Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

February 25

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Recent Arrivals: Abandon by Meg Cabot

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon cover

First line: Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

Initial thoughts: I saw the cover (which is much shinier than the one pictured) and fell a little bit in love. Then I saw it was written by Meg Cabot and said, hey, I’ve always wanted to read something by her. (Yes, I’m probably the last person on the planet who hasn’t read a Meg Cabot novel…though I have one on my bookshelf.)

So, I laid down to read the first chapter, as is customary when I get a new book before I assign it a position in the TBR stack, and before I realized it, I was up to the 9th chapter when I finally put it down. What that tells me is that I need to finish this book, and likely will by tomorrow.

The premise is so intriguing (and I’m not just saying that because I have a morbid obsession with Death), but I have to admit some aspects are vexing–more on that when I write a proper book notes post or the flat out review–but right now I really just want to get to the bottom of Pierce’s situation and why she’s in it.

I may just have a winner on my hands and I’m a bit apprehensive because it’s a trilogy which means I’ll be left with a cliffhanger at the end and a long wait before I can get the second book. *sigh*

Book description:

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone…because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away…especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Book Details: 320 pages; Point; Pub. April 26, 2011; Read Excerpt

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February 24

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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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February 24

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Short Story Review: The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link

by Ann-Katrina

Pretty Monsters coverThe 25 page short story The Faery Handbag is from the anthology Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link or you can read it for free on her website.

Short Synopsis

A grieving Genevieve is searching for her recently deceased grandmother’s very special handbag. As she does so, she explains who her grandmother was, where she came from, and what makes the handbag so special.

My Thoughts on The Faery Handbag

Like ‘The Wizards of Perfil‘ I’m left unsure of what I feel.

As with Link’s other stories this one was readable. It flowed well and before I knew it I slammed into the end. And I do mean slammed. The end was so abrupt that it felt unsettling, but similar to ‘The Wrong Grave‘ it left you with plenty to ponder. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t like it, the abruptness (I like the plenty to ponder part).

One aspect of the story that I found skillfully mastered was the unreliable narrator. Enough doubt is cast about Genevieve’s story to keep you guessing about whether she’s telling the truth, whether she’s outright lying, or whether she’s just a girl trying to cope with the loss of her beloved grandmother and missing (boy)friend Jake. It even cast enough doubt to question the existence of her grandmother and Jake. This story certainly isn’t what it seems.

Despite loving Link’s writing style and her dexterity with voice, I wasn’t in love with this story and that’s mainly because of the denouement…there wasn’t one.

Final rating: C+

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February 22

Comments: 4

Teaser Tuesdays: Those Are Pretty Dancing Shoes

by Ann-Katrina

Teaser Tuesdays Happy Tuesday! It’s time again for another edition of Teaser Tuesdays…

Here are the rules:

  • Grab your current read
  • Let the book fall open to a random page
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • You also need to share the title of the book where you get your teaser from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given
  • Please avoid spoilers

entwined This week’s teaser:

"Azelea ran through the gardens, her black skirts billowing in the breeze of honeysuckle and lilac. She had forgotten how fresh and alive the gardens felt, with bright flowers bursting all over it like fireworks." pg. 207 Entwined by Heather Dixon

I followed Heather Dixon’s blog (before she made it private) and adored her illustrations and stories, so when she revealed that she’d be working on a full length fairytale retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses I knew I wanted to read it and I consider myself lucky to have gotten my hands on an ARC.

So far, though, I have to admit that it’s slow going. Then again, I’m only halfway through the second chapter, which means it should definitely pick up (if the the hints she gave her blog readers are any indication).

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February 22

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Recent Arrivals: Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer

Geek Fantasy Novel cover

First line: Wishes are dangerous.

Initial thoughts: I don’t know what to think except awesome. I love the cover and from the first chapter it looks like a fun read. It brings back those high school memories of playing D&D and a geekily modified version of freeze tag in my neighbor’s backyard.

Book description:

Be careful what you wish for. Really. Wishes are bad. Very bad.

They can get you trapped in a fantasy world full of killer bunny rabbits, evil aunts, and bothersome bacteria, for example.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Ralph, alas, does not. He’s been asked to spend the summer with his strange British relatives at their old manor house in order to set up their Wi-Fi network. But there’s much more to it than that, of course. It’s just that nobody told Ralph. He’s a gamer, sure. But this game is much stranger–and funnier–than anything manufactured by Nintendo.

Book Details: 320 pages; Scholastic Press; Pub. April 2011

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