Delightful! Jane Austen with a Sci-Fi twist
When I heard that Diana Peterfreund was doing a Jane Austen revamp based in a futuristic society, I was practically hopping in my seat with excitement. I was really looking forward to it and when For Darkness Shows the Stars hit the shelves and I finally got to read it, I couldn’t put it down. I loved it!
For Darkness Shows the Stars is based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The plot sticks very close to its predecessor and in the futuristic setting, this worked. Elliot lives in a word that has been negatively affected by scientific advancements - particularly on a biological level - and her class (the Luddites), who shunned these advancements, feel charged to help the Posts and the Reduced whose ancestors destroyed the world. When Kai - a Post servant on her father’s estate - asks her to run away with him, she rejects him in favour for her home, where she felt she would be of greater value. Then, the two meet again a few years later with Kai in a better position than Elliot, when Kai and his new friends rent Elliot’s grandfather’s estate to build a ship; and the fun begins!
I absolutely loved this book and I pretty much devoured it! It was well paced, packed with tension and beautifully written. I only had two problems with the story on a whole; first, I wished there was a little more world building, however, I had no issues understanding the world and how it functioned, the characters were able to show this without lengthy descriptions and information dumps. The second thing was that there were times when the children (the letters between young Elliot and Kai) didn’t really sound like children though they probably sounded that way because of the culture they grew up in. If we had a better glance into how they grew up, this confusion might have been avoided.
The story followed Persuasion closely, but did not feel forced, mainly due to the setting that Elliot lived in. And what I really loved was that you didn’t have to read Persuasion to understand the story, it stood on its own. Fans of Jane Austen will definitely love this book.
Publisher: Balzer + Bray || Details →
Could have been better with out the P&P layout
As a fan of Jane Austen in general, I love reading books that are based on her plots because I think that the relationships in the Jane Austen books still do apply - in some way - to the relationships in our present society. So I was very excited to read Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik, if only because it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice.
There were many elements of Pride and Prejudice in this story, but, I often felt that they were forced. I might be nit-picking here but there were times situations seemed to develop just to force the plot forward, for example, did Layla really need to go to her older sister’s bedroom to answer a text message? Couldn’t she go into the bathroom? That seemed more private. But she needed to go to her sisters room to raise some conflict. Just little things like this through the entire book that didn’t seem rational to me. Julianna is continually painted as this good and kind sister, but she doesn’t do much that makes her stand out as a good and kind character. The mother is ultimately creepy and doesn’t seem to know it, which makes me wonder how she could have a job as a Principle in the first place.
I think Epic Fail would have done better on its own rather than trying to follow the Pride and Prejudice format. The ending dragged on, I felt as though it might have been better to have ended it with Elise and Derek finally making amends and finally getting together, but this happened early on in the story and didn’t feel as romantic as it’s predecessor.
Perhaps I’m old school, but if you’re looking for a Pride and Prejudice fix I wouldn’t recommend Epic Fail, however, if you’re looking for a fluffy romance, then Epic Fail fits perfectly.
Publisher: HarperTeen || Details →
A great discussion book!
Even though I’ve seen him at numerous events, Every Day is the first David Levithan book that I’ve read. It was smart, thought-provoking and captivating, from beginning to end.
It’s an interesting concept, everyday, A wakes up in the body of another person. At midnight, A is ripped out of that person’s body and wakes up in another body. This is all A has ever known and though A has grown accustom to a solitary life and has rules against making connections, A’s world is changed when A wakes up in Justin, and meets Rhiannon, Justin’s girlfriend.
Every Day was not like any story I’ve ever read before. It’s hard to describe what A is exactly. A spirit? A soul? What sort of entity roams around from body to body for just a day? However, as the narrative is told from A’s perspective, as a reader, I got a view into the loneliness that A felt and was able to sympathise with A’s quest for something stable with Rhiannon.
The story is slow paced, but it does not drag. It touches mostly on the difference between the mind and the body when it comes to who we love. Rhiannon found herself strangely attracted to A, but had difficulties seeing A as a romantic interest when A was in the body of a female as opposed to the body of a male. This would lead to great discussions about sexuality.
While I wasn’t a fan of the way the story ended - it seemed a bit rushed in the end - I throughly enjoyed reading Every Day.
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers || Details →
Pretty interesting read
The Lost Cause is one of seven parallel stories written by different authors. John Wilson’s story follows Steve, one of the six cousins, who are tasked by their recently departed grandfather to figure out a puzzle about his life, Steve’s task sends him to Europe.
When there, Steve learns a lot about his grandfather’s time with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War from a girl named Laia. Laia is the granddaughter to a woman that Steve’s grandfather knew while he was fighting in Spain and together, the retrace the steps of Steve’s grandfather took during the war.
The Lost Cause was a quick read and a pretty good read if you are interested in learning a bit of history as well as reading a good story. It went by quickly, and though I couldn’t find myself believing the origin of their task, I did enjoy the different things that Steve was able to show us of his grandfather’s life as a Canadian soldier.
One thing I did like about the story is that, you didn’t have to read them in any order, Lost Cause could have stood on its own and did a good job of doing just that. I’d recommend this for history buffs, or anyone who likes reading fiction placed in a historical setting with historical accuracy.
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers || Details →
Great and sobering read
The only description I have for Lucy Christopher’s Stolen is, chilling. Her story follows a young girl, Gemma, who is kidnapped from an airport and taken to the outback, in the middle of nowhere. The story is revealed in letters from Gemma to her captor, Ty.
I really liked this story, there was a rawness to the beginning that made my stomach turn and given the subject matter, I expected this. The author’s narrative style pulled me in and I felt myself feeling for Gemma and rooting her on in her attempts to escape.
I wasn’t a fan of the description for this books, the idea that Gemma would be forced into loving her kidnapper, and I was a bit cautious while reading the story because I didn’t know if it would take an unexpected turn where Gemma would be fine with everything in the end and live happily ever after with Ty. However, Lucy Christopher handled this pretty well, while Ty could have been charming outside of this setting, the reader never loses sight of how volatile he can be.
Stolen is not a happy read, it will bring you to tears in some places, but it is a good read. I thought it was perfectly paced and the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading - which is hard to do when you have only two characters in your story. If you’re looking for a serious, thoughtful read, then Stolen is the book for you.
Publisher: The Chicken House || Details →
Pretty much Amazing.
As a fan of the Harry Potter books, I was a bit skeptical when J.K. Rowling announced her new book, The Casual Vacancy; but I knew I had to read it. I was particularly cautious when I started reading and had to tell myself over and over, “this is not Harry Potter, this is not even fantasy!”. The size of the book itself was enough to scare me, if I started reading it, I knew I had to finish it whether it was good or not. So with all of this in mind I picked up The Casual Vacancy.
It was a slow beginning. The story started with the death of Barry Fairbrother and the opening of a spot in the local council. There were a lot of characters in this book and the onslaught of new characters and new perspectives was somewhat dizzying at first. However, after the characters were all sorted out - about a quarter way in - I found the story very fascinating.
The story was centered around Barry’s death and how his life influenced the people around him, but it was also very political and I was surprised at how the plot drew me in, especially since I’m not a fan of politics. The story was also very grimm. It was a sad story and anyone going in looking for a happy-go-lucky plot will be very disappointed. I loved the heaviness of the story, it made it seem very real, and I was a fan of the way each character had to wrestle with their own demons.
Halfway through the book I found myself reading into the wee hours of the morning, not noticing the time; Rowling has a way of sucking you in to her plot. Her stories are both simple and clean in writing style and complex in storyline which - for me - makes it very enjoyable.
What was also great about the read was, half way through I forgot all about who wrote the book because I was so engrossed in the story itself. I must repeat that it is not a light read, not in size, complexity or feel, so read with caution, but when you do get into the story it will sweep you off your feet. Well done, Rowling, I’m definitely reading your next book!
Publisher: Little Brown Company || Details →
Not what I expected!
Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel, Drama, follows Callie, a theater fanatic, who enjoys the production work at the theater in her middle school and gets the to be the set designer in her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. On top of her school play, Callie finds herself in the middle of boy drama from her best friend’s brother to two twins who signed up for the play.
I find it difficult to review graphic novels because I feel the need to talk about the art, which isn’t something I have much of an opinion on other than, “oh, pretty!”. I did enjoy the panels in Drama, they were fun and did well in portraying the story.
The story itself was not what I expected from the blurb. There was definitely drama all around, but I thought it would be focused more on the production of the play than on the sexuality of the characters - which, though not the focus, took up a major part of the story. It makes me wonder if the stereotype of the men involved in acting was the cause for this depiction.
Drama is a great book if you want to start the conversation about sexuality with your kids, but probably not the best book to read if you are looking for something centered around a Drama Club. Either way, I found the story enjoyable and funny all around.
Publisher: Graphix || Details →
Wonderfully written story
It’s really hard to pinpoint exactly what I loved the most about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; I am certain that Sherman Alexie’s amazing story will stay with me for a very long time. The Absolutely True Diary, did what I enjoy most about reading; it took me on a journey that I would never have experienced and opened my eyes to a different perspective on life as well as a different culture.
Junior is one of the smallest kids on his reservation, he had to fight for his life since his birth and he’s never stopped fighting. When he decides to leave the reservation school and attend a school in town, he was immediately faced with opposition from the people on the reservation - including his best friend and protector.
I found the story to be well written and engaging, I was swept into Junior’s world and felt his pain and cried tears for the struggles that he faced. I love his characterization, he is the type of character that readers can fully invest in and stand behind.
The other great thing about this novel is the amount of discussion points that it raises, there are a lot of tough topics that parents might initially want to shield their children from, but the fact that children are faced with these issues every day does not escape me and I loved the real way that Sherman Alexie portrayed this on the pages of his book.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one of those books that you will find yourself rereading again and again just to grasp the richness of the story. I’m certain this will become a classic.
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers || Details →
An excellent novel
I don’t believe I’ve read a more heartwarming and heartbreaking book like The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It was always on my to-read pile, I just never got around to it; but, with the coming of the movie I finally decided to pick it up - then I got a lovely surprise from Small Girls PR and I might have squealed a bit in my excitement! Now I have two copies!
Charlie is about to start High School, he is a quiet observer who often lives inside his own thoughts. He meets Sam and Patrick, seniors and siblings, who take him under their wing and help him navigate life as a high-schooler.
Charlie tells his story through letters to a “friend” - the reader is not aware of the identity of the recipient and the recipient of the letter is not aware of Charlie’s identity. In his letters to this stranger, Charlie is candid about his life in school and at home, he talks about the things that he experiences and relates, with clarity, his emotions.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a bit of a coming of age book, as we read more about Charlie, we get to understand why he is the way he is and I found myself feeling very deeply for him. The characters in this novel are all very real, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out that they use to attended high school with me. Charlie is just so lovable, it’s hard to see him as a social outcast among his peers - but he’s different, so he’s avoided.
Along with having wonderful characters, the novel has a great storyline as well. I also find it to be a very quotable book, there are a lot of great lines in it, from the famous “we were infinite” line to “we accept the love we think we deserve”.
After finishing this book, I can completely understand why it has such a following, there is something in it for everyone, regardless of age.
[review of copy from Small Girls PR]
Publisher: Gallery Books || Details →