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Journey to the River Sea Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Without neglecting that classic Ibbotson feel, this one is a pleasant departure from Europe and boarding schools. But don’t worry – there are still orphans a-plenty. While the plot follows a young English girl sent to live with distant relatives in Brazil, the story is really about expectations, adaptability, and where and how we feel at home. Themes about colonialism run in the background but never overwhelm the story, which focuses on character and atmosphere. In addition to Maia’s story, we also follow two boys who want very different things from life. There’s some exploration and natural history worked into the story. All in all, it was an enjoyable and satisfying story with (of course) a happy ending. Age 9 and up seems to be the general recommendation – I would have devoured her books as a kid.

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Bellwether Bellwether by Connie Willis

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
While I didn’t think this was as strong a book as Doomsday Book or To Say Nothing of the Dog (which were each fantastic in their own way), it was thoroughly entertaining and successful with its narrower scope. It’s NOT science fiction, unless you define science fiction as being fiction about scientists doing research. It’s got Willis’ usual brisk style and humor, and it’s made even funnier by reading it 10 or 15 years after publication, since a lot of the research mentioned is about fads. The recurring restaurant scenes had me howling. This is one I’ll definitely reread when I need a good laugh.

Also, know that I know what a bellwether is, I’m seeing the word pop up in various places.  And someone picked up a hold on a book about fads at the library, and I had to restrain myself from telling them they should read Bellwether.

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April 2009
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