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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye J. Walton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.39
77 used & new from $5.46

14 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Ending Cost This Review Four Stars :-(, May 8, 2014
A couple of things: this is the first review I've written in almost a year, and also the first in a long while that is not a joint review with my now high-schooling daughter. I was hesitant to post a one-starred review, and for such a gorgeously-written book - except I cannot in good conscience recommend it for people of certain inclinations. I *know* I will get slammed for this heartfelt review.

The writing in "The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender" is, without a doubt, beautiful, thoughtful and sensitive. Comparisons have been made already with "Chocolat", " Like Water for Chocolate", "Practical Magic", so I will add to those Isabel Allende's " House of Spirits", "The Museum of Extraordinary Things" and another marvellously-sentenced book, "Help for the Haunted." I loved the pacing and characterisations. The author absolutely knew how to keep her readers enthralled. I understood (and enjoyed) the mix of religion and fantasy, but was more than a little squeamish at the sex and violence. It was like expecting to read A. S. Byatt's "Possession" but finding "The Children's Book" instead.

As a parent who still cares about what gets marketed to our young people, this is the sort of literary gem I would love to recommend for an English class - except for the ending. I have a MAJOR problem with the ambiguous ending - I actually read it THREE TIMES! I realize we are (probably) supposed to surmise from the Prologue that Ava Lavender triumphs in eventual happiness, but knowing what I know about how unpredictable and vulnerable our young people are nowadays, I need to advocate caution with suggesting this book to high schoolers, and even college kids and/or anyone suffering from depression. The last chapter cost this book four stars for me, and in particular, the last two paragraphs. That said, I am still intrigued by Leslye Walton, and I look forward to reading her next book. I only hope it's not as disturbing as I found Ava Lavender to be - and I'm an old woman!


Between Shades of Gray
Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.17
188 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Tribute to Those War Victims Not As Well-Remembered, June 10, 2013
This review is from: Between Shades of Gray (Paperback)
As a mother who still valiantly tries to screen everything her 14-year-old daughter reads, I would like to state on record that while we have reviewed many, many books together, most of the books we've chosen to review are four to five stars. In other words, we don't review every book we read together, and we don't only review the books we love (although we do try to always type up reviews only when we have something positive to say, it's sometimes the really bad books that get our attention). Since this is likely our last review as a duo, however, because said daughter is finally in high school - HUZZAH! - I am truly happy that we are "going out" with a five-star review: "Between Shades of Grey" by Ruta Sepetys must surely be one of the must-have books for the war-refugee classroom in any country. I recommend reading this book with "Zlata's Diary" and "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl." While both those books are non-fiction, I found "Between Shades of Grey" to be as moving as Zlata's and Anne Frank's stories - and perhaps even more so because of the forgiveness that is a recurring theme in Lina's story. I truly appreciate how Sepetys gave each character, even the minor ones, a depth and element of surprise - and, yes, I have to agree with said daughter that the ending was just ... right. It is sometimes hard to remember that for some peoples, World War Two never actually ended, even now, in the twenty-first century. "Between Shades of Grey" could not have been better titled. For the Lithuanians, Hitler's death and Germany's surrender did not bring about the peace the Allies enjoyed: rather than the black-to-white war-to-peace story of so many countries after 1945, theirs was a longer route out of the darkness. A shout-out to Sepetys for not allowing this group of people to be forgotten. Said daughter's review follows:

" 'Between Shades of Grey' by Ruta Sepetys was a sweet, Anne-Frank type story: fifteen-year-old Lina wants to go to art camp, enjoy summer, talk about cute guys with her cousin, and be normal.

"Unfortunately, that dream will never come true. WW2 is going on, and Lina, as well as her entire family, is captured by the Soviet police. Her father is separated from them, and they may never see each other again. As a way to hopefully communicate with her father on their journey from home, Lina draws pictures to symbolize where they are - in a Siberian prison camp.

"But, despite the awful terror, the mass murdering, the torturing, the starvation and freezing cold all through the trek, the best of the human spirit can be seen at these worst of times.

"I would give 'Between Shades of Grey' five stars. It was so sad, yet so hopeful - I especially love how it had a semi-happy ending. :-) I would give the book two stars for the plot, two stars for the characters, and one star for the fact that it has a kinda-happy ending. There is still pain, and still suffering, but, in the end, there is happiness."


The Young Bond Series, Book Two: Blood Fever (A James Bond Adventure, new cover)
The Young Bond Series, Book Two: Blood Fever (A James Bond Adventure, new cover)
by Charlie Higson
Edition: Paperback
32 used & new from $1.55

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Totally Divided in Our Opinion!, June 10, 2013
As a mother who still valiantly screens everything her 14-year-old daughter reads, I find it extra-challenging when the book(s) in question deal with a younger version of an adult movie persona, especially when the adult movie persona is ... well, James Bond. I mean, I've enjoyed stories of young Indiana Jones, young Sherlock Holmes, young various princesses of foreign lands ... But a British spy with a proclivity for very liberal pre-marital exploration, shall we say, well, I am a conservative parent at heart (Hence I screen all the books said daughter reads. I am actually very, very uncomfortable with male writers writing romance when it involves under-aged kids, but that is certainly just me.) That said, I think Charlie Higson did an excellent job with his "Young James Bond" series. The series begins with "Silver Fin" and continues with "Blood Fever." As it turned out, I actually enjoyed this series more than said daughter, who, surprise, surprise, is even more conservative than I am, in certain matters. Since the series was recommended by a teacher, I can only point to the growing divergence between my taste and that of said daughter's, not so much a question of age-appropriateness. I will add, though, that my experience has been that the British and Europeans are a lot less conservative than Americans, especially as far as literature is concerned. I have to say I'm happy that said daughter read this book with her own mind (even if it comes across as a tad judgemental - she can stick to fracture fairy-tales for now and leave "Young James Bond", and Robert Muchamore's "The Cherub Series" and "Henderson's Boys" to ... the boys. The three stars we rated "Blood Fever" is the average between our scores. Said daughter's review follows:

" 'Blood Fever' by Charlie Higson was an awful book, at least for me.

"I have only watched one movie of James Bond, 'Skyfall' (the one with the Adele song), but I didn't really like it at all. The same could be said about this book: James is only about my age, yet he's already skinny-dipping with girls, kissing, murdering, being tortured, etcetera. Yet, according to him, he *likes* it.

"Ugh.

"Plus, usually in books I tend to favor the girl characters. In *this* book, however, Amy is one of those girls whom, if I knew in real life, I would probably think 'hope you have a great life but somehow I doubt it.'

"I would give the book maybe two stars, one for the fact that maybe it is a really good interpretation of James Bond, and I'm just a weird person who doesn't like James Bond. The second star is for the fact that I don't want to just give one star - it seems a bit mean to me.

"*If,* however, you read this book, and find out you LOVE it, I suggest you also read 'The Cherub Series: The Prisoner' by Robert Muchamore. Like this book, it's got love, murders, adventure, foul language, continued swearing, and it's a series too."


The Tragedy Paper
The Tragedy Paper
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Open for Discussion: What Makes a Tragedy?, June 10, 2013
This review is from: The Tragedy Paper (Kindle Edition)
As a mother who still valiantly tries to screen everything her 14-year-old daughter reads, I'm beginning to see more and more of my own favourite "mature" novels in the books she's reading as well. For example, in "The Tragedy Paper" by Elizabeth LaBan, I was reminded of, not only "A Separate Peace," which is still considered a high-school book, but also "A Secret History" by Donna Tartt, as far as the atmosphere and tragedy aspects go. I find that interesting of writers, how they are influenced by works I was myself intrigued by, and not just the more famous works either - "A Secret History" was phenomenal when it was published, but I haven't actually seen much publicity for that book since. As such, partly because as I was reading "The Tragedy Paper" I found myself going back to when I had all the time in the world to just read and enjoy the experience, I really enjoyed "The Tragedy Paper." Although I'm not a fan of listing song titles to relate to an audience (done to death in so many YA books these days: "Perks of Being a Wallflower" for one of the more current) I have to admit to being somewhat intrigued by how it was done here, and also by the albino protagonist, not a common feature. I found the language a little simple for the depth of the book - I would have preferred a more sophisticated vocabulary - but, obviously, the use of more accessible language means the book would have a further reach. Many of the events that occur in the book and choices made should be taken with a pinch of salt, of course: it is never a wise thing to do, to share a hotel room with a stranger. Even so, I certainly have no problems recommending this book for the high school classroom. Unlike my daughter, I loved that the whole question of "what is a tragedy?" is still open for discussion at the end of the book. Said daughter's review follows:

" 'The Tragedy Paper' by Elizabeth LaBan was an interesting book. However, I didn't really *get* it, like I get, say, 'The Outsiders' by S.E. Hinton, or even 'Good Enough' by Paula Yoo.

"The book primarily centers around three people: Duncan, Vanessa, and Tim. No - it's not a love triangle with werewolves, vampires and cheesy plotlines. Instead, it's about Vanessa and Tim's tragic romance, and how Tim later tells Duncan all of this, and Duncan was involved in the whole tragic part of their tragic romance.

"Tim: an albino seventeen-year-old, who is in love with Vanessa. His last name is Macbeth, which I thought was pretty good on the author's part.

"Vanessa: the typical perfect, popular girl who loves Tim, but is dating Patrick, the Ken to her Barbie.

"Duncan: a now-seventeen-year-old, who is haunted by what transpired last year, and by what happened to Tim and Vanessa.

"I thought 'The Tragedy Paper' was going to be awesome: the whole tragic love story, with a horrendous English assignment thrown in, seemed interesting. Unfortunately, it seemed more like all the characters were just play-acting, except for Tim - and I didn't really like Tim, because caring for someone so much you stop taking care of yourself is just terrible and kinda creepy. Plus, the horrendous English assignment didn't actually take up that much space in the story. :-(

"I would give the book four stars: two stars for the plot, two stars for the interesting theme - what is a tragedy? - and one star for the cool cover."


A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.83
211 used & new from $0.50

15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hideous, Hideous Book, March 28, 2013
As a mother who screens everything her going-on-14-year-old daughter reads, I have been with her since Clifford the Big Red Dog through Junie B. Jones through Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, the Lord of the Rings ... and the one thing I'm seeing now as I read so-labelled "Adult Fantasy" is that many book so categorised are more "Adult" (insult to more cerebral adults) than "Fantasy." Or, to put it another way, when fairies start having sex, the magic just disappears. This is true for me, conservative parent, so although I LOVED "The Kingkiller Chronicles" until the third book when it just got too "real" for me to enjoy as a reading escape, with "Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire" it's even worse.

Who wouldn't be interested in a book that's touted as being set in world as wondrous as "The Lord of the Rings", been made into a hit movie series, and centers around dragons and wolf puppies and children who become heroes? But, really, not since "The Turn of the Screw" did I feel so manipulated by the marketing strategists of this series. It's perverse. If I were an author with a nipple fetish and a predisposition towards paedophilia, I may write a book disguised as a fantasy, with sword fights, rebellious kids, cute animals and feisty dragon maidens - but I would not, out of respect to Tolkien, ever permit it to be marketed as the next "Lord of the Rings" - or "Flies" for that matter. As many other reviewers have noted, this is porn, pure and simple. As labeled, it doesn't even warrant one star. It will take me more than a while to get the images out of my head - I will never read anything written by this author again.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2013 1:12 PM PDT


Rapture (Fallen)
Rapture (Fallen)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $7.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly, Ridiculously, Embarrasingly ... Addictive!, March 18, 2013
This review is from: Rapture (Fallen) (Kindle Edition)
As a mother who screens everything her 14-year-old daughter reads, I was reminded again, when I got through all of Lauren Kate's "Fallen" series, exactly why it is that I still feel a need to screen said daughter's reading material! What to say?! Like the Cassandra Clare's "Immortal Instruments" series, the "Fallen" series feeds on over-the-top, as-many-hodgepodge-elements-of-world-spiritual-and-fantasy-mish-mash-as-possible hyperbole and plain mistakes. It's like the author stumbled on a National Geographic documentary on Buddhism (self-immolating Tibetans against Chinese rule, perhaps) and Judeo-Christianity (the self-sacrifice of Dee is a total aberration of God's merciful nature according to the Abraham story) HALFWAY, and decided to go with it some of the way in her own story. It's like the author met *one* Coptic Christian (Tibetan Buddhist, Palestinian Jew, Morrocan Spaniad, whatever) while travelling with STA Travel (Student Travel Agency Travel, yep) via Eurail and took all the relevant conversations that occurred during the trip from Milan to Zurich and presented them as world-class-museum-vetted information. There is a complete lack of a bibliography. Far from being a love-for-eternity-oh-all-that-longing kind of love story between Lucinda and the guys, it reads more like an over-the-top hippy, 1960s flower-child caricature or cartoon of it. Or, maybe more so, it reads more like inadequate research into the real traditions. Rather than a fractured version of legends gleaned from an in-depth knowledge of cultures, the series is a hurriedly collage of snippets, hearsay and inattention to historical fact. I did not find the lyrical writing exemplified by Lani Taylor or Sarah Dessen that such strong, enduring love deserves. What I found was Wendy Mass trying for A.S. Byatt - which really isn't a bad thing and of itself, Lauren Kate does have potential. Much like Chris Colfer has potential. I enjoyed the series more for the fun of poking holes in the narrative than in the actual narrative itself. So let me go on:

The girls are all strong-willed and gusty in their own way. The guys are all defective -but they can, absolutely, be saved. The adults are mostly stupid and incompetent or BAD. Yet, in spite of the mild crass language and goose-pimple-inducing prolonged kissing scenes, I thought it would be no-real-harm-done to introduce this series to said daughter, if only to show her how books should NOT be written. My list of Dos and Don'ts for this particular series:

DO: follow in the tradition of Rick Riordan and Camp Half-Blood, and, in fact, East Coast to West Coast for a similar, yet different experience.
DO: travel through time - great for Middle School history, but, really, invest some time in building a bibliography. Wendy Loggia does not a complete bibliography make.
DO: create a very likeable cast of characters, especially Lucinda, who actually loves her parents (ALL of her parents and family), feels bad for lying to them, cares for friends (ALL of them, through all her lifetimes, angel and mortal and in-between!)
DO: warn conservative parents about Arianne and Tess.
DO: make it an inside-joke when it comes to bad guys' names - I totally enjoyed done Cam'eron/riel, the Angel of Aquarius and Lilith.
DO: have plenty of smart lines. They make for good quotes even if the book(s) are not quoteworthy in general. My favourite line from "Rapture": Don't listen to Dr. Phil.

DON'T: mix up the feminism of Lucinda Williams with Angel Gabbe and a female God
DON'T: confuse the murder of Dee with that of the Shang king in Chinese history
DON'T: glamourize the tattoing of Daniel
DON'T: leave loose ends like for Roland and Trevor
DON'T: confuse young minds with the androgynous, souless nature of angels. Young minds are confused enough with human sexuality.
DON'T: confuse young minds with souls of mortals and souls of angels without being clear about where you're coming from: for most traditional religions, the choices that we make in this earthy life decide whether we go to Heaven or Hell when we die.
DON'T: complicate the question of Nirvana versus Heaven. In the end, the question of mortality, far from being answered at the end of the series, get even more complicated if you take that as a theme.

The bottom line: the "Fallen" series cannot be taken seriously. In fact, if not taken seriously, the whole series becomes a pretty fun while-time-away enterprise. For me, it was rather like being eighteen again and backpacking through Europe, surviving on cheap food and youth hostels - or, in the case of said daughter, being 13 and RVing coast-to-coast on U.S. soil and having a blast camping with KOA. Interestingly enough, I think I enjoyed the series more than said daughter - she is clearly still not ready for the concept of "having fun making fun." Well, either that, or maybe kids are a lot smarter than given credit for! That said, all the stars rated here are mine. Said daughter's starless review follows:

"'Rapture' by Lauren Kate is a romantic, slightly boring book.

"Okay, I'll admit it - even though I have never read the 'Twilight' series, I have judged it, mostly based on what my friends have told me about it. Quite frankly, a human who can't choose between a werewolf and a vampire starts a war (or is it 'almost' starts?), gets married way too young and has a kid way too early is not my idea of a good romance OR plot.

"So, when my mum said she would let me read 'Rapture', I wasn't really sure I wanted to. In the end, though, if only just to figure out what kind of books exactly my friends are reading, I decided to read it.

"Ugh. Ugh. UGH.

"Okay, the basic plotline is this: girl goes to creepy school, discovers cute boy, falls in love with him (even though he seems like he hates the sight of *her*). Meanwhile, another boy goes tries to be 'more than friends' with girl but girl doesn't like him, cute boy acts like a jerk, strange and weird things start happening, people start dying, and all the girl can think about is cute boy.

"Oh, yeah - and, apparently, cute boy and a bunch of other people in creepy school are angels or devils, depending on who they are.

"So there you have it - the whole entire book cut down into two paragraphs.

"Now, maybe I'm just abnormal, and normal people actually *enjoy* reading 'Twilight', 'Rapture', etc. So if that's the case, ignore what I said before and read the book: you'll probably enjoy it a lot more than I did."
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2014 6:22 PM PDT


The Time Keeper
The Time Keeper
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $9.74

4.0 out of 5 stars A Soft Introduction to Spiritual Issues For Kids Who Enjoy Time Travel Tales, March 18, 2013
This review is from: The Time Keeper (Kindle Edition)
As a mother who still tries to screen everything her almost-14-year-old tries to get her hands on, I've found that books that are overtly spiritual are a major turn off for middle-schoolers. Said daughter is not the only almost-14-year-old I know who prefers to read about One Direction than the Right Way to live ...!! I tried very hard, then, to suppress my glee, when I came across "The Time Keeper: A Novel" by Mitch Albom. I had come across his writing before, of course, in "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven", but the structure of "The Time Keeper" was more in, er, keeping with the types of books said daughter is currently enjoying - and I thought it would be an interesting way to get her to think about, not just time-travel and alternate universes, but our role in it (them). I was really pleased said daughter enjoyed the book thoroughly, and in fact, asked to read more of Mr Albom's works - even if, I suspect, she took away one star because of the religious overtones. Said daughter's review follows:

"'The Time Keeper: A Novel' by Mitch Albom is a sad, bittersweet, yet meaningful book.

"Dor was always different from all his other friends. While they were content to grow their crops and conquer kingdoms, all Dor seemed to do was try to figure out God's greatest gift: Time.

"But when he goes too far, and ends up losing his wife and family, all because of his obsession with time, God decides he must do penance.

"So, Dor becomes Father Time, destined, it seems, to spend the rest of his long, immortal life listening to people ask for more time and less time. Constantly, until the human pleas become simply a background noise to Dor, like the rain pounding against a roof.

"One day, though, God visits Dor again, and tells him that he will be set free, if he can save two people. One of them is an old man, a millionaire dying from cancer, and who doesn't seem to care much for anything else other than money. Another is a teenage girl, bullied for being a chubby genius, whose dad left and whose mom might as well have: a teenage girl who wants to take her own life.

"How is it that these two people must be saved? Out of all the people in the whole entire world...these two.

"I really liked this book, especially the ending, which was so happy, compared to the rest of the story, which was so sad. I would definitely give the book four stars: two stars for the plot, and two stars for the characters."


Sister Spider Knows All
Sister Spider Knows All
by Adrian Fogelin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.95
42 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An Eye-Opener to Another Way of Life: Excellent!, March 18, 2013
As a mother who still tries to screen everything her almost-14-year-old daughter reads, I am embarrassed to say I had not read Adrian Fogelin before now. HOW could I have missed this excellent writer?! Her insightful "Neighborhood" series set in the Florida Keys include "Crossing Jordan", "The Real Question", "The Sorta Sisters", "My Brother's Keeper", "Anna Casey's Place in the World" and "The Big Nothing" are sympathetic, raw (but not bleeding), honest and relatable - and I made sure to buy them all once I was done reading "Sister Spider Knows All." As it turned out, while my personal favourite Adrian Fogelin book is "Sister Spider" (precisely for the reasons said daughter lists for why the book is not her favourite), said daughter enjoyed the "Neighborhood" series more. We agree, ultimately, that Adrian Fogelin belongs in the middle-school classroom. I'm only glad this author recommendation came our way via said daughter's online book club before she graduated! Said daughter's review follows:

"'Sister Spider Knows All' by Adrian Fogelin was an okay book, though not great.

"Rox has always thought that her grandmother and cousin were enough family. She's always been *told* that. Then, her cousin suddenly gets a girlfriend (and it's starting to look pretty serious), and that girlfriend suddenly asks why Rox doesn't have a mother or father. Soon, it is all Rox can think about. Add that to the fact that she's failing school, has to help pay the bills, might be banned from working at the flea market, the only place she truly belongs; AND she might have just found her mother's diary, which she kept from when she was Rox's age to when Rox was born, and you have a regular old adventure story.

"My favorite character was definitely Rox. However, I didn't really like anyone in the book, nor did I especially enjoy the book. Maybe I'm just a bit snobbish, like Lucy, but I don't really think it's a good idea for a kid to be fed solely meat, and to live in a place filled with cigarette smoke, even if that place is her home. This book definitely opened my eyes to how other people live, but as the saying goes,'ignorance is bliss.'

"I would give the book four stars: two stars for the plot and two stars for the characters. Perhaps this book would be a good school book, like "Walk Two Moons" or "The Yearling."

"Either way, even if I didn't personally like the book, I do think others should read it."


My Sister's Keeper
My Sister's Keeper
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book for the Whole Family (PG Absolutely Necessary), March 18, 2013
As a mother who still tries to screen everything her almost-14-year-old daughter reads or views, I've received some flack over the years for being too protective, especially from people who have no real clue what kids, especially advanced readers, can sometimes get their hands on. My personal recommendation for like-minded parents or mentors is to pass over a majority of the so-catergorised "Young Adult" books (not all) and jump straight to some of the more socially-conscious adult ones, like "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. Yes, there are some adult situations, and some adult language - but they are kept in context, and whether or not I may personally agree with the moral tone of this book, there is much room for discussion. As a matter of fact, since this book is now also a movie with a completely different ending (the book's ending is more in line with my own beliefs) the experience is, for us, a whole-family one: we all read the book, watched the movie, and discussed the issues at length. In any case, "My Sister's Keeper", read in tandem with "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green (previously reviewed), opened the way for the continuing, intermittent thoughtful dialogue on what life really means. Below is said daughter's review:

"'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult is one of the best, saddest books I have ever read. In my room, I have a special shelf dedicated to books that make me cry. Seriously, I have everything from 'Marley and Me' to 'Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters.' This book, though, made me cry a whole ocean of tears, as oppose to just a river...

"12-year-old Anna is amazingly good at hockey, has a sweet laugh, is very clever, funny and kind. Unfortunately, not many in her family notice: all they seem to care about is that Anna can save her other sister, Kate, from dying, if she donates various body parts, from kidneys to bone marrow.

"16-year-old Kate just wants to be normal, and for everyone in her family to be happy. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like she will ever see that happen, considering that she is probably going to die soon.

"18-year-old Jesse is the family black sheep. Already a juvenile delinquent, now he's setting fire to schools and getting severely drunk. Not that anyone in his family cares, of course - well, except for Anna. Their parents, though? They've already given up hope.

"Sara think's she's done a pretty good job as a mother, considering one of her daughters is dying, her son will probably be in prison by the time he's nineteen, and another one of her daughters was created for just one reason.

"Brian hopes he's done a decent job as a father, even though he knows that his job as a firefighter might sometimes get in the way. But he's only just realized that one of his daughters plays hockey, and is actually pretty darn good at it. What does that say about him?

"Campbell Alexander is a lawyer with a service dog. Why he has a service dog, no one knows. But even among lawyers, Campbell is considered a jerk.

"Julia knows Campbell better then anyone - they were each other's first love, and first heartbreak. Now, though, she has to work with him in order to help out a 13-year-old girl.

"These people are soon all pulled in together when Anna decides to file a lawsuit against her own parents, so that she doesn't have to give up her kidney for her sister, Kate. Sara thinks that Anna is just doing it for attention, that no one in their right minds would kill their own sister so that they could live. Brian thinks Anna might have a point. Campbell and Julia have their own problems. Meanwhile, while families are broken apart and some things that should have been left unsaid are said, Kate is dying. And Anna is the only one who can save her.

"I would give the book five stars: two stars for the plot, two stars for the characters and one star for the ending."


Magicalamity
Magicalamity
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $5.98
3 used & new from $5.98

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun, Lighthearted, Magical Romp for ALL Ages!, March 18, 2013
This review is from: Magicalamity (Kindle Edition)
As a mother who still tries to screen everything before her almost-14-year-old daughter gets her hands on them, I have to admit that I do such screening partly because some middle-grade books are just so much fun to read. "Magicalamity" by Kate Saunders is one of those books. I'd actually enjoyed "Beswitched" more, but the unexpected appeal of "Magicalamity" makes it probably a better-planned book. Kate Saunders' sense of humour is terrific: I had to laugh out loud at a number of places where the humour *could* be taken on both adult and child levels (funnier on the adult level). I really appreciate the clean telling of the story: nothing gross or rude, just smart. I absolutely recommend it for a class or family read, especially if you like Diana Wynne Jones or Jasper Fforde. Said daughter's review follows:

"'Magicalamity' by Kate Saunders is an awesome, fun read.

"I realize that m-a-y-b-e I'm a bit too old for children's books, but this book was *totally* worth the 'Aren't you a little old for that?' stares I got when I checked it out of the library.

"11-year-old Tom Harding always thought of himself as a normal, average boy. Sure, he is really good at math, and has been called "good-looking" in the past, but that's it really.

"Well, that was all before one of his fairy godmothers arrived to babysit him, because his dad is on the run from evil fairies and his mom has disappeared.

"Soon, with a new-found cousin and *three* fairy godmothers (one cranky headmistress of a criminal boarding school, one grandmotherly junkyard manager and one slightly evil lawyer) Tom finds himself going to the land of the fairies, so that maybe he can save his family and all of magickind, before it's too late.

"My favorite parts were all the times when Tom had to help his godmothers with her fairy-godmotherly business like flying and spell-casting. So really funny and sweet.

"I loved this book! I would totally give it five stars: two stars for the cute plot, two stars for the hilarious yet heroic characters, and one star for the awesome name."


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