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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Salt Water Taffy

Salt Water Taffy: The Legend of Old Salty (The Seaside Adventures of Jack & Benny)
by Matthew Loux

I grabbed this one off the shelf of my library cold.  That is to say, I had never heard of it before, but it looked like it could be fun.  It was!

Jack & Benny, brothers, aren't particularly thrilled to be spending the summer in Maine without a television.  At least the town has a store that stocks scrumptious salt water taffy. When all of the taffy goes missing, they team up with local fisherman Angus O'Neil to catch a thief.

Very cool.  Super quick, fun read.  We mostly stick with Jack & Benny, but we get a few other perspectives that enhance the story nicely.  I could see my younger brother (and other upper-elementary kids) enjoying the series.  Recommended.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heist Society

Kat Bishop grew up in a family of high-end thieves. She tries to escape "the life," posing as a normal teenager at a normal private school, but her escape is short-lived. Her father's been pinned for a robbery he didn't commit, and only Kat and a handful of her friends seem to understand the danger he's in from the man who was robbed: a powerful mobster who demands the return of his artwork---or else.

Kat assembles her unlikely team of experienced but decidedly young criminals, and together they plan the craziest heist of their lifetimes---which for the Bishop family is saying something.

I liked this book. I knew I'd like it, and I was right. I liked it. I really hope there's a sequel, because the characters have loads of potential for future fun plots. No depth or profundity here. Just good, clean fun. Read, and enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A new kind of review...

So. I know that we here at Everead usually confine ourselves to reviewing books.  Occasionally we do audiobooks, or movie adaptations of books.  But we've never done a bookshelf before.

When the opportunity came up (i.e. I was contacted by Sean at CSN) I decided I just couldn't resist.  CSN apparently has all kinds of sites and sells everything from sectional sofas to luxury handbags.  But honestly I think a bookshelf is going to be the best fit for Everead, don't you?

So, after I get my bookshelf and test it out, you can count on a new kind of review.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Finally

A new Wendy Mass book. I've read and loved her Every Soul a Star, which Alysa reviewed here, and have wanted to read her 11 Birthdays (though Alysa beat me to it, here, number 7 in her flow-chart list). So I'm beating her to this one, by gumbo! ;)

Considering this book is also about a birthday, as evidenced by the cover, I wondered if it was somehow a sequel to 11 Birthdays. It happens chronologically after 11 Birthdays, but it's about an entirely new character, who also happens to be a classmate of Amanda and Leo, the main characters in 11 Birthdays. So you're not spoiling anything for yourself by reading this one first, because it's not related to the previous one.

So now that we've cleared that up ...

Rory is an almost-twelve-year-old who has a list accumulated over the past many years of all the things her parents told her she couldn't do until she was twelve---things like getting her ears pierced, shaving her legs, attending a boy-girl party, riding an upside-down roller coaster, and staying home alone. The magical day arrives, and out comes the list. Though at first reluctant, her parents are supportive and even have enough restraint to silence any "I told you so's" you know they're just dying to say as one item after another ends in hilarious disaster.

I was either smiling, chuckling, or outright laughing all through this book. I just loved Rory. I hope that someday I can have a daughter, and I hope that when I do, she will be just like Rory. Totally cute and fun book, though the ending tie-together felt the tiniest bit weak to me. Still, I give it two thumbs up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Look

Ashley has used her blog-savvy to update the Everead look.  What do you think?

Nation

Nation by Terry Pratchett has many things to recommend it.  First, it's by Terry Pratchett.  Second, it's a Printz Honor book (the little-bit-older version of the Newbery). Third, Jacob liked it (so, you know, it's not just me).  Fourth, it (on Playaway, read by Stephen Briggs) kept me awake in the middle of the night while I was driving through Kansas.  Hmm, I suppose it may have saved my life.

It's about Mau, an islander boy from the Pelagic Ocean.   And it's about Daphne, a city-bred girl who gets shipwrecked on Mau's island. It's about a wave that destroys the Nation, about the refugees that follow, and about all of the silly and interesting things that can happen when cultures collide.

This one is probably more serious than the other Pratchett titles I've read.  Still, its steeped in humor.  Daphne was my favorite character, but all of them seem like they could be real.  The plot clips along nicely, too.  Go ahead and give it a shot. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Maze Runner

(I don't feel like writing this up twice, so I'll just repeat here what I wrote on Goodreads ...)

I have very mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it's a cool story. On the other hand, I just don't buy the whole purpose for the maze, so the big ending "reveal" fell flat for me. It's a Hunger Games-esque story, but in the Hunger Games, the games have a believable point. I just didn't think the point of the maze was believable. At least it wasn't explained clearly or well enough to be believable. I will still want to read the rest of the series as it comes out, to see if some of the ambiguity gets cleared up and the premise thereby gets strengthened. We shall see. Also I was a bit annoyed by the main character, Thomas. He's kind of emotionally constipated. I felt like we were constantly being told how he felt about this, that, and everything, like his heart was burning, exploding, bursting, melting, all the time. He kept resolving to feel one way or do one thing and then changing his mind, so you didn't feel like you could ever really trust him. Even so, I did enjoy reading the book. It just wasn't as strong as I'd hoped.

Magickeepers: Pyramid of Souls

Nick is part of a family of Las Vegas magicians who hide their real magic behind a fabulously successful stage act. When they're not performing, Nick and his cousins are in training in the deeper magical arts. When an important magical artifact gets stolen---the Pyramid of Souls---Nick sets out to try and retrieve it from the evil sorcerer he knows is behind it all: Rasputin.

This book was sent to me by a publisher, and I realized as I read it that I really should've read the first one first. Sounds like it was a pretty fun backstory, and if I'd known the characters, had their full, first-book introductions before reading this book, I probably would've liked it more. As it was, the odd thrown-in references to famous historic figures didn't seem necessary to the plot to me, and the characters' reactions to things weren't believable (why does Nick take off by himself without seeking help from his far-more-powerful uncles to retrieve the pyramid?). The whole plot felt kind of choppy, and I was left with several unanswered questions (e.g., if it's always snowing on their Winter Palace Hotel in Vegas ... don't the casual, nonmagical outside observers notice that and kind of wonder about it? Manipulating the weather seems a bit beyond acceptable stage magic ...). I was wishing for a little more depth, but it was a pretty short book intended for a younger audience. So ... not my fav, but it's possible that a younger reader who just loves stories that have anything to do with magic in them and who has read the first book in the series might like it. That's my take.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales, Volume 2: Challenge

I mentioned Sanctuary (volume 1) in my flow-chart post.  It was one of the graphic novels our panel considered for the Cybils award last year, and I was rooting for it. Since then, I've taken time to research exactly what the Desert Tales are.  Because, see, I picked up Wicked Lovely (the original novel) off the shelf a while back, and was confused by the fact that the main character's name was Aislinn.  In Sanctuary and Challenge, the main character is Rika.

So.  I popped over to the Wicked Lovely Wiki to figure it all out.  Here are the basics: there's a novel series by Marissa Marr that starts with Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange is next, then Fragile Eternity, and Radiant Shadows.  I have not read any of these, yet. Then, there is the Desert Tales manga series.  Scheduled to be three books, Sanctuary, Challenge, and a final volume as yet untitled.  The Desert Tales manga is NOT, as I originally thought, an adaptation of Wicked Lovely.  Here's a quote I stole from the wiki:
One of the interesting things to me in writing Wicked Lovely was the question of Winter Girls who'd become free of the curse. That topic was one I couldn't explore in the novel, so I started writing a story about Rika, one of the former Winter Girls. What would they do? What would life be like? What are the complications?"
So, for those of you who've read Wicked Lovely or Sanctuary you'll know what the curse is.

For those of you who haven't, suffice it to say that Rika is a totally awesome faery heroine who is dealing with everything from crushing on a mortal to avoiding faery politics (which seem to involve lots of nasty betrayals, and also sharp knives).  Of course it's difficult to avoid politics when you were almost the queen once.

Anyway, I liked Desert Tales volume 2 just as much as volume 1.  Pretty action packed.  Also with the cute romantic scenes.  It's fast paced storytelling with strong characters, and I'm looking forward to seeing how volume 3 ends the story.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rockin' Rick Riordan

I just finished Rick Riordan's latest---the first in a new series, The Kane Chronicles, called The Red Pyramid. I thought it was totally awesome. The depth of the research he must've done to write this was very impressive.

Before reading the book, I was a little afraid that this was going to be a Percy Jackson rerun, except with Egyptian gods instead of Greek ones. And while there is the teensiest bit of that feel to it, it's certainly an original story on its own. Like the Percy Jackson books, it is majorly action-packed. The main characters, brother and sister Carter and Sadie, are running, flying, driving, transporting, whatever, from one explosive run-in disaster to another through the whole book. So get comfy, have a tasty snack on hand, clear your day's schedule, because this is a tough one to put down.

Fun, fun, fun read. I like it better than Percy Jackson already. I think the author's really honed his writing with each book he's published. Great beginning to a new series! I just can't believe I'm going to have to wait for the next one. Why is it I keep starting new series before all the books have come out??

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Touching Spirit Bear

Cole is a very angry juvenile delinquent.  He opts for Circle Justice when it appears that he really is running out of "last chances" in the judicial system; and he is sentenced to spend a year on a remote Alaskan Island.

I had to read this one fast.  It wasn't due back to the library, and the book club I'm reading it for isn't meeting for a couple more weeks, but this is the kind of book I have to read fast.

Reason #1 I had to read it fast: I don't find the subject matter particularly pleasant.  Library keywords on this one included Juvenile Delinquents, Anger, Forgiveness, Child Abuse.  Not my typical fare. So I had to read it fast so that I would be invested in the story before I took a break.

Reason #2: I didn't like the main character.  Now, it's apparent that you're not supposed to like the main character to start off with. Hence I had to read fast so that I could get to where I would like him.

Reason #3: I didn't savor the writing style. It did the job -- it told the story.  But I found if I didn't read a good chunk then I was thinking about the writing style instead of the story when I closed the book.  Mainly it was just extra words here and there.  It's not a poorly written book, but just not my style.

So, I finished it in a day!  I think it will make for good group discussion when the book club meets.  And I don't think it was a waste of my time either -- I find myself wanting to be a better person, to meditate, and to commune with nature after reading the book.  So I would recommend it, probably for junior high on up.

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