It’s actually a pretty decent collection of stories. The two central themes are of transformation and are careful what you wi...moreFull review at Booklikes.
It’s actually a pretty decent collection of stories. The two central themes are of transformation and are careful what you wish for, you just meant get it. The problem with the use of the second theme in some books is that taken too badly it can be seen as an endorsement of “maintain the status quo and conform”.
Avi is not one of these writers. The point isn’t conforming, but acknowledging the situation, dealing with it, and moving beyond it.
True, there is one story where the focus is just on transformation. It actually is a really funny, dark and very plausible story (less)
Disclaimer: I was auto-approved for an ARC via Netgalley.
I do not know why I was auto approved for an ARC of this book. Whi...moreCrossposted at Booklikes.
Disclaimer: I was auto-approved for an ARC via Netgalley.
I do not know why I was auto approved for an ARC of this book. While I do, occasionally, read Young Adult work, there are far more proficient readers of YA and children books than me out there. Anyway, I’m glad I did get auto approved for this book.
To me, rightly or wrongly, young adult novels with a girl on the cover equal special snowflake torn between two boys, one of whom is jerk. This is not the case in this novel. At all. Laila might be a special snowflake but that is down to politics. A book like this reminds everyone what children’s literature can and should be.
Laila, her mother, and her brother have fled to America after the murder of her father, a dictator or ruler of an unnamed Islamic kingdom somewhere else on the globe. Carlson’s plot is inspire not only by the Arab Spring but also by the states of Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. The family tries to adjust to a change in circumstances and culture.
For Laila this adjustment includes coming to terms with who her father actually was, what he may or may not have done as well as adjusting to the new American culture. For her mother, it means struggling not only finances but with something else, darker than Laila struggles to make out over the course of the book.
There isn’t a love triangle in this book. There is love and desire, panting and smooching, but there isn’t a love triangle. The book is more about a journey of self discovery and about making the current events more relevant and important to the younger generation.
What I really enjoyed about this book, besides the fact that Laila is not perfect, is flawed, and does struggle, is that she gets friends. She learns to make friends and care for friendships. Her girlfriends are not her rivals, but her friends. Additionally, there is a parallel between Laila and her family, and what happens to Emmy and hers. In many ways, Carlson not only introduces a reader to the “other” but makes it okay to ask questions to understand another culture. It is not done in a heavy handed way. The characters are so well drawn that the interactions come across as completely natural.
Perhaps, the plot involving Laila's mother and the CIA (this is hardly spoiler as it is mentioned in the book blurb) is a bit far fetch, by Carlson accounts for that by showing how Laila may or may not know her mother, the hints at what her mother may be aware of it.
Strangely, the struggle of a girl’s coming to terms of her families political past works beautifully with all the struggles that teenagers go though. This does not mean that any of them are trivialized. They are not and all are handed with tact – the only, understandable and real exception is the use of the bomb scare. It makes the story powerful and allows for the outsider (i.e. a Western) to enter into Laila's world and not feel guilty because their problems are not as bad.
The writing in general is compelling and there are some wonderful details – like Laila’s reaction upon meeting Emmy, the comparison of Cinderella stories, Bastien’s reaction to cereal. Carlson knows her subject. While marketed for children/young adults, the novel can easily be read by adults. Furthermore, it would make a great reading for any class, raising questions of morality, culture, history, perspective, and violence. Highly recommended. (less)
Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley in exchange for a fair review. The ARC did not have all the illustrations, so I cannot comm...moreCrossposted at Booklikes
Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley in exchange for a fair review. The ARC did not have all the illustrations, so I cannot comment on those.
When I was a freshman in high school, the Iliad was one of the books used in English class. I didn’t have a problem reading it because not only had I read Bullfinch and Hamilton, but also the children’s version of Troy. My first reaction was this is it, no wonder everyone else finds it boring. All the good stuff was left out.
In many ways, it is that reaction that this Osprey book about Troy battles, and seems to battle quite well. While the matter of Homer’s epic is covered quite well, the details that appear in the non-Homer work, the needed sacrifice to sail, the fate of the women, Helen’s back-story – all make an appearance here. The good bits are here.
The use of the good bit – the violent and disturbing bits that many people I would imagine, want to be left out – make the book entertaining and show that the story can still compete with the likes of Ironman and Thor, those box office behemoths. By keeping the nasty bits, the story becomes more engaging.
The prose is lively and matter of fact. It is not purple, and, more importantly, it is engaging enough to keep the attention of the reader. While it does focus on the story, told in chronological order, there is a historical reference – a look at the site of Troy as well as Greek culture. Additionally, there are boxes that contain a breakdown of who brought how many ships and which god was on which side. These boxes are nicely designed and make accessing the information quite easy. There is also a section about Hollywood versions of the story. Better yet, there is a bibliography at the end.
It is true that for the reader more familiar with the story (say, long time fan of the story), there isn’t anything really new – though the ease of access for detail might be worth the cost of book alone. The book, however, is ideal for a teen or pre-teen who expresses an interest in the story or who is not responding well to Homer. (less)
Your child has just watched the Disney cartoon of Robin Hood and wants to know more? What do you do? You get this book.
Osprey’s Robin Hood book contains a breakdown of the legend drawing not just on the famous book by Pyle but also on the ballads. The stories follow the well known tracts of Robin Hood. However, like the Troy book in the series, this book is rather deeper than first appears. First, most of the major characters in addition to Robin Hood get a close look. For instance, there is a look at the change in Much the Miller’s Son as well as Little John and Marian. There is also a look at who the Sheriff might have actually been as well as contenders for the Robin Hood figure. The Robin Hood section is most interesting because each contender is dealt with in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
The story is not sugar coated so not only is Robin as Puck here, but Robin as outlaw. It is this outlaw aspect that makes the book the most interesting for there is a look at the changing nature of the story. The section about Hollywood versions of the tale illustrates this quite well and covers up to the BBC recent series as well as the Crowe movie. The variations in the film versions are woven into an analysis of the tale, showcasing the everyman aspect that is a thesis of the critical aspect of this work.
Despite the scholarly side, the book is designed for pre-teen and teens. The writing is not condescending and is engaging. Included is a bibliography for further reading. While the book does not have anything new for the long time student of the tale, it serves as a good jumping off point.
Despite the title, there is no grand zombie versus unicorn smack down. This would have been cool. There is one group of stories about unicorns, anothe...moreDespite the title, there is no grand zombie versus unicorn smack down. This would have been cool. There is one group of stories about unicorns, another about zombies, and the editors argue over which is better.
It is also really a young adult collection. And, therefore, I am outside of the intended audience. I am also more of a team unicorn than team zombie person.
I found three of the stories to be very good, one to be interesting and haunting, and the rest to be forgettable. A quick word about the introduction – the give and play between the two editors I found to be annoying and largely unnecessary. Perhaps if I was younger I would’ve enjoyed it more. Outside of two introductions that actually tell you something about zombie and unicorns, and then just simply are variations of “zombies are better” and “unicorns are misunderstood”.
The collection starts with “Highest Justice” by Garth Fix. It lacks the freshness, perhaps, of his more famous trilogy, but there is a charm to it. “The Purity Test” by Naomi Novak is about a unicorn that needs a heroine with brain as opposed to a cherry. It is a funny story and a good thrust to the theme of purity. It reminded of the dragon sacrifice story that appears in one of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress novels. “Children of the Revolution” by Maureen Johnson is a zombie story and pokes fun at famous people, in particular stars with a bunch of adopted children and lack of tie to reality. It’s always fun to read such things.
While the above three are the stand out stories stand out, there is also “The Care and Feeding of Baby Unicorns” by Diana Peterfrund. In terms of style, I found the story to be a little longer than it needed to be. Yet, in the plot of a killer unicorn being raised by a girl who lost family to a unicorn, there is a thoughtful look at religion and faith. Despite its length, the subject matter is handed very well, and there is no heavy handed preaching that makes its way into other stories dealing with the same ideas. It does haunt you. (less)
Hands down, without a doubt the best story in the collection is "The Witch of Duva" by Leigh Bardigo. It is a completely wonderful retelling of Hansel...moreHands down, without a doubt the best story in the collection is "The Witch of Duva" by Leigh Bardigo. It is a completely wonderful retelling of Hansel and Gretel set in a Russia like fantasy world. Technically the collection is marketed as Young Adult, but this story transends ages. You should note that "Duva" and theCinder short story both appear as well in the second Fierce Reads Collection. There are also previews of novels (using the first two chapters) after most of the short stories.
As for the other stories, I enjoyed "Dress Your Marines in White" which is very dark. The rest were not bad, but didn't really suit my tastes. "Prophet" was a good story, but it also was almost too short. It showed, however, an ability to capture character. I didn't really like "Legacy Lost" (basically the style was not to my personal taste); however, bonus points for a very good ending.
**spoiler alert** 2.5 or something. Might round up eventually.
There is much too like in this book. The idea of a cyborg Cinderella is neat. The fact t...more**spoiler alert** 2.5 or something. Might round up eventually.
There is much too like in this book. The idea of a cyborg Cinderella is neat. The fact that Cinder is not good looking but intelligent – especially intelligent in terms of mechanics – is great and wonderful. It’s the best selling point of the book. The prince, Kai, is well drawn. The Step-mother and evil step sister are somewhat shaded. The big reveal fits the world building. The ending is a brave ending. So why two stars? Well, it has to do with the character of Cinder herself. I just don’t buy the character. Her status as a cyborg seems to be both common knowledge and secret. Which is it? I can understand how the prince wouldn’t know, but only one person at the market does? If the prince is so smart and intelligent, how does wearing a simply glove disguise the metal when he touches her hand? But these are nit-picking remarks. My main issue is with Cinder’s relationship with Peony, her stepsister, whom Cinder loves – in fact, Peony seems to be the only person Cinder loves in book. Except, she doesn’t really seem to love Peony. The reader is told time and time again how Cinder feels about Peony. Told, mind you, not shown. When it comes time to show, Peony comes as an afterthought to Cinder’s mind. You might a cure to the plague that is killing your beloved sibling. Wouldn’t her cure be foremost in your mind? It’s more like Peony is there to show the reader that Cinder is human despite having metal. In fact, Cinder seems more upset at the destruction of her android then the death of her stepsister. I’m not faulting the grief at the loss of Iko, and it was a well written scene. But it is far more powerfully written than the grief at Peony. Additionally, the stepmother and step sister are implied to be at fault for not visiting Peony, yet they couldn’t visit (nor did Cinder try to get them in). This wouldn’t be a problem, except the book is told in third person, not first. The other problem I had is also tied to Peony. Peony is only good woman, girl, besides Cinder. And Peony disappears even before she dies. Ever other women – the majority of whom are older – are bad in somewhere or another. Even Cinder’s biological mother is not someone you would want as a parent. Why couldn’t the doctor be a woman or Kai’s councilor? I get that young adult books geared towards young girls do this for a reason – most likely tied to the feelings of a teenage girl (there is a psych paper here). But teenage girls have friends, friends who are girls. I think of Ash or most of the works of McKinley where even if the heroine is at odds with other women, she still has female friends. No offense, Iko doesn’t cut it.
So that’s my problems with this book. Still, it’s worth giving to a young adult reader and a cut above many books with the standard pretty heroine who has every one lusting after her (less)
Ah Moxie. How do I love thee? You are far more interesting then the boy named after a fruit. His Gal Friday you are not. You are yourself. Amusing book...more Ah Moxie. How do I love thee? You are far more interesting then the boy named after a fruit. His Gal Friday you are not. You are yourself. Amusing book with the references. Really wish I knew cabbies like Pip and Squeak. (less)
Jennifer Strange is a very unique young lady. She is a teen, even has those silly teen crushes on people who are the fantasy version of Justin Bieber,...moreJennifer Strange is a very unique young lady. She is a teen, even has those silly teen crushes on people who are the fantasy version of Justin Bieber, but she also is the managing director de facto of a magic service house.
And she is supposed to slay a dragon.
On the plus side, she has a Rolls Royce.
In many ways, Fforde’s young adult book, dedicated to his daughter, is like Terry Pratchett’s work in that the only difference between it and the adult work is the age of the protagonist. All of Fforde’s wit, humor, and allusion making power are on display here. It is part an attack on politics and partly an attack on fame and convention. It is hard not see shades of the current monarchy in the Royals that people Fforde’s universe.
Like many young adult fiction these days, Fforde’s young girl seems to be a girlish vacuum where she is the only girl of note and everyone else is a male. This is almost true. It is true that her main adversary in her job is a dragon lady, and it is also true that the only other women magic users that we see are a bit senile. Both rulers are male as are most of the political movers and shakers. The famous magicians of the past are male as well. Yet, Jennifer, who keeps making think of Jennifer Saunders, does have a mother figure who she quite clearly as a loving relationship with and respects. So it is better one some levels and would past the test that so many movies fail.
It might be fair to say that Jennifer acts almost too mature at times, but this is belied by her poster and her embarrassment of said poster. She also is very clear in what she wants to be, an agent to magicians, and of her limitations.
The best bits of the book are when Jennifer meets the dragon that she is supposed to slay. His views on history as well humans are quite funny. The story about the dung beetle should not be read while drinking milk. It is a quick read, easily enjoyable by both young adults and adults. It has stronger age cross over chops than say Harry Potter. An adult should be able to finish the book in about a day. Amusing, inventive, fun. (less)
I think I would've enjoyed this more if I was younger, for it is very much a young adult novel. For an adult the actions of the characters don't alway...moreI think I would've enjoyed this more if I was younger, for it is very much a young adult novel. For an adult the actions of the characters don't always make sense, and the character development in terms of some characters is weak. It is hard to feel anything for any of the characters.
Now that is the bad part - the good part is the world building in terms of powers is well done - even if Solace seems to have too many. It is awesome beyond worlds that the chosen one is a girl. The interactions between the friends read and sounded like interactions between friends.
1. How can big budget movies about WW II are mostly just about men? Why Schindler and not Sendler?
2. Why did Gore when the Nobe...moreI have two questions -
1. How can big budget movies about WW II are mostly just about men? Why Schindler and not Sendler?
2. Why did Gore when the Nobel Prize and not Sendler?
This book wasn't marketed as Young Adult when I brought it for my kindle, but it has that feel. There is background on WW II and the descriptions of Sendler's imprisonment while not glossed over, seemed to be designed to allow younger reads to read this work. The look at the four girls who did research on Sendler and got her wider fame has a "you can do this too" feel to it, not that there is anything wrong with that.
This is more of an essay about Sendler than a biography, ideal for younger readers, but older readers will want something with a little more meat.
It is well written. If you have children, this is perfect.(less)
This is really like Indy Jones, though unlike her adult books, Allende tells too much instead of showing.
What is interesting about this book is the am...moreThis is really like Indy Jones, though unlike her adult books, Allende tells too much instead of showing.
What is interesting about this book is the amount of background as well as action Allende packs into the book. During the journey in the Amazon, the characters of both Alex and Nadia are totally real as are most of the supporting characters. A good quick read for an adult(less)
Most likely, "Cinderella" is the most well known and popular fairy tale in the world. Partically, every culture has a version. There are even less wel...moreMost likely, "Cinderella" is the most well known and popular fairy tale in the world. Partically, every culture has a version. There are even less well known version such as 'Donkeyskin". The idea of being transformed, of one's true worth being recognized is seductive and a time honored tradition. We even it use in sports. When a writer decided to tackle and/or retell the story of Cinderella, he or she confronts not only Dinsey's blonde mouse friend but all the baggage that comes with Cinderella, all the baggage that every member of society has about it. This explains why there are so many "bad" or just "okay" versions. Lo's novel is risky not only because of the Cinderella connection but also because of the twist that Lo gives it. While Lo's Cinderella isn't flawless, it is worthy of being remembered.
The problems of the novel are the ones that in some ways are too common in Cinderella stories - the character of the stepmother and stepsisters, and at some point it seems as if Ash almost deserves the treatment she gets. While Cinderella is always, in some way, a story about a daughter's grief for a dead mother, Ash takes it a bit far by sleeping on her mother's grave and not the usually tending that Cinderella figures do. (BTW, I liked the update on her name. I've had to explain what Cinders are once too often. THe name Ash, short for Ashling, is a good and understandable nod to the Cinderella name).
The thing is that Ash learns over the course of the novel. She grows. And while it is true that a few points a reader will wonder why Ash of all people, but the ending makes it up for that because of who Ash becomes. In truth, the ending brings the book up to four stars.
And I sorta liked the twist, which made far more sense than Disney's prince who needs a shoe test.(less)
**spoiler alert** Dear Ms. Hale (or Miss or Mrs or Dr),
It's not you. It really is me. I know it's me. Please note that I did not put this book on my i...more**spoiler alert** Dear Ms. Hale (or Miss or Mrs or Dr),
It's not you. It really is me. I know it's me. Please note that I did not put this book on my ick-attack shelf. It's better than that. However, it really is me. Several people I know like you. So it really is me.
These were the problems that contributed to me not being able to finish:
1. The whole blonde is good, dark is bad thing that you seemed to be going down.
2. The fact that Ani, with one exception, gets long well only with men.
3. For crown princess who was supposedly taught to be one, the reader doesn't see her being taught (just saying).
4. This is one is petty, but it is the one that really irked me. Hence, the reason why I know it is me, not you Ms Hale. I alway saw Fadela as a mare not a stallion.
Sorry Ms. Hale, it really is me. But I will say, you can write. You have very good prose and use of language. I think, in fact I am very sure, that if I were the age of the intended audience, I would've enjoyed it.(less)
This is not a Discworld novel. But that is made clear from the get go.
Pratchett sets his story in Victorian London, and he peoples it as it was. That...moreThis is not a Discworld novel. But that is made clear from the get go.
Pratchett sets his story in Victorian London, and he peoples it as it was. That is with historic personages, including Charles Dickens, who gets, in Pratchett at least, the idea of the Artful Dodger from a young man who is named Dodger and who is artful. Pratchett's Dodger does seem to owe something to the Baker Street Irregulars as well as Dickens' creation. The plot of the novel also seems to owe much to Wilkie Collins.
In many ways, this book functions as an introduction to the Victorian era for the younger reader. For an adult reader, the pleasure comes from Pratchett's cleaver wordplay, references, and jokes. This is, in many ways, a real world Disc. Not surprising when conisdering what London gave birth to in Pratchett's mind.
I have to admit, however, that unlike Collins or Doyle at thier best, I never really felt if any of the central characters were in any danger in any way. This isn't due to the fact that the book is YA. I felt a sense of danger in the Tiffany books. Here, the plot seems incididental to the characters, at least to the eyes of this adult reader.
This book is not as good as Nation for which Pratchett should have won the Booker, but it is a cut above much YA and will spark interest in the period(less)