Sunday, December 4, 2011

100 Cupboards

100 Cupboards 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and I can't say that for some fantasy books I've read lately. Henry York is a very different child. His parents are so overprotective (Henry remembers being sent to boarding school with a helmet to wear during P.E.) that he doesn't quite miss them when they are kidnapped. When he goes to live with his aunt and uncle, Henry discovers 99 cupboards that have been covered in plaster in his attic bedroom. From the cryptic comments Henry has with his uncle it is apparent that the uncle knows what is going on. I was surprised that since Uncle Frank surely understood the ramifications of the plaster Henry is carrying outside that Frank didn't intervene sooner. Henry and his cousin Henrietta are soon whisked away on an adventure that I found to be interesting but slightly disappointing. Sure they encounter an evil villainess, and get trapped, and see ghosts but the adventure was so very brief! It is overly apparent that this book is only the first in the series and really just a world building book. My absolute favorite part of this book happened to be the descriptive language used by the author. Some sentences were so completely descriptive that they were as long as sentences in a Tolkien book. Despite my utter enjoyment with the language, I seriously doubt the age range suggested by the publishers to be at all accurate. Older teens and adults would have few difficulties with the over abundance of descriptiveness but 9 to 12 year olds are going to be lost.

View all my reviews

Pretty Little Liars is Mostly Entertaining

Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars, #1)Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is not for fourth graders. Just want to make that clear as one of my fourth grade students was walking around with it the other day. She thought it was pretty good and I wasn't sure she even understood what is going on. There is a lot of drugs and sex in this book. A lot. I thought it was a realistic portrayal of some of the antics teens pull but at the same time the parents don't seem to influence the girls as much as I think happens in reality. Kinda like those tv shows where the kids can go and do anything they like and the whole time I think...where are the parents? Mine would never have let me do that.

Plot: Five girls are best friends until Alison disappears during the seventh grade. The years go by and the girls are now in high school. Spencer, Aria, Hannah and Emily are upset by Alison's disappearance but at the same time are almost glad she is gone. Alison knew everyone's secrets and the girls are never really sure that she won't spill the beans. As time goes by the girls grow apart and their secrets become larger. Soon all four girls are receiving strange envelopes, texts, and emails from the mysterious 'A'. Is it Alison? Who else could it be? Who else but Alison knew their secrets?

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slaughterhouse 5 isn't a Horror Book

Slaughterhouse 5: Or, the Children's Crusade, A Duty-Dance with DeathSlaughterhouse 5: Or, the Children's Crusade, A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book follows Billy Pilgrim as he has become unstuck in time. The main character bounces between his experiences during World War 2 to being a captive in an alien zoo. Its absolutely weird and ridiculous. Its supposed to be based somehow on Kurt Vonnegut's experiences in Dresden during the 1940's but I failed to see how. I didn't even like the book from a sci-fi point of view.

View all my reviews

A Brave New World

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I didn't like this book due to the shifting viewpoints in the first few chapters. At times I found it difficult to follow the storyline. Otherwise the basic premise of a world controlled by science and ruled by passion is an interesting one. I would not consider this to be a young adult book, however, some teens may find it interesting.

View all my reviews


SpeakSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a good book in that it showed how a person can find the strength to keep growing and living after a tragic event. Melinda, is ostracized by her classmates in a way that I found to be realistic after calling the police while attending a party. While some of the events that wrap up the book were a bit unrealistic they didn't ruin the satisfying ending. This secret Melinda carries is one that teenage girls will be interested in but very young teens or younger need parent guidance before reading this book. Parent guidance is recommended only because of the topic not because of graphic details.

View all my reviews

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Unique Look at the Darwins

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of FaithCharles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith. I liked this book but it wasn't one that captured my complete attention from the beginning. The author tends to ramble a bit as she discusses the marriage of Charles and Emma Darwin. Some of the rambling is necessary to help teens understand the differences between then and now. As I continued to read this book, Emma's struggle with Charles' skepticism of religion drew me into the book. I particularly liked the many quotes inserted from the actual writings of the Darwin's. It made the book feel more accurate however I did wonder if reading the quotes in the context of the letter would change the perception the reader had developed. Would the reader still agree with the author over the connotation of the selected quotes? I can't answer that but I will say that overall the book was more enjoyable than expected.

View all my reviews

Poems aren't Letters

The Firefly LettersThe Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read The Firefly Letters which despite its title is not written in letter form at all. It is written in free verse poetry. I thought it was beautifully written but not a book that should be classified as a biography. The author's notes clarify the true parts of the novel but I didn't see how it was necessary to invent an entire character for a biography. It is one thing to create a description for a biography that while based on reality may have a couple inaccuracies and another thing entirely to create an entire character that didn't exist in reality. I am a proponent of accuracy in books that are listed as biographies or non-fiction. It only makes sense that if you are writing about a topic that is a true story you would strive to keep it as accurate as possible.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 28, 2011

It gets better the longer you read it.

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth LivingIt Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living by Dan Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall this book left me with mixed emotions which is probably because its all about mixed emotions. On one hand I found it to be a very dismal subject and on the other it gave hope and promise. There were some upsetting stories about the persecution gay people or people perceived to be gay had to endure. But at the same time many of the stories had positive endings or messages that attempted to persuade the readers that life does get better despite the bullying.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It made me dizzy.

Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about LoveDizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love by Pat Mora
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book of poetry from the very first. The first poem is about trying to write an email but being unable to do anything except type the loved one's name. I felt this way about my husband back when we were dating. I think you could find at least one love poem in here that speaks to you! The poems are not just about romantic love which is nice as well as the different stages of love.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This isn't code.

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War TwoCode Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Readers, this book is a great book written in the style of a storyteller. It reminded me heavily of listening to my own grandfather tell the tales of his youth. Ned Begay tells his story of becoming a Code Talker during World War II in this historical fiction novel. He begins with his stories of going to school as a child to joining the Marines. Teens will enjoy reading this novel if they enjoy multicultural stories or World War II.

View all my reviews

Flying through this book!

FlygirlFlygirl by Sherri L. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. The actual events of the WASP pilots was realistic and based on actual women pilots. It seemed to be well researched as the events of the book were true to the events it was based upon during WWII. It was a believeable book and for that I enjoyed it. Teens will enjoy this book particularly if they are interested in history.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Unspeakable Evil is Unspeakably Funny

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class PresidentI am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed this book. Oliver is unspeakably evil and does want to be class president. But is running for class president worth losing a grip on his evil empire? Oliver portrays the ultimate dumb kid persona all the while running an evil empire. He begins a foray into school politics in an effort to cause unspeakable evil in his father's life but things begin to unravel as the election draws near. The book starts out with hilarity as we get a glimpse of Oliver's mind but as he loses his focus on his evil empire the book becomes less funny and more chaotic exactly as Oliver must feel. I would most definitly recommend this book to any parent who wants to encourage their reluctant readers to read. It has pictures, weird chapters (some with only two words!), scenes laid out in dramatic form, and footnotes that will make you laugh!

View all my reviews
I am finally getting the hang of this blog! even gives me the neat code to put book reviews I do there into my blog with my ratings and book covers!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lost Pride

I read Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan, a graphic novel with the art by Niko Henrichon.  The story is based on the fact that a pride of lions escaped a zoo in Baghdad when the Americans were bombing.  If you expect a true to life story of the zoo animals roaming the city you're going to be very disappointed.  The main characters are lions, that much is true, but the lions are extremely humanized so much as to be talking to and making plans with antelope.  There were several events that didn't seem to progress the plot or if it did progress the plot did so awkwardly.  When Ali, the cub, is taken by the monkeys it only serves to get Safa to leave the zoo but overall I'm not sure what the point was for Ali to be kidnapped by monkeys.  And when Safa flashes back to remember a rape...well I had NO IDEA how that helped the plot at all other than to show her reluctance in leaving the safety of the zoo.  I'm sure this is an allegory full of double meanings that most young adults will not understand and frankly I didn't get most of them right away either.  The best part of the entire book was the wonderful art.  I really liked the artists ability to put expressions on the lions faces without making them look too human.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Maze Runner

Thomas is awakes to find himself trapped in a maze full of teenage boys.  He can't remember his past and no one will answer his questions.  There isn't any downtime as Thomas' arrival changes everything for the current residents of the maze.  The boys haven't given up hope in the last two years that they can solve the maze and escape.  Two days after Thomas arrives a girl is sent to the maze and with her coming begins a new set of changes in the maze.  Its really a suspenseful book full of descriptive details about the maze.  The author skillfully creates a world that gives the reader as much anxiety as the main character, Thomas.  When Thomas is frustrated with the occupants of the maze, the reader will also be annoyed and frustrated with their unwillingness to answer his questions!  The plot has a quick pace and is filled with action.  I could NOT put this book down!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


When technology races toward hands-free and you can interact with the internet using the power of your mind...  What happens when you get hacked?  This is the question Sam Wilson faces after being recruited by the government through an underground hacking event.  This book was a great read and it really brought out the nerd in me when I read it.  It was a slow read due to the computer jargon I had to  navigate (although in reality it didn't take that long to read I felt like I was reading in slow motion).  The intrigue and mystery kept me reading and it will probably keep your teenager reading as well!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Witch and Wizard Review

I recently read Witch and Wizard by James Patterson.  The basic plot is that Whit and Wisty (brother and sister) are arrested from their home in the middle of the night and accused of being a witch and a wizard.  They grew up without any conscious idea that they might have magic and now they have to discover if they have the power to save the world.

I think that there is supposed to be some message for the society at large.  The ruling government in Witch and Wizard is suppressing anything that smacks of creativity or free thought.  They torture young children for being different.  In fact as I write this I think the government is probably the ultimate description of a bully.  Still while reading this the character development seems to be lacking as more emphasis is put on how evil the current government is and how the children will do anything to fight back so that they can be who they are.  I don't feel like I really got to know Whit or Wisty other than they have a strong sense of family.  Characters drive the story and the only character really interesting is the bad guy, The One Who is The One.