Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Now don't get me wrong, this book had its moments and it was the moments that got me to read the whole book.  I love the premise but I just felt that I was reading a bad teen love story.  Wait a minute, I did and it was.  The basis for the story is a revamp of Tristan and Isolde love story only now they are in high school.  It is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in this case Isolde is a witch) meets Conan the Barbarian (Tristan is the hero from the magical realm).  Other books in this genre do very well.  I did not enjoy this one.  At times it flowed well and was quite believable and others.......well I will just not say anything.  If you have nothing but time on your hands perhaps read this otherwise read something else!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sheesh! Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Sheesh!  Okay I got this from (totally awesome site BTW).  I request a lot from them so when I started reading it I thought "I didn't know I requested a realistic fiction?"  Sheesh, until I got to the half dead flesh eaters!  Man, I actually almost stopped reading then!  I had to go look up some reviews and see what I was reading about. All the reviews said "keep reading" so I did.  Not one regret either.  Totally great book. It can make your skin crawl in places but it is a really great book. 

Now for my totally short summary. Alex is an orphan girl with a brain tumor.  She runs away to the mountains of her youth to toss her parents ashes.  While away, the world gets shocked by a big electromagnet pulse.  If you don't die automatically one of two things happen to you. 1) You turn into a flesh-eating pseudo-zombie or 2) you hide from the flesh-eating pseudo zombies and try to survive.  Alex is in the later bunch.  She meets many good and bad people.  Told you it was simplified and short summary.

This is the start of a trio and it is totally fast paced and brain sucking---meaning you can't put it down once you commit to the ride.  So my advice is to put on your helmet, hook your seat belt and enjoy the ride.  Can't wait till the next one!  

This from a totally non-zombie lover!

Summer Readings

Summer has been here and the reading has been easy.  Well sorta ;)  Been hitting for some of my reading selections.  Highly recommend them for those who read, review and recommend books to others.  I tried to note where I accessed the book when reviewing below.

Netgalley selections:

Hoopskirts, Union Blues and Confederate Grays by Kate Havelin

Since we had a trip to Gettysburg and this is the 150 anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War this and a purchased book, Your Travel Guide to Civil War America (Passport to History) by Nancy Day, were a great books to read before the trip.  Havelin's book focuses on the clothing of the era from 1861-1865.  The photography and pictures are excellent.  It includes a Contents, Timeline, Glossary, Source Notes, Selected Biography, Further Reading/Websites and an Index.  It covers all types of people from every socioeconomic strata along with the expected explanations of both the Union and Confederate uniforms.  The details are what drive this book.  How the clothing defined the person, their work, their background, education, status, etc.  Easy to read format and an inviting look.  It appears it, along with Day's book, are both part of a series.  Nice for Librarians looking for something nonfiction that is engaging for readers.  The Day book treats the reader as a time traveler who might indeed visit the Civil War period.  Somewhat short on information it does provide a unique overview of the war and the major encounters and situations that occurred during the war.  It is a good jumping off point into other more thorough books.  Photographs and pictures are again the draw to this book.  Reluctant readers would easily pick up these two books.

Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

A definite upper elementary early middle school read.  I found this book fun. David is shipped off to Grandma's for the summer.  If that isn't bad enough he finds out that Grandma runs the "Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast" which turns out to be a vacation for aliens.  Soon David finds himself helping his grandma by entertaining the aliens, helping them feel comfortable and blending in on Earth.  Of course their are some disastrous outcomes but also some highly humorous ones too. This could be the start of a series since the author left the ending with many possibilities. Grab this one for a fun read.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

A high school or adult Christian fiction read, this is a retelling of the story of Hosea and Gomer during the 1800's Gold Rush period.  I liked how the story was able to cover difficult topics of prostitution and child abuse with limited detail.  Although definitely a Christian message it is also a love story and a story of redemption for the main character.  This is the republished work of the author from a decade ago but still reads very fresh.  Enjoyed this story as you can tell.

What to Expect When You Are Expecting Larvae by Bridget Heos

Hillarious nonfiction picture book for elementary school kids.  All kids are fascinated by bugs and I love the way the author describes the "birthing and raising" process of insects to children in an "expectant parent" format.  The illustrations are bright and colorful and the descriptions are detailed. Accurate information is presented and there is a glossary, bibliography and a "further reading" section included. Every buddy entomologist should get this book.  Her latest book is also available at, What to Expect When You Are Expecting Joeys. I plan to read it too.

Public Library:

Overbite by Meg Cabot

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

The first Meg Cabot book I read was not one of her popular ones it was even written under a pseudonym.  I was so under-impressed I don't even remember the title of the book.  That said it took something for me to volunteer to read another of her books even though I have thoroughly enjoyed the movies spawned from her "Princess Diary" series.  That being said believe it or not I read not one, but two Meg Cabot books.  Both were written for adult audiences but would be suitable for upper high school.  I say this only because there are adult situations in them that are blatant and have details that some in a school situation might feel uncomfortable having in a school library.  Of course I read them in the reverse order of the story but actually that wasn't too bad.  I really can't believe that I read another 2 vampire books!

If you are looking for a light vampire read these would be it.  Standard good vs. evil plot-line.  Everyone compares every vampire book with a love story nowadays to Twilight  so why not me?  Twilight safe it is not although there are no very torrid love scenes.  There is the incredible angst and looks and "I-am-so-drawn-to-you" moments.  There is the slash and burn the bad guys scenes too.  Over all not bad books, not Shakespeare, but if I am reading books like these I am not looking for depth.  I would definitely say fun summer reads or good light reading anytime.  Go enjoy them!

Junior Library Guild Selection:

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
This upper elementary to early high school book is reminiscent of the "Sisters Grimm" series.  High school characters are the protagonists in this book.  The main character, Elizabeth, is not only the lonely new girl at school but the stepsister who does all the work at home. Then she is recommended for a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository by one of her teachers and a whole new and unusual world opens up for her.  It seems the Repository houses some interesting circulating materials such as period shoes from through out history. But some materials are only available to certain people such as the unique and not known "Grimm Collection" from the actual Grimm brothers.  With in this collection are certain "magical" items that inspired their stories and some of these are going missing.  Elizabeth is swept up into the intrigue when she is hired at the repository.  Along with adventure, if she can survive her new job, it looks like she may also get new friends and a social life.  This was a fun quick read.

As you can see I continue to read across diverse genre.  If you have "must reads" please pass them on to me.

Friday, July 1, 2011

If I haven't already mentioned it is fabulous!  It is one of the many sources I go to read galley prints (pre-published books).  I started downloading books from there about the same time it started and it has grown tremendously.  If you are a reader and a blogger go and sign up.  It has a broad range of genre and publishers.  If you have an iPod, iPad, Kindle, they got ya covered.  What more can I say?

Oh, I almost forgot, there is a contest for reading the most Netgalley books at Red House Books Blog

I am not participating but it looked like fun and I wanted to promote it.  There are prizes too!

Happy reading.  Hoping to write more reviews soon about my latest reads.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gerald and Piggie

I LOVE GERALD AND PIGGIE!  That is all I can say they are the funniest, simplest books I know. They are great to read aloud too.  Mo Willems rocks!  I have read these to 8th graders and they laugh outloud!  Go read them NOW!

Some that I have read recently are:

There is a Bird on Your Head!

Today I Will Fly!

Pigs Make Me Sneeze!

Really, these crack me up :)

Back again-a few reviews

Audio book---Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton

Not impressed with this book.  It was a good story but I found this audio book repetitive.  It didn't flow.  I was very surprised because the story could have been told in a very expressive way instead of the sputtering way the story came together. I definitely felt Bethany Hamilton needed a better editor to help her tell her story.  I hear the movie was great if that is any consolation.  Now to leave with a positive.  I did like how she connected her faith to not only her recovery but her further success and view of the world.

Anya's War by Andrea Alban

This story was very unique. It told of a Jewish family during WWII who move to Shanghai to escape the Hitler massacres.  There is a clash of cultures, teen angst, and the opening of a whole new world to a young adult.  I loved how the main character came away with knowing herself more but also a certain respect for her past. I came away wanting more story from this book.  It was very good, but it ended a little too soon for me. Definitely worth the read.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Non-fiction break :)

New from Annick Press is Africans Thought of It.  Cool book with absolutely beautiful photos! Shows links from Africa to many many things from instruments to medical cures. Really liked this book or I wouldn't be talking about it.

Another pick from Annick Press is 50 Poisonous Questions: a Book With Bite. Again very nice layout and kids seem to love the information, especially boys.  Every boy I have handed this book to can't seem to get enough.  Great facts about all things poisonous!

I would think both of these books would be great additions to any home, public or school library.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Two Picture books-brief reviews

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
Explores the concept of "zero" in a story framework.  Very clever. Also, a story of self worth and positive thinking.

Monsters Eat Whiny Children by Bruce Eric Kaplan
Very cute.  Will be reading this to my own kids.  Deliciously describes how "whiny children" might be served to monsters!

Enjoyed both of these very clever concepts!

New series-Young Sherlock Holmes "Death Cloud"

Although not "steam punk" genre, lovers of those kinds of stories might also like our hero, 14 year old Sherlock Holmes.  Using his mind with guidance from friends and a tutor, Sherlock solves the mystery of the "death cloud" that is haunting his summer stay at his Uncle's home.  Quite a fun read. I am currently starting the second in this series that is due out in mid November of 2011.

Sherlock has been sent to live with his uncle away from his family.  His father is on his way to India with the war, his mother is "frail" (a mystery that is not solved in this book), his brother is working in the city and his sister we her little of. His new friend Mattie is the first to tell him of the first body he saw with the mysterious welts and the dark cloud that rises from the body.  Together they stumble on a second body.  This time it is the gardener of his uncles estate.  Soon with help from Mattie, Sherlock's new tutor Amyus Crowe and his daughter Virginia Crowe they discover a plot to bring down the British empire. 

A fun fast read that boys will love but girls will want to pick up too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Latest review-TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher

Whoa, what a ride. This is an awesome high school YA book.  The story centers around a set of cassette tapes that are mailed to a high school student with no return address.  When Clay, the protagonist, starts listening the voice of Hannah, a dead student tells him that if he is hearing these tapes he is one of the “13 reasons why” she committed suicide.  Told from alternating voices of Clay and Hannah, this book really does whip up a poignant tale.  Again, not a book I would pick up it was so very good I couldn’t put it down.  A warning there are scenes you will feel uncomfortable reading but I suggest you deal with that and keep reading.  Excellent book for high school, if you have a mature middle school student they might be able to handle it with guidance.  Loved the ending too- great message.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Latest Reads--and do you have any suggestions for me to read?

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Twin girls, one lives in a modern society that all people over the age of 18 are sterile so now teen pregnancies and the girls to carry these babies are prized, paid and sought out.  The other lives in a cloistered society where teen girls are married young to produce more children.  They are pledged young by their families and are kept in a subordinate role. 

Interesting controversy.  The author did do a good job of showing the cons of both society.  Did feel like an automatic setup for “book two”.  That often bothers me.  I am a little tired of “this is a series and you are going to love it and read all the books” formula.  Definitely a high school book due to the controversial topics covered. It had pretty good flow except for the issues I have already pointed out.

The Many Faces of George Washington by Carla Kilough McClafferty

Loved this book but I am a science geek at heart.  This book publishes the work done at Mt. Vernon, to give a more accurate picture of our First President.  Through research of both paintings and sculptures to the remaining personal physical artifacts of his teeth the author and photographer have help put  “flesh” on an often wrong picture of George Washington’s appearance.  Really enjoyed the science and care taken in the recreations.  The photographs were awesome.

What are you so Grumpy about? By Tom Lichtenheld

Funny, funny, kids love this book and so did I.  Gives laughter and realism to the reasons kids are grumpy and a way to get out of it.  Illustrations were great and make the story. 

Virals by Kathy Reichs

In this intelligent sci-fi mystery for teens the story builds in a great way.  Our heroine.  Her mother’s recent death has Tori now living with a father she never knew.  Taking place largely off the Carolina coast on an island devoted to research Tori and her friends get involved in saving a dog and solving a mystery that has drastic effects on their future.  I really like how the story developed in a natural progression with out the rush I sometimes feel many young adult novels have.

Finally, if you have found me in the blogosphere please feel free to post comments and let me know about more great books to read. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Comment on Saint Paddy's Day and other fun seasonal events

It has been very hard this Saint Paddy's Day (aka St. Patrick's Day) to find any fun books to read to the "wee folk".  I have found collections of stories for the older ones but no good ones for, as I have just mentioned, the "wee folk".  It does seem to be a dilemma relegated to "seasonal" literature.  It would be a great place for publishers to focus an attack to print good books with seasonal themes.  Some it would be relatively easy to do by focusing on a folktale around the subject and enlisting the aid of a good illustrator.  Till then I will have to rely on the folktales themselves and a good Iris brogue or whatever other dialect I have in my repertoire.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld--short review

Got this as a galley review print. At first I wasn't impressed with this book but then I read it to a class of kindergarteners.  They loved it.  They loved the pictures.  They loved the story.  It is a simple story of a small cloud that wants to do something big.  It also touches lightly on what clouds do for us.  So go with the kindergarteners opinion.  :)  Read the book!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Human .4

Finished Human .4 by Mike A. Lancaster.  It was another galley print. I think this one is meant to be scary.  Perhaps for preteens it is.  The story had an interesting plot line.  The human race is being upgraded. Kyle Straker and a few others have missed the upgrade.  Told from recorded diaries (recorded on old audio tapes), Kyle tells the story of his and others existence. It moved quickly but I really didn't get pulled into the story.  A lot of holes in the story and places of missed information.  I felt like it had a "hurried up" ending. I gave it a C+ rating in my shelfari review.  It could be a good boy book. Perhaps a 5th or 6th grade audience would love it. I would like to hear from anyone else who read this book and what they thought.  Still working on what to read next.  As always there is a pile by my bed, one in my backpack and several sitting on the old iPad waiting for a verdict. :)  Happy readings.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I just read

Just finished reading the galleys of the following:

Enclave by Ann Agguire
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

With Enclave, I hated the cover that was on my paper edition although the hardback edition looks great!  I almost didn't read it just because of the cover.  I was lucky enough to have an audio recording of the first 2 chapters of the book and that got me hooked to read more. Although I did like this book as much as other dystopian literature it is worth the read.  I did not love this book like the "Hunger Game" Series.  Still gave me nightmares--but it doesn't take much to do that. :)

Ruby Red---AWESOME! Really, nice surprise and something new.  Sorta a "Time Traveler's Wife" for teens.  Anxious to see the next installment in English.  A favorite in this genre.

Pearl in the Sand a step out of my normal genre I read.  Although I do read a lot of historical fiction I generally don't pick up Christian fiction.  I will be looking for more by this author.  She has made Biblical characters very real and enjoyable to read.

Still reading:
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

I love the way Linda Sue Park writes.  I predict this one has some awards coming its way.  Again not a normal genre I would read but it was so good.  Historical/realistic fiction on Sudan. very timely after the new elections there.  Just from what little I have read, I would recommend it!

That is the latest.  Hope to keep this up.  If you cross my blog about books or ramblings about books please feel free to respond.  Happy reading!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lastest reads

All righty then, again it has been awhile since I have posted.  Today some books I have read:

The Clearing by Heather Davis
I finished this one last nigh as an ebook from NetGalley.  I don't know.  I had mixed reviews. Great premise, good storyline, good characters.  I think perhaps it needed more pages to flush out the story.  It seemed to be rushed.  It seemed more like a movie script then a novel. I wanted more depth.

Of course my MUST read selections for this year is the Hunger Games Series.  Absolutely my favorite. Loved it.

Mike Lupica has a new and unusal genre out, super hero.  His new book Hero is about a teen that finds out he is a destined superhero.  I have enjoyed his sports books so I thought I would give this one a try and it was a good one.  Although geared for the middle school years, there is nothing offensive in this book for those in upper elementary.

Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde was a nice light read.  A series of fairytale rewrites that were very entertaining. I recommend this one if you don't want to get embroiled in a book but want something on hand to read.

SkippyJon Jones series by Judith Byron Schachner is an old but good series for read-a-loud.  Gotta work on my Spanish accent and pronunciation though. :)  Love it for my lower grades, K-3, but believe it or not even the older grades get a laugh.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland was a great surprise on many levels.  The story was superb.  Written about a time when outspoken women could be put in an asylum.  I had to finish every word.  Really great book that made me think.  Definitely a high school and up YA book due to situations portrayed in the book. Makes you think.