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Oliver and the Seawigs

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by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Overall: An amazing book with beautiful illustrations, a hilarious plot, and fun for both children and adults!


I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Rambling isles, sarcastic seaweed, seawigs, and plump nearsighted mermaids, oh my!

“Oliver and the Seawigs” is absolutely one of the best children’s books that I have read in a while. It’s funny, captivating, and I found myself being emotionally attached to the characters. I ate up this book in one morning, and I was begging for more, wanting to read more of Oliver, Cliff, Mr.Culpeper, and lovely Iris!

The story begins with Oliver, who is the only of two wild and adventurous explorers. All he wishes is for a normal life, with friends and not having to move around. But when all of a sudden his parents disappear, Oliver must go on an adventure to rival all other adventures. Atop the rambling isle Cliff, Oliver travels with Mr. Culpeper the albatross and Iris the nearsighted mermaid.

Most people would be a bit alarmed to find that their parents had disappeared along with a whole bunch of uncharted islands. They might feel inclined to call the police, or the coast guard, or just run about shouting. Not Oliver. He was a Crisp, and made of sterner stuff than that. 

You’re going to love this book. The humor is simple and fun, but not childish. The sarcastic seaweed and the adorable seamonkeys bring a whimsical touch. The characters feel real, and you become so very invested it’s almost unnatural (I can’t believe I shipped characters from a children’s book!) The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and blend in perfectly with the narrative as well as the About the Author and Illustrator sections at the end of the book. It is a short read but I was very captivated by the illustrations that I just took the time to look at it all. The details in the hair and seawigs are intricate, and clearly the illustrators took a long time in designing and making each beautiful piece.

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“My name,” the boy said importantly, “is Stacy de Lacey.”

“But that’s a girl’s name!” blurted Oliver.

Stacey de Lacey’s face turned a dark shade of red.. “Silence!” he shouted. “Stacy is one of those names that can be for a boy or a girl! Like Hilary, or Leslie, or…um…Anyway…”

However, one of my favorite aspects of “Oliver and the Seawigs” is the character Iris. There is not often that you see a character in a book (no matter the genre) that is plump just for the sake of being so. She is a bigger girl but that is not an aspect of hers that is focused on or mocked, she just happens to be that way. There aren’t many books that cater to this demographic, without having to involve a plot or subplot involving the character’s weight. It’s refreshing, and–I would say–very progressive.

“So that’s what you look like!” she said, peering at Oliver through the thick lenses. “Oh.”

“What do you mean, ‘Oh’?” asked Oliver.

“Nothing,” said Iris. 

Overall! I love this book. I’ve ordered my own copy so that I can keep it forever. I highly recommend this book to any parent who wants to enjoy a book with their kid…well…and pretty much everyone who wants to have a fun and lighthearted adventure with beautiful pictures to match. Go out and buy this book, then get dressed up in your finest seawig and hop aboard a Rambling Isle! And don’t forget the sea monkeys!

This was, by far, the most comfortable way to go exploring. 

 

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The Antigone Poems

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ALTAIRE PRODUCTIONS THE ANTIGONE POEMS

by Marie Slaight and illustrated by Terrence Tasker

Overall: A short and sweet, yet very vivid interpretation of a classic. 


I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. 

I will be the first to admit that Sophocles’ Antigone is one of the plays that I have forgotten a lot about, but I do remember the praise of Antigone by my English teacher in high school, praising her rebellion, and the message of suffering in the living world only to receive salvation in the afterlife. While not as dramatic or as darkly humorous as Opedipus Rex, you are given a very powerful story in this tragedy.

I disagree with some of the reviews that I have read that Marie Slaight creates a modern retelling of the aforementioned play. I do not believe that these poems will be understood as someone telling the classic with a modern twist, which is a little misleading depending on how you read some of the descriptions and reviews of this book. However, this is still an excellent book, you will be brought into the symbolism and imagery of Antigone’s heroic yet terrible narrative. These poems were written in the 1970’s, attached with charcoal sketches of the same time period when the author and illustrator were in Montreal and Toronto.

However, don’t think that you wouldn’t enjoy the book just because you know nothing of Antigone. These poems are beautiful and brilliant as stand alone poems. I was surprised how fast I ate up these poems, and they were very quick to read. I believe I finished this book for my second time around just on the bus back to my apartment. You will be amazed at the morbid yet impeccably intricate details, subtle rhyme, and alliteration that is littered through every poem in this small collection.

The only issue have with this book might just be a little picky. As I’ve said before that this book is short, something you can eat up time and time again in little time. With that said, I have to say that it’s a bit overpriced. From the Antigone Poems website, it is about 25 dollars. I got the entire Divine Comedy in paperback with that much. There are some Amazon sellers who are selling the book for about sixteen dollars. It’s a little more reasonable, as the book is about a hundred pages (even though it felt a lot shorter on my Kindle) and it makes me curious about the formatting of the hard copy.

The charcoals are GORGEOUS. They are definitely a huge plus for the book, you get a couple littered in between the poems and a lot of beautiful charcoal sketches at the end of the book. I can admit that it might be a reason for the high price.

In the end, this book is definitely something to pick up and read. I recommend you shop around for a good price, or just go ahead and buy it nice and new! I saw some pictures of the physical cover and I admit it is beau-ti-ful!

You can buy the book HERE!

Reading Style: A Life In Sentences

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by Jenny Davidson

Overall: An interesting look on classic books. Should probably be called ‘Writing Style’ instead. 


Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. I was also instructed by the publisher not to use quotes from the book as I did not receive a finalized copy.

Jenny Davidson is an excellent writer, the author of a few young adult books as well as some academic books and articles, I can’t help but be amazed by how beautiful her writing style is. Reading Style: A Life in Sentences is what I could possibly expect. The book is an analysis of the structure of sentences and the writing styles of famous authors from Austen to King. The author takes quotes from famous pieces of literature and deeply analyzes what we might love (or hate) about the book.

Davidson begins with her long history about the love of her books. She recalls in detail getting lost in all of the classics, and throughout the narrative she sprinkles her undergraduate and graduate studies as well as her older interpretations of the books she read. She even offers suggestions on when to read books, her understanding of classics such as Sense and SensibilityMoby DickLolita, and so many more.

I can happily say that I really agree with how Davidson approaches the subject. She talks about the use of unnecessary pretentiousness in writing and how it affects the audience. She discusses the pointlessness of unnecessary details and overly superfluous sentences. However, this book’s title does not reflect the context of the book. I expected this book would compare to Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book but instead it’s more of a book describing the writing styles of famous authors and explaining why people could love to hate them or hate to love them. In Davidson’s defense, she does cover with the excerpts from the stories on how they read to audiences, but she focuses more on the literary techniques and poetic story-telling and not how to dissect and understand a book maybe as complicated as Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake or something else extremely difficult.

However, I cannot say this book was perfect. I can say that this book isn’t really intended for the average reader, or someone who really enjoyed Catcher in the Rye or Crime and Punishment. This book is dense, filled with a lot of knowledge and obscure references to books that probably only an English or literature major would understand. A lot of her wording was very ornamental, almost contradictory to the times she mentioned that the overuse of details wouldn’t interest the audience. I found myself intrigued but towards the sixty percent mark I was getting bored and zoning off in her narrative. But then again I read this book in an evening, if this was spread over something like a curriculum or a couple of days, you would really enjoy this book.

The book is more of an academic essay than a fun little memoir of the writer’s love for books. With that being said, the essay portion was far too inconsistent. The citations are sparse, switching from in-text page citations, to footnotes, and sometimes no citations at all. The citations did not kick in until at least forty percent into the book, and I believe this is because I did not receive a finalized copy. I hope this was edited, including the many typos that I found. I do hope the publishers also formatted the book to clearly designate when the author was quoting a piece of literature and when she was talking herself. I have not read a lot of the books or stories she mentioned, and her style of writing is so similar to some I ended up getting lost.

In the end, I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the literature classics, some sort of literary major in school, or even just a budding writer learning about all the styles of writing. This is definitely a very in-depth and eye opening look on why some books are considered classics, or why some authors are terrible authors! This isn’t a beach read, it’s very detailed and extensive. And at the end of the book the author was so kind enough to offer a very nice book list! I will definitely be reading these books in the future!

You can buy this book in physical form or on Kindle from Amazon.


Sorry about not being around! School is hectic! But summer’s here and there are so many books ahead of me!

Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average

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by Erin Hayes

Overall: A great book for kids and definitely one to pick up!


Jacob Smith is incredibly average. Not kidding, he is the most average boy that you could ever come across. He’s bad at math, his favorite color is blue, and he has the most common name in the world. He’s even the most average child for a statistically correct family, he is the son in a perfect 2.4 children per household family.

If he’s so average, why is he being hunted by aliens?!

Jake wasn’t really good enough at anything and had no interest in anything.

Jacob lives in Pflugerville, Texas with his parents and his siblings Theo and Thea. Theo is the perfect jock, incredibly talented in everything he accomplishes. Thea is the rebel, with her tattoos and her heavy metal music. But lately, Jacob Smith has been having some upsetting dreams, of a snowy owl. Little does he know, he’s being watched.

But then again, that was why he was constantly in front of 592 Norwalk Street, watching him. Watching him day in and day out. For all thirteen years of his boring little life.

 Aliens are watching Jacob, special aliens who are perfection, covered in mathematical tattoos all over their perfectly symmetrical bodies. But if they are so perfect at absolutely everything, what do they want with Jacob Smith, who is absolutely incredibly average?!

Together, with Theo and Thea, a mysterious black labrador, and his alien-obsessed grandfather, Jacob has to run from these mysterious evil aliens whose colonization of planets depend on destroying the Earth with Jacob being their Key. With help from androids, aliens, and alien-fanatics they need to stop this alien race from destroying the Earth!

Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average is the perfect book for a children who are transitioning into chapter books (late elementary school) but the content within the book is enough that anyone looking for an entertaining read can enjoy. I found myself laughing, becoming emotionally invested, and getting surprised in the twists and turns that this book set up and delivered! It was an excellent read and it was hard to put down!

This book is perfect for classroom reading on an introductory lesson on interesting math topics: mean, median, mode, Fibonacci sequence, symmetry, and everything in between. It brings up some interesting concepts but in a vague way. Nothing is difficult to understand and chapters are nice and short.

The mother was safely tucked away in cryogenesis as the preservation of her condition was vital to everything at hand. The average number of children in a household in the United States was 2.4 and at sixteen weeks along, the mother had added 0.4 children to the number of her household.

There is also a deep political and anti-colonization message within this book. The colonization of planets depend on an equal vote and the planet’s representative stating their case as to why their planet should not be taken over.

But most importantly, this book has the message that no matter who you are, you have a voice and while you may be “average” you have your own opinion and not to be scared to speak up. If you believe strongly in something then you should fight for what you believe in.

“You’ve never…dealt…with the human spirit before…”

An Adult Overanalyzing a Children’s Book: The only issues that I had with this book was only because I am reading this book as an adult. With this being an easy read I couldn’t help but have my mind wander over the many questions that this book rose for me.

Jacob Smith is average. He’s so average that the evil alien race wants to use him to find the weakness of the entire human race? Last time I checked, the United States is the third largest population in the world. Why wouldn’t the aliens have tried to take someone from China or India (considering they each have well over a billion in their population). Recognizing this little fact could’ve finally added some diversity to main characters within books. Having a child from China or India would’ve been a refreshing feel and I would’ve loved this book even more.

My other issue was the ending deus ex machina. It was so blunt and made me just facepalm. But not complaining too much, it’s a children’s book. They wouldn’t care.

Lastly, what is up with these books that like to promote animals in hospitals? Every book I’ve been reading lately has a dog that is somehow always allowed in a hospital completely ignoring all protocol. Promoting the idea of lying about service animals never sits right with me and really irritated me.

In the end, this is a great book and I laughed and got angry and the ending nearly brought me to tears. This is an excellent book for a child and I highly recommend getting this book if you see it in the bookstore. I’m expecting a film adaptation.

He was no longer the most extraordinarily normal, average boy.
He was just plain old normal now. And that was just what he wanted.