Friday, May 11, 2012

Reviews, reviews, reviews!

I have two Library Thing reviews today. I read the books a while ago, but have only just had time to post the reviews (a wonderful friend has allowed Bel to stay with her at playgroup while I brought Willow home for a nap). So, without further ado, here are my reviews!

Notes to Self
‘Notes to Self’ by Avery Sawyer is a riveting story that deals with adolescence and consequences. Sawyer presents a realistic plot that comes to life through engaging characters, making her story one that teens can relate to.

Sawyer’s plot is a very simple one. Robin wakes in hospital to find that she has suffered head trauma after a fall and she needs to piece her life and memory back together. To add to her angst, her best friend, Em, remains in a coma. The character’s journey reveals the consequences of seemingly harmless choices and the isolation of being different. However, this simple plot is brilliantly revealed through Sawyer’s characters.

There is only a small cast of characters in ‘Notes to Self’. The story is told by Robin and Sawyer has beautifully captured her confusion as she struggles with her trauma. Robin’s mother is typical as she struggles to balance nurturing with her teen’s growing independence, especially as she tries to piece her own life back together. Reno becomes a constant for Robin, accepting her with her injuries when some of her friends do not. Their budding romance is very sweet and his character adds strength to help Robin through her confusion.

Sawyer writes very well for a teen audience. Her novel deals with most of the issues and insecurities adolescents face. While she portrays consequences, it is not done in a condescending manner, making her message more palatable.

‘Notes to Self’ is an excellent book for teens. It deals with pertinent issues such as loyalty, friendship and self esteem. Sawyer presents engaging characters who are dealing with the natural consequences of their actions. It is the sort of novel I could see on a junior high school English reading list.

4 Stars

And They Called Her Spider: A Bartleby and James Adventure
Michael Coorlim’s ‘And They Called Her Spider: A Bartleby and James Adventure’ is an engaging steampunk mystery that is easy to devour. The characters and plot are well presented in an alternative turn of the century adventure.

Set in England, ‘And They Called Her Spider’ begins with a lyrical description of a female assassin who has captured headlines. Bartleby and James are charged by Scotland Yard to find her before the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. In a partnership reminiscent of Sherlock and Watson, Bartleby and James sort through the clues to reveal Spider’s identity before it is too late.

The characters are quite dynamic. James, an engineer who loves to tinker and prefers his own company, tells the story. He is quite out of touch with society and relies on Bartleby, a rich aristocrat, to help him avoid social faux pas. Bartleby has a quick mind and a very cheerful disposition. Coorlim’s plot is well presented to allow each character’s personality to shine.

Coorlim’s style is very easy to read. While the story contains appropriate twists and turns, they are not difficult to follow. At times, formatting of the ebook does detract from the story. However, I found myself quite enthralled in Coorlim’s steampunk London.

‘And They Called Her Spider’ is an enjoyable read. As it is quite short, I would prefer to read a number of Bartleby and James Adventures as a collection rather than as standalone stories. As Coorlim’s characters are engaging and the plot is entertaining, I will be looking for more Bartleby and James Adventures in the future.

3 Stars

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