Saturday, November 10, 2012

Book Review - The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1)The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tell you a story I can: the story of the Origami Yoda. But first let me tell you the story of Tommy and his friends, Kellen and Harvey. They are the guys who sit on the stage during the school dance and watch it all from the sidelines, never asking a girl to dance and wishing one would ask them instead. Until one eventful dance when Tommy decides to stop sitting and ask a girl to dance. Just when he has gotten his courage up to do so, another sideliner, Dwight, stops him and suggest he “ask Origami Yoda” first. Dwight is not just your ordinary sideliner either; he is the biggest loser of them all. He never seems to get anything right and ends up embarrassing himself and those around him. Just when Tommy thinks Dwight is making all the Yoda stuff up, Yoda’s advice saves Tommy from making a fool of himself. Now people are coming to Origami Yoda for advice about all kinds of stuff. But is Origami Yoda real? Can he see the future? Does he really know things or is it just Dwight making things up? Tommy needs to know because he is going to do something that could make him look like the biggest fool of the century. Now he really needs to know – Is Origami Yoda real or not?
My first confession regarding this book is – I am not a Star Wars junkie. I know who Yoda is and found him amusing in the movies but that is about all. (I didn’t’ even see the second round of movies where Yoda is a bit younger.) That being said, I found Origami Yoda very clever and enjoyable. While Tommy is the main narrator, I like the fact the book is written as a case file in a fact finding mission. This allows Tommy to interview other characters so we get to hear multiple voices and viewpoints related to Yoda and his wisdom. The humor and ease of reading makes this a great book for those reluctant readers who have read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books on the shelf. I recommend this book for ages 10 – 12.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1)Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As Joseph was growing up his grandfather would tell him bedtime stories of monsters and magical things. He would tell him of the island where he was sent to escape those monsters and of the "bird" who watched over himself and all the other "peculiar" children who lived on the island. But as Joseph got older, he soon found himself doubting those stories of his grandfather until the day he gets a frantic phone call from his grandfather.I really enjoyed this book. It was fresh, which for me is saying a lot. Yes it is a teen book with "monsters" but this one was very new and innovative. The monsters are not your ordinary vampires, werewolf, zombie kind of monsters. And the heroes are not your everyday slayers, hunters or even superheroes with extrodinary powers that help them through. I have already been recommending this book to everyone I can and will continue to do so. "They're coming for me..." were the last words Joseph hears from his grandfather. And the words that started a long journey for Joseph, because from that time on, there was only Before and After.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It was has a fresh feeling. Yes, it is a teen book. Yes, it does contain "monsters" but these are not the very popular vampires, werewolves, zombies we read about in other teen books. And yes, there are heroes but they are not hunters, slayers or even superheroes with extrodinary powers. I found this book to be very innovative which caught and held my interest where I have been just skimming through other "monster" books of the teen variety because they are starting to blend together. I am now anxiously awaiting a sequel (which I heard will be coming!)
I recommend this book for ages 12+ due to the intense nature of some of the scenes with the "monsters." But adults will love this book too.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book Review - The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

It has been a long time since I have written an entry.  I apologize and hope to make it up to you by doing several extra in the next few months.

The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kate’s mother’s last words to her were “I need you to keep your brother and sister safe…Remember your father and I love you very much.  And we will all be together again.  I promise.”  Then she and Kate’s father were gone.  Now ten years and twelve orphanages later, Kate, her sister Emma and her brother Michael are on their way to their last stop - Cambridge Falls, a town no one knows.  Upon arriving they notice things at this orphanage are different:  1) they are the only children in the place; 2) there are rooms with no ceilings, rooms without floors and one filled with sixty metal bed frames all in a row just like a real orphanage; and 3) the mountains surrounding it are not visible from across the lake it sits on.  When they find an old book full of empty pages and bound in green leather, their adventures begin and maybe, just maybe, their questions about the long ago night when their parents disappeared will be answered.
As I was reading this book, many similarities with other well-known books came to mind. This was most brought home when Michael betrays Kate and Emma to the Countess ala The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  With the introduction of the warrior and the dwarves, I was transported to the world of Tolkien.  However, that said, I think Stephens does a wonderful job of blending these worlds together, even if he did a bit of borrowing for his story.
I would recommend this for fantasy fans ages 10 up.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Anya's GhostAnya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ever have one of those mornings where nothing goes right? Well, Anya’s day starts that way. Her mother serves her something greasy and fatting for breakfast, she gets embarrassed in front of the best looking guy at school and her only friend gets mad at her and stomps off before she even gets on the bus for school. To top it off, she falls down an old abandoned well. To make matters worse, Anya is not alone in this well. She soon learns the well is haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Now Anya has a new friend, but is the ghost a friend “for life” or does she have something else in mind?

I enjoyed this graphic novel. It carries a very good lesson of (forgive the pun) "don't judge a book by its cover." To Anya everything is black and white. Sean is gorgeous therefore he is good. Because Emily is helping her, Emily is good. Dima is an over-achieving, fresh off the boat Russian nerd, therefore he is bad. I think the black, gray and white illustrations lend themselves to the theme of not everyone is what you might think they are. It isn't until later in the novel that Anya begins to question about the gray areas in her life. Sean is not the guy he seems to be; Dima is not the "fobby" creep he seems to be; and Emily is just plain scary.
I would recommend this book for ages 14 and up.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Review - The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ivan is a gorilla. The One and Only Ivan. The Mighty Silverback. The Ape at Exit 8. The Freeway Gorilla. These are his many names but Ivan is so much more than his names. Ivan is an artist. As a baby, Ivan would dip his hand in the mud and draw pictures on his mother’s back - pictures of the shapes of the clouds and the colors of the flowers he saw. Now he draws pictures with crayons - pictures of banana peels, candy wrappers and apple cores, and the new baby elephant that has moved into the domain next to him. Sometimes Ivan wonders, is he a gorilla or is he a human? Humans don’t have a name for what he is.
I am just going to say I believe everyone can benefit from reading this book. The younger crowd will hear a great story about friendship and promises made and kept. The older ones of us will also be blessed with a story of which will remind us there is good out there and it can be found in many shapes and sizes if we just look. But all will be given a new found appreciation for the things in the world around us and how we (humans) truly affect them.

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review - A Leaf Can Be ... by Laurie Purdie Salas

A Leaf Can Be...A Leaf Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A leaf can be many things. It can be a "shade spiller" or a "mouth filler." This book explores the many aspects of a leaf and all it can be in an enjoyable poetic tour of all things leafy. Accompanied by soft illustrations of cool blues and greens or warm yellows and golds, we glide through the rhythm of the words as if we too are leaves moving on the wind. Reading this book aloud as a bedtime book or to a group will only add to its ability to evoke all those wonderful things a leaf can be.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review - Skyfall by Michael Dahl

Skyfall (Troll Hunters)Skyfall by Michael Dahl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Zion Falls it is the night of the biggest meteor shower of the century, the Draconids. For fourteen year-old Pablo and his friends, Thora and Zak, it is also the night that is going to change their lives forever. Pablo, Thora and Zak are pulled into a real-life fairy tale of the Grimm variety. They find themselves battling trolls, or "gathool", for their lives. And this is only the beginning.
The premise for this books is very interesting. Giant trolls known as gathools are emerging to wreck havoc on the town of Zion Falls. The name "gathool" is reminiscent of Lovecraft's greatest short story, The Call of Cthulhu, about a giant kraken like creature. The illustrations in the book also run along these lines, with the multi-armed trolls appearing to have heads that resemble octupi. While this story is much, much milder than Lovecraft's, I would not recommend it to be read as a bedtime story. The information about the trolls and the characters is somewhat sketchy. The trolls are coming but it is not really said where they are coming from. There is something special about Pablo, Thora and Zak but you are not really sure what. However, as this is the first book in a series, I would assume the information will be coming in the next installments of the series.
I would recommend this book for children ages 10+, especially those readers who want an alternative to Goosebumps or Beast Quest.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review - It's a Big World Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi

It's a Big World, Little Pig!It's a Big World, Little Pig! by Kristi Yamaguchi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Poppy the litte pig who dreams big is finally an ice skating star. Now she follows her dream to Paris, France to compete in the World Games. While in Paris, Poppy must overcome her fears of being so far from home in a new place. But she soon learns that although we may not speak the same, we all smile in the same language.
This is a sequel to the book "Dream Big Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi. It is very nice with cute illustrations. Who doesn't love a pig in a bow? It was a little light and fluffy for my personal taste, but the message of being accepting of new people and places is a good one.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year Ramblings

I am hoping to have a great year in 2012. I have set myself up with some reading challenges which will take me out of my comfort zone. I have decided on a goal of 250 books in the year 2012. Yes Melissa - that is 250!!!! I am also going to be participating in the Why Buy the Cow and several other blogging/reading challenges. So my reviews will change somewhat. I am going to be adding adult fiction to my blog so it will not just be children's/young adult books, although these will still be the mainstay of my blog. Just look at it as I am adding a little more variety. Hope everyone has a great year ahead of them!