Review: Passenger

Passenger
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a BIG book. Lots of pages, yes, but Bracken tackles a lot with time-travel world building including passages to different eras and locales. Her main character is a headstrong, violin playing, steel-willed heroine, Etta, who pairs up with a biracial, former slave now self-proclaimed “privateer” (read pirate), Nicholas, to steal a magical astrolabe from an evil megalomaniac who also happens to be Nicholas’s grandfather. The pacing in this one is breakneck once you make it through the slow intro. Following the travelers from place to place proves challenging to keep up with and Bracken chooses both familiar and exotic locales for her characters to traverse.

Etta makes a few jumps in conclusive logic after she’s spirited away by Sophia that seem unrealistic. Her mother, Rose, is emotionally distant, and the leaps Etta makes in connecting her new time-traveling situation to assumptions about her mother’s intentions for her as a traveler are unbelievable in their accuracy. If her mother was as closed off as we are supposed to believe, Etta would need a lot more help in navigating this new wrinkle in her life and discovering her mother’s intent for Etta’s role in this game Ironwood is playing. Supporting character, Sophia Ironwood is deliciously awful and is at once pitiable for the callous way in which her grandfather Ironwood dismisses her, and easy to hate given her venomous attacks on Nicholas which, seem at first racially based, but develop a more complex nuance as the story progresses. Nicholas is trapped by the social constructs of his time and is sometimes annoying with his Doomsday View of his future, particularly when he becomes entangled with Etta. I always want love to overcome.

Ultimately, Bracken weaves it all together and brings the strengths of each character into play. The cliffhanger ending had me cursing the time lag between publications. Clearly, I enjoyed this one since I read it twice. I read it last spring after it had been out for a bit, and revisited it this month to prepare for reading Wayfarer, the conclusion to the story. I applaud Bracken for limiting herself to two installments since three or more seems to be The Thing in publishing these days.

BRIDGE: This would be a great title for lovers of historical fiction. It would pair well with a study of American Revolutionary time period or WWII Britain, those two locales receiving the most description and time in the story. The series itself would be a good one for character study as Sophia and Nicholas both change so much throughout the arc of the series.

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Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Harry’s story is intriguing and tragic, yet despite that, I couldn’t keep reading. Maybe if I had been reading it instead of listening to it I might have been able to finish it. The concept is interesting: a man is part of a special group of people who relive their lives over and over again retaining the knowledge and memories from their previous lives. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep my interest. Almost halfway through, I am still not sure exactly what the conflict in the story is. I thought there was something to resolve with his biological father, but no – that happens early. Then I thought it might be about how to avoid the reliving lives thing. Again, no. I kept going because I thought maybe Harry was looking for his one great love. No. Ultimately the thing that clinched my quitting it was the endless passages of existential self-introspection. Paragraphs and paragraphs of wonderings about the meaning of time and the meaning of life. Even more paragraphs of scientific hypothesizing about how time works and the scientific, moral, and historical implications of changing history. I couldn’t take it. Perhaps I’ll go back to it at some point, but for now it goes on my Abandoned list.

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Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BRIDGE: (obvious) A Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare, Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy, or House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

READ ALIKES: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, or

REVIEW: I’m usually a sucker for a happy ending, but this one left me with a weird taste in my mouth. I saw E.K. Johnston speak at ALAN in Nov. 2016, and I knew it would be an idealistic portrayal of a rape victim’s experience. I found myself continually thinking “Wow. That would never happen that way” or “Hermione is really handling this well”. On one hand, this book could be a good “instructional” read for families and communities on How To Deal with rape cases and victims. On the other hand, this could have an adverse affect on rape victims themselves. Hermione is so calm and well-adjusted throughout her ordeal, I worry that any reader who may have had an experience with sexual assault or is the victim of rape will feel that any reaction other than one like Hermione’s is a “wrong” reaction. While a situation like this without stumbling is sometimes reality, it is hardly the norm and I worry that it’s too easy.

That being said, Johnston’s writing is great and Hermione’s life and community are fullfilling. I also enjoyed a look into a high school cheerleading world that doesn’t involve airheads or cattiness. Again, perhaps not 100% reality, but cheerleaders get a bad wrap in YA and it’s nice to see the commitment to competition and their sport. Polly is a tremendous best friend and we should all be so lucky to have such a loyally fierce and supportive person in our corner. It’s a lovely snapshot of what humankind could be if we choose love and support.

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Review: Jane Steele

Jane Steele
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The references and parallels to Jane Eyre are clever. Jane is equal parts wretched and conniving. She suffers and loves in equal measure; the fault of herself and others. A great book to pair with the Bronte Classic. One could create a scavenger hunt for younger readers to find the similarities and have older students compare thematic and motific similarities. Excellent audio narration.

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Review: The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally, a new twist on the idea of fairy tales and princesses! Chainani blends humor and cliche with a fresh setting and plot. In Agatha and Sophie’s world, children are kidnapped by the School Master and taken to a school that trains them to either be good or evil. Blond, fair Sophie is thrilled to be one of the kidnapped kids from her town. Her dark, brooding friend Agatha is taken as well, but both girls are surprised when Sophie is sent to the School for Evil instead of the School for Good. What ensues is a bumbling adventure through both Good and Evil’s campuses that at once embraces and mocks the cliches of traditional fairy tales. Now the two friends have been pitted against one another in the ages-old good vs. evil battle and the only thing that’s certain is it will be one wild competition. Fairies as campus guards, a two-headed dog/wolf as bickering professors, and the mysterious School Master make for a delightfully adventurous and funny romp on a new path through familiar territory.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and just began the second book, The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes. Polly Lee’s narration of the first book is brilliant; I keep hearing her voice in my head as I read the second.

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18 May 2015

Mon Reading Button PB to YAIt’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
The lovelies at teachmentortexts.com thought this would be a fun meme to start up with a kidlit focus: anyone reading and reviewing books in children’s literature. It can be picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels – you name it in the world of kidlit and it’s in! I love being a part of this meme and hope you do, too! I encourage everyone participating to go and visit the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and to comment on as many posts as you can. We love talking books and believe in sharing and discussing what we’re reading. We hope you join us! Read more here: http://www.teachmentortexts.com/#ixzz2R9UNmFll
In the last week I’ve finished
 
This week, I’m reading, planning on reading and listening to

11 May 2015

Mon Reading Button PB to YAIt’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
The lovelies at teachmentortexts.com thought this would be a fun meme to start up with a kidlit focus: anyone reading and reviewing books in children’s literature. It can be picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels – you name it in the world of kidlit and it’s in! I love being a part of this meme and hope you do, too! I encourage everyone participating to go and visit the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and to comment on as many posts as you can. We love talking books and believe in sharing and discussing what we’re reading. We hope you join us! Read more here: http://www.teachmentortexts.com/#ixzz2R9UNmFll
In the last week I’ve finished
 
This week, I’m reading, planning on reading and listening to