Monday, February 20, 2017

The Best Bear in All the World

The Best Bear in All the World
By A.A. Milne, Kate Saunders, Brian Sibley, Mark Burgess, Paul Bright, Jeanne Willis
Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016
Source: My Own Bookshelf
Audience: Children

From Goodreads:
The Trustees of the Pooh Properties have commissioned four authors to write in the timeless style of A.A. Milne to create a quartet of charming new adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall: take a trip back to the Hundred Acre Wood with a collection of tales sure to delight year-round.

One story finds Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet on a quest to discover the "Sauce of the Nile" (they suspect it's apple). And in another, all the animals rally around poor Eeyore when he thinks he sees another donkey eyeing his clover. Readers of all ages will love rediscovering old friends and making new ones in this essential new volume of Pooh stories.

The book feature beautiful color artwork in the style of Ernest H. Shepard by Mark Burgess.

The Best Bear in All the World was wonderful. Even though it took no time at all to read, I was delighted. It definitely was true to the original stories, and I loved that a penguin visited the Hundred Acre Wood, and how he was described. They characters went on adventures and enriched their friendships. I had a wonderful time reading it, and I’m so glad it was well done.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Home Sweet Motel

Home Sweet Motel
Chris Grabenstein
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016
Source: E-Galley/Library
Audience: Children, Younger Teens

From Goodreads:
Eleven-year-old P.T. Wilkie may be the greatest storyteller alive. But he knows one thing for a fact: the Wonderland Motel is the best place a kid could ever live! All-you-can-eat poolside ice cream! A snack machine in the living room! A frog slide! A giant rampaging alligator! (Okay, that last one may or may not be made up.) There’s only one thing the Wonderland doesn’t have, though—customers. And if the Wonderland doesn’t get them soon, P.T. and his friend Gloria may have to say goodbye to their beloved motel forever. 
They need to think BIG. They need to think BOLD. They need an OUTRAGEOUS plan. Luckily for them, Gloria is a business GENIUS, and OUTRAGEOUS is practically P.T.’s middle name. With Gloria’s smarts and P.T.’s world-famous stories and schemes, there’s got to be a way to save the Wonderland! 

Chris Grabenstein’s newest novel didn’t disappoint! It’s less intense and literary than his Mr. Lemoncello books, but still mysterious, adventurous and exciting. The family business, the Wonderland Motel, was in jeopardy. P.T. and Gloria, a guest, came up with hilarious and fun ways to make money for the motel, which were delightful enough - but then they uncovered a mystery. I couldn’t have asked for more! I’m looking forward to the rest of the Wonderland books, and I am hoping to read them to my after-school group!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter

Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter
By Lee Goldberg
Signet, 2006
Source: My Own Bookshelf
Audience: Older Teens, Adults

From Goodreads:
A blackmailer, a dead detective, and a mysterious letter that make an unusual request of Dr. Sloan: avenge a murder.

The Dead Letter was slow going. Seriously, it took me forever to read. Normally, I fly through these paperbacks. However, The Dead Letter’s mystery was cumbersome. It had too many characters and too many plot lines. It didn’t capture my interest, but I enjoyed the twist and how Dr. Sloan proved what happened at the end of the book. (I also liked the jab about writing five lame mysteries a year that seemed to be aimed at James Patterson.)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker
Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010
Audience: All Teens
Source: My Own Bookshelf

From Goodreads:
In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life...

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.

I am pretty much over dystopian in general. Too much in too little time! However, I loved Ship Breaker. It was gritty, swashbuckling, I cared about the characters, and I loved the action. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the romance angle. It seemed forced, like the book was written and the editor said, “It needs romance,” so Bacigalupi threw in a few scenes to make him or her happy. I can’t wait until I have time to read the second book!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bleed, Blister, Puke and Purge

Bleed, Blister, Puke and Purge: The Dirty Secrets Behind Early American Medicine
J. Marin Younker
Zest Books, 2016
Source: E-Galley
Audience: Older Teens

From Goodreads:
Riots over the medical use of cadavers. Public access to institutions for the insane. And full-blown surgeries without the aid of anesthetics or painkillers. Welcome to the middle ages of American medicine. Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge exposes the extraordinary practices and major players of American medical history, from the colonial era to the late 1800s. It’s hard to believe that today’s cutting-edge medicine originated from such crude beginnings, but this book reminds us to be grateful for today’s medical care, while also raising the question: what current medical practices will be the horrors of tomorrow?

Ooo, gross! Believe the title! While the cover of the book looks basic and scientific, don’t be fooled. Disgusting stories and graphic descriptions of pus, historical medical procedures and malpractice await you! This is one nonfiction book that ISN’T boring.

Teenage boys, future medical professionals and reluctant readers will adore Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge. I’m not a big gross-out person, but I found Younker’s book delightfully disgusting. I had a great time retelling my favorite stories to my friends. It’ll definitely make you thankful for modern medicine!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil
Soman Chainani
HarperCollins, 2013
Source: Library
Audience: Older Children

From Goodreads:
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Well The School for Good and Evil sounded like it would be perfect for me.

I was so excited to read it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like it.

What really turned me off was the mentioning of suicide. It came up twice, and it really bothered me. One character suggested to another that s/he (I don’t remember which) commit suicide and it was never addressed as being potentially harmful to someone. As a matter of fact, the whole story revolved around bullying, but lessons weren’t explained in the writing. No one corrected evil behavior or explained potential consequences in any way. Nothing in thoughts or dialogues, or even “what ifs” from the narrator. Even the shallow “good” characters never truly addressed evil behavior alternatives. Overall, character development was slow and thinly written, adding to my dislike of the book. Adventure and bathroom humor were well-done, but it wasn’t enough to keep this adult’s attention and it made me worried that if children read this book, they would think it was ok to tell someone to go kill themselves because they were ugly.

All of these problems may have been fixed by the end of the book, but it completely lost me after the second suicide comment, and I will never know.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Princess Diarist

The Princess Diarist
Carrie Fisher
Blue Rider Press, 2016
Source: E-Galley, Library
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Warsmovie. 

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

Well, I mean to read this book a long time ago. I’m kind of glad I didn’t get around to it until after Carrie Fishers untimely passing. I’m terribly sad that she died so suddenly, but reading it afterwards shone her last book in a different light. Everything seemed so final; it was like she was wrapping up her story. Honestly, I was hoping for more information about her affair with Harrison Ford because I’m nosy, but I appreciated what she did tell us. While I liked the new parts that she wrote for this book, I was incredibly bored by the journal entries from when she was younger. I definitely skimmed those. I’m sure the past entries meant a lot to her, and I’m guessing they’ll mean more to die-hard fans than me. However, I enjoyed her wiser, seasoned, more humorous perspective on things that happened to her in the past as opposed to reading about how she felt when they were happening to her.