Archive for September, 2015

Review of The Hollow Boy, by Jonathan Stroud

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

hollow_boy_largeThe Hollow Boy

Lockwood & Co., Book Three

by Jonathan Stroud

Disney-Hyperion, Los Angeles, 2015. 385 pages.
Starred Review

It’s here! Book Three of the Lockwood & Co. series! I only had to wait a week after finishing listening to the audiobooks of the first two books. (You can be sure I preordered my own copy. These are so good to reread, I’m not settling for a library copy any more.)

The good news: This is not a trilogy! (I was hoping not.) The bad news: Like the other two, the book ends with a fairly major plot point that will make everything change – and we have to wait to find out how that plays out. Aaugh!

Jonathan Stroud doesn’t write the same book over and over again. We’ve still got Lucy, Lockwood, and George battling ghosts with iron chains, magnesium flares, salt bombs, and silver-tipped rapiers. But now their agency, having met with success, is more popular than ever before. They’re having to split up to take on all the cases.

So Lockwood and George hire an assistant while Lucy is on vacation. A young female assistant named Holly Munro who is annoyingly perfect. She whips the agency into shape and manages their caseload, but Lucy isn’t entirely happy with the changes she brings.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s ability to listen to ghosts is growing. What if she attempts to hear what they have to say rather than immediately trying to destroy them? But that can have some dangerous results.

Meanwhile, there’s a huge outbreak happening in London with all the big agencies on the case. In the last book, I was a little annoyed by the childish rivalry between Lockwood & Co. and a certain team from the Fittes agency. (Even though they actually are children. Schoolyard bullying didn’t seem appropriate.) But I liked very much that in this book, the two teams need to work together – and manage to do so. Interpersonal relationships got much more complex.

I shouldn’t say too much, because if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll be eager to read this one. And yes, yes, yes, it’s as good as the previous two. You will want to read this series in order. While I’m sure you could enjoy this book as a stand alone, it really is part of a continuing story. As a whole, it’s one of the best series for children out there. If you missed it before, you still have time to catch up before the next installment!

Here’s how the book begins:

I think it was only at the very end of the Lavender Lodge job, when we were fighting for our lives in that unholy guesthouse, that I glimpsed Lockwood & Co. working together perfectly for the first time. It was just the briefest flash, but every detail remains etched into my memory: those moments of sweet precision when we truly acted as a team.

Yes, every detail. Anthony Lockwood, coat aflame, arms flapping madly as he staggered backward toward the open window. George Cubbins, dangling from the ladder one-handed, like an oversized windblown pear. And me – Lucy Carlyle – bruised, bloody, and covered in cobwebs, sprinting, jumping, rolling desperately to avoid the ghostly coils . . .

Sure, I know none of that sounds so great. And to be fair, we could have done without George’s squeaking. But this was the thing about Lockwood & Co.: we made the most of unpromising situations and turned them to our advantage.

Want to know how? I’ll show you.

LockwoodandCo.com
DisneyBooks.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/hollow_boy.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, purchased via Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Spirit of Saint Francis, inspiring words from Pope Francis

Friday, September 25th, 2015

spirit_of_saint_francis_largeThe Spirit of Saint Francis

Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

edited by Alicia von Stamwitz

Franciscan Media, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2015. 178 pages.

It seemed fitting that I finished reading this book during the Pope’s visit to Washington, D. C. I’d been reading it for a long time, reading a couple of inspirational quotations each morning.

I posted a few quotations on Sonderquotes. Here’s one example:

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

Here’s another:

The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life. The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep.

The headings the editor put the quotes under are “We Are Infinitely Loved,” “God Never Tires of Forgiving Us,” “Entrust Yourself to God’s Mercy,” “Dive into Prayer,” “Discover True Joy,” “Choose Simplicity and Humility,” “Do Not Forget the Poor!” “Preach the Gospel at All Times,” “Be Instruments of Peace and Pardon,” “Respect and Protect Creation.”

There’s something here for all Christians, not just Catholics. I recommend this book for a daily dose of encouragement and challenge.

FranciscanMedia.org

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/spirit_of_saint_francis.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Troll and the Oliver, by Adam Stower

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

troll_and_the_oliver_largeTroll and the Oliver

by Adam Stower

Templar Books (Candlewick Press), 2015. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s some high drama for the preschool set. We start out being introduced to Troll and “an Oliver.” Troll keeps trying to catch the Oliver, wanting to eat it for lunch. But the Oliver keeps getting away. We see many of these scenarios, as the Oliver dodges, hides, and sneaks away, cleverly eluding capture. As he escapes he sings little songs and always wears a happy smile. Despite the giant fuzzy blue troll, the reader isn’t really frightened for Oliver.

Then one day, the reader thinks Troll has given up. Oliver looks and looks for Troll and steps stealthily just in case.

And shall I give a spoiler? I don’t feel like I can explain how absolutely brilliant this book is without explaining what happens.

But perhaps I can get away with saying there’s a half-page turn in this book – which is the most dramatic page turn I have ever seen in a children’s book. Read well, I can easily imagine children jumping out of their skin.

When I say half-page: A double page spread has vertically half a page in the middle of it. Before you turn the half-page, you’ve got Oliver in the kitchen, just having realized the Troll has given up.

My name’s Oliver,
Look at me!
I’m as clever
As can be!
I’m the best
And I’m the winner.
I’ll never ever
Be that smelly
Troll’s dinner!

Turning the half-page “opens” the cabinet – to devastating effect.

Let’s just say that it’s a good thing it turns out Olivers taste awful. And the pictures of Troll tasting him all have Oliver’s legs hanging out of Troll’s mouth. So still not too frightening.

And then, in a brilliant stroke, Troll smells what the Oliver was baking in the kitchen. All along, something was wafting from the oven, but our attention wasn’t called to it. Turns out – Trolls love CAKE!

And the book finishes off with a happy scene of Oliver having a Cake Picnic with a whole big party of trolls. The back endpapers have a recipe for Troll Cupcakes.

I especially like the Author’s Note at the end:

I would strongly advise the reader to ALWAYS have some cake handy, just in case a troll should happen by. He might be hungry. . . .

One of the things I love about this book is that Oliver is consistently smiling. Despite the dramatic reversal in the middle, the reader is never too worried for Oliver, because he’s not worried. Yep, there’s a big fuzzy blue troll trying to eat a little kid, but it’s not really a frightening book. And you come away with the message: Always have some cake handy.

What could be better?

I’m going to try this book at Storytime. . . And see if I can make the kids jump.

candlewick.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/troll_and_the_oliver.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Whispering Skull audiobook, by Jonathan Stroud

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

whispering_skull_audio_largeThe Whispering Skull

by Jonathan Stroud
read by Katie Lyons

Listening Library, 2014. 11 ½ hours on 9 compact discs.
Starred Review

I’m thoroughly enjoying rereading the Lockwood & Co. series by listening before the third book in the series comes out this month. I was disappointed that a different narrator was used for the second book, but she’s still got a British accent, and it’s still an enthralling and absorbing story that makes the commuting miles fly by.

In the second book, there’s more tension between the members of the agency Lockwood & Co. The skull in the title is our friend in the jar – and it starts talking to Lucy, but continues to say things that build mistrust and get the agency into trouble.

There’s more horror in this book – this time the ghost of a man eaten by rats, as well as people who die by looking into a cursed mirror. Lockwood & Co. are looking for this mirror, which was stolen from a coffin that was dug up in their presence and also contained the bones of a particularly threatening Visitor.

Again, this would make great family listening – but only if the kids are old enough for a very scary story. If they’ll be badly freaked out by the thought of rats eating a human body – this audiobook is not for them.

However, for older kids and adults, this is more brilliant excitement from Jonathan Stroud. We’ve got a mystery again – what happened to the mirror? But there’s also competition with another agency, secrets between Lucy and Lockwood and George, and more interesting tidbits about this world where dangerous Visitors walk among us, but only kids can see them.

I had so much fun reviewing this series in preparation for Book Three, I have a feeling it’s going to become a yearly tradition. (This is a case where I am definitely hoping we’re not talking about a trilogy.) I’m just not getting tired of these brilliant books.

jonathanstroud.com
lockwoodandco.com
listeninglibrary.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/whispering_skull_audio.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Sonderlinge Kapitel 19

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I look at the German translation of children’s books and devise a Useful Phrasebook for Very Silly Travelers.

This week, it’s back to the book that started it all, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, by James Kennedy, The Order of Odd-Fish.

Sonderlinge 2

After years of doing this, we are up to Chapter 19 in the book (out of 28). I can safely say that I have not given spoilers. I see the sentences I choose as teasers. Who can possibly resist wanting to read a book containing such choice and useful sentences?

For example, have fun imagining a scenario where you would need to know the translation of the very first sentence in the chapter:
“The next month it was Jo and Ian’s turn to groom the ostriches.”
= Im nächsten Monat fiel Jo und Ian die Aufgabe zu, die Strauße zu pflegen.
(“In the next month fell Jo and Ian the assignment to, the ostriches to maintain.”)

“nested” = nisteten

“came and went as they pleased” = sie kamen und gingen, wie es ihnen gefiel

“banking and swooping raucously over the water”
= wo sie genüsslich über dem Wasser kreisten, hinabstießen und wieder aufstiegen
(“where they pleasurably over the water circled, came down and again went up”)

“their armor glittering in the sun”
= Ihre Rüstungen glitzerten in der Sonne.

“nasty, smelly work” = widerliche, stinkende Arbeit

“embarrassed” = geschämt

“dirty plumage” = schmutzigen Gefieders

“ragged feathers” = zerrupften Federn

“prune their talons” = ihre Krallen reinigen

Perhaps you shouldn’t use this to describe a friend:
“proud, stupid eyes” = stolzen, dummen Augen

“colorful regalia” = bunten Insignien

Hmmm. I would have thought this was straight from the German.
“fledgling” = flügge

“cranky personality” = leicht reizbaren Persönlichkeit
(“slightly irritable personality”)

“slightly offended” = ein bisschen beleidigt

“sparkling, foamy sea” = funkelnde, schäumende See

“zigzagging through the maze of buildings”
= im Zickzack durch das Labyrinth der Gebäude

And who knows when you might need to say this?
“racing wild pterodactyls in the fens outside of town”
= lieferte sich mit den wilden Flugsauriern in dem außerhalb der Stadt gelegenen Sumpf Wettrennen
(“delivered herself with the wild Fly-osaurs in the outside of the city lying swamp races”)

“rambling farmhouses” = verstreute Bauernhöfe

“tidy fields of crops” = ordentliche Getreidefelder

Of course Germans have a word for this:
“half-collapsed castle” = Schlossruine

I found a missing phrase in the translation! In the sentence, “When it got too hot in the city, Jo, Ian, and Nora would climb on their ostriches, Audrey would hold on to Ian’s back, and they would fly out to a deserted beach where a river streamed out into the ocean, near a decaying mansion overgrown with weeds.” It’s missing the phrase “near a decaying mansion overgrown with weeds.” Here’s the translation:
Wenn es in der Stadt zu heiß wurde, stiegen Jo, Ian und Nora auf ihre Strauße. Audrey setzte sich auf den von Ian und hielt sich an ihm fest, und so flogen sie hinaus zu einem verlassenen Strand, wo ein Fluss in den Ozean mündete.

“chasing the crabs” = jagten Krabben

And may you find a need to use this sentence:
“Those days were close to perfect.”
= Diese Tage waren nahezu vollkommen.

“specter” = das Gespenst

“keep at bay” = in Schach halten (“in check [chess] keep”)

“just by immersing herself in everyday life”
= indem sie sich einfach nur um ihren Alltag kümmerte

“crowd” = Menschenmenge

“thinnest piece of tissue” = hauchdünnen Papierwand (“hint-thin paper-wall”)

That’s all for tonight! May it be said of you this week, Diese Tage waren nahezu vollkommen.

Review of I See a Pattern Here, by Bruce Goldstone

Monday, September 14th, 2015

i_see_a_pattern_here_largeI See a Pattern Here

by Bruce Goldstone

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2015. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I love Bruce Goldstone’s books about math concepts. They are bright and colorful and draw kids in – and explain the math concepts in simple language, with helpful, dramatic visuals.

This one is about patterns. He explains them using simple language and has a little box giving the mathematical vocabulary where it’s appropriate. As in his other books, he starts simply and builds.

The book covers repeating patterns, then translations (“slides”), rotations (“turns”), reflections (“flips”), symmetry (“equal sides”), scaling (“changing sizes”), and tessellations (“tile patterns”). The many, many varied pictures make the concepts so clear.

For example, he uses photos of quilt blocks, tiles in the Alhambra, kaleidoscope images, lace patterns, tire treads, animals, architecture, beads, stamped patterns, and a 2000-year-old Peruvian cloak.

This is a beautiful book that will get kids noticing the patterns around them and give them a new vocabulary for talking about those patterns.

brucegoldstone.com
mackids.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/i_see_a_pattern_here.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Sonderling Sunday – Book of a Thousand Days

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday! That time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books, sort of a Very Silly Phrasebook for Travelers.

Buch_Tausend_Tage

This week I’m back to one of my favorite books in English, Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon HaleDas Buch der Tausend Tage.

Last time, I left off ready to start Day 35.

I’ll start with a nice pleasant sentence from Tag 35:
“I hope he has a safe journey.”
= Hoffentlich kommt er sicher voran.
(“Hopefully comes he safely ahead.”)

And this is good to know, from Day 39:
“I’m in love!” = Ich bin verliebt!

Oooh, I like these sentences too much not to include them, even though the translation isn’t complicated:
“My heart’s so light it floats and carries me so my feet don’t walk.”
= Mein Herz ist so leicht, dass es in der Luft schwebt und mich trägt, sodass meine Füße nicht laufen müssen.

“I sing all day and I don’t mind the washing, and that’s how I know I’m in love.”
= Ich singe den ganzen Tag und die Wäsche macht mir nichts aus. Daran erkenne ich, dass ich verliebt bin.

Now I have to finish the paragraph!
“Completely smitten with My Lord the cat.”
= Hin und weg von Mylord, dem Kater.
(Bwahaha! Google Translate gives a very funny translation for this:
“Toward and away from my Lord, the hangover.”)

“sleek and gray” = schlank und grau

“prettier than a morning sky” = hübscher als der Morgenhimmel

“mangy” = räudig

I love Shannon Hale’s use of language, and it translates well here:
“they wheezed like startled snakes”
= sie schnauften wie afgeschreckte Schlangen

“petted” = gestreichelt

“never occurred to me before” = ist mir zuvor nie in den Kopf gekommen
(“has to me before never in my head come.”)

“rim of ice” = Eisschicht

“bucket” = Eimer

“funeral” = Begräbnis

“a lower tone” = eine tiefere Tonlage

“high harmony” = hohen Akkorden

“rolled up” = hüllte

“smothered” = erstickte

“my jaw was hammering” = pochte es in meinem Kiefer
(“throbbed it in my jaw”)

“reindeer” = Elchfell

“what I gave him in return” = was ich ihm im Gegenzug gab

“crumble into a heap of ash” = zu einem Häufchen Asche verbrenne

I’m going to stop there — just before a much longer section, Day 158. (I’m going to read it in English to myself, though, before I shut the book. It’s a dramatic part!)

May you be so happy this week that you can say, Mein Herz ist so leicht, dass es in der Luft schwebt und mich trägt, sodass meine Füße nicht laufen müssen.

Meanwhile, ich singe den ganzen Tag.

Bis bald!

Review of Life Loves You, by Louise Hay & Robert Holden

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

life_loves_you_largeLife Loves You

7 Spiritual Practices to Heal Your Life

by Louise Hay and Robert Holden

Hay House, Carlsbad, California, 2015. 236 pages.
Starred Review

Although this book lists Louise Hay as the first author, the book is written by Robert Holden, and in each chapter he talks about the discussions he had with Louise Hay. But the voice of the book is his, and the book is self-referential, talking about what Louise Hay said he should write about.

With that format, the book feels a little lightweight, but that’s rather deceptive. The spiritual practices in this book are surprisingly healing. And the format does make it easy to read. I found it uplifting to read a bit each morning, and pause when I got to each of the practices, which they want you to do for seven days to solidify them.

Here are the practices:

1. Letting life love you. This includes affirmations in the mirror. It feels a little cheesy, but I have to say that it is life-affirming.

2. Affirming your life. In this section, you put up 10 dots around your home to remind you that life loves you. I used post-it hearts, which seem completely appropriate.

3. Following your joy. Here you create an affirmation board of everything you say yes to.

You create your affirmation board by listening within. You are listening for your Sacred Yesses. These Sacred Yesses belong to you. They’re not your parents’ yesses or your partner’s, your children’s, or anybody else’s. They’re not about what you should do with your life; they are about following your joy. They affirm what you love, what you believe in, and what you cherish and value. They are about you living your truth.

4. Forgiving the past. Here they present a meditation using “The Forgiveness Scale” that helps you gradually let go and forgive.

5. Being grateful now. This practice is about noticing what you’re grateful for.

Gratitude brings you back to now. Practicing gratitude helps you to be more present in your life. The more present you are, the less you feel like something is missing. Recently somebody posted this message on my Facebook page: “You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you take the time to water your own grass it will be just as green.” Practicing gratitude helps you to water your own grass. Gratitude helps you to make the most of everything as it happens. Gratitude teaches you that happiness is always now.

I so believe in this practice! These authors aren’t the first who’ve pointed out that gratitude is rooted in the present.

6. Learning to receive. This practice is a step up from gratitude. It’s noticing and being open to the ways life is loving you.

Receiving is a great big Yes. “The universe says yes to you,” says Louise. “It wants you to experience your highest good. When you ask for your highest good, the Universe doesn’t say, ‘I’ll think about it’; it says yes. The universe is always saying yes to your highest good.” And you have to say yes, too. The key to receiving is willingness, or readiness. When you declare, “I am ready to receive my highest good in this situation,” it shifts your perception and your circumstances.

7. Healing the future. Here the practice involves blessing the world. This involves a meditation that starts with blessing yourself, moves to blessing your loved ones, your neighborhood, your enemies, and finally the world.

Maybe some of these practices sound corny. But I am impressed by how positive they all are, and, yes, how healing.

Yes, this book is very New Age-y. But as a Christian, I have to agree with everything behind this teaching. I believe that God, behind Life itself, loves me. I believe in following my joy, in being grateful, in forgiving my past. And yes, I want to be ready to receive God’s blessings and also ready to turn around and bless the world. This is a wonderfully positive way to live.

robertholden.org
LouiseHay.com
HealYourLife.com
hayhouse.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/life_loves_you.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Wolfskin, by Juliet Marillier

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

wolfskin_largeWolfskin

by Juliet Marillier

Tor, New York, 2002. 493 pages.
Starred Review

I was in the mood to read an outstanding book and wanted something that would really absorb me, so I reflected that there are still some books by Juliet Marillier which I haven’t read. I chose Wolfskin because it was a first-in-a-series title that was on our shelves at my library branch.

At first, I admit, I was a little dismayed. There’s some foreshadowing that goes on which didn’t sound good. Our hero, Eyvind, a Viking, wants nothing more than to be a Wolfskin, a berserker soldier who hears Thor’s voice. When he is young, he hears a tale about two men with a blood oath of brotherhood. Later, because of that blood oath, one of the men ends up killing his beloved, who is in the family of the enemies of the blood brother. The story is held up as an example of wonderful loyalty. And soon after, Eyvind is asked to swear a blood oath to a nobleman’s brother who is staying with them, Somerled. The reader knows this can’t end well.

Well, it slowed me down. It turns out Somerled isn’t a tremendously likable character. And Eyvind is not as clever as Somerled, and gets taken advantage of.

But I knew I could expect deeper things from Juliet Marillier, and I was definitely not disappointed. Many years later, Eyvind travels across the sea to the Orkney Islands under the command of Somerled’s brother. Events that happen there require Eyvind to trust his own instincts and stand for the truth.

Here’s a section from the beginning of the book, where Eyvind’s older brother Eirik comes home for a visit.

Eirik was his hero. Eirik was a Wolfskin. That was the most glorious calling in the whole world, for surely nothing could surpass the moment when you heard Thor’s call to battle ringing in your ears, pulsing in your blood, filling every corner of your being with a red rage that shut out any thought of fear. To charge forward in pure courage, inspired by the god himself – that bold vision tugged at Eyvind’s thoughts by day and filled his dreams by night. What matter if a Wolfskin’s life were short? Such a warrior, once fallen, would be carried straight to Thor’s right hand. One day he himself would pass the test, and become one of that band to which Eirik and Hakon belonged, as had many of Eyvind’s kin in times past. The men of Hammarsby had a noble tradition in the Warfather’s service. So Eyvind practiced with the bow and with the axe. He ran and climbed, he skated and swam. He shoveled snow and hunted and grew strong, awaiting that day. Eirik’s tales kept his dreams alive. Later, perhaps his brother would tell of the autumn Viking, the riches plundered, the battles won.

Once they get to the Orkneys, the story of Nessa is told alongside Eyvind’s. Nessa is the king’s daughter, training to be the priestess of her people. But then Somerled’s brother dies, and Somerled insists that the folk of the Orkneys are responsible, and there is trouble between their peoples.

This book includes the detailed creation of a world as it may have been, with adventure and bravery, romance and passion, right and wrong, justice and treachery, loyalty and betrayal, and a touch of magic.

Juliet Marillier has done it again. (Or I should say, “did” it again. I just preordered her next book to be published in America!)

julietmarillier.com
tor.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/wolfskin.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Stories of my Life, by Katherine Paterson

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

stories_of_my_life_largeStories of my Life

by Katherine Paterson

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014. 299 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a wonderful book from a beloved writer. Katherine Paterson, former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has lived an amazing life. She was born in China to missionary parents, was evacuated multiple times because of war, went on to be a missionary herself to Japan, became an adoptive mother, and achieved great success as a writer. There are fascinating stories here, in the hands of someone who knows how to tell a story.

The stories are from her family and friends as well as her own life. They are remarkable and entertaining. I found one a day was a good pace for reading them, like having coffee with a friend and hearing a memorable, warm and human story.

At the front of the book, she answers some common questions like, “Where do you get your ideas?” I like this paragraph from her answer:

Some of my writer friends have so many ideas, they’ll never live long enough to turn them all into books. I look at them with a certain envy, for when I finish a book I say, “Well, that was a great career while it lasted,” because I am sure I’ll never have an idea worthy of another book. But by now I’ve written a lot of books, so I must have gotten those ideas from somewhere, and that somewhere is most often from my own life. Another lesson I’ve learned along the way is that there are no truly original ideas. There are no truly original plots. As the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes said three thousand or so years ago: “There is no new thing under the sun.” Except you. Except me. Every individual is new and unique, so we may be stuck with the same old plots, but because a new person is telling the story, bringing his or her singular life to bear on the story, it is fresh and new. So the only excuse I have for daring to write is that no one else in the world would be able to tell the stories that only I can tell. And an aside to those of you wishing to write — that is your excuse as well. The raw material for our unique stories is our unique lives and perspective on life.

This is a beautiful book from someone who’s living a beautiful life.

The book is written with simple enough language that kids can read it, but it will definitely make good reading for adults, too. In fact, I could see reading this book aloud as a family. They aren’t dramatic cliff-hanger stories, but they’re cozy, warm, and interesting stories, and a delight to read.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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