4 stars · children's books · fiction

Children’s Book Chat: The Day the Aunts Disappeared

30057568

The Day the Aunts Disappeared

author : KayeC Jones

pages : [ebook]

summary :

Hungry and tired of bug bites, Greg the Anteater decided to go to town to find an easy meal.

He quickly finds out that there are aunts all around the town! But “aunts” and “ants” are not the same thing, as he quickly finds out.

Find out what happens to Greg and all the aunts in town in this colorful and nonsensical story that will make you laugh and giggle.

review :

This book was adorable! I’ve read one other of Jones’ picture books (Kitty Conquers the Big Bully) and I love the artwork in both. Greg is cute (even when he’s kind of terrifying the town) and the little details really make the story unique. I like the little things that you only notice if you really engage with the picture, like Greg’s tongue forming a heart, because it’s cute, tells so much more about the story, and shows us more about Greg.

I have to admit at first I was a little taken aback that Greg was actually eating people. He didn’t really mean any harm (no one would want to eat bugs ALL their life) but I feel like adults reading this book to or with their children will find it funny on a different level. We can imagine an anteater doing something like this and find it hilarious; kids might find it funnier that Greg thinks people are tasty, or because he’s so confused, or because of the (accidental) chaos he causes.

I’ve never read anything like this, so I think it’s great and unique just in that respect. Pair that with the great artwork and it’s a cute, fun little book. I think that a lot of people would enjoy it, so I highly recommend it!

4/5 stars

 

4 stars · children's books · Uncategorized

Children’s Book Chat: Kitty Conquers the Big Bully by KayeC Jones

29921062

Kitty Conquers the Big Bully

author : KayeC Jones

pages : [ebook] 33

summary :

Meet Kitty, a daring and sweet little girl who won’t take anyone talking mean, especially neighborhood bullies who make all the kids cry.

Kitty finally goes face-to-face with the biggest bully who declares to her that girls can’t do anything but “clean and bake cookies”. Instead of flourishing fists and sinking to the bully’s level, she uses her wits and thinks her way out of the situation.

This wonderful story teaches everyone, not only girls, to believe in themselves and not to doubt their dreams and wishes, no matter what those dreams and wishes happen to be.

review :

I really enjoyed this book! It’s a unique twist on a positive story about how to react to a bully. Kitty is told that girls can’t do ‘anything’–sexism at its finest, which even kids are subjected to and need to know how to push back against. Kitty doesn’t for a moment doubt herself and instead begins to think of all of the different things that she is able to do, no matter what anyone else thinks or tells her.

An adorable little addition to the book is the appearance of her two stuffed animal friends, a bear and a bunny, on every page. If it was fun for me to look to see where they’d be or what they would be doing on each page, I’m sure children would love to point out where they are or discuss what they’re doing in relation to their good friend Kitty.

One thing that was slightly distracting about the text and that made me take a star off for my review was that sometimes the text suffered a little from straining to make the lines rhyme. Something the rhythm would be thrown off because it wouldn’t be a perfect rhyme or odd words would be used to successfully complete the rhyme pattern.

Overall, this is such a cute story. The pictures are adorable and then the message of the story is a great and empowering one. I would definitely recommend this picture book!

4/5 stars

 

 

 

5 stars · children's books · Uncategorized

Children’s Book Chat: The Umbrella by Jan Brett

196940

The Umbrella

author/illustrator : jan brett

pages : [hardcover] 32

summary :

A walk through the Costa Rican cloud forest provides a wonderfully lush setting for Jan Brett’s beloved animal illustrations. When Carlos drops his umbrella to climb a tree for a better view of the animals, they all cram into the banana-leaf umbrella as it floats by–from the little tree frog to the baby tapir to the big jaguar and more. It gets so crowded in the umbrella that there isn’t even enough room for a little hummingbird! So over the umbrella tumbles, everyone falls out, and poor Carlos comes back wondering why he didn’t see any animals all day.

In the spirit of Jan Brett’s The Mitten and The Hat, this cheerful tale of escalation will have readers poring over every illustration for the world of details Jan packs in. With its classic story, exotic jungle setting, and brilliantly colorful menagerie, The Umbrella is sure to take its place among Jan’s many family favorites.

review :

This book is incredibly adorable and captivating. Jan Brett’s gorgeous, painstaking illustrations definitely take the story above and beyond.

What I loved about this story was how the illustrations really play against and with the text. Brett designed the pages to not only show what is happening in the text directly on the page but to also hint at what animals will come next in the story as well as what is happening with Carlos as he climbs, when possibly the text isn’t mentioning him at all. I think those are cute details that will especially keep younger readers pouring over the images.

The story is really cool, too, in that it takes place in the jungle and mentions animals that I don’t think most children are typically taught about. They’ll learn something while reading and of course it won’t feel like the lesson is being forced upon them.

It’s also kind of funny to read about Carlos complaining that there are no animals (in the jungle of all places) where if he’d just gone back for his dang umbrella he would have seen ALL of the animals.

I really think Jan Brett’s work for children is awesome and the amount of time and effort it takes to make her paintings is amazing.

5/5 stars

 

4 stars · history · Uncategorized

Number the Stars is a children’s book you’ll never forget

number the stars cover

 

Number the Stars

author : lois lowry

pages : [paperback] 137

favorite character : annemarie

memorable quote :

She fell asleep, and it was a sleep as thin as the night clouds, dotted with dreams that came and went like the stars.

summary :

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

review :

I remember reading Number the Stars years ago, back in middle school, and being vaguely bored by it. Maybe because I preferred to read books with more magic, mystery, and general mayhem in them. Somehow a story about true historical accounts, things that could be much scarier than fiction, didn’t phase me. I’m thinking that’s because my teacher didn’t take full advantage of the chance to fully teach me about this book and time period.

This is a book great for students who are just beginning to learn about what happened during WWII, specifically in Denmark with the Jewish population. Although the main character herself isn’t Jewish, her best friend is, and through her Annemarie begins to realize that not only is not everyone the same, but that she can make a difference in preventing others from getting hurt because of the decisions of those in power.

I really think that this is a book that should be spread, to those who are old enough to comprehend the subject and if its handled delicately. It was a terrible time period, but it’s important history, and I think this book stands out as one of the best works to teach about it.

4/5 stars

4 stars · horror · young adult

Giveaway + Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

The Girl from the Well

release date : August 5

author : rin chupeco

about the author Rin Chupeco: Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. The Girl from the Well is her debut novel. Connect with Rin at www.rinchupeco.com.

pages : [hardcover] 272

favorite character : okiku

summary :

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

review :

I have a love/hate relationship with scary stories. I’m absolutely captivated by them during the day, when I’m reading them. Then at night I’m haunted by what I’ve read and the creatures that I can conjure up in my mind. That’s part of what made The Girl from the Well so terrifying for me; every portion of this horror story is so well-told that I could perfectly picture the spirits as well as the gruesome acts that occur within these pages. This book is not for the faint of heart; it isn’t like a horror movie where you can look away when things escalate. No, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the page once the truly creepy events of the book start.

From the very beginning I wasn’t sure of what to think of Okiku. We’ve all been taught by books and horror movies that terrifying-looking ghosts are out to get you, but what if there was one that was only out to avenge those who, like her, had been murdered? I’ve never read a story where the ghost is portrayed as a kind of murderous heroine. I loved reading on to find out more about the ghost’s past, especially because as a reader we witness firsthand her vengeance. Even knowing that it is a child killer being hunted doesn’t make the entire experience less shocking.

What I also found interesting was that a select few people in the world had the ability to see beings like Okiku. Depending on how old they are or where they originated, these people have different reactions to her. Through these encounters we also get to learn more about our narrator. Although she speaks in first person, she doesn’t willingly say much about herself and has been dead for so long that it’s obvious she’s lost a lot of what had made her human. She hardly understands people anymore and it’s worse because her appearance frightens those who can see her, even if she is not hunting them.

Even if this book did scare me and maybe kept me up for a few nights, I’ll forgive it because it had such an interesting storytelling structure, great characters, and I absolutely loved the ending. Sometimes when it comes to horror stories I feel like the end can only go one of two ways and The Girl from the Well chose neither option. The ending really surprised me but left me satisfied. That’s something that I tend to worry about when it comes to horror but my worries didn’t come true!

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a frightening story to keep them up at night.

4/5 stars

This book was amazing, so don’t you want a copy of your own? Enter to win a finished copy of The Girl from the Well! Click the Rafflecopter link below. US & Canada only.

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5 stars · fiction · series

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians #1

author : william joyce

pages : [hardcover] 228

memorable quote To understand pretending is to conquer all barriers of time and space.

favorite characters : north & katherine

summary :

Before SANTA was SANTA, he was North, Nicholas St. North—a daredevil swordsman whose prowess with double scimitars was legendary. Like any swashbuckling young warrior, North seeks treasure and adventure, leading him to the fiercely guarded village of Santoff Claussen, said to be home to the greatest treasure in all the East, and to an even greater wizard, Ombric Shalazar. But when North arrives, legends of riches have given way to terrors of epic proportions! North must decide whether to seek his fortune…or save the village.

When our rebellious hero gets sucked into the chaos (literally), the fight becomes very personal. The Nightmare King and his evil Fearlings are ruling the night, owning the shadows, and sending waves of fear through all of Santoff Clausen. For North, this is a battle worth fighting…and, he’s not alone. There are five other Guardians out there. He only has to find them in time.

review :

I wanted to start this book series as soon as I watched the movie based on it, Rise of the Guardians. Because it’s one of my favorite movies, I was excited to see what William Joyce was writing about these fantastical people who live in our imagination. This first book centers around North, the person Santa Claus was before he was Santa. Let’s just say that he’s everything you wouldn’t think he was, apart from caring for children. He’s big, tough, a master thief, a great fighter. But he has a big heart and is determined to stop the Fearlings as well as Pitch, the Nightmare King. The Boogeyman.

I just love the obvious amounts of thought and imagination that went into this story. The detail makes it seem like a fairy tale, something I’d tell to all the kids I know. It’s a special world that Joyce is creating, one in which all of these characters-the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny-all know each other and work together against evil. There are wizards and magic, children who save the day. There’s a little bit of everything in this first book and I’ve already gotten the second one to read, featuring E. Aster Bunnymund!

This is a quick read that took me less than a day to finish because it’s geared toward juvenile readers. I think that just about anyone can enjoy it because I loved it! Who doesn’t love the magic of these legendary figures and remember how we thought of them we we were children? I loved being able to return to them but in a  new way through this story and the ones that will come afterward.

I really recommend this book to anyone, especially those looking for a short and sweet story! To connect with your inner child and get a taste of Joyce’s fantastical writing, you need to pick up this book.

5/5 stars!

If you loved this book, you might also like 

books to movies · Uncategorized

Best Books of 2012

I reached my goal of reading 100 books in 2012! While I’m really proud of that accomplishment, that just makes choosing my favorites even harder! After all, I read so many that I’ve been looking forward to for ages and found so many new favorites! Stand alone books, starts to series . . complete series in one year! So much has been happening and I’m thankful great books to entertain myself with and to expand my way of perspective.

Best Zombie Novel Read : Warm Bodies (And I really, really can’t wait for the movie in February!!)

Book that Surprised Me Most with How Much I Loved It : The Name of the Star & Beta I expected them both to be okay reads and they each are now in my all-time favorites!

Best Series Starter : Shatter Me & The Immortal Rules

Book That Made Me Cry : The Fault in Our Stars

Best New Take on a Fairytale : Sisters Red

Best Book I Received for Review: Quaranteen

Best Additions to Series I Already Love : Ashen Winter & A Conspiracy of Kings


Series I Started and Finished : Anna Dressed in Blood & Girl of Nightmares

Best Stand Alone : Every Day

Book that Gives Me All the Feels: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

4 stars · fiction · history · romance · young adult

All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky

Author: Joe R. Lansdale

Pages [hardcover]: 240

favorite characters:
lloyd & jane

summary:

Jack Catcher’s parents are dead—his mom died of sickness and his dad of a broken heart—and he has to get out of Oklahoma, where dust storms have killed everything green, hopeful, or alive. When former classmate Jane and her little brother Tony show up in his yard with plans to steal a dead neighbor’s car and make a break for Texas, Jack doesn’t need much convincing. But a run-in with one of the era’s most notorious gangsters puts a crimp in Jane’s plan, and soon the three kids are hitching the rails among hoboes, gangsters, and con men, racing to warn a carnival wrestler turned bank robber of the danger he faces and, in the process, find a new home for themselves. This road trip adventure from the legendary Joe R. Lansdale is a thrilling and colorful ride through Depression-era America.

review:

 I have to say, this book surprised me in the best way! I’ve always loved learning about the Great Depression . . . ever since I first read the Kit Kittredge American Girl Doll books. Anyone know what I’m talking about? She lived during that time period, was one of my favorites, and so this has really stuck with me, from then until now. Of course, Jack’s story has almost nothing in common (except, you know, the years, and there’s also a girl who wants to become a reporter). Instead, it’s filled with gangsters and circuses, nice old ladies and evil policemen. Pretty much everything you could want in a book, right?

I liked Jack, and his vaguely reluctant friends, though I wasn’t sure I ever got a clear picture of who they were. Death was surrounding them, beating out their childhood innocence before they had a chance to grow out of it themselves, and they all have to deal with hardships no one should face. While this understandably changed their personalities and motives, I couldn’t understand why at some parts they still seemed flat. In others, they were bright, vivid, and anything I could want from a fictional character. Overall, I found myself cheering them on, wanting them to succeed. And be happy for once!

I loved how the various gangsters were incorporated into the plot, bringing in an entirely new level of danger. People tend to romanticize the whole criminal aspect of this era, and that can easily be done, but I like how inAll the Earth, Thrown to the Sky, the line between who is good and who is evil is often blurred. No one is completely good or bad and this is captured wonderfully in the plot.

This is another great book for those looking to read more historical fiction for young adults. That’s what attracted me in the first place, and I really enjoyed the ride. The ending, while disappointing at first, fit in brilliantly with the story and capped off a Depression-era quest for truth and justice.

FOR THE HISTORY BUFF INSIDE OF YOU. 4/5 stars

4 stars · books to movies · fiction · history · young adult

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Author: Brian Selznick

Pages [hardcover]: 533

memorable quote: Even if all the clocks in the station break down, thought Hugo, time won’t stop. Not even if you really want it to.

Like now.

favorite characters: Hugo & Etienne

summary:

Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist’s spell.

review:

 I was really looking forward to reading this book-mostly, I’m not going to lie, because of the pictures. Yeah, that’s right. There are so many of them, because Brian Selznick is going for a new feel in this book. Sort of a cinematic reading experience. Sounds crazy? Maybe it is, but it sort of works. Seeing pictures of a fight scene helps me picture everything better than simply reading about it, but some chases in books can be particularly descriptive, too. I can just say it was a good experience, the images were wonderful, and I hope to read more books like this in the future. Pictures shouldn’t be just for kids!

This book was a bit predictable, which disappointed me. I was looking for some conspiracy, some twist, that would shake me up and make me look at the book in a different light. I know not every novel can work out that way, but I don’t want to be able to see the end from before the middle of the book. While I kept reading on, that definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the entire thing.

This is really a quick read! I read it in a few days, but could have easily done so in a couple of hours. What with the big font, small pieces of writing, and page after page of illustrations, I was literally flipping through the pages to see what would happen next.

While I recommend this book, mainly for the unique premise, I wouldn’t see to hold your breath while waiting to read it. It’s a sweet little story, but not one that knocked my socks off.

PREDICTABLY PLOTTED. 3.5/5 stars

5 stars · Fantasy · fiction · romance · series · young adult

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs

Pages [hardcover]: 352

memorable quote: We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.

favorite characters: Olive & Jacob

summary:

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

review:

As soon as I saw that cover, I knew I was going to read the book. Is that a bad way to pick what you’re going to read next? Probably. Was it worth it? Yes, because there were plenty more wonderful pictures where that came from, all scattered throughout the book. I was tempted to sneak a peek at all of them before I began reading, but I decided not to. I think that was a good decision, because the pictures directly relate to what’s happening in the plot, usually when Jacob finds or thinks of a photo. That adds so much to the story!

Besides that, the characters are fantastic. I had no idea where Miss Peregrine’s was going to take me, and I loved every step of the ride. The beginning, I admit, I rushed over a bit, wanting to get into the more ‘peculiar’ part of the book. It was interesting in its own right-detailing how everyone and their mother thought Jacob was insane-but once the peculiar parts started, I couldn’t put the book down, and finished the rest that day.

Although there were a few parts of it that I didn’t like, and can’t really talk about without adding a few spoilers-which I’m not going to do-the book, overall, was great. I loved it. It’s something I’ll re-read, and those pictures…some of them were downright creepy. Some oddly beautiful. Some, I wouldn’t like to see if I was home alone, late at night . . .

And, finally-ugh! I didn’t know that there was going to be a sequel. Or, at least, it seems like there’s build-up for one. Not that I mind reading more about this, but I hate going into a novel, thinking it will be completely tied up at the end . . . and be left with as many questions as I started with. Oh, well.

PECULIARLY AWESOME. 5/5 stars

Check out the book trailer! I remembered that I saw it months ago. It’s probably the best trailer I’ve ever seen. And..ugh. More creepiness.