Flavia de Luce is once again poking her nose into places where it clearly isn't wanted; in this case, she is the first to peek into the tomb of Saint...moreFlavia de Luce is once again poking her nose into places where it clearly isn't wanted; in this case, she is the first to peek into the tomb of Saint Tancred (after whom the local church is named) and there she discovers something that delights her more than moldering bones: a freshly killed organist. As always, she solves the mystery with alacrity, compassion, trivia about poisons, and some familial strife. Both Flavia and the town around her of Bishops-Lacey are growing up as the series progresses.
I think this is the best book since the first. One of the great elements of this series is Flavia discovering that the bodies are the least of the mysteries that she has to solve in her life. Her family, her town, and Flavia herself are puzzles that she is struggling to resolve and, frankly, the murders are easy in comparison. Bradley is turning Buckshaw and its environs into something more than a backdrop for Flavia and Flavia into something more than an adolescent Agatha Christie. Of course, there are odes to poisons, descriptions of dreadful cuisine, and more details regarding Flavia's departed mother. All together it is a wonderful read.(less)
Joe lives with his mother and father on a reservation. One day, his mother is raped. It shatters his mother, his family, and his life. Joe sets out, w...moreJoe lives with his mother and father on a reservation. One day, his mother is raped. It shatters his mother, his family, and his life. Joe sets out, with his best friend, to get revenge for his mother, but also to generally grow up.
This novel is less coming-of-age, more losing-your-innocence. Joe and his friends do set out to catch the perpetrator of an awful crime, but the emphasis is less on crime-solving and more on how boys behave, especially when they are trying out their best guess at being men. The novel is written from the perspective of an older Joe, one who analyzes every decision of his younger self, but also one who admits that, in many ways, time has made him no wiser, nor would he necessarily do things differently if given a second chance. The book begins and ends in tragedy, but doesn't really comment on tragedy except to say that it is something that makes us who we are. But so are the good things in Joe's life. I don't know if I'm upset or gratified that there are no morals or lessons provided here. Erdrich's commitment to withholding judgment and moral throughout the tale, a commitment to letting the reader derive their own meaning, is admirable, but I left the book with no strong feelings aside from a desire to see Native American legal jurisdiction changed for the better. That makes this seem like more of a message book that it is. Mostly it is devoted to the potential of long days, with little adult supervision, for young boys. That should probably be good enough. (less)
Marc Spitz represents the average in a world gone mad. The madness spreads along with the plague, which creates two forms of living dead: skels, tradi...moreMarc Spitz represents the average in a world gone mad. The madness spreads along with the plague, which creates two forms of living dead: skels, traditional zombies, and stragglers, the dead who return to a moment in their life and remain. Marc Spitz has survived, not through any special talent, but rather by, in his own estimation, his thorough mediocrity. As America has fought its way back against the undead hordes, Marc Spitz has been recruited to join a small band of sweepers clearing out New York of whatever undead happen to remain. But is this new imposition of order on the chaos just another false belief.
I find this book fascinating and need someone with which to talk through my reaction to it. Ya'll hurry up and read it so I can figure out what I think about it.(less)
Aleks is woken in the middle of the night, forced into one of his family's walking land-tanks, and finds himself fleeing enemies after his father's as...moreAleks is woken in the middle of the night, forced into one of his family's walking land-tanks, and finds himself fleeing enemies after his father's assassination. Deryn sneaks into the British aerial navy, disguising her gender and finding herself upon the great flying beast Leviathan. This book is a speculative re-telling of the events of World War I, with the action placed in a world of genetically mutated monstrosities on the Allied side and of advanced robotics on the German side. Don't let the fantastical, steampunk setting fool you, though. This is primarily a story of pride, nationalism, misunderstanding, loyalty, friendship and peril. Genetically modified bats who poop deadly darts are only a bonus.
Westerfeld does good to split up the focus, giving us an appealing viewpoint from both sides of the war about to commence. Both leads are dashing and interesting, even if Aleks does pale in comparison to Deryn. The world that he's created is fascinating, even if the divisions seem arbitrary in comparison to the real-life divisions they mimic. A good first read, excellent for young young adults (12 and up).(less)
Will, a ward of Castle Redmont, wishes to become a knight. But he is quick, rather than sturdy, slim, rather than stout. When the day comes for him to...moreWill, a ward of Castle Redmont, wishes to become a knight. But he is quick, rather than sturdy, slim, rather than stout. When the day comes for him to be taken as an apprentice, he finds himself under the tutelage of the mysterious Ranger, Halt. What will Will have to do to become a ranger? And can Will discover his path before the machinations of a neighboring villain throw the whole country into chaos?
This is the first of the Ranger's Apprentice series and it is an good, if drab, introduction. Will and the other wards are likable enough, although Flanagan is correct to move away from most of them in the subsequent books. This is from the period in the series when it still had fantastic elements; these quickly recede are replaced by broad stereotypes of European ethnicities. That said, it is a ripping yarn. Gabe ate it up from the word go. Excellent read for middle-grade kids, especially boys.(less)
Paul Gutjahr's book is an interesting bibliographic history of the Book of Mormon, including its effect on the wider American cultural milieu. This is...morePaul Gutjahr's book is an interesting bibliographic history of the Book of Mormon, including its effect on the wider American cultural milieu. This is effect is, speaking generously, negligible. Gutjahr does his absolute best to situate the Book of Mormon in a wider context, but outside of its effect on religious believers and detractors, he has to try too hard to demonstrate cultural impact. A movie here, a play there do not indicate wide cultural interest or acclaim, especially in the niche-centric landscape of the current era. So Gutjahr is left trying to explain why people seem to think that the Book of Mormon has more cultural impact than it actually has.
That said, while the book is pretty inconsequential, it is well written and objective. Gutjahr has obviously done his homework, never really falling into the common academic pitfalls that non-Mormon scholars fall into in writing about Mormonism. By sticking strictly to the effect and publishing history of the Book of Mormon, Gutjahr avoids getting bogged down in religious or historical debates. It is a nice breezy read, good for an afternoon's distraction. This is a book that no-one will find objectionable, but, as a result, is nothing particularly lasting or important in this book (aside from, possibly, its existence at all).(less)