Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bud the Spud by Adam Byrn Tritt

  Bud the Spud by Adam Byrn Tritt is my first picture book review and I cannot think of a better place to start. It is a short and precious tale of what happened to Bud when he stayed inside all day, stopped playing with his friends outside, and literally turned into a couch potato.
  Bud the Spud has suffered from unmentionable and harsh criticisms, and- yes- in this day and age, banning. The author of this book has taken this criticism like a hero and states that his favorite quote (and review) is, "Adam Tritt is everything that is wrong with America."
  Bud the Spud is not your typical fairy tale or hero/princess picture book, it is an entirely unique story of its own.
  Most have said that Bud is too violent, too dark, or both...but may I remind these people that Cinderella's step sisters originally chopped off their toes to fit their feet into Cinderella's shoes? Or that Hansel and Gretel baked a witch in the oven- alive- because she was going to do the same to them?
  Kids are fascinated with quirky endings and dark humor when it comes to stories. It's what makes them want their parents to read them over and over again. Bud the Spud teaches the benefits of going outside and playing, exercising and having fun. In my opinion, there would be no harm in a child reading this book. (And just in case their parents find it unsuitable, Mr. Tritt has supplied his readers with alternate endings in the back of the book.)
  I honestly sat down, read the book and said, "Really? That's what people are worried about?"
  I believe that everyone has the right to decide what's best for their children to read. But I personally would rather see an adult walk by Bud the Spud in Barnes and Noble and not pick it up, than not seeing it in Barnes and Noble at all.
  I say pick up a copy, and see what you think. I, The Literary Connoisseur, love Bud the Spud.

I even got a signed copy!


Monday, October 28, 2013

My Top Five Weepers (Five Novels That Make Me Cry Like A Baby)

  Now, as I'm sure you all can tell, I cry A LOT when I read. Whether a book is sad, happy, sentimental, or sweet, the waterworks are cued and I break down like a little baby.
  But, now and then I come across novels like these (listed below) that really get to me and impact my mind, body and soul. You may think that because these are sad, I wouldn't love them as much as I do...but fans, these are some of my favorite novels in the whole wide world. Some of my favorite books ever.
  So without further ado- here are my top five weepers!

Tear scale: 

Cried a little----------------------------------------------------Sobbed like a baby

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

If you've read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I'm sure you know what I mean when I tell you that this book had me face-down on the floor, sobbing about how life is so unfair. This isn't the saddest book I've ever read, but it may possibly be the most tragic. 

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Why is the seventh Harry Potter book only fourth on your "Top Five Weepiest Books List" you may ask? Well, my friends, the seventh and final Harry Potter may be one of the saddest books I've ever read, but I have to say that my crying was just emotional bursts of sadness here and there, and not full-out sobbing, like someone just took away my favorite toy. 

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The Last Hour by Charles Sheehan-Miles

I have somewhat of a "funny story" about this novel. Throughout my reading, my mom would randomly look over at me and say " prepared." HA! I am invincible. Nothing could affect me that much. 
Boy could I have been any more wrong? I finished the book (while I was relaxing in my pool), I set the book down, sighed and sobbed into my towel for a good half hour. Charles Sheehan-Miles perfected the act of taking my "Happily Ever After" and throwing it in a lake, while laughing maliciously. It was an unexpected ending that you were led to expect from the very beginning. 

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Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare may be the second saddest, if not, the saddest. With my other "weepers" I kind of knew what to expect. The plot became gloomy, my characters grew to be sad and tired, and my confident happy ending was slowly deteriorating. But with Clockwork Princess...I didn't expect anything. It was fine. Nothing too bad. It was emotional, sure, but nothing tragic. Until the end. I wondered "Why are were so many pages left?" I wondered "What could possibly occur after this scene?" ...Yeah. It was pretty horrible. WHY? WHY, CASSANDRA CLARE? Why would you do this to your loyal and faithful readers? (Without spoilers) if you've read it, you may not think it was THAT bad, hit me. It hit me hard.

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And last, but definitely not of my favorite books in the world and the one book that still, to this day, will make me sob just thinking about it...

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is absolutely one of the best books I've ever read. It's an incredible love story that will make you swoon and will simultaneously break your heart. 

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I personally recommend every single one of these novels (or series). They're beautiful pieces of work that will touch your heart and your soul. I hope you enjoyed My Top Five Weepers! Thank you for taking a look and Happy Reading!!! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

An Uncommon Love by M.J. Schiller

  There could not be a more suitable name for this novel, An Uncommon Love by M.J. Schiller. It is the story of the forbidden love between Princess Adriana and the "filthy commoner" (as the King calls him), Seth Hobbes.
  After Seth is sentenced to interrogation and death for attacking one of the King's guards, Adriana comes to the conclusion that she can't bear to see this poor man tortured to death, and steps in, asking for mercy on his life.
  Meanwhile, she is betrothed to Garin, a sergeant in her father's military, and her best friend since the day she was born. But when Seth comes to Adriana and thanks her for saving his life, she realizes that a life with Garin would be less than satisfactory. She gets a taste of the real world, a real family and true love with Seth, and she doesn't want to come back to her father's throne.
  When I start romances, I always put them in the same stereotypical category. There's typically too much romance, an over-abundance of- ahem- physical relations, and not enough plot to make me want to come back for more.
  When I started An Uncommon Love, I turned to my mother and said, "This author has a knack for writing." As I read on, I realized I was right. From now on, whenever I read a romance novel that I dislike, I will say that it is lacking what M.J. Schiller's story had.
  An M.J. Schiller romance novel has everything a romance novel SHOULD have: A strong female character, a lovable yet frustrating love interest (but not frustrating enough to make you want to toss the book/ereader out the window), funny moments that make you fall even deeper in love with the plot and a Happily Ever After that'll make you swoon.
  I thoroughly enjoyed An Uncommon Love and I will suggest it to anyone craving that perfect fairy tale ending.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Falling Stars by Charles Sheehan-Miles

  Oh, how glorious it is to be back with the Thompson Sisters! I've missed them all so much since that tragic day when I finished The Last Hour. But not only did I miss them, I missed their (sometimes not so) better halves; the boys of the Thompson Sisters' series. Crank and Sean (Crank's brother) are the men of this story, and boy, do I love them...just as much as the girls!
  So Charles Sheehan-Miles came out with this novella, Falling Stars, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I was back in the Thompson Sisters' world.
  The story follows Julia, Crank, Carrie and Sean as they make their way to Texas to visit an old friend, New York to get Carrie settled into college, and Boston to do the same for Sean. But as they travel across the entire country, secrets are spilled, love is born and renewed, and they learn the proper way how to react to a giant spider attacking the car.
  Crank and Julia haven't had the best summer. It's been quite horrible to be frank. But will they come back together on this road trip and save their relationship? Or will this be the end of their relationship?
  Falling Stars took me less than an afternoon to read (the paper equivalent to the ebook is about 80 pages), but I loved it just as much as a full Thompson Sisters novel. Five stars, just like the others!
  All of Charles Sheehan-Miles' characters are lovable and endearing in their own way, but if I were to pick a favorite (besides Sherman from The Last Hour) it would be Sean, Crank's brother. Charles has put so much depth and love into this one character (in my opinion), I almost feel as if he steals the show.
  If you're looking for a fun, sweet, funny and romantic read, Charles Sheehan-Miles is your author. Buy his books, sit down with a big cup of coffee (or tea) and relax with Charles, the Thompson sisters and their boys.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Camelia by Dianna Dann

  I don't even know where to begin in writing my thoughts on Dianna Dann's Camelia. Maybe I should start with the book's synopsis and how I initially came across the book, so by the time I'm finished with that, everything will have come together enough for me to form proper thoughts.
  Camelia is not our main character- nor is she the narrator, for that matter. When you start the novel Camelia, you're not entirely sure who she even is yet. But you know that she, and her story, are very key in our narrator and main character Eunice's (or April, as she prefers), life and pain.
  Like The Fault in Our Stars, I'm hesitant to go TOO much into the plot for fear of it impacting the reader's opinion of the novel before they even start it. So I'll just say what I can and hope that you take my suggestion, and pick up a copy of Camelia.
  The author, Dianna Dann, contacted me and asked if I would read her novel. I said, "Of course" and a week or so later, I had an autographed copy of her book waiting for me in my mailbox.

  From the very beginning, I knew I was going to love Dianna Dann and her book. Her characters, her story and her writing can only be described as John Green-ish, and in my opinion, that's pretty huge.
  Camelia is an emotional story that will capture you and keep you on your toes the whole way through. I fell so in love with this book that about a quarter of the way through I announced to anyone that would listen, "It has officially become a favorite book of mine!"
  I can't say much more. Camelia has stolen my heart, and now when someone asks "What are some of your favorite books?" it will be on that list. This book is one of the best books I've ever read. I will say that it's taken a place on my "Top Five Favorite Books" list.
  I'm very honored to say that I have this book on my shelf, and I will recommend it to anyone and everyone.  

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Monday, October 21, 2013

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

  It's the late nineties when the story begins and we meet Emma, who narrates the first chapter. She's just gotten her first computer and CD-ROM, and she's found something interesting... Located on the CD-ROM is her Facebook page, fifteen years later. Emma has found out her future and her ex-best friend Josh's future, completely by accident.
  But now that she's seen it, she can't un-see it...and she's very unhappy.
  When I first heard of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, it was at a Carrie Ryan book signing. (Carrie Ryan, the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.) The end of the book signing came, and Ms. Ryan's rep started pulling names out of a hat for prizes (autographed books and the like), and- long story short- I won an autographed, advanced reader's copy of The Future of Us.

  I was hesitant about this new book, mainly because I didn't care for the previous story I'd read by Jay Asher. (I'd read novels by Carolyn Mackler as well, but adored those.) But hey, I'm always willing to try new books! So I put it on my TBR list, and about two months later (when I could actually GET to it), I finally read it.
  I LOVED it! I absolutely loved it. I, of course, didn't love it as much as my top fifteen or twenty favorite books, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and both authors' writing.
  This book kept me entertained the whole way through! It was a short read, but it was a lot of fun and very sentimental.
  I recommend this YA book to anyone looking for a fun, light and sweet read. I enjoyed it and I hope you do too!

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)

  Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are two Hogwarts school books copied and sold to Muggles like us, so we can understand the wonders of the Wizarding World. If you're missing the Golden Trio (Harry, Ron and Hermione), Dumbledore and J.K. Rowling herself, then you may want to pick up these books and delve right back into the magic. 
  Whoever put these books together and decided to sell them to everyday Muggles (like you and me) is a genius! The books are beautifully made, with genuine passages, letters from the "writers" and convincing details from the Hogwarts Library. 
  One of the many things I love about J.K. Rowling is that she donates enormous amounts of money to charities. So, with every copy of Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sold, a large sum goes to Comic Relief, a major charity based in the UK which strives to "create a just world free from poverty." Humor is a key theme in J.K. Rowling's Hogwarts Library books and I've got to tell you, they had me chuckling throughout. 

  Quidditch Through the Ages is just how it sounds; Quidditch throughout history! How it started, the different variations of the game, the many teams all over the world, etc. If you're a fan of Quidditch, this is the book for you! If you don't favor it, or it's not your favorite Wizarding World subject, this book will surely change your mind. It's very insightful, fun and it provides that extra bit of magic you need after you've finished Harry's story. 

  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a Hogwarts school book of magical and mystical beasts from A-Z, their capability of danger and harm, their strengths and weaknesses, and- as the title insinuates- where to find them. 
  I found this book to be absolutely precious! Our mass market copies are "copied" from Harry Potter's own school book, so as you're learning about unicorns, salamanders, hippogriffs and snidgets, you'll find doodles from Harry and Ron themselves. (Most being sarcastic and flat out hysterical.)

  I read both of these Hogwarts novels in one day! They're brief, fun and a wonderful trip back home to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan

  Death of a Schoolgirl, book one in the Jane Eyre Chronicles by Joanna Campbell Slan, begins with a detailed and well described recap of the adventures and misfortunes of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte). The author gives us a brief history of Jane, her relationship with Mr. Edward Rochester, and what occurs after Jane's "happily ever after."
  As Jane (who's narrating) regales us with the story of her past, she receives an urgent and encoded letter from Mr. Rochester's daughter, Adele, saying that something terrible has happened at her school and she needs Jane to come...quickly.
  Death of a Schoolgirl, like Jane Eyre, is a complete work of fiction. But unlike the original, this story is not yet a classic. Joanna Campbell Slan has taken Jane's story and turned it into her own work of fiction. A sequel, if you will.
  Now, I thought it was borderline impossible for a present author to take a classic and turn it into something continuous- long after the author is deceased- and especially a story such as Jane Eyre. But miss Slan has miraculously succeeded. She has turned the ending of Jane's story into "just the beginning."
  From now on, when I read (or watch) Jane Eyre, I will immediately follow the ending with Jane's adventures in Death of a Schoolgirl.
  I started and finished this book in no time, mainly because when I put the book down, I immediately picked it back up again.
  Now, depending on your opinion of "redone" classics, you may not LOVE this new book, but I've got to tell you- it sure hooked me.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Percy Jackson Series and The Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan

  Well, it's that time of year again!
  No, I don't mean Halloween (although I AM looking forward to it!). I mean it's the time of year when Rick Riordan comes out with another Heroes of Olympus book. And what does the mastermind of Greek and Roman mythology have in store for us this year? Well, I'm glad you asked- The House of Hades was released a week ago! (Thankfully. I was almost positive that the ending of Mark of Athena was going to be the death of me.) Now, I haven't started it yet. I'm a bit tied up with other books at the moment, but I know that as soon as I have a break in my reading schedule (ha-ha) I'll be marathon reading until House of Hades is over.
  So, since House of Hades was released last Tuesday, I thought that there was no better time to write a blog post about Percy and Jason than now.
  The Percy Jackson series, beginning with The Lightning Thief, started in 2005 with our hero, Percy, finding out that he was a Demigod. (Half human, half Greek God.) He's told that he's the son of Poseidon and that he must quickly go to a Greek Demigod training camp to learn his full powers and how to beat evil Titans that are rapidly rising up from the depths of Tartarus. Fun, right? I thought so too.
  I fell in love with Percy! I fell in love with the story, the characters and their tasking adventures, and I especially fell in love with Rick Riordan. Some of his scenes had me laughing so hard, I almost cried! (Now that I think of it, I think I DID cry at some points!)
  But of course, as all series do, Percy Jackson came to an end, and all of Percy's fans had to say goodbye.
  Until The Lost Hero came out.
  When Percy Jackson fans (like me) heard that a new novel was coming out, we were shocked, excited and intrigued. Percy's story ISN'T done?? What's going to happen to Annabeth? Are there new foes that we need to help Percy fight?
  It was all very exciting.
  The Lost Hero was released and Percy fans could not be happier. The book starts with Jason, our new hero who is a Roman Demigod (Yes! There are Roman Demigods now!) and Percy, lost and confused and trading places. The Greek and Roman mythological history/lore states that Romans and Greeks have never been friends, or even close enough to be considered acquaintances. They are and always will be enemies. But when an evil force threatens to rise up and destroy the world, the Greeks and Romans must come together and fight side by side.
  The Heroes of Olympus books (starting with The Lost Hero) are much longer than the Percy Jackson books and, in my opinion, more action packed and more detailed. Which is probably why I love them more. I adored Percy and his adventures with Grover and Annabeth, but when The Lost Hero came out, I fell even more in love with the Greek and Roman Demigod story.
  I'm absolutely itching to read The House of Hades, even though I'm enjoying what I'm reading now. But now that Rick Riordan has announced the title for the fifth and final Heroes of Olympus book, I'm becoming anxious and eagerly await the ending of the series. Although, the last time Rick ended a much loved series, he had something up his sleeve...

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Emerge by S.E. Hall

  If I were to use one phrase to describe Emerge by S.E. Hall, it would be "Abuse my emotions and rip out my heart, why don't you??" But in a good way.
  Emerge was the book equivalent to a relationship that would have me tossing and turning in bed at night, but would also have me swooning and chomping at the bit for more. This book, these characters, these chapters and this story altogether had my emotions constantly going.
  Emerge was my emotional addiction.
  At one point I'd swoon, at another I'd bite my lip from trying to keep the tears in, and so on.
  Laney Walker is a charismatic and lovable main character who has fallen for her best friend, Evan, after he professes his love for her. But when they both set off to different colleges, will their love stay strong enough to last through their separation?
  As I read this book, I felt as if *I* personally were going through the relationship problems that Laney was going through. Normally when I read romances, or YA romances, I make up my mind about the male characters from the very beginning. Do I like him or not? But with Emerge, I felt as emotionally conflicted (or maybe even more so, since I had no control over the choices she made!) as Laney.
  I kept saying to myself, "What would I do in Laney's situation?" and inevitably, the answer always came back "Geez, I don't know. Let's see what Laney does!"
  By the end of the book, I was a bit of an emotional puddle on my chair. I didn't know what do to with myself! S.E. Hall's story affected me THAT much.
  Now, I'm off to go find the sequel. Thank goodness there's a sequel- I NEED MORE!

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

  Stargirl is the story of what happens when a magnificently unique and eccentric teenage homeschooler goes to high school, Mica High, for the first time. Stargirl Caraway shows up to school in a array of colors, a storm of flowing skirts and sporting a ukulele so that when the time is right, she can sing happy birthday to those who need it.
  Our narrator is sixteen year old, Leo Borlock, who observes Stargirl and is not only confused by this interesting creature, he's intrigued as well. She's unique and that's just what he loves about her.
  When I had first started homeschooling, my literature co-op teacher assigned Stargirl to us to read and discuss, like she did with The Giver by Lois Lowry. Although unlike The Giver, many of the homeschooled kids who were reading Stargirl could relate to being different, being an outcast and being made fun of for being quirky.
  But Stargirl is not just for homeschoolers, even though homeschooling is a huge factor in the story. Oh no, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is for every child, every teen and every adult who feels different and feels like an outcast at some point of their life. It's for any person who thinks that they're odd and unique. Stargirl is for anybody who needs someone to tell them that they're not an oddball, that they're special.
  I'm so thankful that I was raised with Stargirl (I can thank my homeschool literature teacher for that). It boosted my confidence when I needed it, it taught me how to treat other kids who act differently than "cookie cutter" kids and it gave me something to relate to when I felt that there was nothing.
  It's a beautifully written book altogether, and even though it doesn't seem like a children's book, it's actually located in the Children's Fiction section at the bookstore. Like many other Children's Fiction books, this story has become relatable and lovable to all ages. I originally rated Stargirl three out of five stars, but now that I recall what a lovely story it is, I don't think that three stars does it justice.

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