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Monday, April 30, 2012

Things I've Read Recently (2)

Since it was so popular last time, here are some more things I've read recently.

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell

Published: May 11th, 2010 (Paperback release May 24th, 2011)
Genre: YA contemporary fiction... I think. More on that later.
Binding: Paperback
Page count: 276 in my copy
Part of a series? Nope, standalone
Amazon link. (Also the kindle edition is like 6 bucks. I'm just saying, that's a good price.)

Summary (from the back of the book because goodreads didn't do it for me): Genevieve Welsh was looking foward to a normal, relaxing summar. But her mom had another idea: Camp Frontier, a theme vacation that promises the "thrill" of living like 1890s pioneers. Gen will be thrilled if she gets out alive. She reluctantly trades in her jean shorts for petticoats and kisses Diet Coke and Cheetos good-bye, but she does manage to sneak in her cell phone. Keeping her friends (and herself) entertained, Gen sends texts with daily updates from "Little Hell on the Prairie."

But as it turns out, Camp Frontier isn't all bad. There's a cute guy named Caleb on the farm next door, and Gen's surprisingly good at churning butter. By the time her friends turn her stories into the hottest blog on the Internet, Gen's got more important things to worry about - like helping her family strategize for the frontier competition and keeping the other "pioneer" girls far away from Caleb.

Thoughts: I read this over Christmas and I can't find the notebook I used to take notes in for it, but I know I liked it a lot. It was sweet, funny, light. Very enjoyable. It's exactly what it's meant to be and that's refreshing sometimes. Also the H-word in the summary does not reflect the rest of the book. As far as I can remember, there is like no cursing. Gen is 13, I think going on 14, and both the vocabulary (swearing/language-wise) and subject matter of the book reflect that. Totally appropriate for younger readers who maybe are past some MG books but not quite ready for older YA books, but very entertaining for anything who just likes a lighter book, too. Thumbs up.

The Phantom Isles by Stephen Alter

Published: January 23rd, 2007 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 210 pages in my copy.
Part of a series? Nope.
Amazon link.

Summary (from goodreads): The book is called The Compleat Necromancer, and when Ming, Orion, and Courtney read an incantation from its pages, they have no way of knowing they are about to conjure up the ghosts of an entire nation. Because the ghosts that the three friends summon aren't just any ghosts. They were captured from an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean--the Ilhas dos Fantasmas--a place where the living and the dead once coexisted peacefully. Now confined to the pages of a few dozen library books in a New England town that's thousands of miles from their home, the ghosts must rely on the children and a determined librarian to free them before they are lost forever.

Thoughts: This one didn't amaze me. The writing was very backstory heavy and a bit odd. Lots of POV changes. I really liked the idea of it, but it didn't wow me and I wonder how much kids would really like it as the voice was sometimes hard to get into. I'd put it at about three roses, if I was rating it.

The One Where the Kid Nearly Jumps to His Dead and Lands in California by Mary Hershey

Published: March 1st by Razorbill
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 275 in my copy
Part of a series? Nope.
Amazon link.

Summary (from the dust jacket because the goodreads one is short): Alastair Hudson, aka "Stump," is a thirteen-year-old with an attitude, walking through life with a chip on his shoulder and a prosthetic leg.

The absolute last way Alastair wants to spend his summer is in California visiting his dad, who split town after the accident that caused Alastair's amputation back when he was eight. What's worse, his dad's remarried to a woman called Skylight, er, Skylar.

But life in California gets a little brighter when Alastair meets fifteen-year-old soap star Jesse. He's ready to do anything to impress her - even pretend he's a top-notch swimmer to compete alongside her in a major race. Now all he has to do is learn to swim in the ocean, win a battle of wills with his cantankerous coach, and confront his father over the events that led to his life-altering accident.

Thoughts: I grabbed this on a whim and really liked it. The beginning was a bit slow but only for like three pages. I thought it was awsome to have a kid with a prosthetic as a main character because, hello, we need more books like that, right? Also Alastair was freaking hilarious, especially when he was trying to be a snot to his father and stepmother because he wasn't really good at it. His humour can be very dark sometimes, but he's still absolutely hilarious. Here's an example of something that cracked me up (from like page 2):
As far as prosthetics go, it was the cheapest model on the planet. I picked it out myself. Mom and pretty much everyone else wanted me to buy a better one, but I wouldn't let them. What's the point? You can dress it up all you want, but a stump is a stump is a stump. I hated even putting it on, but Mom insisted. And she didn't think it was funny at all when I took off my leg at school, put it in my locker, and then tied a rag around my stump with fake blood on it.

I could imagine that some people might think he was unreasonable in how long he took to give his father a break but let's just say I understand him and I'd probably act similarly in his situation. So that didn't bother me. Moving on now...

One weird thing, though, is that my library has this as Junior (aka Middle Grade or down) and... it's not MG. It's YA. There's some language and mature content and what-not, and to me at least, the voice doesn't sound middle grade. Anyways, not a big deal. I liked this, would recommend it. Solid four rating.

(But is learning to swim well to impress a girl a Thing for boys??? See: Swim the Fly.)

Peace and cookies,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (111)

Waiting on Wednesday is, of course, brought to us by the lovely Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This is Waiting on Wednesday number 111!!! That's not really significant in anyway, but I like the way that kind of number looks.

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard - To be released July 24th, 2012

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

(Summary from goodreads.)

Why I want this: I love the idea of blending historical fiction and paranormal/fantasy. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, sadly, and this just sounds fun.

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta - To be released July 3rd, 2012

When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

(Summary from goodreads.)

Why I want this: Because BOARDING SCHOOL. That's why. Also, I love the name Lucky on a guy. Blame my mother for making me watch General Hospital. Plus the cover is really pretty. I like the title font.

Alrighty, that's it for me for this week. What are you guys waiting on? Anything shiny and fun?

Peace and cookies,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (110)

Waiting on Wednesday is, of course, brought to us by the lovely Jill at Breaking the Spine.

A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan - To be released June 5th, 2012

Farrah "Digit" Higgins may be going to MIT in the fall, but this L.A. high school genius has left her geek self behind in another school district so she can blend in with the popular crowd at Santa Monica High and actually enjoy her senior year. But when Farrah, the daughter of a UCLA math professor, unknowingly cracks a terrorist group's number sequence, her laid-back senior year gets a lot more interesting. Soon she is personally investigating the case, on the run from terrorists, and faking her own kidnapping-- all while trying to convince a young, hot FBI agent to take her seriously. So much for blending in

(Summary from goodreads.)

Why I want to read this: Smart girls are awesome. And Digit/Farrah sounds AWESOME times infinity. Plus, hello, hot FBI agent. If anybody would like to send this to me as a half-birthday present, I'd be down for that! No? Okay. *sad sigh*

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - To be released June 14th, 2012

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

(Summary from goodreads.)

Why I want to read this: 'Cause it sounds cute and I'm a sucker for cute love stories.

So what are you guys waiting on this week?

Peace and cookies,