Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

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A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I needed something lite to read after finishing In the Woods. (worst book hangover ever!) I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for three reasons:

1. It was spooky and perfect for October.

2. It promised to be a quick YA read.

3. I already had it on my shelf.

I liked it. The main characters were well developed. The setting was fantastically detailed, with the sunken ship being my personal favorite. It was a good story about the relationship between a grandfather and grandson, discovering personal strength, and embracing one’s differences. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a solid young adult story with a fantastic setting. The story seamlessly jumps between 1943 and modern day. I personally loved how Rigg’s utilized old photographs to enhance the story. It was just good.

I don’t really have any complaints, though I would have preferred if this was a stand-alone novel. I enjoyed the setting and the characters but I didn’t turn that last page feeling invested enough to read the rest of the series. This is a personal issue I have with most young adult stories, and is the primary reason I steer clear of them. I just don’t want to dedicate my reading time to a YA series. I don’t have issues with adult series (I fully plan on reading all of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books). I just feel that most YA stories don’t necessarily need a full series…or that multiple books can be combined into one story….. I’m not out to start any arguments; YA series just aren’t my thing.

Anyway, I decided to watch the 2016 movie and I liked it as well. There are a number of changes, of course, to the characters and the latter half of the storyline, but I was totally ok with them. I felt the changes stayed true to the tone of Riggs story. I actually adored the end of the movie; it gave me the closure I was looking for in the book. Let me know what you thought of the book and/or movie!

November is here so the next month will be dedicated to reading all the Nonfiction and gritty murder mysteries. My tentative TBR will be up in a few days. Let me know if you have any suggested reads.

Lindsay

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Bookish Facts

Bookish Fact #2: My first genre of choice was fantasy.

I rarely read fantasy nowadays; however, that’s pretty much all I read during my pre-teen/teenage years. The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce was the first series I picked for myself without any influence from family and friends. Kristen Britain’s Green Rider is the first book I stayed up all night to finish (it was not the last night of sleep lost to a good story). I loved fantasy.

I some how lost my love for the drama as I moved through my 20s and 30s. I’m actually ok with this change but I am beyond happy reading my current mix of nonfiction, historical fiction, and mystery.

I have held on to my favorites though, and I will find myself picking them back up when I need a read that feels like an old friend. My copies may be worn but they are well loved!

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What genre got you into reading? Which fantasy books are your favorites? Let me know and happy reading!

Lindsay

Hatchet

Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen

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Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild.

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty good job. Plus, I feel like Hatchet is an American classic; if you haven’t read it you’ve probably still heard of it.

Surprisingly, I had not read Hatchet before last year. This is odd as I adore Julie of the Wolves and read My Side of the Mountain as a pre-teen. And I’ve read pretty much every book written by Bill Wallace. I have no idea why I never read Hatchet, but my husband and I decided to remedy that and listened to the audiobook during our annual holiday road trip.

Hatchet was fantastic. For those who don’t know, my husband and I are both pilots and minimalist campers. I have been flying for most of my life and M is really good at survival style camping. Paulsen’s descriptions of the flight (and subsequent crash) are spot on, obviously written by someone with aviation experience. Brian’s successes, and failures, at survival are also quite realistic. Paulsen provides exquisitely detailed descriptions that pull the reader through the story, and Hatchet is a fantastic example of solid character development. It’s a ‘coming of age’ story that was actually enjoyable, without the pages upon pages of teenage angst that now represents the genre standard.

The only ‘negative’ point is there are some pretty gruesome moments as Brian survives the plane crash, multiple injuries, a moose attack, and a tornado. The book is not for the faint of heart and there are a number of people I wouldn’t recommend it to because the well written passages would leave them terrified of small aircraft and the great outdoors. This is not necessarily a fault against the book, just a point audiences need to be aware of.

Hatchet holds up as a classic survival story and I personally think it needs to remain as standard reading for preteens…especially as society forgets the skills of basic survival. I feel like its a book for any season, and look forward to picking it up again.

Does anyone else love Hatchet? What are your favorite survival stories? (I have so many on my list!)

Happy Reading!

Lindsay

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale

by Katherine Arden

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

The Bear and the Nightingale is set in the 1300s in the northern forests of the Land of Rus’. Our main character, Vasilisa, or Vasya, is a gifted girl who must fight to save her father’s land from being destroyed by the evil spirit, Bear. Vasya struggles to find her place in a world where women have set tasks while her people attempt to find a balance between old and new beliefs.

I have strong conflicting thoughts about The Bear and the Nightingale. The aspects I enjoyed had me finishing the book over a weekend, but the aspects I disliked have left me reluctant to recommend it.

Let’s start with the things I liked. I adored the relationship between Dunya and Vasya. It was so kind, understanding, and nurturing. I found myself smiling while reading of Dunya doing her best to ‘tame’ the young Vasya, and failing miserably. I also loved the relationships between the siblings, especially between Vasya and Alyosha. The setting was fantastic. Arden’s prose had me immersed in the winter woods from the first word. I could smell the mead, feel the warmth of the fire, hear the faint crunch of snow underfoot, and embrace the struggle of the harvest. She kept me yearning for more information as each of the old world spirits emerged on the page. And Morozco…he was the main character that kept me reading. Just the complexity of his existence and the depth of his secrets are enough to carry the whole story. I wanted to know the details of his thoughts, his plans, his powers.

After that you’re probably wondering why I didn’t love The Bear and the Nightingale. Well, Iwould have preferred the book to be a standalone instead of the first in the series, which would have allowed for more questions to be answered by the end. I will note the pacing was very well done for a debut novel, though there were moments, such as the final battle, where I longed for more detail. And Arden is definitely able to provide unique and detailed characters. But still, I couldn’t commit to loving this story.

There are two reasons for this. First, I did not like how Christianity was handled. I liked how the village people mixed their old beliefs with their new religion. I understood the priest’s drive to rid the village of the old ways. However, I did not like how the religion was portrayed. At all. And this isn’t because I am a Christian. It was because the portrayal was only negative. All priests were political, power hungry people. Konstantin was a vain, cruel, selfcentered man who manipulated his ‘flock’ for personal entertainment. I know the religion was quite different in the 1300s but it only focuses on the need to fear God with not a single positive attribute of the faith shared. Honestly, the only time the church was painted in a remotely positive light was through Sasha’s eyes. I could make myself get past this if it wasn’t for the second point.

Second, I despised Anna. Sure we shouldn’t like the evil stepmother, but I despised EVERYTHING about her. From the madness, the religious fervor, the cruelty towards her stepdaughter, and the recurring issue of marital rape; she didn’t have one single redeeming trait. And I was relieved **SPOILER** when she finally died. The marital rape was unnerving. I get that it was part of the time and culture, but it was still hard to read. However, I couldn’t bring myself to even pity Anna because she was so horrid. She was too one-sided. The lack of empathy I felt for her made it hard to read, and I wished she was more developed. (And I admit to having a hard time reading the rape and ‘women’s role’ scenes)

Will I continue with the series? I want to say yes because I am intrigued by Morozco. And because I enjoyed how hauntingly dark The Bear and the Nightingale is. Still, I don’t see myself clamoring to pick up the next book. I do however look forward to Arden’s development as a writer. I find her background in history and cultures interesting and I think her writing, and story telling, will just continue to improve as time passes.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Lindsay

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

by Cat Winters

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In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

I am not the type of person who typically buys a book because of the cover. Sure, I like pretty covers. Sure, I’ll pick one edition over another based on the cover. (I actually tend to prefer old used books that have that particular smell…anyways) But I do not buy books that I don’t find interesting, great cover or no. So, it may surprise you that I was drawn to In the Shadow of Blackbirds because of the cover. Thankfully, I was also intrigued by the paranormal historic mystery promised by the synopsis…but that cover! It is so beautifully haunting that I was going to read this book no matter what!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds tells the story of Mary Shelley Black, a bright young woman who must relocate to California after her father is arrested. But California in 1918 is a hard place for a 16 year old; surrounded by the devastating effects of Spanish Influenza, Mary Shelley learns upon arrival that something bad has happened to her childhood sweetheart who is serving in the Army in France. Surrounded by death, thanks to the flu epidemic and World War I, Mary Shelley must attempt to come to age while processing loss, dealing with frauds, and finding the truth in ghostly whispers.

Mary Shelley Black was a refreshing heroine!  The typical young adult female lead is drowned in teenage angst and plenty of insta-love, but Mary Shelley is a self aware, confident woman of science in an era where that behavior was socially frowned upon. She typically embraces her personality and quirks with little care of what others think. I adored how often she wore her aviator goggles, but loved even more that she wore them because she liked them….not to get a rise out of people, or to make a statement. Despite handling her situation in a stoic, mature fashion, Winters still manages to present a heroine who is both mature for her age but still a child. You don’t forget that Mary Shelley is only 16 years old, because she is still impulsive, as we see with the lightening storm and her decision to help wounded soldiers. She is a wonderful character; a girl who is willing to discover the truth, capable of following her gut instinct, but naïve enough to trust that people are inherently good despite all that she has been through.

I found the story fascinating, the paranormal aspects engaging, and was thrilled that Winters provided a brilliant standalone novel (instead of trying to force this story into a typical YA duology/trilogy), but I admit the most gripping aspect of In the Shadow of Blackbirds was the year, 1918. I need to read more historical fiction set during the Great War (World War I). Winters’ vivid descriptions of the affects of the Spanish Influenza outbreak, both in physical setting, such as when Mary Shelley comes across stacks of coffins and the constant wailing of ambulance sirens in the background, and in the mental toll on characters battling against an unseen killer, was to me more haunting than the actual haunting! (geez, sorry for the super long sentence guys) And I applaud Winters for her blunt, honest approach on shell shock. She deftly displays the period social reaction to shell shock, at the time a very misunderstood mental and physical reaction to trench warfare, without imparting modern judgement. Winters shows us young soldiers struggling to heal after the war. We hear stories of boys being left by love ones after they lost limbs. We are transported to the bloody mud of the trenches in France, feeling the concussion of artillery shake the ground. And the blackbirds…they may haunt my dreams as they did Stephen’s. Brilliant; her descriptions were absolutely immersive and plain brilliant!

I don’t really have any negative thoughts but will say the scenes involving the paranormal can be a tad jumpy and abrupt. I believe this is done intentionally to leave readers a tad unsettled; it works and it can make the book tough to read during long sessions. I also wasn’t a fan of Aunt Eva. She was just too frantic, and wasn’t as developed as Mary Shelley. The gritty details of her somewhat tragic life were there, but these points were overshadowed by her frantic and somewhat irrational response to events. I could tell there was so much more to her and would have loved to see that on the pages. Especially since deep-down Eva is a survivor. I can also see where some readers might complain about the lightening strike, writing it off as a fantastic and convenient plot tool It is but it was still well done, and I have no complaints.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds was fantastic, and the perfect read during the month of spooks! I dare say Winters’ may have restored my faith in young adult fiction…..no matter. I recommend it for those in need of a spooky read!

Do you have any other spooky young adult books I should check out? Have you read anything else by Cat Winters? Do you know where I can find a pair of vintage aviator goggles?!? Let me know, and happy spooky reading!

Lindsay

Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughter of the Pirate King

by Tricia Levenseller

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If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

I picked up Daughter of the Pirate King because I wanted a good young adult historical fiction novel about pirates. Guys, it is near impossible to find a young adult pirate book that doesn’t include time travel, magic, fairies…and so on. I don’t dislike fantasy stories, I actually enjoy the occasional fantasy read, but on this site I like to share books that fall into the nonfiction, historical fiction, or mystery genres. (I mean, even my mystery shares are typically also considered historical fiction) So, you can imagine how I felt like I had finally hit pay dirt after reading the above synopsis! Here was a young adult novel about pirates that was not a fantasy story….WRONG! Now, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. I really liked Daughter of the Pirate King, but I felt you needed to be warned that this is a fantasy story, that is set in a fantasy world where magic exists.

However, I feel it should be noted Daughter of the Pirate King provides a relatable and somewhat accurate description of pirate culture. (Please note that I am not an expert on the history of piracy, though I have taken a few courses on the subject)  The scenes of debauchery when shore, the time stuck aboard ship, the superiority complexes, and even the tale of Alosa’s conception (yup, you read that correctly) are exquisitely detailed and developed in a rather realistic fashion embracing pirate culture and superstition. So, though I was disappointed at the magical element, I was happy with the rest of the book.

Ok, so I will start with the positive attributes of the story. I like how strong Alosa is. She is smart, witty, and confident in way most teenage, and even adult, females struggle to obtain. Her unwavering confidence in herself is the main reason she can successfully survive in a world dominated by men who are typically fueled by greed and self interest. I loved watching the plot unfold, even if it was a tad predictable at moments. Levenseller does a fantastic job depicting shipboard life, and I was happy with how she provided unique personalities to the men holding Alosa captive. And the relationship between Alosa and Riden was just fun, developing in a way that I found myself riveted to their story. And don’t worry guys; definitely no insta-love in Daughter of the Pirate King, which I feel we can all agree is a wonderful break of YA trope.

Now for a few negative points. Alosa is a strong, willful woman who also spends a good bit of the story being down right pigheaded. Some of her thoughts/comments/decisions left me rolling my eyes in shear annoyance. I am all about a character being flawed, but as I turned that last page, I was hit with the realization that Alosa hadn’t really learned any lessons about equality between men and women. Despite modern social standards, sexism isn’t just aimed at women, and Daughter of the Pirate King is full of rather extreme male sexism. I am hoping that this is rectified as the series progresses, because otherwise I will have to put this series down. Discriminating against someone because of their sex is plain sexism; it doesn’t matter if they are male or female. I also have to point out, that despite the blatant dude-bashing done by Alosa, she is the only fully developed female character in the story. Sure, we are introduced to a few of her all-female crew but I think maybe only one stood out from the rest….yep just one; the assassin. I feel the lack of development is only because Daughter of the Pirate King is Levenseller’s debut novel, and I expect both her plot and character development will only improve with time and experience.

In the end, I couldn’t put Daughter of the Pirate King down. I finished it over a weekend and it is the perfect read for those looking for a light, fun story to embrace the end of summer! I will be picking up the next story, Daughter of the Siren Queen, as soon as it comes out in 2018!

Have you read Daughter of the Pirate King? What are your thoughts? What books are your reading as summer ends?

Lindsay

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg

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When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Today’s review is over what some may consider the solving of the most important mystery ever uncovered: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

I actually do not remember reading From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in school. But I vaguely knew the story and would catch myself thinking of it during daydreams, so I must have read it. Thankfully, I was reintroduced to the mystery while birthday shopping for my godson. I stumbled across it on the ‘Back-To-School’ book table at Barnes and Noble and walked out that day with a copy for each of us!

I am not going to share a summary of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The synopsis does a great job and I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for new readers. I am; however, going to start with the one negative thought I have (might as well just get the pesky bugger out of the way). I can understand why some parents would hesitate to share this story with their kids thanks to the whole running away from home thing. I don’t have any advice for parents. I’m sure there is a way to share the brilliance of this story while also ensuring kids understand that it’s not ok to runaway from home. I’ll just leave it at that. Phew…not that that’s out of the way.

I LOVE From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Love it. I love the interactions between Claudia and Jamie. I I adored Jamie’s penny pinching and sympathized with Claudia’s search for something more. I recognize so much of myself in Claudia Kincaid. We share the same need for a good plan, the want of something unique out of life, and a deep love for the mysterious! I found myself desperate to discover the truth about Angel, and was honestly sad when I had to put the book down and deal with life things.

But there is so much more to From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler than my connection to Claudia. Konigsburg’s brilliance is found in the details of the mundane tasks of bathing, eating regular meals, and washing clothes. She took a fanciful adventure and made it realistic as the children go about ordinary lives in an extraordinary local. And the setting makes you feel as is you are wondering the museum halls hand in hand with the Kincaids. Her story teaches readers that dealing with mundane chores does not mean one has to live a mundane life and that constantly seeking knowledge is essential for a good adventure.

Museums, mystery…what’s not to love?!? From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a story worth revisiting year after year, for as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler observed, you are never too young to experience and learn something new! And this story is the perfect way to remind yourself of that simple truth!

Please share your thoughts on From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! I look forward to hearing them.

Lindsay

Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves

by Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

First school book is Julie of the Wolves! The story of adventure and survival is one I revisit over and over. Here is my original review I shared a few years ago!

Julie, also known as Miyax, is walking from Barrow, Alaska to Point Hope, Alaska.  She is alone on the Arctic tundra and is determined to get passage to San Francisco and a new life.  But she is lost and must rely on the teachings of her father and the help of a wolf pack to survive.  Julie adapts to life on the tundra but still struggles with her identity.  Is she Julie the Alaskan or Miyax the Inupiat?

I first read Julie of the Wolves when I was twelve years old.  I couldn’t put it down.  Here was a young girl (the same age as me) struggling to identify who she was (so was I!) all while surviving on the Alaska tundra.  Plus, she lived with wolves!  I don’t know about y’all, but my dreams at 12 included owning a huge horse ranch with my own pack of tamed wolves.  Yeah, this was the perfect book for me.  I loved it, but a post on The Misfortune of Knowing pushed me to read it again as an adult.  Plus, the story fit in perfectly with my arctic survival theme this month.  I couldn’t put it down!  My skin tingled with goose bumps and a single tear threatened to fall when I turned the last page.  I still love this book!

Now there are some issues with Julie of the Wolves.  The most notable is that it is marketed for 8-10 year olds but contains an attempted rape scene in Part Two.  Julie marries at 13 so she can go to high school.  Her husband, Daniel, has a learning disability but they are content acting like siblings until mocking at school pushes him to force himself on her.  The scene is not descriptive and all that really happens is Daniel rips her dress and pins her to the ground before his fear makes him run.  But, this is not something I would want to explain to an eight year old.  This one paragraph turns many readers away.  I don’t know if the attempted rape is a realistic event, but it fits with the culture and socio-economic issues that plague Julie’s world.

There are so many good lessons found in Julie of the Wolves.  Julie escapes domestic violence and manages to survive in one of the most extreme climates in the world.  She taught me that women could be strong, smart, and resourceful.  George shows the good and bad of all the cultures Julie is exposed to; the gussak (lower 48), the Inupiat, and the wolf.  She shows that it is prudent to hunt for food but wasteful to poach.  Julie learns that she must adapt to survive, both in the wild and in a village.  Julie of the Wolves teaches adaptation, survival, culture, and finding inner strength.  I definitely recommend it.  The good outweighs the bad.

Julie of the Wolves will always be special to me because of its influence on my youth.  What books influenced you during your preteen years?

Lindsay

Back to School!

School has started! I am one of those people who enjoys the start of the fall semester and all the promises of discovery it holds. As such, I wanted to share reviews on favorite stories I discovered during my school days. These novels are historical fiction pieces aimed at youth instead of young/new adults, but each are still very powerful, and adventurous stories. They are all books I find myself consistently rereading as an adult and coming back to over and over again. These are the books, and you can expect a full review of each over this week!

The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg

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Red Dog

by Bill Wallace

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Julie of the Wolves

by Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

Let me know if you read any of these! What are your favorite school reads? Happy first day of school!

Lindsay

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

Sorry for the brief review hiatus everyone. I’ve been a little under the weather lately, which means much more reading and tv watching than reviewing. Anyways, I first heard about My Lady Jane from a number of BookTubers that I follow, and decided to give it a go for a couple of reasons: 1. historical fiction is a genere that is not often discussed on BookTube and I was surprised to see this novel keep popping up, and 2. everyone kept talking about how funny it was and I can’t say no to a good laugh!

So, a brief synopsis. My Lady Jane presents a very loosely historic recount of the life of Jane Grey and her limited term (9 days) as the queen of England. It’s definitely loosely historical as there is a magical element that definitely makes this a fantasy read as well. But don’t worry; the authors warn readers with a disclaimer on the very first page. 

Don’t let the fantasy element discourage you from reading My Lady Jane. The authors do a wonderful job of creating a detailed and engaging setting which left me feeling as I was running for my life along with the characters. The adventure is fast paced, but the love story of Jane and G progressed at a wonderfully realistic pace. No insta-love here folks, which I’m sure we will all find refreshing. And I absolutely adored our heroine, Jane. She is complicated, stubborn, passionate, awkward, and driven by her love of books. She is unapologetically herself! 

Now, I’ll reiterate that My Lady Jane is not historically accurate, but you are made aware of this point through out the story thanks to hilarious interjections by the narrator/authors. This gives it a fireside story telling atmosphere that more serious readers may not appreciate. I do also have to point out that many of the secondary characters and aspects of the plot felt a little under developed. This was  definitely evident when looking at G’s hobbies and the whole last quarter of the book. I would like to provide specific details, but I know y’all don’t like spoilers.

I heard a number of reviews describing this novel as hilarious. Did I find it hilarious? Yeah, it was pretty darn funny and had a delightfully honest tone that embraced teenage sexual awkwardness without all the tedious angst that is typical of young adult literature. It is fun, and very different which is why I recommend it for readers, especially those in need of a break from serious topics and prose.

Have you read My Lady Jane? Let me know what you thought!

Lindsay