Flashback September 2011

And now, a look back to what I reviewed in September 2011!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffee and Annie Barrows. From my review: “London, 1946. Author Juliet Ashton, thirtysomething, is looking for an idea for a new book when she gets a letter from Dawsey Adams, a farmer from Guernsey who found her name in a book and is wondering if she could help him find more reading material. Told solely in letters, Dawsey Adams and his friends tell Juliet about their life on Guernsey during the German occupation.”

The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey. From my review: “If you enjoy horror, especially horror told in a literary manner, and haven’t read any of the Monstrumologist series yet, stop now and go read The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo. This is the horror of Stephen King, including the deep examination of people and their psyches, a look into what makes people love — or people kill. It is told in the rich language of days past, as if polysyllabic words and classical language makes blood and violence easier to read about and to think about. To think – yes, horror demands you to think, not just about “what is that sound outside my window” but the deeper philosophical questions, such as – what is a monster? What is a man? What is the difference?

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. From my review: “Elisa’s adventure is about to begin, and part of the joy of The Girl of Fire and Thorns is how she triumphs, despite the hardships and challenges she faces: everything from kidnapping to sand storms. I loved Elisa; loved how a person can be a hero who spent their life in books and comfort. Elisa had no reason to learn sword fighting, to ride a horse, to be athletic, so she wasn’t. She doesn’t become some slim fighting machine; but she does transform herself into a person of action. At its heart, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is about a girl becoming a woman because she realizes her actions have consequences, that life is more than sitting back waiting for things to happen, and that she has choices.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. From my review:Daughter of Smoke and Bone is stunning — I’ve never read anything quite like it. Taylor tells us, up front, “once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” Talk about your spoilers! And this illustrates why spoilers don’t matter — yes, there will be an angel. There will be a devil. They will fall in love; the reader even knows how it will end. The entire plot is given away before the story even begins. Yet, still, the reader turns the pages, wondering, who is the angel? Who is the devil? How do they even meet to fall in love? What does this have to do with Karou, who lives in Prague and meets her best friend for coffee and picks the wrong boyfriend, yet also knocks on a normal-looking door and enters the mysterious workshop of Brimstone, a world where wishes come true for a price, and the price is teeth. Oh, what does Brimstone do with all those teeth . . . .”

Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin. From my review: “Meet Charlie and Fielding. It seems like these two teens have it all; at seventeen, the world is theirs! Well, if you ignore the fact that Charlie has been legally emancipated for two years, when at age fifteen she found out that her parents had spent all her money. Fielding’s on his own, also, since his parents are back home in Cincinnati, believing at seventeen he’s old enough to be on his own. Luckily, they both have their agents — the same agents who concocted the idea, years ago, for Charlie and Fielding to be a “real” couple. Yep, it’s a fauxmance for the sake of cameras and photographers and publicity. Darn, you just cannot believe anything you read or see.”

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrations by Ana Juan. From my review: “How lovely, just how quickly September accepts the invitation of the Green Wind and how easily and deeply she believes in it, the Green Wind and his flying leopard, Fairyland and witches and dragons. September makes friends and accepts challenges and jumps into adventures. It’s not risk free. There are real dangers, both to herself and her new friends, and important decisions have to be made. September’s seamless acceptance of the magical makes this a read for both those young enough themselves to believe that Fairyland may exist in the back of wardrobes, but also those old enough to no longer care what others think of their reading choices. This a delightful, rich, inventive book for both children and adults.”

The Revenant by Sonia Gensler. From my review: “1896. Willie Hammond, 17, knows what she doesn’t want; she doesn’t want to leave school, abandoning her (and her father’s) dreams of an excellent education. She doesn’t want to return to the family farm, with her mother, stepfather, and half-siblings. She doesn’t want the endless toil and drudgery of being treated as a hired hand by her mother and stepfather. So Willie runs away, pretending to be Angelina McClure, English teacher, heading to the Cherokee Female Seminary in Indian Territory. How hard can it be, Willie wonders? What could possibly go wrong?

Glow: The Sky Chasers by Amy Kathleen Ryan. From my review: “This is classic science fiction, with a space ship and everything! Two spaceships, even! As can be seen from [the characters last names], there are allusions to another group of pilgrims. It’s not just the names; religion is significant, with one group religious and the other group secular. Something happens — something pretty bad. It is surprising and shocking and world-altering. Waverly and Kieran, their friends and family are tested in unbelievable ways. It happens pretty early in the book, and it sets everything in motion. It is also the beginning of wisdom, as Waverly and Kieran begin to learn of the secrets that were kept from them.”


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