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url 2015-07-26 14:57
NPR's list of best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2014
The Inheritance Trilogy Omnibus - N.K. Jemisin
On Such a Full Sea - Chang-rae Lee
By David Mitchell The Bone Clocks: A Novel - David Mitchell
Ancillary Sword (Ancillary Justice) - Ann Leckie
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
Horrorstor - Grady Hendrix
By Eleanor Davis How To Be Happy (1st Edition) - Eleanor Davis
Definitely Maybe - Arkady Strugatsky,Boris Strugatsky
Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual - Kate Samworth
Rules of Summer - Shaun Tan
Source: apps.npr.org/best-books-2014/#/tag/science-fiction-and-fantasy
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review 2014-07-05 03:50
Forgotten Fridays: The Aviary
The Aviary - Kathleen O'Dell

I didn’t think it was bad. In fact, I loved the ending, and Frances was a character I ended up loving, but I was just too weighed down with the overall sad tone, and the detached writing. I never knew what the main character was really feeling. And there was a LOT of emotions in this book. Like, Emotion Titanic levels.

Source: great-imaginations.com/2014/03/forgotten-fridays-the-aviary-by-kathleen-odell
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-03-30 23:00
Forgotten Fridays: The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell
The Aviary - Kathleen O'Dell
Kara: Okay, ladies. I woke up from my nap just for this. You’d better be entertaining. I am pretty incoherent so I apologize if I seem drunk or rambling in my conversation here. Now let’s get started. I thought The Aviary was just decent, to be honest. I thought, at first, it was just me and my age being too old for this, but then I thought back to all the other middle grade novels that I have loved, and it’s just not the case. Something was off about this book for me. What did you guys think?

 

Bekka:  Well, I DNF’d it. I’ve liked middle grade in the past, so I honestly think it was this book in particular, not the age difference, that mattered.

 

Lyn: I didn’t think it was bad. In fact, I loved the ending, and Frances was a character I ended up loving, but I was just too weighed down with the overall sad tone, and the detached writing. I never knew what the main character was really feeling. And there was a LOT of emotions in this book. Like, Emotion Titanic levels.

 

Kara: Oddly enough, that was one of my main issues. I didn’t FEEL anything for the characters. I liked the birds but I did not feel particularly attached to them. And I think that was my main issue. I felt the writing style was telling me way too much and not showing me nearly enough. If you tell me how I should feel, it’s just never going to work. Also, I felt a lack of tension in the writing. I feel this with some other middle grade books too, so I feel like it’s a writing style I can’t get used to, and that’s probably one of those, “It’s not you, it’s me” type of things. I do think if I had read this as an actual middle grader that I probably would have liked it A LOT more.

 

Lyn: I still can’t get past the sad birds. I know the birds were special but I picked up on the absolute misery of the animals. I did a paper on middle school about birds going insane and such, and the parallel issues caused me a lot of distress.

 

Bekka:  I found the situation the birds were in to be sad. Mike’s family has a few pet birds and they’re so well taken care of. But then I think about these tropical birds in The Aviary living outside in one cage together and it makes me sad.

 

Lyn: Right??! No one really cares for them until their secret is discovered! So, if they were just ordinary birds, doing BIRD things, then they deserve to sit, neglected and disliked, in the elements, because they are doing what birds do?! It was incredibly insensitive and horrible! I’m going to start crying again because I thought the treatment of the birds was very despicable.

 

Kara: As a former bird owner who loved and took care of two parrots (my mom made me give them away), what would have made you feel okay with their treatment, Lyn? Is it just the fact that they were in cages, or was it that they were unsheltered from the elements that bothered you? I never actually thought much about the treatment, but I did feel bad for them, spending all that time in a cage and never being let out.

 

Lyn: Birds require a lot of interaction. They are highly intelligent, and (sad stuff coming) birds will go insane with a proper diet of attention due to their intelligence. Hell, one bird was pulling out her feathers, and no one cared? No one though this was an issue? Oh, yeah, they were just horrible scary birds. I’m really steamed over the treatment of the animals.

 

Kara: Yeah, I had forgotten about the plucking until now. Good point. You’ve made me see it differently. I just figured that since they had each other, it wasn’t too bad. I mean, it was a really sad situation either way and I wanted them to be free, but I didn’t actually consider it abuse until I heard your viewpoint. So sad.

 

Bekka:  I feel like we are always getting caught up in the way the animals are treated in these books.  We need to start picking books with animal protagonists or something, to balance the bad stuff.

 

Lyn: Good point.

 

Kara: Yeah, I feel like I should apologize for this one after the way I reacted to the last one. It’s almost like it’s karma or something.

 

Lyn: I don’t want to end this on a depressing note. Kara, the ending was actually really touching, and I was very shocked about the resolve of the mystery. It did warm my heart to see a very bittersweet ending.

 

Bekka:  I obviously didn’t make it that far.  I think mainly because I didn’t like the historical setting.  When reading a historical book I like to have something that identifies what time period we’re in and not just random placings of “Thee” and “Dear.”

 

Kara: Good point, Bekka. There wasn’t a whole lot of imagery or sense of place, was there?

 

Lyn: In my animal righteous mode, I totally missed that.

 

Kara: Yeah, it makes sense. I am just trying to think of all the reasons why the book didn’t work for me. I mean, I liked it, but something wasn’t right and I also think that was one of the reasons. I loved the ending too though. It was a nice way to wrap it up, and even though I could see it coming, I thought it was peaceful and touching, and I love happy endings and standalone novels. It’s a rare thing these days.

 

Lyn: I gave it three stars, because I did like the ending.

 

Kara: That’s what I ended up giving it too. I really wish I could have given it more, but I cannot justify it.

 

Lyn: Can I mention how excited I am over the next pick?

 

Kara: Me too. I bought it already, and I read the first page and I am pretty sure I am going to love it. You both have read it, right?

 

Lyn: I read only one book by the author, and it is seriously one of my top five favorite books, ever.

 

Kara: Oh, so you read Midwinterblood, but not White Crow? And for Bekka this is a reread? SHould be interesting! I am excited!

 

Bekka:  Yes! I love Marcus Sedgwick so I can’t wait for you guys to join in on the fun!

 

Lyn: Right, just Midwinterblood. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

 

Kara: I hope I connect with the writing style. I think I will. I am SO EXCITED.
Source: www.great-imaginations.com/2014/03/forgotten-fridays-aviary-by-kathleen.html
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review 2014-03-12 15:43
Path of Needles
Path of Needles - Alison Littlewood

I absolutely could not put Path of Needles down. It was a complete joy of a read.

 

Crime fiction isn't usually my cup of tea, but Littlewood's novel is so original and exciting that it totally won me over. I've ordered A Cold Season now (normally I wouldn't go near anything with any reference to Richard & Judy on the cover!) I want more!

 

I really liked the idea of a 'bobby on the beat' getting a shot at the big time with such an unusual case, I thought that was a nice touch. And GREAT to see an independent female protagonist too, no "Kick Ass" (*shudder*) crop-topped heroine lusting after a buff, brooding male lead. In fact, there's none of that ridiculously sexist crap that Paranormal is so known for these days. Which made it an absolute pleasure to spend time with. Cate is such an 'everyman' character, struggling with her big break and not wanting to mess things up, common sense fighting with instinct, so aware of the consequences of a mistake. And perfectly capable of fighting her own battles and making her own decisions. Alice is a wonderful character too, so passionate about her subject, so dreamy and yet so focused. I'm going to miss her.

 

And of course, I've not even touched on the best of it yet. The Fairy Tale angle. I think it's going to be one that you'll either love or hate. I couldn't have loved it more. I was hooked on Fairy Tales growing up, and getting to read about them in an adult novel was wonderful. Terrifyingly wonderful. To see the darkness and the violence behind the well known children's tales was an education for me. It's such a meticulously researched novel, the tale variants are completely compelling, and the darkness and violence of these seemingly innocuous bedtime tales was fantastic material for one of the creepiest killers I've ever encountered in fiction. Truly red in tooth and claw.

 

Littlewood really got into my head. I walked my son down to the park about an hour after finishing this one, and we passed a house with an aviary in the back garden and a tree filled with bird feeders of every description, I panicked and sped the buggy up double time to get away from it, just in case! (You'll know when you read it).

 

If you're a fan of Fairy Tales, and you appreciate the darkness of their roots, you're going to love this book. I can't recommend it highly enough. Five stars no question.

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review 2014-03-11 17:55
The Aviary by Kathleen o Dell
The Aviary - Kathleen O'Dell

 Clara Dooley is an 12 year old girl sometime in the late 19th Century,who lives with her mother who is the housekeeper in an old run down an old run-down house belonging to Mrs Glendoveer the widow of an once world famous magician.

 

Since Clara has a weak heart since birth she is not allowed to go to school or to go outside unsupervised so she spends her time helping to care for Mrs Glendoveer who still grieves for the loss of her children several decades ago.

 

Mrs Glendoveer owns five exotic birds,a cockatoo,a mynah bird,a kiskadee and a honeycreeper. They are kept in an aviary and Clara is a bit scared of them since they like to screech and make a horrible noises when they see her.

 

The enormous black iron cage, almost as big as Clara’s own room, was backed up against the corner garden wall and sheltered under a pergola with a tattered roof. At the sight or sound of a human being, the birds inside would flutter and scream as if they were on fire, grasping at the bars with their sharp claws.

 

Judging from the noise, anyone nearby would have thought there were at least a dozen birds, but Clara knew there were only five—a mynah with a saffron mask surrounding blood-red eyes, a white, sulfur-crested cockatoo, a noisy black grackle, a fearless yellow kiskadee, and a terrified foam-green honeycreeper who pulled at his own feathers.

 

Many times Clara wished for the birds to disappear so that she could roam the garden in peace. But strangely, old Mrs. Glendoveer loved the birds as much as Clara feared them.

Per Mrs Glendoveers instructions they are to be taken very well taken care at all times even after her death.

 

Wich comes one night when Mrs Glendoveer passes away and things starts to change in Claras life both in the magical and mundane way when she makes a new friend and the birds in the aviary starts to talk to her...

 

Maybe there are some unresolved things from the  past that needs to be set right and Clara might just be the person who can accomplish this.

 

 

The aviary was a book that I really enjoyed reading and while to some of the answers to mysteries become obvious as you read on this is a book for children after all ,I felt that that there were still some things I didnt know until the end of the book.

 

Clara was a great heroine,she starts out as this timid and unquestioning girl,but as we we follow her she gains her courage and happy ending

 

Not only is it a tale with supernatural elements but its also a story about the relationship between a mother and her child,and growing up wanting to be able to make your own decisions.

 

I like the comparision the author makes between the birds in their cage and the life Clara is living.

 

Clara and her friend Daphne Asphinal might sound oddly adult in the way they talk but I think it fits the time period when this takes place wich is late 1890s/early 1900s

 

And  if you know anything of this period in time you have to suspend your disbelief that an 11 year old girl would correspond with an old man and that he would respond but its easily overlooked as you get immersed in the story.

 

Towards the end there are some home-alone antics wich broke the mood slightly but these things I have mentioned are just small things in a very good book.

 

 

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