Monday, September 15, 2014

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

This graphic novel is a coming of age story about Rose and her annual summer trip to a cottage.  She's not having a good time--her parents won't stop fighting, and her dad even leaves to "work in the city" for awhile.  While on vacation, Rose's best friend is a younger girl named Windy, and the two of them rent horror movies and spy on the older kids around the area.  There's drama there, too, with cool slacker boys and dramatic teen girls--Rose is the watcher and misunderstands quite a bit.  Windy, having grown up with a hippie mom, tries to set Rose straight with some anti-slut discussion, but Rose doesn't get it.

I enjoyed this little read, but there wasn't any earth shattering moments for me.  The art is beautiful--love the purple and occasional full page spreads.  But, hey, it's middle school, and not much happens to middle schoolers in a summer.

Fair warning--there are plenty of cuss words here, and talk about boobs and sex and questioning. Nothing I wouldn't let my junior high kid read though, although there are parts I'd want to discuss with her.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Reviewed from ARC received from the publisher.

I can't say that I'm a huge Woodson fan.  I loved the audiobook production of Peace, Locomotion, but wasn't thrilled with Hush. I thought Each Kindness was beautiful, but too heavy handed for children, although I'm sure some students need to have books like that read to them to stop bullying!

But, whoa, this one will win some awards.  You know it's coming up at the Newbery table discussion this year, so it will be interesting to see if it wins.  Woodson's memoir is told in verse and she was a sweet, wonderful way with words. After reading this, you'll understand how she grew to know that words are her gift. Lots of passages to highlight in this one and refer back to!

I don't work with children or tweens so I have a question--is this kind of book popular with them? Will this fulfill the requirement of a teacher who requires a biography or autobiography to be read? If so, then the novel in verse will be a hit. But I just can't picture my daughter enjoying the beautiful rhythm and carefully chosen adjectives. It seems to be more for adults and young adults, which makes me wonder if the Printz committee is taking a look? Guess we'll find out in January at the awards ceremony!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

This is book #3 in the Grisha trilogy (see Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm) and it's been on my to-read list for ages! So glad I made time to read it.

Alina and Mal are still trying to save their world.  Alina is a powerful Sun Summoner and now treated like a saint, but the two are searching for a firebird to make her powerful enough to defeat the Darkling.  They have a great group of faithful and funny friends to help them on their journey, and the witty dialogue is a good addition to the book.  The constant action makes this a swift and easy read, and the ending was satisfying to me.  Can't wait to see what she writes next!

Dragonfly in Amber

Well, this wasn't as good as the first book, but I know I'll keep reading the series.  I can't help but picture the actors from the Starz series as I read now! There were a little too much politicking in this for me, so I'm hoping that calms down a bit in book #3. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

So I just finished this author's Genghis series (that I loved!), so I figured I'd give his new series a chance. 

Told from multiple points-of-view, this historical fiction tries to clear the muddy waters that are England and France international relations.  I have to admit that I should know this stuff from my English History class, but it's so darn complicated that not much of this sounded familiar to me. Then, after reading the end, I found out what was historical and what was made up, and I was thankful that the made up parts weren't real! Whew!

I have to admit that I liked the parts from Queen Margaret's point-of-view most--I liked her. I didn't love this as much as the first book of Genghis, and I think it's because it's difficult to throw so much known history together into a novel. It'sswimming in characters, and not many of them are fleshed out.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm in the mood for smut.  And I like my smut to be historical smut.  50 Shades of Grey isn't for me--give me women in corsets and men who seduce them, please!

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is a twenty-eight year old spinster living in England, and decides that she will use her spotless reputation to create a bucket list.  Number one on the list is to be kissed, so she arrives at the Marquis of Ralston's house since he's the most notorious rake around. He does his duty.  And a lot more (hehe).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I'm a little late to the bandwagon on this one, but, whoa, I'm so glad I found it! I watched the first episode of Outlander on Starz YouTube and I loved it! Scotland, time travel, gorgeous guys in kilts--what's not to like? And so I downloaded the ebook and gave it a try.  The TV show is pretty darn accurate with the book--smutty historical drama!

I have to admit that I'm a bit worried about the upcoming violent scenes--those of you who know me know that I don't do R rated stuff. My innocent eyes.  ;) But the rest of the story will keep me watching, I bet. I've already placed Book #2 on hold!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Frozen by Mary Casanova

No, not that Frozen.

But this takes place in Minnesota and since I'm currently freezing in the Northwoods, I thought I would give it a try. Sadie Rose is being raised by the rich Worthingtons, and she can't talk. However, all of a sudden, her voice comes back, she meets other teenagers she likes, she bobs her hair, and stands up to the Worthingtons in order to find out who her parents really are. Her memory conveniently comes back in chunks so that she knows her mom was a prostitute and then she remembers enough about the night when her mom died. Too many coincidences for me in this book, even though I like the time period and setting. And I LOVE the cover. But, when the reader keeps saying, "Really?" Then it needs to be re-written. If it weren't about whores, I would think I had read a middle-grade mystery novel--that's the kind of suspense and intrigue that's in here.

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Raccula

This isn't my usual read--it's an adult book about a weekend music festival for teens held at The Bellweather Hotel. I have to admit that I thought of the chorus and band teachers I know--bet they've never chaperoned a weekend like this! Alice and her twin brother Rabbit are caught up in a mystery when Alice's roommate goes missing. The music festival director isn't concerned--her gifted daughter has disappeared before. Add in some other quirky characters (think Seinfeld) and more mystery and you've got a quirky read. Gives new meaning to the phrase..."this one time at band camp...."

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Sometimes I'm in the mood for good YA storytelling, and that's why this ARC has been sitting on my shelf for three years. I knew I would eventually get to it, since I enjoyed the first book in the series, Hex Hall.

Sophie is still trying to figure out how to be a demon, but now she has the help of her father whom she barely knows. There's a love triangle (of course) and the action totally leads into Book 3, but I was totally fine with what this book had to offer!