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Archive for September, 2011

Ivy and the Meanstalk by Dawn Lairamore

Posted by Caitie F on September 30, 2011

Title: Ivy and the Meanstalk
Author: Dawn Lairamore
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: October 2, 2011
Rating: ++++

Summary (from goodreads):

After finding her long-lost fairy godmother, escaping a forthcoming marriage, and saving her kingdom from the dastardly designs of a scheming prince, Princess Ivy wants nothing more than to have a little fun and enjoy the company of her new dragon friend, Elridge.

But long ago a magical harp went missing, snatched by a thieving youth named Jack. Its rightful owner wants it back—or the entire kingdom will suffer an unspeakable fate! So Ivy and Elridge are off on another fairy-tale-inspired adventure, one that will take them across the sea, into the fiery depths of a magnificent golden kingdom, and high into the clouds, where an enormous castle looms at the top of a giant bean—that is, meanstalk. Will they find the harp in time?

Review:

This is a sequel, but you don’t have to have read the first book to enjoy this one. There were references to the first book, but it was not anything that you needed to know, which automatically made me enjoy this book a little more!

I love retelling of fairy tales, and this is one of the better ones I have read. I am sure you remember Jack and his thieving ways from Jack and the Beanstalk. Well, after stealing the gold, the hen, and the harp, Jack went and formed his own country that is obsessed with gold. I really enjoyed reading the bits of history that Jack made up to make himself look like a hero instead of the jerk he really was! It was fun and can teach kids a little about propaganda.

What makes the book are, as usual for middle grade books, the characters and the creativity! Ivy is a smart and adventurous girl, even though she learns along the way that she may need to spend more time studying and less time having fun. Elridge, her dragon friend. is a great sidekick. He is brave, funny, and brings a lot of excitement to the book. The prince of Jacktopia is also a very brave and smart boy who grows a lot and will be a good character for kids to see.

If you have a middle grade kid in your life (I would even say it is good for 8-14) I highly suggest you get them this book. It was so much fun to read and I really think kids will love it!

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Pie by Sarah Weeks

Posted by Caitie F on September 29, 2011

Title: Pie
Author: Sarah Weeks
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 1st
Rating: ++++

Summary:

When Alice’s Aunt Polly passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily surly cat Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.

Suddenly Alice is thrust into the center of a piestorm, with everyone in town trying to be the next pie-contest winner … including Alice’s mother and some of Alice’s friends. The whole community is going pie-crazy . . . and it’s up to Alice to discover the ingredients that really matter. Like family. And friendship. And enjoying what you do.

Review:

If you are looking for a fun mystery for the middle grad kid in your life, look no further than Pie! If that kid likes to bake, sorry but you need to buy this book – you can’t just get it from the library. You need to buy it so they can try to make all the pies in the book! The recipes really take a cute, fun book into something special. Reader can read about the best pies ever made, then try to make them for themselves (with parental supervision of course!).

The story is really great. The only part I didn’t like is that best character is dead by the time the book starts. Polly is so loving and sweet. She cares about the whole town and is such an amazing and fun character to read about. I wish we could have seen her a little more – though it makes total sense within the book.

This book is full of great messages and can lead to some great conversations between parents and their tweens about friendship, family, and the importance of communicating with family. There was a particular scene with Alice that was very powerful when she lets her mom know that she doesn’t feel like her mom loves her. It was heart-breaking, but  the results of the honesty were very touching!

This book was perfect for the audience and I hope you share it with others!

Posted in Review | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

TSS: Best. Week. Ever.

Posted by Caitie F on September 25, 2011

Two amazing things happened this week. instead of building suspense, I will just tell you right off, then add details.

My husband got an agent on Monday.

I got a job in publishing on Wednesday.

Um yeah. So this week ROCKED. We saw Follies and ate at an awesome Cuban restaurant today to celebrate. But details!

So my husband has written 5 books, some middle grade, some young adult. He has been querying for about two and a half years, getting some requests, but ultimately has gotten a bunch of rejections. The book he has been querying lately is a middle grade theater book and it is really something special. It was getting a lot of requests and he landed an agent. She is excited and awesome. He signed his contract and waiting for some minor edits.

I am SO proud of him. He is a fantastic writer and I knew he could do it. That was awesome enough.

Then my news happened. I graduated May of 2009 woth a publishing degree and had started looking for jobs in February of 2009. Gotten some interviews, but nothing has happened. It has been hard taking other jobs, then being unemployed for 8 months.

Last Monday I had an interview with a company and I thought it went really well. Well, this Monday I got an email asking for my references since i was a finalist. I got the job! I will be an Editorial Assistant and will get to do some editorial, marketing, and publicity (ALL the areas I love). I am SO excited, it is just the perfect first job for me. I start on Wednesday and am ready to work hard!

So it was a pretty great week. I am hoping I will still be blogging semi-regularly, but if I slow down a little you will know why!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Posted by Caitie F on September 22, 2011

Title: Glow
Author; Amy Kathleen Ryan
Hardcover: 307
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: Sept 27, 2011
Rating: +++

Summary (from goodreads):

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you’d been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth’s collapse, the ship’s crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader’s efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don’t know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them…

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren’t all from the outside

Review:

I really wanted to love this book. When I heard about it at BEA, it sounded like my kind of book. I am really into the dystopian books lately, and since this was more science fiction than fantasy, I was really excited!

It let me down though.

The good 

Waverly: For the first 290 pages I loved Waverly. She was bright, thoughtful, caring, and a completely kick ass leader. She was what made me like this book. She questioned what she was told not because she was a skeptical person, but because she had an analytical mind and saw that things were not really matching up.

The crisis: The fertility crisis in deep space was the cause of all of the problems. I thought it made for a more interesting crisis because it is about something essential to the survival of humans. Half of the human population was not going to survive and something had to be done. Was it handled the best way? Probably not. It made for an exciting story though.

The not so great

The boys – While the girls story had me at the edge of my seat, the boys was kind of disappointing. Maybe it is because I didn’t like the secondary male character and felt he was a little flat. It just didn;t have the asme urgency and struggle as the other story line.

the religion – Religion is a central theme of the book. I think it was portrayed as being too black or white. Either it was doing a lot of good for moral, or it was helping bad people usurp the power. There was no in between adn I think that would have enhanced the book.

The are you kidding me?

Waverly at the end: This is what made the book so disappointing for me. She goes from being a smart, likable character to a trusting, not so smart one. Maybe it is because of the black and white look at religion, but it made me like her much less.

Since that is the set up for her character for the next book, I think I will have to skip it.

I was really disappointed because I wanted to love it.

Did you read Glow yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Posted by Caitie F on September 20, 2011

Title: Between Shades of Grey
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Hardcover: 344
Publisher: Philomel Books
Year Published: 2011
Rating: +++++

Summary:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously – and at great risk – documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart

Review:

If you are looking for an emotional book that will break your heart a little while showing you perseverance and hope, look no further. The summary was enough to make me pick the book up, but what kept me hooked was the writing and that i never even knew that it happened.

Somehow, when I learned about the horrors of World War II, we skipped the part about 1/3  of a nation being deported and put into work camps. Where anyone that Stalin was afraid of, which was mostly the most highly educated people, were taken from their homes at night and treated like animals. I am so glad I know about it now, because these people are amazing. We missed it because, until the USSR was dissolved, these people couldn’t tell their stories even when those who survived were returned home.

This is a work of fiction, but you can tell that Ruta did her research. It is stunning.

Lina gives a beautiful perspective since she is a teenage girl. She can relate to how the younger people feel, but she can see the toll the stress is taking on the adults. She can keep some hope alive, but sees the lies and fear behind everyone’s hopeful eyes. Since se is an artist, she looks at the world differently and it makes this story exciting and makes it easier to see what she sees.

I wish I could have seen the art that is described. I got a very vivid picture in my mind, but I wish someone had made some of these drawings come to life.

This book is truly beautiful. You should read it if you haven’t yet.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

Posted by Caitie F on September 14, 2011

Title: Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year Published: 2011
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn’t have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Throwing a Crazy Party” (#8), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn’t-have-done at a time.

Review:

I saw a review of this on Reading With Tequila and knew I had to read this book ASAP. It sounded like it had some awesome characters, an interesting structure, and a lot of fun!

All of that was true. April had so many struggles, both internally while trying to deal with her family and externally with her friends and boyfriends. She felt real and genuine. I thought she was written in a way that teens can relate to her, especially if they have had parents split up and remarry. She felt pulled between everyone. There was one point where she didn’t feel wanted by anyone. She felt so real to me and it broke my heart.

But the book is not all heart-breaking and sorrow. The book is a lot of fun. There are parties. There is a hot tub. There are cute and caring boys. And all of this is happening without any parents. That aspect is so much fun…it made me long to jump into my past and have some fun!

I also thought it did a great job of dealing with sex and relationships. Yes, teenagers have sex and for different reasons. One wants to try it before college, wants it to be no-strings attached, but it isn’t easy. Two other couples have been together for years and want to make the next step…but of course there are consequences for everything. The relationships feel genuine and I understand why the girls do what they do.

Finally, what really made this book unique was the structure.  Each chapter was one thing they shouldn’t have done, so the reader gets a hint to what will happen in the chapter. It also goes into several backstory flashbacks that show how the girls and families got to this point in their lives. It makes everyone more complete characters that readers will care about.

I really enjoyed this book and you should try it too!

Posted in Review, Summer reads | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Posted by Caitie F on September 13, 2011

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R. R. Martin
Paperback:  835 pages (story is 807)
Publisher: Bantam Books
Year Published: 1996
Rating: ++++

Summary (from goodreads):

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective wall. To the south, the King’s powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself. A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens.

Review:

I finally read it and really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to watching the show. Since this is not a typical book, this will not be a typical review. I want to talk about my favorite (and least favorite) aspects of the book.

Favorite Character(s)

I can’t choose just one…so I am calling it a tie!

First, Jon Snow. The bastard. And in case you ever forget that he is the bastard, he is constantly called it. I think he is the kindest, strongest, and most caring bastard there is. He is so brave and noble. If there is a character to strive to be like, it is Jon (Well Jon and Ned). I loved every time there was a chapter from his perspective from the very first.

And he is tied with his half-sister Arya. She is bright and strong. She is a tomboy and cannot stand it when they try to make her into a little princess. She is outspoken and headstrong. I love characters like this, especially in a young girl. The book ended with her in some peril, so I want to hurry to the next book to make sure she is okay!

Most Improved Character

At first, I really didn’t care for Daenerys (Dany). I wanted the book to get back to the Starks. They were what I cared about and who I wanted to read about.

But then she got married to Drogo and with that wedding she found her voice and her strength of the dragon. She saw her brother was wrong and that she could take control of things too. After that, I couldn’t wait for another Dany chapter. And her ending shocked me even more than the big death (but I did know about the death before reading). I cannot wait to see her story…and it makes it so there is a whole other team of good guys.

Least Favorite Character

While I loved most of the Starks…Sansa annoyed me to no end. She was too naive. She didn’t care that Joffrey lied and hurt her family and wolf directly, she blamed her sister instead. He was cruel to her and she just let it go because he was “her prince”. I did not enjoy her characters and got so annoyed at her. Hopefully, now that Joffrey has shown his true colors, she will get some sense into her pretty little head.

Character I Wanted to Punch in the Face Every Time He/She Was On Page

Speaking of Joffrey…what a jerk! What a prick! I hated him from the second I saw him on the page. He is a spoiled little brat. I wanted to crawl into the book and punch him in the face. It makes him an interesting character since he…rules the entire kingdom. But I still wouldn’t mind watching him suffer.

Best Aspect of Book as a Whole

I love how Martin has managed to juggle so many characters. They all have amazing stories and so many motivations. It makes it hard to know who to cheer for. I love the Starks, but I love Dany too. I can see being torn in furture books when they are pitted against each other.

The story is so intricate, but I trust that it is meaningful. In the first book, some things seemed random at first, but it matters and it means something…for hte most part.

Worst Aspect of Book as a Whole (why not 5 +)

Martin over-describes like crazy. While I love that the world is so vivid, sometimes he just goes too far. I don’t need to know the descriptions of every piece of food they eat. Or three pages of Dany’s wedding gifts. Just focus on what is important and the book would move much faster. I think there could have been a better balanced of the descriptions.

I also found myself confused during big battles. There were actually a few times when I had to read a paragraph four or five times because there were confusing pronouns…I had no idea who the “he” was referring to, since it could have been two or three people.

Scene I Can’t Wait to See in the Show

There are SO many…but I think watching the consequences of Viserys actions will be awesome. I loved reading it (and grimacing), so it should be very graphic.

I am also excited to seeat least one of Arya’s dance lessons and hope they are included (even though I know they may not be).

Cannot wait for the second book!

Agree with me? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Review | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Fall TV is Almost Here!

Posted by Caitie F on September 3, 2011

Fall is coming. While I enjoy the weather and the food of the season, my favorite thing is the kick off of the Fall TV season. While I have enjoyed America’s Got Talent, Big Brother, and my recent jump into Star trek, The Next Generation (60 episodes in about a month), I am ready for regular TV to be back!

The problem is…I have several time where there is too much on! I can only DVR two things at once and there are a few times that there are three shows I want to watch!

Here is my schedule (new shows are in bold).

Monday (the first too much day):
8 PM
How I Met Your Mother: One of my favorite shows on TV!/Two Broke Girls: New sitcom, will give it a couple episodes (CBS)

Terra Nova: Spielberg, dinosaurs, some sci-fi…sounds like it could be really good! (FOX)

The Sing-Off: My favorite competition show. Amazing singers and Ben Folds is a judge! (NBC)

10:00
Playboy Club: My husband wants to try this one, so I will watch, not looking forward to it though. (NBC)

Tuesday
8:00
Glee: My favorite show on TV. Yeah, not going to miss it! (FOX)

Biggest Loser: I know it isn’t the best, but it is my guilty pleasure of the fall (NBC)

The Last Man Standing/Man Up!: we will try the sitcoms all once, but probably not going to keep these (ABC)

9:00
New Girl: I love Zooey Deschanel. She is why I will watch it, but the previews look really funny! (FOX)

Ringer: Buffy is in it! So is my favorite actor from Veronica Mars. Premise sounds cool too. (CW)

10:00
Parenthood: My favorite drama on TV right now. Best cast on TV period. Can’t wait for the new season! (NBC)

Wednesday
8:00
Survivor: No, really, it is a great show! I love it. And Ozzy is back! (CBS)

Up All Night: A great cast, but I am eh on the premise. (NBC)

X Factor: Looks awesome, I love Simon Cowell (FOX)

8:30
Suburgatory: Didn’t think I would be interested, but the previews have looked good! (ABC)

9:00
Modern Family: Funniest Comedy on TV. Love every episode (ABC)

9:30:
Happy Endings: Liked it last year, hit or miss sometimes, but still enjoyable (ABC)

10:00:
Revenge: Husband wants to watch (ABC)

Thursday (the second uh-oh day)
8:00
The Big Bang Theory: Nerd humor is always fun/How to Be a Gentleman: the guy who plays Johnny Drama on Entourage is in it and I love him! (CBS)

Community: Most underrated comedy. Laugh at every episode. (NBC)

X-Factor Results (FOX)

Charlies Angels: Husband is more interested than I am (ABC)

9:00
The Office: May only watch a couple episodes, don’t know how good it will be without Steve Carrell/Whitney: Previews look funny and I love Whitney Cummings! (NBC)

Person of Interest: Michael Emerson from Lost is on it…so that is reason enough for me! (CBS)

Friday:
8:00
Chuck: Last season, but I will still have more because I never saw the first two seasons! (NBC)

Nikita: Loved it last season, hope this season is just as good! (CW)

9:00
Grimm: Reviews have just been okay, but I love fairy tales so I will give it a go! (NBC)

Shark Tank: Not sure when it is coming back, but they say it is. I am excited, that show is fascinating! (ABC)

Sunday:

8:00
Once Upon a Time: This isn’t coming on until October, but it looks awesome. Some of the writers of Lost are writing it. It is another fairy tale show, but it looks like it will be really good. Cannot wait until it starts! (ABC)

The Simpsons: Still one of the funniest shows in existence! (FOX)

9:00
Desperate Housewives: It is the last season, so hopefully it will be good! (ABC)

Family Guy: This one is fun too…though it is more hit or miss than The Simpsons (FOX)

 

I think we need another DVR…hope some of these new shows aren’t as good as they look!

 

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One Day by David Nicholls

Posted by Caitie F on September 1, 2011

Title: One Day
Author: David Nicholls
Paperback: 435 page
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd.
Year Published: 2009
Rating:++++

Summary from goodreads:

It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives—lives very different from the people they once dreamed they’d become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two.
Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

Review:

I saw the trailer for the movie a couple months ago and immediately wanted to see it. I adore Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess and thought the story looked incredibly cute. Well I knew my husband would NOT go see it with me and would be waiting for Netflx. So instead of just waiting, I decided to read the book!

Now, I am really glad I read it. I always like to read before seeing the movie if possible. My only issue was that I automatically saw the characters as the actors who are playing them. Now, I could have easily seen at least close to those two, but I will never really know. I like to think the casting was just that brilliant (look at me, saying brilliant, you would think I just finished reading a British book!!).

I can completely see why they would make this book into a movie. It is a classic love story told in an unconventional way. And the unconventional way worked extraordinarily well! The reader only got to see one day of every year. A lot went on between those days, yet David Nicholls was able to include everything significant so the reader could feel like they were caught up on Emma and Dexter’s lives. It was clever and not gimmicky at all, which I was concerned about.

Their relationship makes sense, it felt real and their problems and reconciliations felt real also. I got who they were and their motivations. It was easy to see how they made each other better people when they were friends, and that when they were fighting and not talking, they were both worse off for it.

I found myself caring about them so much and cheered when their lives were going well.

If you want a fun, incredibly written romance between two realistic people, do yourself a favor and go get this book!

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »