Tag Archives: penguin

Spellbook of the Lost and Found (Moïra Fowley-Doyle)

8 Aug

This book has everything I liked, which is why it jumped to the top of my reading queue.  Definitely pick this title up if you also love any of the following: secrets, magic, spells, friendship, strong women, Ireland, narratives in multiple voices, tree and flower names.

 

Spellbook of the Lost and Found  Squinklethoughts

1.  The title alone hooked me.  I like books about magic and spells, especially in modern times, so this seemed the perfect choice for me.  One thing I really like about Spellbook is that while magic permeates throughout the entire story, it’s not presented with the type of clichés that persist in other books.  The magic here is treated with respect, even by the characters who don’t believe in it at first, because there is every chance that a life will be changed.  Or lost.  No foolish wand-waving or silly incantations here.  (In fact, the spells are very nicely worded.)

2.  Right off the bat, I was sucked into the stories of SO MANY characters, all of whom narrate a chapter here and there.  In reality, there are only a handful, but it sure felt like there were more.  Once I got the dramatis personae figured out, including which girl-named-after-a-tree is related to or friends with that other girl-named-after-a-tree, the multiple narratives are not a problem at all.  Olive, Rose, Hazel, Ivy, Rowan, Laurel, Ash, and Holly … You really become invested in their stories once you meet them.  I felt like they might have been my own friends.

3.  In fact, I liked the multiple-narrative format that Fowley-Doyle employs here.  It really highlights the fact that the characters are all related but are experiencing the events of the story in his/her own way.  Even if they share scenes or encounter the same strange trinket in the woods, the characters repress different secrets and develop unique perspectives.  I do think there could have been a little more work put into adding more idiosyncrasies in the speech or thought processes of the characters because often, the narrator of one chapter sounds exactly like the narrator of the previous one.  I’m thinking along the lines of one of them always saying something like “Wotcher” (à la Tonks), though I like Rose’s quirk of blowing bubbles to manage her cigarette cravings.

4.  It is a lot of work to weave different characters’ stories together when those characters have little reason to be connected at all, and I really applaud Fowley-Doyle’s plot.  Everything came together very well, and although I got an inkling about the ending about halfway through the plot, I was sufficiently surprised at how she designed it.  Nothing seemed contrived … so much so that I wanted more.

 

Spellbook of the Lost and Found 2  

5.  About that ending … As great as the entire story was, I felt let down at the end.  Not because it wasn’t a good conclusion, but because the conclusion was so delightfully messy.  I can’t help but think (and hope) that it serves as a bridge to a sequel.  I want more of Rose’s healing, more of Hazel and Rowan’s reconciliation, more of Ivy’s secrets, more of Olive and Emily’s changing sisterliness, and more of Laurel, Ash, and Holly.  More of everything and everyone.  And I definitely want to know more about Mags.  I mean, she could be the star of her own book, and that would be awesome.  Is there even enough for a follow-up book?  I think so.  The ending of this one just leaves you wanting more … and isn’t that the sign of a great story?

6.  Fowley-Doyle writes very lyrical prose.  It was a pleasure to read her turns of phrases, though I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or swig of poteen). There were many times that I had to reread a sentence or phrase because it just seemed so deep that I needed to give it extra attention.  If you’re into that kind of writing, this book will definitely satisfy you.

7.  Parents/teachers, there are a few scenes that might be too delicate for certain readers, and there are sprinkles of profanity throughout the book (though not enough to seem like it was put in for the sake of sounding teenage-y).  On the whole, this story would be just fine for YA readers to devour.  Even better, I’m sure readers of adult lit would enjoy this story, too!

8.  Last thought for you to keep in mind before you begin your journey with Spellbook of the Lost and Found: Be careful what you wish for; not all lost things should be found.

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s Online Corners
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Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada, for sending me a copy of Spellbook of the Lost and Found in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

The Last Kids on Earth (Max Brallier)

29 Oct

Squinks, just in time for Halloween, I’ve got a title to die for (mwahaha). Max Brallier’s The Last Kids on Earth is full of terrifying fun and adventure that’s perfect for this time of year. Oh, and there are zombies.

 

Last Kids On Earth

 

Squinklethoughts1. Okay, so zombies aren’t really my thing. And no, I don’t watch The Walking Dead, but I know many of YOU like it, which is why I gave it a whirl. For someone who’s not into these kinds of stories, I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed it.

2. Brallier is terrifically funny. The humour starts right off the bat with the first page, and it continues all throughout the story. You’ll love Jack Sullivan’s voice, – I can certainly hear many of you in him – for he’s full of amusing one-liners and witty observations.

3. Speaking of Jack, I love how cautiously optimistic he is. I mean, it IS rather a feat to be dealing with monsters and zombies taking over the town. Jack knows where his strengths lie, although he does have some laugh-out-loud moments of delusions (“I’m a zombie-fighting, monster-slaying, tornado of cool … And I will Rescue June Del Toro and complete the ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success!”), and his plans to rescue June are not always completely thought out. He is fiercely loyal to his best friend, Quint, though, and for that, he’s a hero in my books.

 

Last Kids on Earth - Jack Sullivan 

4. I’m sure many of you will find a lot to like in Jack and Quint’s friendship. They work well together despite being very different. For one thing, Quint is always tinkering with things and using science to solve problems, while Jack is more about bat swinging and monster jumping. This combination serves them well when they’re two of the last kids on Earth.

5. I’m also happy that June Del Toro is a lovely damsel not in distress. And I’ve always been used to (and enjoyed) being the only girl in a group of boys, so that bit was particularly interesting to me. June’s feisty, but she’s pretty cool to Jack, so I find her a welcome addition to the growing posse that includes Dirk, an erstwhile-bully-turned-friend.

 

Last Kids on Earth - June Del Toro 

6. For those of you who love to draw, I’m sure you’ll find great inspiration in Douglas Holgate’s illustrations. They really add spirit to the story – in fact, much of the tale is told through the images, so not only do the drawings enhance the tale, they are actually vital parts of the plot as well. This book is like part graphic novel, which really adds to its appeal. I particularly like the many faces of Blarg. And I have to admit – Rover is rather cute.

7. What can I say about this book that I didn’t like? Well, except for the fact that there are monsters and zombies, and I now wonder what’s lurking outside my window every time I turn off the lights, not much. This may not have been my cup of tea, but I’m positive many of you will enjoy it nonetheless. I’d give it just under 4 stars … like 3.87, maybe. ‘Cause, as I mentioned, monsters and zombies.

 

4 Squinkles 

Max Brallier’s Online Corners
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Douglas Holgate’s Online Corners
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Thank you, Penguin Canada, for sending me a copy of The Last Kids on Earth in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

The Little Paris Bookshop (Nina George)

9 Sep

Of all the stories I read this year, I think the Little Paris Bookshop has given me the biggest book hangover yet. When I was done with it, I simply handed it to my mom and said, “Read it. Trust me.” And she did. And she loved it, too.

 

Little Paris Bookshop 

Squinklethoughts

1. The title hooked me right away. “Paris” and “bookshop”? Yes, please. (My site tagline is “Bouquets de Bouquins” … Doesn’t that tell you something?) Someday, I’m going to go to Paris and be chuckled at for my franglais and my accent québécois, and I will drink my café and have un temps merveilleux.

2. The cover is gorgeous. You know me: I absolutely judge books by their covers. And this one has cotton-candy colours of sunset with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Just delicious and completely enticing.

3. There is a map! I can’t begin to tell you how much that fact made reading this book much more pleasant. I seriously think that all books should have maps in them. A writer’s imagery, no matter how well done, can only allow me to visualize individual scenes in my head, but I need them all stitched up in a map, so I know where the characters geographically are. Jean and his companions travel down the River Seine, and it was great to see where along the waterways each chapter occurred.

4. I am a fan of bittersweet moments. I don’t always like them in my own life, so when I encounter characters like Jean, whose life has been full of some sweet but mostly bitter moments, I’m hooked. And that he was the cause of his own sufferings? Captivatingly cathartic.

5. The narrative is particularly beautiful. I’m not sure if it can be wholly attributed to Nina George or to the translators, but there are many lyrical phrases in the book that made me smile.

 

Little Paris Bookshop - Quotes 

6. I know some people didn’t like this story. They thought it was overly simplistic or overly cloying or overly clichéd. I understand – if what they were looking for was a story of grand gestures and perilous adventures and harrowing revelations. For some, they couldn’t connect to Jean or understand his current place in life, but I think it’s because some people skate over the 20 years (and counting) that Jean spends in misery. Once we’re past gut-wrenching moments, it’s often way too easy to forget what it meant to live each minute with heartache. (Being bullied all through elementary school? Oh, yeah, it wasn’t that bad. Eating by yourself at lunch throughout high school? Oh, well, it wasn’t terrible.) Twenty years: that’s 10 512 000 sorrowful minutes that Jean lived through to get to where he is in the story. And this is what I truly appreciate about the Little Paris Bookshop – the author and the book itself appreciate what it means to live practically an entire life with a gnawing feeling in your stomach and an empty hole in your heart.

7. For me, this story speaks to all those quiet moments in the morning, by yourself, smiling at a happy memory from 20 years back, and finding your eyes full of tears. This was all about those lazy summer days of sipping iced tea at Starbucks, flipping through a magazine, only to be greeted by an article outlining the successes of the girl who made your school years a living hell. This was about that poignant feeling I get now, after waving thanks to my student’s grandfather for dropping him off at school, and remembering that I don’t have my grandpa anymore.

8. I love the concept of a book apothecary. Can you imagine being able to read people as easily as Jean Perdu does? And, on top of that, being able to make people’s lives a little better by prescribing the perfect livre du moment? As a school librarian, I try my best, but after reading about Jean’s perfectly tuned skills, I know I’ve got a long way to go.

9. This is a great story about the moments, choices, people, and books that leave indelible footprints on our hearts.

10. You really need to read this book.  Read it now, then re-read it after five years to see how much more it resonates with you.

 

5 Squinkles

 

Nina George’s Online Corners
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Thank you, Penguin Random House (Crown) and Blogging for Books, for sending me a copy of the Little Paris Bookshop in exchange for an honest review.

All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Cover Love: UK Editions of the Iron Trial and the Lightning Thief

20 Jul

Hi Squinks,

Hardcore bibliophiles like me sometimes cannot explain certain behaviours.  (Yes, I DO mind if you look at this brand-new book that I’ve just begun reading.  If you must, could you wash your hands first, please?)  But I’m sure that one of the least strange of my strange behaviours is amassing a collection of various covers of the same titles.  I can’t help it – I really do judge books by their covers.  So when I see great artistic interpretations of books I’ve read and loved, I can’t help but drool a little … and then (more often than not) take out my wallet and get a copy.

Here are the UK covers of three books published in Great Britain by Penguin though by different houses in North America (and probably elsewhere).  Aren’t they pretty?

 

UK Covers - PJ & Magisterium 

Compare them to their North American counterparts: Magisterium: The Iron Trial and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.  Which versions do you like better?

Student Review: The Witches

16 Jul

The author Roald Dahl has written many great books, but I think that the book the Witches is by far the best that he’s done. The book is about a grandmother telling her grandson about real witches and how to survive them. Then, one day, the grandson finds himself face to face with a real witch!

 

Witches 

One thing I liked about this book is that the grandson actually finds where all the witches are and what they’re planning to do. I like the way that the grandson and the grandmother decide to work together to make things right. However, I didn’t really like the way the book ended. I got all wrapped up in their adventures, and then … well, you’ll have to read how it ends for yourself!

I would strongly recommend this book to both young readers and adults everywhere. Overall, I give this book 5 of 5 stars. It was thrilling, full of adventures, and very humorous. Roald Dahl did a phenomenal job with the Witches.

Review by Roy K., grade 7

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