Book Review: Beautiful Creatures

Name: Beautiful Creatures

Author(s): Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Series Standing: Book one (Beautiful Creatures series)

What It’s About: Ethan lives in the small, backwater southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina, where everyone over sixty still calls the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression. During the day he dreams of leaving the town far behind. During the night he dreams of a mysterious girl he loves but always loses. Then Lena Duchannes moves to town and is immediately shunned by all (except Ethan) for being the town shut-in, Old Man Ravenwood’s niece. Strange things happen with Lena around, only further separating her from the others. Ethan and Lena grow to be friends, and eventually something more. But there is something more to Lena than meets the eye. She has powers. And on her sixteenth birthday, which is fast approaching, she will be claimed by Light or Dark, Good or Evil. Or will she be able to decide her own fate?

My Review: I don’t know why I never read this book before! I loved the story, and the characters were all well developed. This was a long book, over 500 pages, but I never got tired of reading it. The ending had a twist that surprised me, as well as a death that made me truly sad. This was a well written book that you will get absorbed in and I would definitely recommend it.

Re-Readability: Medium to High. It would have been Very High if it wasn’t so long. And this isn’t the kind of book where you can just flip back to your favorite parts.

Quotes

“A little known fact about me: I read all the time. Books were the one thing that got me out of Gatlin, if only for a little while. I had a map on my wall, and every time I read about a place  wanted to go, I marked it on the map.”

“Everyone actually stepped aside when she walked down the hall. Like she was a rock star. Or a leper.”

“There was only one word to describe the scene when I arrived at the Sisters’ house. Chaos. Aunt Mercy answered the door, hair still in rollers.”

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Book Review: Thirteenth Child

Name: Thirteenth Child

Author(s): Patricia C. Wrede

Series Standing: Book one (Frontier Magic series)

What It’s About: In Eff’s world, it is commonly known that a seventh son is lucky. The seventh son of a seventh son (also known as a double- seventh son) is not only lucky, but a natural-born magician. And a thirteenth child is very unlucky, bound to turn evil. Eff is a thirteenth child. Her twin, Lan, is a double-seventh son. From the moment she was born, her many aunts and uncles and cousins have told her it was inevitable she turn evil, bullied her, accused her of things she didn’t do, and tried to convince her parents that she would turn Lan evil too if they didn’t do something. So when her father gets an offer to work as a professor of magic at a college in the North Plains Territory, he springs at the offer, not only wanting the job, but wanting to keep Eff and Lan from those who would derive or spoil them. There they live a good life, though Eff is still afraid that someone will discover she’s a thirteenth child. However, when it is discovered that Lan is a double-seventh, he is put in extra magic classes to help his talent grow and prosper. Eff and Lan are still close, but their bond weakens further when Eff grows very sick and misses a year of school, putting her a year behind Lan when she returns. More time passes and Lan is put in an Eastern boarding school. Meanwhile, mysterious grubs are eating all the crops on the frontier. The problem gets worse and worse, and magicians are scrambling to figure out how to stop them. Soon after Lan comes back, a theory is formed about why grubs don’t seem to be living in one of the settlements. A group is sent out to test this, and they discover how peculiar the bugs really are. Then when visiting a nearby settlement, her father and Lan fall into trouble, and Eff may just be the one to save them.

My Review: I think that this is a good book with writing that makes you just want to keep on reading. However, if you want an action book, this isn’t it. Even the big scene at the end isn’t all that thill -packed, though the idea of all those bugs makes me squirm. This is the story of Eff’s life, and her struggle to accept that she may not be as bad as she once thought. I like the way the author mixes the wild west and magic in a way where you don’t really question it. You just go with the flow. In the end she is considered a heroine, but she still isn’t completely confident in herself (then again, who is?). She questions herself, and worries of what she’ll do to others.

Re-Readability: Medium to High. It depends on your preferences.

Quotes

“From the day I was old enough to understand, I heard people talking to Mama and Papa about what to do with me.”

“Uncle Earn was standing just inside the door next to a very uncomfortable-looking man in a blue-and-gold policeman’s uniform.”

“There were plenty of others, too, all anxious to tell Mama and Papa how I was sure to go bad, and to report every little thing I did as evidence they were right. If I spilled my soup, it was done apurpose and with evil in mind; if a ball I kicked went astray and tore up the new plantings in the kitchen garden, it was done deliberately in malice and spite.”

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Quips & Quotes: Reading With Lemony Snicket

Mysterious, gloomy, funny… I have always liked Lemony Snicket. He makes me laugh even when talking about the most unfortunate of things. Here some of my favorite quotes from him involving reading.

“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.”

“There are those who say that sitting at home reading is the equivalent of travel, because the experiences described in the book are more or less the same as the experiences one might have on voyages, and there are those who say that there is no substitute for venturing out into the world. My own opinion is that it is best to travel extensively but to read the entire time, hardly glancing up to look out of the window of the airplane, train, or hired camel.”

“There are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. But I prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well to worth staying up all night to finish.”

“Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.”

“All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk.”

“It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read.”

Trust me, there are a lot more I didn’t have room to cram in here. What is your favorite Lemony Snicket quote?

Book Review: Enthusiasm

Name: Enthusiasm

Author(s): Polly Shulman

What It’s About: Julie is best friends with an Enthusiast, namely Ashleigh Rossi. They’ve been best buds forever, but Ashleigh has the tendency to hop from craze to craze which often leads to embarrassing situations. From candy making to military strategy, she always manages to drag Julie in. Now Ashleigh has discovered Jane Austen, particularly  Pride and Prejudice. She convinces Julie to come with her when crashing a dance at Forefield, an all-boys prep school, in hopes of finding her own Mr. Darcy. There they meet two boys of interest, Ned and Grandison. Unbeknownst to Ashleigh, Grandison is Julie’s secret crush. However, Ashleigh falls for him herself, and becomes convinced that Ned and Julie like each other. Not wanting to get in the way of her friend’s crush, Julie suppresses her true feelings, instead supporting Ashleigh in her endeavors to find out if Grandison likes her back. All while trying to cope with her divorced dad’s wife, Amy (A.K.A. the Irresistible  Accountant.) Soon Julie and Ashleigh answer an announcement asking for girls to audition at Forefield for a play. Both get the part, and will now be working right alongside Ned and Grandison. Still trying to forget her feelings toward Grandison, and convince Ashleigh that she isn’t in love with Ned, things are further complicated when a classmate starts showing interest in Julie, and a secret admirer starts leaving poems on the tree between Ashleigh and Julie’s houses.  This book is a question of loyalty or love.

My Review: Unfortunately, this book fell flat from my expectations, reminding me that a book should be judged by it’s writing, and not the one who writes it. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good book! It’s just that there were three problems with it for me. Problem one, the “teen lingo.” This book used words that sounded somewhat cheesy to me, like somebody trying to be hip, and failing (apparently crisp means cool, and ig means ick!) Problem two, the amount of longing for Grandison. Now, I may not have fallen in love myself yet, but it seemed a bit far fetched how much Julie longed for Grandison after a few encounters in which she never even said a word to the guy. Problem three, self-esteem. I know that it is noble to spare your own love life for your friend’s, and keeping the peace with your stepfamily is vital, but for a good portion of the book there was a voice in my head saying “Can’t she stand up for herself at all?” In my opinion this is an okay book that takes a bit of time getting used to.

Re-Readability: Medium. I’ll read this again sometime, but there are better things in my bookcase.

Quotes

“Ladies’ rooms, it turns out, don’t flourish in boys’ schools. Each likely-looking door seemed to taunt me. I discovered a coat closet, a broom closet, a conservatory dripping with greenery, and wood-paneled, book-lined chambers of various shapes and sizes – but no restroom.”

“By then her ability to ignore giggles and stares had become less an asset than a liability. Oh, we still had plenty of friends – girls like Emily Mehan and the Gerard twins – but if Ash pulled any more stunts like that time freshman year when she borrowed Michelle Jeffrie’s handbag for a juggling trick and spilled the contents, including a selection of feminine hygene products, I feared for our social standing among the girls. And as for the guys – well, that was to painful to bear thinking about.”

“If I had a dollar for every sharp remark I keep to myself, I would be able to fund the Stepfamily Peace Prize, my dream version of the Nobel, to be awarded annually to the person who shows the greatest familial restraint.”

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Book Review: The Grimm Legacy

Name: The Grimm Legacy

Author(s): Polly Shulman

What It’s About: After being recommended by her social studies teacher, Elizabeth Rew goes to work at the New York Circulating Material Repository, a lending library for objects. There she works hard as a page (someone who retrieves things from the back when patrons request them) until she is given access to the Grimm Collection, a room filled to the brim with objects straight out of the Grimm Brother’s classic fairy tales. Unfortunately, something is very wrong with this treasure trove of magic. Some of the objects are being stolen, and rumors of a giant bird following patrons is confirmed when Elizabeth and the other pages with access to the collection (Marc, Anjali, and Aaron) see it. She and her new friends will now have to figure out who is taking the objects, and how. With suspicion being cast among themselves, and danger imminent, Elizabeth got more than she signed up for in this exciting adventure.

My Review: This book is awesome in my opinion! It has magic, danger, and a very interesting subject matter. Imagine if you could borrow actual magical objects from a library! And the writing is so good you can practically see the Twelve Dancing Princesses’ shoes, or the Snow White mirror (which reeks of evil, by the way!) Defiantly a good story.

Re-Readability: Very High. I would recommend this to anybody.

Quotes

“Fairy tales were a big part of my childhood. I used to sit in my mother’s lap while she read them out loud and pretend I could read along – until, after a while, I found I actually could. Later, in the hospital when Mom was too sick to hold a book, it was my turn to read our favorites out loud. The stories all had happy endings. But they didn’t keep Mom from dying.”

“I liked him much better before, I thought, when he was making me sit on imaginary chairs and fall down.”

“Ms. Badwin shook the wand. “Shoddy thing. I knew I shouldn’t have cheaped out and bought the imported model,” she said, twisting the end again.”

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Book Reveiw: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight For Civil Rights

Name: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight For Civil Rights

Author(s): Steve Sheinkin

What It’s About: This is the true story of 50 brave men who stood up for what they believed in, and stood up to the U.S. Navy and it’s injustices in the time of segregation. The United states has just entered World War II.  Americans from all over the country are called to join the battle, but it isn’t that easy for African American people, for with all the prejudice of the time the regulation is that they can only serve as mess attendants. President Roosevelt was not so keen on  desegregating the Navy, but he was a politician, and counted on their votes to be reelected. Ignoring black leaders complaints to do something wasn’t going to fly. So he compromised. The policy change was unveiled in 1942. Black volunteers would now be accepted for training as sailors. Sounds good, till you look at the details. Limited to low ranks, and still not able to serve at sea unless as a mess attendant, African Americans were not impressed. However, plenty of young men rushed to sign up. Some such men were sent to the U.S. Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, Illinois. There they immediately encountered… segregation. White recruits and black recruits stood in separate lines for lunch, were housed in separate camps, etc. They were not allowed to compete with white recruits for the opportunity to go to special schools that trained sailors to be electricians, radiomen, and mechanics. Instead they took swimming tests, practiced on the rifle range, and cleaned their barracks. They exercised, marched, and  stood at attention. They were not trained how to handle explosives. When boot camp drew to an end, they were sent to the Port Chicago Naval Magazine. There they learned what exactly they would be doing. Loading ammunition. Day after day, they loaded bombs they had never been told how to handle. Day after day, they lived in fear of a explosion. Then in April of 1944, Captain Merrill T. Kinne took command of Port Chicago. His job was to get the ammunition loaded as fast as possible. How he planned to do that was by promoting competition between divisions with the prize of free movies. Officers pitted division against division now, betting on the outcome. Then one night, two ships and the pier exploded. Everyone on the ships and pier were killed. The death count was over 300. At the beginning of August, the men were moved to Mare Island Naval Shipyard. They had a pretty good idea of what they would be doing there, and were dreading it. On August 9, 1944, the men lined up and started marching toward the nearby river. They came the a split in the road. Go right, a day of routine exercise. Go left, a day of loading ammunition. The lieutenant ordered them to go left. Somebody stopped. Or maybe many. Everyone came to a stop. They refused to load ammunition. Superiors came. Superiors threatened. Of the 328 scheduled to load ammunition that day, a total of 258 refused. They were marched onto a prison barge. On the third day there Admiral Carleton Wright came. He accused them of mutiny- reminded them that death was the penalty of such. The men were given another chance to come back to work. 214 men complied. The next morning, guards led six men onto the barge to join the 44. They were all charged with mutiny. This is the story of their struggle before and after the accusation.

My Review: If I had to use one word to describe this book, I would say powerful. The story of these men is inspiring, infuriating, and powerful. Inspiring because no matter the struggle of facing all that was against them, they hung together. Infuriating because of the lengths of segregation in that time, and the injustice of segregation itself. Powerful because of, well, everything. The feeling that comes along with these men. I would suggest you read this because it really gives you a look into the worse side of our history.

Re-Readability: Medium to High. It really depends on your mood and what you like to read.

Quotes

“The men at Port Chicago described the scene on the loading pier as frantic, stressful, loud, chaotic – bombs rolling and clanking together, winch engines chugging and smoking, nets swinging through the air, sailors shouting and cursing, officers urging the men on.”

“But it’s important to remember that before Brown vs. Board of Education or Truman’s executive order, before Rosa Parks or Jackie Robinson – before any of this, there was Port Chicago.”

“Just how deeply ingrained was segregation? Absurdly, the military even segregated it’s blood supply. Military leaders knew there was no difference between the blood of black and white men. They knew it was a waste of time and money to store two separate blood supplies. But that was the tradition, and no one in power wanted to challenge it.”

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Book Reveiw: Virals

Name: Virals

Author(s): Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Series Standing: Book one (Virals series)

What It’s About: Tory Brennan and her friends live on the remote Morris Island, close to the research institute where her father works. One day while exploring Loggerhead Island (where the research institute is located) they stumble upon a crusty old dog tag. Their search to find out who it belongs to leads them to breaking into the institute, in hopes of using the high tech machinery there to clean it. Unexpectedly they find a lab supposedly closed down, yet in the middle of a unauthorized experiment on parvovirus, with a wolf-dog pup native to the island starring. In a bad way. After saving the canine (dubbed Cooper), she convinces her friends to help her try and nurse him back to health in their hideout. But something is wrong. Despite parvovirus being unable to infect humans, the experimental strain seems to have done something to them. They get very sick, and even after recovering are in danger of having sudden flares, where all their senses go into hyperdrive. Like a wolf’s. Meanwhile, the dog tag turns out to be connected to a murder case gone cold, and because of their findings someone wants them dead. Trying to figure out their newfound abilities isn’t easy, and it’s going to take a lot of brainpower to solve the murder case before they get murdered too, but they’re closer now. They’re a pack, and they are going to solve this… Virals style.

My Review: I love this book! It has plenty of twists and turns, suspenseful moments, and it makes me laugh sometimes. Tory narrates the book, and her voice is both believable and likeable, two traits which I like in first-person books. I would definitely recommend this book to others!

Re-Readability: Very High. I would re-read this often!

Quotes

“Addicted, I popped a Diet Coke. I know what you’re thinking. But I do try to eat healthy. Just leave me my caffeine, thank you. The heart wants what it wants.”

“Hi had been captured by the enemy. Okay, I exaggerate. But not by much.”

“Hi stretched, yawned. “It was something highly technical, I suppose? Something requiring mechanical ability? Nothing as simple as tightening a wire or flipping a switch, right?” Ben reddened. Shelton developed an interest in his sneakers.”

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Reading and reviewing YA books for the fun of it.