When I finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I remember whimpering to a friend, "The book was great, but I want to read the ones about Snow and Baz!" RaWhen I finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I remember whimpering to a friend, "The book was great, but I want to read the ones about Snow and Baz!" Rainbow Rowell heard my pain, (or actually felt her own, according to the author's note) and decided to explore the world of Simon, and Baz, and Penelope, and Agatha. Fun!
Someone, somewhere, is going to make comparisons to another school or two for young people with magical abilities, but it won't be me. Rowell's school, magical system, and characters are all their own folks, not a carbon copy among them. She builds the tension between characters, shifts it, creates more edginess, and it's a great ride. Somewhere, someone's gonna be upset how she spun out the characters' relationships, but it won't be from this corner of the reading world. My only complaint is that while the character interactions were well-explored, I would have liked a bit more about the magic of the version of world in which the story was set. (Of course it's entirely possible I am dense, or still recovering from illness, and missed some valuable information.) But even so, this was a good read, and I applaud Ms Rowell for bringing her fictional-fictional characters into their own....more
I am fortunate enough to have talented, creative, and imaginative friends. One of the side benefits of that is that a number of them write, so I get tI am fortunate enough to have talented, creative, and imaginative friends. One of the side benefits of that is that a number of them write, so I get to read creative and imaginative works by people I know and like. And sometimes, I get to be a part of that creative process, as a Beta reader. Such was the case with Mystic. Back in early 2014, this lucky gal got to read an early version of the manuscript, before it was accepted for publication.
Sometimes re-reading a book you read in manuscript is tiring. Not the case with Mystic. The story zips along, fairly sings to the reader, as Pomella, a commoner, journeys to the seat of the new High Mystic, to compete as a candidate for her assistant. The catch is, few commoners have ever been welcome into the world of the Mystics. Should Pomella lose to one of the high born candidates, she most likely will be shunned by society, and become a scorned Unclaimed.
One of the things I really like about this book is that Jason has incorporated his extensive knowledge of the master/disciple relationship, gained from his many years involved in martial arts. Whether that relationship is in martial arts, spiritualism, or magic, there are essential shared elements. The author sculpts the growth of Pomella's character using the these same techniques. This, for me, along with the magic system within the book, and with a strong female main character, was quite welcome.
In a market for YA literature drenched in sensationalism, Mystic is a blessed relief. There are elements that satisfy those yearning for romance, but the story itself is focused on the task at hand: the chance to rise above a lowborn birth and find your destiny, find your song, in a world of magic. As the cover proclaims: "One Master. One Apprentice. One Chance."
Pick up a copy of Jason Denzel's Mystic for you or for your favorite YA reader. I think you'll be pleased.
(Jason was just here in Charleston for the start of a book tour that is running conjointly with The Wheel of Time Companion, of which my husband is a co-author. I have known Jason since 2007, when we met at the funeral of Robert Jordan (James O Rigney Jr.) It's just a tad embarrassing to learn I've been saying "Denzel" wrong, all these years. Sorry Jason. Unfortunately, I can't remember which way is right, as I have both in my head now, so am bound to be wrong at least 50% of the time. What are friends for?!)
Well thought out retelling of the story Achilles, hero of the Trojan war, and he the originator of the concept of an Achilles Heel. Only in this case,Well thought out retelling of the story Achilles, hero of the Trojan war, and he the originator of the concept of an Achilles Heel. Only in this case, Achilles' true weakness, his "heel", is Patroclus. Winner of the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction. ...more
A package arrived at my doorstep yesterday. Inside were the two volumes of The The Joyous Path: The Life of Avatar Meher Baba's Sister, Mani. I actualA package arrived at my doorstep yesterday. Inside were the two volumes of The The Joyous Path: The Life of Avatar Meher Baba's Sister, Mani. I actually squealed with delight, as Mani S. Irani was an amazing woman, and a huge influence in my life. Her love, and her devotion to God, carried out daily, with a smile, a laugh, a touch of tenderness, and a huge dose compassion, helped show me a path to follow, and a way to try and shape my life. I'm not nearly as successful as Mani was, but when I stumble, I can hear her voice encouraging me to brush myself off and try again.
I am not going to write a review yet, as I'm still reading the book(s). I just want to say, that for all who knew Mani, her voice comes through, loud and clear, on every page. I hear her in my head as I read. I am once again sitting in Mandali Hall at Meherazad, just north of Ahmadnagar, in India, listening to the sister of Avatar Meher Baba share tales of her life's journey. And to those who did not have the fortune to meet Mani, or have never heard of Meher Baba, you're in for a treat. For Mani, regardless of your own personal spiritual beliefs, is the exemplification of the love exchange between Master and disciple. It is a beautiful story, a journey of devotion to God. Heather Nadel, who was Mani's longtime helper and companion, beautifully ties together the tales of Mani and her life. (Full disclosure: I am privileged to call Heather friend, and blessed to call her sister. Just about the smartest thing my big brother Erico ever did was to be persistent and marry this beautiful soul. But even if we did not share a name, I still would love this book. I can hardly believe how perfectly Heather captured Mani's spirit and shares it with the reader.)
In short, The Joyous Path is a joyous read. ...more
World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919 carried many souls from this earth. But could those left behind actually still communicate with them?World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919 carried many souls from this earth. But could those left behind actually still communicate with them? It is this question that is at the heart of The Witch of Lime Street David Jaher presents the background of the time, and those who championed each side, including Sir Author Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. The two sides debated mightily with perhaps the culmination being offered by Scientific American magazine: $2500 to any medium who could physically produce proof of life after death and another $2500 for a genuine example of spiritual photography. The panel of experts included MIT physicists, respected judges and Harvard psychologists. And Harry Houdini, a man bereft from loss, but soured by the frauds and schemers bilking other bereaved out of masses amounts of money. But also a man who was an expert on illusion, and who vehemently unmasked charlatans. The panel dismissed many applicants: frauds, delusional, mentally ill. And then came Margery (aka Mrs Crandon, or The Witch of Lime Street.)
The author did good job presenting both sides, allowing the reader to act as their own judge. The book reads well, though the pace dropped for me a midstream. However, if this period of time is of interest, and the phenomenon of clairvoyance and interacting with the sprits of the dead intrigues, this presents a good picture of a time in history when these pastimes were prominent.
Many thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and to the publisher for sending me this copy....more
Though I am a John Cleese fan, I rarely watched Monty Python when it originally aired. (It was on at a bad time for me, as I recall.) Nonetheless, cerThough I am a John Cleese fan, I rarely watched Monty Python when it originally aired. (It was on at a bad time for me, as I recall.) Nonetheless, certain bits and bobs did make their way into my world, enough so that I occasionally find myself singing the lumberjack song, or chuckling about dead parrots. I was introduced to Fawlty Towers when it originally aired, and adored it-- so much so that we have the complete set (on VHS no less, and introduced our kids to it at a tender age.) What I liked about this book was some of the fill-in-the-gaps about John Cleese that occurred before, during, and around these productions (and A Fish Called Wanda). The beginning chapters about Cleese's boyhood and school days were particularly interesting to me. And while the latter part of the memoir has drawn criticism for running through various shows and projects, popping in bits of scripts here and there, I found it interesting, as I didn't know a lot of the British shows pre-Python, though the actors and personalities are known from other projects (David Frost, Peter Sellers, Marty Feldman etc.) Yes, there were times when I was less engaged than others, but there were enough delightful nuggets of information, and moments where Mr Cleese's ability as a writer of comedy caused me to laugh out loud, that I have come away happy. I hadn't realized how tightly kniy that group of writers and performers were or how far back they knew each other.
Having introduced our grandkids to Dr Who and Firefly, I think it's time to add British comedy to the mix, starting with some John Cleese projects.
Thank you to Blogging for Books and to the publisher for sending a copy of this book my way. ...more
Well, that was different. I certainly wasn't expecting a fantasy romance, with a touch of math/science thrown in.
Picked this up because the author wiWell, that was different. I certainly wasn't expecting a fantasy romance, with a touch of math/science thrown in.
Picked this up because the author will be at an event I'm attending in the nearish future and I'd never read any of her work. Blurbs here and there say she's got the chops in science: Harvard and UCLa in physics and chemistry, and deep into molecudyne (look it up if you don't know what it is) research. She also is a dancer, both jazz and ballet. (And married to a astrophysicist at NASA, though it strikes me odd that this information is included in her bio.) I had hoped to read a stand alone book of hers, but as that wasn't available when I was looking, I chose a early book in a series.
I found the plot line a cross between romance and a pre-Twilight YA romance, which, for me, was not that satisfying. The opening scene reminded me of Camelot, where Arthur and Guinevere meet, she running away from her husband to be, he, hiding in a tree to escape the girl who would become his queen. As a result, I hummed the opening song to the musical for a day and a half-- major ear worm. At first I thought the scene a rip-off, but have decided it's probably an homage to Alan Jay Lerner (and Lowe). The magic system, based on the premise that people who are born with mage powers cover a rainbow spectrum of ability, and use geometric shapes to cast and enhance their spells. I can imagine that someone who dislikes math might be disgruntled by the interweaving of power and shapes here. For me, keeping track of characters, their mage color, shapes, and other interrelationships was a bit confusing.
As to the story, I wasn't all that captivated, but I can see where others, who have more patience for romance, might. And had I read this when I was under 20, I might have liked it more. And I just wasn't interested enough in any of the 4 main good guy characters, or the primary evil character, to even worry if they were in danger or not. I'm sorry to say that for this reader, the sphere definitely wasn't charmed, but I'm not giving up on the author. have found that our library system has one stand alone novel, which has won the HOMer Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. I've placed a request and will give that a try. I'd like to be able to honestly tell her when I meet her that I've read and enjoyed something she wrote....more
There was a lot to like in this book: art, love, history, intertwined tales, Corsica for starters. (And I will give a slight spoiler alert at the end,There was a lot to like in this book: art, love, history, intertwined tales, Corsica for starters. (And I will give a slight spoiler alert at the end, so stop reading when you next see 3 stars like this: ***). Poor Kate has lost both her mother, a famous ballerina/choreographer, and her grandmother (actually her mother's adoptive mother) within a year. It's a blow to anyone. But shortly before her her grandmother died, she revealed a hint to the identify of Kate's actual grandmother, her mother's birthmother. Part of this hint includes a drawing from 1929 of a young woman, who bears a striking familial resemblance. Kate begins a quest for the woman, which first brings her to the artist, and to the island of Corsica. The narrative floats between Kate's story in 1986 and that of the artist and of the woman in the sketch, the illusive Alice/Celia from the 1920's through WWII. I found it a interesting tale. I appreciate it when a book expands my viewpoint and my knowledge. ***
(You were warned: Spoiler alert) One of the things I liked best about this book was the end. In a fairy tale world Alice and Tom would have ended with them being reunited, but Foley didn't yield to the happily ever after that some might crave, and for this, I applaud her. Both Tom and Alice continued to love each other their entire lives, recognizing the other as their one great love. But though they each had loss and disappointment, and lived without the other, they each had full lives, filled with love (though maybe not a "great love'.) They had family, friends, careers, and memories. They did great things. They died knowing the other was alive. It was realistic. Their story continues to be a love story, even though it didn't have the traditional ending. That was fine by me. And I also applaud the almost afterthought of how the relationship with Kate and Oliver panned out. It was a product of this story, but not the focus of this story. Nice, in my opinion, that the author resisted temptations that could have reshaped the ending....more
It's lovely to pick up a book with great expectation, and, within the first few pages, sigh with contentment. It was lovely to be immersed in severalIt's lovely to pick up a book with great expectation, and, within the first few pages, sigh with contentment. It was lovely to be immersed in several of my favorite things: books, friendship, love, and the French country-side. As none of those things ever flow 100% smoothly, it's only natural that my level of contentment varied at points in the book.
It's been a few days since I finished The Little Paris Bookshop and when I sat down to write my impressions, the first thing that came to mind was one of the characters talking about how best to arrange your bookshelves: not by color or title, but by subject, so that Hemingway's Old Man and the... was with other books about the sea. That notion delighted me and imagined putting my own bookshelf together so that novels and nonfiction nestled together by subject. I quite liked the thought that Chocolat could nestle next to Julia Child.
There are other delightful moments in this book. And some completely mournful, with a French soul. Overall, though, the moments blend together into a well-told tale of love, longing, forgiving, and ultimately, moving on in life.Jean Perdu sells books from La Pharmacie Litteraire (The Literary Apothecary), his barge on the Siene. He begins a journey on the river to help resolve something that has kept his life from moving forward for the past twenty years. The journey, like the novel, is languid at times, tumultuous at others. One of my favorite quotes is “Books are like people, and people are like books, I’ll tell you how I go about it. I ask myself: Is he or she the main character in his or her life? What is her motive? Or is she a secondary character in her own tale? Is she in the process of editing herself out of her story because her husband, her career, her children or her job are consuming her entire text?”. Along with my imaginary rearrangement of my bookshelf, I say now try to place people as characters in the book of their life.
And the idea of secret tango milongas? Makes me want to learn to dance the tango and go travelling again....more
I get this confused with Turn of Mind>, which also has a female professor, with Alzheimers, as a central character. Either way, the story is chilliI get this confused with Turn of Mind>, which also has a female professor, with Alzheimers, as a central character. Either way, the story is chilling, for me, because of my fear of the disease. ...more
This book is on my TBR stack. It contains Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are, the latter of which was originally a book on the reading list of West AThis book is on my TBR stack. It contains Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are, the latter of which was originally a book on the reading list of West Ashley High School for this summer, but then pulled because of parent protest. What happened next is very cool, much cooler than banned books. Book lovers of the internet rose to the occasion and have supplied literally hundreds (yes, hundreds. 830 at the last count, I think) of copies for teens to read. Read about the adventure here. I have picked up this copy to give to my granddaughter, who fits the age of the target audience. And I will read it, too, though there are elements of the story that seem not to my taste. But hey, I believe in freedom to read, and freedom to choose when to stop reading. ...more
For those of us who consider our favorite books family members, for those who make friends with the characters in the books they read, for whom a treaFor those of us who consider our favorite books family members, for those who make friends with the characters in the books they read, for whom a treasured excursion is to a book store or library, for those who love not only the story, but the feel of pages-- the call of the words on a page, this is a marvelous find. There's something about a well done curmudgeon that I adore, and AJ Fikry, with his gentle thaw while never quite losing his unique outlook on life, totally captivated me and my literary heart. The rest of the characters are wonderful, and evolve in a totally realistic, human way. Gabrielle Zevin, incorporated both books I love, and books for me to add to my reading list, which is always a plus. And, I got to enjoy all the literary references (who didn't see The Book Thief coming when that customer complained about the book Fikry sold her?), and puns (A good mandarin is hard to find? How perfect). Plus, she's got six books under her pen that I can go back and explore, should I want to. I only wish that The Late Bloomer was a real book. Sounded like a good'un. An interview I heard with the author on NPR is here. Now, I'm off to update my reading wishlist....more