Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ALA Conference in Chicago!

I'm a little surprised that I hadn't shared this with you guys earlier...but I'll be in attendance at the ALA conference in Chicago this year! I'm SO EXCITED. I mean, who doesn't love books? And who doesn't love being in a room full of FREE BOOKS and OTHER BOOK LOVERS. Oh, and did I mention there's AUTHORS? I know, I know, excessive CAPS. But seriously, ALA conference COMPLETELY deserves CAPS treatment.

So I'll be heading up to Chicago this Friday (I've been practically counting down the days til then...there's a crazy voice in the back of my head muttering, "ALA ALA ALA ALA" and I'm totally fine with that.) and I'm stoked. Any other book bloggers headed out there? Any ARCS I should be on the look out for? I'll be sure and keep you posted throughout the conference!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review #1534 Also Known As Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher

Review: #1534
Book: Also KNown as Rowan Pohi
Author: Ralph Fletcher
Rating: one star (out of four)
Release date: Nov. 15, 2011
Pages: 199
Publisher: Clarioin
Source: ALA 2011

I didn’t read all of this book, but simply read the first half-ish and then skimmed the rest. I was pretty disappointed with the story. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it going in, but it sounded pretty amusing, so I gave it a shot. From the get-go I was not a fan of Bobby or his weirdly named friends. I thought their lives were dull and unrealistic. Maybe I’m judging them too harshly, but I thought their actions were kind of lame and I didn’t care for their conversations either. It wasn’t nearly as amusing as I had anticipated, especially when Bobby/Rowan actually got into the school and was trying to juggle the two lives he led. It was full of unnecessary drama and didn’t have very many realistic elements. I didn’t care for the way things worked out and I didn’t have a big interest in seeing Bobby/Rowan succeed because I didn’t really like him. I also thought the ending was HIGHLY unrealistic and that was a big turn-off. I had expected something along those lines, but the way it was handled just made me grimace. Not something I’d recommend: the plot, characters, and story left something to be desired.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review #1532 The List by Siobhan Vivian

Review: #1532
Book: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Rating: one star (out of four)
Release date: Apr. 1, 2012
Pages: 332
Publisher: Push
Source: ALA 2012

This novel sounded intriguing, but I could not get into it. Vivian had a hefty slew of characters to juggle – 8 girls in various stages of life and all supposedly unique. Yikes. That’s a lot to handle and I can’t say it was handled well. I had trouble distinguishing between the 8 girls and usually had to flip back to remember who I was reading about. The narrative shifted depending on who was in the spotlight, but I found it confusing.

Another aspect I didn’t like was the general attitude and actions of the girls. I didn't see how realistically these things could happen and I was annoyed with most of the plot and circumstances regarding their social life. Sure some of their morals were off-kilter from mine, but I didn’t feel their actions or portrayals were realistic for THEIR characters in the story. I kept scoffing at their predicaments and mostly I just found the characters spoiled and obnoxious. And that’s not a good feeling to have. I don’t know if there was anygirl I actually liked. I thought the plot was ridiculous. I wanted the girls to grow up and move on – which seemed hard considering they were in such an unrealistic environment.

I didn’t like how the school reacted either and I wasn’t impressed with the other characters throughout the story. And when it finally got to the end and you saw how everything was tied together, I was just left with a sour taste in my mouth. I didn’t see the point for all that drama. I was disappointed because I had picked this up from ALA and the publisher had given a good pitch for it. But I was not impressed with the story or characters. Bummer. One thing I did like: the cover. It’s attention-grabbing and sophisticated. I’m sad the inside contents weren’t as likable. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review #1531 Fury's Fire by Lisa Papademetriou

Review: #1531
Book: Fury's Fire
Author: Lisa Papademetriou
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Release date: July 10, 2012
Pages: 243
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: NetGalley

I was intrigued to see where the story would end up since the first book had kind of a turbulent ending. I mean, the main conflict was resolved, I just didn’t know how things could move on from there. I’m also still a teensy bit in love with Will. I really wanted Gretchen to get better – or at least come to terms with all of the changes going on in her life. This story was interesting, but it didn’t really snag my attention as much as the first novel, Siren’s Storm LINK. I still enjoyed it and I liked seeing these fantasy creatures (sirens) because they aren’t portrayed in novels very often. I enjoyed this story, but not sure if I’m going to continue reading the series (if there’s more books).

*ARC generously provided through NetGalley by publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review #1530 The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell

Review: #1530
Book: The Springsweet
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Release date: Apr. 17, 2012
Pages: 275
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Source: ALA 2012

I liked the lyrical quality of this book. It felt different from a lot of stories I had been reading lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian kick and this was historical fiction, but it really did feel like a breath of fresh air. When I was younger, I was obsessed with historical fiction and read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I’m not sure why that died over time and I’ve progressed more towards fantasy, but I still love a good historical fiction novel – I just don’t actively seek them out like I used to.

I didn’t realize this book was a sequel, but I don’t think reading them out of order will hinder your enjoyment of the story. And while it was sweet, I wasn’t overly a fan of The Springsweet There were parts of it that kind of annoyed me – like how obvious it was a love story. I mean, I’m pretty sure I should have seen that coming into the novel and the book synopsis certainly hinted at that as well. There was no guesswork on the romance. Which had its perks, but was also a little bit of a letdown – it was obvious to me how things would end romantically, but it was interesting to see HOW the author put them together. I enjoyed the novel.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review #1529 Storybound by Marissa Burt

Review: #1529
Book: Storybound
Author: Marissa Burt
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Release date: Apr. 3, 2012
Pages: 416
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: ALA 2012

I’m kind of a sucker for anything having to do with books/literature. Especially if it’s bookception – a book within a book. So yeah, I was totally piqued by the premise of this book. I liked the characters and I was definitely interested in seeing how they would get out of the mess they were in. I enjoyed seeing the world and how it operated as everyone was a story character and had a very specific role to play. There were parts that felt a little forced, and that did jolt me out of the story at times. But for the most part I read it fairly quickly and enjoyed it.

One thing that was a little annoying: the ending. It was TOTALLY a cliffhanger. Which probably would have been severely more annoying if I had been in love with the story. But I wasn’t distraught because I hadn’t been planning on reading the sequel. So when it ended abruptly I wasn’t dismayed, just a little startled. Though I can see other people reading it and being exasperated with the lack of closure. Also, since it’s geared towards younger readers, I can see them impulsively wanting the next book. I mean, it’s hard enough for me to control my reading impulses as a twenty-something-adult when it comes to books in a series. If I love a book I really just want to forget everything I’m supposed to be doing and sit someone comfy and read until I have finished every. Single. Last. Word. This book was enjoyable, but not remarkable. I can see other people liking it though.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review #1527 If Only by Carole Geithner

Review: #1527
Book: If Only
Author: Carole Geithner
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Release date: Mar. 1, 2012
Pages: 327
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: ALA 2012

This book made me cry. But I probably should have seen that coming since I knew it was about a girl dealing with the loss of her mother. And I cry so easily. I took this with me to work and read it during my lunch break. And even though I was constantly worried someone would round the corner and spot me sitting at my desk crying, I continued reading. I’m a sucker for punishment, ey? The story dealt with a heavy subject and handled it fairly well, I just didn’t have a deep interest in the story. It needed something more, something to help it stand out better in my mind.

And while it tugged all the usual heartstrings, it was still something I could put down and forget about. It didn’t have a lot of things that kept place in my mind after reading. It was good and dealt with a girl growing up with the loss of her mother, but felt a little muted, like it wasn’t fully developed. It was good, but it wasn’t great and I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Review #1526 Winterling by Sarah Prineas

Review: #1526
Book: Winterling
Author: Sarah Prineas
Rating: three stars (out of four)
Release date: Jan. 3, 2012
Pages: 256
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: ALA 2012

I really enjoyed this story. I liked Fer a lot and felt her actions were brave without being rash or misguided. I also thought this book did an EXCELLENT job of having realistic consequences/evil elements WITHOUT being too dark for the age range. It was a good balance of story, character, and magical elements and just the right amount of mystery to draw readers right into the story. I liked the world and wanted to go there myself. I also thought the evil aspects were handled well and weren’t too frightening, but still packed a punch. You knew the stakes were high without biting all your fingernails off in frustration. It had an odd assortment of characters too, but I found them intriguing. It was a bit of an odd book, but that only made it more endearing to me. Definitely something I’d recommend, especially for younger readers who love high fantasy and fairies with just enough adventure to keep things interesting.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review #1525 Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Review: #1525
Book: Miles From Ordinary
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Release date: Mar. 15, 2011
Pages: 197
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: ALA 2012

Poignant. That’s the word that resonated with me after I finished this novel. I liked the story and I thought Williams did a beautiful job of capturing sweetness in some of her characters but still featuring the harsh and compelling core of the novel. It was a pretty heavy topic to handle and Williams did a good job of creating a balance and not making the story too dark. It was a little hard to read some parts, but it wasn’t so gritty or disturbing that I felt uncomfortable.

I liked Lacey and really wanted her to succeed and I was also sad she had to grow up faster than normal and deal with such weighty issues. I wished I could have reached into the story and plucked her out and into a better life. There were a couple of scary moments where I wasn’t sure how things were going to end. I’m glad I read this, but I’m hesitant about recommending it. I don’t think it’s a book for just anyone.

Review #1524 The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

Review: #1524
Book: The Sweetest Thing
Author: Christina Mandelski
Rating: two stars (out of four)
Release date: May 10, 2011
Pages: 336 
Publisher: Egmont
Source: NetGalley

I’m not sure why, but I read what seemed like a slew of baking/cooking books in a short time span. I feel like that just happens and I’m not sure why or how. Like that one time I read 3 mermaid books in a row, or that other time I read several historical fiction novels about medieval court intrigue back-to-back. Anyway, I think this was the first in a series of books that only made me pine for cake. 

I liked the story, it was pretty sweet (no pun intended) and had elements of humor and a good message. There were times I was annoyed with the main character though, I wished she’d make up her mind/see what was in front of her. I didn't have a good handle on some of the side character either and thought their interaction was a little shallow. And while I enjoyed the story, it wasn’t something I’d recommend. It was quick and had a nice ending, but didn't do a lot for me.

*ARC generously provided through NetGalley by publisher in exchange for my honest review.