Friday, June 29, 2012

Teen Guest Blogger Reviews "Tiger Lily"

In continuation of our Teen Blogger series, 13 year old Maggie reviews Jodi Lynn Anderson's new novel Tiger Lily.

Tiger Lily was something of a magical book. I was immediately captivated just by looking at the front and back covers, but as I quickly began the first chapter, my interest for the story diminished with every page. It wasn’t for poor character development, or boring plot, or cheesy writing, it was more a lack of all three. The first quarter of the book simply was too slow, and with each page I read, it felt like I was trudging through an endless stretch of thigh-high mud.

 And then, right around page eighty, something peculiar happened. Almost like a bursting dam, everything that makes a story amazing came out of nowhere. Intriguing characters, fascinating plot, romance, adventure, wit, wisdom, and the pure delight of a good book exploded onto the pages and suddenly I had my nose to the paper, soaking up every word as if they would disappear in seconds. I read and reread paragraphs that I loved, laughed out loud at the bumbling and goofy Lost Boys, smiled at the young Sky Eaters, and let my heart devour Peter and Tiger Lily’s romance. When I figured I should take a break from reading, I closed it up and put it down for about five seconds, and then I felt like I had let the book down, like if I had a minute or two more to read, why shouldn’t I?

I ended up reading around two hundred pages in one night, just because of that theory. And once I closed its magical pages for good, I lay in bed, unable to go to sleep because certain lines, twists, and tidbits from Tiger Lily floated around in my head, never going to let go. Tiger Lily might’ve not won me over at first, but I know now that sometimes you have to dig a little deeper than normal to find the gems you want. Jodi Lynn Anderson has crafted a fantastic novel for fans of Peter Pan and a good book alike, and it is certainly destined to become a star.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

“If You Like This…” Vol. 2: Children’s Summer Edition

Last month the Warwick’s staff gave readers an “If You Like This…” suggestion list and we had such a positive response that we have decided to try and make it a regular series. As school gets out more and more parents having been wandering around our children’s book section looking for that perfect book for their kids. Whether it’s for a long drive, flight, or just to keep them away from the television, parents are spending more and more time looking for summer books. So, this month’s edition of “If You Like This…” is dedicated to our younger readers.

Middle Readers:

If you like Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks series…

Try Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D. Beil. This is a book that perfectly captures the summer adventures of young children. The book, like the Penderwicks series is humorous with just enough mystery to enthrall readers. A great summer read for kids’ ages 8-11.

If you like Inkheart by Cornelia Funke…

Storybound by Marissa Burt is a great book to pick up. Storybound follows a 12-year-old orphan girl, Una, who magically gets sucked into the mysterious Land of Story, a place where everyone is a type of storybook character; heroes, villains, sorcerers, princesses; all training to become part of their own stories. Only, what is young Una doing there and who wrote her into this magical land? A fun book, with great adventure, magic, and dastardly villain, Storybound is a sure hit.

If you like Wonder by R.J. Palacio…

Wonder is a book that the Warwick’s staff just can’t stop talking about and now our readers are right on board with our staff. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is just the right book to follow Wonder. Mockingbird is told from the prospective of 10-year-old Caitlin who has Asperger’s Syndrome and must deal with the death of her older brother and protector Devon. Like Wonder, Mockingbird deals with the issues of special needs children, family life, and fitting into a school when you are different. A great book for parents and kids to read together and discuss.


If you like I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith…

Like a little visit to the past? Try Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl. Much like the beloved I Capture the Castle, this book rests upon the shoulders of a young heroine, bearing the burden of her family as they live in genteel poverty. While Kindl’s book takes readers to 19th-century England (as opposed to the 20th-century), it’s pacing and characters have the same charm as Dodie Smith’s, creating a funny, romantic, and engaging new story.

If you love books like Eon by Alison Goodman or the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini…

For magic, adventure, dragons, and hidden identities pick-up the newly released Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. This wonderful new book is the perfect tale for readers who enjoy Eon and Eragon, but don’t want to necessarily delve full on into paranormal. For the slightly older teen looking for the same qualities, but with a touch of romance, and even more danger look at the Firelight series by Sophie Jordan. A good series, this is definitely aimed more at the crowd who has enjoyed books like Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver or other Twilight-esque reads, while staying with the dragon theme.

If you like If I Stay by Gayle Forman or Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher…

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a heart-breaking story of young love, loss, and life is for you. It perfectly creates three-dimensional characters that deal with the tragedies of their lives in different ways. Readers that enjoy more poignant stories that deal with real life issues and don’t hold anything back will find a goldmine in the pages of this book.

If you like…a quick guide…

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg: Read The Sixty-Eight Rooms series by Marianne Malone

Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series: Try Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey books

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: Check out the Raised by Wolves series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books: Look at Heather Brewer’s The Legacy of Tril: Soulbound

Don’t see something that appeals to your specific tastes here? That’s fine; our Children’s Booksellers are the best in the business and love talking about some of the great new (and not so new) books available for kids and teens. So feel free to stop by and ask away, we can’t wait to hear from you!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guest Blogger: A Young Reader Reviews "Monument 14"

Every so often we are able to get kids and teens from our community to read new books and give us feedback. This week, Matthew, an 11-year-old reader, gives us his take on the newly released teen book Monument 14.

Monument 14 is a fantastic book. The story is based in the 2020’s, but unlike most books that are in the future, the world of Monument 14 is fairly similar to 2012, except that they have upgraded iPads called “Big Tabs”. In this book, Dean is just a regular high school kid who has a ridiculous crush on senior Astrid, the popular girl. On the way to school, a 10-foot long piece of hail cracks the bus windshield, which is just the beginning of a giant hailstorm. Following that hailstorm, a chemical spill and a mega tsunami hit. This leads to fourteen kids, some who are 18 and some as young as 6, taking shelter in a superstore.

This book teaches you teamwork and how to work together. It makes you feel several emotions in different parts of the story, such as anger or sorrow. Now, in this book you might find whining Chloe, or brave and courageous Niko, but you will never find two characters the same. The author, Emmy Laybourne expresses each character’s personality very well and detailed—like how Jake is the “dumb jock” and likes silly things, and hates to lose at anything. I think Emmy wrote Monument 14 very well, and she has also made it feel as though you are Dean, living the same experiences as he is. Overall, this book was very well written and it blew my mind. So, thank you Emmy Laybourne.

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne is currently available in the Warwick's Young Adult section and on our website:

Matthew, an avid reader, is a 5th grader at Stella Maris Academy

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lost in Persuasion

I’m about to say something that is sacrilegious to many readers. I am not a big Jane Austen fan. Go ahead and gasp, throw something, or think belittling thoughts about me and my reading preferences, but I’m just not. People who know me are probably shocked by this statement, most likely because I own every Jane Austen novel—sometimes multiple copies (Pride & Prejudice), but that’s mostly due to gifts, inheritance, and an odd feeling that every bibliophile is required to own them (also they tend to be pretty). The thing is, I like the stories, the characters, the witty banter, but I tend to tune out during the prose—you see, I prefer the movies. Go ahead and curse me again, I understand. I love the screen versions of Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park, but I just can’t extend that love to their written forms. I’m not saying I hate the books, far from it; I just don’t love them as other readers do. That being said, for some reason I have always been drawn to Persuasion and most particularly to the books that try to reimagine that narrative. For some reason I am utterly drawn to that tale. I don’t know if it’s the slight tang of melodrama that reels me in, the love-loss story of Ann Elliot and Captain Wentworth, or just a connection with Ann on some subconscious level, that draws me in every time. Whatever the reason, be it psychological on my part, or that it is entertaining for me on a level the other novels cannot attain to, I can’t get enough of Persuasion

In that vein, I have, over the last several years, found some reimaginings of this novel that have brought me great enjoyment. One is The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz, a contemporary look at the tale that takes place in the literary world between the daughter of the founders of an impoverished, yet famous foundation established to help budding writers and an author, once spurned for his lowly station—who is now highly successful. The perfect mix of comic and tragic, this modern romance is a wonderful blend of “chick-lit” and Austen homage.

Another, a teen-aimed retelling with a post-apocalyptic style twist, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (release date 6/12/12) is a fun reintroduction to Ann and Wentworth’s love story. Set in a distant future, where the destruction of scientists’ genetic engineering has rendered many of the population into “Reduced”—people with severe mental handicaps, “Luddites” now rule what is left of the world, living as though it were once again the 19th century. Elliot North, the daughter of an esteemed Luddite family falls in love with Kai, a “Post”—descendant of the “Reduced”—lacking any of the malformations of his ancestors, but refuses to run away with him for the sake of saving her ancestral estate and those people who are dependant upon it for life. When years later an impoverished Elliot is forced to take on Post borders, she finds herself once again in Kai’s presence, but now he is the prosperous and famous Captain Malakai Wentworth, filled with a heart-wrenching loathing for Elliot and her past decisions. Despite the post-apocalyptic theme, this book is remarkably true to Austen’s original narrative. She faithfully recreates Ann, her struggles, her narcissistic family, and her seemingly unreciprocated love for Wentworth in the characters of Elliot and Kai. Author Diana Peterfreund was able to evoke in me the same feelings of frustration with (Kai) Wentworth’s actions and his persecution of (Elliot) Ann’s actions. I cursed Kai, and wept for a despondent Elliot, wanted her family packed off to Timbuktu, and hoped for a dramatic reconciliation (although, it was never really in doubt). All the things that drew me to Persuasion I found alive within this book. The addition of futuristic science was also interesting and innovative, recreating the past within a new world, while holding onto the essence of Austen’s original plot. Despite the horrid title—I consistently mess up the title when talking about this book to people, because it is just too convoluted, regardless of it’s underlying meaning to the story—I found myself being drawn in just as much as I was with Austen.

So, while I still stumble through the works of Austen, hoping to someday catch the fever that enthralls so many, I will remain on the outside looking in on enthusiastic readers. Who knows, maybe there is hope for Jane and me in forthcoming years, but for the time being I will hold tightly to my enjoyment of Persuasion and it’s many reincarnations. For now, I will be happy with the newest, For Darkness Shows the Stars, will revisit The Family Fortune, and await whatever the literary world throws at me in the future.

*Just a note: After this blog was written (we write the reviews right after we read them and then schedule the blog for the book's release date) the Los Angeles Times selected For Darkness Shows the Stars as one of it's summer reads for 2012. Check it out here.