Book of the Week: The Rumor

Book of the Week, Children's

The Rumor by Monique Felix

Published: 2011 by Creative Solutions

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pick up this book solely for the cover. I love the newspaper clippings. Let’s just say it speaks to the journalist that lives inside of me.

I also love how this cover doesn’t give anything about the book away. It’s all kind of mysterious.

I wish the book’s end papers were the same as the cover – full of newspaper clippings.

I love how this story reminded me of other classic stories – Chicken Little, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and The Boy Who Called Wolf.

It reminds me of Chicken Little because of the main character – a little rabbit name Rupert – who warns the others of the impending doom. It reminds me of Goldilocks because of the Big Bad Wolf. And it reminds me of The Boy Who Cried Wolf because Rupert literally cries “wolf”.

I love how this book clearly illustrates how rumors get started and how they often get blown out of proportion.

This book also reminds me of childhood game, Telephone.

The illustrations match the text perfectly. For example, when Chloe the cat is telling Edgar the elephant that there’s a wolf lurking around just waiting to “tear your ears into ribbons” Chloe is shown with fun standing up on end, claws extended, and eyes wild. It sounds a lot scarier than it really is.

Each animal tells the next that the wolf is going to do something to a part of them they hold special. In Edgar the Elephant’s case it’s his ears.

Some of the animal characters wear clothes and some do not. Kind of like Pluto and Goofy, both are dogs, but only one wears clothes (and talks).

Each character in this book plays an important role within the story. Another book that illustrates team work.

This book shows what happens when imagination gets the best of you, but not in a good way.

I feel that this is a good book to discuss fear, and how it affects us.

There’s an apparent sense of humor hidden within Felix’s writing. Reader’s will know this towards the end of the book, when we’re introduced to Wallace – a wolf – that is a vegetarian.

The Rumor isn’t just about rumors and how they spread, but it’s also about friendship, and how sticking together in the best and worst of times is important.

I love how the characters are all various animals. You know me and talking animal characters.

I love how the alligator wears a bathing suit.

Felix’s writing is sharp. She doesn’t beat around the bush, but instead is a straight shooter who tells a solid story.

The illustrations that fill the book are soft, almost subdued, even though there’s trouble in the air.

One does not outweigh the other – the illustrations and the writing work together to bring this book to life.

The Punk Ethic

Reviews

The Punk Ethic by Tim Decker (Received an advanced copy through NetGalley)

When musician/slacker Martin Henry is handed back his English paper on landmines his teacher doesn’t laugh at the topic. He doesn’t judge the grade or debate the amount research that went into Martin’s paper. He simply asks Martin a questions: What are you going to do about it?

Do about what? Landmines? How can Martin Henry, who has absolutely no ambition do anything about this problem, do something to solve it?  Besides, if he were to do something it will cost more than he could afford. He can barely afford a ten dollar gift for his friend never mind the three hundred dollars it will take to adopt and deactivate one landmine.

But the more Martin thinks about landmines, that nagging questions keeps coming to mind. What can he do? Martin may not have a lot, but he has talent. And he knows people who are semi-talented.

Martin decides to take a chance, to do the one thing he knows he can do to raise three hundred dollars. He convinces the owner of The Church, his small town’s most popular concert venue to donate the venue in the hopes of putting on a charity concert.

With an odd array of acts ranging from a God-loving ska bank to a hip-hop cellist, will Martin be able to raise the three hundred dollars he needs? Will he be able to adopt a landmine and possibly save one persons life?

The Punk Ethic written by Tim Decker is an ambitious book that is based upon a truly one of a kind subject – the landmine – or rather the disarming of one landmine.

Decker’s writing style is sharp and concise. It’s in your face, yet there’s a lyrically smooth quality to it. Just like his characters don’t beat around the bush, either does Decker. And there’s something punk rock about that.

But Decker’s writing is not enough to save this book. It seemed that The Punk Ethic got started just as the book was wrapping up. Clocking in at only one hundred and eighty-eight pages, the book doesn’t drag. In fact it’s quite opposite. However Decker introduces several important issues – other than landmines within the pages but doesn’t develop them. Issues like complex relationships, sexual abuse, and mental stability that deserve more attention than they actually get. They are brought up, but never really discussed or rectified, making these issues seem almost pointless since they don’t add to the over story line.

As a music lover I wanted to love this book, or at least like it a lot more than I actually did. But there were several prominent factors that stood in the way of really enjoying it. Main character Martin is not a likable character. His attitude is a far cry from punk rock, it’s down right miserable. His sudden charitable interest isn’t believable. And to make matters worse, he seemed one note and underdeveloped, as do all the characters that grace the pages.

Readers will appreciate that The Punk Ethic isn’t bogged down by musical jargon. Even though a big part of the plot centers around music and the art of creating it, it does not get caught up in the technical side of chords and frets. But honestly, there isn’t much to get caught up in to begin with.

Book of the Week: The Way Back Home

Book of the Week, Children's

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

Published: 2008 by Philomel

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I’m admitting it here and now: Oliver Jeffers may be one of my favorite picture book authors.

I love how this book is all about imagination, and the awesome things that could happen when you use your imagination.

Jeffers attention to detail is astounding. For example, one the wall of the main character’s house, is a picture of him on the moon with a little red rocket.

The little boy is a real go getter. When he sees a plane just sitting there in the closet he takes it out for a spin, for an adventure. He does let fear get in the way.

Jeffers has a way of building tension. When the little boy’s plane starts to sputter, and it runs out of fuel – readers start to worry. What’s going to happen? Where is he going to land?

This is a story about space – and it even features an alien. I like aliens.

I love how the colors of the book’s pages reflect the action of the book. When the little boy first lands on the moon the page is blue, representing the night sky. But the very next page is black showing that it’s getting darker and the little light he does have is starting to fade.

I love how this book is about friendship, and the importance of being there for one another.

It also shows that we can make friends any place we go … even on the moon.

At first the little boy and the alien fear the worst of each other. The alien thinks the little boy is a three eyed, green monster which the little boy thinks the alien is a furry, horned monster.

There impressions of each other illustrates one’s natural fear of the unknown.

I love how these characters don’t let their differences stand in the way of friendship.

Even though they are so very different they are very much alike. Both of their flying objects have failed them, both were appropriate traveling head-gear, and both are smart.

I love how this book shows two heads are greater than one.

This book shows the importance of team work. And that any problem can be solved with team work.

It’s important to keep a promise, the little boy in this book shows that.

Just because these two characters are vastly different and live worlds away doesn’t stop them from being friends.

I love how this book made me think about life in outer space. And made me want to get out there and explore all the places I dream to explore one day.

This book is for the adventurous, and the adventurous at heart.

There really is something for everyone in this book. It’s funny, insightful, and heart warming.

Jeffers simple writing story is strong, and paints vivid pictures in reader’s minds.

The illustrations are done in Jeffers signature style.

The book as a whole is fun, inviting, and I imagine would make for a great bedtime story.

Shootin’ the Breeze with Alecia Whitaker

Food For Thought, Interviews, Random

We’re only a few months into 2012 and I’ve already read some stand out books. One of which was Alecia Whitaker’s debut novel, The Queen of Kentucky.

One of the most endearing books I’ve read so far, I wanted to know more about the book, main character Ricki Jo Winstead, and of course the very talented author, Alecia Whitaker. Luckily for me, and for all my readers Alecia Whitaker was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell about yourself, and about your writing?

Alecia Whitaker (AW): I am a mom and a wife living in New York City, but originally from a small town in Kentucky. I was raised on a farm much like the main character in The Queen of Kentucky, Ricki Jo, so life as I know it now could not possibly be more different from the way I grew up. My writing is often reflective of situations that I have experienced in my real life. My mom says I am a Master Embellisher, so I just apply the same sense of dramatics to my writing. I think about something that happened in my life and then retell the story to make it fantastical, funny, and all around better.

BB: Ricki Jo is a great character, what was the most difficult part about creating her? Easiest part?

AW: The most difficult part with Ricki Jo was trying to separate myself as an adult from her as a young teen. She’s only fourteen and she’s just now entering high school – she’s just barely out of middle school! – so of course she’s going to make mistakes as she tries to navigate a new school and new friendships. I didn’t want my adult self to age her up or preach, so I let her stumble and cheered for her during the times when she succeeded. The easiest part was writing about her home life. The farm and her family members are mirror images of my own. And her sense of humor. We’re both known to tell a corny joke or two.

BB: If you were to describe Ricki Jo through a musical playlist, what songs would be on it?

AW: I actually have a Queen of Kentucky playlist on my iTunes. Here are a few of those jams: Boondocks by Little Big Town (where she’s from), Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis (her ridiculous for Wolf), and Our Song by Taylor Swift (reflective of her relationship with Luke).

BB: What advice could you offer to aspiring writers?

AW: Write. I know it sounds crazy, but the difference is that one aspires  and one writes. You have to do the work before you can enjoy the fruits of it. You’re not going to be published on a great idea alone. And after you’ve written your piece, edit and revise. Get a few people you trust (not just family, but writers) to read it and give you notes. Then be open to their feedback. You can’t be married to your work – nothing is perfect the first time around. And then research agents and editors who have represented books that are similar to yours and approach them. They will be impressed that you’ve done your homework and you will have a better chance at success in publishing.

I would like to send out a big THANK YOU to the lovely Alecia Whitaker, for not only giving us a great book, but for taking time out of her schedule to answer a few questions.  Be sure to pick up a copy of the Queen of Kentucky, it will not disappoint.

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop

Contests, Food For Thought, Random

As we make our way through April, where April (Book) showers will bring May flowers, I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and One A Day YA are hosting a fabulous hop. As always a BIG THANK YOU for hosting this giveaway!

Two lucky winners will get to choose one of two prize packs.

Prize Pack # 1 Includes:

A signed ARC of 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

Prize Pack # 2 Includes:

A (used) hardcover copy of Cookie by Jacqueline Wilson

Giveaway will run from 12:01 a.m. on April 20th until 11:59 p.m. on April 25th. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, 13 years or older.

To enter leave a comment on this post, and this post only. Please tell in your comment which prize pack you would want to win. When leaving a comment please make sure to leave a VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS.

Winner will be contacted via e-mail on April 25th, and will have until 11:59 p.m. on April 27th to respond with shipping information. If a response is not received by April 27th, a new winner will be selected.

Please be sure to check out all the participating blogs. They are offers some great (book) swag! For a full list (links included) click here.

Good Luck and Happy Hopping!

The Queen of Kentucky

Reviews

The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker

For Ricki Jo Winstead starting high school is the most important year of her life. It’s going to be a year full of changes. From this point on she refuses to be known as Ricki Jo, but rather by her given name Erica. From this point on she will not be just another small town country girl. She will work her way up the social ladder. From this point on, Erica Winstead will make a name for herself.

Ricki Jo quickly realizes that neither freshman year nor high school is what it’s cracked up to be. She looks nothing like the girls in her homeroom. She doesn’t wear the right clothes, and even if she had those clothes she has nothing to fill them out with.

Than there’s Wolf. He’s the freshman heartthrob that Ricki Jo is crushing on along with the rest of her freshman class. Too bad he relentlessly teases Ricki Jo for things out of her control.

As Ricki Jo struggles to transform herself into the new and improved Erica she manages to not only push Luke, her best friend and best thing about freshman year, aside, but she also manages to lose herself.

Alecia Whitaker’s debut novel, The Queen of Kentucky, is a quick read that is full of Southern charm with an added heap of spunk. It is a book that readers will flock to. One that readers will not be able to put down until the very end.

At it’s core this is a book about fitting in, and finding yourself within this vast world. Whitaker’s readers will gravitate towards the familiarity  of her classic storyline. Like Ricki Jo, we have all struggled with fitting in or finding one’s self at some point or another. What makes this classic storyline so unique is Whitaker’s style and earnest characters.

Whitaker’s writing is solid year airy. There’s a certain ease and flow to her writing style. Even though she tackles some heavy topics – fitting in, alcoholism, etc – she handles them with ease and grace. Each sentence is well crafted. Each chapter is fluid and moves smoothing from one to the next.

Ricki Jo Winstead, main character of The Queen of Kentucy, is a real hoot. Her blunders and forays into popularity will makes reader’s both cringe and laugh simultaneously. But she’s a real trooper. She’s determined, smart, and when push comes to shove, always follows her heart – not the crowd. She has all the qualities of a great heroine.

The Queen of Kentucky is an honest read. Many of us readers have either forgotten what freshman year was like or are still wondering  and anticipating what it’s going to be like. Whichever category readers fall into they will learn a valuable lesson from Ricki Jo Winstead: popularity isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.


No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop

Contests, Food For Thought, Random

Hello!

It’s been a few weeks since the blog has last participated in a giveaway hop of any kind. So I thought it was about time to participate in another sweet giveaway. Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (Thanks Kathy for hosting yet another awesome giveaway!) is hosting the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop. There’s no jumping through hoops, absolutely no requirements to enter this giveaway. Do you need to be a subscriber? NOPE! Do you need to answer any questions? Nope!

There are several items up for grabs this hop around. Two lucky winners will have the chance to win one of two different prize packs.

Prize Pack # 1 Includes:

A (used) ARC of Ashfall by Mike Mullen and a Drink, Slay, Love (Sarah Beth Durst) bookmark.

Prize Pack # 2 Includes:

A (used) ARC of  Withering Tights by Louise Rennison (please note that this is a used book, and slight wear to the cover) and a Drink, Slay, Love (Sarah Beth Durst) bookmark.

The giveaway is open from 12:01 a.m. on April 17th and will run until 11:59 p.m. on April 22nd. This contest is open to U.S. residents only over the age of 13.

To enter simply leave a comment on this post. Please comment with a VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS.

Two winners will be contacted via e-mail on April 22nd and will have until April 24th to respond with shipping information. If no response is received by 11:59 p.m. on April 24th a new winner will be selected.

Make sure to check out all the great blogs also participating in this Hop. You can check out the full list (including links) here.

Good luck everyone! Happy Hopping!

Book of the Week: Smile!

Book of the Week, Children's

Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson

Published: 2009 by Balzer + Bray

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love the turquoise colored end papers. The shade of turquoise is so deep, lush, rich. Any of those adjectives would greatly describe the end papers.

Speaking of the end papers, the illustrations of various animals and objects – – animals, flowers, robots – – adorned on them are not only adorable, but extremely funny. And they all have something in common: they’re not smiling 😦

I particularly love the frowning whale.

I love how bright this book is! From bright lemon yellow to hot pink, almost every color is accounted for.

This book not only shows the importance of smiling, but also how easy it is to lose one’s smile.

Main character Sunny has lost her smile, and she’s searching high and low. I love how determined this small heroine is.

I really liked how this book shows that being happy is an important emotion, and how being happy effects not only one’s emotional state, but every aspect of one’s life.

Sunny’s faithful companion is a dog … a weenie dog!

I feel that this book illustrates that children have things that concern and worry them. Just because a person is small, doesn’t mean that life doesn’t affect them or exclude them from the messy bits.

Sunny is a smart and logical girl. A girl who readers will quickly relate to.

I love the illustrations that fill the pages. They’ve often oversized, and look as if a kid drew them. That’s not saying that there isn’t any skill.

I love that the pictures look like a kid drew them. The illustrations are invite both young and old readers in.

Certain words are underlined. I think that design element can really help kids learn to spell long words.

This book shows  the importance of remembering, of keeping memories alive.

The book uses words like “UN-Higgledy-piggledy”.

Sunny’s goldfish looks like one ticked off fish. It’s actually kind of funny. And to make it all the more funnier – the fish’s name is Glittergills!

I want a fish named Glittergills.

I like how Sunny thinks that someone stole her smile. In all serious, I think it’s so possible for someone to steal a smile. I like how this book points them out.

The story points out that smiles are unique to the individual, and that our smiles make us unique.

There’s an illustration in the book, a planet with a small house turning upside down. It reminds me of something out of the Little Prince. And anything that reminds me of the Little Prince is great in my book.

Author Leigh Hodgkinson has an eye for detail. Kids won’t only appreciate that, but will notice those small details. Like the fact that Sunny’s mom is wearing green eyeshadow.

Sunny realizes that even if you’re not smiling doesn’t mean you’re not happy. Sometimes smiles go away cause you’re simply content, and it only takes something you love to bring that smile again.

The story points out a frown really is a smile turned upside down.

I love the very last illustration of the book: Sunny and her family sitting at the table, enjoying a family meal. I like that it ends on that note, showing the importance of a family dinner.

I love the writing. It’s crisp yet whimsical.  And I love how the illustrations and the writing complement each other.

 

 

Matched

Reviews

Matched by Ally Condie

For as long as Cassia could remember The Society has never been wrong. It has never made a mistake, especially when it comes to matching individuals. It has always operated smoothly and perfectly.

So when she’s matched with best friend Xander she’s not only happy, but she’s also relieved. Some part of her has always known that she and Xander were perfect for each other. So when The Society confirms it, she knows she’s always been right.

Until the day after her matched ceremony. The day she placed the microchip in the port to learn even more about the boy she has always called best friend, Xander. For a split second though Xander’s picture does not flash across the port screen like it’s supposed to. Instead Ky Markham’s face flashes before her eyes, sending Cassia’s mind and entire life in a whirlwind.

As she learns more and more about Ky she starts to, not only learn more about who she is, but also questions The Society and the life it has offered her up until this point. Cassia soon realizes that even though The Society has given her, her friends, and her family so much, it has also taken so much away.

It’s taken away free thought and other freedom’s that Cassia longs to taste. For the first time in her life Cassia doesn’t know who she’s meant to be with. Does she choose the boy she’s always known and loved, or does she choose the boy who has awakened emotions within her she didn’t even know existed? Does she choose the boy The Society has deems a suitable match, or the boy she deems suitable? And will The Society let her choose?

Matched, book one of the Matched trilogy, is written by author Ally Condie. Matched is a full-fledged dystopian novel that will keep readers entertained and engaged.

Condie has a way with, not only words, but also story building. Matched is an atmospheric read that will let readers see and hear The Society and every aspect of Cassia’s life and world. Condie’s writing is spot on. No sentence drags, but rather flows fluently. And her character’s are fantastic.

They are deep, complex creatures who reader’s will find realistic and relatable. Cassia is a strong protagonist who, when push comes to shove, thinks for herself and questions the life that The Society has forced upon her. She’s smart, strong-willed, and passionate – three characteristics reader’s want in a heroine. Ky is yet another strong character. Beyond that he adds an extra layer of mystery. Readers will be attracted to Ky’s alluring qualities, and will instantly want to know why this boy is so important to Cassia, even though he isn’t supposed to be.

Matched is evenly paced. Moments are fast paced. Those moments were action packed moments that kept readers wanting – craving – more. Other parts were slower paced, building tension and answering questions along the way. Whether fast paced or slow-paced, there was a great balance to the overall book. Condie has a way of creating an undeniable tautness that reader’s will thrive upon.

Even though Matched is a great read, there is one pitfall. At least for me. That one pitfall was that it was a bit predictable. Admittedly, from the get go I did not see what was coming, but by the time I fully understood Cassia’s world, I pretty much figured out what was going to happen. Even though there were predictabilities, it was still a fun and fulfilling read.

Book of the Week: Lost & Found

Book of the Week, Children's

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan

Published: 2011 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book Of the Week:

Let me just mention the end papers – readers won’t be able to pull their eyes away. There’s so much going on, but not in an overwhelming way.

I love how author Shaun Tan blends soft, muted, almost overcast illustrations with bright, catchy, and passionate ones. Readers will experience the best of both worlds.

Tans incredible stories featured in this book, reflect the styles of his illustrations. Soft, suble, bright, and passionate.

I love how I found this book in the picture book section of my library – yet it is broken down into three chapters, featuring three very different stories.

I love how the three stories featured within the pages reflect the title. All the stories feature something both lost and found.

The Red Tree is the first story, and quite possibly my favorite one in the whole book.

The main character in this story is nameless. I know I said this once before, but I’ll say it again, I love nameless characters because I feel that it allows the readers to really identify with the characters, to let them see themselves in characters.

I love the emotions this story evoked.

This story shows that children too face both good and bad days. That even though they are small, and may not have as much as an adult on their plates doesn’t mean that they don’t worry, or stress out, or get a bad case of the blues.

The illustrations are thought provoking. I especially love the illustration of the young girl sitting inside a glass bottle, with a deep sea divers helmet on.

This story, along with the other two featured in Lost & Found, don’t underestimate children’s ability to understand profound artwork.

I love how some of Tan’s illustrations had a collage-styled  feel.

Readers, both young and old, will sympathize with the character in this story.  Both children and adults know and understand the feelings of isolation, finding who you are or who you are meant to be, feelings of trouble crashing down upon ones shoulders.

It seems that The Red Tree is a story of dispair, but really it’s a story of positivity, of hope.

I shows that there is always a silver lining to every bad day.  And that bad days are inevitable.

I love how the stories fad seamlessly into the next. And also how the pages between stories reflect the coming story. For example, before the second story, The Lost Thing, two pages are full of bottle cap illustrations.

Even though one of the main characters in the second story is a thing it’s relatable. We’ve all been lost at some point or another – figuratively and literally speaking.

While reading this, I remember the one time I was lost (actually, literally lost). I felt the same way as The Lost Thing felt – scared, alone, and yet hopeful that I wouldn’t be lost much longer.

I love how this story has a real steam punk feel. It’s industrial, yet soft.

I love how the main character has a bottle cap collection, and he carries around a book called “What Bottle Top Is That? 4th Edition”.

I especially love Tan’s eye for detail.

The Lost Thing looks like a teapot with legs and arms. It will make readers laugh, even if it isn’t a laugh out loud kind of story.

I love the character Pete, he’s real mellow and laid back. I especially love how he and main character sit upon the roof discussing life’s big questions.

I think this story shows that there’s always a place for us, a place we feel safe, where we belong, where we feel most at home.

The narrator says that this story of The Lost Thing isn’t exceptionally profound, but it is.

I love how the third story is a story written by someone other than Tan, but somehow Tan made it his own.

Especially in the last story – The Rabbits – the illustrations are intricate. For example one illustration depicts a mountain range in the desert, but upon closer inspection, there’s a sinister looking snake present. And not one, but a whole pile of them that resemble a rock pile.

I love how this story is all about changes – both good and bad. And the natural progression that change brings with it.

Since this is a bold story, and the illustrations reflect that. There are lush golds, and deep blues, bold, fiery red. The illustrations really are breathtaking!

I especially love the illustrations of the rabiles and the rats eating the lizards.

I love how The Rabbits is a serious, yet fun story.

I also love how this story have an industrial feel to it.

The writing is crisp, and smart.

The illustrations will stroke one’s imaginations.

Readers will not be disappointed in this book.