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Archive for October, 2013

Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford

Posted by Caitie F on October 15, 2013

Title: Nickel Bay Nicknickel
Author: Dean Pitchford
Hardcover: 272 pages
Pub Date: October 17, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Rating: +++++

Summary from publisher:

Eleven-year-old Sam Brattle is already having the worst Christmas ever – his dad’s bakery is going bankrupt and his mom is spending the holidays with her new family. To make things worse, Nickel Bay Nick, the anonymous Good Samaritan who leaves hundred-dollar bills around Nickel Bay at Christmastime, is a no-show, so this year the rest of the town is as miserable as Sam. When he stumbles upon the secret identity of this mysterious do-gooder, Sam is stunned to learn that he might now be his town’s only hope. But before he can rescue Nickel Bay, Sam has to learn the skills of a spy and unravel some even darker secrets that will change his life forever.

Review:

I can’t resist a good holiday story, but often they are hokey or a little too emotional. This middle-grade book manages to be a touching holiday story and a funny, exciting read at the same time!

I loved Sam, but more importantly, I think middle grade readers of all ages will love him. He is a really complex character. He and his dad fight all the time, he has had run-ins with the law, and he is just a troublemaker. But the reader gets to see that Sam has trouble relating to other kids, doesn’t have much confidence, and feels like his dad doesn’t think he is good enough. He goes through a transformation, but it is pretty quick to see that there wasn’t actually much that needed to be transformed.

It isn’t just a message book because there is spying, mystery, and a lot of laughs. It is the kind of book that can appeal to any readers because it has a little bit of everything in it. The adult characters are fantastic and are not just stereotypes of adults.

If you are looking for a holiday book for your middle grade reader, this is the one for you. I suggest you get another one for you. Just have the tissues nearby. There are a few times you will be wiping away a couple tears.

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Read-a-thon Wrap Up!

Posted by Caitie F on October 13, 2013

dewey1-300x300

 

Another read-a-thon done! Not my best, but I still had fun. Last night after dinner we went to our friends game store and Jason played games while I read. Everyone else was cool about me reading and it was nice to be out of the house.

Here are my final stats:

Books finished: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, Look at Me by Jennifer Egan, Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates, and How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Total pages read: 1,378

Total time spent reading: 9 hours, 5 minutes

Snacks: had the pork carnitas (YUM!) and the smores cookies

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

I fell asleep during hour 17, so I guess that one.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Reading a cozy mystery was great! It was just a fun read!

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

No, it is wonderful

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

I loved how involved the organizers were on twitter! They made it easy to have conversations and they were really encouraging.

5. How many books did you read?

I read 4 books, plus some

6. What were the names of the books you read?

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Look at Me by Jennifer Egan

Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates

8. Which did you enjoy least?

How to Love, just not for me at all

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

N/A

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will probably do it in the fall again as a reader!

Posted in Dewey's Read-A-Thon | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Read-a-thon Update #1

Posted by Caitie F on October 12, 2013

dewey1-300x300I am making it through! I hope everyone is having a good time today.

I was most excited for TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan, but was only able to read ten pages. It is a wonderfully written book and i was reading sentences three times and it was a VERY emotional read. I will love reading it, but it is not right for the read-a-thon.

I am taking my first longer break to watch TV, spend time with my wonderful husband, and relax. It is a more laid back read-a-thon for me than in the past, but I am still having fun! I hope to read for at least 8 hours.

Here are my stats

Reading right now: Look at Me by Jennifer Egan

Books finished:  The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Pages read since last update: 623

Total pages read: 623

Total time spent reading: 4 hr 45 min

Snacks: lunch, Scooby Doo Graham Crackers, Laughing Cow cheese wedge

 

 

Posted in Dewey's Read-A-Thon | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Read-a-thon Starting Point!

Posted by Caitie F on October 12, 2013

dewey1-300x300I am getting a late start today, I was up and ready at 8:30, getting my dinner in the slow cooker and realized I had the wrong kind of pork. Why call everything a roast? If it has bones and is separate, that isn’t a roast, don’t call it that! So a shower and grocery trip later, dinner is in the slow cooker, I am at the computer and ready to start!

Here is the stats I will be updating throughout, same as last year!

Reading right now: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I will NOT be finishing this book today, as I read none of it this week. I just want to read at least another 100 pages before I go on to another book.

Books finished: 

Pages read since last update:

Total pages read:

Total time spent reading:

Snacks: Eating my cereal, and yogurt, and the coffee will be ready shortly!

Here are my stacks

read 1

 

read 2

 

Plus one more of some genre books and Agatha Christie in case I want to really switch it up!

Onto the questions!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Central NJ! It is sunny and beautiful today, it was supposed to be rainy. I am very jealous of all my friends at New York Comic Con, but I didn’t get tickets and get to read instead, so that is fine by me!
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

That is a tough one, but probably Two BOys Kissing since i love David Levithan
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I am going to bake some smores cookies in the afternoon. I am sure you have pinned it on pinterest, I will see how it goes!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Umm…I I never know what to put here! Oo I know, my husband is going to be watching a lot of Breaking Bad today and I really don’t like that show. At all. I know it is blasphemy, but I cannot stand it, so I will spend a lot of time upstairs!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Not doing anything differently!

 

Posted in Dewey's Read-A-Thon | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Posted by Caitie F on October 11, 2013

Title: Just One Year12842134
Author: Gayle Forman
Hardcover: 336 pages
Pub Date: Oct 10, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

Review:

Just One Day was one of my favorite books of last year. I adore Gayle Forman and will read every book she ever writes. So when I found out there was a book from Willem’s perspective, I was thrilled. I gave this one a 4 instead of a 5, but really it is a 4.5.

Yep, you read that right, it is a YA romance from the male perspective. I thought Willem was interesting, so I know I wanted to see his side of things and what happened to him over that year. Did Allyson change he life in a ways that seem unfathomable was just one day? Will it still be at all swoon-worthy coming from a guy? Well, to see what happened to him, you have to read it, but it was still a great romance!

For Allyson, that one day changed her in ways she could never imagine and watching that change was pretty amazing. Willem’s change does not feel quite as dramatic, but it is written in a way that is captivating and realistic. I felt like he and his friends were real people in real situations. They were situations so far away from my own, but I have a feeling there are young adults that can relate. His journey was a little slower, a little more subtle than Allyson’s, but it is wonderful.

I loved watching his philosophy on life and how he traveled. He was searching for Allyson (who he still called Lulu because that is the only name he knew) and connecting with others as only he could. I would recommend re-reading Just One Day so you can appreciate the times their paths got so close.

The other great thing is Willem’s relationship with his mother. It showed how he became the person he is and allowed him to grow up and figure out what he wanted with his life. I love seeing families in books for this age group and this showed so much of who he really is as a person through his relationship with his family.

This was a wonderful companion novel about figuring out what you want and the impact one day can have on your whole life. I love that Allyson’s view of Willem wasn’t just in her head, which was something I was a little afraid might be the case.

I cannot wait to read Forman’s next book.

 

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The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney

Posted by Caitie F on October 10, 2013

Title: The Brokenhearted14498145
Author: Amelia Kahaney
Hardcover: 320 pages
Pub Date: Oct 8, 2013
Publisher: Alloy Entertainment
Rating: ++

Summary from pub:

Prima ballerina Anthem Fleet is closely guarded by her parents in their penthouse apartment. But when she meets the handsome Gavin at a party on the wrong side of town, she is immediately drawn into his dangerous world. Then, in a tragic accident, Anthem falls to her death. She awakes in an underground lab, with a bionic heart ticking in her chest. As she navigates her new life, she uncovers the sinister truth behind those she trusted the most, and the chilling secret of her family lineage…and her duty to uphold it.

Review:

From the description, this book sounds pretty awesome. A rich girl turned superhero, could be a good twist on Batman.

But no. I figured out the plot twist less than halfway through the book without even knowing there was a twist. So that is one major strike against it.

The other is the main character. Anthem is so annoying, She lives her privileged life and never thinks of others, even after people who are poor are the ones the save her. Sure, she is grateful to them, but never thinks about anyone outside her little circle. she also continually puts everyone else in danger, trying to mask it off as protecting them but really by trying to sneak everywhere, she is just putting people who care about her in more and more danger. And she is a beyond shitty friend.

And the insta-love. She knows the guy for two weeks and is willing to die and have others die for him. Her whole world revolves around one person and she forgets everyone and everything else. She is also blind to the real problems in the city and doesn’t even care about it when others bring it up.

Also, it isn’t a complete story. I mean it literally ends with her walking down stairs to investigate something she finally realized. That is just lame. .

I bet you are wondering why I am even giving it three stars then. Well, it was fun to read. There are a couple times that you cheer for Anthem. It was also a fast and pretty mindless read, which is also a problem, a book like this shouldn’t be mindless.

Mostly though, the secondary characters are great. Ford is amazing. Jax has so much to her to learn about! And there is Serge. The chauffeur/bodyguard/ so much more than you can imagine. I want an entire book about him and through his perspective. He has so many layers and is just fascinating. These characters are interesting and complex. They are worthy of having a series.

I am undecided about reading the next book. I want to see more of the secondary characters, the ones that actually have hard lives, and I want to see if the prediction I made less than 50 pages into the book comes true. It probably will, unless the author realizes that it is just too obvious.

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Turn Left at the Cow by Lisa Bullard

Posted by Caitie F on October 8, 2013

Title: Turn Left at the CowTurn Left
Author: Lisa Bullard
Hardcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: Oct 8, 2013
Publisher: Harcourt
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

Thirteen-year-old Trav has always wondered about his dead-before-he-was-born dad. But when he heads from California to his grandmother’s house in rural Minnesota, hoping to learn about his past, he gets more than he bargained for. It turns out his dad was involved in a bank robbery right before he mysteriously disappeared, and the loot from the take is still missing. Along with Kenny and Iz, the kids next door, Trav embarks on a search for the cash. But the trio’s adventure quickly turns dangerous when it becomes clear that someone else is looking for the money—someone who won’t give up without a fight!

Review:

I always enjoy a good mystery and I always enjoy a solid middle grade book. Whenever I read a middle grade novel that also happens to be a mystery full of twists and turns, I get really excited and tell everyone they should read it.

Hey, everyone? Read this book!

It blends everything a good middle grade book needs.

There are fantastic characters. Every single one is great. From the lead, Trav, to his seven-year-old neighbor, every character is fantastic. The bad guys bad, the good guys are funny, and you totally believe them all as real people. My personal favorite was Iz, mostly because she didn’t take crap from anyone, yet could still be vulnerable. I could see any of the main character easily being fast favorites.

The book is funny. Some was silly, some was laugh out loud, but parts were genuinely amusing. Not all of the book though, it is also a little sad at parts, but so is life. The funny, the sad, it all works and just makes you feel.

It also has great family dynamics. In our world now, every family is different, but there are still some aspects that we can share and some of those are highlighted in this book. It also shows that everyone has problems and you shouldn’t just brush someone off because your problems seem bigger.

The mystery was great too. It twisted and turned. It wasn’t predictable, it wasn’t out of left field. There was suspense and more than money is on the line.

When I finished this book, I was happier than when I had started. It made me happy, even with the sad bits. This is a wonderful middle grade mystery that you really should read.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Dewey’s Read-a-thon 2013 Sign Up and Book Pile

Posted by Caitie F on October 6, 2013

dewey1-300x300

 

The fall read-a-thon is less than a week away! I have been planning on doing it for a while now, but I wanted to wait until I was absolutely positive to sign up. I am so excited I get to do it!

I still think I have never done the spring one, so this is a once-a-year thing for me and I love it. I think that time in the spring is always just so busy.

I am already getting my plans together. I need to figure out my snacks still, but I am going to cook pork carnitas tacos which will be in the slow cooker all day. Yum!

I already have my two book stacks too. I have a primary stack and a secondary. Here is the primary stack, but it is missing my starting book, The Name of the Wind. It is what I am reading now and I want to finish it and know i won’t do that during the week.

Usually, the read-a-thon is used at least partially to catch up with my reading goal for the year. Thanks to work, I have already gotten there and even bringing my goal up to 150 isn’t a huge stretch if I keep my current position. So i just get to read for fun (and think about the 30 review I have to write).

Here is the primary stack

read 1

Joyland by Stephen King: I learned in my first read-a-thon that Stephen King is a perfect choice for the event. I have read rave reviews about this book, including one from my husband, who wrote this awesome post about his top ten Stephen King books.

Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan: I have been meaning to continue this series for a while and the fourth book is coming out this week. Will be a great fast, fun read-a-thon book.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan: i got this at BEA and have been wanting to read it for a while. It got long-listed for the National Book Award! Also, i adore David Levithan.

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody: A fun middle grade fantasy.

How to Love by Katie Cotugno: I have seen so many rave reviews for this book, so I need to read it. I thought it sounded only okay because I do not like pregnancy books, but enough people have talked about it, so I need to read it.

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu: This looks fantastic to me!

Look at Me by Jennifer Egan: I am in the middle of this book too, so if I don’t finish it by then, I will finish it early in the day

Witches and The Mystery Box: Two short story collections! Sometimes it is fun to take a break and read a couple short stories and these are two different genres I love.

read 2

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon:This doesn’t seem like a good read-a-thon book, but I might pick it as my last book so I can start it.

Time Between and Time After TIme by Tamara Ireland Stone: This series has some time travel and romance. Why wouldn’t I read it?

Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Couloumbis: This lhas been on my shelf for a while, so I might check it out nad see if I like it.

The House at the End of Hope Street by Meena van Praag: I always have a couple books that are out of my usual genres, this is one of them but it looks really wonderful

Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler: This looks really good and easy to get lost in

Minders by Michele Jeffe: I need a little dystopian as a possibility!

No Place by Todd Strasser: I started this one at work and knew it wouldnt work there, but it is SO GOOD. The only reason it is in the secondary stack is that there is a lot to think about.

The Selection by Kiera Cass: I have wanted to read this since it came out. Maybe I will get to it.

 

What in my stacks should I prioritize? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Dewey's Read-A-Thon | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin

Posted by Caitie F on October 5, 2013

Title: Anton and Cecil Cats at SeaAnton and Cecil
Author: Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin
Hardcover: 242 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pub Date: October 8, 2013
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Cat brothers Cecil and Anton are as different in personality as they are in looks. Cecil, stocky and black with white patches, thirsts for seafaring adventure as he roams the docks of his harborside home, taking day trips on fishing boats when the chance comes along. Slim, gray Anton prefers listening to the sailors’ shanties at the town saloon, venturing to port only for the day’s catch. But one day when Anton goes in search of fresh mackerel, he’s stolen off the dock, and the next thing he knows, he’s at sea.

Knowing little of the wide open ocean that lies beyond the harbor, Cecil boards another ship in hopes of finding Anton. But what begins as a rescue mission turns into a pair of high seas adventures, with thrills and danger bubbling under every wave.

Anton takes on a fierce rat, outwits hungry birds, and forges a forbidden friendship, while Cecil encounters dolphins and whales and finds himself in the middle of a pirate raid. On an ocean as vast as the one Anton and Cecil have discovered, will they see home—or each other—ever again?

Review:

I am not even a cat person and I really enjoyed this book. If you have a cat lover in your life, especially if they are from the ages of 6-12 , this is a book you need to get. It would work as either a book you read to a younger child (there are some larger words) or a book that an older kid could read themselves. Even as an adult it was a fun and imaginative story! It really is a book for the whole family to enjoy together!

The book is all from the perspective of the cats. They cannot understand what humans are saying and humans cannot understand what the cats and other animals are saying. Sine the reader understands both, it adds tension and fun. The two brothers are very different from each other but learn that they are more alike than they think.

This is a fun action-adventure tale on the high seas with humor, danger and heart. It is a great read for any young animal lover or adventure-seeker!

 

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Everything Breaks by Vicki Groce

Posted by Caitie F on October 3, 2013

Title: Everything Breaks17465462
Author: Vicki Grove
Hardcover: 240
Pub Date: October 3, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Rating: +++

Summary from pub:

Tucker was supposed to be the designated driver. But there was something about the beauty of that last true summer night, that made him want to feel out-of-control just once. He drank so much and so quickly that he was instantly sick. That left Trey to drive. “I’ll catch up to you later,” were the last words Tucker would ever say to his friends as he heaved by the side of the road. It was the last time Tucker would ever see them alive.

Tucker’s grief and guilt are just about unbearable and he wonders how he can continue living himself. When he meets the Ferryman who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers that divide the world of the living from the world of the dead, Tucker gets a chance to decide: live or die. The temptation to join his three best friends on the other side may be too much for Tucker to overcome.

Review:

This book was not what I expected it to be and I still can’t decide if that is a good thing or not.

I thought more of this book would center on meeting the Ferryman and deciding, but that was just a very small part at the end of the book. Mostly, it focused on Tucker dealing with his best friends’ deaths. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. A reader can’t care if Tucker is going to live or die if the reader knows nothing about him.

And by the end you really feel for Tucker. He tries his best in life and is generally a pretty good person who has had one really bad thing happen to him, and a few small ones. This one big thing changes him forever, and the response felt real and raw.

Yet I still wish there was more with the Ferryman and the choice. The secondary character, his stepmother’s father, was one of the best parts of the book. He had dealt with the Ferryman before and I was more interested in his story from Vietnam. There was more depth there and it explored the choice in a much more thorough way.

It is still a very moving book and it will make you feel, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

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