It is 1939, and the one hundred residents of an isolated Jewish Romanian village live in fear as they feel the war closing in on them. When a strangerIt is 1939, and the one hundred residents of an isolated Jewish Romanian village live in fear as they feel the war closing in on them. When a stranger arrives in the village with news about the horrors taking place where she is from, eleven year old Lena gets an idea. When the sun rises on the next day, they will start over, as if it’s the first day in the world. Their village will be the only place that exists, and by ignoring the past and the rest of the world they hope that they will be able to protect themselves. As Lena grows up in this new world she helped create, she becomes a wife, a woman and a mother. But as hard as the villagers try, they can’t truly keep out the outside world. When Lena and her children are forced to hide out in the woods to protect themselves, she will have to be the one who carries on the story of their village.
I was really looking forward to this original story about the Holocaust. I expected more of a fantasy novel, in which the villagers truly do create their own world, but find traces of the old one slowly sneaking in and threatening their safety. In the book, the villagers try and rewrite the world and pretend everything has started anew, when in reality it hasn’t. The author’s prose was poetic and had the style of a fairy tale. The writing style reminded me a bit of The History of Love, although the two books are completely different. While the concept was interesting, I don’t think that this novel was for me. My expectations may have played a role in this, but overall I was disappointed. I wanted characters I could relate to that felt real, and this book didn’t have that. The villagers just felt like people that were made up for a story, partly due to their illogical naivety. I wasn’t interested in the story, but I did like the book’s themes, such as the importance of stories and how war can make you forget who you are. If you’re looking for lyrical prose and a uniquely written story about World War II, than you might enjoy No One Is Here Except For All Of Us.
Peter Schock has been looking forward to spending the day with his father for the first time in what feels like forever, and he can’t help but feel anPeter Schock has been looking forward to spending the day with his father for the first time in what feels like forever, and he can’t help but feel angry when his father cancels at the last minute. Instead of going skiing, Peter and his nanny go to visit friends in Derbyshire. Staying at the Dyer’s farm, Peter meets the redheaded Kate, who is about his age. When Kate and Peter go to visit Kate’s father’s laboratory, something goes terribly wrong and they end up in an unfamiliar place. There, they meet the Tar Man, who takes the anti-matter machine that seems to have brought them to this strange land. At home, it was winter and now it is summer. Kate wonders if perhaps they were knocked unconscious and taken to Australia. Peter and Kate make the acquaintance of Gideon Seymour, former Cutpurse. Gideon’s strange and formal dress and mannerisms give the children pause, but surely the only explanation is impossible. When the children arrive with Gideon into town it becomes very clear that the anti-matter machine took them even further than they imagined- to the past! Kate and Peter have travelled back in time to 1763. Things become even stranger when Kate and Peter learn that they can ‘blur,’ by appearing in their present time as ghost like apparitions. Kate and Peter seem to have nothing in common, but together they’ve been thrown into the past. They will have to learn to trust each other if they want to make it home to modern England.
This book is also titled Gideon The Cutpurse, and the cover was enough to catch my attention. Two preteens find themselves in the 18th century, where they face the evil Tar Man, stifling period clothing, highwaymen, and unfair laws. The author did a good job of recreating the 18th century, although, as with a lot of time travel stories, the characters met too many important figures from that time period. The plot was original but dragged on a bit. However, the ending picked up and changed my opinion on the book as a whole. The discussion of time travel and how the children end up finding the time machine again was very clever. For the majority of the book, I though that it was an all right story, but doubted that I would pick up the sequel. The ending alone managed to convince me to continue with the series. I liked the majority of the characters, including Peter, Gideon and even Sydney, but I disliked Kate, who I first thought I would adore. Kate ended up frustrating me: I hated how she became angry with Peter when he stopped her from blurring away one time, but later on she became paranoid that he would leave her in 1763. This book reminded me of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, and I think it would be a good book for fans of that series. Great for young fans of fantasy, adventure and time travel.
It’s been three years since Norah and Gavin moved from England to Canada to live with the Ogilvie’s during the war. Now it’s 1943 and though things haIt’s been three years since Norah and Gavin moved from England to Canada to live with the Ogilvie’s during the war. Now it’s 1943 and though things have turned around for the Allies, no one knows when the war is going to end. While there are a lot of bad things about leaving England, like missing her family, the best thing is being able to spend summers at the Ogilvie’s summerhouse in Muskoka. At thirteen, Norah seems to be stuck in-between: not quite a child or a teen-ager, and not quite a member of the Ogilvie’s family. All of her cousins seem to be obsessed with boys, but Norah can’t relate to them. That is, until she meets one of the Ogilvie cousins, Andrew. Andrew is nineteen and secretly doesn’t want to enlist in the war. As Norah spends the summer in love for the first time, she is troubled by the uncertainty of being a war guest. Will she spend next summer in Canada or home in England? Norah has changed so much in the last three years, will her family even recognise her when she comes home? No matter what, whenever Norah looks at the moon she will think of that summer and Andrew.
This is the second book in Kit Pearson’s Guests of War series. It has been three years since The Sky Is Falling, and a fair bit has changed. While Norah initially quarreled with Aunt Florence, they have found a way to get along. Although Norah at first ignored Gavin, she has done her best to look after him. However, in some ways Norah is still a child. She is instantly jealous of one of the cousins coming to join them at the cottage, and feels left out when everyone recalls old memories of him. While she reacts immaturely to Andrew’s presence, Norah soon comes to feel about Andrew in a way she’s never felt about another boy before. A good amount of the book focuses on Norah mooning over Andrew, who is 6 years her senior, so for that reason I preferred the first book. However, in this book we get to see more of other aspects of the war. Andrew is grappling with whether he should enlist in the war or not and we get to see more of the complexities of war. When Norah was ten, she saw war in black and white terms. Now she begins to see that things are more complicated. People who don’t enlist aren’t simply cowards and the German prisoners of war she sees look like ordinary people. The complications of being a guest of war are still there: what will happen when Norah and Gavin have to leave? For Gavin, Canada is his home. While I enjoyed this book more when I first read it when I was ten, I still thought it was a great book for younger readers who are interested in history. This well written coming of age story set during World War II made me very excited to continue with the series.
In 1989, twelve year old Cameron Post has just found out that both of her parents were killed in a car crash, and the first thing she feels is relief.In 1989, twelve year old Cameron Post has just found out that both of her parents were killed in a car crash, and the first thing she feels is relief. Relief that they will never have to know that that day she had kissed a girl. But relief is soon replaced with guilt, and Cameron feels like her parents’ deaths were a sort of punishment for her actions. Cameron lives in Miles City, Montana, and vaguely knows what being a lesbian is and what it means for you when you live in a small religious town. After the accident, Cameron’s Aunt Ruth, who is devoutly Christian, comes to live with Cam and her grandmother. As Cameron becomes a teenager, she starts to live a double life. Under her aunt, she becomes a member of the local church’s youth group, while spending nights breaking into an old hospital, getting high and fantasising about other girls. Remarkably to Cam, she becomes best friend with Coley Taylor, half of the perfect couple. Coley is straight, but Cameron can’t help being attracted her. But just as Cameron feels like she could get away with anything, everything begins to fall apart when her family learns that she is a lesbian. Cameron is promptly sent to a special school called Promise, in hopes that she will be cured. As Cam’s days become full of people trying to figure out what happened to make her the way she is and how that can change, she tries to be proud of who she is, no matter what anyone else thinks.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming of age story as well as a coming out story, following Cameron from the age of twelve to seventeen. I had never heard of this book when I saw it in the bestsellers section, and based on the cover I expected a book sort of like The Dairy Queen; a light hearted look at the life of a farm girl. Of course, I soon read the synopsis and felt like I had to read this book, which was so different from what I imagined. After having read it, I thought that it was utterly amazing, and I haven’t felt this way about a book in a long time. It was completely consuming and practically impossible to put down. This book tackled some serious issues, some which are relevant to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. This book would have been a lot harder to handle if it wasn’t for Cam’s humor and sarcasm, which never wavered even when things got bad. The majority of the book follows Cam’s life in Miles City, while the end focuses on her life at Promise. The characters were realistically flawed and many of them jumped off the page. I liked how Danforth showed the complexities of the characters and that people aren’t simply black or white. Based on other books I’ve read, I think it can be difficult for an author not to become preachy when writing a book like this. I think Danforth did an excellent job of not telling us how wrong what happened to Cam was but shows us instead. I hate feeling like I’m being lectured by a book (like I felt in Breaking Dawn about not having premarital sex) and Miseducation gets the message across without constantly having to spell it out. The prose was quite beautiful at times, in a way that takes a hold of you. I actually cannot think of any flaws in this book, although I suppose the length could mean that it might drag along for people who are not as interested in realistic fiction as I am. However, I would probably recommend this book to everyone. I love the writing, the characters, the themes, the story and even the ending (which I could see people finding unsatisfying.) I read this book two days ago, and I have no idea what I could read next that could compare. And that’s quite a compliment since I’m generally the type of reader who can quickly move onto the next book. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a must-read coming of age novel that looks at the things that make us who we are and the things that were always a part of us.
In the last three months, Amy Curry’s life has changed in ways she never saw coming. After the death of her father, it felt like she needed her familyIn the last three months, Amy Curry’s life has changed in ways she never saw coming. After the death of her father, it felt like she needed her family more than ever only to have them leave her. Now that her junior year is over, Amy is about to leave Southern California for Connecticut, where her mom is waiting for her in their new home. Some last minute changes result in Amy taking an unexpected road trip instead of flying out, so that the family car can be in Connecticut as well. Amy’s mom has planned the whole trip, including picking the driver. Roger is the son of an old family friend who is spending his summer with his dad in Philadelphia and needs a ride. The route Amy’s mom has planned is supposed to take four days, but Amy and Roger have a different idea. Instead of relying on the well planned out route they never chose, they decide to go on a few detours, completely abandoning the set route and taking much more time than four days. Visiting fifteen states in total, Roger and Amy see America in a way they never have before, from the loneliest road in America to a young Southern gentleman with a passion for shrub art. As they get to know each other while they put miles between them and California, they realize that it’s life’s detours that make the moments worth remembering.
Summer is slowly approaching and soon everyone will be looking for the perfect summer read. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour definitely meets the criteria: romance, road trip adventure, playlists and summer. This book is interesting in a lot of ways, one being that it includes copies of receipts, snapshots, e-mails, playlists, scraps of paper and notes from Amy’s travel journal. This all worked well, especially since you can learn so much from a receipt or a report card. I love playlists being included in books about road trips, since music is always what I remember most about any road trip. Plus, I like the music featured in this book. If you want to look at the playlists in the books, you can see my scans here. The writer actually did the trip Amy and Roger do in this book, spending a whole month to do it. This showed in the book, with all the little details included.
As the book begins, Amy has a lot of issues and the fact that she’s supposed to spend an entire road trip with someone she doesn’t know isn’t helping things. However, after being in a car together for hours on end, her and Roger get to know each other very quickly. Both begin their journey with issues of their own, and although a road trip doesn’t magically fix all of their problems, it does help them see what they need to do to change things. I liked how different things worked its way into the story and the role those things played, like explorers and sharing music. In a road trip to a lot of unexpected places, Amy and Roger meet a number of interesting people, from a boy named Muz who asks them to deliver a message to a Virginia Dairy Queen, to a boy in a band named in honour of The Wizard of Oz. And, for the record, let me say that Henry Gale sounds like the greatest band to ever grace the world. Everything was well paced and always interesting, including the flashbacks of Amy’s life before the trip. I thought the characters felt real and I definitely liked Amy. I liked Roger for the most part, although midway through I felt annoyed with how he was so caught up in his ex. I still liked his relationship with Amy and seeing them come to know each other, state by state. I adored Bronwyn, but her generosity was a bit unbelievable to me. Overall, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is a book about self-discovery and the unexpected trips we take that make us who we are. Difficult to put down, this book is perfect for anyone who ever has the slightest urge to pack their things and drive anywhere without knowing exactly where they’re going.
The Disenchantments might not be the best band in the world, but hearing them play no one can deny that they mean every note that they play. And thatThe Disenchantments might not be the best band in the world, but hearing them play no one can deny that they mean every note that they play. And that they look good doing it. For years, Colby and his best friend Bev have planned to graduate high school and then leave for Europe just as their friends leave for college. But before that, they’ve planned a tour with Bev’s band, The Disenchantments, with Colby serving both as driver and groupie. The tour will start with them leaving San Francisco and end with them arriving in Portland, to drop off one of Bev’s band mates at college. But everything changes when Bev announces that she doesn’t want to go to Europe, but instead plans on going to college like everyone else. But the show must go on, and Colby reluctantly agrees to continue with the tour, knowing that the girls need him. Stopping in a different city every night, The Disenchantments play everywhere from basements to old schools, their music terrible but played with heart. Colby, who had for so long had a certain picture of what the future would look like, now has no idea what he’s going to do with his life. Lost and confused, he just wants to know what made Bev change her mind and what’s going to happen next.
Summer might be coming to an end, but there’s always a place for a fun summer read, even when the sweaters come out and swimsuits find their way to the back of your drawers. The Disenchantments isn’t all sunshine and good times, but it has a summer feel to it, like lying in the sun while your favourite song is playing on the radio. Like any coming of age story, there is bound to be heartbreak and angst, but overall this book meets my ‘good summer read’ criteria. There’s music, a road trip, friendship and romance. This book is a good read for anyone at a crossroads, who isn’t quite sure what they’re going to do with their life. With a fast moving and well-paced plot and lots of interesting minor characters, The Disenchantments makes for a quick read that is difficult to put down. A great road trip novel, it was easy to get lost in the portrait of these characters and their journey throughout the West Coast. At times the characters were too cool, too artistic or too quirky. However, they were well written and developed, although Bev always felt far away and hard to like. I was very satisfied with the ending and afterwards the book left me with a good feeling, and what more can you ask for? It may not have been enchanting, but it did leave me with that good summer feeling. Overall, The Disenchantments is a story about the difficulties of growing up, how hard it is to do but how it’s always worth it in the end.
Martin is the writer of a successful column called The Shallow Review of Books. Instead of actually reading the books, he gives people what they wantMartin is the writer of a successful column called The Shallow Review of Books. Instead of actually reading the books, he gives people what they want to hear: which celebrity is reading what. At work, Martin is known as the baggage handler; someone people go to when they want to share their problems and emotional baggage. Being the resident agony aunt has helped Martin realize that baggage is something he doesn’t need. Like his reviews, Martin’s life is shallow. When a new co-worker from Poland catches Martin’s eye, he finds himself wanting to make the effort to get to know her. Unfortunately, his attempts to get to know Kassia always seem to end in disaster. Does the shallow reviewer have what it takes to let someone get to know him on a deeper level?
Great for fans of the male equivalent to ‘chick lit,’ or writers like Jonathan Tropper, Nick Hornby and Matthew Norman. This book follows Londoner Martin, who writes very superficial reviews of books. Martin’s book reviews are a reflection of what his life is like: although he helps people with their problems, he does what he can so he doesn’t have any of his own. Who needs heartbreak and emotional baggage? Once Martin meets Kasia, it looks like he is the once who is in need of advice. This humorous depiction of romance from the male perspective was honest and quite fun to read. Martin has only been in love once but things didn’t end well. Now, he doesn’t like to get too invested in people to prevent himself from getting hurt. While sometimes watching him make a mess of things was frustrating, he was loveable overall. Some of the secondary characters were quite funny and there was, of course, Kasia, Martin’s love interest. In most books and movies, I feel like the main character falls in love too quickly. While this happened with The Baggage Handler, I still liked their relationship (when Martin wasn’t making a mess of things) and could see why he liked her. While these was lots of humour and this book was easy to enjoy, the pacing felt a bit off midway through and I wish there had been more subplots, instead of so much focus on Martin winning over Kasia. All in all, this was a fun book with a very satisfying ending.
Children run away from home for many different reasons, but Claudia Kincaid always knew she wasn’t the type to run away in the heat of the moment. ForChildren run away from home for many different reasons, but Claudia Kincaid always knew she wasn’t the type to run away in the heat of the moment. For weeks, Claudia has been planning to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. After weeks of planning and saving up her money, Claudia springs her plan into action by telling her brother, and chosen companion, about her plan. Together, they take a train from their Conneticut suburb to New York City. Armed with their instrument cases filled with clothes, Claudia and Jamie become residents of the Museum. She is an excellent planner who is terrible with money, while he is great with finances, loves complications and works well under pressure. When a new addition to the museum catches their eye, they start to wonder if this statue, Angel, could actually be a work of Michelangelo. Determined to find the truth, Claudia and Jamie head to the source, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. As the two children try to find the truth, they realize the importance of having a secret of one’s own.
This book was my first ever audio book, and I listened to it while driving through Pennsylvania. It was also my first book by E.L. Konigsburg. I say this is all the time, but I wish I had read this when I was a kid. I would have loved Jamie and Claudia’s adventure in New York, and how they managed to secretly live in the Met for a week. I actually had no idea this book took place in the Met until I started to read, and was instantly excited. I am madly in love with the Met and wish I were clever enough to live there. This book follows two smart thinking and independent siblings. Together, they try to solve a mystery about a sculpture and its maker. Like the Kincaid siblings, I too got caught up in the fun and would temporarily forget about their parents. However, they did take it much too far. I know children have difficulty with empathy, but Jamie and Claudia never thought about their parents and weren’t too concerned when they saw the newspaper story. I liked these characters overall, but as someone who is basically an adult I couldn’t help being frustrated with them at times. The narrator of the book is actually Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler herself, and this worked well. The story is about whether a new addition to the Met is actually by Michelangelo, but I wouldn’t call this book a mystery. I don’t think there was any way for the reader to deduce who made the statue, and it also didn’t feel like a mystery. But instead of feeling let down, I couldn’t have cared less. I loved this book just as it was. Although written in 1967, only the prices mentioned made it feel dated. This timeless book about art and growing as a person can make anyone feel like an eleven-year-old kid on their first adventure in one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
Sunset Towers is a beautiful apartment building in Wisconsin, which looks out over Lake Michigan. With a restaurant on the top floor and a coffee shopSunset Towers is a beautiful apartment building in Wisconsin, which looks out over Lake Michigan. With a restaurant on the top floor and a coffee shop and doctor’s office on the ground floor, each apartment is quickly let out. The tenants were all carefully chosen, but one of them is a mistake. The residents of the building seem to have little in common: they are a doctor, a restaurateur, a hairdresser, a secretary, a judge, a delivery boy, a housekeeper, an doorman, an athlete, brothers, sisters and wives. One is a thief, one is a bookie, one a bomber and one is not who they say they are. When millionaire Sam Westing is found dead in his mansion, sixteen people who live in Sunset Towers are called for the will reading. Westing’s will is actually a puzzle, and he intends to give his entire fortune to whoever solves the mystery of who killed him. The sixteen are divided into eight groups of two, and are given $10,000 each as incentive to play. Each pair is given a clue, which consists of random words with nothing in common. The will says that one of the sixteen is the person who took Westing’s life. As each pair tries to solve the mystery behind Westing’s death, they find out that things are even more complicated than they first imagined.
What fun! This murder mystery of sorts was extremely clever and well thought out. I love junior fiction that doesn’t underestimate its readers or talk down to them. The Westing Game provides a mystery with many layers, the first of which we are introduced to just as the book begins. Who handpicked the tenants of Sunset Towers and why? As we are introduced to Westing’s sixteen potential heirs, we get to know this colourful cast of characters. I especially loved Turtle, who first appears to be bratty and spoiled but proves to be a brilliant young girl. I loved getting to know the many characters and seeing how they changed throughout the game, and being able to see what they became as they grew older. While many authors do not succeed in creating a believable protagonist, Raskin managed to write a book with so many well-developed and realistic characters. The plot was creative and well planned out, and I was very satisfied with the resolution. The forward says that Westing did not plan out the plot before beginning to write, which is kind of unbelievable. The Westing Game was a smart mystery that’s perfect for anyone (young or old) who likes a gripping puzzle.
This review will contain some spoilers pertaining to Sloppy Firsts, the first book in the series.
It’s the summer before senior year and Jessica DarliThis review will contain some spoilers pertaining to Sloppy Firsts, the first book in the series.
It’s the summer before senior year and Jessica Darling is at a special summer camp for gifted youth. Jess’ writing for the school paper earned her a place, but in all honesty she’s only attending to help herself forget about Marcus Flutie. While Jess still doesn’t think she is a writer (no matter what her teachers say) the summer has helped her make a major life decision about her future. To Jess, deciding which college to go to is the biggest decision she will make in her young life, and she has finally settled on Columbia. But when school starts again and the unthinkable happens on September 11th, Jess isn’t sure if New York is safe anymore. As Jess and everyone else tries to move on and go back to normal, Jess is surprised by how quickly that happens. The Clueless Two are the same as always, although Sara managed to lose some weight and Manda found an unlikely new boyfriend. And, surprisingly, the one person that Jess wants to forget seems to be trying to set her up with the new and improved Len Levi. As senior year comes to an end, Jess will have to decide what she wants for her future, and who she wants to spend it with.
The second book in the Jessica Darling series takes place from the summer of 2001 to Jess’ graduation in 2002. I am often wary of sequels, but there was no need for that with Second Helpings. I liked this book even better than the first. A semester has passed since Sloppy Firsts ended, and Jess is still not talking to Marcus Flutie. Let me just say, I love Hope. We learn that she was okay with Jessica lying to her and liking Marcus, and actually wants them together. She’s the character we see the least of, but I love her to death. I also love Bridget, a former member of the Clueless Crew. While at first we see Bridget as just an insecure and beautiful girl, but we get to see her as a real person in this book. It was also sad to see how much Scottie has changed since the beginning of Sloppy Firsts. Jess is pretty much the same as ever, although a bit more sex obsessed in this book. This book was a smoother read than the first book, and it never felt like it was dragging along, unlike Sloppy Firsts. There were a lot of fun additions to this book, such as Gladie. This book takes place during the 2001 school year, and 9/11 occurs early on in the book. Jess is shocked and terrified when she finds out what happens, but it is one of the rare times that she is speechless. It wasn’t as heart wrenching as it could have been, but this book was more emotional than the last. I do think that some things were predictable, such as the identity of the writer of Pineville Low, but I suppose it makes sense that Jess doesn’t catch onto these things at first because she is pretty self involved. I’m interested in how Jess will change in the third book and what her college life will be like. Overall, this was an entertaining and quick read full of fun and drama.