First of all I just want to say how hysterical I find it that these books originally had the cheesy male chested Regency romance covers, because theseFirst of all I just want to say how hysterical I find it that these books originally had the cheesy male chested Regency romance covers, because these don't really fit that brand.
All three of these stars are for the adventure/spy/politics part of the book. (And Adrian of course, who I'll get to in a minute.) It turns out I'm super grateful to whichever benevolent friend told me to read The Forbidden Rose first. If I had started with this one, I don't know that I'd be as eager to continue with the series. (Except maybe yes, because ADRIAN.) As I said, the political intrigue and spying part of the book REALLY worked for me. I love how complicated and complex all the layers of that were and that there were twists and secrets inside secrets inside secrets. I appreciate how Bourne assumes intelligence on behalf of her audience and brings them along for the ride. She is not compelled to explain every detail or person. And it was really interesting to see Doyle and Maggie in this book after already having read their story.
But dear heaven the romance. The romance part of The Forbidden Rose wasn't my favorite part of that because I thought it happened kind of fast, but I enjoyed Doyle and Maggie together. Robert and Annique just kind of squicked me out. (view spoiler)[She spent a good portion of their first meeting drugged and all of their second meeting assuming he was someone else. The entire time (whether she knows it or not), she is his prisoner. After realizing who he is and that she is indeed his prisoner the second time around, she immediately starts having sex with him and the consent in that scene was blurry enough to bother me immensely. She finds out she's been lied to all her life. Her mother died SIX WEEKS prior. She recovered from a major head injury. Her entire world crashes down around her. She loses EVERYTHING. For goodness sake, Robert, give the girl time to breathe. And I don't use "girl" lightly here. SHE IS SO YOUNG. I know her experience makes her older and whatever, but she even reads young and confused. Much younger than Maggie read. And then there's her line at the end about him freeing her with one hand and trapping her with the other (something like that). It was so SPOT ON.That's exactly what he was doing. And I couldn't be excited about that. I really felt like she was trapped and had no choices left. (hide spoiler)]
Now Adrian. Holy cow. I said when I finished The Forbidden Rose that I kind of just wanted to jump to his story because I loved him so much. My love grew exponentially in this one. My expectations for his book may now me too high to ever meet. I'm sure he's everybody's favorite though. HOW COULD HE NOT BE??????["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Again with me starting with the third book in the series. Still. This was great. (view spoiler)[Who doesn't love a romance where the heroine shoots thAgain with me starting with the third book in the series. Still. This was great. (view spoiler)[Who doesn't love a romance where the heroine shoots the hero in cold calculation because he's an ass? Why doesn't this happen more often? (hide spoiler)]...more
This is so much fun!!!! I'm not sure why this is the one I started with given its third in the series. (Did someone tell me to read this first?) It doThis is so much fun!!!! I'm not sure why this is the one I started with given its third in the series. (Did someone tell me to read this first?) It doesn't matter. It seems to be the first chronologically in the story so it worked. I loved the spy and adventure aspects of the story the most. The romance was good because I love good banter. Maggie and Doyle can banter with the best of them. I did have whiplash from how fast it went from banter and growing respect to desperately in love, but okay. Stressful situations do tend to accelerate such things. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series. The bad part of starting with this book is that I desperately want to read Adrian and Justine's story next but feel like I should probably read books 1 and 2 first. ...more
This book is so much fun. It is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses set in the 1920s with jazz and booze. It suffers a little from the probleThis book is so much fun. It is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses set in the 1920s with jazz and booze. It suffers a little from the problem all retellings of this particular tale tend to: it becomes hard to tell all the sisters apart all of the time. That is okay though, because it focuses on the two older sisters, Jo and Lou, both of whom are very different and excellent characters. Valentine's prose is engaging and builds her story perfectly. This is a book that is very difficult to put down simply because the skill with which it is written. There were times I felt disengaged from what was happening but I was still unable to put it down. ...more
I read Rose Lerner's first book when it came out and haven't read another one since. I picked this one up on sale and enjoyed it a lot. (I di3.5 stars
I read Rose Lerner's first book when it came out and haven't read another one since. I picked this one up on sale and enjoyed it a lot. (I didn't dislike the first book but for some reason never read any of her others). This book has a lot of political maneuvering that is fascinating in its historical setting. I appreciate how Lerner is so specific and real in her historic details as well. I liked the entire cast of characters, but the heroine especially. There was a lot of fairly predictable drama at the end but it was kind of worth it because the climatic confrontation with all the parties in the church at the end was rather hilarious. ...more
This book was so very much my thing I can't claim in any way to be objective about it. It is from now on probably going to be my automatic romance comThis book was so very much my thing I can't claim in any way to be objective about it. It is from now on probably going to be my automatic romance comfort read go-to.
I fell for Eugene Parsons in his very first scene in Star Dust. I wanted this next full novel in the series to be about him because from that very first scene I knew he had the potential to be exactly my favorite sort of hero. I have a weakness for intelligent men who come across as arrogant asses on first encounter-because they are actually partly an arrogant ass, but also because they are equally a socially awkward nerd. Parsons lived up to every expectation I had for him in this respect and then some. He may be favorite romance hero ever. I'm going to have to give it a couple more reads to say that definitively, but I'm 98% sure of it already. He is a perfectionist who demands the best from the people working for him and is downright scary (and sometimes mean) when he doesn't get it. Parsons does not process or deal with emotions well. But he is also a man who refers to his mom as adorable, is sure to call his older brother on his birthday first thing in the morning, keeps salt water aquariums of beautifully colored fish he gets adorably dorky about, and does his best to work within a difficult system to include and boost the women who work for the space program.
Pair a hero like this with a heroine who matches (if not exceeds) his intelligence, doesn't take any of his crap, and teases him about his nonsense, and you have my exact favorite type of love story. Charlie is an amazing and perfect match for Parsons. She is super smart, incredibly competent at what she does, and her sly and sassy wit is more than a match for Parsons. He doesn't quite know what do with her most of the time and I looooove it. Charlie is in a position of being second in command when she should be first, but isn't because she is a woman. She went into a field her physics professor parents think is beneath her, and is often dealing with their disappointed expectations and her mother's projected issues about women in science and career sacrifice. Charlie also has a difficult time processing and dealing with her emotions and feelings, which leads to much of the conflict between her and Parsons.
Much of the attraction between Charlie and Parsons is intellectual. They are both incredibly turned on by the other's competence and drive. This leads to them having an incredibly steamy affair, but the main focus of the book is on their intellectual connection. As a result this book has a lot of magnificent banter, flirting at work in ways that no one else knows what they're doing, lots of heated looks, and some delightfully awkward moments. The majority of the book takes place in the labs and offices so there is a lot of technical discussions in it, which I loved. You can't tell me your characters are super smart and competent at what they do, and then not show them actually being that. We know Charlie and Parsons are these things because we see it. (YAY!) Personally I really loved all the politics and scientific details about the space program.
The last final conflict is one that could have been cleared up a lot faster if a rational conversation took place. Ironic considering this deals with two people who consider themselves uber rational. This ordinarily drives me bonkers, but it made sense for who Parsons and Charlie are. As I said, they are both terrible at dealing with their emotions. Parsons wants to ignore the problem and fix it with sex. Charlie is too angry at the sense of betrayal she feels and chooses to just walk away and pretend its unimportant. It made complete sense given her personal insecurities and position. It is frustrating in exactly the way it's supposed to be. My heart hurt for both of them. (I confess it hurt for Parsons a little more who was just so happy and excited and wanted to show her his stupid fish and then all hell broke loose.) The way this is resolved is perfect though. PERFECT. (Fish and everything. Seriously I never thought I'd be turned into a pile of mush over fictional fish. I have no patience for real fish.)
As you can probably tell by the length of this review (I never write romance reviews this long), this book is everything I wanted it to be. (And my expectations were super high.) ...more
The plot is rather mediocre and predictable. The end was ridiculously unrealistic. Wish fulfillment is one thing, but holy cow. Too much. However, I rThe plot is rather mediocre and predictable. The end was ridiculously unrealistic. Wish fulfillment is one thing, but holy cow. Too much. However, I really liked the characters and I wouldn't be opposed to reading the next two books in the series if I could get them on sale or at at the library. ...more
I liked this so much better than A Lady Awakened and it was a good Christmas story. I'm still on the fence about reading the rest of the series thoughI liked this so much better than A Lady Awakened and it was a good Christmas story. I'm still on the fence about reading the rest of the series though....more
This is incredibly well written when looking at the sentence level writing. I also really appreciated the historical elements which are so often glossThis is incredibly well written when looking at the sentence level writing. I also really appreciated the historical elements which are so often glossed over in Regency romance. However, I had a really hard time caring about the characters at all and was therefore bored a good deal of the time. There were moments when reading it felt like a chore rather than an enjoyment. I'm really sad about that since this book came highly recommended by people I like and respect a lot. I always feel like I'm letting friends down when I don't love the books they do. ...more
The writing in this book is fine. Probably 3 stars for that. The characters are fairly flat and the overall tone didactic, but it's not terrible. I'mThe writing in this book is fine. Probably 3 stars for that. The characters are fairly flat and the overall tone didactic, but it's not terrible. I'm just burnt out on all of these books written about the Civil Rights movement from the point of view of white girls whose eyes are opened to the atrocities of segregation by a black friend. There are multiple issues I have with this continued narrative, the biggest one being that it centers a white hero at the center of a black struggle and reduces the ones being suppressed to sidekicks in their own history. I would laugh at the irony of it didn't make me cry. Reading the author's note at the end, I was annoyed even more. Kidd watched a documentary about this and in the face of all that courage and suffering from black people zeroed in on one white girl whose story was the most important to tell from that. What the heck? And then he didn't even stick to historical fact when it came to her. I just can't with that....more
Mercy is a progressive and modern female character yet she never feels out of place in this historical setting. Lee did an excellent job of balancingMercy is a progressive and modern female character yet she never feels out of place in this historical setting. Lee did an excellent job of balancing Mercy's independence and drive within the historical constraints of the time. Mercy never felt like a girl out of her time, just one ahead of it. Having a novel about the San Fransisco earthquake told through the eyes of a Chinese heroine is also a great plus. All around this is really good: great story, wonderful characters, just the right amount of romance....more
I loved Joe and Frances from Star Dust. Neither of them got a lot of page time (particularly Joe), but they still stood out. Frances with her calmingI loved Joe and Frances from Star Dust. Neither of them got a lot of page time (particularly Joe), but they still stood out. Frances with her calming presence and Joe's willingness to miss an opportunity to orbit the earth for his son's medical emergency. This lovely little holiday novella takes readers back to when Joe and Frances first met and is absolutely delightful. Joe is a awesome. Any guy who is willing to woo a girl through gifts of books is. Frances is quiet and reserved with definite opinions on what she doesn't want her life to be. Their courtship is sweet and earnest and absolutely delightful. ...more
If you are looking for a fun adventurous historical fiction for MG readers, The Detective's Assistant by Kat Hannifin is a great choice.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Eleven-year-old Nell Warne arrives on her aunt's doorstep lugging a heavy sack of sorrows. If her Aunt Kate rejects her, it's the miserable Home for the Friendless.
Luckily, canny Nell makes herself indispensable to Aunt Kate...and not just by helping out with household chores. For Aunt Kate is the first-ever female detective employed by the legendary Pinkerton Detective Agency. And Nell has a knack for the kind of close listening and bold action that made Pinkerton detectives famous in Civil War-era America. With huge, nation-changing events simmering in the background, Nell uses skills new and old to uncover truths about her past and solve mysteries in the present.
Nell is such a fun character and she has a strong unique voice. Smart and witty, she is more than a match and the best partner for her Aunt Kate, a Pinkerton detective. Kate is an excellent character in her own right, blazing a path for herself in a world that has not always been kind. Both Nell and Kate have suffered a lot of heartache. They are both prickly and wary of each other. Watching their relationship unfold over the course of the story was fun, endearing, and touching.
The story is rich in historical details, but is not encumbered by its historical significance. Important events occur and are discussed of but their purpose is in serving the lives of the characters rather than the characters serving the events. This is an important distinction for me in historical fiction, and one I find doesn't occur as often as it should.
My one complaint about the book is that it takes quite some time to get to the point. I feel like some of the set up could have been cut down to make the book shorter.
This is a great recommendation to give to kids who like adventure and humorous narrators. ...more
This is a fairly decent book about an incident in American history not often explored. I didn't love it and it is yet another book that looks at the lThis is a fairly decent book about an incident in American history not often explored. I didn't love it and it is yet another book that looks at the lives of marginalized people from the perspective of a white person learning a lesson. And of course, they are there to show said white person's goodness in contrast to society around them. I'm getting really sick of this. ...more
I picked up In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall on the recommendation of several people in the kidlit community who insisted it needed more attention due to its being a much needed portrayal of Native/First Nations people. Now I have read it and I agree whole heartedly.
Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy despite his last name and lighter coloring (both due to his paternal grandfather). He is bullied at school for not being white and also for not being "enough" Lakota. Over his summer vacation, his grandfather takes him on a special road trip. Together they retrace the steps in the life of the famous Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse. Through this journey Jimmy learns more about the past of his people and about himself.
In all honesty, the parts with Jimmy and his grandfather are not shining examples of excellent characterization and dialogue. However their part is just the frame for the bigger story. The main point of the book is to tell the story of Crazy Horse and life on the plains for Natives from a Native perspective. Marshall (a Lakota himself) uses Lakota storytelling traditions to tell of the journeys and life of Crazy Horse. Through these stories we see life on the plains from the perspective of the Natives. We also get to see the atrocities visited on the Natives by the US Army through the eyes of the people who suffered them. This book is incredibly important. It places Natives as a people who still exist very much in the present in their natural construct while also giving an insight into the past we rarely get. History is written by those who win after all. THERE ARE NO OTHER MG BOOKS THAT DO THESE THINGS. (Tim Tingle's excellent How I Became a Ghost deals with history, but I can think of no other that presents modern Natives to children.) That we have a book about Native people told by a Native is incredibly important.
The pacing of this story is quick and it is a short read. It is written at such a level that it would be easily accessible for the majority of elementary students studying US History. In addition there are details of exactly where Jimmy and his grandfather are going and how they are getting there. As I was reading, I was forming plans in my head for a historical road trip with this book when my son gets to this point in his history studies.
Despite some choppy writing here and there, I firmly believe this is book that needs to be in every elementary library and public library. Next step is getting publishers to publish more of a variety of books like this. It should not be the only one. We need books, both contemporary and historical, that cover all tribes and places....more
I feel there is a lack of good quality MG historical fiction that is fun and adventurous, where the point isn't to teach a history lesson, but to just have a story that sweeps you up in its magic and action. The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands fills this need.
Christopher Rowe is an apothecary's apprentice in post Restoration London. He works hard, but he has a kind master who teaches him well and allows him enough free time for adventures that often end in mischief and trouble. He can't complain about his life. All of that starts to fall apart when a series of murders occur in their small corner of London. Murders that seem to be targeting apothecaries. When Christopher's master becomes the next victim, Christopher's entire future is left unsure. Worse he finds himself a suspect. As time is running out, Christopher races to find the true murder and finds himself caught in a web of politic intrigue and ancient intrigues.
Christopher is a hero whose story it is easy to get swept up in. When the reader meets him, he is trying to convince his best friend Thomas it would be a good use of their time to build a cannon. I really enjoyed the bond between Christopher and Thomas and how they behaved very much like typical kids their age. They have the responsibilities of their time and social situation that influences their life, but they are happy, active, inquisitive kids looking for ways to lighten the intensity of their days. Modern kids will be able to find much to identify with there.
The mystery aspect of the story is well done. I felt like the discoveries Christopher made were realistic enough to not stretch incredulity, but made for an adventurous read at the same time. What he was able to do and accomplish fit his character well too. He is a bright boy and is fueled by a desire to regain control of his future. It is the world's best motivator.
This is a book that is heavy with male characters. There are girls in the story who are helpful and if there is going to be a sequel, I would love to see some of them have a bigger role and importance. However, given the world in which Christopher was moving and working, the roles the girls played made sense.
As I read, I was just so excited to be reading a fun historical mystery where that was the whole point. So refreshing.
I try to avoid books that have rape in them as a general rule of thumb. I know they are important lifelines for some peoNope. Nope. Nope. So much no.
I try to avoid books that have rape in them as a general rule of thumb. I know they are important lifelines for some people. But they do nothing good for my mental health. (And I've never experienced one. I can only imagine what it does to some who have). So all the heads up and trigger warnings on this. The rape happens off page and isn't described but there are vague flashbacks and it was still highly disturbing. That it was an incestuous rape is important to note too.
I do like what McGinnis was trying to with the idea of what makes a person mentally ill and the history of how we treated such people-and how easy it was to get someone committed-through the first part of the story. But then the book took a horrifying turn into the worst revenge plot of all time. And while how that went, ostensibly supported the ideas McGinnis was playing with it made me highly uncomfortable. And more than a little angry.
I read a galley provided by publisher on Edelweiss....more
Meg Medina's name on a book is a guarantee that I will be reading that book sooner rather than later. I've been highly anticipating the release of Burn Baby Burn from the moment I heard about it and was so excited to get to read an advanced copy. I have been pondering how to articulate why this book is so special and particularly brilliant and not just gush. Hopefully I will attain more of the latter here.
The spring and summer of New York City 1977 was a hard time to be a girl graduating from high school eager to experience life. The city was on the edge of disaster: racial tensions were high, there were a series of arsons, a blackout that resulted in looting, and a serial killer calling himself Son of Sam who shot young women and their dates. Nora Lopez is a senior in high school and her life at home is no safer than she feels on the streets of New York. Her brother is becoming increasingly violent and angry. Her mother just makes excuses for him. Nora takes joy where she can. She loves dancing, hanging out with her best friend, and there is a cute boy at work who is into her as much as she is in. But how can she enjoy her present and plan for the future when danger is around every corner: both from unknown shadows and her very own family.
They went to the movies and found out that the city isn't huge at all. In fact, it can shrink down to the size of a gun barrel, just like that.
Burn Baby Burn was not the easiest book to read. Medina's subtle genius in this book is how suffocated she makes the reader feel. Nora's life is oppressed. She lives every day in fear. The prose perfectly captures the tone and feel of NY during the time period. Nora lives near where many of the shooting took place. She is a young woman who enjoys hanging out with a boy. Like most of the victims, she has long dark hair. The atmosphere of a city under siege is palpable on every single page. This is reflected by Nora's home life which is also closing in on her. Through a masterful use of imagery, simple language, and direct storytelling, Medina put me in Nora's place and I felt every moment of her terror, uncertainty, and the feeling that her life was caving in on her. This is not a creepy book in the sense that it is a thriller. It is creepy simply by being so REAL. It is also a book with hope that demonstrates the power of community and the importance of owning your life.
Every rule I know is gone, and we're in chaos. There are no rules for how a family should work. No rules for how far loyalty should reach...No limits on how people ruin one another's lives or how we blame one another for our pain.
Nora's personal journey is intrinsically linked to the events going on in the wider community. This is true of any individual journey, yet not all authors are able to pull this off as flawlessly as Medina does here. Nora's home life is a microcosm of the chaos playing out in the city, but it is also a part of that chaos. Nora behaves through much of this book as typical abuse victims do. She makes a lot of excuses, yearns for escape, lies to cover up what is going on, feels an immense shame, and pushes away those closest to her in order to hide. For someone so young Nora has a lot on her shoulders. Her mother expects her to fix so many of their problems and is often verbally abusive. Nora's brother, Hector, is violent and she knows he's on the brink of ruining his own life and possibly bringing hers down with it. Yet she keeps covering up for him and hiding him from consequences. Some of that is motivated by selfishness. She doesn't want to be the sister of a criminal, addict, and bully. She doesn't want the world to see how messed up her life is. As the events in the city reach a climax, so do the events in Nora's own life and how she takes control of her life and what she wants from it makes for a wonderful heart rending journey. I like how Medina didn't try to fix everything and tie it all up neatly. There are deep wounds in Nora and her relationships that will take time to heal and some that never will, but Nora had found courage and strength and realized that you can build a family outside of the one you were born into. She learned it's okay to ask for help.
Is it crazy to be disappointed by a monster? He's nothing like what we imagined...I wonder if everything we fear is the same way as unmasking Son of Sam. Maybe the things that scare us seem more powerful than they truly are when we keep them secret.
Relationships and the power of community play important roles in this book as well. It's easy to look at New York of 1977 and think that it was populated by a different sort of people than populate the city now. It's so different after all. But that's not true. Nora has an amazing amount of support. One of the difficult parts of reading her story is knowing this and wishing she would realize it sooner. Her best friend Kathleen loves Nora and Kathleen's parents are wonderful welcoming people. Nora's boss, Sal, adores her and attempts to help her any way he can. His colorful encouragement, gentle rebukes, and care for her safety give Nora a sense of home every day. Then there is Pablo, the new boy at work who Nora falls for. His calm reassuring presence and his unwillingness to give up on her make him one of my favorite YA love interests of all time. I also like how he backed off when she told him to, but never stopped caring from a distance. And I really appreciate that he isn't the one who saves her. He gives her support. He shows her that he is steady. He doesn't flinch from the ugliness of her life. There are enough people in Nora's life who do this on some level that when she finds the courage to save herself, she has a group of people ready to have her back. It's a beautiful demonstration of the importance of community and dangers of isolation.
I would recommend this to anyone. It's one of those books that I'm going to be pushing at everyone who reads and you will probably be tired of hearing about it by the time the year is over.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Candlewick Press, via NetGalley. Burn Baby Burn is on sale March 8. ...more
This was such a fantastic wonderful break from all the MG books with dead parent/pets/friends I'm reading for the Cybils right now. Reading order mattThis was such a fantastic wonderful break from all the MG books with dead parent/pets/friends I'm reading for the Cybils right now. Reading order matters. I say that a lot, but I think this would be a five star read for me no matter when I read it.
The characters in this are wonderful. All of them. Anne-Marie is a prickly heroine who has every reason to be wary of romance particularly from men like Kit. I liked how her divorce was talked about in the context of the time, and how it was clear she had options other women of the time might not have due to her parents being willing to help her. Kit is, at first appearance, a careless playboy. Really is kind of a socially awkward dork though. I loved watching his true colors out more a he tried to get to Anne Marie. His interactions with her kids and his dog were some of my favorite scenes. The kids were well written and acted the ages they were (something not easily found in many romances with kids). I loved the other astronauts' wives and how instantly and without condemnation they scooped Anne-Marie up into their group and helped her.
The plot of the book mainly focuses on Anne-Marie adjusting to her new life and the romance with Kit. It is a quiet sort of story. While it has conflict, it is of the subtle sort that involves the simple hard realities of making a romantic relationship work. I far prefer these sort of stories to the melodramatic ones so it was perfect for me. I also really like the early sixties setting which is so unique for romance.
I often shy away from collaborations even when they are by two authors I really like. This is one the really worked though. Unlike many I have read, it doesn't feel broken or like two voices are fighting to be heard. It is very cohesive. I am so so so excited for the next book in the series. (THAT TEASER!)...more
So a good portion of that fourth star is due to the nostalgia feels this book gave me. I have been less than pleased with the Quinn's most recent bookSo a good portion of that fourth star is due to the nostalgia feels this book gave me. I have been less than pleased with the Quinn's most recent books. Last year's The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy made me so mad I chose to wait for this one from the library rather than buy it. I don't regret that decision, but this book feels like we may be getting some of the old magic back. I discovered the Bridgeton books back as a first year teacher and they were sort of my lifeline during those first two years. I read them a lot. (The ones that were out at the time anyway.) Reading this was rather like being wrapped in a familiar blanket. This is an earlier time period than Quinn has written before, taking place during the Revolutionary War. I still get a sense that Quinn is phoning it in on a lot of scenes, but at least this book was fun. I particularly enjoyed seeing another game of Pall Mall and the origin of the Mallet of Death.
I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. ...more
Laura Amy Schlitz writes beautiful books. The Hired Girl like all her other books puts the reader very firmly in the story. This historical d3.5 stars
Laura Amy Schlitz writes beautiful books. The Hired Girl like all her other books puts the reader very firmly in the story. This historical details are perfectly rendered and the voice sounds exactly as it ought for a 14 year old girl in 1911. Joan is a likeable yet flawed heroine who has a yearning to learn as much as she can and escape the life of drudgery her father has planned of her. I would have loved this book so much more if it had been shorter. As true as Joan's voice is and as wonderfully authentic as the setting is, I did not want 400 pages of either. It was far too easy for me to wander away from it and not want to come back. I do like this as a contrast to Anne of Green Gables. Schlitz did an excellent job of maintaining the same sort of wonder in life voice while portraying a harsher world reality
This is one of those books that will appeal to upper MG and younger YA readers who like historical fiction. ...more
Finding Someplace by Denise Lewis Patrick tells the story of a girl experiencing and recovering from Hurricane Katrina. It is one of several books to come out in the past couple years that tell a similar story, but it is my favorite that I've read so far.
Reesie is enjoying the days leading up to her 13th birthday, but as the day draws closer her beloved city of New Orleans seems to be under the growing threat of Hurricane Katrina. Her mother wants them to leave. Her father doesn't believe in leaving the city due to chances of a little high wind. However, he agrees that maybe Reesie should leave her party with her aunt and uncle for Baton Rouge. But then her parents decide to cancel her birthday party. As the storm draws ever closer, Reesie is increasing danger. Her mother, a nurse, and her father, a policeman, are both at work leaving Reesie alone. She goes to a neighbor's house to wait out the storm. But there is no waiting out the water when the levy breaks and the Ninth Ward begins to flood. Fortunately Reesie and Miss Martine have the clear headed help of one their friends and are able to make it to the roof of the house. Rescued and taken to the Superdome, Reesie must try to find her mom and dad. Reuniting with her parents is just the first in a long series of steps to Reesie's finding her way back to a safe secure place.
Reesie is an easy heroine to like. She is so full of life and enthusiasm. She is artistic and creative, designing and making her own clothes. The Boone family is a close one. Her brother spends his hard earned summer money on new shoes for Reesie just before returning to college for the year. Her parents are loving and supportive and work hard for their kids. Reesie's friends and neighbors show a true sense of community too. Patrick does an excellent job of establishing multiple characters and their connections to each other in a short amount of pages while making them all feel real. Miss Martine is a particularly wonderful character who gives Reesei more than just a place to fell safe and not alone during a hurricane. (I want to read a book all about her younger years.)
I enjoyed getting to see the neighborhood through Reesie's eyes. Patrick does an excellent job of bringing all of New Orleans with its unique sights and culture to life while also establishing the neighborhood feel needed to make the story specific to the Ninth Ward work. I liked how the story developed and how it had that heightened rushed feel of an actual disaster. Characters develop relationships quickly and are just as quickly separated. The portrayal is realistic without being emotionally manipulative. There are emotions abounding in Finding Someplace but they feel organic to the story and characters. I also enjoyed how the ending showed the hard road to recovery but was full of hope for the future.
A quick read through of the synopsis makes this sound a lot like last year's Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere. It also centers around a protagonist surviving Katrina on her birthday. If I were told I had to choose one, I would choose Finding Someplace. The New Orleans Patrick presents feels more real and the characters just jumped off of the page for me. Finding Someplace is also shorter and easier to read, but covers far more. There is an actual real look at the recovery from the disaster, the psychological effects, and stress and strain both cause on a family unit.
Bonus: Unlike all the other Katrina books I've read there is no dog. Patrick is able to tell an emotional tale without throwing potential of animal death in there to strike fear in the hearts of her readers. Thank you, Ms. Patrick.
I read an ARC made available via Edelweiss by the publisher, Henry Holt & Co. (BYR). Finding Someplace is available August 4th....more
I really enjoy how this series balances serious core problems of humanity with the fun of children outwitting adults and solving crimes. The racial isI really enjoy how this series balances serious core problems of humanity with the fun of children outwitting adults and solving crimes. The racial issues that are a daily hardship for Hazel when she's not at school were brought a bit more in this book. But this is mostly a more in depth look at Daisy's life, which we see through Hazel's eyes but are given a clearer view of here. Poor Daisy who has philandering mother, a weak and sad father, and an angry brother. Daisy's Uncle Felix was everything I hoped for and I definitely want to see him again in future volumes. (I would also like to see another adult character who I adored again.)...more
I've been looking forward to Franny's story since I first read Summer Chaparral: Las Morenas 1, and High Country Spring did not disappoint. I loved hoI've been looking forward to Franny's story since I first read Summer Chaparral: Las Morenas 1, and High Country Spring did not disappoint. I loved how nuanced and complex both Franny and Felipe were and how they dealt with each other. Franny doesn't have the same plans for the future that her peers do. She doesn't want a husband or children. She just wants to be able to raise her horses and work on the ranch. She is willing to take on a husband to get her dreams once her mother puts her foot down and insists she learn the art of running a house. And she isn't necessarily opposed to marriage, especially if she can have one on her own terms. She is very firm about not wanting kids and I loved how that played out. Not all women want kids and that is okay. Her approaches to preventing that from happening were wonderful too and I love how she talked to her sisters about that. Felipe is really great too. I always have a desire to whack Turner's heroes upside the head and tell them to get over themselves. The reason they work for me so well is that I know eventually either the heroine or events will contrive to do exactly that. Felipe is not an exception to that. For some reason I found him slightly more frustrating than the others, but I still really liked him and I understood where he was coming from. I did like how much he supports Franny and even stands up to her mom which was SO NEEDED.
That being said, I have to say how much I love the Señora. She is just amazing. And I liked the further glimpses into her personality that we get in this book. (She is exactly the kind of mother I imagine Attolia from The Queen of Attolia will be someday and I rather like that thought exercise.) It also makes me really want a prequel book that tells her story. ...more
I added The Wolf Wilder to my TBR as soon as I saw it. I didn't read the synopsis. I just saw it was by Katherine Rundell, whose Rooftopers I enjoyed, and that it had an intriguing cover. Author plus cover is often all it takes for me. I was in for a pleasant surprise when I started reading.
Feo has an odd job. She and her mother rare Wolf Wilders. Their job is to take in the wolves Russian aristocrats have kept as pets but have lost control of and now want to send far away from them. It is terrible luck to kill a wolf so the Wolf Wilders exist to take in the wolves and train them to be wild creatures again. They teach them to run, to hunt, to howl. Feo loves the wolves and her life with them. When General Rakov arrives at her home to tell them they must stop wilding the wolves, Feo's idyllic world shatters. Dodging soldiers and trying to do their work in secret, it isn't long before Feo's mother is captured and there is a large bounty placed on Feo's head. With the wolves and her new friend Ilya, a rogue soldier in Rakov's army, Feo begins a perilous journey to St. Petersburg to rescue her mother. As they journey toward their destination, Feo and Ilya pick up a group of unlikely allies and discover that Rakov's reign of terror in the countryside is far harsher than they had ever imagined. If they are going to rescue and free their friends and family, they will have to face and overcome the worst sort of predator.
Katherine Rundell has a poetic way of writing that pulls you into a story. She is a potent wielder of imagery and uses her settings well. The cold harsh Russian winter and the beauty of the wild in the wolves are fully rendered and make you feel like you are actually there running along with them through the snow. The prose has a storyteller's cadence and brings to mind fairy tales and folklore though there is no magic save that of friendship, love, support, and the bonds that grow from community. The magic of our everyday world. It's a beautifully told novel.
Feo and Ilya seem an ill matched pair at first. A socially awkward girl who spends her days with wolves and a soldier. But they are both misfits. Feo doesn't fit in with humans because she never really learned how. She understands the language of wolves far better than that of people. Ilya never wanted to be a soldier. He wants to be a dancer. They are brought together by the wolves. Ilya is terrified of them but fascinated. When he first meets Feo and witnesses the birth of a pup, he can not bring himself to follow his orders to kill something just starting out in life that is so magnificent. Both Ilya and Feo are incredibly brave but in different ways. Feo is more outwardly bold and naively flaunting of the rules, but Ilya is willing to risk himself for what he loves despite knowing the horrific consequences that will fall on him if he is caught. I loved watching their relationship develop and the eventual group of children they built into a small little army to complete their mission. That is another way in which this story has a fairy tale type feel to it. The small band of children armed with nothing but faith and courage taking on a force of evil and cruelty. It is a story that never gets old, and the form it takes here is enduring and fascinating. It was a book I couldn't put down and walk away from.
Rakov is a fairly standard villain. He is evil. All we know of him are his terrible deeds and his evil insanity. There isn't a lot of depth there. Randell didn't include any historical afterword so I do not know if he is based on a real person or not. There were certainly commanders in the Russian army who behaved the way he does toward the peasants. However the historical haziness is the only part of the book that bothered me. It shows the rumblings of the coming Russian Revolution, but it feels very unreal in many places and there is much that doesn't make sense to me. This is due, in part, to the storyteller's voice and fairy tale feel of the prose. I'm sure the target audience is not going to care. It was a minor distraction for me.
The Wolf Wilder is an excellent novel that tells a tale of friendship, family, community, bravery and love....more