Maggie & her sister Giovanna have lived with the Aldens even since their parents died after crossing the prairie and there w...moremiddle school & up
Maggie & her sister Giovanna have lived with the Aldens even since their parents died after crossing the prairie and there was no one else to take them in. Maggie is mostly content to accept the benign neglect of Ma Alden as normal. This begins to change when Maggie starts to have dreams of Ma Alden smothering a baby. Maggie soon is convinced that the baby is the baby sister she'd forgotten. She is desperate to know (and afraid to find out) what really happened to her baby sister Noemie.
My first thought on starting this book: Where the hell is the punctuation? There were no periods, no question marks, no exclamation points and not nearly as many commas as there should have been. There were also some random capital thrown in for good measure. All of which made it a bit confusing at times to correctly read sentences. This was probably just because I was reading an ARC. Hopefully, they punctuated before publishing.
My first thought on finishing this book: "That's it?" I have no quibbles with the story. I enjoyed it. But the story didn't end. It just stopped. Not stopped like it was setting up a sequel either. Although, it made me want one anyway.
Maggie is a good character. She's hard-working but still got some spunk to her. We meet Maggie just at the point in her life when it is becoming clear that she and her sister are treated differently than Ma Alden's "real" daughters. They are fed and clothed but not taught or educated even as much as the other girls. (Which wasn't all that much to begin with; we're talking about 1857-ish here.) As Maggie's suspicions grow, I really admired the way she was determined to protect her little sister (she originally had two little sisters- the living one, Giovanna and the dead one, Noemie.) You definitely can't accuse Maggie of sitting around and waiting to be rescued.
As I think about the story, it seems almost like a morality tale to me. Which could explain, or at least justify, the ending. Well, the stopping point anyhow. There isn't really much resolution but if you learn from the moral of the story you may be able to discern what should happen next.
The stopping is actually what would make this great for a writing class. The assignment? Finish Maggie's story. What happened next? And I can't ask any more leading questions because of my vow to remain spoiler free.
Verdict: get it. Give a copy to every writing teacher in your school. Warning: it is about Mormons so it is probably going to piss off somebody. Either the Mormons because it alludes to some historical events they'd probably rather forget or others because it mentions Mormons. There is one tiny mention of multiple wives although really it is barely noticeable.
**oh-- the book isn't available for Kindle on Amazon. Which is really funny considering the ARC I read was on my Kindle. I wonder why publishers make eARCs available to reviewers but don't make it available for purchase? Plainly, they had the ebook or they couldn't have sent it to me for review. ** http://www.lifeisbetterwithbooks.com/...(less)
Laurence & Temeraire continue their adventures; they have resigned themselves to settling in Australia when...moreTemeraire series #7 high school & up
Laurence & Temeraire continue their adventures; they have resigned themselves to settling in Australia when an old acquaintance from China arrives. He brings with him the possibility of restoring Laurence's rank and requests that they come to the aid of the beleaguered Prince Regent of Portugal. The Prince Regent is currently in Brazil and Portugal is key to the hope of beating Napoleon.
Oh, I love this series. Temeraire and Laurence are quite out of the common way, I'm sure. Check out Fantastic Fiction to get the list of novels in order.
The series is basically historical fiction with a dash of fantasy thrown in for good measure. Although it isn't usual fantasy. It is simply that dragons exist and are used by many countries as part of their military forces. Naomi does a great job of making this sound perfectly reasonable. After all, if you had a fire-breathing dragon wouldn't you want to use him to break a blockade? She has really done a great job of imagining the necessary details that come along with having a bunch of dragons in the military. What is really interesting is some of the ideas that Temeraire comes up with about society and a dragon's place in it. I love Temeraire; he is so earnest and funny. He makes a great counterpart to Laurence who is every inch an officer and a gentleman. Laurence sees it as as necessity to do whatever his duty requires of him. His duty to the military and to King and Country. He actually reminds me of Ashley from Gone with the Wind (my favorite book since the 5th grade) , but I like Laurence much better. He isn't a wuss the way Ashley was.
Colt, Oz and Danielle are all about to begin their studies at the C.H.A.O.S academy. Just before they leave Colt and D...morehigh school & up C.H.A.O.S #2
Colt, Oz and Danielle are all about to begin their studies at the C.H.A.O.S academy. Just before they leave Colt and Danielle discover evidence that indicates the director of C.H.A.O.S is trying to have Colt killed. This leaves Colt unable to trust Oz since the director is also Oz's father. It also leaves him continually looking for an assassin. Krone, one of the Thule is said to have accepted the contract. As a race, the Thule are coming closer to being able to invade the Earth in force.
Another good comic-book style adventure. Light on adult supervision, heavy on kid heroics. It is slightly more confusing than the first since the assassin is a shape-shifter. I wish we'd had a little more backstory between Oz and his dad since Colt's suspicions about Oz's dad are a big part of the story. However, backstory is not the point of the story. This is the equivalent of a literary action movie. I like action movies and I'm pretty sure preteen/teen boys do too. Mention is made in this book (& the other one) of sparkling vampires. Made me laugh every time. A true geek (such as myself) will be mildly annoyed by the line "If you're hoping I can read your mind, I have news for you. I don't have telekinesis." Or maybe it is a joke. In which case it's funny.(less)
Michiel is a teenager in Holland during the German occupation during World War II. He slowly, almost accidentally, becomes invol...moremiddle school & up
Michiel is a teenager in Holland during the German occupation during World War II. He slowly, almost accidentally, becomes involved in the underground Resistance movement. He manages to successfully hide an injured British soldier from the Germans for several months. But eventually he realizes that someone he knows has to be a spy.
Really great book. I like the new perspective on WWII. It is important to remember that even non-Jews had a difficult time. (Not trying to piss anyone off here.) Being a citizen in an occupied country must've been tough. You could keep your head down and just try to avoid trouble; but then if there's the crushing guilt when a neighbor is attacked and you could have stood up for the neighbor. Or there is the option of resisting openly and getting beat down or maybe just shot. Third option is to try to resist on the sly. That leads to constant fear of being caught or betrayed. Either way, it is a lot to deal with and most people today (where I live anyhow) have never had to make a choice similar to this. Sure, it is easy to say you'd do the right thing. It is actually being able to identify & follow through with the right thing that is so hard. I would love to see this in a Social Studies/History curriculum. There would be great discussions about choices and trust and the outcomes of your actions. Shoot, I wanna see this in a literature curriculum. It is a great example of memoir/historical fiction.
**I got this as a free ARC ebook from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation from the publisher.**(less)
Angie Favorite's mom disappeared five years ago. Her family has never given up waiting for her to come back though. While runnin...moremiddle school & up
Angie Favorite's mom disappeared five years ago. Her family has never given up waiting for her to come back though. While running errands, Angie is accosted by a large, scary man who attempts to drag Angie away repeatedly saying he "has to show her something." Angie manages to get away from him but not without a skull fracture. When she comes home from the hospital she receives a letter from her attacker's mother. Mrs. Bittner invites the Favorite family to visit her home so that she can express her regret. As the family gets to know Mrs. Bittner she becomes increasingly manipulative and attempts to control their movements.
Really good book. It got off to a rather slow start. At first, I was a tad worried that it was a "stealth-christian." Those books drive me crazy. If you wanna write a Christian book, then go ahead. Don't be all stealthy about it.
Anyway, I liked this book. Once Angie got attacked I was very into the story. It isn't a very twisty story, but it does a great job of building up on the clues. They're a tad subtle (again though, not twisty) but I still was wanting one of the characters to quit being so stupid. I really liked how the mystery of the mom's disappearance plays into Angie's attack. (less)
Kaelyn lives on an island off the Canadian mainland. One of her oldest friends is on the mainland and she writes letters to him wh...morehigh school & up
Kaelyn lives on an island off the Canadian mainland. One of her oldest friends is on the mainland and she writes letters to him while an epidemic spreads across the island. None of the doctors on the island have any idea how to stop or even slow down the virus. It kills almost everyone who contracts the disease. Therefore, the mainland cuts off the island from leaving or entering. As the population dwindles the social order also begins breaking down.
I actually thought this one was about zombies at first. It isn't.
Still, it was completely engrossing. I love letter formats. My "I hate to read" students tend to prefer them too. I think the format makes the reading seem easier. The main character, Kaelyn, has a hard time trying to keep it all together. Her dad is gone almost constantly because he is a doctor trying to find a cure. She's stressed out and terrified. Of course, I was a tad discombobulated (great word, huh?) myself. I don't live in an isolated community (far from it) but I still had to wonder. What if a crazy-fast moving virus broke out in my neighborhood? How long before the CDC quarantines the place? How long would a fairly civilized community act in such extreme circumstances?
When she read Harry Potter for the first time, her dream was to attend a fancy boarding school. She has finally...more**spoiler alert** high school & up
When she read Harry Potter for the first time, her dream was to attend a fancy boarding school. She has finally gotten in and isn't as thrilled about the idea anymore. Her spot at Manderly used to belong to Becca. Becca was always the life of every party... until she went missing. Now it is hard to fit in when everyone compares you to an idolized missing girl. Especially when your roommate is fanatically convinced that Becca chose to disappear and will return any moment.
Really intriguing book. I loved that the school's name was Manderly since there is such a major character who isn't actually there. Brings up such connections/parallels with Rebecca. I'm sure the author at least had that in the back of her mind. I would recommend this for inclusion in an literature class but there are some scenes that will make parents twitchy, so I advise caution to all. (Anyone recognize that quote?)
I was completely caught up in the story. I could never quite settle the mystery of Becca in my head. Was she really dead or did she just decide to go wander off? I kept going back and forth. Which is great; I love a story that can do that to me. Also, on the very last page, something was revealed that made me stop and think. I couldn't believe I didn't notice. But when I did and thought about it, it really makes perfect sense with the story. Very cool. If you want a spoiler then highlight below.
>>Spoiler Alert<< >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The main character's name isn't mentioned until the last page. Which I thought was nifty. >>Here endeth the spoiler<< (less)
A series of short stories about what happens in the aftermath of a the eruption of a supervolcano. This supervolcano is located in...morehigh school & up
A series of short stories about what happens in the aftermath of a the eruption of a supervolcano. This supervolcano is located in Yellowstone National Park. Each story is set a little further out in time from the main eruption. The stories all have different settings and different characters but with the same focus: surviving.
I actually read this twice because I had no recollection of reading it the first time. Well, at least not based on the title alone. I remembered it once I started reading. But I also remembered that I enjoyed it the first time so I went on reading. **No fault of the book. I blame it on my Kindle, which I love. That is fodder for a whole 'nother post though.**
I'm sure I've mentioned that I'm kinda a disaster freak. So I was automatically predisposed to like this book. The first story takes a little bit to get into. It wasn't clear at first which natural disaster has happened. After that the stories are no less engaging for being short. This is a very enjoyable, quick read.(less)
Charlotte was left on the steps of an orphanage when she was just a baby. Her only friend and protector was a boy 4 years older. W...morehigh school & up
Charlotte was left on the steps of an orphanage when she was just a baby. Her only friend and protector was a boy 4 years older. When a new administrator arrives she takes an immediate dislike to "Charley" and her friend Lee. Charlotte is banished to the stables until she decides to begin acting more ladylike. Instead, Charlotte loves working with horses and falls in love with a man working in a livery. Unfortunately, it is the 1800s and the man she loves is black. After he and their child is killed by a lynch mob, she decides to move out West and become a stagecoach driver. In order to do this, she must dress, act, and live like a man. She keeps the secret of her gender from almost everyone until her death.
Soooo very fascinating. Back then it was next to impossible for a woman to live independently. So what's a girl to do? Say to hell with society's rules and make your own. Of course, like with any historical fiction you have to remember that not all conversations are accurate and that most times the author doesn't have first hand knowledge of the person's true motivations. I loved the part about Charley being the first female to vote in an election. The author does a great job of helping us imagine her/his reaction to hearing about suffragettes. Information and details about the stagecoach era were great. My absolute, hands-down, favorite part was the list of rules issued by the stagecoach company. I had to read them aloud to everyone in the room. So funny. All in all, I greatly enjoyed this book. Fantastic historical fiction about a lesser known historical female. (less)
Catherine called Cat has spent her entire life backstage at the Royal Theatre in Drury Lane. One day she...moremiddle school & up Cat Royal adventures #1
Catherine called Cat has spent her entire life backstage at the Royal Theatre in Drury Lane. One day she overhears the theatre manager discussing the protection of a diamond to be hidden in the theatre. Cat feels great loyalty to the manager for taking her in as an infant and decides to find the diamond so she can help protect it. She also makes a few new friends: Pedro, a young ex-slave who is a gifted musician, Johnny, the new prompter, and Francis & Elizabeth, the children of a Duke. The trouble is a local street tough is angry with Cat and wants to steal the diamond.
**Odd disclaimer - I had to buy this book. No one forced me or anything but I know I've mentioned my series compulsion before. I received a free ARC of a book that comes later in the series. I can't read that one without reading everything else first.** This was a pretty good adventure story. It didn't seem to have much of a direction though. I really liked Cat, she is brave and loyal. She even managed to get educated which was a big deal for girls in her time. Her life as a "runner" for the theatre actually gives her a lot more freedom than the higher class ladies had. I forgave the lack of direction since I liked Cat so much. It is also nice to get an actual adventure story for the girls. The tomboy girls, anyway. Cat does get all gussied up once in the book but there isn't any sudden realization of how great it is to be a girlie-girl. I approve of that.(less)
Mary is an orphan in 19th century London. At the age of 12 she was about to be hanged for the crime of thievery. Inst...moreThe Agency #1 high school & up
Mary is an orphan in 19th century London. At the age of 12 she was about to be hanged for the crime of thievery. Instead, she is taken to Miss Scrimshaw's School for Girls. After 5 years of education she is working as a teacher in the school and feeling completely bored. The headmistresses of the school offer Mary a chance: to join The Agency. This is a secret agency with a very revolutionary idea: that women make perfect spies. On her first assignment, Mary is sent to act as a lady's companion to help with the investigation into possible insurance fraud.
I like the premise quite a bit. Women refusing to conform strictly to society's requirements. In fact, it is probably getting a little repetitive. It seems that is all I'm reading these days. Not sure why. It just kinda happens sometimes. Anyway, Mary is basically a modern girl. She is independent, outspoken and practical. This can be hard when society usually values women according to how well they married. The book skips right over the five years between her almost-hanging and her first assignment as a spy. It isn't really very spy-like though. Mary's mission is mostly just busy work. There is supposed to be another "agent" on the case. That part bothered me. We never find out who the other agent is and there don't seem to be any characters that could fit the bill. Mary does manage to find out a few things about the case, but very slowly and all the major revelations about the case seem to all bunch up together at the end. I'm actually more intrigued by Mary's history. She is "half-caste"; which means that she is half Caucasian and half Chinese. In her time period, Chinese were looked down on so Mary is "passing" as a full English girl. There seems to be some mystery surrounding her father that I hope is part of the following books.
**I received an ARC of the 3rd book in the series which is due to be published on February 28, 2012. I purchased this book because of my series compulsion.**(less)
The political intrigue and murky loyalties really made this book seem a lot longer than it was. I finished it, but it was a near thing. I kept having...moreThe political intrigue and murky loyalties really made this book seem a lot longer than it was. I finished it, but it was a near thing. I kept having the feeling that I had dropped in on a much longer book but only got to read the middle chapters. I'd be willing to give this author another chance, but I'd be hoping for a lot more clarity. (less)
Violet mostly comes across as a naive 14 year old. But somehow it works for her. The author manages to pack in some history about the culture for wome...moreViolet mostly comes across as a naive 14 year old. But somehow it works for her. The author manages to pack in some history about the culture for women in the 1890s. She has the suffragette aunt, the charitable grandmother and the society aunt. She also has the matching suitors. I really liked Violet, even though I thought she was incredibly dense at times.(less)
I could not finish this book. I made it all the way to the description of the first church service and quit. Church itself doesn't bother me. However,...moreI could not finish this book. I made it all the way to the description of the first church service and quit. Church itself doesn't bother me. However, this book seemed to be slanted that Christians are good and every other religion (especially Islam) is made up entirely of muderous crazies. Too intolerant for me.(less)