Sunday, September 30, 2012

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

On the library stacks: Children's fiction
AR Reading Level: 4.7
Awards: NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts; ALA Notable/Best Books; SLJ Best Book; Newbery Medal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Claudia Kincaid lives with her family in Connecticut. She feels under-appreciated by her family and decides to run away to the Met. She convinces her favorite brother, Jamie, to go with her because she needs his financial support. The live in the Met for about a week, bathing in the fountain and sleeping in an old English bed on display.

A suspected lost work of Michelangelo draws huge crowds to the museum each day. The kids decided to do some research to help determine if it is real or not. They decide they must know the secret of the sculpture, so they spend all their money getting to the home of Mrs. Frankweiler, who was the previous owner.

I'm not sure if I read this when I was a kid or not. But I am homeschooling my 5th grader and decided to read it with him. My son liked this book better than I did. I think he really got into the fantasy of what it would be like to run away and live in a museum. I thought the book was cute, but I found Claudia obnoxious. There are lots of resources online to help teach and test this book. My son and I had a great discussion about it after we both finished it.

Also reviewed by: Gerbera Daisy Diaries ~ Your link here?
Source: Purchased

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth

On the library stacks: YA Fiction
AR Reading Level: 5.0
Series: Divergent #2 of 3

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved Divergent and couldn't wait to read its sequel. In a similar fashion to my review of the first book, I will keep this brief:

1. It's good. Not as good as the first one, but a really solid #2 in the trilogy.
2. I liked the Inception-like elements. Real or simulation?
3. The plot was not predictable, which I really appreciated.
4. I really like how the author can move the story along while deepening our understanding of the characters and their relationships.
5. I'm on tenterhooks to see how it all ends.

Also reviewed by: At Home With Books ~ Melissa's Bookshelf ~ Book Addiction ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ Ms. Yingling Reads ~ The Eclectic Reader ~ Book Nut ~ A Bookworm's World ~ Girl Who Loves to Read ~ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer ~ Emily's Reading Room
Source: Borrowed

Friday, September 21, 2012


Abundance, A Novel of Marie AntoinetteAbundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund

On the library stacks: Adult Fiction
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This historical fiction novel opens as Marie Antionette prepares to leave her native Austria to marry the future king of France. She was 14 years old at the time of the marriage ceremony. Interestingly, the marriage was not consummated for seven years.

This book, published the same year the Kirsten Dunst movie hit the big screen, has a similarly sympathetic view of Marie Antionette as the movie. (She never said, "Let them eat cake!") Naslund has definitely done her research and even includes actual quotations where they are known. The novel helped me to see how Marie Antionette viewed the events going on around her from the perspective of her privileged upbringing. She cared deeply for the people of France but couldn't see how her own actions could be viewed hypocritically.

While this book obviously does not end well, I'm really glad I read it. I was quite fascinated learning about the inner workings of Versailles and Marie's role as a mother. While I wouldn't recommend this for everyone, if you have an interest in learning more about this very complex historical character, I suggest giving this book a try.

Source: Purchased

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

On the library stacks: YA Fiction
AR Reading Level: 4.1
Series: Unearthly #2 of 3
Recommended for: Age 13+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this second book in the Unearthly series as soon as I could. Without giving too much away, I will say that this book does shed more light on Clara's angel world and how things work. There is more character development in this book and it is quite emotionally charged.

The love triangle between Clara, Christian and Tucker is alive and well in this book. But the main issue at hand is that Clara sees in a vision that someone close to her is going to die. She struggles as she tries figuring out who it is and, once she does know, realizing that there is nothing she can do to make things any different.

I am really enjoying how this trilogy is developing. It's actually kind of a sad book, but I think I might have even enjoyed it more than the first book. I am anxiously awaiting the conclusion in January!

Also reviewed by: Book Lover Stop ~ The Eclectic Reader ~ Emily's Reading Room ~ Your link here?
Source: Library

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Daddy Long LegsDaddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

On the library stacks: Children's and Adult Fiction (!)
AR Reading Level: 6.1
Interest level: Grades 9+

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Judy Abbott is an orphan girl about to be released into the world. At the last minute, a wealthy trustee of the orphanage offers to pay for her college education, despite that fact that she is a girl. His only conditions are that he remain anonymous and that she update him periodically about her studies. Judy calls him "Daddy-Long-Legs" because she has only seen his shadow, but she would really like to figure out who he is.

This classic epistolary novel is really a treat. I loved Judy and her spunk. Most of the criticism I have encountered about this book is that it is a little weird, but I didn't think it was anymore creepy than cousins getting together in Jane Austen's novels. It IS a 100 year old book! Yes, I figured out who Daddy-Long-Legs was pretty early on, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of this delightful little book.

Here are some favorite bits:

It isn't the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh--I really think that requires spirit. 

It's true, you know. The world is full of happiness, and plenty to go around, if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way. The whole secret is in being pliable.

On visiting New York:
But aren't the streets entertaining? And the people? And the shops? I never saw such lovely things as there are in the windows. It makes you want to devote your life to wearing clothes.

Also reviewed by: Puss Reboots ~ Lesa's Book Critiques ~ Giving Reading a Chance!! ~ things mean a lot ~ Your link here?
Source: BookMooch

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

On the library stacks: YA Fiction
AR Reading Level: 4.2
Series: Unearthly #1 of 3
Recommended for: Ages 12+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clara Gardner has recently learned she is part-angel. Her mother has explained that all angels are given a purpose which they catch glimpses of in visions. Clara's visions of a boy standing in trees needing to be rescued from a fire has brought her family to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Now not only is Clara the new kid at a new high school, she's also trying to figure out what her vision means. She realizes that the stunning boy in her vision is a popular kid named Christian. But a cute cowboy named Tucker has her struggling to choose where to focus her attention.

This was my book club read for August. We all decided the summer is a great time to read something a little more frivolous, and most of us are pretty new to the angel scene. It turns out it was a great read. More people actually read the book this month than usual, and quite a few of us (including me!) had to check out the second book in the series right away.

Also reviewed by: The Book Nest ~ Ticket to Anywhere ~ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer ~ The Eclectic Reader ~ Emily's Reading Room ~ Book Lover Stop ~ Book Journal ~ Tales of Whimsy ~ Your link here?
Source: Kindle Purchase