Starclimber: Kenneth Oppel
The Book Whisperer: Donalyn Miller

Reviews that Made Me Want the Book: April 21

Welcome to the latest edition of my recurring "reviews that made me want to read the book" feature. This month, a whole slew of titles have caught my eye.

Bubble TroubleLest anyone wonders if including quotes in reviews is helpful, Tasha Saecker made me want to read Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar by including this quote in her review: "Little Mabel blew a bubble, and it caused a lot of trouble… Such a lot of bubble trouble in a bibble-bobble way." Doesn't that sound fun? Perhaps paired with Bubble Homes and Fish Farts.

RoadworksA very different picture book that caught my eye is Roadworks by Sally Sutton, reviewed by Susan Stephenson at The Book Chook. Susan says: "I am predicting obsession status for this great new picture book from Walker Books Australia (2008). Roadworks was written by New Zealand author, Sally Sutton. I don't know her books, but I'll certainly be on the look-out for them. She enters into the mind of a young action fan, and gives him great active verbs and noises". 

I Need My MonsterAmanda from A Patchwork of Books caught my eye with her review of I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll. She begins: "Oh how in love I fell with this charming book. I giggled, I chuckled, I stared in awe at the pictures, and when I closed the last page, I happily started at the beginning again. I think I may have found my favorite so far this year."

Wild ThingsAnother pick from Amanda that sounds intriguing is Wild Things by Clay Carmichael. Amanda says: "Every single one of you should read this book. Really, young or old, I want you to read this and then tell me how far in love with the characters you fell. I was enchanted with the story, loving the characters, and so sad when it ended...yet happy. A beautifully written book, screaming out for readers." 

It's more a discussion (and link to an article from the Guardian Book Blog), but this post at Charlotte's Library made me want to read John Christopher's out-of-print dystopian YA novel The Death of Grass. According to Charlotte, (Guardian writer) "Sam Jordison, who did read it as a child, re-visits it, and finds it much, much scarier now that he's a grown up." This one I went ahead and requested from the library.

Sand Dollar SummerSometimes what draws me to a book is the reviewer's comparison of a new book to a book that I already know and love. Colleen Mondor did this recently, comparing the 2006 title Sand Dollar Summer, by Kimberly K. Jones, to Phyllis Green's Nantucket Summer, one of my adolescent favorites. Colleen said: "Sand Dollar Summer is just one of those beach reads that gives you the true taste of the coast, all the crazy touristy bits of it as well as the night walks near the water, the sand castles and how the salt and sand will invade every aspect of your life there - in both good and bad ways. I suppose you could say the book is dramatic (it certainly has its moments) but for me it was Lise and Free running on the beach or wandering into town to hit the library that brought back the images of Nantucket Summer."

And sometimes (often, I suppose), I'm interested in a book just because it's by an author whose work I have previously enjoyed. Thus when I was pleased to learn recently from Omnivoracious that there's now a title and a publication date (September) for Dan Brown's next book about Robert Langdon. I realize that Brown's books have been ludicrously over-hyped, but I first read and appreciated Angels and Demons before all of that. And I expect that I'll enjoy The Lost Symbol, too.

Jake Ransom Similarly, when I'm looking for a plot driven, action-filled book, I enjoy the adult novels of James Rollins. So I was pleased when I saw Tasses' review at Reading Rumpus of Rollins' first book for kids: Jake Ransom and the Skull's Shadow. She calls it "... jam-packed with Mayan history, dinosaurs, alchemy, Vikings, Roman soldiers… along with Jake Ransom (of course) and his sister Kady ...a high-adventure, fantasy-fused ride with bits of history thrown in for good measure."

HungerAnd of course, the sequel to a book that I liked is usually automatically on my list. One that I'm especially looking forward to is Hunger, the sequel to Gone by Michael Grant. Kristine from Best Book I Have Not Read was lucky enough to get her hands on an advance copy of this May release. Kristine says: " It is a great sequel to Gone, picking up where the first book left off ... The first chapter pulled me in immediately (and made my stomach turn, but I am pretty wimpy) and made me want to read without stop, just as the first book did."

The Farwalker's QuestOf course, other times I'm interested because a book falls into one my favorite niches. Melissa from Book Nut caught my eye recently with her review of The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel. She said: "I didn't expect to be unable to put the book down. I was thoroughly captivated by the world that Sensel built -- part fantasy, part dystopian -- and the story which, although it's a coming-of-age/adventure story, took me to places and in directions that I never quite expected." Really, that's enough for me.

ChameleonStill other times, it's the opposite. The reviewer talks me into a book that might not sound like my sort of thing off the top of my head, through the depth of the reviewer's passion for a title. This is the case with Laura Koenig's review of Chameleon by Charles R. Smith, Jr at Bib-Laura-graphy. Laura begins: "Hey you! Yeah, you sitting there reading this blog. Have you read Chameleon yet? No? Do me a favor - head down to your local indie bookstore or your branch library. Yes, right now. Come back when you’ve got a copy of this book." And then she explains why she thinks that the book is important.

The EverafterAnother premise-driven pick comes to me from my book selection psychic twin Lenore of Presenting Lenore. In a recent Waiting on Wednesday post, Lenore mentioned Amy Huntley's The Everafter, saying: "I am always fascinated by novels set in the afterlife. Though this one looks something straight out of my nightmares." I'm hooked on these books, too.

The Long WaitLenore and I are also fans of time-travel stories (as is Charlotte). Another of Lenore's Waiting on Wednesday titles is upcoming title (September) The Long Wait for Tomorrow. From the Random House catalog description: "Joaquin Dorfman is back with another smart novel that pushes the envelope of literary fiction, examining identity, high school roles, and even the high-blown concept of destiny through a cool science-fiction lens. What if, in a Freaky Friday moment, a wise and humble 40-year-old man woke one morning to find himself transported back in time, into his body more than 20 years before, when he was the popular, entitled, and arrogant quarterback of the school football team? Could the man do anything to stop a tragedy initiated by the cruel actions of the boy, or is fate too strong a force? " 

The Tomorrow CodeThe Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner sounds appealing, too. A. Fortis recently reviewed it at Finding Wonderland, saying "The stakes just keep getting higher in this suspenseful page-turner. Author Brian Falkner has created truly deep, interesting, textured characters that are easy to care about, and I enjoyed reading a contemporary sci-fi novel set in New Zealand, too ... It's got everything—lab experiments gone awry, deadly fog, coded messages, yellow submarines, and a nice twist towards the end. A great one for fans of dystopian novels and suspenseful adventures." How could I resist?

PPZI have to admit that I'm oddly intrigued by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. Becky from Becky's Book Reviews explains: "As you can see, this isn't your traditional Pride and Prejudice. And Elizabeth and Jane aren't your traditional heroines. Meet the Bennet family. "The business of Mr. Bennet's life was to keep his daughters alive. The business of Mrs. Bennet's was to get them married." Why is life so dangerous? Zombies, of course!" The cover is dreadful, the premise is ridiculous. And yet... I can imagine reading it one of these days.

I hope that some of these titles will catch your eye, too. Happy reading!

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.