Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha

The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant ThingsThe Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book up because the title was funny to me: The Book of Awesome...I wanted to see if it really was awesome!

The author Neil Pasricha made this book out of the blog he keeps ( Basically, the blog & book are about the little things in life that are really awesome--like popping bubble wrap and waking up early and realizing that it's actually Saturday.

I enjoyed this book and have recommended it to a few coworkers who were looking for a funny, quick read.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow

Saving ZashaSaving Zasha by Randi Barrow

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In 1945 Russia, dogs are rare--because of the war, many died from starvation or in battle. This is why 13-year-old Mikhail is shocked to one day find an injured man with a German Shepherd in the woods near his home.

Mikhail's family did all they could for the man, but he dies, leaving behind his dog whose name, they learned, is Zasha. Zasha is such a good dog that they decide to keep her, although it will be dangerous for them because some might view them as traitors for having a German dog (the Russians hated all things German during the war, and, even though the war is over, many people continue to feel that way). They must do all they can to keep Zasha safe from those who might do her harm or try to kidnap her--especially since they find out that she is expecting puppies!

Readers will appreciate Mikhail's love for Zasha--along with the trying times he and his family experience in post-war Russia. Those who enjoyed this book about dogs and World War II might also enjoy Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury.

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Wicked Girls: a Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch TrialsWicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Based on real people and events that took place during the Salem Witch Trials, this book is told from the point of view of three girls, ranging in age from twelve to seventeen; these are the girls that made the accusations of witchcraft. Told in free verse format, readers learn about the motivations behind the girls' "afflictions"--which led to 19 innocent people being hanged.

This book received starred reviews across the board (Booklist, School Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus) but I just didn't like it! Maybe it's because I listened to it? I just didn't like the characters or the way their story was told. My favorite part of the book was the note at the end that described the people upon which the characters were based. Readers who enjoyed this might also enjoy another Salem Witch Trials book Beyond the Burning Time by Kathryn Lasky.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

True...(Sort of) by Katherine Hannigan

True... Sort ofTrue... Sort of by Katherine Hannigan

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

11-year old Delly is considered a bad kid by her family and teachers because of her behavior--but she doesn't really understand what is so bad about what she does. For example, if the weather is too nice to miss during the day, she simply skips school; when she sees a canoe on the river that she wants to ride in, she just takes it. Is that so wrong? She just understand doesn't why everyone calls her a bad kid...and hearing it over and over again starts to make her think she is a bad person through and through.

Things change when a new girl named Ferris Boyd arrives in town--she doesn't speak and won't let anyone touch her. Delly takes an immediate interest in her and decides that she wants to be her friend. She, Ferris, and Delly's younger brother R.B. end up spending a lot of time together in a tree house in the woods near Ferris's house. Being around timid Ferris and sweet R.B. help to make Delly more aware of her actions and the effects her actions have on others, and she starts to be not as much as a trouble kid as she was before.

I have to say that I didn't enjoy this book at all. As I listened to it, I knew that this was going to make it onto a list somewhere (themes of: 'bad kid' main character on a road to self-discovery, sibling rivalry/sibling love, making new friends/learning to get along with others, troubled friend with a troubled homelife, etc.)...but it's not that good! The first thing that struck me was Delly's ridiculous made-up vocabulary--some might find it charming, but I found it extremely irritating. I also didn't find Delly all that likable; she's bossy, acts before she thinks, and is wild. Finally, the fact that Ferris doesn't speak and the fact that animals seem to magically flock to her might appear to be related to an unsuspecting young reader. Even the ending of the book is unrealistic! I haven't read anything else by Katherine Hannigan, but I think I'll stay away from the rest of her books.

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