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review 2017-02-17 20:08
Nine Ten: A September 11th Story Book Review
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story - Nora Raleigh Baskin

Having read Falling Towers about a month ago I can't help but compare the two. Nine, Ten: A September 11th story fell very flat for me. I got a bit emotional reading Falling Towers. This one was a bit boring, the only emotions I really felt was reading the author's own experiences and why she wrote the book. 


Four different characters, four different locations. All affected by one day that many remember in our time period 9/11. Starting off on September 9th we learn these characters stories and what they were doing up to the point of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. 


The actual 9/11 part in this book was really only a few pages, for me, I think that was a big downfall for this plot. 


This isn't a happy topic to read about (especially since I am old enough to remember this day) but I think books like these are important to share to children who won't know of this event except for by textbooks or reading. If I had to choose one for them to read, it'd be Falling Towers. 

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review 2017-02-17 04:04
Book 2/100: The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Mayer

The Twelve Dancing PrincessesThe Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Mayer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I might have read this when I was a kid, but I reread because a friend in my book club said it had been her favorite book when she was growing up.

Illustrations are gorgeous and Mayer is excellent at adapting fairy tales -- I still long to find her adaptation of Aladdin that I fell in love with when I was young. What surprised me in this adaptation was the emphasis on the feelings and experience of the boy who uncovers the princesses' secret. I always thought of this as a story about sisters and their illicit adventures, but this version makes it the male "rescuer's" story. I wonder if that is the way the story is traditionally told or if that was the focus of this particular telling.

At any rate, it was a little discomfiting. As a kid I certainly never noticed how creepy the idea of a boy going invisible so he can spy on a room full of girls/women was! But the strangeness of it all is one of the things that still makes this a rich and compelling fairy tale to me, regardless of how it is told or who is emphasized.

View all my reviews

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review 2017-02-15 22:02
Everything is possible with a little help from your friends
Life in a Fishbowl - Len Vlahos

Thanks to Net Galley and to Bloomsbury Childrens for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This novel, that although classified in the category of teen and young adult literature can be read by anyone, is the story of the Stone family whom we meet when they are at a moment of crisis. When the father, Jared, is diagnosed with a brain tumour, aware that he’ll lose his faculties and his family are going to be left without his support, he decides drastic measures are necessary. What follows is the story of how his decisions affect all around him and how we can achieve incredible things if we never give up and have the support of our friends.

The novel is told, in the third person, from a variety of characters’ point of view, including Jared (although he becomes progressively confused), Jackie, his oldest daughter, and the central point of the story, Deirdre, the mother, Megan, the younger sister, and a number of characters extraneous to the family, including a young girl whose main contact with the outside world is Warcraft, a millionaire who’d do anything to keep himself entertained, a ruthless TV executive, a hard and unforgiving nun, and even Glio, the tumour that takes over Jared’s brain.

When Jared’s plan of offering himself for sale in e-Bay doesn’t work out and he ends up signing a contract to become the star of a reality TV following the last days of his life on the screen, everybody’s lives end up in turmoil. Shy Jackie, whose only refuge is social media and her friendship with a Russian schoolboy (fantastic Max), can’t think of anything worse than having cameras at home. The way the television crew manipulates the images and creates a distorted version of her family and her reality makes her want to resist, and by the end of the novel she’s discovered that she’s strong and resourceful and she’s strengthened the link with her sister (who is seen as cruel and superficial at the start).

Most of the adults in the novel (other than one of the teachers and the members of the Stone family) are depicted as egotistical and self-serving, and they don’t truly care about others. Although some of the reviews comment that the description is not accurate as it states that the novel is Jackie’s story whilst the action is split between many characters, for me, Jackie is the heroine, the main protagonist of the book and the heart of the story. Some of the characters that occupy quite a few pages at the beginning disappear when they’ve served their purpose and others are there to either aid or mostly hinder Jackie’s attempts at helping her father end up his life with dignity.

There is a strong element of criticism of the invasion of privacy by media, in this case, a reality TV programme that, like the cancer, feeds on what it likes and leaves destruction around it. Their commercialism, manipulation and money grabbing tactics are resisted by Jackie and her friends, in a David versus Goliath situation. On the other hand, the novel also shows that social media and platforms like YouTube aren’t good or bad in themselves and they can be used to great effect to subvert the established order.

For me, the younger characters are rendered more realistically and are easier to empathise with (as is to be expected from the genre and its intended audience). The novel is particularly focused on less popular and more introverted characters, who aren’t happy in standard social situations and suffer the unwanted attention of their peers when they are not openly bullied. They get to shine through and are shown as talented, imaginative and loyal friends, in contrast with both the adults and the popular but superficial kid.

I am intrigued by the use of the tumour as one of the narrators. It allows us to share in some of Jared’s memories (and due to his rapidly progressive illness that’s one of the only ways we have of getting some sense of who this man was before his diagnosis) but most importantly perhaps, the destruction it creates (and the way it takes over his host) parallels what the TV programme do, progressively limiting the freedom of the occupants, eventually leaving them nothing. At least the tumour is not aware of it and has no will of its own. The amount of anatomical and functional detail is impressive without slowing the action or interfering with the development of the story.

An inspiring novel that deals with a difficult subject (several difficult subjects) and ultimately emphasises the importance of friends, family and of standing up for what we think is right.

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review 2017-02-10 20:52
The Girl Who Drank the Moon Book Review
The Girl Who Drank the Moon - Kelly Barnhill

This is an odd little book and I can't decide if I liked it or not. Very different and very unique, if anything its worth checking out just because it is different. I read it since it recently won an award....

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review 2017-02-09 09:29
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega Beasts
Encyclopedia Prehistorica - Robert Sabuda,Matthew Reinhart

The last of my pop-up book splurge, Mega Beasts is almost every bit as good as the Dinosaurs edition created by the same pop up artist team.


The same incredible level of paper art, the same solid writing; my only complaint is sometimes the spectacular paper art actually blocks the text, making it difficult to read without some maneuvering.  Otherwise, an awesome example of its kind.


Once again, MT provided a hand (or two) for the picture taking portion of this review:


King Kong wasn't just a myth y'all!


It was depressing to learn just how many creatures lived for ages without natural predators... until man came along.


My personal favourite spread.  Of course.  :)



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