Friday, April 27, 2012

On Little Wings by Regina Sirois

This is a story of the countless ways we get love wrong. And why, despite every disappointment, we keep fighting to get it right.

Jennifer must do the impossible – bring her mother home. When a family is torn apart by death, two sisters take violently divergent paths and the story of their family appears to end terribly and abruptly. Two decades later Jennifer never dreams that the photo she finds stuck between the pages of a neglected book will tear open a gaping wound to her mother’s secret past. Abandoning her comfortable life with her parents and best friend in the wheat fields of Nebraska, Jennifer’s quest for a hidden aunt leads her to the untamed coast of Maine where she struggles to understand why her mother lied to her for sixteen years.

Across the grey, rocky cove she meets Nathan Moore, the young, reluctant genius surrounded by women who need him to be brother, father, friend, provider, protector and now, first love. The stories, varied, hilarious, and heartbreaking, unfold to paint a striking mural of the shattered past. As Jennifer seeks to piece together her mother’s story, she inadvertently writes one for herself.

First line:
"The DNA of mice and humans is 98% identical."

Loved this story. Loved the descriptions. I felt like I was in small town Maine with Jennifer. I want to visit there. Can I remake my home to resemble a beach cottage? Because now I really, really want to. Thanks a lot Regina! *smiley face*
There were many times I wanted to bookmark a certain sentence or passage but I couldn't take the time to stop reading to do it. I'm glad I own a copy of the book on my phone so I can reread it. I would love to own a physical copy as well.
Regina has done a superb job of characterizations, descriptions, plot and setting.
Each character is unique with a strong voice. I loved all of them. Especially Little and the Jacks.
The author also has a way with words that made me want to read and reread and then copy the passages. I even read quite a few out loud to my husband as he drove.
The plot was about family, lost relationships, healing, forgiveness and summer love.
And the setting! I could taste the salt air and hear the sea gulls play.

This is a book I would reread again and again.

Rating: PG
V: No
L: No
S: No


Having to read it on my iPhone


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.

First line:
"School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting read for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it."

To be entirely honest, I can't figure out why this won the Newberry. That's what I thought as I read DEAD END IN NORVELT. I totally understand why it was picked for the Scott O'Dell award. Set in the sixties, this story is filled with reminders of the year but not with info dumping. The storytelling is very clever this way. Lots of history in this book.
Poor Jack is surrounded by people who are not nice to him. His parents use him to do things so the other won't get mad at the other. For instance, his dad wants a runway. His mom has planted corn to help feed the poor people in Norvelt. The dad tells Jack to plow over the corn. He does, gets in trouble with Mom and is grounded. 
His BFF is a girl named Bunny. She's the daughter of the mortician. Bunny's mad at Jack for getting grounded and tells him he's not a true friend if he can't show up at a baseball game. She also tortures him with talk of dead people even though she knows it scares him to death. Once, she even made him touch a corpse. What kind of friend does that??
Jack seems to be the only sane/normal/human character. He actually thinks, knows right from wrong, stays in his room when grounded and tries to be good. 
 The book was interesting, filled with random history tidbits. Boys will enjoy it.

Rating: PG
V: Hell's Angels burn down houses, people die or are killed
L: non-swearing swearing
S: No

A book for boys!
History lesson without shoving it in your face
The obituaries

Jack's relationships

3 1/2 STARS

Friday, April 20, 2012

Daughters in My Kingdom

Daughters in My Kingdom is the history and work of the Relief Society. Excellent resource for talks and spiritual thoughts. Great reminder of who the women of the world are. "We are going to do something extraordinary."

Loved this book!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?

First Line:
" No one who knew Charlotte Constance Kinder since her youth would suppose her born to be a heroine."

Mrs. Hale has done it again!
Romance, intrigue and corsets.
Charlotte Kinder needs to get away from her reality for a few days. Donning an Austen-ish gown, relenquishing her cell phone (and the connection with her children) and immersion herself in Austenland, Charlotte finds she braver and stronger than the woman she left behind.
What did she expect to find is a murder mystery. The dead body in the attic disappears. The car in the pond is explained away. And the food is bland. What's a girl to do? Solve the mystery of course! And possibly fall in love as well.

Shannon's humor & writing
Chapter headings

Too much heaving bossoms
Having to wait until almost the end for the love interest


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband's parents' home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her "gussak"-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

First line:
 "Miyax pushed back the hood of the sealskin parka and looked at the Arctic sun."

If you want to understand wolf or dog behavior, this is a great book for you. And adventure in Alaska about a young girl who ran away from a forced marriage only to find herself lost, without food and likely to die. Until she comes upon a wolf pack. She observes their ways, behaviors and learns how to survive.

Rating: PG
S: No
L: No
V: No


Friday, April 6, 2012

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments Book 2)

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

Yes, I read City of Ashes again. Yes, I give it 4 STARS this time (language and homosexual portrayals). Now that I'm writing more and understand better pacing, storytelling, foreshadowing, character arcs, I like this story better. 

Jace (he always surprises me)
Families taking care of each other
Mothers and fathers present!

homosexual portrayal
couldn't put it down

Rating: PG 16
V: Yes
L: some
S: No


Monday, April 2, 2012

Banana Split A Culinary Mystery by Josi S. Kilpack

Sadie Hoffmiller has survived eighteen months of nonstop adventures filled with murder, deceit, and danger. She could really use some rest—and maybe even some time to heal—relaxing in the tropical paradise of Kaua'i. However, palm trees and sunshine are not as effective a medication as Sadie had hoped. And when she finds herself entangled—literally—with a dead body, she is forced to face the compounding fears and anxieties that are making her life so difficult to live.

Her determination to stay out of danger and to focus on overcoming her anxieties soon takes a backseat when she meets eleven-year-old Charlie, the son of the woman whose body she discovered near Anahola Beach. Charlies has some questions of his own about what happened to his mother, and he is convinced that only Sadie can help him. If only Sadie were as confident in her abilities as Charlie is.

With the help of her best friend and a local social worker, Sadie dives into another mystery with the hope that, at the end, she'll be able to find the peace and closure that has eluded her.

First line:
"You snorkel before?"

Another great Sadie Hoffmiller mystery! 
Sadie goes to Hawaii to get away from her life and relax. The last year and a half really have taken toll on our heroine and it's showing.
Unfortunately for Sadie, she lands in the middle of another murder mystery and she's not up to the task. But when a young boy is involved, she decides she needs to solve this one last mystery.
This story is different than the previous ones and I had a hard time getting into it at first. Then I realized what Josi has done. She's showing us the natural results of being in the middle of traumatic scenes: post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadie can't go on without being affected which makes us care for her even more than before. 
This book is not a quick read. It takes us into the mind and life of someone suffering from PTSD. It's interesting watching Sadie lose confidence in herself and her skills but still unable to keep away from being an amateur detective.
Another great book from Josi Kilpack! Go, Josi!

Rating: PG
L: No
S: No
V: Dead body, 

Island slang 

Not figuring out 'whodunit'


Want to buy Josi's book? Here's the Amazon link for Banana Split.

Find out more about Josi and drool over all her yummy looking books!