Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Atomic Weight of Secrets Review

Author: Eden Unger Bowditch
Publisher: Bancroft Press
Hardcover: 320 pages
Source: ARC (Thanks NetGalley!)
For Challenge: A-Z Reading Challenge

Summary: (Taken from Goodreads *Note* I have shortened the summary)

In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world's most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.

But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

From all across the world, they've been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can't give them answers.

Things only get stranger from there. What is the book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother's underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?

How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives?

And why haven't their parents tried to contact them?

Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye, the situation is clear: They and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they're going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn't even know they were all working on an invention that will change the world forever.

But what if the men in black aren't trying to harm the children? What if they're trying to protect them?

And if they're trying to protect them, from what?

This book is most definitely written for the younger spectrum of the young adult audience. However, I found myself always wondering what was going to happen next, which made me not want to put the book down. There were times when it dragged, but for the most part, I was completely involved in the world that Bowditch has created.

The characters are charming. I fell in love with all of the five young inventors and completely sympathized with their individual worries. What I love about them is that they each have unique strengths and personalities and can bring different ideas to the table. The way they interact with each other shows how important friendship is and how a group of people (even children) can be more brilliant with each other than without.

One of the best things about this book is the growth that happens throughout the story. Each of the characters changes in some way because of the obstacles they face and because of the friendships they build with each other. I also like how Bowditch gives us excerpts from each of the character’s points of view, even Miss Brett, the teacher who is put in charge of the five inventors. This really allowed me to connect with every character and get a sense of who they are, where they come from, and what challenges they face within their lives.

But there were a few things that bothered me, which is why I’m not giving this book a five. Firstly, some of the stuff that happens is over the top. For example, the men in black all have very strange costumes; one wears a lady’s bonnet, one an inner tube, one has earmuffs and a teddy bear. I didn’t see the point of all this other than to make them more “mysterious.” This just didn’t do it for me. I think it would have been better if they had been more normal. However, I say this without having read the sequel, which may explain why they wear such ridiculous clothes. So, while it bothered me, I do understand that it may be explained later on. I would have liked to have a hint of an explanation in this book, though. Also, I find it strange that Faye just happens to be related to two rather prominent people (I'm not telling who!). Their appearance is very sudden and would have been much better had Faye’s relationship with them been mentioned or hinted at before we met them. It seems weird because she talks about her cousin Katherine before we meet her in the story, but doesn’t mention her other cousins.

Conclusion: This is a fun, entertaining book that’s at least worth a try. I enjoyed it and I think those who are interested in mystery, kid geniuses, and historical fiction may enjoy this too.

My rating:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A-Z Challenge Entry Post

Originally posted on The Lit Express, my home blog! Check it out if you have time. :)

I can't believe it's already been a month since my first post on The Lit Express. Can you believe it? Because SO MUCH has happened! The Dreaming of Books Giveaway (which was a HUGE success for everyone, I think!), a bunch of awesome books were released, not to mention Christmas, the New Year, and The Golden Globes (which, yes, is sort of like a holiday for me).

But, do you feel like something's been missing? Something like, I don't know, adrenaline rushes? The boosts of energy you get from competition? Anyone? Just me?

Well, I certainly have felt a lack of competitive energy. My current three challenges are progressing quite smoothly, so my decision:


That's right! I want to feel the burn. I want sweat to drop off my forehead from reading so much. Okay, not really because, well, gross. But I do think that at the rate I'm going, the three challenges are going to be finished by July. That is NOT acceptable. I'd like all of these challenges to last throughout the year. So, this month, I've decided to take on the A-Z Reading Challenge hosted by Steph at The Thoughts of a Book Junky.

So, here are the rules:

Read 26 books this year, one for each letter of the alphabet.

Here's how to enter:

Make a post with your list of 26 books and fill out the entry form.

If you don't have a blog don't worry, you can post your list on Facebook, Goodreads or wherever you can find -- just add your link to wherever you posted your list!!

When Steph has your link you will automatically be entered to win 2 books of your choice under $25 each.

The deadline is Feb. 12th everyone! So if you want to enter, HURRY!

Go here to sign up, if you haven't already. I would love to have some friends to do this challenge with me! Let me know if you're participating so I can follow you and keep myself updated on your progress -- and get some ideas for the blank spots on my list. ;)

Below is my tentative list-- books may (probably will) change as the year progresses:

A - The Atomic Weight of Secrets by Eden Unger Bowditch (Finished!)
B - Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz (Finished!)
C - Le Concile de Pierre by Jean-Christophe Grange
D - Deenie by Judy Blume
E - Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot
F - Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers (Finished!)
G - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
H - How to be Popular by Meg Cabot
I - It's Not the End of the World By Judy Blume
J - ?
K - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
L -?
M - Middlemarch by George Eliot
N - Nightwood by Patricia Windsor
O - One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen (Finished!)
P - The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Finished!)
Q - ?
R - Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
S - Stronghold by Melanie Rawn
T - Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Finished!)
U - ?
V - ?
W - The Weirdo by Theodore Taylor
X - ?
Y - Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby by Jane O'Connor
Z - ?
Happy gaming!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stuart Little Review

Author: E. B. White
Publisher: Listening Library
Narrator: Julie Harris
Duration: 1 hour 57 minutes

For Challenge(s):
Whisper Stories in My Ear and 2011 Audiobooks Challenge

(taken from Common Sense Media):
A mouse goes cross-country to seek his fortune and find a lost friend, falling into adventure after adventure along the way. His cheerful ingenuity always saves him from danger. From outwitting a cat to surviving an afternoon of substitute teaching, Stuart always knows just what to do. One of White's three classic animal stories, Stuart has captivated generations of children.


I thought this book was only okay. It's cute and fun, for sure. Stuart definitely has a lot of adventures and kids would most definitely love the direct, matter-of-fact way in which these wacky events are recounted. It's a fast read and quickly goes from one event to another. The one thing I didn't like about this book was how it ended. The main problem isn't resolved and I hate when that happens in any book.

The narration wasn't anything fantastic. It's kind of nice in the sense that it kind of sounds like your grandmother telling you a story, but there's nothing to make Harris stand out as a narrator. There was nothing that bothered me about her, but there was nothing that would make me recommend her specifically.

My rating:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Follow Friday (Yay!)

I have decided to participate in Parajunkee's Follow Friday this week! So, here's to meeting new friends. :)

What book(s) have you discovered lately from someone's blog?


I haven't read Revolution yet (it's being delivered as I type!), but I thought Beautiful Creatures was pretty good.

Hope everyone is having a good Friday!

Happy gaming!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer Review

Author: Maureen McGowan
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books (Expected publication date: April 1, 2011)
Paperback: 320 pages
Source: ARC (Thanks NetGalley!)

Summary (taken from Goodreads):

In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince—she's a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Sleeping Beauty and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is an entirely new type of fairy tale–one that will keep today's kids guessing and offer them hours of magical fun.


I thought this book was somewhat entertaining. It does, after all, have a lot of coolness factors going for it:

1) It's a choose-your-own adventure story. At critical moments, you get to decide what Lucette, the main character, will do. There are a total of 8 different ways this story can be read.
2) It has vampires.
3) It's a retold fairy tale.

However, there were a lot of things about this story that really bothered me. The main thing was that the characters lack depth. The good characters are all good and the evil are all evil. There are no shades of gray. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly makes the story less interesting and much more predictable.

Another main thing was that I didn't really like Lucette, especially before the curse got laid on her. She kept complaining about wanting people to take her seriously, but there was a good reason for that! She said she wanted to be trained as a slayer, but then all she can focus on is how hot her trainer is instead of the lessons. I didn't feel sympathy for her. This did get remedied near the end. Once the curse falls upon her, Lucette becomes a much more likeable character.

The ending was also really rushed. The whole book is leading up to this big showdown between Lucette and Natasha (Queen of the vampires), and it gets resolved so easily. There's hardly any challenge in it. The whole climax scene takes less than four pages, which was really disappointing. And for a supposedly great plotter and planner, Natasha certainly is gullible.

There were other minor things that took away from the story, but it wasn't all bad. I was interested to see how things went and there were a few unique things about these vampires that I thought were creative. I would have loved to see a little more of the country of vampires, but I understand that the story is about Lucette and not the vampires, so that's okay.

I wouldn't recommend this book as something that's a fantastic read. But, if you're looking for time to kill and have an interest in either of the three "cool factors" I listed before, it's not bad.

My rating: