Saturday, January 16, 2016

Review: Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Do you think Cinderella married the prince and lived happily ever after, and that the three little pigs outsmarted the wolf? Think again! Premier storyteller Roald Dahl twists the fate of six favorite fairy tales, in this picture book edition with vibrant new cover art by Quentin Blake. Fairy tales have never been more revolting!
Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 
MY TAKE:
I was looking for a light-hearted read and this certainly fit the bill.

In Revolting Rhymes, classic fairytales are re-imagined and takes on a slightly darker but funnier tone.

I wasn't actually sure at first if I'd like it. I decided to give it a chance, and I was pleasantly surprised. I laughed out loud a few times at the funny phrases and situations that were written. I liked that there were some more modern twists, like with Snow White's story.

There were some gory stuff here and there, though, and there were a few words (like "slut" and "hell") that I was surprised to see in a children's book.

For the most part, though, I enjoyed this book. It may be better suited for older kids and pre-teens, though.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are plenty of funny lines.
  2. The re-imaginings are mostly witty.
  3. It may encourage kids to read more poems. 

THE BAD:
  1. There are some words here that might have been innocuous back in the day, but which parents today may not approve of.


READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes gross rhymes.
  2. You like fairy tale retellings.
  3. You like funny rhymes.

RATING:
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Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven. 
MY TAKE:
I read this book because I read so many good things about it.

In All the Bright Places, Finch saves Violet from falling of a ledge. After they are paired together for a project (thanks to Finch), they end up becoming friends, and eventually something more. However, they both have inner demons, and while Violet's starts to fade away, Finch's slowly starts to get stronger.

Because of the summary, I was expecting all sorts of feels from the start. That's why I was a little disappointed at first. I mean, it was pleasant and hopeful, and I initially thought that it might turn into a road trip story of sorts. It wasn't until the third part of the book that I started crying, and when I did, it was of the ugly, sobbing sort.

The book's description of depression and how it affects the person and the people around him/her is pretty accurate, in my experience. I especially loved how the friends left behind reacted to the outpouring of sympathy and sentiments from the bullies. Absolute hypocrites.

THE GOOD:

  1. The portrayal of depression and its aftermath is accurate.
  2. It will make you feel things.
  3. It's a beautiful story. 

THE BAD:

  1. I was expecting to feel more intense emotions during the first parts of the book. 

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody.
READ IT IF:

  1. You are looking for a good cry.
  2. You have experienced depression or have ever thought about suicide.
  3. You loved The Fault in Our Stars.

RATING:
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: Because I'm Worth It (Gossip Girl #4) by Cecily von Ziegesar


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
With the college applications complete and summer in full bloom, Serena, Dan, Vanessa, Blair, and Jenny have got an interesting vacation ahead in New York City before heading off to college where they plan to fulfill all of their dreams.
MY TAKE:
I've read this book before, but it's still fun to read the second time around.

In Because I'm Worth It, Blair flirts with a married man, Nate finds himself a new princess, Dan gets involved with another writer despite still being with Vanessa, and Serena lives her life to the fullest.

The thing I enjoy most about these books is being able to live vicariously through these teens. I mean, I don't want to have their lives exactly, but some of the things they get to experience are pretty cool. Besides the obvious stuff like living in New York, there's also things like Serena's surprise job and Dan's writing fame.

Is the book realistic? Well, it's a little far-fetched at times, but that's what's fun about it for me. I may also not like all the characters, and I might like some characters more in the show than in the books, but I did like this book enough for me to finish it pretty quickly.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a fun, quick read.
  2. Their lives seem like a lot of fun.
  3. Blair gets more likable as the series goes on. 

THE BAD:

  1. It can be a little far-fetched sometimes. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You love the show.
  2. You are a Blair Waldorf fan.
  3. You wish you lived in New York. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Descendants Junior Novel by Disney Book Group


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos are the offspring of some of the most terrible villains of all time. They're offered a chance to leave the Isle of the Lost, where they have been imprisoned all their lives, and go to prep school in the idyllic kingdom of Auradon with all of the 'good' kids. There, they must choose whether or not to follow in their parents' evil footsteps. Watch out Auradon--here come the Descendants!
MY TAKE:
For some reason, I enjoy reading novelizations of television shows and movies, even if I've already seen them and, as such, am not surprised by anything in the book.

In Descendants, Mal and her friends (all of whom are children of villains) are given the chance to study at Auradon, outside of the Isle of the Lost. Mal's mother is thrilled because this is an opportunity for Mal and the other kids to steal the Fairy Godmother's magic wand for her and give her more power.

I loved the movie, and I was curious to see how the song numbers would be explained or narrated here. As it turns out, some of them were treated as just part of the characters' thoughts/imagination, while some were described as they are.

It's a pretty straightforward novelization, and everything you see in the movie is here. This was perfect since I've only seen the movie once so far and there were a few moments I missed.
Sometimes, it felt like I was being told, instead of shown, what happened. It was okay, though, since I understand that this is a junior novelization and what I'm expecting isn't exactly practical for this version.

THE GOOD:

  1. Everything in the movie is included here.
  2. The characters are likable.
  3. It's something younger and older fans can both enjoy. 

THE BAD:

  1. There were a couple or so moments wherein I felt like I was being told instead of shown the action. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You loved the movie Descendants.
  2. You like stories that continue old classics.
  3. Your child is a fan of the movie.

RATING:
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Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy
Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

MY TAKE:
I remember wanting to read this when it first came out, but I forgot all about it until recently.

In The Fine Art of Truth or Dare, Ella is a bit of an outcast at her school, but that's okay because she's got great friends. Aside from being an artist, she has a tiny obsession with Edward Willing. She's not doing well at school, though, and she ends up being tutored by her crush Alex.

I can't remember what it was exactly that drew me to this book years ago, but I'm glad I came across it again. It didn't wow me as much as I thought it would, but I certainly enjoyed it, and that's taking into account the fact that the popular guy-unpopular girl trope is not one of my favorites.

What carried this book for me were: Ella's family, Sadie and Frankie, and Alex and Ella's romance. The subplot related to Edward Willing was interesting and believable too, but it wasn't my favorite part of the story.

Ella's family seemed like a fun bunch. My extended family is huge and close-knit and reading about Ella's family reminded me of my own. As for Sadie and Frankie, I liked them both a lot too, even though there were times wherein they seemed larger-than-life and almost unrealistic.

My favorite thing about the book, I think, is Alex and Ella's relationship or, at least, parts of it. Alex has his not-a-great-guy moments, but he knows how to plan great dates and he seems to genuinely care about Ella. As for Ella herself, while I couldn't really relate to her, I did like her. Had she been real, I think we could have been friends.

THE GOOD:

  1. The romance between Alex and Ella was sweet and believable.
  2. Ella's family and friends are amazing.
  3. The art subplot was certainly new to me. 

THE BAD:

  1. Ella's lack of self-confidence can get painful to watch. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are an artist.
  2. You like sweet romances.
  3. You like romances about popular guys and unpopular girls.

RATING:
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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Review: You Know You Love Me (Gossip Girl #2) by Cecily von Ziegesar


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
In You Know You Love Me, the sequel to Gossip Girl, it's brunette vixen Blair Waldorf's seventeenth birthday, and she knows exactly what she wants— Nate, her studly troubles boyfriend of three years. But Blair's been too busy filling out Ivy League college applications to notice that Nate has found himself another playmate.
MY TAKE:
I reread this book on a whim, and now I have the urge to reread the other books in the series too.

In You Know You Love Me, Blair is focused on the future but her plans are falling apart in front of her eyes. One of those is her future with Nate, who is feeling the pressure and turning to someone other than Blair for relief. Meanwhile, Dan is in love with Serena, and while Serena likes him, their level of affection for each other are at very different points and this causes some problems.

I had forgotten how addictive this series was. While, as a whole, I prefer the television series more since the characters are more complex and realistic, there is still something charming and interesting about the characters in the book. I also love the snarky comments that pepper the book, and how the book makes me feel like I'm in New York living the high life with them.

As not nice as Blair can be sometimes, it's hard not to sympathize with her as well. She really goes through some crappy things here. Nate is a stoner and a jerk, and I pity Jenny because it can only go downhill from here for her. As for Dan and Serena, they seem like a terrible fit. Serena is so flighty and Dan is a brooding, hopeless romantic, Since it's been a while since I read the series and watched the TV series, I can't remember if they end up together in the books. I do remember that they do get into relationships with people I don't really like, something which dampers my enthusiasm to reread a little bit.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's an enjoyable read.
  2. You feel like you're a part of the action.
  3. There characters are fun to read about.

THE BAD:

  1. If you watched the series first, you may be disappointed that the books are so different. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You miss watching Gossip Girl.
  2. You like reading about rich characters' lives.
  3. You wish you lived in New York. 

RATING:
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Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time-the kind Mercedes never had herself.
Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy - so far. Her mother isn't home nearly enough to know about Mercedes' extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won't even say the word "sex" until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn't bank on Angela's boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn - or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.
When Mercedes' perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's Firsts is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

MY TAKE:
This book was certainly a rollercoaster ride for me.

In Firsts, Mercedes has taken it upon herself to help guys who are virgins to give their girlfriends a memorable first time of their own. For awhile, her system worked and nobody knew what she was doing. However, some unsavory guys soon find out about her service and take advantage of her.

It wasn't until I started the book that I realized how what Mercedes was doing was very much like what Olive did in Easy A, except that Olive just pretended to do things with boys and Mercedes actually did things with guys, provided that they fit her criteria.

The first half of the book, I was so anxious for Mercedes. The girl knew what she was doing, but it was like she was disregarding the possible consequences. She realized that in the end, which is probably why my opinion of her improves. I didn't agree with what she did, but no matter how awful what she did was, especially in the eyes of the girls who were in relationships with the guys she was with, she didn't deserve what Charlie put her through.

Charlie, Luke and some of the other guys are just evil. Had they been my sons, I would be extremely ashamed of them. What is wrong with them?! Look, Mercedes is no saint, but what these guys did were even more wrong.

It was good that Mercedes had Faye and Zach to lean on. I liked Zach a lot. He's a good guy, and probably one of the more realistic romantic interests I've read in a while. As for Faye, I was wary of her at first. I thought she might pull a Single, White Female thing on Mercedes. Thankfully, she turned out to be a cool girl.

My rating for this book is 3.5 stars, although since I don't do half stars, I decided to round it up to four stars. What brought the book's rating down for me was the scheme that Faye and Zach cooked up to take the heat off of Mercedes. It just seemed off and unbelievable to me somehow.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It covers an important and relevant topic for teenagers.
  2. The characters are realistic.
  3. Zach is a really good love interest. 

THE BAD:

  1. Faye and Zach's plan just didn't work for me. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You've ever slut-shamed.
  2. You've been taken advantage of by a guy.
  3. You despise how guys who cheat don't get as much punishment and hate as the other woman does. 

RATING:
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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review: Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum by Gregory Funaro


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ages 8-12
When Grubb, an orphan and runaway chimney sweep, entered the wondrous world of the Odditorium, his life changed forever. Apprenticed to the mechanical marvel's strange proprietor, Alistair Grim, Grubb unfortunately must settle into his new position on the lam, as the whole of London is convinced that Alistair Grim is a villain bent on mass destruction. Grim, however, has come up with a plan to expose the real villain: Prince Nightshade, a wicked necromancer who wants the Odditorium's power source for himself.
With the evil prince hot in their trail, Grim, Grubb and the rest of the Odditorium's crew embark on a perilous adventure to find the legendary sword Excalibur: the only weapon capable of penetrating Nightshade's magical suit of armor. As expected, their quest turns out to be anything but ordinary. Not only can the Odditorium fly, but it can also swim! And so the crew battens down the hatches and sets off on an underwater voyage to the otherworldly realm of Avalon, home to Excalibur. Along the way, they must battle a banshee assassin,sea monsters, and a witch who seeks revenge on Alistair Grim for stealing her magical objects.
But that's not all. Unbeknownst to Grubb and the others, their fate has been written in an ancient Avalonian prophecy-a prophecy that holds the key to a destiny not even Alistair Grim could have possibly imagined.

MY TAKE:
I remembered liking the first book in this series, so I requested this book to see what happens next in the story.

In Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum, Grubb, Alistair and the rest of the occupants of the Odditorium must race against time to find the legendary Excalibur, which Alistair plans to use on Prince Nightshade.

It's a pleasant enough adventure story, one that I think a lot of young children will like. Throughout most of the book, I was thinking, "Oh, this is nice, but overall, the tone feels like it's too young for me." Then the plot twists came and I was impressed. The final big twist, in particular, was a surprise for me. I wanted to scream at Alistair for not expecting it, but stopped myself because, really, it's one of those twists where the villain really is just smarter or one step ahead of the heroes.

Several new characters are introduced in this book, and funnily enough, while most of them seem like they could be villains at first, a lot of them do come to the aid of Grubb and the others when they are needed. I'm curious to see if they'll show up again in the next book. I really hope that they do.

The ending isn't a massive cliffhanger, but it does make you wonder what comes next. I'm certainly looking forward to finding out the answers to the questions left unanswered in this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The plot twists are brilliant.
  2. The tone is whimsical.
  3. It's a fun adventure book that kids can share with their parents. 

THE BAD:

  1. The first half isn't as amazing as the second half. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You liked the first book in the series.
  2. You are interested in the legend of Excalibur.
  3. Your child likes adventure books. 

RATING:
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.
10:05
Someone starts shooting.
This explosive, emotional, page-turning debut about a high school held hostage is told from the perspective of four teens—each with their own reason to fear the boy with the gun.
Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and is an executive member of We Need Diverse Books, the founder of DiversifYA, and a founding contributor to YA Misfits. She lives in the Netherlands. Visit her at mariekenijkamp.com.

MY TAKE:
This is a tricky subject to write about so I was curious to see how it would be presented.

In This is Where it Ends, four characters narrate, as it happens, the events of a mass shooting at Opportunity High School. Each of them have ties to the shooter, and they all wonder if they had spoken up or done things differently, could they have stopped him in time?

The use of multiple narrators doesn't always work, but here it does because it shows you different perspectives. Two of them have positive memories of the shooter and can't believe he'd do something like this. The other two have negative memories of him, and as such, already dislike him.

Tyler's idea of trapping people in the auditorium and the way he chooses who he shoots shows a guy who knows exactly what he's doing, even though his reasoning may not make sense to rational people. The description of the students' and teachers' reactions, the victims' varied reactions prior to being shot, were consistent with what I imagine the reality to be. It certainly had my heart pounding through most of it.

The only real break from the action were the flashbacks wherein the narrators share their memories of Tyler. Tyler didn't seem like a bad guy at first, especially when he was with Claire. However, the abuse and bullying pushed him further over the edge, to the point where he would do terrible things just so he could keep Autumn close to him.

Of the four narrators, I liked Claire the best, even though her denial over Tyler was painful to read. Tomas was also okay, though his single-mindedness when it came to protecting his sister stressed me out. It was a good thing Fareed was there. Out of all the characters in the book, he was, by far, my favorite. He was able to keep a clear head and did what needed to be done. He was the real hero in this book, in my opinion.

My original rating for this book was 3.5. I debated on whether to round it down to 3 or round it up to 4. The reason why I was even considering a 3 rating was because of Autumn and Sylv. During the first half of the book, I didn't like Autumn. I didn't get why she couldn't have stopped her brother during the start of the shooting. At the very least, she could have tried to reason with him. There was at least one life lost as a direct result of her not confronting her brother right away. As the story progressed, though, my dislike of her lessened. My dislike of Sylv, though, increased. There were a quite a few times when I rolled my eyes while Sylv was narrating. It was like she had no sense of self-preservation. I was especially pissed off that she disobeyed her brother's instructions at the end. Granted, no harm was done, but still, after everything was said and done, it came off as disrespectful to me.

The reason I'm giving this book 4 stars, then, is the ending. The epilogue was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. It was a good note to end a book like this on.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's heart-pounding.
  2. It shows the inner conflict that people who were close to the shooter would probably feel in instances like this.
  3. The ending was heart-wrenching and beautiful. 

THE BAD:

  1. Autumn and Sylv can be frustrating sometimes. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You've wondered what those who are close to shooters feel when they find out that something like this has happened.
  2. You are looking for a good cry.
  3. You are interested in books with complex relationships. 

RATING:
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Monday, January 4, 2016

Review: Sunset of the Sabertooth (Magic Tree House #7) by Mary Pope Osborne


SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
Jack and Annie are ready for their next fantasy adventure in the bestselling middle-grade series—the Magic Tree House!
The Ice Age is very cool
. . . for two kids in bathing suits! Jack and Annie nearly freeze when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the time of cave people and woolly mammoths. But nothing can stop them from having another wild adventure—not even a saber-toothed tiger!

MY TAKE:
This was another nice addition to the series.

In Sunset of the Sabertooth, Jack and Annie head to the Ice Age to find another object that can help their friend Morgan.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. There were plenty of things going on here, and the pacing of the events should keep most kids' attention. With any luck, it can get kids interested in reading more facts about the Ice Age.

Annie still occasionally worried me with her impulsiveness, though. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more had I been a child and able to more easily immerse myself in the more magical and unbelievable aspects of the story, instead of occasionally pausing and questioning it.

THE GOOD:

  1. It can get kids interested in learning more about the Ice Age.
  2. It's fast-paced.
  3. It's informative. 

THE BAD:

  1. Parents may not enjoy it as much. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes adventure books.
  2. Your child likes learning new things.
  3. Your child is just starting to read by himself/herself. 

RATING:
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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Review: The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime by Gin Sander


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Everyone has an extensive, daunting bucket list of things to complete “before you die.” But it’s time to stop listing and start living. The Big Bucket List Book will change the way you look at the world and empower you to reach for all of the big and little things you want to achieve. Gin Sander offers 133 fresh ideas for infusing your life with a bit of glamour, adventure and style—whatever your budget. Learn to make your next chapter the most enriching and personally fulfilling of them all...and maybe change the world while you’re at it!
Jennifer “Gin” Sander is the New York Times bestselling author of many popular lifestyle books. A former senior editor and chief book developer for Prima Publishing, her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, People, the Boston Globe and USA Today, and she has appeared on Fox & Friends, C-Span’s Book TV, NBC and more.

MY TAKE:
I found the description for this book intriguing so I just had to read it for myself.

In The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime, you get to learn more about a wide range of activities that you can add to your bucket list.

While there weren't a lot of items here that interested me, I think a lot of people would find many things to add to their list from here (become a film extra, etc.). I actually found a few things that I hadn't thought of and which I'll probably add to my list. These are: creating an ultimate list of my favorite food, visiting Christmas markets, and dining at the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

I thought it was a good idea that the table of contents for this book included dollar signs for each item, corresponding to how expensive it is. I wish that this was included in the main entries, though, or at least cost estimates as of press time.

Each entry is short, but has resources (books or websites) you can see for more information. Some of the entries also have anecdotes from people who have done that particular activity before. You can also find tips at the start of and throughout the book about affording the things on your list.

Since the entries are concise, this book is better for considering what else you can add to your bucket list as opposed to learning as much as you can about certain activities. It's a good starting point, though.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You can find new things to add to your list.
  2. There are additional resources listed for each entry.
  3. There are a wide range of activities to choose from. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some may wish for more details for each item. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You are looking for more things to add to your bucket list.
  2. You are looking for fun things to do.
  3. You want to go on an adventure. 

RATING:
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Friday, January 1, 2016

Review: The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
In the shadow of the forest, the Night Parade marches on...
The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother's village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family's ancestral shrine on a malicious dare.
But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked...and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.

MY TAKE:
While I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would, it's still an interesting read.

In The Night Parade, Saki and her family visit her grandmother during a festival. Saki doesn't want to be there at all, and doesn't put a lot of effort into doing the tasks asked of her. In town, she meets a group of kids who dare her to participate in a game. Her actions have consequences, however, not just in her world, but in the spirit world as well.

To be honest, the main reason I requested this book was because the blurb made me think of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away. After reading it, I'd say it's Spirited Away meets A Christmas Carol meets Disney. The spirits, her journey in between the spirit world and the real world, the quest, and even Saki herself, did make me think of Spirited Away. However, when I think of Miyazaki's work, I imagine more muted colors. There's something about this story that makes me think that if it were translated into a movie, the colors would be more vibrant.

The Christmas Carol comparison stems mostly from the three guides who help Saki as she tries to find a way to break the curse. As for the Disney part, that comes from the characters' dialogue and pretty much everything after Saki stumbles upon Tsukumogami Village. Tanuki, Saki's third spirit guide, also reminds me of a mix between Pip from Enchanted and Mushu from Mulan. The way he talks seems very Western even when compared to the others, much like Mushu's dialogue in Mulan.

The story was action-packed, and each day Saki tried different routes and ways to solve her problem. I also liked how the spirit world and the spirits themselves were presented. There were some bad spirits, tricky spirits (like the fox/kitsune), neutral spirits, and there were the good and sweet spirits. I didn't really have a favorite character, but I do have a favorite scene. This was the part wherein the ogres and the object spirits started to become friends.

Saki, though, wasn't really my cup of tea. She started off quite whiny, and it wasn't until about halfway through the book that she seemed to grow a backbone. She irritated me quite a few times because she tended to waste valuable time questioning everything and seemed to have little sense of urgency at crucial moments. However, I did like a couple of the ingenious ideas she came up with during her quest.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are some adorable characters here.
  2. It's a good take on how the physical world affects the spirit world, and vice versa.
  3. It's a fun read. 

THE BAD:

  1. Saki can be irritating sometimes. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like novels set in the spirit world.
  2. You like Disney movies.
  3. You like adventures and quests.

RATING:
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