Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two Reviews for the Novels in Verse Reading Challenge


Today I'm posting two reviews as part of the Novels in Verse Reading challenge hosted by Amanda at Born Bookish. In January, I read the first two books towards my goal of 9-12 novels written in verse for the year.



May B by Caroline Starr Rose
Middle Grade


Synopsis (from Amazon)

I've known it since last night:
It's been too long to expect them to return. 
Something's happened.


May is helping out on a neighbor's Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it's hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May's memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she's determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose's fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

My Review

I’m a big fan of novels written in verse, so I’d been waiting for this one to come out. When I finally got my hands on it, I read it in one sitting.

 I felt for May right from the start, as she’s told that she has to quit school, leave her family, and go live with strangers to work on their homestead. Talk about drama!

The author does an amazing job of creating characters and emotions we can relate to, even though the circumstances of May’s family are quite different from anything I’ve ever experienced. I felt the weight of her parents’ decision to send her away, not only as it affected May, but also as it affected her whole family.

Another thing that May struggles with is reading. Although her schoolteacher and her classmates ridicule May, she is determined to do better. One of the few things she brings with her when she leaves home is her reader.

When May is dropped off at their neighbor’s homestead she’s full of doubt. But as May adapts to her new circumstances, firstly getting accustomed to the family she’s been sent to help, and finally, being left alone to survive the winter, she finds her strength and her voice.

This was a lovely, captivating story. I’m glad I purchased the book, because I know I’m going to want to read it again!




Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Young Adult


Synopsis (from Amazon)

My Wish 
is to fall 
cranium over Converse 
in dizzy daydream-worthy love. 
(If only it were that easy.)

Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summer--from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She's left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. 

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "summer vacation" has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you've lost it? 

Love & Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl's journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

My Review

Okay, I’ll say it again: I love books written in verse. And Love & Leftovers is no exception. It’s like getting all the good parts without any “filler” to slow things down. Which is probably why, even at 432 pages, I couldn’t put this down. I read it in one sitting.

When Marcie’s dad leaves her mother for another man, it affects not only her family, but her other relationships as well.  Marcie begins to question everything in her life. Why didn’t her father love her enough to stay? When will she be able to go home to her friends? Why doesn’t her boyfriend show the extent of his feelings for her? What does being in love really feel like?

Far from home, her friends, and her musician boyfriend, Marcie is lonely. So when a boy at her new school starts showing interest, she rationalizes a new relationship even as she sees it crossing from friendship to something more. Will this be true love?

Although Marcie’s story is not as sweet & innocent as I like teen romances to be, the author creates characters you’ll really care about. 


I'd also like to thank Amanda for posting my review of Gayle Forman's Where She Went. Look for it here.


Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Sequel to If I Stay
YA










What book are you currently reading and what do you like most about it?



56 comments:

  1. I'm between books right now. I have a big TBR pile, but I can't decide which book (or even which genre) I want to read next. I'm leaning toward The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show, by Ariel Gore.

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    1. Aren't TBR piles grand?! Enjoy your next pick =)

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  2. Thanks for those reviews, Ruth. May B was already on my list to read, but I hadn't heard of the other one. Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder is another novel in verse that I read last month. It's excellent if you haven't already read it.

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    1. I loved Chasing Brooklyn. I've read all of Lisa Schroeder's novels in verse. They are my personal favorites.

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  3. May B sounds like it's perfect for my 5th graders. Thanks for the rec. Love the line "cranium over Converse."

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    1. Yes, I'm sure you and your 5th graders will love it.

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  4. I visited Amanda's blog some time ago, and was interested in reading about 9 novels-in-verse this year. (Novels written in verse are so intimate.) I still hope to achieve this, except I don't think I write reviews well. I love the ones you've written here, Ruth. Think I'll follow your review then pick the books to read.

    I just borrowed 'Al Capone Does My Shirts' by Gennifer Choldenko. She creates funny and very likable protagonists. Can't wait to read it.

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    1. Can't wait to hear which books you decide to read as part of this challenge, Claudine.

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  5. I haven't read a lot of novels in verse although I've read parts of Karen Hesse's Out Of Dust and Sharon Creech's Love That Dog and Heartbeat. I think I should read more! :) These books both sound great, and I especially love the opening of the second one - beautiful verse!

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    1. I hadn't heard of those titles. I'm off to look them up. Thanks =)

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  6. I haven't read a book in verse in a while, but these both sound good. I'll have to check them out. These two have been getting a lot of great buzz.

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  7. Oh my goodness... you are doing great with this challenge. Fabulous reviews. I haven't read a novel in verse in forever! I really need to do better. I have liked the few that I've read. Glad you shared today. Now I will know which ones to turn to when I pick up my next book!

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    1. Hi Leigh, nice to see you! Glad you liked the reviews.

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  8. I've never read a book in verse before. Both of these are books I would read if I read the blurb, so I'll have to try one of them.

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    1. Be careful, once you start, it's easy to get hooked on them ;)

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  9. Ruth, these sound great! Thanks for the reviews. I'm currently reading "Matched", and I'm liking it :)

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    1. My daughter read Matched a while back. I think I remember her liking it as well. Enjoy!

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  10. These sound lovely. I think these books are the hardest to write.

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  11. Ruth, read your blog earlier this morning, but didn't respond right away for a reason. Both you and Amanda have introduced me to books written and verse, and now I've found others. I do like them. Especially liked your review of May B.

    I have selected you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. I'm always find inspiration and comfort in your blog. Go to my blog for the instructions: http://childrensbooksheal.com/2012/02/06/kreativ-blogger-award/
    Warmly,
    Pat

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    1. Thanks so much, Pat, for thinking of me! I'll get busy passing it on in the next week or two =)

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  12. I've been reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy which has completely blown me away. Don't let the idea that there are zombies prevent you from reading these books. They are amazing.

    New follower :)

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    1. Thank you for this comment. I actually was letting the fact that there are zombies prevent me from reading these. But if you think they're enjoyable even to someone who doesn't read about zombies, maybe I will reconsider.

      Thanks for stopping by and following =)

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  13. I'm looking forward to MayB and I loved If I Stay, so would like to read the sequel. Right now I'm reading I, Houdini -- about a very smart hamster who is an escape artist. Love the irreverent voice, the conceit of it all.

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    1. Hi Vijaya,

      I, Houdini sounds charming! I'm adding it to my list. Thanks for the recommendation =)

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  14. I enjoyed May B and will look into reading Love & Leftovers.

    I'm reading and enjoying the teen voice in John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.

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    1. I haven't heard of that one. I'll look it up.

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  15. I really want to read May B because I love novels in verse. What a nice review you did for it. Thanks for helping my decision Ruth.

    I am just about finished reading Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs (MG) and it is a page turner, so funny.

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    1. You can never have too many funny reads. I'll check this one out.

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  16. What a gorgeous review. I have recently discovered novels in verse. I never thought I would like them, but I do. I'll have to get this one. Thanks for such a thoughtful look at May B.

    Besides picture books, I am reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. It's a middle grade.

    Happy weekend. :-)

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    1. I don't read nearly enough middle grade. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  17. I've been wanting to read May B. Thanks for your wonderful review Ruth!

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  18. I have never read a book written in verse (besides pb)and I love poetry. I'm going to have to check these books out!

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    1. I love telling people about novels written in verse. I think a lot of people shy away from them. But once you try them, you'll be a believer ;)

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  19. I can't wait to read May B. I'm also eager to see The Fault in our Stars by John Green. But right now I'm reading The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell. It's historical mystery. I love the timeless feel. The historical period isn't even specified (I'd guess Victorian) and I don't even care.

    Huh -- my word veri is a real word: inept.

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  20. A novel in verse - kind of clever, really. Like a revival, everything comes back around. Haven't really read anything in verse since college. I'm a new follower returning your visit from the campaign:)

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    1. Hi Gwen, I don't know when you graduated college, but I'd say you're due to read a novel in verse, wouldn't you ;)

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  21. Thanks for the info, Ruth. Hadn't heard of these, so I appreciate your input. What am I reading? Just finished Ann Gabhart's newest, Words Spoken True, which is set in Louisville, KY. It was a good one! :)

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    1. Love that title, Karen. I'm going to look it up. Thanks!

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  22. I'm back again. Tag, you're it! You've been tagged in the 11 Questions tag game being passed around by the Platform-building campaigners. You can pick up the link to your questions here: http://rungwenrun.blogspot.com/2012/02/11-questions-from-platform-building.html

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  23. I've never read an entire book written in rhyme before. It sounds as if it might be tedious but after reading your reactions I can see that it's not and I do like the sound of May B.

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    1. Rosalind,

      These books are written in free verse, so they don't rhyme. I love rhyming picture books, but I don't know how I'd feel about an entire novel in rhyme.

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  24. May B sounds like it's right up my alley! I just finished Out of my mind by Sharon Draper. I highly recommend it!
    Thanks Ruth :)

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    1. I'm loving all of the recommendations. Thanks, Coleen. Adding Out of My Mind to my list.

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  25. I'll have to check out some novels in verse now.

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    1. Hi Jen,
      I'd love to hear what you think of them!

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    2. Tagged you in the 11 questions meme...

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  26. Hi! I'm doing the campaign! We're not on the same list (I'm on YA 3a), but your blog title jumped out at me, so I had to visit! Hope you have a great campaign.

    Oh, and I've only read some of Ellen Hopkins books, but now I'm adding Love and Leftovers to my list! Thanks for the review!

    Daisy Carter

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    1. Hi Daisy, thanks for stopping by. It's good to meet you. I haven't read Ellen Hopkins books. Too dark for me, I'm afraid.

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  27. I haven't read any books in verse yet, but I'll have to try one. Currently I'm reading The Chosen by Liz Braswell.

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  28. I love verse novels! I will have to check these ones out! The only ones I've read so far are Lisa Schroeder's books which I love.
    I have finally posted my first piece of flash fiction up on my new website-short stories & stuff.

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  29. I love good books written in verse. I haven't even attempted to do that, but I have some friends who have written some great things. Riding Invisible is one that I beta read a while back and I really enjoyed it. Take a look and see what you think.

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  30. I thoroughly enjoyed May B! I'm a new fan of novels in verse now!

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