Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication date: 2004
ISBN: 9780553376050
Source: Library

How I Live Now

When Daisy is sent to visit her aunt and cousins in England, she little expects to stay there so long.  Soon after her aunt leaves on business, the country is invaded by an enemy and bombing of major cities begins.  But she and her cousins are far from cities, living on an isolated and independent farm.  They live an idealized life for many months, until war finally finds their small corner of the world. 

Things I Liked:
I'm not entirely sure about this one.  I didn't exactly like it and I didn't like the main characters, but I can recognize there was a lot of good in it.  First of all, I think the portrayal of teenagers (and probably most adults) in regard to war (or natural disasters, etc) is really accurate.  The fact that things like this happen all over the world is entirely true and I think we disregard it until it is right on our doorstep or until it personally affects us.  This was one of the book's most compelling points.  We don't want to think about others' problems until they become ours.  I'm pretty sure most of us would try to think about what's going on, but we'd still be caught up in our lives and petty distractions.  This would be such a great book to discuss in a book group, to see what other people think.  It's quite well written, in a stream-of-consciousness/diary type format and it puts you right in the action (or drama).  A unique and realistic book about teenagers in the middle of a war.

Things I Didn't Like:
I'll be the first to admit the romance made me uncomfortable.  And I got mad at their seeming inability to care what was happening around them, even while I recognized its verity.  I didn't much care for Daisy or any of the cousins, except perhaps Piper.  I was really confused too about the ending and the somewhat paranormal abilities that were just brushed off and not explained.  I wasn't entirely sure what they were or what purpose they served.  But, I have to admit, it held my attention from beginning to end.  

Totally reminded me of the Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer

s-factor: !@#$
lots, some f-words

mrg-factor: XX
not too descriptive, but it happens, and they're cousins

v-factor: ->->->
some war scenes described and they are not pretty

Overall rating: ***

Any opinions on this book? I'd love to hear what others thought of it.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Leaving the Bellweathers by Kristin Clark Venuti

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Leaving the Bellweathers by Kristin Clark Venuti
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication date: September 2009
ISBN: 9781606840061
Source: Library

Leaving the Bellweathers

Tristan Benway, butler to the Bellweathers, has decided it's time to find a new position.  He's put up with dangerous animals inhabiting the lighthouse, tricks and antics from the obnoxiously loud triplets, and good deeds gone awry from their sister.  After all, there is only so much a respectable man can handle from this zany and incorrigible family, right?

Things I Liked:
This was a sweet, quirky, awesomely crazy middle grade read.  I adore the Bellweather family, complete with evil up-to-no-good whispering triplets, saving humanity sister, and endangered-dangerous-animal-lover brother.  This book inspired much laughter and made me want to be a kid again so I could love it properly.  A delightful romp that will make you think your family is very normal, even if the butler doesn't think so.  I loved this

Wanted: One gentleman possessed of nerves of steel and impeccable  organizational skills.  Applicant must know how to set a formal dining table as well as the best method of large-animal sedation.  Lunatic-asylum experience is helpful.  Interested parties please reply to Tristan Benway c/o Lighthouse on the Hill. p 68-69
Things I Didn't Like:
You know, I'm just going to stick with I loved every minute.  Sometimes being an adult can really be a drawback when enjoying a nice wacky kids book.  Hand this to your middle graders who like a bit of silliness.

Reminded me of Savvy and Scumble by Ingrid Law

Also a bit like the Secret series by Pseudonymous Bosch

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none
(unless being snapped at by an endangered albino alligator counts...)

Overall rating: *****

What's your favorite quirky kid book?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, August 29, 2011

Name That Book, Episode 17

Name that Book is a biweekly game where you get to guess a book title from the photo clues.

Just leave your guesses in the comments. And thanks, as always, for playing!  (Oh, and that photo that is the same in both is not the same word in both titles...)

Book 1:

Book 2:

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, August 26, 2011

Retro Friday Review: The River Between Us by Richard Peck

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."

The River Between Us by Richard Peck
Publisher: Puffin
Publication date: 2003
ISBN: 978-0142403105
Source: Library (audiobook)

The River Between UsThe River Between Us By Richard Peck

Howard Hutchings has a lot to learn about his family's history. While visiting his extended family, he hears all about his grandmother Tilly and what happened one year when her family took in two strangers from the South.  Delphine and Calinda are not your typical young ladies near the beginning of the Civil War.  But bringing them into the Pruitt family changes all their lives forever.

Things I Liked:
I absolutely adored Tilly's story!  The beginning and end are told from Howard's viewpoint and his reaction to the story, but in between is where the good stuff is.  I listened to this while we were moving from UT to AZ, and it kept my attention from the first word.  The setting is beautifully created and you feel exactly like you are there in that small town, seeing these two larger-than-life ladies.  Not only is it fabulously told with Peck's gorgeous writing style, but the story tugs at your heart and I found myself getting teary a few times.  A poignant and classic historical fiction.

Things I Didn't Like:
I was mildly annoyed that I had to start out with Howard, since he played no true part in the story.  His stuff at the end made more sense, but I didn't particularly care about him or his reactions, because I had very little introduction to him.  It's Tilly's story (and Delphine's, Calinda's and Cass') that I cared about.  Fortunately he was only in the story a very little.  (I put both hardcover and paperback covers here - I thought it strange that they went from a woman to a man, both in Civil War attire.  I guess to appeal to boys more?)

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi

s-factor: none

that I recall

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Every time I read a well-written historical fiction, I remember how much I love them. Do you have favorites in this genre?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: April 2011
ISBN: 9780312650087

Source: Library


Deuce has spent her life hoping she'll be chosen as a hunter.  When she receives her name and the huntress' marks at fifteen, she is content with her life in an underground home.  But when she's paired with a hunter named Fade and they are sent on an impossible mission, her perspective of the world begins to change.  The freaks that occupy the tunnels between enclaves are changing and her world is about to turn upside down.

Things I Liked:
I enjoyed the glimpse of another possible future.  I thought it was interesting to have a whole society that lives underground in abandoned subway tunnels, though I really didn't understand why they were there.  Deuce's enclave was somewhat predictably not-what-they-say-they-are, which is kind of what you expect in a dystopian book.  I was a bit more intrigued by the second half, which showed the world topside and what was going on there.  An interesting concept and world view.

Things I Didn't Like:
I really didn't find much else to enjoy, though.  I thought it felt a little disjointed, more like the story was all about just describing this crazy future world than about the characters or the story.  There weren't logical connections to me between what happened underground and then where Deuce ended up.  Or how the Freaks came about.  Or what they were.  I couldn't figure out why they were so keen on getting to the library and figuring out what happened to make the world that way, except so that we as the reader would know what happened.  It made the story feel awkward.  I also didn't care much for the characters or the romance.  I felt no connection to anyone and just wasn't that interested in what happened to them.  I think it's a case of an interesting concept, but a story that just didn't work for me.  *Mild spoiler* Oh, and I thought it was a bit odd that the book Deuce finds about half way through the story has an inscription "with love to Gracie from Mary" in the front, but at the end, it turns out to be a library book.  Who gives a book to someone "with love" that they either took from the library or bought after the library discarded it?  A small thing that really bugged this librarian. :) *End mild spoiler*

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

s-factor: !@

some, nothing too strong

mrg-factor: X
a little bit implied

v-factor: ->->->
definitely some gory fighting action

Overall rating: **

Did this one work for you or not? I think I'm in the minority for this book.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cliquey Clique: Giveaway Winner

PopulazziI know you are all waiting with baited breath to know if you won Populazzi.  First, though, I wanted to list off all the delightful books you mentioned as your favorite (or one of your favorites) high school clique book.  I haven't read many of them myself, but if you're in the market for one, here are some suggestions (we got some movie suggestions too!):

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

before i fall by Lauren Oliver
Breakfast Club (movie)
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
The Clique series by Lisi Harrison
Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell
The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder (got three rec's!)
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
Mean Girls (movie)
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (I think, no author was listed) 
Private Series by Kate Brian
Rival by Sarah Bennett Wealer
Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal (oh a true classic)
Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer

And with that out of the way, the winner of the Populazzi ARC is:

Sarah R.

Anybody else have cliquey high school suggestions?  Maybe one that won't horrify me with its cruelty?  

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date: May 2009
ISBN: 9781416968290
Source: Won in a contest

The Summer I Turned Pretty

Belly has spent every summer she can remember at the beach house with her second family.  Every year, she's looked forward to her time spent there as the best of the year.  She's been in love with Conrad for almost as long as they've visited, and best friends with his brother Jeremiah.  But the summer Belly turns sixteen is special - things are different and she can feel it.  It is a summer of romance and friendships and sorrow and joy.

Things I Liked:
This was a perfect light read for summer (though, I read it in the middle of the cold spring - it made me long for the hot and lazy days of summer).  Belly's casual and flirty summer reminded me so much of what I used to long for every summer as a teen.  I loved how real she felt - falling for nearly every boy and simply wanting to be noticed and liked.  I especially loved the flash backs to some of her previous summer experiences.  It was a sweet story and a quick read.

Things I Didn't Like:
At times it was just a little too unbelievable.  Belly was beautiful too suddenly  (it's obvious from the title, but I hate those overnight make-overs) and attractive to any male.  She was also really oblivious to some very obvious things going on during the summer.  I found myself more interested in the past summers than in the present one.  It was nice for a light read, but I definitely need to follow it up with something a little more complex.

Reminded me of Shug by Jenny Han

He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott

s-factor: !@
some, nothing too strong

mrg-factor: X
some references, nothing actually happening

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

What do you read for a light end-of-summer read?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, August 22, 2011

Listless Monday, Which Direction Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

Paper TownsNorth of BeautifulAntarctica Journeys to the South Pole

I think it only appropriate to have a list of books that speak of direction or looking or finding.  We are often trying to find our way in our teenage and young adult years (and beyond).  So, here are some titles that speak to finding what direction to go.

Which Direction?

Antarctica: Journeys to the South Pole by Walter Dean Myers

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
East by Edith Pattou
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Various
Emperors of the Ice by Richard Farr
Far North by Will Hobbs
Flying South by Laura Malone
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Miles Between by Mary Pearson
Mississippi Jack: Being an Account of the Further Waterborne Adventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman, Fine Lady, and Lily of the West by L.A. Meyer

North by Donna Jo Napoli
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North by Night by Katherine Ayres
North of Beautiful
 by Justina Chen Headley
Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
Paper Towns by John Green

Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren
The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan
South by Southeast by Anthony Horowitz

Stealing South by Katherine Ayres
The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman

True North by Kathryn Lasky
West to the Land of Plenty by Jim Murphy
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Any additions?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mini Reviews #1

This is the first time I've done a collection of short reviews (I've seen lots of folks do these and call them all kinds of cute things, so just be aware that I am not the originator of the idea, but I'm not sure who exactly inspired it).  It really is a hodge podge of books that I've just not got a lot to say about.  I've also taken Kristen's suggestion to write a five-word description instead of a summary.  But I bent it to a sentence, cause I'm not that amazing.  Hard, but rather freeing.  

Bink and Gollie (Junior Library Guild Selection (Candlewick Press))

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Source: Library

Two best friends embark on adventures armed with imagination and roller skates.

My thoughts: Cute, love the illustrations, and it totally reminded me of myself and my best friend in grade school - she was more than a foot taller than me too.  Lots of fun for those just learning to read chapter books.

The Tale of Despereaux Being the Story of a Mouse a Princess Some Soup and a Spool of Thread - 2006 publication.
The Tale of Despereaux by kate DiCamillo
Source: Audio from library

Unusually courageous mouse rescues soup-deprived princess.

My thoughts: This story never fails to entertain me.  My husband and I listened to it on a road trip and he loved it too (surprisingly).  It has quirky characters, a fun and unusual story, and lots of heart and soul.  Worth the read or the listen, especially for kids.

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Source: Library

The aftermath of war can be just as treacherous with rocky relationships and unexpected enemies.

My thoughts: I'm not going to lie, I enjoyed the Mortal Instruments book, despite all of its flaws, but this just seemed superfluous.  I got tired of the stretching out of Jace and Clary's up and down relationship and the plot was just unbelievably all over the place.  The series was better without it.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Source: Audio from library

Seventh son of a seventh son seeks the signs that will aid in an ancient battle of good and evil.

My thoughts: This is an all-time fantasy favorite.  The story never fails to entertain me and listening to it on audio was just as good (again, my husband was really interested in it and he is hard to please).  I just love how complex the story is and how amazingly the fantasy details are woven with real life.  A classic tale.

Cahoots (The Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series)
Cahoots by Karla Oceanak
Source: Review copy from publisher

Aldo attempts to survive his summer on a farm without electronic devices.

My thoughts: It's a fun romp filled with humor and kid-friendly drawings.  It will appeal to fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries, though Aldo is no Greg Huffley.  Still, his summer adventures will delight and hopefully educate tweens who can't seem to get enough drawing-filled diary books.

Any thoughts on these?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There's No Accounting for Taste

Today I was thinking about the many varied tastes we all have in books.  This is one of the things I love most about book bloggers is that everyone has opinions and most of them time they are very different.  Specifically, though I was thinking about when it seems like you have an opinion that is different from most everyone else's.  This usually happens when:

1-You love a book that everyone else hates, OR
2-You hate a book that everyone else loves.

To me, it seems like #2 happens a lot more than #1.  But either way, I was wondering what your response is.  Often, I will feel somewhat uncomfortable with my opinion and a little apprehensive in posting my reviews, for fear of retribution, though honestly I've never had any truly negative responses to my opinions on books, so I'm not sure why I have that fear.  I'm thinking this simply comes from my personal discomfort in having vastly differing opinions from all of you smart people!  (I'm realizing how silly this makes me sound, but I'm sticking with the truth here.)

I'll usually, when I have said reaction, stop and think about why my opinion is different.  Often, I'll check out reviews of the book to see what other people had to say.  I always try to retain my original opinion, but I like to see reasons for others' opinions.  This helps me understand why people hated or loved it and I had the opposite reaction.  It helps me think slightly more objectively and recognize the good or not so good things I might have overlooked.  I think this makes me a more balanced reviewer and I like that.  

What do you think?  Do you worry when your reactions are so different from the majority?  Do you look at others' reviews before you publish yours?  Any thoughts on this?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: April 2011
ISBN: 9780547152608
Source: Library

Okay for Now 

Doug Switeck has never had it easy.  But when his family moves to Marysville so his father can get a job, things become even worse.  Everyone soon accuses Doug's brother of some local burglaries and Doug becomes guilty by association.  His teachers at school, especially the gym teacher and principal, have it out for him and life is just as crummy as possible.  But, can discovering a new talent and some new friends make Doug's life a little more bearable?

Things I Liked:
Wow.  Mr. Schmidt is a master at the middle grade novel.  This book has everything from feeling like you stand in the shadow of your older siblings to thoughts on the Vietnam War and dealing with a crooked father.  Doug has more than his fair share of rotten days and rotten experiences, but the best thing about the book is how just one or two beautiful things that happen to him can change the way he thinks.  When one teacher decides to help Doug out, when one friends sticks by him, when one person praises him, you can really feel what an impact that has in his life.  Schmidt creates these pitch perfect voices for his characters.  Doug is the right mixture of vulnerable, punk, and sarcastic humor that he literally feels like your surly younger brother.  I laughed and then cried and then did more of the same through the entire book.  I cheered for his successes and mourned his sorrows.  One of the very best books I've read in a long time.  And if you liked The Wednesday Wars, you'll love Okay for Now.  Here are some favorite parts:

When she finished, she took the bottle away from her lips - she was still smiling - and she sighed, and then she squared her shoulders and kind of adjusted herself like she was in a batter's box, and then she let out a belch that even my brother couldn't match, not on his very best day.
It was amazing. It made birds fly out of the maples in front of the library.  Dogs asleep on porches a couple of blocks way probably woke up.  p 29
She came over and looked at the picture.  Then she took my hand.
You know what that feels like?
Like what the astronauts will feel when they step onto the moon for the very first time...
Like someone seeing what a chump you are and getting you a cold Coke anyway.
Like possibility.  p 226-227
In English, Miss Cowper was throwing us into the Introduction to Poetry Unit like it was as all-fired important as the moon shot.  You know, there are good reasons for learning how to read.  Poetry isn't one of them.  I mean, so what if two roads go two ways in a wood?  So what?  Who cares if it made all that big a difference?  What difference?  And why should I have to guess what the difference is?  Isn't that what he's supposed to say?  Why can't poets just say what they want to say and then shut up? p 235
And you know what I was going to do?  I was going to shriek like an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years.
In front of Joe Pepitone.
You know what that feels like?
You can't know what that feels like, because no one has ever had to shriek like an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years in front of Joe Pepitone.  
I couldn't do it.  
I wouldn't do it.  
Not in front of Joe Pepitone. p 313
Things I Didn't Like:
This is not an action book.  It is fairly slow moving and focuses definitely more on characters than action.  Also, I was a little surprised at the changes his dad made at the end.  They seemed a bit sudden.  Still, this is truly one of the best I've read.  Ever.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: *****

I can't think of anyone who writes quite like Schmidt. Can you?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review-a-Thon Wrap-Up

Guys, I don't know about you, but I'm all reviewed out.  I know I've been posting reviews like crazy this week (I apologize, since that can be pretty dull).  But, I'm happy to have gotten so many done.  I've been behind on reviews for over a year and I'm still nowhere near caught up (I have about thirty that are waiting to be published, the earliest dating back to April of this year).  Still, thanks to the Book Monsters' awesome Review-a-Thon, this is 
what I've done:

-I'm up-to-date on my goodreads review cross-posting (and even did a review on LibraryThing for a change too!)
-Wrote five additional reviews that are ready to be posted
-Updated my review/author archives with my most recent reviews
-Started to organize my upcoming to-be-reads by publication date in a spreadsheet, and
-Published eleven reviews this week 

With the reviews I wrote and the ones I published, that is 16 reviews!  I'm really happy with what I got done and hopefully I won't let all that motivation disappear!

Thanks again the Book Monsters, Kate and Kristen, for hosting this event.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication date: March 2011
ISBN: 9780385738590
Source: Library

The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3) 

Annah has grown up in the Dark City, every day reliving the memory of leaving her twin sister behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth.  And then the more recent memory of Elias leaving her behind.  When both her sister and Elias return unexpectedly, she is thrown into a world of swirling emotions.  But she doesn't have much time to worry about them or about the new boy Catcher who makes her feel so different, because everything about her world is about to change.

Things I Liked:
I really love these books because of their balanced look at zombie action and humane reactions.  I love how it challenges what you think and expect about zombies and how you will look sympathetically perhaps to their plight as well as the human plight.  I became wrapped up in the reality of Annah and Gabry and Elias and Catcher, who struggle to survive in an ever shrinking world of thinking humans.  It was such a realistic view of how it would feel to watch the human race disappear a piece at a time and then to see the different reactions survivors have.  I just love the heart and soul of this series and the tough and sympathetic characters Ryan creates.  Great series!

Things I Didn't Like:
It dragged for a while in the middle.  Not much seemed to happen while they were trapped on the island for most of the chapters.  Things definitely picked up near the end and were exciting for much of the beginning, but there is a bit of a slow spot right in the middle.  And the ending is a bit of a stretch too.  Still, I never wanted to stop reading it.


Read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan first
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

s-factor: !@
some, not a lot

mrg-factor: X
a few incidents, but nothing explicit

v-factor: ->->
quite a bit, what with zombies and all

Overall rating: ****

Is there a book or series that almost makes you believe in zombies?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: March 2010
ISBN: 9780062001030
Source: Purchased


When their mother the queen dies, Azalea and her eleven younger sisters aren't sure what to do.  Their father places the palace and all his daughters in deep mourning, cutting off all outdoor activity and fun activities, including dancing.  But the princesses discover a secret place where their father can't find them to dance.  What they little expect is to discover dark secrets about their mother and the Keeper of their secret place.

Things I Liked:
I just have to say - fantastic!  The book was gorgeous and written so beautifully.  I loved how Dixon described the motivations for why things happened, especially for why the sisters wanted to dance and how they got into the situation to begin with.  I must say, Bramble and Lord Teddie stole the story for me.  I adored them and I'm just hoping Dixon decides to write a story all for Bramble, because she was hands-down my favorite character.  She was so fabulous that I thought Azalea paled a bit in her shadow.  I loved the sweet romance that actually seemed to take the time to develop.  And the story had just the right touch of creepy too!  I loved having the disturbing and weird stuff that made the story balanced - not too sweet with something wicked hidden beneath the surface.  I obviously really enjoyed this retelling - it's taken a place as one of my favorites.  Some lovely bits (much of them from Bramble, of course):

Mrs. Graybe made cinnamon bread, a treat they could only afford on holidays, and Mr. Pudding walked about the palace, singing "Huzzah" in wheezing, out-of-tune tones.  The Harold Herald, alive with news of the war, even printed an extra edition the next day, and among the news on the front page, the girls discovered that Minister Fairweller had been wounded.  Clover, so tenderhearted, cried.  
"Oh, he's probably all right," said Bramble.  "It would take a lot to kill him.  Like garlic and a stake through the heart." p 126-127
"Down with tyranny!" Bramble cried. "Aristocracy!  Autocracy!  Monocracy!  Other ocracy things!  You are outnumbered, sir!  Surrender!" p 148
The dancers were masked with ornate, gilded animal heads.  A golden-furred jackal, and his lady, with feathers and a gold beak.  Masks with eyeholes rimmed in gems and embroidery clung to the dancers' faces.  This was a masked ball, something Azalea had only heard of.  In her imagination they had been more innocent; gentlemen dressed as hussars and ladies with white, glittery masks attached to a stick.  Not this chaotic meshing of gilded beasts and opulent monsters. p 258
"Sir!" whined Lord Teddie.  "You forgot my birthday, too!"
Bramble gave a surprised laugh, then slapped her hand over her mouth, as though shocked at letting it out.  The tension broke.  The girls laughed sheepishly, and Lord Teddie beamed.  He probably did not have many ladies think him funny.  In fact, he probably got slapped by a lot of them.  p 297
Things I Didn't Like:
It did start out a bit slow.  The book is long and a lot of it is build up to the story, but for those who love a well-developed and complex fairy-tale retelling, this is perfect.  I adored it, honestly.  I think a story with twelve separate sisters is like a writers' nightmare, because it's impossible to have them all well-developed.  But, I loved them, when I could remember who was who.  The oldest three are the most important and they certainly were better developed than the others.  

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
just a touch creepy, not really violent

Overall rating: *****

Do you have a favorite retelling of all time?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, August 12, 2011

Retro Friday Review: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Publisher: Various
Publication date: 1971
ISBN: 0912376015
Source: Library, for book group

Hiding PlaceTHE HIDING PLACEThe Hiding Place (Hendrickson Classic Biographies)

This is the true story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family, who become the center of an underground resistance in Holland during WWII.  When Corrie and her family are discovered, they are sent to prison.  Facing deprivations and transfer to a concentration camp, Corrie and he sister Betsie find beauty and bring religion to the people they meet.

Things I Liked:
What an absolutely inspiring story!  This book has the power to change people's lives and even better, their behavior.  I was entranced with Corrie's family - the descriptions of the daily things her father and sisters would do and say just exemplify a Christian lifestyle.  I loved the genuinely honest comments Corrie makes about herself and her little weaknesses.  She seems so willing to recognize her mistakes and to praise the strengths of others that you begin to see just how truly good she is as well.  Towards the end, when they are in the concentration camp, the scenes of utter despair and horror are so powerfully juxtaposed to the sisters' devoted and hallowed attitudes that I have no ability to describe my own feelings about it.  This book will make you so grateful for the many conveniences you enjoy and it will (hopefully) help you to see the good in every difficult situation you face.  An amazing account of sincerely religious and happy everyday people who were able to overcome the tragedies in their lives through faith in God.  Just a few of the many places I marked in the book.

Mama's love had always been the kind that acted itself out with soup pot and sewing basket.  But now that these things were taken away, the love seemed as whole as before.  She sat in her chair at the window and loved us.  She loved the peple she saw in the street - and beyond: her love took in the city, the land of Holland, the world.  And so I learned that love is larger than the walls which hut it in.  p 48
Back in the dining room I pulled back the coverlet from the baby's face.  There was a long silence.  The man bent forward, his hand in spite of himself reaching for the tiny fist curled round the blanket.  For a moment I saw compassion and fear struggle in his face.  Then he straightened.  "No. Definitely not.  We could lose our lives for that Jewish child!"  Unseen by either of us, Father had appeared in the doorway.  "give the child to me, Corrie," he said....  "You say we could lose our lives for this child.  I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family." p 99
Once again we considered stopping the work.  Once again we discovered we could not.  That night Father and Betsie and I prayed long after the others had gone to bed.  We knew that in spite of daily mounting risks we had no choice but to move forward.  This was evil's hour; we could not run away from it.  Perhaps only when human effort had done its best and failed, would God's power along be free to work.  p 123
But as the rest of the world grew stranger, one thing became increasingly clear.  And that was the reason the two of us were here.  Why others should suffer we were not shown.  As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call, our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope.  Life waifs clustered around a blazing fire, we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light.  The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.  p 194
And as the cold increased, so did the special temptation of concentration-camp life: the temptation to think only of oneself.  It took a thousand cunning forms.  I quickly discovered that when I maneuvered our way toward the middle of the roll-call formation, we had a little protection from the wind  I knew this was self-centered: when Betsie and I stood in the center, someone else had to stand on the edge.  How easy it was to give it other names!  I was acting only for Betsie's sake.  We were in an important ministry and must keep well.  It was colder in Poland than in Holland; these Polish women probably were not feeling the chill the way we were.  Selfishness had a life of its own. p 213
"...must tell people what we have learned here.  We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that HE is not deeper still.  They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here." p 217
Things I Didn't Like:
Honestly, while the writing may not have been amazing, I didn't even notice most of the time, because the story is so engrossing and powerful.  I encourage every person to read this book, no matter their religion or beliefs.


Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Night by Elie Wiesel

s-factor: !
probably one or two 

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->->
not exactly violence, but the cruelties of concentration camps are described

Overall rating: *****

Anybody else inspired by this memoir?

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