Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver: review

Liesl & PoLiesl & Po by Lauren Oliver(story), Kei Acedera(art)

Stand Alone

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Middle Grade

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Paranormal

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: October 4th 2011

Synopsis: Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice,until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.

Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

My Thoughts:

Liesl & Po radiates utter brilliance. But not in a loud way. This book will enchant a person with a quiet beauty that will circle around you for a little bit of time, and then grip onto your heart in an unbreakable hold. Lauren Oliver has created a flawless novel that not only sparks with magic, but also with friendship, hope, and love.

For me, this was a novel whose story made the eager, curious child in me to surface. The adventure just had a certain feeling to it that made me want to find the best adventures in the littlest events. It’s hard for me to describe the story of Liesl & Po since there is just so much going on, but just know that it will telaport you to a world filled with whimsy.

The most remarkable thing about this novel was how the author progressed the story by using the carefully woven relationships of the many characters. It was truly amazing and worth a mention in this review.

The three main characters of Liesl & Po will always be dear to me. Liesl is an incredibly endearing protagonist. Her bravery and sweetness had me smiling in adoration. The quiet, thoughtful, and enigmanic Po is the perfect kind of ghost, and the adorable, loveable Will completes the story with his hesitant but true to the heart feats of bravery.

There were also many other characters that were dragged into the adventure by the chain of events. And oh my goodness, were these characters colorful. They just lit up the  dark corners of the story that were somehow missed by the brightness of Liesl, Po, and Will’s light.

Lauren Oliver’s writing enhances the story with it’s unique way of painting the world. I couldn’t help but notice how Oliver puts to use the colors of the world to beautifully describe the many settings:

“The sky was still a velvet purple, with just a thin line of gray ringed around the horizon.”

But Oliver doesn’t just use the beauty of colors in her descriptions. She uses many other ways to present the world of Liesl & Po with ultimate finesse. 

The book itself is also very beautiful. There are many lovely pencil-drawings that are peppered throughout the book. They are a joy to look at and they really add to the story.

Out of all the middle grade novels I have read in my life, Liesl & Po is one of the best. The book just resonated with me in such a way that made my heart flutter. I can’t help but compare my experience with Liesl & Po with my experience with Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. These novels are nothing alike, of course, but they are both beautifully realized stories that etched themselves deeply into my memories.

I think I found another bookish soul mate. I love you Liesl & Po

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My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Vol.1 by Katie Cook, Andy Price: review

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Vol.1 by Katie Cook, Andy Price

Series: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Release Date: May 21st 2013

Synopsis: Welcome to Ponyville, home of Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and all your other favorite Ponies! Something’s not right in the town though, as some of the inhabitants are acting very, very strange! It’s up to the Mane Six to find the source of the weirdness before it’s too late!

My Thoughts:

I have been a big fan of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic T.V. show for quite some time now. For me, the friendship between the six amazing ponies and their unique personalities are always fun to watch. So when I got accepted to read the first volume in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic series I squeed with joy.*

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Squee!

And then after the squee-fest, I read the comic. And omg, I loved it!

The story begins with the changeling queen, Queen Chrysalis turning every pony in Ponyville into pod-ponies and replacing them with changeling duplicates. She also manages to kidnap the Cute-Mark Crusaders. This eventually begins the Mane Six’s epic adventure to save the fillies they care about.

I loved revisiting the ponies that I have come to love oh so much, especially Pinkie Pie. She is such a random and adorable pony. She creates much of the random funny moments in this comic and also wears many of the hilarious facial expressions.

That isn’t to say that the other ponies don’t shine brightly! Rainbow Dash is still confident, Twilight is still a bit nerdy, Fluttershy is still really sweet (although she does get REAL angry in this volume), Applejack is still awesomely country, and Rarity is still obsessed with the state of their hair. And all of these characters are strong and reliable when it comes to protecting their friends.

I can not give enough praise to the artist of this comic, Andy Price. The illustrations really made the story come alive! The colors are all bright and eye-catching, and the facial expressions drawn are what made me love this comic so much!  The art is very similar to the style of the show, but Andy Price does add some touches that are his alone.

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Click to make the image larger

The comedy element in this comic is well done. Sometimes I feel like people think that comedy is making a character do something incredibly stupid, but the creators of this get it right. It isn’t stupid, but smart. I don’t think I have laughed so much reading a comic 🙂

Overall, this was a great read that will definitely appeal to children and probably teenagers and adults. The story contains important messages that are important for people to learn, but the messages don’t bog down the story. In fact, it makes it better. So would I recommend this? OMG, YES!

*Yes, I squee whenever I see anything that has to do with My Little Pony and I am proud 😛

An advanced copy of this book was provided in exchange for a honest review

*Yes, I squee over My Little Pony and I am proud 🙂

The Three Loves Of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds: review

The Three Loves of PersimmonThe Three Loves Of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult/Middle Grade/Childrens

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fable, Magical Realism, Romance

Publisher: Penguin Books

Release Date: August 25th 2010

Synopsis: Persimmon Polidori is a fine young lady, but within her is a rebel. She must follow her heart’s desire, even if it means her family will reject her for the choices she makes. These choices bring her adventure and a world she never knew existed – they also bring her loneliness…

Along the way, Persimmon undergoes the trials of love, heartbreak, doubt and the discovery of her own true value.

And she does it with the aid of a tiny, brave creature named Epiphany.

My Thoughts:

There are some books that one stumbles upon by chance. The Three Loves of Persimmon was one of those books for me. I had no idea this book existed until I saw the title somewhere online. I am so very glad I did. I am pretty darn sure that it is my soul mate of a book.

The Three Loves of Persimmon is a beautiful, lovely fable. The story is romantic, inspiring, and uplifting. I found it to have a magical quality to it. This book made me feels as if there was a shower of bursting stars falling around me. It is also very thought-provoking and gives the opportunity for a whole day of reminiscing and discussing.

All I could say about the story at first was, what a story. This is indeed a story that will stay loved by me for years. It is a story about growth and love and happiness. It is a story with bustling people and trains and talking ornamental cabbages and adventurous mice and heartbreak and strong, quiet florist and lessons. It is an epic story.

The writing was very conversational. I felt as if the third-person narrator was talking to me, and I loved that. Golds had such a way of painting the world with her writing. She seemed to find the beauty and happiness of it and put it into words perfectly. There is also a lot of personifying inanimate objects which was just the bee’s knees (yes, I used that idiom)! When I put down the book I felt like I could hear the silly whispers of the moths flying outside my window.

I loved each of the two leads of this story. I hold them very dear to me. Epiphany is a daring little mouse whose craving for adventure made me want to run to the train station and jump on a train without knowing where it went. Persimmon is a quiet florist whose love for flowers made me want to slowly stroll around in a garden. They are also full of depth, creativity, love, and growth. They discover things about themselves and they grow in this story.

The side characters were also very darling. They added much quality to the story with their colorful personalities. Some of these characters are only present for a couple of pages but they still make a big impact (a certain creature living in a grate, for example).

The lesson this story teaches is very simple: you matter. You are not an extra. You have a purpose. Golds doesn’t try to overwhelm the reader with speeches but rather with sweet, inspiring pieces of dialogue.

“‘I am worthwhile,’ she said to herself earnestly.

“‘I never doubted it,’ said the young man just as earnestly” (92%)

The way the story delivers its message is amazing and never forced, as you can see from the above quote.

The ending of this story made my eyes widen in awe. It is a happy ending but it made me cry. Golds tied up everything neatly and beautifully.

The Three Loves of Persimmon is a beautiful story. A story that I just want to hug in my arms and take with me wherever I go! I would love to travel the world with this story. I would certainly need the lesson it teaches. Remember people: You are worth something. Don’t forget that! Now read this book and then come back so we can have a bookish tea party together.

Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald: review

Odette's Secrets Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald

Standalone

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Middle Grade/Childrens

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Release Date: February 26th 2013

Synopsis: For Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris, nowhere is safe. So when Odette Meyer’s father is sent to a Nazi work camp, Odette’s mother takes desperate measures to protect her, sending Odette deep into the French countryside. There, Odette pretends to be a peasant girl, even posing as a Christian–and attending Catholic masses–with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets, and when the war ends Odette must figure out whether she can resume life in Paris as a Jew, or if she’s lost the connection to her former life forever. Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyer, this moving free-verse novel is a story of triumph over adversity

My thoughts: Distant. That was what I felt when I first started turning the pages of this novel. I felt distant to Odette. I wasn’t able to emotionally connect with her well. I was able to glide on through those first pages without any effort. But when I got near the middle of Odette’s Secrets I started to feel like I was close to Odette. I felt her pains and struggles. I felt her growth. I felt her hope and love. I silently (and sometimes not so silently) cheered her on.

This is a book that will grip your heart and never cease to let go. The emotion that is shown through the writing that is written in the form of free verse feels undeniably real. Some pieces of the writing resonated so well with me that I had to take a deep breath so I wouldn’t get visibly emotional. Sometimes this didn’t work. 

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Just picture a kindle lying on the ground somewhere and this will be me.

The story follows Odette Meyer, a Jewish girl living in Paris. Life is peaceful until the Nazis start to occupy Paris. Odette’s father is sent to a Nazi work camp, leaving Odette and her mother alone. When the threat becomes too much, Odette’s mother sends her to the countryside to keep her safe. Odette much pretend to be Christian to keep herself safe. This is only the beginning of Odette’s story. After the war ends Odette must now try to reconnect with her past self. Or is that girl gone forever?

Odette’s Secrets was meant to be non-fiction but slowly started turning into a fiction novel when the author started writing. This might have been why this book had a certain rawness to it. I swear-sometimes awhile reading this book I thought I felt a pain in my chest. Based off of the true account of Odette’s life, Odette’s Secrets is a beautiful story that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.

This is the first verse book that I remember reading and it makes me want to read more. The writing was emotional and beautiful. I couldn’t have stopped reading the words if I wanted to.

Despite all the terrible things that happen in this book, the ending is a happy one. Not a ‘happily ever after’ but still a happy one. It left me satisfied and hopeful.

I also took the time to read the author’s note. I really recommend that you do to. Maryann Macdonald tells the story of how this book was created. How she had the idea to write the story, the research she had done, and the time she spent with Odette’s son. It is a really interesting piece of writing.

I highly recommend Odette’s Secrets. It is a great little history lesson and I am glad that a book telling this type of story is being marketed for children.

*An advanced copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley

Drama by Raina Telgemeier: review

DramaDrama by Raina Telgemeier

Paperback

Standalone

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: YA Fiction, MG Fiction, LGBT, Romance, Realistic

Publisher: GRAPHIX

Synopsis: Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

My thoughts: I read Telgemeier’s Smile and loved it so when I found out that she had created another graphic novel I did a little happy-dance.

I think that Drama is just as good as Smile if not better. The way the graphic novel is told through “Acts” instead of chapters fit very well with the story of the Drama Club The art was clean and colorful so I couldn’t help but love it. Here is a sample of the first couple of pages.

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As you can see the graphic novel opens up with an audience, a stage, and the very awesome characters of this novel walking across it. I thought that this was a great way to build the play-like atmosphere in this fun graphic novel.

I loved Callie and her purple and pink hair! I thought that she was a very loveable, quirky, and relatable character. She is the main character in Drama and she fulfills the part well. She made me laugh and put emotional investment in her. I loved her passion for theater and her determination. She also has the best ideas! There are also two other characters that this graphic novel focuses on a lot too: Jesse and Justin (who is hilarious). They are both twins and have contrasting personalities. Justin being more outgoing and Jesse being a little shy. I found them both to be as loveable as Callie. The other Drama club members add more fun to the story and I appreciated them.

There is also a some LGBT characters in this story. I thought it was handled realistically and in an unbiased way. I think it should also be said that although there is romance in Drama it is not the main part of the story.

This graphic novel would be great addition to a bookshelf. I think that Drama would be a great read for lovers of the Young Adult genre. I also believe that this graphic novel is appropriate for the Middle Grade age group.

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky: review

The Time-Traveling FashionistaThe Time- Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Series: The Time-Traveling Fashionista #1

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Genre:  MG Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Poppy

SynopsisWhat if a beautiful vintage dress could take you back in time?
Louise Lambert has always dreamed of movie starlets and exquisite gowns and longs for the day when she can fill the closet of her normal suburban home with stylish treasures. But when she receives a mysterious invitation to a vintage fashion sale in the mail, her once painfully average life is magically transformed into a time-travel adventure.
Suddenly onboard a luxurious cruise ship a hundred years ago, Louise relishes the glamorous life of this opulent era and slips into a life of secrets, drama, and decadence. . . .

My thoughts: When I saw the cover of this book I was in awe. Look at it! That cover is gorgeous! I flipped around the pages a bit and found out that this book also has a lot of pretty illustrations of dresses and some other things scattered throughout the book. I grabbed it off the shelf of the library and checked it out. I was a little disappointed though.

The characters fell a little flat for me. I had little to no emotional investment in the characters of this book. I thought that Louise would be a likeable and unique character. She loves vintage fashion, she is a young girl, and she time travels! You would think you would like her as a main character. I didn’t hate her but I didn’t like her either. She seemed to just go through the motions of a likeable character but I didn’t find much personality to her. The side characters were even more flat then the main character. I did like Anna though.

The idea was amazing! A book about a time-traveling fashionista seems pretty fun. I was bored out of mind though at the beginning. There is no real time traveling until about seven chapters in and even then I was a little bored. All we got to read about for one hundred pages was Louise trying on dresses and looking around the ship. I would have enjoyed that if the characters were quirky and fun but they were not so I was bored most of the time. I was very excited when the actual conflict was introduced. I thought that something exciting would happen. It was a bit exciting but not so exciting that I couldn’t put down the book. I thought that Louise showed more personality in the second half though and I did start to like her a little.

The writing was pretty good and with the illustrations it seemed even better. The descriptions of the clothing was not to descriptive and the pictures that accompanied the descriptions gave me an image in my head of all the characters.

The reason I give this book 3 stars instead of just 2.5 stars is because I did enjoy it at some moments and I loved the illustrations. The book simply does not deserve a low rating of 2 stars. Although this book is labeled young-adult I thought that it would be enjoyed more by lovers of the middle grade genre.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling: review

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Series: Harry Potter #1

Genre: Childrens Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Synopsis: Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

Harry Potter is a magical experience! I loved the world Rowling created, her writing, and the story so much! I finished this faster than I thought I would! I really wish I had read this sooner because now I know what I have been missing! I also love the cover so much! The illustration is so cute and I love the style!

The characters are all colorful and relatable. I thought the characters were very well-developed. At first I thought that Harry was just a character to be pitied but after reading more about him I learned that he really had some good qualities. He is very brave, smart, and knew how to hold his own. Ron was a really cute and fun character. Hermione is a great female character. She might seem a little snobby and maybe unlikable at first but I started to really love her as the story progressed. Hermione was a very smart and brave character and I really loved how she had goals set for her life. I didn’t like Draco but I feel there is more to his character than there is revealed in this book and I hope there will be more development of Draco’s character in the next book. Severus Snape was a very mysterious character and I really wanted to know more about him! Rowling has given us information about him but I still want to know more about him-I love him as a character that much! Dumbledore was a very awesome character and he also has awesome quotes!

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

“The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

The Dursleys were very hateable and I really wanted to get a wand and turn them all into pigs!

The story was spendid and had a great pace! The mystery is very mysterious and I had to force myself not to look ahead. Suspense, excitement, and mystery was weaved into the story with a lot of skill. I really loved how Rowling had a lot of foreshadowing in her writing! You have to pay close attention for clues! The world building was superb. There is a lot of wands, robes, wizard hats, and broomsticks and I loved it all! Rowling was very creative and I really liked how she built the magical world that is Harry Potter. I loved reading about the photographs with the subjects moving inside them, the ingredients used for a spell, the Hogwarts houses, and everything else in the book! Rowling did an exquisite job with building the magic of the world and the Hogwarts Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Rowling has such fantastic writing! Her descriptions of the magical world was very detailed and I could imagine Hogwarts with such clarity. Her writing is creative and I enjoyed reading the words for the spells! Her ideas are refreshing and very entertaining. My only complaint was the use of capital letters when someone is yelling or screaming. It just irks me a bit when authors do that but I will forgive this book.

Harry Potter is a great and fantastic read that will have you sitting in your chair all day until you finish it! Rowling’s writing, characters, and world building sucks you in and makes you a part of the story.

 I give Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 4 out of 5 Wands