Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge

Last night, I had the brilliant idea to start my own book club in town because I don't currently have one (nor have I ever), and that just seems ridiculous since hello, I'm a reader. So, I decided that the theme had to be universally loved, and BAM! books to movies came to mind - who doesn't love going to the movies? I do this anyway. I don't generally see a movie in the theatre unless I've read the book first. This is my idea. It's so original, right?

Okay, maybe not. A quick search on A Novel Challenge showed me a few others who may have had this same idea. Thus, I'm now joining the 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge hosted by Reading Extensively because even if I don't get my in-real-life book club going, at least I'll have some pals to read with online.

This challenge is fairly simple. Read at least five books-to-movies. I like it.

Here's what's on my to-read and to-watch list so far:
I Am Number Four, movie released February 18, 2011

Update: YES, I read this! But I still haven't seen the movie...

Beastly (re-read), movie released March 4, 2011

Update: No, I didn't re-read it. But I did just see the movie! And I really liked it, even though it strayed from the book a bit. 

Jane Eyre (re-read), movie released March 11, 2011

Update: Haven't re-read or seen it. Maybe over the summer...
Atlas Shrugged, movie released April 15, 2011

Update: Did this movie even come out? No, I didn't read it or see it. Yeesh...
Water for Elephants, movie released April 22, 2011

Update: Yes, I read it! I actually read this one in Italy and was going to see the movie in Italian... except that the theatre was closed for the summer. Hmmph! So no, I haven't seen it yet. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (re-read), movie released July 15, 2011

Update: No, I didn't re-read it. Though I really should have because I saw the movie and was less than impressed. Am I the only one who is glad that it's over?

The Help (re-read), movie released August 12, 2011

Update: Didn't re-read it and still haven't seen it. I guess I watch less movies than I thought! 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, movie released November 23, 2011

Update: I'm currently reading this one and hope to see the movie this month. 


Monday, February 21, 2011

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
published January 2011 by Simon & Schuster
512 pages (hardcover), YA
YA Reading Challenge ; POC Challenge

Kit and Fancy are the daughters of the Bonesaw Killer, living in Portero, Texas, where reality and fantasy (or rather, horror) are confused easily. Fancy's the baby of the family, and at fifteen, she has yet to learn how to properly dress herself or experience emotions like a real-life human teen. Kit and Fancy have been the closest of sisters, sharing secrets and animal anatomy experiments, but Kit's got a boyfriend, and that means that Fancy is no longer privy to every detail of her life. Sure, their dad's in jail for hacking people up, and perhaps they have a knack for the family trade too, but the girls aren't immune to the hazards of growing up.

Other reviewers get into the gory details of this story, but that's not what it's about for me. I'm okay with the torturing, the killing, the twisted dark sides that Kit and Fancy possess, so plot-wise, I have no trouble reading about the disturbing ways of life for these Portero residents. Kit can communicate with the dead and Fancy can create a "happy place" to transport the evildoers of their town to. So what? What intrigues me are the characters themselves - their motivations, self-perceptions, and attempts at growth. This, Ms. Dia Reeves does well. Fancy hates people beyond her family and is so child-like that it's almost comical - until she gets a good look at herself and nearly unravels. Kit is such a flower, blossoming in her strange world, trying new things and spending more time away from the comfort of her home. This is a story about two sisters paving their own paths in life, while still attempting to hold on to each other.

I loved this book. More than I loved Bleeding Violet. But like I said about that one, it's not a book for everyone. People have compared it to Dexter, and I guess if you need to compare it to something, that works. Except that Portero is nothing like Miami.

Five purple crayons because I'm still a little dumbfounded by how much I love love loved this book. Will read again. Need to buy my own copy. 

Reviewed elsewhere:
La Femme Readers ; Dear Author ; Steph Su Reads ; Good Books and Good Wine


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis + Giveaway!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
published January 2011 by Penguin
416 pages (hardcover), YA
2011 Debut Author Challenge ; YA Reading Challenge ; Dystopian February
*reviewed from ARC

This book begins as Amy and her parents are being frozen, to be awakened in 300 years when the starship Godspeed will land on a new inhabitable planet. Unfortunately, Amy wakes up about half a century too early, as her block of ice is rolled out of its freezer to thaw. Luckily, the doctor on board and future leader Elder are able to save her. The story shifts between Amy and Elder, as they try to figure out who wanted her dead and who is continuing to sabotage the cryogenically frozen people on board the Godspeed.

Elder is a leader in training, under the guidance of Eldest, who has the responsibility of keeping the 2,000+ person society on the Godspeed safe and peaceful. The ship is on autopilot, but the people need someone to watch over them. The society functions smoothly, with clearly defined generations (mating is only allowed during the Season) and jobs. People work in fields, genetics labs, and other parts of the ship out of necessity. Although they may not all live long enough to see the Godspeed land on Centauri-Earth, they have hope that their children will. The back cover of the ARC calls this book Titanic meets Brave New World, and I say that's about right. But I can't tell you why!

Others have already said this, and I will agree that the first half of this book was slow. I took frequent breaks because I just couldn't get into it. But then there's a whole lot of action and secrets revealed all at once, and I was flying through it to see what would happen next. I thought the story was lacking at first - I'm a Star Trek fan, I know how these things work. But this is no ordinary science fiction or dystopia - we have murder mystery as well, and tons of twists and turns. There were quite a few "didn't see that coming!" moments that I was rather happy for. Overall, a solid debut and a refreshing dystopia - what can I say? I'm a fan of space travel. Three purple crayons from me.

Reviewed elsewhere:
Becky's Book Reviews ; holes In My brain ; The Story Siren ; Candace's Book Blog ; A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust ; La Femme Readers

Though the book is out already, I do have an ARC to give away. Fill out the form below for a chance to win! 


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pirate picture books

My latest book order came in a week or two ago, and I've been slowly reading through all my new library books. I don't know how I managed it, but I kinda maybe sorta bought THREE picture books with pirates. Um, oops? I must have had Johnny Depp on my mind. Anyhow, here they are!

A Pirate's Night Before Christmas written by Philip Yates, illustrated by Sebastia Serra (2008)

Quite the retelling, this one is! It begins, "'Twas the night before Christmas aboard the Black Sark / Not a creature was stirrin', not even a shark!" I love the invented pirate rhymes, but I love more the pencil & ink digitally colored illustrations. They're soft, yet vibrant, and rather tropical because of course instead of reindeer, we have seahorses pulling the sleigh. A pirate glossary at the end of the book will help translate some of the jargon to curious listeners (and readers), though the illustrations tell the story perfectly well.

 A Pirate's Guide to First Grade written by James Preller, illustrated by Greg Ruth (2010)

Add this to your collection of "first day of school" books to read and share with teachers. I love it because of its potential to jump right in with a discussion of how illustrations tell a story separate from yet complementary to the text. Yes, it's a book about a boy's first day of school, but on this journey, he brings with him a crew of pirates, drawn in sepia-like tones while the rest of the story is done in watercolor oilstick and pastels. Are the pirates really there or not? Students will catch on to the fact that they are a figment of the boy's imagination. The text is done in pirate-speak but the endpapers provide a glossary, and of course, the illustrations show what may get lost in translation.

The Pirate of Kindergarten written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril (2010)

This one's not actually about pirates, but since it has pirate in the title, I thought I'd share anyway. Ginny always has her nose in a book, quite literally, and has trouble making out which bunny ears to cut. During her vision screening at school, she finds out that most people don't see two of everything like she does, so she goes to the eye doctor to fix her double vision - hence the eye patch. I like how the eye patch at the end turned her into a pirate, which was something positive and special for her. Great readaloud for kindergarten students before their own vision screening at school.

Other pirate favorites:
How I Became a Pirate written by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon (2003)
Pirates Don't Change Diapers written by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon (2007)
Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies written by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by John Manders (2005)
Henry & the Crazed Chicken Pirates written by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by John Manders (2009)


Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox

I know it's a little late for an IMM post, but I just had to share my excitement! I don't get books in my mailbox very often, so it's a special occasion. :) Look what I got!

I won an ARC of Across the Universe by Beth Revis from One Librarian's Book Reviews. Thanks, Melissa! Even though the book is already out, I'm still happy for the ARC because I'm #6 on my library's holds list, which may take months, and I just can't wait that long. You have seen all the rave reviews of this book, right?

I also got quite a few beauties from the library this week. Lookie here.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (because everyone love love loved it)
You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin (because it's noir and got mixed reviews)
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (because Bleeding Violet was delightfully dark & twisted)
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (because I liked Incarceron and wonder what's next)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. Head on over to see what goodies everyone else received this week!


P.S. You see that Dystopian February button to the right? Clickie clickie to go to Presenting Lenore's blog, where she'll be reviewing dystopias all month long! I'll be reading a few myself. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Reading Recap

Books Read in January
Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama, illus. by Loren Long
When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach, illus. by David Small
Cowboy & Octopus by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt
A Taste of Colored Water by Matt Faulkner
Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery, illus. by Jean Cassels

 My Uncle Martin's Big Heart by Angela Farris Watkins, illus. by Eric Velasquez
Coretta Scott poetry by Ntozake Shange, paintings by Kadir Nelson
Martin Luther King Jr. by Joeming Dunn, illus. by Chris Allen
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney
Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illus. by Ross Macdonald

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (review)
Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber (review)
Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian (review)
XVI by Julia Karr (review)
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (review)
The Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney (mini-review)
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (mini-review)
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (mini-review)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (mini-review)

Challenge Progress
Graphic Novels Challenge: 0 (for shame!)

Belated Reactions
Goodness, did I read a boatload of YA this month! Even more, I wrote about much of it. Don't be fooled though - just because I didn't review it all doesn't mean I didn't love it.

I read Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles on Sunday night (way past my bedtime) and loved it just as much but quite differently than Perfect Chemistry. This one follows the middle Fuentes brother, Carlos, as he moves from Mexico to Colorado to live with older bro Alex, in an attempt to stay out of trouble and finish high school. So who's the chica this Latin boy is going to fall for? None other than his peer guide Kiara. Kiara is smart, independent, athletic, and cares little for her outward appearance or for impressing Carlos. I loved the tug-of-war between Kiara and Carlos in this book. And of course, I can't help but root for them both, underdogs in their own ways. I never thought I'd enjoy YA romance as much as I do these books. They're funny, edgy, and definitely sexy. Can't wait for the third, Chain Reaction, to come out this summer!

I also finally finished my beloved vampire series, Vampire Academy, this month with The Last Sacrifice. I didn't love love love it as much as some of the other books, but like Mockingjay, it was a fitting ending to the story. Sigh. I feel so lonesome when series I love end.

But! I started a new werewolf series that I absolutely adore and can't wait to read more of - Nightshade by Andrea Cremer was absolutely fantastic, and I am not too keen on waiting until July to read Wolfsbane. If you haven't read it yet, a word of friendly advice: don't! Wait until the next one is published so you can read them together and then groan in anticipation for this third. Oh series, we have such a love/hate relationship. 

Oh, and this isn't YA, but if you haven't read President Obama's picture book Of Thee I Sing, why not? It's a beautiful letter to his daughters, highlighting key figures in history and seeing their greatness in his children. The illustrations by Loren Long complement and help tell the story so so perfectly. Go read it!

To Read in February
My books for my graphic novel grant are trickling in, and I need to read them. Many because I want to and others because I need to know that I made good decisions. But I just haven't been in the mood lately. YA has taken over my world. I expect it will soon taper off, and then I will have time to read these precious graphic works. February is a short month, so I suspect I'll read less, but who knows. I'm falsely snowed in (where's the snow? the ice? why am I home on a Tuesday afternoon?), so I should be reading right now. I'll probably do an author study with kindergarten (Rosemary Wells? Kevin Henkes? or just jump right in to Mo Willems?), fractured fairy tales with first grade, and Coretta Scott King Award winners with 4/5th grade, so my picture book numbers will be higher. We'll see how it goes!

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