What is your reading goal this year?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Little Woody Stories

Little Woody Stories by Woody Dykes

(Summary taken from the back cover) "In a land far, far away called Wichita there was a magic street called Rutan. This street had a tree-lined tunnel that covered the sky. On this magic street lived a tribe of Indians called the Rutan Indians. These are their stories. I am the last of this tribe. These are stories of my childhood when I lived in Wichita, Kansas, on Rutan Street. I was six to eleven (I think) during this time. The stories are true and actual, to the best of my memory. I had two friends who shared most of these adventures with me--Eddie Kangus and Larry Rochillen. This was my crew. Tall Larry and Loud Mouth Eddie--the Rutan Indians. These stories are called "Little Woody Stories" by my family and friends. ~Woody Dykes"

This book reminds me of stories my grandparents would tell me when I was growing up, especially my grandpa. Some of them are very funny and some of them make me cringe (like the one where he jumps off the roof with the red spring shoes on). They also remind me of stories my dad would tell of things he did growing up, and yes, some of them remind me of things I may have done (but don't tell my kids.....). It's fairly well written and I like Mr. Dykes' humor. It's a fast, easy read (I think it took me less than an hour), and is ok for the older elementary-age kids. I had my son, who is in 5th grade, read it, and he liked it as well. He also read it quickly and the only thing I was concerned about was him getting some not-so-good ideas from the stories. We had to look up the definition of mercurochrome and google "Kit candies," but it was great to turn a fun story into a teaching moment. I like the "Lessons Learned" bit at the end of each story. This is a fun book and would be fun as a read-a-loud as well.

Rating: PG (Just don't get any ideas......) I had to tell my son that if I ever found a hole cut in our roof he wouldn't leave his bedroom....ever....

Recommendation: 4th or 5th grade and up. Parents may want to read it first to see if it is appropriate for their child. And, if nothing else, it may bring back some fun childhood memories.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within these nocturnal black-and-white-striped tents awaits an utterly unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander throughout a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air. Welcome to Le Cirque des Reves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way--a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms. But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance."

Dreamy, fantastical, magical, and mysterious are just a few words I would use to describe this book. I definitely got caught up in the fantasy and enjoyed this book. Ms. Morgenstern's character development is really good and I felt like I knew the characters very well. I especially liked Celia and Marco. I didn't particularly like Hector or Alexander, but I loved the Burgess twins and Herr Thiesson. I also loved Poppet and Widget. I could not believe how Hector and Alexander treated their "children," and it made me sick. I loved the role that each person played and thought it fit perfectly. I loved the circus and wish there was something like that for us today. I would love to see the wishing tree, the labyrinth, the cloud maze, and I would love to smell the smells and see the sparkling lights. I would also love to see the illusionist's show. I don't know if I would be a follower, but I'd for sure go if it came to my city. I felt so bad for Celia and Marco and hoped they could figure something out. I'd also really like to see that clock!

The flow of the book confused me sometimes and the timing was even more confusing. There were chapters that would go backwards in time. I had to go back to the beginning of chapters several times to make sure I knew where I was in the time frame. I thought it made the flow quite choppy and a little confusing. There was some language in this book, and there is an "intimate" scene. There is also the death of a character.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it with the previous warnings. It is very different and fun, with a hint of mystery and magic.

Rating: PG-13+ (Language, "physical intimacy," and the death of a character)

Recommendation: 18 years-old and up. As always, I recommend that parents read it first to make sure it is appropriate for their child. Each child is different and has different tolerance levels.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Return to the Aegean

Return to the Aegean by E.J. Russell

Thalia grew up on Katafigio, a small island in Greece. She left years ago and has not returned, until now. She has her reasons for not returning all these years, and is now hoping to find some answers and some peace. Will she find them?

Haha....that is my lame excuse of a summary. Now you know why I usually copy the summary from the book or other sources. Unfortunately I couldn't find a summary for this book so you have to suffer through mine.

Moving on....I enjoyed this book! It has mystery, romance, and betrayal. What more could you ask for, right? How about beautiful descriptions of Greece's scenery? Ms. Russell's descriptions put you right on the island. They are very well written and definitely make me want to visit Greece. I could almost smell the ocean and feel the breeze. Ms. Russell also has very good character development. I don't really relate to Thalia at all, but it didn't matter because I could find enough of a connection that I felt for her and wanted her to find the truth. I liked a lot of the people around her. For example, I really liked her friend Irini and her step-mom Sophia. They helped to ground Thalia, and I related to them more than I did to Thalia. They were a good connection for me. I also liked Petros, Villi, and Manolis. They all helped Thalia in some way or another, and with each of these people around her she was able to begin the process of healing. And that is how it is in real life. The people we surround ourselves with are the people that ground us, love us, help us, and help make us who we are. It's the relationships in our lives that bring us the most fulfillment.

I liked Ms. Russell's writing style and thought it was easy to read and it flowed well for the most part. There were a few typos, and there were also some sentences I read twice and still wasn't sure where she was going with them, but it wasn't enough to deter me from continuing. There were also some Greek words I didn't know the meanings of, but there is an index in the back so I could look them up. I did have some unanswered questions, one of which still bothers me. I can't go into too much detail without giving it away, but someone knew the whole time what had happened. Why doesn't this person just tell Thalia when she sees her? She knows Thalia is looking for the truth. It would have saved a lot of trouble. It also would have taken away half of the book, which is probably why. But this is a trusted person. I still don't get it. And Thalia was never upset with her for not telling her the truth from the get-go. My only explanation would be that she wanted Thalia to find out on her own, and that maybe it would help her move on easier. I still enjoyed the book, but this point is still a little frustrating for me.

This is definitely a book for adults. There is quite a bit of language, including a few "f" words. They caught me by surprise and I didn't really think they needed to be there. There is also a lot of "physical intimacy." Some scenes have more details than others, but it is a prevalent part of Thalia's lifestyle. There is also an attempted rape scene and a murder, which is difficult to read because of how it happened and the people involved. I do recommend this book, with the previous warnings, and for the correct age group.

Rating: R (This does not follow the movie ratings exactly, it is just my way of saying that it is NOT appropriate for younger readers.) Language, "physical intimacy," attempted rape, and a murder scene.

Recommendation: College and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and I thank Ms. Russell for the opportunity to read and review her book.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Not a Princess

Not a Princess by I.D. Gallagher
(Summary taken from amazon.com)
"So you've met Mr. Right, your very own Prince Charming.
But what if you're Not A Princess?
Susan, an average girl from the North of England, is getting ready to marry the man of her dreams, BJ, with the melodious voice and eyes the colour of melted chocolate. Perfect, in every way.
And then she realises he is not who she thought he was.
Will she ever fit into his world?
Is there going to be an Happy-Ever-After?"

I loved this book! Need I say more? Ms. Gallagher pulled me in from the beginning. I loved her writing style and the tone of the book. It was easy to read and follow, and kept me turning the pages. It flowed well and continued to keep my interest. The character development is really good and I felt like Susan was my best friend. I felt like I was right there with her. I related well to Susan. Oh, and I would LOVE to have her closet! I really liked B.J., V.J., and Victoria. I also liked Mary, Quinn, and Miriam. There was just enough mystery to make me keep reading, but not enough to make it too dramatic. There was a point when something happened in the storyline that was a little corny, but I just kept on reading. In another book I may have rolled my eyes and put the book away, but in this book it just fit and worked fine. (Sorry, I don't want to ruin the surprise!)

This book definitely ended too soon. I was not ready to be done with Susan yet. I kept trying to turn the page on my Kindle to see if there was more, but unfortunately there wasn't. The author is from England and so there were some words that I had to guess the meanings of, but it wasn't enough to really confuse me or anything. It was kind of fun learning some English words.  I loved that this book was clean! There wasn't any language or "physical intimacy" scenes. There was some kissing, but even that wasn't too detailed. There was a discussion of maybe after the wedding what to expect that night, but the actual word was never used and it was quite vague. They also discussed sexual purity before marriage. That is almost a quote and that is as far as it goes. It's not in-your-face either. It's not like a political or judgemental statement. There is a murder in the book, but it is tastefully done (if that is possible). It doesn't go into a lot of detail, you just read more about the emotions and reactions following it.

I really liked this book and recommend it with the previous warnings. I would say it is an actual Young Adult approved book!

Rating: PG-13 (A discussion of sexual purity and about waiting until the wedding night, a murder)

Recommendation: 13 and up. As always, I would recommend that a parent read it first to make sure it is appropriate for his or her child.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.