Thursday, April 28, 2011

Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

I hate to write negative reviews, but I really did not care for “Two Moon Princess” by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban. It looks like I am alone in this camp. It’s not that I hated it. Ms. Ferreiro-Esteban’s writing style just didn’t jive with me. I felt like it was a lot of telling instead of showing, which as you know from some of my previous reviews, is a pet peeve of mine. I know this is something difficult to do as I’ve learned from my writer friends. To be honest, I don’t know how you guys do it! With my job, I get critiqued and sometimes, yeah, it hurts when it is negative, but in the end, I know that I got paid to do the job the director wanted. But with writers, it’s YOUR baby. Sure you have editors and whatnot, but in the end, it’s your work and you don’t get paid unless people like it. That is ROUGH and I admire anyone who has the guts to write. You have to lay it all out there.

Anyways, back to “Two Moon Princess", the plot is really quite interesting. It’s about a headstrong young princess who wants nothing more than to be a knight, but her parents have other plans. They’ve indulged her, but now that she’s 14 (17 in our world) it’s time for her to learn to be a lady. Problem is, Andrea isn’t lady material! She lives in a medieval period world that legend says holds portals or doors to other worlds, including Earth where Andrea’s ancestors originally came from. Well, Princess Andrea ends up traveling between our world and her own .. and learns a lot about people and herself along the way.

Sounds really cool right? I think it has the potential to be an amazing story, but just falls short due to the writing. That’s just me though. Lots of people obviously really love it and if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you, then you should check it out. The pacing is slow at the top, but it really picks up toward the end. It’s definitely different than anything else I’ve seen recently and will make for a refreshing read for fantasy and even time travel lovers who want something a little different.

“Two Moon Princess” is published by Tanglewood Press. I received a digital copy for review. It was published in June of 2010 so you can find it at your local bookstore or online today!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

If you have a little one, then I’m sure you’re already aware of Sandra Boynton and her cute little books full of fun rhymes and songs. So many of her books are favorites in our house (especially “Moo Baa La La La!” and “Barnyard Dance”). However for today’s installment of E’s Pick of the Week is “The Going-To-Bed Book”. E and I both are loving this book. It’s a joy to read and Elliot loves seeing the animals going through a similar routine to his own.

I would definitely recommend it to any parent to add to their night time routine, especially if your child has trouble following it. My little guy was especially enthusiastic to brush his teeth after he saw the animals brushing theirs!

“The Going-To-Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton is published by Little Simon (Simon & Schuster) and is available in board book form. You can get it at your local bookstore or online. Let us know if you do. We love to get feedback.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Yay for Greek books! I am LOVING these awesome Greek-based paranormal stories like Josephine Angelini’s “Starcrossed” (who will be on next month BTW) and Aimee Carter’s “The Goddess Test”. They have all been so good! It’s like blending together two of my favorite types of story.. historical and fantasy/paranormal. Yum!

Meg Cabot’s addition to the Greek based trend is “Abandon”, which is a set up book for the rest of the series. I have to admit, I was a tad disappointed in this book. Not because it was bad.. I mean it’s Meg Cabot, it’s not going to be BAD. I just wanted more. The action/plot doesn’t really pick up until just before the book is over. It is definitely worth the wait though and I am anxious to read the sequel, “Underworld”. “Abandon” is all set up. You meet our heroine, Pierce, who is very similar to Meg’s other heroines. She’s fun, a bit sassy, and a very well-written teenager. You learn her past, that she had a NDE (near death experience) where she met our broody love interest, John Hayden, the current keeper of her area’s underworld. She escaped the underworld, leaving a heartbroken John in her wake. After her NDE, her life slowly falls apart. Her parents divorce, her friendships deteriorate, and her life just seems wrong. John is also there every step of the way. Her parents, teachers and psychologists say John was never real, but then where did her necklace come from and why does he show up when she’s in trouble? Pierce wants some answers and when she moves back to the island where she first met John, she’s determined to get them.

The back story bounces back and forth between the past and the present and can be a bit disjointed at times. There were a few times I said aloud “Come on Meg!” because Pierce would reveal something so matter-of-fact like that you thought you missed it in the previous pages. However, it would soon unravel and you’d learn the whole story. Everything in the back story tied up neatly in the end, but it was a bit of a bumpy ride.

As I have mentioned, this book is ¾ back story and ¼ plot. Once you get to the juicy, angsty romance and the action sequences at the very end, you will be aching for more. You just have to get there. I promise, it’s worth the wait. Without giving you any spoilers, I’ll just say that Meg Cabot can really write some DEEEEEELICIOUS broody young men. Mm hmm. I cannot wait for the next addition to this series to find out what happens to Pierce and John. Can it please be out already?

“Abandon” is published by Point/Scholastic. I received an ARC to review from the publisher. It is scheduled to be released on April 26th of this year.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

E's Pick of the Week - Happy Easter, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond

Okay, I swear that I do NOT choose these books. I just write every week about what book my son is currently obsessed with. It just happens that this week's obsession is seasonally appropriate. He got "Happy Easter, Mouse!" by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond this week as a present from my sister. He loooooves this book. He is just starting to learn all his colors and this book talks about eggs in all his favorite ones. There are purple eggs and "ga-reeeeeeen" eggs. What more can you ask for? The illustrations are adorable. It's cute, simple (so perfect for my younger toddler), and a quick read. I love that it is in board book form. He loves his other "If you give..." books, but they are not board books so he isn't allowed to play with them.

So, if you're looking for a last minute Easter Bunny gift, check out this book. I am sure your little one will love it as much as mine does.

"Happy Easter, Mouse" is published by Balzer+Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins). You can find this book in board book form at your local bookstore or online.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Exciting announcement

Hi my book lovin' friends. So, no review today. I know, I'm sorry. I'm behind on my reading right now. I know, I know. You must be thinking "Well Michelle, what could be SO important that you aren't reading?" Well... two things.

1. I fell in love with the Mortal Instruments series (I know I'm SO behind the times) so I've been reading those.
2. I've been working on a top secret project with Reading Everywhere's Allison.

See, I have been busy! I swear. I don't just stop reading. That would be like ... stopping breathing. CRAZINESS. Since I can't share my review of "Abandon" by Meg Cabot with you today (what I'm currently reading).... I guess I'll just have to share with you what my secret project is.

Are you ready?

Are you sure????

OKAY! It is a young adult literature and music podcast. Too cool, right? Each month Allison and I will be interviewing an author or two about their books, what it's like to be a writer, etc. We will also be discussing young adult lit gossip and the new releases from that month.

You can check it all out over at

Our first podcast features an awesome interview with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black.. We'll also be giving away some swag. This month, it's a pair of "Red Glove" mittens that I picked up at ALA.

I hope you'll be able to stop by and give the podcast a listen. The show will generally be between 15-20 minutes long. Please go listen, follow and leave a comment on the podcast. We'd love your feedback. :D If you have any book or author suggestions too, let us know. We'd love to know who our listeners would like us to interview.

Well I'll be back here again soon with a review of "Abandon". Scouts honor! Until then, listen to Authors are ROCKSTARS! ok?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CLICK, CLACK, MOO - Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

E’s Pick of this Week comes from author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin.. it’s... dun dun dun... “CLICK, CLACK, MOO - Cows That Type”, a Caldecott Honor Book. This book is beyond adorable. It’s a story of Farmer Brown and his talented cows who have found a typewriter in the barn. They put their new typing skills to work to make demands of Farmer Brown. Farmer Brown is not too happy about this and they go back & forth until a compromise can be reached through their mediator, Duck. Unfortunately for Farmer Brown, Duck has his own motives for wanting to help.

E loves this book. The illustrations are fantastic, full of bright colors and a different style than his other books. He asks for this book by name (that being “Moo!”). We have gone on now to buy him a few other books in the series since he loves this installment so much. The others aren’t quite as good, but he loves them all. It’s a great way to introduce farm animals and the idea of compromise to your little one.

“CLICK, CLACK, MOO - Cows that Type” is published by Little Simon (Simon & Schuster) and is available in a variety of formats. (We have the board book version, purchased at our awesome local bookstore, A Whale of a Tale!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Huntress by Malinda Lo

We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful... err, wait, wrong story. :) Let me start again, we’re to see the FAIRY QUEEN! Ah, there, much better. “Huntress” by Malindo Lo is a book that you want to go check out today. It’s honest-to-goodness fantasy at its finest, not any of this pop fantasy or paranormal stuff (which I love, but I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea).

“Huntress” is essentially about two girls who didn’t know each other, but are brought together on a journey to save the world. For awhile now, the world they live in has been acting... strangely. Winter has been progressively getting longer and longer.... this year, it just never ended. Crops aren’t growing, people are starving, and the government is unraveling due to the chaos. Taisin is a talented sage-in-training who has a vision that a girl, Kaede, is to join her on a mission. What it is.. isn’t clear. After a visit from the King, it is revealed that they are to embark on a trip to the kingdom of the Xi and their ruler, the Fairy Queen.

The book is a little dense... not due to overwhelming subject matter, but just because it is primarily about this band of people on a trip and about the relationship developing between the girls. It is light on the action, heavy on the character development so it just is a slow read. Not a bad thing, just a “FYI” for those who like more action based fantasy. There is still a lot going on and some great action sequences towards the end that are worth the wait!

Malindo Lo does an exquisite job developing the relationship of Taisin and Kaede. When I try to think of a way to describe it, I visualize a scene from the book where Taisin finds a flower and uses her energy to make it bloom and thrive, despite the lack of sun. What Malindo Lo did is just like it.. she started the book with a frail connection, put it into awkward circumstances for developing romance, but she worked her magic. It then grew and blossomed into something extraordinary. It’s beautifully done. Way to go, Ms. Lo!

My only real problem with the book is that she writes from third person limited most of the time, but then all of a sudden she throws in someone else’s view. It’s just a bit jarring. It mainly goes back and forth between the two girls, but occasionally another character chimes in. It got a little confusing.

Overall though, a REALLY enjoyable, solid fantasy novel. I really enjoyed it and now really want to read her other novel, “Ash”. Fantasy fans, add this one to your “to read” list, pronto.

I was provided with a copy of “Huntress” by the publisher to review. It was released this week by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Go get a copy at your local bookstore or online today. Seriously. Why are you still here reading this? GO FORTH AND PURCHASE “HUNTRESS”. ;o)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Michelle who wanted nothing more than to just read a good, simple fairy tale. She had already read everything by her favorite writer, Shannon Hale, so she was looking for something new. Then... she was lucky enough to get an advance copy “Entwined” by Heather Dixon, a retelling of the fairy tale of the dancing princesses. And so, we tell the story of this young woman and her adventure in Ms. Dixon’s fairy tale.

Entwined” draws the basic elements from the original Grimms fairy tale. There is a family of twelve princesses who love to dance. They sneak off to a magical land every night through a secret passageway in their room. So, to the outside world, they go to bed and somehow, the next morning, their dance slippers are all worn out. Ms. Dixon’s version of the tale is focused primarily on the eldest princess, Azlea. However, every princess is given a unique voice which is very impressive considering how many characters there are! Twelve princesses, a king, three romantic interests, a villain, and some other minor secondary characters. PHEW! I get tired just thinking of how much work Ms. Dixon must have gone through working to keep each character defined for her readers. The pacing is a tad slow at times, but once the ball gets rolling, things really pick up.

She was a dancing queen..err...princess (aka things I like):
  • I loved the dark, evil villain twist on this retelling. It really kept with the fairy tale styling of this novel and made for good conflict.
  • I loved the chemistry between the three older girls and their romantic partners. Again, with how much character work Ms. Dixon had to do in this story, she really handled it all well. It’s a fairy tale so the romantic stylings are simple. We don’t get to see a lot of the relationship development, but it’s enough to relate to and want to see the men succeed in winning the princesses they love!
  • My favorite character was actually not one of the princesses, but their father, the King. He had a lot on his plate in this story... the loss of his wife, a war, and being on his own with twelve rebellious daughters in a poor household (despite being a King, they were on a fixed income). His character goes through a lot transformations and I really enjoyed seeing him develop as the story went along.
  • The addition of the mother’s death really added some very nice layers to the character relationships and the plot. The girls aren’t dancing just to be dancing. They are dancing because it connects them with the mother they’ve lost. It’s very touching.
Ms. Dixon’s twist on this classic story is refreshing, fun and adds some depth to the original while keeping the classic fairy tale tone. Anyone who enjoys a good fairytale should pick up a copy as soon as possible.

I was provided with an ARC of “Entwined” by the publisher for review. It is published by Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins) and was released in March of this year.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peter Rabbit Munch by Beatrix Potter

E’s Pick of the Week this week is from the very cool eco-friendly line of Peter Rabbit board books published by Warne (Penguin). His choice this week is “Peter Rabbit Munch”, an adorable little story that teaches children to countdown from 5 to 1! Not only does the book have adorable illustrations, but the pages slowly get chewed away as Peter Rabbit chows down on Mr. MacGregor’s garden. My son absolutely loves the texture of the chewed pages! It’s something new and right now, keeping things new and fresh is really important to keep him focused. I mean, he’s almost 2 years old after all. The world is new and exciting. It’s hard to stop exploring, even to read a book which he loves doing!

We are a very earth conscious family, so having the book come from sustainable and recyclable sources was a really cool added bonus for us. I will definitely be going back to my local bookstore and picking up the rest of the books in the series!

The Peter Rabbit Naturally Better book series is published by Warne (Penguin) and is available at your local bookstore or online.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

“Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins is a-freakin-dorable so READ IT NOW. There. That’s all I need to say, right? Seriously though, this book is so fun and romantic. I do not normally like contemporary young adult fiction and I absolutely adore this book. I went out and bought a couple copies of it to give to my sisters and my best friend.

Anna is sent away to Paris by her nouveau riche father (who is an author a la Nicolas Sparks..mwahaha, nice touch Ms. Perkins) for her senior year of high school in an effort to broaden her horizons and make him look super fancy. As if leaving her best friend and guy friend (def boyfriend potential) behind wasn’t hard enough, she’s thrown into the world of upper-crust snobbery in a country where she doesn’t even speak the language! Luckily, she falls into a great group of friends and meets the perfect guy, Etienne St. Clair. He’s a Parisian, whose also American, but has lived extensively in London so he has a British accent. Plus, add in the fact that he’s an incredibly nice guy and is slowly becoming her best friend. Perfect right? Oh yeah, there’s just one little hiccup - she’s maybe-sorta-kinda taken by that potential boyfriend back home and he’s in a long term relationship. Yowza.

To be honest, the description of the book didn’t have me convinced. As I said earlier, I’m not a big fan of contemporary YA. I’m more of a fantasy/paranormal/historical gal myself. I decided to take the plunge and give “Anna and the French Kiss” 50 pages... if it hooked me, great, but if not, I’d go back to my comfort zone. It had me in less than five pages. The writing is just so sharp, fresh, and charming. I instantly loved Anna and Etienne. I cared so deeply about their happiness and let’s face it, I’m always a sucker for best friend romances. (Yes, Twilight fans, I was unabashedly Team Jacob and will continue to pretend that “Breaking Dawn” never happened. Ugh.) For a teen romance, it is so wonderfully realistic too. It’s so very real and sweet. There is no crazy love triangle. There is no lusty instant sexual connection. It’s real world love and it’s beautiful.

This book will have you saying “oo la la!” Seriously, I know I’m being a total cornball here, but I cannot stress enough that if you like LOVE, you will ADORE Stephanie Perkins’ “Anna and the French Kiss”. And if you don’t like love, um, please go get help.

I know this came out a little while ago, but I just had the opportunity to read it recently (thanks Lalitha for loaning it to me!). I now own my own. :D You can get your very own copy at your favorite bookstore. It is published by Dutton Juvenile (Penguin).
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