Saturday, February 24, 2007

Review: Kat & Mouse Vol. 1

Kat & Mouse Volume 1: Teacher Torture by Alex de Campi

Kat’s Dad has just gotten a job at a posh private school, so Kat and her family are moving to New England. Their new home seems too good to be true…which turns out to be the case when Kat’s new classmates dump her on the bottom of the social ladder because she’s smart. Kat’s willing to struggle through anyway, but soon as series of accidents threaten her dad’s job. When a blackmail notice shows up, Kat’s determined to find out who’s framing her dad. With her computer-savvy friend Mouse by her side, this duo is on the case!

Teacher Torture is the first book in the Kat and Mouse series and is a great introduction to the series. With art that is a little more realistic-looking than traditional manga, you can almost see yourself at Kat’s school. The book deals with issues today’s teens will be familiar with (such as school cliques) and also includes a mini science experiment in the back. A quick, fun, read perfect for readers age 10 and up.

Shady Glade Rating: 7/10

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Review: Shabanu

I know I've been scarce lately, so I'm going to make it up to you by posting a new review. So here we go!
Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Shabanu is the youngest daughter of the best camel herder in the Cholistan desert. Life in the desert can be very difficult. There has been a draught for several years, and without water to support the camel herd, the family will not be able to afford the dowry needed for Shabanu’s sister’s wedding in July. Blessed with rain several months early, the family is able to survive and sell their camels for a huge profit at the year’s fair. As Phulan’s wedding draws ever closer, Shabanu knows that their family will never be whole again.

Most of this book centers around what life is like in the Cholistan, making it difficult for plot summary. However, it offers a lyrical look at what life as a desert nomad entails. The culture presented is so different from what I am used to, and yet I found myself relating to Shabanu on many levels. The last few chapters are quite plot-intensive, making the whole book worthwhile for readers who are expecting an adventure. I truly can’t recommend this book enough, even if you just read it so you can read Haveli, the sequel.

Shady Glade Rating: 8/10

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where have all the heads gone?

I was catching up on all of my book blogs the other day, and I happened to come across this interesting post on Bookburger:
An URGENT PLEA to Harper Collins: I love your list of upcoming releases from Harper Teen…but please, please, you MUST restrain the MAD CROPPER who's treating your cover models so brutally!…Revoke his Photoshop license NOW, before he crops again! Seriously, I totally agree with the smart reader quoted in a previous B-burger post who complained about the trend toward perfect and perfectly anonymous headless bods, which have been proliferating on covers across the YA world since the huge success of the Gossip Girls series…So lissenup, publishing people. Decapitation is so 2006...Let's make '07 the year we stop the crop.
I must say, I have to agree with them! Just look at these samples I happened to dig up after only 10 minutes of searching:

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
Cupcake by Rachel Cohn
I Was a Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosembaum
The Storyteller's Daughter: A Retelling of "The Arabian Nights" by Cameron Dokey
The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

Wuthering High: A Bard Academy Novel by Cara Lockwood

Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce

Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer

So here’s all I have to say: Where are all the heads? What do you think Glade Readers? Send me YOUR examples of cropped book covers, and we’ll add them to the post. It’s time to stop the crop!

You can read the original Bookburger post here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Review: American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

An ancient Chinese hero, the Monkey King, wishes to lose his animal status and become revered as one of the Gods. An Asian American middle school student named Jin Wang struggles to become like his white classmates. All-American student Danny is plagued by the visit of his cousin Chin-Kee (a culmination of every negative Chinese stereotype possible) that he has to change schools yearly because of embarrassment.

At first, these three storylines seem to have nothing in common. However, American Born Chinese artfully develops each storyline, bringing all three to a satisfying and blended conclusion by the end of the book. Whether readers appeal to Jin’s struggles to fit in, or the almost sit-com-like situations of Danny’s life, everyone is bound to find something to relate to. I was even surprised by the blended ending, which I can assure you is not something that happens often! The art is clear and crisp, and presented in full-color, an interesting contrast to most of today’s graphic novels. A wonderful read, so don’t pass this one up just because you are wary of graphic novels!
Shady Glade Rating: 8/10

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Review: Dramacon Vol. 2

Dramacon Vol. 2 by Svetlana Chmakova

I happened upon the world of Dramacon as a member of the Cybils nominating committee. If nothing else, this book was definitely worth the job! I must admit that so far I haven’t had the opportunity to read Volume one, but after this amazing book, nothing is going to stop me from getting my hands on it eventually.

Dramacon continues the story of Christy, amateur comic book writer as she enters her second year of the yearly anime convention. Much of Christy’s life has changed in the past year, including the addition of a new artist, Bethany, for her growing comic. In addition to some new faces, Christy also reunites with old flame Matt... who has brought his girlfriend. Christy isn’t sure what to do, but never fear. This is one convention that never gets boring.

This was definitely on my shortlist for the Cybils, and the rest of the nominating committee agree with me. Despite the fact that the book mostly centers on characterization as opposed to plot, it was extremely engaging and very hard to put down. Filled with great characters, humorous situations, and pun references to pop culture, this book was excellent. Pick this one up, you won’t disappointed. (but I suggest you read Volume 1 first… it makes more sense that way.)

Shady Glade Rating: 10/10!

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Review: Fever, 1793

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Mattie Cook is bored with her life in Philadelphia during the hot summer of 1793. Working with her widowed mother and grandfather in her mother’s coffee shop, headstrong Mattie is convinced that nothing excited will every happen to her. But in August, Mattie gets the excitement she’s been dying for.

A illness, known as the yellow fever, has begun to spread in Philadelphia. Slowly the fever takes hold, until the entire city is affected. The rich flee for the countryside, leaving the town full of looters, sick patients, and corpses. This is the excitement Mattie’s been hoping for, but can she escape the fever with her family and her life? Read about the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic (an event that killed 10% of Philadelphia’s population in 10 months) through the eyes of girl who’s at the center of it all.

Most famous for her books Speak, Catalyst, and Prom, I believe this story is a gem in Laurie Halse Anderson’s work that often gets overlooked. This is such a shame too, since it is a truly wonderful book. Anderson spins a mesmerizing and engaging tale about the yellow fever epidemic, a historical event I didn’t even know about until I read this. Readers will be on pins and needles until the very end. After all, getting the fever is a death sentence… or is it?

Shady Glade Rating: 9/10

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Review Update

Some of the reviews that I post on this blog have previously been posted on the YABC website as part of my job as an official reviewer. In the past, when I’ve included these reviews, I have simply put a link to YABC so that readers can see the whole review there.

As I’m working on updating and moving things around, I’ve decided to post the full text of the reviews on this blog. This will be the case not only for reviews posted from now on, but also for previously posted ones. I will update the links and text as I have time. Each review of the circumstance will have a link to the original posting at YABC.

As a reminder, all reviews are copyright to me, and any stealing of reviews will be reported as copyright infringement. I don’t want to sound too harsh, but I’m not here to write your book report! If you would like to include part of my review on your blog or website, that’s wonderful, but please give me credit for writing the review, and email me to ask permission. Thanks!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

As many of you book lovers know, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is coming out this July! (And if you didn’t know before, now you do.) The seventh and last installment of the Harry Potter series, is weighing in with a price tag of $35.00. Ouch!

But never fear, fellow bookworms! has announced that they are offering the book for $18.89, a discount of almost 50%. (Plus, if you spend an additional 7 dollars, you can get free shipping.) I’m headed off to pre-order my copy now, and if you haven’t already you can also do so by following this handy dandy banner:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Confusing English!

I've been teaching English as a second language to a girl in the class I TA for. It's been so hard to teach her grammar, because English has a nasty way of establishing a rule and then promptly giving a bunch of exceptions. So when I found this little poem in my Adventure of English textbook, I thought it quite appropriate:

We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese.
Yet the plural of mouse should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice.
But the plural of house is houses not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
The cow in a plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows and not vine.
And I speak of foot and you show me your feet,
But I give you a boot...would a pair be called beet?...
The masuline pronouns are he, his, and him
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!
So our English, I think you'll agree
Is the trickiest language you ever did see.