What a tale. Among the many casualties of war, hope is definitely one and Ruta Sepetys makes that very clear in this story of the sinking of the WilhelWhat a tale. Among the many casualties of war, hope is definitely one and Ruta Sepetys makes that very clear in this story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. ...more
Often in my career, I've come across photographs. Some are left between the pages of donated or returned items. Others still are found on library flooOften in my career, I've come across photographs. Some are left between the pages of donated or returned items. Others still are found on library floors and tables; accidental droppings from the purses and pockets of patrons. I stare at these photographs and am unable to thrown them away because I feel as though I'm discarding the lives found within them.
I find myself imagining who the people are, and how they felt during the scenes I'm eavesdropping on, but never have I constructed such an enchanting and haunting tale as this one. From photos found, Ransom Riggs has pulled together an adventure that appeals to a range of my interests. Multiple times withing this story, I found myself feeling as though I'd discovered a land that was the perfect mix of Percy Jackson, Pan's Labyrinth, Alice Through the Looking Glass and other stories. From the very first chapter, I realized that I wouldn't be able to rest until I'd devoured this tale of loss, love, family, adventure and history.
In present day Florida, Jacob Portman is dreadfully normal. He has no exceptional talents, save for his ability to evade the bullies at school. He has no outstanding family legacy, except for the fact that his mother's family owns all the Smart Aid pharmacies in the state. He spends his time trying to fit under the radar, while spending time with his one friend, whom he shares a mutual tolerance with.
When he was younger, Jacob's time was spent listening to his grandfather's stories. Tales of monsters and a home where no one grew old or ever died. His grandfather Abe would talk about a girl who could produce fire, and a brother and sister who were powerful enough to hoist boulders. But there were more than just his stories, Grandpa Abe could provide pictures.
However, as Jacob grew older, he began to doubt Grandpa's tales, and question if the photographs weren't just skillfully crafted parlor tricks. Learning that his grandfather had escaped Nazi's during the Holocaust, Jacob decides that these stories are merely Grandpa Abe's way of coping with the great loss and fear he endured.
And then the impossible happens. Grandpa Abe is attacked by the "monsters", and Jacob is a witness. With his last breaths, he tells Jacob that he must flee to where it is safe and find the house he told him of in his stories. In his quest to honor his grandfather's dying wish, Jacob is thrust into an adventure that turns everything he thought he knew about life, love, and his family, upside down.
What is perhaps the best part of this book is the fluid and realistic way the author introduces facts and characters. His descriptions were so vivid, that you'd find yourself imagining what a picture would be like, only to turn the page and find that he was thoughtful enough to actually give you one. The photographs were haunting but beautiful and added to the story much in the way of those found in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This world became even more real to me because the photos were authentic. I doubt regular illustrations would have been as effective.
The storyline was linear, but so many minor twists and turns erupted that I felt like I was being treated to five or six stories all in one. These carnie-like, peculiar children were endearing and made me want to figure out what my own peculiar talent could be. I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, tales with a twist, and stories of family secrets. ...more
A-MAZING. There are a good number of YA books that can crossover to Adult Fiction and cause quite a stir. This book just rose to the very top of that lA-MAZING. There are a good number of YA books that can crossover to Adult Fiction and cause quite a stir. This book just rose to the very top of that list. Two personalities could be a hard thing to read through but A.S. King serves up two exceptional heroines who are hard to ignore or underestimate.
In the 17th century, Emer's horrible luck and sad past has led her away from her family and one true love into piracy. When she finally comes close to returning to that life, the evil Frenchman, to whom she was once betrothed, kills her lover Seanie and when Emer takes her revenge on him, his first mate(and lover)is furious. He kills Emer, but only after cursing her to "live 100 lives as the female dog she is".
In 1972, we are introduced to Saffron Adams, the last of five children and the keeper of every single one of Emer's memories. While readers may be quick to fall deeply into the idea of literal reincarnation, one of the coolest things about Saffron is the fact that she is her own girl. Though she is similar to Emer, and has no problem imagining herself "slamming the end of her musket into someone's head", she is not that pirate girl. Even if she thinks she is.
The things that made this book exciting were the chapters that jumped between all of Emer's lives. Some chapters were written as Emer and others as Saffron, but there were also great sections where she spoke of what she learned in her various canine lives as well. The writing was sharp and as detailed as necessary so that readers didn't get bogged down into too much extra rhetoric but down to the heart of what was going on.
It was also absolutely intriguing to watch the different ways that Emer's life repeated in Saffrons, often with different results.
I thought this was a great option for teens that prefer to read stories with older themes and are less "teen-targeted". Pirate books have a tendency to be a bit over-the-top but this one was perfectly believable and matter-of-fact. Adults who read YA will love how seamlessly Emer and Saffron grow up and the book shifts tone. A great love story, a raunchy adventure, and a tale of living for your dreams, this one is a keeper....more