Saturday, January 29, 2011

NationNation by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, I did like this one! So maybe even a 4.5.

I listened to the audiobook. It was very well done. Love that I got to "hear" the story just like it was being told IN the story. Now I finally know what all the fuss was about.

Audiobooks do make it a little harder to go back and reread particular lines, though.

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Dancing Feet!Dancing Feet! by Lindsey Craig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for collage art. Dunno why. SO ... check this one out! It's super cute. When I try to do collage it ends up looking messy. Of course Marc Brown would be a master at it.

I like the art better than the rhymes. But I think the kids will like the rhymes just as much as the pictures.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the GrailThe Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail by Michael P. Spradlin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one!

You can't be a total history purist (Robard Hode?). And you have to suspend a bit of disbelief in terms of some of what the grail does for Tristan. But that said ... I am now going to look for book two!

I hope I can get it on audiobook. The reader did a good job of it. Made it hard to go in to work in the morning. I wanted to sit in my car and keep listening.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Escape Velocity (H.I.V.E., #3)Escape Velocity by Mark Walden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do enjoy a good thriller and Mark Walden's series never fails to deliver. Otto and Nero and Wing and Raven and HIVE Mind ... they're all such interesting characters.

This is edge of your seat action. Was just refreshing my memory on the author. Part of his background is in film ... and his stories show it. This would be a seriously fun movie series. The cinematic quality of the story shows itself in the pacing and description. How long until number four? It's going to be hard to wait.

Books one and two have been popular at school (I don't suppose my enthusiasm for them had anything to do with that ;]). Book three goes a LITTLE beyond them in terms of violence and the occasional damn but I think I will still be putting this in our collection.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

The Unofficial Harry Potter CookbookThe Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

To be fair ... I did actually read/skim over this cookbook WANTING to love it. And I still love the idea of it. But I didn't actually try cooking any of the recipes.

There are several things in here that I would have changed.

1) No photos. No photos at all. I know that makes cookbooks cost more (and not all cookbooks have them) but for not particularly gifted cooks like myself, well. We kind of need the photos.

2) Not particularly easy looking recipes. Again ... kind of depends on what you're looking for in a cookbook. Willing to put forth a little effort? This might be just the thing for you. Most of it was a little complicated for my tastes, much as I think it would be grand to plan an HP party.

3) The organization. For example, chapter one is titled "Good Food with Bad Relatives." All of the recipes are in some way related to Harry's experiences with the Dursleys. That puts a recipe for bacon and eggs next to a recipe for double chocolate ice cream cones--which feels odd. There is an index, so I guess that's something.

Too bad they couldn't get (or maybe didn't even try) "official" status so that they could have included direct quotes. Or, again, maybe photos from the movie. I just like visual both my cookbooks and tie-in anythings.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dear Polar BearDear Polar Bear by Barry Ablett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actually read this one a while back but just pulled it out again for storytime last week.

A MUST READ if you are doing a lesson on letter writing. Which we weren't and the kids still enjoyed it so much.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Before I FallBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. What do I say?

Powerful writing. Powerful, poetic writing. Total jerk (or should I say human) characters. And this is her first book?

Page 413. Never experienced that even as a teen. Am I too old now? :/

Can't say any more or I might slip and give away the ending. Which is not really the one I wanted ... but probably the better ending to the story.

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Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh (Theodosia Throckmorton, #4)Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh by R.L. LaFevers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK. What do I say without giving too much away.

1) SO fun. On a day I was stuck at home fighting nasty allergies I distracted myself for several hours reading. Once I started I literally couldn't stop.

2) Now I will be distracting myself trying to figure out a fun celebration to have at school to introduce more kids to Theodosia--which is not to say she doesn't already have fans but hey. Some sort of Egyptian party would always attract more. (I will say this, though. This is not an easy read--would recommend for advanced fourth and fifth grade, middle school, and nerdy high school or adult set in early 1900's Egyptian fans like myself. Thank you Amelia Peabody. :])

3) Crazy action! Interesting characters! Description that really brought the setting and story to life!

4) Hopefully this is not too spoilerish but ...

OH SO MEAN CLIFFHANGER ENDING! I kept clicking hoping the file would move to a new page. It didn't. Crossing fingers book five is not so very, very far away.

I actually kept track of a couple quotes I wanted to share but as I'm pretty new to reading these ebook ARCS I'm not sure if I can. So I might have to save them and repost when the books come out.

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Red Glove (Curse Workers, #2)Red Glove by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



How long until book three?

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Till Death Do Us Bark: 43 Old Cemetery Road: Book 3Till Death Do Us Bark: 43 Old Cemetery Road: Book 3 by Kate Klise

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do love the epistolary style of these books. And the characters have grown on me. Who knew from the beginning of book one that Mr. Grumply would actually turn out to be pretty cool?

Without giving too much away ... this one pulls in a new character. So that was kind of fun.

I read this in arc form (e-book arc form even) so the exact wording may change. But I liked this quote from page 86 just like it is so I hope it doesn't change.

"'What happens when you mess up?'
'Well, you learn your lesson. You make a small change. Then you try again the next day."

The only problem with getting to read book three early is that now I have to wait that much longer for book four. But I will for sure be getting this for our library collection. The kids are going to enjoy it.

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Heist Society (Heist Society, #1)Heist Society by Ally Carter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FUN! I almost thought about giving it a five for the sheer fun of it. And then I didn't ... just 'cause this is not a book you read for beautiful imagery or necessarily literary turns of phrase and for some reason I am stingy with fives. But I really enjoyed it.

This is a book you read for hijinks!

I actually listened to it on CD in the car. The last couple of days I've found myself sitting in my car for as long as possible just because I so wanted to know what was going to happen. ;]

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Kylie Jean, Rodeo Queen

Rodeo Queen (Kylie Jean)Rodeo Queen by Marci Peschke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seriously. How cute is this? I am not one to go for the sparkly pink titles (though I know my students TOTALLY do!) and I still enjoyed this beginning chapter book.

Kylie Jean dreams of becoming a beauty queen. In this particular title she decides one way she will accomplish this goal is by participating in the rodeo. As a fellow Texan of course this automatically caught my attention.

I can't help it. I loved the line when she visits the library to get a book on rodeo rope tricks. The librarian smiles but then shushes her ... and Kylie Jean tells us "Although it is true that I am known for being loud, on occasion"(29).

The story is fun. The characters are interesting (the dog is named Ugly Brother--that is just priceless!). The illustrations are winsome and quirky. There are great examples of description in terms of the writing. I think this is a winner.

There are some enjoyable (if a bit formulaic) extra discussion questions and activities at the end of the book, as well as a digital press and event kit. I was delightfully surprised to find 1)the author is a school librarian, and 2)the illustrator graduated from my alma mater.

I guess the only other thing I might say is that KJ learns to barrel race well enough to WIN in a very short amount of time. I am not sure that could really be done (if something is worth doing it takes some patience and effort!) and wonder if it might give some readers unrealistic expectations for themselves. That said ... I know I'll still be getting copies for our library.

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Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the NightDark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, lovely book of poetry.

The first one just sang to me. I also loved the one about the night spider.

Now the question ... as it's not silly (and that tends to be the thing that GRABS most of my poetry loving students) ... how to get them to love it as well? Will have to work on that one.

See the video preview here.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well. I didn't love it as much as everyone else seems to have. That said ... it DID make me want to visit Paris. Or even better yet live there for a while.

But I didn't feel like Anna and Etienne's relationship was quite as believable as I would have liked. There were some definitely nice moments. My apologies for reading it so quickly I didn't stop to take note of them better. They were there! But to excuse their terrible behaviour (cheating on relationships and not being truthful with friends)? I just didn't feel that. People are not perfect, though, so I guess characters shouldn't be. Maybe a three and a half, just to be fair? I did like it. Just didn't LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Rabbit ProblemThe Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Adorable illustration and realia (and pop-up at the end). Just ... did I miss something? Where was the story? I didn't see one. Even wordless books have a story. I missed it here ... but the pictures were so cute.

My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love StoryMy Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story by Jamie Lee Curtis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like JLC's books (and I rarely say that about "celebrity authors"). This one is cute enough. Puts some big pressure on a mom. Rhymes didn't feel super forced. Just ... a bit excessive.

Not as fond of the illustrations. But that's more personal preference than saying they were not well dine.

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