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Review: The Juliet Club

Author: Suzanne Harper
Series: N/A
Publishing: May 27, 2008/HarperTeen/402 pages
Format Read: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Classroom shelfability: Yes
Rating:
Review Blue Egg 3
Summary (from GoodReads): Italy . . . Shakespeare . . . but no romance? Kate Sanderson inherited her good sense from her mother, a disciplined law professor, and her admiration for the Bard from her father, a passionate Shakespeare scholar. When she gets dumped, out of the blue, for the Practically Perfect Ashley Lawson, she vows never to fall in love again. From now on she will control her own destiny, and every decision she makes will be highly reasoned and rational. She thinks Shakespeare would have approved.So when she is accepted to a summer Shakespeare symposium in Verona, Italy, Kate sees it as the ideal way to get over her heartbreak once and for all. She’ll lose herself in her studies, explore ancient architecture, and eat plenty of pasta and gelato. (Plus, she’ll be getting college credit for it–another goal accomplished ) But can even completely logical Kate resist the romance of living in a beautiful villa in the city where those star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet met and died for each other? Especially when the other Shakespeare Scholars–in particular Giacomo, with his tousled brown hair, expressive dark eyes, and charming ways–try hard to break her protective shell?”In fair Verona, where we lay our scene . . . ”

My Thoughts: Gotta love a good Shakespeare/travel to Italy/YA romance. This was a light, fluffy fun read complete with some “meh” writing but all-in-all a cute and satisfying beach read.
Some of the writing made me cringe but in the book’s defense I’m more “A” than “Y” so perhaps I just have a lower tolerance? It was definitely high school chatty-type writing that served it’s purpose but kinda grated on my nerves.
Kate is your typical YA star – pretty but doesn’t know it, grumpy but still had at least one good friend, headstrong but easily wooed by a pretty boy. And, Giacomo fits his mold perfectly as well.
The story is predictable but I’m a super for Shakespeare so I can’t complain much. 😉
Don’t let my cynicism prevent you from picking up this perfect Spring Break read. It is definiely “good” and it sure is fun. It would find space on my classroom’s book shelf but maybe not my shelf at home.


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Review: The Truth About Forever

 

Author: Sarah Dessen
Series: N/A
Publishing: May 11, 2004/Penguin Group/374 pages
Format Read: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Classroom shelfability: Yes
Rating:
Review Blue Egg 3
Summary (from GoodReads): That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.But sometimes unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?
My Thoughts: I was really nervous about this book. I am typically not a YA “regular” fiction kinda gal. I don’t really like books that don’t have some type of fantasy/paranormal/alternate universe thing goin’ on. I’ve always said “I don’t like reading books about real life or drama – I have enough of that in my own life!” Which is totes true, y’all.
For years I’ve heard wonderful things about Sarah Dessen and decided to pick up The Truth About Forever. The cover seemed the least offensive – no one was hugging on the beach or standing under the sun kissing.
The good news? I liked it! I really liked it! The bad? I “liked it” – didn’t love it, wouldn’t read another Dessen book, probably, but hey, progress is progress.
Dessen IS good at what she writes. The characters and the plot were both well developed. I felt connected to her characters, I was invested in their stories. There were just enough romantic elements without being overbearing. And I’ll admit it: I may have teared up at the end.. so sweet!
I typically find that YA books about teens, heartbreak, love, etc are pretty painful to read. Not true with Dessen. Everything was well balanced and she weaved a story that held my attention and had my rooting for and against all the right characters.
So, why 3 eggs? It was just “meh” to me. Perhaps I’m biased – I shouldn’t review non-fantasy/paranormal/adventure YA books because they really just aren’t my cup of tea. It was fun to experience the emotions of falling in love, having a great best friend, etc. but I’ve gotta be honest: I’d much rather prefer some magic or dare I even say it… vampires.
I think most people would enjoy this book. As I said, it is well written and it’s engaging. Dessen is a good author and there is no denying that. In addition, I’d put this on my classroom shelf – my kids would eat this book up. For my genre specific loving readers, this may be one to skip if you’re picky like me.


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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Oh Monday. You’re back. UGH.

I *finally* finished The Night Circus (cue the Hallelujah singing cherubs) and posted my review yesterday.

This week I decided to try another Kristin Cashore book!

Graceling was good (see review here) but I was a little underwhelmed and mentioned that I wanted more Bitterblue and Leck… well, my friends, ask and you shall receive! Kinda.

At the suggestion of one of my GoodReads friends, I picked up Bitterblue at the library and am already digging it. SO much better than Graceling! And, I get my Bitterblue along with some Leck, Po, and Katsa tied in. NICE. So far, so good. I hope it keeps up the momentum, mystery, and overall goodness.

In other book related news, I got tickets to see NEIL GAIMAN! Woohoo!! Hubby and I (along with some of my internet book club friends) will be off to be enchanted by NG himself in June. Just stare at his wonderfulness until my post tomorrow, go ahead:


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Review: Firelight

 

Author: Sophie Jordan
Series: Firelight #1
Publishing: September 7, 2010/ HarperTeen/326 pages
Format Read: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Classroom shelfability: Yes
Rating:
Blue EggSummary from GoodReads: Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will’s dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away;if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She’ll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide. 

My Thoughts: I wanted to LOVE this book. But, I didn’t. In fact, I really really really disliked this book. It had SO much potential too. IT’S ABOUT DRAGONS, PEOPLE. But, sadly, it was just like Twilight with dragons and dragon hunters.That’s the best possible way for me to describe it- Twilight with dragons. So much is the same– he tells her she shouldn’t hang out with him, she says he’s like an addicting drug, he has a posse, he’s “different”… I could go on and on. The parallels are endless. And annoying.So much of this book just seemed underplanned to me. For example, Jacinda does not like where she is living and wants to leave- she whines about it on every page. But doesn’t. And, I don’t get it. If she’s that miserable, why doesn’t she leave. She can literally FLY AWAY.

That said, I am intrigued by the Draki world and want to know more. I’d also like to know more about the hunters– do normal people not know about the dragons flyin’ around? Credit where credit is due: I like that the author created multiple types of dragons with different types of “abilities” and the gems that each family has seem very interesting. I just wish we had more about Draki than Jacinda’s crying.

I will admit that I read the preview for the next book. I was SUPER excited about a spoiler and considered reading the next in the series but I can’t bring myself to. Would my students love this book? Yes. Would dragon lovers like this book? Doubt it, or at least don’t compare it to any GOOD dragon lore. Would you like this book? Probs not. Skippable.


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Review: The Lightning Thief


Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Publishing: April 1, 2006/ Hyperion/375 pages
Format Read: NOOK
Source: Borrowed
Classroom shelfability: Yes
Rating:
Review Blue Egg 3

 

Summary from GoodReadsPercy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

My Thoughts: I foggily remembered the plot of this book because I saw the movie on an international flight. As a result, the book left me kind of underwhelmed.

First things first: I adore Greek mythology. Always have. That’s the number one reason I chose the movie on that plane. The good news is that the book on the whole is good. Not bad, not great– good. Average.

The characters are likeable enough. Percy is relatable and all of the characterization felt appropriate. I loved the basis of the backstory: a “summer camp” for half bloods. The different cabins, the kids, all a lot of fun. I wish we could’ve spent more time there instead of questing.

Riordan did a beautiful job describing things. I got a little weak kneeded at the descriptions of Olympus and the Underworld. And, I loved that Cerebus was a Rottie like my baby Bowser.

Another thing I really enjoyed was all of Percy & Co.’s encounters with different mythological beings. Their human tie-ins were funny and overall I think those scenes were some of the best parts of the book.

So what did I not like? Having spoiled the plot for myself. As I said, I was left pretty under-wow’d because I knew the twist from that dumb movie. While it was still fun to read, I probably should’ve skipped this one. However, I do believe that 3 eggs would be what I would’ve rated it had I seen the movie or not. The book was your average, fun, middle-grade read. And, my students would love it. It most certainly has shelfability in my classroom.

If you’ve seen the movie or don’t typically like middle grade YA, steer clear, although the mythological aspect is enough to pull most fantasy lovers in.