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The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen OneThe Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book of loving family, religious fanaticism, abuse and independence, this book is GUARANTEED to make the most hard-hearted person cry for a good 15 minutes. This novel is well-written with a distinct voice and an urgent tone. You cannot help but empathize with the protagonist–indeed you can’t help but empathize with almost all the characters. I can’t imagine the trauma or the pain or the community developed throughout this book with the contradictory need to run and stay.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a suspenseful, poignant, quick read. You will not be disappointed.

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Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a TreeEmma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The alternating POV provides a balance that would otherwise not be present if only one or the other girls were the POV characters. Having the two, as many of you have pointed out offers a moderation of extremes. While it is clear that Emma-Jean is the subject and protagonist, with most of the narrative from her POV, I still wonder why add Colleen.

I wonder where/if Emma-Jean is on the Autistic Spectrum. Her behavior and thoughts indicate that she is not just “strange” but that there might be something wrong–her inability to communicate with peers, unable to empathize emotionally, priding herself on being strictly logical, incredibly gifted, yet connects more with adults than peers. Had Emma-Jean been the only POV, we would be unable to see the contrast with her 7th grade peers as deeply and affectively. There are moments when we ask “Oh, no Emma-Jean! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” because consequences of her actions are not obvious or logical to her.

The third person over the first person allows us to sympathize with EJ as well as other characters; a first person might bring us too close to EJ, allowing our sympathies to become TOO closely aligned with the character, accept her as a gifted anomaly and not question her actions–which, although EJ justifies them, are not only illegal, but the prank with Laura is cruel.

So, the need to contrast the two is crucial. EJ, from a different POV might paint her as “evil” or plotting, when her intentions are good, though misguided. Colleen offers some of that, while we also see into EJ’s mind that she is as good as Colleen, and sympathetic, but in very different and contrasting ways.

Overall I adored this story and you should read it.

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Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

The Children of the New ForestThe Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As my first real foray into Victorian Children’s Literature, I was pleasantly surprised to find this novel quite enjoyable despite its didacticism. Granted, the instructions on how to catch wild cattle, and put potato skins on burns will be helpful if ever the apocalypse happens.

I did find the plot quite engaging, though the characters were quite difficult to differentiate until about half way through.

And the ending…the last 10 pages covers about 7 years, throwing in details to wrap up the story and play match-maker. While it was engaging, it is also clearly a product of its time (considering the treatment of women and Pablo, the heathen gypsy).

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Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tenniel’s illustrations really shed light on Carroll’s work, especially in combination with “Pleasures Taken: performances of sexuality and loss in Victorian photographs”. Carroll’s demand on Tenniel’s pen and ink work and his demand for perfection, reflects his artistic obsession with the girl body. This reread has brought the nonsense of this novel to my awareness. While the cult status of this novel seems deserved because of its precedent in the genre. It has given modern fiction a basis for expansion, because on its own it is episodic and somewhat didactic.

I find that movie adaptations tend to play up the Queen’s role and downplay the Victorian nonsense, which is crucial to the actual success of the novel. Alice’s wordplay, her half-learned knowledge and the use of puns throughout are part of the reason for its cult following.

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Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Wildefire (Wildefire #1)Wildefire by Karsten Knight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A suspenseful, fun and surprising read! While there were many many layers of plot and back story that sometime made reading feel cluttered, Karsten was able to create a story that was unexpected; while initially appearing to be in a specific “Boarding school fantasy” subgenre, “Wildefire” consistently subverted my expectations. Ash’s character development was interesting, though I found some of the other characters less dynamic than I wanted (namely Eve), I was still hooked. I truly look forward to reading his future work.

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Stitches by David Small

StitchesStitches by David Small
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This heart-wrenching graphic novel memoirs deserves your attention. David Small is a fantastic illustrator and looking into his childhood through the perspective of illustrative art from his memory as a child is fantastic. The images capture what words cannot–those pictures and thoughts that run through one’s mind as a child.

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Ling and Ting by Grace Lin

Ling and TingLing and Ting by Grace Lin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh.

I really am not a fan of transitional readers.

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