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Category Archives: Simon & Schuster

Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible

Twelve-year-old Katherine (Kat, for short) is the youngest of four children, including two older sisters could not be any more different.  Her mother having died soon after she was born, Kat was raised by said sisters, who continue to watch over her and chide her about her childish behavior.  The family is at a crossroads as their brother has racked up a tremendous gambling debt and it seems as if oldest sister Elissa must marry an atrocious older man rumored to have murdered his first wife.  Kat takes matters into her own hands, however, when she discovers her mother’s magic books and possessions.  She must think quickly on her feet and trust her instincts as she goes about trying to save her sister from martyrdom.

While it may seem as if the plot is serious and dramatic, this middle grade novel was fun, fun, fun.  The family dynamic and the relationships between the three sisters had me giggling and dying to find out how exactly they would stick together and protect each other, even in the midst of misunderstandings and dramatic emotions.  Kat is in the protagonist of the story but her sisters also show redeeming qualities and won my heart over with their individuality yet togetherness as sisters.

The plot moved at a fantastic pace, after a brief introduction of Kat’s past and their present predicament, including one interesting stepmother.  Though the novel is a short one, enough happened for the reader to feel as if they have taken a journey with Kat, a journey of self-discovery and a showing of bravery.

Kat, Incorrigible

by Stephanie Burgis

Published by Atheneum

April 2011 (in the US)

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Book Review: Beyonders

I am a sucker for a geographical journey in a book, especially a fantasy book.  Meeting new characters, facing challenges and developing as a person are all part of geographical journeys.  I was delighted to find that this was a huge part of the plot in this first book in the Beyonders series, A World Without Heroes.  Thirteen-year-old Jason finds himself in a whole new world when he is lured into a hippo’s mouth (weird, I know) and is sent down a mysterious tunnel.  There he first meets the loremaster, protector of knowledge, and mistakenly opens a book that sends him on a dangerous and necessary journey to being a hero.

I do not normally read fantasy novels, and am not familiar with the staple characteristics of this genre, but I will say that I enjoyed this book.  While the teenage characters fell flat for me in some places, the characters they meet along their journey just came to life before my eyes.  Even if the character was only around for 20 to 30 pages, I was fascinated with their place in the world of Lyrian and how they would contribute to Jason and Rachel’s journey.  The history and connections among the characters that are pieced together throughout the book are fascinating.

The world of Lyrian seemed a bit mysterious at times, which very well could be part of the set-up of the book series.  I didn’t have any specific questions that went unanswered, but I felt like there were some gaps in the history and in some of the characters.  The author did a great job of world-building and introducing us to this fantasy place, all while maintaining a tremendous amount of characters and the plot itself.  Brandon Mull’s novels are must-reads for the middle grade fantasy lover.  Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the advanced copy of this novel.

BEYONDERS: A WORLD WITHOUT HEROES

by Brandon Mull

Published by Aladdin Books

March 2011

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Book Review, Simon & Schuster

 

Nancy Drew Giveaway!

As you might recall, when I reached #62 on the Top 100 Childrens Books list, The Secret of the Old Clock, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it tremendously, racing through it in just a few short hours.  The mystery aspect of the book sucked me in, and I found Nancy to be a very likable protagonist.  So when my awesome contact at Simon & Schuster offered to provide Nancy Drew materials for a giveaway here at The Literary Wife, I said yes with much enthusiasm.  Today, you have the chance to win 5 Nancy Drew mysteries of your choice, as well as an awesome Nancy Drew notepad, pictured below.  All you have to do is fill out the contest entry form with your information and you will be entered in the drawing.

The notepads have a Nancy Drew book cover as their cover! Pretty cute, huh?

Official Giveaway Information:

  • Must be 13 years of age or older to enter
  • Must be a US resident (or have a US mailing address to send books to)
  • Ends Monday, February 21st at noon CST
  • Winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen
  • Winner will choose 5 titles from this list.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

 

Book Review: Losing Faith

Brie wants nothing to do with religion.  Her sister Faith wants everything to do with God. Though close in age and formerly close in heart, Brie and Faith are as different as night and day and Brie would like to keep it that way.  Until Faith meets an untimely, suspicious death, and Brie is forced to face the reality of her sisters secret life.

Filled with confrontation and the tackling of touchy subjects such as religious cults and grief, Losing Faith shines a light on the importance of family, honesty, and loving others well.

The plot and background to the plot of this novel are incredibly creative.  Author Denise Jaden has taken a leap of faith (no pun intended) in addressing the subject of religious cults.  The one she introduces in this novel is believable and well-constructed.  The fact that I was awestruck at the actions of the characters involved speaks volumes about her manner of description throughout the story.  Though the foreshadowing is quite obvious, I consider this a necessary aspect of the novel, in order to keep from extreme drama in the end.

Brie’s character, while frustrating in the beginning, does bring resolve in the end.  Her lackadaisical, selfish attitude just disgusted me, especially in the light of her saintly sister.  The situation that Brie finds herself in, however, allows her to change and transform into a character you cannot help but root for.  Her parents, on the other hand, are dry and lifeless.  While the story is focused on Brie and her actions, I do wish the parents could have been a little more dynamic.  Understandably, they are grieving the loss of their favorite daughter, but their involvement could have brought a lot more to the story.

Be prepared for some conflict within yourself if you choose to pick up Losing Faith.  The author tackles tough, necessary issues that we could all stand to take some time considering.

This novel is my first read in the Contemps Challenge, as well as my fifth read in the Canadian Reading Challenge.

Losing Faith

by Denise Jaden

Published by Simon Pulse

September 2010

 

book review: shooting kabul

Based on the author’s husband’s experience fleeing war-torn Afghanistan, Shooting Kabul tells the story of young Fadi as his family escapes from the Taliban’s rule in the year 2001.  Fadi’s father plans and pays big money for their escape in the middle of the night, only to lose Fadi’s six-year-old sister Mariam along the way.  Arriving to their new life in Fremont, California, the family is nothing short of devastated as they continue on with school and finding jobs, all while waiting to hear the good news that their sister and daughter have been found.

Fadi spends the entire novel struggling with the fact that he must blame himself for the loss of his sister.  During their escape, he refused to put Mariam’s doll in his bag, which slowed them down and distracted her from the task at hand.  Coming from a Pukhtun family (of which the author provides much explanation), Fadi and his father are hit the hardest with guilt and shame for not being able to take care of their family.  While Fadi begins life as an American middle schooler, he wrestles with plans and ideas to return to Pakistan and find his sister, only to stumble upon a photography contest that might be his ticket to rescuing her.

Debut author N.H. Senzai is brilliant in her descriptions of her characters and scenes throughout the novel.  The character of Fadi starts out so foreign, hard to understand and distant.  However, throughout the novel, he becomes more dynamic and an easy character to relate to, which, given the context of the story,  is key to the success of this novel and the lessons to be learned from it.  Fadi and his family experience much pain in their transition from war torn Afghanistan to segregated yet familiar Fremont, and the way their story is told allows the reader to understand their emotions and decisions without feeling bogged down with the weight of their sorrow.  The setting is seemingly perfect, being that Fremont has (or possibly had) the largest Afghan population in the United States, yet it and the nearby San Francisco are seemingly diverse in ethnicity as a whole.

My hope is that Shooting Kabul will pave the way for more children’s novels about the war in Afghanistan, the struggle with one’s ethnicity, as well as the strong ties that bring us together as families.

Shooting Kabul

N.H. Senzai

June 2010

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books