Ballet Shoes

Cover of Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Cover by Cath Kidston.
Art by Cath Kidston. Click through to read a preview on Amazon!

Title: Ballet Shoes

Author: Noël Streatfeild (What an unfortunate spelling!)

Nutshell: Pauline, Petrova, and Polly are not exactly siblings. They are all orphans who were collected by the very eccentric man they call Great Uncle Matthew (Gum, for short.) In the course of his 1930’s English Gentleman’s habit of exploring the world and bringing home assorted bits of it, he picked up these three girls and sent them home to his niece, Sylvia, who, with the help of Nana, the cook, the maid, and assorted boarders, must somehow fashion a living for the girls. The girls are Sylvia’s delight, but she despairs of finding the money to educate them, now that Gum has gone missing. Then one of the boarders suggests that the girls might be able to go on scholarship to The Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training, and in a few years time, earn a bit of money from stage performing.

This unlikely method of earning money is nonetheless met by delight from the girls and reserved willingness from Sylvia and Nana, and the girls are enrolled in Madame Fidolia’s Academy, where they will have lessons not only in acting, singing, and dancing, but also in hard work, doing your best, and finding your dreams.

Read-alikes: When I thought of books similar to this one, I came up with the Chronicles of Narnia, Louisa Alcott’s books, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books, the Series of Unfortunate Events, the Boxcar Children, the Emerald Atlas and the Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. I think I would collect these books under the genre “Silbing Adventures”, and they tend to read very similarly in character interaction and plot motion, but only the Alcott’s and Burnett’s books read really closely to Ballet Shoes in terms of theme and style.Read More »

Dengeki Daisy

Cover of Dengeki Daisy volume 4 by Kyousuke Motomi
Click through to read an excerpt on Amazon!

Title: Dengeki Daisy (Electric Shock Daisy)

Author: Kyousuke Motomi

Nutshell: Teru has just lost her elder brother who was her guardian and confidant. He leaves her a cell phone on which she receives mysterious, encouraging emails from DAISY, a person who Teru’s brother tasked with protecting her after his death. DAISY becomes her confidant, the only person with whom she shares her heart.

Meanwhile, due to an accident, Teru ends up working for the school janitor. Somewhat of a rebel and a mystery man, Teru finds herself drawn to him. But he behaves oddly toward her, and it becomes clear he’s hiding a powerful secret about her brother.

Read-alikes: Fruits Basket. Perhaps Kare Kano.Read More »

Gaudy Night

Cover of Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.
Cover by Robin Bilardello. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: Gaudy Night

Author: Dorothy Sayers

Nutshell: Harriet Vane returns! Still plagued by the ever charming and mischievous Peter Wimsey, the as-yet-un-fully-moved Harriet returns to her alma mater, Oxford University, for what amounts to a class reunion. She expects nothing more than to see the hallowed past tarnished by the unfortunate present, but someone decides to pen vile messages and leave them around the grounds for incomprehensible reasons. Harriet manages to be the only member of the college above suspicion, and as her day job has exalted her logical faculties in the eyes of her college’s faculty, they appoint her to investigate. What joy. Happy day. Harriet accepts, if only to keep the messages from getting into the gossip channels and damaging the college’s reputation, but this case will run close to her heart — like a knife.

Readalikes: This is so much more like a novel of manners (and social commentary) than a detective novel that I’m claiming Jane Austen as a readalike.

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Bluescreen

Cover of Bluescreen by Dan Wells. Art by Sebastien Hue.
Art by Sebastien Hue. Click through to read a preview on Amazon!

Title: Bluescreen

Author: Dan Wells

Nutshell: In a very, very believable future, the smartphone is an implant in your brain, and everything you can do with it, you can do overlaid on the real world. Everything the internet has to offer (and more, because this is the future, you guys.) available in an eyeblink.

Marisa is a gamer and a hacker in this world, a world that’s surprisingly normal. People try to get by, and there never seem to be enough jobs (fewer, now that so much can be done by robots), and schools assign homework. And people do what they can for fun.

Marisa’s friend Anja experiments with body hacks for fun. But when she picks up a sensory-overload app, a drug in digital form, Marisa and their team find a deep, dark, scary hole in the world of digitally-enhanced life. And in order to rescue Anja, they’ll have to go all the way to the bottom.

Read-alikes: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande VeldeRead More »

Stormbreaker

Cover of Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.
Click to read a preview!

Title: Stormbreaker

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Nutshell: Alex Rider’s uncle is dead. Many nephews would not find this such a world-shaking revelation, but Rider’s uncle was his sole relative and guardian. Now, alone and a ward of the bank his uncle worked for, his world is about to get very different.

The bank is a front for MI6. The world is very different indeed.

Not only is Alex now a ward of a branch of MI6, they want him to pick up where his uncle left off. His age and lack of experience are bonuses, in their eyes. Nobody will suspect a teenager of being a spy. They can get him right to the heart of the villain’s lair. It will be perfect. And if he doesn’t, well, they’ll deport his housekeeper and only friend, and send him to a cheap, nasty boarding school. What’s a fourteen-year-old to do?

Readalikes: The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, any James Bond novel.Read More »

Changes are coming to Joy Reads!

Alright, followers, I’m shaking the dust out of these dustcovers and airing out the furniture around here! Joy Reads is coming back! There are going to be some exciting changes! The first one, which you may or may not notice, is that Joy Reads has an actual, bona-fide domain name, now! Tell all your friends to find us here at joy-reads.com!

Other coming changes include:

  • Improved Artwork!
  • Improved Social Media Sharing!
  • More Blog Posts!
  • Exclamation Points!
  • And lots of under-the-hood changes!

Are you hoping for any particular changes? Let me know! (In the comments!)

Star Wars: Scoundrels

Cover of Star Wars Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn. Art by Paul Youll.
Art by Paul Youll. Click to read a preview!

Title: Star Wars: Scoundrels

Author: Timothy Zahn

Nutshell: This book is very easy to describe in a nutshell:

Han Solo Does Ocean’s Eleven.

For those of you not sold, or not familiar with Ocean’s Eleven (Get thee to the library. Get, I say!) Han Solo is looking for work between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. He would go pay Jabba with his Rebel Reward Credits (trademark!) but, alas, they were stolen. By a pirate. Stupid pirates. He’s approached by a man with a job: Break into the most secure vault on the planet, owned by a high-placed member of Black Sun, the criminal syndicate which makes Jabba look forgiving and generous by comparison. All Han has to do to be set for life is come up with a team, bang out a plan, and pull off a heist. In two weeks. Say it with me: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this….”

Read-alikes: Most other Star Wars books involving Han Solo (There’s a trilogy named for him you could start with). Most other Timothy Zahn novels (although the Icarus Hunt is the one most like an actual heist). I confess, the only other titles I can come up with are actually movie titles like Ocean’s Eleven and Leverage. Read More »