weren't speaking properly and it really bugged me. The story didn't make much sense and I didn't see the overall plot or story structure - it just felt like a bunch of random snippets thrown together. I also wasn't impressed with the illustrations. This book needed some major editing and the characters were very flat and uninteresting. I have fond memories of reading the Box Car series, but this does not live up to those standards at all.

Book Review #1257
My Face Book
Rating: three stars (out of four)

This was a pretty cute board book. I thought the kids they picked were absolutely adorable. I did feel like there was a couple of faces that were similar (like Happy, Laughing, and Awake) but it was a short and sweet read.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review #1256
It All Began with a Bean by Katie Mcky, illustrated by Tracy Hill
Rating: one star (out of four)

I'm just not a big fan of bathroom/crude humor and this book was all about farts. I didn't find the story very humorous and the illustrations were  lame. The story was simple and didn't catch my attention. Other people might like this book, but it wasn't for me.

Book Review #1255
Is A Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz, illustrated by
Marie LeTourneau
Rating: one star (out of four)

I wasn't really impressed with this book. The illustrations were a little rough/odd/freakish and I didn't care for their portrayal of Worry. Actually, I kind of didn't like any of the illustrations really. I also found a couple of their worries a little ridiculous instead of humorous. I liked the concept, but I didn't think it was well executed. It was okay, but I wouldn't go around recommending it anytime soon though.

Book Review #1254
Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chad Cameron
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I enjoyed this book. The mix-ups were amusing and whimsical. I think by far my favorite page was one with the squirrels flying south. The rhymes were well done and I didn't feel like the text was over the top. The illustrations were also nice and did a nice job of blending the warm colors of fall into a nice palate that was still interesting to look at. If you're a fan of Fall weather and interactive books you might want to check this out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review #1253
Charley Harper's Book of Colors by Charley Harper
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I really liked the illustrations for this book. Each page was unique and featured stylized visuals that were colorful and modern. I also liked the use of repetition and patterns throughout the book. I'm not really sure what the text has to do with the story, but I just enjoyed looking at the pictures. A fun read.

Book Review #1252
Legacy by Cayla Kluver
Rating: one star (out of four)

There was too much backstory! I kept waiting for the guy (aka, the love interest, who the main character was waiting her life could be complete) to show up...and he did, around page 150. I also felt like some of the story elements didn't add up and I wasn't really following the plot. I didn't understand some of the character's actions, they were stiff and disjointed.

I also couldn't catergorize the relationship between Alera and her personal guard. It was weird. I also thought some of the more "romantic" scenes were slightly maudlin, or maybe they just bugged me because every time I read through one of those scenes I said, "Ugh, cliche word choices." Some of the writing bothered me as well, it felt a little juvenile at times. I won't be reading the next books in this series.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Review #1251
Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
Rating: two stars (out of four)

When I read the first couple of chapters I kept saying to myself: "I think I'm going to love this book...." but then it tapered off. I loved the fantasy elements of it and it reminded me of what I've been missing lately. What with all these dystopias and urban fantasies that have taken over my to-read pile. This was exactly the sort of book that I hoped would be positively refreshing and full of magical elements. And it was full of magic...but the story just didn't pull me in as much as I would have liked.

The premise is great. It reminds me of a cross between Sabriel by Garth Nix and the Bayern series by Shannon Hale. But I really wanted more development of the red witches and their powers. I wanted a deeper look into the beliefs of the two different countries and their people. The story was interesting, but I felt like something was missing. There were parts of the story that I found unengaging and random, but for the most part I was caught up in the story. I might recommend, but I wouldn't go out of my way to shove this book in your face or anything like that. It was a little bit of a letdown, sad to say.

Book Review #1250
Fury by Elizabeth Miles
Rating: zero stars (out of four)

*Sigh* What can I even begin to say about this book? The cover looked so intriguing, I loved the faery-esque clothing and startling red hair that turned to looked so good.

And then I started reading the book. Totally did NOT live up to the cover's expectations. I didn't find the characters believable and I often wondered at their mental states. I didn't get why the Furies were in our world and got to decide who needed punishment and who didn't. I also Did Not Agree With Their Punishment Methods. Most were overly cruel/scary/humiliating/and disturbing.

I thought Chase was an almost worthless character. I never cared for him and felt he was extremely underdeveloped. I didn't like him one bit. His personality and how he acted just made him the kind of guy I would never want to be associated with, much less read about. I also thought he was stupid because he kept going against his better judgement and trusting certain people who the reader could see were Clearly not to be trusted. I didn't like the shallowness of the characters. I kept thinking, are you really going to portray all the teenagers in lump stereotypes? I saw some dimensionality, but for the most part I was just annoyed whenever any of the guys opened their mouths (except for J.D.).

Now, let's talk about the content for a little bit shall we? R-rated language, R-rated sexual content, and definitely a lot of disturbing images ladled in for good measure. It was a bit much. I was expecting a fairly light-hearted read with elements of the fantastical and strange, but this was Very dark. The ending picked up and the last several chapters felt like a speeding train heading for broken tracks over a bridge. I just didn't understand how these girls had the power to influence so many people and why they spent their time handing out justice to whoever they pleased. Also, there was some parts that weren't developed at all. Why was that one girl (drat, I forgot her name, but she was the random girl with all the answers) so cryptic in her help and where did she get her information? Hm? That was not explained.

My reaction to the ending: What? That's how you're going to end it? In that UnSatisfying Way? Ugh. Ugh. Total waste of my time. I'm not sure why I finished it.

As you can probably imagine, I will not be reading the second. I would advise you to do the same.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review #1249
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans
Rating: one star (out of four)

This book was disturbing.

I'm fine with reading dark books, but there was just a little too much violence, or maybe it was the way it was used that sent me over the edge. It wasn't super gritty or graphic - but the cavalier manner in which violence was portrayed throughout the story just bugged me. Now I didn't hate this book or anything like that. I was just left with a bad taste in my mouth after I finished it. I didn't believe the development of the characters and I felt like it was an action movie more than a young adult novel. The characters weren't engaging and I almost put the book down several times while reading. Even though it ended with the set up for a sequel, I know I won't be reading it. This book was too little unsettling. I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't like it, but I wasn't a fan.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review #1248
Leonardo's Monster by Jane Sutcliffe, illustrated by Herb Leonhard
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I had never heard this legend of Leonardo's life before. The ending was a little abrupt, partially because I had wanted to see what was on the shield. I did like how the book hinted that maybe the monster was still out there, but I wasn't overtly impressed with this book. I might recommend if you were a fan of Da Vinci books.

Book Review #1247
Mama's Bayou by Dianne de Las Casas, illustrated by Holly Stone-Barker
Rating: three stars (out of four)

I loved the cut paper illustrations! They totally made this book. The animals were portrayed beautifully, there was an animated spark to their features even though they were pretty realistic. I liked that they weren't overly cartoonish. The story was pretty sweet, and I can definitely see this as a bed time story. I would recommend this book.

Book Review #1246
Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping Beauty by James Mayhew
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I really liked the illustations in this book. The people were soft and wispy. The hues were shades of pink and purple with splashes of other colors. It was pretty entertaining, but not one of the best retellings I've read. I think little girls who love princess stories and ballerinas might enjoy this book.

Monday, August 8, 2011

FOREVER Winner Announcement!

First off, a huge THANKS to all who entered my first giveaway! I had over 200 entries! And since this giveaway went so well, I've signed up to do 2 more giveaway hops. So be sure to come back and check my giveaway page for more details about those....but now, the moment you've all been waiting for...

(cue exciting music....)

The winner of the ARC of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater is:

Kris @ Imaginary Reads!