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Search tags: 50-shades
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review 2018-05-23 15:51
Review: Ace of Shades
Ace of Shades - Amanda Foody

This book is like the inverse of Last Call; all the characters are compelling and the look and feel of the world is gorgeously envisioned, but the mythology is under developed and the resolution lacking.

 

My first Owl Crate book, a fast paced adventure in a dazzling world full of mystery. The first two thirds was great, loved the main characters and the setting. The pacing is good, and the heroine, while overwhelmed with a world beyond her experience, is smart enough to figure out how to survive.

 

The last third was more invested in setting up a sequel than in providing any sort of satisfactory conclusion. The game, alluded to throughout, when finally played, was underwhelming and told with far less intensity and detail than previous events in the book.

 

I'm on the fence about reading a sequel. I liked these characters a lot. I liked a lot of the concepts and visuals, but I can't tell if the lack of resolution is an issue of where in the story this book stops, or an issue with the author. Perhaps Moody is interested in different aspects of the narrative. 

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review 2018-04-29 07:50
Heart-wrenching book about a young Lithuanian girl during WWII; describes a forgotten chapter we should not rush to forget
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys

I read this as one of the picks for the Litsy (Team YA) Postal Book Club I am in, and am glad it was chosen, even though I often do not choose historical fiction much these days to read. Especially when I expect it to bring me to tears (or remind me how little I know about how the Soviets and Stalin played their dastardly part in WWII).

Given that this book is several years old now, has won countless awards, and it seems as though everyone else who reads YA has already read it, I barely need to say much about the premise.

Young Lina is deported by the Soviets from Lithuania, along with her brother and mother, but her father gets separated from them to elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The book tells of their long long train ride bringing them to outer Siberia and the horrific trials that her family and other deportees go through. They are emblematic of a past that has been covered up and forgotten among war stories, probably due to so many other horrors (particularly due to Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust).

What Sepetys has written here though, is very relatable account, that I think many younger readers will be drawn to, and have been already; Lina develops a relationship with a teenage boy while deported, has the regular range of emotions you would expect from a teenager, and her love for her family, especially her missing Papa, is fierce.

And while I did not expect the full horrific descriptions I might see in an adult novel on this matter (for example, deaths, burials, etc.), there is enough here to make the reader feel angry, revolted, and incredibly heartbroken at many things that went on.

Since this novel is based on actual people and events (and Sepetys mentions the research and journeys she went on at the end), it is especially thought-provoking and meaningful. There were so very many people affected by the first and second world wars, particularly across Europe, I can hardly imagine how many individual stories like this exist. At least go and read one of them and remember what happened.

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text 2018-04-27 16:22
Blog Post #4
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys
The Night Gardener - Jonathan Auxier

Part 1:

I have recently finished The Night Gardener Jonathan Auxier.  At first I though I might not like it since I generally read historical or realistic fiction, but I actually really enjoyed it.  I found myself actively visualizing and predicting.  Although I loved the actual story, I was not a huge fan of Jonathan Auxier's writing style.  At times where there was a lot of action, I found it difficult to keep up with what exactly was going on.  This is one of those books where you have to read closely to be able to really comprehend.  Overall, I enjoyed this particular book, but I don't plan on reading more from that author.

Part 2:

As Ruta Sepetys as our author, I think we both feel that her writing style is very unique and powerful.  I have also noticed that you have really analyzed the characters. I must say that Sepetys creates such fascinating characters that you generally either love or hate.  There is actually a really interesting character in Between Shades of Gray that I have mixed feelings about.  He is mostly referred to as "the bald man."  At the beginning, I strongly disliked the bald man because he is extremely grouchy and inconsiderate.  He constantly scared the children by talking of how they are all going to die.  Although he remained grumpy throughout the novel, I realized that he actually did have good intentions.  For instance, he have his ration of bread to Lina's sick mother.  I kinda love it, but also hate it when an author makes a character very complex because I have trouble deciding whether I like the character or not.  Sepety's characters' personalities are not always just black and white, sometimes they are shades of gray.  I wonder if that is part of why she chose the title Between Shades of Gray.  Maybe she wanted to emphasize the idea that although World War II was full of terrible people and awful times, there were also people like Lina's mother who fought for a cause and showed immense love.  I hope you are enjoying reading Ruta Sepetys.

Part 3:

Booklikes is a useful site for finding books you want to read. I think the best way to discover new books using Booklikes is to search a keyword (author, genre, etc.) and explore the results.  With this method, I have discovered the book Let it Snow by John Green which I have not read yet, but I am planning to.  

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text 2018-04-24 21:35
Between Shades of Gray
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys

 A lot of details and concepts in Between Shades of Gray give insight into Ruta Sepetys's life.  For instance, she is Lithuanian and is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee.  This surely explains why she made Lina and her family Lithuanian.  Also, Sepetys was raised in a family of talented artists, readers, and musicians.  This could be why she chose to make Lina an artist.  I really like how she incorporates her own interests and background into her characters.  I found on Ruta Sepetys's website that she is a "seeker of lost stories."  This is certainly reflected in her novel.  Between Shades of Gray tells the story that is so important, but so overlooked.  Most people know about the Holocaust and how the Nazis forced Jewish people in camps, but fewer people are aware of the Soviets deporting people to labor camps during the same time frame.  Sepetys could have written about the Holocaust, but she chose to bring insight into a little-known event.  Ruta Sepetys ultimately tells beautiful stories while including details from her own life.

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quote 2018-04-22 18:30
That's the smell of opportunity. And maybe a little piss.
Ace of Shades - Amanda Foody

I got my first Owl Crate yesterday. Here's all the swag that came with Ace of Shadows:

 

Book, preview booklet, coffee, soap, button, pencils, vinyl sticker, post cards, etc. on a Crooked Kingdom inspired pillow case.

 

The soap is berry scented and the coffee is chocolate, salty caramel flavored. The pencils are marked "PROPERTY OF THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE" (black), "MISCHIEF MANAGED" (gold) and, "I SOLEMNLY SWEAR I AM UP TO NO GOOD" (red).

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