Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass

Today we are doing a review of the book, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall.  This was a surprisingly deep novel about one girl's life, in which she has made some mistakes, told through what she has bought at her hometown mall. 

16 year old Tessa is in gym class when a dodgeball accident sends her into the hospital.  Soon she is at "heaven" which strangely is just like her hometown mall where both of her parents work.  The "mall manager" gives her a bag of the most important things she has ever bought there, and Tessa is off on a reminiscent journey where she explores her not-so-savory past, reflects on the choices she has made, and ultimately must answer one question. 

This book was surprising to me.  What I thought I knew about it before I read it belied its deep writing and truth about the life of Tessa, which seemed almost too real.  I sympathized for Tessa when she felt confused and lost, I wanted to be there with her when dealing with her looks-obsessed mother.  Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall led me on a reading frenzy for Wendy Mass, who didn't dissapoint with the rest of her books.  (You may remember her book A Mango Shaped Space from March 2011 post, Different Points Of View.) 

I would recommend this book to either gender.  Someone who would love it would be likely to be a fiction reader, not opposed to sadness.  However if another genre lover were to try it I'm sure it would still be good!  It's just that kind of book.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer-Hesser

I recently read a book called Kissing Doorknobs, recommended to me by someone who "knew I'd love it."  Well, I did!  At first glance, Kissing Doorknobs looks like a quick, easy read.  After all it's thin and small.  But in no way is Kissing Doorknobs easy.  It deals with tough issues and it is deep.  You'll want to spend hours reading it and thinking.  Not only was it wonderfully realistic, but it also had funny and unique writing mixed in with a serious topic almost unknown in the world of fiction- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted thoughts or feelings or behaviors that make them driven to do something.  Carrying out this action makes people afflicted with OCD feel better--but it doesn't last.
             Kissing Doorknobs is told through the eyes of 14 year old Tara, who has been afflicted with OCD her whole life.  She was able to keep it below the surface until at 11 years old, she hears the phrase "Step on a crack, break your mothers back".  Suddenly Tara is counting sidewalk cracks wherever she goes.  If she messes up, she has to start all the way over again.  Soon Tara's strange behaviors multiply.  They begin to wreck havok on her relationships with family and friends.  She doesn't understand why she does the things that she does, only that she needs to to feel better.  Tara is confused and alone.  But then she meets someone who might have an answer to her problems.
              Kissing Doorknobs is a down to earth story.  Terry Spencer-Hesser doesn't guild OCD and she doesn't make Tara's struggles anything but what they would have been to her, which is frightening, confusing and all too real.  How does Terry Spencer-Hesser write with such passion and conviction about OCD? The book is based on her on struggles as a young adult.
             I would recommend Kissing Doorknobs to all ages.  It also doesn't matter your genre of choice because this book has a bit for every genre.  I would especially recommend this book to someone who is interested in OCD and/or struggles with it or knows someone who does.
            But when you read this book, don't read it as a break from the trials of everyday life just because it's realistic fiction.  This book will have you wondering things and asking questions you've never thought about before.

Friday, November 11, 2011

True(...Sort Of) by Katherine Hannigan

This is a great book that I read recently.  It deals with some tough issues but was also a delightfully carefree story.  It was written by Katherine Hannigan, the author of another great book, Ida B

Delaware Pattison has always been a trouble maker (In some people's opinion) but lately she's taken a turn for the worse.  The always smiley child is tired of being yelled at for well-meaning things.  She starts fighting and the smile is replaced by a smirk.  Then she meets Ferris Boyd, the girl who doesn't talk and can't be touched.  There is a definite aura of mystery around this girl, but Delly and Ferris quickly develop a strange friendship.  It isn't long before Delly discovers the man in the green Impala who is Ferris's father, and Delly realizes that her friend who cannot be touched has been abused.

This book is intense and deep but it was a really touching and sweet story, made so by the little details added by Katherine Hannigan that made the story so special.  An example of this is Novello, the boy who "hates" Delly but really loves her.  He is a hilarious character and broke the ice a little.  Another detail like that is Galveston, Delly's older sister who is Delly's rival.  Their little fights are funny and perfectly channel what it's like to have an older sibling.

This was a very worthwhile read, and I urge you to try it.  I would recommend it to someone who isn't afraid to think about tough stuff, and someone who is in touch with their inner child! I hope you try it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Hi everyone!  After my LONG absence from the blogging scene (and I hope I haven't scared away any followers) I've decided on a new approach to blogging: I'm going to feature short blog posts for every book I read that I've deemed awesome enough to be showcased here.  This is the first book for this year that makes the cut- Remarkable, by Lizzy K. Foley.

Remarkable is about a town named Remarkable where everything is-yep, you guessed it!-remarkable.  Everything except Jane.  In a place where everyone is special in some way, Jane is the odd one out--she's the only person at her elementary school, where every day she sees the gifted school out the window.  The gifted school is where all the special children go (or, in other words, everyone) and every day she wishes she went there too.

In Remarkable, the new bell tower is about to open and everyone is excited.  But Jane's grandfather knows that the bells must never ring, and he'll do anything he can to prevent them from playing.

One of the many things about this book that impressed me was how the author juggled an incredible range of topics without making anything in the book seem ridiculous.  The story goes from pirates to sea monsters to fortune telling pizza makers.  I'd never read anything like that.  Another thing were the realistic characters-it must have been something in the writing, because I swear I could picture Jane right next to me.

Overall this book gets nothing but praise from me.  I would recommend it to readers looking for a new type of book or in the process of recovering from a more serious book and would like a lighter read.  Also as a mostly realistic fiction reader I'm sure realistic fiction readers would enjoy this too.

I hope you decide to give Remarkable a try!  I loved it and I hope you do too.  Comment to let me know if you like it!  Also, to find out more about the author go to her website, www.lizzykfoley.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

5 Books I Read This Summer

Hi everyone!  Sorry about my absence this summer.  I was away for all of July and half of August.  But now I have a little list for you...five books I read this summer for the first time! I hope you enjoy hearing a short review of the books, and maybe consider checking out a few.  I thought they were great!

1. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. 
This book (set in summer of 1968) starts off with main character Delphine trying to calm down her two little sisters while on their first plane ride ever, heading to Oakland, California to visit their mother.  But when they finally meet her, their mother Cecile is nothing like they expected.  This book is a great read, educational and entertaining. 

2. Skellig by David Almond.
This is a beautiful story of friendship and hope.  Main character Michael has just moved to a new place, but his baby sister is still sick and his parents are more distraught than ever.  Then one day he steps into the forbidden garage and discovers...Skelllig.  What is Skellig?  This book is a magical if slightly creepy tale that I found quite heartfelt.

3. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith.
This is a great book about a poor family in england.  The book is told through main character Cassandra's journals where she writes about everything from her dislike of being poor to her descent into love.  This was an unexpected read for me, as I am not really a very romantic reader and this book is very romantic.  However it is also witty and real. 

4. The Wanderer by Sharon Creech.
This book is set in an unusual spot-on a sailboat on the Atlantic!  It's told through the sea-logs of Sophie, the adopted girl who feels the call of the sea and gets herself a spot as the only girl on board, and her cousin Cody, the joker who struggles to redeem his relationship with his father.  They are sailing to see Grandpa Bompie, but how does Sophie know all his stories despite never meeting him?   This is a sweet story with some mystery floating around in the background.

5.Something Invisible by Siobhan Parkinson.
This book's main character Jake has never had a little sister before, and he's not sure how much he likes it.  But when he meets a new friend Stella, things get a lot more interesting.  But then there is a tragic accident that shatters his world, and he has to rely on the people who love him to get him back on his feet.  This story is touching and really shows how important friends are.

Well, those are five of the new books I read this summer! I enjoyed them all and I hope you do too!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Love At First Sight!

  The cover was what immediantly pulled me in.  On the front, a single word, "Deadly," jumps at you.  Next to it, the chilling sentence, "How do you catch an invisible killer?"  When I saw that cover, I knew that I would not be able to resist reading this book.

   "Deadly" may sound like a vampire book, the kind of thing you shouldn't read before bed, but in reality it is a historical fiction novel, specifically about the discovery of Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary).  Written in diary form and narrarated by sixteen-year-old Prudence Gawelski, this book perfectly combines science and story.  This is a good book to read if you'd like to learn something, but want to get a good novel out of it too.

    Prudence Gawelski is a budding young scientist/doctor in a time (1906-1907) when women definitely didn't pursue that kind of profession.  She works as an assistant in a labratory attempting to discover more about Typhoid Mary and how she is able to carry Typhoid and spread it, but not catch it herself.  However, amidst stories about research and encounters with Mary Mallon herself, the author, Julie Chibbaro, still manages to squeeze in a crush on the main research official and trials having to do with Prudence's father's missing in action status.

I thought that this was an amazing book.  It was artfully informational while still providing a story.  I thought I knew at least a little about Typhoid Mary, but this book showed me how wrong I was.  I would recommend it to readers above ten, because some of the scientific happenings in the book might be confusing to young readers.  Once again, I loved this book, and I hope you do too!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Hunger Games

  I recently finished the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy.  Written by Suzanne Collins and published on September 14, 2008, this is a futuristic novel that takes place in the cruel country of Panem, built on the remains of North America.  Panem houses 12 disctricts.  The 13th was destroyed during an uprising 74 years before the story.  To create fear in the districts and crush all future uprisings, the cruel capitol that controls all of Panem creates the hunger games, where each district must volunteer two children.  The 24 children fight to the death in the hunger games arena until there is only one person left alive. 
            Our story's main character is Katniss Everdeen from the poorest district, district 12.  She is fiesty and a rule breaker, but above all she just wants to protect her family and friends after the tragic death of her father.  That's why everything changes for her when her 12 year old sister is choosen to compete in the games.  Katniss must choose between protecting herself or protecting her sister.
This story can be seen from many different perspectives.  Some people (like me) might find it thrilling and emotional story.  Others might find it gory and distasteful.  It is a bloody, foreboding story, but through it all there are suprises and heartfelt parts that will make you either laugh or cry.  In my opinion, it has all the elements of a perfect story.  I learned that people, even children, can become very dangerous, but that even in such situations, compassion can still be upheld.
  Before you check out the first book, consider your tastes.  Are you deeply opposed to bloodiness?  If so, you may want to think twice.  Do you love accounts of the future?  This may just be your new favorite book. 
              I enjoyed reading this a lot.  I think that checking this story out is definitely worth a try.  Feel free to post a comment if you enjoyed this-or even if you didn't.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Discover Yourself in Other Characters

    When reading the book ttyl by Lauren Myracle (also the author of Luv Ya Bunches, a book that I have previously posted on) of the Internet Girls series, I reflected on the characters of Maddie, Angela and Zoe, the three best friends that the book is about. 
    Zoe is the smart one, always getting straight A's.  She's also the good girl, least likely to do something daring or that would possibly get her in trouble.  Angela cares about clothes, makeup and boys; in other words, she is the cliche high school girl.  She's friendly and bubbly and caring.  Maddie is wild.  Shes tough, and she won't let anyone mess with her, or her friends. 
     When I read about these three girls, I thought about my personality.  I couldn't decide which girl I would be.  I'm not constantly worrying about being tough, like Maddie, or afraid to take risks, like Zoe.  Like Maddie, I'm not okay with anyone being mean to my friends, and like Angela, I am caring.  I have a little bit of all of them.  I think that anybody who reads this would feel the same.
     You can learn a lot from books like this.  You can learn about who you are.  You may think that you know your personality, that you know what you're like.  You may be right.  But next time you pick up a book, envision yourself in each character and discover more about what kind of a person you are, and what kind of a person you want to be.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Different Points of View

 People like to read books that are about characters who remind them of themselves.  A thirteen year old girl might read a book about a thirteen year old girl, an aging businessman might read about an aging businessman.  And it makes sense.  After all, chances are that a thirteen year old girl wouldn't be very interested in a book about a businessman.  We like to read books where we can understand the characters.
      But, sometimes we will pick up a book where the author has taken the daring leap from safe grounds, that the intended reader will understand, to wild new places, where the reader will be able to see a life quite like theirs-but from a new and different point of view.
The two books that I wanted to talk about that show these qualities are:
Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erksine, is a beautiful book about ten year old Caitlin, a girl with Aspergers Syndrome.  It is a wonderful story in which Caitlin and her father try to recover after the death of her brother Devon.  
Because she has Aspergers, Caitlin's point of view is based on facts and what she can see going on around her.  It is hard for her to understand emotions.  This is helpful and unhelpful to her while she tells the story.  On one hand, It is unhelpful because she can't understand other peoples emotions.  This is hard for the reader, knowing the pain someone is feeling that Caitlin can't understand.  But, this also makes the story better, allowing readers to see things through Caitlin's eyes, and discover other characters emotions by using facts, just like she does. 
This book will help readers understand people with Aspergers more, and at the same time give them an amazing story that will capture their heart.  This book will definitely show you a different point of view!

The other book that I wanted to talk about was A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.  This book is about Mia, a thirteen year old girl with Synesthesia.  Synesthesia is when you see words, tastes, numbers, letters (not always every single one of those )and other things as colors or pictures.  Mia realizes that she is not like the other kids in her class when she's in 2nd grade. 
She keeps it a secret until she's forced to tell her parents.  After seeing a doctor, she finds out that "her colors" have a name, and that there are other people like her.  Life for Mia is going well, until a tragedy shatters her life, and her Synesthesia disappears, just when she was beginning to love "her colors" even more.  Will they ever come back? 
This is a magical book that will make you think.  Once again, the different point of view both teaches the reader and allows them to see life in a new way. 
I think that books that show different points of view to the reader are amazing, and I encourage readers to be adventurous and try out some more.  If you find any new different points of view"  books, then you should definitely post about them!  I hope you find the time to read these books (and others) soon!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Fun Word Game

Hi!  This doesn't really have to do with books, but it's fun and easy, so I thought you'd like it!  Enjoy!

This game is just about rearranging the letters in words.  Find a long, or even short word (or two) and start working.  You don't have to have only one word in your rearranging, it can be as many words as you like.  If you want to make the game easier find a word with lots of vowels.  It can be played with one player, but it is especially fun with two or three, competing to see who can make the best set of new works. 

Example: Panini's could become Ian's pins.  Or something else! Give it a try. 

This is a super fun game, and also a good thing to play when waiting for your food to come at a restaurant.  You can use words from the menu.  (I got Ian's pins from a museum cafe.)  So, you should definately try out this fun game.  (An official boredom stopper. )  If you think of anything good, (or even something not so good) I'd love to know!   Post it in comments.  Here is a word for you to try.  Remember to use all the letters!  Try out:  Marscarpone.  (It's a type of dessert cheese.)  Have fun!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Hi!  If you just finished your latest book, then here is a wonderful treasure trove of recommendations for you.  Enjoy! 

1.  To Kill A Mockingbird,  By Harper Lee.  This timeless classic is a wonderful, rich telling of the story of one small town girl named Scout  (Just like me!)and her brother.  They have an amazing lawyer father who is dealing with a difficult case, and all through the story a mysterious character lurks.   Impossible not to like. 

2.  We Are Not Eaten By Yaks, by C. Alexander London.  Jam packed with adventure, this book will leave your heart racing and your brain calculating two TV addicting twins escape from their latest misadventure.  Too bad those twins would rather be sitting on the couch!  If you like adventure you will love this amazing, yet still belivable story.

3.  ttyl, by Lauren Myracle.  This book is a story of three best friends who go through many troubles, and through it all strive to keep their friendship going.  Amazingly enough, this book is told entirely through I.M's, hence the series title; Internet Girls.  You will love the humor and real life problems of these three girls. If you like it, finish the series with ttfn, the second book, and l8tr, gtr, the third and last book.

4.  The Princess Bride, by William Goldman is a wondrous story of a beautiful girl named Buttercup.  She has an amazing true love, and everything seems perfect, but when he dies and Buttercup is chosen by a mean, heartless prince to be his bride, things take a turn for the worse.  You may have heard that this tale is all "gross romance, ick" but it has a lot of adventure too.

5.  Daddy Long-legs, by Jean Webster.  This book is the story of an orphan named Jerusha Abbot, made to work all her life, who suddenly goes to college thanks to a mysterious benefactor who she doesn't know the name of.  The book, told entirely through her letters to the mysterious man, is a wonderful picture of what it is like to be a girl in college who has never had a social life or even interacted with many other girls before.  However, she is still light and funny in her letters, and through it all is inspired to be an author. 

I hope that these recommendations were helpful to you, and that you are able to find these books at your local library.  If you want more recommendations, just ask!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Luv Ya Bunches

Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle is a great book.  It is fun to read and a very realistic rendition of four 5th grade girls' school experience.  Narrated in turn by its four main characters, (Katie Rose, Yasaman, Camilla and Violet) Luv Ya Bunches accurately conveys how horrible friendship troubles can be.  The author's fun and unique writing style will make readers will find themselves very into the story, rooting for each character in turn.  It is not hard to read at all.  I would recommend this book to 5th and 6th grade readers who like reading realistic books.  If you enjoyed this book, you will probably like its sequel, Violet In Bloom.  You may also want to check out other books by Lauren Myracle, such as the Winnie Years series, or the Internet Girls series.  If you have not read this already, go out and read it!

Hi, Welcome all book lovers!

Hey, welcome to my blog.  I love to read and enjoy realistic fiction, historical fiction and fantasy books.  Some of my favorite books are Jacky Daydream by Jaqueline Wilson, Queens Own Fool by Jane Yolen, and Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle.  I admire authors like Jane Austen, for daring to become a girl author when there weren't too many.  I choose Scout, from To Kill A Mockingbird to be my avatar for this blog because she loved to read.  On this blog you can find reviews of books that I have read.  I hope you enjoy!