Children’s Book Reviews: Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found, Up and Down, and The Great Paper Caper.

Stuck

Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, so he decides to try to get it down by throwing his shoe at it. But that gets stuck too, so he throws his other shoe. And on and on it goes until it seems everything that he could possibly throw at it is stuck in the tree as well, including his front door and a boat and an orangutan.

Another one of Jeffers’ books that is chock full of humor. You just keep wondering what else Floyd could possibly get stuck in that tree. The story is kind of absurd and surreal and strange, and those are all reasons to love this book.

I will say that the boy is quite selfish which might not be something that you want to read to your kids, though I think they’d be quite amused with the story and how he is just being a kid. It’s not logical, it’s not realistic, and it’s not what Floyd should do, but that’s the whole point! It’s fun and silly and ridiculous. A completely enjoyable read. Yet again. 🙂

Children’s Book Reviews: The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found and Up and Down.

The Great Paper Caper cover

This one might be favorite Oliver Jeffers book so far. The forest animals’ homes are disappearing. All the trees are being cut down! Oh no! What is happening? The animals meet up to try to figure out the mystery; there must be clues, right? Maybe like the bear with the ax in the background or the flyers for the paper airplane contest?

The humor in The Great Paper Caper is so genuinely funny and charming. This is definitely one of those ones that will delight not only children but adults as well – maybe even more so for adults who will understand the humor of the clues laid out in the background for the reader.

Also, I can’t even handle how ridiculously adorable the illustrations are. The stick legs! Oh my goodness. I just love them. The beaver and the bear and the pig. So freaking adorable. I think some people might easily blow off Jeffers’ illustrations as overly simple or plain, but this book is indicative of why Jeffers is just so talented: all of the little details in the background that you might not notice at first are perfect.

So this one doesn’t quite have the same emotional range as, say, Lost and Found, but it is the definition of an enjoyable book from start to finish. I definitely think kids would enjoy trying to figure out who the paper caper is as much as you will.

The Great Paper Caper

Waiting on Wednesday: My Heart & Other Black Holes

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Publisher: HarperCollins / Balzer + BrayMy Heart & Other Black Holes

Author: Jasmine Warga

Release date: February 10, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

     Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

Why I’m excited: First, that title. Second, nerds. Third, that summary. Wow. That sounds incredible. She must convince him “to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together” – how awesome does that sound? Yep. I want to read this. RIGHT NOW, please and thank you.

What are you excited about? 

Children’s Book Review: Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found.

Up and Down

Another book in “The Boy” series, same as The Way Back Home and Lost and Found. I seriously adore this little boy and that dang penguin. Oh my goodness.

The boy and the penguin do everything together. Until the penguin decides he needs to learn how to fly…alone. The boy helps his friend as much as he can by researching ways to fly and trying to find flying experts to teach his friend how to fly. But the penguin finds his own way and when he heads off to do it, he becomes lost and the boy cannot find him. The boy figures out where he is, but will he be able to save him in time?

Just like his other books, this book is written and illustrated in Jeffers’ charming simplicity. His books make me smile the entire time. They aren’t just about a sweet friendship though. They are full of adventure and fun and suspense. Just wonderful. The friendship between the boy and the penguin is so genuinely caring – they will do anything to help and support the other.

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve only read one book by but NEED to read more

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

toptentuesday

Michael Grant; I’ve read Gone, which I raced through in a day. I own Hunger and have the first two BZRK books checked out from the library so I will read more soon.

Mark Haddon; I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This book is amazing, and I have no words. I really want to read A Spot of Bother soon.

Hugh Howey; I’ve read Wool. Holy freaking crap. If you like dystopian, read this. I already own the next two books in the trilogy, so I need to get one those soon.

Graeme Simsion; I’ve read The Rosie Project. I’ve mentioned this book on the blog like a hundred times. You all know I adore it. I cannot wait for The Rosie Effect!!

Nina LaCour; I’ve read Everything Leads to You, which I reviewed over on WatchPlayRead. This book is completely charming and adorable and I really liked it. I want to check out some of LaCour’s other books, particularly The Disenchantments.

Lori Rader-Day; I’ve read The Black Hour. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING, and so is the author. One of my favorites this year.

Rainbow Rowell; I’ve read Attachments, which was a really great intro to Rowell’s books. I want to try some of her YA next.

David Levithan; I’ve read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which isn’t even completely one of his books. I’ve heard so many great things about his books. Definitely going to pick one up before the year ends.

Okay, I couldn’t get to ten. Oh, well. What about you? Any authors you’ve only read one book by but NEED to read more? Link me up to your TTT!

Children’s Book Review: Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons Quit and The Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. You ready?

Lost and Found

Lost and Found is in the same series as The Way Back Home which I already talked about (in case you were wondering, I loved it). One day, a penguin shows up at a boy’s door and he assumes it is lost. So he figures out where the penguin came from through research and sets out to return it home. The trip to the South Pole is long and to pass the time, he tells the penguin stories. When they reach their destination, he realizes that the penguin wasn’t lost.

Much like Jeffers’ other books, this is a sweet story of friendship. Instead of being about the words on the page, this book is much more about what isn’t said. The words are sparse but obviously chosen with care to invoke feelings of love, loyalty, kindness, and friendship. Jeffers’ is obviously quite talented: you can tell this by the fact that it is possible to see how the penguin is feeling with just his simple illustrations.

Loneliness is something that is really difficult to talk to a child about. I think this book would be a really wonderful way to start that conversation should it ever come up. It is also a beautiful story of friendship and finding it in places you might not expect.

Come back tomorrow when I’ll be reviewing Up and Down.

SUNDAY FUNDAY: WEEK IN REVIEW [13]

The lovely Cristina over at Girl in the Pages started Sunday Funday as a way to recap the bookish (and not-so-bookish) things that have happened that week.

September 8 – 14, 2014

So in case you missed it, I’m hosting my first ever giveaway! Do you want to win a SIGNED copy of Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss and some Anna-themed swag? You know you do. Head over to my giveaway page and enter! It ends a week from tomorrow!

Anna Giveaway Pic

Coming up on the blog this week: I’ll be reviewing six (yes, SIX) Oliver Jeffers’ books; Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday as always; I’ll also probably review The Shadow Prince and possibly another book (depending on how my reading goes).

Do you like Benedict Cumberbatch? Do you like books? Do you like cute things? You should probably watch this video of him reading Little Read Hen.

Books read: I finished reading Lauren Oliver’s first adult book, Rooms, this week, and the review should be up on WatchPlayRead tomorrow. I also read and reviewed Of Monsters and Madness. I read three children’s books this week, One Cool Friend, Along a Long Road, and The Hueys in the New Sweater (which will be reviewed on the blog this week). Additionally, I started Stacey O’Neale’s The Shadow Prince. It was a good week for reading.

TBR: I’m going to be participating in the Mortal Enchantment blog tour next month, and this week I received an ARC of the book! From the library, I checked out The Selection by Kiera Cass, the first two BZRK books by Michael Grant, and Horns by Joe Hill. Surprisingly, I didn’t buy any books or comics this week, but my boss did loan me the entire X-Men Legacy series, so I added a BUNCH of stuff to my TBR this week.

What was on the blog this week (and WatchPlayRead):

Monday – Bookish Talk: DNF-ing Books – Do you do it? This one got a LOT of attention, which I wasn’t expecting, but I was really excited about. I had some interesting discussions in the comments. 🙂

Tuesday – Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated authors and books
My interview with Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost 

Wednesday – Waiting on Wednesday: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
My freak out about the new Mockingjay Part 1 Poster

Thursday – Liebster Award: Take 3!
Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith 

Saturday – ARC Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
Recap/review of Teen Wolf’s season 4 finale, “Smoke and Mirrors”
Comic Book Review: Bodies #2

Sunday – Audiobook Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Some non-bookish things to check out or that I’m excited about:

– This cover of The Neighbourhood’s song Sweater Weather. WOW.
– THE MAZE RUNNER MOVIE COMES OUT FRIDAY!!!!
– I bought my ticket to see The 1975 in November with my friend Georgie!
– You might’ve seen this, but this frat did a lip sync video of Taylor Swift’s song Shake It Off (I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift, but I actually enjoyed this)

Audiobook Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

After reading/listening to The Dead Fathers Club, which ruined all audiobooks for me, Wonder was the second one I could get through. It was a rough start, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Wonder

Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Reader: Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, and Diana Steele

The Wonder audiobook is narrated by three different people. The person who narrated the main character, Auggie Pullman, is a woman, and it is pretty obvious that she is not a young boy but rather a woman attempting to sound like a young boy. At first, I found it really difficult to get used to her voice because she purposely has a slight lisp and a scratchy voice. Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to force myself to listen to the entire thing for eight hours, but I was drawn in by the story and I couldn’t stop listening. Eventually, I got used to her voice – I think it probably helped that it changed between the narrators and points of view about every disc and a half so I didn’t get too irritated. By the end of the audiobook, however, I found myself actually enjoying her voice; not sure how that happened.

While there are only three narrators, we get a total of six different perspectives throughout the book, and each of their voices was unique to me. Occasionally you could tell that it was the same narrator, but for the most part, their voices were different but not in such a way that it was weird. In between The Dead Fathers Club and Wonder, I tried several different audiobooks but couldn’t get more than one drive to work through them. Several of them had readers that tried too hard to make the voices distinct – a super rough, scratchy voice for an old man, etc.

As for the book, I liked the story a lot. You might have seen my Quote Quoted post where I talked about one of the parts that really hit home for me. I could relate to a lot of this book, and I think the lesson being taught in the book is something that everyone should read. My only issue with this book was the ending. To me, the ending of this book was too perfect. For a novel about a young boy’s struggles with bullying that felt authentic and real, the ending felt wrong. Real life isn’t like that. It isn’t tied up with a cute little bow. Everyone doesn’t just suddenly realize that just because you look different on the outside, you’re super cool and interesting on the inside. It’d be nice if that happened, but it doesn’t. I really loved how Palacio handled everything in the book when it came to how mean people can be, the horrible things they’ll do or say, and how it feels to be the one on the receiving end of all of this crap, but the end disappointed me. Other than that, great book and great audiobook. Definitely recommended.

ARC Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Of Monsters and MadnessAuthor: Jessica Verday
Genre: Historical fiction, retelling, paranormal, young adult
Publisher: Egmont
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
288 pages

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Egmont for letting me read this.

 

What I thought:

I’m a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe so when I saw that this book was a retelling of Annabel Lee, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I enjoyed what Verday with Poe; I’m okay when an author takes creative liberties with an author’s work or life as long as it is laid out. What she did with Poe was very interesting though at times it was quite obvious.

1820s Philadelphia was the perfect setting for the book as it gave Of Monsters and Madness a decidedly creepy feel. There is a dark, Gothic feel to the book, which felt just right for an Edgar Allan Poe retelling. I was really looking forward to an author’s take on Annabel as, in the poem, we don’t know her except through Poe’s eyes. Her mother has recently died and she moves from Siam (Thailand) to Philadelphia to live with her father. She wants to be a doctor, which is not a proper role for a woman at that time. You would think she would be strong willed and brave and fierce, but really, she was boring, in my opinion. Something that irritated me was Annabel’s thoughts: the book is set in her perspective but occasionally we would get her thoughts in italics. The book is set in her perspective! Those are her thoughts, which made the parts in italics rather repetitive and unnecessary.

The book’s pacing is quite slow. It follows an almost day-by-day timeline for Annabel’s first weeks in Philadelphia, and of course, every day is not exciting. There were three or four scenes that I found truly exciting and creepy. I also found that the big secret was pretty obvious early on, though that didn’t stop me from wanting to keep reading and see how it played out.

There is not as much horror or creepiness as one would expect from a retelling of anything Edgar Allan Poe has written. If you are offended by creative liberties in regards to an author’s work or life, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one to you. Overall, the book didn’t really impress me though I won’t say that I hated it. I was obviously intrigued enough to keep reading. The ending was kind of abrupt though, so maybe there’ll be a sequel?

I want to share a few lines that I thought were wonderful and unbelievably romantic. Annabel’s love interest comes to her and this happens:

“You have haunted my dreams. My waking hours. Every moment in between,” he says.
I stare up at him, lost in the darkness of his eyes. He lowers his mouth to mine, and just before he steals away my breath again, he echoes my thoughts. “I am lost in you.”

Ooooweee. If someone said that to me, I’d be gone.

The bottom line: If you are looking for the gothic, horrific, creepy awesomeness that is Edgar Allan Poe, this may not be for you. If you are looking for a quick, strange take on Annabel Lee and Poe, you might want to check this out – particularly around Halloween. This book came so close to being what I wanted, but each time it fell short.

Rating: 5 – take it or leave it

Reading next: The Shadow Prince and Mortal Enchantment by Stacey O’Neale

Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks LikeTitle: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Headline

Publication Date: October 2013

Paperback: 404 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Check out the summary on Goodreads

What I thought:

I enjoyed this one so much that I bought myself a copy of it because I know I’ll want to read it again (also, I’m glad I had it so I could get it signed when I met and interviewed Jen!).

I’ve read some reviews of this book that criticized it because supposedly nothing happens. This is not true. No, it is not action packed and full of twists and turns and blah blah blah. But it is a sweet, adorable book that fills you up from the inside with all its cute. I smiled a lot while reading this book and I love that. It made me feel content. I wasn’t worried about the fact that it wasn’t a rollercoaster of action because I just felt good while reading it.

Ellie gets an email from a mysterious “G” who’s sent the email to her on accident. The two end up chatting back and forth from across the country and a connection grows between them. When Graham Larkin, a relatively new celebrity, shows up in Ellie’s small town to film his new movie, it turns out Ellie’s mysterious “G” is Graham – who moved his movie’s filming location to Ellie’s small town after she told him where she lived. Okay, a little stalker-ish but unbelievably cute.

I really liked both of these characters; Ellie didn’t take any crap from Graham or let him off the hook for anything just because he was a celebrity. She teased him for it and he just loved it. Their banter was hilarious and cute and I loved reading it. The characters both felt whole to me, fully developed with separate personalities, so it was easy to tell whose chapter was whose (each chapter is written in third person but with a focus on either Ellie or Graham). I think I connected a little more with Ellie, probably because I’m not a famous person and I’m a girl. Haha. But I enjoyed both of these characters.

The emails between Graham and Ellie were my favorite part though. The book starts off with their first email exchange and some of their emails back and forth for the next several months. Once the actual chapters begin, we get at least one new email between the two at the beginning of each chapter. I really like when authors have other means of communication between characters (letters, emails, texts, diary entries, etc.). I think it adds another layer to the book to allow us to get to know the characters even more.

Okay, occasionally I felt a little like, “Why is this scene necessary?” or “Dang, this is so cheesy,” but not once did I want to stop reading. Sometimes you just need a book that is so unashamedly adorable and cheesy and sweet, and This Is What Happy Looks Like was just that for me.

POTENTIAL SPOILER. SORT OF. Some people didn’t like the ending of this book, but I really did. Real life isn’t wrapped up with a nice little bow. Everything doesn’t get resolved. There are always problems to be solved and things to work around. I found the ending to the book to be really refreshing.

The bottom line: If you’re looking for a book with really adorable characters, no insta-love, and some sweet romance, check this out. Good for people who love movies or small towns, open endings or lovely beginnings. If you don’t need a book that has action on every page but rather gives you a feeling of contentedness and makes you smile, This Is What Happiness Looks Like is probably for you. I know I said sweet about 275384245 times in this review, but this book is just that. Rot-your-teeth-out, give-you-diabetes sweet.

Rating: 7.5 – between pretty good and freaking fantastic

Reading next: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday