Review: The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

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At work, I’m often in the young adult/middle grade alcove, shelving. (“I’m always in here, moving books slightly to the left,” isn’t just an Eddie Izzard punchline, it’s my life.) As you can imagine, it can be a messy section (although nothing matches the mountains of unshelved books left on the big table in our children’s room for me), so there’s plenty of work for me to do. While we’re forbidden to read on the floor, I do flip through the odd book or two before I put them where they belong, which is how I found The School for Good and Evil. Intrigued by the cover art (because I will never learn), I found myself reading a passage wherein a character is taunted by fairy tale characters for being a Reader.

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Review: Fortunately the Milk

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

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As a reader and as a bookstore employee, I’ve become very familiar with how we age books. As a young person who is often found fixing up the shelving in our children’s nook, I get asked a lot by people where on earth their favorite book from childhood is. It’s one of those supposedly easy questions; it’s in children’s, but where in children’s is it? It’s so easy for novels to cross the adult/young adult barrier (see Malinda Lo’s Ash) and how many “classics” written for an audience that was divided solely into adults and children now fall into into a trisected market (young adult, middle grade, and children’s). But nobody wants to hear me expound on the sociological and marketing factors behind all that at work, so I just do my best to be helpful.

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Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

I chose Jane Eyre for my senior thesis on derivative works (by which I of course mean fanfiction) rather than any particular Austen for three reasons: Jane Eyre is often misunderstood and read through the lens of a romance novel, it already has a recognized and respected derivative work associated with it (Wide Sargasso Sea), and the sheer amount of Austen pastiches, even were I to limit myself to a single book, would, frankly, kill me. Of course, I didn’t realize it was the season for Jane Eyre-derived works, and this year alone has brought A Breath of Eyre, the upcoming Ironskin, and The Flight of Gemma Hardy, a novel which poses an interesting question in terms of derivative works.

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Review: The Two Princesses of Bamarre

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Come back with me, if you will, to my childhood. (It’s a quick trip, I promise; y’all have your shots, right? I might be contagious.) My family is visiting my brother at the Air Force Academy, which puts me anywhere from nine to thirteen. As I wandered across a bright and green field, filled with cadets’ families, I came across this book peeking out of someone’s tote bag. I didn’t touch it, in a rare expression of self-control, but I was fascinated by the cover and the title. It’s always stuck with me, and might be one of the first books I ever wanted to read under my own steam.

And then it took me eleven years to get to it. Whoops!

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Review: Fragile Things

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

For all my love of Neil Gaiman (wanna hear about the time he came to my college?), I’ve never read his short stories. Which is odd; you’d think someone who stumbled across him so young would start there. But no, my Gaiman itinerary goes Good Omens, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Neverwhere, and, now, Fragile Things. (Coraline is in there somewhere. Y’all know about my memory.) But there are two Neil Gaiman short stories that I have been dying to read; “The Problem of Susan”, a piece of The Chronicles of Narnia fanfiction in the genre commonly known in the fandom as Susan!fic, and “Snow Glass Apples”, a twist on Snow White. When I couldn’t decide what to read next, I found Fragile Things in my school library; clearly, it was a sign.

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Review: Russian Winter

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Russian Winter’s premise (or, to be cynical, gimmick) drew me in—the use of a retired prima ballerina’s extensive jewelry collection as a way to explore her memories of being an artist in Soviet Russia. I also haven’t read many things set in Soviet Russia, making this a prime target to fill in that gap in my education. I’d actually tried to read Russian Winter during my holiday break, even renting it from my local library—but I simply ran out of time to devote to it. Luckily, the library just down the road from my college had a brand new copy just waiting for me to pick it up once I got back.

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Review: The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Well, I suppose to completely wrap up Narnia Week, I need a proper review of the series, even if it breaks my MWF review schedule. As I’ve said during the challenge posts, I didn’t grow up on The Chronicles of Narnia–my childhood allegiances lay with fandom, The Lord of the Rings, and, of course, The Legend of Zelda. So I don’t have the warm, fuzzy feelings associated with them that most people do–which, in a way, is a blessing; there’s nothing hiding from me here. This review will be an overview of the series; if you’re curious about my thoughts on certain books, I direct you to the challenge posts for Narnia Week.

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Challenge: Narnia Week, Day 6

Status Report:

  • Book: A severely used copy of the 2001 The Chronicles of Narnia omnibus by HarperCollins. The front cover curls up delightfully.
  • Books Read: 7/7
  • Pages Read: 767/767
  • Progress: 

And that’s Narnia Week, folks! I finished up The Horse and his Boy yesterday afternoon after class and promptly perused through its various TVTropes pages (kiss your productivity good-bye!). It was a mild and pleasant surprise. I’d never thought I would say this, but I’m all burnt out on fantasy at the moment, guys. I leaped into Narnia Week after finishing up a nostalgic reread of Firebirds–and there’s a reason my one rule (the, uh, other two fell to the wayside–I’m not a poet and sometimes you just gotta grab a book!) is that I can’t read the same genre twice in a row. This burnout is that very reason. Of course, I’ll bounce back fairly quickly–I am, after all, the girl who will continue to eat Shocktarts well past the point I’m just injuring myself. But I am looking forward for a refreshing and restoring dip in the nonfiction waters with David Grann’s The Lost City of Z.

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Challenge: Narnia Week, Day 5

Status Report:

  • Book: A severely used copy of the 2001 The Chronicles of Narnia omnibus by HarperCollins. The plastic on the cover is peeling. I say this appreciatively.
  • Books Read: 6/7
  • Pages Read: 662/767
  • Progress: 

Whoa. I finished The Silver Chair yesterday morning and The Last Battle last night, and I am so glad I saved The Horse and His Boy for last–that was heavier and darker than I’d expected. I’m going to need something happy (and then, of course, a little breather from fantasy, because my brain feels like it’s developing some sort of mana burn). Spoilers abound, folks!

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Challenge: Narnia Week, Day 4

Status Report:

  • Book: A severely used copy of the 2001 The Chronicles of Narnia omnibus by HarperCollins. I hope these are coffee stains.
  • Books Read: 4/7
  • Pages Read: 445/767
  • Progress: 

Goodness, I’m halfway there! I’ve decided to read The Horse and His Boy after The Last Battle–I think I’ll need it. I finished The Voyage of the Dawn Treader before class this morning, but I’ve been quite busy; term papers and exams, yay! (Man, can you imagine if I hadn’t abandoned NaNoWriMo this year? I would have exploded!) I was pleasantly surprised by it. I know several people who count it as their favorite of The Chronicles of Narnia–while I can’t make my own choice until, you know, I’m done with the series, it’s not hard to see why.

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