This is a neat collection of biographies of historical women who were iconoclasts and trailblazers. It’s a diverse bunch of unsung figures (I’ll confess I had only heard of Sei Shonogon, Harriet Jacobs, and Nellie Bly prior to reading this), mainly writers, activists, and adventurers. It’s nicely written and very engaging. I would highly recommend it for younger readers as it is age appropriate (the chapter on Dang Thuy Tran, a field doctor for North Vietnam during the war there, may be troubling, but I feel it would give a lesson in extreme empathy and how war effects many lives). It also features women on the periphery of the annals of history, as there are no Cleopatras or Queen Elizabeths here. Girls need to be assured that they don’t have to be ultra powerful or famous to make a difference.
Please note that this review is based on an advanced reader copy and changes may have been made to the final published edition.Nonna Lisowskaja Banninster's story is full of potential, however its carrying out was poorly done. With its disjointed structure and inconsistencies it is hard to determine what of the book from Bannister's original diaries, from her translations of these diaries made years later, or from the editors. The greatest flaw of the work is the editors' fault, as the story is broken up by their indented notes, including reiterations of what we just read and unwelcome commentary. Even when they are useful explanations of historical fact, they distractingly break up the text and take you out of the moment.Still, Bannister's story is tragic and inspiring, and I hope that it can be redone in a more accessible form. At a young age, she witnessed Stalin's persecution of his people, the horrors of World War II when the Germans invaded, was shipped East to several concentration camps, and was saved thanks to the kindness of Catholic hospital workers.Most moving, is that while Nonna witnessed humanity at its worst, she did not lose her faith in God or her love of beauty.
A wonderful read, connecting folklore studies with the actual mytho-historic events, as a young Russian American is sent back through time to awaken the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood (of rural Ukraine). Now heir to the thrown of a kingdom under attack, Ivan (of course he’s named Ivan) and his initially reluctant bride must travel back and forth through the centuries to defeat Baba Yaga and the Bear King.Orson Scott Card has created a world which makes so much sense and the framework of magic and spells is convincing. The moments where characters adjust to their new timeframe are believable and not cloying like many time-travel fantasies. The historical is obviously well-researched, but it’s not as if we’re reading some notes jotted from other texts, but rather that Card has immersed himself (and therefore his readers) into a speculative history where myth was inseparable from reality. Card writes fantasy like a science fiction writer (i.e. practical and plausible), and it’s full of mythic theory, as Ivan is a student of folklore studies, so it’s full of nuggets of information to keep geeks like me enraptured in its addictive storyline.
The premise of A Masque of Days is that the Old Year has passed on and the New Year is coming of age. All the Days have gathered for a feast to honor them all. April Fool's plays jester. The Hours are moth-winged pageboys. Lent is a dour family dressed in black. Guy Fawkes Day is a villainous rogue. This personification of the calendar is a delight and Walter Crane's lively, intricate drawings are what you would expect from a master of the Golden Age of children's illustrations.The idea of personified holidays is still alive today as we still have New Year's represented by a baby replacing the old, wizened outgoing year. We also have holiday "mascots" like Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Cupid. Many of the holidays featured are antiquated, so those who love Victorian-era references will have a lot of fun discovering new traditions.Pook Press has done a splendid job restoring the beautiful color and line art of this book. They are a relatively new company with the mission of reprinting rare, hard to find classics of children's literature, often ones that would be too expensive for the average reader to be able to enjoy. I cannot think of a better purpose for a publishing company to have.
This is a very sweet autobiographical novel about a young boy growing up in Tokyo in the 1960s. The book does well in balancing both a pleasant narrative and an informative peak into a Japanese child's school and home life. It captures the mood of Japan shortly after Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics, and how a child would feel being raised in the shadow of World War II while Western influences began to soak through. While Kazuo and his family celebrate distinctly Japanese holidays and live in a home typical of their county, he loves American television and wonders what hamburgers taste like. J-Boys also does well in giving insight to Japanese society at the time, such as their school system, bath houses, and cooking. The book includes many sidenotes throughout and has a glossary with cultural and historical information to fill in the reader, especially the younger readers this books is aimed at.While this book is educational about a point of time in the recent past, it also has the universal appeal of being about a young boy and his friendships and relationships, as he grows up in a time of transition for himself, Japan, and the world.
Peculiar indeed.I would first like to point out what a handsomely put together book this is. Ransom Riggs has incorporated a collection of anonymous vintage photographs to tell this neat young adult fantasy, and these strange, sometimes disturbing pictures help set the mood of dread and melancholy.Teenage Floridian Jacob's grandfather has died, and while everyone else is convinced that it was from a wild dog attack, Jacob can't forget the monster he swears he saw in the woods that night. The humanoid with black eyes and a tentacled mouth still haunts his nightmares. In trying to come to terms with his grandfather's death, Jacob is led to a small Welsh island that has the bombed remains of an orphanage his grandfather may have lived in. This is how we come to know the Home for Peculiar Children.The book is fun, and fits nicely with other books about boarding schools for children with special abilities, like the Harry Potter books or the X-Men comics, though this has a more paranormal taste to it. In its world-building, some of its use of a "secret history" comes across as silly (references to the Tunguska Event and Jefferey Dahmer were not needed), and some of the fantastic elements are contrived. Despite this, it's an imaginative, exciting tale with teenage characters who actually like they're in their teens (even those who've been the same age for decades).The ending strongly suggests there will be a sequel. Let's hope!
A highly addictive reference book of famous people and how their obsessions and dependencies ultimately led to their downfalls. Certainly every reader will have qualms over who was left out and who doesn’t qualify to be left in, but the miniature biographies are well-done, appropriately lurid and tragic.Genius and Heroin is neither scholarly or all-inclusive, but it is readable and full of random nuggets of information. Unfortunately, the design of the book is poor, with inappropriate antique advertisements and illustrations mixed with authors’ profiles or pictures of their works. It give an off-balance look to the book which is distracting.Another warning is that like any book on self-destruction, broken spirits, and missed opportunities, this is obviously very depressing.