Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

January 19

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Recent Arrivals: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett Fever Cover

First line: So let’s set the scene, shall we? Hamlet. In a hotel. But not one of the [...]

Initial thoughts:

When I saw the back cover of this book I laughed. It was adorable, but unfortunately, it cannot be properly rendered in words. Here’s the next best thing: a photo! (Click it for larger, more legible image.)

Scarlett Fever Back Cover

Now I have to admit something…I haven’t read the first book, Suite Scarlett, but I want to. I want to because I’m eager to read Scarlett Fever and don’t want to interrupt the flow by reading the books out of order. I’ve already purchased Suite Scarlett and now am waiting patiently…or not so.

Anyhoo, this book looks like it’s going to be a hoot!

Book description:

Faced with her family’s financial woes, Scarlett has taken on the job of assistant/indentured servant to a newly minted theatrical agent, professional eccentric Mrs. Amy Amberson. Scarlett ends up at the back and call of a Broadway star (her own age!), dealing with territorial doormen, and walking a small dog with insecurity issues–all while starting her sophomore year at one of New York’s most rigorous high schools.

It doesn’t help that Scarlett’s brain is clouded with thoughts of Eric, her former sort-of boyfriend. She has thousands of things to say to him, if only he would call. And then there’s her new lab partner, the impossible Max, who’s on a quest to destroy what little mind she has left.

Meanwhile, her older brother, Spencer, has become New York City’s most controversial TV villain; her ever-reliable older sister, Lola, is sliding off the rails; and her younger sister, Marlene, most worryingly, has suddenly become…nice

But somehow Scarlett will prevail…right?

Book Details: 352 pages; Point; Pub. February 1, 2010

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December 27

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Sunday Sketch 1.0: An Unfinished Embrace

by Ann-Katrina

I’ve missed the Sunday Sketch feature and today, I was sketching up a storm. Unfortunately, I spent most of the day sketching random ideas that popped into my head rather than a scene or character from one of my current reads…which is why today’s Sunday Sketch is unfinished.

I decided to stop and post it up before the clock officially struck midnight so that it would still qualify as a Sunday Sketch.

Today, I Read... Sunday Sketch 12/27/2009

Initially I planned to do a scene from Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant fairytale—there was a scene that I thought would be perfect—but  I couldn’t quite get what was in my head onto paper, so I ended up going with something that was yelling to be sketched: a stolen embrace between Destiny and Seth from The Miles Between.

Although they never truly kiss, they had such a lovely low-key romance blossoming through the story that it warms my heart just thinking about it.

When I do finish it, I’ll post that up too. For now, I hope you enjoy what’s done so far.

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December 2

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Recent Arrivals: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence

First line: Louis and I see you nearly at the same time. In the woods, [...]

Initial thoughts:

I’ve seen this book a few times when out and about and every time, I pick it up. For some strange reason, however, I never end up buying it. There’s something haunting about the cover and description and ever since reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, I’ve been somewhat wary of books which can leave me too emotionally haunted after reading them. (Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them…I just have to build up my will first.)

After hearing so many good things about this book, and in general, feeling as though I need another deeply emotional and moving read, this topped my list. I’ve steeled myself and am ready to take this ride.

Book description:

It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn’s shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Calli’s mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, angry husband. now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter’s voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

Book Details: 384 pages; Mira; Pub. July 28, 2009

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October 14

Comments: 4

More Book Binging for the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon

by Ann-Katrina

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should just not be allowed out of the house anymore. Why? Because every time I leave, I come back with more books…even though I tell myself, no more—for goodness’ sake, your shelves are bowing under the weight. But do I listen? Noooo.

Anyhoo, I bet you can already guess where this post is going…

Yes, you’re right. I went out yesterday (with the intention of only being moral support for my sister on her shopping excursion) and bought more books. Three books and a magazine to be exact. (Four if you count the book I conned my sister into buying so that I could borrow it later.)

Dork Diaries CoverThe Miraculous Journey of Edward TulaneThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Now let me justify. I was reading up on some 24 hour read-a-thon tips and they mentioned getting some short(ish) books. Well, looking back at my reading pool, there weren’t too many short books so I decided I needed some. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is only about 275 pages and has been on my Want™ list for a day shy of forever. I’ve kept putting it off despite all the rave reviews it’s received.

I learned about the Dork Diaries a few months ago (the blog’s name escapes me at the moment) and thought the drawings were “oh, so clever!” and the story sounded adorable. My downfall was picking up the book and leafing through it and realizing that I absolutely had to have it. Luckily it’s only 282 pages (and written in bubbly print handwriting, which means it’s only about 150 printed pages, so even better).

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane was a complete impulse buy. I decided I needed to expand my horizons and pick up a book I normally wouldn’t get. After reading the back flap and having vague reminiscences of the Velveteen Rabbit, I decided to throw it in the cart. Thank goodness it’s only 210 short pages.

There you have it…three more books in the read-a-thon book pool (if I can restrain myself and wait to read them).

Now someone please come and bolt me up inside my home. And figure out how to set the child filters on my computer and block me from accessing Amazon (or any other online book dealer).

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September 1

Comments: 2

Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

by Ann-Katrina

A Certain Slant of Light Cover

Back Cover of A Certain Slant of Light

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead.

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen–terrified, but intrigued–is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.

Three Quick Points About A Certain Slant of Light

  • Point 1: Classic voice wrapped in a contemporary setting. It felt more like reading historical literature than contemporary fiction, despite its 21st century setting.
  • Point 2: James and Helen (once she gets a body) are bunnies. And I don’t mean cute. I mean they like to get down and dirty. A lot. And passionately.
  • Point 3: More questions than answers. After the final page is closed, a lot of questions about the meaning of life and death are still lingering in the air, unanswered.

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