Category Archives: Young Adult

Spinners

Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen 1999

Another retelling, this of the Rumpelstiltskin fable.  I liked it fine.  The storyline ebbed and flowed, picking up different pieces well.  The characters’ feelings towards spinning, the baby were telling and fascinating for the reader.  It is skillful how the authors set up a lot of sympathy for the crippled spinner character but hold his wrongdoings and appearance in the story and end with his defeat.  One wonders whether to forgive his theft and presumption for the grain of pure heart he holds.

I wonder, which fairy tale is most often pondered and retold?  This and Beauty and the Beast are ones I’ve seen quite often, is there a special draw that these stories hold for an author?  Maybe a current that ties them together is the undefined identity and intentions of the villain characters, Rumpelstiltskin and the Beast.  Some authors choose to emphasize their villainy and others tell of the misrepresented soul forsaken in the sweep of history.

Personally, I think authors should feel free to take more leeway with these tales, to branch out from the hard and fast story line and make leaps of assumptions that lead to new truths.

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Beauty

Robin McKinley 1978

(This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.) Kind of nice.  This book reminded me a lot of Spindle’s End.  Please pardon me, but for whatever reason, some of McKinley’s books do not agree with me.  Mainly I feel that the core story of Beauty and the Beast was neglected and most of the emphasis is on the back story, which I suppose is understandable and likely what she was going for.  But personally I get more enjoyment out of my shady perception of the tale and the Disney depiction.

First off there was a severe separation between the life with the sisters at home and the (short) life with the Beast in the castle.  The transition’s drama and emotional upheavals didn’t seem real.  The magic, integral to the story, was left murky where it could’ve been explained, and there were weird bits like one finds at the end of Spindle’s End.  Because after all magic has to make sense a little bit.

Secondly, none of the details of the fantasy world really struck me.  I felt like McKinley much more focused on the blacksmith shop and the garden by the little country house than the lawns and gardens of the castle.  But that’s not altogether true; Beauty’s room was a nice enough place that saw some setting development.  Importantly, though, I was severely unaware of what the Beast was supposed to look like and struggled to visualize him the whole time, even after he transformed.  His past self, the character in the painting, was well-played though.  And I think the character with the best development is the horse.

Overall, there are points where this book shines and others where I was left grasping.  But in the end it did not leave me with a strikingly different interpretation or probing look at the tale that I always knew.  So, sorry Ms. McKinley, but I’d say stick with the real greats, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown.

Gentlehands

Pic courtesy of fantasticfiction.co.uk

M.E. Kerr -1978

What happens to all of those moderately successful short fiction books from decades past? I can tell that some of the titles one sees at Borders or on the library shelf will not live on past their first printing, but where do these stories go? Are they stored away in giant publishers’ archives or are they gathering dust on shelves of no-longer children or filling up boxes at thrift stores and rummage sales? Surprising that fiction could follow the way of fashion, trends ruling the tides of the market. A story seems less ephemeral than a cut of fabric to me.

Pretty good, I liked this book. One strength is how the author approaches her “imparted morals” on what makes a good or bad person and how to grow up and get your act together. I especially like the parallel drawn between the assumption that a German in Germany was responsible at least passively for the conflict and the feeling in the US during Vietnam that we should “support our own” and that any fight that our country enters must be a good one. Her novel implicitly raises the debate over the prosecution of someone for a past crime even though they may have changed into a different person.  Otherwise it is fairly short and simple; I wanted more in the way of development and complexity. Continue reading

Rose in Bloom

Louisa May Alcott, 1876

In this sequel to Eight Cousins, Rose has just come back from a two-year tour through Europe with Uncle Alec and Phebe. Eight Cousins left off when she was 14, she left for Europe when she was 18, and now she is 20. She has grown wiser and even more beautiful, and will inherit her parent’s fortune in a year.  The chemistry between the young people has changed too, which becomes evident to them, “No sooner were they shut up in a carriage, however, than a new and curious constraint seemed to fall upon the young people, for they realized, all at once, that their former playmates were men and women now.” (pg. 3)  There are many who seek her hand, especially when she tries “coming out in society” for a few months, some who are desperate, some who are foolish, and some who genuinely feel affection for her.  But it becomes evident (without even looking at the cover) that the two greatest contenders are Mac, the bookworm, and Charlie, the Prince.

It feels like the writing style changed a bit from the first book.  As if we, the reader, are growing with Rose, the writing changes focus and contains more human emotion and intrigue.

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Rapture of the Deep

Cover image courtesy of Goshen Public Library

Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy

L.A. Meyer

{Just minutes away from walking down the aisle to finally be united with her Jaimy, Jacky is snatched up again by that despicable British Intelligence.  In her wedding dress she hears the terms of her new mission: diving for the treasure of a Spanish ship that sunk in the Caribbean (because King George’s coffers are getting empty from fighting Napoleon).  The tricky part is that she must do it without the Spanish finding out, and she must dive farther than anyone has before by using a new apparatus from Boston.  In return she will receive a full pardon.

So the Nancy B. Alsop (with two new young crew members) and the HMS Dolphin (with Jaimy on-board) sail down to the West Indies to find the Santa Magdalena, where they will have happy reunions with old faces and make new friends and new enemies.}

Very good, very fun.  The seventh book in the Bloody Jack Adventures, L.A. Meyer is still delivering the same quality, novelty, and excitement.  The book before this– My Bonny Light Horseman– was very heart wrenching whereas this book sees more going right for Jacky Faber.  But the book does seem to be a little more racy, with dirtier jokes, and I would like to see more character development concerning Jaimy.  Rollicking around Havana, Cuba, the reader picks up some interesting info about her history and culture in 1807.  Upon finishing I cannot wait for the next book to come out!

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Troy

Adele Geras

{Summary found on Wikipedia.com} :  The plot focuses on several women of Troy, ranging from powerful rich maidens to the servant girls who live in the town. The women all suffer in emotional ways with the decade long war at the center of their pain. Orphan sisters Xanthe and Marpessa live in Priam’s palace as maids and surrogate daughters to Andromache and Helen, respectively.  Andromache is Hector’s wife and mother to Astynax, whom Xanthe cares for like her own child. Marpessa sees the gods but keeps to herself because she knows that people will label her “disturbed” like Hector’s sister Cassandra.

The story picks up steam when Eros hits Xanthe with a silver-blue arrow, while she is working in the Blood room (where the fallen soldiers are taken to be nursed back to health). Xanthe falls in love with Alastor, who then impregnates Marpessa, a triangle brought about because Aphrodite longs for any entertainment other than the war. Polyxena, a friend of the two sisters, is hopelessly in love with Iason, who loves Xanthe.

Geras fills in the holes between each of the subplots with gossip from the servants of Priam’s palace. They serve as the Greek chorus and converse among themselves with how lazy Helen is or how estranged from her family Andromache is. Eventually the story winds down with the inevitable wooden horse and the sacking of Troy.

Geras shines as a storyteller and multi-subplot manager. She carefully scripts each plot to tell the inner feelings of the Trojan woman. The reader knows how the story ends (the rape and pillage of Troy) but what keeps them reading is the interest in the characters’ dreams and ultimate futures.

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First ever giveaway! July 19-Aug 15

Woohoo!  For my first-ever giveaway 5 winners will get one of the following:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
3 new paperbacks*

{In Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, two races of vampires walk our world. The Moroi are alive and wield elemental magical, while the Strigoi are undead and evil–feeding on the innocent to survive. Rose Hathaway–a half-vampire with poor impulse control–is training to be a bodyguard for a Moroi princess. Learning to decapitate and stake is hard enough, but Rose’s real danger may lie in an illicit romance with one of her instructors…}

– – – – – –

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
One paperback, read once, wonderful condition!

{She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale’s likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm.}

– – – – – –

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
One paperback, read once, wonderful condition!

{Maximum Ride and her flock–Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel–are the results of a genetic experiment inflicted upon them from birth that made them recombinant DNA life-forms. Grafted with avian DNA, gifted with wings, and enhanced with the ability to fly, they are on the run from the scientists who made them. They are constantly tracked by lupine-human hybrids (Erasers) designed by the scientists to hunt them down with a childhood acquaintance of the flock’s, the newly-turned Eraser Ari, at their head. When Angel is kidnapped by the Erasers, it is up to the flock to rescue her. As they embark on their mission, fleeing from Erasers at every point, they are also faced with the question of their origins. Ultimately, an even larger and more important mission emerges for Max alone to face–saving the world itself.}

* Mucho thanks to Hannah Flynn over at Penguin Group for providing the Vampire Academy books!

All you need to do to enter is comment on this post (please include some way of reaching you if you are the winner).  You can specify which book you want to be entered for.  The giveaway is open to addresses within the U.S.

To get multiple entries:
+2 for linking to this contest (sidebar, twitter, etc.)
+3 for posting about this giveaway on your blog

This contest ends August 15 at 11:59 pm (CST), so don’t delay!

Faerie Wars

by Herbie Brennan

Very good.  Poor Henry, but he handled the circumstances very well.  So did Pyrgus, I was impressed.

{From faeriewars.com: What’s Henry to do when his parent’s marriage starts to fall apart? What can he do except get on with his summer job of cleaning out Mr Fogarty’s shed. But there’s something in that shed that will turn Henry’s whole life inside out and take him into a whole different level of reality

What’s Pyrgus to do when the animals he loves come under threat? What can he do except rescue those he canand fall foul of those who threaten the entire Faerie Realm? Soon there’s only one thing for it and that’s to leave the realm completely

When Henry and Pyrgus get together, an entire world hangs in the balance and those they love face nightmare dangers.

Faerie Wars is an extraordinary, pageturning read full of tension, adventure and the kind of detail that ensures you‘ll be holding your breath as the story unfolds.}

Healer’s Keep

by Victoria Hanley

A big thank you to Reading Rocks for this book!!  You guys rock :)  Click to see an interview they did with the author, Victoria Hanley.

This book is excellent!  I haven’t read a fantasy this good for a long time.  Why, I believe that if parts of it were longer with more description and emotional depth it could brush the title of epic.  I would definitely recommend this book.

{From Victoria Hanley’s website: Two new students arrive at the Keep. One is Dorjan, a mysterious young man and heir to the family of Dreamwens-people who can walk in dreams. The other is the Princess Saravelda, daughter of King Landen and Queen Torina. Both Dorjan and Saravelda are hiding secrets of the past, but they must trust each other before they can act to overcome the darkness threatening the Healer’s Keep.

Across the ocean in Sliviia a talented slave girl named Maeve is running from Lord Morlen, a man who inspires terror in all who meet him.  Maeve learns that she, too, is part of the Dreamwen line.  She meets Jasper, a freeman of Sliviia who has survived on his wits and courage, who must decide how much he will risk for love.  The destiny of these four people are intertwined.  Together they confront the powers that prey upon their world. }
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Catching Fire Contest

This is a treat: an ARC copy of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, brought to you by Alyssa over at http://theshadyglade.blogspot.com (love the name btw!) This is extra special b/c normally the book doesn’t come out until September 1, and if you read The Hunger Games a while back like I did, that’s gonna be a long wait. :)

It ends today but make sure to check out her site for loads of great content and more contests!

Queen of Babble

by Meg Cabot

From Booklist: “Lizzie Nichols, a fashion-history major, wants nothing more than to graduate college and then fly off to London to be with her boyfriend, Andy. But at her graduation party, Lizzie finds out that she can’t graduate until she writes a senior thesis. And when she lands in London, Andy turns out to be a liar, gambler, and a fashion disaster. Lizzie, stuck in London with an unchangeable ticket home, escapes Andy via the Chunnel in hopes that her friend Shari, who is catering weddings for the summer at a French château, can help. On the train, Lizzie meets a stranger, Jean-Luc, and spills everything that has happened, only to find out that he is the son of the château’s owner. At the château, Lizzie continues to babble when she shouldn’t, ticking off Jean-Luc, shocking his mother, and upsetting a bride. Will she ever learn to keep her mouth shut?”

Warning, this book lives up to its name.  At times Lizzie’s internal babbling was so distracting I would lose the real conversation.  But I’m sure this was intended, just like in real life when we talk to ourselves and get lost in our own thoughts sometimes we look up and the scenery has changed.  One place though that irked me was when she was illusioning that Luke was a kidnapper/murder preying on innocent travelers.  It’s like, come on, even YOU should be able to see that you will end up together! Continue reading

Deep Secret

by Diana Wynne Jones

Good book.  It gets very involving and although it brushes over some details the ones we have are magnificent.  Jones has created a universe where we see multiple planets, where dynasties crumble, and where very strange things happen at Science Conventions.

{From the publisher, Torr: Rupert Venables is a Magid. It’s a Magid’s job to oversee what goes on in the vast Multiverse. Actually, Rupert is really only a junior Magid. But he’s got a king-sized problem. Rupert’s territory includes Earth and the Empire of Korfyros. When his mentor dies Rupert must find a replacement. But there are hundreds of candidates. How is he supposed to choose? And interviewing each one could take forever. Unless. What if he could round them all up in one place? Simple!}

I would recommend this to everyone, even though it’s probably more likable to 16+ (because of pacing, not language or mature topics, in fact it was marketed towards adults), British-lovers and fantasy/sci-fi enthusiasts.  The next book in the series is called The Merlin Conspiracy.

The Artemis Fowl Files

Eoin Colfer

First ‘extras’ or fan-targeted companion book I’ve read, and I felt like it was a nice read, offering a degree of satisfaction, and furthermore I think it’s good to have a format like this where the author can release short stories or snippets that they really like but do not fit into one of their novels.  This allows some just-for-fun stories with the characters you already love, and more great writing from the author you already love.

The short story about the blue diamond that Artemis enlists Mulch Diggums’ help to obtain is just as intriguing and witty as the rest of the series, but touching, and I loved the ending.  The short story about Holly Short joining the LEPrecon is also good to learn more about the feisty heroine.

Paper Towns

by John Green

Wow.  A good, intense read.  This reminded me slightly of So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (only with out all the fashion and with more deep psychological probing) and The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman.

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar.  So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always and enigma, has now become a mystery.  But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him.  Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

Mr. Green likes his road trips.  I read An Abundance of Katherines, and it also involves a road trip.  But this one is serious fun.  The black Santas were pretty hilarious too.  I was cracking up and laughing so loud that my cat stared at me in a disgruntled manner.

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Red Glass

by Laura Resau

I really, really liked this book.  Reading this book is biting into a big, juicy guava.  It tastes amazing and is the most wonderful thing ever, the sticky juice starts trickling down your chin,  and you realize that it’s better that way.

The characters are wonderful in their flaws, their acceptance, their bravery, their open-hearts, and their laughter.  The quotes from The Little Prince were so poignant to me because I just finished reading that novelette en français.

Red Glass is a multi-faceted view of Mexico and the lives that people lead around the world.  It shows how a little bit of discomfort won’t kill you.

{From Minnie at Athena’s YA Book Reviews: “It is a beautiful book about a girl whose life is changed on a journey through Mexico…there’s beautiful imagery, great love stories, and lots of familiar places, food, and music styles that anybody living in a border town or who has knowledge of Mexican culture will easily recognize. I loved it! I’ll be posting a full review soon!” click here to see info from a chat with the author!}

Thanks for that interview, Minnie.  Resau is an amazing person and a talented author.  I hope to read more books by her in the future, especially The Indigo Notebook.

Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely cover, UK version

Melissa Marr

Aislinn is a junior  in Huntsdale, south of Pittsburgh.  She is friends with Seth, an independent guy who lives in a train car made of steel.  That fact is important because they, the fey, don’t like iron or steel.  Aislinn is extremely rare in that she can see the faeries that are so used to being invisible to mortals.  Problems arise when the Summer King, Keenan, inadvertently picks Aislinn to be the next Summer Queen, a choice that cannot be escaped and equals immortality or living death.  The story unravels and Aislinn learns the depth of her love, the futility of cowardice, and that she has the power to make better options for herself.

I really like Seth.  He is almost an Edward Cullen type–perfect lover, always loyal.  He now has the sight, but the issue of his immortality remains.  Perhaps it will be answered in the next two books, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity.  I’m glad Donia didn’t die either.  I liked her and felt really bad about her circumstances.

Worthwhile read.

Talk

by Kathe Koja

Good book!  One day one of our librarians, Lisa, handed this to me and prepared me with the knowledge that this book was written in stream of consciousness style.  I had heard scary things about this mode d’emploi, so I sat down with it, ready for a battle.

Instead I eased into a pleasurable narrative about some teenagers dealing with a controversial school play and the emotions running below the surface.

{From PinkBooks.com: Kit Webster is hiding a secret. Carma, his best friend, has already figured it out, and pushes him to audition for the high school play, Talk. When he’s cast as the male lead, he expects to escape his own life for a while and become a different person. What he gets instead is the role of a lifetime: Kit Webster. In the play, Kit’s thrown together with Lindsay Walsh, the female lead and the school’s teen queen. Lindsay, tired of the shallow and selfish boys from her usual circle of friends, sees something real in Kit – and wants it. But Kit’s attention is focused on Pablo, another boy in school. The play is controversial; the parents put pressure on the school to shut it down. And when Kit and Lindsay rally to save Talk, they find themselves deep into a battle for the truth: onstage, and inside themselves.}

I would recommend this to anyone interested in LGBT or stream-of-consciousness style writing.

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Excellent!  I first heard of this book from The Bookshelf Collection, and knew I had to get my hands on it.

From discussion on Nerdfighters: “The whole concept of a Hunger Games is exciting. Absolutely terrible and awful but I love it… the beginning was powerful, it drew a dark scene and brought out a heroine we could all love… the beginning was powerful, it drew a dark scene and brought out a heroine we could all love… lolcat blurb: Im in ur gamez messin wit ur kapital”

{Summary from Scholastic, where you can hear an excerpt read by Suzanne Collins herself!:  In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.}

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The Book of Mordred

The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vande Velde

The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vande Velde

by Vivian Vande Velde

Before this novel the most I’d heard about King Arthur and the knights of the round table came from the 1998 movie Merlin (directed by Steve Barron and starring Sam Neill), the Whoopi Goldberg movie A Knight in Camelot, and our readings in English class, including “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”

This was an interesting book and gives even more insight into the life of people and mythology from these times.  The writing style and voice is not quite to my liking, but I enjoyed the book more when I got to the part narrated by Keira. (This book is divided into three parts, each narrated by a different woman [Alayna, Nimue, and Keira] who was important in Mordred’s life.  They take us on separate adventures.)

The part with Nimue is very interesting. I did not imagine a blonde-haired witch with the habit of second-guessing herself for Merlin’s wife, and I didn’t like how Nimue got between Alayna and Mordred. I was really routing for that couple.

As the inside cover summary warns, this is a different interpretation than the usual Arthur legends.  It is a focus on the villain, Mordred, not so much a villain in this version, and actually a part of the knights of the round table.  I liked this alternative look at the dashing rogue, but I was looking for a little more depth in his reasoning and the factors that contributed to tipping points in his thinking and actions.

But things are definitely different.  From HomeschoolBuzz.com: “Lancelot is not a hero, and Mordred is simply a misunderstood, strong, charismatic, and likeable old fellow.”  And new characters are introduced.  You probably didn’t recognize the names Alayna and Keira, they’re new, and so is an evil wizard named Halbert.

(Details about the ending are hidden below, stop here to avoid plot spoilers!)

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Abhorsen

Abhorsen cover

by Garth Nix

A very good ending to the trilogy, this book was heavy and sad and yet emerged triumphantly and hopefully at the end.

I fell in love with the Disreputable Dog.  She was such a great soul and a great character.  Not knowing her past and her mysterious actions almost made me wonder if she was on the bad side, but thankfully for our heroes she was not.  She was an angel.

One thing; why didn’t Sam and Lirael realize that Sabriel and Touchstone were still alive because Sabriel’s flutes were still working when they crossed the wall?  Oh well.

The Ninth was strong
and fought with might,
But lone Orannis
was put out of the light,
Broken in two
and buried under hill,
Forever to lie there,
wishing us ill.
So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.
Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.
To make matters worse, Sam’s best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.
Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer.
Before it is too late. . .

{From http://www.abhorsentrilogy.com:

Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.

Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions — Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget — have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.

To make matters worse, Sam’s best friend, Nick, is unwittingly helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.

Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer.}

The Juliet Club

by Suzanne Harper

Ah I loved it!  So fun, so fresh, so interesting!  When Kate wins a scholastic trip to study Shakespeare in Verona, the site of Romeo & Juliet, she sees it as a way to earn college credit, not the romantic adventure her friends Sarah and Annie are sure it will be.  When she arrives in gorgeous Italy she meets good-hearted, bubbly Lucy, out-of-place Tom, and the locals, Benno, Giacomo, and Silvia.  The seminar takes place in an ideal Italian villa, but it is not all dry verse and precise meter.  No, this summer the students learn about love from the expert himself.

I loved how the whole book resembles a Shakespeare concoction (organized into Acts and Scenes to boot!).  And also resembling the bard, Harper disregards conventions.  She does not bow to the lowly habits of following to the letter what characters would do.  She throws that to the wind and writes what she wants the author to do!  It is so much more satisfying when a character does what makes a good story, what the onlooker is screaming at them to do (i.e. Don’t go through that door!  or  Tell him the truth you dimwit!!)  Like in Much Ado About Nothing, you don’t have to tell the audience why Don John is evil, we just accept that he is!  We don’t care how unrealistic it seems that anyone would believe that Hero died of shame, it makes a better story!  Authors do not need to bow to an audience nor reason.

So, as with any good book, my only complaint is that it is not longer.

p.s. There is a real club called ‘The Juliet Club’ which answers letters that desperate lovers send to Juliet asking for advice.  You can visit their website here:
www.julietclub.com

p.p.s And thanks Book Shelves of Doom for the picture!

“It reminded me less of Romeo & Juliet and more of The Taming of the Shrew and some of the other comedies (lots of secret plans, spying, rivalry, extreme drama (especially from Kate’s father, who I got a huge kick out of) and even some swordplay, though there was sadly no cross-dressing).  Knowledge of Shakespeare isn’t at all necessary.  The characters don’t have much depth, and they sometimes seem to experience jarringly rapid changes in emotion/personality/objects of affection, but overall, The Juliet Club is quite fun.”
~ Book Shelves of Doom

* New movie coming out, Letters To Juliet (2010), might interest you if you like this book.  It has a similar subject, the letters written to the tragic amorous heroine, but I don’t believe it is based off of the book.  Still, looks like a fun movie!

The Glass Word

by Kai Meyer

Completing the trilogy of the Dark Reflections series, The Glass Word reveals all the mysteries readers wondered about.  My biggest concern was: How could that entire world be enslaved?  Except for Venice the alternate view of our Earth seemed almost devoid of life, and at first even the Venetians weren’t too worried.  Now in The Glass Word we meet people from Czechoslovakia, the sea, and Egypt and hear of others elsewhere when Summer is freed.

I particularly liked the concept of Summer and Winter trying to find each other.  And the fact that Junipa was okay in the end and did not give in to the Light.  Her and Merle’s travels through the mirrors will certainly be interesting.  I hope Vermithrax, the great obsidian lion, finds his people.  I enjoyed his character, so strong, almost nothing could hurt him, and he was a guiding strength. 

It was nice to have defined the exact parameters of the epic battle between the Light and good forces.  Finally the story makes sense!  I still don’t get the relationship between Lord Light, Lalapeya, and Merle.

One thing though, that I’m sure readers everywhere scratched their heads about: why did Serafin have to die?  Was it too inconvenient to have him around anymore?  Is a happy ending too cliché?

Anyway a very interesting book.  A mixed bag of ideas that give one pause.

Freaks: Alive on the Inside

Annette Curtis Klause

An intriguing tale of circus life with some ancient Egyptian mystique as a sub plot, I very much enjoyed this narrative.  The protagonist, Abel Dandy, starts out at an idyllic resort type circus where he lives with his parents.  There he wonders if he has anything to contribute to the show, because he isn’t “different” like everybody else.  Then he heads out on his own and meets the shocking realization that not only are “freaks” ostracized, but that he is also shunned for being in contact with them!

Though he tried to evade it, responsibility finds him as he trips along a path to a mysterious secret and helps right wrongs along the way.  Full of vibrant characters, this book not only makes you smile but makes you think.

Watch out for the word “caution.”  It is used about 4 times in a different (more dated) way than usual, instead meaning “an amusing or surprising person” (Oxford American Dictionary).  Good to know.

Singer to the Sea God

by Vivien Alcock

Excellent book.  I read it a while ago, but from my memory of it I loved the pacing and excitement and ideas.  As an ardent mythical-story lover, this is gold.

“It is said that if one stares at the head of Medusa, he or she will turn to stone, but Cleo, not believing the legend, does just that and is instantly turned into a statue! Now her brother Phaidon and uncle are on a grand adventure that takes them through ancient Greece as they attempt to turn Cleo back into a mortal. Will Phaidon’s song to the sea god have the power to bring Cleo back to life?” ~ InternetBookList

Oh dear, no picture to be found.  I may have to scan in my copy and upload it.

Twilight in Theaters

     The Twilight movie will be in theaters on the 21st, next Friday, and I’m thinking of going to the midnight showing.  One might wonder, why would I not see it?  Well, I’ve told everyone since the prospect of a Twilight film was ever mentioned that I would not under any circumstance see it.  I hate the idea of the movie characters overriding my mental images of the characters and otherwise forever altering my memories of a beloved book.  In the same way I make an effort to read the book before seeing the movie.
       Some examples of this are the Harry Potter movies, Eragon, and the Golden Compass.  The making of Harry Potter was a special case where the film company was held accountable by millions of ardent fans and the author J.K. Rowling worked closely with writers, directors and actors throughout production.  Those movies were so very magical and the characters precise that it synced perfectly with what my imagination had come up with.
       On the other hand, I heard from friends how unlike the book and poor quality the movie Eragon was.  I’d rather not sully my impressions with a half-rate film, so I don’t plan on ever seeing it, and I don’t think I’ll be scarred for life.  The movie The Golden Compass was also very different from the book.  I saw that movie last New Years Eve, and I had read the book about four years before that.  I was able to separate the two into completely separate stories in my mind and could then enjoy the rich graphics and vibrant characters.
       So, the question in my mind remains, can I keep the movie and the book as two individual experiences?  This is all probably bordering on fanatical book loyalty, do other book fans feel the same way?  Feel free to weigh in on the discussion.

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