Book Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Title: Pachinko
Author: Min Jin Lee
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hardcover: 496 pages
Source: BEA 2016
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

PACHINKO follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher from BEA 2016.*

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

When Andrew and I went to BEA 2016, this cover really stood out to us. There were only a few copies available and it was a fairly thick book, so we only picked up a copy for ourselves instead of also getting another copy for his classroom. I am SO glad we decided on grabbing it, because it’s been one of my favorite reads this year and I can’t wait to see how it’ll be received by everyone when it comes out.

Pachinko is a story that follows the life of Sunja, the daughter of a Korean couple who own a boardinghouse by the sea. It starts off by detailing her father’s life, then goes through the generations starting with Sunja herself, and then her son’s life, and finally her grandon’s life. It’s told through multiple perspectives, though it tends to focus more on Sunja’s family.

This is a story about what it meant to be Korean living under the shadow of Japan during World War II, what it meant to be Korean in the aftermath of World War II, and the sacrifices people make to ensure the survival and happiness of their future family members.

Pachinko is well developed and complex in its details of how these characters would have lived their lives during this time. I feel like the story of how Korea and its people lived under the rule of Japan around the time of World War II is largely untold and untaught — at least, it is in American public schools. While it is devastating in its bleakness, I enjoyed learning at least a little bit about this country and I feel as though I have a slightly deeper view of the world during World War II because of this book. Lee did an amazing job with her research in being able to trace how Japan acted towards Korea across these decades and showing it within the context of her story.

I was surprised by the pacing in this book. Usually, I find sagas to be just a tad on the slow side, and was a little worried when I saw that this story spanned generations, but while it’s comprehensive, the story moves steadily along, hitting the important parts and then skipping over the years when it needs to progress.

Given the different characters and the length of time this novel spans, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better as a short story cycle. It almost had that feel to it, and I think there were moments that would have been heightened had it been written in such a format. I don’t think that the story significantly suffers from it being written as a novel, but I do think that the way its constructed is almost an in-between novel and short story cycle, which sometimes took me out of the story a little bit to try to figure out what sort of format this is. Not a huge complaint or anything — just a thought.

For me, the first part of the book was the strongest and most compelling. My favorite part was reading about how much Sunja would sacrifice and how hard she would work to give her family the best chance possible. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in historical fiction. The characters and the writing itself are beautiful, and as I’ve said, it provides an interesting look at a culture that I don’t think we often get to learn about.

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, Book 1
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Hardcover: 326 pages
Source: BEA 2016
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher from BEA 2016.*

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

I brought ARCs to my classroom after we attended Book Expo last year.  I have an extensive classroom library, but rarely do students ever take up my offer to borrow books to read independently.  I pitched having these ARCs in the class as a really cool insider opportunity to read books before many other people were able to and even would tell students about how they would get in trouble if they borrowed one and then sold it (which most students laughed at, but I think did emphasize the specialness about them I was trying to create).  Most of the students who borrowed books were pretty strong readers.  However, I had one student who I would have pegged as a reluctant reader.  He looked through the books after class one day and grabbed this book.  He told me he was interested in serial killers and asked if he could borrow it.  Of course I let him, and several months later he returned saying he really liked it.

This is one of the main reasons I decided to pick the book up myself (I had also heard some decent buzz about it as well since it came out) and some of the things that delighted me about the book, I must be honest, impacted me more through the lens of thinking about my students reading the book.  I feel I would be remiss if I did not start with my favorite element of the book, which is how Audrey Rose, the main character, is developed.  She starts off seeming to be another run-of-the-mill example of a female character interested in non-feminine topics.  What I think is done so well though is that her disgust is not directed at these feminine pursuits (and indeed even shows some interest and admiration towards some elements of it), but rather the way society pigeonholes girls and women into them.  I thought this was a nice balance and one that usually tips one way or the other far too often.  I must note here that I think this being such a large part of the story is something that made me smile a lot thinking about my student reading it.

The one criticism I have with the book is Audrey Rose’s relationship with Thomas Cresswell.  I do not want to overstate this point, since I think both characters were well written and interesting, but I do think that some of their exchanges were the few moments I found myself wanting to skim rather than poring over the words in front of me.

Finally, I have a huge issue with television, movies, books, or any other form of media that has a mystery that would be impossible to solve until it is resolved within the story.  I think that what this book does, which many great mysteries do, is that looking back on the story you can pick out moments that could have allowed you to guess at the big reveal, but along the way (unless you are really taking the time to ponder it) you might miss.  I will admit that I figured it out only a few pages before the reveal and found that to be thoroughly satisfying.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and tore through it on my winter break.  I definitely think it is worth checking out.

Audiobook Review: Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Title: Dodger
Author: Terry Pratchett
Narrator: Stephen Briggs
Publisher: HarperCollins
Running Time: 10 hours, 31 minutes
Source: Download from the Audiobook Sync program
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he’s…Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London’s sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He’s not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl–not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger’s encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.

Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy’s rise in a complex and fascinating world.

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Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably already know how I feel about Terry Pratchett. The man was hilarious and created such wonderful worlds in his writing. What I’m consistently struck by was how much his love for his writing shines through in his works. Dodger is a story about the a poor young man living in Victorian England written by a man who clearly loved writing about all the weirdness and darkness of Victorian England.

In a word, Dodger is simply: fun. There’s mystery, intrigue, drama, and humorous callouts to notable 19th century figures, both fictional and non-fictional. I loved the tie-in to Dickens and Sweeney Todd, and I especially enjoyed learning about Dodger’s world — a world that, I’m sure, was shared by many 19th century London dwellers. This book is plain entertainment, and I love Pratchett for that. The one and only complaint I have for this story is that I didn’t think the ending was paced perfectly, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment very much, so it’s a small negative thing.

Stephen Briggs did such a good job with narrating this book. When I’m listening to a book, I’m — sadly — probably not paying as much attention as I should be, and I sometimes get lost in terms of who says or does what. Briggs makes it incredibly easy to distinguish between the characters, especially — it seems — paying attention to the social status of each character and letting that reflect in their accent and mode of speaking. Some of the minor characters were given a lot more life than just reading the book would have given them, and I really appreciated the listening experience.

Overall, I recommend Dodger if you have any interest at all for Terry Pratchett books, or if you enjoy a good Victorian England mystery. I had a lot of fun listening to it and think it’s well worth anyone’s time.

Book Review: Summer of Lost and Found by Rebecca Behrens

 

Summer of Lost and Found.jpg
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Title: Summer of Lost and Found
Author: Rebecca Behrens
Publisher: Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
Hardcover: 288 pages
Source: NetGalley
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Nell Dare expected to spend her summer vacation hanging out with her friends in New York City. That is, until her botanist mom dragged her all the way to Roanoke Island for a research trip. To make matters worse, her father suddenly and mysteriously leaves town, leaving no explanation or clues as to where he went—or why.

While Nell misses the city—and her dad—a ton, it doesn’t take long for her to become enthralled with the mysteries of Roanoke and its lost colony. And when Nell meets Ambrose—an equally curious historical reenactor—they start exploring for clues as to what really happened to the lost colonists. As Nell and Ambrose’s discoveries of tantalizing evidence mount, mysterious things begin to happen—like artifacts disappearing. And someone—or something—is keeping watch over their quest for answers.

It looks like Nell will get the adventurous summer she was hoping for, and she will discover secrets not only about Roanoke, but about herself.

*I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Historical fiction was one of my very favorite subjects when I was about 10 — around the age group this book is written for, actually. So, I occasionally like to break up my adult reading with some children’s/middle grade reading just to make things interesting. What really drew me to this book was the fact that it had something to do with Roanoke, which is a fascinating topic.

There isn’t much of a waiting period in terms of getting things set up and then getting into the story — instead, the story starts right away and the reader is left to figure things out as it goes along. I love this. It’s my favorite way of reading, because I tend to skim over all those setup paragraphs. Give me something to hold on to, then I’ll trudge through location, description, etc. Behrens does that, which I so much appreciate. More than that, she starts off with a real, gripping topic: Nell’s dad’s toothbrush isn’t in the bathroom and he’s gone. It becomes apparent fairly quickly that something is happening between Nell’s parents, but she’s too scared to ask questions, so she goes along with it and accompanies her mother to a trip to North Carolina, around where the Roanoke colony was established.

Overall, I thought this book was really cute. As a ten-year-old, it probably would have been one of my favorites. Ghost stories, mysteries, historical fiction? Heck yes! Sign me up. As an adult, it doesn’t quite hold up in terms of complexity and story telling. I thought that the friendship between Nell and the girl she meets during her summer vacation to be strange, and I don’t think that current slang/technology was used to its best advantage. I’ve never personally heard a kid tell me, “She’s not really my friend, she’s my frenemy,” straight up like that. I think it’s more of an understood thing than a thing that kids actually say, but that might just be me. Nell also describes a lot of what she does on her cell phone, which might have been better used just as straight dialogue or text instead of summarized within the narration. Again, kind of nitpicky things that I don’t think will necessarily bother the age group/reading level this is written for.

What is great about this book is that I had a ton of questions about the actual historical colony of Roanoke, and I wanted to get my hands on history books about it right after I finished reading Summer of Lost and Found. I can see a younger reader having the same reaction, which means this might be a great companion piece/gateway to learning about some colonial history for kids. I also really love that it deals with a hard, complicated topic: parents not getting along and not dealing with it very well. It’s a great way for kids to take a look at coping mechanisms and ways of resolving conflict.

Most importantly, it’s just plain fun. I loved following Nell in her adventure to find the lost colony of Roanoke, making my own theories and guesses as she discovered more and more about the colony and the area. It was a cute story and a quick read that I think a lot of younger (and older) readers will appreciate.

Book Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Title: The Dark Unwinding
Author: Sharon Cameron
Series: The Dark Unwinding, Book 1
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover: 318 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

I found out about this series when browsing through books from BEA 2013 — where the sequel was being offered as an ARC. For the most part, I just can’t read series out of order (knowingly, at least), so I left it alone and put this book on the to-read list. And yes, 3 years later, I’m just now reading it. Us bibliophiles have a problem with overly long to-read lists, yes?

I have to say that this one gets off to an incredibly slow start. It tries to be too creepy too fast, to the point where I really just didn’t understand what was going on in the first few chapters. Is it trying to be paranormal? Is it trying to be just average-run-of-the-mill creepy? No idea. I think that was the point, but I personally wasn’t into it. By the first 30 pages, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get through it, but I powered on, and it turned out to get better. Yay! It also doesn’t help that there seems to be a wide variety of genres used for this book, but by my judgment, it’s more alternate history/gothic than anything. (Especially steampunk — um, what?!) There are so many creep factors to it that it just feels dark the way only gothic books do. Anyway, once the book figures out what its story is supposed to be, it gets pretty good.

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Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

snow flower and the secret fanTitle: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Publisher: RandomHouse
Kindle: 288 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.

As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

This book has been on my reading list for so long, I’m not even sure why I added it in the first place. It’s available on OverDrive, which is huge for me actually getting some reading done these days, and I think I might have seen that it was a “most popular” book, and added it to my wishlist. So, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I started it. I kind of hate reading descriptions, because I feel like they ruin my discovery of the story, so it’s nice that I have such a long to-read list, because it gives me time to forget the book description.

Overall, I would say that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is solidly entertaining. It’s not too complex, so it’s easy to get through, and the main character is fairly easy to relate to, even if she is a bit judgmental. See does a good job in keeping the plot moving with interesting twists and turns, and the beginning is well developed in terms of detail and the reader is gently led from one conflict to the next. I’m currently reading a book that’s incredibly choppy, where we get one huge conflict that takes a chapter to introduce, followed quickly after by a page-and-a-half resolution, and then another huge conflict again. This book is definitely not like that. The beginning and middle take their time to fully develop, which allowed me to become immersed when it was going on.

While I thoroughly enjoyed most of it, the end was lacking a little bit. Everything about the culture and way of life is incredibly detailed, and I loved learning about the different customs of these people through the eyes of Lily. However, if a book about the cultures and customs of women in the Hunan Province is what I wanted to read, I would have picked up a nonfiction book. What I really wanted from this particular novel was a good story, and the story/plot elements were lacking for me. I understand that the author spent a lot of time researching, which I appreciate in a novel like this, but she spent too much time showing off that research instead of dedicating space to plot and character development near the end. The climax wasn’t as developed as it could have been, which made the resolution fall a bit flat.

Again, that’s not to say that I disliked this book. I liked it quite a lot — the ending just wasn’t as satisfying as I would have liked. As a quick read, this is perfect. A little gruesome at times (I still can’t get over the foot binding scene. Ah!), but easy to get through and entertaining. There definitely was enough drama to keep me interested the entire time.

Book Review: Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel

Title: Palace of Spies
Author: Sarah Zettel
Series: Palace of Spies, Book 1
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Hardcover: 368 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t

Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love…

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through BEA in exchange for an honest review.*

I’m a sucker for orphan stories, especially when they involve spying, intrigue, and Georgian fashion. Peggy is an orphan who is living in her uncle’s house and is completely at his mercy. When he tries to force her to marry a man who assaulted her, she runs away and does the only thing she can think to do: accept the offer of a stranger who promises her freedom from her uncle. This lands her the job of impersonating a lady-in-waiting at the palace who mysteriously died a few months previous. Peggy has to find a balance between doing spy work for her benefactors and finding answers to her own questions about the woman she is pretending to be.

The beginning started off wonderfully, and Zettel shows the stark reality of Peggy’s situation as an orphan. She has absolutely no status as a woman with no parents to protect her. We see this clearly when she is assaulted at a ball, and when her uncle insists that she marries her assaulter for his money. She is completely at the mercy of the men she comes into contact with, and though she runs away from the situation, she finds herself in the same place when she is put under the care of two men to impersonate a lady-in-waiting at the palace. Of course, that simply won’t do for a young woman as independent and clever as Peggy, so she learns to take matters in her own hands, and she does it beautifully.

I can’t think of anything better to say other than it was a fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s funny and a bit silly at times, but Zettel throws in a bit of darkness so that the characters really shine in overcoming all the obstacles that are thrown at them. The spy/impersonation aspect keeps things lively, and I was certainly always in suspense as to whether or not Peggy would be revealed to be an impostor. Peggy is lovely, and the passive hostility between her and another lady-in-waiting perfectly parallels many female-rival conflicts I’ve seen play out in middle school and high school.

As with any story like this, I wasn’t sold on the idea of a sixteen-year-old girl being able to turn into a master spy and impersonator within a few months without raising suspicion. Yes, Peggy is spirited and capable, but if the princess and the ladies-in-waiting are supposed to be as clever as they are described, it would be difficult for that sort of scheme to pass. Despite this, the story was fun and full of drama and intrigue, so I decided to not let myself dwell on how “realistic” this concept really is.

Palace of Spies is an exciting story, with plenty of twists, and characters who are fun to get to know. I am eagerly awaiting the second in the series to see what sort of crazy adventures Peggy gets into next.

Book Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Publisher: Pocket
Paperback: 295 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

The Color Purple is about a black woman named Celie who goes from being abused and raped by her father to abused by her husband, a man she hardly knows. Her story is told by herself through letters to God or, occasionally, her sister. When she meets a singer named Shug, Celie has a sort of coming-of-age and learns how to find joy in life.

My favorite part about this book is how uplifting it is, despite all the horrible situations these characters face. Even though Celie is abused by her father, and then later her husband, Shug helps her to find things to be happy about. For me, this helped the story become more complex and realistic. The books I’ve previously read about abuse are generally negative and have nothing positive to bring a balance to it. And really, I think that’s what makes The Color Purple such a classic: it’s an important cultural story about African-American life, and everyone can benefit from reading about how Celie transcends her circumstances to become a happy and fulfilled person.

The one thing that bothered me a little bit is that I thought the ending was rushed and tacked-on. It was a bit over-the-top happy-go-lucky, which is fine, because I like happy stories, but I think that a little more time could have been spent in resolving the issues.

Other than that, it was a great read with a lot of ideas to think about and reflect on, especially those dealing with religion and feminism. As a student teacher, I’m constantly evaluating my personal reading choices to see if they can fit in a classroom, and I definitely can see myself teaching The Color Purple. (Many people do, I know, but now I see why.) I think that everyone needs to read this at least once in their lives. It’s beautiful, moving, and full of interesting ideas about how we currently live and how we should live.

Audiobook Review: Timeline by Michael Crichton

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Title: Timeline
Author: Michael Crichton
Narrator: John Bedford Lloyd
Publisher: Books on Tape
Duration: 15 hours 11 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

In an Arizona desert a man wanders in a daze, speaking words that make no sense. Within twenty-four hours he is dead, his body swiftly cremated by his only known associates. Halfway around the world archaeologists make a shocking discovery at a medieval site. Suddenly they are swept off to the headquarters of a secretive multinational corporation that has developed an astounding technology. Now this group is about to get a chance not to study the past but to enter it. And with history opened to the present, the dead awakened to the living, these men and women will soon find themselves fighting for their very survival–six hundred years ago. . . .

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Many might be familiar with Timeline from the movie adaptation with Paul Walker and Gerard Butler — I saw that movie ages ago when it came out and finally got around to reading the book. I can’t really compare it to the movie, because I saw that so long ago, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Timeline is about a group of archaeologists who must travel to the fourteenth century (during a time of war) to rescue their professor.

Honestly, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Though I love audiobooks, I’m always wary of committing myself to anything over seven or eight hours, because listening to the same voice for longer than that can get tedious. Thankfully, John Bedford Lloyd is a brilliant narrator and really brought life to the characters and the story. In fact, I enjoyed spending the extra time with this novel and being able to immerse myself in its world.

Anybody who likes an adventure story would probably like Timeline. My favorite part about it is that it has a nice mix of historical fiction, mystery/thriller, and science fiction. There’s something for everyone, and I love reading a story that is able to successfully bring together a variety of genres. Although, I have to say, some of the science fiction explanation was a little too detailed, making it confusing and leaving quite a few plot holes. It would have been better without the attempt to explain the time travel scientifically, I think. But putting that aside, Crichton has created a solidly entertaining story.

There’s action, adventure, romance, intrigue, etc. Like I said before, there’s something for everyone. It’s told from multiple viewpoints, but at no point was I confused or lost. If you enjoy audiobooks, don’t let the length scare you — I had a great time listening to it. However, if you’re not an audiobook fan, I think that reading it would be just as satisfying.

Audiobook Review: Jingo Django by Sid Fleischman

Title: Jingo Django
Author: Sid Fleischman
Narrator: Charles Carroll
Publisher: AudioGO
Edition: Unabridged
Duration: 3 hours 59 min
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Jingo Hawks is out of luck when Mrs. Daggatt from the orphan house hires him out as a chimney sweep to the awful General Dirty-Face Scurlock. But it’s gypsy luck that puts Jingo into the right chimney and then into the care of the mysterious Mr. Peacock, who claims to know Jingo’s scoundral father. Together they set out on a treasure hunt for buried gold. But they are not alone–those nasty gold diggers Mrs. Daggatt and General Scurlock are hot on their trail.

 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Jingo Django is a fun adventure book that I could see kids loving — I definitely loved this sort of book when I was a kid, and even as an adult, I greatly enjoyed it. With buried treasure, adventure, and unforgettable characters (with equally unforgettable names), this is a great story for young boys and girls.

Django goes on a quest expecting to find treasure and learns so much about himself and his abilities. This story has both coming-of-age and adventure elements and would appeal to children/middle grade readers. The plot is a bit simplistic and doesn’t cover much ground, which is why I wouldn’t recommend it for a young adult audience. Django is really the only character that grows within the story, which is fine — but again, for those who like a complex story, not so great. I really loved how Fleischman is able to show seedy characters while still retaining the charm of an old-fashioned adventure — and I love how Django is able to use his intelligence to outwit some of the less-than-honest characters.

The narration is excellent: each character has its own voice and Charles Carroll really brought life and personality to all the different characters. I sometimes avoid books with children in them, because a lot of narrators tend to make children’s voices needlessly whiny, but Carroll doesn’t do that. He uses his normal voice and it works really well for the story.

Overall, I think Jingo Django is an interesting, fast-paced adventure story. It’ll be a quick read and has enough in it to keep the reader engaged from beginning to end.

*I received a copy of this audiobook through the publisher from Audiobook Jukebox’s Solid Gold Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.*