Friday, November 18, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1)Just looking at this book and reading the description I doubt I would have picked Ship Breaker on my own, but thanks to some major prodding I finally gave it a shot. Oh my! Fabulous story telling here. I doubt the setting or genre really matters. Bacigalupi can flat out tell a great story. One of the best stories I've read in a long time -- A rating.

Everest: You Decide How To Survive! by Bill Doyle and David Borgenicht

Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure: Everest: You Decide How to Survive!
You are the main character in the book and a member of an expedition to climb Mt. Everest. In the style of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, you are given a choice at major parts of the trip. Depending upon your choice, you will actually make it to the summit.. or not. Before starting the story, the reader is given instructions to read the Expedition File at the back of the book. This is an illustrated guide to help you in making the right decisions while reading the story. It's made to look like an envelope with handwritten instructions, maps, lists, and so forth, written by your guides.

I like this one, with all the different possible outcomes. I tried to keep up with the choices, going back and reading both to see what would have happened if I chose the other possibility, but it became too complicated. Most of the ones I did read showed logical possibilities and I think it'll keep the reader interested. I can see one reading it over and over, making a different decision just to see what happened -- and readers would do this even if they made it to the top of the summit in one reading. C+ rating.

Grace's Twist by Melissa J. Morgan (Camp Confidential #3)

Grace's Twist (Camp Confidential, #3)
Grace's Twist is third in the "Camp Confidential" series. This one features Grace and how she must learn to deal with a bully from another bunk. On top of that, she's afraid to let her friends know the reason why she can't audition for the play, nor go with them to the water park. Nothing here to stand out above other books, but those that liked the first two in the series will probably enjoy. I give it a C.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Attack of the Vampire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales by David Lubar

Attack of the Vampire Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy TalesThe weenie story collection books are super popular, and I can certainly understand why. Mr. Lubar's oddball sense of humor appeals to many young teens and tweens, especially boys.

As with any story collection, there were some stories I liked much more than others. I especially loved the ones where humor was the star, like the story about the Geography Bee -- so clever to have the boy who doesn't know the answers get them right with his "Oh, man" or "No way"! I also found the section at the end of the book where the author explains his inspiration for each story worth mentioning. Aspiring writers will want to check that out.

I wouldn't say any of the stories were particularly scary, but some were definitely creepy. (Especially if the story featured one of your phobias, like spiders or snakes.) Some were just plain silly, but in a fun way. I didn't find the collection particularly memorable, but I don't hate it either. Personally I give Vampire Weenies a 'C', but I can see where others will rate it much higher.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (The Heroes of Olympus #2)

The Son of Neptune  (Heroes of Olympus, #2)
I have been dying to read The Son of Neptune ever since I finished The Lost Hero last year. It was pure torture to have to wait an entire year to find out what Percy was doing while he was "lost" in the first book of the spin-off series. When the story begins, Percy is being chased by two Gorgons wearing Bargain Mart smocks. He apparently has lost his memory and doesn't know how he ended up in California, nor why these monsters are attacking him. (Nor how he knows what they are and how to battle them.) He knows something weird is happening because these "ladies" won't stay dead. They keep coming back and attacking him. After battling them one more time, Percy notices a metal door on a hill guarded by two teens wearing Roman armor, purple t-shirts and jeans. Knowing this is where he should be, he heads their way. Percy is then introduced to the Roman version of Camp Half-Blood and is sent with two new friends on a quest of their own.

Little is seen or heard from many of our Camp Half-Blood favorites as this story really focuses on Percy and the Roman camp. We know they are out there looking for Percy, but it's only happening in the background. That's okay though. I was more than intrigued with the Roman way of life and this latest threat to the world as we know it.

All I can say is that Riordan has a magical touch with these stories. What is there to say about a book where the reader becomes so involved in the characters and story that when you close the book, your first thought is 500 pages is too short. I love the little touches of humor that are inserted into the story. Like, who can't help but laugh when is run by -- you guessed it -- Amazon warrior women? Or, how Thanatos has an iPad to sort his lists of souls and Skyping with Pluto?

Yes, I loved, loved this story and now I'll be waiting rather impatiently for book three. Ahem. Anyone know a way to speed up time? 'A' rating from me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya's GhostAnya is a Russian immigrant teen who just wants to be accepted by her peers. She doesn't like the way she looks, is embarrassed by her mother, and doesn't want to do anything that would make her stand out as different from all the kids at school. She hates that her mother wants her to befriend the nerdy Russian boy at her school and the fatty Russian food her mother makes. When Anya falls down a well, she meets the ghost of a girl who died in the well 93 years ago. When Anya is rescued, little did she realize that the ghost followed her home. Soon Emily becomes Anya's best friend, helping her in school, giving her clothing advice, and advice on boys. Anya think this is the best thing that's happened to her, and she's finally going to fit in. Except for one little problem -- Emily has her own agenda and it's not exactly what she's told Anya.

The story is fabulous. The twist was unexpected and made for a chilling read. The illustrations are fantastic, and fit the dark mood of Anya in the beginning and then darker when the truth about Emily was revealed. I loved this one and I can see this appealing to many. A rating.

Laika by Nick Abadzis

Laika tells the story of Sputnik 2, focusing on the dog who traveled to and died in space. Some embellishments can be found here, but overall gives the reader an idea of what happened in the days and months leading up to the launch of Sputnik 2, and how a dog was chosen to be the 1st from Earth to travel to space.

I really enjoyed the illustrations here, for I probably wouldn't have wanted to read it without them. The dog, Laika, is especially adorable with the white mark on her face. She looks questioning and curious, but almost sad at the same time. Kind of like how I felt while reading her story. Fans of the graphic format will especially like it. My grade? B.