I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.
I received a free Adobe Digital Editions copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley, this has not compromised my ability to write an honest and critical review of the book.
4/11 - I'm really surprised how much I'm enjoying this considering the story is lacking what I would normally consider action, not much is happening and from what other reviewers have said, I can expect much of the same to the end of the book. The plot isn't leading up to a big finale or reveal, it's more about the mostly unexciting things that happen in everyday life to the average family - accidents in the home, children running away, death of pets, troubles at school etc. If I look back at how I've reviewed other books with similar plots, most of the time what I wrote was frequently populated with the words 'boring' and 'slow', and looking at most of the other reviews they had the same reaction to Little Joe as I thought I would - *yawn*. But a book that makes me *yawn* isn't a book that keeps me up till 2:20 in the morning. So what's so compelling about the story of a newly orphaned young boy taken in by his quiet, farm-centric grandparents and his troubles with the school bully, adjusting to life where you eat your pets (chickens who were named, unwisely) and it's so much colder than your native Texas that you feel like you will never be warm again? I don't know. In some scenes I was reminded of Enid Blyton's 'on the farm' books - The Children of Cherry Tree Farm and The Children of Willow Farm. This was most noticable in the scene where they meet the neighbourhood witch, Mrs Maggart, and learn that she's not really a witch but a lonely old woman depressed over the death of her son at Pearl Harbour. She likes to bake cookies because they were her son's favourite and so invites the children to come back anytime for more chocolate chip cookies. This is just like Blyton's stories of her children characters meeting a scary local who turns out (of course) to be completely normal, just a bit lonely and happy for the company of some hungry children looking for cookies and milk. Through a lot of the book the feeling that Little Joe, Sugar and Bobby were being shown as children going off on their own and having an adventure and then being home in time for tea just screamed The Adventurous Four et al by Blyton. To be continued...
4/11 - I did find it a bit unbelievable that the worst punishment he received was no radio and straight home from school for a month and no friends for two months. Considering the era this is set I'm surprised that there was no corporal punishment involved. I mean he didn't just burn a structure down, he destroyed the hay that would feed the livestock during the winter, all Persifor's tools for his business and other myriad things that weren't mentioned in the story but I'm sure would be kept there - that kind of destruction could mean the end of the Washington's livelihood, especially in a hard time like during a war. The one thing I really didn't like about the story, although I'm sure it was appropriate, was all the smoking the adults did and the fact that Little Joe found the smell of Persifor's pipe smoke intoxicating. Smoking is so abhorrent to me that I grimaced at every mention of the adults lighting up after every meal and felt a flash of disgust imagining the long line of ash hanging from Frances' cigarette as she smoked it. I wish that hadn't been Frances' favourite pastime, she could have been the same character with only half as much smoking. I've given it four stars, but it should really be 3.5. As I said, not a lot happened, but I'm still looking forward to the next book in the series. Thanks again, NetGalley, for the chance to read this book.