Monday, April 28, 2014

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz. Reviewed from Kindle ARC.

I remember reading the first Au Pairs book by this author and thinking it was a juicy, enjoyable read. But I wasn't as thrilled with Blue Bloods.

Either I've grown up or she's regressed a little as an author.  The plot of this book sounds fantastic--alternative history with magic, fighting, princesses, and love.  But I found myself rolling my eyes a lot and wishing that I got to know the characters better.

Princess Marie and Aelwyn were best friends growing up, but separated when Aelwyn accidentally started a fire with her magic.  Aelwyn was raised to control her magic, knowing that she would always be controlled by the crown.  Marie was a sickly child who knew she would have to rule, but was more interested in falling in love.  Prince Wolf (my favorite character, of course) is the 2nd in line to the throne and determined to be the bad boy in the kingdom, while his brother and future king Leopold is the savior to the crown (and a horrible person behind closed doors).  Sounds fascinating, but there were too many plot holes and silly moments that just didn't work for me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Not my usual kind of read, but I was told that is was a "must read" by a friend.  I understand why it's used in psychology classes.  As a history buff, I loved Part I--all about Frankl's experience in concentration camps during World War II and how he survived.  I sure hope I never go through the steps he describes when people suffer. But, if I do, I think I would be one who would do my darnedest to make it.

Part II was about his logotherapy and that's where I started skimming. I've never seriously contemplated the meaning of my life--I've got a daughter to love and students to help. I did find myself agreeing with Frankl a lot:  "By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant (131)."

Favorite quote from p. 89 in my edition:

"I stopped, looked around, and up to the sky--and then I went down on my knees. At that moment there was very little I knew of myself or of the world--I had but one sentence in mind--always the same: 'I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and He answered me in the freedom of space.' 

Now that's beautiful.  And why I travel to discover new spaces of freedom.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Supreme Macaroni Company

I picked up this book at work, not knowing that it was #3 in a series.  But I didn't mind--it was just what I was looking for.

Valentine is a fast-speaking Italian shoe factory owner, who it seems fell in love with an older man in Book #2.  I did feel like I was missing quite a bit by not reading the first two books, but now I want to read The Shoemaker's Wife--I've had the ARC of that novel on my shelf for awhile. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Book 2 of The Lunar Chronicles

I was a fan of Cinder, the first book in this series, and I've had the autographed ARC of this title on my shelf for more than a year! And I'm glad I picked it up!

Scarlet wears her red hoodie proudly as she delivers food in France in her grandma's spaceship.  When her grandma is kidnapped, Scarlet wants to find her and discover the family secrets.

Meanwhile (continued from Book One) Cinder is on the run from the Empire and the Lunar Queen and knows why she's wanted.  Cinder is part Lunar and part cyborg--she can use the screwdriver in her finger AND force people to do what she wants.  It's a lot of power and she doesn't want to use it evilly like the Queen.

Scarlet and Cinder are thrown together (of course) in some great fight scenes--love the fast pace of this novel.  Really, you can't go wrong with sci-fi twisted fairy tales! Book 3, Cress, is already out so I'll have to order it soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban

This is a quiet read for middle schoolers, so it's not my cup of tea.  I understand there are readers for this type of book out there though!

Twelve-year-old Ruby Pepperdine is trying to figure out how to deal with the recent death of her grandmother while she's waiting to read her winning essay about Capt. Bunning, the man who founded her town and brought the doughnuts to America.  I was thankful that the author ended the novel with a note explaining that Capt. Bunning was made up--I was afraid that readers wouldn't know!

Panic by Sharon Draper

Interesting storyline, but Draper just didn't make it work. Perhaps there was so much going on that I couldn't be emotionally vested in any of the characters?

Dance is life for every character in this book, and they are all excited about the studio's upcoming production of Peter Pan.  However, Diamond disappears from the mall with a strange man. This is a kidnapping story, but Diamond was stupid enough to get into a vehicle with a man who promised her a role in a movie.  I couldn't help but roll my eyes at her stupidity. 

And then....

Layla is involved in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Donovan. He leaves bruises on her and is jealous of her dancing.  She allows him to take topless photos of her and, of course, he texts them to everyone when they break up. 

The combination of these storylines is what didn't work with me.  Either one could have filled a YA book, but the combination led me to compare them.  Was Draper really comparing two types of kiddie porn--online sex videos with drugged teen girls and topless photos distributed by ex-boyfriends?

For some reason, I wanted more Layla and Justin (the only male dancer) and less Diamond and Donovan.  The Ds weren't fleshed out--I didn't know enough about them to care, even if one was kidnapped and one became a loser when he started hanging out with the wrong crowd. 

However, I have a feeling that some reluctant readers will enjoy this one--lots of action and no character development.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Three by Kristen Simmons

So I don't think I read book two in this series, so I was a little lost.  But it's still readable!

Ember and her boyfriend Chase are still on the run from the government.  They take refuge with a rebel group called Three (how appropriate since this is the third book in the trilogy!).  The action is non-stop because they are always on the run.  There's lots of backstabbing, double-crossing, and taking chances, but, of course, most things end up okay.  Don't get too attached to some of the characters though....

I'm a bit burned out on dystopia, but this one is better than some of the others I've read lately.  Give this series to students who love Hunger Games and Divergent.