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review 2018-01-23 20:12
Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Accelerated Reader Level: 5.0

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review 2018-01-23 20:06
Charlotte's Web
Charlotte's Web - Garth Williams,E.B. White,Kate DiCamillo

Accelerated Reader Level: 4.4

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text 2018-01-22 04:01
Reading progress update: I've read 32 out of 209 pages.
The Wizard of Oz - David McKee,Cornelia Funke,L. Frank Baum
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review 2018-01-21 00:39
Too Much Salt and Pepper (Living Forest #2)
Too Much Salt and Pepper: Two Porcupines with Prickly Spines Who Make You Laugh and Think - Sam Campbell

If one porcupine made for a good book then Sam Campbell thought that two would be even better.  In the second book of his Living Forest series, Too Much Salt and Pepper, Campbell describes the adventures and lessons surrounding the titular “porkies” Salt and Pepper along with wise ol’ Inky during a year at the Sanctuary of Wegimind.

 

The events of this book take place a few years after How’s Inky? as Sam and his wife Giny arrive at their animal sanctuary to discover the young porcupines Salt and Pepper eagerly awaiting them.  The two “porkies” are friendly, funny, and very mischievous especially when they want to play.  But as the year progresses, Pepper answers the call of the wild while Salt continued to want human companionship.  Most the book centers around the week-long visit of Carol, a young friend of the Campbells, who wants to experience the nature they describe in their lectures.  The experiences, stories, and lessons that Sam and Giny show Carol—along with a dose of porcupine mischievousness—as best they can in a week the lessons nature has taught them over the years.

 

With this book being twice as long as the previous Living Forest book, Sam Campbell fills it numerous stories of past adventures and misadventures while also detailing Carol’s weeklong stay during which occurs most of his famous philosophy.  Campbell uses an older Inky to be the mouthpiece of his lessons and teachings to the intended younger audience of the book, yet Inky’s “woodsy philosophy” can be very instructive to adults as well while not being preachy.

 

Though a longer read, Too Much Salt and Pepper is wonderful nature read and I highly recommend it readers of all ages.

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review 2018-01-20 20:45
Undercover Princess
Undercover Princess (Rosewood Chronicles) - Connie Glynn

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

There were good ideas in there, and I was fairly thrilled at first at the setting and prospects (a boarding school in England, hidden royals that looked like they’d be badass, etc.), but I must say that in the end, even though I read the novel in a rather short time and it didn’t fall from my hands, it was all sort of bland.

The writing itself was clunky, and while it did have good parts (the descriptions of the school, for instance, made the latter easy to picture), it was more telling, not showing most of the time. I’m usually not too regarding on that, I tend to judge first on plot and characters, and then only on style, but here I found it disruptive. For instance, the relationship between Ellie and Lottie has a few moments that border on the ‘what the hell’ quality: I could sense they were supposed to hint at possible romantic involvement (or at an evolution in that direction later), but the way they were described, it felt completely awkward (and not ‘teenage-girls-discovering-love’ cute/awkward).

The characters were mostly, well, bland. I feel it was partly tied to another problem I’ll mention later, namely that things occur too fast, so we had quite a few characters introduced, but not developed. Some of their actions didn’t make sense either, starting with Princess Eleanor Wolfson whose name undercover gets to be... Ellie Wolf? I’m surprised she wasn’t found out from day one, to be honest. Or the head of the house who catches the girls sneaking out at night and punishes them by offering them a cup of tea (there was no particular reason for her to be lenient towards them at the time, and if that was meant to hint at a further plot point, then we never reached that point in the novel).

(On that subject, I did however like the Ellie/Lottie friendship in general. It started in a rocky way, that at first made me wonder how come they went from antipathy to friendship in five minutes; however, considering the first-impression antipathy was mostly based on misunderstanding and a bit of a housework matter, it’s not like it made for great enmity reasons either, so friendship stemming from the misunderstanding didn’t seem so silly in hindsight. For some reason, too, the girls kind of made me think of ‘Utena’—probably because of the setting, and because Ellie is boyish and sometimes described as a prince rather than a princess.)

The story, in my opinion, suffers from both a case of ‘nothing happens’ and ‘too many things happen’. It played with several different plot directions: boarding school life; undercover princess trying to keep her secret while another girl tries to divert all attention on her as the official princess; prince (and potential romantic interest) showing up; mysterious boy (and potential romantic interest in a totally different way) showing up; the girls who may or may not be romantically involved in the future; trying to find out who’s leaving threatening messages; Binah’s little enigma, and the way it ties into the school’s history, and will that ever play a part or not; Anastacia and the others, and who among them leaked the rumour; going to Maradova; the summer ball; the villains and their motivations. *If* more time had been spent on these subplots, with more character development, I believe the whole result would’ve been more exciting. Yet at the same time all this gets crammed into the novel, there’s no real sense of urgency either, except in the last few chapters. That was a weird dichotomy to contend with.

Conclusion: 1.5 stars. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be interested in reading the second book. I did like the vibes between Lottie and Ellie, though.

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