Thursday, May 31, 2012

review: Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale

pub date: Feb 14, 2012
publisher: Random House Children's Books
pages: 464
source: for review at Kiss the Book
appeals: romance, family, mystery, travel
content: off page sex, swearing

When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.thoughts:

Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.

I read this book a few weeks ago, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details. But I will start off with: The cover is BORING. I like the UK cover much better--they have some color and personality. With the US cover, just blah. 

And now the story...

I was impressed with how surprising this novel was. When I began, I expected the story to go in one direction, and then it went in a new direction and took a few twists along the way. I liked the originality.

There were really two stories being told, Rosie's and an unnamed girl who had a page here and there between Rosie's narrative. It was interesting how the two girls and their stories met up and how they were resolved.

I thought the writing was interesting, the character's and their stories interesting, and the how twisted it all was.

I will say that Rosie and the mystery girl did get on my nerves at times. Mostly because I wanted them to behave in a different manner then they did. But, not everyone is me so they did their own thing and it worked for the story being told.

I liked.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

review: Welcome, Caller, This is Chole by Shelley Coriell

pub date: May 1, 2012
publisher: Amulet Books
pages: 299
appeals: radio, romance, friends, family, happy main character
content: clean

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly.

Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

This is a sweet story with a great main character. What is so appealing about Chloe is she is not angsty or bitter with the difficult things that are happening to her with her friends and family. She makes fun, happy things and takes control in finding the good. She is also very forgiving of those who treat her poorly. Which is really nice and refreshing.

Besides all the meanness from many of the other characters populating the book, I liked them. Especially Duncan. He wasn't necessarily heartthrob material, but he was way sweet.

Some of the story I found unrealistic--for example her call-in show becoming uber popular in a matter of three weeks. But who cares--it was fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

review: Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

pub date: December 2011
publisher: Cedar Fort
pages: 318
source: library
appeals: clean romance, high school, realistic fiction, contemporary
content: clean

I came across this book at the library one day this month, had never heard of it before, but after reading the back and a page in the middle I was interested in reading the whole thing. So I took it home and finally read it this past weekend.

I must say, it was cute.

Jen, the main character, had a fun voice. A tad self-deprecating, and very honest. She struggled with stuff in her life, had built a wall around herself, and was on a self-destructive path to not much. I thought her growth as a character was real.

I did think the pacing was off. The ending seemed to drag a little, and places in the middle sped by where I would've liked more. It also wasn't very rounded as a story--all the focus was on her relationship with Trevor, hardly any of it was about any other aspect of her life. For example, her relationship with her foster parents/family was undeveloped, so when events happened with them it was very out of the blue and odd. But really, the main draw of this book was Trevor and their developing relationship, so who cares about her foster family?

I did really enjoy Trevor and his influence on Jen and the way their relationship developed. I giggled and smiled quite a bit.

So overall, very enjoyable. I actually went back and skimmed my favorite parts after I'd finished it the first time.

Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

Friday, May 25, 2012

classic retellings booklist: a new twist on an old tale

I've been putting together a YA book display at the library of classic retellings, and thought I would share the list here. I had intended to put pictures and summaries, but the list is long so you just get links to goodreads.

Most are young adult, some are a little younger, some a little older.

This is a work in progress, one I'm going to keep updating as I find new books to add, so if I'm missing some please put them in the comments!

Fairy Tale Retellings
Beauty and the Beast
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck (2011) [goodreads]
Beauty by Robin McKinley [goodreads]
Beastly by Alex Flinn (2007) [goodreads]

Little Red Riding Hood
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (2010) [goodreads]

12 Dancing Princesses
Entwined by Heather Dixon (2011) [goodreads]
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (2009) [goodreads]
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (2007) [goodreads]
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (2011) [goodreads]

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012) [goodreads]
Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer (2008) [goodreads]
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2007) [goodreads]
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott (2011) [goodreads]
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan (2001) [goodreads]
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (1997) [goodreads]
Ash by Mainda Lo (2010) [goodreads]

Snow White
Wicked Jealous by Robin Palmer (July 2012) [goodreads]
Snow White Sorry by Cameron Jace (Oct 2012) [goodreads]Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede (1989) [goodreads]

East of the Sun, West of the Moon
East by Edith Pattou (2005) [goodreads]
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George (2008) [goodreads]
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (2009) [goodreads]

Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan (2011) [goodreads]
A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (2009) [goodreads
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (1988) [goodreads]
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (1999) [goodreads]
The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker (2010) [goodreads]

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce--Hansel and Gretel (2011) [goodreads]
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale--Maid Maleen (2007) [goodreads]
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale--The Goose Girl (2003) [goodreads]
The Blue Castle by Lucy M. Montgomery--Blue Beard (1926) [goodreads]
The Brixen Witch by Stacy DeKeyser--The Pied Piper (2012) [goodreads]
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce--Rumpelstiltskin (2008) [goodreads]
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli--Rapunzel (1996) [goodreads]
The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker--Frog Prince (2002) [goodreads]

Fairytale Mashups
Enchanted by Aleathea Kontis (2012) [goodreads]
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (2012) [goodreads]
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (2010) [goodreads]

Shakespeare Retellings
Romeo and Juliet
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay (2011) [goodreads]
Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors (2008) [goodreads]
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman (2002) [goodreads]
Romeo's Ex: Rosalind's Story by Lisa Fiedler (2006) [goodreads]
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (2012) [goodreads]
Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins (2012) [goodreads]
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (2011) [goodreads]
Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein (2006) [goodreads]

A Midsummer Night's Dream
This Must Be Love by Tui T. Sutherland (2005) [goodreads]
Wonderous Strange by Leslie Livingston (2008) [goodreads]
The Loser's Guide to Life and Love by A.E. Cannon (2008) [goodreads]

Enter Three Witches by Caroline Cooney (2007) [goodreads]

Much Ado About Nothing
Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman (2008) [goodreads]

The Tempest
Ariel by Grace Tiffany (2005) [goodreads]

Twelfth Night
Illyria by Elizabeth Hand (2010) [goodreads]

 Jane Austen Retellings
Pride and Prejudice
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulbert (2011) [goodreads]
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard (2009) [goodreads
Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik (2011) [goodreads]
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman (2006) [goodreads]
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (2009) [goodreads]
Pride and Popularity by Jenni James (2011) [goodreads]

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (2012) [goodreads]

Sense and Sensability
Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler (2011) [goodreads]
The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton (2006) [goodreads]
Northanger Abby
Northanger Alibi by Jenni James (2012) [goodreads]

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer (2009) [goodreads]

Classic Retellings
Jekyll and Hyde
Jekel loves Hyde by Beth Fantasky (2010) [goodreads]

Sherlock Holmes
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane (2010) [goodreads]

Robin Hood
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen (2012) [goodreads
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig (2012) [goodreads]

Peter Pan
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2012) [goodreads]
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (2004) [goodreads]

King Arthur/Merlin
Avalon High by Meg Cabot (2006) [goodreads]

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane by April Lindner (2010) [goodreads]
A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont (2012) [goodreads]
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (2012) [goodreads]

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Catherine by April Lindner (2013) [goodreads]
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
His Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (2011) [goodreads]
Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (2011) [goodreads]

Don Quixote
Going Bovine by Libba Bray (2009) [goodreads]

Turn of the Screw
Tighter by Adele Griffin (2011) [goodreads]

Poe's The Raven (poem)
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (2010) [goodreads]

Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier
New Girl by Paige Harbison (2011) [goodreads

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri (2009) [goodreads]

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Flawless by Lara Chapman (2011) [goodreads]
At Face Value by Emily Franklin (2008) [goodreads]

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (2011) [goodreads]

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Humming Room by Ellen Potter--The Secret Garden (2012) [goodreads]

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Sept 2012) [goodreads]

The Coming of the Dragon by Rebecca Barnhouse

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Marly's Ghost by David Levithan (2005) [goodreads]

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick (2007) [goodreads]
Myth Retellings
Abandon by Meg Cabot (2011) [goodreads]
Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman (2009) [goodreads]
Everneath by Brodi Ashton (2012) [goodreads]
The Goddess Test by Amie Carter (2011) [goodreads]

Helen of Troy
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (2011) [goodreads]
Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner (2007) [goodreads]

King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrettt (2010) [goodreads]
Torn from Troy by Patrick Bowman (2011) [goodreads]

Monday, May 14, 2012

audio review: Stolen: a Letter to my Capture by Lucy Christopher

pub date: May 4, 2009
publisher: Chicken House
pages: 301
source: library
audiobook reader: Emily Gray
appeals: kidnapping, Australia, England, letter
content: there is swearing, including the f-bomb. Besides that, it's been so long, I don't really remember. But it is about a girl who is kidnapped by an older man, and it is emotionally brutal

It is now May, and I listened to this book back at the beginning of March. A loooong time ago, so my thoughts on the book are a little fuzzy. I debated about writing a review on the book since it's been so long, but decided I really wanted to. This book left me dazed and confused and a tad upset. It packed an emotional punch that lasted a few days. I wasn't lying when I said it was emotionally brutal.

I listened to the audio of this book. I like to listen to audio books in my car, and usually when I select audio books I just browse the shelves for what's checked in. Which means the audios I listen to are ones that I normally wouldn't read. If there is a book I really want to read, I read it in days. Audio books take me a few weeks to listen to, and I'm usually too impatient for that when it's a book I'm excited about. Sometimes the audios I pick up are duds, but sometimes it's a serendipitous find, like Stolen.

The day I picked this book off the shelf, it was the only teen novel that wasn't too long (I try to stick with audio books that are only 6-7 discs), and I knew it was a Printz honor. 

It grabbed me from the get-go. I loved the premise, that this was a letter written by Gemma, to her kidnapper, Ty. She wrote as if she was speaking to him face-to-face and it made it more personable, more real. Though there were times Gemma really got on my nerves, I understood her motivation for everything she did/didn't do.

Ty takes Gemma to Australia. Christopher does such a wonderful job at describing the landscape, the life led on the outback. It was so rich and real. It build a world for this story that was truly remarkable.

The ending sort of traumatized me. It ended the way I thought it needed to, but the way I didn't want it to. Gemma and Ty felt so real to me that I wanted their stories to be different, to end different. I had to remind myself that it was fiction, not nonfiction. It was just a story.

Emily Gray, the reader for the audio, was also fantastic. She had a voice that sounded young and innocent and angry and scared and lost, but not all at the same time. It added to the story.

A really superb book.

It happened like this.

I was stolen from an airport.
Taken from everything I knew,
everything I was used to.
Taken to sand and heat, dirt
and danger. And he expected
me to love him. This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

audio reviews by Jaye: The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

Yay! another review by Jaye! This is a book I listened to first, then gave to Jaye because I enjoyed it so much. I agree with everything Jaye wrote, or I would've written one of my own, too.

pub date: April 1, 2005
publisher: Scholastic
pages: 340
appeals: A light, humorous romance; School serves as the main backdrop; Told entirely through correspondence; The girls are the main characters, but the guys are heavily involved, stealing the spotlight at times; Multiple, diverse characters that are pretty well-drawn, but not deeply so
content: Some language and innuendo, no sex or graphic situations

Jay's thoughts:
Wealthy Ashbury 10th graders Emily, Lydia and Cass were not excited to start the “pen friend” program with “low-life” Brookfield students. However, once Em began corresponding with Charlie, and Lydia with Seb, things started to look up. Cassie, on the other hand, has an unexpected and frightening experience with Matthew.

This book is composed entirely of written correspondence, whether it is letters back and forth, notes from parents, or entries in Lydia’s NotebookTM (she’s an aspiring author). It was confusing at first, trying to get a solid hand on who was writing who and each of their situations. It did settle down a little further into the book.

The beginning was chronological, but as I got further in, it took turns focusing on one “couple” before going back and showing what other characters had been doing at the same time. Maybe that helped in keeping the characters straight, and I did get to follow each drama to its conclusion. However, it was confusing in its own right, and I would have liked everything to follow along without the inadvertent time travel.

I listened to the audio, which had a cast rather than a single narrator, and that helped define characters as well. Everyone performed very well, and made the characters their own. It takes place in Australia, so the accents were enjoyable, too.

The characters had distinctive voices, and it was nice to learn about the girls’ friendship, and get to know the guys they were writing. They all had faults, but I liked them anyway, even if I did roll my eyes at Emily’s snobbishness, or Seb’s over-the-top flirting. Favorite character: Charlie, and even he wasn't without fault.

They were all surprisingly willing to break the law. The main difference was that the girls mostly managed to avoid getting caught, but the guys were pretty familiar with the form master’s office. I was laughing out loud at parts, wondering how their antics were going to play out. Sometimes I was outraged on someone’s behalf, and a few times I had to cheer them on, even when what they were doing was stupid. There were some definite surprises.

It was a solid, enjoyable read with romance, drama, and a hint of danger. Plus, a hilarious “courtroom” scene near the end.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

pub date: February 14, 2012
publisher: Random House Children's Book
pages: 313
source: for review at Kiss the Book
appeals: mulitple narrators, male protagonist, facial deformity, school, bullies, contemporary fiction, friendship, family
content: clean

I'm not sure why I picked this book up, since it's for a younger audience then I usually enjoy reading and I didn't know much about it beyond knowing it had gotten good reviews from professional reviewers.

But I'm glad I picked it up and I'm glad I then read it. It was amazing.

The story is told through 5 points of view, first person. Auggie has the largest 2 sections, the first and the last. But in the middle we get to read Auggie's story through four other people as well, his sister Via, Via's friend, and two of Auggie's friends at his new school. It gave a more complete picture of Auggie and really showed how remarkable this ten-year-old boy was. The multiple view points were one of the reasons I loved the book so much.

The novel is also extremely well-written and populated with real, flawed, and amazing characters. This is one of those books where the characters have these insights into their lives like a light bulb flashing on, but they're also insights into life in general. Just a really amazing book.

I am curious about the audience. Has anyone else read this book? Who do you think it's for? Auggie is ten, he's in fifth grade. But the level of reading for this book seems more like sixth or seventh. But would a six or seventh grader read this book about a fifth grader? Any opinons on that? I do think a teacher would need to direct students to this book. Doesn't seem like one they'd just pick up read on their own, and they should! It is a fantastic book.

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

reviews by Jaye: My Sister's Stalker by Nancy Springer

I convinced my friend Jaye to write some reviews for me. And here is her second review. Enjoy.

pub date: February 20, 2012
publisher: Holiday House
pages: 128

Jaye's Thoughts:
This book is almost a novella, and that may be part of the reason for its being so different than many teen books around today. It comes in at a whopping 93 pages, and pretty much every one of them moves.

Synopsis: Rig discovers a stalker-ish website about his sister, who is away at school and gets worried. From there, it diverges from typical teen books, in that the first person he thinks to go to is his dad. In my experience, parents—most any adult, really, is the last person teens go to for help, and parents are generally largely absent. But hold on, it gets better—his dad believes him, and they start working together. Even his absentminded, sweetly na├»ve mom gets involved. And drives him crazy. I liked that.

I like how Rig’s character was drawn. 93 pages isn’t much time to flesh out the characters, but with thrillers, that’s not usually a high priority. Still, I found Rig a sympathetic hero, someone to root for. He went through a bit of self-discovery, too, which was interesting, though I would have liked more development and exploration with it. One aspect of this self-discovery was revealed at the very end, and it didn’t seem to fit. Came straight out of left field, and left me wondering, “Huh?” Other than that, a fun, short read. One for an afternoon. At least an hour of one, anyway.

When 15-year-old Rig, a loner, discovers that his popular older sister is being stalked while away at college, he sets out to save her, with unexpected help from his divorced parents.