Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Smiles to Go

Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli was an okay read. It was recommended to me by a friend who has gave it rave reviews, but I found it to be just okay. Definitely not my favorite book by Spinelli, but entertaining to say the least. This tells the story of Will Tuppence and revolves around the death of the proton. Will was told when he was little about how protons never die-which changed Will's life when he was a kid. It's when the first reports of proton death make the news that Will's life changes forever. From then on, Will decides to take more risks and document his life from the day the proton died. The story is full of heart, friendship, and unique personality. This is definitely an interesting take on the coming of age story; the sub-plot of Will's little sister being the biggest pain in his backside and their run-ins was funny to read, and being the older sibbling, I definitely related. Once again, not the best Spinelli novel I've read, but his definitions of character, voice and humor ring true, and is what Spinelli does best.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew was a fun read, and an interesting twist on the original Alice in Wonderland tale. It isn't necessarily a "book" so much as it's a comic book, or a "graphic novel" as the book publishing snobs now call them- whatever. It looks like a comic book, ergo it IS a comic book. There isn't too much to say about this book other than the illustrations are BEAUTIFUL and full of depth and dynamic, and the storyline is interesting.

Wonderland tells the tale of Maryann, the maidservant to Mr. Rabbit/the white rabbit (this is the maidservant that Mr. Rabbit mistakes Alice for in the movie). The book pretty much takes you on a fun romp through Wonderland, exploring the interesting (and odd) nooks and crannies of the place. While there you meet the Queen of Heart's other sisters (the Queens of Spades, Clubs and Diamonds) as well as the newly transformed drugged Caterpillar, and find a rebel group of animals who follow the Alice Monster and her teachings. Odd though this book may be, it's a nice break away from reality and what may be the norm in reading. Though the book is beautiful to flip through, there isn't really a storyline to the book. I'm not sure if I would ever read it again because there wasn't any foundation to the tale, but I know I'll end up flipping through it just for the illustrations.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Savvy by Ingrid Law was a bit of a disappointment for me. I was so excited to read this book because of its premise and amazing cover, but was letdown once I began to learn about what makes a "savvy" for each person in Mississippi Beaumont's (Mibs) family. A savvy is a magical power of sorts- Mibs' grandpa can move mountains and land, her brother can create hurricanes, and one of her great-aunts went back in time 20 minutes every time she sneezed. On her mother's side of the family, every time a kid in their family turns 13, their savvy presents itself, which is where the beginning of this book opens up: Mibs is a day away from her 13th birthday and she can't wait to find out what her savvy is. But then her dad gets in a car accident the day before her birthday, and suddenly all Mibs can hope for is a savvy that can save her poppa. It's when Mibs believes that her savvy can help her dad wake up from his coma that she decides to steal a bible salesman's bus to try and wake her dad up from his coma with the help from her savvy.

WARNING: I'm about to tell you Mibs' savvy in the next paragraph- brace yourselves.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. And I even spent more time trying to get through the author's overreached prose than I normally do with any other given book. But this book was somewhat of a flop to me. I think one of the problems that I had with the premise of the story was how Mibs' savvy presents itself. After having an awesome setup of literal earthshaking savvys that had something to do with the physical world around them (ground moving, creating hurricanes, moving back in time when sneezes commence, etc.), hers felt not only like a letdown, but like she was given a lesser savvy because she was a girl (Law actually leans towards this reasoning in the book). I don't want to read about a main character who's power is to hear people's inner thoughts through their body art- mainly because (and I know this is going to sound prejudiced and biased, and totally horrible of me) the people who get tattoos are not people that I want to be associated with. No offense to anyone who has a tattoo, but I really don't want to hear the thoughts of people who have them. To me, it just seems as if their thoughts are dirtier (again, I'm sorry to anyone who may be reading this who happens to have a tattoo). Having a main character that associates with those kinds of people (and Law seems to make it a good thing) bothers me. I don't want it to bother me, but I can't help it. It was at this point (once Mibs' savvy presented itself) that I decided to skim the rest.

I felt Law was trying too hard- the main idea of the story was great until it got to the turning point where Mibs' father gets hurt. I love her idea of savvys and powers, but I could tell that this was her first book; Law had no idea where to take the story after coming up with the great story idea. Also, it felt as if she was trying too hard to make her prose "cute" or "whimsical" and original. That drove me crazy. If she would just take out the random "prosy-poetical" one-liners, the story would flow better and keep me from my mental grinding and mumbled curses.

I can see how the premise of the book made it a contender for the Newbery, but I don't think it should have won an honor position at all. Law's lack of control of the language throughout the novel was obvious that it was her first novel and that she didn't have experience under her belt. I am, however, extremely glad this book didn't win the Newbery; I think that Savvy should have gone through a couple more revisions before it was sold to the general public. Hopefully Law will grow out of her overreaching, "cutesy", lofty prose by the time she writes her next novel. Either that, or her editors should do a better job of editing her paragraph structure.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I read the graphic novel. I saw the movie in 3-D. I finally read the book. Man, it took a long time to get me to read this book. I really enjoyed the story, but the third time around was a little bit of an overkill. Don't get me wrong- I liked the book and the story's premise, but just reading the book after I had seen the movie and read the graphic novel not too long ago was a little much and really repetitive. But nonetheless, it's still a good read.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is about one very bored girl who has just recently moved with her parents into a house in the English countryside. The house is so big that it's separated into four different parts with a crazy old man named Mr. Bobo living upstairs with his circus of mice, and the two eccentric ex-actresses Mrs. Spink and Mrs. Forcible living in the basement part of the house with their pack of Highland terriers. In her effort to curb her boredom and fight the dreary weather, Coraline visits both apartments to talk with the boarders, but finds only older people who don't listen to anything Coraline has to say, who constantly pronounce her name incorrectly- they say CAroline and not COraline.

Through Coraline's endless wanderings she ends up finding a little door in her house that opens to a wall of bricks, yet when she unlocks it a second time in the middle of the night, finds that it leads to another world. Of course she explores the world and sees that it's an alternate reality that was set up by her Other Mother, a woman who looks exactly like her mom but has black buttons for eyes, and seems to want to constantly please Coraline so that she will stay there with her other parents forever. Other than the fact that her other parents are extremely creepy, the other world seems nice enough: her toys all come to life and play with her, the cat that followed her through the doorway can speak to her, and her food and clothes options are exciting and limitless. Yet Coraline knows there's something not right about the other world, and trying to get back to her real world and parents is a little challenging when your Other mother wants to sew buttons on your eyes so that you can stay with her forever.

The story is truly engaging and creative; we've all been in Coraline's situation, trying to find things to do to take away the boredom. Gaiman has a certain mastery over his character descriptions and his attention to detail that makes the story that much more clever and enjoyable to read. I definitely recommend this book to anyone, just don't read it three times within a couple of months!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Book Buying Obsession for May

Once again, a slightly embarrassing list of books that I've bought this month.

From the bookstore:
Dragon Spear- Jessica Day George
The Wednesday Wars- Gary D. Schmidt
Iodine- Haven Kimmel (it was $1 at Borders- I couldn't resist)
Goddess of Yesterday- Caroline B. Cooney
Princess Ben- Catherine Murdock
The Last Olympian- Rick Riorday
Fablehaven 4: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary- Brandon Mull

From the library book sale:
Orlando Bloom has ruined everything: A FoxTrot collection- Bill Ament (comics)
The Ruby in the Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery- Philip Pullman
About the B'nai Bagles- E.L. Konigsburg
Search of the Moon King's Daughter- Linda Holeman
Skullduggery Pleasant- Derek Landy

I just have to say that half of the books on my list wouldn't be possible without the $50 gift card I got to Barnes and Noble from my awesome Aunt Sue! Thank you again!