I have loved the two Brian Selznick's books I've read thus far , and I've been wanting to read this one for awhile but as it is rather hefty, I hadn'tI have loved the two Brian Selznick's books I've read thus far , and I've been wanting to read this one for awhile but as it is rather hefty, I hadn't. It is 665 pages after all. But it really doesn't take that long to read as the first third of the book is hand-drawn illustrations, then the main storyline, then the last fifty pages or so are more illustrations. And the story is so good, you are sucked in from the beginning and you really want to know the story and solve the mystery. The book, which starts in 1766 and ends in 2007, is about the Marvel and Nightingale families and their connection to each other. But it is also a story about love in all its forms, acceptance, understanding, and the complicated relationships within families (one of which, in this case, is people thinking you are crazy because your obsession with designing your house to be a perfect 19th century replica). The book is based in part off a real person called Dennis Severs who actually had a house at the location from the book, 18 Folgate St in Spitalfields, London (http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/).
I got sucked into this book from the beginning and didn't want to leave the richly descriptive world. But all books have to end, even the good ones. I wasn't sure what I was expecting from this book, which looks like a work of art on the outside with its gold and dark blue cover and gold-edged pages, but I was pleasantly surprised. Two of my favorite quotes in the book are on page 558 where Joseph and his uncle Albert have finally come to accept each other and Albert has agreed to let him stay with him: "Joseph looked at his uncle in the flickering golden glow of the fire, and his heart nearly broke with love." That line just really stayed with me. Later on, on page 599, when Joseph and his mother are talking about their family and Joseph is thinking about Shakespeare's play "A Winter's Tale," which was the one he had sneaked in to see at the Royal Theater, there is another great one, which made me tear up and reflect on my own life right now. "Maybe the play wasn't about miracles. No, maybe it was about the passage of time, and the need for patience, and the ability to forgive. Maybe Shakespeare was saying that even in a world where miracles can happen, there's still going to be pain, and loss, and regret. Because sometimes people die and you can't bring them back. That's what life is, Joseph realized, miracles and sadness, side by side." And this profound thought comes from a children's book. I'm honestly not sure if children will read this book as it is a bit too deep and not non-stop action like most kid's books, but I honestly hope they do because they will miss out on a great piece of literature. Honestly, I think everyone should read this. Recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars. ...more
In the sequel to Maia Chance’s sassy 1920s romp "Come Hell or Highball", we again meet the ladies of the Discrete Retrieval Agency, which includes forIn the sequel to Maia Chance’s sassy 1920s romp "Come Hell or Highball", we again meet the ladies of the Discrete Retrieval Agency, which includes former socialite Lola Woodby and her Swedish cook Berta Lundgreen. They haven’t been detectives for long and are currently living at Lola’s dead husband’s former love nest. The lady sleuths are broke again, and must take a case to pay the bills and for those ever important cocktails. A friend of Lola’s mother has asked them to investigate at a fat farm and detox facility to steal her daughter Grace’s diary. Only shortly after they arrive however, the diary disappears along with its owner and Grace’s mother-in-law-to-be is murdered. They end up working for a senator to try and solve the murder. Will they be able to solve it in time and finally get paid? To find out, read this funny and witty sequel. 3-1/2 stars.
I really enjoyed the first book, so I jumped at the chance to read the second. I didn’t think it was as good, and kept losing interest while reading it, as the story dragged a bit in the middle. I like that Lola is a curvier girl, who isn’t afraid to admit she likes pastries, chocolate and cocktails. She has started doing the detective thing rather reluctantly, but has a knack for it. Berta is probably my favorite character because as she is no-nonsense and she usually figures out things way before Lola does. I like Ralph’s character as well as he is your typical ladies man detective with a soft-spot for Lola....more
Lada is the daughter of Vlad Draculesti, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler. Only he is not pleased to have a girl as she is not pretty enough to beLada is the daughter of Vlad Draculesti, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler. Only he is not pleased to have a girl as she is not pretty enough to be married off for an advantage. She is trained from an early age to fight and Vlad recognizes that strength in her and is proud of her viciousness, but not enough to give her love or attention. Her younger brother Radu is handsome, fair and meek, everything is sister is not. But their father doesn’t care for him either. So it is not surprising that Vlad, the ruler of Wallachia, a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire in Southern Romania, uses his two children as bartering chips with the Ottoman ruler, Sultan Murad. Lada and Radu spend the majority of their childhood in Eridne in the palace, learning to survive in a place and with a religion not their own. Eventually they become friends with Mehmed, the third son the Sultan, and it is he who changes their life forever. Will Lada finally get the recognition and power that she deserves? Will Radu finally come into his own and become his own man and not an extension of his sister? To find out, read the exciting first book in The Conqueror’s Saga. Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars.
I adored this book. I’ve been fascinated with the Ottomans for awhile now and I love stories that are twists on the original. Everyone pretty much knows who Vlad Dracul is, but to imagine his daughter (a noblewoman in 15th century Romania) as the brutal vicious one is a definite twist. It’s so rare to find such a richly detailed story, with a non-preachy view on religions (especially Islam), and such complex characters. In fact, the author made Islam sound really peaceful and centering, like I think it really is based on my studying of it. The executioner being labeled “the head gardener” was an interesting concept for me, as was the knowledge that it was the Ottomans (or more accurately the Ancient Mesopotamians who preceded them), not the Wallochians, who came up with the idea to impale people as punishment. The fratricide law that Mehmed enacts at the end of the book was based on historical fact and did basically give the sultan the right to get rid of his male siblings so that
Lada’s character is fascinating and it’s nice to hear about a rather unconventional heroine who is not flawlessly beautiful and is bitter and vengeful and ready to kick ass and take no prisoners. And she has a right to be, as life has always been hard on her and she really has no one to confide in about her deepest darkest feelings, even though she can barely admit those to herself. She is manipulative and strong and feisty and someone I would want to fight for me.
Radu is completely different from her in a way – he is softness and civility, to Lada’s anger and violence. He gains power not by force but by being charming, sophisticated and courtly. He has to hide the biggest part of himself to survive. But they both want the best for Mehmed, even though they disagree on what exactly that is. And they both love him, something I know he is aware of and does exploit to his better end.
My biggest gripe with this book was how much the story got bogged down in the middle with politics. I’m all for story-building but I felt that the author could’ve skipped a bunch of not vitally important stuff to get to more meatier parts. I hadn’t seen that it was part of a trilogy until I was about to write this review. I’m not surprised as the author has set up way too much of the story for it to be a single volume, plus I’m interested to see where she goes from here with it. It was just starting to get good, with Lada finally coming to terms that she might actually have some real power, Radu learning that even though he can never openly show his feelings for the sultan, he can still be around to protect and advise him, and Mehmed finally becoming the ruler he is meant to be....more
Grayling’s mother, Hannah Strong, a wise woman who provides medicine and small spells for the local village, has been turned into a tree by an unseenGrayling’s mother, Hannah Strong, a wise woman who provides medicine and small spells for the local village, has been turned into a tree by an unseen force. It is up to Grayling to rescue her and return with her Grimoire, Hannah’s book of spells. She is soon joined by a shape-shifting mouse named Pook and a weather witch and her grumpy apprentice, an enchantress and a wizard. Grayling must learn to believe in herself and brave a hostile world in order to free her mother and the other magic users whose grimoires have been stolen. Recommended for ages 9-12, 2-1/2 stars.
I picked this book up because Pook sounded adorable (he’s probably my favorite character) and the story seemed an intriguing coming of age story. Plus I love Karen Cushman’s work, especially Alchemy and Meggy Swan, Catherine Called Birdy, and The Midwife’s Apprentice. So I had high hopes for this one as well. But I couldn’t get into it, so much so that I almost didn’t read it because it lost my attention very early on. Once the story got going, it was a little bit better. Hannah Strong obviously does not support her daughter or believe in her abilities, and therefore Grayling has very low self-esteem and no great opinion of herself. As someone who has struggled with this issue myself, I know how disheartening it can be and how limiting, and I hate to see girls undermined in books. But it is a quest story and Grayling does grow and come into her own by the end of the tale. The characters, as a whole, seem a little underdeveloped and the only one that Grayling had any attachment to was Auld Nancy, the weather witch. The author left the story rather open-ended, possibly paving the way for a sequel later on.
Disclaimer: I received this Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publishers, Clarion Books, via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. ...more