jump to navigation

review: “wish” March 22, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Wish by Alexandra Bullen.
Point // Hardcover // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Olivia has just lost her best friend in the whole world — her twin sister, Violet. And now her parents have moved the family to San Francisco, and Olivia has no idea how she’s going to cope without her sister. But then Olivia stumbles across a magical dress shop and maker, one that will give her three wishes. And Olivia’s first wish is to bring her sister back to her…

This is a light read, with not a ton of substance to it. The storyline had a lot of potential, but I felt like it fell flat. I wanted to know more about the magic, and about Posey. And while I was interested in what happened to Olivia, it wasn’t my priority. I had trouble connecting to Olivia, and I had a lot of trouble with her accepting her sister being returned to her. If that were me, I’d be very freaked out if my sister’s ghost showed up.

That being said, the novel wasn’t a complete waste. I was very interested in the magic dresses. I really appreciated the feel of the setting and the accurate portrayal of San Francisco. I also really felt like this novel was a blend of realistic fiction and fairy tales sensibilities. It wasn’t a true fairy tale, and there was no classic retelling in this novel — but I did think that the treatment of the fairy tale elements (rules of three, etc.) were well executed.

A quick, light read — not really appropriate for younger teens, but I think the book will have trouble holding the attention of older teens. Will definitely work better with a hand-sell rather than just a cover blurb.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Alexandra Bullen

starratingstarratingstarrating

review: “just one wish” September 9, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: ,
add a comment

justonewish

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison.
Putnam Juvenile // Hardcover // 272 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

When Annika’s little brother Jeremy is about to undergo surgery for cancer treatment, she knows that he will do better if he believes the cancer will be cured. So, she tells Jeremy a harmless white lie about a genie that will grant him two wishes — one for whatever he wants, and one wish to get better. But when Jeremy wishes for the real Teen Robin Hood to teach him archery (instead of the Teen Robin Hood doll Annika expects him to ask for), Annika makes up her mind to track down the celebrity and bring him to Jeremy if only to prove that wishes do come true.

This book was hilarious. I could not stop laughing about the situations that Annika got herself into. I mean, just picture lying about being a snake wraggler to get on set and then accidentally getting cast as an extra…comedic gold, if you ask me.

I loved the relationship between Annika and Jeremy. Another real sibling relationship. I also really liked seeing Annika battle it out with Steve (Teen Robin Hood). I know that I would have done the same thing for my little sister.

And I loved Annika’s friend Madison. I thought she was the perfect counterpart to Annika.

I did, however, have a problem with how the story was wrapped up. The ending of the story magically restores Annika’s faith in God. I liked the reality of Annika’s situation, the need to question faith after tragic circumstances. What I had a problem with was the quick and easy resolution. For such a complex problem and a complex character (she may seem light on the surface, but she isn’t), I didn’t think that an easy resolution was possible.

That aside, I did like the book. The story is fast-paced and I finished it quickly. An entertaining read that I could see finding a readership in many public libraries.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Janette Rallison

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratinghalf

review: “the demon’s lexicon” August 14, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

thedemonslexicon

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Margaret K. McElderry // Hardcover // 336 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Nick and Alan Ryves have been on the run their entire lives from he magicians and demons that threaten their family. Nick’s survived by isolating himself from everyone except his brother. But when two teenagers show up announced on their doorstep needing help to remove a demon’s mark, Nick’s small family is put into jeopardy when Alan receives his very own demon mark. Against Nick’s wishes, Alan invites Jamie and Mae to join them on their journey to the closest Goblin Market to try and remove the marks.

I start off this review with one disclaimer: I am primarily a reader that connects with characters. Not every reader is like me and I respect that.

However, it is because I connect with characters that made this book a difficult read for me. I struggled for a lot of the book, trying my hardest to find someone to connect to. There is a reason for this disconnect, though I won’t spoil it for you, and it does make sense within the world. The lack of relatable characters does not destroy the story.

World-building is heavily in use here and I really liked the mythology of the world. The Goblin Market and subsequent dance, in my opinion are the best scenes in this book, and entirely a creation of the mythology. Additionally, there is a spectacular conclusion to this book that left me running to the computer to ensure that there was a sequel planned.

A lot of people have compared this book to “Supernatural,” the television show. It is similar in that it’s a book about two brothers fighting supernatural creatures, but other than that it is a largely independent work. This is a grittier book, fantasy bordering on the edge of horror.

I suspect that the books will grow (this is a planned trilogy) and I do look forward to the sequels. But I’ll be waiting on the hold list at my library instead of running to the bookstore.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Sarah Rees Brennan

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratinghalf

review: “a map of the known world” July 27, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

amapoftheknownworld

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell.
Scholastic // Hardcover // 272 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Starting high school is a nerve-wrecking experience for most, but for Cora it’s downright upsetting. Cora’s brother Nate was killed in a car accident months before and she got through the school year. But now she will be in Nate’s school, with Nate’s friends, and sitting in classes taught by Nate’s teachers. Cora puts all of her energy in her art — her talent is making maps. But when art class is invaded by Nate’s best friend who is the lone survivor of the car accident, Cora’s world changes again.

It’s been weeks since I’ve read this book, but I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about it. I think my problems with the book begin with Cora and her personality. She’s grieving and hurting because of her brother’s death and her family’s subsequent collapse, but I don’t understand a lot of the reasons why she has trouble articulating her feelings. (Whereas, in Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak,” I understand exactly why Melinda can’t say what’s bothering her.)

Parts of this book were very moving and well-written, but overall it was a bit choppy in writing style. I had a hard time getting into the book, and a hard time believing a lot of relationships. (Particularly the relationship between Cora and her mother. Cora’s mother goes from suffocating in one instant to understanding that Cora needs to grow in another.)

Even though this wasn’t my favorite book of the year by far, it’s a good book to have in my library’s collection. There was no swearing, no sexual relations (just mild kissing scenes), and it dealt with some serious issues. A great book to give younger teens who want serious content without worrying about inappropriate material.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Lisa Ann Sandell

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratinghalf

review: “willow” July 24, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Willow by Julia Hoban.
Dial // Hardcover // 336 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get through this book. This is such a hard subject to read about, and I have a queasy stomach. I shouldn’t have worried. Hoban’s writing and characterization make this a captivating read.

After a tragic car accident that kills both her parents, Willow moves into her brother David’s house. She blames herself for the car accident because she was the driver and has a hard time adjusting to her new life. Willow also has a secret — she cuts herself to deal with her pain. When a fellow student, Guy, finds out about it, Willow’s world will change all over again.

This book is well-written, and I expect that it will find places in a lot of teen libraries. I think it’s more believable than Patricia McCormick’s Cut, if only because the majority of teens who cut are undiscovered, the majority of teens who cut keep it a secret. Like Willow.

I was angry at Guy because he knew and he didn’t do anything about it. But then I think back to when I had friends who cut and that when I didn’t have the ability to do something about it, I just stayed and listened and tried to support them/tried to counsel them into stopping. My problem with Guy was my own anger at myself, at my 15-year-old self.

I think that the most powerful things that books can do are offer further insight into our own lives. I think that’s why this book was such a great read for me — because I could not only sympathize with Willow, but because I got so angry at Guy.

Other reasons to love this book definitely include Willow’s complex relationship with her brother David. I love books that handle sibling relationships realistically and I think this book was spot-on.

Amazon
SWAN catalog

starratingstarratingstarratingstarrating

review: “suite scarlett” July 8, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

suitescarlett

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson.
Point // Hardcover // 368 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

On her fifteenth birthday, Scarlett Martin is given a most unusual gift — her very own room at her family’s Manhattan hotel and the guest residing in the Empire Suite, both are hers to take care of. Amy Amberson, a down-and-out actress, turns Scarlett’s world upside-down, dragging her through adventures, getting her into trouble, and coming to her rescue. But when Scarlett’s brother Spencer needs help pulling off a major stunt, can Scarlett and Mrs. Amberson come to his resuce?

“Suite Scarlett” was a no-brainer for me. Maureen Johnson (whom I adore — Check out her Twitter! You will fall in love with her too. Maureen’s Twitter), Broadway, and siblings. But at the same time, I was still surprised that I liked this book *that* much.

The best part, for me, was the relationship between Scarlett and her siblings. Being an older sister, I do not like it when authors write unrealistic sibling relationships. The way that the sibling relationships are written in this book are truly remarkable. After Scarlett and Spencer’s fight was over, I reached over in the car and hugged my sister tightly. She didn’t protest and I didn’t explain. (She’s used to this kind of stuff by now though.) I was stunned when I looked through Maureen Johnson’s website and found out she doesn’t have any siblings! For me, that makes the book all the better and the quality of writing all the better.

I have to admit I’m a bit of a sap and the Eric/Scarlett romance drew me in. But I was so satisfied with how the book left their characters. And Mrs. Amberson takes the cake on eccentric characters. She’s my new favorite and I wish she’d come to Illinois and create some mischief for me.

The cover didn’t do the book justice, and I actually like the paperback version better. The cover makes the book a harder sell in my library, but this book is definitely worth the work of the pitch. Can’t wait to recommend it.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Maureen Johnson

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstarrating