Tag Archives: Candlewick Press

Review: My Worst Best Friend by Dyan Sheldon

30 Aug

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release year: 2010
Genre:
YA
One sentence summary:
Keep your friends close, keep your selfish, annoying treats-you-like-crap best friend even closer.
Rating:
3.5 out of 5
Review copy from publisher

Gracie and Savannah are best friends –and utterly unalike. Savannah is beautiful, outrageous, and irresistible to the opposite sex. Gracie is shy, smart, and would rather be studying lizards than meeting boys. Still, they’ve made a surprisingly great team, and (until now) it seemed as if nothing could come between them. But lately, Savannah’s talent for lying and manipulating is becoming harder to ignore. She’s fallen head over heels for an elusive college boy, and Gracie can’t help wondering: is her friend as confident as she seems? When Savannah gets between Gracie and her crush, the line separating best friend from worst friend is crossed.

From Candlewick Press website.

CHARACTERS: Here’s the thing: I didn’t love any of these characters. Well, except for Cooper who reminded me of Johnny Depp in Benny and Joon. Cooper was just a cool, weird dude.  I found Gracie to be a living, breathing doormat for Savannah. And as for Savannah, well, she was just a peach. But even though I didn’t care for them all that much and I did a lot of eye-rolling and head-shaking as I read, they were believable. And I think A LOT of teen girls are going to be able to identify with Gracie. Hell, I haven’t been a teen for a while and I identified with her.

PLOT: OMG this brought back memories. Savannah is just using Gracie and really doesn’t give a damn about her, but Gracie doesn’t see it. Everyone around Gracie sees it, but not her. There were times when I was literally screaming at Gracie to wake the Hell up and ditch Savannah. When their friendship starts to go south, it was great watching Gracie come into her own. And really, that’s what this book is all about: discovering who you are and what’s best for you. It’s also about finding the right balance between being a good friend and not being taken advantage of.

WRITING: What struck me the most about Sheldon’s writing was her dialogue and the way she used it to as an extension of her characters’ personalities. The main characters each had very distinct speech patterns, especially Savannah and Cooper. The story is told in first-person and it was neat to see what Gracie thought of them and how much it differed from what we learned through what they said.

WHO I WOULD  RECOMMEND MY WORST BEST FRIEND TO: If you are into realistic, honest YA, then you will probably enjoy this book.

Review:The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

22 Jul

Candlewick Press, 2009

Reaching the end of their flight in THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, Todd and Viola did not find healing and hope in Haven. They found instead their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss, waiting to welcome them to New Prentisstown. There they are forced into separate lives: Todd to prison, and Viola to a house of healing where her wounds are treated. Soon Viola is swept into the ruthless activities of the Answer, while Todd faces impossible choices when forced to join the mayor’s oppressive new regime. In alternating narratives the two struggle to reconcile their own dubious actions with their deepest beliefs. Torn by confusion and compromise, suspicion and betrayal, can their trust in each other possibly survive?
Part two of the literary sci-fi thriller follows a boy and a girl who are caught in a warring town where thoughts can be heard — and secrets are never safe.

From Candlewick Press website.

If youv’e read my review of the first book in Ness’ Chaos Walking triology, The Knife of Never Letting Go, then you’ll know how much I enjoyed it. Yeah, I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

But boy, did I love The Ask and The Answer! I mean I really, really loved it. Like, hug the book to my chest after I finished it kinda love. The action was great, the plot was great, the characters were great.

I could never figure out exactly why I wasn’t completely taken with The Knife of Never Letting Go, but after reading The Ask and The Answer, I think I know why: for the majority of the first book, there were only two characters, Todd anbd Viola. And while they did meet up with others, they were the main characters. I love Todd’s voice, but I think I kinda got bored with them running away, then running away and running some more.

In The Ask and The Answer there isn’t as much running away and a lot more characters. This added a richness that I didn’t feel in the first book. A lot of the new characters aren’t depicted as either good or bad. It’s hard for Todd and Viola to figure out who’s on their side. In fact there are times when they aren’t even sure who’s side they, themselves are on.

There is a switch in narrator in this one, back and forth from Todd and Viola. I’ve noticed this writing style being used more and more. What Ness does different,  however, is that he uses two different fonts: one for Todd and one for Viola. This helped me to keep straight who was telling the tale in each chapter and also, for some reason, added to the development of the characters.

Towards the end of the book, he does something wicked cool with the back and forth change of narrator. I thought it was brilliant and so fun to read.

SLIGHT SPOILERY STUFF

The only bone I have to pick with Ness is the introduction of Lee. See, I am getting kinda tired of what seems to be the need to have a love triangle in dystopic YA novels. Lee’s a boy, he meets Viola, they connect……see where I’m going with this? Do we need another love triangle? I fear once book three hits there will be TeamTodd and TeamLee camps springing up everywhere. Or maybe Ness is just messing with us. Here’s hoping.

END SPOILERY STUFF

This is a large book at just over 500 pages, but it felt like I breezed through it. And now I need to read the third and final book, Monsters of Men. Now.

I asked for a review copy and Candlewick Press answered by send one.


Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

3 Jun

Candlewick Press, 2009

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

From Candlewick Press website

 

This is one of those books that I kept hearing murmers about on Twitter. For a while it seemed like everyday someone was talking about The Knife of Never Letting Go. The buzz was good and the title definitely caught my attention. And when I looked it up and found out that is was not only a young adult book, but dystopia (my new fave genre) I knew I wanted to give it a read.

This was certainly a roller coaster of a ride. From the opening pages Todd is on the run, and the action and obstacles never stop. But it wasn’t all the ups and downs that caught my attention and kept me reading. Nope, it was Todd’s voice that hooked me. Very unique in tone and speech pattern, I found it captivating.

The concept of being able to hear other people’s thoughts  is unsettling enough, but when you throw in the fact that your thoughts can be heard it’s simply frightening. Ness does an excellent job of showing just how constant and jumbled a person’s thoughts can be. There were several times when a different font was used when Todd was hearing another’s thoughts, and that only added to the overwhelming feeling of contantly bombardment.

And it’s not just humans whose thoughts can be heard. Men can also hear the thoughts of animals and this was a fun element of the book that often lightened things up a bit.

As with most works of dystopia, there were a few scenes that were heartbreaking and I went back and forth between hating the author and loving him, depending on what was happening in the book. A couple of times I had a feeling I knew what was coming so I actually set the book down for a bit.

I did find somethings confusing in the beginning such as when and where the story was taking place. For me, if more would have been explained earlier on, then I wouldn’t have had as many “Huh?” moments and would have been able to enjoy the book more.

The ending was about as cliff-hangerish as you could get and totally left me shaking my fist at Ness, but in a good way.

Thanks go out to Candlewick Press for sending me a review copy.

Review: Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

31 May

Candlewick Press, 2010

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

From Candlewick Press website

 

You know when it’s a nice summer day and your sitting at the beach, on the deck or by the pool and you’re looking for a fun, light summer read?  That’s exactly what Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots is. Yes, the title is a bit of a mouth full, but that’s the only super heavy thing about this book.

Jenna was a likable character, even if she did sprout off a bit too much about all things environment, at least in the beginning. As the book went on, she mellowed out and learned the very valuable life lesson that there is two sides to every story. Or in this case, every cause.

The only thing that really bugged me was Jenna’s incessant need to have the boys in the book like her. I don’t mean that she wanted every guy to fall in love with her, no. But when she was trying to make friends, she basically let them treat her like dirt and then was still trying to find ways for them to like her. I  mean, there’s no way they were the ONLY teens in the town. I totally would have told them to go jump in the lake, but that’s just me. And it may explain why I didn’t have a lot of friends as a teen.

There are some twists and turns and a bit of romance, as there should be in any self-respecting YA book. None of it felt heavy handed, though and McDonald did a great job of weaving them into Jenna’s story.

The writing style was very airy, fitting in with the overall tone of the book. I really felt like I was there in the wild with Jenna, experiencing it for the first time. Of course, as a Canadian I chuckled over some of the scenes, particularly the one with the moose. (BTW honking your horn at a moose? So not the thing to do.)

So, while I didn’t love Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, I did like it an awful lot.

Thanks bunches to the folks at Candlewick press for the review copy.