Simone and Hannah are identical twins who were adopted shortly after their birth. They meet for the first time at dance camp where they swap places. S...moreSimone and Hannah are identical twins who were adopted shortly after their birth. They meet for the first time at dance camp where they swap places. Simone needs a break from serious dancing, and Hannah wants to convince her parents that dancing full time is right for her, so after the camp ends the swap continues.
Pirouette is a perfect book for fans of The Parent Trap. And really, who is not a fan of The Parent Trap? Also, dancing. Lots of great dancing. If you are a fan of The Parent Trap and a fan of So You Think You Can Dance, Breaking Pointe or Australia's Dance Academy then Pirouette will be your perfect storm.
Pirouette, like the shows mentioned, is light and fun. It made me smile.(less)
Into That Forest is the story of two 19th-century Tasmanian girls who are adopted by Tasmanian tigers after a devastating flood. I found the first hal...moreInto That Forest is the story of two 19th-century Tasmanian girls who are adopted by Tasmanian tigers after a devastating flood. I found the first half of this book to be really interesting. The girls slowly go native. They begin to lose their language, fear humans, and adopt the tigers' form of communication. The second half of the book was less satisfying and sad. The girls have a difficult time readjusting to human life and it all ends very tragically, for both the girls and the tigers. (less)
Addison Coleman lives in a compound with individuals who have supernatural mind powers. They can always tell if someone is telling the truth or influence another person's mood. Addison is a Searcher. She can see the futures that may occur is she makes one choice or another. Addison is told that her parents are getting divorced, and she has the choice to stay in the compound with her mom or leave and live life as a Norm with her dad. So Addison searches. What follows is the story of her two possible futures.
Everything about this book came to together just right for me. I really liked Addison. I liked being in her head I liked her friends. I liked the way the paranormal elements were developed. I love a book that has a lot of normal and a little bit of weird. This fit perfectly. The two futures dovetail nicely and set up quite a bit of dramatic tension for the reader. Because the reader is privy to both futures she or he knows much more than the characters. (less)
I've been curious about Kathryn Davis since I heard about her novel, The Thin Place, so I was excited t...moreReview originally published at Red Letter Reads
I've been curious about Kathryn Davis since I heard about her novel, The Thin Place, so I was excited to get her newest, Duplex. I knew it would be inventive and original, and it certainly is. Davis creates a world that is like our own but with robots, sorcerers, and a bear-baby. The synopsis might sound like a typical pulply urban fantasy, but it's true literary fiction. Be warned: Duplex is weird. And I mean really weird. And I even like weird stuff. I love Franz Kafka and Eugene O'Neill; The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite books. Actually, Duplex kind of reminds me of Ray Bradbury's work. Like The Martian Chronicles, Duplex reads more like a series of loosely connected stories than a traditional novel. Also, the tone of Duplex is similar to some of Ray Bradbury's writing. Kathryn Davis keeps things very cool and detached. That tone is definitely intentional, but I can see how some readers would be disappointed with how disconnected they feel from the characters. This is one of those books that is going to receive all kinds of praise from a certain group of readers, but it's also going to lose a lot of people. I think if you want to read this book prepare for it to upend your expectations--if that's possible.
Grade: C+ Read Instead: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury(less)
Delia has had the ability to see ghosts for most of her life, but Shadow is different. Shadow is haunting Delia with a purpose. Gabe is a detective with the San Francisco police. He is hunting a serial killer. The same serial killer his father hunted thirty years prior.
Set during the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, Delia's Shadow is a combination of many genres--a historical mystery with paranormal elements. I think it works, although, as with many mysteries, the character development is secondary to plot development. I enjoyed the historical elements--the aftermath of the great 1906 earthquake, the visit to the Exposition. The paranormal elements are central to the case and not just thrown into the mix for good measure.
There is one stylistic element about this book that really bothered me. The narration switched between Delia and Gabe's viewpoints. Delia's portions are written in first person, but Gabe's are written in third person singular, and I found the switch between first and third person distracting. I don't mind switching perspectives, but I think the narration would have been more seamless if it were written in either third person or first person and not in both.
Anthony Lockwood and his associates hunt and contain ghosts, and they have a lot to prove. Although Lockwood, Lucy, and George are extremely talented, they are also the only Psychic Investigation Agency in London without an adult at the helm. You see, only a few talented young people can see or sense ghosts, and as one ages one's talents lessen. Thus the young, by necessity, are on the front lines.
I loved everything about this book. The characters are fabulous. I can't wait to read more about Lockwood, Lucy, and George. They have wormed their way into my heart. I adore Lucy's narration. She tells a good story. The world that Stroud creates is also spectacular. "The Problem," as it is called, has been afflicting folks for about fifty years now, and there are whole industries built up around ghost control. I really was impressed with how fully developed Lucy's world is. The writing, the atmosphere, the pacing in The Screaming Staircase all come together perfectly.
Most of all, this book is scary. These ghosts are terrifying. I listened to the audio book and, while the narration is just lovely, I cannot condone nighttime listening, unless you want to be totally creeped out. I did not listen to my own advice and was lying awake in my bed on more than one occasion.
If you are looking for a Halloween read, this would be perfect. My only word of caution, this book is marketed as a middle-grade novel, but it really is scary (see above paragraph), so if your middle-grade age kid is easily terrified maybe read it aloud together, in the daytime, with the lights on.
The Dragon Heir is more about Madison (well, she kind of shares the spotlight with Jason) than any of the other characters. It was pretty clear to me how Madison fit into the whole scheme of events, but it was still fun to see how she got there.
Some of the other characters make some pretty strange decisions. What was with sending Linda and Leander off to Ravensgill and leaving all the kids to fend for themselves?
The book comes to a pretty spectacular conclusion, with a few big surprises.
In one of the more thrilling moments at BEA, the Simon & Schuster guy reached behind the counter for me to pull out the bound manuscript of Lauren...moreIn one of the more thrilling moments at BEA, the Simon & Schuster guy reached behind the counter for me to pull out the bound manuscript of Lauren DeStefano's newest novel. Because of this auspicious beginning I wanted to love the book, but I ended up just thinking it was okay.
Morgan lives on Internment, a city floating in the sky high above the ground. Their religion says that the God of the Sky raised their city from the sky. Perhaps there are some ties here to the City of Enoch? It's not expressly stated, but I couldn't help but wonder if that was part of DeStefano's inspiration. Interment is safe, small, and highly regulated, but when a girl Morgan's age is murdered everything begins to change for this young dreamer.
My reaction to Perfect Ruin is pretty similar to my reaction to DeStefano's Wither. Both books have an interesting set-up and the characters are fairly well-developed (although the most interesting character only appears near the end of the story), but the plot kind of stalls for me. I want a bit more action, I guess.
I like the way that DeStefano handles religion. I think that the religion gave the society a really solid base, and it provided much of the motivation for the story. It really helped clarify how these characters think and why they feel what they feel. The religion, like the religion in Wither, certainly contributes to the claustrophobic, sinister mood of the book.
I have a feeling that some reader might take issue with the whole betrothed from birth aspect of the story. It didn't really bother me, meaning that I bought Morgan's and Basil's affection for one another. But the whole "society determines your companion for life" has certainly been done a whole lot recently.
Bottom Line: I feel kind of indifferent toward the book. I read the whole thing, and I was curious (but not eager) to see what would happen. However, and this is exactly what happened with Wither, I'm not sure I'm curious enough about The Internment Chronicles to read the sequels. (less)
Wizard Seph McCauley is untrained and alone, although with a very large trust fund. He finds himself at the Havens, a school for troubled boys, thanks...moreWizard Seph McCauley is untrained and alone, although with a very large trust fund. He finds himself at the Havens, a school for troubled boys, thanks to an explosive magical accident. The Havens, with its creepy, lingering alumni and sinister headmaster, is not a very delightful place.
The Wizard Heir is a great follow-up to The Warrior Heir. I loved how the book begins with a new character, and that the reader doesn't know when, or even if, the characters from the earlier novel will make their appearance. (The action really picks up when they do arrive on the scene.)
I'm really enjoying Cinda Williams Chima and listening to something new at night. I think the reader of this audio book does a fantastic job. I'm looking forward to the rest in the series. (less)
I have actually never read anything by the accomplished Cynthia Voigt, and, if I wanted to be wowed, I probably shouldn't have started with this book....moreI have actually never read anything by the accomplished Cynthia Voigt, and, if I wanted to be wowed, I probably shouldn't have started with this book. The Book of Lost Things is fun, but not jaw-dropping.
Max's parents are actors who own a theater troupe. They get an invitation to come to India, and, as they are leaving, something goes wrong, and Max is left behind. Along with his grandmother, Max seeks his parents while trying to remain independent. Good at solving problems, Max begins earning a living as a hired problem-solver.
What I liked: I really enjoyed how everything came together. I liked how all the people that Max meets are somehow connected even though they don't know it. I like how Max dubs himself a Solutioneer. I liked the costumes and how Max was a theater person deep down.
What I didn't like: All this talk of independence. Max is only 12, and he just didn't feel 12. At all.
I have now listened to all of Tamora Pierce's novels. Well, that is until Battle Magic comes out later this month. It took me over four years to liste...moreI have now listened to all of Tamora Pierce's novels. Well, that is until Battle Magic comes out later this month. It took me over four years to listen to all 29 novels and along the way, Tammy became, by far, my most read author.
Melting Stones tells of Evvy's adventures. Briar, Sandry, Tris, and Daja are dealing with the Empress in The Will of the Empress at this same time. Evvy and Rosethorn journey to Emelan to investigate dying plants and bad water. What they discover is much more dangerous, and Evvy's rock magic is essential to the island's survival.
I enjoyed going to a new land. Tamora Pierce always concocts an interesting setting. Evvy makes a lot of mistakes. She's incredibly impulsive, and, for me, sometimes a bit obnoxious. I always enjoy the Full Cast Audio editions, but Evvy's voice was a little whiny for me. Luvo is an interesting (and strange) character.
If I'm honest, this was probably my least favorite of Tamora Pierce's novels, but in all I love her tremendous oeuvre. (less)
I stumbled upon Cat Patrick's debut novel, Forgotten, when it was hot of the press in July of 2011. I enjoyed it and thought it had a terrific, unusua...moreI stumbled upon Cat Patrick's debut novel, Forgotten, when it was hot of the press in July of 2011. I enjoyed it and thought it had a terrific, unusual premise, and so I picked up Ms. Patrick's newest book Just Like Fate at BEA this year. Just Like Fate is a collaboration between Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young. I've never read anything by Ms. Young, but her books have been on my radar, and based on how much I enjoyed this one, I might have to pick one of them up soon.
Caroline's grandmother is dying. Caroline makes one decision, whether to stay at her grandmother's side or go to a party, and from there the book takes the reader in two different directions. Just Like Fate has a Sliding Doors-type premise. (Do teens know about Sliding Doors? 1998 was a long time ago. I am old.)What I loved most about the book is that neither decision made for a wholly terrible existence for Caroline (and can I add how much I loved her nickname, Coco)--both good and bad things happened in each scenario.
It's been a long time since I've plowed through a book so quickly (especially one in print). I read Just Like Fate in two days. The writing is good, and Caroline is a great narrator. I didn't mind being in her head at all. I'm curious to know a little more about the collaboration between the two authors because the book is so seamless in its style and voice. Perhaps the best compliment of all is that now that I've finished it I'm itching to read more books by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young.
My favorite part of Starry River of the Sky was all the stories the characters told to one another. It made me think about the power of story and how humans love stories. We love to tell stories and hear stories. Stories teach us about other people in other lands, and they teach us about ourselves. It's fitting that my sister, who is a storyteller, gave this book to me.
I also enjoyed the beautiful woodcuts and illustrations throughout the book. There is something special about reading a beautiful book.
The book club discussion for this book was fun. I wanted something light and enjoyable for the busy month of August, and I think this was a good pick.
When The World Was Flat And We Were in Love starts out a little slow. And it's full of those young adult tropes I'm getting a little tired of: mysteri...moreWhen The World Was Flat And We Were in Love starts out a little slow. And it's full of those young adult tropes I'm getting a little tired of: mysterious new guy, strange, sudden connection, visionary dreams, stereotypical friends, small town, absentee mother. So the test became whether or not Ingrid Jonach's debut young adult novel could impress me despite all of that. I stuck with the book because I had this feeling that the pay off was going to be worth it. When the secrets--inspired by Albert Einstein's theories--began to be revealed the book got much more exciting and suddenly had enough that was unlike what I'd read before to be enjoyable and thought provoking. There were a couple of reversals that I was not expecting. I did have some serious issues with Lillie's friends, especially Sylv whose crassness is completely unnecessary. Lillie's mom, however, stepped it up and turned out to be more conscientious parent than I expected. Lillie and Tom aren't destine to become two of my favorite characters of all time, but I liked them well enough.What made the book worth reading, for me, were the fantastical elements. When the World Was Flat is out September 3, 2013.
I quite liked this fantasy with a Russian flare. Leigh Bardugo introduces readers to Ravka. A country divided by the Shadow Fold, a swath of darkness...moreI quite liked this fantasy with a Russian flare. Leigh Bardugo introduces readers to Ravka. A country divided by the Shadow Fold, a swath of darkness where no light can penetrate inhabited by horrific monsters. Those trained in magic, the Grisha, help fight the Shadow Fold and Ravka's enemies. In Shadow and Bone Alina is discovered to have Grisha powers.
There were several reversals in this story that I was not expecting at all. I liked how Bardugo set up an extreme contrast between the Royal and Grisha palaces and the common folk. The volcra and the Shadow Fold are a very interesting concept. I'm intrigued by the structure of the Grisha subculture and the levels of servitude built into Ravka's class system. This book also has a fair amount of court intrigue. What made this book even more of a pleasure to read is how beautiful the book itself is with its map and decorative illustrations.
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy has a terrific premise: 17-year-old ballerina Marina Dukovskaya is...moreReview originally published at www.redletterreads.com
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy has a terrific premise: 17-year-old ballerina Marina Dukovskaya is an up and coming ballerina in Moscow. Her mother, Svetlana Dukovskaya is one of Russia's prima donnas, and although past her prime, she is still very much in the spotlight. But one day Sveta disappears, taken by the KGB, and Marina and her father must flee to America. This book is full of ballet, the KGB, the Cold War, mobsters, fugitives, international espionage. There are a lot of things to love about this book! However, I wanted more of almost everything. More dancing. More intrigue. More character development. And, if we are going to have it at all, more of the supernatural. This is a slim tome, tallying to just 288 pages, and I really wish it was longer so that we could have more of all that great stuff. I felt like I was reading most of the book through a thin veil. It was as if I could never quite get a complete glimpse of any of the characters or the harrowing obstacles they had to navigate. This is probably exactly how Marina felt in a new country with new customs and a new language. On top of navigating all of that, Marina has no idea who to trust, where to turn, or how her visions of the future will come to pass. Probably best of all, Elizabeth Kiem's writing made me believe that Marina was not an American girl recast as a Russian, but a real Russian fugitive.
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, along with her mother and younger brother, is taken from her home in Lithuania and sent to a Siberian work camp.
I had...moreIn 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, along with her mother and younger brother, is taken from her home in Lithuania and sent to a Siberian work camp.
I had heard all kinds of praise for Ruta Sepetys's debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, and it received a long list of awards, which I think were well-deserved. The book is well-written, gripping, and sad. I loved how Sepetys describes the way the Lithuanian prisoners worked together and tried to help each other despite their dire circumstances. I poorly written survival novel makes me cringe, but a well-written survival novel can be a beautiful thing. Ruta Sepetys took her inspiration for this book from her own family history. The horrors of in the world in 1941 were numerous, to put it mildly, and the plight of those exiled and imprisoned by Stalin are often too easily forgotten. This novel tells of a time and a place in history that definitely deserves a story.
I'd like to get my hands on Sepetys second book Out of the Easy. I've heard good things about that one too.