Showing posts from February, 2019

Digging Holes and Connecting Dots: Rereading Holes 20 Years Later

When I was in fifth grade, my teacher read a number of books to the class. Stuart Little. Maniac Magee. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Number the Stars. But one that sticks with me the most is Louis Sachar's Holes. Though I remember the other books being part of that year, Holes is the one I remember whole passages being read in my teacher's voice. When the movie came out, I remember loving that the story was presented so faithfully (something I attribute to Sachar's screenplay more than anything). This story has fixed itself firmly in my imagination like few other books from that period of my life. Recently, inspired by some posts raving about the movie adaptation, I picked up Holes  again and reread it for the first time since it was read to me almost 20 years ago. (And if you want to feel old in a hurry, just realize that a book you thought you hadn't read for 10 years is really from 20 years ago. Not that I speak from experience or any

Review Double-Header: Rosemary Sutcliff and Jonathan Stroud

Today we're doing two smaller reviews of recent reads: Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth  and Jonathan Stroud's The Hollow Boy  (third in the Lockwood and Co. series). I picked up The Eagle of the Ninth  because Megan Whalen Turner has mentioned it multiple times as an influence on the Attolia/Queen's Thief series. Marcus's early injury in the story directly inspired Eugenides's story in The Queen of Attolia , and Turner has even said she wrote Thick as Thieves  partially as a reversal of Eagle ; rather than the soldier, it is the slave who tells the story. The quest feel of the latter half of Eagle  also feels very similar to Turner's The Thief . But enough about influences. Eagle  isn't a seat-of-your-pants thriller or even a typical quest narrative. While the seeds for the quest are planted early, the mission to retrieve the lost eagle isn't even introduced until nearly halfway through the book. Instead, we're treated to Ma

Paying Your Debts to Keep the Wolf Away: Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver

A year and a half ago, I read and fell in love with Naomi Novik's Uprooted , a mostly new fairy tale for adults that draws inspiration from Novik's Eastern European heritage and my own favorite fairy tale, "Beauty and the Beast." Last year, Novik released a sister book, Spinning Silver , and I finally got around to reading it. Spinning Silver does not take place in the same universe as Uprooted , but it feels very similar (magic systems aside). The narration is nuanced and varied; each of the ultimately six narrators has their own voice and diction (the audiobook is spectacularly performed by Lisa Flanagan). The story is openly a "Rumpelstiltskin" retelling; Miryem's opening narration brings the story to the forefront and sets it in opposition to her own. The story about the miller's daughter, she tells us, is one that people began to tell to cast the moneylender (a Jew) in a demonic light in order to get out of their debts. Miryem knows t