Friday, April 20, 2012

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Beastly is the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast set in modern NYC.  Despite Kyle's goth transformation in the movie, in the book he really is a beast.  Not quite lion, wolf, or bear, he walks upright but looks like an animal.  That slightly major detail is more true to the fairy tale and far less believeable as a love story.  I couldn't decide if I liked his beastliness or not.  Other than that I thought this was an enjoyable read.  Super fast- definitely an airplane book, but entertaining.  The language and writing is on a 14 or 15 year old level but some of the subject matter is too mature for 14 year olds (at least in my opinion).  Sex is alluded to a couple of times.  The beast also spends his nights fantasizing about sleeping with his true love.  There are no details, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with my 13 year old daughter reading it.  The writing in this book is not nearly as good as any of the Jessica Day George fairy tales which include a great deal more character development and attention to detail.  Although Beastly is not very substantial it was fun refined sugar that only took about 2 hours to read and I would like to read more of Alex Flinn's fairy tales.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Crossed by Ally Condie

I have to say Crossed was just meh for me. I felt like there was very little progress in the story from where it started to where it ended so it came off like a filler book for sales between the beginning and ending of the story (books 1 and 3). Maybe I'm off base but that is what I thought of it.  The story in this book could have been handled in a few chapters in one of the other books just as well.   You can't very well skip this one if you plan on reading Reached, the third installment in the trilogy.  However, it's not engaging and feels sort of futile when you finish and if you could skip it, that would be my recommendation.

**EDITED to add:
HUH.  I thought for sure I had reviewed Matched, the first book in this series.  I must have dreamed it because I distinctly remember writing a beautiful and detailed review about how much I loved the theme of the power of words in this story.  I love that poetry played an important role in the plot.  I loved the issue of self-determination.  I really liked the book and consider it something more substantial.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

In my effort to keep up with my son's reading I picked this up and read it last night.  Like most Newberry winners it deals with important/mature themes but the writing is very accessible and made both my son and I laugh out loud several times. 

The story is about an orphan runaway who spends some years in search of "home".  Along the way he touches the lives of several other people and finds love in unusual places.  The book deals with race, age, and education in such a way that they are important but lighthearted enough to not be depressing.

I would definitely recommend this book as something more substantial to intermediate readers who are ready for some thought-provoking themes.

Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson

A beautifully rendered memoir by the creator/author of the nieniedialogues (  In 2008, Stephanie and her husband Christian were in a plane crash.  He was burned over 40% of his body and she was over 80% of hers.  The book details the story of how they met, fell in love, got married, became parents and built a life together.  After the crash they painstakingly reclaimed that life piece by piece through their faith, their love for each other, and their family.  The story is a wonderfully honest account of their trials and joys.  At times humorous, and other times poignant, this memoir inspired and uplifted me.  I loved it.  It is triumphant and definitely something more substantial.