This is the first book by Bernard Cornwell that I've had the pleasure to read. And, pleasure it was. :o)
It's true, there are no great surprises and th...moreThis is the first book by Bernard Cornwell that I've had the pleasure to read. And, pleasure it was. :o)
It's true, there are no great surprises and the story follows the familiar historical romance trope of downtrodden heroine who is really much more than at first she appears and who, in the end, is rescued by that tantalizing combination of love and a secret, noble past.
Dorcas Slythe thinks she's the daughter of an epically nasty Puritan father at the start of the Protestant Revolution. Of course, she's not. She's the secret love-child and fabulously wealthy heiress to the aristocrat who was once the most handsome, charismatic nobleman in Europe.
About to be married to a grotesque, greedy, slug of a man, she escapes to find her true ancestry, destiny, and love--a handsome red haired Lord whom she met while illicitly bathing naked in a stream.
There are bad guys who seem good, good guys who seem bad, and even super-secret jewels. It's everything a girl could want to curl up with on a cold winter's night with her cat and a roaring fire...until her own lover gets home a bit later.... ;o)
I had a really hard time rating this book about Eva Nine, possibly the last human girl alive in an alien world....moreWondLa = Wonderful?
Meh, not so much.
I had a really hard time rating this book about Eva Nine, possibly the last human girl alive in an alien world.
There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about The Search For WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi: the main character, Eva, is very engaging, as is her "Muther" robot and many of the creatures she meets on her quest to find other humans and to escape the evil huntsman, Beesteel.
The story started as strong as any I've ever read. I recall--explicitly--saying out-loud, "Oh, yay! It's going to be good!" after reading the first chapter. Even through the first hundred pages of character introduction and world building, I was seriously feeling the five stars.
And then, the "middle".
Two hundred pages of repetitive world-building. I found myself asking, "Okay...is something, ANYTHING significant going to happen any time soon?
And then, when the odd thing did, it was over so fast and so anti-climactic (Oh, look! She escaped Beesteel, again....), that frankly, I started getting annoyed.
Fortunately, I kept at it and was rewarded with a satisfactory ending. Over-all, though, I feel this book held such great promise but for me, was cumulatively underwhelming.
I give the first 100 pages five stars, the next 200 pages, 2 stars, and the final 100 pages, 4 stars. Add to that a hearty five stars for the illustrations (I loved those--all of them), and we eek out a weak 3 stars on the whole. (less)
A few weeks back, I ranted a bit (okay, a lot), about the absence of aspirational heroes in Middle-Grade fiction these days. For the most part, I’m s...more A few weeks back, I ranted a bit (okay, a lot), about the absence of aspirational heroes in Middle-Grade fiction these days. For the most part, I’m still feeling tantram-y about the general state of things in this regard.
WONDER, by R.J. Palacio, goes a long way to correct this.
Let’s face it: there are books and then, there are BOOKS! And, by the latter category, I mean those rare gems that not only captivate us but also change us—-for the better—-by us having had the good fortune to have read them.
WONDER is such a wonder. It tilted my orbit, just a touch, and here’s why:
The story is about Auggie, a normal kid with a horrifying facial deformity. Yes, I said *deformity* although, like everyone else in the story, the impact of that word diminishes for the reader as we, too, get to know this remarkable little man.
The story unfolds through the eyes of first, Auggie, then in sections devoted to the people who know and love him. It’s a study in perspective—-how each character views and copes with the daunting challenges of everyday life when you’re always the center of unwanted, and sometimes hostile, attention.
The writing is sublime perfection. Simple, and yet, so, so powerful. Palacio’s voice carries the sophisticated eloquence needed to lift such a melancholy story into the realm of inspiration.
One of my favorite passages:
“Why do I have to be so ugly, Mommy?” I whispered. “No, baby, you’re not…” “I know I am.” She kissed me all over my face. She kissed my eyes that came down too far. She kissed my cheeks that looked punched in. She kissed my tortoise mouth. She said soft words that I know were meant to help me, but words can’t change my face.”
My heart aches, just typing that.
There is so much wisdom in this book. I’m in no way surprised that so many have plucked pearls from its text. I am particularly fond of this one:
“I think that there should be rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”
Wouldn’t we all be better people if we gave more of those and received at least one?
Read this book. You’ll be grateful you did. (less)
I really enjoyed this book. As others have mentioned, the tone reminds me of "Lemony Snicket", with its "Dear Reader" authorial intrusion (which, I lo...moreI really enjoyed this book. As others have mentioned, the tone reminds me of "Lemony Snicket", with its "Dear Reader" authorial intrusion (which, I love). It even features its own 'series of unfortunate events'. Great cast of characters, loads of chocolate cake and carrots (nevermind--you'll see how the two go together), and a rollicking pace that kept me planted as firmly as Goblin garbage in the Underworld until I'd turned the last page. There's not a tween topside who won't enjoy this book. Very highly recommend it. (less)
This is, quite simply, a great book. When Gabriella (Gabby)'s young life is cut short thanks to a combination of drunk dri...moreWhat a breath of fresh air!
This is, quite simply, a great book. When Gabriella (Gabby)'s young life is cut short thanks to a combination of drunk driving and inopportune texting, death takes a turn for the better (or, more interesting, at least).
There are so many things I liked about this novel. The opening, with Gabby narrating her own funeral (in a flawless MG voice, no less), had me hooked, straight away. The writing is really solid. Johannes is clearly a natural for this genre.
And, I'd like to add that I was unusually impressed by the creativity of it all. Gabby's "Havenly" world really came to life.
I was also very happy to see how her character arc developed, quite naturally, as the unusually fresh plot unfolded.
My only reservation, and the only reason I can't give ON THE BRIGHT SIDE a full 5 stars is the prevalence of puns. I'm not saying that they're bad puns, but when one page alone had no less than seven ("White Carpet", "SKYweekly", "Vera Wing", "Calvin Divine", "Dolce & Nirvana", "Jonah's Brothers"), I literally cringed. What, at first, is a really fun play on words, began to grate, as time went on.
Other than that, it's a good, fun, clean read for tweens and teens. 4 Stars!(less)
It was a snowy night in January when I curled up with Hapenny Magick and, I'm glad to say, it warmed my heart, indeed.
What a charming book! I must pause here for a moment to rave about the illustrations. They are, in short, breath-taking. The whimsy of Jennifer's voice is infused into Pat Ann's illustrations. Her characters really come to life--and what characters they are!
Mean, spiteful Gelbane, the Guardian of our feisty heroine, Maewyn, storms off the page and Callum, the wizard, has a beard so flowing, I swear it really did tickle my nose ;o).
This brings me to the book, itself: a more engrossing adventure for children, I have not read, in years. Hapenny Magick is a somewhat traditional tale, with poor orphaned Maewyn left at the clutches of evil Gelbane at the start, but she is no shrinking violet waiting for her Prince to save the day. No. When a strange, talking crow lures her away from enslavement to the comparative bliss of a Wood Wizard's cozy home, Mae discovers that, small as she may be, her destiny is great.
I don't want to ruin the story by leaving any spoilers, but some of the things I love best about Mae are her courage, sense of duty, and sense of self-reliance. Before it's over, Mae needs to save herself, her friends, and her whole village from an army of hungry Trolls, and it'll take more than just her magickal talents, to do it.
Does Mae find the strength to persevere and triumph? I'll leave you to find out.
Hapenny Magick is a thoroughly engaging, lovely fairy tale for children of all ages. Jennifer's skillful prose weaves Magick and whimsy into every line. What a joy it was to read this book. (less)
HIDDEN by Shalini Boland is a YA paranormal romance that delivers, and then some. Madison Greene is the Goth girl we all secretly (or not so secretly)...moreHIDDEN by Shalini Boland is a YA paranormal romance that delivers, and then some. Madison Greene is the Goth girl we all secretly (or not so secretly), want to be: tough, cool, smart. She's also dealing with some very serious issues: foster-care, borderline-abusive adults, and keeping her little bro, Ben, safe and as carefree as possible in a very dodgy environment. Now, throw in a cadre of ancient, breathtakingly beautiful vampires, and the stage is set for intrigue to ensue.
So far, we've covered some of the things you might expect in the genre but, here are some things that I think make Hidden a cut-above:
- The history of the Vampires. It's hard to detail too much without including any spoilers but, let's just say, their story, all on its own, would be enough for me to recommend this book. Boland masterfully weaves snippets of RL Turkish history and the magnificent Cappadocian caves with a new twist on traditional Vampire lore. I'm impressed, and now I need to visit Turkey.
- Alexandre. Yes, yes, he's beautiful, and powerful, and all things sexy as every good vampire hottie should be. But, he's also achingly vulnerable. He needs Maddy as much as she needs him and together, they complete each other. Again, Boland knocks the romance side of the story out of the park.
- The Intrigue. There were parts of the story where I found myself really miffed with Ms. Boland. Not because she failed to engage me, but because I really needed to put HIDDEN down to go off to take care of other RL obligations, but couldn't! WHAT is behind that cellar door? WHAT is buried under the Turkish desert? WHO is screaming and WHAT are they screaming AT??? That's just a partial list, but you get the point. Is this book a bona-fide "page-turner"? Yes, indeed it is.
So, with that, a hearty FIVE STAR recommendation from me. :o)(less)
SKIN DEEP is quite simply, a beautiful book. It's the story of Jenna, the girl who was horribly disfigured in a tragic car accident, and Ryan, the gyp...moreSKIN DEEP is quite simply, a beautiful book. It's the story of Jenna, the girl who was horribly disfigured in a tragic car accident, and Ryan, the gypsy traveller who's forced to be more parent than child to his bi-polar Mom.
There are so many things to love about this story: for starters, the title is perfect as the theme of the novel is really about learning the layers of beauty, and how it can bloom or get twisted, the deeper you go. One of the things I liked most was how well each character is developed--even the baddie, Stephen Carlisle, has his reasons.
Throughout the story, characters act heroically, and terribly, each according to their personal journey and their circumstances at the time. Sort of like how real life works, huh?
Imo, it's this sublime craftsmanship--Jarratt's ability to reflect real life at its most personal and challenging--which catapults SKIN DEEP to a higher level. This is a very smart book with a very big heart and I recommend it highly. (less)
This is one book that stuck in my mind long after I'd read it. In short, it's hilarious. Whether you love your MIL to bits, or would just like to see...moreThis is one book that stuck in my mind long after I'd read it. In short, it's hilarious. Whether you love your MIL to bits, or would just like to see her dashed TO BITS, there's something in here for anyone with in-laws. I enjoyed it very much. (less)
OooOOOooh! I really love this book. Shalini's voice is addictive! This is the type of book that you'll find yourself going back to, reading over and o...moreOooOOOooh! I really love this book. Shalini's voice is addictive! This is the type of book that you'll find yourself going back to, reading over and over, far into the night. Really, I can't say enough good things!(less)