In My Mailbox (19)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. IMM is a wonderful way for bloggers to celebrate all the books that we have bought, borrowed, received, or downloaded during the week. 

Bought:

Hush, Hush

I so need to rest of this series before I start reading this. But hooray for finding a copy at BAM for $3.

Found this one in the book room at school: 

Grendel

How awesome, right? A retelling of Beowulf from the monster's point of view? Fabulous! And the best part... There are like 100 of these in the book room. So if it's as awesome as I think it will be, I can read it with my students! Win!


It's back to school time, so my book networking has lulled. I didn't think anyone would want to see my work related reads, but trust me, there are plenty. More than plenty, really. I will be busy for some time. =)


Review: Spoiled (Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan)

Spoiled
Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

 
Product Details:
Reading level: Young Adult
Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: Poppy (June 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0316098256 
Source: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review

SpoiledSixteen-year-old Molly Dix loves her ordinary life in suburban Indiana. When her single mother passes away, she’s shocked to discover that her biological father is Brick Berlin, world-famous movie star and red-carpet regular.

Equally intrigued and terrified by her Hollywood lineage, Molly moves to Southern California and plunges headfirst into the deep end of Beverly Hills celebrity life. Just as Molly thinks her new life and family couldn’t get any stranger, she meets Brooke Berlin, her gorgeous, spoiled half sister, who welcomes Molly to la-la land with a healthy dose of passive-aggressive “sisterly love.”

“People stopped talking and stared, brows furrowed, like they were at the zoo and Molly was an exotic animal they’d never heard of before. Behold, Los Angelenos, the world’s only Skittish Hoosier in captivity.” After her mother’s death, Molly finds herself the main exhibit for Los Angeles’ prying eyes. Her new school mates gape and make fun of her, and her new “sister” is the next in line for the throne of the far-away island of Royal Pain in the Arse. Brooke Berlin is self-centered, vindictive, and the complete opposite of the humanitarian image painted by her Wikipedia article entry. In fact, Brooke goes out of her way to make Molly’s life in Los Angeles unpleasant. But that doesn’t stop Molly, who is head-strong and determined to honor her mother’s dying wish: get to know your father.


Molly knew that moving to L.A. would not be an easy move, but she did not count on inheriting an arch-nemesis along with an uber rich celebrity family. If she thought her dad, Brick Berlin, would be of any help easing the transition from Indiana to California, she was mistaken. His busy acting career had him in a million places, none of which were at home. Left alone—and forced to share a room—Molly and Brooke have to survive junior year of high school… together.


When I first started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to think. My original biased pegged it as a celebrity parody without much of a plot. Because of that, I must admit it took me a while to “get into” the book. Oh, but into it I did go. When the plot began to form, I quickly became engrossed in the story. The conflict between Brooke and Molly was dynamic and worthy of prime time reality television.


The authors did a fantastic job of mimicking California slang and the stereotypes of celebrities and their children. Of course, it helps that the authors are both professional fashion writers/bloggers and know their subject very well. The humorous “insights” and character nuances actually had me laughing out loud at various times during the novel. The epilogue is especially enjoyable because it paints a hilarious image of father-daughter bonding gone awry.


I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to enjoy a good “beach read.” It has a good, believable plot, well developed characters, and plenty of sarcastic humor to keep you turning the pages.


Favorite Quotes:

“Brick was a perfect example of why literacy was overrated. He believed anything holistic-sounding as long as more than two posters on a message board agreed with it.”

“People stopped talking and stared, brows furrowed, like they were at the zoo and Molly was an exotic animal they’d never heard of before. Behold, Los Angelenos, the world’s only Skittish Hoosier in captivity.”


“’Tell the truth?’ Teddy suggested. ‘It’s a radical concept, but I learned from Sesame Street that it tends to be best.’”


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Review: Sparrow Road (Sheila O'Connor)

Sparrow Road
Sheila O'Connor 





Product Details:
Reading level:Middle Grades
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 12, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0399254587
Source: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review




It’s the summer before seventh grade, and twelve-year-old Raine O’Rourke’s mother suddenly takes a job hours from home at mysterious Sparrow Road—a creepy, dilapidated mansion that houses an eccentric group of artists. While Raine’s mother works as the cook and housekeeper, Raine is left to figure out why she and her mother have really come to Sparrow Road.

At first Raine is wary of the sprawling country estate, and she misses her grandpa Mac and life in Milwaukee terribly. But soon enough, Sparrow Road—with its starry night skies and lively artists, rowboat rides on the lake and bike trips to the nearby town of Comfort—begins to feel like home too, and she wants to know more about it and the children that once lived there.


Together, Raine and her new friend Josie decide to solve the mysteries of Sparrow Road—its haunting history as an orphanage; the secrets of its silent, brooding owner, Viktor; and the odd friendship between Viktor and an aging poet, Lillian. Secrets seem to be everywhere at Sparrow Road, but it’s an unexpected secret from Raine’s own life that changes her forever.

Upon her arrival at Sparrow Road, Raine is greeted by Viktor, the elderly recluse and owner of the sprawling estate. She is also met by his rules for living at Sparrow Road: Do not disturb the artists and no talking until dinner every day of the week, except for Sundays. For a twelve-year-old girl that has been mysteriously pulled from her home in Milwaukee, these rules are hard to accept. Luckily for Raine, Sparrow Road is full of very colorful characters to keep her company. Josie is eccentric and full of energy; an instant favorite of Raine. Lillian is an elderly woman full of kindness and love that helps Raine overcome her homesickness. Then there is Diego. Raine imagines Diego as the father that she never had. His laugh can fill an entire room, and his warm, gentle spirit can calm the roughest of seas.
When Raine finds a drawing of Sparrow Road in the winter time, hidden in the attic of the old house, she is instantly drawn to the mystery that surrounds her summer home. Diego encourages her to find and write the story behind the picture from the attic signed by twelve-year-old Lyman, an orphan living in the house many years ago. By asking “what was or what could be,” Raine begins to write Lyman’s story. What she doesn’t realize is that she is also writing her own in the process.

The characters in Sparrow Road are fantastic. You can picture Josie with her “rainbow colored hair” and patchwork dresses. Lillian’s frailty and age becomes evident through the description of her skin feeling “like a well worn bed sheet.” The physical descriptions of the characters match the personality that is penned for each within the pages of the novel. The author, Sheila O’Conner, does a brilliant job of mixing lively characters with beautiful descriptive language. I fell in love with each and every character, especially Raine. She was wise beyond her twelve years and the (physical) bond that brought her family together.

The stories that entwine at Sparrow Road are not always pleasant stories. There is a considerable degree of sadness that marks the lives of the characters in the story. However, there is a constant reminder of hope—like the charm Raine wears around her neck—that lingers in their lives as well. Sparrow Road is a layered tale of friendship, forgiveness, and what it means to be a family.


Favorite Quotes:


"You are a question I will carry through Februaries far into my future."

"Sparrow Road... It was a place for wishing long and dreaming..."

"In my dream you are a lost night."


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