About Me

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Cher-y-lynne {sher-uhl-lin} –noun 1. One who formerly sold and recommended children’s books at a bookstore; a specialist in young adult, middle grade, and picture books. 2. A para-educator at a middle school. 3. A struggling young adult writer. 4. A lover of chocolate and popcorn. Archaic: An Audiology and Speech Language Pathology major at Brigham Young University. Questions? Suggestions? Books you'd like me to review? E-mail me at cherylynne1 (at) gmail (dot) com.
This is a blog for my ranting, raving, and occasionally brilliant opinions. You have been warned. Enter at your own risk.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Review: The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson by Carol Lynch Williams

Williams, Carol Lynch. The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson. New York: Delacorte Press, 1997.

Cara doesn't know her crying at night wakes me up. And there's not a lot I can do, 'cause I'm scared, too.

Caitlynne and Cara live in perpetual terror of their abusive and unpredictable mother. And when their mother abandons them for the summer in order to work on her novel without distractions, Caitlynne is torn between fear of being alone and relief at not worrying about her mother's mood swings. Left with nothing but a refrigerator of food and forty-three dollars to live an entire summer on, Caitlynne and Cara must rely on each other to survive.

A balancing act between the horrifying and the downright fun. I think juveniles always love the idea of being left on their own, and there are some fun things that happen during that time. But the mother is terrifying. I wish we could have seen a little more of her being kind. Her past kindness is alluded to, but I wonder if the narrator is just unreliable,because she truly does love her mother. It seems to ring true of how kids trapped in a abusive homes really are. I liked the question of what kind of person the grandmother is, that gives the reader some room to debate. And I love the boy. He’s adorable. I wonder sometimes if the neighbors were irresponsible, but I suppose it makes them more realistic. People rarely want to get involved in other people's problems. There are plenty of things to keep you thinking long after you finish the last page.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon. The Goose Girl. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2003.

Then the queen said, "Do not fear that this sad day means more than the end of this king's life. We will go on. I will continue as your queen and keeper of the realm. An in that distant day when you will carry my body to this place, my noble and capable son Calib-Loncris will be ready to take up the scepter and crown."

Ani looked up, her mouth slightly agape. Selia at her side pinched her arm.

"Did you hear that, Crown Princess?"

Ani shook her head slowly. "She made a mistake. She must be...she is confused in her sorrow, that's all."

"Calib doesn't look confused," said Selia.

The Goose Girl is a retelling of a lesser-known Grimms's fairy tale. Ani is the crown princess of Kildenree, trying desperately to overcome her natural affinity for animals to please her mother and become accepted as the future queen. But when her mother betrays her and ships her off to be a strange prince's bride in a neighboring country, she realizes that she will need whatever skills she has to save herself from the onslaught of betrayals that will come from those she once trusted.

My new favorite book. I loved it. Yes, the ending was obvious, yes, of course he was the prince (duh) but I don’t care. I wanted a happy ending and I got it. Talk about escapist fantasy. And I love that Ani wasn’t a tomboy being forced to be a princess. She was a sweet smart girl that wanted to be princess, and wanted to be a good one. I can relate to that. I’m not a tomboy, I hate princesses that are like that. And Shannon was able to explain the politics of the society without boring us to tears, which is what usually happens in fantasy. Sleeping Beauty used to be my favorite fairy tale…I think I’ve changed my mind. Shannon has such a lyrical style, I honestly felt like I was in bed listening to my mother read me fairy tales again. Simply beautiful.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Review: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon. Princess Academy. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005.

14-year-old Miri has never been allowed to work in the quarry. She believes it is because of her small stature, and is jealous of her sister and all the others that go and contribute to the village. But when the kingdom's priests divine that the prince will marry a girl from Miri's village, a tutor is sent out to prepare the girls for the more "civilized" world of the lowlands. And now Miri finally has the chance to show her own talents, and perhaps even marry a prince. But with her newfound knowledge comes secrets that the kingdom has hidden from the village for centuries. Secrets that could change everything.

Interesting. Hard to put down. I liked that being a princess wasn’t the happy ending. It’s nice to know that heroines can be happy without getting the prince. I liked that I didn’t know exactly what the happiest ending would be until I got it. I was so torn for so long, and then BAM! We discover the only possible happy ending. Fantastic. Definitely a teenage girl book.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Book Review: My Angelica by Carol Lynch Williams

Williams, Carol Lynch. My Angelica. New York: Delacorte Press, 1999.

Angelica performed CPR on her Indian lover. His lips were blue. Both of his eyes were closed. At least, Angelica thought they were. One eye was covered by a bearskin eye patch. The other lay limply in its socket.
Angelica's perfectly curled hair trembled with fear. Her white-gloved hands looked even whiter on her lover's bare chest. "Get up, 247 Bears. Get up!" Angelica yodeled like an American Indian banshee.
Suddenly the piece of deer meat spewed forth from his mouth. The dark-haired man breathed deeply, then stood on his own two feet.
Angelica, he signed to her. You have saved me. Will you be my squaw?

15-year-old Sage's mother is a famous romance writer, and Sage knows that writing is her destiny too. She also knows that her character, Angelica, will be her claim to fame, the smart, strong, sexy character that will rocket her to the top. But George, Sage's best friend, knows something that Sage doesn't...her writing is atrocious. He puts up with it patiently for years, but when Sage announces she plans to enter her novel in a writing contest at the school, George knows he must find a way to stop her before she is humiliated.

Quite literally could not put it down. Usually I don’t like clueless girls, but Sage is so loveable. I think maybe it helped that we saw her through George’s eyes, and he showed us the good side of her. I loved George! What a sweetheart. And Angelica! Oh, Angelica! I would feel bad about laughing at her so much, but I know that the first female president would simply wipe away a sensitive tear with a gloved hand without disturbing any make-up and run to her eye-patched lover and press passionately against his perfect chest—without, of course, disturbing a single strand of her perfect curls—and all would be well. So I feel no guilt at laughing at Angelica all I want. Williams's humor will keep you laughing the whole way through. A phenomenal book for teenagers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: Surrender by Sonya Hartnett

Hartnett, Sonya. Surrender. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2005.

I remember my first sight of him - the sound and scavenger look of him - surrounded by summer; I remember the stillness of the day and the density of the air. Neither of us was older than nine or ten. I was skimming a car along the garden fence when Finnigan crossed the brink of my vision. At first I feigned ignorance or disdain of his presence, but the car beneath my fingertips bunny-hopped and soon stalled. I slid a glance at him. At school we had seen a wildlife film projected onto a wall, and the boy who was watching me was a hyena. His dark eyes were set apart and seemed to have no arena of white. He didn't move or say a thing but I knew, just from his watching, that he could sever my arm. We were the same height and same age and built along similar leggy lines, but he was a hyena while I was a small, ashy, alpine moth. From the footpath side of the fence he stared at me, and my gaze floated grudgingly from the toy. He swiped a fly from his face. "You're that boy," he said.

". . .What boy?"

"You know. That boy. You know. What you did. Everybody knows."

At twenty years old, Gabriel is on his deathbed, looking back on his childhood. When he was only a child, he made a pact with a wild child named Finnigan...Finnigan would be all bad, and Gabriel would be all good. But when a series of arsons begin to break out around their small town, Gabriel begins to realize how dangerous and out of control Finnigan really is.

This is the novel I’ve always wanted to write. I figured out the twist by the second chapter, but the dog threw me for awhile, I couldn’t figure out who was taking care of him. That was clever. And even though I knew he must have murdered someone, I was shocked to find out who. Great climax, I was taken by surprise. She has a great style of writing, but I wonder how accessible she is to teens. I know adults and supersmart teens would like reading it, but what about the rest of them?