Magyk was a lot of fun to read! Funny and suspenseful, I kept turning the pages right through to the endAnother book I've waited too long to review...
Magyk was a lot of fun to read! Funny and suspenseful, I kept turning the pages right through to the end. That means a lot when you consider that I read it while striding away on the elliptical machine at the gym. The Heap family reminded me a lot of the Weasleys--there were about a million of them, they were talented, and they were poor. But they loved each other a lot and that made everything okay.
I guessed pretty early what was going on but this is a book written for the middle grades; they might not guess as quickly. I've had a lot of practice at this kind of thing!
I need to track down the rest of the series soon. I need to see what's going to happen next!
I recommend this for boys and girls from around the age of 10 and up. They should all tear through it the same way I did!...more
Enzo, the wonderfully perceptive narrator of The Art of Racing in the Rain, is a dog. His master is Denny, a talented race car driver who can't seem tEnzo, the wonderfully perceptive narrator of The Art of Racing in the Rain, is a dog. His master is Denny, a talented race car driver who can't seem to get a break. There is always something that keeps him from realizing his full potential. Enzo is an astute, loyal observer of Denny's life as events spiral out of control around them. With wisdom and compassion, Enzo relates Denny's story with his own incisive commentary.
This review keeps veering off into "Why I Love Enzo," so I guess I'll start there but try to keep it short. He is the friend that is quietly there, always loyal, always listening, and always loving. He's so quietly necessary that it would be easy to take him for granted. Luckily, Denny knows what a good dog he has so that doesn't happen. Enzo has almost a zen take on life and he shares his thoughts in such a way that I wanted to highlight almost the whole book. He believes that good dogs are allowed to come back as men in the next life, and he believes he's reached that stage. I agree. He understands life and being human better than most of us ever will.
Enzo relates some tough times in his life with Denny. There's the adjustment period as Denny gets married and has a child. As Enzo shares very, very early in the book, Denny's wife also dies and there's huge fallout from that. That's where the book got almost infuriating. I was so aggravated with the jerks around Enzo and Denny! I didn't know why Enzo would even aspire to be human when we do such horrible things to each other. But that's where they both actually shine and they have the most to share. It was hard, but when I was able to step back from my gut response and try to understand what there was to learn in this situation, I could see what Enzo was trying to tell me.
The book opens with Enzo lying on the floor, knowing that his time is at an end. He is reflecting on his life with Denny and all that they have learned from each other. That is not a good beginning for me. I absolutely hate sad animal stories. If the animal goes through a lot of trouble but is still alive and happy at the end, I'm alright. If it ends with a one-way trip to the vet, I am almost angry at what I see as emotional manipulation. Death happens, but I don't want to read about it. So I had that hanging over me throughout the whole book. I was trying my best not to get too attached to Enzo, because I knew where this had to be going. But I just couldn't help it. He was such an awesome dog that I had to love him. I won't give anything away, but I will say that if you're like me, I think you'll still be pleasantly surprised by the ending. Don't skip this because you think it's another tear-jerker of an animal story.
A few of my favorite quotes:
“To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life, as Eve felt the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to.”
“I don't understand why people insist on pitting concepts of evolution and creation against each other. Why can't they see that spiritualism and science are one? That bodies evolve and souls evolve and the universe is a fluid package that marries them both in a wonderful package called a human being. What's wrong with that idea?”
“My soul has learned what it came to learn, and all the other things are just things. We can't have everything we want. Sometimes, we simply have to believe.”
“You should shine with all of your light all the time.”
“We are all afforded our physical existence so we can learn about ourselves.”
When you're looking for some hope on a gray day, pick this up and let Enzo lift your spirits. He's got life figured out and he can share it in a way that's easy to understand. You'll love him as much as I did....more
Princess Anidori-Kiladra is unusual in her kingdom; she has the ability to communicate with animals. Her mother frowns on the gift and discourages AniPrincess Anidori-Kiladra is unusual in her kingdom; she has the ability to communicate with animals. Her mother frowns on the gift and discourages Ani from using it. The queen finally decides that Ani is not at all appropriate to be the next ruler of Kildenree and arranges her marriage to the Prince of Bayern, the neighboring kingdom. En route to the wedding, half of Ani's guards stage a mutiny to overthrow Ani and install Selia, her lady-in-waiting, as the princess. Ani barely escapes with her life. She goes into hiding as a goose girl and resolves to get back her rightful place.
I loved this. I would give it 4.5 stars if I could. I finished it with a huge smile on my face and that contentment that comes from a story well told. It's like enjoying a feast for the reader's soul.
I had heard so many good things about this book, I went into it with very high expectations. I have to admit that I wasn't too sure what to think at first. The princess who spoke to swans intrigued me, but I found her to be...spineless. Yup. She was a door mat. Anyone and everyone walked all over her. Add to that the fact that the story is written in third person, which I don't always do well with, and I was worried.
I shouldn't have been. I should have trusted Shannon Hale after devouring Book of a Thousand Days.
Sure, Ani is spineless at first. There's no denying it. But that gives her so much room to grow. And grow she does. Her character development felt completely natural. I worried about her and cheered for her and missed her when I finished the book. I also loved that she is a princess, but when it's time for her to work, she works. She isn't ashamed to do manual labor. She doesn't hold herself aloof from the peasants who surround her. She sees everyone for their intrinsic worth, not just their titles. She becomes resourceful and brave and everything that a worthwhile fairy tale heroine should be.
I loved the way the whole book flowed along. The pacing was pretty much perfect for me, and while I can't say that the plot was full of surprises, neither was I entirely sure how she was going to win her throne back. I'll just say that it was all very satisfying.
I highly, highly recommend this one, and I'll definitely be continuing the series....more
After a mysterious illness decimates the population of the US, if not the world, a town on the Mexico/US border finds itself in a literal no man's lanAfter a mysterious illness decimates the population of the US, if not the world, a town on the Mexico/US border finds itself in a literal no man's land, not part of any country but serving as an army outpost for soldiers fighting the mysterious Mexican guerilla, El Segundo. Carmen Garron lives in Outpost, where prospects are non-existent. Still, she meets two nice guys at different times in her life and has a child by each of them.
The second man is not quite...human. He's been part of a genetic experiment and his DNA has been hybridized with that of a wolf. He thought he was sterile, so he's shocked when Carmen turns up pregnant. He has to flee those who would turn him in to the US government for the reward money. He warns Carmen that the child will probably be like him, with superhuman abilities.
And she is. Loup (from loup-garou, French for werewolf), knows no fear and has amazing strength and stamina. Might she be the hope that the citizens of Outpost have been waiting for?
This was not what I expected, but I'm not complaining. I expected more of a science-fictiony werewolf story and that's not really what this is. The nonhuman? superhuman? other-than-human? side of Loup definitely defines a large part of her life, but it's not really what drives the story. Not really.
Loup has a group of friends that call themselves the Santitos, the little saints. They're good kids and they are trying to make a difference in their town. I never really got all of them straight, but a couple did stand out. Mack has such a good heart underneath his tough shell, and he tries so hard to be with Loup. He's there for her in all the ways that really matter. And then there is Pilar. She's a bit generic, but we all do know girls like her. They want a better life and they'll do whatever they have to in order to get it. Pilar's just sideswiped when her heart gets in the way of what her head wants.
I really liked Loup though. I got a good feel for what life is like for her. She just feels a little too solid to everyone who touches her and it freaks them out. She learns to avoid touching people as much as she can. Can you imagine a life where everyone who touches you immediately draws back a little? Because she doesn't know fear, she has to constantly think about things more than other people do. "How would other people react to this? Well, I'd better do that then." The last thing she wants is for the wrong people to find out her heritage. Externally calm and uninvolved, she has passions that go deep. Her loyalty and drive are amazing. When something big happens in her life, she makes up her mind what she wants to do about it and goes after it with single-minded determination. She knows the process of getting where she wants to be will take years, but she takes those first steps in her plan, when a lot of people would have sat at home and thought that it was too hard.
I either didn't realize or I'd forgotten that this is a series. As I was coming up on what I knew had to be the big finale, I got a little nervous. There wasn't much of a page count left on my nook. And then I realized it was a series and I was a little disappointed. What's happened to the standalone novels? Remember those? They're hard to come by these days. This one does wrap up pretty well, with enough left hanging for me to be curious about the next book, but enough resolved that I don't feel like I've been cheated out of an ending.
There is sex here, but I didn't find it to be as graphic as Carey's Kushiel novels. Still, it is mostly older teen sex and that might put some readers off.
I've already added the next book, Saints Astray, to my to-read list. This might not have been what I expected, but I still got a good book, and I'm curious to see where Loup's story goes next....more
Now that Great Britain has officially entered World War I, Deryn and Alek find themselves official enemies. Alek knowsPOSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR LEVIATHAN
Now that Great Britain has officially entered World War I, Deryn and Alek find themselves official enemies. Alek knows that he has to escape the Leviathan before his secret is out and he becomes an ultra-important prisoner of war, and Deryn knows that she has to let him go. The two find themselves in Constantinople (or is that Istanbul?), where the Germans are making trouble for the Brits, and developing a weapon that could be devastating for the Leviathan. Can Alek prevent a war, and can Deryn save her beloved ship?
I am still loving this series. Deryn is such a feisty character. She's super-intelligent, practical, and not afraid to do the right thing. She's also finding it harder and harder to keep her identity a secret from Alek. Her solutions to problems are always ingenious and she just leaps off the page for me.
I don't have quite as much to say about Alek. I like him, but compared to Deryn, he's kind of boring.
A new character, Lilit, is introduced in this book, and I loved her too. She's a lot like Deryn, but she's able to live as a girl and still show the boys a thing or two about driving Clanker machines. She's fantastic and I hope we see more of her.
The action just didn't let up, and I was always interested to see how things were going to work out.
The ending was a bit weak because I thought it just stopped. I actually flipped forward and backward a few times on my nook to make sure I hadn't missed anything. As far as I can tell, I didn't. It just ended. Not exactly on a cliffhanger, but just in an odd place.
I received an e-galley from the publisher, and I have to say that I missed the illustrations. I was able to see a few, but mostly I just saw titles. I'll be picking up a physical copy of the book and checking them out. The ones I did get were still awesome. I love this Clanker vs Darwinist world that Westerfeld has created.
I highly recommend this for fans of the first in the series, and for those who don't mind a little steampunk mixed in with World War I. ...more
In Annexed, author Sharon Dogar imagines what life in the Annex with Anne Frank must have been like for young Peter. We know all about Anne's thoughtsIn Annexed, author Sharon Dogar imagines what life in the Annex with Anne Frank must have been like for young Peter. We know all about Anne's thoughts and feelings, but surely Peter needs a chance to tell his side of things too. The novel begins as Peter is dying and looking back on his life, desperate to tell someone his story.
The first part of this book was really about 4 stars for me. It wasn't anything hugely different from what I would have imagined, but it was nice to see a different perspective on the other housemates. Anne frequently used her diary as a place to vent, so we tended to see the worst parts of everyone. In this book, Mrs. van Pels is shown as a caring mother who frequently says inappropriate things to help draw attention away from shy Peter. She steals the Franks' sheets to help him out too. His dad makes his awful jokes as a way to try to break tension. Mr. Frank is a wise, understanding mentor. Margot is inscrutable, but Mrs. Frank and Mr. Pfeffer are still pretty difficult to live with. Anne herself isn't always easy to live with, with her high ideals and mercurial personality, but she always makes life interesting, even within the confines of the Annex.
The second part left me feeling shattered.
Anne Frank's diary is a difficult read, because you do know how the story ends. But the diary just stops and, in the edition I read anyway, there was a very dry summation of what happened to the inhabitants of the Annex after their capture. If you've read any Holocaust literature at all, you can fill in the blanks, but it's easy just to not think about it and feel sad that Anne didn't live to make the mark she wanted to make on the world. (I'm not saying that she didn't make a mark, I'm saying that she would have chosen to live and write more life-changing books)
This book takes us into the camps.
We follow the Franks and the van Pelses onto the trains and into Auschwitz. Peter is separated from the women very early on, so we don't have to actually watch Anne suffer, but Peter spends a lot of time imagining what is going on with the women. He also tells us how hard life is, and we're there with him as he loses his father and as he himself almost, almost makes it through. I finished this on a plane and it was all I could do to keep from sobbing. I conveniently hadn't thought about life after the Annex, at least not much, but this book helped me mourn their loss.
Here are some quotes, both from the book and the extra material. These are taken from an advance copy and might have changed or been taken out of the final copy.
"As I write this, Anne Frank (if still alive) would have only been in her eighties. She might still be writing stories, still be reminding us of what it means to stay alive to the beauty of the world when all around you lies evidence of death, hatred, and destruction."
"I find a satchel and a spare jacket with a star sewn onto it, but then at the last minute I decide not to wear it. If this is my last walk through the city I'm going to do it free--as me--and if anything happens, if they find me--then let them."
"Today is the eighth of November. I'm sixteen....Last night [Mutti] came into my room. She didn't say anything. She sat on the bed and held my hand. After a while she left. Sometimes there's nothing that can be said."
"Trains. A platform. That was the beginning of our end. The selected. It is hard to believe there was ever a before. Or that there could ever be an after. Is there anybody left? Is anyone listening?"
"Because this is not a story. This is the truth. These things really happened. This is what all of us here long for you, outside, to know. That we went gently, most of us. We walked into the night of the camps in long lines not knowing where we were going. We went in trains, wearing all of our possessions like hope. Once, we were legion, now we are few. Now our naked bodies lie in piles. Our bones are ground to dust and we are...ashes. That is the truth"
"Now do you get it? This is what I did. This is how I lasted. For some of us survival was luck. No, for all of us it was luck. But for most of us it was because we learned to cheat and lie and steal and stand by--and watch while others were beaten and died. In this way they etched their hatred upon us."
"We are standing together. It is the day they took my father. I cannot speak. 'What is left of him?' Mr. Frank says. 'The clothes that came back were not his, the number on his wrist was not his.' 'There's nothing left,' I whisper. 'You!' he says. 'You are what he has left. You will remember. You will survive. You will tell his story.'"
A recurring theme throughout the book is the German word, Wystawach. It means, "Wake up!" This is appropriate in so many ways. It woke me up to the horrible reality of the deaths of the Annex residents. This book, and Anne's diary, are a wake up call to us to remember and honor those we have lost. They're also a wake up call to remind us to be vigilant and prevent genocide and hatred. But we should also wake up and see the world around us. As the author wrote, we need to "stay alive to the beauty of the world."
This might not be for everyone. Anne Frank is not presented as a perfect girl here, so that might offend some people. Also, Peter is a teenage boy. What do teen boys think about? You got it. He spends some time fantasizing about a girl he lost. It's not graphic, and it doesn't take up much space in the story, but it is there. To me, both these points add some realism to the novel. If you don't like the ideas, you might want to stay away.
With the two caveats I listed above in mind, I absolutely recommend this as a companion to Anne Frank's diary.
Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read an early copy via Netgalley....more