Monday, October 28, 2013

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Today’s post is on Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. It is 279 pages long including beautiful full page illustrations and is published by Little, Brown, and Company. The cover is a beautiful picture of a young girl riding a flying dragon across the cover in bright and vivid colors. The intended reader is are children about the age of seven and up but it is so well written that anyone who likes fantasy Chinese stories will enjoy this book. The story is told from third person close changing characters from one to another over the course of the story. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

Review- I really loved this story. I love myths and legends from all cultures. Grace Lin is a wonderful storyteller and this book won the Newbery Honor the year it was published. This is a wonderful story is you are interested in Chinese storytelling or if you want to introduce your children to this vivid culture. The main story is about Minli wanting to meet the Old Man of the Moon and discover how she can make her family’s life easier. But threaded throughout the story are dozens of other stories that gives beautiful background information about the main plot. It is not just about Minli changing her family’s fortune but about learning to be happy with what blessings you have. There is theme of family being the most important thing in the world from the beginning story about the Jade Dragon looking for her lost children to Minli’s parents looking for her. This book is easy to read aloud so bedtime story would be great with this.

I give this book Five stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer

Today’s post is on One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Gracia. It is 215 pages long and is published by Amistad. The cover has the three sisters on it with Delphine closest to the reader looking up at the sky. The intended readers are children but teachers could read this out loud for the class. It is told from the first person point of view from Delphine. This book has won the Coretta Scoot King Award, was a National Book Award Finalist, and is a Newberry Honor Book. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.
When the girls arrive in Oakland in this summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.
Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, One Crazy Summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them- an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of book for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.

Review- This is not my kind of book. But that said it is well written and if you are interested in the time period then this is a good book for you. For me personally I was bored with it. I did not feel that the main problem was resolved by the end. I did not buy Cecile’s ‘change’ and I still do not get why she left when Cecile could not name Fern. I think that Delphine is only adult that is in the book and that is sad because she is only eleven. The dynamics between the sisters is believable but I just really did not connect with the book. I think that it was a place in the classroom with all the history that is very important to the book but other than that I just do not see it being more.

I give this book Three out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review, I borrowed this book from my local library, and I read it for a graduate class.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Men Who United the States


Today’s Nonfiction book is The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester. It is 447 including notes and a bibliography. It is published by HarperCollins. The cover has two pictures on it ; at the top the picture of a man standing before Niagara Falls and on the bottom a train going across a high bridge. The intended reader is someone who is interested in American history. There is no language, no violence, and no sex in this book so all ages okay. The book is mostly told from third person but Winchester does put in stories about traveling around the US to add color. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- For more than two centuries, “E pluribus Unum”- “out of many, one”- has been featured on America’s official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses these questions, bringing together the breathtaking achievements that helped forge and unify America and the pioneers who have toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizens and geography of the United States from its beginnings.
Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, including Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery expedition to the Pacific Coast, the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph, and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Truckee to Laramie, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing these fascinating men and others- some familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known- who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the states has succeeded, and to what degree.
Featuring forty illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.

Review- I enjoyed this book but I warned you; it can get meaty at parts. But if put the time into this book you will have a good time but I like to learn new things. I have never read Winchester before but he has made a fan out of me. He takes you on a journey from the beginnings of America all the way to the current age. His unique spin is using an Asian philosophy to explore American history. He starts with when America’s story was dominated by wood and ends with it told through metal. The chapters are long but there are breaks so you can stop and think about what you have just read. There is a ton of information in this book and Winchester does not waste an inch in this book. But it can drag at points just to warn you. All in all an excellent read.

I give this book a Four out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book from HarperCollins in exchange for a review.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Today’s post is on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It is 525 pages long including over 284 pictures. It is published by Scholastic Press. The cover is very colorful with an ornate lock and keyhole in the center and the full moon over Paris behind it. This book has won the Caldecott medal and is written for children but anyone who loves stories with hope and movies will enjoy this book. It is told from third person close mostly from Hugo's point of view but it can change from time to time. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. Anyone over the age of five should be fine. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks- like the gears of the clocks he keeps- with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train station, Hugo’s undercover life and his most precious secret are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spell-binding mystery.
With 284 pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film Brain Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.

Review- This book is fun to read and great for those children who have trouble reading. The plot is fast paced with interesting twists. The characters are so real. They make this story about life after War World One not only interesting but enjoyable. Hugo is just trying to survive and he wants nothing more than to fix the last thing that his father was working on before he died. Isabelle wants to see movies without having to hide it from her godfather. And her godfather just wants to forget everything from before the war. The way that these characters meet, interact, and save each other is moving and beautiful. Selznick brings together so many elements from writing and film that it is hard to pick them apart. This book is an ode to the love of books and film from Selznick to the reader. If you are an adult you will fly through this book and children will enjoy both the pictures and the way the words build them in your mind.

I give this book Five stars out of Five. I get nothing for this review, I borrowed this book from my local library, and I read this book for a graduate class.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Requiem (Delirium, #3)

Today’s post is on Requiem by Lauren Oliver. It is the third in her Delirium Trilogy and is 418 including a 27 page short story about Alex in the end. The intended reader is young adult but if you have read the others in the series then you should read this one too. The cover has the main character Lena in close-up looking at the reader directly. The story is told from first person point of view from Lena and Hana changing from chapter to chapter. There is some language, violence but no sex in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past. But we are still here. And there are more of us every day.  
Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge

Review- I have read all the of Delirium trilogy as they have come out but I was so disappointed with the final book. Oliver is an experienced writer, she knows how to plot out where her story is going, and that is my problem. Because I did not feel that she was ready to end this series. It is that or Oliver is going to write more in this world. She does not resolve the love interest problem or the government. The book just ends. All the characters from all the books are just left there with a ton of unfinished business. I do not know why Oliver chose to do that. It was very unsatisfying ending. There is not as much character growth in Requiem as there was in the second novel Pandemonium but that was fine until the end. The characters were dealing with all the changes from the second novel in this one and that was interesting and good. But the ending really just sucks all the good things that novels did because it just stops.

I give this book Two Stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl

The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl (Geek Girls, #1)

Today’s post is on The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl by Gina Lamm. It is part of her Geek Girl series and is 333 pages long. It is published by Source Books Casablanca. The cover has the male main character looking at the reader as he unbuttons his shirt and the female main character with big smile on her face looking at him. It is told from the main characters point of view changing from chapter to chapter. There is language, sexuality but no violence. 18 and up because of the sex. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- An avid gamer, Jamie Marten loves to escape into online adventure. But when she falls through an antique mirror into a lavish bedchamber- 200 years in the past! - she realizes she may have escaped a little too far.
Micah Axelby, Earl of Dunnington, has just kicked one mistress out of his bed and isn’t looking to fill it with another- least of all this sassy, nearly naked woman who claims to be from the future. Yet something about her in undeniable enticing…
Jamie and Micah are worlds apart. He’s a peer of the realm. She can barely make rent. He’s horse-drawn. She’s Wi-Fi. But in the game of love, these two will risk everything to win.

Review- I picked this book up because it sounded funny. It is not. It is pretty boring in actuality. Jamie is supposed to be a hardcore gamer girl with her own sense of herself. She is not. I am a hardcore gamer and it was painfully plain that Lamm has never played an MMO or talked to a real live gamer girl. Lamm just plays off the stereotypes that people who do not play have about gamers. Like gamers expect girls to be healers whether they want to or not. That is just not true. Jamie and Micah or, Mike as she likes to call him, are boring. Jamie also is not sassy. How Jamie to be sassy is by cursing in everyday language. I have no problems with cursing, I curse sometimes daily and pretty foully, but that does not make me sassy (Bonus information about me Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director and screenwriter.). She goes from not wanting anything to do with him because he was being an ass to her to in love with him in the space of twenty pages. Mike is not a bad hero but I just did not connect with him or with his relationship with Jamie. Honestly I did not really like anything about this book. It was not funny, it played on stereotypes, the romance was flat, and all the characters were two dimensional. I will not be reading anything else from Gina Lamm and I am just so disappointed in general with her and this book.

I give this book One star out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library Thank God!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Stalking the Dragon

Stalking the Dragon

Today’s post is on Stalking the Dragon by Mike Resnick. It is the third in John Justin Mallory series. It is 296 pages long including six appendixes and a very detailed author’s information pages. It is published by Pyr. The cover has John Justin standing in the middle of a group of fantastic creatures. The intended reader is someone who is a fan of the first two novels, humor, and urban fantasy. There is no sex but talk of it, there is some language but nothing too foul, and there is only humorous violence. Anyone over the age of 13 should be just fine. It is told from third person close focused on John Justin. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- It’s Valentine’s Day and private detective John Justin Mallory is planning on closing up the office early and taking his partner, Col. Winnifred Carruthers, out to dinner since he’s sure that no one else will do so. But before he can turn off the lights and lock the door, he is visited by a panic-stricken Buffalo Bill Brody. It seems that the Eastminster pet show is being held the next day, and his dragon, Fluffy, the heavy favorite, has been kidnapped.
Mallory’s nocturnal hunt for the tiny dragon takes him to some of the stranger sections of this Manhattan- the Frump Tower; Horrid Hubert’s; Greenwitch Village (which is right around the corner from Greenwich Village but is far more dangerous); a wax museum where figures of Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre come alive; and more- and as he follows the leads and hunts for clues he comes up against one dead end after another.
Along the way he meets a few old friends and enemies, a host of strange new inhabitants of this otherworldly Manhattan, and the most unique cell phone in all of fantastic literature. Aided by Felina (the office cat-person), a Samurai goblin, and a zombie name Dead End Dugan, Mallory and his unlikely crew have only one night to find a tiny dragon that’s hidden somewhere in a city of seven million.

Review- I really love the John Justin Mallory adventures for many reasons. They are funny, the plots are fun, and Resnick is a wonderful writer. His sense of dialogue is unmatched by anyone. He parodies the tropes of all genre books. I just love this series. It is fun, funny, and just everything for someone who loves humor well done. Terry Pratchett is king of high fantasy humor but Resnick is of urban fantasy with John Justin. As this one is the third book about John Justin you really need to have read the first two to really get all of the jokes. Resnick still does some world building in this book but that Manhattan is so like our Manhattan that he just fills in the details so you can see the differences between the worlds. There are jokes from the other books like John Justin still betting on Flyaway and losing more money on that horse. So expect more humor and more wonderful writing from the master Mike Resnick.

I give this book Five stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I brought this book with my own money.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers


Today’s nonfiction post is on Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers and is edited by Jack Canfield et al. It is 405 pages long including information about writers and the book series. It is published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing. The cover is white with title and information in blue and a woman’s hand writing. The intended reader is someone who is looking reasons to keep trying in the writing field. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. Any age can read this. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- 101 Motivational Stories for Writer, from bloggers to bestsellers. From budding bloggers to bestselling novelists, your fellow writers share their best advice, writing tips, time management strategies, and personal ups and downs in the business of writing. These stories will motivate you, entertain you , and keep those words flowing!
Bestselling novelist J.A. Jance explains how her next book rights a wrong done to a friend killed in Vietnam. Award-winning Young Adult novelist Sarah Darer Littman talks about her “second book blues”. Read how bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan was mentored in the writing world by someone she had mentored in the TV world, and how Jenna Glatzer overcame her agoraphobia to ghostwrite Celine Dion’s biography. Marc Tyler Nobleman explains how he unmasked the true creator of Batman series.
With chapters on overcoming your fears, beating writer’s block, accepting rejection, and making time to write, you’ll feel like you’re at a first-class writers’ conference. Additional chapters cover how to use writer’s groups and mentors effectively, tried and true methods to find new inspiration, and how writing can change your own life and others.

Review- I had never read a Chicken Soup book before. Just never crossed my mind or my desk before. But when I was processing this book I read one of the chapters. After that I had to read more and I am going to be getting more in the Chicken Soup series. All writers have similar problems. We get busy, the story is too hard, and the rejections just keep coming. But in this book no matter what you are facing as a writer there is someone who understands. From the guy with over 200 rejections to the mom trying to handle the pain of a child with cancer there is someone who will get you. Be prepared to cry but I think that is normal for this series. If you are looking for a way to connect with other writers who are not that different from yourself and have the same problems then give this book a try.

I give this book Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Across the Universe

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)

Today’s post is on Across the Universe by Beth Revis. It is the first in a trilogy of the same name. It is 398 pages long and it is published by Razorbill. The cover has a beautiful picture of the stars with two faces in profile; they are the main characters Amy and Elder. The intended reader is young adult but an adult who like space drama should enjoy this book. There is some sex both in talk and in action including a rape attempt, some language, and violence so older YA and adult is best. It is told from first person switching from Amy to Elder per chapter. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends- and planet- behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship.
Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.
Someone tried to murder her.
Now, Amy is caught inside a tiny world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed’s 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldest’s rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.
Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship’s cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets before whoever wants her dead tries to kill again.

Review- I have some problems with this book but really they did not stop me from enjoying this book. I just did not really connect with Amy or Elder or with their emotions but I still like both characters. The plot itself is nothing new but some of the threads with the history of the ship and how it could get to this point is very interesting and unique. This is the first book I have read by Revis but I will be reading the other books in this trilogy. I am interested in where the story is going. There are some good questions that are left unanswered at the end of book. But I see this as a good starting point for the second book. Where I did not connect with Amy or Elder I did not have that problem with the side characters. The background characters are really good and interesting. They are the ones who are making things move in the story. It is a good strong sci-fi YA and that is something that you just do not see too much of.

I give this book Four and a half stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood

Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood
Today’s post is on Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood by Meredith Ann Pierce. It is a stand-alone novel and is 241 pages long. It is published by Viking. The intended reader is young adult but anyone who has read Pierce’s other works will enjoy this one and if you have never read her before this is a good starting place. The cover has a curtain that is the night sky pulled to the side with a young girl looking at the reader and flowers are growing out of her hair. There is no language, no sex and only talk of some violence in this book. It is told from third person close with the focus on Hannah. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- First, she is Brown Hannah- a healer who lives in the Tanglewood, a drab girl who, for reason unknown to her, unnerves the villagers who come to her to get salves and charms. But when she challenges the magician who has held her captive for longer than she can remember, she becomes Green Hannah. Then she is Golden Hannah, traveling through the land, her talking animals and birds (and one silent fox) by her side. And, finally Russet Hannah, when she finishes the long journey back to where she first grew, and learns the story of who she is, and why her long flaxen hair is interwoven with deep-rooted flowers, plants, berries and wheat. A world that utterly involves the reader, bone-deep imagery, a journey that strides through the heart- this eagerly anticipated novel, Meredith Ann Pierce’s first in five years, is well worth the wait.

Review- I love Pierce. She is one of my favorite authors and I have missed her because she has not published anything in a long time. The story is a beautiful journey of a young girl who does not know who or what she is. Hannah is brave, loving, and curious about herself and the world. The villain is very evil and she shines so well against his evil. The dialogue is not bad but it is not why you read this book. It is the descriptions of the world and of Hannah as she changes. Pierce knows how to world build. In her most wonderful trilogy The Darkangel Trilogy shows this well and she does not disappoint here either. I enjoy journey books and this is a good one. Hannah is a little slow about herself just to warn you and that is only problem that I have with the novel. Hannah is too innocent for my tastes but just roll with it and you will enjoy this story totally.

I give this one Four and half stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I bought my copy with my own money.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No Kidding: Woman Writers on Bypassing Parenthood


Today’s Nonfiction post is No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood edited by Henriette Mantel. It is 233 pages long, including notes and more information about the writers and is published by Seal Press. The cover just the title and editor information on it in red and white. The intended reader is adult with and without children. There is language, sex, but no violence in this book. The essays are written from first person, with one exception. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Writer and director Henriette Mantel brings together a star-studded group of humorous, talented women, including foreword writer Jennifer Coolridge, Margaret Cho, Wendy Liebman, Laurie Graff, and Nora Dunn, among many others, to write about opting out of motherhood. Compelling, inspiring, and often hilarious, No Kidding reveals another side of the story and celebrates an entire population of woman who bypassed parenthood.

Review- If you are childfree then read this book. It is funny but honest about the experiences that those who are childfree have. The only problem I have with the book is that it only uses the word childless when most of the women in this book are childfree. The difference is important. Childless people are the ones who want to have child and cannot. The childfree are the ones who do not want to have children at all. The essays range from dealing with family about being childfree to the heartbreak of being childless. I really enjoyed these essays. They were all very well written and touching. The one that is not written in person first is The Pathology of Motherhood by Valri Bromfield. It is a user manual for mothers who do not want to be mothers and is very funny. If you are childfree then give this book a look; I am sure that you will enjoy it.

I give this book Four out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.