Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dragon Slippers

Dragon Slippers

It fills my heart with glee to have found this – I can’t WAIT to read the rest of the series and of the books by Jessica Day George!!  Thank-you Goodreads!!

When it comes to books, some of my favourite things are:  Dragons, Princesses, Wit, Strong Female Characters, and a good Plot.  This book captures them all and I am sure I’ve found a new favourite to cherish and re-read a million times!!

The book reminded me of Patricia C. Wrede’s books (Dealing with Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Searching for Dragons, and Talking to Dragons), and of Gail Carson Levine’s style (i.e. Ella Enchanted) – a strong recommendation in it’s favour.

Creel, an intrepid young girl, is set to be sacrificed to the local dragon by her enterprising Aunt (in an attempt to secure a good place/marriage by the whole damsel-in-distress thing).  Instead of being eaten or rescued, Creel bargains her way out of the Dragon’s cave and emerges with a peculiar pair of slippers.  She sets off to the find work in the main city, with basically some thread and the embroidery skills she’s learned from her mother.  She meets a few more dragons, some good friends, and a friendly prince and ultimately must help save the kingdom.

I give this book a 4/5 (although I might rate it higher after a few re-readings haha – I feel like it’s the kind of book that will grow on me).

I’m thrilled to see what else Jessica Day George has in store!  Unfortunately, only the dragon slippers series seems to be available in e-book format through my local library.  I might actually have to seek out the nearest branch (which I haven’t done since we moved because I’ve had my handy kobo and the library website) and put a hold on some of her other books.

Cheers!

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Unspoken

unspoken

I am quite sorry that I just finished this book because now I HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL!  I loved Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan, which I picked up completely on a whim, having felt drawn to the cover.

Unspoken follows Kami Glass, a quirky teenage girl with a passion for investigative journalism and throwing herself at life.  Kami’s quirkiness includes an imaginary friend, Jared – this boy who she talks to in her head. She lives in a sleepy little town in England called Sorry-in-the-Vale, where there are secrets passed down through generations.  The town has always been presided over by the Lynburns, an aloof family who live in the Manor on the hill. They’ve been away and have recently returned, and everything changes when the Lynburns return.  Kami must come to terms with her suddenly-not-so-imaginary-and-now-quite-real-friend Jared while getting to the bottom of the mysterious goings-on in the woods.

Kami is my favourite kind of main character – a spicy, interesting, strong-willed, go-getting female who doesn’t sit waiting around for someone to rescue her.  She’s witty and charming and I felt like I really related to her.

I love stories with a bit of fantasy inserted in, and this one has just the right amount, creeping up on you so that it fits flawlessly in the real world.

Kudos to Sarah Rees  Brennan, on her excellent novel.  I give this book a solid 4/5!

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The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

I finished “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner the other day.   It follows Thomas, a boy who wakes up in a lift with no memory of how he came to be.  He emerges into the Glade – a strange place filled with other teenage boys.  They’re all trapped in this giant maze and are eking out an existence and trying to find some way to escape.  Every night the walls close on the Glade and the walls move in the Maze – sealing them in and protecting them from the creatures prowling outside. Thomas feels drawn to the Maze and seems a catalyst for change as he pursues answers.

Pros:

– Fast-paced story that piqued my curiosity.

– Well-written characters.

Cons:

– Most of the time I felt like asking ,”What the hell is going on????”  In fairness, the main character doesn’t seem to know what’s going on either.

– A little cold/bloodthirsty for my tastes.

Overall rating: 3/5

I will definitely be reading the sequels.

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Dustlands

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I read “Blood Red Road” by Moira Young a while ago, while on a dystopian fiction kick.  I really enjoyed it.  Getting used to the writing style (e.g. the lack of punctuation) took a while, but I admire the way it suits the book and the characters.  Saba (and even Emmi) do such justice to my love of strong female characters!

Blood Red Road follows Saba, a testy young girl trying to track down and recover her kidnapped twin brother, Lugh.  Their younger sister, Emmi, tags along the whole way and proves that she’s got just as much stubbornness as her elder siblings. Saba finds herself trapped in a grim situation and fights with a fierceness I admire while still holding onto her self, her purpose, and her humanity. There’s an almost simplistic black-and-white sense of good and evil in this book that is somewhat refreshing.  Saba’s internal fight for what is right is mirrored clearly in her external fight against Lugh’s kidnappers / her oppressors.

I came away from Blood Red Road feeling optimistic and excited about the next instalment in the seires: Rebel Heart.

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I just finished Rebel Heart and was sadly disappointed.  The story picks up where Blood Red Road left off – following Jack on his errand as the bearer of bad news.  It was nice starting things out from his perspective but it was a jolt going back to Saba (as she and her small party head West) and I felt like it made the story a little disjointed.  I kept expecting the perspective to switch back to Jack and it did not.

Gone were the black-and-white good-and-bad divisions. These were stripped away almost too abruptly, and I didn’t know where my sympathies lay.  With Jack? With Saba? With Lugh?  Or (strangely and in a kind of misguided way) with DeMalo?  Emmi remained true to form but the remainder of the cast shifted too much for me to feel comfortable with them.  Saba especially.  I felt that yes, she of course had the right to go a bit bonkers, but after the arrival at the tavern things seemed go downhill for me. The bit with DeMalo – I just don’t know. I couldn’t quite understand her and couldn’t agree with her.  She went from being such a strong girl that I could really get behind to this … ambiguous figure.   So I left feeling unsettled and uneasy.  Particularly after reading the last bit in the book.  (Oh, Tommo!)

I’ll definitely read the next book, when it comes out, and hope for some redemption from the second.

Overall:

Blood Red Road = 4/5

Rebel Heart = 2/5

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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I have to admit that this book has been on my “to read because it looks intriguing but I’m putting it off because well, I don’t know” list for quite some time.  I finally got around to reading it today and was very pleasantly surprised.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was certainly not what I got.  I guess having rather low expectations might have led me to enjoy this book more than I would have otherwise, but I did enjoy it.  

The story follows sixteen year-old Jacob as he journeys to discover the truth behind his grandfather’s past.  Prompted by some old photographs, he travels to a small welsh island to seek Miss Peregrine and her home of peculiar children.  

Normally I’m not a fan of stories that weave the fantastical with the every-day but I thought that Ransom Riggs did a very nice job.  I liked the play on time and the matter-of-fact handling of the “peculiars”. 

The good: 

– I liked the characters and thought that Jacob was believable and interesting

– I thought the premise of the book was unique 

– It was a good start up book.  It felt like it was setting you up for bigger and better things to come. 

The bad: 

– The characters could use a bit more development.  You do find out about Jacob and I felt like I got to know his ticks a bit, but the other characters were not as well rounded.  I never really felt a good connection with any of the characters (not even Jacob) – no real empathy or understanding of their inner motives, desires, or thoughts. 

– The photographs were interesting, but a bit disjointed and required a bit more in the text to shore them up. 

– The sequel isn’t out yet, and I hate waiting! 

Overall rating:   3/5

– Decent read. I would give it a try if you’re looking for a light read. 

 

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Anne

anne-of-green-gables

I must admit, I hadn’t given Anne of Green Gables much thought in years, but the recent cover controversy sparked a fire under my tail.

Anne of Green Gables: New Edition Controversial Cover | As It Happens with Carol Off and Jeff Douglas | CBC Radio.

I, like many good Canadians, was horrified by this terrible abuse of a childhood favourite!

That pose!!  And a blonde!  What on earth were they thinking???   THAT cover and Anne of Green Gables have NO BUSINESS mixing!!

As an aside, I have always wanted red hair, perhaps because of Anne, and could never fathom her hatred of the colour.

Suffice it to say, I was inspired to re-read the whole series once again.   That includes:

  1. Anne of Green Gables (1908)
  2. Anne of Avonlea (1909)
  3. Anne of the Island (1915)
  4. Anne of Windy Poplars (1936)
  5. Anne’s House of Dreams (1917)
  6. Anne of Ingleside (1939)
  7. Rainbow Valley (1919)
  8. Rilla of Ingleside (1921)

Good old Lucy Maud Montgomery never fails to delight!   Anne made me laugh out loud (to the amusement of my husband) over her “scrapes” and weep over her sorrows.  (I never can read “Rilla of Ingelside” without shedding buckets of tears).  I love these books – the first and last in particular.  I do admit that the later books are perhaps more targeted to an older audience and I find that I appreciate them more and more as I grow up myself.  I love a book where I feel as if I would be good friends with the protagonist!

My journey into P.E.I. got me thinking though, of all the things that have CHANGED since dear Anne’s time.  I will admit I had to look up several terms – “wincey” and “ipecac” among them.   It makes me think of my Nana, who used to tell me of having to ride to school to teach on a donkey – a mean old animal which she hated.  It seems like things went from horses and buggies to cars and planes in such short order!  It seems funny to read about the early 1900s while listening to the background noise of the dishwasher or the snow hitting the windows of our cozy condo (on the 32nd floor!).  Even reading about Anne and her life on my kobo seems like a funny contrast.  I’m certainly glad for our modern conveniences!

I feel like these books are life-long friends, well-worth re-visiting every so often.  If, by shocking chance, you haven’t yet read them, I would highly recommend picking up “Anne of Green Gables” at the very least and losing yourself in Anne’s idyllic childhood for a spell.  Perhaps you’ll find her a “kindred spirit” after all.

5/5

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Filed under Classics (according to me), Young Adult Books