Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Fairy Called Hilary by Linda Leopold Strauss

I saw this book, A Fairy Called Hilary  by Linda Leopold Strauss, at our library book store and had to buy it because I have a lovely friend named Hilary.  My friend Hilary is one of the funniest people I have ever met and she brings so much fun into every life she touches.  That sounds like a magic fairy to me.  I wanted to send it to her, but I thought I should give it a read first. 
It is a very short book, I read it in an evening and a morning, about a little girl, Caroline, whose life is suddenly made more exciting when a fairy comes to live with her.  I was interested to read in the front of the book that the story originally appeared as a series in Cricket, The Magazine for Children in 1995.  This was a cute story that will be enjoyed by younger readers ready to move to chapter books.  Scholastic recommends this book to Grades 3-5.  I think my favorite part of the book is the end when Caroline is sad about the prospect of her fairy friend Hilary leaving someday because fairies come "only for a visit.  Not forever.  It can never be forever."  Hilary tells Caroline she can remember her for as long as she wants and Caroline replies, "That's always, then."  My dear friend Hilary recently moved away and we were all very sad to see her go, but we can remember her always.  What a great thing for us to teach our children and remember ourselves:  our friends may move away, we may move away from our friends, but the memories of those wonderful people in our lives are ours to keep forever.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Discovery of Witches

I have been hearing about this book for a long time, but it took me a while to get around to reading A Discovery of Witches  by Deborah Harkness.  Oh, it took me too long.  Actually, I saw it in a store right after it came out, but I didn't know anything about it and didn't really want to pay $20 for a hardback copy of a book of which I had never heard.  Then I saw it at a library book sale for $5, but my pile was too tall and I thought it could wait.  Finally, I went in to the library book store searching for something completely different and spied this on the shelf.  It was only $3, but alas I had only $2 in my pocket.  Suddenly, I wondered what section of books were on sale that day and would you believe it?  Fiction was a dollar off!  For $2 I was able to take this practically new gem home.  I love my library! 
Okay, so then I went to GoodReads to list it as currently reading and I browsed quickly through the reviews.  Those reviews had me a little worried.  There were a lot of 4- and 5-star reviews, but there were almost as many 1- and 2-star reviews.  Had I picked up a stinker?  The poor reviews complained that it was too long, that it needed more editing, and the most surprising to me, that it was too academic.  Readers complained that the science aspect of the novel was too complicated and they just couldn't understand what was going on.  Now, I'm no Sheldon Cooper, but I didn't have a hard time at all with the discussions of DNA and history.  While I can understand how one reviewer called it "Twilight for middle-aged academics", I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was far smarter and better developed than Twilight and the characters are all educated adults.  Of course, it is still a fantasy, but that is the fun thing about reading, isn't it?  We get to dive into a fantasy world and run around in it for a bit. 
A Discovery of Witches  is about Diana Bishop, a direct descendant of one of the witches executed in the Salem Witch Trials.  Diana has spent most of her life trying to ignore the magic she has inherited from her parents, but the time has come when she can no longer turn her back on her heritage.  In Diana's world, not only do witches exist, but also vampires and daemons.  Most of the humans are oblivious to this fact, but a new crisis endangers their ignorance. 
I was sick this week and while it's no fun to be sick, it helps when one has a wonderful book with which to curl up on the couch.  That is just what I did.  The second book in the series has already been downloaded to my Kindle and I can't wait to get to it! 

My favorite quote:  "The scars don't bother me.  They're just signs that I've fought and survived."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky

Isn't that a lovely cover?  Maybe you can't judge a book by it's cover, but a good cover will definitely make you want to pick up the book and read it.  That was the case for me with Juniper Berry  by
M.P. Kozlowsky.  Last year, my son's second grade teacher was letting the kids pick a book to keep from a stack she had for student gifts.  I found myself wishing I was in her class and could pick this one.  Instead, I went right to Amazon to buy my own.
This is a wonderfully written cautionary tale about resisting the temptation to take the easy way in life.  Juniper's parents have become world famous actors, but they don't seem like Juniper's parents any more.  They have changed and it is most obvious when she looks into their blank eyes.  Perhaps this is also a book about parents who become so caught up in their work and with their own lives that they forget to give their children the attention they need.  Juniper takes it upon herself to discover the cause and save her parents.
I just love books with a female hero.  They just weren't that common when I was a kid and I feel particularly drawn to them now.  I am so grateful that my daughter will have so many wonderful heroines to emulate.  This book will be joining the stack intended for our family summer reading.  I hope the kids will like it as much as I did.