Friday, May 29, 2015

Aoléon: The Martian Girl - Part Five

Published in 2015, Aoléon: The Martian Girl (Part 5: The Great Pyramid of Cydonia), written and illustrated by Brent LeVasseur, is the final part of this series.  This last Aoléon review is also a general, wrap-up post of sorts, as I have read each of the five parts of this middle-grade sci-fi series.  Although I am not really a huge fan of ebooks, I didn't mind reading them on my iPad mini, computer, and phone.  In fact, it kind of felt like the right way to read them given the futuristic nature of the stories, and the colorful graphics looked fantastic on each of these devices.   


Part Five is of course a continuation of the other parts of the book (each part of this story should be read in order).  It begins with Chapter 20, and features three action-packed sections: The Great Pyramid of Cydonia, Sphaira, and Terra Firma.  Like the other parts, it's fast-paced, and will hold the attention of readers of all ages.  Not surprisingly, there are plenty of imaginative obstacles and challenges (such as sentrybots) when Aoléon, Gilbert, Helios, Bizwat, and Zoot travel to Cydonia, where Aoléon's parents are being held captive.  Gilbert and Aoléon have a special, two-fold mission: they need to rescue Aoléon's parents, and they must also save the Earth from invasion by the Luminon and his destructive forces.  They meet Pax and make some important discoveries in Part Five.  And of course, at the end of the book, Gilbert needs to return home to Earth, to Terra Firma, which will mean parting from his lovely, blue-skinned friend, Aoléon, the Martian Girl.  She is solid proof that an "aoléon" can be friendly. ;)





What a terrific series!  The length of the parts of each book is just right for young readers.  There's a helpful glossary of scientific terms at the end of this book.  The vibrant graphics are incredible and add a lot to the story.  All in all, I enjoyed this series very much.  Many thanks to Laura from iRead Book Tours for sending me each of the parts of this ebook, and to the author as well, for writing this fun sci-fi series!  For more reviews, please stop by iRead's book blog tour for Aoléon: The Martian Girl (Part Five).  Thank you for reading!  Please feel free to add a comment to this post. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Antigone Poems: Review and Giveaway

"I was born to join in love, not hate--that is my nature.”
~ Antigone, Sophocles


The Antigone Poems is a collection of poems written by Marie Slaight between 1972 - 1981, which was published in 2014.  This collection is a poetic interpretation of the Sophocles tragedy, and the poems are loosely based on the Greek myth of Antigone.  The author dedicates this book to Terrence Tasker (1947-1992), whose charcoal drawings are featured in this poetry collection.


Antigone, a Greek tragedy by Sophocles.  Hmm...  I looked in my bookshelves because I wondered if I still had a copy of Sophocles: The Theban Plays.  I did (complete with some of my in-book notes and scribbles).  This is the description on the back of my book, a Penguin classic: "Antigone is the tragedy of a woman ruled by conscience, an over-confident king, and a young man tormented by conflicting loyalties".  I read some of the erudite introduction by E.F. Watling, then parts of the play, Antigone, in my tattered volume, to reacquaint myself with this ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles (496 - 406 B.C.).  In the play, the female protagonist, Antigone, is tormented because she mourns the death of her brother, Polynices, and wants to give him a proper burial, which defies the order of the King of Thebes, Creon, an offense that's punishable by death. 


Divided into five brief chapters, the poems are accompanied by several charcoal drawings by Terrence Tasker, which are interspersed throughout the book.  The drawings are quite remarkable.  Together, poems and pictures depict emotional torment, physical anguish, and spiritual darkness.




Many of the poems in this book are short and sparing; they're bold and dramatic, and they deftly delineate an original, poetic portrait of a woman's severe suffering, pain, and heartbreak.  I think the author chose Antigone as a symbol of struggle and agony, which may be meant to represent the universal or collective suffering of women.  

Gypsy shackle sacred.
Wrists bound in blood.
Chains
Burnt in anguish
Of daemon ancestry.
(in Chapter Two)

The poems are deceptively simple yet evocative, and the art complements these qualities.  Often the poems are very short and sparing, like this one in Chapter Four. 

...gods speak to the wind and winds whip through me...

The look of this prose on the page is quite stark and dramatic.  A handful of words make their appearance on the right side only; they pierce and provoke.  Pages on the left are blank; the sparsity of words makes this work even more profound and disturbing.




Although short, The Antigone Poems is a powerful and profound collection that deserves to be read, relished, and reread.  This would be a great choice for readers with an interest in both poetry and Greek tragedy, although you don't need to have extensive knowledge of Antigone to understand this work.  Altaire Productions & Publications and TLC  are generously offering a copy of this striking volume, The Antigone Poems, as a giveaway to one of my readers (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For yet another chance, mention if you've read Antigone (even if it was years ago, like me).

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, June 1.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, June 2.  Good luck! 

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me a copy of this book.  For additional reviews and other features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book tour for The Antigone Poems.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pleasant Day

Pleasant Day is Southern fiction, published in 2015, the eighth novel by author Vera Jane Cook.  I chose to read this book because I'm drawn in by the idea of this geographical genre, which has captured my imagination.  This story is set in a small town in South Carolina, Hollow Creek.

This novel is the story of Pleasant Day, a girl growing up in Hollow Creek.  Fifteen years old and pretty, she is starting to be noticed by the teenage boys in town, including Angus and Bodean.  Pleasant's very close to her father, who she loves in spite of his imperfections (I thought less of him, because he cheats on his wife), and would like to feel closer to her mother, Martha, who seems to favor Sawyer, Pleasant's handsome, older brother.  Pleasant has just learned that her one armed best friend, Millie Grady, has been killed, and that the girl's dead body was discovered  in the box-spring mattress of her friend, John Peter Clottey.  Pleasant is very distraught.  She doesn't think that John Peter killed her; she thinks he's a gentle and sensitive boy, who wouldn't hurt a fly (or kill a frog without undue anguish), and desperately wants to talk to him to find out what happened.

"I wanted to see John Peter real bad, get the story straight from the horse's mouth about poor Millie Grady's dead body showing up in his box-spring.  He'd never paid any attention to her.  He wasn't one of those goons that made fun of her either."
~ Pleasant Day, Vera Jane Cook

Soon after receiving the news about Millie, Pleasant is riding her bike on a summer day when she crashes into sixty-year-old Clarissa Blackwell, not far from The Fine Fettle café in Hollow Creek.  Clarissa notices Pleasant's strong resemblance to her goddaughter, Chloe, who had been killed many years earlier.  Clarissa possesses some unique psychic abilities, and senses that this meeting is somehow meaningful.  This is the beginning of a relationship between Pleasant and Clarissa, and a very absorbing novel.

Pleasant is a terrific protagonist.  Smart, sensitive, and sassy, she cares about people, and she cares about knowing the truth.  She's determined to find out what happened to her friend, Millie, the girl who was killed.  In chapters headed by the names of the characters, the book is told in the first person by Pleasant, and also in the third person by Clarissa (there are a few other characters as well who are the focus of other chapters, toward the back of the book).  Pleasant Day is full of dialogue between various characters, informal and believable dialogue which seems natural, written the way people really speak (it includes some cursing).

This book held my unwavering attention.  It is charming, funny, and altogether fabulous. As I read Pleasant Day, I tried (unsuccessfully) to figure out who killed Millie (and there is another mystery that comes up as well).  The book features flawed characters and "messy" relationships, and has many references to sex, and violence, including bullying and murder, so it's most appropriate for mature readers.  Many of the characters are likable, including Pleasant and Clarissa, who share a love of literature.  Initially somewhat wary of Clarissa, Pleasant becomes more fond of her after she learns that Clarissa is a retired English teacher; they play Jeopardy with literature as the subject (this will resonate with readers as well).  Members of the Day family, Clarissa, the neighborhood boys, and other characters, are brought to life by the author's brilliant writing.

Pleasant Day is definitely a:

page-turn·er

(pāj′tûr′nər)n. Informal
A very interesting, exciting, or suspenseful book, usually a novel.
(From The Free Dictionary)

This was my first book by Vera Jane Cook, but it will not be my last.




Thanks to Teddy from Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for sending me a complimentary copy of Pleasant Day.  For more reviews and giveaways, please visit the other stops on Vera Jane Cook's Pleasant Day book tour.  Thanks for reading!  Have you read any books by this author?  I think I want to read The Story of Sassy Sweetwater next.  Your comments are welcomed.

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