30 April 2012

The Unruly Queen – By: E.S. Redmond (Picture Book)

Here’s a picture book that even I could spend hours staring at, and I have all the attention span of a sugar-crazed squirrel. So I think the 2 to 5 year olds in your life will love it. The story is slightly reminiscent of a Mary Poppins character (the book not the movie), who comes to deal with a bratty little girl.  The clever wording and beautiful illustrations really make this children’s book stand out from the crowd.

Bookwyrm Rating - Dessert

22 April 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth – By: Richard Dawkins (Nonfiction)

There are a few subjects that I hardly ever get tired of exploring, and natural history is one of them. It’s never a bad idea to learn more about the world you live in. It has the power to shape the way you perceive yourself and everything around you. What’s not to love?

Dawkins writing style makes this an interesting and exciting piece of scientific literature. The level of self-awareness exhibited by the author makes the entire book feel like a private tutorial from the best in the field. His obvious enthusiasm and love of his subject makes the reader fall in love with science as well. I truly feel more aware of this amazing world for having read it.

Bookwyrm Rating: Meat and Potatoes 

15 April 2012

H.I.V.E. - By: Mark Walden (Children’s Fiction)

In a multi-part series reminiscent of Harry Potter, young villains learn to be all that they can be at an ├╝ber secretive school hidden away from the regular people.  The protagonists of this story (we can’t call them heroes after all) don’t have any magical powers; they’re just really good at what they do. Despite the fact that they are definitely NOT law abiding citizens, they do make pretty good role models for young fans.

This is a fun adventure, and a great coming of age story with a hero that’s relatable. The issues of destiny, right and wrong, and embracing your own strengths are scattered throughout the various plots. But don’t let the title fool you, sometimes labels like “hero” and “villain” can be ambiguous.

Bookwyrm Rating: Dessert

11 April 2012

Dear Me: A letter to my 16 year old self (NonFiction)

Oh to be 16 again…or not.  If there’s a more self-critical, hyper-emotional and maudlin time in a person’s life I sincerely hope to not experience it. It’s nice to know that awkwardness was not unique to my adolescence, even if it felt that way at the time. This collection of letters from authors, celebrities and seemingly well adjusted people was so cathartic it inspired me to jot my own note to my 16 year old self.

While this book is full of funny reminiscences it’s more important as a mark of progress. It’s nice to see how other people look back on their own development, what they would change, and how they would advise the person that they were. Writing your own letter can help you to see where you think you are going in light of where you’ve been.

Bookwyrm Rating: Meat and Potatoes

07 April 2012

The False Prince – By: Jennifer A. Nielsen (Teen Fiction)

Dragged into a desperate plot against his will, our hero is forced to become the lost prince of his country or he loses his life. In a book that has so much to do with responsibility and life threatening situations I wouldn't change a thing. Sage is a great hero for all age groups, he’s smart, rebellious and utterly snarky.  Despite his situation, he does things his own way or not at all. Sometimes it works out well for him, and sometimes it doesn't. 

This is a well devised plot, full of twists and turns, with plenty of dark little corners where all sorts of ugly things can happen. I absolutely fell in love with this story. And you probably will too.

Bookwyrm Rating: Dessert

01 April 2012

When She Woke – By: Hillary Jordan (Fiction)

This book disturbed me for days after reading it, if not longer. In the world that Hillary Jordan created criminals are color coded according to the level of crime that they committed, by dyeing their skin. These chromatic people are then released back into the public, literally wearing the proof of their crime. This book takes the themes of “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and puts it all in a frighteningly realistic future dystopia. This is not like the story you read in high school though, it’s much rawer emotionally than the original.  Hillary Jordan does a fantastic job showing the human cost of discriminatory legislation and paranoia. What seems like a moral solution to “criminal activity” ends up as an excuse to harass and harm others.

Even though I found it so disturbing, I have to say this was extraordinarily well written. Let’s face it this story shouldn't be a relaxing read.The characters are realistic and sympathetic, but unlike the original story, they don’t sit back and accept that society is right. This one is a thriller that challenges your preconceptions.

Bookwyrm Rating: Vegetables