Saturday, November 1, 2014

New to the TBR Pile (7)



From the library:
I Had a Favorite Dress
by Boni Ashburn
illustrated by Julia Denos

Open up a fresh and stylish story about growing up and keeping hold of your favorite memories. As the year passes, the narrator’s favorite dress goes through a series of creative changes, from dress to shirt to tank top to scarf and so on, until all that’s left of it is a good memory. Assisted by her patient and crafty mama, the narrator finds that when disaster strikes her favorite things, she doesn’t need to make mountains out of molehills—she “makes molehills out of mountains” instead! Structured around the days of the week, the story is also illustrated to show the passing of the seasons, a perfect complement to the themes of growing older and keeping hold (and letting go) of special mementos.

Lulu & Pip
by Nina Gruener
photographs by Stephanie Rausser

The lovely follow-up to Kiki & Coco in Paris, Lulu & Pip tells the story of a girl, Lulu, and her doll, Pip, as they leave the busy city life for a rustic camping adventure. Featuring once again the beautiful photographs of Stephanie Rausser, the charming doll by Jess Brown, and story by Nina Gruener.


What's new to your TBR pile this week?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Ladybug Looks Back... October 2014


Here's a look back at what happened on my blog in October 2014:

I participated in Top Ten Tuesday 4 times:

Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels
Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit
New Series I Want To Start
Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween

I participated in Booking Through Thursday 2 times:

Obscure
Scary

I shared the new books I got in New to the TBR Pile.  I got 16 new books this month.

I reviewed 10 books.  3 of those were novels; 1 was a short story collection; 1 was a short story; 5 were picture books.

Novels:

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Timebound by Rysa Walker DNF
All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry

Short Story Collections:

Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka DNF

Short Stories:

Resurrection Bay by Neal Shusterman

Picture Books:

Journey by Aaron Becker
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by Anne Isaacs & Kevin Hawkes
Up by Jim LaMarche
Thomas' Snowsuit by Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko
Maybe: A Little Zen for Little Ones by Sanjay Nambiar


So that's what happened in October!
Join me next month when I look back on November!

Review - All the Truth That's in Me

All the Truth That's in Me
by Julie Berry
Date: 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 288
Format: e-book
Source: library

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book is quite different... but in a good way.  It's a well-written, engaging, heartbreaking story that kept me turning the pages until the very end.  Short and long chapters are combined in a way that adds backstory without contrived info-dumping from the characters, and the author manages to pack in quite a bit of story for a book that's less than 300 pages long.

Though I could never quite put my finger on a particular time or place for the setting, the book reads like historical fiction.  Roswell Station seems to me like a New England colony from a few hundred years ago, complete with unforgiving Christian mores.  However, the lack of Native Americans and the references to the homelanders (the enemies of the people of the area, who come from across the sea to steal land) make it difficult to determine the actual location.  No matter.  The author does a pretty good job of building the world and describing the setting with such beautiful detail that a reader might feel like they're actually there.

The characters are all fairly unique and developed well.  I liked some more than others.  I hated some, too (but I think I was supposed to).  Judith is an interesting narrator.  I spent much of the book wondering if she was telling us the whole truth, or if she was lying, or if she simply didn't remember all of the facts after her traumatic ordeal.  Some of her assumptions and conclusions are irksome, but they're probably meant to be a reflection of the society she lived in.  Her feelings for Lucas, a young man she's known almost her whole life, are conflicted and heartbreaking, but those emotions make her seem more real as a character.

At first, I thought the pacing was a little odd, as one of the more exciting scenes seemed to happen in the first quarter of the book.  But, after getting to the end, I can see how that pacing makes sense.  Those exciting parts near the beginning were needed to set up the rest of the story.

If I had any complaint, it would be that the book was just a little bit info-dumpy at the end, but by that time I was hankering for answers so much that I didn't really mind.  It turned out to be a satisfying and enjoyable read, and I'll probably be thinking about this book for quite a while!

Quotable moment:

We sit, watching the battle from afar, like poor children watching a party at a rich man's house across a pond. It has nothing to do with us, so we feast upon the spectacle. The sun sets, and the glorious sky purples off over the ocean that brought these ships on her bosom. The prize land toward the west that the homelanders dream of subduing is saffron gold. Fireflies wink around us, just like the incendiaries that burn red and snuff out.

Recommended to: fans of historical fiction and mysteries

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall Rating: 4.29 out of 5 ladybugs

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Booking Through Thursday (37)



Booking Through Thursday asks:

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick.  Hands down.  I couldn't even finish it, I was so freaked out.  Those zombies and that whole situation scared the crap out of me.

As for books that I've actually finished... maybe something like John Marsden's Tomorrow, When the War Began series.  I find that premise far scarier than most "horror" books.


What's the scariest book you've ever read?  Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween.  I always loved dressing up for Halloween.  Putting on the costume was one of the best parts of the whole night!  Well, that and pouring out the bag of candy so you could gaze at it in all its sugary glory...

I don't think I ever dressed up as a book character, which is too bad.  There are so many opportunities for great costumes inspired by the literary world:

Alice

(Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll) - Though you probably can't pull this look off without a wig unless you're a natural blond, Alice's trademark dress and pinafore would make a very cute costume.

Anne Shirley

(Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery) - Though she's not my favourite Montgomery heroine, she's probably the most recognizable, and would therefore make the best Halloween costume.

Blue Sargent

(The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater) - Blue's quirky style of dress would probably make a good costume, though it might only be recognizable to fans of the series.  Bonus points if you can get one of your male friends to dress up like one of the Aglionby boys.

Dorothy Gale

(The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum) - All you really need for this costume is a cute farm-girl dress and a pair of shiny shoes: red if you're paying tribute to the movie, silver if you're more of a purist.  Put your hair in two braids, grab a stuffed dog, and you're done!

Elena Gilbert

(The Awakening by L. J. Smith) - Easiest bookish costume ever!  Just wear regular clothes.  If you've got blond hair, say you're the Elena from the books; if you've got brown hair, say you're the Elena from the TV series.

Elizabeth Bennet

(Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) - Actually, any of Jane Austen's heroines would be great inspiration for a costume.  Just pick the one you most resemble!  I love those Regency-era gowns, and I wouldn't mind having one.

Ida Maclaird

(The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw) - I'm sure there's something creative you could do with plastic wrap if you wanted to go trick-or-treating as glass-footed Ida!

Karou

(Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor) - This could actually be a fairly easy costume: a blue wig and a wishbone necklace would probably do it.  Unfortunately, to anyone who's not read the books, you might just look like you're ready to go to a strange nightclub.

Katniss Everdeen

(The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) - This has been a popular costume in past years, and I can see why: it's not terribly complicated.  Braid your hair, carry a bow and a quiver of arrows, and try to get your hands on a mockingjay pin.  You're all set!

Sabriel

(Sabriel by Garth Nix) - This would be one awesome costume... if a bit labour-intensive.  Don't forget the all-important bells!


What bookish characters would you want to be for Halloween?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review - Maybe: A Little Zen for Little Ones

Maybe: A Little Zen for Little Ones
by Sanjay Nambiar
Date: 2011
Publisher: Umiya Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Based on an ancient and beloved Zen fable, "Maybe (A Little Zen for Little Ones)" is about a wise girl who experiences a series of events that at first seem lucky (or unlucky) but then turn out to be quite the opposite. A bike disappears, but then she gets a new one. She hurts herself, but then she enjoys a nice day at home. For each incident, was what happened good luck? Maybe. Was it bad luck? Maybe. Or, perhaps the girl simply does not get caught up in the emotion of the moment, because she can never know what that event might lead to, good or bad...

"Maybe (A Little Zen for Little Ones)" won a Mom's Choice Awards Medal as one of the best children's books of 2011.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

What can I say about this one?  It was weak.  While I can appreciate wanting to retell an ancient fable, I just can't recommend this attempt.

The main problem is that, rather than simply retelling the tale, the author decided to use small children as the main characters.  I don't know about you, but I know of no young children who react to life's ups and downs in such a stoic and zen-like manner.  The main character's answer to everything is a simple, "Maybe."  Whether she's referring to having her bike stolen, getting a new bike from her parents, hurting her arm so that she can't go to school (inexplicably, her boo-boo doesn't stop her from doing yard work), or avoiding food poisoning, her response to her friends' remarks about being lucky or unlucky is always the same: "Maybe."  While this might work in a fable-like setting, it comes across as a bit disturbing in an era where so many children have developmental delays.  When I hear about a kid with a vocabulary of just one word, my first thought isn't, "My, how mature and zen-like she must be!"

I do understand the idea behind the fable, but I think that it would probably be lost on little kids.  And some of the scenarios are kind of irresponsible.  I don't think it's a great idea to teach kids that getting hurt is a good thing because they can use it to get out of school.  I don't think it's a good idea to teach your kids to laugh at their friends when they get sick from eating too much sugar (I thought this was a fable about zen... not schadenfreude).  I don't think it's fair to expect kids to be okay with having their bike stolen because, hey, mom and dad will just buy them a new one.  What if mom and dad can't afford a new bike?  Will the kid be shamed for being upset and not accepting the injustice like a zen master?

The illustrations were also some of the weirdest I've ever seen.  The backgrounds looked like watercolour paintings, and were somewhat decent.  But all of the characters looked like they'd been drawn with a cheap computer program and then plopped on top!  It gave the whole book a really bizarre look that I didn't like at all.

This was pretty much a waste of time.  Thankfully, it wasn't a waste of money, as I got it for free.  Don't bother with this one.

Quotable moment:

One day, her bicycle disappeared.

Her friends said,
"That's terrible luck! You had such a nice bike.
What a bummer!"

The thoughtful girl
took a moment,
and then responded,
"Maybe."

Recommended to: nobody

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 1/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 1.17 out of 5

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekly Recap - October 19-25, 2014

Here's what I blogged about over the last seven days:

Monday - I reviewed Up by Jim LaMarche and gave it 4 ladybugs.

Tuesday - I participated in the Top Ten Tuesday meme.  This week's topic was new series we want to start.

I also posted a DNF review of Timebound by Rysa Walker.  I really wanted to like this book... but I just didn't.

Saturday - I shared the new books I got this week in New to the TBR Pile.  I only borrowed a couple of books from the library.

How was your week?