Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FIVE STARS for Elliot And The Goblin War

FIVE Stars for  Elliot And The Goblin War by Jennifer Nielson

I really enjoyed this book.

One of the first things that captivated me was the tone, reminiscent of "Lemony Snicket", with its "Dear Reader" authorial intrusion (which, I love).

The story is about Elliot, a pretty easy-going boy, just minding his own business one Halloween night when what do you suppose happens?

Why, he starts a full-scale war between The Goblins and The Brownies, of course!  It wasn't his fault--well, not exactly, he was just trying to help out a really tiny kid who was being chased by some other big kids in really cool Goblin costumes.  Hey, how was he supposed to know they were real?

Then, there's a whole bunch of other "unfortunate events", some shenanigans involving curses, a hag, carrots, chocolate cake, and a bully named "Tubs".  Before long, the whole Underworld's in an uproar.

Elliot gets crowned 'King' (WHAT?  I know, right!), and so, it's kinda his responsibility to fix this big mess.

Trust me, there's not a tween topside who won't enjoy this book.

I very highly recommend it!

Read more about Elliot And The Goblin War:


Monday, February 27, 2012

On Bad Reviews, The Selection, and Wendy Darling on Goodreads.com

reposted from my blog on www.Goodreads.com

In recent weeks, quite a furor has been raised around a certain YA novel (and it’s lovely, dreamy cover). 

Yes, I am talking about The Selection by Kiera Cass . 

 Wendy Darling, one of  Goodreads' most read and well respected reviewers didn’t much like it. And, as is her habit, she very eloquently said so. As Goodreads is a site of readers for readers, you may wonder why I’m bringing such a thing to your attention. 

Well, she was attacked, rather relentlessly, for it on her blog. 

I have a big problem with this. 

Authors, listen-up. Here’s the deal: 

Eventually, unfavourable reviews come to us all. It’s an occupational hazard. Yes, yes, you’ve put your baby out there and loads of folks have positively reinforced that decision, but you can’t please everyone. In the very same way that you’ve picked up dozens (hundreds?), of books , only to drop them as if they caused acid-burn to your eyes minutes later, someone, somewhere, will do to you and yours. 

One day, this will happen to me. 

So far, Neverdark has been pretty uniformly well-received, but sooner or later, some honest reviewer is going to ‘hate it and say it’ so clearly that I’ll have to fight the compulsion to tuck tail, run, and hide. 

I need a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, just thinking about it. 

But, you know what? When I’m done hiding my head under the duvet, I’ll poke my stuffy, red nose out, open my weepy eyes and say, “THANK YOU”. 

Every review is a gift. Authors forget that fact at their peril. It’s a big world, full of all sorts of interesting people with tastes as varied as fish in the sea, and you cannot please them all. But, anyone who reads you and takes the time out of her day to leave a polite, honest review has earned your heartfelt appreciation. 

So, kudos to Wendy Darling. Keep up the good work!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

4 Stars for ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by S.R. Johannes

4 Stars for ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by S.R. Johannes !

What a breath of fresh air!

This is, quite simply, a great book. When Gabriella (Gabby)'s young life is cut short thanks to a combination of a drunk driver and inopportune texting, death takes a turn for the better (or, more interesting, at least).

There are so many things I liked about this novel. The opening, with Gabby narrating her own funeral (in a flawless MG voice, no less), had me hooked, straight away. The writing is really solid. Johannes is clearly a natural for this genre.

And, I'd like to add that I was unusually impressed by the creativity of it all. Gabby's "Havenly" world really came to life.

I was also very happy to see how her character arc developed, quite naturally, as the unusually fresh plot unfolded.

My only reservation, and the only reason I can't give ON THE BRIGHT SIDE a full 5 stars is the prevalence of puns. I'm not saying that they're bad puns, but when one page alone had no less than seven ("White Carpet", "SKYweekly", "Vera Wing", "Calvin Divine", "Dolce & Nirvana", "Jonah's Brothers"), I literally cringed. What, at first, is a really fun play on words, began to grate, as time went on.

Other than that, it's a good, fun, clean read for tweens and teens. 4 Stars!

Read more about On The Bright Side:

Monday, February 20, 2012

NEVERDARK #30 in Amazon Children's Fairytales!

NEVERDARK  #30 in Amazon.com's Children's Fairytales!

Lovely, Warm n'Fuzzy Weird!

Just woke up to find that  Neverdark is currently #30 on Amazon.com's List of Children's Ebooks > Fairytales, Folktales & Myths > DRAGONS.


There are no dragons in Neverdark, at least, not last I checked!

There is 'The Great Rhino Beetle, Gor'. He's pretty scary. His breath is certainly stinky but I doubt it's actually ablaze.

Still, what a nice surprise. Thank you Amazon!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?


What’s the deal with all the bland protagonists in Tween Fic?  

I’m thinking of two stupendously successful books which, imo, have utterly uninspiring heroes. 

First, James Patterson’s foray into the world of Middle School, titled (aptly), 
Middle School, The Worst Years Of My Life, where the main character, Rafe, sets out to break every rule in the book—literally.  As a premise, it’s great.  I loved it.  As a reader, I couldn't wait to find out what mayhem Rafe would attempt and even more, as a writer, I couldn’t wait to learn how his character would grow over the course of the story.  

Patterson delivers on the first part, and it’s thoroughly entertaining.  But, on the second?  What a disappointment!  Not only does Rafe learn nothing from his escapades, he’s essentially rewarded for them.  He goes off to start fresh in a new school for gifted Artists, but does he do so because he’s earned it?  No, he does so because he’s been expelled from his current school and a good-hearted teacher sees his innate, artistic abilities and takes pity on him.  

This is all very warm and fuzzy, but does it inspire?  Does Rafe overcome anything to gain such a wonderful new opportunity?   No.  He doesn’t.    Really, he’s just lucky to have such a good teacher take a personal interest in him despite his incredibly egocentric behavior.  

And, the girls don’t have it any better.  If you want your daughters to read about how cool it is to be utterly vacuous, petty, materialistic, and mean, then I recommend The Dork Diaries . 

Here’s what The School Library Journal has to say about the series: 

Grade 5-8–Fourteen-year-old Nikki J. Maxwell has been awarded a scholarship to a prestigious private middle school as a part of her father's bug extermination contract. Her angst as she deals with the resident mean girl, her embarrassing parents, her crush on the hot boy, and making new friends are all recorded alongside numerous sketches of her life. Although occasionally amusing, Nikki is not a very likable character. She is shallow and self-centered and fails to show any growth in the book, even as she one-ups popular and cruel MacKenzie in the end. In fact, Nikki, who steals her neighbor's hearing aid and plays pranks on her little sister, is somewhat of a mean girl herself. All the other characters are underdeveloped, including Nikki's family and her new BFFs, Chloe and Zoey. Black-and-white drawings, which are often witty, appear throughout the text, which is printed on lined pages as though from a diary. Fans of Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Abrams) may enjoy this book, but it's an additional purchase.–Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ 

Sadly, I concur.  

While I understand that it’s appealing to read about characters who are “just like us”, I can’t help but wonder, “Yes, but must they also stay just like us?”

Isn’t half the fun of the adventure found in the discoveries made, both externally and internally?  Isn’t a character who’s flawed and imperfect (just like us), so much more endearing when they’ve really slogged it out through the course of the story and wound up so much wiser, stronger, and better for having survived the experience?  

Or, is “no growth” the new goal?

 Me?  I want aspirational heroes.  Give me a main character who does something really impressive, even if nobody ever thought her capable of it.  

Actually, make that:  especially if nobody ever thought her capable of it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Teen /Tween Hook-Ups?

Are your Teens or even, (gulp) Tweens, Hooking-Up?

I came across this very interesting article, today:


Caitlin Flanagan, the author of "Girl Land" discusses this new, and very scary (from the POV of a parent of a teen or tween), phenomena.

It seems that the traditional "First Date" is dead.  How did that happen?  Was it so long ago that Molly Ringwald was 'Pretty In Pink' for her Andrew McCarthy?  At first, I was reluctant to believe it but recently, Aaron had the opportunity to work with a number of late-teens and early-twenty-somethings and the stories he brought home were worse than X-Rated.  Tragic, is the word that springs to mind, and not just for the girls.

The boys are missing out on so much, too, whether or not their hormones will currently allow them to see that.

And, it's happening at much younger ages than you might think.

 Girl Land, by Caitlin Flanagan, on my 'MUST READ ASAP' list.

Read more About GIRL LAND:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

HIDDEN by Shalini Boland - 5 STARS!

HIDDEN by Shalini Boland is a YA paranormal romance that delivers, and then some. Madison Greene is the Goth girl we all secretly (or not so secretly), want to be: tough, cool, smart. She's also dealing with some very serious issues: foster-care, borderline-abusive adults, and keeping her little bro, Ben, safe and as carefree as possible in a very dodgy environment. Now, throw in a cadre of ancient, breathtakingly beautiful vampires, and the stage is set for intrigue to ensue.

So far, we've covered some of the things you might expect in the genre but, here are some things that I think make Hidden a cut-above:

- The history of the Vampires. It's hard to detail too much without including any spoilers but, let's just say, their story, all on its own, would be enough for me to recommend this book. Boland masterfully weaves snippets of RL Turkish history and the magnificent Cappadocian caves with a new twist on traditional Vampire lore. I'm impressed, and now I need to visit Turkey.

- Alexandre. Yes, yes, he's beautiful, and powerful, and all things sexy as every good vampire hottie should be. But, he's also achingly vulnerable. He needs Maddy as much as she needs him and together, they complete each other. Again, Boland knocks the romance side of the story out of the park.

- The Intrigue. There were parts of the story where I found myself really miffed with Ms. Boland. Not because she failed to engage me, but because I really needed to put HIDDEN down to go off to take care of other RL obligations, but couldn't! WHAT is behind that cellar door? WHAT is buried under the Turkish desert? WHO is screaming and WHAT are they screaming AT??? That's just a partial list, but you get the point. Is this book a bona-fide "page-turner"? Yes, indeed it is.

So, with that, a hearty FIVE STAR recommendation from me. :o)

Read more about HIDDEN:


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Five Star Review for Hapenny Magick by Jennifer Carson


It was a snowy night in January when I curled up with Hapenny Magick and, I'm glad to say, it warmed my heart, indeed.

What a charming book! I must pause here for a moment to rave about the illustrations. They are, in short, breathtaking. The whimsy of Jennifer's voice is infused into Pat Ann's illustrations. Her characters really come to life--and what characters they are!

Mean, spiteful Gelbane, the Guardian of our feisty heroine, Maewyn, storms off the page and Callum, the wizard, has a beard so flowing, I swear it really did tickle my nose ;o).

This brings me to the book, itself: a more engrossing adventure for children, I have not read, in years. Hapenny Magick is a somewhat traditional tale, with poor orphaned Maewyn left at the clutches of evil Gelbane at the start, but she is no shrinking violet waiting for her Prince to save the day. No. When a strange, talking crow lures her away from enslavement to the comparative bliss of a Wood Wizard's cozy home, Mae discovers that, small as she may be, her destiny is great.

I don't want to ruin the story by leaving any spoilers, but some of the things I love best about Mae are her courage, sense of duty, and sense of self-reliance. Before it's over, Mae needs to save herself, her friends, and her whole village from an army of hungry Trolls, and it'll take more than just her magickal talents, to do it.

Does Mae find the strength to persevere and triumph? I'll leave you to find out.

Hapenny Magick is a thoroughly engaging, lovely fairy tale for children of all ages. Jennifer's skillful prose weaves Magick and whimsy into every line. What a joy it was to read this book.

You can find Hapenny Magick by Jennifer Carson, here: