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review 2018-04-20 01:12
CAST TWO SHADOWS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION IN THE SOUTH by Ann Rinaldi
Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South - Ann Rinaldi

Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South

Ann Rinaldi

Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN: 0152050779 (ISBN13: 9780152050771) 

 

I was browsing the shelves when I found this book. Usually, an author sticks with the big events of the American Revolution, but Rinaldi sets this book in the south.  Caroline, the main character, is 14 years old and sees how the war has separated her family's loyalty, as well as how it has affected her friends. The British have taken over her family's plantation; her father is thrown in jail for supporting the patriots; the brother is fighting for the British. She sees some horrors on both sides and learns some secrets about herself as well. At some points, the reading is a little dry. Overall, a good book, though, YA readers who like historical fiction.

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review 2018-04-20 00:53
Sharpe's Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Trafalgar - Bernard Cornwell

Series: Sharpe #4 (Chronological Order)

 

This book started off quite strong, and I was initially enjoying Sharpe at sea (not his usual environment), but I felt things went downhill somewhat when we left the Calliope with its amusing merchant. I also didn't find the sea battle at Trafalgar to be as interesting as the battles in the previous books. Oh well. Let's hope I like the next one better!

 

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review 2018-04-20 00:51
Debut author surprises with a clever YA thriller, one that I hope doesn’t fly under the radar
Lies You Never Told Me - Jennifer Donaldson

Well, this was a surprise. The whole book was a surprise just like the secrets and lies held within, all the way until the end. 

I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway some time ago and didn’t have the chance to get to it until just now, and I feel like it’s one of those books that’s going to fly under the radar and it shouldn’t.
Debut author Jennifer Donaldson has written a very cleverly crafted young adult mystery/thriller that for a good portion of it, reads like a contemporary novel, and is told through with the voices of two main characters, Gabe and Elyse, who seem to live very separate lives. There are also two other main characters central to the story, Catherine and Sasha. Gabe is a young Hispanic skater boy who tries to break up with a very possessive, but popular, high school girl called Sasha, and she is making it be known that she is not happy about this. He has a six year old sister Vivi, with special needs, who he cares very much for, and is close with his family. Elyse, on the other hand, lives a very different sort of life. She has basically fended for herself for years, even paying the household bills with jobs while she has been in high school; her mother is addicted to opiates and spends most of the time out of it lying on the couch. She has come to rely on nobody but herself, and doesn’t expect anything good of the world. Which is why, when she gets chosen for the lead in Romeo and Juliet, she can’t believe she has got the part over her best friend Brynn, but soon is swept off her feet by the school drama teacher, Mr. Hunter.
I generally try not to guess endings of stories, and I’m not one to skip ahead, so, at least for me, this novel cleverly gives you one wallop over the head when you realize what the big twist is at the end. I can not say one thing more, lest I give anything away, but this is one clever book and had me engaged entirely. There are some big topics involved here too - scary exes with major infatuation problems, and teacher-student relationships, not to mention addiction issues - but the two running storylines are excellently written and don’t rap you over the head with the morality stick (you get to think about those afterwards). I hope this gets picked up by a good lot of people who enjoy thrillers with a side of romance (there’s a lot of ‘sweet’ to go with the ‘salty’), and it’s super smart.
I’d be on the lookout for what Jennifer Donaldson writes next because I believe there are a lot more phenomenal books in her yet.
*Thank you Goodreads and Razorbill for the early copy of this book!
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text 2018-04-19 22:43
Reading progress update: I've read 12%. - remember Bowie's Starman who'd like to come and meet us but he thinks he'd blow our minds? Well, I just met him and he was right
Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

I'm three chapters into this book and I'm blown away. The style makes hyperbole seem like restrained understatement. This book is so extrovert it makes my head hurt.

 

Take "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" then double the speed and triple the volume. Replace the urbanity of "Don't Panic" with the existential bluntness of "Life is beautiful. And life is stupid." Then use four decades of contextually dense pop-culture references as rebar to allow the concrete of your narrative structure to rise rapidly from nothing to mind-blowing complexity that is almost disturbingly easy to grasp - like Wile E Coyote, you can run with these ideas as long as you don't look down.

 

So, what are the ideas? Well

"Life is beautiful. And life is stupid."

The stupid part means that sentient races fall into galactic war because we races are hardwired to ask:

 

Which of us are people and which of us are meat?

 

Once you decide that you are people and they are meat, attention turns, not to living in peace but to whether you:

 

"eat, enslave, shun, keep them as pets, or cleanly andquietly exterminate them all. "

 A century after having ended the Sentience Wars, all races are agreed that this can never be allowed to happen again. Cue the invasion of Earth at this point.

 

Meanwhile, the focus is definitely on the personal, even if the person focused on is a burnt out ex-global rock star who is now decades away from mega-fame and has just had his third solo album fail.

 

Why the focus of on one person? Because:

 

"The story of the galaxy is the story of a single person in it. A cover version, overproduced, remastered, with the volume cranked up way past eleven and into the infinite."

 

This is the kind of book I want to read in one sitting but can't because:

 

1. My head would explode

2. I keep having to stop to take notes.

3. I don't want this ride to end.

 

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review 2018-04-19 22:10
A ghost story set in the Arctic landscape of fictional Gruhuken; the darkness and frigid cold alone are nightmarish enough!
Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

I’m now (finally) done with Dark Matter, my latest read for my #ScreamsByMail #HorrorPostalBookClub on Litsy. When I was actually reading it, it sped by, but I took a MASSIVE break in the middle of it because of animal death (yes, I know it’s par for the course in the Arctic circle but I couldn’t deal with it at the time). It reads as a journal, so it’s fast reading, but honestly being stuck on a polar ice cap in the dark sounds like a horror story to me anyway! I can’t think of anything more lonely or terrifying...
I was distracted for a good part of the book by the dogs’ well-being (the main character Jack luckily had huskies for company), as well as how animals are spoken about. This sort of thing trips me up in novels quite a bit (see above). It pulled me out of the actual story, and away from the ‘ghost story’.
Since we are writing in a journal (funnily enough) for the postal book club, and mailing that around too, I won’t write too much here. I will say though, that the writing by Michelle Paver is remarkable and fits very well with the time period and the character she writes for. I was very struck by this. She also obviously did extensive research into the area she writes about (although Gruhuken is fictional), and this is key to the effectiveness of the atmosphere of the novel. It will also ensure that you never, ever find me going near these parts. And it reminded me how much I hate the snow!

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