I have been a fan of Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series since I read the first book when I was probably like 10 years old. Mia Thermopolis is still o I have been a fan of Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series since I read the first book when I was probably like 10 years old. Mia Thermopolis is still one of my favorite female fictional characters and I am still desperately in love with Michael. When I heard about the fact that Cabot is extending the series, writing a book about Mia as an adult, I seriously felt like throwing a party. When I was given the opportunity to review From the Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess, Cabot's first book in the spin-off series of Princess Diaries, which will be released a couple of months prior to the new Princess Diaries book, I jumped right in despite the fact that I normally do not review middle-grade novels.
From the Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess introduces us to Olivia Grace, a 12 year old girl living in New Jersey. Her mother died when she was only a baby and though she keeps in contact with her father, she has never seen him. Living with her aunt and her family, Olivia is trying to navigate through the halls of middle-school. As a result of a very unexpected chain of events, Olivia learns that her father is the prince of Genovia. Not only does she become a princess, she also gains a family – a sister, a grandmother and two adorable dogs. But becoming a princess does not come without problems and for the first time in her life, Olivia is really made to question what she wants from life.
This book was so adorable! This is exactly the type of book I know I would have loved reading back in the day. Olivia is funny and honest and it really was a pleasure to read her thoughts about herself and the people that surround her. I loved how Cabot brings diversity to the Princess Diaries world by portraying Olivia as a child of white father and a black mother and how she very gently points out to her readers that despite the fact that Olivia looks a bit different than her other family members, she still is essentially the same (which I think is a very important thing to note for young readers).
This book will be a brilliant extension of the Princess Diaries series for a new generation of readers – with an introduction of new main character in a very contemporary setting, Cabot not only gives old fans of Mia a chance to see her again through the eyes of a new character, but also makes it possible for new readers to first encounter this novel and then possible the original Princess Diaries novels. I really hope this one will be translated to Finnish so I can share it with my cousin's two girls – I bet they would love this one just as much as I loved Princess Diaries when I was their age.
When I saw the promotional material for this novel compare it to Joss Whedon's legendary Firefly, I instantly knew I would have to read it. Firefly isWhen I saw the promotional material for this novel compare it to Joss Whedon's legendary Firefly, I instantly knew I would have to read it. Firefly is not only one of my favorite shows, but arguably one of the best shows ever to grace television. I still find it difficult to understand it was cancelled and can just imagine how well it would do within the contemporary television environment. So yes, the Firefly reference made me very excited. And though this book directly isn't like Firefly, I did remind me of the show in some ways (the language, the racing aspect, the outsiders vs. the corporations), which I really enjoyed because any sort of reference to Firefly is a welcome one.
Phee lives in Castra, a planet controlled by six corporates. Following on the footsteps of her father who mysteriously disappeared when she was very young, Phee lives for rally racing. Along with her best friend Bear (Barrett), Phee participates in illegal races on the streets of Castra, constantly in fear of getting caught. When a race goes awry and Phee is taken into custody, she is forced to make a decision – either be sent to a juvenile delinquency centre or joining the racing time of Charles Benroyal, one of the sixers and the owner of the Benroyal Corp. Both choices mean imprisonment for Phee and Bear, but at least the choice to race for Benroyal means that Phee can continue doing what she loves, even when she needs to work for someone that represents something she despites. As Phee gets deeper into the world of corporation racing, she realizes that Benroyal is controlling much more than just the corporation and soon it becomes her responsibility to reveal the truth to everyone and to take Benroyal down.
I LOVE Phee. She is strong, independent, funny and kickass. I feel like too often in YA books like this, the female heroine is instantly established as something special, as someone whose destiny it is to do a certain task. Phee definitely is special, but at the beginning of this novel, she's just a normal girl, trying to find her way around the dangerous side of Castra. After her father mysteriously disappeared, she has been living with Bear and his family. When she's taken into drive for Benroyal and the world of corporation racing, she is forced to change, but at the same time, she stays true to her values. She has been forced to work for the enemy, but at the same time, she has been given a chance to do what she really loves. Throughout this novel, I felt like Phee's confusement about what is right or wrong and how she should feel felt so realistic and honest. This confusement and facing difficult decisions made it much more easier to like and identify with Phee – she's not perfect but rather just trying to navigate her way in a world unknown to her. She knows her own strengths and flaws and most importantly, she is not afraid to speak for herself!
Though there's a hint of a love triangle here, I wasn't really put back by it since for the duration of the novel it is kind of obvious who the right guy for Phee is. The fact that she meets someone she never thought she would connect with helps in her character development and very quickly the scenes between Phee and Cash became my favorite ones. What I really appreciated is the fact that Martin mostly keeps the romance in the background and rather focuses on the story of Phee and her growth. Yes, I do love romance, but I also love awesome coming-of-age stories, especially when they focus on awesome kickass heroines.
Tracked is paced brilliantly and Martin's prose with its fast-paced description and witty banter made this one of those books that was just impossible to put down. The vivid characters and the dialogue between them is definitely something that reminded me of Firefly with its very distinctive characters and character relationships. I loved how the rally crew kind of became its own family unit (like the Serenity crew on Firefly). The way Martin builds this fictional world, explaining the politics of the corporations and the relations Castra has with other planets is well established. As I kept reading, I became so immersed with this world that I actually started to threat the ending of the novel. And really, I never thought I would be this excited about a book that focuses on racing – those who know me know that I don't care about cars AT ALL.
Goodreads does not mention yet whether this novel is a standalone or a part of a series. It could work as a standalone – the end is satisfying and leaves room for interpretation. I am really hoping though that this is a series because the way the novel ends leaves so much potential for a follow-up!
Tracked is definitely one of the best YA sci-fi novels I have read in a long time. With a likable protagonist, fast-paced plot and just a pinch of romance, it's a novel that kept me excited to turn the pages until the very end. Martin's world building is strong and vivid and I salute her creating such an awesome female protagonist. Tracked is a brilliant debut for an author I definitely want to read more from. ...more
After seeing your beautiful cover, I wanted to like you so badly. I wanted to read you, love you and buy you to my own collection.Dear Winner's Curse,
After seeing your beautiful cover, I wanted to like you so badly. I wanted to read you, love you and buy you to my own collection. My expectations for you were extremely high. And the way other people, readers that opinions matter to me, talked about you, I was sure that we would connect. But alas, rather than writing a love letter for you, I have to write something else.
Don't worry, this isn't a hate letter. I almost wish that I could write a hate letter, because that way I would feel at least something towards you. Because right now I don't feel anything. I feel like reading you did not do anything for me. Like someone could erase those two nights I spend with you and I wouldn't really even notice it (expect then I would not have a memory from those awesome Twizzlers I ate while spending time with you).
I was so excited to meet Kestrel, even if her name sounds kind of weird. I was also really looking forward to meeting Arin, mostly because his name reminds me of someone I know. I had heard such praise about your world building that I was sure I would be able to delve right in. But no! Rather than finding myself immersed with your world building, I was bored. I feel like nothing happened. Yes, Kestrel buys a slave. But after that there's a lot of stuff that did not feel move the story forward at all. Or at least that is how I feel.
The more and more I read you, I started to find it harder and harder to like Kestrel. I constantly felt like she has no idea what she is doing or what she wants from life. And I do get that we all struggle with questions like that sometimes and that I in no way can put myself in the shoes of Kestler, but hey, I needed something to grasp into and unfortunately I did not find it from you. Yes, she cares for her family, but outside of that, it feels like it is all the same what happens to people. Someone else, someone who really liked this book, might interpret this differently, but I just want to say how I felt. I constantly also felt that though she tries to seem like she does not care about her superior status, she acts differently. And that kind of behaviour always annoys me to no end. Given, she proves herself towards the end, but by then, it feels like too little too late.
This love story of Kestrel and Arin? When did it really happen? Did I miss something? Yes, Kestrel is constantly feeling like she shouldn't feel anything towards Arin, but she can't help it. I do get that this whole forbidden love thing is usually a fundamental part of books similar to you, but after a while it just gets annoying, especially since you know that in the end it is going to happen anyway. I wasn't looking for any grand romantic moments or clichés, but I didn't want to feel like I missed the whole falling-in-love process either.
When it comes to Arin, I felt even less that towards Kestrel. Like seriously, I felt nothing. And I must admit at points I was kind of terrified of him. Yes, he's protective, but seriously.... sometimes you can go too far. Once again, this is a point I feel a lot of people are going to disagree with me.
I think one of the reasons why I felt so disconnected from you is the fact that I am not a regular fantasy reader. Maybe as someone who extensively reads fantasy, I could have appreciated your very slow-building plot a bit more. One aspect that I did find interesting was the politics of your world, the division of the people into different groups and so on, but unfortunately that wasn't enough. I also had some problems with the way you were written. The style your author uses is very fast-paced and unfortunately I did not work for me when it felt like nothing really happened in your most part.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I started with you thinking that I am going to meet my new favourite book. Maybe at the point when I noticed that I am not connecting with you, I gave up and started to look for flaws. I still don't quite know what happened, and since I did not feel any sort of connection with you, I probably won't even think about it too much.
You and I were not meant to be, but hey, don't despair. It seems like you are getting plenty of love elsewhere.
After reading Hand's latest novel, The Last Time We Say Goodbye, I knew that I would simply HAVE to read more of Cynthia Hand's prose. I had been awarAfter reading Hand's latest novel, The Last Time We Say Goodbye, I knew that I would simply HAVE to read more of Cynthia Hand's prose. I had been aware of the Unearthly series for a while now, but until gaining an experience from Hand's contemporary writing, I had brushed the series of as something that probably's wouldn't interest me. I am not really big on angel books, especially after reading Susan Ee's Angelfall which everyone else seems to love but me. For days, I kept browsing through reviews of Unearthly from Goodreads, trying to make my mind about whether I should read it or not. After having a chat about it on Twitter, I became pretty confident about that fact that I should probably give it a chance. And oh my, I am so happy that I did, because I AM SO IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK!
Clara's mother is an angel-blood, which means that there's blood of angels running in her veins as well. With that, comes a responsibility – it starts with visions, which get more and more intense as Clara's purpose gets closer. A boy in a forest fire, a sadness that fills her every time she sees him. When Clara tells her mother about the visions, she knows what needs to be done. They back their stuff and move from California to Wyoming – a place that Clara can decipher from her visions. There she enters a new school alongside her younger brother Jeffrey and comes face to face with the boy from her vision – the strikingly handsome Christian. But there's also another guy there, Tucker, that Clara feels drawn for, even when it fights against her purpose.
Seriously, this book, SO GOOD! From page one, I was sucked into the world that Clara inhabits – a world just like ours, a world found from so many contemporary YA novels. What makes this world different is the fact that some people in it have the blood of angels running in their veins. As a huge fan of YA contemporary, I was so happy to realize how much this book actually reminded me of a contemporary romance. Yes, there's the whole angel thing in there, but really, it is more about growing up, high school, friendships and family relationships – the ingredients for an amazing contemporary novel.
I loved the dynamic between Clara, Christian and Tucker, and though I am not generally a huge fan of love triangles, I think Hand really makes it work. I am team Tucker all the way! When talking about this book with my friend, she said “you'll probably like it – the love interest had a pick-up truck”. Yes, I am easy to please. For years, I've been so into this Southern/Western gentleman/cowboy thing and I think pick-up truck is the sexiest vehicle out there. I am pretty sure I would sell an organ just to be able to have a ride with Tucker on his blue, rusty truck named Bluebell (which instantly reminded me to Hart of Dixie and by babe Wade Kinsella).
Clara's such a likable character. The things she feels are so realistic and though there were a couple of scenes during which I was kind of annoyed with her, I was able to understand her and the things she does and feels. The situation she finds herself from is confusing and scary, and I loved to read about her going through the motions in an attempt to understand her destiny and her purpose. The relationship she has with her mother is so realistic and one that I really hope Hand opens up more in the books that follow in the trilogy. Though her brother Jeffrey does not play a huge role in this one, I have a feeling that he will have a bigger role in the following book as well, to which I am really looking forward to.
Hand's prose is so beautiful, vivid and occasionally extremely lyrical. She writes so well about feelings and the inner thoughts of her characters, and though, as a I said, I am not normally a big fan on angel books, I really found myself enjoying the information Hand gives about the world of the angel-bloods and the responsibilities they have. I am actually quite surprised of how much I actually liked this novel and I really CANNOT wait to see what happens to Clara and the ones closest to her in the two remaining books of the trilogy....more
As someone who's fascinated by cults and anything to do with them, factual or fictional, the moment I read the synopsis for Lisa Heathfield's YA debutAs someone who's fascinated by cults and anything to do with them, factual or fictional, the moment I read the synopsis for Lisa Heathfield's YA debut Seed, I knew that I would have to get my hands on it ASAP. Though there seems to be more and more YA novels that feature cultish aspect, I find that many of them do it in a setting that's not completely contemporary. The fact that Heathfield's novel seems to take place in a world just like ours instantly made me even more curious, because I often find that books that like with a setting that I can identify with, have a much bigger effect on me.
We are introduced to Pearl, a 15-year-old girl who has just become a woman according to the rules of Seed, the most beautiful place in the world. Her new womanhood means that she is allowed to grown out her hair, to wear a skirt, and most importantly, now she's allowed to become the companion of Papa S., the leader of Seed, appointed by Nature. Pearl loves Seed and everything it represents – peace, love for nature, family. Rather than being a child of someone, she's the child of Nature and when she does something wrong or has wrong thoughts, she understands that the Nature will punish her, and she's okay with that. Having spent her whole life at Seed, she does not know that somewhere else, things are different.
When Linda moves to Seed from the Outside with her two children, Pearl finds things changing. The older of Linda's children, Ellis, a boy of Pearl's age starts to make Pearl feel things that she knows she is not supposed to feel. She's not allowed to be jealous of the attention Ellis gives to the other people of Seed, she's not allowed to feel attraction, because her ultimate goal should be to be the companion of Papa S. And she's certainly not allowed to question the rules of Seed and the possibilities of life Outside. But as more and more happens, she starts to realize that maybe there's a possibility she could have been wrong. That maybe she has been living a lie.
What I really loved about Seed is the way Heathfield very slowly and carefully reveals the workings of the cult. Rather than laying them out all at once, she builds them into the story and reveals them to the reader through dialogue and characterization. It was extremely interesting to read about Pearl and the way she very slowly starts to understand that the life outside of Seed might not be what she has been told it is. The way she blindly believes in everything Papa S. says is heartbreaking for someone who knows better and I really liked the way Heathfield first makes her so sure of the fact that Seed is the best possible place for her to be.
The way Heathfield builds the story really makes this book one of those titles that is just so difficult to put down. I found myself wanting to read more and more, just to learn more about the cult and the thoughts of Pearl as they start to change. Though I kind of knew before starting this one that Papa S. would be creepy as hell, I kind of wished that he would have been even a bit more brutal. Yes, I completely hated and despised him, but maybe it is the masochist in me for wished for even more. But for a YA novel, Papa S. is plenty creepy.
Heathfield is a very talented writer and Seed is a very promising debut. It is a coming-of-age story, a story about a delusional con-artist, a story about a society that might first seem ideal, but that actually is very messed up. Though there's just a hint of romance added to the mix, I am grateful that Heathfield has written this a story of a young woman's maturation and the way someone's worldview can change through experiences and exploration. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what Heathfield comes up next, and I hope that this novel finds its way to the hands of YA readers, because it definitely is a book worth reading!...more