Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl and PoLiesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won this ARC on Goodreads and I’m so glad I did. I loved this book. Liesl and Po is Oliver’s first middle grade book (she wrote the young adult books Before I Fall and Delirium), and what a debut. I almost teared up just from reading her letter at the beginning of the book, and you can tell she poured her soul into every page.

Here are some things I loved:

- How Po's physicality changes with his mood.

- How the voice feels like you're being read a bedtime story, complete with your favorite blanket and a mug of hot chocolate.

- How she takes huge grown up issues and makes them approachable for a middle grade audience without watering down the emotion.

- How the story follows a few characters and plot lines. It’s such a fast read because you can’t wait to see what happens when the characters meet. I devour books like that.

- And, also, I loved Bundle the Ghost Dog-Cat!

Like most debut authors, Oliver visits some common tropes of the genre, but while some of the themes and elements in this book felt familiar, Liesl and Po never felt clich├ęd. For me, the familiarity gave the book a nostalgic feel.

Oliver paints a vivid picture of this grey, bleak world and the people in it. I especially enjoyed the stepmother and her warts that pulsated with her mood. I know her ugliness bothered some people, but I didn’t see this as an ugly = evil book. The Lady Premiere is evil, and she isn’t ugly. And I don’t remember Will or Mo being described as gorgeous.

The ugly = evil issue is overdramatized in my opinion. Guess what. Lord Voldemort is ugly and no one cares. I think the ugliness/beauty of a character in relation to their personality bothers people a lot more when the character in question is female. But back to Liesl and Po…

My only issue with this story was I wish we had gotten to find out what Po’s story was and also what happened to the guard’s sister. Oh, and while I love the cover, the action taking place on the cover isn’t entirely accurate.

Overall, a fantastic book, and I can't wait to see what's next from Lauren Oliver.

Recommend for: Anyone looking for a good middle grade read, especially kids dealing with the loss of a friend or family member.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Falcons Rise Up!

We went to the Falcons-Eagles game last weekend as the final segment of Zack's month-long birthday extravaganza. It was probably the best pro football game I've ever been to (the best college game being either Ga Tech v. Auburn 2003 or Ga Tech v. Clemson 2004). And we took the little one.

Here's a picture of Zack and Ansley waiting for a MARTA train. (Please note her infant sized Matty Ice jersey.)

Little does he know that in less than an hour, he'll be vigorously groped by the Georgia Dome staff. Thanks to a moronic Cowboy fan (of course his name is Leroy) who got taser happy at a Jets game, every NFL game is now stationed with security guards who are grabbier than a teenage boy at prom.

After getting some chicken tenders (Zack) and some cinnamon covered almonds (Me), we made our way to our seats (Thanks, Maxie!). The game was opened by none other than Mr. Go the F@k to Sleep himself, Samuel L. Jackson.

Since we were worried about the noise level, Ansley wore headphones. They seemed to work because she passed out during the 1st quarter.

With Michael Vick bringing his new team, the Eagles, to Atlanta for the first time, this game was huge. It started out great. Falcons - 21. Eagles - 10. Seven of those points belonged to Roddy White (Fantasy Points!), but rookie Julio Jones was an unexpected star.

I went to the bathroom thinking everything was great. By the time I got back, the Eagles had turned the ball over once and scored twice. Zack requested that I not go to the bathroom for the rest of the game.

Then Vick got hurt and had to leave the game. And Matt Ryan took a rough hit too - the kind that made Falcons fans across the stadium bite their nails. Or, in Ansley's case, her Falcons flag.

But the Falcons won in the end. Check out that score board.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The YA Curator

Exciting news! I'm now part of an indie book recommendation site with some friends who also love reading and writing Young Adult books.

Check it out: The YA Curator

I was trying to figure out exactly how to describe what we do, and decided it would be much easier to paste Dawn's description directly from The YA Curator site:

We’re a group of Young Adult writers and enthusiasts who are spelunking the depths of the internet to find self-published and small press gems. Every Wednesday, one of us will post a review of a book we RECOMMEND. No bad reviews here. Just things we think you may enjoy reading.

Have a book you’d like us to consider? Remember it must be YA. If it is, tweet us the title & genre along with a link. We don’t read everything – only things that pique our interest.

Twitter: @TheYACurator

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Nutrition Nuclear Arms Race

As far as nutrition and being a mommy goes, I feel like nothing is ever good enough.


Mom 1: My kids are eating boneless skinless chicken breasts.

Mom 2: Mine too. And we buy our chicken from a local free range farm.

Mom 1: Oh, so do we. And our farm names their chickens and lets them do water color paintings.

It never ends! And it's ridiculous! And the ladies at Rants From Mommyland agree, and there's a hilarious post about it that involves that new My Plate thing from the USDA.

For the past couple months I've been driving myself crazy with trying to make homemade organic baby food (looking up recipes, pureeing like crazy, freezing the food in little IKEA ice cube trays so Ansley can have wholesome homemade vegetable goodness in the shape of hearts and stars). Well, this week I'm saying screw it. I'm buying Earth's Best and calling it a day. It's good to know I'm not alone :-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Decatur Book Festival

I had so much fun at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend. Hearing some of my favorite authors speak (Libba Bray, Lauren Myracle, Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Perkins, and lots more!), getting books signed, and hanging out with writer friends.

Here are a few highlights (also Hayley does a fantastic job of describing the festival on her blog):

- Mad Libs with Libba Bray. And Libba Bray in general. She is hilarious. The room was packed during her talk, so I had to watch it in the overflow room (a room with a screen showing what was going on in the main room). And even the overflow room was standing room only AND I had to throw bows to get one of those standing-against-the-wall spots.

- Meeting Lauren Myracle (one of my most favorite authors evah!) and getting some books signed. She was super nice even though I kind of acted like a spaz because I was so excited about meeting her.

- Stephanie Perkins asking me to take a picture of her with Lisa McMann (we were sitting behind them during Lauren Myracle's talk). Of course, I couldn't figure out how to work her camera phone and accidentally turned on the voice command, but luckily Regan was there to swoop in and save the day.

Here's the one Stephanie Perkins took of Regan, Hayley, and me:

Can't wait till next year!