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By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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At the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Catherine!) I bought Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air for my six-year-old boy for Christmas. It’s a beauty of a book, written by Stewart Ross and illustrated by Stephen Biesty (of Incredible Cross-Sections fame). Each chapter follows a different explorer and includes a gorgeous fold out map and diagram of the explorer’s route and travel style.
I highly, highly recommend it. Reading it straight through from beginning to end isn’t something my son is ready for (the text is geared toward a slightly older audience), but he likes to pick a small section for me to read at a time, and he always chooses a fold-out to study. He wants to read every label for all the parts (not unlike his fascination with Richard Scarry’s books).
I love that feeling of just sort of soaking in the book, meandering through and getting to know it bit by bit, landing on favorite parts and coming back to them again and again on a nonlinear journey. It reminds me of my own love for the Oxford University Press story collections as a kid. Beautifully illustrated by Victor Ambrus, they were these great kid-friendly versions of the Canterbury Tales, the great ballets, and King Arthur’s tales, among others. Sadly, they look to be out of print now, but I think I’ll have to chase down some copies to have as our own. Click here for a few cover images from Victor Abrus’s website.
I didn’t understand everything about those tales at the time, but when I re-encountered them later in school, it was thrilling to realize I already had a framework in place. The stories were familiar and felt like they were already mine. I’m always hoping to give my kids some experiences like that, and I hope Into the Unknown will be one of them.
The elementary school had its book character parade last week, and my son wanted to dress like Marco Polo. We didn’t find a picture of him in the book, but we found an 18th century illustration online:
We found a silk jacket at the thrift store (100% real! reversible!), along with a faux fur shrug we could use for the hat. I made the hat (two U-shaped pieces sewn along the curve) from an old T-shirt with a double-thickness of sweatshirt underneath for body. I tacked the fur band around the bottom.
Since I’m working on a nonfiction children’s book myself, I have a new appreciation for just how much research goes into something like this. I can’t imagine how long it must’ve taken Mr. Ross and Mr. Biesty to create this handsome book. Bravo!
Speaking of nonfiction for children, I just ordered a couple from my favorite local indie, Park Road Books. Amy Karol of angry chicken recommended two comic-type books, one about the presidents and another about the Greek myths: Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunder, and Where Do Presidents Come From? They sounded so good that I called up Park Road right away. I’ll be there tonight for the spring author line up, sponsored by the local chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.
For more posts about books, click here. For more posts about costumes, click here. (Boy! I seem to make/ assemble a lot!)
P.S. Family: I’d like to get this book (Into the Unknown) for the oldest nephews, so I’m calling dibs now. Sorry!
Last God Standing
Author: Michael Boatman
Series: First in series.
Published: April 3 2014 by Angry Robot
Length: 400 pages
Other info: Book 2, Who Wants to be the Prince of Darkness comes Spring 2015
Summary : When God decides to quit and join the human race to see what all the fuss is about, all Hell breaks loose.Sensing his abdication, the other defunct gods of Earth’s vanquished pantheons want a piece of the action He abandoned.Meanwhile, the newly-humanised deity must discover the whereabouts and intentions of the similarly reincarnated Lucifer, and block the ascension of a murderous new God.How is he ever going to make it as a stand-up comedian with all of this going on…?
Review: Yahweh, aka the Abrahamic god, has decided he's had enough of being God. Therefore, he quits, joins the Human Race and tries to live life as a stand-up comic. However, with gods of old pantheons trying to take his place, and a now-human Lucifer to deal with, this isn't going to be easy.
I was really looking forwards to this. Multiple pantheons, all the myths, all wrapped up with a big dose of comedy? Right up my street.
It starts off well. The dramatis personae sets up an interesting c premise, featuring my favourite gods from various mythologies, plus a few more I was less familiar with.
Lando has a good voice. I liked him and his comedy could be good if it wasn't wrapped up in a whole load of other stuff. I also liked Yuri, Lando's family, and Suhrabi. I love the way the gods are presented-Zeus and the Morrigan especially.
The thing that let it down most was the plot, and the way it just went ways I don't really get. The bit with Hannibal got good at the start, then relaxed a bit earlier than I was expecting. The whole thing with Lucifer, Gabriel and the angels was very predictable, but turned out well. But then there's this whole bit in the middle where I think Lando swaps bodies or something with another guy. I say I think. I honestly don't know what happened there, but it changed Lando for the last quarter of the book. Also, the god battles, while fun, were also a bit confusing in that they went everywhere in time and space and were hard to follow.
Also, I didn't get the comedy that I was promised, apart from in small bits ie introduction of the gods. Or maybe it just wasn't my kind of humour. Either way, sadness from that.
Despite this, I will read book two. Just because Hell. And game shows.
Overall: Strength 2 tea to a book with a really good premise that just wasn't put together as well as I was hoping.
Book: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4. 2014
Source: ARC from a friend
In the Herrani city conquered and occupied by the forces of the Valorian empire, everything and everybody has their place. Kestrel knows what's expected of her, as General Trajan's daughter. She will either join the military or she will marry. Either way, she will take a predetermined place in the adult world by her twentieth birthday.
Unfortunately, at seventeen she's miserably unsuited for either. In spite of her clever strategic mind, she's only okay at actual combat with actual weapons after years of training. And she can't think of a single Valorian man she's willing to marry. The only thing she truly loves is music, and making music is not a suitable pastime for a Valorian lady. It is the business of slaves.
It's music that prompts her to purchase Arin, a Herrani slave. But he refuses to sing. In spite of that, the conquerer's daughter and the conquered man find themselves drawing closer to each other. And it's getting noticed, by Herrani slaves and Valorian high society alike.
But Arin is embroiled in a plot to rescue his homeland from the iron grip of the Valorian empire. When the revolution explodes, the only safety for the conquerer's daughter is with the man who betrayed her country.
And maybe not even there.
Before I delve into this book, I'd like you to have a look at that cover. Go ahead. Study it hard. That girl in a pretty dress, swooning, clutching onto the lettering for dear life, letting a dagger slip from her fingers. Is that Kestrel? To me, it wasn't, and thus I spent most of this book in a quiet simmer of WTF over that cover, while enjoying what was beneath it very much.
Honestly, I was so put off by this cover (I'm really really over the swoony girls in opulent dresses thing, guys) that it was only a cover blurb from Kristen Cashore that got me to try it. I'm so glad I did. It's a love story, true, but it's also about power and politics and rebellion and strategy.
It starts small and intimate (here's a girl, out of place; here's the boy who sees her real self) and grows into a story that concerns itself with the fate of not only countries, but empires. And yet never loses sight of the small and intimate. That's quite a trick.
The love story at the center is also more than your usual love-at-first-sight. In spite of surface differences, Arin and Kestrel are very much alike. Besides music, they both have brilliantly strategic minds, watching the world and people from the outside and seeing game pieces that can be played. They are also both terribly lonely. More than anything else, this loneliness pulls them toward each other.
As they grow closer, they play emotional chess with each other and with themselves, examining their own behavior and each other's at every turn. In this book, love does not switch off the strategic mind. It becomes another game piece, another lever, another way to twist the world into your control or to see how and why it's twisting out of it.
This is (of course) the first of a trilogy. But it's a trilogy that's going on my auto-read list, especially after the end of this book. I just hope the next two covers are better.
By: Kenneth Kit Lamug,
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Blog: Read Now Sleep Later
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Category: Young Adult FantasyKeywords: Fantasy, Dragons, Souls, ReincarnationFormat: ebook, HardcoverSource: PurchasedSynopsis:DESTRUCTION
The Year of Souls begins with an earthquake—an alarming rumble from deep within the earth—and it’s only the first of greater dangers to come. The Range caldera is preparing to erupt. Ana knows that as Soul Night approaches, everything near Heart will be at risk.
Ana’s exile is frightening, but it may also be fortuitous, especially if she can convince her friends to flee Heart and Range with her. They’ll go north, seeking answers and allies to stop Janan’s ascension. And with any luck, the newsouls will be safe from harm’s reach.
The oldsouls might have forgotten the choice they made to give themselves limitless lifetimes, but Ana knows the true cost of reincarnation. What she doesn’t know is whether she’ll have the chance to finish this one sweet life with Sam, especially if she returns to Heart to stop Janan once and for all.Kimberly's Review:
It’s a really hard review for me to write. I had such hope for this series, especially because I enjoyed the first book so much.
While the first book in the series, Incarnate
, is catching and fresh, I felt more and more distance from the characters as the series wore on. So by the time book three, the last book, came out, I was not heavily invested in the story or the main characters. Mostly, I wanted to see how it ended.
I think there was a lot of potential in the first book. The series is easy to read. The premise is intriguing. Souls reincarnated over and over again? 5,000 years of it? Imagine the baggage! The emotional turmoil! There was so much I wanted from this series! But sadly for me, it didn’t deliver.
There’s a lot of action, but not a whole lot of descriptions. A lot of the time I felt like I was mostly reading actions and dialogue, but I didn’t have a good sense of the motivation behind each character. Nor did I feel particularly drawn to any of them. I know I’m supposed to like Ana, and her devotion to New Souls is admired, but character wise, I felt like she was hollow. I still wasn’t sold on Sam either. Even in the first book, I didn’t totally buy him as the big love interest. He is sweet and kind but totally, utterly boring. Someone told me that they sometimes find some YA books hard to read because they play into male fantasy characters for teenage girls. And for this one, I would have to agree with them.
Sam is dull. Yes, he’s a musician, he’s been alive for 5,000 years. He has a little bit of baggage, as he is eaten by a dragon like 30 times, but overall, Sam mopes about playing music and telling Ana of his undying love to her. Really, Sam? Where’s the passion, the hurt, the strength? Where’s the madness and motivation and challenge? No, Sam is more like a wet noodle from a very old bowl of soup.
The secondary characters are not solid for me either such as Stef. Stef, who is reincarnated over and over again as Sam’s best friend and sometimes love interest, fades into the background by book three and nothing is really resolved. Even the big bad guy, the big evil, the man with the plan who wants to enslave everyone, is an annoying gnat you want to swat away. He's not the immediate danger, no matter how far into the series I got. I was more concerned with the townspeople wanting to kill Ana and her friends and the pregnant mothers who may have No Soul babies.
Imagine you have a town of people who have lived and loved over and over again for 5,000 years. It’s like an never-ending high school filled with love, hope, emotional angst and incestuous relationships. (I mean that as in my boyfriend is now your boyfriend, and now he’s my boyfriend again, etc.) But instead, we barely brush the surface of the last 5,000 years and what this means to each of the characters.
I’m sorry I didn’t enjoy Infinite
. While I love the idea of the story and the possibilities of what it could have brought, I was left disappointed in the series and ending.
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A short review today. I rushed to finish, as I knew the kids in my book club would surely want to get their hands on it last week. I was right.
Auxier, Jonathan. 2014. The Night Gardener. New York: Amulet.
Set in England aground the 1840s, The Night Gardener features an Irish gal with the gift of blarney, her10-year-old brother with a lame leg and stout heart, a mysterious storyteller, and a strange family inhabiting a creepy mansion on an island in the middle of the sourwoods.
Separated from their parents and forced to flee Ireland due to famine, Molly & Kip have no choice but to accept employment with the Windsor Family, the only inhabitants of the only home in the sourwoods,
At the far end of the lawn stood Windsor mansion. The house had obviously been left vacant for some years, and in that time it seemed to have become one with the landscape. Weeds swallowed the base. Ivy choked the walls and windows. The roof was sagging and covered in black moss.
But strangest of all was the tree.
The tree was enormous and looked very, very old. Most trees cast an air of quiet dignity over their surrounding. This one did not. Most trees invite you to climb up into their canopy. This one did not. Most trees make you want to carve your initials into the trunk. This one did not. To stand in the shadow of this tree would send a chill through your whole body.
Even Molly's indomitable spirit and knack for storytelling cannot shield Kip and the young Windsor children from the horrors that lurk within the shadow of the giant tree.
Historical fiction and horror intertwine in this absolutely gripping story. With similarities to Claire LeGrand's The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
, The Night Gardener
is the stuff of nightmares.
Coming to a bookshelf near you in May, 2014!Notes:
My Advance Reader Copy was thrust upon me by none other than the wonderfully funny, Tom Angleberger (of Origami Yoda fame), who insisted that I read it. Thanks, Tom!
Also by Jonathan Auxier, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, which I reviewed in 2011.
The book's cover was drawn by Patrick Arrasmith and designed by the talented Chad Beckerman, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing a while back.
Blog: Read Now Sleep Later
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Publication date: 13 May 2013 by Disney-HyperionCategory: Young Adult Fiction/FantasyKeywords: Paranormal, High School, Ghosts, WitchesFormat: Hardcover, eBookSource: ARC from PublisherSynopsis:
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.
Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.
Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?Kimberly's Review:
Izzy Brannick is strong and trained to fight monsters. And the one thing she is scared of? High School.
Izzy has been homes schooled her whole life. So when a case requires her to go to high school, Izzy bunkers down, watches a lot of high school television and hopes for the best. But nothing could prepare her for a best friend, a crush and a ghost. A really strong ghost.
Can Izzy's new friends accept who she is and help her defeat this ghost?
I'm a big fan of the Hex Hal
l series so I was really excited to read School Spirits
. Izzy appears in the last book Spell Bound
, and she takes front and center in School Spirits
. Izzy is smart, strong and achingly awkward. I love how she's never been to a high school pep rally, basketball game. I love how she's learning everything there is to know about high school by watching television. The story introduces us to some "normal" teenagers like her new best friend Romy who is equal parts awesome fun and rainbow unicorn. And sweet Dex who makes Izzy a little bit dizzy.
In typical Hawkins fashion, there's a lot of fun one liners and witty dialogue. There's some romance, and ghosts and witches and danger. But best of all, there is Izzy who is really sweet and a bit sad.
The story moves quickly and while I would have liked more description, more twists, stronger motivations for the characters, I still breezed through it quickly in only two days. Enjoying the ride and wishing there was a sequel I could dive into right away.
It's a standalone after the Hex Hall
series, but you should read the series first to fully enjoy School Spirits
. I really hope this is the start of a spin off series.
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
Visit the author online at www.rachel-hawkins.com and follow her on Twitter @LadyHawkins
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"It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die."
THE SCORPIO RACES is a novel based on Celtic water horses.
Every November on the island of Thisby, the fierce and feral capaill uisce
are born from the black ocean water to race along the hard sand of the beach. And every November, the men of Thisby capture these horses to ride them in a deadly race.“Tell me what it's like. The race."
"What it's like is a battle. A mess of horses and men and blood. The fastest and strongest of what is left from two weeks of preparation on the sand. It's the surf in your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin, the Scorpio drums in the place of your heartbeat. It's speed, if you're lucky. It's life and it's death or it's both, and there's nothing like it.”
The capaill uisce
are not your normal horse. Larger, wilder than their terrestrial cousins, predatory and mercurial, the water horses are dangerous beasts at any time of the year, but especially dangerous in November, when the ocean sings in their blood. Hard to tame and unpredictable as the weather, the Scorpio Races are a mixture of celebration and deadly spectacle."These are not ordinary horses. Drape them with charms, hide them from the sea, but today, on the beach: Do not turn your back."
Nineteen-year-old Sean Kendrick is a four-time champion of the Scorpio Races. Year after year he has brought home the purse to his employer, Benjamin Malvern, the man who owns a stable of sport horses he exports to the mainland. This year, however, Sean has more than just his love of the capaill uisce
driving him to race. This year, he races for the freedom to leave Malvern Yard, and for the joy of finally owning Corr, the red capall uisce
he rides in every race.“I've grown up alongside Corr. My father rode him and my father lost him, and then I found him again. He's the only family I have.”
Katherine "Puck" Connolly never meant to ride in the races. Since both her parents died in a capall uisce attack, she has had no desire to join that reckless, deathly sport. Her brothers Gabe and Finn, her pony Dove, and their house in Thisby is all she needs. But now there is a real danger that the three Connollys are going to lose their home. In order to save her home, Puck joins the Scorpio Races, pitting her little land pony against the wild tempers of the water horses in a gamble to take home the purse.
"There is nothing special about the mare, nothing at all. A fine enough head, good enough bone. As a pony, she is a beauty. As a capall uisce, she is nothing. The girl too, is nothing special - slight, with a ginger ponytail. She looks less afraid than her mare, but she's in more danger.”
There is initial friction - Puck is the first girl to ride in the races, and she expects to race docile little Dove against the fearsome, meat-loving capaill uisce. Sean, understanding the moods of the water horses, knowing how the salt water makes them as intemperate as the ocean itself, at first resents Puck's intrusion into the races. He knows her danger, knows the probability of her failure and the possible outcome of her death. But Puck is indomitable.
“My mother always said that I was born out of a bottle of vinegar instead of born from a womb and that she and my father bathed me in sugar for three days to wash it off. I try to behave, but I always go back to the vinegar.”
The two eventually form an alliance. Sean understands the water horses. He especially understands the mood and heart of his own fierce Corr, and in knowing such things has the ability to train Puck and Dove in learning what it takes to beat the capaill uisce.
"This time of year, I live and breath the beach. My cheeks feel raw with the wind throwing sand against them. My thighs sting from the friction of the saddle. My arms ache from holding up two thousand pounds of horse.
I am so, so alive."
The stakes are high for the two of them.If Sean wins, he will have the money to buy Corr and start his own Yard. If Puck wins, she can save her home.
But it is a race, and only one can win.
“I say, 'I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.'
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, 'It's late for that, Puck.'
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book. The water horses are fierce and terrifying creatures, meat-eaters from the sea. They will kill you as soon as look at you. But there is something gorgeous and free in their ocean souls. When I read about them, I understood Sean's love and distrust of them. They are magical and dangerous and wonderful at the same time. There is a little bit of island magic in the handling of the water horses, and Sean is a really well-written, quiet, vulnerably invincible kind of character. I really liked him.
Puck is a pretty good female character too. She is spunky enough to be brave, and humble enough not to be annoying. For the most part I really enjoyed the way she played off Sean, even though he was my favourite.
The writing is quite lyrical. You can feel the pulse of the ocean in your blood, smell the ocean air mixing with the saltier stench of the water horses. You can feel the rush of wind and the sense of uncertainty in each line. It's really quite good.
There are some brief suggestive sentences, never anything over the top, but the occasional line that makes you know exactly what the speaker is getting at. There is some language, but for the most part I never found it totally offensive.
If you're looking for a book about races, high stakes, and very subtle, almost-not-there romance, then this is the book for you.“He is slow, and the sea sings to us both, but he returns to me.”
published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Laila remembers her father crumpling to the ground, shot to death. She remembers being rushed from the palace to a waiting airplane...then the blur begins.
Now, she is safe in the United States, but she doesn't feel safe. Nothing here is familiar. Laila knows that although they are still alive, things are definitely different. Gone are the extravagant clothes, parties and food. In its place are bare cupboards with no income. Her mother has changed as well. She meets with a group of men from her own country, and they talk secretively about things. There is shouting and anger involved in every conversation. Laila sees a man lurking in the corners and is sure that he works for the American government. But why is he so interested in her family?
What Laila wants "is an interpreter. Not for the language, but for life" in this new place where the rules she has always lived by no longer apply. The girls here dress differently, act differently. She doesn't understand their culture but wants to try. Then there are the boys, especially Ian. Everyone is telling her what she already knows but she isn't sure she can give back the affection he shows. Life in school is confusing at best, with her dangling between what she knew and what she needs to know.
Having friends helps tremendously, and it's through small talk with them that she hears, for the first time, about her father and the horrors he committed. War, murder, embezzlement....this can't be the same father she loved, who protected her from her evil uncle, who indulged her....So she goes to the most dangerous place to find out more information.
The library shows Laila the truth not only about her father, but about her country. It's falling into shambles without a government to take over after years of dictatorship. It's filled with corruption from the legacy her father left into the hands of her uncle, fervent in his religion and will to dominate. And with this truth comes the knowledge that somehow, her mother is still involved in the politics there, working with the Americans but to what end, she doesn't know. Laila is kept in the dark but she is making sure she doesn't stay there for long, and when she slowly uncovers the truth, safety is no longer an option for her or those she cares for.
J.C. Carleson writes a beautifully balanced book about love and hate, war and peace, tradition and truth. Laila represents innocence through oppression as she slowly fights through this to find out that the truth can be an ugly place to live. Carleson's characters are deep and synonymous with the many facets of not only American life, but Middle Eastern life as well and weaves several familiar stories about the turbulent Middle East without designating where Laila and her family is from. It's a story about two sides, but which is the darker side depends on who the character is. One of many things Carleson is best at is the beauty in her writing. There were several times I had to stop and re-read portions of the story simply because of how lyrical her writing is. Her other strength is being able to transport the reader into not only a different world through a story, but also to the world of modern day Middle East and how politics, both domestic and foreign are involved. The reader will also appreciate how Carleson uses her own past experiences to make this novel come alive. You know you have a good book when you read it in one sitting. This is a must have book for all collections.
One of the things that I love about reviewing books for School Library Journal and AudioFile Magazine is the opportunity to review titles that I might not otherwise choose. For example, Code Name Verity is such a popular title, but I don't read a lot of YA books and hadn't picked it up - but I was given the assignment of reviewing a new audio version of an older Elizabeth Wein book, The Winter Prince.
Below is my review as it appeared in the February/March 2014 edition of AudioFile Magazine.
THE WINTER PRINCE
Elizabeth E. Wein
Read by Basil Sands
Basil Sands's impassioned delivery brings new life to this 1993 book steeped in Arthurian legend and mystery. The ongoing struggle between Medraut, the eldest and bastard son of the king, and Lleu, the kingdom's legitimate heir, is intensified by Sands's dramatic and measured narration. Medraut, the story's narrator, speaks with gravity and a heavy sense of foreboding, while Lleu sounds youthful and often petulant. One finds a small fault in the voicing of the scheming Queen Morguase, whose portrayal is neither as menacing nor as enchanting as the story demands. What begins as a battle of strength and knowledge between brothers ends as an intense and compelling battle of mind and will--with the fate of a kingdom at stake. Wein is also the author of CODE NAME VERITY.
Copyright © 2014 AudioFile Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Death and Mr Right
Author: Kendra L Saunders
Published: 1 October 2013 by Spence City
Length: 264 pages
Summary : It is March 32nd, the day that doesn't exist, and Death, the agent of nightmares, has been demoted and exiled to live among mortals for the rest of his unnaturally long life. Everyone knows They don't look lightly on important items getting lost or an agent falling in love.
Can the diva-like Death navigate the modern world, recover what was stolen from him (the names of the damned ooops!) and get his job back? Or will he fall in love with Lola, the pretty thief who got him into all this trouble in the first place?
Review: Death is the agent of nightmares. Well, was. He's just been fired and exiled to life among humans because he lost some paperwork and now wants to try and find Lola, the thief who stole them, and get his job back. As long as he doesn't fall in love.
I read this book purely because of the title. When I read the summary, it wasn't what I was expecting from the title, but still it sounded good.
Death and Lola are both absolutely adorable. They're both funny, Death especially with his thought processes , and I found myself just really wanting to be friends with them and Mr Right, who seemed like a more secondary character than his being named in the title. Also, I loved Death's blue hair. Just because. Blue hair.
This is most definitely primarily comedy. Standout moments include Death on earth at the start and Death finding his obituary. The plot aside from this is good, involving someone who wants to be the next agent of nightmares, and so tries to stop Death getting his job back. It's paced well- reading it isn't difficult.
I saw someone else compare this to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I agree with this comparison-both are crazy, unpredictable fun comedies. This just has a more romance and has supernatural elements and bureaucracy instead of space and aliens.
Strength 3.5, just more a 3, to a light hearted, dark contented, romcom.
The 30-day Writing Challenge
claims to help readers begin or enhance their daily writing habit. Whether you are a writer, blogger, or journaler this book is for you! Author Sara Crawford encourages and inspires writers of all skill levels by challenging us to ‘stretch our writing muscles’ and create a daily writing habit. The daily writing exercises and prompts focus on technique, inspiration and craft while covering the different genres of writing.
Crawford does an excellent job being real with readers. I fell in love with her book after reading the following paragraph:
I would like to acknowledge that in my own writing, I constantly do the things that I say
you shouldn’t do. I am far from perfect. Every writer has room to grow and improve, and I
include myself in that. However, I strive to be a better writer each and every day, and I live by
these rules, principles, and ideas in my own creative life.
I really admire someone who can be themselves and I felt encouraged instead of judged after reading this small tidbit. It made it much easier to move forward with the exercises and I felt like Crawford understood me. I missed a day here or there but feel this is the type of book I can pick up again and again. This isn’t something you do once and forget about.
In many ways The 30-day Writing Challenge
reminds me of a diet. Sure, I can lose weight quickly, but if I don’t continue with good eating habits, the weight is going to creep back on. If I want to be successful, I need to stick with it, even after the initial success. Similarly, if I use The 30 Day Writing Challenge to get on track and then set it aside instead of faithfully writing and practicing my craft, I am going to falter.
Thank you Sara Crawford for providing a fun and encouraging book to help build successful writing habits. The 30-day Writing Challenge
is a great book for anyone who enjoys writing, blogging, or journaling!
Sara Crawford has a BA in English from Kennesaw State University and an MFA in Creative Writing (emphasis in Playwriting) from the University of New Orleans. She is represented by Marie Brown Associates, and she is the author of upcoming young adult novel, The Muses.
Previous publications include her play, The Snow Globe, from YouthPlays, Driving Downtown to the Show (Lulu Press) and Coiled and Swallowed (Virgogray Press). In addition, her poetry has appeared in Burlesque Press, Cermony, Share: Art and Literary Magazine, and Illogical Muse.
Find out more about Sara by visiting her website: http://saracrawford.net/
Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 6, Andre 5, Breccan 5 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
From the moment you open Inside These Walls
by Rebecca Coleman, you're transported to the world of a women’s prison and introduced to Clara Mattingly who is serving a life sentence for murder. Rebecca’s writing is superb, and Clara is instantly a likeable and sympathetic character, whom you will cheer for, even though she’s also a cold-blooded killer.
Rebecca isn’t tricking the reader into liking Clara. It’s obvious that there’s more to the story than just murder—that Clara has the proverbial skeletons in her closet. After twenty-five years behind bars, she’s choosing to forget the past and stay focused on her present, which in prison means keeping her head down and staying out of trouble.
The problem is Clara’s famous, and so other inmates love to pick on her, which often results in serious injuries. Her crime, along with her boyfriend Ricky, was made into a movie. Hollywood turned their story into an almost Charles Manson type of drama, where Ricky led Clara and his other friends into a 24-hour crime spree that resulted in several murders.
Clara lives her prison life helping her blind cellmate and working on Braille textbooks, while remembering her life as an artist and her love for ballet before the night that changed her life forever. You'll keep turning pages because of the author’s set-up, trying to discover how did this bright, young, talented girl follow her boyfriend and murder people?
Rebecca reveals the true story once an unexpected visitor appears to see Clara in prison, and her heart immediately yearns for love and freedom. At the same time, a reporter writing a book about Ricky asks Clara for information, even though she has never before granted an interview. Because of the visitor, Clara decides it’s time to reveal the truth; and as the book progresses to the end, you discover the circumstances leading up to the crime.
Themes in this book include religion—Clara is Catholic and does follow her faith in prison, including going to confession and taking communion; forgiveness; self-preservation; abuse; independence and freedom; friendship; loyalty; love; truth and more.This is the perfect book club choice, as readers will debate Clara’s crimes, her confessions, her circumstances and even the ending. On Rebecca’s website (http://www.rebeccacoleman.net
), book clubs can sign up for a possible Skype or phone visit from the author. Inside These Walls
is one of those novels that will keep you up past your bedtime because you want to discover the secrets Clara has kept and what landed her in one of the worst places imaginable—prison. Here are a few words straight from Rebecca about her novel and writing career: WOW: What made you want to write about a woman in prison--and then in a high-profile case?Rebecca:
Once the story started taking shape, it became more interesting to make it a high-profile case because it would make sense why someone would want to interview Clara for a book. But as to why I wrote it in the first place--the only truthful answer is. . .because it's the story that showed up in my head! I never start out with a specific topic in mind--I want to write about an emotion, and then I find a story that gives a structure and a progressive arc to that emotion. With Inside These Walls,
it was about the feeling of being given a second chance at something very, very important and how far a person would go not to squander that chance. And what could challenge that more than being in prison?WOW: Thanks for explaining how the story took shape. It's always interesting to hear from successful authors how their brain works. How did you get your agent, Stephany Evans (in other words--meet at conference, slush pile, etc)?Rebecca:
I sent her a query letter by e-mail, but it was an unusually nervy move for me. Normally I'd go to an agency's website, look to see who the newest agents were, and query them, thinking they were still building their lists and would be more open to a new, untested writer. I'd gotten stacks and stacks of rejections. Then my first book, The Kingdom of Childhood
, became a semifinalist in Amazon's ABNA contest, and that gave me the courage to query higher up the food chain. I have to say, Stephany is the perfect agent for me. She is conscientious and tenacious and attentive. I ended up feeling glad for all the rejection because in the end it gave me the opportunity to work with Stephany.WOW: The advice we all hear is that finding the perfect agent should fit like finding the perfect spouse or mate. We're so happy that has happened for you. What's up next?Rebecca:
Thanks for asking! I'm working on a new story that features a character my readers have seen before--that's all I can say.WOW: Now, that's a teaser. I can't wait to find out about that! How do you balance writing and marketing?Rebecca:
It's a serious challenge! You have to schedule the business part, so the creative aspect doesn't eat all your time. It's easiest for me to spend the first hour of a work day dealing with Twitter and e-mail, then set myself free to write for the rest of the day. It's tough because writing asks you to lock yourself in a room with your imaginary friends, and marketing requires you to go out there and take risks with real people. A lot of writers write specifically because they don't want to do that.WOW: Very true! What's one piece of advice you would give to new writers?Rebecca:
Don't be a diva. To succeed in this business, you need to be able to take criticism, be enjoyable to work with, be flexible, and make many more friends than enemies. If you can do all that and be true to yourself as a writer, then nothing can hold you back.WOW: Thank you for that wonderful advice. Please keep WOW! readers informed on your next book. We'd love to hear about it. Readers, don't forget, you can enter to win a copy of this wonderful book, Inside These Walls, by entering the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congratulations to Michelle Gibson, Roche Rivera and Student Mommy
(Jen) for winning prizes in my A-Z Blogging Challenge Give-Away.
copies of How To Get Quoted In The Media and Amazon gift cards have
been emailed to you. I hope you find both useful for you and/your
Meanwhile, I've been reading Contraband, an island adventure romance by J.L Campbell.
Here is the
The Summer Prince
by Alaya Dawn Johnson
June and her best friend Gil are thrilled to wrangle an invite to the official celebration of the newly elected Summer King, Enki. But they never anticipate that Gil and Enki will fall in love, or how much Enki will affect both of their lives. Although the Summer King has no real power, Enki, who comes from the lowest level of society, is determined to use what influence he has to help his people. June and Enki begin to collaborate on a big art installation, one that they hope will both send a message to the city, and win June the Queen's Award. But none of the three can forget that at the end of the summer, Enki will die. Because the real purpose of the Summer King is sacrifice in service of the city.The Summer Prince
is a brilliant book on so many levels. To start, it's an achingly immersive story set in a future Brazil. Added to that are elements from the Sumerian myth The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Going deeper, there are the themes: power and sacrifice, choices and consequences, privilege and class, order and change. Finally, there is the writing: Alaya Dawn Johnson has created a beautiful tapestry so intricately woven that the patterns aren't always obvious on the first read-through. Even on my second read I'm not sure if I saw everything.
Palmares Tres is a gem of a city where past culture and future culture merge. It's a city where people still Samba and eat Vatapá stew
, where grafeteiros create masterpieces
and street gangs fight with capoeira
. And yet it's a city with deep class divisions, where class hierarchy is literally expressed in the city tiers: the higher classes live on the upper levels and the lowest class lives on the bottom tier, where the the stink of the algae vats is ever present. This physical expression of class hierarchy is not a new idea in science fiction, but it's well done here. That stink, known as the Catinga, becomes a powerful symbol in the story, and in fact the higher tiers call the lowest tier "The Catinga."
Palmeres Tres is a city ruled by a matriarchy: a Queen and a council of women called Aunties. Many of them have forgotten the purpose of power, and while they, in their own way, seem to love the city, often their machinations seem designed to protect their own power rather than benefit the city. Most residents of the city live 200 years or more, setting up a situation where anyone under 30 is considered a juvenile, and not to be trusted to make good decisions. So we have class conflict, gender conflict, and age conflict, and with his election as Summer King, Enki becomes the touchstone at the center of all these conflicts.
I've seen this book described as dystopian, but I don't think that it quite falls into that classification. The traditional definition of a dystopia is one that seems utopian on the surface, but is later revealed to be oppressive and deeply flawed. I think that in some ways The Summer Prince
turns that around: the flaws are fairly obvious early on, but as you continue to read it becomes clear how much the citizens of Palmeros Tres love their city with a genuine love, even in spite of the flaws. However, The Summer Prince
is similar enough to dystopian literature that I think it will appeal to teens who enjoy dystopian books.
It's not necessary to be familiar with The Epic of Gilgamesh
or to even recognize those elements are there to enjoy the story, but if you are familiar with the Epic it's a sheer joy to discover the iconic story of Enkidu and Gilgamesh wrestling in the streets transformed into a heart-stopping Samba when Gil and Enki first meet. The Summer Prince
is not really a retelling of the myth, but there are some interesting parallels.
June is an imperfect character who struggles throughout the book to make the right choices. Her dream is to be recognized as a great artist, and when that dream comes into conflict with her awakening social awareness, she doesn't always choose the right thing. She blames her mother for her father's death, and because of that she's mean to her mother. All these things make her a believable, realistic character whom the reader can identify with as she grows through her association with Enki.The Summer Prince
does a great job of representing people who are underrepresented in YA lit. All the residents of Palmeros Tres have skin of varying shades of color, and Enki himself is described as being exceptionally charismatic and with very dark skin. Sexual relationships, both same-sex and opposite-sex, are depicted in a natural, unfettered way that's totally a non-issue. In Palmeros Tres it doesn't seem to matter whom you love.
The Brazilian setting is a refreshing change from books set in European-based settings. I personally loved that the book represented a culture and people that you don't often see in American YA Fiction, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out this review of The Summer Prince
by a native Brazilian, Ana of The Book Smugglers. I'd encourage you to read the review, but in short, Ana is concerned that the Brazilian cultural elements are not always used accurately, and don't go any deeper than those elements that outsiders identify with Brazil, such as samba, Carnival, and capoeira. To Ana, it feels like a stereotype.
I've been thinking a lot about Ana's review over the last few days. Does the book stereotype Brazilians? Maybe - it's hard for me to know since I'm not Brazilian. Should a writer be able to write about a culture as an outsider to that culture? This, I think, is the crux of the controversy, and I've seen good arguments on both sides. I personally think writers stretching to write about things outside their personal experience is a good thing, because it helps to bring those ideas and cultures to other people who are not familiar with them, but the outsider has to work harder to get it right. I found an interview with Johnson
where she says about her research, "I read a lot of books, particularly about the history of the African diaspora in Brazil. Also got advice from my sister, who studied in Brazil and knew many sources. And sent it to Brazilian writers for help."
I totally understand Ana's frustration and annoyance with the book. It's not quite the same thing, but I studied a martial art for 18 years, and I get really annoyed when I read a fiction book that gets the martial arts details wrong. So I get how frustrating it would be to have your culture portrayed inaccurately. But it does sound like Johnson did try get the details right, and I hope that maybe it will at least it will inspire young people to want to learn more about Brazil and read up on it, as I did after finishing the book. In balance, I think that a book like this that encourages young people to think outside their comfort zone and learn about new ideas and new cultures is a good thing. There are no easy answers, but I think it's important that we keep having these conversations as we try to get it right.The Summer Prince is the 2013 Cybils Awards winner for the YA Speculative Fiction category.
Who would like this book:
Science fiction and dystopian readers, as well as teens who like reading about other cultures.
Get it from:
FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher for the purpose of Cybils Awards judging. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.
by Victoria Schwab
It hasn't even been a year since Ben died, and Mackenzie Bishop is already forgetting what her brother looked like. Her mother copes with the grief by throwing herself with artificial cheerfulness into projects, while her father copes by retreating into himself.
Mac knows something her parents don't: that all the memories of the dead are archived as Histories, which look and act like the living person in every way. Histories usually sleep, but sometimes one awakens and tries to get out; occasionally they're even violent. Mac is a Keeper, tasked with guarding the Narrows that border the Archive and returning any of the Histories who escape. It's a role that she inherited from her grandfather, and one that she must keep absolutely secret, even from her parents. Knowing that Ben's History is in the Archive should be a comfort to Mac, but even a Keeper can't see the Histories, and Mac fears that she is losing her memories of Ben.
When Mac's family moves into the Coronado, an old hotel converted to an apartment building, Mackenzie gets a new territory in the Narrows to patrol. But something is not right — the Histories here are restless, and Mac is busier than ever trying to return them all. What's more, it appears that a murder was committed decades ago at the Coronado, a murder that someone went to a great deal of trouble to cover up. Mac is determined to find out the truth, even if it means putting her life at risk.The Archived
is a moving exploration of life, death, and grief wrapped up in an intriguing, character-driven mystery. Mac is tough — she has to be, to deal with the sometimes violent Histories — and she has the scars to prove it. But even her toughness doesn't make her immune to grief, and like everyone else she'll need to find a way to deal with it and move towards acceptance.
The story has a strong sense of place, and the various locations are lovingly described: the elegant, library-like atmosphere of the Archives, the creepy hallways of the Narrows, and the faded glory of the Coronado, which really becomes a character in its own right. The characters are likewise vividly brought to life. Besides Mac, there is a teen boy, Wes, that she meets in the Coronado. Wes hides a surprising depth and empathy behind a façade of good-natured humor. Mac's relationship with her grandfather is developed through flashbacks. Other minor characters, such as the Librarians in the Archives, are less fully-fleshed-out, but still distinctively characterized.
The setup with the Archives is intriguing and pleasingly unique. The internal logic is pretty consistent and well-developed, with one exception that bothered me. What is the purpose of keeping the Archives in the first place? There doesn't seem to be any reason for it. Loved ones can't visit the Histories, and no one seems to read the Histories except for the occasional Librarian seeking relief from boredom, and even that seems to be discouraged. It seems like an elaborate setup requiring considerable secrecy and no small amount of risk, for no purpose. If you can suspend that disbelief, then The Archived
is a pretty enjoyable book.The Archived is a 2013 Cybils Awards Nominee
Who would like this book:
Although the setup is not strictly supernatural — Histories aren't really ghosts — it should appeal strongly to fans of supernatural fiction. Teens who enjoy mysteries or character-driven fiction may also enjoy this.
Get it from:
FTC required disclosure: Reviewed from library copy. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.
By: Sheila Ruth
Blog: Wands and Worlds
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by Robin McKinley
It's not just that Maggie misses her father, or understandably resents her new stepfather, Val. No, it goes beyond that: Val has too many shadows. Whenever Maggie looks at him, she sees him surrounded by wiggly shadow shapes with too many appendages. It can't be magic, because there is no magic in Newworld. Anyone with the potential for magic must have a procedure to snip the gene before they reach puberty, and even though Val is an immigrant, he wouldn't have been allowed in if he had any magic.
Maggie tries not to think about it, and avoids Val as much as possible by throwing herself into her work at the local shelter, which isn't hard, since Maggie loves animals anyway. Then a cobey — a "coherence break" in the universe — opens nearby, and with one revelation after another, Maggie begins to discover that the world — and Newworld specifically — is full of surprises, among them that Val is not such a bad guy. When the situation goes from bad to worse, Maggie and her friends set out to set things right, accompanied by five very large dogs, a cantankerous Maine Coone cat, a friendly shadow named Hix, and one stubborn algebra book.
Shadows is a fun book with loads of teen appeal. Maggie's voice as the narrator is authentic and entertaining, if a bit rambly in parts, and there's gentle humor woven throughout the book. The pacing is excellent, perfectly balancing character development, excitement, humor, and reveals. All of the characters are interesting and well-developed, including animals, shadows, and semi-animate objects. Even the dogs each have distinctive personalities. Although Maggie finds she has some unusual abilities, she can't do it alone - it takes the combined efforts and abilities of everyone to succeed. There is romance, but it's not overdone and I like the direction that McKinley went with the it.
There are dystopian elements, such as soldiers in the streets with scanners, roadblocks, and forced genetic manipulation, but I wouldn't call this a dystopian book. The focus is not on fighting against a dystopian government, although there is certainly some of that. Instead, it's more about finding yourself and discovering that the world is a different place than you thought.Shadows is a 2013 Cybils Awards Finalist in the YA Speculative Fiction category.
Who would like this book:
Readers of both traditional fantasy and dystopian stories will enjoy this, as it has elements of both. Dog lovers, cat lovers, and origami artists will also find a lot to appreciate.
Get it from:
FTC required disclosure: Reviewed from library copy. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.
I read an embarrassingly high number of books in 2013. (No wonder my laundry never gets done.) Whereas many people spend the first few days of a new year looking forward, making resolutions, et cetera, I want to look back and pay homage to the greatest of the great—the best books of 2013.
This does not mean the books were all released in 2013. But they were read in 2013, and they left a lasting impression that will not lessen with the passing of time. With great gnashing of teeth, I came up with nine, in no particular order.
1. Life without Harry
(Sara Dobie Bauer)
How could I? Pimp my own book on my “best of” list? Hey, gimme a break. I’m an author. If I don’t sell myself, who will? If you miss Harry Potter, head to Goodreads and download the eBook. Late Merry Christmas.
2. Splendors and Glooms
(Laura Amy Schlitz)
Puppets, weird magicians, London … well, it goes without saying I was going to love this one. I suppose it could be considered young adult, but there are enough twists, turns, and general creepy critters to keep any grown-up interested.
I can hear you: “How in the hell did you not read this book until 2013?” Yeah, yeah, I know, pathetic, especially when you consider The Graveyard Book is in my all-time top ten. Well, Neverwhere is better than The Graveyard Book. It’s a journey into the English underground where there are angels and any manner of murderous creatures. Follow the beloved hero, Richard Mayhew, to the place where the forgotten go …
4. The Great Gatsby
(F. Scott Fitzgerald)
I read this book in high school; didn’t get it. I read it this year; was crushed—by the story’s decadence, tragedy, and yearning for things lost. Maybe it’s me getting older, but I finally understand why this is a classic. If you didn’t “get it” last time you read Gatsby, read it again.
5. The Awakening
Also read this in high school, and although I liked it then, I fully understand it now. I’m a married woman, like sad, little Miss Pontellier. Chopin gives voice to the difficulties women go through, and although she was a pariah in her own age, her story is true and timeless.
6. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Again? Gaiman! Again? Yes, get over it. He signed this book for me, and I read it in two days. This, like Gatsby and The Awakening, is a book best understood after having lived a little. There are monsters and magic creatures, but there is truth and thorough melancholy as one man says goodbye to a childhood lost. Possibly the truest book Gaiman has yet penned.
7. Bellman & Black
In this book, you just have to know what comes next. The lead character, William Bellman, is a curiosity yet someone you would like to know—at least for the experience of saying you once met him. It’s a novel about our own mortality and how the rooks are always watching and waiting to carry our souls away.
8. The Chatelet Apprentice
Nicholas le Floche, investigator in 18th century Paris—what a sexy beast. I received this, the first in the several-book mystery series, as a review copy. I then ordered books two through six from ENGLAND. Yeah, I was that desperate. If you like mysteries, scandal, and sex, call London; tell them to toss Nicholas ‘cross the pond.
9. The Longings of Wayward Girls
A woman searches for meaning in her current life by returning to a mysterious summer in her past, and we all know how scandalous things can get in the suburbs. This isn’t desperate housewife crap, though; this is a painful novel of regret and the blood that never washes away.
So that’s it for 2013, folks. One year over, a bunch of books read, and now, a new year. Know what that means? MORE BOOKS!
Book: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Published: September 10, 2013
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley
Rose Justice is a girl from Pennsylvania, who grew up next door to the Hershey Chocolate factory and captained the basketball team. But her knowledge of piloting planes, her determination to help with the war effort, and a stupid stunt over France have landed her in a German concentration camp.
There she will discover how low she and her fellow prisoners can sink. Huddled together with three and four other women in a single bunk, deprived of food, water, and clothing, and reduced to a number, she finds everything that has ever made her Rose Justice is stripped away.
She also discovers her own strength, and that of the women she is imprisoned with. From the girls who go to their deaths with their heads held high to her bunkmates who create a little family in the most morbid of conditions, Rose sees the durability of the human spirit.
But human spirits are sheltered in human bodies, and human bodies are frail. In a system which famously slaughtered millions, Rose and her friends have very little chance of making it out alive.
At one point I put down this book and wondered why I was reading it. I’m a wimp, really. Stories of privation and torture and hardship are not my cup of tea, especially when I’m so aware that they actually happened. Then I realized that I was in it for Rose. I wanted to be there to witness what she went through, as if she were a personal friend. You know that she made it out, because the conceit of the story is that she's relating it after being saved. But you become terribly, terribly concerned for her friends in the concentration camp. Who made it out? Who died? They're all so carefully drawn that their fates hit you almost as hard as Rose's.
There’s a macabre Hogan’s Heroes feel to Rose's relation of their endless schemes to keep themselves alive. They manufacture riots to cover up condemned prisoners escaping into hidey-holes. They switch out ID numbers to befuddle the guards. They use dead bodies to make the roll call come out right. It’s almost funny, until you remember why they’re doing it, and then you feel a little weird about giving the book an approving grin as they outsmart the guards one more time.
Like Wein's earlier novel, Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire is about female friendships in wartime, and not the hand-holding, brave-smiling homefront portrayals that we normally get. These are women who are fighting the same war as their brothers and fathers and husbands, and showing just as much courage and spirit.
Title: When We Wake
Author: Karen Healey
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
ARC provided by publisher
I believe that good sci-fi should be a reflection of modern society taken to an extreme. And I think Karen Healey does this with When We Wake.
Tegan Oglietti is a sixteen-year-old in near future Australia. She
I finished reading The Paris Wife recently for my prison book club. The Paris Wife is the story of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, and her experience as his spouse while living as a member of The Lost Generation in Paris. The book was excellent: beautifully written, honest, and terribly tragic (as we all know how their relationship ends …). Because of The Paris Wife, I decided it was time to revisit Ernest Hemingway. And God help me.
I decided to pick up The Sun Also Rises, because the bull fight scenes in Pamplona were a huge part of The Paris Wife. I knew, thanks to Hadley’s first person account, that The Sun Also Rises is very true, featuring people who actually existed, who were “friends” of the Hemingway’s. I use the term “friends” loosely because honestly I’m not sure how much any of these people liked each other, which is made even more apparent in The Sun Also Rises.
A small novel, Sun took me way longer than it should have to complete. Not because the diction was difficult; obviously not—we’re talking about Hemingway, a master of using very few words to get across huge thematic points. No, Sun took me a long time to read because I was bored.
Granted, I want to give Hemingway his due. He is a genius with dialogue. He says so much by saying nothing at all. Most of the time, everything is subtext, but it’s brilliant! Brilliant! So dialogue: points! Many points. He understands human nature and is capable of creating an entire, fully realized character with nothing but his or her words. That is not easy.
Yet, I find his work to be boring. I can’t put my finger on it. I suppose, in the case of The Sun Also Rises, the repetition of “another bottle of wine” and “I’m tight” got a little old. They’re all drunk the entire book, which is why the ugliness comes out—why friends leave Pamplona as enemies.
Maybe his descriptions. I don’t like his descriptions. They’re not flowery enough for me. My favorite authors are European—Spanish mostly—and those romance language dudes know how to speak pretty. Hemingway? Not so much, which is part of his fame, part of his allure. Yet, this stagnant use of language was not alluring to me. BORED!
I have another theory: do you think Hemingway wrote for a male audience? Do you suppose, as a female, I just don’t relate? I mean, he was a Man’s Man. He was a a fighter, a drunk, a womanizer. Maybe if I had a set of balls, his work would resonate better, because as a woman, I find his female characters to be quite despicable—and maybe that’s what he intended. No matter how much he loved women in his life, he had a way of tossing them away when the next best thing came around. Perhaps he fits this philosophy into his work.
In conclusion, I gave Hemingway another shot. Did I enjoy myself? Eh. At times. There were brilliant lines: “I have a rotten habit of picturing the bedroom scenes of my friends.” Or: “I was a little drunk. Not drunk in any positive sense but just enough to be careless.” Another: “Cohn had a wonderful quality of bringing out the worst in anybody.” My God, brilliant!!
That said I won’t be going back to good old Ernest. I still have flashbacks of the horror of The Old Man and the Sea from high school, and although The Sun Also Rises was better, I’m still not interested in tackling his body of work. Thanks, Ernest, for being you and for creating a new style of American writing. However, we’re breaking up. It’s not you; it’s me.
By: Lizza Aiken,
Jan Pienkowski’s vision & Joan Aiken’s story ‘An Ill Wind’ from ‘A Foot in the Grave’ Today sees the publication of an elegant new edition of Joan Aiken and Jan Pienkowski’s ghostly collaboration A Foot in The Grave is coming out just in time for Hallowe’en… for those who enjoy all things haunting and mysterious […]
By: Lizza Aiken,
A sister played a more important role than a romantic hero in Jane Austen’s own life; Cassandra was her lifelong confidante, and literary consultant, and after Jane’s death took charge of her reputation and legacy even to the extent of burning many of her sister’s letters. Perhaps because of this relationship, sisters are of supreme […]
Blog: The Children's and Teens' Book Connection
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By: C. C. Gevry,
About the Book
Title: The Christmas Owl
Author: Angela Muse
Illustrator: Helen H. Wu
Publication Date: November, 2013
Publisher: Independent – 4eyesbooks
Number of pages: 36
Recommended age: 3+
A Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word. Also check out Lil Glimmer, The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure, The Pig Princess, The Bee Bully, Eager Eaglets: Birds of Play, Cactus Charlie, Suzy Snowflake and Monsters Have Mommies by this author.
While it’s not often I make mention of artwork or book design first in a review, I simply must do it this time. Helen H. Wu has drawn stunningly beautiful artwork for this story of an injured Barred owl who seeks help from other animals and returns their generosity year after year. The overall book design is lovely and the eloquent font adds just the right touch. All this enhances the charm of this seasonal tale from the talented pen of Angela Muse. This lyrical, rhyming story will delight young readers and encourage them to develop a servant’s heart.
** You can download a copy of “The Christmas Owl” for only 99 cents from NOW through November 14, 2013 on Amazon!! **
About the Author: Angela Muse
I was born in California to a military family. This meant that I was the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard always trying to make new friends, but I discovered I had a knack for writing. I began writing poetry in high school and really enjoyed expressing myself by using pen and paper. After becoming a Mom in 2003, I continued my storytelling to my own children. In 2009 I wrote and published my first children’s book aimed at toddlers. In 2012 I am set to release several more children’s books. Check out what I’m working on by visiting my children’s book blog.
Writing is such a wonderful creative process and I look forward to sharing more of my stories with lots of new little readers!
* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *
Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: November 12 to December 11, 11:59 pm, 2013
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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Moonglow by Michael Griffo
Series: The Darkborn LegacyPaperback: 416 pagesPublisher: K-Teen (February 26, 2013)Language: EnglishISBN-10: 0758280726ISBN-13: 978-0758280725
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