Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

February 24

Comments: 1

Short Story Review: The Imaginary Friend by D.W. Cropper

by Ann-Katrina

Bonechillers cover The Imaginary Friend is a 16 page short story from the anthology Bonechillers: 13 Twisted Tales of Terror by D.W. Cropper.

Short Synopsis

After moving into an old house on Hudson street, Henry, the youngest, makes a new friend named Bonnie. His parents believe Bonnie is imaginary, but Henry’s older sister suspects otherwise…and she’s right.

My Thoughts on The Imaginary Friend

There was an air of familiarity to the story—family moving into an old house with a restless spirit seeking something it once lost—but it didn’t feel stale.

Although I could easily predict that Henry’s imaginary friend wasn’t imaginary and that bad things would happen, I still held my breath at certain sections and even gasped at a certain revelation about Bonnie. That’s how this story garnered my respect, because it’s not easy to write a truly creepy story while still respecting your audience’s sensibilities.

Rather than rely on blood and guts for scares, Cropper uses vivid language that gets under your skin and for truly young (or sensitive) readers it could cause nightmares.

Final rating: B+

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July 21

Comments: 2

Another Book Binge, and This Time I Didn’t Even Need to Leave Home

by Ann-Katrina

Remember how I was saying it’s nearly impossible to leave the house and not come home with a bunch of books? Well, it seems that I don’t even need to leave anymore. The books, they will find me. And I think I kind of like it this way.

Two books came in for review on Monday. First up courtesy of Simon & Schuster is a middle grade fantasy adventure titled Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation by Matt Myklusch. Second is Passing Strange by Daniel Waters (that cover is the UK version, btw), third book in the Generation Dead saga, courtesy of Price Minister.

Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation by Matt MykluschPassing Strange by Daniel Waters

The next two just arrived two, courtesy of the UPS lady. I ordered them from Amazon after they sat in my “to be ordered later” shopping cart for a few months. Both are a set of short stories for children. First is The Devil’s Storybook by Natalie Babbitt and the second is Half-Human compiled and edited by Bruce Coville.

The Devil's Storybook by Natalie BabbittHalf-Human

That, combined with the other books on my shelf waiting to be read should keep me busy for a little while.

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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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