Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Royalty Rules Wrap-Up

Today is the last day of the Royalty Rules Reading Challenge. Thanks to all who participated! It was my first challenge to host, and you all made it awesome because of your reviews.

If you want to finish up a book or review at the last minute, go ahead. I’ll leave the Mr. Linky up for a couple more days. It’s not like I even have all my reviews finished!

For this challenge I read Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale, by Donna Jo Naploli, Guineveres Gift, by Nancy McKenzie, and Primavera, by Mary Jane Beaufrand.

View a list of all reviews here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Pack

by Elisa Carbone

“When Akhil Vyas showed up at school in early October, I thought he was, without a doubt, the weirdest person on earth.” These are the words of Becky Tuttle, one of the most unpopular girls in the entire school. And Akhil is weird, with his scarred body and his strange refusals to sit in a chair. Becky, knowing Akhil will be the new target for criticism and bullying, decides to stay as far away from him as possible. But when Becky’s only friend, Omar, begins to talk to Akhil and eat lunch with him, Becky is at first resentful, but then thinks maybe Akhil’s not so bad after all. Though Becky, Akhil, and Omar all quickly become friends, Becky still wonders about Akhil’s secrets, and why the National Institute of Health is studying him. But soon after Akhil reveals his amazing secret, there are more urgent things to worry about—such as what Kyle Metzger, the racist school bully, is planning. With a little illegal action and a lot of guts, Becky, Akhil, and Omar (the “Three Misfit Musketeers”) stumble across a horrible plan, which they just might be able to stop before it’s too late.

Although this book was relatively short, it had a really great story, interesting characters, and a good moral. The Pack will have you eagerly reading until the very end (at which you’ll probably start sobbing). I’d definitely recommend it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Swan Kingdom

by Zoë Marriott

The wise women who practice the Old Ways have always looked after the Kingdom, keeping it fruitful, green, and peaceful. Just after her fifteenth birthday, Lady Alexandra must take the place of her recently deceased mother as protector of the land. But the Dark is creeping in, flashes of rot and greed are appearing. Alexandra’s own father is quickly besotted with—and betrothed to—Zella, a beautiful young woman who instantly charms everyone except Alexandra and her three brothers.
The night before their father is forever bound to Zella, the children decide they must take action, but they do not know the power of an angry witch. Hugh, David, and Robin flee the palace in the form of swans. It is up to Alexandra alone to unravel the spell that took her brothers from her, and then restore them to their true forms.

I really loved this book. Not so much for the storyline—which although good was not an amazingly unique retelling—but for Zoë Marriott’s wonderful writing style, which put me in mind of Monica Furlong’s Doran Trilogy (Juniper, Wise Child, and Colman). I could usually foresee slightly ahead of what would happen, but it still kept me reading because I wanted to see if my theory proved true. If you enjoy The Swan Kingdom, Ms. Marriott’s second book, titled Daughter of the Flames, will be released in the U.S. some time next year.

Third book read for Enna-Isilee’s Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Guinevere’s Gift

by Nancy McKenzie

Many years before she even glimpsed Arthur, Guinevere was an orphan living with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Elaine. Even now jealous of her beautiful elder sister, Guinevere’s aunt Alyse keeps Gwen on a tight rein while giving her own daughter her way. And although she’s a year younger than her cousin, Elaine is determined to find a suitor and get married. Then Sir Darric comes to visit, and seems to bring other troubles with him, like Elaine’s infatuation with him, and the disappearance of King Leodegrance’s livestock. Guinevere seems to be the only person who notices these things—but will she be able to save her cousin’s life and protect an ancient people?

This is the type of story I would have loved when I was several years younger, with a headstrong heroine who saves the day! Now it is still enjoyable, and I look forward to reading the next books in the Chrysalis Queen Quartet, but the writing was just a bit juvenile for my tastes. Perhaps because I had previously read Queen of Camelot and was expecting something a bit more like that. Still, Guinevere’s Gift is a nice introduction to Arthurian novels for younger readers, and a great tale for girls who like adventure.

Read and reviewed for my Royalty Rules Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Indie Girl

by Kavita Daswani

When she was eleven years old, Indira “Indie” Konkipuddi decided that she wanted to be a fashion reporter. At fifteen, she thinks the beginning of her dream is coming true when she sees the ad for a summer internship with Celebrity Style—one of the hottest fashion magazines in the country—and when the publisher, Aaralyn Taylor, visits her school on a career day. But the only thing Indie is offered is to babysit for Aaralyn’s two-year-old son. Indie takes the job, hoping that even though this isn’t what she’d hoped for, she can still get closer to Aaralyn and show off her vast knowledge about fashion. But soon Indie finds out that Celebrity Style is not doing as well as she thought, and also that Trixie Van Alden, one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, is having her wedding dress made in India. With this huge information, Indie thinks that maybe now she’ll have a chance to prove herself....

This book was somewhat predictable (as I expected it to be), but Indie is a pretty levelheaded character, and I was pleased that not everything worked out perfectly in the end. Indie Girl is definitely a good book that I didn’t have to think about much but still enjoyed reading.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fly on the Wall

How One Girl Saw Everything
by E. Lockhart

Sixteen-year-old Gretchen Yee wishes she had superhero powers so she could talk to the boy she likes, wishes she could keep her parents from separating, and to—be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room?! Of course, she doesn’t actually think it will happen when she wishes it aloud, but the next day she wakes up with six legs and the ability to see 180 degrees around her. She is also on a tile wall somewhere inside the Manhattan High School for the Arts.
When first grasping the fact that her impulsive wish came true Gretchen is not too happy, but then she begins to see the advantages; this is her chance to see how boys are when they’re not showing off in front of their girlfriends...and well, watching them change for gym isn’t bad, either.
But she doesn’t want to be trapped in the form of a vermin for life.
Fly on the Wall is a short and definitely unique novel, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny (even a couple days after I read it I was giggling). And although it was mostly humorous, it also contained some of Gretchen’s startling realizations that were actually pretty deep. Though I have never read any of the author’s other books because they don’t look my style, I’ll definitely check out a couple others after reading this one.

Ages sixteen and up for language and because Gretchen really does see (and describe—sometimes in a bit too much detail), ahem, everything there is to see in the boys’ locker room. Depending on the maturity of the reader, you could probably go younger. I just don’t want anyone to be unnecessarily offended.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Curse Dark as Gold

by Elizabeth C. Bunce

I’d been hearing a lot about this book—both positive and negative—that was making me want to read it a lot. It took me a while (had to request that my library buy a copy and then wait for it to be processed) but I was finally able to read it, and I’m so glad I got to.

The book opens with a funeral; Charlotte Miller and her sister Rosie are morning their father under a dark sky, which Charlotte believes signifies the beginning of the end—of life as she knows and it and of Stirwaters mill. But she is determined to stick it out as long as she can, despite her controlling uncle and the belief that a female can’t manage a factory...and the streak of bad luck the mill has undergone recently. Superstitious workers say it’s the Stirwaters Curse, but that’s just foolishness in Charlotte’s mind. How much will have to be taken from her before she accepts that there is something very strange afoot?

A Curse Dark as Gold was really good; I loved how it was so much of a retelling and—past the basic storyline of spun gold and the spinner’s discovered name—wasn’t at all predictable. With a first novel this good, I can’t wait to see what other golden stories Ms. Bunce will spin.

Once you’ve read the book, don’t miss Miss Erin’s excellent interview with the author.

Second book read for Enna Isilee’s Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Mutating Meme

Both Liv and Medeia Senka tagged me with this meme, which is kind of hard to answer since I was tagged by two--one mutated, one not. So I combined both their questions plus will add one of my own:

-Copy and paste the questions, then fill in your answers. Post this on your blog, livejournal, etc. There’s a catch, though. You have to change/add a question from the meme you were tagged with.
- Post the rules.
-Link to the person who tagged you.
-Tag 3 people by commenting on their blog.
-Link back to the original to see how much it has mutated.

1.) If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
I kind of already did that (when I was six), although it was just altering the pronunciation from the Americanized one to the original from its place of origin. So I'm happy with my name.

2.) If you were writing a book, what would your lead character's name be?
If I were ever going to finish the book I started, the main character's name would be Vanessa. If I ever write anything else that might eventually be a novel, I'd have to think about it; I like for there to be hidden meanings in the names I give characters.

3.) What is your least favorite food?
Venison burgers, probably. Last time I was in the same house while they were being cooked I had to hide in my room to keep from gagging. I can't imagine eating one.

4.) Are there any songs that get stuck in your head really easily? How do you get them out?
Yes, there are! Usually ones that suck like most Christmas carols and a lot of oldies. Sometimes annoying classical pieces. I get them out by humming either a song I like (Breakaway, This One's for the Girls, Le nozze di Figaro and Il barbiere di Siviglia overtures, Dvořák's 8th or 9th symphonies), hopefully another one that will get stuck in my head. Or I just turn on the radio.

5.) If you could be (or are) a mythical creature, what would it be (or what are you)?
I would be a dragon! Flying and being able to breathe fire on people would be fun.

6.) What do colors taste like?

7.) Which Disney princess is your favorite?
Eew, Disney's animation?! None of them, thank you. They're all helpless little perfect-looking sticks.

8.) Name three (or more if you like) fawesome words.
Indefatigable, grackle, zephyr.

9.) What kind of toothpaste do you use?
Thom's of Maine, sometimes other brands if I'm going somewhere and only want a small tube.

10.) If you could chose one superpower, what would it be?
Mind reading, although it might be kind of scary sometimes.

11.) What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Cold cereal, but only if we have real milk. A lot of times the only options are soy, rice, or
almond milk. I only like certain brands of those--the kinds that don't taste like a bean, old dish water, or like someone took water they'd soaked a Popsicle stick with no Popsicle on it in and gave it to me to drink.

I tag Gem, Felicity, and Enna Isilee.