Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crossing Stones

Crossing Stones Crossing Stones by Helen Frost

Awards: Kirkus Best Book of the Year; YALSA's Best Books for YA

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the publisher:
Maybe you won’t rock a cradle, Muriel.
Some women seem to prefer to rock the boat.
Eighteen-year-old Muriel Jorgensen lives on one side of Crabapple Creek. Her family’s closest friends, the Normans, live on the other. For as long as Muriel can remember, the families’ lives have been intertwined, connected by the crossing stones that span the water. But now that Frank Norman—who Muriel is just beginning to think might be more than a friend—has enlisted to fight in World War I and her brother, Ollie, has lied about his age to join him, the future is uncertain. As Muriel tends to things at home with the help of Frank’s sister, Emma, she becomes more and more fascinated by the women’s suffrage movement, but she is surrounded by people who advise her to keep her opinions to herself.
This is a beautifully structured historical fiction verse novel. I loved the voices of the different characters. I loved the imagery with the way the poems were printed on the page. (I recommend reading the Notes on Form at the end of the book before starting the book.) I loved the pure emotion. I felt so involved in the plot and I shed a few tears along the way. An absolutely captivating look at a time in history that I think is too often overlooked. Wholeheartedly recommended for ages 12 and up.

Also reviewed by: Becky's Book Reviews

Book 18 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 10 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
Book 11 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
Book 8 of 10 for the Book Awards IV Challenge
Book 6 of 25 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge
Book 6 of 12 for the Historical Fiction Challenge
Book 15 of 25 for the MG Reading Challenge 

Source: Library

Friday, February 26, 2010

To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

Awards: Hugo Award; Locus Award; Alex Award; Nebula nominee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this book was funny when I was reading it. But then my book club got together last night to discuss it and it was downright hilarious. There is so much about this book to discuss, if nothing else but to relive favorite wacky moments of Ned and Verity, time travelers in Victorian England. This book combines a little mystery, history, romance, and mind-bending time travel in a way I won't soon forget.

It's the year 2057 and Ned Henry is suffering from time-lag. He's has too many time travel drops and he's exhausted and can't think straight. His boss, Mr. Dunworthy, sends him back to 1888 to escape the wrath of Lady Schrapnell who wants Ned to find the Bishop's Bird Stump (a horrifically gaudy vase that disappeared during a bombing raid in WWII). When Ned lands in 1888, despite the fact that he really needs to rest, he's thrown into an incongruity in time that he and his partner Verity need to correct before there are disastrous historical consequences.

This is an incredibly well-written book. Willis tackles some great themes including social change, cultural identities, and free will vs. determinism with quirky and entertaining characters. The only reason I didn't give this clever book five stars is that the plot moves a little slow in parts and it took me awhile to really get invested in the story. But once I finished the whole book, I understood why all the bits and pieces were there and I had a lot to think about. I can see where this book might not have universal appeal, but I definitely recommend this one for lovers of all things British and literary. This is one of the most unique books I've ever read.

Also reviewed by:
Book 17 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 9 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
Book 7 of 10 for the Book Awards IV Challenge

Source: Borrowed

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scarlett Fever

Scarlett Fever Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

Series: Book 2 of 3

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been waiting anxiously for this sequel to Suite Scarlett.  Maureen Johnson is becoming a favorite YA author of mine. Her characters are fun and quirky and I love her sense of humor.

It's the last few days of the summer and Scarlett is really trying to forget about Eric because she's become a little obsessed. She has her job working as Mrs. Amberson's assistant and her work at the the family-owned Hopewell Hotel in NYC to keep things moving. But, it is a relief when school starts and 15-year old Scarlett can focus on her studies. But Eric is still in her mind, and he keeps popping up in her life when she least expects it. On top of that, Marlene is being a little too nice, Lola is having an identity crisis, and Spencer might actually land a serious acting gig. Mrs. Amberson insists that Scarlett keep an eye on Max, a new kid in her biology class whose sister is a client of Mrs. Amberson, but Scarlett can't stand him.

This book started out slow (think Bella pining for Edward). But about 60 pages in, life at the Hopewell becomes anything but dull as the crazy Martin family escapades turned this book into a serious page-turner. I laughed and cringed and I can't wait for the final installment. This book ends with a real cliffhanger.

Also reviewed by:
Book 10 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
Book 16 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 23 of 50 for the Countdown Challenge (2010)
Book 5 of 25 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge

Source: Library

Monday, February 15, 2010

Heist Society

Heist Society Heist Society by Ally Carter

Series: Book 1 of ?

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

When I saw this book come out last Tuesday, I was so happy to snag the first copy at the library. I have really been enjoyed the Gallagher Girl series, and I was excited to see Ally Carter begin a new series about young art thieves.

Katarina is a 15-year old reformed art thief who comes out of "retirement" to re-steal priceless works to save her dad's life. Her partners-in-crime include billionaire (and potential love interest) Hale, his butler Marcus, her beautiful cousin Gabrielle, techie Simon, an unknown but savvy pickpocket (and potential love interest) Nick, and a few more besides. Their heist takes them all across Europe as they figure out where the paintings are and how they are going to retrieve them.

I did have high expectations, but I was somewhat disappointed in this one. There were too many characters and the plot unfolded in kind of a confusing way. I did feel that Carter worked out most of the kinks by the end though and set herself up better for future books, so I will probably read the next one. Plus, I loved Hale...

Also reviewed by:
Book 9 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
Book 15 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 22 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2010)
Book 4 of 25 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge

Source: Library

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Masqueraders

The Masqueraders The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: December 1, 2009 (first published 1928)
ISBN: 9781402219504
Pages: 325
Price: $13.99

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my fourth Georgette Heyer book and I seem to be enjoying them more and more. This one is definitely different from the other books I've read by her. This book isn't set in the Regency period, but rather earlier in the Georgian era. It is just after the 1745 Jacobite Rising (of which I ashamedly knew nothing about) when a brother and sister appear on the scene in London. They appear to be high society, but no one can say for sure who they are or where they come from. 

The couple are in fact brother and sister. However, they are escaped Jacobites and they are also cross-dressers. They both fall in love while trying to keep their true identities secret to protect themselves. When their father comes to town acting as a viscount, even Prudence and Robin (AKA Peter and Kate Merriot) can't figure out what the truth is anymore.

The book has romance, mystery, comedy, duels and even a murder. I was heartily confused at the beginning of the book as the characters and their assumed identities are introduced. But once I figured out who was who, this was great fun.

Also reviewed by:
Book 14 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 5 of 12 for the Historical Fiction Challenge
Book 4 for the Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge 

Source: Publisher (thank you Danielle!)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Year Down Yonder

A Year Down Yonder A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck 

Awards: State Award; Booklist Editors' Choice; Parent's Guide Book Award/ Honor Book; ALA Notable/Best Books; Newbery Medal; SLJ Best Book; ABC (Assoc. of Booksellers for Children) Choice; Blue Spruce Award/Nominee; YALSA Best Books for YA 

Series: Sequel to A Long Way From Chicago

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fifteen year old Mary Alice is a city girl from Chicago. The year is 1937 and there is a recession and her father is out of work. So her parents need to send her to live with her (somewhat scary) Grandma Dowdel in rural Illinois for a year.

The adventures of Mary Alice and Grandma Dowdel had me laughing out loud. From dealing with bully Mildred Burdick, to catching hooligans who destroy privies during Halloween, to the Legionnaires Armistice Day turkey shoot, this book is a year worth of eye-opening experiences for Mary Alice. Both she and her grandmother come to a close understanding of each other, but not exactly in a touchy-feely kind of way. I though this book was very sweet and I would recommend it for 6th grade and up.

This book won the Newbery in 2001 and its prequel was a Newbery Honor Book. I can't believe I read the second book first, but I will definitely read more by Richard Peck in the future.

Also reviewed by:
Have I missed yours?

Book 13 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 6 of 10 for the Book Awards IV Reading Challenge
Book 8 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
Book 8 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge
Book 4 of 12 for the Historical Fiction Challenge
Book 14 of 25 for the MG Book Challenge 
Book 8 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge

Source: BookMooch

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, #2) The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Series: Book 2 of 3 (Chaos Walking)
Awards: Publishers Weekly Best Book; Costa/Whitbread Children's Award

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure I wanted to read this after I read The Knife of Never Letting Go. But I picked it up from the library "just in case" and when I realized it had to be back tomorrow, I sat down and practically read the whole thing in one sitting.

Sorry, no plot summary with this review. I don't want to be responsible for spoilers! But this is a book about deciding who you will be and thinking for yourself while under enormous pressures to conform. There's definitely some relevance in our society today.

I liked this one a lot better than the first one. I think it's mostly because I enjoyed the dual perspective of both Todd and Viola, but I also knew what I was getting myself into this time. It's horrifying and crazy, with plot surprises galore. I can safely say I cannot read anything more dark and violent than this book (yes, I might be wimpy). But the story is gripping and now I will have to read the final book to see how it all turns out.

Also reviewed by:
Book 12 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 3 of 25 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge
Book 7 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
Book 5 of 10 for the Book Awards IV Reading Challenge

Source: Library

Monday, February 1, 2010

Family Home Reading

Coco (age 9) ordered a copy of Rapunzel's Revenge from this week and devoured it whole. She also finished The Rising Storm by Erin Hunter and is looking forward to A Dangerous Path, #5 in the Warrior series.

CJ (age 7) read The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan, #1 in The 39 Clues series. He loved it and has already started on the next books. The clue cards are all over the house!

 JB (age 5) brings home little readers every day from kindergarten. I don't think he realized what a good reader he has become until he decided to try reading all of his Bob books and found that he could! We have the first two sets of Bob books and both CJ and JB have enjoyed them. Now it's time to put them away to wait for Sassy!

Sassy (age 3) has been enjoying books she feel like she can "read" by herself. Two of her favorites lately are Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle, and Freight Train by Donald Crews.