Feathers fell from the sky.
Like black snow, they drifted onto an old city called Bath. They whirled down roofs, gathered in the corners of alleys, and turned everything dark and silent, like a winter’s day (Prologue).
In a world slightly distorted from our own - where magical creatures like faeries mesh in realistic and gritty fashion with our own world, similiar to Suzanne Clark’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (a novel I love love love) - a young changling, part human, part faerie, named Bartholomew is forced to hide his existance. Meanwhile, a bumbling, well-meaning member of Parliment, Mr. Jelliby, becomes unwittingly entangled in an investigation into the murder of nine changling children. When Bartholomew is tagged as number ten, he must take action to save himself and his changling sister.
With shades of Jonathan Stroud and Suzanne Clarke and a conclusion reminiscent of Pullman’s Golden Compass, Bachmann just succeeds in making this novel his own. The writing is fluid though the story alternates settings. I would have liked more attention spent on the relationship – both political and social – between the magical creatures and the humans. The atmosphere was well-developed with strong details so that I didn’t find myself skipping small chunks (as I sometimes do when the writing is poor). I was also surprised when it ended on a cliff-hanger, finding myself simultanously disappointed but also interested in the sequel (sequels?). There are characters I’m intrigued to learn more about (Mr. Lickerish) and others that skewed the rhythm (the faery woman living in a meadow in the middle of nowhere, supposedly Lickerish’s sister?).
Advance Reader Copy from BEA | Greenwillow Books | September 18, 2012
In this collection of essays, Bering reflects on many of the socially awkward topics of human testicles, cannibalism, and the female orgasm to name a few. Approach with an open mind for there are truths and probing questions that deserve pondering you might not enjoy reading. Mostly fascinating, occasionally repetitive and infused with Bering’s character, this was an enjoyable read in a format perfectly suited to my recent lakeside vacation.
This is a book I’ve had on my to-be-read list for about 6 years, ever since I started working in a public library. It took a movie trailer to finally pick it up and, boy, am I glad I did! This gem is told through a series of letters written by Charlie and spanning his first year of high school. An observant introvert, Charlie is taken under wing by two free-spirited upperclassman, Sam and Patrick. Experiences are had, feelings are explored and drama ensues. It’s all very poignant and veracious and absorbing. It’s a quick read and I’m delighted that Chbosky has written and directed the movie adaptation. Charlie will be played by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson, The Three Musketeers), Sam by Emma Watson (Harry Potter), and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) will play Patrick. I’m very excited!
When I heard the first scream, I turned away and covered my ears with my hands, pressing hard until my head hurt. At that moment I could do nothing to help. But I could still heard it, the sound of a priest in torment, and it went on for a long time before finally fading away (p 1).
The second book in The Last Apprentice series takes our young hero and his master to Priestown where a horrible creature lurks in a labyrinthine catacomb and a vicious, sadistic Quisitor hunts and kills ’evil,’ including spooks. The young witch with pointy-shoes, Alice, returns and plays a crucial role in helping our Spooks battle the Bane. A good follow-up to the series opener, Revenge of the Witch, but the third book, Night of the Soul Stealer, is what has hooked me on the series. Highly recommended.
Library copy | Greenwillow Books | ISBN 9780060766221 | Ages 10+ | 455 pages
When was the beginning? When my father met my mother, and lost his heart, and chose to we for love? Or was it when I was born? I shoud have been the seventh son of a seventh son, but the goddess was playing tricks, and I was a girl. After she gave birth to me, my mother dies (p 4).
How can I begin to express how much I adored this book? Beautifully woven, full of trials and tribulation with an undercurrent of mystical forest magic, a great plot and a strong heroine. It’s an older title, like The Thief, that a coworker turned me on to and I’m so so so grateful. For those who enjoy fairy tale retellings like Beauty by Robin McKinley or adult novels like The Mists of Avalon, go pick this up! Can’t wait to sink my teeth into the sequel.
It makes me really sad to see that Tiffany is still wearing her wedding ring.
And then suddenly Tiffany is hugging me so that her face is between my pecs, and she’s suddenly crying her makeup onto my new Hank Baskett jersey. I don’t like being touched by anyone except Nikki, and I really do not want Tiffany to get makeup on the jersey my brother was nice enough to give me–a jersey with real stitched-on letters and numbers–but I surprise myself by hugging Tiffany back. I rest my chin on top of her shiny black hair, scent her perfume, and suddenly I’m crying too, which scares me a lot. Out bodies shudder together, and we are all waterworks. We cry together for at least ten minutes, and then she lets go and runs around the back of her parents’ house (p 51).
I picked this up after seeing the movie trailer (starring Bradley Cooper, Julie Stiles and Jennifer Lawrence) and I’m glad I did. After spending years in a mental institution (referred to as ‘the bad place’), Pat Peoples, a former history teacher, continues to manage his mental illness while living with his parents. His mother provides care while his father’s moods are dictated by the Eagles. Desperate to end ‘apart time’ and struggling with memory loss, Pat’s sole motivation is his desire to be reunited with his wife, Nikki. Enter Tiffany, a young woman struggling with depression in the aftermath of her husband’s death. They may be exactly what the other needs.
It surprised me just how much I enjoyed this book. The subject mater is heavy and I felt strongly for Pat and, to a lesser degree, Tiffany. Now I have to wait until November for the movie. Arg!
The boy and girl glanced at each other and, because the adults were not paying close attention, they did not see the girl reach out to clasp the boy’s hand or the look that passed between them. The Duke would have recognized that look. He spent long years on the ravaged northern borders, where villages were constantly under siege and the peasants fought their battle with little aid from the King or anyone else. He had seen a woman, barefoot and unflinching in her doorway, face down a row of bayonets. He knew the look of a man defending his home with nothing but a rock in his hand (p 6-7).
The prologue, told in third person, grabbed me immediately. Two orphans, raised on a Duke’s estate with other orphans, form a close bond. One of them is special, gifted with a power that must be suppressed if the pair are to remain together. They enter adulthood in the army. When their unit is assigned a trip across the Fold, a barren, dark stretch of land separating their kingdom from the coast, they know it will be dangerous. It is inhabited by vicious, man-eating volcra who thrive in the Fold’s magical darkness. What happens next changes the course of their lives.
While the first person narrator occassional slips into the cliche and melodramatic (“The moment our lips met, I knew with pure and piercing certainty that I would have waited for him forever.” p 299) and I would have preferred a third person narrated story, this was a highly enjoyable story with enough plot twists and magical elements in a balanced world to keep me reading straight through. There’s certainly more to this world than what was revealed in this debut novel. I look forward to the next.
Later, I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things: the hole in the ozone layer, the melting of the ice caps, West Nile and swine flu and killer bees. But I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different — unimagined, unprepared for, unknown (p 29).
Walker’s evenly paced adult debut novel about an ordinary sixth-grader coming of age in a time of great change could almost pass for a children’s or YA novel. Julia, as an emerging adult, tells her story in retrospect, tantalizing her reader by foreshadowing extraordinary events and infusing the wisdom of experience and hindsight into the telling of otherwise ordinary events.
Middle school is a tumultuous time under the best of circumstances. When the Earth’s rotation begins to slow and the days and nights gradually lengthen, Julia’s coming of age story becomes harrowing. Around this quiet and gradual cataclysmic change, Walker weaves a beautiful story about a delicate girl with a crush on her classmate, Seth, whose mother is dying of cancer, and about her friendships with other female classmates. Highly readable.
If you enjoy this book, I highly recommend:
A few minutes later we pulled up to the tan one-story government building, which looked like the place where happiness went to die. Like most sensible Americans, my dad hates the DMV, and when we entered the lobby to find it packed to the gills with sweaty, tired, impatient people, he started nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot and biting his fingernails.
“Look at this fucking place. Everyone smells like dog shit, standing around like they’re in Russia waiting for a loaf of fucking bread. Why the fuck ma I here? You’re the one taking the test.” A minute later: “That’s it. I can’t do this. You’re on your own,” and just like that he took off for the exit. Before I could even respond he was sitting on a bench outside, reading the paper (p 51).
After reading Halpern’s hilarious Sh*t My Dad Says, I was eager to get my hands on I Suck at Girls. I wasn’t disappointed. In his quest to understand the opposite sex, Halpern has many misadventures. Reliving awkward moments from pre-adolescence to sexual forays in adulthood, his history provides many laughs. Once again, though, his father steals the show with his blunt wisdom delivered with a toddy in hand.
I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go (p 3).
August has many facial deformities. Coddled by his parents and protected fiercely by his older sister, August has been homeschooled until now. With his unique features, Auggie’s transition to middle school begins with a series of bumps: the kids stare at him, no one will touch him, and one boy is particularly cruel. But friends emerge and Auggie is ultimately glad of his decision.
Palacio uses various narrators to tell Aggie’s story giving it a wholesomeness I enjoyed. But as I read this as part of my system’s Mock Newbery club, I judge it by higher standards. It did not move me the way Gary Schmidt’s Okay For Now did nor did the writing impress me as Dead End in Norvelt did (both were last year’s contenders for our group). I do believe it will resonate with middle grade readers. While the main character’s condition is rare, all will relate to the awkwardness of middle school, social anxiety and parental troubles explored in these pages.