April 25th, 2015

book collector

Book 42

Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata, #1)Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Beatrice "Bertie" Shakespeare Smith's story. Bertie has lived most of her life inside the Theatre Illuminata which is a magical place to be. However, not everyone is happy she's there. The Stage Manager pretty much wants her gone while the Propery, Costume and Theatre Manager are sympathetic to her. THe Theatre Manager has final say in these things and Mrs. Edith, the costume manager, has more or less raised Bertie.

Bertie, and her Midsummer's Night Dream fairy friends (I noticed a lot of people whinging about the fairies. I'm not sure they got the Shakespeare reference), spend their days getting into trouble. In fact, Peaseblossom (the only female fairy, the other two being of course Cobweb Mote and Mustardseed) seems to be Bertie's only female friend, except maybe Ophelia who is a little creepy what with the drowning every night. Naturally there are two young men in Bertie's life (because love triangle seem mandatory in YA these days). Nate, the pirate with just one line, and Ariel the air spirit from The Tempest, who has darker secrets.

However, Bertie's last stunt went one step too far. She has to contribute something important to the theatre or she must leave and she has a week to do it. Bertie decides to be The Director, a position never needed before because the Players all know their unchanging roles. She's going to restage Hamlet in Egypt.

Things don't go as planned. For one, as the Theatre Manager warned her, things could CHANGE. The Players aren't cooperative. They find the new staging so unsettling they can't remember lines for the first time ever. Worse, even Ariel doesn't want her to succeed. He wants her to go outside the theatre, something the Players can NOT do and even uses her desire to find her mother who left her on the steps of the theatre to get her to give up and go. He believes she can take him with her.

Bertie does want to know her history. She's been writing a stage play about it. however, she doesn't want to leave the theatre. Nate tries to help her. he gives her a powerful medallion made from the bones of the sea goddess Sedna to protect her. It allows Bertie to see things as they truly are. The caveat is she can't let salt water touch it. You can see where this might be going.

For you see the one thing that can ruin the Theatre is if someone could leave the theatre (a Player, not Beatrice who isn't truly one of them) and the Theatre Manager reluctantly confides it has happened once before.

Bertie stumbles on who and the how but that knowledge nearly destroys the Theatre. Ariel does something big and Bertie has to undo all the damage she has inadvertantly caused but she pays a high cost. Someone will be torn from her.

The story wraps up nicely and sets up book two. I did like this a lot. I will admit it gets a bit saggy in the middle. I might have rated this even higher but there were a few quibbles. For one, if I hadn't read the back blurb, I might not have twigged onto what was going on in the beginning and that seems like an awkward way to do that. Also the last third seems very rushed. That really big thing Ariel does seems oddly flat emotionally and Bertie forgives himi a bit too easily (but it was the only way to achieve something that had to happen but still).

I'll have to go looking for book two.

View all my reviews

Proof of Blood; Hairy Frog

Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer (ARC)
I received a copy of this teen novel from the publisher, opened it eagerly, and... almost gave up on it when I realized it was written in the present tense. Oh, my friends, how I hate reading extended narratives in the present tense. Hate hate hate. But I kept going, mostly because I love time-travel premises in all their shapes and forms, and I'm really glad I did. The present tense wasn't the last thing that annoyed me about the book, but it's okay, because this book has THE STUFF - that fierce, unfakeable spark of life that makes a book worth reading, no matter what. The stuff will propel me past any number of eye rolls. I predict I will still occasionally think of this book, with a smile, years from now. And when I was a teenager I would've loved it.
(103, O39, A4)

Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher (audiobook, reread)
I'm still very much enjoying listening to these as a reread through them, and I especially liked this one because it had so much secondary character development that becomes even more important later on in the series. Plus, best of all, Mouse as a puppy!! SUCH A GOOD DOG.

By Mouse and Frog, by Deborah Freedman
This is a sweet, psychologically rich storybook with really cute illustrations.

Very Hairy Bear, by Alice Schertle, illus. by Matt Phelan
And this is a reasonably charming storybook with amazing, lovely, beautiful illustrations. Also it's impressively scientifically accurate for something written at such a low reading level.
  • Current Music
    I have the theme to one of the Super Mario games stuck in my head, and