I read most of this book in one day. Well, I stayed up until 4:18AM to finish it, so technically it was two, but I was all within 24 hours. My point i...moreI read most of this book in one day. Well, I stayed up until 4:18AM to finish it, so technically it was two, but I was all within 24 hours. My point is: Holy cow. What a book!
By page six I was hooked. You're thrown right into the action of long ago when two Revolutionary War soldiers escape into a swamp to escape the British. Even in those few pages of prologue, so much happens and your completely thrown one way then the next. Next thing you know you meet Verity Boone, the heroine, in post-Civil War America and she's engaged to a man she doesn't know except through a letter correspondence.
Could the first 20 pages be any more radically different?
By the time Verity discovers that her mother's grave — as well as her aunt's — has been covered by a iron filigree cage outside of the cemetery on unhallowed ground, I was completely invested in this book and couldn't wait to see where it lead. There were a lot of Small Incidents which confidently kept me from wondering, 'Gee, I wonder what DID happen to her aunt and mother...?' too much, which therefore made the the reveal startling and a complete surprise. Thinking back on it, I should have seen it coming. But I'm so glad that I didn't! It made for such a unique style and purposely diverted from the reader trying to figure things out for themselves because so many small everyday things were happening, too. But gosh was it good.
I also really love that Salerni was inspired to write this story after seeing two real caged graves in an abandoned graveyard outside of Catawissa, Pennsylvania and faithly describing them in her story and creating a fictional story around them. As a resident of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I'll definitely try to hunt these two graves down sometime this summer!
This book has a little bit of something for everyone. It's clever and ingenious and very obviously well researched. It features a unique topic and an extremely realistic cast of characters; not a single one seemed over the top or fake. I feel like I could have honestly run into any one of the characters while walking through town shortly after the Civil War. I just want to shove this book at everyone and demand they read it right now.(less)
This was an interestingly odd read. There's a little of something for most everyone. History? Check. Superheroes? Check. Interesting villians...more3.5 stars
This was an interestingly odd read. There's a little of something for most everyone. History? Check. Superheroes? Check. Interesting villians? Check. Many unanswered questions? Most definitely check!
I bought this book not quite sure what to expect. I'm a HUGE fan of The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale, Part 1, so I thought I'd check out this other graphic novel about the Revolutionary War. This book was better than I thought it might end up being! I'll be reading the second volume as well. If you like history, suerheroes, and action-packed graphic novels and a bit of the odd or supernatural, this book might be something you'd like. A good graphic novel for both middle school readers and older.(less)
I mean seriously, where do I even start? It's so good. "Hitty" is based on an old peg doll the author and her friend saw in an antique store...moreTHIS BOOK.
I mean seriously, where do I even start? It's so good. "Hitty" is based on an old peg doll the author and her friend saw in an antique store. The doll's face had such personality that Ms. Mead was left to wonder just what the doll's story was. In answer to this question, Ms. Mead wrote this charming book, and the friend that was with her in the antique store, Dorothy Lathrop, provides fantastic illustrations.
Telling the tale is Hitty, a little ash wood peg doll who, over the course of 100 years, is lost, found, stolen, and goes on many adventures and witness quite a few historic events. In elementary school I had read Rachel Field's Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, which is a picture book adaption of Rachel Mead's original book. I had loved the illustrated edition, and when I found the original book at Borders one day a good few years later, I freaked. I was so excited! And my high expectations were more than met when I read the book. It's a darling little gem from 1929, and quite deserves the Newberry Medal it won. It's a great book, and one I know I'll definitely pass on to any children I may have in the far future.
This is genuinely one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.
So I had really high hopes for this book. Like, really high hopes. One of my fa...moreThis is genuinely one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.
So I had really high hopes for this book. Like, really high hopes. One of my favorite mostly-ignored-or-unknown-by-many-people fairy tales, Bluebeard, set in gothic pre-Civil South? Uhm, yes please! When you think about it, the South in the Civil War era is the closest thing America has to the gothic moors of England that the Brontes were so fond of, and so setting Bluebeard there worked absolutely perfectly.
But let's discuss why this book exceeded my already high expectations.
When the story sets out, Sophie (our heroine and narrator) is kind of annoying. Everything's all, Oh, look, that's so gothic! and Oh, what gorgeous dresses and jewels! and It's so gothic, surely Wyndriven Abbey must be haunted with ghosts and vampires! and, well, you get the picture. I thought, "Oh my god, Sophia reminds me so much of Catherine from Northanger Abbey, they are one and the same." Three pages later, Sophia makes a comment about how she and Catherine from Northanger Abbey would probably make great friends.
I didn't know whether I wanted to laugh because I called it or sigh because she was so predictable.
Sophia continues on this was (two pages later she wonders if M. de Cressac has a mad wife locked in the attic or in one of the Abbey's many rooms) until she starts to question things. She realizes that her new guardian doesn't act as he should, and that his dead wife-- er, make that wives-- and then make that multiple wives, plus one who "ran out" on him--is surrounded in mystery and everything just seems more and more off the more she finds out. And she gets suspicious.
As terrible things start to happen and her paradise starts to show it's dirty underbelly, Sophia changes. She grows up. I have never read a book in which the heroine goes through such character development so believably. Anymore, heroines are strong, fierce, and independent. Sophia was a fresh breath of realism. She starts out like a real girl in 1855 would; huge mansion and grounds, dresses, and a dashing guardian would be exciting. But before long she starts to question, and she begins to realize that all is not as it appears. And before long you're rooting for Sophia to get out of Wyndriven Abbey as fast as she can and to get to the safety of her siblings or the Reverend Mr. Stone. At the climax of the book, my breath kept catching, my heart was racing, and I could feel Sophia's genuine (and very reasonable) fear and her determination to live. I was so wrapped up and absorbed in what was happening that I felt like it was happening to me! It was brilliant.
There's a lot of small things I loved about this book, too. Many references to the original tale--even a small one on the first page you wouldn't get unless you're very familiar with the original! There's also a running joke throughout the book that appears about three or four times; Sophia can never figure out if someone's quoting Shakespeare or the Bible. In a time when those things would be quoted more, it's quite believable that she'd get them switched up and it's so endearing. It was an odd little quirk that I don't think most people would have thought to put in. And the memento mori hair bracelet! Such a perfect thing for the times, A+ to Ms. Nickerson.
BASICALLY EVERYONE SHOULD GO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. I stayed up two nights in a row (until 4:30 and 2:40 AM, respectfully) until it was done. It took a while for me to fall asleep the second night after finishing it!
I'd give it 10 out of 5 stars. It is that good.(less)
Such a great book! Once again Klein does for Macbeth what she did in Ophelia for Shakespeare's Hamlet.
As an avid fan of Macbeth, I've often mused on w...moreSuch a great book! Once again Klein does for Macbeth what she did in Ophelia for Shakespeare's Hamlet.
As an avid fan of Macbeth, I've often mused on what made Lady Macbeth so ambitious and crafty, leading to her husband's murderous deeds and eventual insanity. And why does Shakespeare go out of his way to have Lady Macbeth mention to her husband, "[...] I have given suck, and know / How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me." (1.7.54-55) yet explicitly avoids giving the couple children while giving children to literally every other male adult in the play? Lisa Klein took these questions and expanded on them, giving Lady Macbeth a daughter, Albia, the book's heroine, who is rejected by Macbeth for being a girl and having a crippled leg. Abandoned on the moor, Lady Macbeth's lady in waiting saves the child, spiriting her away to live with her two sisters in the woods. Thus begins the events that lead to the bloodbath that is the play we all know.
It was really great seeing how Klein interwove the plot of the play and explained things and then threw in total surprises that worked so well. Quite a few of her ideas were also my accepted headcannon of background info. The only reason it's not getting 5 stars is because I didn't quite buy the budding romance between(view spoiler)[ Fleance (hide spoiler)] and Albia, and only started to right at the end AND THEN THEY PART WAYS. AGAIN. So I didn't really get a chance to buy into that relationship. And some burning questions were set up towards the end (or even earlier) yet left unanswered. Just how did Albia's girdle magically protect her? What was Luoch's fate? Did Malcolm go out in search of Albia (view spoiler)[after Fleance helped her and Luoch escape (hide spoiler)]? Did Macduff find Wee Duff? Who finally ended up with the crown? Did Colum and Caora pair off?! It was so good, but I just want these questions answered!
If you haven't read this book or Ophelia, you need to. Right now. Go ahead, I'll be hear waiting until you return.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I have to try reeeaaally hard to not start this review flailing. But basically, I'm Kermit the Frog flailing over how awesome this book was. I had hig...moreI have to try reeeaaally hard to not start this review flailing. But basically, I'm Kermit the Frog flailing over how awesome this book was. I had high expectations for it, and this book exceeded them.
From the very beginning we know Miss Buncle has absolutely no imagination; in fact, this is stated throughout the book--and often by Miss Buncle herself--well over ten times. In truth, I lost count past that. This knowledge so early on made for a very bland main character, so I was glad when the book Miss Buncle writes proves to be more of a main character than the authoress herself. Over time, however, Miss Buncle grew on me, and I came to really enjoy her as a character. Towards the end of the book I realized that D.E. Stevenson had done something brilliant; we first meet Miss Buncle as she and many in her village perceive her: boring, frumpy, unassuming and very plain. When she writes a novel that copy/pastes her village and it's inhabitants for its setting and characters as seen through her eyes, she makes her counterpart, "Elizabeth Wade", much more interesting, popular, and clever than Miss Buncle is. Over the course of "Miss Buncle's Book", both the reader and Miss Buncle herself come to realize that "Elizabeth Wade" isn't Miss Buncle's opposite, but just a part of Miss Buncle that hasn't had a chance to shine and bloom yet.
"Miss Buncle's Book" is charming and often made me laugh or chuckle out loud, but ALAWAYS left me with a smile on my face. It's witty satire in the same way that Jane Austin's Northanger Abbey is, feels like its omniscient narrator is none other than Nanny McPhee, yet is a beautifully written character study that you just don't see in literature anymore. It's village fiction, much like The Casual Vacancy is, except that nothing heart-wrenchingly horrible happens. I'd most closely relate it to Chocolat. It's a lighthearted read, and an easy one, but it's a read that won't soon leave your memory. It's an ingenious little novel complete with real characters that you can't help but love. Everyone should read this book.(less)