Tag Archives: random house canada

Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts (Esta Spalding)

8 Nov

If you’re looking for a story with characters that don’t fit neatly into a box, you might find a match with Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding.

 

Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts

Squinklethoughts

1.  I was really happy to encounter such a unique cast of characters in this story.  They’re definitely not cookie-cutter protagonists.  The four children – Kim, Kimo, Toby, and Pippa – find themselves thrown together by virtue of complicated parentage.  They all share a mother or a father or both. This was a selling point for me, as I haven’t read enough stories where step-siblings get along with one another as these four do.

2.  I love the setting of the island.  Even though the kids live in a car, I like to imagine that they enjoy the weather and scenery on a regular basis.  (I’d love to experience a warm rainfall on the beach of an island one day.)  There’s also something about adventures being set on islands that I really like, although I’m not too fond of the show Lost or the novel Lord of the Flies.

3.  This book was just okay for me, and this is the perfect example of a story that I felt lukewarm about but that my students loved.  I mean … I had kids repeatedly asking for when the book would become available because their classmates really enjoyed the story.  Just goes to show you, I guess.

4.  One of the things I wasn’t too thrilled about was the way that the circumstances of the kids were treated very lightly.  From time to time, Kim does stress over how to find a new place to live (because the kids are growing up and the car space is growing small), but I can’t imagine how the four of them get along the way they do without a home, even though (most of) their parents are still around.  I mean, they live in a car with no reliable source of … practically anything.  Maybe for the younger ones it’s really the only life they remember, but I don’t quite understand how they’re able to survive with the meagre allowance they get from their parents or how they’re able to live on a beach with no trouble from authority figures.  The kids’ hardships were treated too lightly, almost trivially, for my liking, but for some of my students, this is exactly what they enjoyed.  They liked that despite the Fitzgerald-Trouts’ circumstances, they still get through their days and find adventures in Ikea-type stores.

5.  Spalding’s prose is very easy to get lost in.  In spite of those struggle points mentioned above, I enjoyed immersing myself in the story of the children and life on the island.  I read a few chapters aloud in class, and my students lapped them up.

6.  The illustrations are gorgeous.  They’re done by Sydney Smith whom I was really pleased to have met in January and who very graciously illustrated my copy with a palm tree (I LOVE palm trees), the beach, and the ocean.  Check out his website for more eye candy.

7.  I’m looking forward to the next book of this series, Knock About with the Fitzgerald-Trouts, which is slated for release in May 2017, because I do really want to know what happens to the kids.  I felt rather cliffhangered at the end of this book, and my students felt the same.  I’m hoping there’s a little more realism (when it comes to some of the heavy stuff) balanced with the adventures of the Fitzgerald-Trout clan.  Oh, and I’m looking forward to exploring the island with the children once again.

 

3.5 Squinkles 

Esta Spalding’s Online Corners
Website | Chapters

 

Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada, for sending me
a copy of Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts in exchange for
an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

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Mailbox Love: Finding Audrey (Sophie Kinsella)

17 Jun

Just before I left for BEA, my mailbox was very happy!  I received a copy of Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – her first YA novel.  I’m looking forward to carving out some time to read it.  I’ve loved Kinsella’s books ever since she was writing under her real name, Madeline Wickham, and the love has continued throughout her Shopaholic series.

 

Finding Audrey 

Here’s what Kinsella’s website has to say about Finding Audrey:

 

Audrey can’t leave the house.  She can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother’s friend, Linus, stumbles into her life.  With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start.  And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary.  Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

Be prepared to laugh, dream, and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you …

 

I can’t wait to dive in!  Have you read it yet?  What do you think?

Vanessa and Her Sister (Priya Parmar)

23 Feb

Vanessa and Her Sister

 

17 Bookworm Lane
Chapterville

 

23 February 2015

My dearest Squinks,

And so, the cold weather lingers on. I do hope that it has yet overstayed its welcome where you are. Winters do seem dreadfully long if they are especially cold, n’est-ce pas? When the temperature dips below 20° C, I sometimes recall those moments of my childhood during which we trudged 20 miles to school … walking barefoot … in the snow … with nary un chapeau to keep our têtes protected from the wind.

Et alors, I write to you today to tell you about the most delightful novel I have just finished. It is written by one Priya Parmar, a very talented author who hails from Mother England. Vanessa and Her Sister is a unique and lovely literary tableau of the heydays of the Bloomsbury Group, told through the wise eyes of Vanessa Bell (née Stephen). Wonderful things about this novel abound; I hope one of the copies in our library will someday find its way into your hands.

Are you wondering if this story really is worth your time? Maybe you’re not particularly keen on immersing yourself in the lives of these Bloomsbury authors, artists, and critics, whom some have undoubtedly labelled as equally the epitome of intelligence and the pinnacle of pretentiousness? Peut-être reading Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse has given you a perpetual, irrevocable, indomitable refusal to ever read anything related to her ever again? If so, dearest Squinks, I beg you to let me plead my case.

Read this novel for Parmar’s writing. Read it for the pure joy of hearing her witty words spoken aloud because saying them in your head once is simply not enough. It is facile enough to read the curricula vitæ of these beaux amis, but Parmar’s writing brings them, especially the Stephen sisters, to life. Told from Vanessa’s perspective, with the occasional welcome interruptions from friends, Vanessa and Her Sister affords its readers an extended glimpse into the lives of this coterie from the rare point of view of someone living within it. Parmar’s Vanessa is an intelligent and perceptive heroine, keenly aware of her place as a woman, wife, and artist in the England of the early 1900s. I think many of you will truly appreciate recognizing that she was both a product of and participant in her time, and that she handled herself with aplomb even in the most trying of circumstances. Some would undoubtedly admonish her for her seeming passive-aggressiveness, but dear Squinks, as you read this novel, I hope you, too, come to comprehend and applaud the quiet but steady trail that Vanessa blazed. And what of Virginia Woolf? I’ve never loathed her nor understood her as much as I do now that I’ve seen her through the eyes of her sister. Vanessa’s forbearance of Virginia haunts me in the same way that Virginia’s beauty haunted her.

If, by the time you reach her journal entry dated 20 November 1906, you still have not found the lure that draws you into the turbulent English Channel that was the Stephens, I encourage you, then, to simply admire Parmar’s talent with me. Her words are eloquent, and her turns of phrases capture the voices of this time period. Rather than seeming tentative or contrived, Vanessa’s wit and humour flow freely across the page as a testimony to the author’s deft. Parmar makes me want to write and paint and read to feel the same passion that permeated throughout the Bloomsbury Group.

Please, my dear Squinks, please put me out of my misery. Venez me voir dans la bibliothèque et demandez-moi ce nouveau roman incroyable.

Amicalement,
Ta professeure

PS: My favourite line of the entire novel is the last line.  Let me know when you get there!

 

5 Squinkles 

Priya Parmar’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, Random House and Ballantine Books, for sending me a copy of Vanessa and Her Sister.  All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own; I received no compensation for them.

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