Thursday, February 28, 2013

Movie Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures
Alcon Ent./Warner Bros.
Rated: PG-13
124 Minutes
Movie Description:
Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.
This movie was good. I really liked it and will probably see it again...even though they did change some BIG things from the book!
All right, without trying to ruin this for anyone, I will try to disclose how I felt about the changes without giving too much away. Let's see if I can do it!

One: A huge revelation about a character's secret identity is revealed about one third of the way into the movie...allowing viewers to build the story upon that reveal...BUT I loved how in the book, I was pretty sure that was going on, but did not find out for sure until the LAST third of the book. I thought it was much more dramatic in the book, though the revelation scene in the movie was well done, too!

Two: Although the movie still features one of the coolest libraries I've ever seen in fiction, I was saddened that they combined two characters in the movie, cutting out the awesome librarian from the book series. I suppose this was to make it easier for viewers to keep track of characters, but it also inadvertantly changed Ethan's mother's backstory in a way I wasn't too fond of... *and* the library itself is a little downplayed in the movie. *My librarian heart is breaking.*

Three: When Lena must finally face what is going to happen on her sixteenth birthday, she decides to handle the situation all on her own. A HUGE change from the book. This change sets in motion a bunch of littler changes, including the entire moral character of one of her cousins, and allowed for a very different ending to seem to happen. Thankfully, in truly movie magic fashion, and a very dramatic way, the moviemakers pulled through at the last moment and things work out again...though it will make for an interesting start to the second movie...

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and think that people who have not read the book will love it. I think readers will probably bemoan the same things that I did, but also realize that this made for a great *movie* experience. And now, I have to read book two!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: The False Prince

The False Prince
by Jennifer Nielsen
The Ascendance Trilogy, book one
Book Description:
In this first book in a remarkable trilogy, an orphan is forced into a twisted game with deadly stakes.

Choose to lie...or choose to die.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
Danger, political intrigue, secrets, lies... Sage's story is full of suspense and moments that may shock readers. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book...and really loved the way the story was presented, when the "big reveal" came, I wasn't that surprised.  Despite that, I really enjoyed Sage's character, thought the storyline was excellent, and was left clamboring for the next book. All in all, a winner.
Terri's Thoughts: I thought the dialogue was smart and that Sage was a strong character throughout most of the book.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Scarlet

by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles, book two

Book Description:
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
I loved Cinder so much that I was actually a little nervous to read this book. However, I need not have been worried! Meyer manages to blend both storylines so well that both Cinder and Scarlet become and stay compelling heroines. This gives me great hope that the series will continue to be EPIC.
Anyway... Cinder's storyline continues to be intriguing and at the moment heartbreaking. In the chapters that alternated (one for every two or three Scarlet chapters) interspersed into the larger story, we get to see Cinder escape from prison and continue to learn more about her back story. As much as we learned here, I can't wait for the next book (Cress, 2014) to find out even more - what Cinder can do, who can help her, how exactly she became who she is today.
Scarlet's story not only brought in new characters, but also added dimension to Cinder's tale. We find out more about Queen Levana's plans and what she has in place on earth. Wolf's character is both there for his overall "hunkiness" and to help move that plotline along rather nicely. You can really see Meyer's talent as a storyteller and worldbuilder. Things that seemingly have no connection end up building upon one another to create a more fleshed world.
A fantastic addition to the Lunar Chronicles series.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Me, Him, Them, and It

Me, Him, Them, and It
by Caela Carter

Book Description:  
When Evelyn decided to piss off her parents with a bad reputation, she wasn't planning to ruin her valedictorian status. She also wasn't planning to fall for Todd-the guy she was just using for sex. And she definitely wasn't planning on getting pregnant. When Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn's not sure where to go. Can a distant mother, a cheating father, an angry best friend, and a (thankfully) loving aunt with adopted daughters of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?
This book was just what I needed to get me out of my mini reading funk. I think I'd read too many fantasy based book recently, so I knew I needed some good realistic fiction. Me, Him, Them, and It fit the bill perfectly!
Carter depicts a teenage girl who makes a mistake and then must pay the consequences for it. I really liked how Evelyn was not just some "bad" girl who accidentally winds up pregnant...she is a future valedictorian rebelling against her parents in the worst possible way. She felt like a hugely well-rounded character to me. In fact, I loved most of the characters. They were flawed and realistic and even if some might not have been fully developed, they at least represented a really varied cast of characters.
Seeing the confused and scared way that Evie reacts over the nine months felt "real." I couldn't imagine what I would have done in that situation and I thought Carter did an excellent job conveying all the emotional turmoil that erupted in Evie's life. This is a book that pulls no punches emotionally. I cried my way through the ending. Heartbroken, awed, and then optimistically, yet cautiously joyous.
I found myself comparing this book to Holly Cupala's Tell Me a Secret. They both cover an unexpected teen pregnancy in a very realistic and emotionally evocative way. If you liked that one, check this one out...and if you like this one, check out that one next!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Goblin Secrets

Goblin Secrets
by William Alexander

Book Description:
In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around—much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie’s only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.

Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan—because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river.

I picked up this book originally because not only did it win last year's National Book Award, but also because as a fantasy reader at heart, the premise just sounded too good to pass up! As I read, though, I found that I was having a hard time keeping interest in this book. It has a lot of really fascinating fantasy elements - there's a tie-in to the Baba Yaga myth, goblins, masks with power - but I think it was just the storytelling itself that couldn't grab me. I was a little disappointed that I had to push myself to finish this one.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Drama

by Raina Telgemeier

Book Description:
Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she's a terrible singer. Instead she's the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!
I have to admit, I'm not a huge graphic novel reader and that's partly because I have a little bit of trouble following the panels in the manga style ones. I do, however, occasionally find some graphic novels that I truly adore and both of Raina Telgemeier's fall into this category.
I love the colors, the drawing styles and they are easy to follow! While her first one, Smile, was somewhat autobiographical, Drama is just a cool middle school story. Callie loves theater and wants to become a set designer someday for Broadway. Seeing her passion made me think back about all the plays and musicals I've seen and how important the stage set can actually be...
I also loved seeing her embrace her passion and not be ashamed at all of being into a "dorky" club. It was great to see all the drama "geeks." I was once a drama geek so I loved that connection! Callie's friends each had their own passion and none of them hesitated to do the very best they could in their own facet of the show. 
The friendships and crushes seemed very realistic and reminiscent of how I remember feeling about people and interacting with them in my own middle school years. I really thought this was a great read that left me smiling. I would love to read more about Callie and her friends. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Three Times Lucky

Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage
Book Description:
Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Though this book is aimed for a slightly younger audience, it is a GREAT read. 
It has murder, it has has a killer storm, it has a kidnapping, it has HUMOR.  There is action around every corner in this story and Mo has a funny little sarcastic remark about every bit of it.
Mo is one of my favorite narrators to date. She is smart and a smart-alek.  She doesn't take nothing from nobody and when she decides she's going to do something she gets it done!
Try this one out. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey
by Jerry Spinelli
Book Description:
Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A place and a time, when childhood is at its best: games to play, bikes to ride, experiences to be had. There are no adults in Hokey Pokey, just kids, and the laws governing Hokey Pokey are simple and finite. But when one of the biggest kids, Jack, has his beloved bike stolen—and by a girl, no less—his entire world, and the world of Hokey Pokey, turns to chaos. Without his bike, Jack feels like everything has started to go wrong. He feels different, not like himself, and he knows something is about to change. And even more troubling he alone hears a faint train whistle. But that's impossible: every kid knows there no trains in Hokey Pokey, only tracks.
I had a really hard time with this book. When you start reading it, it's as if you are waking up and have entered a dream.  Nothing is explained very well and Spinelli reveals the way things work veerrrryyyy slowly.
At first I really had no idea what Hokey Pokey was supposed to be - why were the kids there, what IS this place?  I was SO confused. It took until more than halfway through the book for me to understand enough to realize that Hokey Pokey was a metaphor for the land of childhood!
Not the book for me. :/

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm
by Kate Messner
Book Description:
In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms have become a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her meteorological engineer father, Jaden Meggs is surprised at the strides her father's company StormSafe, has made with custom shelters that keep her family safe in even the worst of storms. At her exclusive summer science camp, Eye On Tomorrow, Jaden meets Alex, a boy whose passion for science matches hers. Together, they discover that her father's company is steering storms away from the expensive neighborhoods and toward the organic farming communities that are in competition with his bio-engineered food company, NatureMade. Jaden must confront her father, but when she does, she uncovers a terrifying family secret and must call on both her scientific knowledge and her faith to save the people she loves most from one of her father's monster storms.

This was a really cool science fiction thriller. Messner was able to give readers a good amount of weather based information without starting to sound at all like you were sitting in class.  The action just kept coming! 

The storms that Jaden, her friends, and family have to face in this book were downright scary! I was a little terrified to look out the windows as I read, for fear of seeing a funnel cloud forming... The idea that that weather might be being controlled...the possibilities were creepy.

I was on the edge of my seat for most of this book and found that I read it much faster than I'd expected! It was quick and interesting.  Something different. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review: Wonder

by R.J. Palacio
Book Description:
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
I really enjoyed this book.  It is interesting and heartfelt and sends a great message to just be kind to other people.  Poor Auggie has a face that sends others screaming, but when he starts regular school, he finds that once people get to know him they can get past that and he makes some wonderful friends. 
I found this book to be very realistic in that not everyone came to love Auggie.  Some of the kids he met were still jerks and so were their parents.  Some of the things that people said to Auggie were exactly the type of things that I could imagine people saying in real life.  What I loved, though, was the people who came to stand up for Auggie...and the people that learned from Auggie. 
This book is mostly told from Auggie's perspective, making it heartbreaking at times to read, but it is also told at points from the perspectives of his sister, his best friend, and others in his life. This added a bunch of really cool viewpoints that made the story much more real, as well.
Recommended to anyone that likes real-life stories and books that explore family relationships. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's On My Hold List?

Welcome back to
"What's on My Hold List?"
This is the February 2013 edition!

One of the most beautiful things about working at our Library is that I know what's coming out and what we'll be getting and I can put the books on hold right away!
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles, book two
by Veronica Rossi

*If you click on each title, it will take you to the book on for more information. :)*
So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...
what are YOU waiting for??

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms
by Morgan Rhodes
Book Description:
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
Intricate storylines weave together into a tale of magic, betrayal, greed, and even murder. Three kingdoms on the brink of war... four teens struggling to survive and prosper. Each teen has something to fight for, and unfortunately, that brings each of them up against one another as they work for the interests of their own kingdoms.

Throughout, there is the hunt for magic. Once acknowledged as existing in all the kingdoms, magic has now seemingly disappeared. Each kingdom believes that if they can harness the magic, they will be triumphant...and the ancient Watchers who keep tabs on all are desperate to retrieve the magic that they've lost. One teen is the key to it all.

Politics, murder, secrets, war, romance...this book has it all. Rhodes masterfully built an intriguing world and left me breathless at the end. I cannot wait until this story picks up in book two! I NEED to see where everyone goes from the cliffhanger at the end... 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Safekeeping

by Karen Hesse

Book Description:
Radley’s parents had warned her that all hell would break loose if the American People's Party took power. And now, with the president assassinated and the government cracking down on citizens, the news is filled with images of vigilante groups, frenzied looting, and police raids. It seems as if all hell has broken loose.

Coming back from volunteering abroad, Radley just wants to get home to Vermont, and the comfort and safety of her parents. Travel restrictions and delays are worse than ever, and by the time Radley’s plane lands in New Hampshire, she’s been traveling for over twenty-four hours. Exhausted, she heads outside to find her parents—who always come, day or night, no matter when or where she lands—aren’t there.

Her cell phone is dead, her credit cards are worthless, and she doesn’t have the proper travel papers to cross state lines. Out of money and options, Radley starts walking. . . .
This was a super-quick read. Once you get past the first small section, almost every page has a picture on it. The pictures, taken by Hesse herself, add to the story, propelling the reader more deeply into the wilderness and Radley's desperate situation.
This was a book that gave me the shivers. It was one that was very realistic and had such potential to actually occur that I found myself wondering what I would do if our government suddenly went into a military lockdown! I'm pretty sure that I would just end up hiding and hoping for the best. I don't think I'd be as brave as Radley, walking all the way to Canada!!
The only issue I had with this book was that Radley's situation seemed just a hair unrealistic at the end. Once she gets her life back under control, there is nothing then stopping her from doing what she chooses to do. While the entire book had been about Radley overcoming horrific obstacles to do what she felt was right and to survive, suddenly it seemed just a bit too easy.