On My Way (26 Fairmount Avenue Series)

On My Way (26 Fairmount Avenue Series) - Tomie dePaola The series continues as enjoyable as ever! Who knew that [a:Tomie dePaola|8725|Tomie dePaola|] was as talented an actor/reader as an author/illustrator? Delightful!

26 Fairmount Avenue #2: Here We All Are

26 Fairmount Avenue #2: Here We All Are (Audio) - Tomie dePaola See my review for [b:26 Fairmount Avenue|581383|26 Fairmount Avenue (26 Fairmount Avenue, #1)|Tomie dePaola||568271]. This one continues just as good!

26 Fairmount Avenue #1: 26 Fairmount Avenue

26 Fairmount Avenue #1: 26 Fairmount Avenue (Audio) - Tomie dePaola Awesome! Charming story, and Tomie dePaola is a wonderful narrator.


Again! - Emily Gravett A dragon bedtime story! What could be more brilliant? Well, nothing, if the book is by Emily Gravett! The description may make it sound a tad boring. I mean, what could be exciting about a little dragon who wants to hear the same story over and over and over and o v e r....... ?This is one of the cutest bedtime stories I've seen -- very funny and charming! I'd be amazed if children don't emulate little Cedric the dragon, and ask for it over and over and over!Brilliant! And it is on my personal list of this year's Caldecott contenders. I love it!

The Lion's World: A journey into the heart of Narnia

The Lion's World: A journey into the heart of Narnia - Rowan Williams I've been a big Narnia fan ever since my Dad started reading me the series -- before I can remember! -- and I've been reading analyses and criticism of C. S. Lewis since my early teens. So, when I started this book, I really wondered whether it would impart anything new.I am delighted to say that this book is a great read, and very illuminating besides! I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anybody with an interest in Narnia. And Monica Capoferri's illustrations are an added bonus -- they are stunning, and very different from any other Narnia illustrations I've seen. Kudos to her!So, what did I find so wonderful about the book?Not the style, actually. Rowan Williams writes extremely well, but not always gracefully -- at least not in my opinion. He himself is not the master of English that Lewis was.However, he brings out some very interesting themes, while addressing many contemporary ideas about Lewis and Narnia, citing (for instance), modern children's authors like [a:J.K. Rowling|1077326|J.K. Rowling|] and [a:Philip Pullman|3618|Philip Pullman|], whose works he praises highly. He also cites other critics, who were Lewis's contemporaries, and some of whom are very amusing. Some of Williams's most interesting elucidations of Narnia arise from his answers to these critics.Questions addressed in the book include:-Why is there no religion in Narnia?-Can people really know themselves?-Why is it so important that Aslan is "not a tame lion?"-Why "tell no one any story but his own?"-How can anything be "bigger on the inside than the outside," and what does this say about humanity?And many more!While grappling with some of the really tough questions Narnia gives rise to, Williams also connects the seven stories with the rest of Lewis's work, notably the Space Trilogy and "The Great Divorce."I found the book fascinating, and well worth reading, and I think that anybody who is interested in Narnia or Lewis will definitely agree with me.NOTE: I give Williams a lot of credit -- he may even have made me like [b:The Last Battle|84369|The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7)|C.S. Lewis||1059917] a bit better (it's my least favorite of the Narnia series).ALSO NOTE: I almost gave this book four stars instead of five, because I did not love the writing. But it is a very good book, well produced, and with lovely illustrations which are though-provoking in themselves.

Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story (Gallagher Girls, #5.5; Heist Society, #2.5)

Double Crossed: A Spies and Thieves Story - Ally Carter What a great read! Ally Carter's stories are always entertaining, and what a perfect idea to combine the spies with the thieves. I mean, the Gallagher Girls and the Heist Society in a single novella? What could be more fun than that? Macey, Hale, Kat and Abby all figure in one action packed episode, along with villains disguised as U.S. presidents.So here's what's wonderful about the novella.1. Good writing! Really!2. Interesting characters.3. A really fun, suspenseful plot. OK, it starts a little slowly -- you might, just at first, think you were reading one of those books about annoyingly rich, empty-headed heiresses and the parties they go to. But you would be so wrong, thankfully. Things start happening really quickly, and the plot twists along at high speed to a really satisfying conclusion.I'd recommend this novella for everybody who likes spy stories, action, suspense, or chic lit -- it has it all!DO NOT read it if you want something serious or deeply meaningful. It's pure fun. I do wish it were available in an actual print copy, but it's short enough that reading online or on the phone does not become too onerous.I would definitely recommend it to any teen -- or anyone -- looking for a quick, fun read. You will probably enjoy it most if you already know the Gallagher Girls and the Heist Society, but it stands alone well enough to make a great introduction to Ally Carter's books, for those who haven't read her yet.

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys - Just amazing! I loved it, and I can't wait to see what happens next!A more coherent review will follow soon.

The Empty Kingdom (The Mark of Solomon Series #2)

The Empty Kingdom - Elizabeth Wein OK, GOODREADS -- Why did you eat my review? Well, here we go again.This book is fantastic -- I loved it, and I'm so glad I finished reading it. I almost didn't. I admit, there was a scene right in the middle of the story that I found so horrific that I had to stop and put the book aside. But after that, the pace picked up and the book came to such a satisfying conclusion -- I can understand those who cried at the end (I didn't but I do understand why someone might -- so beautiful!)So...I want to keep this spoiler free, but still give an idea of what the book was like.1. It's really beautifully written, like everything Elizabeth Wein puts out. No annoying grammatical errors or unhappy turns of phrase anywhere.2. The characters are amazing! And everybody is really well described, but nobody (and that's nobody!) is exactly as they appear to be. But yet, nothing is hidden -- a typical Elizabeth Wein trick, I begin to think -- just like [b:Code Name Verity|11925514|Code Name Verity|Elizabeth Wein||16885788].3. The plot, also amazing, is completely character driven. For me, this made all of the developments seem very realistic, no matter how fantastic they actually were. Who will like it? And who should read it? Well, anybody who likes a really well crafted, twistily plotted adventure story with great writing and memorable characters. Which would be everybody, of course. But people who do not like to see young children in difficult/terrifying situations, or people who just cant stand a slow build of tension and need the action to start right away will probably not like it as much as I did. Before I end this review, I want to leave you with four thoughts -- one is a reflection, two are quotes, and one is "in conclusion," and will tell you whether this story stands alone.First, in our podcast interview with Elizabeth Wien,she told us that she was writing The Mark of Solomon after 9/11, and it became a book about fear, and dealing with fear. This book is #2 in The Mark of Solomon. And yes, there's a lot of fear in it.I was struck by the biblical quote that prefaces the book: "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death." ~Song of Solomon 8 : 6 It is not immediately clear what this means in the context of the story, but when it becomes clear, it's amazing.Then there's the title. I don't know whether I should quote the passage it comes from, now that it comes to it. I don't want to spoil it! But it's gorgeous, and it's about perception, and double and triple meanings. I nearly cried at this point -- even though I didn't yet understand everything in the (did I say twisty?) plot. Oh, and did I mention the ending? And the characters? Telemakos and Athena, I love you so much!!Finally, does it stand alone? Well, I don't think so. You definitely wan to read the first Mark of Solomon book, [b:The Lion Hunter|982391|The Lion Hunter (The Lion Hunters, #4)|Elizabeth Wein||967280], before you read this one. And I think the story gains power if you've read the rest of the series first, starting with [b:The Winter Prince|962821|The Winter Prince (The Lion Hunters, #1)|Elizabeth Wein||87868]Highly recommended! And you'll definitely like it if you like [b:Code Name Verity|11925514|Code Name Verity|Elizabeth Wein||16885788], or [a:Megan Whalen Turner|22542|Megan Whalen Turner|]'s Queen's Thief series.

The FitzOsbornes at War

The FitzOsbornes at War - Michelle Cooper It's absolutely astounding to read such well-written, meticulously researched historical fiction. What a tour de force! And such fun to read, too!I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys drama, romance, family stories, adventure, or books with great writing and appealing characters. In other words, practically everybody. It will particularly appeal to -- let us say -- disillusioned former fans of "Downton Abbey," or people who enjoy other tales of the gentry in difficult circumstances, from Jane Austen through K.M. Peyton and beyond. And if you are interested in life on the home front during WWII, this is definitely your book.I think it makes a good adjunct to Elizabeth Wein? Anyone? Who is Davey's father? Seriously??!Yes, well. Seriously, everyone. If you'd like a really entertaining read about being a young woman on the home front in WWII, this is your book!

Cat Talk

Cat Talk - Patricia MacLachlan;Emily MacLachlan Charest A perfectly lovely book, with [a:Barry Moser|21347|Barry Moser|]'s gorgeous watercolor illustrations, and [a:Patricia MacLachlan|29182|Patricia MacLachlan|]poems, which are by turns funny and touching -- sometimes both at once.Most suitable for school aged children, but great for people of any age who like cats, or beautiful illustrations.

The Plain Princess

The Plain Princess - Phyllis McGinley I decided to read this book because it was sitting on my library shelf, and I wanted to see whether it would still be relevant or attractive to today's little girls. I'd actually never heard of it before, even though it's been around for ages! And I loved some of [a:Phyllis McGinley|62056|Phyllis McGinley|]'s other books when I was little, especially [b:A Wreath of Christmas Legends|6508672|A Wreath of Christmas Legends|Phyllis McGinley||2296757].My verdict? Though not a great book, this is charming, and will appeal to girls who enjoy old fashioned stories and fairy tales. I'd actually rate it somewhere between a 3 and a 4, but I'm following my usual review practice of rating high, rather than low.A note: Personally, I loved the book design and illustrations -- but the cover, in particular, would look very old and unattractive to many modern children. I can think of several kids who would enjoy the story, though, if they could get past that.

The Duck in the Park (Lulu LUL)

Lulu and the Duck in the Park - Hilary McKay, Priscilla Lamont Note:I received a review copy from the publisher on Netgalley Thank you!A charming early reader, perfectly suited to 2nd and 3rd graders who are beyond easy readers but not quite ready for long chapter books. The lovely writing and illustrations, the appealing characters, and the humorous details and plot twists make it a great read aloud, too, which younger children, and their parents, will also enjoy.So why four stars, instead of five? Well, this is a perfect book, of its kind, but it is definitely a "girl" book. Some boys may enjoy it (I hope so!) but it doesn't quite have the universal appeal of, say, a "Horrible Harry" or a "Wimpy Kid." That said, I think the book is outstanding, and belongs in every school and library collection. We are definitely adding it, and all its sequels, to ours.

Screwtape Letters DVD Dramatized (Focus on the Family Radio Theatre)

The Screwtape Letters: First Ever Full-Cast Dramatization of the Diabolical Classic [With DVD] - C.S. Lewis, Dave Arnold, Focus on the Family I think that Andy Serkis is a god among men -- or at least a very excellent devil!I've read the book before -- it's entertaining, but I thought this dramatization was wonderful. Definitely worth a listen. I'd recommend it to anybody at all susceptible to Lewis's writing who likes audiobooks. It's completely enjoyable!A caveat -- the last disc ends with several (about a dozen) original songs inspired by Screwtape, and probably not all of them will be to everybody's taste. I myself liked a couple of them, but not all of them. However, they are all very well performed, in their various styles.Get it and listen to it! It's fun -- Andy Serkis is amazing.

Which Is Round? Which Is Bigger?

Which Is Round? Which Is Bigger? - Mineko Mamada A clever and lovely concept book, with charming illustrations!Each page contains a single colorful and beautifully composed picture, sometimes with no words and sometimes with a simple question (or two), followed by "What do you think?" And the book is genuinely thought-provoking!To take an example, the first pages ask "Which one is round?" Under the question sits a lovely red apple, and on the opposite page stands an armadillo. But on the next pages, the apple has been eaten down to the core, and the armadillo has rolled himself into a ball. Then, the question is repeated: "Which one is round? What do you think?" And so it goes!Use of the gutter and white space is marvelous throughout the book. The book design is truly beautiful!NOTEI really appreciate getting a first look at this book on Netgalley, but this is the type of book that is best seen "in person." It would be excellent to get a feel for the weight of the paper and the quality of the binding. Because this book will certainly see heavy use. I think children will love it.

The Lion Hunter (Mark of Solomon)

The Lion Hunter - Elizabeth Wein Definitely, you will like this book if you love [a:Megan Whalen Turner|22542|Megan Whalen Turner|]'s Queen's Thief series.Telemakos! You are such a wonderful character -- I love you!!In fact, I love this book so much I hardly know what to say....I will say that I was perplexed by one review I read by a fellow Sounisian, comparing Telemakos with Attolia. (I'm sorry -- I don't remember whose review that was...). But the person said that reading this book was a bit like reading QoA from Attolia's point of view. So, so, so.....I definitely agree that elements of Attolia, and characters who resemble her, appear in these books. The closest Attolia equivalent for me, though, is not Telemakos at all -- it's Goewin -- even to her coloring, and the color of her dress. Although a strong argument could also be made for Goewin as Eddis, with her maps and her devoted and brilliant young spy. But there are no exact equivalents here, which is all to the good. Elizabeth Wein and [a:Megan Whalen Turner|22542|Megan Whalen Turner|] are two very brilliant authors, each of whom tells her own unique and gripping tale.(BTW, I always thought [b:The Queen of Attolia|40158|The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #2)|Megan Whalen Turner||1124161] was from Attolia's point of view. Which is part of its brilliance. You get to see the gradual development of her character by seeing through her eyes. But I digress ...)I will say that these books are dark. Poor Telemakos encounters incredible evil, and endures dreadful things. But the story is great, nonetheless, and the characters! Even people who appear quite briefly are vivid and seem to have hidden depth. And I adore Athena -- and Sofya, too!I will also say that I almost downgraded this book to a 4 -- or even a 3 -- because it is the worst cliffhanger ever. (To give you an idea, it's as bad as the end of [b:The Two Towers|15241|The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)|J.R.R. Tolkien||2963845]). But I couldn't in the end. It's just too good a book.

The Sunbird

The Sunbird - Elizabeth Wein I absolutely loved this book -- I hardly know what to say about it at this point, except that it's amazing! I think everybody should read it....BUT I will add one caveat. I agree with [a:Karen Healey|2945301|Karen Healey|] --Parts of this book are really hard to read, and haunt you for ages after you've finished reading. Here's what Ms. Healey says:The character torture is sickening and it made me feel physically ill.So if you are not a wimp like me and you can handle really very awful things happening to child protagonists, then I encourage you to read it.That said, it's an incredibly powerful story, beautifully told, with amazing characters. I loved it.

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