Friday, May 28, 2010

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1), by Maryrose Wood

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (The Mysterious Howling) The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Miss Penelope Lumley, having graduated from Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, interviews for a position as governess at Ashton Place. Strangely, Lady Ashton doesn’t provide much information about the children during the interview; in fact, she seems to avoid talking about them at all. But before she knows it, Penelope is signing the (very generous) contract and is hired!

During the interview and while she’s getting situated in her new room, Penelope hears a strange sort of howling. Having a soft spot for animals, she decides to follow the noise to see if she can locate the source of the poor creatures. In the barn, she finds who is making the noise and she is quite shocked—three children are howling! It turns out that Sir Ashton found the children while hunting—apparently they were raised by wolves—and he decided to keep them. He and Lady Ashton are only recently married, and she has no desire to raise three feral children…hence, the hiring of a governess. Now it falls to Penelope to teach the children how to speak English, wear clothing…basically, how to be human beings! This will be no easy task, but Penelope is not a quitter.

This is a great book! It’s very entertaining—readers will enjoy reading about the wild children and how Penelope lovingly handles them. This is the first book in the new series The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. Readers who liked this book might also like The Willoughbys (Lowry) or The Collected Tales: Nurse Matilda (Brand).

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan

The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
When Sol and his younger sister Connie move into a new neighborhood, they soon face a couple of unnerving facts: they have a real-life witch as their neighbor, and their parents are trying to get rid of them (by “donating” them to the witch so she can eat them!).

Sol and Connie have every intension of avoiding the witch, but they are too late realizing that the children’s librarian is her ally!  While Connie waits for Sol to be finished on the computer, the librarian catches Connie so she can give her to the witch!  Sol must put his own fears aside so he can focus on finding and rescuing his sister.

A contemporary spin on the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, this is a very entertaining book! The regular chapters are interspersed with entries from the witch’s journal, so the reader gets a feel for the witch’s point of view.  Readers who enjoyed this book should consider reading Dahl’s The Witches, Buckley’s The Sisters Grimm series, or Mull’s Fablehaven series.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

The True Meaning of Smekday The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In this fast-paced story, Gratuity (Tip) Tucci shares her experiences during the year that aliens land on—and take over—the earth.  The day the Boov (the aliens) land on Earth is called Smekday (named for the Boov captain Smek).  They decree  that they own all of the United States—except for Arizona, which is where the Boov send everyone in the U.S.  The humans are provided with rocketpods to get there, but Tip decides to take her chances and drive the car (although she doesn’t have her license) so she can look for her missing mother on the way.

When car trouble forces her to pull over near an abandoned convenience store, she encounters a Boov that—for some reason—calls itself J-Lo.  He agrees to fix Tip’s car if she lets him accompany her to Arizona…it turns out that the Boov are after him for a mistake he made with radio towers.  To the surprise of each, Tip and J-Lo become friends.

I enjoyed this book very much.  Tip is a likable character; the way she reacts to J-Lo and the crazy adventures they face together is entertaining.  And readers will be sure to like J-Lo, even though he’s technically on the same side as the bad guys.  Readers who enjoyed this alien adventure might also enjoy The Doom Machine (Teague).

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The 48-hour Book Challenge

This year, I'm going to try to participate in this: The 48-hour Book Challenge! Basically, all one does is read as much as possible in 2 consecutive days, June 4-6. Coworkers have done this before and it was a lot of fun for them!  It'll be challenging to read a lot while working at the service desk, but hey, it's my first time doing it so I don't yet have any personal goals to break!

For more information about this event, visit here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This World We Live In (Last Survivors, #3) This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Readers met Miranda in the companion novel Life As We Knew It; this story picks up a bit after that one ends.  She, her mom, and two brothers are still living in their suburban Pennsylvania home, and they are still doing all they can to survive.  Life has gotten a bit better now that they receive weekly bags of food, but they know that this could stop at any time.

Unexpectedly, Miranda’s father, step-mother, and baby half-sister turn up at the house.  With them are three people they had traveled with and have grown close to.  Two of these people are Alex and his sister Julie—readers met them in the other companion novel The Dead and the Gone.  The group had met each other in one of the ‘safe camps’ that are scattered around the country.  The group decides to stay near Miranda’s house until they can come up with a better plan.  While the group is nearby, Miranda and Alex fall in love, which makes Alex’s decision to leave with Julie even harder to follow through with.

This book, like the other two, made me uneasy about what the world would be like if a meteor really did hit the moon, but all of the characters are very brave.  Those interested in this book might want to read  Life As We Knew It first, followed by The Dead and the Gone, and then this one.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Claim to Fame Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lindsay is a former Hollywood child star who now lives a secluded life in Springdale, Illinois (the middle of nowhere) with her father.  She’s fine with the secluded part; in fact, she prefers it!  When she was 11-years-old, Lindsay developed—quite suddenly—what she refers to as her “talent.”  It’s not an acting talent she’s talking about—it’s the ability to hear everything anyone says about her from anywhere in the world. 

For some strange reason, the house in Springdale can block all of these voices, so Lindsay doesn’t go outside if she can help it.  If she does, she can hear what everyone says about her, and it gets worse when the reruns of her show Just Me and the Kids comes on.  However, when her father suddenly passes away from a heart attack, Lindsay must face the outside world for the first time in five years.

This is a good story!  Lindsay is a very likable character; readers will cheer her on as she deals with the loss of her father and her special “talent.”  Those who enjoyed this book might also enjoy The Princess Plot (Boie).

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