Friday, October 30, 2015

Reviews, Reviews

Hello Lovelies!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a billion reviews to catch up on. I probably should be doing homework, but I'm at that midsemester slump where everything sounds terrible. So I want to do anything besides homework.

So here's more of what I've been reading lately.

Published: 1964
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Received: Bought a kindle edition!

I remember doing a unit on this book in the 6th grade. It was so much fun, and I loved it, even though I hated the old movie. And when the newer film came out, I still wasn't a huge fan. There's something about putting this story into a visual tale that changes it. 

Charlie Buckett wins a chance to visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory -- a place which no one has entered in years. He brings along his grandfather. Together the two of them see amazing things and watch misadventure after misadventure occur. 

I still really enjoy this book. It's imaginative and funny. Now that I'm older, I can see how didactic Roald becomes about television -- I can only imagine what he might say about the internet and smart phones. I would recommend this book to every one who enjoys a little humor, particularly on the darker side. 

Published: January 1, 2010
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Received: Borrowed from the library!

Cassel's brothers are curse workers. His whole family is, actually. Everyone but him. And he's not allowed to tell anyone because curse workers are illegal. So he brushes off incidences as coincidences, and he keeps running his gambling ring. But at night he dreams of a white cat who reminds him of a girl he killed years ago. The only girl he ever loved. So when Cassel starts to question his life, he has to follow the questions to answers he might not want to know.

I really enjoyed this book! It's my first venture into a Holly Black novel (although I've read a few of her short stories). While I found this book to be largely predictable, I liked watching it unfold. The ending surprised me! I'm excited to see what happens next in the series. Black really excels at world-building. I totally believed that magic was a somewhat normal aspect of the world, and that magic would of course lead to mobs. 

I would suggest this book to fans of fantasy books with magic and good characterization. 

Published: 1954
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
Received: Bought a copy for class!

Half Magic is one of those books for young readers that is at turns witty and amusing but because of its dated publication can also be a little bit problematic.

When the eldest of four siblings realizes a coin she had picked up causes wishes to come true--or at least half true--the siblings have a series of misadventures featuring knights, aliens, gold, ghosts, and a half-talking cat. This book delights in figuring out how to twist wishes to be half fulfilled and equally revels in the kids figuring out how to double wish for what they want. Like Phantom Tollbooth, Half Magic tries--and mostly succeeds--at making learning fun and natural. I was disappointed in the few instances of casual racism involving an Arab man and some "Indians". Overall, the book is worth reading, and worth reading to children, it just also involves a bit of mediation.

I would recommend for fans of The Phantom Tollbooth and Five Children and It

Published: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Received: E-galley at Netgalley. Thanks Disney-Hyperion!

Liddi Jantzen is the only daughter of the Jantzen family and surrounded by papparazzi. Her family members are leaders in the tech-world, and Liddi is expected to follow in their footsteps. But one night her brothers go missing. And when she asks the manager of their company to look into it, Liddi ends up on the run for her life, unable to say a single word.

Lewis' retelling of the The Wild Swans had me entranced. I loved the sci-fi world building. I loved how problems of today's society were neatly integrated, creating a feeling of familiarity and current-ness, even though the book was feasibly set in the future. Lewis does a fantastic job of focusing and maintaining priority of the sibling relationship. While there is a bit of a love story, it's unobtrusive and seems natural. 

I really enjoyed this book. I have been recommending it, and I can't wait to pick up Lewis' other novel, Stitching Snow. I would recommend this book to fans of retellings, readers who want a little (easily-accessible) science fiction, and people who want relateable female characters.

Published: 1975
Publisher: Bradbury Books
Received: Borrowed from the library

Katharine meets Michael at a New Year's Eve party, and within a short while they are dating. Katharine is so serious that she picks up birth control from Planned Parenthood. Michael invites her over to his sister's empty apartment. And know what happens next. But even though they are devoted to each other and plan to go to college together, their parents insist they spend the summer apart. 

I thought I might have read this book about six years ago, but I wasn't entirely sure. So I picked it up to reread it for class. It wasn't until I got to the very last chapter that I realized, I had in fact read it. While this book is fairly descriptive in its sexual scenes, I don't feel like there's much else to it. I don't think it's particularly interesting--in fact, I find it very boring. It's also obviously dated. It's forty years old! I know it was ground-breaking, and in many ways, other novels have not been as clinically descriptive. However, it just doesn't do much for me anymore.

I would recommend it to teens who want to know more about sex and romance as part of a broad spectrum of books.

Published: 2005
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Received: Own a copy!

Miles Halter is finally going to have an adventure. He's memorized the last words of famous people, but he's ready to actually experience life. He's switching to a boarding school. At Culver Creek, he finds himself becoming friends with a group of people who aren't afraid to break rules, to pull pranks, and to get disgustingly drunk on disgusting alcohol. One of these people is Alaska Young, a girl who Miles has fallen head over heels in love with. But she has a boyfriend, and as their year moves forward, life changes everything.

I first read Looking for Alaska about six years ago. It had been out, and my friend loved it. So I gave it a shot, and I wasn't entirely sold. This read-through, I loved it. I think for some people the format and context can be startling. This time I knew what was going to happen, and I was prepared. I wasn't trying to guess the twists and turns (it's not a mystery novel, calm down Sherlock [I say to myself]). I know many people find fault in the book because they come to it after reading Green's other novels. However, this book has some really lovely prose and a lot of heart. 

I would recommend this to fans of Green's other works, as well as contemporary fiction fans. 

Okay, that's all for now, Lovelies! I have to do real life things like make dinner and write a paper. Let me know if you've read any of these in the comments! Is anyone horribly offended that I'm not a Forever fan?

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