Tuesday, March 16, 2010

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

I am so blown away by this book, I don’t even know where to begin. This is the sequel to Sonneblick’s Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, which was a fabulous book in it’s own right. It picks up the story about Jeff, an eight grader, who also happens to be a cancer survivor. Though he has been a survive for more than five years, he still lives with the effects of his cancer and it’s treatment. He has a limp, he sometimes has trouble focusing and he just can’t wrap his brain around math. The story is not just about Jeff’s struggles with math and a new state mandated standardized test he must pass in order to graduate 8th grade, but it also centers around his best friend, Tad – the other half of the cancer twins. I’ll stop here with the summary so as not to give anything away.

This is another one of those books where the author’s words jump right off the page and grab the reader by the collar and pull him right into the story. You can’t read this book without becoming attached to the characters. It is truly a moving story. If you liked Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, even just a little, you must read this book.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don't.) by Barbara Bottner

This is a great book about a young student who is convinced there is no book she would ever want to read willingly and the librarian who finds just the right book to change her mind. I wish I was as much fun and as cool as Miss Brooks.

Miss Brooks is the kind of librarian I want to be - if I didn't have to spend so much time checking the block on dry topics that the students could care less about. Her whimsical approach to sharing books with children is sure to entice even the most reluctant of readers. This one is not only worth checking out, but it's worth adding to your personal collection, too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In Katsa’s world being “graced” is not necessarily a blessing. Katsa is a Graceling, a person with two different colored eyes and an extraordinary gift. Katsa’s “gift” is the ability to kill people with her bare hands. It is something she has been able to do since she was small child. As the niece of the king, she should be enjoying a life of luxury. Instead, she spends her days as the king’s enforcer – torturing people to follow the king’s wishes. In secret rebellion, Katsa has formed the Council, which provides justice and fairness for those mistreated. It is during Council business that Katsa meets Prince Po, another Graceling, with an unusual ability. Together, they take on an incredible evil.

This is a great book for teen girls. Katsa is a strong female character that reader gets the pleasure of seeing of grow and mature through out the book. For those who like a little romance, the relationship between Katsa and Po does not disappoint. Cashore’s characters are well developed with plenty of depth. She paints a colorful and beautiful, though at times frightening picture of the Seven Kingdoms. This is a wonderful addition to the fantasy genre. Cashore’s next book Fire is a prequel to Graceling. I’m looking forward to reading it.

What are you reading?

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry

I admit that I picked this book because of the title. I have a pet hedgehog and for some reason thought this would be a good read. I tried the book on audio and just could not get in to it. I did not find the book's main characters at all likable. Renee Michel, the 54 year old concierge of a luxury Paris apartment building was a bombastic snobbish bore. Twelve year old Paloma was not much better. I opted not to torture myself by forcing myself to finish the book. I am not listening to Michael Scott's "The Magician" - a much more enjoyable and interesting story. Check back for the scoop on this book.

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

I did enjoy this book, but I did find it strange that Deirdre just accepts the idea of faeries without any question. Where was the struggle to accept something as real that most people consider to be legend or fairy tale? I was very pleased with the ending as it was not what I expected.

Deirdre Monaghan is a gifted harpist with gut wrenching stage fright. She is physically ill before each performance. During a typical pre-performance bout of vomiting she meets incredibly handsome Luke Dillon who comes into the restroom to hold her hair. He is a flautist who proceeds to accompany her in a heart wrenching, out of this world performance. As four-leaf clovers start appearing everywhere, Deirdre develops magical powers and encounters strange, unworldly people who seem to bear her ill will. Her best friend, James, a talented piper; her beloved grandmother; and her mother all are in danger, as the Faerie Queen tries to have Deidre killed. Who is the killer? You guessed it - Luke. Deirdre eventually discovers that she is a cloverhand, a person draws the fey to her like a magnet. The love story of Deidre and Luke is accented by James’ unrequited love for Deidre, Deidre’s battle with her somewhat overbearing mother and Luke’s struggle to follow his heart and defy the Faerie Queen. If you enjoyed Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series or Need by Carrie Jones, you will enjoy this series as well.

As for the comparison of Deirdre's relationship with Luke to that of Bella and Edward - well that sort of relationship wasn't invented by Meyers (though I believe she did a great job with it). I think Deirdre is a strong character, likable character. I hope we get to see more of here. I've already added "Ballad" to my to read list.