Month: February 2014

Also Known As by Robin Benway | Book Review

Posted February 7, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 6 Comments

Also Known As by Robin Benway | Book ReviewAlso Known As by Robin Benway
Series: Also Known As #1
Published by Walker Children's on February 26, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 318
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

Which is more dangerous: being an international spy... or surviving high school?

Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world's premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it's three digits, why bother locking it at all?)

But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she's attending a private school with hundreds of "mean girl" wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school's elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat... all while trying not to blow her cover.

From the hilarious and poignant author of Audrey, Wait! comes a fast-paced caper that proves that even the world's greatest spies don't have a mission plan for love.

I love books about teen spies, and I’m not quite sure why. I love Ally Carter’s Heist Society series, and so I fully expected to love this book as well. And I did! What a breath of fresh air, Also Known As is! Robin Benway is quickly climbing the ladder of beloved authors, because I have not yet read a book from her that I have not adored! I thought Audrey, Wait! was wonderful, but Also Known As was perfection. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I think my favorite part of the book is the snark and sarcasm. These characters are hilarious, and I laughed throughout the entire book. I love it when an author is genuinely funny and not trying to be funny by inserting cheesy lines that have you laughing as a result of uncomfortable cheesiness.

2. I love the main character, Maggie. She and her parents are part of this spy organization called The Collective, and she is an amazing safe cracker. She’s never been on an assignment by herself before, so she makes some mistakes… like falling for her assignment. I love how quirky and dorky she is. She is not a normal girl, and you can totally see the awkwardness dripping from the pages. She warmed my heart.

3. Maggie makes a friend while she is undercover, and her name is Roux. Oh my gosh, I love this girl. I think I love her more than Maggie. She’s a mean girl who got a huge dose of karma, and is now the social outcast. Her new status has made her very uninhibited, and the girl has no filter. She gloms on to Maggie, and the two become inseparable. Can I have this girl over for some girl talk, please? She is so much fun, but also broken as a result of her absent parents. This brokenness gives her depth, though. Love her.

4. Jesse is adorable. I mean really. Initially I was not his biggest fan, just because he comes off as this entitled, spoiled rich kid. But then we are given the opportunity to get to know him, and he’s just so sweet and caring!

5. Angelo. Oh. My. Can I have an uncle like him? He’s this suave, debonair, dapper older gentleman who is also part of The Collective. He is a very close friend of Maggie and her family. I love his relationship with Maggie most of all. He is just so loving, and he adores her in this grandfatherly way. I just found him to be so charming and likable.

6. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I loved these characters so much. They made the story for me.

7. The adventure was pretty awesome, too!

All in all, Also Known As is wonderful. I have no complaints, and can’t wait to finish Going Rogue which I started as soon as I finished this one. If you like spy stories, funny characters, adventure, and romance than give this one a shot!

5 Stars

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg | Book Thoughts

Posted February 5, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Inner Child, Middle Grade, That Artsy Librarian / 14 Comments

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg | Book ThoughtsFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on 1967
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 162
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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4 Stars

When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort-she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because be was a miser and would have money.

Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie bad some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she bad discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.

I’m grateful to be in a class that forces me to read all the books I missed out on when I hated reading as a child! Since this book is so widely known and loved, I figured I would just list out some of my thoughts on it instead of actually review it. These thoughts come from my required reading notes for class, so they are a bit more professional than my usual fangirl reviews. I will state outright, though, that I really enjoyed this book!

– I feel like many children will be able to relate to Claudia, the main girl in the story. She is 12 years old, the oldest child, the only girl in her family, and she feels under-appreciated. She has big dreams to do something important and be noticed. I know how hard it is to be the oldest child, and I think children will be able to empathize with her.

– Claudia is also very analytical and practical. She has a plan. She chooses to bring her brother, James, because he is levelheaded and has the most money. I love that Claudia is a thinker, and works through all possible outcomes. She’s also very mature and mild-mannered for her age. She really is a wonderful example.

– I love that James is so tight with his money, even though he can take it a bit too far and drive Claudia crazy, as she is used to nice things. This idea of the value of money is a very common theme across the entire book.

– Education is emphasized as being very important. Even though Claudia and Jamie have run away and are kind of on vacation, Claudia wants them to learn everything there is to learn about the museum. They study different exhibits together and join school group field trips. Claudia is also concerned about keeping up with current events, and wants to buy a newspaper. James is curious, and asks the tour guide questions about the exhibits. The children also go to the library to research Michelangelo’s life and work, in order to solve the mystery behind the angel statue. I really like that art is the focus, as art education is not offered as much in schools as it used to be.

– The mystery aspect of the story will appeal to many children. Claudia and James decide to try and discover whether or not Michelangelo carved the mysterious angel statue. As they find more and more clues, readers will anticipate and speculate the ending. The book also encourages reader participation, prompting them to make their own guesses.

– There are some funny moments that I’m sure kids will enjoy, like when James tries to communicate telepathically with Claudia.

– I thought it was incredibly sweet that when Sunday rolled around, Claudia was concerned about their spirituality. They end up going to a chapel in the Middle Ages exhibit to say their prayers. I found this to be a wonderful example of children doing the right thing, and think parents would appreciate this little scene.

All in all, this was a very sweet book. I loved the setting, as the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite places ever. I loved the relationship between the two children, and how they stick together and really bond. I loved their quirky little personalities, their values, curiosity, their maturity, and their consciences. I loved that they wanted so badly to make an important contribution to the art world. I really enjoyed the traditional language used, and you can tell this book was written during a different time. I will definitely be recommending this book to young readers, or readers who are young at heart. It was such a fun adventure!


This book was read for my Children’s Literature class as part of my Master’s in Library and Information Science program. It is also not a conventional book review, as the books is already so well-loved and well-known by so many people, that I would rather share my thoughts instead of review it.

4 Stars

The Prince by Kiera Cass | Mini Book Review

Posted February 3, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 2 Comments

The Prince by Kiera Cass | Mini Book ReviewThe Prince by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #.5
Published by HarperTEEN on March 5, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 64
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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2 Stars

Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection...

Before Aspen broke America's heart...

There was another girl in Prince Maxon's life...

Don't miss this thrilling 64-page original novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel The Selection.

I was really excited to read The Prince, because I was intrigued by his life before the Selection. I wanted to get to know Maxon on a more intimate level so that I could better understand his decisions and is desires in a wife. While I did enjoy reading about his life before, I was a bit disappointed in the little information I received.

I would not label this as a prequel to the story, even though it is listed as being .5 in the series. A very small part of this takes place before the Selection, and even then it’s only a few days before the girls are selected. This “other girl” the synopsis mentions was not even worth mentioning, and I felt like I was a bit deceived. I was expecting some sweeping romance that Maxon was forbidden to pursue, or some unrequited love that caused him to choose the Selection over finding love conventionally. That’s not the case at all.

I enjoyed delving into Prince Maxon’s thoughts, but I also felt like I was wasting my time because of the subject matter of the book. I felt like Maxon was an open book in The Selection. I pretty much knew how he was feeling. Most of this book tells the exact same story as The Selection. It’s just from Maxon’s point of view. But like I said before, I was not wondering what he was thinking during The Selection. Instead of getting a new story, I got to read all about which girls were selected again. I got to read his first conversation with America again, just with his inner dialogue. I got tired of reading the same thing. Some of the sentences seemed to be taken straight from The Selection. I started wondering what the point of this novella was.

I’m sure my feelings come from the fact that I read The Prince the day after I read The Selection. Everything was very fresh in my mind, and I did not need to be re-reading things. I feel like this book is not really worth it if you’ve read The Selection, unless it has been a while and you would like a refresher before jumping into The Elite. If you’re wanting an easy way to decide if you DO want to read The Selection, this would be a good way to do that. I’m disappointed that I did not learn any more about Maxon than I knew before, however, I do think it was nice of Kiera to write this in a way that does not make this novella a mandatory read.

2 Stars