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You are here: Home » Publisher: Random House

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin WassermanTHE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman Book Review
Publication Date: April 10th 2012 by Random House Children’s Books
Rating:  – Dreadful

Book Summary: It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.  When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love.  When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead.  His girlfriend Adriane, Nora’s best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman Book Review Overview:

  • I liked the Latin, but there is a lot of translating and not much action
  • Flimsy romance; no spark at all
  • The twists and turns of the plot were predictable

I first tried to listen to THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman over a year ago when I first got into audiobooks. The length of the audiobook is quite intimidating, and in the end, I just couldn’t get into it. I put it aside, and I hoped that I would pick it back up one day because I liked the concept. A year later, I decided to try again. Now that I listen to more audiobooks, I thought that I would have more patience for a really long book such as THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman. Unfortunately, the book still was not my cup of tea.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, One Star - , , , , , | Words 547 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Random House

WonderWONDER by RJ Palacio Book Review
Publication Date: February 14th 2012 by Random House Children’s Books
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |

Book Summary: I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Wonder by RJ Palacio Book Review Overview:

  • Mostly told through Auggie’s perspective but also switches to the perspective of other characters
  • Inspiring and touching story; Auggie is such a delightful character to read about
  • Makes you think twice about how you act towards someone with a disability

There is always some hesitation in my part when picking up middle grade novels, because there’s always the chance where the novel is not as accessible to older readers. I didn’t have a problem with WONDER by R.J. Palacio in that aspect. I think that Palacio does a wonderful job of making her writing appeal to readers of all ages.

What surprised me the most about WONDER by R.J. Palacio is the impact it had on me in terms of my thinking of how I act towards someone with a disability or a handicap. Auggie is such an inspiring character to read about. His life is hard – there’s no doubt about that. And it made me sad to read about him. But Auggie is such a fighter and he tries so hard no matter how many obstacles get in his way. Auggie made me put my problems into perspective. My problems seemed so petty in comparison to the life that he lives. Furthermore, WONDER by RJ Palacio made me think about how I conduct myself in public. WONDER will make me think twice next time I see someone with a disability or a handicap.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the switching perspectives throughout the novel. For the most part, the novel is told from Auggie’s point of view, but randomly switches to other characters such as his friends. My dislike for the multiple perspectives was short-lived; I fell in love with Palacio’s writing style and I loved seeing Auggie from other people’s eyes. My love for him as a character grew even more.

The ending of WONDER by RJ Palacio gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling. As a reader, I felt like I grew so much with Auggie on this emotional roller coaster. His character was developed so well throughout the book and I wanted to give him a massive congratulatory hug at the end.

WONDER by RJ Palacio is the kind of middle grade novel that should be read by all. It’s not just a “children’s” book.

Other Book Reviews:
Poetry to Prose
The Reading Date

About the Author

RJ Palacio RJ Palacio lives in New York City with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For many years, Palacio was an art director and book jacket designer, designing covers for countless well-known and not so well-known writers in every genre of fiction and nonfiction. She always wanted to write, though. So Palacio decided to just go for it. Wonder is her first novel. And no, she didn’t design the cover, but she sure does love it.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , , | Words 1022 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Random House

ZeroZERO by Tom Leveen Book Review
Publication Date: April 24th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary: For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.

Zero by Tom Leveen Book Review Overview:

  • Zero has quite the abrasive personality so it was at first hard for me to like her as a protagonist
  • I just couldn’t relate to the band scene, even though I would have loved to
  • Hopeful and realistic ending

Meet Zero. She’s an aspiring artist. Unfortunately, her lack of self-confidence (and lots of family drama) prevents her from going after her dream: to attend a prestigious art school in Chicago. It’s supposed to be Zero’s fun, laid-back summer before college. Instead, she’s stuck at home with one less friend, living in a house where her parents never stop arguing.

Alright, let me admit it: when I first found out that I was going to be an Ambuzzador for ZERO by Tom Leveen, I thought, “Uh-oh… This is not the kind of contemporary that I read.” And, I’m not going to lie; it’s true. I like sweet, romantic contemporaries and the cover does not give that impression at all. It looks edgy and punk rock and not me. But I was determined to give ZERO by Tom Leveen a shot. And this is one of those cases where I shouldn’t have judged a book based on its cover.

Amanda, a.k.a Zero was a tough protagonist to like based on first impressions. Zero has a pretty abrasive personality and it took me a while to find something about her that I could relate to. At first I couldn’t help thinking, Geez, what a Negative Nancy! Amanda was really overly critical and cynical about almost everything. But once I learned more about her, I understood why she acts that way. After a while, I related immensely with Amanda. Every now and then, a girl feels self-conscious about her body. It’s really only with time that a girl comes to love herself. Furthermore, I really could relate with Amanda’s frustrations with the college system. It is unbelievably expensive nowadays and it’s terrible how the cost of education can prevent one from going after their dream.

Music plays a huge role in ZERO by Tom Leveen. Unfortunately, I’m pretty much the complete opposite of an audiophile. As much as I would have loved to relate with the whole punk rock scene, it just didn’t happen. I wanted to get into the music as much as Zero did but for someone who isn’t into music as much, I think it’s hard to imagine being part of the audience of a concert. There are so many mentions of different bands in ZERO by Tom Leveen and my music knowledge is so limited that I couldn’t tell if they were real or fake bands. (I never really did find out…) However, I do think it would have been awesome to have actually heard some of the songs that Tom Leveen had written for the book.

Furthermore, there is a pretty realistic romance in ZERO by Tom Leveen. Mike is pretty likeable and I think he is one of the things that was key for Amanda’s character development. His encouragement to push her to follow her dreams as well as his own passion for his music really helps prioritizes Amanda’s goals in the near future.

ZERO by Tom Leveen also touches on a little bit of LGBTQ issues in the form of Amanda’s best friend. Initially, I thought Amanda was homophobic, but after I kept on reading I thought her reaction to be quite normal. It doesn’t matter if Jenn is straight or gay. If it had been me and one of my friends (guy or girl) I think I would have been freaked out at first if I really didn’t see it coming. I’m glad how their friendship developed in the book.

Lastly, art is essential to the book. If you’re not familiar with Salvador Dali, or have never even heard of him, go look him up on Wikipedia before reading ZERO by Tom Leveen. I think it’s important for a reader to at least be familiar with some of the works that inspire Amanda so much in the book.

While I enjoyed reading ZERO by Tom Leveen quite a bit, I think what makes this book different from a four-star book is memorability. I just don’t think that ZERO by Tom Leveen will leave a lasting impression on me, despite the fact that I liked reading it. The ending of ZERO by Tom Leveen was perfect. I couldn’t have been more satisfied with Amanda and I was really glad on how much she had matured over the course of the book.

I would recommend ZERO by Tom Leveen to readers who love contemporary novels – especially those about art and/or music.

Other Book Reviews:
Dreamland – Teen Fantasy
Wear the Old Coat

About the Author

Tom LeveenTom Leveen was born and raised in Arizona, where he lives with his wife. Party is his first young adult novel. Tom was previously the artistic director of Chyro Arts Venue, an all-ages performance space hosting live music, theatre, visual art, and independent film, where he enjoyed watching new, YA bands taking the stage for three years.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , | Words 1395 words

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