eGalley Wednesday - April 27, 2011 - Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan & The Black by D. J. MacHale - BOOK REVIEWS

4/27/2011 11:02:00 AM

eGalley Wednesday

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eGalley Wednesdays

Up for review this week are two titles:  The Black by D. J. MacHale, and Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan:

The Black by D. J. McHale
Title:  The Black
Author:  D. J. MacHale
Publisher:  Aladdin Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster
Release Date:  April 19, 2011
Hardcover, 560 pages / ISBN 10: 1416965173  / ISBN 13: 9781416965176
The Book Depository / Amazon  / Goodreads / Publisher

First thing's first:  I love it when I can read a sequel out of order and not feel as though I'm missing most of the story by not having read the first book.  THAT'S what will make me want to go out and buy the previous one, and, in this respect, The Black did not disappoint at all.

FIRST SENTENCE:  This isn't what I expected death to be like.

Cooper Foley is dead.  We know this because he tells us so right from the start.  We then find out about The Black, the in-between place where some souls go while waiting to see if they continue their journey down Morpheus Road, or, if they're irredeemable, to The Blood.  The Light is what they call the living world.

Souls in The Black are not supposed to visit The Light, they are only supposed to observe it.  But Cooper, who was always in Trouble Town (his name for being in trouble) while he was living, doesn't change much after he's dead.  You see, no one has found his body at the bottom of the lake yet, and Damon, an evil soul in The Black and former general in Alexander the Great's army, who has an army equipped with soul-killing swords, who actually was the cause of Coop's death, is harassing Coop's sister Sydney and his best friend Marshall, causing weird hallucinations and putting them in danger.  All of this is to get Cooper to help him retrieve some artifacts that will allow Damon to live again and basically, well, you know, rule the world and all that.

Add in a mysterious neighbor named Maggie, who insists on helping Cooper, and Cooper's grandfather, who keeps telling Coop to stay out of it, oh!  and the Watchers, who don't speak, and disappear when the souls try to speak to them, and you have a rollicking, irreverently good story, perfect for older middle readers, YA readers, and anyone else who likes a little fantasy, magic and other-worldliness.

All of which has caused me to put The Light (I believe it's the same story told from Marshall's point of view) on my own to-buy list.

QUOTE (from a galley; may be different in final copy):  

"Damon scares me," Maggie said.  "Maybe we should do what he wants."
"Why not?"
"Because he killed me.  That kind of pisses me off."

Book Rating:   4 out of 5 stars

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
Title:  Small Acts of Amazing Courage
Author:  Gloria Whelan
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released:  February 19, 2011
Hardcover, 224 pages /  ISBN 13: 9781442409316
The Book Depository / Amazon  / Goodreads / Publisher

FIRST SENTENCE:  How can kindness get you into so much trouble?

Set in colonial India, beginning in 1919, this is the story of 15-year-old Rosalind James.  Her father is a major in the British Indian Army, and is away for months at a time.  Almost all British colonials living in India sent their children back to England when they were 7 or 8 years old for school, but Edward, Rosalind's only brother, had been sent back to school when he was 7, and died of dyptheria his first year at school.  In order to keep his wife happy, her father Harlan allows her to stay on in India.

But Rosalind is anything but a "proper English girl".  She finds the girls at the club boring, and sneaks off to the bazaar with her Indian friend Isha as often as she can.  When she meets Mrs. Nelson, an unconventional Englishwoman who thinks "ordinary" is overrated and runs an Indian orphanage, at the club, she also meets her son Max, who served under her father.  Max is fascinated with Ghandi and his Congress Party that advocates Indian independence.  Rosalind's friend Isha is married to man who is active in the Congress Party as well.

As Rosalind works to figure out what is right and what is wrong, and her father does what he can to make certain that she doesn't meddle in Indian affairs, the reader is pulled along, and the story of colonial India comes to life in an illuminating fashion.

This adult reader loved this book, geared towards middle readers (ages 9-12).  I would also honestly recommend it for teachers, parents, and home schoolers, as it gives an understandable and compelling overview of the events that precipitated India's independence, all told from the point of view of a young girl with a good heart.

QUOTE (from a galley; may be different in final copy):  

"What happened in Amritsar?" I asked, wanting to know his version, for Isha had whispered to me that in the city of Amritsar, thousands of Indians had gathered to celebrate a festival.  The British Army believed the Indian people were there not to celebrate but to demonstrate against British rule.  The soldiers had been ordered to shoot, and hundreds of Indians had died.

Book Rating:   4.5 out of 5 stars

That's all for this week.  As always, you can click the Amazon or Goodreads links to find other reviews.  

Link up!

Disclosure:  I received complimentary eGalleys of these titles through the publishers to facilitate my reviews.  No other compensation was received and I was not required to post  positive reviews.


These books are listed as titles for my 2011 ARC Reading Challenge


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  1. I have an interest in reading books about colonial India, so I will be adding Small Acts of Amazing Courage to my TBR. Thanks for the review!

  2. I love books about Raj India and I've always enjoyed Gloria Whelan so "Small Acts" sounds good to me! and "The Black" sounds very interesting too, but I'll put The Light on my tbr. Thanks!

  3. Enjoyed the review but change the "Never judge a book by it's movie" and the "first thing's first" to remove the misplaced apostophes.

  4. It's - you're absolutely right - I DO have a tendency to add an unnecessary apostrophe to the possessive of it (my designer didn't catch it either - so it has to stay until I get the topper re-designed)

    "First thing is first" - misplaced apostrophe there.


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