Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kat Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis

The sisters Stephenson live in their humble vicarage with their father, brother and Stepmama.  Eldest Elissa is soon to be foisted off to old Sir Neville in the name of bringing some much needed money to the family.  Elissa is long suffering and realizes that this is to be her duty and her fate. 
Middle sister Angeline and youngest Kat don't understand why Elissa has to be so good about everything...always doing her duty, never getting into trouble.  Kat constantly finds herself in trouble, as manners and ladylike things are not her forte.  Angeline herself has gotten into a bit of trouble as she has been using her Mama's magic book (strictly forbidden) and has managed to cast a love spell on the unsuspecting Frederick Carlyle.
Mama had been a witch, and it was clearly her downfall.  One of the first things that their stepmama did when she joined the family was to lock away all of the girls' mother's things in a cabinet.  Kat, being the youngest, is insatiably curious about her Mama as she was so young when she passed.  One evening Kat dares to steal the key to unlock the cabinet so that she can know something of her Mama as her sisters do.  If she ever had any questions about her mother's magical abilities they are answered in the darkness.
Before Kat can fully address her realizations and questions about her own magical abilities, she is rounded up with her sisters by her Stepmama to attend a week long house party at Grantham Abbey where Elissa is to meet Sir Neville.  Upon meeting the older gentleman, Kat is overcome with a feeling of darkness.  There is simply no way she can allow her sister to marry this man.  Especially when it is so clear to anyone around her that she actually has feelings for Sir Neville's brother, Mr. Collingwood.
What follows is a wonderful adventure filled with magical orders, intrigue, murder, highwaymen and family loyalty and betrayal.  Kat herself is a fierce and feminist character who relies on herself and takes all kinds of risks rather than succumbing to helplessness.  The pacing is perfect and the cast of characters compliment each other completely.  There is non-stop action and just the right amount of romance.  Kat is someone readers will want to get to know further as they cheer her on.  Readers of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, and The Mysterious Benedict Society will likely adore this one as well.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Song for Bijou, by Josh Farrar

I first read about this book over at Ms. Yingling's blog.  Romance is always a bit of a tricky thing in that I tend to find them super girly or super sexy.  Farrar has hit the mark with A Song for Bijou in that it offers a boy's point of view without going into the realm of YA.

Alex knows the moment he lays eyes on Bijou that she is something special.  Time seems to slow down so that he notices every detail about her: from the way that she unwraps her straw at Peas 'n Pickles, to her stiff new uniform and the butterfly purple beads that end her braids.  The girl is with motor mouth Mary Agnes and Alex can she that she's not able to get a word in edgewise.  Alex asks his friend Nomura who the girl is, but he doesn't know either.

It doesn't take Alex too long to find out. Bijou goes to St. Catherine's along with Mary Agnes and Ira's sister Maricel, and the boys attend St. Christopher's which is the brother school.  Alex cannot wait to get to know Bijou, which shouldn't be too hard as they have a school dance coming up.

There are, however, a couple of obstacles that Alex has to get around before he can see what the possibilities are with Bijou.  First of, she is living with her Aunt and Uncle who are super strict about her hanging out with non-Haitians let alone with boys.  Then there are Rocky and Trevor - two tough guys who seem to have some interest in Bijou as well.  Lastly, there is the fact that Alex doesn't exactly know what to do in order to get Bijou to notice him!  He's been stuck at an all boys school forever, and hasn't had practice talking to girls aside from his mom and his sister Dolly.

Mary Agnes starts to hatch some plans that will allow not only Alex and Bijou to get to know one another, but herself and Nomura as well.  What follows is a story filled with age appropriate angst, first love, cultural clashes and misunderstandings.  Farrar gifts readers with the bitter sweet dance of first crushes from both Alex and Bijou's points of view.  Cultural and racial differences are not shied away from and Alex and Bijou must both face prejudice in their quest to get to know each other.  A breath of fresh air!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Real Life Tween Reader

 "G" is a reader who likes to try books on.  She's a bit of a genre surfer, so it's a bit of tricky business to figure out what she might like next.  Here are her answers to the Tweendom survey.

Do you consider yourself a reader?
Yes.  I am a reader.

What are your favorite genres to read?
My favorite genre to read is adventure.  I also sometimes like mysteries, realistic fiction and biographies.

How do you select the books you want to read?
I browse through the shelves.  When I see a title that hits me, I look at it.

What is your favorite book so far?
My favorite book so far?  That's hard.  Probably An Accidental Adventure: We Are Not Eaten by Yaks.

What is your favorite thing about reading?
My favorite thing about reading is cliff hangers!  They make you want to read more!

Do you read on an e-reader/phone/computer?
Sometimes I read on my mom's Kindle.
What kinds of books do you think are the most popular with kids your age?  Why?
The most popular books for kids my age are A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly.  I think they like them because they like scary books.

What are you currently reading?
I just started P.S. Longer Letter Later.