Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? (Montmorency #1)
by Eleanor Updale
This is a fun, quick read about a thief who becomes a gentleman. It wasn’t anything mind bending or breathtaking, but I found it’s historical detail interesting and the main character enjoyable. I felt like there were some unplumbed depth missed by the author especially with the protagonist developing split personality.
If you have a kid in love with all things steampunk and Victorian this is a great book to get them started on. I think both boys and girls will enjoy the story. One review I read about it complained that it was considered YA but there were no children in it. I, personally, don’t think a book has to have or be about children to be considered YA. When I was a kid, I never complained if a book told the story of an adult. For some reason that struck me as an odd grumble against the book. It’s nothing super well written, granted, but it was fun and had some great ‘historical’ moments.
Rated PG: mild references to the seedier parts of life with out any details or depth.
Trigger by Susan Vaught
A good friend recommended this author when I asked her about the genre Contemporary Fiction. I have to admit that while I appreciate this genre more it’s not my favorite. I’d much rather read a well-done historical fiction or a well-done adventure story. But! I did realize reading Trigger that I have read some other Contemporary Fiction in the past…I just didn’t know that’s what it was called.
This story sits on the middle to older end of YA fiction with its topic of suicide and some pretty vivid descriptions of the damage a bullet does to a human brain and the horror of finding your child in that manner.
In a very imaginative and creative way, Vaught lets us see what happens to those left behind when someone takes their own life by having the protagonist fail to kill himself. Instead, he returns home to his family and friends with brain damage. The book covers his search for the reason he shot himself in the first place and his attempt to fix everything he broke.
The story is well written, easy to read, and interesting. It is moralistic, which I appreciate, finding the motivation to not commit suicide in the damage it does to your parents and friends. It challenges teens to step back and get a more realistic view on what is depressing them and isn’t afraid to use the word selfish and self-focused.
On the other hand, because it is a moralistic tale, it can’t offer anything more than that. It can’t demand you protect life, even your own, based on God’s command. It can’t offer the reader or the protagonist any deeper healing or deeper hope then a “sorry”. Ultimately, this is a moralistic tale, not a Christian one.
The main issue I find with this is that when you are tempted as a teen to commit suicide you want to hurt your parents and those around you. You want to end the pain not push through it, or you want to injure those who you feel have injured you. Knowing they will be injured isn’t going to stop you. Knowing you are about to face a higher power, a higher authority or demands the sanctity of life might help you not go through with it. I also think that if you know a family struggling with a suicide or someone who has attempted it, you will be better armed to offer help and hope if you believe in the grace of the gospel, the shed blood of Christ and his work for us. This is true hope, not my ability to not hurt those around me.
Rated PG-13: suicide.
Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis
I’m gonna admit that this is one of those books that I loved as soon as I saw the cover.
Hee! This book just makes me want to laugh with joy. Such a fun, dark, interesting, unique book. When I tried to describe it to my sister it came out sounding like a reboot of X-Man: people with powers fighting on different sides of WWII.
What it really is is an alternate history of WWII where the Germans develop five children with super powers run off of batteries. These children almost win them the war until Britain starts to fight back with their warlocks and the help of demons. HEE-HEE! Very creative premise that is totally off the wall as you read it.
But that isn’t even the interesting part! The characters really make this story. Each is struggling, each is broken down my what they have to do for their countries. And you are semi-rooting for all of them.
The writing is beautiful! I kept being caught off guard by a simple yet amazing description. I loved the way the ravens carried the story from beginning to end including an interlude to remind you of their perspective: haunting and captivating.
It starts off just a bit hard to follow as all the different characters and settings are introduced, but push through. It’s worth it. I find myself at a loss when I try to describe this dark story because I felt like the characters were very surface, as if you learn about them more by watching what they do than internal dialogue explaining what they are thinking. In some ways you never feel in touch with them. Everything feels very surface and yet very deep at the same time. Even now, I think back on them all with great fondness even while wishing the book was deeper, longer…more!
If you enjoy WWII history or alternate histories, give this a try.
The only part I didn’t like about this story was that I read it on my Kindle. I didn’t realize I was almost done with it until I hit the next page button and it said that I had reached the end of the book. I was not emotionally ready for it to be the end of the book. No. There needs to be more! I instantly bought book 2. I’m a sucker like that for sure.
This might make it on my favorite books list…
Rated R: Dark subject matters. Surprisingly clean when it came to sex. It’s mentioned but never shown. Some language.