Wow! This book blew me away with its magical combination of alternate history, science fiction, theology/philosophy, and a whole lot of adventure.
It's...moreWow! This book blew me away with its magical combination of alternate history, science fiction, theology/philosophy, and a whole lot of adventure.
It's 16th century England. Edward is on the throne, but Protestantism's hold on the people is still tenuous. Alchemists are seeking the philosopher's stone, distilling elements. Physics (doctors) know very little, but some are seeking to know more through the still-illegal practice of dissection. (So far, so historically accurate.)
Parris, doctor and alchemist sympathizer, restlessly seeks more knowledge to atone for his guilt over his son's death. When he hears of a ship that has gone to the end of the world (which is flat) and returned with mysteriously preserved corpses, he can't resist, and ends up embroiled in an epic attempt by Sinclair (alchemist, adventurer, and amazing leader) to go back to the end of the world and discover Quintessence, the very essence of life.
This novel is gripping from page one, with lots of complex characters who come to blows with each other often, fantastical creatures with amazing properties, and more exciting plot sequences than seems possible.
I would recommend it for readers who like large-scale adventure or fantasy or historical stories, as well as for readers who like to consider transcendent themes like the role and ethics of science, the nature of true faith, and guilt/forgiveness. The author's Christian faith comes through as he tackles these themes, but not heavy-handedly, tritely, or didactically, so it should appeal to a wide audience.
**Spoiler alert--Some events I want to remember for when the sequel (!) is published, and some questions I have-don't read if you want to read the book!---
--Joan and Parris end up reconciling at the end. They realize each was focusing on Catherine, not being selfish. (I'm not sure this is a truly great focus either.) --The alchemy is fascinating--it's like a puzzle where they figure out all the properties and apply them to useful purposes. --The bishop (Matthew's dad) ends up portrayed more positively by the end. --Sinclair gives up his life to save the bishop, and says "it's worth it." Is this a conversion? --The scenes with the void haunted me A LOT, especially the 1st times they created it. Walton is a really good writer. --Sinclair's power over people is amazing. --We agreed that the least likely event was the Spanish ship getting there so easily when it was so hard for their ship to get there. --Catherine is pretty consumed by the desire to be like a man; how will this go when she is married? --Can you really make a life at the end of the world? Is that how the colonists felt?(less)
This book was really fun but it could have been better. A very smart teen figures out that terrorists are posting codes on a reality show. After a bom...moreThis book was really fun but it could have been better. A very smart teen figures out that terrorists are posting codes on a reality show. After a bombing, she knows she's right so she goes to the FBI, who eventually kidnaps her to keep her safe, which leads to criss-crossing the country to stay safe. Great premise. Unfortunately SO many things are SO unrealistic. It was still fun to read and will appeal to Heist Society fans, but is not as good due to the issues listed below.
Things that didn't ring true: They are locked in a small room to be safe--but they can waltz out to the fire escape anytime. She has major social difficulties (Aspergers I think), but is able to successfully pretend she cares about fashion enough to be part of the popular crowd. Her FBI kidnapper falls in love with her and jeapordises his entire career to date her.
Those are the worst ones. Also, I wish her shirt on the cover were higher-necked; I was embarrassed by it. It's old-fashioned of me, I know, but the cover does make a difference, and when recommending it to people that will be the first thing they see, so I wish it weren't so revealing.(less)
(Not sure about the tween tag since I read it a couple months ago.)
LOVED this book! The interweaving plots were fascinating, several scenes were LOL h...more(Not sure about the tween tag since I read it a couple months ago.)
LOVED this book! The interweaving plots were fascinating, several scenes were LOL hilarious, and the characters were interesting and challenging, especially the girl who finally realizes how self-absorbed she is.
And of course it was just so much fun. I think I'll read it again at Christmas this year. :)(less)
Wow, this book has really stuck with me too. A "settle in" kind of read, with interesting ideas and not a whole lot of plot. Mostly a school/relations...moreWow, this book has really stuck with me too. A "settle in" kind of read, with interesting ideas and not a whole lot of plot. Mostly a school/relationship story. But it was interesting... It reminds me of John Green's books.(less)
Great, fun read that will appeal to fans of chicklit, with just enough "lessons learned" and character development to make it more than a piece of flu...moreGreat, fun read that will appeal to fans of chicklit, with just enough "lessons learned" and character development to make it more than a piece of fluff. Decidedly not a gentle read, but "questionable" activities are not overly dwelt on (although they are many).(less)
I thought this book was great fun. The story is so great that in my mind it stands up to any format change (with the notable exception of adding zombi...moreI thought this book was great fun. The story is so great that in my mind it stands up to any format change (with the notable exception of adding zombies).(less)
Superfun read about a rich debutante in 1815 who would rather practice Greek than find a husband. Unfortunately her mom prefers the husband option so...moreSuperfun read about a rich debutante in 1815 who would rather practice Greek than find a husband. Unfortunately her mom prefers the husband option so she is being courted by her neighbor. He seems fine, and she enjoys going to his unwrapping party where they open up an Egyptian mummy. She takes a token out of the mummy--and this kicks off a great adventure story that includes mysterious midnight coach rides, disguises, the Rosetta Stone, quotes from Jane Austen novels, and more. The characters are great--I love her father, her brother is a rake, her best friend is sweet, and of course another man comes into her life well.
It's a clean read, too.
Recommended for readers who like adventure along with their romance.(less)
Ruby is a completely realistic and honest protagonist--the reader knows all her paranoid thoughts and has no perspective on whether they are valid or...moreRuby is a completely realistic and honest protagonist--the reader knows all her paranoid thoughts and has no perspective on whether they are valid or not. Makes for an interesting read. Definitely not light and fluffy or rated PG, but a great recommendation for readers wanting true-to-life realistic fiction dealing with family, boyfriends, friends, and day to day school life.
Thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults who enjoy reading books set against the same backdrop as Pride and Prejudice. S...moreThoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults who enjoy reading books set against the same backdrop as Pride and Prejudice. Similar to the Luxe books, but less scandal.(less)
This book was fabulous! I received an ARC from a goodreads promotion; it will be published in August.
The book is set in Italy during the Renaissance a...moreThis book was fabulous! I received an ARC from a goodreads promotion; it will be published in August.
The book is set in Italy during the Renaissance and combines elements of mystery and romance along with many historical details and figures. The author weaves in debates about religion, the church, science, and more throughout the story.
It was so compelling I carried it around the house with me, which is pretty unusual for an adult book!
This book was so much better than I expected. I've read Carter's Spy trilogy and enjoyed them, so I was expecting this book to be similar. It was some...moreThis book was so much better than I expected. I've read Carter's Spy trilogy and enjoyed them, so I was expecting this book to be similar. It was somewhat similar in tone, but the writing was much more polished, the characters more interesting, and the settings more varied (all across the world). It felt a little like reading a teenage girl's version of the movie Ocean's 11, and a little like reading a hard-boiled detective novel.
Kat, the main character, is a student at an exclusive boarding school when the novel opens. It later turns out that she is from a family of art thieves, and getting into the school was her most elaborate "heist." She leaves school and returns to the family business when her father gets in trouble. The bulk of the book follows her as she leads a team of young thieves around the world trying to re-steal some stolen paintings.
With enough twists and turns to suit many adventure/mystery readers, and enough cute boys to suit many romance readers, this book should find wide appeal.
I believe it would qualify for our rated-PG list as well, although the tone of this book is more grown-up than the Spy books.(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion to the Dairy Queen trilogy. DJ is such a fun character--honest, sincere, and a little bit confused about what exa...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion to the Dairy Queen trilogy. DJ is such a fun character--honest, sincere, and a little bit confused about what exactly she should do.
The book follows two main plotlines: 1st, basketball has started again, and with it pressure on DJ to take leadership on the high school team, as well as take initiative to call and visit college programs. She grows a lot in both areas. 2nd, this book finds her with a new boyfriend, Beaner, with whom she has a lot of fun--but maybe not as many sparks as she had with Brian. I loved how Murdock worked through this plotline.
This book does move slightly out of the gentle read category, with more references to beer at parties and such, but nothing overwhelming imho.(less)
Blundell has done it again--woven themes of duty, passion, interconnected family relationships, and much more against a well-researched and thoroughly...moreBlundell has done it again--woven themes of duty, passion, interconnected family relationships, and much more against a well-researched and thoroughly believable backdrop.
(The book is most amazing if you don't know anything about it, so if you want, stop reading this review now and go read the book! Or, read the next few paragraphs to get the gist of the book.)
Kit Corrigan grew up in Providence, Rhode Island in the 1940s, and at age 17 she moved to New York to make a name for herself as an actress or dancer. After a few months of scraping by and no future job prospects, she runs into Nate Benedict, the father of her (now ex-) boyfriend, Billy. When Nate offers her a great job audition and an apartment, "no strings attached," she is no position to say no even though she knows he has a shady past, maybe is even mixed up with gangsters.
The job is great, the apartment is comfortable, but her misgivings about the situation soon give way to reality as Nate asks her for various favors--keep a mysterious suitcase in her apartment for someone to pick up, spend some time entertaining a man at the club, call him as soon as Billy comes to town--and she knows there really are Strings Attached.
As a narrator, she slowly reveals more about her past as she tells the story of her life in New York, tangling and then untangling the threads between her, her almost-fiance Billy, her brother Jamie, Billy's father Nate, her aunt Delia, her Da, and others.
This book is very dark but completely believable, plumbing the depths of human desires, destiny, and the disasters that ensue. I was engrossed the whole way through and would recommend this to teens or adults who enjoy novels about complex people, those who love the theater, and those who love reading books with interesting characters and well-described historical settings.
As far as "adult content"--there is a lot of stuff that is implied, but not much actual explicit description.
**Spoiler alert--Things that happen that I don't want to forget (but would really spoil the story if you haven't read it yet!)
--Delia, Da, and Nate were best friends growing up. Delia and Nate almost got married, but then didn't, and then later had an affair wherein Delia lived in the same apt. Kit is living in. --Delia tries to get custody of the triplets when she sees Da having sex with Elana, their housekeeper. At this point, Kit goes to Nate (who's a lawyer) to have him defend Da, and thus incurs the debt of a favor to Nate. --Billy is a sensitive soul who takes photographs--often stalking his father--and that's how he figures out about the affair with Delia. Curiosity to find out the truth makes him take a train to Babylon NY (where Delia lives), which ends in a literal train wreck and his death. He is probably homosexual or bisexual, having a very close relationship with Jamie (brother in the triplets). Also never quite sleeps with Kit. Signed up for the army. --Da is beloved by Kit but not a very good father. For years he supported the family by marketing the triplets--they sang and danced and endorsed products. Beyond that Delia supported them, and she also paid for all of Kit's dancing lessons. --All the characters are complex--none of them are wholly good or bad, which makes for a really interesting book. (less)