Omnia by Laura Gallego, Jordi Castells (Translation)

Summary:

Where else but Omnia would a boy go looking to replace a one-of-a-kind stuffed bunny that happens to be his baby sister’s favorite toy? Scrolling through the online retailer’s extensive inventory, Nico finds what looks like a perfect match, but the item is lost somewhere in the vast Omnia warehouse. He doesn’t believe it, so he stows away in a shipment being returned to the warehouse to search for the bunny himself.

Nico quickly gets stranded on the island of Omnia, a fantastical place that does much more than sell everyday items. It is a hub for a business with intergalactic reach, and while stray visitors to Omnia are welcomed warmly, they are not permitted to leave, ever.

The adventure of a lifetime awaits Nico as he searches for the beloved toy and tries to find a way to return home.

My take: 5 looks

Read in one sitting, this book brought smiles to my face over and over again.

Nico feels bad about inadvertently putting his sister’s favorite stuffed animal, one from his mother’s childhood, no less, in the pile for donation. When he searches for a replacement, there are none to be found. However, his friend Mei Ling reminds him of an Amazon-type site called Onnia, who boasts to have “Anything you could ever dream of.”

Through a series of decisions, calculations, and tumbles, Nico finds himself in the middle of the Omnia world, with robots, aliens, new friends, odd items, and lots and lots of rules. It seems that Nico will never be able to find his way home, much less the bunny which started the adventure in the first place.

Told with such wit and cleverness, this is the perfect book to read aloud to upper-elementary or junior high students. A thoroughly delightful tale, this is highly recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley for a pre-release galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The Book of SpeculationSummary:

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

My take: 3 looks

Not at all what I expected. It was a blend of mystical realism – dysfunctional family – coming of age rolled into one. It was an easy read, and entertaining, but it didn’t quite meet my expectations in the writing.

For example, I was confused by the first-person vs. third-person narration in the book. It may have had rhyme and reason, but it seemed to come and go, not really paving a path that made sense to me. Also, there were characters who I think Swyler intended to evoke compassion, but I found annoying instead. I think the house should have played a more major role, even to the point of becoming one of the characters. Instead it was sent to the side, as a wallflower.

The back and forth in time was a nice touch, and how the past meets the present is interesting, but I lacked too much here to give more than three looks. However, it is recommended.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Summary:
This black-and-white illustrated, ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large package containing a toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Milo drives through the tollbooth’s gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets characters such as the watchdog named Tock, the foolish, yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, the not-so-wicked “Which,” and King Azaz the Unabridged who gives Milo the mission of returning the two princesses Rhyme and Reason to the Kingdom of Wisdom.

My take: 5 stars and a

There is not enough to say about this book. It is a wonderfully enchanting play on words. It is full of life lessons and unforgettable characters. In short, this is a book that everyone who loves books should read, own, discuss, and read again.

Highly prized and recommended.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen

Summary:
Twenty-seven-year-old Josey is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season; she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle; and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night. Until she finds her closet harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tender-hearted woman who is one part nemesis – and two parts fairy godmother.

My take: 4 looks
Goodness, how I love Sarah Addison Allen books. She is real, whimsical, and mystical all at once. That’s quite the combination! And I love books in which books are a main character. And the books in this book are hilarious!

Main character Josey is strong, capable and a little damaged, just like most women in the world. She is a very likable character, and you are rooting for her from the first page.

Surrounded by flawed characters, each person has a struggle to work through, and does so beautifully throughout the story. It’s a book about love, overcoming fear, accepting fate, and letting go of the past. Wrap that up with a bow of magically appearing books and the hint of a murder, and you have a delicious reading treat!

Recommended.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Summary:

This is the book that C.S. Lewis intended to be the first in his landmark series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Here we are introduced to Polly and Digory, who are tricked by Digory’s Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment that transports them into the adventure of a lifetime. After being hurled into the Wood Between the Worlds, the children encounter the evil queen Jadis, who accidentally accompanies the children back to England and wrecks havoc on the streets of London. When Polly and Digory finally take the queen away from London, they find themselves lost in a place that will soon be known as Narnia.

My take: 4 looks
This book was in the children’s section of my church library, but it definitely appealed to me. Being familiar with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I was immediately enchanted with the very beginnings of the world of Narnia. C.S. Lewis is a master story teller and deft at the art of allegory.

A friend of mine pointed out that, even though Lewis never fathered children, his ability to write with such tenderness and truth from a child’s point of view is … well, magical. You can easily see the Christian parallels here, and appreciate the truths therein.

I wrote several favorite quotes:

  • What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.
  • The trouble with trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.

I highly recommend this one.

666 Park Avenue by Gabrielle Pierce

Summary:

What if your mother-in-law turned out to be an evil, cold-blooded witch . . . literally?

Ever since fabulously wealthy Malcolm Doran walked into her life and swept her off her feet, fledgling architect Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. When he proposes with a stunning diamond to seal the deal, Jane can’t believe her incredible luck and decides to leave her Paris-based job to make a new start with Malcolm in New York.

But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan’s most feared and revered families, Jane’s fairy tale takes a darker turn. Soon everything she thought she knew about the world—and herself—is upended. Now Jane must struggle with new found magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them.

My take: 3 looks
I have really been looking forward to reading this book. The summary was intriguing and it was a nice change from the vampires that are so popular right now. In the end, it didn’t disappoint. No big life lessons here, but straight fantasy/escape. It was easy to read, light in subject and ended nicely, while paving the way for the next book in the series. The story was a little rushed at times, and many things were a bit beyond belief (and I’m talking the level of the friendships here and not the witchcraft), but any more detail on these extraneous items may have proven to be verbose. I thought it was a tidy, fun read. A little sex, but not overdone.

Rory Gilmore’s Reading List

It’s pretty awesome when a television show sparks a list of books as long as “Gilmore Girls” did. I didn’t watch this show, so I had no idea that the daughter on the show, Rory, was a voracious reader. There are book clubs out there because of this, and people are still challenging themselves to reading all of the books on the list. Awesome!

The list is below, and I have highlighted those books I have already read. I am a bit disappointed that the titles starting with “The” are in the T-section, but we can’t have it all. Overall, I was shamed by the number of books unread. I need to get on the stick!

Enjoy!

The List

  • 1984  (George Orwell)
  • A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole)
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers)
  • Mencken Chrestomathy (H.L. Mencken)
  • A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister (Julie Mars)
  • A Passage to India (E.M. Forster)
  • A Quiet Storm: A Novel (Rachel Howzell Hall)
  • A Room of One’s Own (Virginia Woolf)
  • A Separate Peace (John Knowles)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
  • American Tragedy (Theodore Dreiser)
  • Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
  • Atonement: A Novel (Ian McEwan)
  • Autobiography of a Face (Lucy Grealy)
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Kijie)
  • Bee Season (Myla Goldberg)
  • Bel Canto (Ann Patchett)
  • Beloved (Toni Morrison)
  • Beowulf
  • Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  • Brick Lane (Monica Ali)
  • Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  • The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (Eudora Welty)
  • Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems (Edgar Allan Poe)
  • Cousin Bette (Honoré de Balzac)
  • Crime and Punimensht (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  • Daisy Miller (Henry James)
  • David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)
  • Dead Souls (Nikolai Gogol)
  • Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller)
  • Demons (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt (Blanche Wiesen Cook)
  • Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipgrammatic Epistaolary Fable (Mark Dunn)
  • Emma (Jane Austen)
  • Empire Falls (Richard Russo)
  • Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)
  • Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door 2007: The Travel Skills Handbook (Rick Steves)
  • Extravagance: A Novel (Gary Krist)
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
  • Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World (Greg Critser)
  • Flowers for Algernon
  • Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
  • Franny and Zooey (J.D. Salinger)
  • Galapagos (Kurt Vonnegut)
  • Hamlet (William Shakespeare)
  • Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
  • Holidays on Ice: Stories (David Sedaris)
  • How the Light Gets in (M. J. Hyland)
  • How to Breathe Underwater (Julie Orringer)
  • Howl (Allen Ginsberg)
  • Inherit the Wind (Jerome Lawrence)
  • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
  • Just a Couple of Days (Tony Vigorito)
  • Leaves of Grass (Walt Witman)
  • Letters to a Young Poet (Rainer Maria Rilke)
  • Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  • Little Dorrit (Charles Dickens)
  • Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
  • Living History (Hillary Rodham Clinton)
  • Lord of the Flies William Golding)
  • Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris)
  • Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (Simone de Beauvoir)
  • Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides)
  • Moby-Dick (Herman Melville)
  • Monsieur Proust (Celeste Albaret)
  • Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
  • My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath (Seymour M. Hersh)
  • My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru (Tim Guest)
  • My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult)
  • Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature (Jan Lars Jensen)
  • New Poems of Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson)
  • Night (Elie Wiesel)
  • Dawn Powell: Novels 1930-1942 (Dawn Powell)
  • Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
  • Old School (Tobias Wolff)
  • Oliver Twist (Oliver Twist)
  • On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)
  • Oracle Night (Paul Auster)
  • Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood)
  • Othello (William Shakespeare)
  • Out of Africa (Isak Dinesen)
  • Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (Legs McNeil)
  • Property (Valerie Martin)
  • Pushkin: A Biography (T.J. Binyon)
  • Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw)
  • Quattrocento (James Mckean)
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (Azar Nafisi)
  • Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad (Virginia Holman)
  • Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (Ira Levin)
  • Sacred Time (Ursula Hegi)
  • Sanctuary (William Faulkner)
  • Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Nancy Milford)
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend (Laura Hillenbrand)
  • Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)
  • Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
  • Small Island (Andrea Levy)
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos (Julia de Burgos)
  • Songbook (Nick Hornby)
  • Speak, Memory (Vladimir Nabokov)
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Mary Roach)
  • Swann’s Way (Marcel Proust)
  • Swimming With Giants: My Encounters With Whales, Dolphins, and Seals (Anne Collett)
  • Sybil (Flora Rheta Schreiber)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
  • Tender Is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Michael Chabon)
  • The Art of War (Sun Tzu)
  • The Awakening (Kate Chopin)
  • The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)
  • The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews (Peter Duffy)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
  • The Code of the Woosters (P.G. Wodehouse)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexander Dumas)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Mark Haddon)
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America (Erik Larson)
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Tom Wolfe)
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
  • The Fortress of Solitude (Jonathan Lethem)
  • The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
  • The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
  • The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • The Group (Mary McCarthy)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  • The Holy Barbarians (lawrence lipton)
  • The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Victor Hugo)
  • The Jungle (Upton Sinclair)
  • The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar (Robert Alexander)
  • The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  • The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 (Gore Vidal)
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
  • The Little Locksmith: A Memoir (Katharine Butler Hathaway)
  • The Lottery: And Other Stories (Shirley Jackson)
  • The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
  • The Manticore (Robertson Davies)
  • The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov)
  • The Meaning of Consuelo (Judith Ortiz Cofer)
  • The Metamorphosis (Ovid)
  • The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer)
  • The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
  • The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri)
  • The Nanny Diaries (Emma McLaughlin)
  • The Opposite of Fate (Amy Tan)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
  • The Polysyllabic Spree (Nick Hornby)
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker (Dorothy Parker)
  • The Portable Nietzsche
  • The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill (Ron Suskind)
  • The Razor’s Edge (W. Somerset Maugham)
  • The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
  • The Rough Guide to Europe 2006 (Various Authors)
  • The Scarecrow of Oz (L. Frank Baum)
  • The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • The Second Sex (Simone De Beauvoir)
  • The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  • The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
  • The Song of Names (Norman Lebrecht)
  • The Song Reader (Lisa Tucker)
  • The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
  • The Story of My Life (Helen Keller)
  • The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
  • The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters (Elisabeth Robinson)
  • Unabridged Journals (Sylvia Plath)
  • The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion)
  • Time and Again (Jack Finney)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • Truth & Beauty: A Friendship (Ann Patchett)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
  • Unless (Carol Shields)
  • Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray)
  • War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
  • When the Emperor Was Divine (Julie Otsuka)
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Edward Albee)
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Gregory Maguire)
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Rebecca Wells)