It’s not often I read historical books on the Revolutionary War, even less often that I read books on slavery. While I live in Massachusetts a state rIt’s not often I read historical books on the Revolutionary War, even less often that I read books on slavery. While I live in Massachusetts a state rich with history, especially pertaining to the Revolutionary War, and I love that history, it has never been one of those eras that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. So when given the choice I’ll pick up a book on almost any other time period. I am so glad I didn’t pass on Chains.
Chains takes place at the onset of the Revolutionary War. Isabel and her little sister Ruth, who were supposed to be freed after their owner Miss Mary Finch died, were instead sold to the Lockton’s, Loyalists living in New York City. As the British take over the city Isabel struggles to determine who she can trust and how to get out of the hopeless situation she is in.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the openings of each chapter where a quote, advertisement or news article excerpt from the time period was used. I’m a sucker for quotes, so I was won over right away, but each quote was carefully chosen and represented the theme or issue that that chapter dealt with. They really gave you a good context of the mind set during that time.
I liked Isabel. Not only was she a strong character, who had her weaknesses, she was someone you could look up to. Despite her helpless situation she always remained strong. Even when she had every reason to give up she didn’t. What makes Isabel even more amazing is her ability to put others needs before hers. That’s not something I come across that often in a character.
I think part of what makes this book so successful, is not just a good protagonist but a great antagonist. Mrs. Lockton is one of those characters to love to hate and yet at the same time you can almost feel some sympathy for her at times too. She’s got her own set of problems and is a really well thought out character and used to the fullest.
Two reasons to why I found this book fascinating (asides from my comments above). One, this wasn’t your typical slavery book. Almost every book I’ve ever read on slavery had been set in or around the Civil War. Two, this story was (mostly) told from the Loyalist point of view, again something I’ve not read much on. Typically when I get a book on the Revolutionary war it’s from the Rebel’s point of view. And while Isabel wasn’t a Rebel or a Loyalist, she lived with a Loyalist family and so we get a story that is really told more a Tory’s mindset. It was very interesting and eye opening.
I’m amazed at the detail and accuracy of this book. I can’t even begin to image how much research had to be done to successfully write Chains. I’d love to see Ms. Anderson’s files on her research for Chains. I whole-heartedly recommend this book. If it’s not on your to read list, add it. ...more
There's a reason why I didn't like Vanishing Act, and everything that was done in Vanishing Act was done in My Sister's Keeper too. I wasn't capturedThere's a reason why I didn't like Vanishing Act, and everything that was done in Vanishing Act was done in My Sister's Keeper too. I wasn't captured by the characters, asides from Anna. And I'm still not convinced the author's multiple POVs really works to its fullest advantage through a lot of the book....more
I wasn't enthralled by the book like I thought I'd be. And this might be because I was listening as opposed to reading but the POV shifts drove me nutI wasn't enthralled by the book like I thought I'd be. And this might be because I was listening as opposed to reading but the POV shifts drove me nuts. Every time I thought we were in one girls head suddenly we'd be in another's and I'd have to refocus. I'm not a fan of multiple POV characters in Middle Grade fiction. And at the end we had a third POV (the little brother's) thrown in which I don't think should have been used. I know he was needed for the author to reach the outcome she wanted, but I really wish she hadn't decided to throw in that 3rd POV character....more
I have a hard time finding good time travel books. I’ve read my fair share, but I can’t name a single time travel book that I love. I think in part II have a hard time finding good time travel books. I’ve read my fair share, but I can’t name a single time travel book that I love. I think in part I am overly critical when it comes to time travel books since it’s what I write. The couple that I will say I enjoyed are not new books. Another Shore by Nancy Bond written and 1988 and Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer written in 1969. That said, I did enjoy this book overall. It had plenty of problems. The set up was (long winded but) presented a strong and interesting concept and once the author created his time travel rules he followed them—little pet peeve of mine.
After the death of his mother in a car accident Sam and his father move into an old house where his father sets up a bookstore specializing in antique books. Sam’s father disappears and the adventure begins there as Sam decides, unintentionally at first, to go back in time to search for him.
There are some good plot elements in this book, but they get lost at times in a very slow start and a few tediously slow passages towards the end. Within all the slow parts is a very clever plot, and a very different spin on time travel. The “way” Sam travels from past to present is clever and actually ties into the whole story. The author sets up specific guidelines/rules and sticks to them, which I appreciated. My favorite plot element was the fact that Sam 1) moved back and forth between the past and present and 2) he never went back to the same place twice. I’d have liked to see the author take fuller advantage of this (though I think I will get my wish on this count in the second book).
Sam was an okay character. He deals with self-doubt issues in the present, but is a much stronger character when he is in the past. I’d have liked to see Lily, Sam’s cousin, be introduced much sooner. She was by far the more interesting character to me, and it was when she became a part of the story that the plot started to pick up its pace. We have a variety of antagonist in the book both historical and present time. I hope that the sequel explores them more, especially Sam’s Aunt’s boyfriend.
In a nut shell this book felt more like a set up for a sequel than its own novel. A lot of editing and quicker start would have really made this book stand out as good time travel.
This novel is a translation. The author is French and this is his first children’s book. I’d love to get my hand on the French version and read it. Having attended a French high school and read my fair share of French books there are many instances in this book where I feel like the story might have been changed to fit an English translation, which might account for some of my issues with the novel.
I’m a big book cover person. I’ll pick up a bad book and read it just because of an amazing cover. I have to say this is one of the better covers I’ve seen this year. I’ve felt like this past year there’s been a lack of good cover art in children’s fiction, so it’s always nice to see an exciting cover.
If you read this book you’re going to have to be patient, really patient. The story takes about a good half of the book before it really begins. That said I still think it’s worth the read—especially if you want to study the mechanics of time travel. If you make it to the end…it’s a cliffhanger. You’ve been forewarned. You’ll want to request Gates of Time, the sequel, which I think will be a much better read.
Hidden Voices: the Orphan Musicians of Venice, by Pat Lowery Collins is a story about three orphan girls whose search for love pulls them in differentHidden Voices: the Orphan Musicians of Venice, by Pat Lowery Collins is a story about three orphan girls whose search for love pulls them in different directions. Hidden Voices follows the lives of Anetta, Luisa, and Rosalba living at the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage renowned for its extraordinary musical program. Set in early 1700s Venice in a time where choices for women were limited these girls’ musical talent offers them a chance at a better life. The girls want more than what is offered though. Anetta rejects marriage, Luisa longs for the love of a mother who abandoned her and Rosalba dreams of a forbidden romance outside the walls of the Ospedale.
Told through alternating viewpoints, Hidden Voices follows each girl as they try to obtain their dreams. The author does a wonderful job of giving the girls distinct voices and personalities that are true and believable. The reader can relate to them as their struggles are universal and carry through time.
Hidden Voices is a fictional novel based, in part, on the eighteenth century Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. Through Anetta, Luisa and Rosalba, who excel in voice and instrument, the novel seamlessly weaves in the history of Vivaldi’s early musical career. The setting is wonderfully portrayed. Venice comes to life on the pages from the orphanage to the streets and even the country side, Hidden Voices paints a vivid picture of life in the early 1700s. While full of descriptive passages that bring 18th century Venice alive, the novel does have a slow beginning. Give it time. It’s a historical novel well worth the read.
And a little side note: I love the book cover. I’ll pick up a book just because the cover catches my attention and this one encompasses everything the novel is about. Lovely....more
The story concept fascinates me, but the dialogue is awful. It's way to formal, there's way too much chit chat that slows down the pace, and it just rThe story concept fascinates me, but the dialogue is awful. It's way to formal, there's way too much chit chat that slows down the pace, and it just really really needs massive amounts of work. It's making the story hard to read the dialogue is that bad.
While the writing really needs a lot of work, I have to say the plot was enough to keep me reading. I really did like the relationship between the two characters. I just wish I could do some editing and help fix the dialogue. ...more