book review

“Girl in the Blue Coat” Book Review

GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT BY MONICA HESSE

Hanneke, 18 years old and feeling the guilt of her boyfriend’s death, is an underground resistance worker in 1943 Netherlands. When asked by a client to help her find the Jewish girl she was hiding, Hanneke agrees. She couldn’t save her boyfriend, but maybe she could save this girl from the streets of the Nazi occupied country.

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The premise of this book had me really excited! It sounded like the WW2 book I had been searching years for. Perhaps it was this high expectation of mine that caused me to feel that this book could have been a bit better.

A let down for me, is in the characters. I didn’t feel that I could connect very well with Hanneke, who seemed a little bit cold and icy. Now, I understand why she would be that way, I mean her whole life was turned upside down. But I think her character came across a little bit flat, which is to bad because there were moments that I really liked her.

But don’t get me wrong! The plot in this book was astounding. There were so many twists and turns, I was feeling just as lost as Hanneke (but not confused as to what was happening). It was a well woven story and excellently put together. There were so many twists that I did not see coming. Which I thought was awesome! That doesn’t usually happen. So, I applaud Monica Hesse on a job well done.

Well, this book wasn’t what I expected. There were some weaker points to the novel but also so strong ones! If Monica Hesse ever writes another WW2 novel, you can be sure that I will be getting my hands in a copy.

So, have you read this one? Did you like it? Let me know! I would love to chat about it.

6.5/10

~Leigh

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book review

“The Horse and His Boy” Book Review

THE HORSE AND HIS BOY BY C.S. LEWIS

When Shasta over hears his father selling him into slavery, he decides to run away on a Tarkaans war horse. Only he discovers the horse can talk and is from a land called Narnia…

This is perhaps one of my favourite books in the Narnia series, it was also the first one that I had read. I can still remember that day. It was a hot, lazy summer afternoon and I had just received a package from my Grandma in California. Among all the goodies was this book. I opened it up and as I read, I could instantly feel the heat of Calormen. I could feel the aches from learning to ride a horse. I could feel the thrill of running away to a distant, cool land named  Narnia.

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I think one of the reasons I love C.S. Lewis’s work so much is that he has a way of describing scenes to his readers that allows them to picture it perfectly in their mind. Often I had troubles with this, because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t picture the setting of the novel I was reading. In Lewis’s novels, however, that is not a problem. He has a way with words that is so short and to the point and you know exactly what he means. The Horse and His Boy is also filled with little bits of humour that is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face

The characters in this story are excellent as well. Shasta is a little bit awkward and tries to act important, but he’s so sweet. Aravis is feisty, but oh-so-loyal. Bree, the horse that Shasta runs away with is also feisty and a little bit too proud. One of my favourite characters is Hwin, the meek mare that used to belong to Aravis. She has a way of putting people in their place (especially Bree) that is extremely hilarious.

There is one issue that I read that some people have a problem with, and that is racism. You see, the Calormenes, are portrayed as being similar to people of the Middle East. They wear turbans, pointy shoes, have curved blades, etc. They are also described as being cruel. Honestly, I don’t think these books were written with racist intent. I don’t really see it, but I do see stereotyping. This is a tricky subject and I think you have to read the book yourself and see what you think.

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love this book. It’s probably one of my favourites. The writing is superb, the characters are fantastic, the world building is awesome. And it has a different feel than the other Narnia books. I would definitely give this read a go, if you haven’t done so already​!

So, do you have any childhood favourites? Let me know! I’d love to read about them!

9/10

~Leigh

P.S. I’m so sorry this post was late in the day! I’ve had a super duper busy today. I hope you understand!

book review

“The Book Thief” Book Review

THE BOOK THIEF BY MARKUS ZUSAK

Death was just doing his job, which has him kind of busy especially during a war, when he spots a young girl that catches his attention. A girl named Liesel.  Liesel who stole a book. Liesel who is hiding a Jew in her basement. Liesel who loses nearly everything.

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Gosh, this book has had so much rep, I just had to review it too. I’ve read what feels like hundreds of reviews on The Book Thief. Some love it and others…not so much. So, whats all the hullabaloo about anyway? And isn’t there a movie?

I’ve read lots of reviews that discuss the descriptive voice used in this novel. Some praise the author for his creative genius and others, well…don’t see the genius. Personally, I thought the descriptive narrative lays somewhere in the middle of the two. While I won’t say it was my favourite, I thought is was very interesting and different to read, which I appreciate. It wasn’t the same old, same old, if you get my drift.

Plot is another dividing issue. Some say that there is none, others say there is. Honestly, I’d say that there is plot here, but, again, it’s different than most. Perhaps, subtle it the right word to describe it. Liesel goes through some very ruff stuff, but in the end everything is concluded (I really want to say how, but spoilers…!).

I think my favourite part about this novel, however, is the narrator. Almost everyone agrees on this point: the narrator is great, and kind of creepy but really cool. You see, this novel is narrated by Death, himself. He’s not just a narrator but a character, and a chilling one at that. I think that the idea to narrate a WW2 novel set in Germany, by Death is genius. And it puts a real perspective on the whole situation.

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(This is the poster for the movie by the same name)

Despite what others have said about this novel, I really enjoyed it (if you call it enjoyment to watch all your favourite characters die). And I really loved the tension. This novel put an interesting perspective on WW2 which I think I will carry with me the rest of my life.

Have you read The Book Thief? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

7/10

~Leigh

book review

“The Lightning Thief” Book Review

THE LIGHTNING THIEF BY RICK RIORDAN 

As far as middle-grade kids go, Percy Jackson isn’t so bad. He’s just got some problems. And when I say problems, I mean there are some monsters trying to kill him. And it’s also up to him to save the world before all hell (literally) breaks loose.

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Oh my gosh. I love this book (which is the first in a series, so be on the watch for reviews on those). The Lightning Thief has a target audience of children in grades 5 to 8, but it has a huge teen/adult following. I am so, so thankful that my cousin let me borrow her set to read over spring!

What is it that makes this book so great? Well…

Percy Jackson and his friends, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood are reason #1. They all have this really amazing relationship, with Annabeth and Percy continually butting heads and Grover trying to keep the peace. They all work really well together. Rick Riordan did an excellent job on these three, as well as most of the other characters in this book.

#2, The world building. Goodness, it feels real. The author has a way of blending modern day America and Greek mythology together. It feels so seamless, it’s scary. Also, the Camp Half-Blood (the summer camp for those who have one mortal parent and one parent who is a god) is awesome. Dangerous and scary for sure, but it’s amazing to read about!

Plot is the 3rd. It’s excellent, and it’s never boring. The journey Percy and his friends take was well thought out by the author and defiantly epic.

The last reason why this book was so yummy to read is because of the monsters! I was reading this book at night, and I have to admit: the monsters were more scary than I thought they would be! Especially that one teacher…

All in all, this book was excellent. I know that there are some complaints about this book, but it’s better than some YA fiction I’ve read! I would highly recommend this book to any one who enjoys a good, fun, mythology read or urban fantasy.

So, do you like this kind of book? Why? Why not? Let me know in the comments!

8/10

~ Leigh aka The Book Lover

book review

“The Lost Girl of Astor Street” Book Review

THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET BY STEPHANIE MORRIL

Recently I was in the mood for a delicious, juicy mystery with just a bit of romance and lots of danger. I picked up “The Lost Girl of Astor Street” and it was just that.

Lydia, Piper Sails goody-goody best friend, is missing. With Piper feeling responsible, she sets out to look for her in 1920s Chicago, with or without the help of the police.

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Written by YA author Stephanie Morril, I was waiting for this book to come out for a long time and when it finally did in February 2017, I instantly bought it. I must admit, I didn’t know what to expect since I’m pretty picky about YA historical fiction and often they don’t make the cut. This novel is a definitely an exception. It’s nicely written and the characters are wonderful, also I can tell it was a well researched novel.

Piper is feisty and independent; everything that makes the flappers of the 20s so interesting. She goes through some great character development and she changes as she grows, but shes always Piper. She’s consistent, which I like. I also really like the relationships that Piper has with the people around her. Her and her love interest (the dashing young detective) work well together as friends and then, as more than friends, which leads the the sweetest romance imaginable. Also, I think her father was great, and the idea that, as a lawyer, he defends criminals was a genius way make the plot a little more complicated.

Speaking of plot and mystery and such…Stephanie does a fantastic job. I read a lot of mysteries and this one had me constantly turning the page to find out what would happen next (which I love). There were many twists and ripples as well and they were all well concluded.

If I had one complaint about this novel, it’s that I didn’t feel satisfied about the ending with Walter, a childhood friend…maybe I’ll read it again and see if I still feel the same.

But, all in all, this novel was a great read. Very fun and mysterious, sad sometimes, but it has a great ending. I look forward to Stephanie Morril’s next novel!

So, have you read this novel? Do you like mystery novels? Let me know in the comments!

8/10

~Leigh

 

book review

“A Lantern in Her Hand” Book Review

A LANTERN IN HER HAND BY BESS STREETER ALDRICH

This novel, written in 1928 by Bess Streeter Aldrich, is perhaps one of my favourites. It’s essentially about one woman’s life, from the time she is eight years old, to her death in her 80s and it covers a time period between the 1850’s to 1920s.

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So, what exactly did I like about this novel so much? Well…

Abbie Deal. She’s a dreamer. Nothing could stand in her way and she would grow up to be a great woman. Well, perhaps it never happened how she initially thought it would, but Abbie Deal did great things indeed.

The writing style. Bess Streeter Aldrich has a way with words that is astounding. One could consider the prose in this novel to be poetry and yet it’s so concise, so clean cut, it’s refreshing. I honesty could not believe, when I read it, that it was written in the 1920s.

The pacing. Wow. I loved it. I know that many people say the story felt rushed; that the author moved around to much and at to fast a speed, but I think that was done on purpose. This novel is Abbie Deal’s life and I think the reader was supposed to feel like it happened to fast, because that’s the way life feels. !

Love. Love is portrayed is so many ways here. First, between two sisters. The relationship between Abbie and her sister, Isabelle, is wonderful and I’m sad we only get to experience it for the first chapter or so. They have a way of talking, teasing, getting irritated with each other, that is so true to real life. It’s amazing. The second it between two lovers. Abbie and William are perfect. First close friends that seem to understand each other in hard times and then as supporting spouses. Its a truly pure and sweet romance. And it’s so cute when Will calls his wife “Abbie-girl”. The third example of love is between Abbie and her children. They frustrate her and cause heartache, but she loves them and after she’s old and gray, they come back and care for her too. The last example is between friends. Abbie and the Dutch woman, Christine, that lives next door on the prairie. She’s a tough one, who speaks horrible English, but Abbie finds more comfort in her, than in anyone else. It’s truly a special friendship

When I first picked up this novel, I thought I would be reading an entertaining, well written pioneer novel; a novel about a strong young woman and the trials that she would face and overcome. That’s not what this novel this. This novel is sweat and tears, joy and celebration. I don’t know how but Bess Streeter Aldrich has summed up life in 251 pages. It gave me shivers. Well done, Bess. Well done.

So, have you read this book before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

10/10

~ Leigh aka The Book Lover

book review

A “Sense and Sensibility” Graphic Novel Review

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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY GRAPHIC NOVEL BY JANE AUSTEN, NANCY BUTLER AND ILLUSTRATED BY SONNY LIEW

There may be some who find reading 19th century novels a little tedious, but now that’s not a problem. Thanks to Nancy Butler, Marvel has created a wonderful adaption of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Like the original, this graphic novel follows sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, along with their mother and younger sister. When their father dies, their elder half-brother promises to look after them. He is maliciously talked out of this promise by his wife, who despises Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters. The Dashwood’s leave their brother and, upon the invitation from Mrs. Dashwood’s distant relative, Sir John Middleton, move to a cottage on his property. The novel follows the adventures the two young women share, the heartbreak, as well as the discovery of love and friendship.

Something that Jane Austen does so well, is writing relationships and not just between lovers, but also between sisters, brothers, mothers, uncles, friends, acquaintances, etc. The two sisters in this novel are no exception. Elinor and Marianne are complete opposites; like north and south. Elinor keeps to herself, being much more reserved than her sister. Marianne finds Elinor to be the perfect listener and often vents to her about her troubles. Towards the beginning of the novel the two don’t understand each other. But slowly, they grow closer. Marianne realizes the hurt the Elinor is silently going through and Elinor begins to recognize that her sister has grown up into a fine young woman. Of all the relationships that occur in this novel, the one between the two sisters is something extremely special.

Nancy Butler did a wonderful job with this graphic novel. I was unsure at first, because I don’t usually enjoy reading shortened or altered versions of classics, but all the words spoken are original, or just slightly altered, from the original. Butler has painstakingly put it all together in a way that works really well. Also, the illustrations, by Sonny Liew, are delightful, but my favourite is the cover, which depicts the two Dashwood sisters perfectly; Elinor sitting straight, with a book in hand and Marianne playfully leaning on her sister, winking at the viewer. It’s wonderful.

All in all, the graphic novel was a joy to read, I love Jane Austen and this was a fun way to enjoy her work. I would recommend this version to anyone who enjoys a good story, but can’t handle or would prefer to read something quickly, or shorter than the original work. Well done, Nancy Butler and Sonny Liew.

Do you read many graphic novels? What kind? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

~Leigh aka The Book Lover

8/10