Theodora's mother never wanted her to enter the entertainment world, but after her father was brutally murdered, there was little choice if the family was to survive. And like her mother Hypatia, Theodora is nothing if not a survivor. Her talent for dance is only average, but her penchant for comedy launches Theodora into a spotlight career (view spoiler)[ that takes her from brother back rooms to faraway lands, on a religious pilgrimage, and home again to become the Empress of the entire Byzantine Empire. (hide spoiler)]
Duffy's fictional tale, which undoubtedly takes many liberties with the deeper aspects of Theodora's life, touches on many aspects of the sixth century, from politics to religion (which were deeply intertwined), and the acceptable roles of women.
Though Theodora's exploits fascinated me (I loved the bit where she takes up spinning - I myself have started recently to spin!), I was particularly touched by Duffy's commentary on the nature of relationships, from family and friends to God and spouse. These are skillfully woven and absolutely believable - not least because they touch a chord of recognition in me at some of my own experiences.
At 300+ pages, Theodora is definitely worth every minute.
This is a compensated review for the BlogHer book club, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I wish I'd payed more attention to the chronological order of the series. After finishing Ender's Shadow, I jumped right to this (because it follows E...moreI wish I'd payed more attention to the chronological order of the series. After finishing Ender's Shadow, I jumped right to this (because it follows Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow chronologically), but it turns out this book references many events in the rest of the Shadow series, so those books have been "spoiled" for me. I'll still listen to them eventually.
I love listening to Ender stories, but I'm the kind of person who gets into a series, a character, and then just loves to read more about them, quality be damned, so take this with whatever grain of salt you will.
There are a few inconsistencies where Ender in Exile overlaps with the concluding chapters of Ender's Game. OSC references them in the afterword, and his explanations are sensible, but it does distract somewhat from the story when you're going, "wait, is that what happened? I thought..." That said, I like this version of events well enough.
If you go straight from EG to EIE, you will almost certainly be disappointed at the pace of this book. However, if you read the rest of the EG series and then jump back to EIE, the pace won't be anything different. It's obvious to me that, while this book follow chronologically from EG, it was written after the rest of the series, because the style is more consistent with those later books.
In all, this is, as a fill-in, a book you can skip without missing anything, but a book worth picking up if you are just hungry for any more Ender stories you can get your hands on. (less)
I requested this book for review with a number of YA books, and so when it came to me, I began reading it expecting that genre. It's not.
The Orchard...moreI requested this book for review with a number of YA books, and so when it came to me, I began reading it expecting that genre. It's not.
The Orchard is (as the title suggests) a memoir, telling the story of a country girl with a rough past building an unlikely life. It reads like a novel, which is in its favor, though I wondered sometimes how fictionalized a variety of scenes may have been. I guess that's probably true of any memoir. You have to flesh out the skeleton of memory to make it more interesting.
I found The Orchard to be mildly interesting, but not particularly compelling. It starts slow, but does build steam and eventually come to the point where you want to know what is going to happen, whether the protagonists will break away from the prison of sorts that has been fashioned for them.
The thing about this book is that I feel like I should have enjoyed it more than I did. I really relate to the protagonist in many ways, and yet I felt detached from her (I don't think she ever mentions her own name in this book, not even in dialogue). Her decisions often made little sense to me, and I found myself often rolling my eyes or saying, "I told you so."
I don't feel as though I wasted the hours of my life I spent reading this book, but it wasn't anything particularly special, either. (less)
This quick and dirty short story fills in one of the more intriguing gaps from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. It tells the story of how...moreThis quick and dirty short story fills in one of the more intriguing gaps from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. It tells the story of how Scáthach, The Shadow, saves her dear friend Joan of Arc from death by pyre (though everyone thinks she was truly burned at the stake. It's short and sweet, a little morsel to tide you over until the final book in the series is released.
Alex is a seventeen-year-old girl with enough problems - dead parents, an inoperable brain tumor, and few happy memories - that the end of the world m...moreAlex is a seventeen-year-old girl with enough problems - dead parents, an inoperable brain tumor, and few happy memories - that the end of the world might well seem like welcome respite. But after the EMP leaves the world without electricity and electronic devices, leaves Alex stranded on a fictional Michigan mountain with winter just around the corner, she finds herself fighting to live (along with her survival mates and makeshift family) after all.
I really enjoyed this book, pushed through its 450+ pages in about a week, with a busy family event taking up my weekend. The nature of the dystopia - a warfare-based EMP pulse causing technological and nuclear meltdown, the death of an entire generation and a terrifying Change in another - seemed plausible enough to give me the creepy-crawlies. Alex and her fellow survivors all seemed very real to me, their personalities broad and complex, not overly simplified and stereotypical as so often happens in young adult fiction.
Ashes (both a title and a theme which is mentioned *almost* too many times in the first hundred or so pages), is already split into three sections, but it could almost be two separate books. There is a major shift about halfway through and the plot changes so drastically that I can't even really discuss it without giving away the first half. I will say that there seems to be some sort of deeper plan in that second half that evaded me. I'm hoping it's made clear in the second book of the trilogy.
I'm actually a little disappointed that I came across this book before its publication, because that means I'll be waiting even longer for the next one to be released. The cliffhanger ending of Ashes definitely has me already eager for Shadows. Well, maybe I'll get access to that one early, too. (less)
I guess I'm a sucker for the worlds of Orson Scott Card (or maybe just a sucker for the very excellent narrators that tell me his tales), and the comb...moreI guess I'm a sucker for the worlds of Orson Scott Card (or maybe just a sucker for the very excellent narrators that tell me his tales), and the combination real/fantasy world of The Lost Gate is no exception.
Danny North lives in a world where the adults bear names like Thor and Loki. Civilization is split into factions of "families," and each faction bears a name which ties it to its history, like "The Greeks" or "The Norths" (who bear Norse heritage). Almost everyone in Danny's world has personal magic, whether it is the ability to possess a bird and bid it do your will or to encourage the plants to grow just a little bigger. But Danny has none of these magical abilities. He is drekka.
Eventually Danny runs away from his family to join the druthers, the non-magical everyday folk who used to worship the families as gods. He plans to live among them, but he has a secret of his own, bigger than his past.
As seems typical of Card (at least lately), this book is almost more fantasy than science fiction, at least in the beginning. As the story progresses,...moreAs seems typical of Card (at least lately), this book is almost more fantasy than science fiction, at least in the beginning. As the story progresses, we see more and more of the sci-fi aspect and the fantasy elements take on a different perspective.
I have yet to "pick up" a Card "book" that I wasn't immediately engaged in, which didn't keep me cleaning my house long after my feet were sore (I only listen to audio versions, and I listen only while cleaning - keeps me motivated). Pathfinder was no different. Rigg's gift, his relationship with his father, and their relationship to the land drew me in quickly, and I was eager to see where it all led.
As the story progressed, new characters were added with rapidity, yet enough was told about each to allow you to connect with them. Never did I feel I learned too much about a character, nor that Card shouldn't have bothered with one at all for what little they added to the story.
By the time the book ends, you care about every one of the characters, and if you've been paying close attention, you have figured out where it's all going. Still it is a relief to actually get there, to hear what resolution there is, and then to read the Acknowledgement section and find out that yes, you did understand it correctly after all.
I'm looking forward to the next book, and hearing what the remaining characters do with their discoveries. (less)
It is rare for me not to finish a book. Even when reading books I don't like, I will usually push through just to find out what happens and say I've r...moreIt is rare for me not to finish a book. Even when reading books I don't like, I will usually push through just to find out what happens and say I've read it. But if I hadn't been obligated to finish this book, I'd have put Sapphire's The Kid down after 50 pages and never looked back.
"What Happened To Goodbye" showed up in my mailbox during my second week of recovery from giving birth to a surrogate baby, and was a welcome distract...more"What Happened To Goodbye" showed up in my mailbox during my second week of recovery from giving birth to a surrogate baby, and was a welcome distraction from the loud call of my messy house. Sarah Dessen's world pulled me in, and encouraged me to sit down and take it easy during my postpartum period with seventeen-year-old Mclean Sweet and her friends.
This book was definitely my least favorite of the series so far. I read Sookie because it's fluff - entertaining, enjoyable, quick, light. This book w...moreThis book was definitely my least favorite of the series so far. I read Sookie because it's fluff - entertaining, enjoyable, quick, light. This book was not particularly light or enjoyable, though I did go through it quickly. I admit to being disappointed in the lack of sexual tension (and, well, sex) I enjoyed through the other books. This installment was, overall, just very bland. (less)
I saw the last-page plot twist coming a LONG time ago. That said, I am liking this series so far. It's my "listen while cleaning" audiobook series, an...moreI saw the last-page plot twist coming a LONG time ago. That said, I am liking this series so far. It's my "listen while cleaning" audiobook series, and I'm eager to grab the next installment. (less)
This series is just so much fun. Tons of great info about Egyptology, treatment of minor gods and goddesses along with the major ones, and strong male...moreThis series is just so much fun. Tons of great info about Egyptology, treatment of minor gods and goddesses along with the major ones, and strong male and female lead characters who work best in cooperation with each other. Having just read the first 39 clues book (also a brother-sister duo), I found this to be far more engaging and well-written. I'm definitely looking forward to the conclusion of this series!(less)
This is definitely my least favorite Rick Riordan book so far. I'm curious to see how the rest of the series goes, since the other books are not writt...moreThis is definitely my least favorite Rick Riordan book so far. I'm curious to see how the rest of the series goes, since the other books are not written by him.
It's definitely an OK book, and I like the geography/history included in the plot, but the writing is just not up to my current standards, everything seems rushed, and it simply didn't pull me in the way I like my books to do! The reading/writing level seems geared to an age level younger than RR's other books, but the plot is definitely no more mellow, and I probably wouldn't read it to my 6-year-old any sooner than I'd read Percy Jackson to him. Maybe when he can read it himself, it will be right about his level. (less)
I had high hopes for this book after reading the Percy Jackson series. I love mythology of all sorts, and the idea of a new series dealing with Egypti...moreI had high hopes for this book after reading the Percy Jackson series. I love mythology of all sorts, and the idea of a new series dealing with Egyptian mythology (Percy Jackson was Greek) was awesome.
I was not disappointed. After a quick and dirty start, the book lags a bit in the first couple chapters but picks up again before too long. I would have read it much more quickly if I wasn't swamped with summer school, and as it was, I often read when I should have been doing homework!
The characters are likeable and for teenagers, probably relatable. The story is told in the context of a transcribed audio tape (!), and the asides at the beginning of the chapters get tiring, but it's a minor nitpick.
There is a definite conclusion to this book, while still giving you a taste of the larger story arc that is to come - I like that. No real cliffhanger, but the promise of more.
I found myself often wondering how much of the story was made up and how much was based on true mythological scholarship. That's cleared up in the notes at the end, stating that the idea of Nomes, magicians, and so forth were really prevalent in Ancient Egypt, and the mythological aspect of the book is as true as one could expect.
These series' are great primers for mythological education. It's a fun and exciting way for kids to get their Mythological literacy on. (less)