Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

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Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly 

Revolution
by Jennifer Donnelly 
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: October 12th 2010
Rating: Full review of Revolution
Times read: 4
Recommended by: I think I first saw it on Amazon in 2010

Warning: I have no objectivity when it comes to this book.  It is one of my favorites of all time, and I am going to be shrill about it. Not even a little sorry about it. Revolution is the story of seventeen-year-old Andi Alpers, a student at an elite prep school in Brooklyn who is struggling to go on after the death of her little brother.  Her father forces her to accompany him to Paris and the razor's edge that she has been walking on for the last year becomes even thinner.

Andi herself is a ball of unfocused and indiscriminate rage. She lashed out at people who try to help her, people who get in the way of the few things that she still has interest, and people who are just in her blast zone.  She isn't particularly stable, and she sure are hell isn't nice. She is a mess, but because we understand her anger and pain so well she remains a sympathetic character.  
I spent a large portion of the book just yearning for her to be in a better headspace. 

I play until my fingers are blue and stiff from the cold, and then I keep on playing. Until I’m lost in the music. Until I am the music—notes and chords, the melody and harmony. It hurts, but it’s okay because when I’m the music, I’m not me. Not sad. Not afraid. Not desperate. Not guilty.

Music plays a massive role in Revolution. Music is the tool of communication, a universal language and the shibboleth for Andi.  I can't think of another book where the passion and the unlying relentless drive of music are so well communicated.  I am not a musician but reading this book opened my eyes up to what being a musician can be.  It is his love of music more than anything that draws her to Virgil, her love interest.  It is that common connection that gives their relationship unexpected depth.

Paris is a character in this book.  The Paris that is not on the tourist's routes but the Paris where real people are living and going about their daily lives. Andi's mother is French, and so Andi speaks French which means that she can immerse herself much better in Paris that someone who is monolingual in English.  As someone who is in a dual nationality marriage and teaches a large percentage of multinational students, I am always happy to see this reality in books.

 Donnely is masterful with her use of exposition.  She tells the reader enough for them to understand what they need to but not so much that they are overwhelmed.  You could get several Ph.D.'s on the French revolution and still not wholly comprehend it. The seamlessness of the exposition is significant as well.  It naturally fits into the narrative instead that feeling forced because the plot needs it. The total immersion into the period when Andi finds the diary feels earned.

This book is heartbreaking.  It deals with grief, the realization that your parents aren't perfect or always able to help you, and the rage that comes from being helpless.  It is also a book of unexpected humor, beautiful writing, and hope.  I will read it again and again because every time that I do, I have found something new in it.

From Goodreads:

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
 
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present. 

Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
The Afterlife of Holly Chaseby Cynthia Hand

The Afterlife of Holly Chase
by Cynthia Hand

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: October 24th 2017 
Rating: Tis the season
Times read: 1
Recommended by: All things Christmas

I think I bought this book last year, but I didn't get to it right away. I remembered that it was Christmas themed but not that is was an A Christmas Carol retelling. A Christmas Carol with a modern-day setting and a spoiled and vicious sixteen-year-old girl in the role of Scrooge. Or rather a story about what happens afterward if Scrooge doesn't change. I am not, in fact, mad at this. You may wonder how this book is 400 pages long when the source material is something like 88 pages. The answer, my friend, is a boy.

I happened to have read A Christmas Carol last week, so all of its quirks and famous phrasings are fresh in my mind. But, honestly, A Christmas Carol has infiltrated popular culture enough that even if you haven't read it, you probably will get many of the references. There are also some sly references to other classic Christmas works such as, "I thought up a lie, and I thought it up quick." The leader of the Scrooge Projects name is Boz which was a nickname of Charles Dickens. It is details like this that made this book worth the read.

Stories let us see and hear and feel what someone else does,” she explained. “They build bridges to the other islands. That’s why stories are so important. They create true empathy.

Holly starts out thoroughly dislikeable. She is basically every girl that made fun of you in high school. Or every girl that you were afraid was going to make fun of you. She is mean and shallow and so deliberate about it that is is very hard to feel anything for her. Seriously, the entire plot hinges on the fact that she learned nothing from her night with as the Scrooge. She is unpleasant. More so than female characters are usually allowed to be which begs the question of whether or not the conceit of A Christmas Carol gives her more leeway. We expect her to be terrible and also we probably expect her redemption. Her slow thaw was masterful. It was reminiscent of Mary in The Secret Garden starting out as this awful spoiled brat and through love, learning to change.

It might be an expectation of holiday books and films, but the timeline of this book needless bogged down the plot. There was a lot of, "Weeks later" and the equivalent. It was probably an attempt to make the relationship between Holly and Ethan deeper, but it wasn't all that successful. Their relationship doesn't change much after they get together. I think that if the whole book took place in a month rather than a year, there would have been more intensity and forward momentum.

The best parts were the sheer meta cleverness of the concept. The whole idea of the Scrooge project is intriguing. The relationship between Holly and Stephanie was my favorite of the book because of how much you could see Holly growing. Holly's defining Scrooge moment was when she was unable to maintain a friendship with another girl. To see her go from taking advantage of Stephanie to being able to develop a genuine relationship was heartwarming.

And that ending was so, so satisfying.

From Goodreads:

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Break 2018 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Break 2018 TBR www.onemorestamp.com
Top Ten Tuesday  was created by  The Broke and the Bookish  in June of 2010 and was moved to  That Artsy Reader Girl  in January of 2018.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.


The Librarian of Auschwitzby Antonio Iturbe

The Librarian of Auschwitz
by Antonio Iturbe

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: October 20th 2017
Recommended by: one of my students

From Goodreads:

Life, any life, is very short. But if you’ve managed to be happy for at least an instant, it will have been worth living.

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope. 


Tiffany Sly Lives Here Nowby Dana L. Davis 

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
by Dana L. Davis 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: May 1st 2018 
Recommended by: twitter

From Goodreads:

What happens when God doesn’t answer prayers?

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks.


Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Odd One Out
by Nic Stone 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: October 9th 2018
Recommended by: Autobuy author

From Goodreads:

Life is a journey without a map, and as such, we’ll all encounter twists and turns that force us to correct our course or change directions entirely.

From the author of Dear Martin comes this exploration of old friendships, new crushes, and the path to self-discovery.

Courtney "Coop" Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn't mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl. 

Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed "new girl" would be synonymous with "pariah," but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I'm right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.

Jupiter Charity-Sanchez
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .

One story.
Three sides.
No easy answers.


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: February 6th 2018
Recommended by: my friend Gabrielle

From Goodreads:

Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now.

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-illusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel. 


Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

Speak Easy, Speak Love
by McKelle George

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: September 19th 2017
Recommended by: I think Cait from Paperfury

From Goodreads:

What are you rambling about, you nonsensical contradiction?

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.


Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Livesby Gary Younge

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives
by Gary Younge

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: October 4th 2016
Recommended by: Goodreads

The circumstances into which people are born and the range of opportunities to which they are exposed shape both the choices available to them and the process by which they make those choices even if they, ultimately, still make the choice.

From Goodreads:

On an average day in America, seven children and teens will be shot dead. In Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during one such day. It could have been any day, but he chose November 23, 2013. Black, white, and Latino, aged nine to nineteen, they fell at sleepovers, on street corners, in stairwells, and on their own doorsteps. From the rural Midwest to the barrios of Texas, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the full human stories behind the gun-violence statistics and the brief mentions in local papers of lives lost.

This powerful and moving work puts a human face—a child’s face—on the “collateral damage” of gun deaths across the country. This is not a book about gun control, but about what happens in a country where it does not exist. What emerges in these pages is a searing and urgent portrait of youth, family, and firearms in America today.


A beguiling exploration of the joys of reading across boundaries, inspired by the author's year-long journey through a book from every country.  Following an impulse to read more internationally, journalist Ann Morgan undertook first to define "the world" and then to find a story from each of 196 nations. Tireless in her quest and assisted by generous, far-flung strangers, Morgan discovered not only a treasury of world literature but also the keys to unlock it. Whether considering the difficulties faced by writers in developing nations, movingly illustrated by Burundian Marie-Thérese Toyi's Weep Not, Refugee; tracing the use of local myths in the fantastically successful Samoan YA series Telesa; delving into questions of censorship and propaganda while sourcing a title from North Korea; or simply getting hold of The Corsair, the first Qatari novel to be translated into English, Morgan illuminates with wit, warmth, and insight how stories are written the world over and how place-geographical, historical, virtual-shapes the books we read and write.

The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe
by Ann Morgan

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: May 4th 2015
Recommended by: Goodreads

True story: I almost never like translated works. I want to. I buy them. Then the awkwardness of the translation sets in and I. CANNOT. TAKE. IT.

From Goodreads:

A beguiling exploration of the joys of reading across boundaries, inspired by the author's year-long journey through a book from every country.

Following an impulse to read more internationally, journalist Ann Morgan undertook first to define "the world" and then to find a story from each of 196 nations. Tireless in her quest and assisted by generous, far-flung strangers, Morgan discovered not only a treasury of world literature but also the keys to unlock it. Whether considering the difficulties faced by writers in developing nations, movingly illustrated by Burundian Marie-Thérese Toyi's Weep Not, Refugee; tracing the use of local myths in the fantastically successful Samoan YA series Telesa; delving into questions of censorship and propaganda while sourcing a title from North Korea; or simply getting hold of The Corsair, the first Qatari novel to be translated into English, Morgan illuminates with wit, warmth, and insight how stories are written the world over and how place-geographical, historical, virtual-shapes the books we read and write. 


Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming
by Michelle Obama

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: November 13th 2018 
Recommended by: the whole world

Another preorder that I haven’t gotten around to. I also have the audiobook and I think that that is the way I am going to go. I hadn’t thought that I would read this as autobiographies aren’t usually my cuppa but the review in The New Yorker and the New York Times swayed me. Plus, Michelle Obama is the very definition of grace under fire.

From Goodreads:

If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. 

Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same. 


The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

The Whale Rider
by Witi Ihimaera

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: January 1st 1987
Recommended by: reading on my trip to New Zealand

I actually read this forever ago but I was in high school and it was an assignment. This time I am planning on reading it as we drive all around NZ so my enjoyment level will rise in proportion.

From Goodreads:

He loved them deeply, but sometimes love becomes a power game between the ambitions that parents have for their children and the ambitions that children have for themselves.

Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary ‘whale rider.’ In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild—and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, Kahu will do anything to save them—even the impossible.



The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue 

by Mackenzi Lee 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Montague Siblings, #1
Published: June 27th 2017 
Recommended by: Gabrielle

I actually preordered this book but I have been doing that thing where I avoid reading a book that I absolutely know I will love because I am waiting for the right time to present itself, or something. Yeah, it doens’t make sense to me either. But since the second book of the series is out not I think it is time to dive in.

From Goodreads:

Question?

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