Title: Swearing off Stars
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Title: Swearing off Stars
A lovely little freebie has been released by Whispered in the Wind. Even though I don't have any ornaments specifically planned for people this year, I may have to stitch this cutey up just because!
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Title: Rebel of the Sands
Title: The Dollmaker of Krakow
Anytime you pick up a book that is set during WWII you must be prepared for a sad or at the very least a bittersweet ending; even when it's a middle-grade book.
The Setting & Characters
The Dollmaker of Krakow is set in German occupied Poland. As a survivor of WWI whose missing a leg, the Dollmaker is a quiet, downtrodden older man. To me he felt like the kind of old man that you just want to hug and listen to all day long. I adore him.
As this is a middle grade (ages 9-11) book it conveys the horror of the treatment of the Jews and the Polish people in a way that children can understand. And even though I knew how it was likely to end and that not everyone could get out, I still couldn't wait to read more each time I had to put it down.
Our other main character is a doll that has come to life. This doll named Karolina, lived in the Land of the Dolls first and experienced a war herself. She is unlike Pinocchio in every way and instead is our Jiminy Cricket of the story, always telling us what is right and wrong.
The focus of the book is the telling of two parallel stories. One of the Land of the Dolls being invaded by rats (told in past tense) and the other of Poland being invaded by Germans (told as its transpiring). As the story is told from Karolina's perspective we have a constant voice asking why people are doing these things and questioning why the Germans are so awful; but also questioning why the adults don't fight back. This allows the story to be told in a way that keeps the message clear; the actions of the soldiers are wrong and immoral and that the Polish are afraid and most are not at fault. I like this treatment of the story and morality a lot. It allows R.M. Romero to keep the story true to actual events (ie: Jews being moved around and eventually onto the trains if the Germans aren't just outright killing them in the streets) without the need to lie about what happened.
I believe it's important we tell children the truth of events and situations so that they can know not to repeat these actions. If we ignore history and it's awful moments then I fear humans will make the same mistakes again. We must teach our children to have their eyes open and be able to identify fascism, racism, injustice, etc. early and then to try and give them the tools to fight back long before an army is invading.
There is some fictional magic in this book. It's used sparingly and really only to allow for two major events. First for Karolina to exist at all in our world (talking doll and all) and second for a major plot point to be plausible. I think it's brilliantly used and absolutely love that it's very specific and used sparingly. It helps keep the majority of the events in the story realistic.
I have only one major complaint about this book. Which frankly is amazing as even some of my favourite books still have multiple issues.
Word choice is something that really good authors pay a lot of attention to and actually think about.
All of the vocabulary in The Dollmaker of Krakow is well chosen (for reading comprehension of the 9-11 age bracket and for tone and impact to the story). All except for one word:
This is what Karolina calls the Germans. Some are worst witches than others in the dolls mind and she does discuss that briefly. There is also a distinction made between magicians and witches (I will concede that witch is lowercase on all uses at least). A magician can be good or bad. I'm not sure why Romero decided to use the word witch, but I really hate it. Using it to describe the Germans soldiers perpetuates the use of witch as a word for someone evil or wrong.
In actual fact there are people who identify as Witches in modern day (yes my caps usage is intentional). Witches are commonly followers of Wicca but can be Pagans in general depending on who you ask. Witches are generally people who believe in nature as the strongest force in the world and follow the sentiment of 'If ye harm none, do what you will'. An obvious hurt no one belief and certainly contrary to the definition used.
I believe this is likely an innocent mistake by Romero to choose the word but it's still a mistake. If Romero wants a word for monster or evil that children would understand easily I believe there are much better choices.
Despite my cringe each time Karolina called a soldier a witch, I still absolutely loved this book. The Dollmaker of Krakow is a gem. Written in the magical voice of a little doll who comforts and helps a lonely old man; it's impossible not to be in love from the opening word to the final period.
If you are a crier I would recommend some tissues for sure. I'm not a crier but still nearly succumbed at one point. For me that is a showing of how amazing and powerful this story is.
This is a book that transcends age or genre. It tells the truth, and reminds the reader at every turn of what is right and wrong. In the scenarios in The Dollmaker of Krakow there are very few grey moments of morality. Instead it is black and white which I believe will help children understand the travesties better. Destroying people is never okay; whether the destruction is running people from their homes, starving them or (obviously) ending their lives.
A Special Spot
A spot next to The Book Thief and The Sky is Falling. is now being reserved on my shelf for The Dollmaker of Krakow. I can't imagine not adding it to my permanent library in a place of honour. It definitely deserves to be there next to other fantastic WWII children's novels.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Sunday, December 3, 2017
Title: The Infinite Now
Author: Mindy Tarquini
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Supernatural
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
DNF @ 40%
While the concept and set-up of The Infinite Now are really good; the actual execution of story is so boring. I can't believe I was only at 40% when I stopped reading this as it felt like the story should be almost over. By 40% I felt like I had been reading for thousands of pages (even though it was only just over 100 pages in reality).
It's really unfortunate as the concept is quite god. Our lead gal has lost her parents due to the influenza outbreak during war time in London. Her mother was a seer or witch. Subsequently the superstitious Londoners are afraid of her and she is lucky to be taken in by an old man who seems to have some loyalty to her family.
She inherits a curtain that seems to help tell the future, meets another witch who may be nefarious but appears to be trying to help, everyone in her area is ailing, children are starving as their parents have influenza and can't get out of bed, meanwhile war is raging elsewhere.
Sounds kind of good right?
It should be but sadly it's not. I'm not sure if it's the writing, the repetitive nature of the narrative or that our lead gal is just boring. But I can say with certainty that I'd had enough and just wanted to read anything else. So a DNF it is.
I'm always sad to DNF (as it's maybe unfair to the author) but at some point you have to stop the bleeding and move on.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Title: Strange Practice
Author: Vivian Shaw
Genre: Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
I'm rounding up from 3.75 as I really enjoyed this book; but I think others will possibly disagree with me. There are a number of small annoyances in Strange Practice and some of its oddness distracts from the story itself.
I had to look up multiple words while reading. This is something that can be both good and bad. It can be educational to learn new words, but it can also just be snobbery that has an author including those words. It doesn't help that Vivian Shaw has actually created new words in order to support her variety of medical conditions for the supernatural.
This is probably one of the most unique things in Strange Practice that sets it above other paranormal/supernatural stories. There are different kinds of vampires. For example, some are deathly allergic to garlic, others have sun allergy, some need blood of a virgin (not kidding!) and whatnot. Shaw has set up an elaborate world of supernatural beings (inside our existing world) in order to support her main characters job of doctor to the supernatural. From baby ghouls with ear infections to knife wounds to mummy's that are falling apart, there's no lack of creativity in ailments that are treated.
Shaw has excelled at creating interesting and likeable (while still a little scary) characters. Many of them remind me of the first time I met characters like Jean-Claude and Richard in Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. It helps that demons and vampires tend to have interesting back stories but it's still easy to do it wrong. Reveal too much (or too little) about each person/creature and you can collapse the intrigue. I thought there was a good mix and lots to still learn about our main players. I just hope Shaw doesn't get carried away with too much sex like Hamilton did in her series.
Which brings me to plot. There is a very solid, easy to follow plot that brings our characters together and gives valid and easy to recognize reasons for them to do what they do.
That said one of my sticking points in books is when things are too convenient. There were two major moments near the end where I rolled my eyes because things were a bit too convenient. This is definitely part of why this was an enjoyable book but not a five star one for me.
The inevitable topic that needs sorting in any supernatural universe is religion. It's pretty tough to have angels, demons, vampires, etc without touching on the religious basis for your beings.
Shaw takes an interesting approach to this by having some characters be directly from Heaven or Hell; yet others that just exist, no religion needed. She also sets up a world in which it's less of good vs. bad and more about a balanced existence.
This certainly plays well into my own personal beliefs and didn't rub me the wrong way at all (unlike the Supernatural tv show where Dean's quick conversion was a bit too in my face). I think it's a very thin strand to walk the line between not offending anyone and also being a bit neutral. Shaw hit the nail on the head for me and set-up a world and characters I got easily on board with.
I would recommend this book for folks who feel supernatural books are often too 'dumbed down' (ie: smutty romances) as there is a lot here to take away. The ingenious medical set-up of the beings certainly sets it apart from so many others almost like it in the genre.
I will definitely be carrying on with this series as I think it stands out in a genre I love (but often hate because of the style of writing and choice of plot points).
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Title: The Visitors
Author: Catherine Burns
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
For three days I have been trying to figure out what to say in this review. This is an odd and fairly disturbing book. I think my biggest problem with it is I can't figure out what the point is in it. Especially given that the blurb gives away that the brother gets ill and yet that doesn't happen until almost the very end of the novel.
Perhaps as a short story this might work. It could still hold the creep factor without being so drawn out.
This is not a pleasant book. Be warned. It's clear from the beginning that the 'visitors' are being held captive. That the brother is the one doing it and his unintelligent sister is (mostly) a passive bystander. Both siblings are rich by inheritance so there is none of the usual issue with getting a job or being concerned about funds. This may help to distance the average person even further from the sister (whom the story perspective is written from); but for me this doesn't make any of the things she does more acceptable or less horrific.
I think Catherine Burns intends to make us feel badly for our lead gal (the sister) at points. She's a 50+ virgin with no friends or true relationships (except for her brother). She has a low IQ and some large mental health issues. But being less intelligent doesn't (generally) mean you are less morale. It just means you are not as clever. And this is where I don't like the way she is portrayed; as though her lesser IQ is an excuse for many things she does or doesn't do. I don't believe that IQ indicates a person's morality or capability to feel emotions. The traits of a sociopath are available to any intelligence level and, perhaps ironically, often to those more intelligent than the average.
Nothing to see here
I honestly feel like I want to use the force to wave my hand and say there's "nothing to see here" because there really isn't. If you want to read horrific literature just because you like crazy creepy and terrifying things happening to others then sure maybe The Visitors is for you. But go in knowing it's not a horror novel; it's a literary novel that has horrifying things happen in it. And maybe that's what's most odd of all; the writing is good and the characters themselves are well developed, it's just there is no substance of plot here except to maybe say that the sister is naive or chooses to be blind to her circumstances. I'd love to hear what Burns has to say about why she wrote this book.
But does it turn out okay?
Some who have read this novel may say "oh but there's a sort-of happy ending". I disagree there is absolutely nothing happy about this ending. In fact the ending may be more unsettling than the obvious horrifying things due to its skewed perspective.
Unless you are obsessed with serial killers or kidnappers then I just can't see a reason to pick The Visitors up.
I generally like creepy, smart thrillers (although not my primary genre choice); but neither smart nor creepy are really present here. Instead it's just flat out horrifying because it could be real (has been all too real to some real-life women) and seems to provide no context that allows the reader to 'get something' out of the book (other than perhaps a sick to your stomach feeling).
Monday, November 20, 2017
Friday, November 17, 2017
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Title: Blood & Ink
This is a difficult book to know what to do with.
On one hand it's a fairly boring, typical Romeo and Juliet story (with a twist). On the other hand it's based on real events in Timbuktu in 2012 which makes it both relevant, educational and sad all at once.
Historical Content & Importance
Blood and Ink is set in 2012 Timbuktu when radicals Muslims took over the city. These are real life people who believe women should always be veiled in public. Now Timbuktu had been, to date, a very progressive Muslim society in which many women chose not be veiled. So this was an obvious infringement on their rights. Among many other things that happened during that time of occupation
Timbuktu had public lashings!!
I cannot even begin to tell you how disturbing I find this. Not only, that it happened a mere five years ago; but also that my sheltered Canadian self remembers hearing of the occupation of Timbuktu and not thinking it meant much at the time. Let me stand corrected now. Stephen Davies has opened my eyes to the radical violence that came (and in some cases still comes) from these jihads. I find it truly disturbing.
I pledge from here forward to be more aware of the actual circumstances that fair practicing, innocent Muslims undergo. And that if anything is in my power to act or do something I will. Even if it's only to bring awareness.
Why just the event is not enough
No matter how important or world shattering a book may be due to its context and content that doesn't make it good writing or characters interesting.
Without a doubt the main events, based on true stories, are compelling and horrifying in Blood and Ink but that's really where it ends. Everything Davies added to the book; his characters, motivations, etc are dull and cliche.
To take an event like the protecting of the manuscripts and dumb it down to a couple children being responsible seems offensive to the original folks who actually spent weeks achieving his smuggling act. To indicate somehow that the entire occupation somehow laid on one little boys shoulders in many ways is also ludicrous.
What I would normally accept in completely fictional stories (extraordinary children) I just cannot abide by when the events actually happened in a completely different way. What was wrong with telling the story the way it happened?
Historical Fiction is Different
I read a lot of historical fiction based on true events. This is one of a rare few where it's historical fiction written for the young adult crowd. This intrigued me at first; but after reading Blood and Ink I think that Davies has taken complex human emotions, motivations and acts, and dumbs them down to lowest common denominator.
I'm not a fan of this as it seems to do disservice to the actual history.
I look at stories like Titanic where the storyline we follow plays no bearing on the ship sinking. This I'm okay with as our characters did not cause or create the iceberg hit. But in Blood and Ink our two main characters appears to be behind almost all the major decisions and events. This doesn't feel right to me.
I know there are extraordinary people and children in our world. And I love to read about them. But don't downplay the importance of real people by having your fictional characters take credit for things they shouldn't. Because somewhere out there now is someone(s) who perhaps believes a teen girl in Timbuktu single-handedly actually did what this girl does in the book.
We should be cautious of ever giving too much credit to the wrong people in historical fiction.
Monday, November 13, 2017
Title: The End of the World Running Club
The first four chapters would make an amazing short story about an asteroid(s) impact on Earth. I rate those four chapters 5 out of 5. And then the rest of the book comes... and ruins the magic.
The world is scorched, people die, horribleness ensues, and through it all our annoying, whiny lead character (an overweight, disengaged father of 2) leads us on his painfully boring trek.
I'm actually not sure why I kept reading The End of the World Running Club to the end. So let's look at what was good and what was bad.
The 4 Great Things
1) Like I said the first four chapters are fantastic. I absolutely loved them. Read them and make up your own ending.
2) The title, The End of the World Running Club, is clever given where the book heads. I do appreciate the sarcasm and irony that is used throughout the world ending story.
3) I loved that the lead character is an average 30-something man, Edgar. A father to two small children, with a wife, a moderate house, and a job he goes to because he must. He's the archetype of the regular middle class Joe existing in a first world society.
4) The end is a perfect combination of victory and sadness. A way to resolve a story such as this without coming out too optimistic is difficult and I do appreciate that Adrian J. Walker resisted the urge to tie it all in a bow.
The 4 Awful Things
Are you ready for this? The four things that were great are also the same four things I hated. Let me explain:
1) It is so frustrating to read four chapters of brilliance and then wait for that magic during the last 3/4 of the book. Only to realize as you approach the end that his boring, annoying dribble of a story is all you're going to get after the amazing start. Makes the rest of the book feel worse than it probably is.
2) In most running clubs you, you know, run. While a small part of this book is certainly about running (and it's clear our author has experienced a runners wall, high and all the emotions and pains that come with it); the reality is it's really just your average the world went to hell the moment we lost amenities book. The attempted scary, philosophical mini side stories fall flat. It's so sad to me that Walker created a world where so many things could be done and instead there is no depth to these events.
3) Edgar is the most annoying man ever. He constantly complains, gives up and is really lucky to have people with smarts and perseverance around him. I guess while I think I want books about regular people in extraordinary situations maybe I'm totally deluding myself. Maybe I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy because I want exceptionally competent and capable characters..? All I know for certain is that Edgar made me want to throw him off a cliff; instead of cheering him up the cliff.
4) I am not a fan of a book that has you believe one premise throughout the entire book; only to throw that awry at the end. There was absolutely no reason for the moment of possible uncertainty that was written in. It's like it was put there because book clubs would salivate over it; not because it made sense to the story or added to the ending in any way. Additionally it felt forced and that is a huge pet peeve for me. Endings should make sense. There can be twists or reveals, of course, but they need to make sense and feel natural.
Just read Station Eleven instead
Maybe I've just read too many post apocalyptic books lately... or maybe I've just read the best of the best and now no one will ever measure up to Station Eleven (read it if you haven't; amazing piece of literature!). I was moved by Station Eleven, excited to tell everyone I knew about it and loved the side stories and philosophy. In this book the most moved I felt was to close the book and do something else.
Overall I'm not convinced that Edgar ever felt a genuine emotion towards anyone in his family, running club or whatnot. I'm not even sure he felt emotions about himself. When I should have been crying over events that happened I just felt 'meh'. When I should have felt joy and awe, I felt 'meh'. And when I should have been afraid for our characters and their safety I mostly wanted to cheer for the crazy people they were encountering because then maybe the story would end sooner. This just didn't do it for me. Call me out for being a hypocrite, I'm okay with that. Apparently a story about a boring person who barely feels emotions himself meant I just never had any emotions either (except ones that involved being frustrated and annoyed).
But seriously read the first four chapters and then imagine your own end; because they are brilliantly put together. And because the actually journey to the end is just a bunch of running, crazies and a whole mediocre mess of nothing.
Monday, November 6, 2017
Title: The Agony of Bun O'Keefe
Author: Heather Smith
Genre: Literary fiction, Canadian
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This book is gut wrenching. I'm hesitant to tell anyone to read it because it's about such awful things. Certainly there are moments of love in it; that come from the awful things but that only makes the emotion of it harder to take.
Heather Smith has done what few writers can do to me. She's written a story that is about tragic circumstances and instead of making me annoyed, that she was tugging on heart strings, I was completely enthralled and absolutely crushed by the sadness of it all. The Agony of Bun O'Keefe is not for the faint of heart.
Between hoarding, abandonment, molestation, abuse, extreme prejudice and racism there is barely a chance to breathe in between moments. Thank goodness this is only 123 pages. I don't think I could have taken anymore of it.
And yet the characters, especially Bun (who the story is told through) are vibrant, real people. Smith puts so much energy (good or bad), character, emotion and realism into this short novel it's nothing short of a literary masterpiece. And yet I wouldn't want to read it again because I can only take so much heartache. Considering I rarely cry at books and usually scoff at those written to intentionally make you cry (I hated The Fault in our Stars); it's clear to me that Smith has written something special. And while you share the agony of Bun, Busker Boy, Chef, Big Eyes and others in this book you'll also share in their moments of true love and I suppose that is the whole point. Experiencing the world means sharing equally in both the unbearable pain and overwhelming love.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
Title: The Screaming Staircase
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, horror
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 stars for this super fun, creepy and fast-paced book. This may say it's a Middle Grade book, and certainly it could be given to a kid 9 and up, but don't be deceived by that everyone will enjoy Lockwood & Co!
Why only 4.5 stars?
The reason for my deduction of 0.5 stars is perhaps going to sound petty to some; but it's a real pet peeve of mine. Jonathan Stroud is British and The Screaming Staircase is set in London. So can someone explain to me why, in the copy I read, the temperatures are in Fahrenheit?! Almost everywhere in the world (including here in Canada) we use Celsius. No child in the UK would use Fahrenheit. I am assuming, much like changes made to Harry Potter, that the publisher decided to change the Celsius to Fahrenheit to market to children in the USA. Now, you're thinking to yourself, but Mel how many times can they possibly mention the temperature? A lot!! As one of the main indicators of 'visitors' (aka ghosts or spirits) is that the temperature drops it is mentioned a few dozen times.
Now I realize this is clearly not Stroud's choice. However, instead of changing the scale used what about putting a conversion chart at the beginning or end of the book. Maybe we can teach the USA children about Celsius instead of forcing the rest of the world to manage the metric used by one country. This is a classic example of publishing houses catering to the USA and stuffing everyone else into that category (especially us Canadians). Okay, rant over.
So many questions!
Overall Stroud is a genius. He takes a simple idea, the world is plagued by visitors that are a menace and can kill people with ghost touch, and creates an intricate world around it. Only children can see the manifestations and so they are the best equipped to fight these menaces and clear places of the visitors. Obviously this comes with it's own set of morale questions. What age is too young to start? When things go wrong is the child responsible? Is it worth the sacrifice of youth to battle the visitors?
These questions are more are handled exquisitely in The Screaming Staircase. I'm so sad it's such a quick read as I didn't want to leave the world yet. I'll be ordering the next couple in this series immediately! I'm also going to be purchasing this series for my 13-year-old nephew for the holidays as I know he will love the creepiness. What kid doesn't want to read about a 'red room' which fills with ghost plasma that looks like blood, a staircase where the screaming incapacities you, a ghost so unhappy she kills current residents of the home? And these are only examples of some of the things are three lead characters encounter.
Bring on the sarcasm and fun!
The other thing that is amazing about Stroud is that he is able to write kids books that are sarcastic and funny. Alongside all that creepiness and atmosphere our three lead kids are able to poke fun at each other and fight over the silliest things (who gets the last cookie); just like normal children do. Without a doubt the humour in The Screaming Staircase is critical to breaking some of the tension and scariness that comes along with the story itself.
Am I a child or an adult?
Most of all what I love is Stroud's handling of the conflicts and emotions that come from children playing at being adults. As the eldest child with two younger siblings in my family (one of whom has Type 1 diabetes) I remember a lot of moments as a kid where I felt I had to pretend to be more adult than I was. Even when it wasn't, I often felt like it was my responsibility to handle situations. As Lockwood & Co. has no 'adult supervisors' you see them struggle with this paradigm a lot. When can they show weakness? How do they convince adults they are competent and capable? And at what point is it okay to just collapse and let someone else take care of things.
There are no easy answers to these questions but Stroud does an excellent job of helping readers understand that it's okay to show weakness and to reinforce that we ALL have weaknesses. It's less about what that weakness is and more about how we compensate for it. That by surrounding ourselves with people who we trust and will help us we can be both strong and weak as needed.
Buy it for everyone!
I think this will be my go-to book/series to buy for anyone over the age of 10 for the next while. I look forward to buying multiple copies for kids (including my nephew)! While there is a lot of substance in this book, it still feels like a break as the language is simple and easy to follow. Do yourself, or those around you a favour and pick this gem up!
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
419 is very interesting. I knew almost nothing about Nigeria going into it and now I feel some real sympathy for their people and plight. I'm always in awe with books that can take me to real life locations and make me feel like I've been there or have a new understanding of that place.
A section of the story takes place in my home city of Calgary (Canada). It's a bit odd to read about landmarks and roads I know so well (author Will Ferguson lives here himself) but also a little exciting. Right up until an apartment building could be seen from a road that is too far away (lol). I get it, fictional license and all but it was a bit odd to me because I do know the city so well.
I'd highly recommend 419 for book clubs as it is sure to generate a lot of conversation. The basic story is a struggle between what we all feel we need to do to survive and what we are willing to do within our own moral compass. It's often surprising what lengths humans will go to protect themselves and others. I don't want to say too much else as I think the intricacies of the setting, plot and characters are all best discovered as you read 419.
My four stars is merely because I wasn't dying to read the last 1/3 of the book. I'm very glad I did but it lost something at some point. I believe is was when we spent a large chunk of time with the same characters; instead of the back and forth that happens in the rest of the novel between locations and characters. Or perhaps I was just too concerned that one of our focal characters was not going to make it very far. There are some intense moments that really brought home to me how lucky I am to live where I do.
Overall I think that this is an interesting book, it shares stories from a part of the world many are not very familiar with and it reveals more details about the "Nigerian Prince" email scams than most of us are likely to know. Ferguson does a good job of making you like characters that are morally ambiguous and a good job of telling the stories that are seemingly unrelated to start with. I will guarantee that it all ties together and the end felt perfect to me. Not necessarily happy or sad; just realistic.
I am definitely going to pick-up more by Ferguson. Not only because he's local to me and meets my Canadian author criteria; but because I did really enjoy the set up and loved the end of 419.
After a random number generator selection the winner is...
It looks like Marie Curie is the most popular of all the ladies in the book. For the obvious reasons in that she was a very smart lady that persevered in a world where women were not supposed to be smart or have discoveries.
Lately there has been a lot of media around harassment (of all sorts) against women. I think sometimes it's important to remember how far we have come as a society and therefore we can certainly continue to progress. No challenge is too large or insurmountable. Our history tells us that.
I'm still working on the border design for my Feminist Cross Stitch complete piece. But I believe I have chosen my fabric! It is a 40ct New Castle dyed by Picture This Plus called 'Ancient'. It's got a lovely little green throughout it on the ancient looking yellow/beige fabric.
I also ordered some fun variegated threads the other day to do the border in. The pieces themselves will be in the DMC as called for so I thought I would add a little bit of colour change into it in the border. And because I just can't help myself!
Thanks so much for stopping by and following my blog!
Up next week will be more dragons updates! If I'm really lucky I'll have 3 more to share! I've been pushing hard to get those little critters finished up.
Monday, October 30, 2017
Author: Rita Stradling
Genre: Young adult, Fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I really wanted to like this more. The initial concept, a curse that makes everyone forget you and everything you touch (including yourself) leeches colour, is really cool. I like the setting and overall idea. But it seems to me that Rita Stradling is great at developing cool concepts and plots; and that's where her greatness ends. Colorless is filled with characters that could almost be interesting and side stories that have potential; yet when it comes to actual execution of these ideas everything seems to fall apart.
Now that's not to say this isn't readable. It's quite readable. Action packed and again a cool concept. But Stradling is missing that 'something' that makes a writer a really great writer. If I didn't know better I'd think she was really new to writing (which she is not). I just wish she could up her game somehow and have loveable characters, and meaningful relationships.
A note on language
Stradling is the latest author, in a string of young adult books I've read recently, to use archaic words. Now I read a lot of historical fiction and am no slouch when it comes to vocabulary and Latin root words (I speak French and English) but it irritates me when authors use words randomly just to seem cool. In Colorless the use of anni (year) and annos (years) annoyed me to no end. It just felt unnecessary. It's not like your teaching anyone words that will ever be used in regular English! I get it when middle school books use larger or more complex words, because they are teaching. But by the time you're at the level of this book there is just no reason for it anymore. So take things like ornery, anni and candor elsewhere. You're not impressing anyone.
Back to the plot
There's also a weird thing that happens near the end that made me go 'What!?!'. It felt a little out of the blue. Looking back there was maybe a hint or two towards this outcome but I felt less like it was a twist and more like it was thrown in because she didn't know what else to do to give this book some closure.
Colorless is book one in a new series. Would I read the next one? I'm really not sure. Maybe... but it wouldn't be at the top of my must read list.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Title: The Salt Line
While The Salt Line starts out as typical dystopia, post-apocalyptic novel; it's main theme changes at out the halfway point and then again just before the end.
This makes it a bit of a weird read.
The writing itself is very good and certainly the story moves forward quickly enough to keep the attention of the reader. However, if you want a badass dystopian story this is not for you. If you want a bleak depressing story this is also not the right story. It's somewhere between a bit of horror (ticks that have wiped out huge portions of the populations), thriller (rebels) and humanism (reproduction concerns and overall quality of life questions). I felt confused at many points about what Holly Goddard Jones was trying to say.
By the end I felt like I mostly understood the point, but didn't feel all that satisfied; hence my three star rating.
I thought at one point that the author had to be a male given the lack of chemistry every couple had. Much to my shock I found out that our author, Jones, is a woman. While the stereotype shatters in my mind (lol); let me tell you a bit more about the pace of this book. There are three distinct portions to the book and if you feel like you liked what you read up to the end of one of the sections but are not intrigued by the latest "twist" in the story then I'd say you are probably safe to stop reading. I'm glad I read the whole book but could see people getting frustrated by the change of messaging in each section.
Overall it's like Jones tried to put too much into her dystopian novel and missed a lot of key factors. I wanted more chemistry between characters, less back stories about irrelevant people, and more focus on one or two characters (the voice is constantly changing). Maybe that's why the thrill is taken away at some times; I had heard about the situation from too many voices at some points and just wanted to move on or go back to a favourite character or two. The Salt Line is not a bad read, but it's not a good read. It sits right in that awkward three star zone.