Monday, November 28, 2011

review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

pub date: September 13, 2011
publisher: Scholastic
pages: 640
appeals: historical fiction, illustrations, adventure,
content: clean

Brian Selznick is an amazingly creative person. I think this book and The Invention of Hugo Cabret are great works of art and literature. The format and the way he builds his stories is really cool. Wonderstruck takes two stories, one about a boy that is written in words, and another story about a girl that is shown by drawings. It's cool how they parallel each other, like in one story there's a lightning storm and then switches to the other story and there is also a lightening storm. Which was cool.


Whereas I think the format is cool and the art is great, I was less than impressed with the actual story. I just didn't find either of them very compelling. And when the two stories actually connect, there was a great info-dump to explain all of the illustrations and what they meant and how the two stories tie together. Which takes away from the magic. It would've been cool to figure things out within the story, and not have to be told everything at the end.

Still enjoyable and I think that a lot of middle graders (and their parents) will enjoy this book.

Two independent stories—Ben's told in words and Rose's in pictures—weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.

Ever since his mom died, Ben feels lost.
At home with her father, Rose feels alone.

He is searching for someone, but he is not sure who.
She is searching for something, but she is not sure what.

When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mom's room,
When a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose.

Both children risk everything to find what's missing.

With over 460 pages of original drawings and playing with the form he invented in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey. Rich, complex, affecting and beautiful, Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.

Friday, November 18, 2011

my words are precious

It's nanowrimo in November, as I'm sure you all know. It is the reason for the scant posting on this blog. I have been reading, but not feeling like writing about what I've been reading. At this time, my words are precious and I want to use them where they count.

I have been delving into a new novel this month, putting my previous one on hold while I get this one into my computer. This is my fifth year participating, and I must say, it's been my most fun year by far. I love this story, even after eighteen days (a mighty miracle!) and I love where it's heading (another mighty miracle!). I am really bad at naming things, so at the moment the story is called, "Sisters." Lamest. Title. Ever. I know. It's a work in progress.

So that is where I will be for the next twelve days. Hopefully I'll be back in December with some reviews. Hopefully.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

pub date: July 12, 2011
publisher: Random House Children's Books
pages: 416
appeals: ghosts, mystery, romance, magic, witches, family, romance, Texas, ranching, romance :)
content: some swearing, a make-out scene

What a fun book. Really, quite delightful.

I liked Amy, our main character, and her snarky, sarcastic, highly entertaining personality. From the very first page, she grabbed my interest and kept me reading. Her family, especially sister Phin, were great, too. Is this a series? I kind of hope so because I really enjoyed the characters and would love more of them.

I must make a separate paragraph to make mention of the "hot neighbor cowboy." He is hot! He's her neighbor! and he's a cowboy! What isn't to love? He has a great personality, too. Amy meets while wearing only her underwear which makes for a great scene. From the onset, they hate each other, but Clement-Moore is so great at building the romantic tension in the mist of all their arguing. It was sublime romance. Seriously. But also rather nice that it was just attraction, and not all consuming, I-love-you-though-I-met-you-three-minutes-ago-and-I'll-die-without-you kind of thing. It was just a sweet, nice, realistic attraction. A really good one.

The overall story was fun. It's a mystery surrounding a ghost, with a good dose of denial and witchery, and some great snarky attitude. On a Texas ranch! Really fun stuff. And a quick read, for all it's pages.

You should give this one a try. It's good.

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

pub date: November 21, 2011
publisher: Razerbill
page: 309
source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer program
appeals: the 90s, facebook, futurish stuff, slight romance, multiple narrators,
content: swearing, it seemed that the topic of sex was brought up a lot

I don't really know what to write about The Future of Us. Like a lot of people, I really wanted to get my hands on this book. This was JAY ASHER. And the premise sounded really cool. But there is so much hype around this book, that in actually reading it I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. It just didn't blow me away like I thought/hoped it would. It's good, but it's not going to change the world.

And now we get to me not knowing what to write besides the general, "this was a good book" stuff. But I will try...

All the 90s references were fun. Emma and Josh are my age, I was 16 in 1996. So I laughed a lot at their lives because that was me. It's amazing how much has changed in 15 years.

To go along with that, the way they interpreted what the future was through facebook posts was also fun. My favorite was Emma in 1996 wondering why she was writing such personal information on a public forum in 2011. I wonder that all the time about others.

Whereas I liked Josh a lot, Emma really irritated me, as I'm sure she was supposed to. But I never felt like she redeemed herself, not even at the end. I hope she learned her lesson, but I still have my doubts. Mostly I was left wondering what Josh saw in the girl. 

I liked how Emma and Josh changed their future. I would write more, but every thing I try to expand on that thought, I delete it because I think it gives too much away about the plot. So just know, I liked how what they read in the future influenced their present, which in turn influenced their future. Get it?

I thought it similar to Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski which came out a few years ago.

It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

review: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

pub date: November 8, 2011
publisher: Source Books 
pages: 320
source: NetGalley
format: digital
appeals: historical fiction, romance, painting, magic, supernatural, spiritualism
content: some steamy kissing

The premise for this book is so great! I wish I thought of it. I loved how the portrait was introduced to Natalie and the relationship she has with it. I loved how she crossed into the painting. It was just cool, cool, cool.

I also liked that this novel is Natalie's journal. It made it more personal, I think, and more immediate. There was a lot of dry humor that I appreciated and made me laugh. And Natalie has such a fun personality that I enjoyed reading her thoughts.


I don't enjoy paranormal books that bring in Christian religious ideas. I have yet to read a fallen angel book I like for this very reason. Darker Still brings in religion and the idea of angels and devils and God, and it turns an otherwise fun book into something ridiculous (to me). Sure, have a bad guy, but does he have to use religious aspects in his evilness? I wish he hadn't. I would've enjoyed this book so much more.

That was the main complaint for me, but that is just me and my issue. There were smaller things that I wasn't such a fan of. Like the romance turned cheesy instead of sweet. I didn't like the wrap up at the end--I wish it had just ended with Natalie's diary closing, but there were some other stuff that happened outside of Natalie's diary that I didn't care for and I didn't feel were needed. And the "spell" that the evil dude creates is like a grab bag of stuff--oh, lets use religion and a pinch of hieroglyphics, maybe some Latin, and I can't forget poetry! I got confused.

And yet, it was a fun book. Just not my favorite.

The setting reminded me of the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen and the mood of the novel reminded me of Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.