Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner

Being a Russian immigrant is not easy on ten-year-old Vaclav, but he has David Copperfield to help him through. Lena is shy and awkward with her broken English and her dark past. This does not stop Vaclav and his lovely assistant, Lena, from practicing magic every day after school.

The day before their big show at Coney Island, Lena disappears. Vaclav’s mother knows what happened to her, but she’s keeping her secrets to protect Vaclav, as she's always done.

Years later, when Lena returns, Vaclav is faced with reality and uncertainty. He thought he knew what love was, and he thought he knew Lena.

Lena wants to fill in the gaps of her childhood memories, but doing so brings a pain she doesn't think she'll survive. 

Vaclav is forced to see reality and decide if life is what he can make of it. Lena must face the monsters of her past. And Vaclav's mother discovers she cannot always protect her child.


I'll admit, I was skeptical. A book about a kid who immigrated from Russia and loves magic? Can you really write an entire book about that? But the story is not as it seems.

What a fascinating book. It took me a few pages to get used to the writing. Since all the main characters think and speak in halting English, everything is written as such. At first I was confused how someone with such lacking English skills could get published. Once I realized what was going on, I understood how brilliant it was.

To tackle such heart-wrenching topics with such candor and love was probably very difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really felt like I had immigrated along with Vaclav and his family.

There is some sexual content (nothing graphic) and a few instances of heavy language.

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • Source: Goodreads FirstReads giveaway
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Where have you been?!

Hello? (tap, tap, tap on my computer monitor)

Anyone there?

OK. I deserve the cold shoulder from my readers. It's not like I've been actively blogging for the last month or so.

You've probably been saying to yourself, "Remember that one time I used to follow that blog of that one person with the book?"

Yeah, that's me. And like I said, I deserve that.

So exactly where have I been?

Well...I can't tell you. Not yet. I've had to take some extremely necessary personal time for family reasons.

And while I've been absent from the computer, I have been reading. Let me just say I've read some great books lately! If you bear with me, I will eventually tell you all about them. Sooner rather than later, I hope, because being behind is a pet peeve of mine. It gives me anxiety.

What do you have to look forward to? (In no particular order except as they popped into my memory...)

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Gone with a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West
Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
Growing Up Gracie by Maggie Fechner
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by MAureen McGowan
All About Daisy by O'Dell Hutchinson
The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
Violet Midnight by Allie Burke
Dread of Night by Joshua D. Boeringa and Robert Forest
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

See? Lots of good books. I haven't been slacking as much as you think. This list is only the books I've recently read; it does not include the books I need to read.

But...I'm still working on the family issues. My TBR pile was literally towering on my dresser. I would look at it and feel overwhelming guilt for the authors who are patiently waiting for reviews. With so much going on in my life right now, I decided I can't do it. I gathered a healthy stack of books, and asked a friend and fellow reviewer, Ems, if she would take he load off my shoulders.

She's agreed!

So please be sure to check out In Which Ems Reads Books for awesome reviews. Give her some blog love and follower her. To make it worth your while, she's offering some sweet giveaways right now!

And if you're still reading this, thanks for sticking around. You're the best.No really, you're the best. Pin It