What do I think? I think my Grandma is trying to get some religion in my life, or suggesting I find me a rancher to marry. My 75 year-old grandma has...moreWhat do I think? I think my Grandma is trying to get some religion in my life, or suggesting I find me a rancher to marry. My 75 year-old grandma has been asking me to read one of her "heart warming" books since I moved in with her back in July (that is a whole other story). So when she came at me with this paperback bound with a rubber band in her outstretched, wrinkled hands, I finally conceded. "You'll like this one! It has a school in it," she says tapping the cover. Uh huh. A school to train women to be ranchers' wives. Oh Grandma. She means well.
What can I say about the book? Yes, heartwarming. Yes, lot's of prayers being answered. Yes, everyone sees the error in their ways, or if not, is burned to death in a grizzly fire (is that an allusion?). I stick with my two star review. It was okay. Oh, and thank you Grandma. *smile*
P.S. What's up with the girl on the cover? That is not how the author describes Tressa. (less)
It was difficult relating to the protagonist. Janie Scott, is a 14 year-old, but she seems much younger. All the teens in the book seem much younger t...moreIt was difficult relating to the protagonist. Janie Scott, is a 14 year-old, but she seems much younger. All the teens in the book seem much younger than 14. Perhaps my perception of how young teens think and behave is skewed and Meloy captured their burgeoning young adultness perfectly. It could also be a combination of how the book is marketed and how it begins. The Apothecary has shown up on many juvenile book lists, and the book starts out with, "I was seven and living in Los Angeles when...", so I was fully prepared to read a juvenile book, but Janie quickly grows up withing a page and a half.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. I'm curious how preteens and middle school children will relate to Janie. Plus, it was an interesting story about the Cold War with layers of fantasy woven through. (less)
**spoiler alert** 3.5 to be exact. I really enjoyed reading this book up until about chapter 24. Okay, let me back up a bit. The story's great, Jackie...more**spoiler alert** 3.5 to be exact. I really enjoyed reading this book up until about chapter 24. Okay, let me back up a bit. The story's great, Jackie gets into a heap of trouble at the beginning of his summer vacation, and is forced into manual labor by his mother. What kid wouldn't be straightened out by digging a bomb shelter in the backyard one shovel full of dirt at a time? His mother also loans him to the town medical examiner, obituary writer, and historian to be her hands since her's are twisted more than a salty pretzel. Look at all the wonderful story potential! And Gantos does make use of it, but the story wasn't smooth. There were many 'items' that really jarred me as a reader.
First, the protagonist is called... Jack Gantos. Why? Is this based on his life?
Second, the dad was a moron, but I can actually over look this one, because there are probably lots of moronic dads out there whose own children are more intelligent.
Third, uhm, did anyone realize women were being murdered! No, this is not funny, or something that should just be chuckled at, or sprung on the reader in the last couple of chapters. Sure, Gantos gave us some foreshadowing, but I really didn't think the book would turn out to be a murder mystery! Seriously! Why was none of the characters more outraged. I'm actually disappointed by Miss Volker's lack of "fire" when she found out. Instead she says, Honestly, we never did get along so well as when he was telling me how he knocked off all those ladies. It was flattering that he killed them for me. One word, yuck. I would have liked the accidental deaths resolution that was also foreshadowed.
I did enjoy all the bits of history tossed in. Many of them I had to look up, because I was just as curious as Jackie to know if Miss Volker was telling the truth. I suggest you do the same if you're not certain.
Will I recommend the book? Yep, because it was entertaining, but I'll feel slightly guilty knowing what's in store for the person when they hit chapter 24. (less)
There really are ravens at the Tower of London, and there truly is a pub on Fleet Street called "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese". I like this about the book...moreThere really are ravens at the Tower of London, and there truly is a pub on Fleet Street called "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese". I like this about the book making it a great historical fiction book. I gave it two stars because I was not emotionally attached to the characters. The reader doesn't learn Skilley's back story until p. 185 and the book is 228 pages. Why does Skilley adore cheese so much? What does it taste like to him compared to a mouse? Even the little information we get doesn't really explain why he prefers cheese. It's left up to loose inferences. There are good characters in the story: Pinch, Pip, Skilley, Nell, Adele, and Mr. Dickens, but they all fall... flat.
Will I recommend the book? Yes, to my students who want to read about an unusual cat, but they probably won't pick up on the historical aspects of the book. (less)