Friday, June 21, 2013

a good book.

Or a few.  I've been on a wierd reading schedule the last little while with trying to pack and being gone and everything so I haven't read as much as I would have liked.  I've also been in a bit of a slump.  If you follow me on Goodreads you'll have noticed that most of my books have gotten a rather bland 3-star rating, nothing super outstanding.  But here are some of the rare few that have captured my interest and kept me reading  and excited beyond the blah and ordinary.

Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever--or Snack Time?
Author:Tammi Sauer
Illustrator: Michael Slack
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8
Published: 2013
Genre: Picture Book
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG

Nugget and Fang are best friends. And life is perfect until Nugget, a minnow, goes to school and learns that sharks (of which Fang is one) eat minnows! His new friends convince him they shouldn't hang out anymore but Fang is devestated. He tries everything he can think of to tell them he's not going to eat them but it's not until he saves them from a fishing net that they finally believe him and now they're all friends together!

Unlikely friends are a common theme in picture books and the shark one saw plenty of play in Finding Nemo but I think that works in its favor in this case (I kept wanting Fang to burst into choruses of "fish are friends, not food"...though to convince said fish, not himself as is the case in the film) The illustrations are grand with bright and plentiful shades of blue and other tropicals. The texture is great as well; you get hints of wood and oil, sponge, collage and more giving it an authentic underwater feel and the creatures are delightfully cartoonish.

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 371
Age Range: 13+
Published: 2013
Genre: Young Adult/Dystopia/Sci-fi
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG-13

Rhine is back under her father-in-laws roof but with the help of Cecily and Linden eventually finds herself on the road again with the two of them in tow searching for her brother in an effort to stop his terrorist antics and prove that she is alive. But she finds out Rowan is working for Vaughn and the world she's been trying to escape is not what she'd always believed.

I've finished up several trilogies in the last little while and all of them fell very flat; strong and intriguing first installments, weak seconds, and unfulfilling thirds.  This was the best of the bunch, keeping the tension and my interest right through to the end.  It still didn't quite meet the expectations I'd established with the first volume but it was pretty close. A heartbreaking but satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Pages: 244
Age Range: 9-12
Published: 2013
Genre: Suspense/Fiction
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG

3 kids spend the bulk of their time playing make believe games involving queens and heros, pirates and quests all acted out using various dolls and toys. But Zach's father thinks its time he grew up and Poppy and Alice are going through changes of their own as they begin to mature. When all of Zach's toys go missing he can't bring himself to tell Poppy and Alice the truth so a string of lies and misunderstandings ensue. Poppy takes it upon herself to bring them together with one final quest. This time they must venture out for real, across state lines to bury a china doll of her mother's she tells them holds the remains of a murderd girl whose ghost has been haunting Poppy's dreams. They go along out of spite and placation but as their quest gets stranger and stranger they realize Poppy may have been telling the truth all along. Equal parts creepy ghost story, quest and growing up this is a great spine tingling adventure perfect for those middle readers who are eager to be seen as older yet still have moments of clinging to their childhood.

Author: Alan Brennert
Pages: 389
Age Range: Adult
Published: 2003
Genre: Historical Fiction
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG-13

A young girl contracts leprosy and is taken from her family on the Big Island to live in the leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. Following her through childhood and on through old age we see her progress through the disease, cause trouble, fall in love, form friendships and lead a beautiful life that touches all she comes to know. Around her the world progresses as well; the Americans usurp power from Hawaii's queen, the world descends into war, pictures begin moving and lights are captured in small glass globes, yet through it all Rachel never loses her love of learning and her longing to discover the world around her and beyond the bounds of her life. 

There's so much going on here with lessons about the history and political background of the Hawaiian islands, the history of the treatment and eventual understanding of leprosy (now known as Hansen's disease) and its effects on the people who contract it as well as their families, and of course, Rachels own story. It's a heartbreaking story of love, life, and beating unbeatable odds. I can't stop thinking about it.
Those are the recent standouts. What have you been reading lately?

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