Archive | February, 2011


26 Feb

Title: Cicada

Genre: Magazine

Author: Well…you know…lots.

Recommended Age: 13 and up

Scale: 9/10

Cicada magazine is aimed at teens and young adults. It contains original poems, works of fiction, and artwork created by its audience. The issues each contain brief biographies of the authors. This month’s edition contains several fantastic short stories. One involves Sherlock Homes, another follows the trials of Angela the apartment wanderer, and involves a map set to music. All of the stories are lovely and engrossing.


It’s great. I love the idea the excerpts from the web-site might make into the print edition. I also love that the magazine provides young adults with a space in which they might actually be able to be published. The layout of the magazine is fun  and the cover is fantastic and (oddly) reminds me of The Giver.  I would recommend this to teens that are interested in being published.

Read Alikes:


Red Riding Hood

23 Feb

Red Riding Hood

BOOK: Red Riding Hood

Genre: Fantasy

Author: Sarah Blakely-CarteWrite

Recommended Age: 14 and up

Scale: 9/10


There is nothing I like more than a retelling of a fairy tale. As a kid, I always found that fairy-tales were never fleshed out like I wanted them to be. Red Riding Hood was especially frustrating and I was always angry at the fact that no one could ever explain why the wolf was big and bad. He just was. That was just too cut and dry for me. Too black and white.

Plot Summary:

Valerie (Red Riding Hood) is a young girl living in a village that has been plagued by a wolf as long as anyone can remember. The town, for many years, struck a kind of piece with the wolf by setting out goats and chickens on the full moon.

Sacrifice is the name of the game.

When Valerie’s sister is killed by said wolf, the story is set into motion to rid the village of the thing once and for all. The men seek out the wolf, hire a famed wolf hunter, and ultimately learn that the creature they are hunting lives among them and is a werewolf. The townspeople turn on each other and those who seem a little “different” become suspects.

Valerie is a great character. She is willful, strong, and is unwilling to settle for less in her life.

She is also caught between two men who are fighting for her love. Henry is the one to whom she is betrothed and Peter is the man that has returned for her after ten years.As the blood continues to spill, Valerie can’t help but notice the brutal attacks coinciding with the return of Peter. Despite it all, Valerie has to decide if she loves Peter enough to go with him, even if he is the wolf.

The books ends on an ambiguous note..annoyingly setting the stage for a sequel.


I loved the aura of suspense woven into every page. I loved the romance. I especially loved the way the author creates sympathy for whomever is the wolf. Fairy-tales were originally moral lessons for children and taught black and white message with little room for the gray inbetween….I like the idea that the wolf might be a wolf that laments its action, and that the good little heroine might choose to be a scary wolf.

Read Alikes:

Anne of Green Gables

23 Feb

BOOK: Anne of Green Gables

Author: The Legendary Lucy Maud Montgomery

Genre: Classic AND Canadian

Recommended for Ages: 13-18

Scale: 10/10

As a native of Prince Edward Island, I’ve been mercilessly hit over the head with Anne and Gilbert merchandise  for my entire life. It’s  impossible to live on the Island and not be impacted  by the fat tourist dollars that the little ginger orphan brings to our fair shores. We celebrate Anne with two musicals, three fake tourists sites, a themed gold course,  an “Anne” tour of the Island, dolls, gross baggy T-shirts, an ice cream flavor, raspberry soda, and tourists can even buy straw hats with detachable red braids.

Clearly, my province has felt no shame in capitalizing on this great Canadian masterpiece.

I feel slightly guilty that I’ve gone  twenty-four years without actually reading the original. I never tackled the first Anne book because I already knew the story. My mom read an illustrated shortened version of Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid, I devoured the rest of the Anne books as a young adult, and was unnaturally obsessed with the movie series. Reading the original  had always struck me as a colossal waste of time. Not unlike watching a movie when you’ve already been told the ending.

I was wrong. It is fantastic. Everyone should read it.

Plot Summary: Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, brother and sister who live together at Green Gables a farm in the fictional village of Avonlea decide to adopt a boy from the local orphanage. Instead, they are sent a freckled red-haired girl named Anne. She is imaginative, bright, and extremely likable. At first, the Cuthberts debate the idea of sending her back, but they come to love and care for her. Most of the book chronicles her adventures, friendships, and budding courtship with the handsome Gilbert. The book ends on a semi-somber note when kind-hearted Matthew dies of a heart attack after learning of the loss of his and Marilla’s money in a bank failure.


Why do most famous orphans in literature have red hair?  Little Orphan Annie, Pippi Longstocking, and Anne all have bring red tresses, braids, and a smattering of freckles. The coincidence is unsettling.

Other than that strange little aside, I think that Anne is a wonderful, marvelous, and relatable book. Even though the book is set in the early 1900’s, young adult readers can still relate to Anne’s problems: Anne’s hatred of her hair color, her rivalries and fights with classmates, wish for material things (the dress with puffed sleeves), and fear of abandonment. These are the things that make Anne of Green Gables a truly timeless story.

I also think that Anne is a feminist character. She’s strong, tough, and smart. She saves Minnie May (Diana Berry’s little sister) from certain death, refuses to accept Gilbert Blythe’s apology, and is stubborn enough to stand up to the intimidating village busy body that is Rachel Lynne.

Anne is a perfect role model for young female readers.

Read alikes:

The rest of the Anne series.

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters

3 Feb

BOOK: Confessions of the Sullivian Sisters

Author: The sometimes wonderful Natalie Standiford

Genre: Diary/Confessional

Recommended Ages: 14 and up

Scale: 7.5/10

Summary: Well. The back of the back really sums it up better than I ever could. If nobody objects, I’m going to go ahead and indulge in a little copy and paste.

The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.

Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year’s Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.

And so the confessions begin..


There are three Sullivan sisters and the book is divided into three separate sections, each of which describes the supposed “crime” committed by each sister. The parts are drastically different and sadly disjointed. The first section of the books is written by the oldest and most beautiful sister, Norrie. She’s clever and in love and this part of the book is wonderful to read. The narrative is strong and readers will enjoy the rich descriptions of  swimming holes, older boys, and her family’s magnificent mansion. Her confession to her grandmother involves running away with a boy to New York for three days while she was supposed to be attending cottilion and its her confession that I find funnest to read. It’s romantic and kind of magical.

Jane is the second eldest sister and she is the black sheep of the family. Jane’s not popular at school and has gotten into trouble for stripping during a school play. She’s a smoker and wants to be known as a “tough girl”. Her confession surrounds a blog that she writes about her family in which her grandmother is portrayed as being a gold-digger.  I think that middle school readers  will especially enjoy Jane’s confession. It deals with school fights between friends, online bullying, and readers will probably understand/ relate to the emotions that are revealed in Jane’s confession.

It’s Sassy’s confession the truly boggles the mind. The youngest Sullivan is quirky and strange and not as bright as the other two sisters. Sassy believes that she is immortal and is hit by cars several times throughout the book. In the her confession she writes that it is her fault that her grandfather dies, because he had a stroke just after hitting her with his car.

Obviously, this was a bit hard to swallow.  I had difficulty relating to Sassy’s character and really disliked this section of the book.

Overall, this book is enjoyable. But not awesome.