Sunday, September 21, 2008
I'll preface this review with the cool fact that I met Laurie Halse Anderson a few years ago when our then librarian was able to convince her to come to our school (Croft Middle) to speak to small groups of students. She did the neatest little activity with the kids--she had them randomly list some words and then tell them they could make a story out of them. I loved it. She's a nice, personable lady, and if I hadn't already liked her before, I was really impressed after I saw her in action.
I scooped up Anderson's newest novel, Chains, when our now librarian received it as an ARC a couple of weeks ago. I don't think I've ever been disappointed in a book by Anderson, and this one is no exception. Set during the Revolutionary War, we meet Isabel, an 11 year old (I think) slave who has hopes that she and her younger sister Ruth will be set free as promised upon the death of their mistress. Instead, the mistress's scurrilous nephew not only refuses to free the sisters, he almost immediately sells them to a thoroughly disagreeable woman from New York City. Thus Isabel and her "simple" sister find themselves at the mercy of a mean Loyalist; orphaned and far from home, Isabel plots how to escape while dodging her mistress's hand and insults. Added to her circumstances is Isabel's worry over her little sister's "fits", and this worry is not unfounded; when the mistress discovers Ruth in a spasm, she becomes convinced that the child is possessed by the devil and sells her away from Isabel.
Isabel is a strong character for one so young; she knows her own mind, and secretly educated, she is able to realize what is going on around her in the Loyalist household. Isabel must decide if she's going to use the information she learns to aid the Patriots or the British; uppermost in her mind at all times is what will happen to she and her sister if she is caught. While I was horrified at how Isabel was treated, I was also humbled by her courage and through Anderson's gift of words, able to see her soul of survival even when Isabel herself was having trouble doing so.
Anderson has a way of pulling you into the mind of her characters, and whether historical or modern, you can sense the tension and emotions as the plot unfolds. Though I wondered at times whether Isabel would have thought or done some of the things she did, I felt that Anderson did a very credible job of building suspense and recreating the world of the American Revolution. As usual, Anderson has given us another page turner, and I can easily see many teachers of American history looking for this book as a supplement to their classes. Well written and well executed, Chains brings us the daily life of one small girl who makes a huge difference in a time when she shouldn't have been able to. Recommended!
No Amazon review yet; this one's not available for review until it's officially published.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
How to Ditch Your Fairy is a delightful read! I grabbed it as an ARC from our school librarian last week because I'd *thought* I'd heard something good about it on a book list, though I wasn't sure from the book description that it'd be something I would enjoy. I don't know what I was worried about! It's truly delightful from the first pages when we're introduced to Charlie of New Avalon (where most everyone has a fairy). Poor Charlie's fairy? A parking fairy! Which might possibly come in handy if you're old enough to drive, but is totally bogus when you're a student at the Sports high school and all you want is for the new boy to notice you. So Charlie develops a plan with another girl for a fairy switch...all the while trying to avoid accumulating more demerits and keeping up with school work, and practice. We get updates at the beginning of each chapter a la' Bridget Jones as to Charlie's status for the moment, and it's truly hilarious to see what ensues when Charlie and new friend Fiorenze decide to take things into their own hands.
If you get a chance to read this one, don't pass it up. It's a gem! And while I could nit-pick (who on earth uses "tooth sucking" as much as this author does??), it's really a fun novel that pulls you in and keeps you turning those pages. And really, what reader could ask for more?
Check out my amazon review at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1599903016/ref=cm_cr_thx_view and vote if you enjoy it. I reserve my more in-depth reviews for that particular stage.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I admit it...I like stories set in the Amish country. There's just something about the Amish, the fact that they don't need or want us, that fascinates me. I'm fascinated by the lifestyle and the traditions which seem so foreign to us Englishers. I suppose that's why I continue to pick up Beverly Lewis's works whenever a new book comes out. The Longing is the third in the Courtship of Nellie Mae Fisher trilogy, and it brings the series to a satisfying, if very predictable, close.
The second book in the series left me hanging and ready to move on, and this entry picks up the story nicely. Nellie Mae is mourning the loss of her younger sister Suzy and the ending of her relationship with Caleb, who doesn't believe in the New Order Amish church Nellie's found so intriguing. Nellie's also worried about her older sister Rhoda who has left the Plain life, and her friend Rosanna who has had many miscarriages and has lost her adopted twins. My biggest complaint is that Lewis is often times overly preachy in my view, but once I can get past her need to constantly quote scripture, I can find a good tale set in a place I don't understand but enjoy reading about.
One caveat for Mrs. Lewis, however; it'd be truly nice if she found a different formula for her next series of books. I felt there wasn't much difference in this trilogy than Annie's People, with the Christian situations being very similar. I much preferred her series on Abraham's Daughters which gave us some very different themes. My full Amazon review can be found at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0764203126/ref=cm_cr_thx_view. I hope you'll decide to visit the site and vote. And now blogger is acting weirdly when I try to hit enter, so I'll just sign off here as ~taminator40.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I picked up Necking by Chris Salvatore recently while in Borders just looking around. The cover was probably the selling point for me; love those long red nails (though quite honestly, they really don't play into the story at all). Of course with my love for vampires, the idea of a book publicist who caters to the undead sounded just like something I'd love to read. So, consider this an impulse buy (which, as we all know, sometimes works out and sometimes doesn't).
Overall, I liked Necking. It certainly isn't literary, but it served the vampire purpose; young take charge professional falls for the hot sexy vampire manager of her newest sensation and must decide what she is willing to do in order to be with him. There's lots and lots of sexual tension, and lots of actual sex as well. The two main characters play well off one another, but the detour into a side story of revenge was not only unnecessary but more than a little unfocused (and way too easily solved). I really disliked what Gia the publicist does to her parents; I think the author did a disservice in not finding some other way for her lovers to be together that wasn't so cruel. In fact, I'm still not sure why Gia couldn't simply tell her parents. It's not like they'd give her secret away as long as she's happy. Anyway, I was hoping for more depth; while the banter is good, this isn't a book that's going to stay with me very long.
Biggest gripe? The number of typos! If there was an editor, he or she needs a serious performance review. Lots and lots of misplaced quotation marks which caused me to reread sentences to garner just who was speaking, and sometimes entire words were missing that made the sentence make absolutely no sense as read. The worst? I think it was around page 261 or so when the word "silver" is written "sliver" not once but twice. I had to go back over the paragraphs a few times to believe that yes, indeedy, I was reading it as written. As a casual reader, this would bug me. As a grammarian, it drove me freaking nuts. This wasn't an uncorrected proof, for crying out loud; I paid good money for it and I feel like someone didn't do his/her job. Buyer beware.
My full amazon review (which bumped Harriet Klausner's off the main part of the page--yeah me!) is found at http://www.facebook.com/n/?posted.php&id=848115342&share_id=24659234203&comments#s24659234203. Visit and read if you are looking for more specifics on what I thought of this book.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors has a unique premise among books set in World War Two. After the medical ship Benevolence is torpedoed and sunk in the South Pacific, nine people make it to the shore of a nearby island. There was only supposed to be one: the one who betrayed the ship to the Japanese who sank it.
This is a book about relationships above all else. The captain, Joshua, and his wife Isabelle, both have survived, but has their relationship? The large crewman Jake and Ratu, who was a stowaway, find in each other a relationship that neither realized was missing in their lives. And all of the castaways must come to terms with the gentle Japanese prisoner of war, Akira, who recites poetry but whose past is filled with horrific war atrocities. Do they allow him to become a valued member of the group as they await rescue, or should they continue to treat him as the POW he truly is?
This is a wonderful book though a bit slow at times. The ending leaves you wondering what happens next...some of the relationships obviously need more explanation. Be prepared to have a box of Kleenex nearby as the story progresses, and treat yourself to Shors' rich language and a gorgeous setting fraught with hatred, humanity, and love.
My amazon review (much fuller in length and explanation) can be found at http://tinyurl.com/64hff8. Please visit and vote if you are so inclined.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
This just makes me sad...I don't know what the "leaker" thought would be accomplished, but I doubt it was Meyer completely putting the book on hold.
I hope you're happy, Leaker Person. I know I'm not.
I hope you're happy, Leaker Person. I know I'm not.