Monday, June 30, 2014

Oliver and the Seawigs

This is a review for Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.

 Oliver and the Seawigs is the story of a 10 year old boy who has been raised by his world explorer parents on the road.  He has spent all 10 years of his life living in their explorermobile.  His parents have finally explored everything in the world and they are going to settle down in a real house and Oliver is going to go to a real school.  Oliver is very excited to do things that normal kids do.  All of the plans go awry when his parents discover several new islands in the ocean next to the little town where they are going to live from now on.  They rush out to explore them while Oliver unpacks and settles into his new bedroom for the first time.  The islands disappear along with Oliver's parents and he sets out to save them.  Along the way he finds a talking albatross, a near-sighted mermaid and a living island.  The seas are a little more unexplored than Oliver and his family realized!

Philip Reeve mixed a charming blend of reality and fantasy in this story.   The level headed Oliver who just wants to live in a real house and go to a real school is a charming main character.  Sarah McIntyre's adorable and whimsical illustrations are the perfect match for this cute story. 

This book is a great story with a good lesson that I know will be read over and over again in my house!  Oliver teaches kids that they are not powerless.  They can be brave and strong and maybe even save their parents!  It also teaches them that just because they are a little different doesn't mean they aren't just as good as anyone else around them.

I received this book free from netgalley for review purposes.  You can learn more about this book from the publisher right here.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Girl In The Road

This is a review for The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 3 stars, I liked it.

The Girl in the Road is an intricately woven story.  It bounces back and forth between two seemingly separate narratives.  Meena is a twenty something woman in India who was orphaned at birth and is struggling to find her identity.  Mariama is a ten year old girl who is fleeing from her home across Africa.  Both of them have the same goal in mind: Ethiopia.

This book is quite different than my usual reading material.  I struggled with many aspects of it.  Meena is a very sexual being and the book describes many of her encounters.  Mariama is a small naive little girl running from a danger she doesn't understand.  Both of them are fleeing their pasts and searching for a better future.  Each of them is plagued by visions of a girl in the road and they struggle to understand the meaning.

The story is set in two different time periods, both in the future.  India and Ethiopia are the main backdrops and the futuristic setting adds a difficult layer to understanding the cultures.  Many struggles and wars mentioned in this book are fictional but little context was given for them, the context is not strictly necessary but would perhaps help clarify some things.

All of this adds up to a book that takes you on a surreal journey across a landscape that is vaguely familiar but is somehow alien as well.  Monica Byrne wrote a wonderful piece for her debut novel.  This book is a very twisting 'road' and the final piece of the puzzle doesn't fall into place until the last page.  The author does not shy away from the unpleasant aspects of life and this book faces those things we all would rather ignore head on.

More information about this book can be found here on the publisher's website.  Author information is available here.  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.