It was definitely the mirror and the earthquake that started it all. One moment, Addie is str...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It was definitely the mirror and the earthquake that started it all. One moment, Addie is strolling through the crumbling streets and frantic crowds of Seattle; and the next, she is amongst weirdly dressed people who apparently make a habit of injuring each other with bricks. It is in this parallel world that Addie meets Reg and discovers the Jewel, a professional theater and any budding actress’s dream. When she is offered a job as assistant director, Addie makes every effort to return to this old version of Seattle as frequently as possible. When events in each world seem to almost mirror each other, Addie realizes that there is a lot more at stake than her own desires.
I am often weary of time travel books, as it is very easy to butcher them. However, I enjoyed The Jewel and the Key immensely. The fact that I had never heard of the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization central to the novel’s plot, was very surprising considering the long hours I’ve spent in various high school U.S. history classes. The author’s incorporation of history and theatrical arts sets up a great background for the novel.
Also like every other YA story, there is lurrrve. What seems like a love triangle at first quickly becomes more of a line segment or a diatomic covalent molecule (if you are in a particularly chemistry-oriented mood like yours truly). The object of Addie’s affections is young Reg, a flamboyant actor with quite a dramatic personality. Their relationship was adorable, and the conclusion succeeded in stealing a few tears from me. I actually went back and reread the ending a few times after finishing the novel. I guess it can be described as bittersweet without going overboard with cheesiness. Mostly, it was just heartbreaking.
The Jewel and the Key is a quaint historical novel that packs quite a punch. It also contributed to my lack of sleep, as I couldn’t stop myself from reading late into the night instead of sleeping like the rest of the normal human beings in my time zone.
Koumail knows exactly who he is: Blaise Fortune, undisputable and abandoned-through-a-train-a...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Koumail knows exactly who he is: Blaise Fortune, undisputable and abandoned-through-a-train-accident French boy. Even as the seven-year-old flees the collapsing Soviet Union with Gloria, his beloved mother figure, Koumail knows that there will always be a safe haven for the faux mother-son duo in France. It turns out to be a journey fraught with hard work and starvation, doubt and heartbreak. Through it all, Koumail merely has to recite one sentence -- just one -- to make sure he still has the strength to continue. My name is Blaise Fortune and I am a citizen of the French Republic. It’s the pure and simple truth. Or is it?
Wow, A Time of Miracles is a little 200+ page novel that packs quite a punch. Translated from French, this story is told as an extended flashback laced with intricate details and told in flowing prose. Originally, the synopsis failed to impress me, and I started this book with a feeling of dread, often reminding myself of the fact that I could simply write a scathing review to vent my feelings afterward. Well, I apologize profusely to this book. To put it simply: I was blown away. This is just a simple story of a boy and a woman, escaping oppression and searching for freedom. And yet, it was also emotional and gripping all at once. Ms. Bondoux definitely succeeded in drawing out the reader’s sympathy for the two characters.
And Koumail, oh Koumail -- funny, sweet, and fiercely protective of Gloria. It isn’t possible for someone to not like this little boy. He entertains with his antics, his blind faith, and the three true loves he meets on their short journey. Even while Koumail’s begging in front of a random restaurant in the icy coldness, he’s still alight with hope.
A Time of Miracles is a surprisingly moving historical novel. It is one of those books you close with a quiet sigh.
Orphaned at a young age, Grace and Lily Parkes barely scrape by living off of the revenu...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Orphaned at a young age, Grace and Lily Parkes barely scrape by living off of the revenue from their watercress-selling operation. When Grace -- barely sixteen herself -- gives birth to a stillborn baby boy, she embarks on a train ride that causes her to crash head-on into two individuals who ultimately come to define the sisters’ messy future. And what a messy future it is, for the entirety of legal London is abuzz over Grace and Lily, two oblivious heiresses to a huge fortune left by their deceased father. A desperate race for the money ensues as the affluent families in London begin to plot for ways to take advantage of the Parkes sisters, and the trusting girls step right into these well-woven traps. Eventually, a boy will rescue one girl, and she will stop at nothing until her sister is by her side once again.
Fallen Grace is one of those novels you chew through slowly because of its meticulously and beautifully described setting. Ms. Hooper delivers a stunning portrayal of 17th century England, complete with opulent characters and an abundance of child beggars; even the King and Queen make a random appearance. However, the plot turned out to be rather slow in the beginning. I kept waiting for the pacing to pick up: it never did. The entire book felt like an easy rambling walk -- unhurried and enjoyable, until you get bored and decide to run like a maniac and feel the wind in your hair instead.
A nicely written novel nevertheless, Fallen Grace will appeal to avid readers of historical fiction.
Seriously, I was expecting so much. This is Romeo and Juliet we're talking about here. It's only the best known romance in the history of English lit, right?
OK, I digress. The next generation might just consider Twilight to be the best known romance of all time. Shame on them. Such poor, misguided souls...
I thought R&J's ages caused all their interactions to take on an almost laughable quality. Two teenagers falling in love and getting married the next day? Psh, call me cynical, but that is just a wee bit too fast, eh? I understand that R&J's naivety adds to the realistic feel of the play, but it just didn't work for me. It doesn't help the situation, either, when, for some incomprehensible reason, one's English teacher feels the need to point out and explain every single innuendo Shakespeare included. After which the idiotic freshman guys in my class would guffaw and snicker-punch each other, and I would just die a little bit inside.
How dare they blaspheme Shakespeare in such a lowly manner in my presence...?
Anyways, I thought the only redeeming quality of Romeo and Juliet was Shakespeare's beautiful writing. He has such a way with words, but I'm sure everyone who's read him knows this already. Romeo has some great lines. Incredibly melodramatic when put into the context of the story, but beautiful nonetheless.
Next up in class is The Merchant of Venice. Hopefully it will be more similar to Macbeth, which I enjoyed immensely last year.
Tidbit of random: If only I could write like Shakespeare is a thought that constantly goes through my mind every time I read one of his magnificent works. Like that's every gonna happen.