Pax by Sara Pennypacker 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Pax by Sara Pennypacker 📚

I read a paperback edition of Pax.

Genre: Children’s fiction, middle-grade fiction.

Illustrated by: Jon Klassen

Publisher: HarperCollins

Originally published: February 2nd, 2016

Pages: 288 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 5 hrs and 32 mins

Synopsis by the publisher:

Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.

My thoughts:

I randomly came across Pax while browsing a Norwegian bookstore and it was cover love at first sight! So much so that I decided to buy the book before I even read the synopsis. When I did read the back, I was even more sure that it would be a good match.

I love when authors write stories from the perspective of animals. Giving the animals a voice of their own adds a whole other depth to a story. I find that it’s even more enjoyable when we get to shift between the perspectives of humans and animals so that we get to experience certain events in two (or more) different ways. Pennypacker did a really good job with that throughout this book.

Pax isn’t just a story about a strong bond between a fox and a boy, but it also tells a story of grief and war. As far as I could tell, which war this story is set in isn’t mentioned, but I got the feeling it was probably World War II. Not knowing doesn’t take away from the story at all though since the focus isn’t on the war itself, but more the experiences of growing up during one.

The illustrations throughout this book are absolutely stunning! I wouldn’t have minded if there’d had been more of them, but hey, quality over quantity!
A big round of applause for Jon Klassen!

Both Peter and Pax develops quite a lot as characters during the short amount of time that we get to spend with them, and I loved being able to join them on that journey.

How about the ending?

I loved the way that it ended, even though it might not have been the ending that I was expecting or hoping for. But I thought it was the right way to end the story.

This story also had me crying a little bit, which doesn’t happen all too often these days! So extra points for having me so engaged in the story!

All that being said, I wish it would’ve been a little longer though. I felt like there was more to this story, but I also understand that even though I enjoyed it as an adult, it was written for a much younger audience so having it be 350+ pages long might not have been the right choice for this particular book.

I highly recommend Pax to readers who loved Watership Down, Charlotte’s Web, or any other story of hardship and struggle that are told through the perspectives of animals. It’s written beautifully and it tells a really heartbreaking but also heartwarming story that is just as enjoyable for adults as for kids.

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The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho.

I read a paperback version of The Valkyries.

Paulo Coelho

Genre: Contemporary fiction, fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins

Originally published: 1988

Pages: 256 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 5 Hours 10 Minutes

Blurb by the publisher:

This is a modern-day adventure story featuring Paulo’s supernatural encounter with angels – who appear as warrior women and travel through the Mojave desert on their motorbikes.

Haunted by a devastating curse, Paulo is instructed by his mysterious spiritual master to embark upon a journey – to find and speak to his guardian angel in an attempt to confront and overcome his dark past. The Valkyries is a compelling account of this forty day quest into the searing heat of the Mojave Desert, where Paulo and his wife, Chris, encounter the Valkyries – warrior women who travel the desert on motorcycles, spreading the word of angels.

My thoughts:

It’s been a few years since I discovered Coelho’s writing in Adultery and The Alchemist. I’ve read a couple of other books by him since, and they’ve been a mixture of hits and misses.

The Valkyrie falls somewhere in between for me.

This book tells the story of Paulo and his wife Christina that travels to the Mojave desert to find their guardian angel. It is classified as fiction, as Coelho himself has taken a bit of creative freedom when telling their story.

I find spiritual stories to be very interesting, but when it comes to The Valkyries, the heavy focus on angels just wasn’t a huge hit with me. It painted such a strong picture of religion and not spirituality, which isn’t really my cup of tea. That being said, Coelho is a very talented storyteller, and he does well with building up an interesting storyline of their trip to the desert.

I thought the parts of the story where Paulo and Christina spent time with the Valkyries was the most interesting part, and I would have loved to have gotten to know even more about them.

But I also understand that Paulo didn’t want to make up too much of their stories by adding plenty of fiction to it.

This might be what makes me lose interest in the story at times. It is the fact that I don’t know what’s fiction and what’s real. This makes it hard to be baffled by the miracles and happenings of this story because I can’t seem to wrap my head around what’s a truly amazing personal experience and what just happens to be make-believe. This might just be my personal preference about the build-up of a story that ruins this for me, I’m not sure.

I didn’t think that The Valkyries was a bad book, I just think it wasn’t for me. The religious aspect of it turned out to be a bit overwhelming for my taste, and it didn’t leave me with that lasting impression that for instance The Alchymist or Adultery did. That being said, I can definitely see the message that he wants to come across when it comes to facing our own past and forgiving.

So overall I would say that The Valkyries is an interesting story with much potential, and for the right person, I think it could be an amazing read. Unfortunately, I am not that person.

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The Child Thief by Brom 📚 BOOK REVIEW

 

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Brom

I listened to an audiobook version of The Child Thief.

Genre: Horror, Fantasy

Publisher: HarperCollins

Originally published: August 25th, 2009

Pages: 496 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 19 Hrs and 40 Mins

 

 

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Blurb by the publisher:

The acclaimed artist Brom brilliantly displays his multiple extraordinary talents in The Child Thief-a spellbinding re-imagining of the beloved Peter Pan story that carries readers through the perilous mist separating our world from the realm of Faerie. As Gregory Maguire did with his New York Times bestselling Wicked novels, Brom takes a classic children’s tale and turns it inside-out, painting a Neverland that, like Maguire’s Oz, is darker, richer, more complex than innocent world J.M. Barrie originally conceived. An ingeniously executed literary feat, illustrated with Brom’s sumptuous artwork, The Child Thief is contemporary fantasy at its finest-casting Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, even Captain Hook and his crew in a breathtaking new light.

It's such a dark and sinister take on a story we all know so well!

My thoughts:

I remember watching the Disney adaptation of Peter Pan as a kid, and loving the magical idea of a world without adults. Somewhere where you could do whatever you wanted, to stay a playful kid forever, and go on adventures. And let’s not even get into the idea of being able to fly!!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realise that pretty much every Disney adaptation of a story has roots from a much darker and more sinister story. That is the case with Peter Pan as well.

I fell in love with Brom’s writing when I read Krampus the Yule Lord. And when I heard of The Child Thief, I was immediately intrigued. I got it with one of my Audible credits and there has been no regrets!

The story follows Nick who is a kid that has fallen out a bit after his mom let a group of drug dealers move into their house. Nick steals a bag of drugs and decide that he’s running away from home. When the drug dealers come after him, he meets Peter who has a solution to all of his problems.

We then follow Nick as he ventures to Avalon together with Peter, and we immediately discover that the magical land we remember from the Disney movie is nothing like the Avalon that Brom presents to us.

They arrive at a magic place that’s been hidden by a cruel and sinister mist. The children that Peter has taken with him to Avalon are trained soldiers that has to fight dark magic and evil creatures. Nick feels betrayed and he’s questioning his thoughts about Peter and his gang.

Throughout the novel we also get to know the story of how Peter came to be the person that he is, and how he ended up in Avalon.

Brom paints a fantastic picture of a dark and scary world where kids are fighting for their lives. Evil creatures and magic are lurking around every corner, and when shit goes down, you’re not really sure who you can trust or who to root for.

The Child Thief was almost perfect! It had pretty much everything I desire in a dark fantasy story, the only thing that took away from its perfection was the fact that I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I was genuinely curious about what would happen to a lot of them, but I got no real emotional connection to them.

This could be just the timing of when I was reading it. I’m not really sure. And it could very well be that you would have a totally different experience with this novel.

But if you like fairytales and you like horror/fantasy, then I would highly recommend The Child Thief! It’s such a dark and sinister take on a story we all know so well!

4-four-star

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