Why Are There All These Blank Spaces?

You may notice that in some of my posts there are blank spaces in the reviews. These are spoilers that I've written so I can remember important details of the books when I want to read the sequel. I've made the text a beige color to blend in with the background so you won't accidentally see something you don't want to. If you want to read it, just highlight the section to make the text appear - although you should really just read the book yourself! :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Penderwicks

by Jeanne Birdsall

I picked up this book on a whim at a local used book store. It sounding interesting, and I liked the cute cover on the British edition (seen here).

The Penderwicks almost defies description. Not much happens in this book, but it has a sort of sweet sleepy quality. Usually I am drawn to books with lots of fantasy, supernatural elements and action - things not at all present in this book. Even so, I did not dislike it - but I didn't really love it either.

The story is simple, and much more realistic than I am used to in the books I read. The characters are charming - all four of the Penderwick sisters are very distinct. Rosalind is the strong practical one, Skye the impulsive tomboy, Jane the imaginative writer, and Batty the playful youngster.

The "villain" of this story isn't quite as villainous as I'd prefer a villain to me. Sometimes you can't really blame her for being so mad, and then she has such a sudden change of heart at the end that it makes the whole thing seem weird.

There is a sequel to this book, and while I like the characters, I don't think this book has interested me enough to want to go pick up the second one.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gregor and the Code of Claw

by Suzanne Collins

It took me a little longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished the Gregor series. Contrary to Suzanne Collins' usual style, book four ended on a cliff-hanger and book five continues the story right from that point.

Gregor once again finds himself wrapped up in a conflict in the Underground. Soon-to-be-Queen Luxa has declared war on the rats, and Gregor finally learns what "The Prophecy of Time" has to say about his involvement. We heard about this prophecy in the last book, but no one would tell Gregor what it says, however, Collins does not make us wait much longer - Gregor finally gets to read the prophecy within the first chapter of book five - and he learns that this prophecy calls for his death.

Gregor must face his fears all while grappling with the questions of the looming war. Is it right? How can you distinguish your friends from you enemies? What is it that causes one to become evil? Are they born evil, or do outside influences make them that way? Don't we all have some evil in us or our pasts?

Many tough questions for a book aimed at upper-elementary readers. Collins seems to be promoting an anti-war message, but the book never feels preachy. My one complaint of the series is that the ending is a little too ambiguous for my tastes. Gregor's future is left largely unexplained. I would have liked a little more resolution than offered, but on the whole I really enjoyed the series and would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gregor and the Marks of Secret

by Suzanne Collins

Forth Gregor book and I'm running out of new things to say!

This is the first book of the series were we don't start out with a new prophecy. Gregor returns to the Underland this time around to visit his mom who's still being held in the hospital in Regalia. Quickly though, he gets involved in solving a mystery alongside his friend Luxa. The pair discovers that something mysterious is happening with the Underground mice colony. Headstrong Luxa immediately starts off on a quest to solve the mystery and Gregor, not wanting to have Luxa leave him behind, accompanies her. The pair will soon discover that more is happening in the Underland than anyone is aware of.

The Underland is, once again, a fun place to be. This book strays a little from Collins' typical style - ending with a cliff-hanger, which makes me thankful that I have the fifth book already waiting for me!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

by Sophie Kinsella

I went to see the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic and loved it so much that I decided I needed to read the book. The movie was funny and sweet so I had high hopes for the novel that inspired it. After all, the book is nearly always better than the movie!


I hated this book! In fact, I didn't even finish it. I hardly ever abandon a book. Only once before have I not finished a book that I chose to read. But I just could not stand this one any more.

In the movie, the main character Rebecca is funny. She just can't seem to help herself when it comes to buying things. But despite this you feel bad for her. She's endearing despite her often silly ideas.

The the book Rebecca is mean. She buys way to much and it's just annoying. She curses, and mocks people and is deceitful.

The movie was hilarious, sweet and innocent.

The book was cringe-worth, obnoxious and kind of dirty.

I read 5 chapters and decided that was enough for me.

I'll stick to the movie this time around.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods

by Suzanne Collins

Back to Gregor! This is the third book in the Gregor series, and I think they just keep on getting better!

At the beginning of the book Gregor in back in NYC with his family. However, the Underlanders need him again to help fulfill yet another prophecy. This time though, Gregor's mom is absolutely not going to let him go! The family tries to avoid the rats that come to "convince" them, but soon realize that there is no escaping them. Gregor's mom relents, but insists that this time she's coming with them. Having Gregor's mom in the Underland is in interesting twist this time around, although she ends up having a smaller role than I thought she might. But again, the Underland is always entertaining!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

by Mary E. Pearson

Love this book in such a different way than I love other books.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson is a book that makes you think. What starts off seeming to be a simple mystery, turns into a medical science fiction novel that asks many tough questions.

Jenna wakes up for a coma not remembering anything about herself. She doesn't remember who she is, where she's from, or who her family and friends are. She learns that she was in an accident that caused the coma, but no one will speak any more about it.

It's hard to discuss it much more without giving away the ending, so consider yourself warned: spoilers coming.

Partway through the book we learn that Jenna almost died in the car accident. In fact, only 10% of her brain was salvageable. In the future time that Jenna lives in there exists technology to recreate any part of the body. However, each body part has a point value, and each human is allotted only a certain amount of points. Once one has reached the point limit, they cannon receive any more "replacement parts". In order to save Jenna after the accident, she needed replacements for nearly every part of her - a point total far exceeded the limit. However, Jenna's parents developed the technology to create these replacement parts, and in defiance of the law, they spirited Jenna away in secret in order to recreate every part of her in an effort to save the 10% of the girl they have left.

The reader is then forced to grapple with the questions: What is it that makes us human? At what point does a soul leave a body? If science exists to keep a person alive, should it be used no matter the cost? Is Jenna the same person as the girl who was in the accident or simply a nearly-exact copy? Is that 10% the most important part? The only part that really matters?

Fast-paced and thought provoking - totally different from most of the stuff I've been ready lately, but I really enjoyed it.