Monday, September 14, 2009

The Girls Take Over, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Eddie is the first girl to try out for the baseball team, something
which was always Jake's "thing." Caroline is determined to
become class spelling champion, while Wally struggles to beat
her. Irritated with the girls for doing things they are good at, the
Hatford boys challenge the girls to a bottle race. Whoever's
bottle goes the farthest wins, and gets to be king or queen for a

An entertaining book for children, but I think I am quite too old
for it anymore. I found it highly fun when I was a little girl, but it
seems simplistic and flat to me now. I would recommend it to
the tween group.
4 stars,

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Asking me why I like this book is crazy, because the answer would be WAY to long. There are so many likable things about it.
The Book Thief is about a girl living around the time of the holocaust, but as oppose to other books about that time period, it isn't completely centered on the hard time everyone is having. Instead, it is about her, her foster parents, and her best friend Rudy. You see glimpses of the sad world around her when they home a Jew in their basement and the whole family has to keep a giant secret. Through it all, the mother is just as mean but funny, the father is just as loving, and Rudy is just as amazing.
The Book Thief made me laugh, made me think, and made me cry so much I couldn't see the page, . It has the best Voice a book could ever have, and is written from a surprising viewpoint.
Markus Zusak is a complete genius, and anyone who has read this book would agree.
5 stars

Claimed by Shadow, by Karen Chance

Cassandra Palmer is heir to title of Pythia, the world's strongest
clairvoyant. Normally the heir would be trained from birth, but
Cassie isn't exactly normal. Being raised by vampires and living
on the run have turned Cassie into someone on the fringes of
every kind of society, not to mention that the whole being
clairvoyant and seeing ghosts isn't exactly helpful if you want to
blend in. Even worse she discovers that a powerful vampire put a
spell on her to warn off any would be suiters and that a rouge
wanna-be Pythia is trying to kill her. She has to try and take out
the girl who is after her, while carefully avoiding any contact
with men that the spell thinks may be a threat.

Karen Chance's first book was quite good, with only minor
problems; this one is much better. Chance keeps the fab
characters and interesting, high speed plot but fixes her pacing
problems and her writing flows much more smoothly. I was
delighted that I was correct and the author just needed to work
through the kinks to write a brilliant story.

5 stas,

The Lady Grace Mysteries: Assassin, by Patricia Finney

ady Grace is one of Queen Elizabeth's Maids of Honor. She is a
bit of a wild child for this time period; she runs down stairs, is
often scolded for being overly loud, and her best friends are a
tumbler and laundry maid. But when Sir Gerald, one of her
suiters, is stabbed to death after a ball where she announces her
intention to marry Sir Robert fingers begin to point. And most of
them are pointed at her husband to be. Grace decides to try and
solve the murder so that he can go free.

This book is written as Grace's Daybook (diary.) The author is
clearly comfortable with this format which is very nice, and
although I found the writing a bit more simple then I like, it is
probably because this is a children's book. I recommend this
book to historical fiction fans.

4 stars,

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley

Eleven year old Flavia de Luce is a beginning chemist with a
particular fondness for poisons. Her family seems pretty normal:
two older sisters, one book obsessed and other obsessed with
herself, one dead mother and a kind if absent-minded father.
But when a dead bird turns up on their doorstep with a postage
stamp attached to its beak and shortly later Flavia discovers a
dead man in her garden, it becomes clear that her family has
dark secrets Flavia had no idea existed.

This mystery completely sucked me in. The protagonist is clever
and yet still seems like a child, not an adult in a child's body
which is what seems to happen a lot in mystery's where the
investigator is a young person. I liked the writing style and the
voice of Flavia rang very true to a intelligent child's way of
seeing the world as neither an adult sees it or a child who
doesn't pay as close attention to their world.
5 stars,

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, by Gregory Maguire

We are all familiar with the story of Cinderella. We know what
happened, or so we think. But what about the stepsisters? Who
were they and what did they think about Cinderella? How did
they end up as Cinderella's stepsisters? Were they really evil?
This book attempts to show the story from a different light.

I thought this book would be very good. It has many excellent
reviews and sounds like a fascinating plot. I was sorely
disappointed. The writing dragged and was not very interesting.
The characters were underdeveloped and flat. I was having to
force myself to finish it. I don't recommend this book.
1 star