Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best of 2011: Fiction

In the past year, I have read 44 books. Throughout all of the hurricanes, royal weddings, and faraway vacations, I have found the time to enjoy some unforgettable reads. Here are my top ten of the year. Hopefully you will try some in the year to come!

Top 10 Fiction Books of 2011
This list is a combination of Young Adult and Juvenile Fiction Novels

10. A Step from Heaven, An Na

9.  The Summer Before Boys, Nora Raleigh Baskin
     Read about Nora Raleigh Baskin here

8.  The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart

7.  Ways to Live Forever, Sally Nicholls
     Read my review here

6.  Peter and the StarCatchers, Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
     Read my review here

5.  If You Come Softly, Jacqueline Woodson
    Read my review here

4.  Hope Was Here, Joan Bauer
    Read my review here

3.  Everything on a Waffle, Polly Horvath
     Read my review here

2.  The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Heather Vogel Fredrick

1.  The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I have also created lists of my Top 10 Historical Fiction Books and Top 10 Characters of the Year.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Best of 2011: Historical Fiction

Top 10 Historical Fiction Reads of 2011

10.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
       Read my review here
9.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

8.  The Fifth of March, Ann Rinaldi

7.  Moon Over Manifest, Claire Vanderpool

6.  Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson

5.  Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatly, Ann Rinaldi
     Read my review here
4.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

3.  Uprising, Margaret Peterson Haddix 
     Read my review here
2.  The Help, Kathryn Stockett
     Read my review here
1.  Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Best Of 2011: Characters

As the year comes to a close, I have decided to start a series of posts dedicated to the Best of 2011. I will be creating a list of my top 10 characters from books I read this year (they can be major or minor characters), authors, and finally, my favorite books.

Top 10 Characters of 2011
(Does not include re-reads or series where previous books were read in 2010)

10. Jason - Anything But Typical, Nora Raleigh Baskin

9.  Isabel Gardener - Chains and Forge, Laurie Halse Anderson

8.  Scout Finch - To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

7.  Jo March - Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

6.  Yetta - Uprising, Margaret Peterson Haddix
      Read my review here

5.  Molly Aster - Peter and the Star Catchers, Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
     Read my review here

4.  Reynie Muldoon - The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart

3.  Celia Rae Foote - The Help, Kathryn Stockett
     Read my review here

2.  Francie Nolan - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

1.  Emma HawthorneThe Mother-Daughter Book Club Series, Heather Vogel Fredrick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Brian Selznick
511 pages

Hugo Cabret is an orphan, clock keeper, and thief. Living within the walls of a Paris train station, his survival depends on the croissants and milk he swipes from the baker's shelves.

Hugo's secret life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Isabelle, a bookish girl with just as many secrets as himself, an old man who owns the station's toy booth, and a mechanical man, whose story is just as inquiring as his own.

Brian Selznick has taken a whole new look on story telling, with 284 pages of original drawings, and images from the first movies.

 Although the plot and descriptions are simple, readers will find it hard to decide whether or not this is a mystery, or just plain historical fiction. Hugo is a curious character, and his thoughts are clearly displayed throughout the book.

This book is is targeted toward younger readers (3rd - 5th grade) but the more advanced reader just might be surprised...

The Invention of Hugo Cabret has won the Caldecott Medal, and the new motion picture of the book is in theaters now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Historical Fiction Challenge 2012

The Historical Fiction Challenge is hosted by the blog Historical Tapestry for 2012. This is my first time participating, and I am excited to announce I have signed up as an "Undoubtedly Obsessed" reader, meaning I will try to read and review 15 historical fiction books this coming year.

You don't have to have a blog to participate, just click on the link above, and post a comment stating you're interested.

Love historical fiction? Try some of these:

1. Uprising, Margaret Peterson Haddix
     Check out my review here

2.  Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons, Ann Rinaldi
     Check out my review here

3. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
    Check out my review here

4. Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson

5. Al Capone Does My Shirts, Gennifer Choldenko

6. Weedflower, Cynthia Kadohata

7. Penny From Heaven, Jennifer L. Holm

8. The Fifth of March, Ann Rinaldi

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thin Yet Thick: Hope Was Here

Hope Was Here
Joan Bauer
186 pages

"Thin Yet Thick" are books thin from cover to cover (around 200 pages or less), but have a thick and deep meaning. "Thin Yet Thick" reads will leave you feeling great and I think might even change your life. These books should take three days or fewer to read, and most likely are of an easy reading level.

Sixteen year-old Hope, and her aunt are about to make their biggest move yet. When they pack up their things and head from New York City to a small dairy town in Wisconsin, Hope is not quite sure what she's in for. At the local diner that she and her aunt help run, Hope meets G.T, a middle-aged man battling leukemia. G.T inspires Hope with his big dreams and positive attitude. Together, they help bring everyone a little more hope during rough times.

Although Hope Was Here is a Newbery Honor Book, I feel a little disconnected from Hope throughout the book. I really enjoy books where I feel I know the character inside and out, and I didn't feel that way with this one. As a big positive, this book made me laugh, as well as tear up through vivid descriptions and insightful messages.

Bauer brings a little of everything into this book: humor, romance, sadness, and of course, pure hope itself!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Changing America, One Great Book at a Time

Margaret Peterson Haddix
330 pages

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted! To make up for the time, I've got a great book to review for you.

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a historical fiction book, but don't let that turn you away. Uprising set in the early 1900's tells the story of three very different women who develop a long-lasting friendship.

Bella, fresh off the boat from southern Italy, gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.

Yetta, is Russian immigrant and believer in fair work conditions and pay.

Jane, a wealthy and sophisticated girl who gets involved in the cause despite her father's intentions for her.

When the fire erupts on the 8th floor of the shirtwaist factory on March 25th, 1911 all three of their lives will be changed as well as the work conditions in American factories forever.

Uprising  is perfectly researched, and keeps the reader's eyes moving from page to page. Although the beginning is choppy, and a bit confusing, the rest of the book is engaging and interesting. Each chapter is written from a different character's point of view, so an even distrubution of thoughts can be found thoughout the book.

Overall, Haddix creates a vivid picture of each girl's hope for freedom, and what they sacrifice for the future of others.