Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Matched review

Cassia is a 17-year-old girl living in a society that is based on probability. It's community members do not get a whole lot of choices in life, including the person they will marry and have a family with. Instead, they are matched with an individual from a neighboring town, based on their likes/dislikes/hobbies/etc.

At Cassia's matching ceremony, she ends of being matched with her best friend Xander, a boy she has known most of her life. It's already a rarity that she's been matched with someone in her own town, but also someone she knows and loves, and Cassia thinks she's the luckiest girl in the world. That is, until, she sees someone else's face on her match card...an accident? Or her real, true match for life? 

What follows is an exciting adventure of love and what it means to give yourself to someone fully. There is definitely a feeling of romance throughout the story, but subtle romance, which was really nice for a change. I was excited to turn each page and wasn't able to put the book down until I found out what happened with Cassia, Xander, and Ky. 

I am a huge fan of dystopian stories and Matched will definitely be ranking high on my favorites list of 2010...I loveed it! One of the blurbs on the front of the ARC I was sent compares the story to a blend of The Hunger Games and The Giver, definitely a good way to describe it. A nice mixture of high tension and that utopian/dysopian vibe so many of us love.

I would hand this one to teens that enjoyed either of the two above mentioned books or anything else dystopian. If they're a fan of romance or love triangles, this would also fit that bill. Definitely an exciting page-turner with a nice bit of the romantic. 

Matched
Ally Condie
384 pages
Young Adult
Dutton-Juvenile
978-0525423645
November 2010
Review copy provided by publisher

Monday, November 29, 2010

Non-Fiction Monday: Nightmare Plagues

As horrific as they may be, plagues are incredibly interesting. A single person or just a few people spreading an illness to hundreds or thousands of other people seems unfathomable, though it's happened many times over the course of history and is even currently happening in Haiti with cholera killing hundreds of Haitians. The more we can learn about these diseases, the less likely plagues will continue to happen. 

Bearport Press has a fantastic series called "Nightmare Plagues" that covering six different plagues. Titles include:

Tuberculosis: The White Plague!
Typhoid Fever: Dirty Food, Dirty Water!
Bubonic Plague: The Black Death!
Smallpox: Is It Over?
The Flu of 1918: Millions Dead Worldwide!
Malaria: Super Killer!


Each contains lots of facts on the history of the disease, where it may have originated, and the parts of the world that have been most affected by outbreaks. Photographs, drawings, maps, and a glossary are included as well, breaking up the text and keeping things interesting. Everything is presented bright and bold, keeping your eyes moving across the page and really making the books easy to read and appearing less "educational" (and for kids, that's a definite plus!). 



I think I learned the most from the book about smallpox, though I was really impressed with the wealth of information surrounding the flu. I think we've all heard about these plagues throughout history, but until you actually read a single title on them, you'll be surprised at how complex the illness truly are. 


Great for libraries or for homeschooling families.



Review copies provide by Bearport Press.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Heroine's Bookshelf review

This was such a fun book to read and the perfect holiday gift to send literary friends. Not only will you learn all sorts of great info about classic women authors, but you'll also get more depth to the characters we all know and love. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jo March, Scout Finch, and Jane Eyre are just a few of the strong female women that  have impressed readers all over the world and as the author shows, their lessons can be deeper than just simple stories. 

Each chapter begins with a heading, named for the lesson that particular author and character stands for. There's "Happiness" for Anne Shirley and "Faith" for Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God and ten others. And you'll get a look into author Erin Blakemore's own life journey. 

The author uses the lessons that she personally learned from each woman and writes through them in a witty and thoughtful manner. We get insight into the authors' lives, while learning more about these special and unique characters. I loved the chapter about Francie Nolan and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I think the chapter on Jane Eyre has finally convinced me to actually pick up the book!

Great for a stocking stuffer for your favorite literary junkie!

The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder
Erin Blakemore
224 pages
Non-Fiction
Harper
9780061958762
October 2010
Review copy received from publisher

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cyber Black Friday book giveaway!

Who doesn't love free books right? In honor of Black Friday and the start of the holiday season, the nice folks over at Sleeping Bear Press are letting me giveaway four of their holiday books! Awesome right? Here's what one of you will receive:




Small, Medium, & Large by Jane Monroe Donovan
     -A sweet, wordless book, perfect for sharing with your kids. Wordless books are wonderful for encouraging imagination and for allowing your own story to come along.




First Dog's White House Christmas by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, illustrator Tim Bowers
     -The 2nd book featuring the "First Dog," readers will get to learn about different Christmas traditions from other countries, through the canine guests at the Christmas Gala. A fun, silly story!



The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story by Terri Hoover Dunham and illustrator Laura Knorr
     -Loved the illustrations in this one! A pronunciation guide is include so you can read the story like a true Cajun!



The Night Henry Ford Met Santa by Carol Hagen and illustrator Matt Faulkner
      -Fiction, but with an educational edge. A note to readers is included in the back, explaining what part of Henry Ford's life it's based on. A sweet story to share with the family!

Entering is simple...just leave a comment on this post by Monday morning, 11/29. I'll pick one winner and Sleeping Bear Press will send you the books. U.S. only. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares


When Lily's parents decide to go on the "honeymoon they never had" over Christmas, they leave Lily at home with her older brother, annoyed that they left for the holiday and lonely, with no boyfriend to spend the time with.  When her brother concocts a crazy plan to find her the perfect man, Lily takes the challenge out of boredom and intrigue, filling a notebook with clues and leaving it in her favorite bookstore to hopefully be picked up by the man of her dreams. Yeah, right. 


Dash is the guy that find the notebook and decides to participate in Lily's game. What ensues is an adventure around New York City, complete with a groping Santa, white Majorette boots, and the all-important red Moleskin notebook. Utterly absurd in some places, but comically so, I laughed my way through this book and loved Dash AND Lily. Such fun!

Though I'm not usually a huge fan of books written by two authors in the manner this one is, it works so well for Dash and Lily. It's fairly obvious that two different writers were working on the chapters here and it's fabulous the way that the characters end up being worked out.  

A perfect book to read while it's snowing!

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
272 pages
Young Adult
Knopf
978037586693
October 2010
Book borrowed from my local library

Monday, November 22, 2010

Non-Fiction Monday: Animals!

I have two awesome books to share with you all today, both focusing on animals and both great for gift-giving during the holidays!


The first, 101 Freaky Animals is by Melvin and Gilda Berger and is perfect for those boys that can't get enough of weird, gross, and freaky things. There are girls out there drawn to these books too, of course, but more times than not it's boys that head to this section of the library/bookstore, eager for something strange.


This one features photographs and descriptions of 101 animals, some you may have heard of and some you definitely won't have. From giraffes to giant clams, naked moles rats to hooded seals, and lots of other crazy animals in-between, there is whole lot of fun and a lot of education in these pages. Bold and bright photographs stand out on the pages and the short, to-the-point descriptions are filled with info, without being boring.

It's a book that is great to just flip through and read trivia facts about weird things! Great for classrooms or for reluctant readers. It's in paperback, making it a nice stocking stuffer.

And just let me say, if I ever come in contact with a Flannel Moth Caterpillar, those of you on the west coast might just hear me screaming! SO weird!

101 Freaky Animals
Melvin and Gilda Berger
112 pages
Non-Fiction
Scholastic
9780545237581
October 2010
Review copy provided by publisher


Just One Bite by Lola Schaefer and illustrator Geoff Waring is for the younger crowd, but just as enjoyable. You'll LOVE the cover and the illustrations inside get even better, as we learn about animals and what they can eat. All of the animals and their food/bites are life-sized which is super-cool. 


I really loved the giraffe eating leaves with his life-sized tongue and the whale eating the giant squid. Incredibly well done in regards to the illustrations an the facts about eat animal and its prey included in the back made the educational value spot-on. Great for younger kids, just getting into the non-fiction stuff. Or for those that love a nicely illustrated children's book. 

Just One Bite
Lola Schaefer
32 pages
Non-Fiction
Chronicle Books
9780881864732
September 2010
Review copy received by from publisher

Sunday, November 21, 2010

IMM Week 19

Books have infiltrated every available space in my house. Every single available space. I have boxes and stacks and I'm starting to feel more than a tad overwhelmed. Thankful, yes, but a little overwhelmed. Most of the books I received this week were for the Cybils, so I'm going to save myself the time and leave those out from now on. Too many!



Mary Englebreit's Fairy Tales by Mary Englebreit
The Night Before Christmas by Mary Englebreit
We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Trickster's Girl by Hilari Bell
Giving Thanks by Chief Jake Swamp

Lots of great books! 

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.



 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dirt Road Home review

Holy cow, what a book! I was completely taken with Watt Key's latest book and even more so than Alabama Moon, a book which has received a huge amount of praise. A companion novel rather a sequel, Dirt Road Home follows Hal, one of the characters in the previous novel, as he is sent to Hellenweiler Boys' School, a juvenile prison. 

From his first day there, Hal is taunted by two gangs, each wanting him to join their side and threatening his life if he doesn't join. While Hal attempts to simply stay neutral and do his time, he is flooded with hope of his future after his sentence is through. He has a girlfriend on the outside and his father is getting clean and finally working, allowing Hal to believe he can be a normal kid. 

What most stood out to me was the believable character connections between Hal and Pack, one of the gang leaders. We have this kid who only wants to keep his nose clean, get out and enjoy life, but is instead living in a place where those goals have been made practically impossible, and then we have a leader of a gang who makes some of the most philosophical statements of any character I've ever read. They don't like each other, but they manage to work together in the strangest, most appealing of ways. 

The pacing in this story was absolutely spot on and the short chapters keeps the paging turning quickly. Reluctant readers are going to eat this up, boys and girls alike. Reading Alabama Moon is definitely not necessary, this stands on its own. A great read!

Dirt Road Home
Watt Key
224 pages
Young Adult
FSG
978-0374308636
July 2010
Book borrowed from my local library

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Agency: The Body at the Tower

Mary Quinn, newest member of The Agency, a women's spy organization in Victorian London, is ready for her second case. There have been suspicious deaths occurring at the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament and Mary is assigned the job of spying on members of the construction crew that has been working on the tower. This means she must play the role of a boy, cutting off her hair, disguising her voice and way of speaking, and attempting to take on boyish mannerisms.

Working on the crew, even just as an errand boy, is difficult and exhausting work. As Mary labors, she tries to listen for information regarding the deaths and continues to collect clues to report back to her bosses at the Agency. A familiar face from the first book, James (can we say literary hottie??) is also trying to find out information, forcing the pair to clash (and heavily flirt) once again. A little romance never hurt anything right?

Y.S. Lee has a great way of forming deep and rich characters and weaving them into a descriptive and addictive plot. The mystery portion of the story is intricate and easy to lose yourself in, as we are given different perspectives, lots of clues, and interesting tidbits of info, all while witnessing Mary have the opportunity to attach herself to a case as many women could never do. She was able to say things and act in ways that women could not, allowing her the ultimate access crime chatter.

Adults could easily read this and not know it was marketed to young adults, another added bonus. I was really impressed with the language and details and would have no problem adding it to a list of recommendations for adults.

I'm ready for book 3 please!

The Agency: The Body at the Tower
Y.S. Lee
352 pages
Young Adult
Candlewick
978-0763649685
August 2010
Review copy provided by publisher

Monday, November 15, 2010

Non-Fiction Monday: Creative Kitchen Krafts

If I was still a 10 year old, I would be salivating over this book! I was one of those kids that loved to make crafts and attempted to cook edible foods, but was never very good at either... something that Kathy Ross takes into account when she creates her books. All the crafts are almost fool-proof and have enough creative aspects that it doesn't matter if the end result looks pretty. 

Kids can make things from a recipe card holder to flip-flop trivets, slow cooker "hats," and coasters. All can be customized for both girls and boys, so no gender bias here! The crafts are fairly simple, though some will need a bit of adult help, so the fact that this book is part of the "Girl Crafts" series is quite misleading (and more than a tad annoying...boys can do kitchen crafts, stamping, and jewelry crafts too ya know). Still great stuff in here, regardless of what series it comes from. 

Illustrated pictures demonstrate the individual steps and the final product for each craft. If you can find this one before the holidays really get in full swing, it would make an excellent guidebook for kids to make gifts for friends and family. Most of the supplies can be found around the house or at a dollar store. Cheap and simple!

Libraries will definitely want this on-hand and art teachers could probably get quite a bit of use out of it as well. And if you have a crafty child, definitely check it out for holiday gift-giving. 

Creative Kitchen Crafts
Kathy Ross
48 pages
Non-Fiction
Millbrook Press
978-0822592174
September 2010
Review copy received from publisher

Sunday, November 14, 2010

IMM Week 18

Cybils books are pouring in! I had a pretty great week in my mailbox, with both the Cybils books and the rest that made their way to my house. I'm looking forward to getting to all the other titles as soon as Cybils season has completed, but for now they must sit on my TBR shelf. Things could be worse.

Before I share my books with you, Shae wanted to say hello. She wouldn't leave me alone while I was taking the pictures, so I figured she should be included. A very bookish dog indeed :)



Cybils titles:

Abe in Arms by Pegi Deitz Shea
The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
When I Was Joe by Keren David
China Clipper by Jamie Dodson
So Over My Head by Jenny B. Jones
Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft
The Fiddler's Gun by A.S. Peterson
Exit Strategy by Ryan Potter
Love Drugged by James Klise
Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles


Others for review:


 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney
Starfish by James Crowley
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore
The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard


In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. See you next week!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Picture Book Saturday

With yesterday's review of A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, I thought I might as well continue the Grimm theme into my Picture Book Saturday feature!

The Story of Little Red Riding Hood is a new edition, illustrated by Christopher Bing and SO pretty. Still the same old story of the girl heading to Grandmother's house and a wolf ruining her day, but with really interesting and beautiful illustrations to accompany the original Grimm tale. 

Christopher Bing was a Caldecott Honor recipient for Casey at the Bat a few years back and he's done a fabulous job with this fairy tale. The darkness of the story is captured in the illustrations without any of the scary parts. We don't have to see the wolf eating Grandma or the scissors cutting into his belly, but the reader can very much imagine what occurred through what IS shown. 

If you're a collector of fairy tales or just enjoy great illustrations, I would encourage you to pick this one up. It's an updated classic...and everyone should have some Christopher Bing on their bookshelves! 

The Story of Little Red Riding Hood
The Brothers Grimm/Christopher Bing
40 pages
Picture Book
Chronicle
978-0811869867
September 2010
Review copy provided by publisher

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chronicle's Happy Haul-idays amazing giveaway

Oh.My.Goodness. Chronicle Books is really going out of their way to make someone's holiday verrrry happy! Right now, head to their website and make yourself a wish list of all the fabulous books you would want if you had $500 bucks to spend. Then do as I've done and blog that list...you might just win ALL the books! And for all those that comment on this post, if I win, one of you will win the books too. Amazing!

Chronicle, I love you.

Here's my wish list:

Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton
New Vegetarian by Robin Asbell
Super Charged Smoothies by Mary Corpening Barber
The Commonsense Kitchen by Tom Hudgens
Slow Cooker by Diane Phillips
Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead
Cake Pops by Angie Dudley
The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas
Photobooth Dogs by Cameron Woo
Never Bite When a Growl Will Do by Michael Nastasi
Dog Bless America by Jeff Selis
Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
Christmas Delicious by Lyn Loates
Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier
The Little Books boxed set by Amy Krause Rosenthal
The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino
Giant Pop-Out Farm
Out of Sight
The Worst Case Scenerio boxed set
Ivy and Bean 1-7
The 100-Minute Bible by Michael Hinton
Every Day's a Holiday by Heidi Kenney
Quick and Easy Thai by Nancy McDermott

Wish me luck!

A Tale Dark and Grimm review

At the very beginning, author Adam Gidwitz warns the reader that what he or she is about to read is not a sweet fairy tale...and you should believe him! Hansel and Gretel end up broken and bleeding, a myriad of characters attempting to kill them via unique and terrifying means, and both decapitation and finger severing play a role. The actual Grimm's fairy tales were right along these lines, filled with violence and scary stories, so Gidwitz has taken the originals and turned them into something kids are going to love!

Hansel and Gretel are our main characters, but several lesser known fairy tales are woven throughout their journey through the woods, to the witch's house, and all the rest about Hansel and Gretel we love. I found myself looking up the stories online to compare to the Gidwitz version and he stayed true to the original Grimm...violence and all!

Not for the faint of heart by any means, but a whole lot of fun for more mature kids. It's definitely a dark read, but SO funny. I would be careful with sensitive children or those that frighten easily. Gidwitz does warn the reader before every passage containing something scary or gross happens, but even with the warnings, a sensitive kid could get quite scared! Perfect for a family read aloud though, where you could make it lighter or darker depending on the child.

I would hand this to all the reluctant readers that you know, along with fans of fractured fairy tales, Lemony Snicket, and the like. A snarky read that will have you and the kids hooked from the first page.

A shameless work plug here...Adam Gidwitz will be at Hooray for Books, signing copies of A Tale Dark and Grimm from 3:15 to 4pm on Friday the 19th. That's a week from today! If you're local to the Washington D.C. Metro area, reserve a copy of the book and come have it signed (or just have it signed and pick it up later). OR if you aren't local and still want a signed/personalized copy, send me an email :)

A Tale Dark and Grimm
Adam Gidwitz
192 pages
Middle Grade
Dutton Juvenile
978-0525423348
October 2010
Review copy borrowed

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bright Young Things review

If you've been dying for a new novel by Anna Godbersen like I have been, your wait is finallllly over. Bright Young Things takes all the awesome parts about The Luxe series and puts them into a story about three girls in 1929 during Prohibition.

Letty and Cordelia are small town girls from Ohio, dreaming of making it big in New York City. Astrid is a rich girl spending her days lunching at the country club and her nights roaming the speakeasies of New York. The girls' lives intertwine in typical Godbersen fashion, filled with romance, mysterious characters, secrets, and the best lies found in YA fiction. Hearts are broken, money is lost/gained, and friends are most definitely made and lost.

The detailed descriptions of the setting, fashion, and characters are what really made this book stand out for me. I don't think I've ever read a fictional story about life during Prohibition for the rich (or the poor for that matter), but I was completely pulled into this one!  Like a soap opera, you won't be able to wait until the next episode...

And just a note on the covers, I'm not sure who decides on the art for Harper books, but they deserve a huge raise. All of the Luxe books and now Bright Young Things have been so incredibly brilliant in their cover art that you can't help but pick them up and flip them around to see the rest of the beautiful gowns on the girls.

I can't wait to start handing this one to teens. And I definitely can't wait for book 2!


Bright Young Things
Anna Godbersen
400 pages
Young Adult
Harper
978-0061962660
October 2010
Book borrowed from my local library

Sunday, November 7, 2010

IMM Week 17

Cybils nominees have started flowing in! It was a great week in my mailbox, check it out:




For the Cybils:

The 10 p.m. Question by Kate De Goldie
Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Books by Abby McDonald
Butterfly by Sonja Hartnett
Mindblown by Jennifer Roy
Beat the Band by Don Calame
The Secret to Lying by Todd Mitchell
Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs by Ron Koertge
The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
The Agency: The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee
City of Cannibals by Ricki Thompson



 Miscellaneous for review:

Little Penguins pop-up
La Noche Buena: A Christmas Story by Antonio Sacre
Afterlife by Claudia Gray
The Genuis Files by Dan Gutman
Grounded by Kate Klise

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Picture Book Saturday

Just one book for you guys this week. It's been a tad busy around here, but I also wanted to really highlight this super cute book...enjoy!

The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore

Between the beautifully painted illustrations, we find that a book can mean different things to different creatures. For a bear, it's a fantastic hat! For a mouse, a great table...and for a fox? An awesome place to take a nap in. But, when a curious little boy comes along and finds the book, he knows that it will contain a story, so he sits down and reads to everyone, so they can all share in the wonder of the book.

It's a simple, sweet story, perfect for reading to your kids. Even the youngest toddlers will enjoy seeing the animals be silly with the book! And after reading it together, you can brainstorm what other animals might want to use a book for, if they found it lying on the ground.

The Wonderful Book
Leonid Gore
32 pages
Picture Book
Scholastic 
978-0545085984
October 2010
Review copy provided by publisher

Friday, November 5, 2010

Penny Dreadful

Penelope is bored with her life and looking for some excitement to liven up her days. Sure, her family is rich and they live in a beautiful house and have enough money for Penelope to be taught at home by a (boring) tutor and have all the book she could dream of, but she is just completely void of all fun and joy. She doesn't have any friends, and her parents are busy all the time. After making a wish in an old well, Penelope is shocked to learn that her father has quit his job, opting instead to stay home and write a novel. At first a welcomed change, the family soon goes through all their money and is forced to move to a house Penelope's mom has inherited way out in the country.

A new house, new town, and new neighbors and friends all enter Penelope's boring world and quickly turn it into anything but boring! Beginning with a name change from Penelope to Penny, she starts to get used to small-town life, while making friends with her quirky neighbors, looking for buried treasure, and most importantly, helping her family to understand what truly matters in life. 

I loved the quirkiness of the story and the beautiful pencil drawings that occasionally pop up throughout the pages. The beginning of the story was a bit slow, but once Penelope's family made it to their new place, things picked up and really got moving. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of a child's worry about her parents' financial situation. Children are not immune to worry about money (I certainly wasn't when I was younger) and it was great to see it written in the manner that it was. 

Great characterization, a wonderful sense of diversity, and just a "cozy" feeling overall. You'll want to read this one with the whole family! Perfect for fans of The Penderwicks or Because of Winn-Dixie

Penny Dreadful
Laurel Snyder
320 pages
Middle Grade
Random House
978-0375861994
September 2010
Review copy provided by publisher

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Little Pink Princess Purse review

I'm not always into reviewing novelty items, since I don't have children in the house to play with them immediately and give them an honest review. Whenever I get together with nieces and nephews, I always bring things I've been sent, but that's not often enough for me to take things on a regular basis. This fun, girly book though? Had to see it for myself!

My Little Pink Princess Purse is by Stephen T. Johnson, creator of the bestselling My Little Red Toolbox, which I've seen all over the place. It's filled with lift-the-flaps, "rhinestone" glasses, a quill, punch-out diamond rings and fancy scratch-and-sniff perfume bottles, a crown, and of course, a mirror to check one's self out in after adorning all the goodies!

Definitely a fantastic gift to inspire imagination in a little girl that loves princessy stuff. I can see little girls getting together and pretending they're going to a ball and playing for hours with this book. And it's not electronic, digital, or at all technological! Yay for using your imagination!

My one concern with the book is actually with the binding. All of the punch-outs and accessories included inside the pages are made of very thick, sturdy cardboard, but the binding is fairly thin and flimsy. After being opened and closed to many times, I could see it easily tearing and separating the pages. Overall though, a lot of fun. 

My Little Pink Princess Purse 
Stephen T. Johnson
16 pages
Novelty/Book
Simon & Schuster
978-1416979791
October 2010
Review copy provided by publisher

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else review

Bronwen Oliver is convinced she was switched at birth. She is nothing like her family, from her very much not blonde hair to her decision to break up with her boyfriend (who Mom just loooooves) on Prom night after his repeated attempts to convince her to have sex with him. Bronwen refuses...and dumps him. And though she feels sad to be done with the boy, she also feels free.

When Bronwen meets Jared, she's certainly not looking for another boyfriend, but boyfriend he becomes! And Jared is the perfect boyfriend. He's a gentleman, believes in her dreams, has goals of his own, and never pushes her to do anything she isn't ready for. She's finally able to be herself and feels she has found her true family in Jared. Asking her to marry him is just icing on the proverbial cake and though at first the pair plan to wait several years to marry, they just can't wait and plan the day for just a couple of months after Bronwen's graduation. 

As the wedding day grows closer, Bronwen starts wondering if she's found her true self after all, or if she's rushing into a marriage with Jared for other reasons. What follows is some serious decision making...and the best ending of a book I've read in a very long time!

I LOVED Erin McCahan's book. Loved it! Bronwen is a super-powerful, strong-minded, and independent character, making for such a refreshing read. At times funny, sometimes serious, and completely heartfelt, I fell in love with the story and didn't want it to be done. However, when it did end, I was so, so, SO happy with how the author chose to end it, that I literally jumped up and down. Cheesy, yes, but totally genuine. 

Jared is the boy that all of us want to meet and though I kept expecting some twist to turn him into a jerk, it didn't come. He may have been a bit overeager, but it felt so real and true to the personality that McCahan created for him. Couldn't get enough of this boy. 

I will be sending this book to my niece this Christmas, with full confidence she'll love it as much as I did. And I encourage all of you to go pick it up, if you haven't already. Light enough to appeal to Meg Cabot fans, but realistic, with such rich, characters that Sarah Dessen fans will enjoy it as well. Such an awesome book!

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
Erin McCahan
272 pages
Young Adult
Arthur A. Levine 
978-0545088183
June 2010
Book borrowed from my local library

Cybils read 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Non-Fiction Monday: Candy Bomber

How appropriate a book for the day after Halloween when all the kids in your libraries/classrooms/houses are on a complete sugar high from all the candy they got in their buckets last night! 

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" is written by Michael O. Tunnell and tells us of Lt. Gail Halvorsen a pilot during the Berlin Airlift in the late 1940's and his mission to bring some joy to the children of Berlin. 

Halvorsen was a member of the United States Air Force and witnessed the poverty and sadness that filled children's lives at the hands of the Soviets after WWII. It started with bringing food amenities to the people of Berlin and on one particular stop Halvorsen saw the faces of the hungry and broken children and handed the crowd of them the two sticks of gum he had in his pocket. When Halvorsen saw the children break the two pieces of gum into enough pieces for everyone to have taste, rather than arguing and fighting over them, he knew he wanted to do something more. 

Halvorsen turned an ordinary cargo plane and began dropping candy in small parachutes to the children, brightening not only their lives, but all those living in Berlin.

Written in a very readable and interesting manner, the author has mixed a lot of facts regarding WWII, the state of Berlin during the late 1940's, and the involvement of American troops with the Halvorsen's incredible "Candy Bomber" story. 

Lots of photos are also included, as well as an author's note and an update sharing where Gail Halvorsen is now. Everything is in black and white, which isn't the most interesting to look at, but the story is amazing and the writing very well done. Schools and libraries should definitely have a copy of this and teachers should consider studying this fantastic story in their classrooms. It was so nice to read a WWII story with a happy ending!

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot"
Michael I. Tunnell
110 pages
Non-Fiction
Charlesbridge
978-1580893367
July 2010
Review copy provided by publisher