Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (15)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs her current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"The bear is gone. I'm not sure if this is a comfort, as I don't know where or when he'll emerge."

Page 22, Juggling Fire by Joanne Bell


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham
Publication Date/Version: January 2010/Hardcover
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Received From: Other Shelf Tours (Thanks!)

A young girl sets out to save her sick mother and records her adventures in quilt pieces.

Ludelphia Bennett may be blind in one eye, but she can still put in a good stitch. Ludelphia sews all the time, especially when things go wrong.

But when Mama goes into labor early and gets deathly ill, it seems like even quilting won’t help. That’s when Ludelphia decides to do something drastic—leave Gee’s Bend for the very first time. Mama needs medicine that can only be found miles away in Camden. But that doesn’t stop Ludelphia. She just puts one foot in front of the other. What ensues is a wonderful, riveting and sometimes dangerous adventure. Ludelphia weathers each challenge in a way that would make her mother proud, and ends up saving the day for her entire town.

Set in 1932 and inspired by the rich quilting history of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, Leaving Gee’s Bend is a delightful, satisfying story of a young girl facing a brave new world.

Ludelphia Bennett, only ten years old and blind in one eye, must set out on a dangerous journey to save her mom. After giving birth to another daughter, Ludelphia's mom is sick. The only medicine available is miles away from Gee's Bend, their hometown. Ludelphia sets off to get the medicine and save her mom, often coming across difficulties that slow her down. Quilting plays an integral part in the story, offering Ludelphia solace and hope.

Leaving Gee's Bend is a great example of YA Historical Fiction. It offers a glimpse into the past regarding a rather historical event, turning it into an exciting page-turner of a read. The prose is rich and authentic, making a wonderful atmosphere. Ms. Latham has created a stunning and eloquent debut novel.

Ludelphia is a girl with wisdom beyond her years. She is smart, resourceful, and determined. She makes a good role model for all young girls. There was no aspect of her character that I didn't enjoy. Her journey was tough, but she persevered and was, ultimately, courageous and inspiring. She has become one of my favorite historical characters.

The plot was exciting and memorable. You learned something, but it was never boring. The journey was a whole was complicated and difficult, but worth it in the end. I couldn't believe some of the things that happened to poor Ludelphia, but she somehow survived.

I really can't say enough about Leaving Gee's Bend besides that fact that it's charming, stunning, and a great debut.

Overall: A great debut. Perfect example of YA historical fiction. Lovely main character. Memorable story. Stunning.

My Advice: Buy it. I can't wait to have my own copy.

Cover: I really like it. Love the title font and the quilt like aspects. The picture is very expressive of the novel and accurately portrays Ludelphia and her surroundings.

*This was read as a part of the 2010 Debut Author Challenge and the 100+ Reading Challenge

In My Mailbox (35)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Goodreads.

For Review:

The Turning: What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis
(ARC/Releases May 2010/Sourcebooks Fire)

Mary Richards is a normal sixteen-year-old girl living in Manhattan. Well, almost normal. She goes to private school on the Upper East Side, having been saved from a life of squalor by an adoptive family. But she’s also slowly transforming into a cat.

Struggling to hide her physical metamorphosis, Mary discovers that she isn’t alone. A whole race of cat people prowls the streets of Manhattan at night, including Mary’s long-time crush, Nick.

Aside from heightened feline senses, hanging out with Nick is the best thing about discovering her inner kitty. But Mary’s transformation is special and could decide the outcome of a citywide turf war. She must decide whether to embrace her powerful feline side and become a pack leader or go back to being a normal teenage girl. Can she land on her feet or will curiosity be her downfall?

What a crazy idea. Sounds like a whole lot of drama. I received this for review from the publisher/publicist.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
(ARC/Released January 2010/St. Martin's Griffin)

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.

Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

I've already read this, and I could not stand it. Yeah, I'm probably the only one, but just thinking about it makes me grimace. -shudders- I received this for review from Around The World Tours.

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
(ARC/Releases August 2010/Candlewick Press)

"Hello, David. My name is Rose. It’s a pleasure to meet you. We are now entering minute two of our friendship. According to my Intimacy Clock, a handshake is now appropriate…"

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot to encourage healthy bonds and treat "dissociative disorder," he can’t get enough of luscious red-headed Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Severed from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal "companion" is about to become her own best friend. In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uber-connected world.

Oh my gosh, I think this sounds beyond amazing! What an exciting premise. I received this for review from Teens Read Too.

I had a good week! What about you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Interview: Jennifer Richard Jacobson, author of The Complete History of Why I Hate Her

Please welcome Jennifer Richard Jacobson, author of The Complete History of Why I Hate Her. You can read my review here. Jennifer is the author of picture books, stories for beginning readers, and middle-grade novels. Stained is her first book written for young adults. Born and raised in New Hampshire, she attended Lesley College and Harvard Graduate School of Education. She lives in a cottage, built in 1802, in Maine.

1. Describe your new book in 50 words or less.
Nola, whose life has been overshadowed by her sister’s illness, travels to Maine to experience a summer of independence. There she meets Carly – a dynamic friend who breaks all boundaries and threatens to steal Nola’s fragile identity. Ironically, it’s through confrontation with Carly that Nola learns who she truly is.

2. What inspired you to write The Complete History of Why I Hate Her? What was the writing process like?
I wanted to write a friendship book. For some reason, we allow ourselves to be trapped in friendships that are fraught with difficulties. If a girl breaks up with a guy who’s bad for her, we applaud. But if a girl wants to end a female friendship that’s toxic, we label her petty or mean. We often don’t give ourselves permission to do what’s best for us.

The writing process was hard for this book. I put so much energy into creating the sly, manipulative Carly that I often felt completely drained by the end of the day.

3. The Complete History of Why I Hate Her deals with what I like to call "frenemies," a common relationship nowadays. Did you draw from personal experience or from other people's experiences with these kind of relationships?
I drew from personal experience. When I was younger, I met a women who I thought was the perfect friend. What I didn’t realize was that she had been stalking me. Not only had she been following me, watching me -- she was slowly becoming me. Carly is primarily based on that experience.

4. Do you have any necessities while writing?
All I require is my laptop. I’ve learned to write anywhere.

5. Everyone's forced to read classics in high school English. Which ones did you love? Which ones should students never be forced to read?
I loved anything written by Jane Austin. No high school student should be required to read Moby Dick. (I’ve tried many times and given up.)

6. The one book everyone should read?
If you like my book, The Complete History of Why I Hate Her (and you’re interested in writing) read Truth and Beauty: A Friendship -- a memoir by Ann Patchett.

7. Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, please tell us a little about it.
It’s 3:00 am. A seventeen-year-old girl calls her best friend: “Come get me! Please!” Apparently her boyfriend had crawled through her bedroom window. Or did he? It’s a story told from several points of view and each telling or retelling gives an entirely different perspective.

Thank you so much for joining us Jennifer!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

UTF: Unable to Finish (3)

UTF, or Unable to Finish, is a semi-regular feature here at The Book Owl in which I tell about books I couldn't finish. This doesn't happen often, as I'm one of those people who feels incomplete if I don't finish a book, but sometimes I can't help it. In this feature I'll highlight my problems with the book or books and explain why I was unable to finish. (Book summaries not included)

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
(HC/May 2010/Harcourt Children's Books)

I haven't yet read Jessica's Guide, but after this lackluster read, I'm not sure I'll even bother. The plot could have been very interesting, and near the middle, it was the only thing propelling me forward. Jill was boring, mousy, and so dull. I could never decide if Tristen was good or bad. There was no humor, no excitement, and no chemistry. It was a flop. Maybe you should pick it up if you enjoyed Ms. Fantaskey's previous work, but I can't offer a personal take on that.

Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter
(PB/April 2010/Graphia)

Swoon at Your Own Risk really wasn't a bad read, but I wasn't in the mood. I was 100 pages in and still not committed whatsoever, so I ended it there. It was fairly funny, but I felt like the author was trying a bit too hard. It may have been the fact that many of the characters seemed too immature to be almost seniors, or the fact that Polly never stopped focusing on herself. I can see how some people would enjoy this, but I really didn't feel like reading a fluff book. It might make a good summer pool read.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Gateway by Sharon Shinn

Gateway by Sharon Shinn
Publication Date/Version: Ocotober 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Other Shelf Tours (Thanks!)

As a Chinese adoptee in St. Louis, teenage Daiyu often feels out of place. When an elderly Asian jewelry seller at a street fair shows her a black jade ring—and tells her that “black jade” translates to “Daiyu”—she buys it as a talisman of her heritage. But it’s more than that; it’s magic. It takes Daiyu through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China. Almost immediately she is recruited as a spy, which means hours of training in manners and niceties and sleight of hand. It also means stealing time to be with handsome Kalen, who is in on the plan. There’s only one problem. Once her task is done, she must go back to St. Louis and leave him behind forever. . . .

After a strange series of events, including buying a black jade ring and being transported to the world of Jia, Daiyu is more than a little frazzled. She has passed through a gateway into a parallel universe of St. Louis, one that is similar to China. She meets Kalen, whom she develops feelings for, and is recruited into spying, for what, they tell her, is for the good of the world. As Daiyu works toward accomplishing her task, she also faces a difficult decision: leaving behind Kalen.

Gateway being my first venture into Sharon Shinn's works, I was ultimately impressed. She has quite the ability to bring a story to life with rich detail and a solid plot. I was immersed quickly in Daiyu's new world, along with the strange and interesting facts. This book was a great start to, what I hope, an exciting new series.

Daiyu was instantly likable - hardworking, kind, and average. She was easy to connect with, and her confusion while traveling was completely understandable. Kalen, as well, quickly gain my liking. He was sweet and kind, unlike many love interests in today's YA culture. What was great about him was that he was first a friend and then a love interest. Daiyu and Kalen's relationship progressed naturally and realistically.

The overall plot was enrapturing and exciting. I loved the general plot and was quickly drawn in. While so much information could have seemed overwhelming, Ms. Shinn fed bits of information to the reader at just the right pace. I enjoyed the secondary characters, though, just like Daiyu, I wasn't sure what to think about some of them. My opinions switched back and forth often, and I was never quite sure who to trust. That was one of my main problems with this story. Daiyu trusted a bit too quickly for my likes. I understand that when thrust into a new world, you'd want someone to trust, but I believe Daiyu should have been more wary.

I always love learning about other cultures, even made up ones apparently, so I immensely enjoyed Daiyu's lessons in manners and customs. I found each rule and way of thought interesting. Even when the plot lulled, it was never boring. The characters, story, and interactions kept this book moving.

Overall: Great read. Engaging new world and a sweet love interest. Wonderful imagery.

My Advice: Buy it. I can't wait to own a copy for myself.

Cover: So pretty. I really love it. In person the colors are gorgeous and eye-catching. It's lush and makes perfect sense after reading the book.

*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In My Mailbox (34)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This weeks will be shorter as I've been gone and don't want my first post to be oh-look-what-I-got! These books are from the last two weeks. I'll put up a couple covers, the books I received, but no descriptions, only links.

For Review:

Still Sucks to Be Me
by Kimberly Pauley
Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens
Lifted by Wendy Toliver
Spell Hunter by R. J. Anderson - reading this now and really liking it!
Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman
Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter

Thanks to Around The World Tours for these

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody - cannot wait to read this! It has a great storyline

Thanks to Henry Holt InGroup for this

I had a good couple of weeks! How about you?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Star Shack by Lila Castle

The Star Shack by Lila Castle
Publication Date/Version: June 2010/Paperback
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Around The World Tours (Thanks!)

Pete and Annabelle live for their summers together on Gingerbread Beach. They've always believed they were a perfect pair… until junior year, when Annabelle becomes obsessed with astrology. Now they can hardly stand each other. Pete thinks that Annabelle (a Leo) has become a total flake; Annabelle thinks Pete (a Scorpio) has become an uptight jerk.

When Annabelle dares Pete to open a summer business on the Boardwalk generating personalized horoscopes, their fast-paced, hilarious bickering soon rises to a fever pitch. The he-said/she-said advice of the Star Shack is wildly popular and seems able to fix any relationship problem… except their own.

But when one of Annabelle's star charts helps catch a thief, Pete might have to admit that the stars could really hold the key to the future…and to his own heart.

Pete and Annabelle have always spent their summers together at Gingerbread Beach. This summer, Pete hopes, is looking to be the one in which he and Annabelle finally become a couple. There's one problem, however. Annabelle's become obsessed with astrology, attributing all of her successes to it. Pete can't stand that she bases all of her decisions on what he deems as silly. Annabelle, knowing Pete can't resist, dares him to run a business with her helping to pair people together based on their astrology. Pete soon develops into quite the astrology whiz and is stunned to see how effective their business is. Will he be able to get over Annabelle's love of astrology for what could be a great summer?

Told in alternating perspective, along with fun horoscopes, The Star Shack ambles along at a beach town pace, making it a cute summer read. I was initially worried going into this book, as I hadn't liked any books yet published by Sourcebooks Fire, but this one changed my mind. While it wasn't substantial in ideas or prose, it was light and fun.

Annabelle and Pete are both enjoyable characters, the kind of people who know each other just a little too well. I rooted for them the whole time, even when Pete was being stubborn and Annabelle was being a little more than mean. Their bantering made their feelings for each other obvious, as did Pete's overall protectiveness of Annabelle.

The story was simple and cute, but didn't have much depth. It was fairly predictable and cheesy, but I did enjoy the added element of astrology. I've always thought astrology was a fun tool, but nothing I took very seriously. It was a bit frustrating to see Annabelle focus so steadfastly on her charts, but she was a headstrong girl who stuck by what she believed it which is always nice to see. It makes for an easy, beach read, but not much else. That being said, I did enjoy this story, but it's not something that I would read again.

Overall: Breezy, light, and cute. Good vacation read.

My Advice: Borrow a copy. It's an enjoyable read.

Cover: I like the words and the astrology chart, but the rest is rather blah for my tastes.

*This was read as a part of the 2010 Debut Author Challenge and the 100+ Reading Challenge

I'm back!

Hey everyone. Thanks for sticking around during my temporary leave of absence. I happy to report that The Book Owl is once again up and running. My school work is under control, and sports aren't controlling my life anymore. Weird, huh? ;] Can't wait to talk to everyone again!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Hi everyone! I've decided to go on a small hiatus - a week or two. Between school, homework, projects, soccer, lacrosse, reading, and friends, I don't have time for much else. In the next couple of weeks especially I have a lot of big reports due for school. I think it's best for me to take some time off to focus on real life. Don't worry, I will be back! I will still be reading, and maybe posting if I get the time. In the meantime, thanks for following and supporting me!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Wishlist (14)

This post is inspired by Stargirlreads at Books Make Great Lovers. In Wishlist Wednesday, I'll showcase a book that may or may not be out yet that I would love to review and cannot wait to read! Links and descriptions are from Goodreads. Here's what's on my wishlist this week:

Oblivion Road
by Alex McAulay

Courtney Stanton thinks she's on just another ski trip with her friends -- until a horrific car accident strands them all on an isolated Colorado road during a blizzard. Frightened but alive, Courtney and her companions discover an abandoned vehicle nearby, and seek help. But the vehicle turns out to be a prison van, with the inmates missing, and the guard's dead body in the front seat.

Soon after, a stumbling figure emerges from the snow, a handcuffed refugee from the van. He says he's been in prison for selling meth, but that he once served in the army. Dare they trust him? He pleads innocence about the guard's murder, warns them about the other fugitives, and promises he will help guide them out of the wilderness. But as the group begins a nightmare trek across the frozen landscape, they start to get the feeling he hasn't told them the entire truth, and someone -- or something -- is secretly watching their every move.

Reasons I want to read this:
1. Gorgeous cover - love the simple font.
2. Doesn't this sound thrilling and terrifying and chilling and nail-bitingly suspenseful all at once?!?
3. This is exactly my kind of read.
4. Oh boy. I just can't get over how amazing this sounds.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Hey everyone. Lately, as you may have noticed, my posts have been lacking. This, unfortunately, may be the case for a bit longer. I'm going through an insanely busy month. I play both lacrosse and soccer. I have lacrosse practice five days a week, occasionally substituting a game and adding in team dinners, plus soccer practice three days a week. Then I have one or two soccer games on the weekends. And school - getting ready for those awesome AP exams and the end of a quarter. Oh yeah, then there's my real life. Friends, blogging, reading...all of that. As you can see, blogging's taking a back seat temporarily. I will try to post, more often on the weekends especially. In the meantime, know that I'm not abandoning you and thanks for your support!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In My Mailbox (33)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Amazon and book covers.

For Review:

Time You Let Me In selected by Naomi Shihab Nye
(HC/February 2010/Greenwillow)

They are inspiring talented stunning remarkable wise

They are also fearless depressed hilarious impatient in love out of love pissed off

And they want you to let them in.

I'm really getting into poetry lately, so I'm excited to check this out.

Tao-Girls Rule by CJ Golden
(PB/October 2009/Eronel)

With an infectious wit and an eye on the prize, Tao-Girls Rule! is part philosophy, part self-help, and all girl-power. From the author of Tao of the Defiant Woman comes this award winning, incredibly inspiring collection of anecdotes on how to be the girl who will become a strong and courageous woman. Writer and noted speaker CJ Golden leaves nothing to chance as she breaks the mold on the idea that girls are made of sugar, spice, and all things nice. Sure, that's part of it, but it also takes grit, perseverance, imagination, and self-awareness. Filled with anecdotes and personal stories of girl power, in twelve chapters with titles such as "A Tao-Girl is Tenacious" and "Take the Tao-Girl Challenge," teens and pre-teens will be able to see how they can remain true to themselves as they face the challenges of growing up in a complex and ever-changing world. While it's great to be a girl-it's even better to be a Tao-Girl!

Sounds interesting. I received this and the one above from Reader Views Kids.

Pretty on the Outside by Kate Kingsley
(PB/April 2010/Simon Pulse)

Alice and Tally have ruled St. Cecilia's, their private boarding school just outside of London, for years. As everyone comes back for their junior year, the girls can't wait to start partying in London and jetting off to Paris and Rome. As Alice begins to realize that she has more than friendly feelings for Tristan, her long time best friend, she thinks the excitement of a new crush will make this year the best yet. But when Dylan, the American girl Tristan summered with in the Hamptons transfers to St. Cecilia's, the girls' perfect lives spiral into broken hearts, jealousies, and revenge plots that will change everything.

I'm really in the mood for a drama filled read like this! Is this the US version of the UK series? This was a surprise from Simon & Schuster.

I had a good week! What about you?

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi

The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi
Publication Date/Version: May 2010/Hardcover
Publisher: Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Around The World Tours (Thanks!)

Cornelia Greene is fed up with gossip about her mother. Caty Littlefield Greene was once a beautiful young bride who lifted the troops’ spirits at Valley Forge, but Cornelia knows that rumors of Caty’s past indiscretions hurt Nathanael Greene, Cornelia’s adored father. Yet, Caty claims that she’s just a flirt, and that flirting is a female necessity—a woman’s only means of power. But Cornelia’s concern with her mother’s reputation fades to the background when she learns that Nathanael Greene may not even be her father. As she searches for the truth, she makes unexpected discoveries that lead her to a new understanding of love and family.

The Family Greene is told in two parts: Caty Littlefield's childhood and growing up, and Cornelia Greene's journey of discovery. Caty has always been a flirt, claiming that that was how women executed power over men. Her antics have given her a poor reputation, however. Cornelia now feels the sting of the rumors and begins searching for answers. One thing is dredged up that she wished she never would have known. Nathanael Greene may not be her father. Along her journey, Cornelia discovers what love really means.

This is my first novel by Ann Rinaldi. I enjoyed it, but it didn't pack that extra punch. I love historical fiction, and I've heard great things about Ms. Rinaldi's work, so I had high expectations.

The plot pacing was stop and go. Sometimes I found it very interesting, but other times it was dull and hardly held my attention. I enjoyed Caty's story more so than Cornelia's which I found to be somewhat lacking. The general lack of a positive female figure also irked me. Caty had her flirtatious aunt, and Cornelia has her flirtatious mother, neither of which can seem to stay faithful to their husbands. I was disappointed that Caty never changed her ways, even when it was obviously hurting her husband and children.

Cornelia's quest to find out who her father was was not nearly as exciting as I had hoped. There were never any clear answers, and I felt that the way love was expressed may be too confusing for younger readers. Even I thought the forms of love were a little backwards and odd.

I really enjoyed the setting and background of The Family Greene, but the general plot and characters were too lacking for me to enjoy what could have been a wonderful story. Based on this book, I'm not sure I would read another novel by Ms. Rinaldi. Has anyone read anything by her? Do you recommend it?

Overall: Great setting and historical background. Lack of positive, respectable female figure. Choppy pacing and plot.

My Advice: Maybe borrow it. I've never read anything else by Ann Rinaldi, so I can't compare to her other works.

Cover: That girl looks incredibly whiny and pouty. I crinkle my nose every time I see it - the model's pose and facial expressions drives me crazy to no end.

*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge
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