The Pied Piper of Hamelin is "the first in a series of miniature books that focus on original folklore classics" and the latest edition from Lorin MorThe Pied Piper of Hamelin is "the first in a series of miniature books that focus on original folklore classics" and the latest edition from Lorin Morgan-Richards' A Raven Above Press. The wonderful thing about Morgan-Richards' books is that they are all handmade originals. He creates each book individually, so each is unique in its own way. Quite frankly, as far as I'm concerned, his books are miniature works of art.
Lorin Morgan-Richards art reminds me of a modern day Charles Addams or Edward Gorey. He dabbles in the unusual and strange, yet there's just enough of the familiar in his artwork to keep it grounded. His artwork is perfectly matched to the tone of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the familiar folklore tale of the strange Piper who comes to Hamelin to rid them of the rats that are infesting their town, and who then takes the children of Hamelin away with his magical, musical pipe after the townsfolk deny paying for his service.
The book itself is rather tiny, measuring at just 4 inches tall and 3 inches wide, which really adds to its charm. I so thoroughly enjoy the books from A Raven Above Press, and I'm looking forward to future editions in the Folklore Mini-Series....more
I'm having a difficult time describing how much I enjoyed this book. When I'd read The Girl with All the Gifts, I didn't really think I was going toI'm having a difficult time describing how much I enjoyed this book. When I'd read The Girl with All the Gifts, I didn't really think I was going to be reading another book this year that I enjoyed as much. The Supernatural Enhancements has a little bit of everything I love in a great book: slightly paranormal/supernatural premise, a mystery, Gothic in feeling & tone, intriguing characters, perfect pacing, even an eccentric aunt!
I honestly can't go into detail in saying anything about the book without giving much away. The story follows A. (the only name he goes by), who has inherited an estate from an unknown, wealthy relative, he and his mute friend, Niamh, travel to the States to take up residence and try to figure out why he was bequeathed the estate. Told through a series of diary entries, letters, transcripts of video and audio footage, and various other sources (which put me in mind of Marisha Pessl's Night Film, we follow A. and Niamh as they discover more and more clues as to mysterious history of both his unknown relative, Ambrose Wells, and the estate of Axton House.
I absolutely can't recommend this book enough. This will be the perfect book to curl up on the couch with a hot cuppa and read during the windy, chilled months leading up to winter. Happy reading!...more
A surprisingly enjoyable little book, Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader is fundamentally a book about books and the power that they can have over ourA surprisingly enjoyable little book, Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader is fundamentally a book about books and the power that they can have over our lives.
When the Queen's dogs accidentally wander by way of a mobile library near Buckingham Palace, she feels obligated to check out a book. From there, she is enthralled by books and soon begins to become obsessed with reading, feeling that she has discovered something important to her that she has missed out on over the years. We get to see her journey as she grows as a reader to a most surprising conclusion to the story.
This is the second time that I've read this story, and I loved it just as much as I did the first. Bennett has constructed a great little story, and the ending is perfect. I love his portrayal of the Queen, and both how she deals with her subjects and how she is handled by those around her in her household and government positions. If you've never read this before, I'd highly recommend it. It is a very quick read and worth it. You won't be disappointed....more
Sarton's second book of poetry seems to suggest her later need of solitude and the sanctuary that that can entail for some people. The poems are stillSarton's second book of poetry seems to suggest her later need of solitude and the sanctuary that that can entail for some people. The poems are still strong, though, but they speak to me of a need to center in on ones self and find the peace you are seeking in life there. ...more
Being young doesn't protect you. Horrors come for kids, too.
Never heard of Victor Lavalle before? That's OK, neither had I until I r**spoiler alert**
Being young doesn't protect you. Horrors come for kids, too.
Never heard of Victor Lavalle before? That's OK, neither had I until I received a notice from NetGalley saying that this book was available for review. After reading Lucretia, I think this is something that I think I need to fix. Lucretia and the Kroons is a prequel of sorts to Victor Lavalle's The Devil in Silver and if The Devil in Silver is anywhere near as good as Lucretia, I think I'm in for a treat. A creepy treat, but a treat all the same. (Full disclosure here, I had no idea that Lucretia and the Kroons was anything more than a standalone story. I only discovered it was a prequel after I looked up Lavalle after reading the story.)
After Lucretia's (or Loochie's) mom tries to throw her a birthday party (to disastrous results), all she wants is for her friend Sunny to come home from hospital, where she is undergoing cancer treatment. On the big day of Sunny's return, Loochie's brother comes to their apartment and tells Loochie about the Kroons, a family of druggies who lived 2 floors above them in their apartment building. According to her brother, the landlord boarded the Kroons into their apartment to let them fend for themselves, as they had become far too dangerous to deal with, and nobody had seen them in quite some time. Loochie isn't sure if her brother is telling the truth or if he's just trying to scare her, but either way he tells her to be careful, as terrible things can still happen to her even though she is young. When Sunny is kidnapped by none other than the Kroons, Loochie takes it upon herself to rescue her best friend.
What follows is hard to describe. It is equal parts horror, magical realism, and coming of age. Loochie finds herself in a world gone wrong, yet one that is strangely familiar. Loochie eventually finds Sunny and saves her, but at what cost to either girl, or the one Kroon sister that has come to their aid? Based on the description of The Devil in Silver, the events of Lucretia and the Kroons is the explanation as to how Loochie ends up in the situation she finds herself in.
I know this all sounds really vague, but it needs to be. The story is too easy to spoil and really too hard to explain it without sounding crazy. I felt like I was reading a lost Twilight Zone screenplay. I could imagine what the world Loochie finds herself in easily, and could easily picture what this would look like as a television program or even on the big screen. Everything about this story is just like our world, just a little off. I thoroughly enjoyed ever bit of it, even though it is fairly short, and will definitely be checking out The Devil in Silver in the near future....more
I'm not entirely sure that I would be able to do justice in describing Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The book is equal parts nostalgI'm not entirely sure that I would be able to do justice in describing Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The book is equal parts nostalgia, beauty, terror, and magic. Nostalgia for a simpler time when magic was all entirely too possible for a young child; the book is beautifully written, nothing forced, it just is; Gaiman's writing is capable of creating such terrifying imagery to what can scare a child, something that would not be possible in less deft hands; Gaiman has created a magic all his own for adults, by reminding us that once upon a time, our childhood selves did believe in magic, and somehow he reawakens that sense of wonder in this small volume he has crafted. It's a wonder that such a slim little book is capable of manifesting so many emotions in such a short time. This is Neil Gaiman we're speaking of, so of course it really comes as no surprise to me when I really think about it.
I think I may just leave this review, for what it's worth, at that. I mean, I could go on and on about the book, but I don't want to give anything away. The magic of the book is in letting it speak for itself, telling you its story, and letting you take it all in.
So, if I haven't made it obvious, this is a book worth reading. I know it will be topping my list of books for the year, and I know it's going to be one that I will be revisiting over and over again through the years. This book and I are going to become best friends.
Go and read it. Read it again. You won't be sorry....more
You know what, this is a perfectly silly little book, a "Where's Waldo" for Doctor Who fans, but it makes me smile, and sometimes all you need is a peYou know what, this is a perfectly silly little book, a "Where's Waldo" for Doctor Who fans, but it makes me smile, and sometimes all you need is a perfectly silly little book that makes you smile.
As with "Where's the Doctor", travel with the Doctor across time and try to find him, Amy, Rory, the TARDIS, and various other items in this book for both kids and adults alike. ...more
Laura Kasischke's The Life Before Her Eyes is quite a remarkable book. I picked it up well over a year ago on the recommendation of an independent boo Laura Kasischke's The Life Before Her Eyes is quite a remarkable book. I picked it up well over a year ago on the recommendation of an independent bookstore owner, and read the prologue when I got home, knowing I was in the middle of a couple of other books at the time, but still wanting to get a taste of the book. After finishing the prologue, I felt that I had had a satisfying reading experience on just those 10 pages alone, and couldn't wait to get to reading the rest as soon as I could. That was October, 2008. The book has been sitting on my shelf, unread, ever since I'm ashamed to say. This week, Laura Kasischke was doing a reading and signing at my local bookstore, so I was determined to read through this book this week, and I'm just sorry that it has taken me so long to finally get around to reading such an amazing story.
Diana and Maureen are best friends in high school. They do everything together, go everywhere together, are rarely separated. Their bright futures are still stretched out before them with all the potential that is available, until they are forced to make a decision that will alter that future forever: Which one of them is to die?
We skip ahead to forty-something Diana and her life now, her husband, her daughter, her happy existence. However, something seems to be wrong. It almost seems like her life is unraveling at the seams all around her. She is seeing things that aren't necessarily there or shouldn't be there, she is having moods swings, she is having unexplainable flashbacks to her younger days. What does all of this mean for Diana and what does it have to do with her younger self.
Kasischke's writing is so ethereal and atmospheric, it reads like a dream. We alternate between younger Diana and older Diana with a revolving narrative that has slight reflections from younger Diana onto older Diana's story. When the narrative is following Diana and Maureen, there is no real distinction between which girl is which, which seems fitting since they spend so much time together and are so connected, that there really is almost no distinction between them. As I progressed through the story and more became clear to me about what was happening for sure, I couldn't put the book down. I had a feeling I understood from the beginning what was happening but wasn't sure I quite had it, but when everything started to fall into place, the true power of the entire book was becoming clear to me. I know this is all very enigmatic, but I don't want to give anything away; the power of the story is in its unraveling. A truly powerful and amazing story that is beautifully written and not quite like anything that I have read before....more
Whenever I finish a book like this, I never know how to write about it, only because I never know how to put down on paper the emotions that are churnWhenever I finish a book like this, I never know how to write about it, only because I never know how to put down on paper the emotions that are churning through me when I finish the book. Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the kind of book that takes me there, into the story, completely. It transports me to that time, filling me with the emotions of the characters; their loves, their fears, their hopes. And hope is what this book is ultimately about. Hope and faith. And knowing that even though sometimes you will lose sight of that faith and lose hope entirely, it isn't always gone.
The book is split between time; the "now," Seattle of the 1980s, and the "then," Seattle of the 1940s. The story opens with Henry Lee wandering by the Panama Hotel, where a stockpile of suitcases and personal belongings have been found in the basement of the hotel. These articles are from another time, a time that Henry thought was well behind him. Henry is Chinese, and has lived in this part of Seattle for most of his life. When he was a boy, his father and mother wanted him to be accepted as American, sending him to private school rather than having him attend the local Chinese public school. During his time at school, he meets Keiko Okabe, and the two become friends. The problem here is that Keiko is Japanese, and Japan is at war with both the United States and with China during this time, and Henry's father has forbidden any involvement with anyone or anything Japanese. Keiko was born in the USA, at the same hospital, in fact, that Henry was born in. She speaks no Japanese. She is fully American, but this makes no difference to Henry's father, or anyone else for that matter. She is Japanese, and therefore, the enemy.
Henry and Keiko's friendship, and eventual love, transcend all these boundaries, and even though they are kept apart by Henry's families strict prejudices, they find ways of seeing each other outside of school. Eventually, the US government moves (or evacuates) anyone of Japanese descent to internment camps farther inland, for their own "safety," or because anyone could be a Japanese spy. Keiko's family is swept up in this "evacuation" and moved to their camp, where Henry, through an unlikely source, finds a way to continue visiting Keiko. Eventually Keiko and her family are moved farther inland, making impossible for Henry to continue visiting, but he writes faithfully every week, even when her letters are becoming fewer are farther between.
I found the interactions between Henry and his father, and then in turn, Henry and his own son very interesting. To see how Henry handles his father and his prejudices, and how he tries not to act the same way with his son, and yet falls into similar patterns, and how they cope with that. There are so many layers to this story, and each one opened an entirely new set of emotions for me.
There is so much more than what I've described that goes on in the book, but I hate to give anymore away. The ending left me with goosebumps, and that's all I want to say about it. It may seem a little predictable toward the end, but it was still a perfect ending to this beautiful story, a story about faith and hope, families, and rising above the boundaries of simple race and heritage to become the person you are meant to be....more
Well, the best thing I could probably write about The Demon's Lexicon is stop reading my little blog, and go out, buy the book and experience it for yWell, the best thing I could probably write about The Demon's Lexicon is stop reading my little blog, and go out, buy the book and experience it for yourself. It's that good.
My friend Gail has been bullying me into reading these books for quite some time, and finally left me with no choice but to read them, as she sent me the entire trilogy as a combined holiday/birthday/just because present. I finally sat down the other day and started the first book, The Demon's Lexicon, and read it in two sittings. I was immediately drawn into the world of the two main characters, Nick and Alan Ryves, brothers who are on the run from magicians who are trying to reclaim something from the family, an item that may have something to do with their mothers' past. When brother and sister Jaimie and Mae come to the Ryves brothers for help, secrets start to unravel themselves around everyone, all leading up to an ending that I did not see coming, and was such an attention grabber that I was kept up late into the night finishing the book on my second sitting, just so I could see how everything played out.
Sarah Rees Brennan has created quite the story here. She developed such a powerful relationship between Nick and Alan that at times I felt actual concern for them and what was going to happen to them. Brennan moves the story along swiftly, but still takes time to introduce us to new characters and locations along the way. One of my favorites is the Goblin Market, somewhere I hope we get to visit again in later books. I won't give anything away about the ending, but it was quite the turn of events and deftly brought the whole story together. I'll definitely be moving right along to the other two books in the series, The Demon's Covenant and The Demon's Surrender.
Do yourself a favor, go and pick up this book. You won't be sorry....more
There is a reason I will always pick up the new book by Laura Kasischke on the day of release - I know I'm in for a treat of a story. Of course, thatThere is a reason I will always pick up the new book by Laura Kasischke on the day of release - I know I'm in for a treat of a story. Of course, that story always takes place in a world that resembles ours, but always just enough to the left or right of normal to make it questionable whether it really is ours or not. My first experience reading Laura Kasischke was her novel, The Life Before Her Eyes, and I've been hooked since.
Mind of Winter opens Christmas morning, and Holly has just awoken from a nightmare and fragments of a thought that something had followed her and her husband back from Russia all those years ago when they had adopted their daughter, Tatiana. Even after her husband leaves to get his parents from the airport and Holly is rushing to prepare Christmas dinner for the in-laws, the thought never quite leaves the back of her mind. As the day progresses and a blizzard moves in that makes travel impossible, Holly is stuck at her house, alone, with her now teenaged daughter Tatiana, whose rebellious nature is more evident today than ever, even bordering on erratic. As Holly tries to piece together the puzzle of her fragments of memory and dream, she is also trying to reconcile what is happening to her daughter right before her eyes, and what it all means.
The book seemed a little slow at first, and in places I'd found myself hoping that the pace would pick up soon, but as I read on, I understood that the book needed to be paced that way. Holly's morning was spilling out as uneventful but hard to deal with, and we were feeling that right along with her. As her world begins to spin ever so slowly out of her control, the pace quickens, so that we're feeling pulled right along with her. Kasischke clearly knows her art and uses it to its maximum potential here.
I used to constantly try to figure out where Kasischke's books are going, but I've learned over the years to just let the story carry you with it, and all will be revealed. Kasischke is a master of language and using language to convey a simultaneous feeling of normalcy and dread in her writing, again giving the feeling that everything in her books could possible be happening in the real world, right now, outside our window. It always ends up being so much more than that, however, as she's also unnerving us as readers at the same time, so that we are feeling a growing sense of unease right along with her characters. We know, just like her characters, that something isn't quite right, but we can't put our finger on where that unease is coming from any better than her characters can. Mind of Winter is Kasischke at her mind bending best, right up to the last page.
I can't recommend this book enough. I read it in one sitting, finishing at 2am, which helped give the book an even better flair as Holly begins to feel more and more cut off from the outside world, and the world outside my window was becoming more and more cut off with the passing hours of the morning. Finishing, I wanted to go back and reread portions, so see where hints could have been dropped throughout the book to what was ultimately happening in Holly's world, but I felt I needed to let it sit, giving me time to ponder the story and its mysteries. Kasischke cements again the need for me to pick up her next book on release day, as she has hit another home run with Mind of Winter....more
I received this from a friend for Christmas, and her gift theme this year was books that were the basis for famous movies. It's been years since I'veI received this from a friend for Christmas, and her gift theme this year was books that were the basis for famous movies. It's been years since I've seen the film The Ghost and Mrs Muir (and I didn't even know about the sitcom series from the 60s), and I'll admit up front that I had no idea the movie was based on a book, so I went into the book with no preconceived expectations. Turns out, I love this book!
The story follows Lucy Muir, who strikes out on her own after the death of her husband. Due to a large amount of debt that he left her, and trying to escape the overbearing, constant presence of his family in her life, she decides that all she needs in life for her and her children is a place of their own and solitude for herself. After being shown Gull Cottage in the village of Whitecliff, Lucy decides on the spot that she must live there, even though she is warned very strongly about moving there because the house is haunted. Determined not to let something as simple as a ghost deter her from her dreams of independence, she moves into the house anyway and ends up forming a friendship with the ghost of sea captain Daniel Gregg. Over the course of her life and through multiple struggles, she and Captain Gregg become more than just friends, and ultimately the story grows beyond her story to become their story.
This is a charming and quick read. I finished the book in one reading, and is the perfect book to sit down with a cup of tea on a chilly winter afternoon and enjoy. ...more
I received Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee from Random House Kids early last week and while I was in the middle of some other books at tI received Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee from Random House Kids early last week and while I was in the middle of some other books at the time, I thought I'd at least sit down and read a couple of chapters to get a feel for the book. Half the book later I realized I needed to set it aside or I wasn't going to be getting to bed at any sort of a reasonable hour that night.
Foxlee takes the fairy tale The Snow Queen and gives it a lightly modern spin. In an unnamed town, Ophelia's father has taken a job organizing an exhibit of swords at an unnamed museum, being the international expert on swords that he is. Ophelia and her sister, Alice, try to find ways to amuse themselves while their father is hard at work on the exhibit. Exploring on her own one day, Ophelia discovers a young boy locked away in a room deep in the sprawling museum. She befriends the boy, and the story he tells her of how he came to be locked away in the room in the museum with the name the Marvelous Boy is its own story within the story.
As Ophelia journeys through the museum on various quests to help the Marvelous Boy escape so that he can finally defeat the Snow Queen, she creates her own fairy tale. There are elements here that will be familiar with all readers of fairy tales, but Foxlee handles them all beautifully, so that you don't really feel like you are treading too familiar water. I found myself re-reading entire chapters because I simply loved the way that Foxlee was telling Ophelia's story. It's a middle grade book, so there are elements that are fairly predictable and foreshadowed rather heavily, but even knowing how the story was going to end, I still enjoyed every bit of it. There is an ethereal quality to the story that is both charming and magical. I don't want to give too much away about the ending, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Ophelia doesn't try to handle everything on her own, as in other young reader books. I find that annoying. I suppose it's to instill a sense of independence in young readers, but sometimes there are things in life that are just too much for a young person to handle, and it's perfectly normal to go to your parents for help, which Ophelia does. This was refreshing for me.
I think anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale and a beautifully written story will absolutely enjoy this book. Highly recommended!...more