Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

May 17

Comments: 4

(Overflowing) Mailbox Monday

by Ann-Katrina

I haven’t done a Mailbox Monday post in a long while because I’ve been giving the books individual spotlights as they come into my home through my recent arrivals series. But I’ve been slacking a bit and am many, many books behind; doing an individual post for each would take days. So, I’m just going to do a quick round-up post highlighting all the new additions to my TBR pile.

The Deadly SisterEverlastingLife, AfterI Now Pronounce You Someone ElseRumor Has ItSelloutSilent ScreamStrange NeighborsStill MissingThe Unwritten RuleLingerThe Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer Everlasting by Angie Frazier Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell Sellout by Ebony Joy Wilkins
Silent Scream by Karen Rose Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott Linger by Maggie Stiefvater The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

I’ve already finished (and loved!) Still Missing by Chevy Stevens; the review is forthcoming. I actually set aside Stolen by Lucy Christopher in order to read it. The two books run along similar lines—kidnap victims and the aftermath, though Stolen is for a younger audience and Still Missing is purely adult. Another difference between the two is the pacing: Stolen is slow going and Still Missing flew by at breakneck speed.

After finishing Still Missing, I decided to try my hand at Stolen again and after another thirty agonizingly slow pages, I decided to set it aside (…for the second time) and picked up Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell. While this book took more than a few chapters to get into, I’ve warmed up to the story and the characters. Frankly, though, the Anglicisms are tripping me up and I’m not overly fond of the writing style—but the story is shaping up to be a good one.

And a quick note about the cover of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson…the image does it no justice. It’s absolutely beautiful and the blue is a lovely hologram-y type of material that reflects and changes as it bends and shifts. Words cannot describe.

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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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March 15

Comments: 5

Fell Off the Book Buying Abstinence Bandwagon and Hit the Pavement Hard (But It Felt So Good)

by Ann-Katrina

I spent yesterday out and about with family and two of the places we ended up landing were Costco and Target. Costco and Target, people. How is someone supposed to resist the draw of discounted books staring her in the face? How, I ask?!?

(Obviously I was weak and ended up with three new books: Tales of Old Florida edited by Frank Oppel, 1,001 Dreams by Jack Altman, and Under the Covers and Between the Sheets by C. Alan Joyce & Sarah Janssen)

Tales of Old Florida1,001 DreamsUnder the Covers and Between the Sheets

Each of the books made it into my cart after I picked them up on a lark and flipped through them and decided they were sufficiently interesting. I would have grabbed more, but I was distracted by shiny pens stopped myself just in time.

And remember my slight obsession with journals? Well, I also came home with some new journals and a notebook.

Banana Notebook and JournalsBanana Notebook and Journals

This is actually a set of three small journals (5.75”x8.25”) by the Banana Paper Company with ruled, grid, and blank pages and a large ruled notebook, by the same company, with dates atop the pages.

Ruled Journal PagesGrid Journal PagesBlank Journal PagesBanana Paper Notebook Pages

These pictures, unfortunately, do not do justice to the gorgeous natural grain, specks, and color of the paper. You can, however, click on them for a slightly larger view.

There were even journals made from stone(!), how awesome is that? I would have grabbed a couple if my sister composure did not grip me and drag me out of the stationary aisle.

And I’m love with another journal I snagged, Native Flowers by Jill Bliss. The floral design and subdued colors make me smile inside.

Native Flowers JournalNative Flowers Journal Inside Page

Native Flowers Journal Inside Unruled PageNative Flowers Journal Inside Grid Page

We also made a 5 minute detour to Office Max, and I didn’t make it out unscathed, but at least I only left with a few essential (or so I prefer to believe) office supplies and…

Fast Company Magazine

a Fast Company magazine because (and this is a secret) I think Mark Zuckerberg is pure geek-hotness…

New Sharpies

…and two new Sharpies (the clickie kind, w00t!) in orange and hot pinkish red.

But the fun did not stop there. I decided to check my mail when I got home, because The Lazies™ kidnapped me Saturday, and what should be in there waiting for me? Two shiny new ARCs courtesy of Simon & Schuster. (The Lazies™ obviously did not have my best interests at heart.)

Simon & Schuster ARCs

The ribbon holding them together was so cute, I had to snap a picture. The attached card reads:

Bound tight for your protection…
But nothing will stop you from falling in love.

And since I know you’re anxious to know which two books they are…

Claire de Lune by Christine JohnsonShade by Jeri Smith-Ready

From the back of Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Torn between two destinies…

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she’s the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: She’s a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire’s new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever…

And from the back cover of Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan’s band playing a crucial gig and Aura’s plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend’s life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan’s sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He’s gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and talk to ghosts. This mysterious ability had always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because Dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn’t help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura’s relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura’s heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.

These two books look awesome.

Sunday was a very fine day, indeed.

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February 8

Comments: 2

Recent Arrivals: Natalie Babbitt Galore!

by Ann-Katrina

When I was younger, I caught the tail end of a movie called Tuck Everlasting. It looked beautiful. And when I found out it was based on a book, I knew I wanted to read that book.

Years drifted by and despite wanting to watch the movie from the beginning and read the book, it slipped my mind. Now I’m making up for it…it seems, in spades. But something tells me I’ll enjoy Babbitt’s style, so I’m going out on a limb and stockpiling.

Tuck Everlasting The Eyes of the AmaryllisGoody Hall The Search for Delicious

Tuck Everlasting: Is eternal life a blessing or a curse? That is what young Winnie Foster must decide when she discovers a spring on her family’s property whose waters grant immortality. Members of the Tuck family, having drunk from the spring, tell Winnie of their experiences watching life go by and never growing older.

But then Winnie must decide whether or not to keep Tuck’s secret—and whether or not to join them on their never-ending journey.

The Eyes of the Amaryllis: When the brig Amaryllis was swallowed in a hurricane, the captain and the crew were swallowed, too. For thirty years the captain’s widow, Geneva Reade, has waited, certain that her husband will send her a message from the bottom of the sea. But someone else is waiting, too, and watching her, a man called Seward. Into this haunted situation comes Jenny, the widow’s granddaughter. The three of them, Gran, Jenny, and Seward, are drawn into a kind of deadly game with one another and with the sea, a game that only the sea knows how to win.

Goody Hall: An out of work actor, Hercules Feltwright, stumbles into a job tutoring Willet Goody, the only child of a widow living in a large, lonely house. Willet quickly involves his tutor in the search to discover the truth surrounding his father. The mystery unfolds with the discovery of hidden treasure, a gypsy séance, and the frightening exploration of a tomb of Midas Goody.

The Search for Delicious: Twelve-year-old Gaylen, the king’s messenger, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first, it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary.

Then Gaylen’s quest leads him to unusual characters, including a minstrel who sings about a mermaid child, and Ardis, who might save the kingdom from havoc. And soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.

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February 6

Comments: 4

Recent Arrivals: The Metamorphoses by Ovid

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 Metamorphoses by Ovid

The Metamorphoses Selected Stories in Verse by Ovid

First line: Apollo, fresh from slaying the Python with [...]

Initial thoughts: A lover of Greek and Roman mythology I am. It’s been a while since I’ve read some classic mythologies and I figured it was time.

Although I’ve studied a few different texts on the subject, I wasn’t properly acquainted with the works of Ovid.

For the price ($3US @ Amazon) and selection (I have an especially weak spot for the stories of Apollo & Daphne, Pygmalion, and Orpheus & Eurydice), I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read some of his verses and compare and contrast them with my other collections.

The Metamorphoses (in entirety), along with many other classics, is available for download from Project Gutenberg, however, I decided to get a bound copy because I wanted to compare the various translations. Plus, I loved the cover.

Book description:

One of ancient Rome’s most celebrated poets, Ovid (43 B.C.–A.D. 18) wrote during the reign of Augustus. His works reflect a sentiment of art for pleasure’s sake, without ethical or moral overtones, which perhaps accounts for his enduring popularity. For more than two thousand years, readers have delighted in Ovid’s playful eloquence; his influence on other writers has ranged from Dante and Chaucer to Shakespeare and Milton, and scenes from his stories have inspired many great works by Western artists.

This selection of thirty stories from the verse translation by F. A. Wright of Ovid’s famous work, The Metamorphoses, does full justice to the poet’s elegance and wit. All of the tales involve a form of metamorphosis, or transformation, and are peopled by mythological gods, demigods, and mortals: Venus and Adonis, Pygmalion, Apollo and Daphne, Narcissus, Perseus and Andromeda, Orpheus and Eurydice, the Cyclops, and Circe, among others.

Although most of the stories did not originate with Ovid, it is quite possible that had he not written them down, these oral traditions would have been forever lost–and with them, a vast and valuable amount of Greco-Roman culture. This collection of the poet’s best and most beloved narrative verses reflect the vitality of classical mythology.

Book Details: 126 pages; Dover; Pub. May 2003

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