A Read-A-Thon … of Sorts

Hello Readers!

I have a confession to make: I LOVE YouTube. No, really … LOVE IT. To the point where I find myself spending hours upon hours (of what could be precious reading time) watching (mostly) bookish videos (I do enjoy the occasional makeup to tutorial every now and again). And by bookish I mean videos pertaining to books, book reviews, book hauls, etc..

It was through one of the many videos I watched that I learned about a recent event: Booktube-A-Thon.

Booktube-A-Thon was a one week-long event where book tubers were faced with a number and a variety of reading challenges. That’s a very brief explanation (for more, please check out this video by ArielBissett on YouTube – p.s. I heard about Booktube-A-Thon from a vlogger that I subscribe to on YouTube Little Book Owl).

Sounds fun, right?!? I though so! So much so that I found myself wanting to participate. But since I’m not a vlogger (blogging is more my style) I wasn’t one hundred percent sure I could participate. So I sat back, and watched the many videos that were popping up in my Youtube feed.

While I watched the gears in my head were set a-grinding! Inspired by the challenges and the BookTube-A-Thon in general I decided that I would host my own read-a-thon (hosted by me, for me since I’m the only one participating).

During the month of August I will challenge myself to do the following:

  • Read a book written by David Levithan: I am a BIG David Levithan fan. I’ve met him several times, have seen him at an uncountable number of events, and own several books that have been signed by him. Yet! I haven’t read any of his books (that is with the exception of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist which Levithan co-authored with Rachel Cohn – but those don’t really count). I’m ashamed to call myself a David Levithan fan. 
  • Read a book set in London, England: Readers, you may not know this being that I don’t share a whole lot of personal, nonbook related information here on The BookBandit Blog, but I am gearing up for my first overseas adventure. Where am I going? You guessed it: LONDON! I’m super excited, and what better way to get even more excited (if that is humanly possible) than to read a book set in London?
  • Read a Classic Children’s Book: I want to read more classics, really I do. But I just can’t seem to wrap my head around them. They are all too long, and too stuffy if you know what I mean. I figure a good way to ease into classics are to start with the ones written specifically for children.
  • Read Book One (1) of a series I’ve been curious about: I’m terrible when it comes to trilogies and/or series. I can’t seem to commit to them. So in hopes of remedying this situation I decided to read the first book in a series that I’ve been curious about.
  • Read a book written by an author I’ve wanted to read, but haven’t gotten around to: We all know those authors – the one’s where you’ve heard a lot (of good things) about, but haven’t found the time to get around to picking up his/her books. Well, this is the perfect time for me to discover (possibly) my new favorite author.
  • Read a new book by a debut author: there are so many debut author out there that deserve some attention.

During the month of August I am challenging myself to read between four and five titles, all of which will be around three hundred (300) pages give or take (I do have a life you know?!) I will challenge myself to read at least one hundred (100) pages a day. And I challenge myself to blog about this daily.  And of course, in due time, I will also review the books I read during August.

So, what books am I planning on tackling during the month?

For the David Levithan challenge I will be reading Every You, Every Me.

For the book set in London challenge I will be reading Falling in Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen

For the Children’s Classic I will be reading The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I will be combining the book one of a series and the author I haven’t read challenge to read Lust (from the Seven Deadly Sins series) by Robin Wasserman.

And lastly, my debut author … well, that’s a surprise (since I’m working on a top-secret project).

Readers, I set up this read-a-thon challenge for myself, and myself alone. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t welcome anyone who’s interested in joining me. If you do decide to read along with me, please comment! I love to hear from you readers!

Wish me luck!

P.S. If I am successful, I may decide to do more of these monthly challenges/read-a-thons here on the blog. Thoughts?!?

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Wiener
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(recieved advanced readers copy from publisher at BEA 2012)

John and Abigail Templeton are twelve-year-old twins. And they enjoy things that most other twelve-year-olds enjoy : playing with their ridiculous dog Cassie, admiring the work of their inventor father, playing the drums, and poring over cryptic crossword puzzles of course. Beyond that, they enjoy their lives, no matter how uneventful life may be.

But when their father announces that he is moving them to a new city so he can take a new job at a big University, their lives go from uneventful to more than eventful. What starts out as a celebration of their father’s latest invention – a one many flying machine that tucks conveniently and neatly into a backpack – turns into a nightmare.

At the unveiling the genius inventor known as Mr. Templeton is confronted by Dean D. Dean – a former student and all around bad guy. Accusing Mr. Templeton of stealing his idea, Dean D. Dean sets out to take back what is rightfully is. Dean D. Dean wants more than what is rightfully his. But more than that, he wants to make Mr. Templeton fork over the blueprints for the one man flying machine.

And the only way to make Mr. Templeton hand over the blueprints willingly, is to take something even more precious than his invention: his children.

Held captive within the evil clutches of Dean D. Dean (and his twin brother!) the Templeton Twins must think up a way, to not only save the one man flying machine, but themselves.

Will John and Abigail be quick witted enough to outsmart the Dean twins?

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea written by author Ellis Wiener is a character driven kind of book, that the middle grade set will love.

Going into The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, I really liked the premesis of the plot: two inventive and ingenious twelve years olds set out to, not only save a highly regarded invention, but to ultimately save themselves and their father. However, upon finishing this book I quickly realized that even though I enjoyed the plot, I did not enjoy the execution.

Wiener’s style of writing just wasn’t my cup of tea. I enjoyed that the book had a very open, conversational tone to it. But what I didn’t enjoy was that that tone often felt forced. There were many monents within the book that the “narrator” asks the readers to think or do something completely unrelated to the plot. These tangets, though brief, I found to make a very choppy story.

With that said, Wiener’s writing – when focusing solely on the plot at hand – is strong. And beyond that, it’s engaging.

What really makes this book such a fun read are the two leading characters – Abigail and John Templeton. They are charismatic characters that young readers will identify easily with, and characters that (us) older readers will see bits and pieces of our youth in.

Wiener’s The Templeton Twins Have An Idea is a great middle grade read. It’s full of over the top situations and a pair of really smart kids. While this title didn’t do much for me, I firmly believe young readers will laugh out loud, will root whole-heartedly for our small heroes to come out on top, and will even fall in love with the adorable, yet ridiculous dog, Cassie.

Book of the Week: Octopus Alone

Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan

Published: 2013 by Viking Children’s

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

I love books about sea creatures.

The end pages are colorful and engaging. I can see the many fish that are identified being spotted throughout the book by young readers.

I particularly love the fairy basslets. Oh, and the puffer fish. But who doesn’t love a good puffer fish?!?

Octopus Alone is illustrating is subtle shades of sea green. I approve!

The shade of green gives a calm, almost serene feeling to the book.

Octopus is a shy, she much rather spend her days watching the action rather than be at the center of it.

The three seahorses, who are oddly fascinated with Octopus, don’t quite understand. When Octopus tries to shoo them away with her many legs they thing she wants to play with them.

Crazy seahorses!

Octopus has no choice but to leave the comforts of her cave in the hopes of finding a new, quieter one.

Octopus can change colors! She starts our as a vivid orange but when she leaves her cave and enters the underwater garden she quickly transforms into a beautiful green! She changes colors to hide from the other fish.

In all honestly, I had to look about the page for a good long second to find her.

In the wilds of the sea Octopus sees many kinds of sea creatures and fish: domino fish, sharks, and even sea snakes (which I imagine are not as friendly looking or as cute as author/illustrator Divya Srinivasan has portrayed here.)

Just when Octopus things she’s safe, she spies three very familiar looking sea horses coming towards her. Good thing she can change color so quickly.

Seahorses like to have fun. They twirl about, they wiggled in all directions, and they even did somersaults.

Octopus found them delightful to watch. So do I.

Octopus is very curious, and full of wonder.

She finally understands why the three seahorses are oddly fascinated with her. When Octopus spies luminous jelly fish drifting far and away, she wonders where they are going.

I love, love, love the illustration where Octopus is shown gazing at the jelly fish. She’s a soft rose pink and she looks as if she’s floating atop a bed of blue and green starfish. It’s so incredibly beautiful.

All the illustrations that fill this book are incredibly beautiful.

Octopus’ three little seahorse friends were not very far behind. They had followed her. Scared, she inked them and went on her merry way.

This book sheds light on what life in the ocean may be like. There are things to wonder over, and other things like crab traps to be fearful of.

Octopus swam and swam until she was the only creature.  There was nothing and no one watching her, there was nothing and no one to hide from.

Finally alone, Octopus danced around like the seahorses. She wiggled, she twirled, and she even did somersaults!

But then she heard a rumbling and a whoosh! as a whale swam up and out of the water.

Alone Octopus had time to reflect on her new life alone. The more she reflected the more she missed the lively reef in which she lived. She missed the sea snakes, and the domino fish. But most of all she missed the three silly seahorses.

Octopus realizes that home is where the heart is, and that there really is no place like home.

She quickly swims back to her home in the ocean garden. And was welcomed by all the creatures she knows and loves.

I love how this book is about friends in a way.

The writing that fills Octopus Alone is strong, engaging, and whimsical.

This is the kind of book that readers of all ages will, not only enjoy, but will easily relate to.

This book makes me want to visit the aquarium.

 

Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

toptentuesday(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The above image is also from The Broke and the Bookish)

As a reader there are many authors I like, many I love, and some I simply adore. All of these authors (I think) are awesome! And all have written some awesome books! And yes, all of them (I think) deserve more recognition.

1. Susane Colasanti (All I Need)

2. Sharon Cameron (The Dark Unwinding)

3. Megan Miranda (Hysteria)

4. Kim Harrington (The Dead and Buried)

5. Daphne Benedis-Grab (The Girl in the Wall)

6. Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood)

7. Nina LaCour (The Disenchantments)

8. Meagan Brothers (Supergirl Mixtapes)

9. Gwendolyn Heasley (Where I Belong)

10. Gabrielle Zevin (All These Things I’ve Done)

Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptions

toptentuesday

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Above Top Ten Tuesday Image is also from The Broke and The Bookish)

I love a good movie as much as the next gal. But if it’s a movie based upon a book, I’m an even bigger sucker. Without further adieu here’s my list of the Top Ten Best Movie Adaptions:

1. To Kill A Mockingbird (Book by Harper Lee, Movie Starring Gregory Peck)

2. The Hunger Games (Book by Suzanne Collins, Movie Starring Jennifer Lawrence)

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower (Book by Stephen Chbosky, Movie Starring Emma Watson)

4. The Great Gatsby (Book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Movie Starring Leonardo DiCaprio)

5. Coralina (Book by Neil Gaiman, Movie Starring (Voice) Dakota Fanning)

6. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Book by C.S. Lewis, Movie Starring Tilda Swinton)

7. Holes (Book by Louis Sachar, Movie Starring Shia LaBeouf)

8. Charlotte’s Web (Book by E.B. White, Starring (Voice) Debbie Reynolds)

9. Stardust (Book by Neil Gaiman, Starring Claire Danes)

10. Hugo (Book by Brian Selznick, Movie Starring Asa Butterfield)

Book of the Week: Bad Astrid

Bad Astrid by Eileen Brennan Illustrated by Regan Dunnick

Published: 2013 by Random House Books for Young Reads

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

I like the name Astrid. Me + the book = meant to be.

Astrid is, judging from the cover, a mean looking bulldog (well, I think she’s a bulldog). But even though she is rather mean looking, she’s also quiet cute: she’s wearing a red jumper and has a tiny bow in each ear.

The end paper art shows little Astrid antagonizing a seemingly terrified pigeon.

I don’t like pigeons.

Shortly after, readers find out why the pigeon looks terrified — Astrid has invaded their bird bath.

The text rhymes! What’s not to love about a book – a picture book – that rhymes!

Pigeons aren’t the only ones terrified by Astrid. If judging by the pictures than people are too!

Astrid is a kick – butt kinda character — I like that!

But she’s also kind of bully — I don’t like that!

All the characters are various breeds of dogs. And they all wear clothes, hats, and even bows. Why wouldn’t they wear these things?!

I love the depiction of Astrid’s bedroom. There are toys EVERYWHERE, stray socks litter the floor, several homemade drawings cover the walls (I particularly love the one of super girl soaring through the clouds), but what I like best about her room is this: Astrid’s smiling!

The narrator of this story is NOT Astrid. Instead, it’s one of Astrid’s neighbors.

She explains how Astrid makes her feel with real emotion.

Astrid has some bad habits: she growls, and spits, and sputters when anyone walks past her yard.

I think Astrid’s mean because she’s afraid that people will not like her.

Even though Astrid is shown popping the heads off of flowers, I bet she secretly wants to smell them.

Some of Astrid’s most favorite past times include: teasing birds (but we knew that from the end pages), destroying lemonade stands, ruining other people’s chalk drawings, and dropping acorns on the little narrator’s head.

It’s no wonder Astrid isn’t liked.

I like you Astrid.

Instead of being bothered by all the bad things Astrid’s been doing to her, our faithful little narrator carries on with her summer. She learns to knit, to tango, and even a bit of karate.

The little narrator is also VERY crafty. She built a small Eiffel Tower … out of Popsicle sticks! Genius!

But Astrid eventually ruined the small Eiffel.

But accidentally this time. She lost control of her bike, and crash landed upon it.

Astrid was hurt, and to her surprise she found herself asking for help.

The little narrator is a good friend. Despite all that Astrid has done to her, she helps her.

Well, not before asking her why she’s so mean?

Astrid was just looking for some attention, someone to be friends with.

When Astrid’s riding her bike, she wears a helmet with a skull and crossbones on it! That’s so punk rock!

Seeing someone reach out to her, someone who she was mean to has made Astrid turn over a new leaf.

She actually HUGS the little narrator.

Even though Astrid is bad, she isn’t really bad. Deep down, she’s “quite nice.”

I really LOVE how this book shows that you shouldn’t judge a person you barely know.

What I also love about this book is that it says: no one really likes a bully.

Everyone needs a friend.

The writing (besides rhyming) is simple, strong, and sends a great message out to readers.

The illustrations are great! They are inviting and they really make the text come to life.

And it’s short, sweet, and to the point!

 

This Is W.A.R.

This Is W.A.R. by Lisa and Laura Roecker

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When Willa Ames-Rowan’s blue and limp body is pulled from the depths of Hawthorne Lake everyone knows her death wasn’t an accident. Rather it was a murder, covered up and made to look like an accident.

Best friends Lina and Sloan know that Willa’s drowning wasn’t an accident, what with Willa being a champion swimmer. Sister Madge knows it too. But what she doesn’t know is why James Gregory, heir to the richest man alive, would kill her. Even Rose, someone on the outside always looking in, knows that Willa was a survivor.

Hell bent on uncovering the truth, Rose, Lina, Sloan, and Madge join forces to form the W.A.R. . Pooling their resources, the girls scheme up ideas to seek the Ultimate revenge: take Killer Janes Gregory down while disgracing and dishonoring the family’s name.

This is W.A.R. written by authors Lisa and Laura Roecker is a murder mystery set against the lush backdrop of a high society county club. It’s a somewhat predictable story, but still one that will keep readers engaged and second guessing.

Lisa and Laura Roecker’s writing isn’t only solid, it’s also seamless. Co-written books sometimes feel disjointed, as if each writer is writing their own side of the story, never pinning down one voice. But this isn’t the case for This Is W.A.R. . Readers will not be able to tell which writer is writing which part, and that’s a good thing.

Broken down into several parts, each main character – Rose, Lina, Sloan, and Madge – get to tell their sides of the same sordid story. But beyond that, readers get the chance to know these girls, to understand and sympathize with them, but above all things will get the chance to see the part each girl played in Willa’s very untimely death.

Lina, who often appears emotionally adrift turns out to be the most emotional of them all.

Sloan, who is often looked at as the “dumb” one of the group may not be as book smart as the rest of the group, but she proves to be a perceptive ally who has a real knack for quick thinking.

Rose, unlike Lina, Sloan, and Madge didn’t know Willa well. Joining forces with the W.A.R. means finding out who she is, and finding her place among the world she assumed she wasn’t really apart of.

Lastly, there’s Madge. The girl who lost more than a friend that night, she lost a sister. Madge is a strong willed character with a short temper. A dangerous combination when seeking revenge. Readers get the chance to, not only learn about who Madge is without Willa, but who she was with her.

There’s a lot to really enjoy and like about Lisa and Laura Roecker’s latest novel. However, though solidly written, This Is W.A.R. is somewhat predictable, and it isn’t just because reader’s are told from the get-go who killed Willa. I’m not much of a mystery reader. I have no patience to find out the who, what, and whys, I like to know whodunit from the start. For me, those predictabilities were welcomed. But mystery fans may not welcome the predictable moments as easily or readily as me.

This Is W.A.R. is an enjoyable, character driven book, that will ultimately leave readers questioning high society and the many injustices of the world we live in.