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Double Comparison Review: The Twenty One Balloons and Mr. Popper’s Peguins

Hello everybody! This is the first of a new series I am going to do for my reviews. For each post I am going to read two books with similar pub. circumstances and themes and then review them side-by-side. Today I’m reviewing The Twenty One Balloons by William Pene du Bois and Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. Both were written at around the same time, Popper’s Penguins in the 1930s and Balloons in the 1940s, and both were awarded a Newberry. Both were children’s books (I’m pretty sure they could be classified as middle grade) focusing on themes of exploration and defying other people’s expectations.

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Balloons is about a man who sets off to spend a year in a balloon, and is found only three weeks later with twenty balloons. The story tells about how this came to be. Conversely, Popper’s Penguins centers around a bored house-painter who acquires penguins. Both are supposed to be tales of adventure and fun, and could probably be considered modern children’s classics by some people.

Both stories focus on imagination, but neither really make much logical sense. This is probably because they were written for kids, but the lack of sense, especially in Popper’s Penguins seems more like talking down to kids rather than making stories accessible to them. That book was so simple that I had to double check that it was for the middle grade category. I wouldn’t really recommend it for anyone beyond fourth (mayyyybe fifth) grade.

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In Balloons, the writing is less simplified, but the actual events are very simple. At one point, the main character is living on a Pacific island with 80 other white people (not even going to go there because there is no doubt that had the others been native islanders they would have been portrayed with much racism). Each family is a mirror of each other: they all have an inventive man of the house, a housewife, an assertive and inventive son, and a somewhat-less inventive-but-still-inventive and demure daughter. Each family has the same job and an equal share of the wealth of the island, and the society is portrayed as utopia. This is interesting as well, especially since the book was written in 1947 during the Red Scare in the United States. To think that a children’s book supporting communism was written and published and even won a Newberry during the Cold War!

In this book the inventions described are interesting, and could be very interesting for kids, but the uniformity of everyone shown in the book kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

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Both books do have very nice, well-drawn illustrations and reading them could make the right kid very happy. But I wouldn’t really recommend either for adults who want an interesting and inventive story.

Also, there are certainly many better (in my opinion) imaginative books for kids, many of which can be better enjoyed by people of all ages.

I rated both books 3/5 stars.

Book Review- Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (non-spoiler review and spoiler discussion)

(I’m going to start with the non-spoiler review, and then head into the spoilery discussion after. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a head’s up. The non-spoiler section may still contain spoilers for This Savage Song, the first book in the duology.)

“I didn’t mean to startle you. But you are standing in my kitchen. And that is my favorite knife.”

It’s no secret that V Schwab is one of my favorite authors- I’ve read almost all of her books. They’re always about interesting people in interesting worlds (with exquisite world building), and it seems like she never runs out of fascinating ideas. So I had high hopes for Our Dark Duet, and somehow it still managed to surpass my expectations.

The book starts a few months after the events in TSS (This Savage Song) with Kate leaving Verity for Prosperity, and August staying with the Flynn Task Force. Ilsa can still reap souls, but no longer with music. Much has happened between the two books.

One thing that was exceptional about this book was the character development- August and Kate of course, but also all of the side characters. The reader gets a lot of insight into characters like Ilsa and Soro (new character) and even those like Sloan so they are understandable, and in several cases purposefully unlikable. Not only does everyone have a backstory, but you can see layers of character shift as the story goes on.

The world building was exceptional as could be expected. It was interesting to see the contrast between Verity and Prosperity too, and how they were both independent territories in the same dystopian world yet very different. The pacing was phenomenal too. I feel like this is a book that you could read quickly or slowly depending on your preferences.

An unapologetic 5/5 stars. Actually, scratch that. 1,000,000/5 stars.

 

Discussion:

(Spoilers beyond this point!)

Damn, V. Why did you gotta go do me like that??? That ending was so rude on your part.

Kate was ma gurl. KATE WAS MA GURL.

But to be honest if she had to go I’m glad it happened like that so we could see August have his soul crushed too. The ending was so evil- and yet so good.

Now I guess since that’s out of the way I’ll talk about the beginning and middle since they were phenomenal (if not quite as soul crushing) too.

I loved Soro. They were ma sunai, even if I kinda didn’t like them at first. I thought they were, like, just a little bit evil when we met them, if you know what I mean. But then their character developed and by the end I was just like

So yeah Soro was basically like my role model and favorite character all rolled into one.

Also Prosperity. Prosperity. It’s too cruel that we will never see more of this evil, insidious city.

So, in conclusion, thank you Victoria Schwab for creating this fantastic, and evil, book. Snail blogger ouuuut.

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin- Some cool lesbian historical fiction!

So I started reading this book not really knowing what it was about. My book club at school chose it for this month when I wasn’t there, and gave it to me later without really an explanation.

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My Attempt at Creating My Very Own Bird Silhouette

When I really started reading this book, I couldn’t stop. I finished it in just a couple of hours (it was under 200 pages but still). I got really attached to the main character (and all the characters for that matter) because they were all very developed and realistic, even if they may have seemed like archetypes at first. One thing I really liked about this book is that it showed Garnet’s (the main character) simplistic outlook on other people and the world, and how it progressed as certain events occurred.

Another aspect of this book that I thought was remarkable was the world building. Strong world building is rare, I think, in historical fiction, especially recent historical fiction, but I think this book perfectly captured the feel and look of the town and time period. Certain characters add to this world building by making the world seem more like a slice of life from the twenties, if that makes any sense at all.

And that brings me to the romance. I think as a whole the romance was well developed and the characters had good chemistry together, and that it added to the larger plot of Garnet’s personal decisions in all aspects of her life without being the sole factor pushing our characters along in their lives (as happens in many YA books). However, I feel like some people might feel like the romance develops too quickly in the beginning, but I feel like that is due more to the fact that the book follows the events of an entire summer in a short number of pages more than anything else.

Overall, I give this book a four and a half out of five stars and highly recommend it.

Review- My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows is a historical fiction young adult book that focuses on the adventures of Lady Jane Grey, the nine day queen of England. The first half of the book is somewhat historically accurate, but the second section just throws any attempt to being historically accurate out the window. The whole thing is just a really fun book to read that doesn’t take itself seriously.

 

The book is not a serious retelling of history, and is meant to be a comedy. It certainly lives up to that. It is entertaining and a quick read for its size. It has alternating perspectives (3rd person limited) between Edward (king of England), Jane, and Gifford Dudley (Jane’s betrothed). All of the characters are very likable individuals. The narration is very funny and adds to the whole experience; there is even funny commentary throughout.

 

One problem I had with this book was that it was slow in parts, which is a problem for a comedy, and I didn’t really feel the desire to keep reading. This may have just been a me problem though, so don’t let it throw you off of reading this book, because it certainly was very good overall.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who is in the mood for a light fun read, and overall I give it a 4/5 stars.

New Year, New January TBR

Happy New Year!!! Here is my new tbr for the very first month of this year:

  1. Finish The Scarlet Letter (for school)
  2. A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax (this is for my book club!)
  3. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  4. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  5. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
  6. Mirrored by Alex Flinn

And other than that, I just want to read the library books that I have that are due back to the library soon.

I’m sorry that this post is so short, but I really don’t know what else to say.

What books are you planning to read this month?

2017 Reading and Blogging Goals!

Hey guys! You may have possibly noticed that I didn’t follow through with my readathon. This is because my concussion made it difficult to use the computer without getting a headache. However, I’m feeling much better right now, so I’ll tell you about some of my 2017 goals and resolutions!

Reading goals and resolutions:

  1. Read more adult books- and by this I mean books written for adults, not erotica. I am planning to read at least one each month.
  2. Read more classics- I also want to try and read at least one of these each month. These can be children’s classics, regular classics, or really any type of classics. I don’t care, as long as it’s something I’m interested in.
  3. Read more nonfiction- Again, I want to try one each month, and read about a variety of subjects.

For all of these, I’m making these resolutions because I enjoy these types of books (actually some of the best books I’ve read recently have been these genres) and don’t get around to actually finding many of them to read. I slip back into hot teen ya fiction because its easy and comfortable instead of trying to find something I’ll enjoy more, ultimately. So, I’m hoping to use these goals to force myself to read these genres.

Blogging goals and resolutions:

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it for each month. Seriously.
  2. Write more reviews, and more good reviews. Plan them in the schedule, and stick it through.
  3. Interact more with other people online.

I don’t think I’ve done a good job this year, and am setting these goals in order to improve for next year.

Additional goals and resolutions that don’t fit neatly into the other two categories:

  1. Join some readathons, and before they start this time! I think that would be very fun.
  2. Do a good deed for the world/Earth each month.
  3. Do a photo project: pick a month and take a new photo of something different but similar every day of that month.
  4. Drink more water.
  5. Do more things that I enjoy.
  6. Spend more time with my friends, and be more outgoing.
  7. Have a generally better year than 2016.

Thank you for reading everyone! I would love to hear your feedback! What are your new year’s resolutions? Got any suggestions for books to read in the new year? Have a fun readathon I could join next year? I’d love to year any of your thoughts, really. Anyways, see you in my next post! 🙂

Bookmas Day Nine

Hello! Today I am back with a Bookmas day nine blog post, which is actually day two for me because of extenuating circumstances. Anyways, this is a readathon and video/blogathon hosted by the fabulous youtuber Haileyinbookland so if you do not know her, definitely check out her videos!

Today’s prompt is to write about nine young adult books that came out in 2016. I don’t have nine young adult books that I read that came out this year, but I have six (sort of kind of) and two middle grades that came out this year, so I guess I’ll tell you about those! These are in no particular order by the way.

1) This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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This was basically an urban fantasy, and what I particularly liked was the fact that it was a ya book, with boy and girl main characters, and no romance. The sequel comes out in 2017, so I’m crossing my fingers that that one will turn out to be just as good.

2) Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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I read this one recently, and I actually quite liked it. I heard that it was a bit of a disappointment for many people, but I didn’t find that true for me. Maybe that’s because I haven’t read her other series, The Darkest Minds. The sequel for this one comes out very, very soon, so I am hopeful for that one as well.

3) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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This one seems to be a disappointment for many people also, but I enjoyed it. Maybe I just have low standards. I don’t really know.

4) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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I’m kind of cheating with this one, because I didn’t read the screenplay. But I have ordered it, and I saw (and loved) the move. So I’m only cheating a little.

5) The Last Star by Rick Yancey

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This is the conclusion to the 5th Wave trilogy, and I have to say that I was underwhelmed, both with the book and the entire series.

6) The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

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This is historical fiction set in Alaska, and believe it or not was one of my favorite books all year. It’s pretty short (not even 250 pages) but fantastic. I wrote a full review for it here.

And now we are getting into the middle grade books:

7) When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

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I’ve said many things about this book (and this author) in the past, and basically all of them were good things. Read my full review here.

8) The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

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This is about a 12 year old transgender boy, and I have a review for it here.

Huzzah. I have officially run out of books that I have read that were published in 2016. So, here is one that I bought that was published in 2016 but have not yet read:

9) Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

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Nice.

And my current read is The Gift by Cecilia Ahern, and I think that I have made good progress on it- given that I have a concussion.

Thank you so much for reading, and I will hopefully see you all in my next post!

Bookmas Day 8

So, I’m starting this thing pretty late, but I have a good excuse, and that’s that I got a concussion on Saturday. Read my life update if you want to know about it.

This is a readathon and video/blogathon hosted by Hailey at Haileyinbookland. She makes great videos so you should totally check her channel out. The topic for day 8 is 8 book to read in 2017.

I’m going to pretend that I posted this last night, but I didn’t because I had a headache, so I thought it would be better to rest my head. Today I’ll do this one and I’ll also do day nine later in the day.

So, without further rambling, here are my 8 books to read in 2017!

1) Pacy Lin companion seriesOk. I cheated, this is actually three books. But I don’t know if I actually want to read them all in 2017 or if I want to read one or two that year and read the rest later. But this is the Pacy Lin series of companion novels by Grace Lin (who wrote my favorite book ever btw)

2) Starry River of the Sky by Grace LinI did another Grace Lin book! But this is the last one, I swear. But this is the second book in the Where the Mountain Meets the Moon companion series. Seeing how the first book changed my life when I read it for the first time in fourth grade, and I read the third book earlier this year and it was amazing, I really need and want to read this book.

3) Library of Souls by Ransom RiggsI don’t know what to say other that I really enjoyed the first two books of this trilogy.

4) The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin LudwigI was sent this advance copy in the mail, so I need to read it before it comes out, which is in May.

5) Indestructible by John B. BruningI won a copy of this right after it came out, so similar deal as the the last one only it came out in November.

6) Emma by Jane AustenI want to read more classics, and have this book sitting around, so I want to get to it in 2017.

7) I am Malala by Malala YousafzaiI think that this is an important book with an important topic, so I want to read it to better understand.

8) The Mark of Athena by Rick RiordanI read the original Percy Jackson series in a week years ago and since then have been taking several years to read the second series (and now I guess third series too). And also this is a library book so I need to return it.
Oh, and my current read is The Gift by Cecilia Ahern.

Thank you so much for reading!

Life Update

Soo, I haven’t bern posting lately, even though I just said that I would. But then life started happening and I had no free time and too much anxiety. And then, last Saturday I slipped on the ice by my house and got a concussion.

It was a very mild concussion, which I am very grateful for, but it was a concussion nonetheless. I had to have 48 hours of brain rest with no technology, homework, and almost no reading.

I am so glad that that period is over now, because it was not fun. The doctor cleared me to go back to school with a lessoned workload, and I can do some of things like using computers again. I can also read for longer periods of time.

I really miss making posts, and so as much as I am able to I would like to join in with a readathon and video/blogathon hosted by the youtuber Haileyinbookland. Today is day 8 of 12, so I was going to start there, and then at the end do the first 7 days.

I think that this will give me something interesting to do that is not too mentally taxing, since it is a pretty lowkey readathon. Anyways, thank you for reading; you guys are great.

Hello

Hello again everybody. I apologize for my hiatus as of late. I had a relatively rough November, but I’m hoping most of those troubles are over. Haha. Maybe a nice goal oriented festive month is just what I need to get back on track.
I’m hoping to really post a lot this month, and write decent stuff too. I really want to write three or four reviews, read a lot of books, and see a lot of movies. I’m exited for the holidays and really hope a nice month will get me back on track.

See you in my next post everybody!