Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight
by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
288 pages
published in 2007

Summary (from  Goodreads ):

Calliope (or Cal as she calls herself ) wants nothing more than to stay put, to stop traveling cross-country with her mother, sleeping in a tent, abandoning all belongings whenever they pull up stakes. Eliot misses the happy times he left behind when his father decided to open a camp for kids looking to lose weight and find Jesus.When Cal and Eliot meet by chance, they feel an immediate connection.Together they must face their isolation, the threat of yet another move, and the deepening of Eliot’s father’s obsession with money and God.This smart novel, featuring unforgettable characters, colorful backdrops, and even a few recipes, is as funny as it is romantic.

Review by: Jessica
I completely fell in love with this book.  I loved Cal's deep, artistic-ness and Eliot's shy dorkiness. I thought the progression of their relationship was very natural, especially when Calliope starts to pull away near the end, as her move draws near. And if I loved Callipoe and Eliot separately, they were completely, totally perfect together. They were so amazing together. I have no words.
      The writing was also perfect. Everything flowed together and felt just so easy and lovely to read, like reading poetry or drinking hot chocolate or listening to a lullaby. 
‘The hole in the lake, goofy,’ she says. She wears her sneakers unlaced and I keep thinking she’s going to trip and fall head-first into the water.
I put my foot on the front of the boat to steady it while she climbs in, and her hair falls across her shoulder and brushes my arm. Her smell is vanilla and cinnamon, but it’s like a lid dropping down over another smell, musty clothes or an attic trunk, maybe, and I remember that she told me she’s been sleeping in a tent for the last ten nights. When she leans to get in, the bottle cap falls down against whatever else is there and makes that sound again. And that sound becomes *her* sound, like the can in the water, like if I ever had to find her in the dark I wouldn’t look for her, I would listen for her, and I would know that sound out of all the others in the world.

Another example because I just love examples, don't you?:
“She looked like she believed in something, or wanted to, and I hoped to hell it wasn’t God, not in the way The Dad believes, because all that does is make him forced and desperate. No, it was something else, not just that I saw a pretty girl and just got all excited. I mean, yeah, that part is true, and she really was gorgeous, and the freckles covering her, the freckles on top of freckles all spread out and folding into one another made her skin look like it had grain and texture, like polished wood, like it would feel smooth to the touch, and so soft. I knew that. But it wasn’t how she looked.” 
All in all, this book was beautiful and perfect and consisted of everything wonderful in the world.
5 out of 5

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I apologize for the lack of picture here, and I'll add one as soon as I'm back on my own computer. In the meantime, you can find the book here.

by: Sharon Creech
273 pages
published in: 2001

In Dinny's first life, her family followed her father all over the country, searching for the right "opportunity". Dinny's older brother and sister get in more trouble with each move, until her brother ends up in jail and her sister has a new baby. Without warning, Dinny is carted off to Switzerland with an aunt and uncle she's never met before. Her uncle is the new headmaster of an international boarding school there. Among students from many different cultures, Dinny finally finds a place she belongs--but that doesn't stop her from wishing she could return to her family.

This isn't the first time I've read this book. In fact, we listen to an old audiotape of it every summer. It's influenced my children's lives enough that my daughter has listed "Lugano, Switzerland" as her hometown on facebook, and when we're really excited, we suddenly break into Italian: "andiamo" and "Sono libero!" You come away loving people so much, and with an understanding of different points of view. Dinny's new friends discuss deep topics like war and arranged marriage from the point of view of many different cultures. It would have been so easy to make Dinny's family seem like the villains in this tale, but instead, Sharon Creech takes the time to make them all sympathetic characters, and you really understand why it's so hard for Dinny to stay away.

My favorite character: Guthrie, the boy who looks out the window and only sees the sky, and feels no qualms telling his friends that he is an "invisible eyeball" and "sono potente." Love him!

I give this book 5 stars. It's entertaining enough for the whole family, though my younger children were a little upset by an avalanche scene near the end. Still, I'm glad we read and discussed it as a family. Even my teenage boy enjoyed the story, though I'm not certain he would have picked it up on his own.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Book review of EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton

Blurb-from Goodreads

“Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her friends—before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.”

Everneath is a young adult paranormal romance based on the mythology of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice.    I’m a sucker for a modern take on mythology especially the Hades/Persephone thing, so I was really excited about reading this book.

I liked her take on the mythology.  I thought it was a fresh--kind of morphed Greek mythology with vampires--unlike anything I’d seen before, and I really wanted to see more of Everneath and see more of the Everliving.   The beginning was very intriguing, and ending was very satisfying (Okay, I may have shed a few tears).

But the middle dragged a bit.  It felt like the story was stretched out to make it longer.  I’d read a whole chapters where nothing really happened.  I also had a hard time connecting with Nikki.  I didn’t understand her motivation, why she came back, what she hoped to accomplish.  Nor did I really feel her pain.  In fact, all the three of the main characters were all a little weak.  Jack seemed a little too perfect, and I had a hard time getting a feel for Cole.  I never felt as if he really had a strong bond with Nikki.  He worked pretty hard to get her for a few chapters and then just seemed to give up.  That felt inconsistent to me.

I give it a 3.5/5 stars.  I did enjoy it, but it could’ve been so much better if the characters had been better developed.  I might read the next one because I’m really fascinated with her mythology, and maybe the characters will get more interesting as they are further developed.  I can always hope.

Overall, this was a pretty clean story, and I suggest giving it a try if you’re interested in fresh, modernizations of Greek mythology and YA love triangles.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Alcatraz and the Shattered Lens

Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens
Alcatraz and the Shattered Lens
by: Brandon Sanderson
published in 2010
292 pages

For: Middle Grades and Up! This one needs stars and trumpets to announce that it's a book boys would enjoy.
Rating: 5/5 stars

If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Brandon Sanderson's less serious side, you're really missing out. This is book 4 of the Alcatraz series, so you should start from the beginning with Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians. Alcatraz doesn't realize that his propensity for breaking things is actually a talent--all the Smedry's have talents like that. He'd have found out a lot sooner if his grandfather's talent wasn't always being late for things. Now that Alcatraz knows, the future of the human race rests on his shoulders...because the evil Librarians are coming! Their mission is to keep mere mortals as downtrodden as possible. It turns out that Alcatraz is actually from a country the Librarians have deleted from our world maps...a country where the name of Smedry is both revered and feared.

My favorite quote:
"Anyway, what just happened is something we call a teddy bear on the mantle. This is an ancient storytelling rule that says, "If there's an exploding teddy bear that can destroy people's clothing in a given book, that teddy bear must be used to destroy someone's clothing by the end of the book."