Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Chua, A. (2011). Battle Hymn of the 
      Tiger Mother. NY: Penguin.
Adult / Adult for YA Biography - Memoir

I'm including this book on my blog because I actually think teenagers who read this will like it - in a horrifying way. If nothing else, it will probably make most quite appreciative for the parenting styles they enjoy in their own homes!  There are plenty of "oh-no-she-didn't" moments that are funny and scary at the same time.

If you read this book as a memoir, which I believe it was intended to be, and not as a parenting guide, it's a great book.  Chua is brutally honest about her behavior and doesn't make excuses.  She is, after all, a Chinese Mother and aspires to be nothing else (aside from a successful career woman herself).  It introduces an interesting premise that any child can achieve greatness when they are forced to do so.  

What would be really interesting is to hear from the daughters, maybe ten years down the line.  Do they love their mother? Do they yearn to be something other than what she created?  Do they have emotional problems?  And how in the world did they feel when their last minute handmade birthday cards to their mother were REJECTED? (How I wish I'd have tried that trick a time or two!)

It's a very quick read and the writing flows well, and you definitely go through all kinds of feelings for everyone in the family -- including the dog that can't perform to the Chinese Mother's expectations!

If you'd like to look at pictures of the family and/or read a bit about The Tiger Mother and her family, go to her website at http://amychua.com/ .

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Woman In Black

Hill, Susan. (2002). The Woman In Black. NY: David R. Godine.
Adult for YA fiction / fantasy

I had been very interested in seeing this movie, but as is usually the case, I never got around to it. So, when I saw that it was available for download from my local library, I decided to give the book a shot. (Didn't realize that it had been written in the 80s.)

I expected more. This is a very classic, proper English ghost yarn, and of course having seen the movie trailers, I pictured Daniel Radcliffe the whole time. Strangely, he wasn't quite right and I didn't quite reconcile that while reading.

The story is very short at only 140 pages or so, and it ends very abruptly. I suppose that was an appropriate way for the story to go, but then, I am always thrown by the endings of eBooks because without the paper in hand, I never realize the story is about over.  There was a great deal of build-up, good suspense, good spookiness, but I just wanted more time with the ghost stuff. More of the townspeople personalities. More local stories and encounters and specifics.

It was entertaining and a nice change of pace from what I have been reading, and anyone who loves classic ghost stories and suspense will like this book.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Shusterman, N. (2007). Unwind. NY: Simon & Schuster.
YA Lit / Dystopian
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I LOVED this book; it is the best book I have read in a while, and I've read a lot of books lately!

There is a required suspension of disbelief with the premise of the story: parents can choose to "unwind" their children, ages 13-18, and send them to be literally disassembled and 99.44% of their body parts are redistributed to others.  So, they don't really die because their parts live on in others.

So, roll with the premise and you will be absolutely swept up in the story and not be able to put it down.  It has twists, it has turns, it has surprises -- right up to the end.  Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, which could be a turn-off for some, but I think it was handled very well and really added to the richness of the story.  Through this technique, you get to know several characters very well, and that was a huge plus for me.

Happily, this book can stand alone and the reader will be quite satisfied; however, there is a sequel, Unwholly, if fans want to follow the next phase of the story.  It's rumored that Unwind is going to be a movie -- I think this could definitely be done and be excellent on film.

There is a poignant line in the book (actually, several), when a character is talking about conflict starting with differences of opinion, and says "But by the time it turns into a war, the issue doesn't matter anymore because now it's about one thing and one thing only: how much each side hates the other."

Definitely a book that will have you thinking about it long afterwards.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Condie, A. (2010). Matched. NY: Dutton Juvenile.
YA Fiction / Dystopian

I liked this story, and at times was reminded of Brave New World and any number of other dystopian works, including The Hunger Games-like love triangle: Cassia=Catniss, Xander=Peeta, Ky=Gale. Even found myself visualizing them this way (well, the boys anyhow). I was disappointed, as I almost always am, that this is part of a series and can't really stand alone. The ending is more like the end of a chapter and a little odd that so many rule followers have thrown themselves into supporting some rebellion.

Having said that, I did pretty much read it straight through because it was plausible -- I could easily suspend my disbelief long enough to believe society could get to this point. I enjoyed the fleshing-out of the characters and want to know more -- especially about the parents and grandpa. (Maybe that's because i am old. . .) It definitely made me think about the state of our world and how risky it is too allow the government too much control in doing things "in the best interest" of its citizens. Who decides "best," after all?

Here's the book trailer from Penguin.  Doesn't quite do the book justice, me thinks, but gives an idea.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1)

Stroud, J. (2003). The amulet of Samarkand :the Bartimaeus trilogy: part one. NY: Hyperion.
YA Lit / fantasy

First, I really prefer the cover that has Bartimaeus in his gargoyle form, but I can see how this cover might appeal to a different audience and probably get more readers.  The various covers fascinated me, so I've included others below.

I listened to this book and part of why I give it 4stars is because I loved the narrator's voice (Simon Jones?)-- especially when he was Bartimaeus. Delightful! One can't help but visualize Nathaniel as a young Potter, but really, there aren't many/any parallels beyond a small boy being recruited to be a magician. Truly for me, this story was all about Bartimaeus. I found him clever, cocky, and spot-on with his observations about humans and human nature.

I thought the storyline was good, and though I am generally not a fan of series books, I don't mind this one because The Amulet of Samarkand is stand alone -- or could be. Not sure if sequels pull in Nathaniel or not and don't care! Bartimaeus steals the show. I think I shall try and summon him myself.

As much as I liked listening to this book (thank you AudioSync for the free download!), it did seem to take a very long time to listen to it. If I decide to pick-up the next book in the series, I will read it.

my favorite

different spin - like it!

Visually appealing.

A Graphic Novel Version!

Monday, July 16, 2012


Grant, M. (2008). Gone. NY: HarperTeen.
YA Fiction / Apocolyptic

First, I read this on my iPad, and looking at the cover afterwards, I wouldn't say the cover models match my image of Sam and Astrid.  Sam, maybe more than Astrid, but not by much! 

I really enjoyed this book and would have given it a 5 except I found the ending inadequate, even knowing there was a sequel.   It seemed to me that there was a bit of conflicting information and with all the build-up, the final scenes were a little disappointing.

I liked the characters in this story -- even the ones that weren't very likeable -- as they were richly developed.  I did find myself envisioning some Incredibles-like situations, which took away from the dire situations.  And I was disappointed that our lead heroine, Astrid, became such the damsel in distress with her fifteen-year-old hero boyfriend putting her on a shelf to keep her safe.  Please.

Otherwise, this is a great apocolyptic story and I will probably go ahead and read the next book in the series, Hunger, if I can find it for free!

Here's the trailer HarperTeen released before the book came out.  Enjoy!