Genre: Young Adult

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Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

January 4, 2016 Book Review 12

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Published by Vintage on May 18th 2004
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 226
Format: Paperback
Source: purchased
Goodreads

 

After having this one on my shelf for quite a few years I finally picked it up as my first read for 2016.

Christopher, the protagonist, has a form of autism. He seems brilliant when it comes to numbers and remembering facts; dealing with people and social situations, not so much.  The only touch he seems to be able to tolerate is that of an animal – his favorite pet rat or the next door neighbor’s dog – Wellington.

When Christopher discovers Wellington with a garden rake poking out of his fur, he loses it. No one seems to know who or why Wellington was murdered. So Christopher takes it on himself to detect the culprit. His favorite storybook character is Sherlock Holmes.  Christopher uses Holmes’ methods of deduction and reasoning to investigate Wellington’s death.

Christopher’s world is turned inside out as the progression of his investigation continues. We follow along in his head as he tries to make sense of the senseless. Several paragraphs I had to skip over. Whenever Christopher went off on a mathematical equation  my eyes would glaze over and brain would go into a deep, thick fog. But I had to keep reading because the mystery was compelling, the characters heart-breaking and Christopher, whom I wanted to envelope into a long mama hug, could not be touched. To be autistic sounds incredibly difficult, but almost even more so difficult, I think, would be the one to take care of an autistic child. God bless the saints who care for the autistic person.

Recommended for those who enjoyed Flowers for Algernon or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Have you read this oldie?

 

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Book Review: Ana of California

July 24, 2015 Book Review 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Ana of CaliforniaAna of California by Andi Teran
Published by Penguin Books on June 30th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

The re-telling of the timeless classic Anne of Green Gables, Ana of California is a lovely tribute to the L.M. Montgomery series.

Fifteen year old Ana Cortez is on her very last option for foster care.  She’s been to a group home and multiple foster homes since entering “the system” at age 7.  Ana has a fierce protective spirit of others who are being mistreated and she is both unable and unwilling to keep injustices to herself.

I was impressed with Teran’s creation of Ana.  She was both a bit of Anne but a whole lot of Ana {like fauna not banana}.  Ana is street-wise yet also still a child in need of adult love and protection.  She’s older than Anne Shirley and of a diverse background {as is her best friend, Rye}.  The Northern California town plays a distinct role while the supporting cast of characters are refreshingly their own persons. While Ana could be a much more tragic figure than Anne Shirley there is a lightness to the novel.  Yes, Ana’s circumstances are horrific.  Yes, the brother and sister duo have pain and grief of their own.  What Teran succeeds at most is telling their stories without any one character succumbing to the weight of the world.

Words of Wisdom from Ana

You know when we were leaving and Alder said he thought bees were really angels on earth?….Maybe they have stingers for that very purpose.  To give life, take it, and also to maybe keep the rest of us from realizing how good they can be.  And maybe when we see one, away from any others, nowhere near a hive, maybe it’s there to remind us that goodness in disguise is always buzzing around in the periphery. {p. 136}

Sent to the organic farm as a very last resort Ana brings as much to the brother and sister owners as they share with her.  Truly a sweet novel for fans of Anne of Green Gables. Lighthearted, hope-full and a lovely summer read.  Grab some fresh strawberries and cream, hot tea and a porch swing then sit awhile and enjoy Ana’s story.

Penguin has created a free book club kit resource full of recipes, additional reading and even a Spotify playlist.

Are you a fan of re-tellings or do you avoid them at all costs?

Congratulations to Katherine of Story Matters for winning the Classic + A Re-Telling Giveaway.  Hope you enjoy!

 

 

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Book Review: Vanishing Girls

January 7, 2015 Book Review, reviews 8

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Vanishing GirlsVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on March 10th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Lauren Oliver’s latest novel follows two sisters trying to overcome a terrible car accident and a family trying to move ahead in spite of a divorce.  Underlying that family drama is a 9-year-old girl who has gone missing from the backseat of her sister’s car.

Nick {Nicole} and Dara are a little over 11 months apart.  They’ve been inseparable since babies until the past four months has found Dara shunning Nick since the car accident.

Lauren Oliver has a way of writing that grabs you from the outset and does not let go.  In that aspect, she is a master storyteller.  In Vanishing Girls Oliver rotates between Dara and Nick as narrator and between ‘before’ the accident and ‘after.’  This style both moves the story along rapidly and hides the clues of what really happened with both the missing girl and the car accident.

A couple of issues I had with the plot ~ do high school juniors and seniors really drink that much? I don’t ever remember drinking that much in high school, nor do I believe I was so absent & unawares when my kids were in high school ~ perhaps I’m being naive?

Second issue is more plot development ~ I figured out part of the mystery early on from the big whoppers of clues and I’m probably the person that takes the longest to figure anything out!  My family and friends know when they tell me a joke they may have to break it down for me {sad, but true!}.  I’m thinking if the clues had not been so blatant that the big reveal may have been much more shocking.

Lauren Oliver’s writing ability is intense and wrings me out by the time I close the book.  Never fails, she has me sobbing by the end.  In Before I Fall {review} I remember thinking I would never quit crying!

[Tweet “Realistic {yet fictional} study in love and conflict between two sisters”]

Where she does get it right, Oliver shines.  The conflict and relationship of the sisters is what I witnessed with my girls who are 18 months apart.  The adoration and dedication are apparent between the two as is the struggle with personal identity and the intrinsic jealousies.  It’s a good study in love and conflict of two sisters.

To sum up, I liked Vanishing Girls.  Although the plot was not as seamless as previous novels, Lauren Oliver has a unique writing style that I thoroughly enjoy.  Recommended.

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Take a Trip Back to High School in Brutal Youth

November 21, 2014 Book Review, reviews 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Take a Trip Back to High School in Brutal YouthBrutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
Published by Macmillan on June 10th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

 

Perhaps I lived under a rock in high school.  I’m actually really, really glad I didn’t go to a private school, especially one as, um, toxic, as St. Michaels in Brutal Youth.  Did you know that some private high schools actually sanction hazing?

Filled with snippets of profoundness like Everyone bullies somebody, and When people didn’t like you, they got in your way.  When they didn’t care about you, they let you get in your own way.    The first scene is gripping, horrifying ~ like watching a train wreck happen.  Peter Davidvek happens to be doing a freshman tour on the day Colin “Clink” loses it after years of brutalized bullying.  Because his parents do not believe Peter’s version of the events {everything is hushed up in the newspaper and as it’s the early ’90s there’s no social media or cell phones at the ready} Peter ends up attending St. Michaels.

The Cast

Peter Davidvek ~ the likable freshman who tries to do the right thing {like save a boy in the opening chapter only to incur the wrath of the guidance counselor, Ms. Bromine, and the utter disbelief of his parents}

Noah Stein ~ gutsy, take-no-crap attitude scarred-face friend of Peter and partner-in-crime {actually partner in trying to save the boy from harm by kissing Ms. Bromine while Peter pulled boy to safety ~ see what I mean about gutsy?!?}

Lorelei Paskal ~ also new incoming freshman with something to prove.  She simply wants to be popular and will go to surprising lengths to gain that popularity.  Also in a sort-of love triangle with Peter and Noah.

Ms. Bromine ~ guidance counselor, teacher, ultimate mean girl {yep, she’s the mean girl abusing her position and power in ways you will not believe!}

Father Mercedes ~ his church {and buildings} are crumbling and falling down around him and he just wants it to end so he can start over fresh.

Sister Maria ~ the well-intentioned but completely ineffective principal

Brutal Youth had the feel of early ’90s high school amped up to the nth degree.  The writing is absorbing with clear ability to drag emotions out of its reader whether it be anger in a “no, she did not just say that-” kind of way or a cringing kind-of compassion wishing you could jump through the pages, hug a student and tell her “there is really a better way.”  The one thing I will especially commend Anthony Breznican about is his ability to drag me back to high school even though I never stepped foot in a private school.  There’s something so universal about the emotions one goes through as a freshman that Anthony was able to effectively communicate on the pages of Brutal Youth.

While the youth in the novel were clearly developed, well-rounded characters, the adults were almost garish in comparison.  I probably feel that way because there is not a single adult I liked in the book.  As a matter of fact, I wanted to slap most of them, especially Peter’s out-of-touch parents.

The first chapter is a hold-your-breath, edge-of-the-seat introduction to Brutal Youth and plateaus somewhat after the explosive beginning.  Not necessarily a bad thing as my heart certainly could not have taken many more chapters that emotional.  Recommended for anyone who went to high school in the 80’s, early 90’s or someone who wants to know what not to do as a high school guidance counselor. . .and for anyone who simply enjoys the emergence of a debut author with a unique sense of humor and writing ability galore.

Be sure to check out my interview with the author in which he shares his own stories of private Catholic school ~ terrifying!

How were your high school days?  Have a beloved teacher story or a vindictive, hateful, horrible teacher story {we all probably have one of those I imagine!}?

Many thanks to BE Consulting for including me on the Blog Tour!

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Miss Peregrine Needs a New Home

August 22, 2014 Book Review, Giveaway 3

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Miss Peregrine Needs a New HomeMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, et al by Cassandra Jean, Ransom Riggs
Published by Quirk Books Genres: Young Adult
Source: complimentary review copy

 

Lovely readers you are in for a treat!  I have Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children {Book 1}, Hollow City {Book 2} and the Graphic Novel of Book 1 bundled up ready to fly away to a new home!  Any takers?

 

 

The first novel sets the stage with sixteen year old Jacob stumbling into an old abandoned orphanage on a remote island off the coast of Wales.  In the abandoned orphanage, Jacob discovers photos of children with strange peculiarities. . .

IMG_4669Filled to the brim with old photos that border on creepy and horrific, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fascinating tale intertwining history, mystery, science fiction and a bit of fantasy.  The old photos add a touch of  “could that really have happened” fantasy while the storyline keeps you immersed in Jacob’s tragic situation.

Hollow City picks up just where Miss Peregrine leaves off so if you have issues with waiting on the next in a series, kind of like I do, then getting this bundle will be perfect for you!  As with Miss Peregrine the old photos will have you immersed in Jacob’s tale along with the addition of a menagerie of characters and animals.

The graphic novel is definitely a departure from my normal repertoire.  Honestly? I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the comic-book-style story.  If you’re not a graphic novel person like myself – this is a good one to get you started.

The giveaway ends on Friday, August 29th at 11:59 pm.  One winner will be selected at random to receive all three books – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and the Graphic Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  This giveaway is open to all, international friends included 🙂  Please enter via promo simple entry form below.  Good luck!

[promosimple id=”5683″]

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