Thursday, January 30, 2014

See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne

Standalone. Sourcebooks Fire. (Jan. 2014) NetGalley
I know who you are.

When Riley first gets the postcard tucked into her bag, she thinks it's a joke. Then she finds a birth certificate for a girl named Jane Elizabeth O'Leary hidden inside her baby book.

Riley's parents have always been pretty overprotective. What if it wasn't for her safety...but fear of her finding out their secret? What have they been hiding? The more Riley digs for answers, the more questions she has.

The only way to know the truth? Find out what happened to Jane O'Leary.

I have to give major props to the author for keeping me on my toes with See Jane Run. Everything started coming in all at once and Jane's world was turned upside down. I could not figure out who Riley could trust and who she could not for the life of me. The twists and turns from this book were spot on, making me question every character and moment that passed by. 

There were a few things that I would have liked to be different. I completely loved the mystery in this story but it might have been too much at moments. I wouldn't call it unrealistic but it felt confusing sometimes. There was a lot going on and that could be either fantastic or detrimental based on how the reader takes it all in. Riley could be too dramatic too. She cried a lot but her reaction to her situation seems very realistic when I think of what I would do in the same situation. Riley even commented that she was being overly paranoid and it felt that way at times as the reader so I have mixed feeling about her reaction to the things happening to her. 

The friendship in the story could have been better. I wish that Riley and her best friend Shelby would have had more moments together. I wanted Shelby to be involved more in the investigation and to have had her back. Riley should have opened up to her best friend and let her help her out. The person who seemed to replace Shelby in the partner in crime character was J.D. who ended up being a mystery in himself. I liked their moments together. I smiled a lot when Rile and J.D. were together. He provided a calmer side to the hyper aware Riley.

My feelings about See Jane Run are really a tossup. I loved everything that was thrown at Riley because it made my mind go running off with questions about what the truth was. On the other hand maybe it was too dramatic and maybe there needed to be more focus on characters other than Riley. Also, the overprotective parents were too much... They would have driven me nuts if I was their kid. So this was a really great read in some ways but in other ways it could have been better. For the main story at least this was a great mystery that kept me guessing.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Read-a-Long: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Earlier this year I mentioned that I might participate in the Read-a-Long happening at Simpler Pastimes. I ended up reading the famous story yesterday and below are my thoughts on a particular edition of The Wizard of Oz. The illustrations are by Lisbeth Zwerger and she says about the experience of drawing this story:
THE WIZARD OF OZ was new territory for me, and for an illustrator nothing could be better. Since I have no "seriously illustrated edition of the book and I've never seen the complete MGM film, I was able to approach the story with no preconceived ideas.

Oz #1. North South Books (Jan. 1999) Library

After being transported by a cyclone to the land of Oz, Dorothy and her dog are befriended by a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion, who accompany her to the Emerald City to look for a wizard who can help Dorothy return home to Kansas.

I had high hopes for The Wizard of Oz because I know this story and the way it was written wasn't complicated. I was able to easily discern what the author meant without too much strain. I don't know whether it was because I tried to read it all in one day or if it dragged on but, I didn't enjoy the story as much as I would have liked. 

There's of course new things popping up for me in this story that I wasn't aware happened because I am going by the movie version in my head. It's not like I didn't know the movie didn't have every little thing the book had. The book just simply dragged on for me and I found myself skimming towards the end of the story. Moments felt unnecessary or drawn out and it put me off the whole story itself.

Zwerger's illustrations were very out there compared to the "common" art you find for The Wizard of Oz. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the art. The only thing I didn't like was how the scarecrow was depicted. I wish also for this book that I had the green glasses that came with it which I find to be ingenious. Apparently you would use some green glasses given to you with the book when you were in the Emerald City so you can see the green of the city emerge in front of your very eyes. Even with all this unique art I couldn't find myself enjoying the story. 

I feel like I should give it one more try with the graphic novel version. I'll have to read it slow to enjoy Dorothy's tale more. I guess that's just how I have to approach The Wizard of Oz. I feel like no matter what the original story doesn't compare to the movie adaption. Sometimes the movie is better than the book.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered #1 Farrar Straus Giroux (March 2013) Library
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.             
Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

Unremembered's plot reminded me of Miracle by Elizabeth Scott, both having to do with lone survivors of plane crashes. While Miracle was a more realistic read, Unremembered ventured off into the more unknown sci-fi type of world. Whether this was a good thing was all up to the writer's ability to draw me into Sera's story. Alas, that wasn't the case for this book.

This had so much potential by depicting a survivor of a plane crash that can't remember anything even who she is or where she came from. There was a lot of build up to the moment Sera realizes who she is. Originally the story was flowing and I was enjoying the mystery and even the build up to the big reveal. But, it fell stagnant for me. Sera, wasn't exactly a character who I could feel for. Her character wasn't exactly flat; it was just how the events were occurring that didn't shape her into being someone other than the lost girl we first see her as. There's a boy (there's always a boy) who is supposed to be her soul mate but when Sera was discovering her memories I didn't really understand their love for each other. It didn't tug at my heart like it was supposed to. So not enjoying one of the largest parts of what made the book was disheartening.

The mystery of Sera was really interesting. I was enjoying the story half way through when the big mystery started coming to light. But I didn't like how it was presented at all. Again, the characters made the big difference in me not enjoying how the story was proceeding so that was a major factor in how I perceived the rest of the story. It just didn't work for me. Looking back I feel like most of the story wasn't just build up to the "reveal" but to the second story which frustrates me because if you aren't going to make characters that you can care for it's not worth creating a second story. If more time was taken with the characters I believe I would have enjoyed this book way more. Its sci-fi and mystery elements were on point but the way Unremembered was executed just wasn't believable. 

Roger, the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist

Standalone. Balzer + Bray (April 2004) Library
Roger is too jolly to be a pirate.

He does not scowl, growl, or strike fear into sailors' hearts like his pirate friends. So poor Roger is sent away whenever there is any real pirating to be done. Then one day, in the middle of a great battle, Jolly Roger cooks up a wonderful idea . . . and pirate ships will never be the same again!

Growing up I read The Series of Unfortunate Events all day long. Those were the books that I used to get complaints about because I would zone everyone out and just read. That series introduced me to the art of Brett Helquist whose distinct style and command of the page through his illustrations made me fall for Roger's story. 

The story itself was short and sweet. As sweet as a pirate story can be... Roger is just too jolly to be a pirate and isn't really seen as one by his fellow crew mates. Roger figures out a way to try to prove himself. While nothing went according to plan, Roger was able to find a way to gain his friend's respect. In turn his fellow pirates found a way to thank him by making him infamous in the pages of history.

A great story for pirate enthusiasts - Roger, the Jolly Pirate had wonderful illustrations that are sure to capture anyone's attention. I will always be ecstatic to read and view Helquist's books especially his illustrations. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Standalone. The Dial Press (February 2012) Library
I’ve lost it. :( The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive :) !!
Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!
Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

I've Got Your Number is one of those lighthearted books that you read simply for the fun of it. As soon as I started reading Poppy's story I was addicted. I could just imagine myself in Poppy's same situation. She lost a priceless family heirloom given to her by her fiancĂ© Magnus. Soon after combing the hotel where she lost her engagement ring her cell phone is snatched away from her. Desperate, she finds a cell phone thrown in a bin and hands out her new cell phone number to the hotel employees. Strange calls and messages keep coming up and a serious sounding businessman named Sam enters her life. As Poppy continues to hope that her ring is found she and Sam stumble into this strange new friendship where Poppy decides to meddle in Sam's life.

This was a seriously fun read. I read it with someone so we got to analyze the characters together. Poppy is the type of person who doesn't like to get in the way. She's the type that I could see taking care of everyone else but herself. She puts people ahead of herself. Sam comes off very cold in his messages but he's just a really to the point guy. It isn't until they both meet that Poppy sees a much more caring side of Sam.

Poppy is supposed to marry Magnus but of course you know already from the summary that, that is not going to happen. And then you soon find out the way Poppy is treated by his family and how she feels compared to them. The family is filled with scholars and she's a physical therapist so you see her feeling not worthy. I know it's obvious what's going to happen but the journey of Poppy discovering her worth is great. Unfortunately, she has other people around her that don't make her feel good about herself too including her friend Analise. She blatantly flirts with her fiancĂ© right in front of her and complains that she should have been the one who got engaged. She's not a friend and Poppy didn't need her.

The story started to go south towards the end. There was just something off like everything seemed stagnant. It got mushy too which in any other case would be fine with me but it was a bit ridiculous. Kinesella seems to be a Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts type and I've read some reviews where her books are described as very similar. Kinsella has potential to do better. I hope she doesn't create the same story over and over again although some people like that. If you've never read a story by her I think I've Got Your Number is worth a try especially if you are in the mood for a light, romantic story.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blog Tour: Netherwood by Jane Sanderson

Eve Williams#1. William Morrow & Company(Dec. 2013) TLC Tours
Eve Williams is about to discover just how the other half really live, in this epic and absorbing "big house" drama perfect for "Downton Abbey" fans

Above stairs, Lord Netherwood keeps his considerable fortune ticking over with the profits from his three coal mines in the vicinity. It's just as well the coal is of the highest quality, as the upkeep of Netherwood Hall, his splendid estate on the outskirts of town, does not come cheap. And that's not to mention the cost of keeping his wife and daughters in the latest fashions--and keeping the heir, the charming but feckless Tobias, out of trouble. Below stairs, Eve Williams is the wife of one of Lord Netherwood's most stalwart employees. When her ordered existence amid the terraced rows of the miners' houses is brought crashing down by the twin arrivals of tragedy and charity, Eve must look to her own self-sufficiency, and talent, to provide for her three young children. And it's then that "upstairs" and "downstairs" collide in truly dramatic fashion.

What initially grabbed my attention to read Netherwood was the description of its similarity to Downton Abbey. I don't know exactly what it is about that show but I love that we get to see both sides of the wealthy and the working class under one roof. In Netherwood you get these different points of view as well but it's very dissimilar with everything else it brings to the story. The book's central character is Eve Williams, who loses her husband in a mining accident and has to find a way to provide for herself and her three children. Among the chaos of this tragedy she finds a friend in an unexpected source. That friend helps her journey into the unknown territory of the wealthy elite in Netherwood who have troubles of their own namely their stubborn and selfish son Tobias.

So this book was so not what I was expecting but it also was in a way. It took me awhile to get used the accents the characters used. There were also some things happening towards the beginning of the story that I couldn't understand which worried me because I liked the plot so much. But, slowly but surely I got sucked into Eve's life. I feel like when her husband died, which was heart-wrenching, was the moment when I truly fell for Eve's character. Sanderson did such a great job in the build up for her husband's death. Even when I knew it was going to happen it still couldn't lessen the blow I felt for him and his family. When a book moves me that way it becomes a winner in my eyes immediately. 

Eve has a strong spirit. She's described as being beautiful but she is either unaware or uncaring of what she looks like. All the guys fall for her which amused me so much. She had so many proposals that it was hilarious but it also cemented the kind of person she was. She was caring, independent, and could apparently win over anyone she met. Her cooking got her back on her feet. She was able to provide for her children in a time that without a husband that was thought to be impossible. Eve made many enemies along the way but the enemies she made weren't great people anyways. They blamed her for things that had nothing to do with her or the person's shortsightedness got in the way. I expect the drama to hit the fan in the next book. But, there were still moments of drama that kept my attention none so more than Tobias and his... ways.

Tobias likes to think he is a charmer. Eve doesn't think so of course. She sees him as he is - a selfish boy who doesn't have a care in the world. You see the way the wealthy might have viewed people in a lower class during the late nineteenth to twentieth century. The Earl of Netherwood can't quite understand why mine worker strikes happen because what can they complain about really? More frequent accidents start occurring throughout the book and I feel like this is going to be interesting when it is addressed. The Earl is actually a very nice person considering other people who employ mine workers. The bleak contrast you see between the lives of his family and the way Eve's family lives... I don't know why I expected some kind of outburst from Eve basically saying look at your lives and look at ours. Do really not see a problem with the way we live compared to the way you do? The way Eve's character was, confident and humble, just made me annoyed even more about the way Tobias acted - like he deserved everything he would inherit but with none of the responsibility. His sister, Henrietta or Henry for short, was one of the only redeeming qualities of that family. She's as spirited and freethinking as Eve was.

I want to make note of Ana - Eve's friend. The way they met each other and fell into each other lives seemed to be destined. Their friendship was one of my favorite parts of this book. They are like sisters or kindred spirits that needed to find one another. They balance each other out well. Their friendship did wonders to the story and it wouldn't have been the same without them together. I'm overly thrilled to see a relationship built on mutual respect between two women in a story like this one. In the end Netherwood is a story I usually wouldn't pick up but I'm thankful that I had the sense to ask to read it because I feel like it will broaden my reading to new adventures. I also really loved Eve as a main character and I would like to know where the sequel takes her from the last pages of this book. It's going to be amazing.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for letting me read Netherwood in exchange for an honest review!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Post: Jan. 19th 2014

(Image Source: GiftLee)
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received and share news about what's coming up for the next week ahead.

This last week wasn't my greatest week so far in 2014 concerning the blog. I had a lot of homework to do and still have some I need to finish right after this. There are some things coming up in the blog and I have to read a few books before I have to return them to the library this week so I expect to do a little more reading. 

Last Week on the Blog:

Last Week I reviewed The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand and Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie.

Plans for Next Week:

I finished reading I've Got Your Number so you can expect a review next week. You can also expect a blog tour stop here tomorrow for Netherwood.

Other than the two books above I do plan to read a bunch of YA books this week so hopefully I'll do reviews of those as well. I'll most likely being reading Wither because I plan to read the trilogy this year for a blogosphere challenge.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Standalone. Orchard Books (October 2004) Library
Join us in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the beloved classic tale of Peter Pan, with this gorgeous storybook containing the unabridged, original text complemented by luminous new art.

The beloved story of the boy who won't grow up is brought to life in this sumptuous edition illustrated with stunning full-color art.                                                                                                  
When Peter Pan pays a visit to the Darling children, everything goes topsy-turvy. Wendy, Michael, and John follow Peter to Never Never Land, where they have the most exciting adventures and battle the evil Pirate Captain Hook.

All children, except one, grow up.

Peter Pan's tale is timeless. It's the story of a boy who never grew up. It's about how some ordinary siblings learned to fly and went off with Pan to Neverland - a place of immeasurable wonder and danger. Filled with Lost Boys, Redskins, Pirates, and Fairies - Neverland is a place children go in their sleep. But one little girl, Wendy, wakes up to find Pan in her room and is taken off with her brothers, John and Michael, on an adventure.

I never really liked Peter Pan's story. I've never really been interested until I fell for the Once Upon a Time adaption of him. Pan is cruel and selfish in the show and while Peter Pan in his original story isn't cruel, he is pretty selfish. He's described as being cocky and that's the one trait that Captain Hook sees in him that he hates. It seems to be the reason why Hook wants to kill Peter Pan other than the whole flinging his hand into the ocean thing. It's also the trait that gets everyone so fascinated by him and wanting to follow him on his adventures. Peter Pan could be a bit too cocky for me. I'm not surprised he was chased by Hook and his gang of pirates. He likes to think other people's ideas are his. He has no manners that way. And he also always forgets things or people like they don't even matter which frustrated me. Nobody mattered but him or they mattered only because they provided him with some use. I feel like Barrie was eluding to how all children are. He even called Wendy and her brothers selfish because they forgot about their parents and just assumed they would happy to see them without any consequence. They created a lot of pain in the hearts of their parents and they didn't seem to care until reminded how selfish they were being.

I was not expecting Wendy to be the way she was. I knew she was taken to Neverland to tell stories and be the Lost Boys mother but, she took to it so well - like she was actually their mother - that it bothered me. It's like she saw herself with no other function but to keep after these kids. She didn't even fight like Tiger Lily, the "Redskins" chief's daughter. Tiger Lily was more of a strong heroine than Wendy and she was hardly in the story. There's nothing wrong with being a mother or having that sense to be motherly but Wendy was disappointing nonetheless for me.
It liked my arm so much, Smee, that it has followed me ever since, from sea to sea and from land to land, licking its lips for the rest of me.

Hook and his pirates were as devious and as menacing as I had hoped. Hook was especially dangerous and vicious with even his own crew. He cut down a crew mate with his hook when the pirate simply walked into him. His fear of the crocodile was just as I had hoped as well. It was like I was watching the movie version of him, scared out of his wits when he heard the tick tock from the clock in the beast's belly.

The Lost Boys were an interesting bunch... I don't think there was much time spent with them to be able to significantly identify one boy from another - except Tootles who was very humble and sweet. Tootles reminded me of Smee. Both were kinder than the people they hung around or just had this likable quality about them. 

Tinkerbell was hardly around either. I really didn't like her depiction because I love the new adaption of her so much. All she said was "Silly ass!" all the time... Such great character development... She was also drawn in this particular 100th edition of Peter Pan and Wendy too big. She just didn't look right to me. Wendy also looked strange in some pictures as well. But all the other illustrations? They were amazing. They just were beautiful and the amount of illustrations was great.

He had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be forever barred.

I loved the ending of the story. It was the perfect conclusion to Peter Pan because it wasn't a conclusion really. It cements upon the idea of having a boy who never grew up as a main character as well as a story full of magic and possibilities. I know I didn't really like most of the aspects of the story but no matter what I needed to read this book. How could I live my life without reading Peter Pan?

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Standalone. Simon & Schuster Books (August 2012) Library
At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.

Victoria likes everything just so. She likes organization, studying, and making sure her best friend Lawrence is doing what he is supposed to. Her grades, ever immaculate, have been always something she's had that make her parents proud of her. But, when Victoria discovers a B placed next to one of her classes all she can think about is finding a way to change her grade. She needs to make sure that her parents don't find out because without everything being simply perfect in her life who is she? Her stress gets to her enough that she disregards Lawrence's rather odd behavior and when she discovers him missing she feels awful. Lawrence's disappearance is explained by his parents as him just helping out a relative - she doesn't by it. Everything has been turned upside down ever since she got that B and ever since Lawrence went away. Victoria soon discovers mystery and deceit around The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. There is something going on in her town and Mrs. Cavendish is the prime suspect.

I loved Legrand's writing. It fit right in with the story she created. It was spooky and mysterious. I enjoyed most of the story. Even Victoria with her attitude towards perfection was a great character to follow although, she seemed to come to terms with things rather slowly. I loved that Lawrence was basically classified as a misfit. He wasn't good at many subjects other than music. He had a real passion and knew what he wanted out of life. Playing the piano made him happy but everyone else had a problem with it. Victoria nagged him about it (she secretly liked his piano playing) and it drove his parents crazy. Another thing I liked about the story was that it was very reminiscent of Coraline and Breadcrumbs. Mrs. Cavendish could have been Coraline's Other Mother. She even had an affinity for bugs. The way Victoria went after her friend reminded me of how Hazel from Breadcrumbs went on a journey to bring her friend back safely from harm. The only difference was I could tell there was possible rumblings of feelings between Victoria and Lawrence.

I honestly loved most of the story and I've rated it pretty high but as there was a lot of things I enjoyed about the story, there was a good many things I didn't. There were moments in the story that didn't sit too well with me. I don't know if the story was dragging on at some points or what but I had the unsettled feeling that I wished some parts of the story were rewritten. There is something huge I can point out about the book I didn't enjoy which was the amount of violence it had for an MG book. I mean Mrs. Cavendish was pure evil! She would make people live their worst nightmares and get rid of their "problems" in a horrible way. She would whip their hands until they were bleeding which unrealistically no one talked about after it occurred. I mean your hand must be stinging at least and you don't mention it at all? The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls gets really dark very suddenly and if you don't like that type of book I wouldn't advise you to read it. If you are okay with the grim situations in this story than you might think it's fantastic and very much like Coraline with its own twists.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Post: Jan. 12th 2014

(Image Source: Sarah Watts)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received and share news about what's coming up for the next week ahead.

The above image is in honor of finishing The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls which you can expect a review of this week.

Today's the last day of Bout of Books 9.0 and I have one more book up my sleeve. I'm so happy I've done so well this week. It's good that last week was the first week of Spring Semester (which went really well) because otherwise I don't think I would have been able to read so much. It's back to a regular amount next week.

I've made a lot of scrambled eggs for my personal challenge and I was thinking of what I should learn to do next. I'm thinking of making pancakes this week. I've also got down to 8 minutes 1 second for running for .52 miles. I haven't been exercising as much as I've wanted to. I mean I went biking yesterday but still. I'm trying to get down to 6 minutes by the end of the month.

Last Week on the Blog:

I posted My Bout of Books 9.0 goals and I've been updating it every day since as well Books That Bring Out the Reader in You.

I reviewed Matilda by Roald Dahl, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, The Rule of Thirds by Chantel Guertin, The Savages by Matt Whyman, and The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers.

Around the Blogosphere (a.k.a. my to-read list is now larger):

Some books I added to my to-read list that I can't wait to get my hands on: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige and In a Blink by Niki Thorpe.

Posts/articles/videos I enjoyed: 

Plans for Next Week:

I've finished The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls so you can expect a review next week. I might be able to do a review of Peter Pan because I'm almost done. I got a bunch of books from NetGalley that I'll be starting soon as well as some others that I haven't got to yet. I also got a book to review from an author that I'll be reading later this month.

I'm starting See Jane Run later today.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Books That Bring Out The Reader in You

I've read a good many books this January about well... books. From Matilda who devours books from an early age to Meggie who loves reading books and goes on an adventure where book characters literally come alive in the real world. All these books about booklovers has me thinking of some other stories I want to read with the same feel to them. Below are some books that I want to read because of their bookish nature:

Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales. 

"The Land of Stories" tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. 

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

My Thoughts: I love anything fairy tale so to be stuck in fairy tale stories would be amazing. I don't care how many angry giants are chasing after me.

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

My Thoughts: This one's on the serious side but it still has a magical way about it. It'll be interesting to see how the author mixes magic and how the protagonist figures out what to do now that he lost his mother.

In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain. They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible. But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale. Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity. The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move. And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself....

My Thoughts: To train to be a hero - what could be better? Reminds me a lot of The School for Good and Evil which is probably why I'm so drawn to it.

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

My Thoughts: I didn't realize this classic was so awesome until recently and all I want to do right now is read it! 

Some great book oriented (even a small amount) stories I've read: The Book Thief, Matilda, The School for Good and Evil, The Year of the Book, The Sisters Grimm Series and Inkheart. What books would you add to this list?

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

Standalone. Philomel (April 2006) Library
Like many children, Henry loves books. But Henry doesn't like to read books, he likes to eat them. Big books, picture books, reference books . . . if it has pages, Henry chews them up and swallows (but red ones are his favorite). And the more he eats, the smarter he gets—he’s on his way to being the smartest boy in the world! But one day he feels sick to his stomach. And the information is so jumbled up inside, he can’t digest it! Can Henry find a way to enjoy books without using his teeth? With a stunning new artistic style and a die-cut surprise, Oliver Jeffers celebrates the joys of reading in this charming and quirky picture book. It’s almost good enough to eat.

One day, accidentally, Henry tastes a book. He thought it tasted pretty good so he tried some more. He eats a letter, a word, a sentence, and then a whole book! Before you know it Henry has consumed hundreds of thousands of books. He becomes smarter with each book he eats. Then he slowly but surely becomes sick and all that he's learned becomes too confusing for him to even communicate with others. Henry seriously wants to become the smartest person in the world but how can he possibly be able to do that now?

I loved the backgrounds and illustrations from this book. Jeffers gave texture in his images. I liked the way everything seemed to be scrapbooked together at times. The end of the cover and last few pages even had what seems to be bite marks which I thought was genius. The story itself was okay. I felt it was kind of a bit predictable. The plot is a fun one - very much a good story to tell young readers. Even if it didn't shock or thrill me I can see many young readers enjoying Henry's tale.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Savages by Matt Whyman

Standalone. Hot Key Books (June 2013) Own
They'd love to have you for dinner . . .

Sasha Savage is in love with Jack - a handsome, charming ... vegetarian. Which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that Sasha's family are very much 'carnivorous'. Behind the family facade all is not as it seems. Sasha's father rules his clan with an iron fist and her mother's culinary skills are getting more adventurous by the day. When a too-curious private detective starts to dig for truths, the tight-knit family starts to unravel - as does their sinister taste in human beings . . . .

The Savages are unlike any family around. They have a secret that keeps their family bond so great. Food dominates their lives. They always sit together for dinner and celebrate every so often with a feast. Titus, the head of the family, wishes to keep the traditions passed down to him from his parents. When his eldest daughter, Sasha, announces she's going out with a vegetarian he knows that no good can come from this relationship. The reason being not only is Jack a veggie eater (a most despised type of consumer of food) but The Savages like their meat on the human side.

I was thrilled to discover this book and start reading something so different then what you usually find on bookshelves. Just to be made clear the family are cannibals but they don't like to be called that. They eat human for the nutritional value and the taste that you can't get out of your mind. They don't eat people all the time - No, only on special occasions. This story has very dark humor attached to it if you can tell. It was deliciously wicked. Only towards the end was it a bit too harsh and grim for my tastes but it's when everything suddenly is built up that I saw the very real things they did and ate. It wasn't all talk anymore but reality - it was pretty scary.

This story centralized on family. Family is very important to Titus who takes down companies for a living. He doesn't know it yet but someone is investigating him to see if they can catch him doing anything illegal. His wife, Angelica, is a very sharp woman who with a single glance can leave you feeling cold. She racked up quite a debt because of her shopping needs which leads to her having to rent out the bottom floor of her home for magazine ads every so often. Katya is the youngest child; she's just beginning to get all her baby teeth so soon she will be ready for her first feast. Ivan is the middle child who tries to seek attention by pulling pranks. But, his pranks go too far. He's very into the whole eating people so no wonder he has such a dark humor and attitude about people. Finally, Sasha (my favorite Savage) is coming into her own and begins dating a boy who her parents don't approve of. She's so very sensible, logical, and mature in some ways. She's also very relatable because who hasn't had parents who embarrassed them in front of friends or the like? Or who hasn't wanted to challenge themselves or separate themselves from the mold? I just adored her - the way she thought through things and knew her own mind was refreshing for a teenage character. There was still some teenage attitude but it was all for a good cause and it didn't bother me at all.

You already know in the beginning of the book that it got out that they ate human flesh. The rest of the book is an account of the events that led up to their secret being revealed. There is a lot of discussion of food in this story. At some points in the story there were characters that thought themselves better because they were Vegan or Vegetarian which might bother some people but there were people who were not so extreme trying to see start a new eating lifestyle. I think the story was made for a good laugh at the way we feel about food and what people eat - Carnivores vs. Herbivores and the like. It was interesting to see the extreme side of that type of discussion. I found The Savages to be funny in its own way but sometimes downright scary. What I really loved about this story was the variety of characters and how they thought and spoke their minds. Again Sasha was my favorite character but the whole entire family was intriguing and made this book worth reading.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Rule of Thirds by Chantel Guertin

Standalone. ECW Press (October 2013) NetGalley
Sixteen-year-old Pippa Greene never goes anywhere without her camera. She and her best friend/supermodel-in-training Dace long ago mapped out their life plan: Pippa will be the noted fashion photographer, and Dace the cover girl. But ever since last spring, things have changed for Pippa — and her junior year at Spalding High proves to have its own set of challenges. Not only is Vantage Point, the statewide photography competition, in three short weeks, but her mandatory volunteer placement lands her at St. Christopher’s Hospital, a place Pippa never wanted to set foot in again. With humour and pluck, she navigates her new role as a candy striper (watch out for Code Yellows), her changing relationship with her best friend (goodbye Honesty Pact), and — perhaps most stressful of all — her new love interests (yes, love interests plural).

Will Pippa make it to Vantage Point without having a panic attack? Will either one of the guys prove less sketchy than her last boyfriend? Can she and Dace figure out a way to dream big and be best friends? One thing is certain: real life is a lot more complicated than a photograph.

An actual book about a photographer! How many times do you find a YA book like that? Pippa (actual name Philadelphia ~ I know it's an awesome name) is a photographer getting ready for Vantage Point, a competition that can land her for two whole weeks in a photography school in New York. Needless to say she's dying to go because it can be her ticket to a great photography school and it's an opportunity of a lifetime. Then in walks Ben Baxter, a cute new guy to the competition that loves photography just as much as Pippa does. While Pippa thinks he's cute, she has eyes for Dylan McCutter who happens to be volunteering at St. Christopher's where she is forced to volunteer for school. The problem with this particular hospital is that it brings up bad memories of her father and then she gets seized up with fear in a panic attack. Pippa is determined to get through her forced volunteering, find out which boy is right for her, and win the Vantage Point competition all without seriously freaking out and maintaining some calm in her life since her life couldn't handle much more pain.

I've got to say it since I'm sure you noticed - the love triangle. It mentioned it in the summary right away so you know already. I was worried at the beginning of the story because I could see it happening from a mile away but once I got into Pippa's life after a while I could see the story had some depth to it what with her father recently dying of cancer and her panic attacks arising because of his death. That's all very serious stuff and I of course started thinking about how just like that life can change in an instant. You don't know how much time you have left so live your life well and to the fullest. I liked that the story had some soul to it. There are a couple of visits with other patients and we get to see how Pippa reacts to them. Pippa's photography was pretty insightful into all of the mixed up feelings going on with her life. The loss of her dad impacted her greatly and I'm glad it wasn't a brush off type of subject. It was really center stage to an otherwise fast and fun read. Although, obvious things were obvious this was a rather enjoyable read that me think and made me want to read other books with photographers as protagonists.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Inkworld #1. Chicken House (June 2004) Library
Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.

Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can "read" characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story. This "story within a story" will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters.

I don't think I've ever read of a book like Inkheart before. I've heard of books where lucky children stumble onto some magic and get themselves transported into a book but I don't think I've ever heard of or read of characters literally coming out of books and wreaking havoc just by someone reading their story aloud. Mo, nicknamed Silvertongue for his power to persuade characters and objects out of a story, lives in a house full of books with his daughter Meggie who loves books just as much as her father. She hears books calling for her and feels a deep connection with stories and their characters. One night she looks outside into the rainy dark and discovers a man right outside their home. Unbeknownst to her this man, Dustfinger, would soon open up her world to new possibilities and have her and her father embark on a journey of adventure and treachery because a book isn't just focused on heroes and knights with shining armor. There are villains who would make your blood curl if you've ever met them in real life and she's about to meet one of the most nefarious one's around.

This book was huge! It took me hours and hours and I enjoyed every minute of it. The way this book spoke to me as a lover of books was mesmerizing. I couldn't wait to see how everything would unfold. And it's characters? Each one of them better than the last. Inkheart even has me contemplating writing a book just for myself it's so good. It provides such an ode to authors that I could see a lot of potential writers finding inspiration from its pages. I loved all the quotes from a range of books in the beginning of each chapter. They were all perfectly placed to describe the chapter I was about to read. There is so much detail in this book. You could tell the author immersed herself in her book and made sure readers were able to see the book come to life in their eyes. 

The main plot of this story is that a villain named Capricorn is after a book that Mo has. He doesn't just want the book but Mo as well because of his ability. So you can imagine where Capricorn came from and what he'll do to get his hands on the book and Silvertongue. This is very much an adventure story. Maybe not exactly slaying dragons and saving a damsel in distress but it's still a great adventure set in the real world. It's also a story with a fantastic cast of characters that I felt an arrange of emotions for especially the most misguided ones. If you think about it the characters that came out of the book were created to be the way they are or they have motivations or back stories that drive their actions and personalities. The story building and characters easily make this a must read. Or better yet a book about story characters coming to life feels like it would enchant any reader at any age.