Picture Book Saturday: The Bramble

The Deets:
Audience: wee ones
pages: 44
Publisher: September 1st 2013 by Carolrhoda Books
ISBN: 9780761358565
Genre: picture book
Source: eARC from publisher via Netgalley

The Bramble

Cameron desperately wants to play tag with the older boys, who laugh at him for not being able to touch any of them, but when he tumbles into a bramble Cameron finds himself in another world where his talents are appreciated.

Think of The Bramble as a anti-bullying book that meets Where the Wild Things Are. Cameron wants to play with the older kids, but they won't let him. They pick on him because of his size. What little kid can't relate to that, huh?

But then something amazing happens. Cameron follows this interesting creature (a la Alice and the White Rabbit) through a bramble to discover that he's pretty amazing. When he does venture back to his world, he's ready to play with the big kids.

I really liked that this book had hardly any words. The pictures told the story, which is perfect for smaller readers. I love the idea of kids reading along and adding their own dialogue and commentary to the story. The plot ideas are endless.

Review: A Wounded Name (Dot Hutchinson)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 320
Genre: retelling (Shakespeare), paranormal
Source: eARC from Netgalley

A Wounded NameThere's a girl who could throw herself head first into life and forge an unbreakable name, an identity that stands on its own without fathers or brothers or lovers who devour and shatter.
Sixteen-year-old Ophelia Castellan will never be just another girl at Elsinore Academy. Seeing ghosts is not a skill prized in future society wives. Even when she takes her pills, the bean sidhe beckon, reminding her of a promise to her dead mother.

Now, in the wake of the Headmaster's sudden death, the whole academy is in turmoil, and Ophelia can no longer ignore the fae. Especially once she starts seeing the Headmaster's ghosts- two of them- on the school grounds.

At the center of her crumbling world is Dane, the Headmaster's grieving son. He, too, understands the power of a promise to a parent- even a dead one. To him, Ophelia is the only person not tainted by deceit and hypocrisy, a mirror of his own broken soul. And to Ophelia, Dane quickly becomes everything. Yet even as she gives more of herself to him, Dane slips away. Consumed by suspicion, rage, and madness, he spirals towards his tragic fate- dragging Ophelia, and the rest of Elsinore, with him.
Yet even in the face of certain death, Ophelia has a choice to make- and a promise to keep. She is not the girl others want her to be. But in Dot Hutchison's dark and sensuous debut novel, the name "Ophelia" is as deeply, painfully, tragically real as "Hamlet".

Let me start by saying that this cover sucked me in. It's gorgeous! Then I read the summary and realized it was a retelling of Hamlet. I am a sucker for retellings of the classics. I love the fresh spins they bring when they are done correctly.

Unfortunately, I would not consider this one "done correctly." I tried. I truly did. I even made it to 81% complete before I just couldn't stand to read further. I finally gave up because, indeed, I do know how this story ends so I didn't feel the need to continue.

My biggest complaint with A Wounded Name was Ophelia herself. What an absolute mess. She took so much physical abuse from Hamlet that I found myself deeply annoyed with her. Maybe I was missing this whole victim mentality because that is not who I am, but it didn't seem right. He would choke her and leave bruises (and at times all but force himself on her) and she went along with it. She'd complain to herself about the abuse, but say she loved him soooo much that it was basically okay for him to do it because it was "her pain to carry"-- or some load of crap similar to that. All that being said, she came across as weak and pathetic. I read another retelling of Hamlet a few years back titled Ophelia that was incredible. That Ophelia was everything the foil to Hamlet should be. This mess of a girl was too pitiful to side with.

The writing also slowed me up at times. It was flowery and fluent, but also too much at times. I loved the poetic quality of some of the descriptions, but at times it seemed too long winded. I can say the author did a fine job of finding ways to use actual lines from the play in the book. Having them be spoken by Dane (aka Hamlet) during his bouts of craziness gave it a nice touch.

The paranormal element that was working in the story never fit for me. I see the ratings for the book are at 4.03 on Goodreads, so it obviously worked for others! I just don't know why I couldn't buy into it. Of course, I also did not finish this book so maybe I missed out on that critical piece. That may be too bad for me, because I have no plans to go back and finish those 50 or so remaining pages.

Review: Endure (Carrie Jones)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 272
Publisher: May 8th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
ISBN: 9781599905549
Genre: paranormal, mythology
Source: library copy

Endure (Need, #4)Zara is at the center of an all-out war, and an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Bedford is being ravaged by evil pixies and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends, she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king…

I'm going to be one of those people that bursts someone's bubble because I felt Endure lacking something special. I have said this in my reviews of the other books in the series, but Nick annoys me. I was completely put off in book 2 with his over use of the word "baby". When he called Zara baby in this book, I felt the hair on my neck stand up. Instant annoyance.

Luckily, Nick only plays a supporting role in Endure. He's there, but he isn't the center of everything. Personally, I felt like he was a big pile of poo, but I went a long with the story. The only thing that kept me reading was the mythology. It is very hard to find YA books that incorporate Norse mythology. When I discovered the twist in the series during book 3, I knew I had to see where things would go. It was the mythology that drew me in. I would dare to say that fans of mythology would enjoy this to some degree because the author did do a nice job of incorporating the myths into a story about the Fae.

Do I consider this one 4 star worthy like many on Goodreads? Heck no. I'm not even sure I would rate it at all. It was just one of those things I felt inclined to read, but didn't care if I did or not. I hate to say it, but it's one of those take it or leave it kind of series, and you wouldn't really be missing anything earth shattering if you decided to leave it.

Review: Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 485
Publisher: March 2007 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: paranormal, fantasy
Source: my own copy

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . .

Better to be tardy to the party than to never attend at all, right? That pretty much sums my main stream reading up in a nutshell. It seems like I am always way behind the fan club when it comes to my reading. I just read City of Bones, despite numerous people telling me how awesome it was. I probably would have waited even longer to read this, had it not been for the movie coming out in a few weeks. (I have this thing about reading the book before I see the movie.)

That being said, I finally sat down and started reading City of Bones.... and I finished it a few days later. I would have had it read in less time than that, but I kept being dragged away from my reading spot by friends. When I did get to read, I couldn't put it down. I even found myself trying to read it all bleary-eyed and delusional from lack of sleep. Cassandra Clare has a way with words!

The story grabbed me from the start. Since I had seen the movie trailer at least three times before starting the book, I had a little something to go on. (I am going to stop right now though and say how horrible I think the casting for Jace is. He is nothing like the book character. I seriously hate Hollywood's choices sometimes. I can also deal with Clary, but I think her hair should be a brighter red.) My favorite aspect of the book has to be the wit behind the characters. Jace and Clary were uproariously funny at times. It did not seemed forced, either. I was impressed that there was a natural flow to the dialogue that seemed natural, almost as if I was talking with my group of friends. How can you not connect with the characters when they come across like that? Here is an example:

"So when the moon's only partyly full, you only feel a little wolfy?" Clary asked.
"You could say that."
"Well, you can go ahead and hang your head out the car window if you feel like it."
Luke laughed. "I'm a werewolf, not a golden retriever."

Love this! I seriously chuckled so many times as I read this book.

I also want to give props for the world building. The Shadowhunter aspect was original and captivating. A lot of effort was made to make the modern world blend in with this super secret alternate reality. Everything worked well together and was believable. You could imagine this setting as you read.

Obviously, I enjoyed City of Bones. I'm hooked. I shall be reading the rest of this series soon because I need more Jace.

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