Saturday, September 26, 2009

Posing as Ashley by Kimberly Joy Peters

For all purposes, it seems that Ashely has everything. She is doing well in high school, has an amazing boyfriend and is absolutely beautiful! Yet things start to fall apart in her well orchestrated life. Ashely is someone who doesn't want to disappoint anyone. It is difficult to keep her family happy, especially when they seem to want her to succeed in everything she does.

When Ashely is approached to audition for a modelling agency, it seems that her perfect life will continue. But as Ashely quickly learns, the modelling world isn't an easy one. Beautiful people turn out to be not so beautiful on the inside. Ashely's true beliefs are often challenged and when she is forced to make a decision, she is worried about letting her family down.

This is a nice simple book about being true to yourself, believing in yourself and trusting yourself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau

I've just finished reading the last of the City of Ember books- thank goodness! Having read the first two a few years ago, I remember really liking them. These last two, not so much! The Diamond of Darkhold at least dealt with the main characters Lina and Doon- which was something the Prophet didn't do at all.

In the fourth book, Lina and Doon are once more faced with saving their town from disaster. This time, it isn't the lack of light, but the lack of food. The people of Ember are having a hard time living above ground and surviving on what they can grow or catch. In this, the story is a good one. Lina and Doon, with the best of intentions set out to help their friends and family by going back into The City of Ember. Once they decide to do that, the story falls very flat, very quickly. We are introduced to characters that seem to really have no point to the story, they are just introduced and then fade away. Then, there are some really interesting issues such as Doon's quest to figure out electricity that seems very fake and not satisfying at all.

At the end of the book, DuPrau tries to tie the Prophet of Yonwood to this one and fails. The last few chapters seem to rush by as she tries to wrap up the stories on all of the characters we loved from the first two books. I was greatly disappointed with these books after such a promising start to the series.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

This is the sequel to Stargirl- a great book about a free spirited girl who learns just how difficult it is to be different from everybody else.

In this story, Stargirl is back. She has moved from Arizona to another state and is writing a very long letter to Leo- her ex(or future) boyfriend from back home. Through a series of letters, Stargirl pours her heart out to Leo. There are times she is still very hurt by him and times when she knows she still loves him. All the while Stargirl is collecting a series of friends who are as unique as she is. Getting to know these friends through Stargirl's eyes is an amazing experience. As a reader we come to know what is in Stargirl's heart and mind as she struggles to live without Leo and move on with her life.
You have to read Stargirl first to really understand these characters. This is definitely a book for girls!

I loved this story. Stargirl is one of the strangest most memorable characters I have read- I love all of her quirks and her way of looking at the world.

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

This book, is the prequel to The City of Ember series. It has been a few years since I read City of Ember and The People of Sparks, but I do remember enjoying both books. I wasn't as thrilled with Prophet of Yonwood.
The story itself is a good one. A little bit of a mystery with some believable characters. Nickie is an 11 year old girl who has set herself 3 goals: 1. Keep Greenhaven (the family home) 2. Fall in love 3. Help the World. Not bad goals for her to work towards. However, along the way to meeting these goals, Nickie runs into lots of problems.
First of all, her aunt is determined to sell Greenhaven, a house that Nickie is growing to love. Then, all the boys she is meeting are not the kind of boy she wants to fall in love with. The final goal- to Help the World seems easy at first. In Yonwood, the Prophet mumbles strange things and it is up to some select people in town to interpret her thoughts and pass the message on. Nickie finds helping the world to be easy when she follows the Prophet's message. As the story goes on though, the Prophet's messages get stranger and stranger. Suddenly for Nickie, helping the world isn't quite as easy as she once thought.
The part I did have trouble with in this book was making the connection between this story and the City of Ember, the relationship was distant at best. It isn't until the end that any connection is made between the two books. I feel that DuPrau was really reaching with this one.
I'm going to start the fourth book in the series and see where that takes me next.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

After a long wait, the sequel to The Hunger Games is finally here. I was a bit leery of reading this one- the first one was so unique and I really liked the conclusion to the first Hunger Games and didn't think anything could live up to it. I was wrong- Catching Fire was incredible. I think I like it even better than Hunger Games. If you haven't read the Hunger Games- stop reading this and get yourself a copy of both books first!

In Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta are back in District 12 after winning the Hunger Games. Katniss is very confused about her new life. She no longer needs to work or go to school, things in District 12 are the same, but it is her who is different. Then there are the feelings she has for both Peeta and Gale- she isn't sure what she feels for either one of them. When the President comes to her house with threats of death to her family and friends, Katniss finally realizes how her act of rebellion to win the Hunger Games has fueled the fire of rebellion across all the districts.

Katniss and Peeta are drawn into a political fight and once again are battling for their very survival. There is a surprise at every turn for the pair and they are faced to deal with their feelings for each other as well.

I will warn you that the ending of this book isn't as satisfying as the first one. I now know there will be a third book and the wait won't be much fun. I can't wait to find out how this all ends.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings

Brady has the greatest life! He has two best friends, a dog and Chesapeake Bay for crabbing and oyster fishing. While the town is changing with new people moving in, Brady is still very content in his life. One day at school his dad comes and asks for his help finding neighbours who went out on the lake during a storm. When Brady learns that these neighbours are a mother and her 3 year-old son, Brady starts to panic -and for good reason.
Later, Brady learns that this accident wasn't necessarily a bad decision made by the mother. As Brady uncovers the truth, he has some serious decisions to make. Decisions that will not only effect him, but everyone in the small community- including his two best friends.

This is a book most boys wouldn't pick up because of the cover, but boys will really enjoy reading it because Brady is a guys guy. It deals with issues of growing up and doing the right thing- even when it is hard. I think this would also be a great read aloud.