Monday, July 28, 2014

My Teacher is a Monster

18349884My Teacher is a Monster is a very cute new picture book from Peter Brown.  I am a huge fan of his, so of course I immediately read this book as soon as I ran across it.  The little boy is convinced his teacher is a monster.  Of course he is a bit of a trouble maker and she occasionally reprimands him for his behavior.  Of course that makes her a monster.  He doesn't like her at all.  The two butt heads.  Then one day they run into each other at the park.  They reluctantly strike up a conversation and soon the little boy realizes she is a lot more like him than he thought.  The illustrations morph from a monster to a lady.  They go their ways and all is well, until they meet in school again and she yells at him for something.  The monster is back in his eyes.  It is a really cute story about seeing people for who they really are.  Teachers are people to, even if they have to be strict in the classroom!  It was fun watching the two get to know each other in a casual setting.  It gave them each an opportunity to understand the other.  The illustrations are wonderful, as always.  Check out this book if you get a chance.  Happy reading!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fangirl

16068905Fangirl is the ultimate coming of age story.  Twin sisters Cather and Wren are heading off to college.  Wren, the extrovert, wants nothing more than to branch out.  Cath, the introvert, has no interest in meeting anybody.  Her whole world revolves around her fan fiction site.  She has spent years writing Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-like character) fan fiction, gaining thousands of followers.  She prefers to live in that world.  Wren wants to walk away from the fangirl life that bonded them as kids.  She spends too much time partying it up and immersing herself in the college life.  Cath spends all her free time writing.  Her roommate Reagan and her boyfriend Levi make constant attempts to coax her into the real world.

At its core, this book is about growing up.  Change is not something everyone is good with, but it happens anyway.  Cath is one of those people forced to deal with the changes that come from growing up.  She has to decide what she really wants and whether she will let fear keep her from getting it.  It is a story about falling in love, accepting who you are, making new friends, letting go of the past and embracing the future.  The characters are spectacular.  They are so well written you can't help but feel you know them.  This book will just suck you in and keep you going to the very end.

I myself am not now nor have I ever been a fan fiction reader/fan, but the culture of fandom is something that fascinates me.  The passion that people feel for fictional characters and worlds can be contagious.  It always entertains me when I read about or see that world come to life.  This book is really about fandom, so if you are not interested in that, don't let that be what stops you from reading this.  Also, don't read it hoping to get a book about fandom.  This book is about a fangirl who is forced to grow up and figure out what life outside the fantasy world of Simon Snow means.  On her own for the first time, she has to find herself and figure out who she wants to be.  It is definitely worth reading.  Once again, the characters are what make this story stand out.  They are exceptional.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One Past Midnight

18594392Another winner from Jessica Shirvington.  One Past Midnight had me sucked in from the very beginning.  The idea alone was intriguing.  Add her writing talent to that and it was a total success for me.  The story follows Sabine, a girl plagued with two lives.  Every night at midnight she "Shifts" between her two worlds, forced to live every day twice.  After spending the day in one life, she shifts back to the exact moment she left in the other life.

In one life she is part of a rich family with two older brothers and divorced parents.  She is one half of the most envied couple in school, although she is somewhat repulsed by Dex's kisses.  Her life is pretty much the picture of perfect.  In her other life she has a little sister she absolutely adores and two workaholic parents.  She is a bit of a punk, considered somewhat of a troublemaker, with a best friend her parents don't approve of.  All she wants is to have a normal life like everyone around her.

After she turns eighteen, things start to change.  When she breaks her arm in one life, the injury doesn't carry over to the other life.  Encouraged by this new development, she begins to experiment.  First she cuts and dyes her hair.  Then she hurts herself.  Finally, she poisons herself.  None of the effects carry over.  Her dream of a normal life may be attainable after all, she just has to choose which one she wants.

I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the idea of the two lives, and the author did a fabulous job of writing the less than appealing reality that would pose.  In eighteen years of actually living, Sabine has to live thirty-six years of days.  The weight of juggling two lives drags her down.  It definitely makes you see that no matter how bad you think your life is, it could be worse.  Also, the author does a good job of showing that no matter how perfect someone's life may appear to be, everyone has problems to overcome.  It was a very engaging book.  I felt right there with Sabine when she was going through all the struggles life was throwing at her.  I would definitely recommend this book.  Happy reading!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sinner

18406862When I saw a follow-up book to the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy was coming out, I was so excited.  I really liked that series, and Cole was a very interesting character.  In Sinner Cole and Isabel get their very own book.  The story takes place after the trilogy.  Isabel has moved with her mother to California.  Cole is ready to get his life back.  What he wants most is Isabel.  He accepts a Reality TV gig, following him as he records a new album, and heads to LA to win Isabel over.  She is less than thrilled with his appearance.  She doesn't know if she can trust him, and she doesn't want to let herself fall in love with him again.  The book alternates perspectives as we watch Isabel try to deal with Cole being back in her life and what that might mean for the future.  We watch Cole try to face his own demons.  His past is only a step behind and he has trouble not giving in to temptation.  Instead of drugs, he turns to the wolf, forcing changes to help himself cope.  His character is very interesting to follow.  His manic and addictive personality is quite entertaining.  I found myself constantly cheering him on, hoping he wouldn't succumb to his demons.  His relationship with Leon was the best.  I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great follow up to a series I was sad to see end.  Cole's dynamic personality definitely begged for more attention.  This book was perfect for that.  He is very complicated and deserved to be the main character of his own story.  I loved seeing him back as the famous rock star, dealing with what that meant for his new life and trying to reconcile with his past self.  This was an excellent self-discovery story.  He needed this and as a fan, so did I.  Anybody who is a Cole St. Clair fan, you will love this book.  If you haven't read the trilogy first, you will be a little lost though.  All four books are quite good, in my opinion.  Give them a try.  Happy reading!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Iron Fey

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For years I though about reading The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.  It wasn't until she started a new series, The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, that I finally gave it a try.  The author said the first four didn't have to be read before book five (aka book one in the new series).  That sounded like a good deal to me.  I really liked that fifth book and was instantly intrigued by the previous four.  Of course I hurried to read them, as well as the bridging novellas, before book six came out.  I found that I actually liked the original four better.  The bad thing was, by reading book five first, a few things were ruined for me.  The second series takes place twelve or so years later and follows Ethan Chase, the younger brother or the main character in the Iron Fey series.

The original series follows Meghan Chase as she heads into the Nevernever to rescue her four year old brother, Ethan, after he is kidnapped by faeries.  It isn't long that she learns she is part faerie herself, the half-human daughter to none other than Oberon himself.  The Summer princess makes friends and enemies along the way.  Her travel companions are the Summer prankster, Puck, and his best friend/worst enemy the youngest Winter prince, Ash.  Finding Ethan is not their only problem.  A new kingdom, made of iron, is rapidly growing.  The Nevernever is starting to die as the poisonous iron overtakes the land.  None of the faeries can stop it.  Meghan's human half makes her immune to the effects of iron, so it is up to her to try to stop the Iron King before all the Winter and Summer lands and faeries are dead.  Of course there is also romance.  Puck is in love with Meghan from the beginning, but it is the forbidden Ash she is drawn to.  He is cold, cunning and lethal, just like his mother, Mab, values.  Meghan catches glimpses of who he is under that mask.  The two can't help but fall in love.  The problem, their parents are mortal enemies and it is forbidden for Summer and Winter to be together.  Will they risk exile to be together or walk away?  You'll have to read to find out.

While there is romance, as in most young adult books, it is by no means the driving point of the story.  The life and death action and adventure will keep you reading.  If you are at all interested in the world of Faerie, I think you will enjoy these books.  The Iron kingdom is fascinating to me.  I think it was a brilliant idea to shake things up in Faerie.  I really enjoyed the characters, especially Ash, although Puck's antics are always entertaining.  The stories are well-written and well-paced.  I never got bored.  The first three books are more of a trilogy, following Meghan, while book four is about Ash.  Meghan is only in it for a little bit.  It feels like a bonus book to satisfy Ash fans, although it does tie into the overall story.  Like I said, they are quite enjoyable.  Give them a try.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Name is Resolute

17934498My Name is Resolute came out in February, but I saved it to read up at my cabin this summer.  The author's first book, These Is My Words, is one of my favorite books, so I was really excited about a new historical fiction from Nancy Turner.  I met her a few months ago when she was on tour for this book and I really liked her.  In my experience, meeting some authors can forever ruin my opinion of their work.  When an author turns out to be a tool, I have no interest in reading their books.  Conversely, there have been a lot of authors that weren't even on my radar until I met them.  Some authors think that fame is enough to maintain and increase fans.  For me, likability goes a long way.  There are plenty of authors I have read, and liked, simply because I met them and liked them personally.  It does take a bit of compatibility with subject matter for me to pick up a book, even if the author is a really nice and impressive human being (e.g. Nora Roberts).

I digress; after all, we are here to discuss My Name is Resolute.  In my opinion, it isn't nearly as good as These Is My Words, but I still enjoyed it.  My one major complaint was that it was simply too long.  At times I felt like I would never finish it.  Parts could have been cut out and still been as good.

The story follows Resolute Talbot from the age of eleven or so.  While living in Jamaica on her family's plantation, she and her siblings are kidnapped by pirates.  English privateers overtake the pirates.  Their brother signs on with them, while Resolute and her sister, Patience, are sold into slavery in the New World.  The sister's lives ultimately take different paths.  Resolute learns how to weave, a trade that helps carry her through the rest of her life.  After escaping, she is able to be self-sufficient in a time when women usually didn't take care of themselves.  As she gets older, marries, has kids, etc. the skills she learned as a slave become the very skills that shape her place in history.  We follow her through sickness, heartbreak, joy and danger as she makes a life for herself near Lexington, Massachusetts.  As the Revolutionary War approaches, she finds herself in the heart of the underground Patriot movement.  Constantly in danger, Resolute is surrounded by wanted men.  Her brother is an infamous pirate/privateer, a thorn in the side of the English.  Her husband is wanted for crimes from his childhood in Scotland.  Her son is working along side top Patriot players like Paul Revere and John Hancock.

The book made me want to read up more on events leading up to the Revolutionary War.  It was lots of fun to meet some of the famous historical figures from that time period and see them as youths.  It is a time period I don't know much about and am very interested in studying.  It has been a long time since I studied it in school and don't remember much of what I learned.  The character of Resolute was interesting.  I enjoyed following her life.  Her brother, August, was lots of fun as well.  Characters are what drove this book as much as the historical world it was set in.  Over all, I really enjoyed it.  If you are a fan of historical fiction and don't mind a long book, give this a try.  Happy reading!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hugless Douglas

7830908I discovered Hugless Douglas a couple years ago merely by accident.  It was on a display and, at the time, I had a coworker named Doug.  It looked cute so I picked it up and read it.  I just loved it.  Douglas is a young bear who wakes up from hibernation in need of a hug.  He spend the day trying to find the perfect one.  He hugs rocks, trees, leaves, and various animals.  They are all too hard, too tall, too wrong.  All he wants is a hug, but he just can't find the right one.  A sympathetic rabbit takes him to look for the elusive hug he seeks.  At last they find another cave where someone is waking up, Douglas' mom.  She provides the perfect hug he so desperately needs.  The illustrations are adorable and the story is quite fun.  At one time or another we have all needed a hug.  This book reminds us how the right hug can make all the difference.  It is a really cute book.  Find it, read it, enjoy it.  Happy reading!