Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

June 1

Comments: 1

Review: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

by Ann-Katrina

The Gardener Cover

Title: The Gardener
Author: S. A. Bodeen
ISBN: 978-0312370169
Story Length: 240 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction

Back Cover of The Gardener

Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener.

Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he’s longed for most?

Three Quick Points About The Gardener

  • Point 1: Ample material with which to start a discussion. The book deals quite a bit with the changing global environment and its ramifications for the human race.
  • Point 2: Spotty character development. Mason, as a character, started out well enough, but when Laila was introduced the character development faltered and stalled.
  • Point 3: Plot by numbers. The unfolding plot was too convenient, even for a middle grade read, and a side effect was a problem with consistency. Continue reading »

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May 25

Comments: 1

Recent Arrivals: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So Popular Party Girl by Rachel Renee Russell

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So Popular Party Girl by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl

First line: I can’t believe this is happening to me!

Initial thoughts:

*SQUEE* happy dance. :)

I read the first Dork Diaries installment and loved it. It reminded me of what is was like to be young and in school and how every little thing that went wrong was the absolute end of the world and how awkward it felt to talk to the boy all the girls wanted to be with and just how traumatizing in general middle school could be.

Dork Diaries Packaging So when I saw the package from Simon & Schuster waiting for me, I did a little happy dance.

It even came in a cute wrapping with a Ring Pop. A RING POP! (I haven’t had one of those since I was in school.)

I can’t wait to dig into this book and I’m hoping it will be just as much fun as the first one.

Book description:

In this second installment of the Dork Diaries series, Nikki is starting to adjust to life at her new school with her awesome friends Chloe and Zoey at her side. Her crush, Brandon, even asks her to be his lab partner for "Structure of Mitochondria," a seriously awesome development.

But after Nikki overhears mean girl MacKenzie bragging that Brandon’s going to take her to the Halloween dance and they’re dressing as Edward and Bella, a bummed Nikki signs on to spend Halloween at a kids’ party for her little sister, Brianna. It’s only after Nikki makes the commitment that she finds out MacKenzie was lying and Nikki’s dream of going to the party with Brandon could be a reality. Now she’s got two parties to juggle, plus plenty of other trials and tribulations along the way, ranging from creating a fairy repellent spray to ease Brianna’s ongoing fear of the tooth fairy and trying to stifle a nasty case of the hiccups at her dad’s ex-boss’s funeral. Life for Nikki Maxwell is never dull!

Book Details: 288 pages; Aladdin; Pub. June 8, 2010

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April 10

Comments: 4

Read-a-Thon Update 2: Sister Light, Sister Dark

by Ann-Katrina

Looking at the clock, I can’t help but remark that I’m moving along at a snail’s pace…but I’m OK with that; I just remind myself this isn’t a race, I’m in this thing to have fun.

Sister Light, Sister Dark But pushing forward, I wanted to take a moment to dispense some notes on Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen.

First impressions: This book is far more feral than I expected; it’s certainly for mature young readers or those who have an adult to discuss it with afterward. It’s also written in a distinctive style that I’m not certain whether I like or dislike. Don’t get me wrong, the prose is excellent, it’s more about how the sections are divided.

It’s the story of a child destined for greatness and the legend surrounding her, but it’s interrupted by scholarly sections which are analysing or expounding on the story’s progression, thereby hampering (my) reading. It’s difficult to explain without giving an example (which will have to wait until I have time to put together a proper post on it). Just think of it like a text book in a certain sense.

Right now, I’m moving on to Siberia by Ann Halam and I hope it’s more straightforward in its writing.

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April 8

Comments: 2

Recent Arrivals: Puppet Master by Joanne Owen

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Puppet Master by Joanne Owen

Puppet Master

First line: Standing alone on Prague’s Old Town Square, a small dark-haired girl with eyes like emeralds and five freckles sprinkled on her nose dances from one foot to the other to keep warm.

Initial thoughts: I don’t remember at which blog I read the initial review (my sincerest apologies), but as soon as I finished, I went straight to Amazon and pre-ordered the book. (I know I could have ordered a copy from a UK seller, but I actually liked this new cover over the previous.) Well, today it finally arrived–more than a month early yay!–and I can’t wait to read it. I already flipped through it and I have to say, it looks like it will be a full-fledged visual reading experience.

photo 3photo 2photo 4photophoto 5puppet-master-pic

(Sorry about the image quality. They were quick snaps with my phone.)

One small gripe I do have, though, is the binding quality. It’s tough to open, which means spine-creases ar inevitable, and it also feels as though if the spine is creased sheets would start falling out. Such a shame for such a visually appealing book.

Book description:

From riches to rags, Milena is growing up in the city of Prague at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents’ once prosperous theater lies in disrepair, and her life seems to be in ruins since the fateful night her father died in a tragic accident and her beautiful, talented mother went missing. Milena has never lost hope that her mother will come back. The day she meets the flamboyant Puppet Master and his menacing twin protégés, Zdenko and Zdenka, under the shadow of Prague’s famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town square, is, coincidentally, the date of her mother’s birthday. It’s also the day Milena’s grandmother chooses to reveal to her the story of her ancestors—and of her legacy. Perhaps it’s not such a coincidence?

Book Details: 240 pages; Orion Children’s Books; Pub. May 1, 2010

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April 7

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Waiting on Wednesday: Men Are Obsolete. Utopia or…?

by Ann-Katrina

Thanks to Jill at Breaking the Spine, I present another edition of Waiting on Wednesday…

Nomansland Nomansland by Lesley Hauge is scheduled for publication June 22, 2010 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

Sometime in the future, after devastating wars and fires, a lonely, windswept island in the north is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men.

When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there.  What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

This description reads like something I could see as an episode of the Outer Limits (a show which I love and mourn the loss of as I watch old re-runs). Come to think of it, I believe I have seen an episode similar to this, but with grown people. Something tells me, if all is done well, I’m going to enjoy this book when it comes out. :D

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