Thursday, February 7, 2008

Whitney Awards

Voting is going on for The Whitney Awards. I was asked by a friend to read some of them and give my opinion. She had borrowed 5 of them from the local library and brought them by my house when she was done with them. They were due back today and I had about a week to read through them. I decided to give them each 5-6 chapters and see if they caught my attention and if I wanted to continue reading them or not. So here is my opinion of the 5 books, based on what I read and whether I intend on finishing them or not.

1. Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians
Brandon Sanderson
A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network...the evil Librarians. Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them! infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

I really liked this book and wanted to keep reading, but I started it first and was afraid that I wouldn't get to the others if I did. Whenever Alcatraz's grandfather was around, I kept picturing "Doc" from the Back to the Future movies. The one thing I did not like about this book- it is written in first person and that could get really limiting as the book goes on. I'll just have to check the book out and find out. And as soon as I am done with the Robert Jordan book I am reading, I will do that.

2. Bullies in the Headlights
Matthew Buckley

The Buckley boys are headed back to school for another year. But unfortunately, so are the Hagbarts -- and they're out for revenge. Matthew Buckley and his brothers may have won a single small battle over the summer, but the war is far from over. Luckily, though the Hagbarts may be meaner, the Buckleys are smarter -- or were smarter. The sight of Matthew's underwear at the top of the school flagpole loudly states that the Hagbart bullies are getting expert help from someone quite clever.Soon the war of wits escalates to an incredible scheme designed to get the ultimate revenge on the Hagbarts. But now that Matthew has been learning that he's supposed to do good to those who hate him, what will he do when a little push becomes a great big shove?

Here is what I wrote in my notes: " a quick read. if you have ever been the picked on kid, you will like and "get" this book. If I had checked it out, I would finish it, but it is not a book I will go to the library to pick up. However, if I am there for another book and think about it, I'll get it.

What I didn't like about this book- written in first person and that had limited the book already by chapter 5.

3. The Deep End
Traci Hunter Abramson

Matt’s hands balled in frustration. . . . He couldn’t even acknowledge that he knew the dark-haired beauty down the street—much less that he was married to her. . . . He had walked into this marriage knowing full well that he would be married to a woman in the Witness Protection Program, and that they would have to spend their first year of marriage pretending they didn’t know each other. But little do CJ and Matt know the extent of the danger and loneliness that will haunt their lives. A world-class swimmer with Olympic aspirations, CJ faces overwhelming odds that threaten to drown all her hopes and dreams. Will the deep end prove to be a dead end for CJ and Matt?In a story where reality is as tentative as the waters of competition, and happiness is as elusive as the forces of evil that conspire to end all their dreams, CJ and Matt’s race for safety becomes a marathon of fear.

Caught my interest, in fact this is the one book that I completely read. It was also the one book that I had heard of before my friend gave them to me and one that I had intended to read. I liked the book. The story line was good, the suspense was good if a bit formulaic. The book was not written in first person and allowed Ms. Abramson to move the story along through different characters and places instead of limiting herself to only CJ's view point.

What I didn't like about this book: It was standard formula for this type of book and a bit predictable. When CJ is moved into one of the safe houses, I knew how the book would end based on the description and I was right. But I still liked the book.

4. Beyond the Horizon
Judy C. Olsen

Six men. Six journals. Six stories. An unbroken chain from the past into the present. The saga of the Madigan family begins with a mob on the shores of the Grand River in Missouri in the days of Joseph Smith. After risking his life to save his friends, Jedediah Madigan must flee the county to avoid persecution. But a firm foundation of testimony and faith will serve the generations to come as the family follows the Saints to Zion.The saga continues in the west as each succeeding generation of the Madigan family struggles to to face the challenges of his day with unyielding determination. From father to son, each family member is affected by the decisions of his forbearers, but like us, each can rise with the hope that lies beyond the horizon.

Maybe it was because I was reading this book when I had a fever, I don't know, I didn't read 5 chapters. I read the first part of Jedediah's journal and couldn't go on. To me, it felt like I was reading "The Work and the Glory" lite and I just was not in the mood, so I quite. Will I check it out and read it? Maybe. If I see it on the shelf and think about it and nothing else grabs my attention. And maybe if I were to read it without a temp. of 102*F I might give it a different review.

5. First Day
Allyson Braithwaite Condie

Jobs. Missions. College. Love. In the sequel to Yearbook, the characters are in the middle of it all. Two and a half years after we left off, Andrea Beckett is a junior at Cornell University in New York. She's caught up in the whirlwind of finals, decisions about jobs . . . and decisions about love, too. Dave Sherman has returned home from his mission, and they will have to decide where their romance is going. In addition to everything else, Andrea just received the assignment to teach early-morning seminary to a group of eight high school students, who all have their own decisions to make and challenges to overcome. Meanwhile, Andrea's brother Ethan is serving a mission in Brazil. The language is new, the culture is different, and sometimes being Elder Beckett is harder than he expected.

Sequel to Yearbook

I started this book, was able to read chapter 1. I even took it to work, hoping to get more read during lunch, but to no avail. It was that kind of day. However, based on the chapter I was able to read before I had to turn them into the library, I will check this book out and finish it. I will also check out Yearbook and read them in order.

I have a couple things I want to say about these books and other books in general.

* When writing a book, please think twice about writing it in first person, it is really a limiting point of view and is rarely done in a way that allowes the reader to know everything needed about the story. There are even times that it can turn the reader off. I really did not like the Twilight series and that is mostly because I cannot stand Bella. If the story had been told Third Person Omniscent, I might have liked them better. If you notice in my reviews above of whether or not I would finish a book, the only one I did finish was not written in first person.

*When I googled the titles of the above books, why oh why did I not find them easily? Come on authors, get yourself a webpage, or even a blog with a link to where your book can be purchased (even if that is your garage). If I like a book and want to write a review of it, I would like to be able to send my readers to you. If I have checked the book out of the library, and I like your book and want to buy it, I want to know where to get it. And I want to know about you. And if I have to search more than one page or google more than once, I am not going to keep looking. Let me know where to find you and your book(s).

I'm just sayin'


Karlene said...

This is my quickie review on those 5 books.

Alcatraz--liked it. 1st person POV didn't bother me.

Bullies--read most of it, but not all. Not my favorite but I could see grade school boys liking it.

Deep End--liked it. Yes, I knew how it would end as soon as she described the closet/stairway. But I still liked it.

Beyond Horizon--this was the most pleasant surprise of the bunch. I expected not to like it, but I really did. I think you should give it another try.

First Day--I made it to chapter 5. Did not connect with the character or the story.

Totally agree on the Google thing. Fortunately, the 2007 Whitney finalists and the 2008 Whitney hopefuls have all that info collected on them here.

Jen said...

I just wanted to stop by and say "Hi Tawnya's sister" Thanks for stopping by my blog.

J Scott Savage said...

I agree completely on the web-site thing. These days there is no excuse for not having at least a minimal web presence. I'm trying madle to finish all the Whitney books too.

One fun note, since you are reading a Robert Jordon book and Alcatraz, you might already know it, but Sanderson was chosen to write the last "Wheel of Time" book.