Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wonderstruck (Brian Selznick)

Title: Wonderstruck
Author: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic
Length: 629 pages
Rating: 4.5/5

Two stories, fifty years apart. The story of Ben is told in words; the interwoven story of Rose is told in pictures. Both stories lead to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and their stories collide in the warmest of ways.

Don’t be intimidated by the size of this book. It’s recommended for children age nine and up, and I agree that it’s the perfect read for kids and adults. Because of the driving story and easy-on-the-eyes pictures, it’s a quick read that will leave you, well, wonderstruck.

Things I loved:
1.      The way the two stories were perfectly interwoven, so that they can stand on their own, but also add meaning to one another.
2.      The pictures are incredibly beautiful and detailed. (My favorite detail was a Star Wars movie poster in the New York subway.)
3.      This book is partially about Deaf culture. Brian Selznick does a wonderful job of celebrating the culture, while touching on its hardships and teaching readers how to accept it.
4.      After watching Hugo, I was sure Brian Selznick hated all adults. Turns out, adults are redeemable in his books if they were awesome children and can rediscover what they loved as kids. I love this idea- everyone should tap their inner child. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Across the Universe (Beth Revis)

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Length: 398 pages
Rating: 4/5

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed, bound for an earth-like planet 300 years in the future. But 50 years before Godspeed’s scheduled landing, Amy is violently and mysteriously unplugged and finds herself trapped on a giant steel ship, ruled by a tyrannical dictator named Eldest. Her only ally is Elder, Eldest’s rebellious successor who is fascinated by Amy, but also struggling with his own destiny to rule the ship. (And finally, the awesome tagline on the cover of the book:) What does it take to survive aboard a spaceship fueled by lies?

First, many thanks to all the Johnson County youth librarians who recommended and loaned this book to me. Second, this book is not related to that movie about the Beatles. Third, the cover is gorgeous:

Told from both Elder’s and Amy’s perspectives, this book is dystopian, romance, science fiction and more. There’s an entirely contained world aboard the Godspeed, and Elder, with the unexpected influence of Amy, must decide how he wants to rule it one day. Amy must come to terms with living in a giant metal box without the comfort of her parents who are still frozen. It’s claustrophobic, frightening, yet wonderfully told. Godspeed itself is like a giant Pandora’s box that Amy and Elder dare try and open. But is truth worth the loss of comfort and control?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The DUFF (Kody Keplinger)

Title: The DUFF
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Length: 280 pages
Rating: 4/5

When hot, obnoxious Wesley calls Bianca the DUFF (the designated ugly fat friend), she knows he’s right. Bianca loathes Wesley and his man-slut ways, but things aren’t going so great for Bianca at home, and one night, she kisses Wesley, and likes it. Hooking up with Wesley becomes the only way Bianca can escape her problems, until her secret hook-ups become a problem. 

Warning: this book is rated PG-13. It’s also funny, honest, and doesn’t romanticize teen life or teen relationships. Most people think they’re the DUFF, and can relate to Bianca- she’s cynical, loyal, and hilarious when she relates to hooking up to Wesley as getting her drug fix. And in a refreshing twist, Wesley is not the perfect guy (although he may be perfect for Bianca- you’ll have to read and find out). I liked that about this book.

The book gets a little preachy/teen-special at the end, but it’s a good message about not letting other people label you. And the term DUFF will definitely stick with you after this fun read. (completely unrelated) Especially if there’s a pitcher on your baseball team named Duffy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Son of the Mob (Gordon Korman)

Title: Son of the Mob
Author: Gordon Korman
Publisher: Hyperion
Length: 262 pages
Rating: 3.5/5

It’s Romeo and Juliet, with Romeo (Vince) as the son of a mob boss and Juliet (Kendra) as the daughter of the FBI agent trying to put the mob boss away. Vince wants no part in the family business, but the more he tries to hide it from Kendra, the deeper in he gets.

This book is a little older (when did 2002 become old? Weird!) which is perhaps why it felt like a breath of fresh air amongst the paranormals and dystopias permeating this blog. Not that I have anything against the current theme of YA lit, it’s just that sometimes you need to shake it up a little. Add to this the male narrator, and you’ve got yourself a fun book about star-crossed lovers, Godfather-style.

Also included: moral dilemmas, first love, and a slimy character named Jimmy Rat found in a car trunk. Overall, a fun read that would interest male and female readers and is appropriate for a younger crowd as well. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Happy Children's Book Week!
To celebrate, I've joined another giveaway hop!

The book you can win:
Title: Scribbler of Dreams
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Harcourt
Length: 223
Summary: In this modern-day Romeo and Juliet, the Malones and the Crutchfields have hated each other for generations. But when the Malone girls are sent into the enemy's high school, poet Kaitlin finds it hard to hold onto her hate after she falls for the artistic Bram Crutchfield. The lies pile up as Kaitlin tries to keep her identity a secret, until she finally must choose between loyalty to her family, or her love for Bram.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for entering! More giveaways can be found at these blogs:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Catherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Length: 525 pages
Rating: 5/5

War looms as the factions squabble over their different ideologies. Tris and Four must choose sides, even as enemies loom at every turn, and as their friends keep dying with each new attack. Everyone is keeping secrets though, ones that threatened not just to tear Tris and Four apart, but their whole society. Through her grief and guilt, Tris must embrace her Divergence and decide who can be trusted and who should be killed.

People dying. Tris angsting. Factions factioning. In this much-anticipated sequel, Veronica Roth does it again. I was glued to this book- it was just the right amount of sequel from the first book and tease for the third book. We really get inside Tris’s head and see her guilt, grief, and confusion as she struggles to make sense of her own identity and Divergence, but also as she tries to figure out how to put society back together, and whether society is worth putting back together. Very much Harry Potter book 5 level angst.

You didn’t think it was possible for Tobias/Four to improve from Divergent. But HE DOES. He’s just as flawed as Tris, but when she gives up on life, he’s the one holding her together. There’s really no one word to describe how awesome he is, and he definitely makes the book that much better (especially when Tris is angsting).

And you may have seen on my review of Divergent, but even Lord Voldemort loves these books. Here’s the Dark Lord himself, interviewingVeronica Roth.

And if you're dying to know more about the next book, here's an ambiguous interview with V-Roth. Let the countdown begin!