jsmyth's Activity (82)

  • jsmyth
    jsmyth's book review was featured in Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School).
    Amusing, witty and full of magic - FLUNKED has a wonderful assortment of fairytales and their characters, most notably, their villains. A wonderful book that will make you think about what defines the good from the bad, giving second chances and who your true friends are. Gilly is a 12 year old who has developed a Robin Hood complex due to her father's dying shoemaking business. She steals from the nobles in order to help put food in her siblings bellies and smiles on their faces. One of six siblings who live in a shoe, Gilly has brought it onto herself to take the risks to do what she can. She knows that if she is caught she will be sent to Fairytale Reform School and her siblings will suffer. When Gilly pulls off her biggest heist to date, she is completely unaware of the trail she leaves behind until she is caught. Having to see the disappointment on her families faces is hard, but being sent away to school is even worse. Who will help and look after her siblings. Fairytale Reform School was founded by the reformed "Wicked Stepmother", Flora. After realizing how badly she mistreated Ella, Flora decided to change her ways and what better way to complete the process than to extend a hand to others who have done wrong and help them find a way to better themselves. After reforming these "villains", she recruited them to do something worthy with themselves within society and asked them to join her faculty at the school. A few of these memorable characters are - the Werewolf that ate Little Red's grandmother, the Sea Witch and the Evil Queen, who is still obsessed with apples. The school itself resembles a castle - with ornate rooms and furniture, and nothing is lacking. Gilly's classes and meals are better than anything else she's ever had in her life. She feels guilty for not being able to take care of her siblings, but also, for living better than them too. However, strange things have been happening at the school. Unexplained disappearances and teachers and students acting differently... something is happening. And Gilly and her friends are going to find out what it is. What I love most about this book is Gilly's personality, she is very strong-minded and not only sticks up for what she believes in but for others too. She won't tolerate any type of bullying towards anyone and is very loyal to what and who she believes in. Gilly is definitely someone you can count on. Her new friends all fit an important role in her life and situation. There is a little magic here and there, but by all means, this is no fairytale where magic fixes everything and things are swept away with a swish of a wand. Everyone has to work hard and your best is always expected. The story is wonderfully written and told strictly from Gilly's point of view, primarily through conversations and her thoughts. I see and know precisely what Gilly does without unnecessary details.
    Over 1 year ago
  • jsmyth
    jsmyth added a book review.
    Amusing, witty and full of magic - FLUNKED has a wonderful assortment of fairytales and their characters, most notably, their villains. A wonderful book that will make you think about what defines the good from the bad, giving second chances and who your true friends are. Gilly is a 12 year old who has developed a Robin Hood complex due to her father's dying shoemaking business. She steals from the nobles in order to help put food in her siblings bellies and smiles on their faces. One of six siblings who live in a shoe, Gilly has brought it onto herself to take the risks to do what she can. She knows that if she is caught she will be sent to Fairytale Reform School and her siblings will suffer. When Gilly pulls off her biggest heist to date, she is completely unaware of the trail she leaves behind until she is caught. Having to see the disappointment on her families faces is hard, but being sent away to school is even worse. Who will help and look after her siblings. Fairytale Reform School was founded by the reformed "Wicked Stepmother", Flora. After realizing how badly she mistreated Ella, Flora decided to change her ways and what better way to complete the process than to extend a hand to others who have done wrong and help them find a way to better themselves. After reforming these "villains", she recruited them to do something worthy with themselves within society and asked them to join her faculty at the school. A few of these memorable characters are - the Werewolf that ate Little Red's grandmother, the Sea Witch and the Evil Queen, who is still obsessed with apples. The school itself resembles a castle - with ornate rooms and furniture, and nothing is lacking. Gilly's classes and meals are better than anything else she's ever had in her life. She feels guilty for not being able to take care of her siblings, but also, for living better than them too. However, strange things have been happening at the school. Unexplained disappearances and teachers and students acting differently... something is happening. And Gilly and her friends are going to find out what it is. What I love most about this book is Gilly's personality, she is very strong-minded and not only sticks up for what she believes in but for others too. She won't tolerate any type of bullying towards anyone and is very loyal to what and who she believes in. Gilly is definitely someone you can count on. Her new friends all fit an important role in her life and situation. There is a little magic here and there, but by all means, this is no fairytale where magic fixes everything and things are swept away with a swish of a wand. Everyone has to work hard and your best is always expected. The story is wonderfully written and told strictly from Gilly's point of view, primarily through conversations and her thoughts. I see and know precisely what Gilly does without unnecessary details.
    Over 1 year ago
  • jsmyth
    jsmyth's book review was featured in The Finisher (Vega Jane, Book 1).
    I have never before read a David Baldacci novel. I know he's incredibly popular (that all his books are on the bestseller lists) but that's not enough reason for me to read a novel. That said, hearing the premise for his first venture into Young Adult fiction was enough reason for me to buy this book. This is a young adult fantasy novel set in one town in the middle of nowhere, a town surrounded by a wild land called the Quag, which it is forbidden to set foot into because of the creatures that live out there. The heroine of the story is Vega Jane and she's a boundary pushing individual who gradually comes to discover the secrets and abilities linked to her bloodline. The ideas of this book are excellent, I loved the grand world-building in every way. I also loved the protagonist, who was a realistic female character trying to make sense of her world. However, I felt there was room to play with some of the themes and ideas a little more. For instance this was another novel that talked about the fears of humans (though these individuals were Wugmorts and not necessarily human they acted as human) and the ways in which we allow walls to be built to protect us from the outside. Walls, which, in reality, keep us trapped inside. It's a theme which is particularly post-9/11 and from an era that includes the war on terror and the rise of social media, yet it is a universally applicable theme that could have been tapped into further. I also did not like the staccato nature of the writing in sections, which felt as if it 'told' the reader too much rather than 'suggested' or 'showed'. In other words, the writing was more or less predictable. All in all there is plenty of untapped potential in this novel and it feels as if there may be a sequel in the works. Though I have not heard anything about this as such. That said I would be interested to read the sequel. Can I recommend this novel then? Well as much as I recommend the average young adult novel: for enjoyment's sake rather than for a deep philosophical venture. If you want something deeper and more well-rounded there are other young adult novels I could point you to.
    Over 1 year ago
  • jsmyth
    jsmyth added a book review.
    I have never before read a David Baldacci novel. I know he's incredibly popular (that all his books are on the bestseller lists) but that's not enough reason for me to read a novel. That said, hearing the premise for his first venture into Young Adult fiction was enough reason for me to buy this book. This is a young adult fantasy novel set in one town in the middle of nowhere, a town surrounded by a wild land called the Quag, which it is forbidden to set foot into because of the creatures that live out there. The heroine of the story is Vega Jane and she's a boundary pushing individual who gradually comes to discover the secrets and abilities linked to her bloodline. The ideas of this book are excellent, I loved the grand world-building in every way. I also loved the protagonist, who was a realistic female character trying to make sense of her world. However, I felt there was room to play with some of the themes and ideas a little more. For instance this was another novel that talked about the fears of humans (though these individuals were Wugmorts and not necessarily human they acted as human) and the ways in which we allow walls to be built to protect us from the outside. Walls, which, in reality, keep us trapped inside. It's a theme which is particularly post-9/11 and from an era that includes the war on terror and the rise of social media, yet it is a universally applicable theme that could have been tapped into further. I also did not like the staccato nature of the writing in sections, which felt as if it 'told' the reader too much rather than 'suggested' or 'showed'. In other words, the writing was more or less predictable. All in all there is plenty of untapped potential in this novel and it feels as if there may be a sequel in the works. Though I have not heard anything about this as such. That said I would be interested to read the sequel. Can I recommend this novel then? Well as much as I recommend the average young adult novel: for enjoyment's sake rather than for a deep philosophical venture. If you want something deeper and more well-rounded there are other young adult novels I could point you to.
    Over 1 year ago
  • pjsweet
    pjsweet added a book review.
    Hattie is excited to attend the Harvest Festival with her three new best friends in her new town, but when she accidentally triggers a decades old jinx, she must find a way to break it to restore her friendships, and maybe just be herself once again. A cute friendship story with a dash of magical realism and a nice small town setting. Each character is not super well-developed, but they serve their purpose in Hattie's life in this MG.
    Over 1 year ago
  • pjsweet
    pjsweet added a book review.
    Graphic novel with cliff hanger ending. A new girl at school finds a robot and discovers the school is not all that it seems. Great plot twists.
    Over 1 year ago
  • jsmyth
    jsmyth added a book review.
    An amazing fast read. Magical,dark,&well written. Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire. Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her? Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky. "A beautiful story of epicness ,thrilling plot twist, and makes you feel all the feels".
    Over 1 year ago
  • jsmyth
    jsmyth added a book review.
    Cameron lives to play video games, but when he is so concentrated on one that he doesn't take a casserole out of the oven and the local firemen respond and ax through the front door, his parents are NOT pleased. His parents are concerned because he does nothing else, and while they don't take his video console out into the backyard and set fire to it (like I would!), they demand that he participate in other activities at school to get him out of the basement. With friends Chuck and Pavel, he creates a Positive Action Group, and posts a blurb about it on the school web site. Thinking he can show that to his parents and be done, he contentedly goes back to trying to best Evil McKillPeople on his game... until the ultra-motivated Daphne shows up at his front door, demanding to join. Her purpose is to get help in saving a local beaver, Elvis, whose home has been destroyed by a new highway off ramp project. It gets worse when she brings the group to the attention of Mr. Fanshaw, who hopes to use the group to sell raffle tickets for a fundraiser. Soon, a class president wannabe, a football players on academic probation, and a huge number of other students want to join the group. Cameron is forced to do something. After trying to sneak off to play video games while raking leaves for senior citizens, Cameron accidentally saves an elderly lady who has fallen and makes the news. This encourages more students to join, but also brings the group to the attention of the high school groups, the Friends of Fuzzy. Their leader, Jen, wants all of the attention for herself, so gets her group to sabotage the P.A.G. Things culminate when both groups decide to work against the old highway off ramp being taken down. Will Cameron be able to go back to his old ways once he is no longer in danger of losing his video gaming privileges? Cameron starts off as a fairly nondescript character, but that is a perfect foil for the outspoken Daphne, self-involved String, and deliciously and deceptively evil younger sister Melody. The parents are supportive and helpful but rather clueless, which is a brilliant way to depict parents in a middle grade book. Mr. Fanshaw (whose name Cameron can't remember, leading to a host of amusing attempts like "Mr. Fanny-pack") and the other teachers are humorous, but also sympathetic and realistic. As with any Korman book, the biggest draw for me is the writing. It is fast-paced (all middle grade books should start with an explosion, or with immolating ziti!) and packed with laugh out loud phrases. My favorite passage (from the ARC): "How many members does the Positive Action Group have?" Members? Exactly the same number as the Stick-Your-Head-in-the-Furnace Club and the Leap-the -Grand-Canyon Society."
    Over 1 year ago
  • jsmyth
    jsmyth's book review was featured in Loot.
    There is a lot to love about Loot. Jewel heists? Master plans? Kid criminals? Yes, please! I love stories about kid spies or criminals (both would be even better!) and this book had potential. Sadly, I can't call it a favorite. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. The main characters were Jules, March, Darius and Izzy. They were all pretty awesome and even though the likelihood of kids having their abilities is practically non-existent, I enjoyed the humor and energy between them. The teamwork is incredible. For example, even though Darius is the stereotypical "tough guy," he is very protective of Izzy, who is practically a younger sister to him. I think my main issue I have with this book is that the whole story is highly improbable, particularly the ending. This book is meant to be entertaining. I get it. But these kids are easily breaking into heavily-guarded places with merely a few hours of planning. How likely does that sound? Not very probable. The ending was also highly unrealistic. This ruined the reading experience for me. That being said, there were many aspects of Loot that I enjoyed a lot. Besides stellar action scenes, this book could also be very funny. I don't laugh out loud very often but this book cracked me up sometimes. Here's an example taken from the ARC in which Jules and March are visiting Hamish, one of their father's business associates. "Jasmine, can you cover the register?" "You told me to concentrate on e-commerce orders today," she said. "Change messes up my aura." "The universe has many paths, and yours leads to the cash register," Hamish said. "Peace out," she answered with a shrug, and left. See? Funny. Before beginning Loot, I wasn't sure how the whole "being a criminal" thing would be handled. This is a MG novel after all! In real life, criminality is absolutely horrible. Gang wars, drugs, guns, etc. It wasn't all covered, but Jude Watson didn't do a bad job of representing the backstabbing and treachery of the criminal world without going into gruesome details It was an entertaining and funny read that I can recommend to MG fans of Gordan Korman.
    Over 1 year ago
  • jsmyth
    jsmyth added a book review.
    There is a lot to love about Loot. Jewel heists? Master plans? Kid criminals? Yes, please! I love stories about kid spies or criminals (both would be even better!) and this book had potential. Sadly, I can't call it a favorite. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. The main characters were Jules, March, Darius and Izzy. They were all pretty awesome and even though the likelihood of kids having their abilities is practically non-existent, I enjoyed the humor and energy between them. The teamwork is incredible. For example, even though Darius is the stereotypical "tough guy," he is very protective of Izzy, who is practically a younger sister to him. I think my main issue I have with this book is that the whole story is highly improbable, particularly the ending. This book is meant to be entertaining. I get it. But these kids are easily breaking into heavily-guarded places with merely a few hours of planning. How likely does that sound? Not very probable. The ending was also highly unrealistic. This ruined the reading experience for me. That being said, there were many aspects of Loot that I enjoyed a lot. Besides stellar action scenes, this book could also be very funny. I don't laugh out loud very often but this book cracked me up sometimes. Here's an example taken from the ARC in which Jules and March are visiting Hamish, one of their father's business associates. "Jasmine, can you cover the register?" "You told me to concentrate on e-commerce orders today," she said. "Change messes up my aura." "The universe has many paths, and yours leads to the cash register," Hamish said. "Peace out," she answered with a shrug, and left. See? Funny. Before beginning Loot, I wasn't sure how the whole "being a criminal" thing would be handled. This is a MG novel after all! In real life, criminality is absolutely horrible. Gang wars, drugs, guns, etc. It wasn't all covered, but Jude Watson didn't do a bad job of representing the backstabbing and treachery of the criminal world without going into gruesome details It was an entertaining and funny read that I can recommend to MG fans of Gordan Korman.
    Over 1 year ago

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First BookCreate an AvatarWrote First Book ReviewWrote 10 Book ReviewsWrote 25 Book ReviewsFirst MovieJoined National Geographic Kids Book ClubJoined Mac Kids Book ClubJoined Summer Reading 2016

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