Saturday, June 30, 2012

Vicious Cycle (of book reading)

This bag describes my life perfectly!
So I kind of have this problem. After I finish a book I have all these thoughts floating through my head: critiques, exasperations, frustrations, and raves and...well, I really, really, really, MEAN to sit down and write these thoughts down while everything is SUPER fresh. But here's the thing - I get distracted! I tell myself that I'll remember and I can go do something else, and before you know it, kabam! I'm reading another book. And even though I do still remember the majority of what I wanted to say, it just isn't the same as my initial-reaction-just-finished-the-last-page-wow-sentiments.

It's kind of a vicious cycle because as soon as I'm reading another book, I want to spend every waking hour finishing it because I can't stand NOT knowing how things end. And since I work full-time and I have an hour long lunch break which I spend reading. And then I'm in the middle of a story when I go back to work and I find myself obsessing over the plot/characters and wondering how things are going to turn out. THEN when I get home, instead of doing what I should be doing I greedily pick up the book I started on my lunch break to continue reading because I can't put it down. And the next day rolls around and I'm reading ANOTHER book on my lunch break. Thus, the cycle. So in the end, I have to physically sit down and make the time to write some reviews. But sometimes it's hard, because I'm itching to get my hands on the next book.

But what about you guys - other book bloggers, book chroniclers, readers, do you have this sort of problem? Any ways you motivate yourself to write down your thoughts?

Book Review #1337 Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

Book Review #1337
Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers
Rating: two stars (out of four)

While this was a sweet story about friendship, I felt like something was lacking. The illustrations were simplistic, yet characterized and still pretty interesting. I liked the friendship between the boy and the penguin, but thought it needed a little more depth. The ending was sweet, but I wasn't overly attached to the characters and so it didn't seem like that much of a big deal. Also, I know I'm a stickler for this (but I can't really help it) BUT one of the pictures showed the penguin knitting and he was holding the knitting needles the completely wrong way. If you hold them like that you're basically holding them upside down and it's impossible to knit. Which...anyone who knits would know, but I guess other people just don't realize. Okay, sorry, I know that's knit-picky. (Pun intended, ha!) If you like modern illustrations and cute penguins you might want to give this book a whirl.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review #1336
Huck Runs Amuck by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Rating: three stars (out of four)

The illustrations were wild and hilarious, the rhyme bosterous and amusing. This book was definitely a hit with me! I mainly picked it up because of the illustrator, but the text and overall happy-go-lucky feel of the book was delightful. It was fun to see all the things Huck got himself into and it interesting to see his progress throughout the book. I especially liked the rhyme right when Huck was about to nab a tasty treat...or so he thought. I couldn't help but smile while reading this book and I immediately wanted to share it with someone. I'd recommend this book to all - especially if you love crazy goat antics!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review #1335
The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jon J Muth
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I picked up this book because of the Jon J Muth illustrations. For some reason this story didn't shine as much as his others I've read. The story had a sweet message, but seemed a little unrealistic in parts. Maybe I'm just supposed to assume that Santa has magic like Mary Poppins or something, but I was expecting to see an over-abundance of toys/stuff and most of the illustrations were really subdued. Kids will probably still enjoy the premise, I just won't be reading again though.

Book Trailer Tuesday [13]

I actually picked up this book at ALA and I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet. But this trailer definitely made the book look more intriguing and gave a nice build-up for the novel's premise. What about you, is this the type of book you'd mark "to-read" after watching the trailer?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review #1334
Wolf Won't Bite by Emily Gravett
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was an amusing tale. I LOVED the pigs - they were so cute and their little circus was pretty entertaining with their wolfish acts and astonishments. The text added a fun flavor to the mix and made the story pop with its funky font. It was pretty comical to see how things ended and yet, it wasn't as big of a surprise as I would have imagined. I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend to pig fans.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review #1333
Zen Ghosts by Jon J Muth
Rating: two stars (out of four)

I picked up this book because of the illustrations, and the other Zen books. I adore Jon J Muth's watercolor illustrations. They are completely amazing and bring the characters to life and this book was no exception. The story was pretty straight-forward and offered an interesting myth/riddle that I hadn't heard before. It might be a little too cryptic for young children, but the author's note at the back gave it more detail and foundation. I'd recommend.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review #1332
The Best Kid in the World by Peter H. Reynolds
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This was odd. It had a good message and definitely touched on some things that children could learn from, but it wasn't amazing, or even something that warranted a second reading. I couldn't figure out what sort of creatures they were and that was also bothersome. I never heard of this series either, so maybe they explained what types of animals they were in another book. I also thought the names were peculiar, especially "Sugarloaf" as the main character. The ending was nice, but I'm not sure with how easily the parents dealt with Sugarloaf or Sugarloaf's actions. Not a book I'd recommend.

Book Review #1331
The Odious Ogre by Norton Juster
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This book was pretty entertaining in the very beginning. I really liked the verbiage and definitely thought children would eagerly snatch up the foreign words. But after the ogre met the girl, it seemed like that part of the story was taking too long. I was a little exasperated that he kept going on and on about himself. The ending was nice (for most people) but a little anti-climatic and a bit of a letdown. It was different than what I wanted to happen. The last page also confused me for a moment and I had to re-read the phrase before I made sense of it. But that might have just been me and the effects of a long day. I probably wouldn't recommend though.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review #1330
Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The illustrations were cute and comical. It was sweet and sadly endearing how hard the little chameleon tried to fit in and make friends. I liked the colors and pencil-y feel of the pictures; they captured the mood without dulling the story. The ending was great, and I was glad that the chameleon finally found someone who could appreciate him for who he was. I'm a pretty big lizard fan, so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it...and I wasn't disappointed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review #1329
Listen to My Trumpet by Mo Willems
Rating: three stars (out of four)

It gets me every single time. Every. Time! I never see the ending, not even by a mile. These guys are just hilarious and fantastic; I can't get enough of Elephant and Piggie. Their adventures always put a smile on my face and I love the wacky illustrations. Mo Willems really captures some delightful characters and I love their interaction together and the crazy scenarios they come across. This book was a hoot, er, I mean, gr-ick! If you're already a fan of the E&P books this story won't disappoint, and if you've never read them before you should definitely pick one up!

Book Trailer Tuesday [12]

I thought this trailer was done well and featured cool animations. It really does a good job of bringing in the graphics from the book and setting up the story. I'm a big fan of Scott Westerfeld and when I heard he was coming out with a steampunk series I was super stoked. If you haven't read Leviathan you should definitely check it out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review #1328
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
Rating: two stars (out of four)

This cute book had sweet & soft illustrations that contrasted with the simplistic text to create a homey and comforting feel. I read this book outloud to myself and it was fun to hear the way the words smooshed together and the rhythm and rhyme. It was fun to hear the similiar sounds and keep everything straight. I'd recommend.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Review #1327 The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

Book Review #1327
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Rating: three stars (out of four)

An interesting take on being polite and learning how to ask for things nicely. I loved the pigeon's antics, even if his rant did seem a little odd, but that's the Pigeon for you. The Duckling handled the Pigeon's rant nicely and was very well behaved. But by the end of the book you got a little better perspective on why the duckling was so thoughtful. It was an amusing twist and made me smile. This book was funny, but I can't say it's my favorite of the pigeon stories, but I definitely enjoyed it!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Movie Review: Disney's BRAVE

So I know this is a book blog and all, but I got to see a special 3D advance screening of Disney and Pixar's new movie, BRAVE, a couple of days ago and I figured it'd be kind of cool to share my thoughts.
*Coming to theaters June 22, 2012.

  • accents
  • humorous antics and funny bits
  • dainty + bears
  • Merida's hair
  • no awkward love interest
  • family relationships
  • the short pixar film at the beginning
  • Emma Thompson
  • will-o-wisps leading off into the forest (as a good thing?! Since when has it ever been safe to follow blinking lights into the forest?)
  • scary elements + creatures (okay, not super scary, but scary for a kid's flick, you know?)
  • Merida's hair
  • unrealistic scenarios (hey, it IS a Disney film. Though who can climb a cliff-face in A DRESS?)
  • random nudity (it wasn't super offensive or anything, it was just random)
For those of you who haven't seen the trailer....

In short: The humor and theatrical antics kept the film going at a brisk pace, the characters were fleshed out and likable, and the story neatly wrapped up with a good message. I enjoyed watching it, but I'm probably not going to go out and buy it when it comes out.

In long: Merida's character was spirited and spunky. The initial interaction between her mother and her rebellious ways was well illustrated and gave insight into the rest of the family dynamics. While I did like Merida's free-spirited ways, I also felt like she was a little too demanding. And of course, some of the things she did did seem a little ridiculous (taking from the above CON list, climbing a cliff-face in a DRESS using only her HANDS? What? I know, I know, it's probably petty to be nitty-picky about this example, but it was the most prominent thing I could remember. Anyway.)

I really liked the voices they chose for the animations - they really brought the characters to life, and one of my favorite portrayals was Emma Thompson as Elinor (Merida's mother). She was fantastic. The dad, Fegus, was very amusing as well and I couldn't help but laugh at the triplet's crazy and insane antics throughout the film.

I thought the preview did a good job of setting up the movie without giving too much away, because there were several times during the movie when I was pleasantly surprised. The beginning was a little frightening - or might be frightening for younger children, but it certainly started off with a bang. I kind of had a love/hate relationship with Merida's hair. (Though you probably gathered that from the pros/cons list.) On one hand, it was AMAZING hair. It was curly, wild, flowing, and gorgeous. But on the other hand, it also seemed to be remarkably controlled in certain scenarios and didn't seem to get in Merida's way as much as that kind of hair should. It was also a little distracting during the film because I kept wondering what her hair was going to do next.

I did think parts of the movie were pretty intense/scary...there were even parts where I jumped a little in my seat. So, a word of caution before you take younger kids. There were other sections of the movie that just didn't flow as well for me or I thought could have been handled better. It just felt like there were a lot of minor things that didn't add up to make me head-over-heels in love with this film. It was good, it just wasn't something I instantaneously fell in love with (How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled, Super 8).

Also, I absolutely LOVED the short film they played before the movie, La Luna. It was bizarre, but strangely endearing. The sounds were also FABULOUS and it felt like every particular sound had been perfectly matched. It was a true marvel.

So in conclusion, Brave offers a lot of laughs and crazy antics but still features a strong message of family values and reconciliation through the actions of the rebellious Merida and her quest to change her fate.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop!

It's that time again! Book giving away time! I'm participating in a hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer which runs from June 15th-20th. And this time I'm adding a twist, not only will you get to win an ARC I picked up at ALA, but you'll be able to choose from THREE BOOKS!

I have Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, Starters by Lissa Price, and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (which doesn't even come out until July!!)

So, without further ado, here's the cover art and brief synopsis of the books you get to choose from!

Book #1
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Published May 22, 2012

Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen's not fully convinced that Emma's the one he's been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves  that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help--no matter what the risk.

*Taken from Goodreads. Check out the book HERE.

Book #2
Starters by Lissa Price
Published March 13, 2012


Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .

*Taken from Goodreads. Check out the book HERE.

Book #3

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Published July 10, 2012 (not yet released!)

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

*Taken from Goodreads. Check out the book HERE.

Just enter the form below to enter! And you can friend me on Goodreads for an optional entry. Good luck and happy reading!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Trailer Tuesday [11]

I thought this was a nice rendition of a book trailer - the graphics were interesting and matched the general feel of the book (from what I gathered from the cover, I haven't read the book yet.) But the trailer did a good job for me and piqued my interest. Would you read it based on this trailer?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review #1326
The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Paul Schmid
Rating: two stars (out of four)

The beginning pages of this book were pretty humorous and I thought I was in for a treat. But the more I read the less entertained I became. It was still an interesting book, it just wasn't as funny the further in I got. It also seemed like it was trying to copy some of Shel Silverstein's books, but it didn't have a lot of resemblence other than the black and white pictures and random poems. Some of the poems were amusing and while most poked fun at the world, it still wasn't super engaging. While I didn't find this book thoroughly amusing, I think there are others who might.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review #1325
Happy Pig Day by Mo Willems
Rating: four stars (out of four)

What a delightful book! The interaction between Elephant and Pigge was, of course, fabulous. I loved Piggie's blithe attitude and over-zealous love for this holiday and Elephant's despair when he thought he couldn't participate. The message was sweet. It also wrapped up neatly and finished on a nice note. I just love how Mo Willems always manages to find some unexpected and often hilarious twist to place near the end. I did enjoy the Pigeon's inclusion in this book as well, however minor it may have been, it was still humorous. I can't say enough about this series, every time there's a new E&P book I eagerly gobble it up!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Trailer Tuesday [10]

I loved the animations in this trailer! It pretty much read the book to you. The graphics and colorful illustrations were engaging and cool. I would definitely pick this book up in a store and read it. I can also see children liking this book a great deal. If you're a fan of bright colors and thoughtful illustrations, you'll enjoy this book.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Review #1324
Going Underground by Susan Vaught
Rating: two stars (out of four)

It was a little hard to wrap my mind around this book. It was completely different from what I had expected. I'm glad I didn't read the plot teaser on Goodreads or another site, because I just picked up the book and started reading without the foggiest idea what it was about. I liked going into it with a clean slate because the suspense kept me turning the pages.

After I had finished this book I couldn't decide if I liked it or not. It dealt with a tough subject I hadn't even heard about. My initial reaction was not good because I could sense the author's bias in the subtext of the plot and it bothered me because I didn't have the same sentiments as her. But after thinking about Del and his life, I realized that while I didn't whole-heartedly agree with the author, I did share some of her sentiments. Del's life was completely messed up and his whole situation should have been handled another way, because it was not fair.

I had never realized how severe the law could be for this type of situation. And it really shined a light on teenagers and choices they thought were harmless but could lead to drastic consequences, which I thought was portrayed well. It was morbidly fascinating to see how messed up Del's life had become because of things he had done when he was younger. But at the same time, I do think that those sorts of things (I know, I know, I'm being cryptic, but I don't want to give away any spoilers) should have pretty severe laws because of the way it could damage someone else's life.

S ~ P ~ O ~ I ~ L ~ E ~ R ~

My thoughts about why I think the law should be severe: people who send revealing photos of themselves to their significant others don't often think of the ramifications if the relationship goes south.  I can easily see people getting majorly hurt when those pictures end up online or published when the relationship ends with bad feelings. And that's when I think people should have severe consequences for making those images public.

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

It was a lot to think about, and while I wouldn't say that I loved this novel, but I was glad I read it. The story was pretty engaging, but I did feel like parts of it were unrealistic or brushed over. I wasn't sure why Livia was so interested in Del or equally, Del's fascination with her. Their whole relationship seemed fake and underdeveloped. I also thought Cherie was completely crazy and needed to get a life, I felt extremely sorry for Del throughout their entire interactions. I think the author was trying to soften us up to Cherie near the ending, but I wasn't buying any of it, I just wanted her to go somewhere else. I also wasn't sure about the parrot. She was just weird.

I applaud the author for writing about this and bringing it to people's attention. Hopefully it will open the eyes of teenagers who might not realize the legal ramifications of their actions. I don't know if I would recommend this book per se, but I wouldn't unrecommend it either. It just isn't one of those books that's chipper and engaging, but it does handle a difficult subject well.