Sadly (at least for me—it’s probably “happily” for you stalwart readers who’ve slogged through all my IbbotsoOriginally posted at Book Light Graveyard
Sadly (at least for me—it’s probably “happily” for you stalwart readers who’ve slogged through all my Ibbotson fangirling), this is my last Eva Ibbotson review. I’ve finally made it through all her books (at least, all her non-children’s ones). But really, since all good things must come to an end and all that, I’m really glad that A Company of Swans was my last Ibbotson book. It was such a perfect way to finish off.
Because this book was about ballet, and I’m secretly totally in love with ballet. It’s just so beautiful and graceful and really, really impressive. And Ibbotson describes ballet perfectly—she captures the grace and the passion, the etherealness and the hard work. I felt like I was touring with the company and watching the performances, all through the deftness of the author’s description.
As with Ibbotson’s other books, she gets the characterization down perfectly. She uses a light and humorous hand when it comes to developing her characters, but by the end, you feel like you know them. And more than that, like you want to be their friend. Harriet and Rom are one of my favorite Ibbotson couples—their romance is just sappy and dramatic enough to make you sigh without crossing the line into ridiculousness. And for once, Ibbotson manages to have some characters without redeeming qualities! Usually, her characters, no matter how grouchy or misguided, have some element of goodness to them—even if it’s buried deep down—but Harriet’s father and aunt were completely horrid. As much as it caught me off guard to find that in an Ibbotson book, it was honestly also a little refreshing.
It was also totally awesome that this book takes place in Brazil. Ibbotson is a master at capturing scenery—but typically her books take place in Austria or England. So it was fun to see her successfully tackle the lush tropics of Brazil.
I think what stands out to me overall about Ibbotson’s books—this one included—is their sense of optimism. And not only optimism about the big things—that everything will work out in the end—but about the small things as well. That there’s joy to be found in the simple and mundane, and that with the right perspective the everyday things can bring more happiness and contentment than grand gestures or big events. It's a lesson worth learning, and Ibbotson teaches it subtly yet powerfully.
Overall, as with all of Ibbotson’s books, I recommend this one whole heartedly. I have a terrible time trying to pick a favorite Ibbotson book, but this one is definitely in the running. I’ll be re-reading it for sure.
This book has sat on the bookshelf at my parents’ house for I don’t know how long, and I always thought about picking it up, but the cover inevitablyThis book has sat on the bookshelf at my parents’ house for I don’t know how long, and I always thought about picking it up, but the cover inevitably turned me off. So when “Sabriel” came up as the book club selection for this month, I was pretty excited since it gave me a reason to finally buckle down and read it. And now I’ve been reminded for roughly the thousandth time that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
One of the first things that drew me into the story was the world building. It’s just really well done. See, the country’s divided into two parts: Ancelstierre, which in my mind is like a 1930s England, and the Old Kingdom, which is across the Wall and has the typical fantasy Middle Ages-y feel. So the combination of those two places already had me fascinated, and when you add to that dead creatures that don't stay dead and a necromancer who puts the dead to rest rather than bringing them back to life, I was hooked. And really, those things are just the tip of the iceberg of the world building the author does. Because there are also all these other aspects, like Charter Magic and Free Magic and the world of the dead, that I just don’t have time to go into.
Sabriel as a main character is truly awesome. She’s not sure what’s going on half the time, but she soldiers on anyway and faces challenges and freaky dead creatures with a courage, determination, and levelheadedness not often found in YA. And I loved that even after she meets Touchstone, a royal guard with a secret, Sabriel remains focused and clear-headed. She doesn’t get sappy or dreamy or whatnot—she keeps her eye on her goal.
Actually, in retrospect, I’m not sure if I’m convinced Touchstone is a strong enough character to be Sabriel’s match. I understand why he’s a bit unsure of himself, but I definitely felt like Sabriel was his superior rather than him being her equal. Plus, I didn’t feel like there was enough emotion written into the book for me to really understand Sabriel and Touchstone’s relationship. I kinda want to just blame that on the fact that the book’s written by a male author, but that’s probably not entirely fair. Either way, though, I could've done with a few more feelings to go along with all the action. Though I guess the way its written makes it a more bracing story than it would've been with teenage emotions and hormones tempering the action.
Besides the whole Touchstone issue, my only other problem with the book is the ending. There was absolutely no post-climax resolution. There wasn’t any time for me to catch my breath. It just went from a super suspenseful scene directly into a short epilogue. And I could understand that method if it was supposed to be a cliffhanger for the next book, but I’m under the impression that the second book changes main characters and has a different focus than “Sabriel.” So I was left feeling like the resolution was a bit lacking.
And before I finish up this review, I just have to say, MOGGET. I’m a cat person, so maybe I’m a little biased, but he’s seriously the best.
Overall, a well-written fantasy that kept me turning the pages. There were a few things I wish were done differently, but generally I liked it a lot and will most likely be reading the rest of the series....more
I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I read “Revolution” by this same author. I thought she was a talented writer and storyteller and wanted to seI’ve wanted to read this book ever since I read “Revolution” by this same author. I thought she was a talented writer and storyteller and wanted to see what else she could do—the fact that this book was a Printz Honor Book only made me more intrigued.
And I was pretty happy with what I got.
It takes place in 1906 in the Adirondacks (aka northeastern New York), in a small rural town—a setting which was simultaneously fascinating and depressing to read about. Fascinating because I’ve never read anything with that setting, so everything was fresh and new to me. Depressing because Mattie and a lot of her neighbors live in poverty, so watching them struggle just to lead a basic existence was pretty rough for me. The setting proved to be such a great narrative tool, though, because while you want Mattie to be able to leave and live a bigger life, at the same time you can totally understand why it doesn’t seem possible for her to do so.
Mattie herself was easy to sympathize with, maybe because she loves books and words so much. She’s one of those characters that you can’t help but root for as she tries to balance her sense of responsibility for her family with her own desires and dreams. There is a bit of a romance in the story, but it’s not your typical YA type—it’s a little more bittersweet. Oh, and can I just say hallelujah for a YA with a completely platonic male friend?
The only thing that bugged me about the book was the way it skipped back and forth between the past and the present. It wasn’t done in an especially clear way, so when I got to a new chapter I was constantly confused about which time I was in. I think the problem was that the two time periods were only four or so months apart, so there wasn’t that much to delineate them.
Overall, a perfectly lovely book. I did feel like there were a few unresolved issues and that the author took the easy way out with some things, but still, it’s definitely a book worth reading.
You guys. I just really liked this book. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it was the best book I’ve read within the last few months. Which iYou guys. I just really liked this book. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it was the best book I’ve read within the last few months. Which is not to say it was perfect, because I had a few issues with it, but I just got so sucked into this book and had no desire to put it down.
Meg has got issues, that’s for sure, what with her drinking, drug use, low-cut shirts, authority issues, illegal activities, panic attacks, and blue hair. And yet, for whatever reason, I immediately connected with her. I think it’s something in the way she’s so honest with herself and with others—she doesn’t BS her way around or usually let others get away with it either. Plus, she’s got this smart-aleck mouth that I can’t help but admire.
John’s got his share of issues as well, although it took longer for them to become obvious. He’s got his anger management problem, and his bridge obsession, and his tendencies towards jealousy and pettiness. But I liked him too, for the most part. He does one thing at the end that really pissed me off, and he never totally worked his way back into my good graces after that, but I just try to pretend like that part didn’t happen so I can go on liking him.
Honestly, considering both Meg’s and John’s issues, I’m a little worried about the future of their relationship. They both have this tendency to poke at each other’s sore spots and lash out without thinking. But I really want it to work out for them. And since they’re fictional, I have every hope that it does.
I was a little disappointed in the very end, though. I feel like the resolution fell slightly flat. The rest of the book was full of tension and drama and barely restrained passion, so I felt like the final resolution was too quick and calm and easy in comparison. It just didn’t seem to fit Meg and John, I guess. I did like, however, that it was Meg who puts things back together in the end. Not a girl to wait around for others to do things is our Meg. Yet another reason I loved her.
Overall, like I said at the beginning, I was a total sucker for this book. I’ve been in the mood for teen drama lately, and this book definitely fit the bill. But what I like about it was that it wasn't just drama for drama’s sake—there was unexpected substance and sincerity to the story and the characters too.
I'm getting more into this series, I think. I still like Mercy better than Anna, but overall, the whole Alpha and Omega bit is growing on me. Not thatI'm getting more into this series, I think. I still like Mercy better than Anna, but overall, the whole Alpha and Omega bit is growing on me. Not that I disliked it before or anything--it just never quite clicked like the Mercy Thompson series did. But these books are just so well written and so engrossing that I can't help wanting to read them. ...more
So here's the thing. I rather enjoyed this story, but now I'm like, what's left for the full length novels? Because it seems like all the best tensionSo here's the thing. I rather enjoyed this story, but now I'm like, what's left for the full length novels? Because it seems like all the best tension between Anna and Charles has already been resolved, and we all know romantic tension is the only thing that keeps me reading half the time. Also, what kind of name is Charles for an alpha wolf? "Charles" is a little too urbane and dashing to suit, I think. Anyway, despite my hesitancy, I'll give "Cry Wolf" a shot and see how it goes. ...more
**spoiler alert** So this is one of those books that I feel didn’t quite live up to its potential. It really had some awesome things going for it, num**spoiler alert** So this is one of those books that I feel didn’t quite live up to its potential. It really had some awesome things going for it, number one being that it takes place in ancient China. On top of that, it has some Chinese mythology and fantasy elements going on, which were pretty fascinating. And I really liked the storyline with Zhong Ye, the bad guy, and thought that whole thing was cool in a creepy way.
But . . . the writing never quite won me over—it never seemed to gain any real depth or insight. And honestly, the conversations usually came off as pretty trite to me. Plus, Ai Ling had a tendency to annoy me, which never bodes well for my opinion of a book. Although, I am willing to admit that it might just be a personality clash for me rather than any true flaw in her character. But really, the thing that annoyed me the most about the book *spoiler alert* is that Ai Ling gets all hot and heavy with the bad guy but doesn’t even hold hands with Chen Yong, the dreamboat. I mean, what’s up with that? It’s probably really superficial of me to care, but I need at least a tiny hint of romantic resolution in my stories, and I definitely didn’t get it here. *end spoiler*
Overall, I thought the book was alright, but I’m not sure if it would’ve held my attention if it hadn’t had all the cool Chinese stuff going for it. I’m fairly tempted to check out the next book in the series to see if it improves—because I do think it has potential. Also because I need me some romantic resolution.
Fun. That’s how I’d describe this book. A whole lot of adventurous, girl-power fun. It’s not unlike Charlie’s Angels, if Charlie’s Angels happened toFun. That’s how I’d describe this book. A whole lot of adventurous, girl-power fun. It’s not unlike Charlie’s Angels, if Charlie’s Angels happened to take place in a steampunk Victorian England. But this book one-ups even the Angels, since the Friday Society girls handle their own mystery solving rather than relying on a man to give them directions. And that’s kinda the point of this book—the three girls, who are assistants to famous men in their day-to-day lives, don’t need men to make their plans, solve problems, and kick butt when it comes to their crime fighting. The blurb on the cover flap pretty much says it all: “An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns and the heroines who use them all.”
Cora, Nellie, and Michiko are pure awesomeness. They each have their own set of talents that come together to make them an unstoppable team—Cora and her problem solving, Nellie and her ability to get out of tricky situations, and Michiko and her fighting. And what I love most about them is that they never really doubt their own worth and skills. Despite living in a society where women are second-class citizens, these three girls know they’re intelligent and don’t let others convince them otherwise. Not a group of shrinking violets, these three. Just take a look at the cover art. At first, I wasn’t that fond of the cover, but after reading the book, I think it captures the girls and their attitude perfectly.
The only thing that semi-annoyed me about the book was the writing style. This is probably just me being nitpicky, but the writing came off as a little too informal. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing that’s more casual, and I do think a casual style fits this book—it’s just that I think the book took that style a little too far sometimes. Occasionally, I felt like I was trapped in the movie Clueless or something, and things that would sound normal if they were spoken didn’t always come across with the same fluidity when they were written down.
Overall, a light, adventurous mystery filled with awesome girls kicking butt. I’m definitely interested in finding out what these three get up to next.
The thing is, I went into this book already knowing how it ends. So I was bracing myself for the ending from practically the first page. As a result .The thing is, I went into this book already knowing how it ends. So I was bracing myself for the ending from practically the first page. As a result . . . I wasn't nearly as miffed at the ending as I was expecting to be. I was actually kind of fine with it, actually. Sure, it wasn't the ending I would've preferred, but all around, it all came together a whole lot less depressingly than I was expecting. I feel like my expectations were so impossibly low that the book couldn't help but be more or less a pleasant surprise.
So, actually, it wasn't the ending that resulted in the two-star rating. It was the fact that aside from the parts of the book with Becky and Felix together, the rest was so impossibly slow. And boring. I honestly did not care one bit about Becky's perfect Mormon-mommy lifestyle. I just really didn't. So I felt like I was dragging myself through the pages just to get to the next scene with Becky and Felix. Because, boy, do those two have chemistry. And they're witty in that wonderful way that only fiction characters can be--always spot on, with just the right timing and delivery. But since Shannon Hale wrote the scenes between them so ridiculously well, it was always a let down to be forced back into Becky's day-to-day life.
All in all, I think my general thoughts are basically, "At least it didn't suck as much as I was expecting." Which is more than I can say for some other books I've read. ...more