Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: Bird

grief, loss, friendship and love intermingle in this powerful debut
Title: Bird by Crystal Chan
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback
Pages: 295 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Adoption

Synopsis: Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past: they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe—just maybe—the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

Review: Bird is a middle school grade novel by first time author Crystal Chan.  Jewel was born on the day her brother, Bird died. His real name was John but Jewel's grandfather called him Bird and after he jumped to his death from a cliff pretending to fly Jewels grandfather hasn't spoken and her family is steeped in grief and despair.

On the eve of her 12th birthday Jewel leaves the house late at night to climb a tree and look at the stars.  In the tree she meets John, a young African-American boy who was adopted by a white family.  Jewel thinks it's weird that she met a boy with her brother's name in a spot out near where he died but the two become good friends. Jewel's father doesn't trust him though.  He believes that John is an a duppy (spirits trapped on earth who cause trouble) who has come to cause more trouble in their family. He goes out of his way to keep John away from his family.

John is visiting his Uncle while his parents get ready to have a baby.  Which brings up many feelings of abandonment, his adoption, and anger in John. While the drama going on in both children's lives at first appear the same by the end you see how very similar their concerns are.  Jewel lives in a house that hasn't let go of the grief and sadness of losing their son, and John believes his parents don't really want him now that they are having their "own" child. 

This is a beautifully written book and a well thought out story that really touches on what it means to feel different, how children view the world around them and how we are all connected and can help each other to be whole.  Many books deal with identity and parent and child relationships but Bird is on a completely different level. Bird is a compelling story about values, traditions and relationships that redefines what it means to be a family, I loved this book. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Open to a random page:
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser this week is from Bird by Crystal Chan

"I wouldn't tell them I go to the cliff anyway, because adults don't listen to what kids have to say. Not really. If they did, they would actually look at me when I talk, look good and deep and open-like, ready to hear whatever comes out of my mouth, ready for anything. I don't know any adult who's ever looked at me like that, not even my parents. "

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Breakwater Bay

abandoned baby, new romance, mysterious beginnings
Title: Breakwater Bay: A Novel by Shelley Noble
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: adoption, fiction

Synopsis: Preservationist Meri Hollis loves her latest project, restoring one of Newport’s forgotten Gilded Age mansions. And with summer approaching, she’ll be able to spend more time with her Gran on the Rhode Island shore. She has a great job, a loving family and she’s pretty sure her boyfriend is going to propose on her thirtieth birthday.

But everything Meri believes about family, happiness, truth, and love is shattered when her family’s darkest secret is exposed.

 Thirty years before, Meri’s neighbor and friend, Alden Corrigan, took his father’s dinghy out to fish. In a sudden storm, he rushed to help a woman stranded on the breakwater. She was just a girl . . . a very pregnant girl who disappeared soon after they reached safety—but not before she left behind a very special gift.

Now that the truth it out, life will change for everyone in Breakwater Bay, and Meri and Alden will have to make decisions that could insure their future together . . . or separate them for good.

Review: This book takes readers to the coastal area of Rhode Island, Newport's forgotten Gilded Age Mansions, and a spot I found myself wanting to imagine myself on the beach with a drink in my hand. I found this book to be really enjoyable and a quick read.  I would put this book in the chick lit category for the romantic subplot and hunky supporting characters which is not normally my genre but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Meri's is turning 30 and nothing is going as she planned.  Her boyfriend who she thought was going to propose marriage to her tells her he took an internship in California and her grandmother reveals a secret that she has been carrying for Meri's whole life.  When Meri finds out that she was illegally adopted and the circumstances surrounding it she starts to question everything in her life.

Shelley Noble's novel is a thought provoking story about choices. One woman who found herself pregnant from a rich family by a boy they didn't deem worthy -  one teenage boy who helped this pregnant woman and saved her life, but is plagued by the loss of his own mother which effects his judgement when it comes to his own children, another mother who lost her own baby, and a mother and daughter who make a choice which will forever affect another life.

Each character is faced with tough choices and each with a different perspective. I loved the character, Gram, as she was definitely the foundation of this family Ultimately this book is also about love and family and knowing that family doesn't necessarily mean blood relations. Its about who is in your heart.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Open to a random page:
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"There was a terrible silence while Everett Simmons stared at Meri and she stared back at him. He glanced down at the photo then back to her, then again to the photo." 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: The Last American Vampire: A novel

Sequel to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Title: The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: E-book
Pages: 416 pages
Genre: Horror

I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher through in exchange for a fair review. 

Synopsis: Vampire Henry Sturges returns in the highly anticipated sequel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter-a sweeping, alternate history of twentieth-century America by New York Times bestselling author Seth Grahame-Smith.

In Reconstruction-era America, vampire Henry Sturges is searching for renewed purpose in the wake of his friend Abraham Lincoln's shocking death. Henry's will be an expansive journey that first sends him to England for an unexpected encounter with Jack the Ripper, then to New York City for the birth of a new American century, the dawn of the electric era of Tesla and Edison, and the blazing disaster of the 1937 Hindenburg crash.

Along the way, Henry goes on the road in a Kerouac-influenced trip as Seth Grahame-Smith ingeniously weaves vampire history through Russia's October Revolution, the First and Second World Wars, and the JFK assassination.

(7) Review: I did not read Grahame-Smith's first book, however I did see the movie that was made from it which I found to be a bit ridiculous but amusing nonetheless.  This book, although it is a sequel, is able to stand on its own and I didn't feel lost when reading it. As the book even mentions this is very reminiscent of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, since it written as if someone is actually interviewing Henry Sturges.

From Roanoke to the JFK assassination this book takes you on a tour through American history which is fairly historically accurate, with the exception of the vampire thrown in here or there. For those of us who are not history buff's this was an interesting way to be introduced to some historical figures that we may not have known about but after reading about them here I found myself doing google searches on them to find out more about them and to see what was accurate and what was embellished.  

I really loved the way this book is written.  With pieces of it pulled out like it was being quoted or taken from a diary and other parts written as a narrative you get drawn into the story.  I found myself whipping through this very interesting novel and was almost upset to find myself at its end. However, being left wanting more helps me to know how much I felt invested in the characters.

Things that I felt were missing weren't very important but things that stuck with me, such as, what happened to so many of the vampires? Why are there so few left? I doubt that Henry was able to wipe out that many in his travels. I understand that if you were in the Union you were sworn not to make any new vampires, but what about those who weren't part of that group? Surely they were making new vampires? So that part confused me a bit. Maybe I will get answers in a future book.

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