Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Bronte Sisters (The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne) by Catherine Reef

My 2 cents:

If a book isn't uplifting, I hope it's informative. You can say both about The Bronte Sisters (The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne) by Catherine Reef.
Starting in Chapter 1 (“Oh God, My Poor Children!”), the book chronicles the Bronte family's misfortunes, beginning with Mrs. Bronte's death in 1821 (perhaps from cancer or a childbirth-related infection), to Mr. Bronte's death forty years later, in 1861. Mr. Bronte outlived all six of his children, five daughters and one son, Patrick Branwell Bronte.
The Bronte's story is relentlessly poignant, and riddled with illness, poverty and death; but Reef's account offers an enlightening glimpse into the 1800's, the poverty in which preachers of small congregations lived, the lack of medical care and antibiotics, and the bleak futures young women of that era faced if they did not marry. Reef also offers a peek into the literary world the Bronte sisters lived in, and how they came to write such time-honored classics as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Fans of the Bronte sisters' work may want to read this book for insight into their brief, but productive lives.

Length: 190 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, if you enjoy biographies, the 1800's and literature by the Bronte sisters. Reef's book is classified Young Adult Non-Fiction.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When You Wish Upon A Rat by Maureen McCarthy

My 2 cents:

When You Wish Upon A Rat, a juvenile fiction book by popular Australian author Maureen McCarthy, follows a familiar format, yet is still, somehow, fresh – both a little funny and a little sad.

Ruth Craze, new to teen-age-hood, loses a much-loved aunt to cancer, and suddenly finds herself extremely dissatisfied with her home, family and friends. Through an adventure with a rat and a new friend named Howard, Ruth's eye-opening experience is reminiscent of stories about a young King Arthur and the wizard Merlin, and FREAKY FRIDAY (book by Mary Rodgers, movie starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis).

Who's it for? Ages ten and up, and their parents. Heads up to parents: McCarthy does a great job at showing parents (the good and the bad) through the eyes of their kids.

Length: 281 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, though I admit I found Rodney (the rat) a little creepy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

My 2 cents:

I love it when friends hand me books to read and review. It's still a thrill, especially if it's a crisp, new book with white, un-smeared pages.

So a friend recommended Ali in Wonderland recently by Ali Wentworth, who's a pretty, blonde comedienne, a mother of two, and wife to George Stephanopoulos. And very funny. Wentworth's book is a memoir, but not really a life-story. It's more a bunch of random stories about her life, from her childhood in Washington, DC through boarding school, post-college adventures, work experiences and some engagements (I lost count of how many, exactly), to her life now in New York City

Hands-down, the funniest story in Wentworth's book is when she tells about the time her mother forced her to run away from home with her older sister, who was recuperating (miserably) from back surgery and wearing a full-body cast . . . in the summer. The older sister made a deal with Ali that if Ali could make her laugh, she would return home in time for the Brady Bunch on TV (it was Friday night). Ali kept the deal. A graveyard, trash bag and underwear were involved.

Besides being really entertaining, Wentworth's memoir is also a soulful tribute to the strong,”genetically-dominant” women in her life, especially her mother, whose name is, ironically, Muffie. Ali in Wonderland, even the acknowledgments, made me laugh.

Length: 243 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, for the graveyard story with her run-away sister alone. This book is classified as Adult Biography, but high schoolers interested in comedy will enjoy it

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

PRODIGY by Marie Lu

My 2 cents:

PRODIGY. The much-awaited sequel to Legend by Marie Lu is out, thrilling teens everywhere, anxious to know what's happening with June, the Republic's 15-year-old, hot-shot prodigy, and Day, her cooler-than-cool rebel counterpart.

My 12-year-old daughter handed me a copy to read and review, and I was not disappointed. Sometimes, that first book in a titillating trilogy is a hard act to follow, and the second book falls a little flat. Not this time. The sequel hits readers with a jolt on the first page and keeps on pumping, up until the “oh, no, please, no” very last page. And, then some.

There are a few major surprises in Prodigy. (Hint: Anden. Second hint: Eden. Third: Kaede and the Patriots). June is amazing. And, Day, well. Let's just say that if readers didn't think they could fall any more in love with him, they were wrong.

Which brings us to Lu's big cliffhanger in the end. Will Day live? Will June and Day be together? What will happen to Anden? One thing's for sure. Lu knows how to write a trilogy.

Length: 371 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes. Prodigy is classified YA Literature, ages 14 and up. Maybe another year or two, Lizzey, and you'd enjoy Lu's book more, I think . . .

Bonus: Every other chapter is told from either June or Day's viewpoint, highlighted by different-colored ink. June gets black, Day gets blue.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Starting Now by Debbie Macomber

My 2 cents:

Debbie Macomber fans! (And there are millions of you. . .) The wait is over! Macomber's newest novel is on the shelves, Starting Now. It's April, Easter was Sunday, flowers are budding out, and new beginnings are possible. Time to pick out a skein of spring yarn, head on over to “A Good Yarn” on Blossom Street, say hello to Lydia, Margaret and Casey. And meet Ava, Libby and Dr. Phillip Stone.

Libby just got fired from her dream job, exactly when she thought she was going to get that much-deserved promotion. She's at her lowest point, since the death of her mother, when, unexpectedly she meets Lydia, Dr. Stone and Ava. Suddenly, her empty life is full and happy, and she's doing things she'd never even dreamed of. When life throws her yet another curve, and her old career dances back into her life, what will Libby choose? Starting Now, what will she do?

Length: 338 pages

Worth Your Time? You bet your yarn it is. Debbie Macomber's newest book is not only a good story with memorable characters, it's thought-provoking and inspirational (but not preachy)!

Bonus: Full instructions, pattern and illustrations for adorable “Long-Tail Hat.”