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 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
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
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'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
For people who love these types of books (small southern town, stand out girl trying to find community, tragic past, etc.), this book will be guaranteFor people who love these types of books (small southern town, stand out girl trying to find community, tragic past, etc.), this book will be guaranteed to please. I'm not a huge fan of these and so this was just another in a long line of them that was an adequate reading experience, but nothing special. ...more
There were parts of this that were truly funny and enjoyable. I didn't really love Richard and Amy so that hindered my fully loving the book as they aThere were parts of this that were truly funny and enjoyable. I didn't really love Richard and Amy so that hindered my fully loving the book as they are the main character of the historical part. I also felt the whole thing was a tad too long. I am interested in reading the next book in the series though. ...more
I've had Susanna Kearsley's books recommended by several people so I jumped on a chance to pick an ARC of her latest, A Desperate Fortune at ALA MidwiI've had Susanna Kearsley's books recommended by several people so I jumped on a chance to pick an ARC of her latest, A Desperate Fortune at ALA Midwinter. I had a hard time getting into the book at first due to the way the main character of the modern tale described her Asperger's and the way she related to the rest of the world. It didn't feel like the genuine way a girl would think about her self in her own head. But once the historical part of the story began, I was fully invested and in for the rest. I ended up falling in love with the contemporary story as well (I really adored Luc's character) and can't wait to read more of Kearsley's novels now. ...more
Seriously, why are these books so boring??? I'm beginning to think someone else is writing them than the person who wrote the original series. I've alSeriously, why are these books so boring??? I'm beginning to think someone else is writing them than the person who wrote the original series. I've always suspected these were packaged based on their copyright information, but I may be wrong about that. If Stephanie Laurens is indeed one actual person, she has clearly given up caring. I don't think I will be able to resist reading the last Cynster duology though, because I've come this far. ...more
I used to enjoy Laurens' novels, but lost interest during the Black Cobra Quartet, but that was during my romance genre-fatigue period when I wasn't rI used to enjoy Laurens' novels, but lost interest during the Black Cobra Quartet, but that was during my romance genre-fatigue period when I wasn't reading any romance so I thought I'd come back and finish the rest of the Cynster books. This one is fine, just mostly boring. ...more
This is a novella that follows what happens to Joaquin following his recovery from his gun shot wound. It takes place after the action in Autumn Sage.This is a novella that follows what happens to Joaquin following his recovery from his gun shot wound. It takes place after the action in Autumn Sage. Isabel has informed Joaquin of her marriage and he did not take the news well. He feels stuck and less than what he once was. One of the nurses, Mae, is frustrated with him feeling like he only needs to get out and attempt life again. After a disastrous camping trip meant to be a therapy for Joaquin, the two find themselves in an unlikely friendship that could lead to much more.
I loved being able to follow Joaquin's recovery and see him move on from what happened. My favorite part of the story is Mae though and I found myself frustrated that I didn't get to know her as well as I would have liked. It's understandable given the constraints of a novella, but I just wanted to know more about her life before California. This does a great job of tying up the rest of the story thread that began with the attack in Summer Chaparral: Las Morenas 1.
The novella comes with a preview to High Country Spring which made me want that even more. I absolutely can not wait for Franny's story. (And Felipe's.) ...more
I read the first quarter of this book and came away a lot less impressed with the writing than most people are. Maybe I went into it with my expectatiI read the first quarter of this book and came away a lot less impressed with the writing than most people are. Maybe I went into it with my expectations too high due to the glowing reviews it's received. I wasn't interested in the characters so I skipped ahead and read the end (this is how I determine if I want to keep going or not), and decided that it was definitely not a book for me. I may come back and revisit it when award season gets underway, but I'm going to unrepentantly read fun stuff while I can....more
I really liked this one. I enjoyed both the characters of Free and Edward and LOVED their banter. I think this is the most fun one of the entire serieI really liked this one. I enjoyed both the characters of Free and Edward and LOVED their banter. I think this is the most fun one of the entire series. ...more
I may never have known Audacity by Melanie Crowder existed if it weren't for Book Riot's post on feminist YA books of 2015. Thank you, Kelly Jensen, for writing that article. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else, and that is a shame. This is a brilliant and moving book. And I may need to officially revise my stance on verse novels.
Audacity is the story of Clara Lemlich. It begins when she is a teenager living in her shtetl in Russia. After a series of harsh pogroms agains the Jews, Clara and her family immigrate to America. The book chronicles their stay in a poor house in London, the steerage passage to the US, and their entrance through Ellis. Then it changes pace as Clara gets a job in a sweat shop and begins her fight for unions and justice in the garment industry. Told in beautiful first person perspective verse, Audacity is the story of a girl who had a fire burning inside her too bright for anyone to put out, and how she used it to warm and change the world.
Clara Lemlich was a real person, but this book is historical fiction as it takes some liberties with the story here and there. Nothing is changed to take from the historical authenticity of the novel, there are just some thoughts and interactions Clara is involved in that would not be documented. There is a fascinating interview with her daughter and several of her grandchildren at the end that is also worth reading.
Clara was born into a family where the men studied the Torah and the women did the work. She was not allowed to go to school, not allowed to speak Russian, not allowed to learn to read or write. She defied her parents and secretly learned to do all of these things. She was constantly told good girls are obedient. Good girls do what they're told. But Clara made her own rules and fought for the herself and the girl she sat beside in the sweatshops day by day. Despite being beaten, jailed, and harassed, she never gave up. Audacity wonderfully captures her struggle and spirit.
Some excerpts that show the beauty and scope of the story: How can I ever be more than just someone's daughter wife mother if I cannot study if I cannot learn if I am not permitted to have even one book?
The mother of the exiles holds her torch aloft greeting us in the water The clouds break apart and for a moment pure clean rays of sunshine reach through the heavens to dance across my cheeks
One by one the foreman pats the workers down roving over curves and creases searching for scraps of fabric or thread or dignity that might find their way out of the shop
I know he thinks to break this thing in me that insists I think for myself
Just think Pauline says, if thousands of tiny lights can outshine the moon, is there anything thousands of us cannot do?
Audacity is full ideas: feminism, idealism, the power of knowledge, fighting for what is right, and never giving up no matter how hard it gets. Clara's story is inspiring in thousands of different ways, and this should be included on shelves everywhere.
The book is considered YA, but strong MG readers can handle it as well. I can't wait to share it with my own daughter....more
This is a good look at a part of history we no longer get many books written about. It suffers from the same issue that all Jennifer Nielsen's books sThis is a good look at a part of history we no longer get many books written about. It suffers from the same issue that all Jennifer Nielsen's books seem to suffer from: pacing. There are pages spent on things we don't need quite as much detail about and then the end is rushed. Really really rushed. It left me feeling unfulfilled particularly considering all the action that takes place in those last few pages....more
I really liked this! As far as mysteries go, it wasn't spectacular. It was incredibly easy to discern who the culprit was and exactly what m4.5 stars
I really liked this! As far as mysteries go, it wasn't spectacular. It was incredibly easy to discern who the culprit was and exactly what motive was behind their actions. BUT. I don't care. Because I loved Amelia's voice. She is intelligent, capable, independent, and adventurous. I enjoyed the irony in her narration as well. The reader knows far more than Amelia does and it adds a lot of humor to the book. I also really liked the romance. It is my favorite type: hate to love and full of banter and denial. Fun....more
Incredibly well done historical fiction with a diverse cast of characters and a realistic resolution to the girls pretending to be boys. I thought itIncredibly well done historical fiction with a diverse cast of characters and a realistic resolution to the girls pretending to be boys. I thought it could have been a little shorter and tighter plot-wise, but overall a good recommended read. ...more
I love murder mysteries and boarding school stories. Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens delivers brilliantly on both.
It is the 1930s and Deepdean School is a place where wealthy young ladies are sent for education and betterment. Hazel Wong is one such young lady. She is from Hong Kong, and her father sent her to England to be schooled because of his own enjoyable school boy day there. Soon after her arrival, Hazel is befriended by Daisy Wells the daughter of an English Lord. These two girls make up their own secret detective agency after Daisy spends a summer immersing herself in Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christy, and Dorothy Sayers. The girls content themselves with minor mysteries until one night Hazel stumbles on the dead body of their Science Mistress, Miss Bell. The body disappears mere minutes later. Now the girls have a murder to investigate with no body, multiple suspects, and few clues. In the days that follow, the girls uncover more secrets about their school and the people who reside their then they ever dreamed, but they also uncover some important truths about themselves.
Hazel and Daisy and their dynamic reminded me quite a lot of Ananka and Kiki in the Kiki Strike series. Daisy is the charismatic trickster who has her fingers in several different pies and agents to do her bidding. She pretends to be a very different person than she actually is in order to manipulate the people around her and get what she wants. Hazel is the controlled, steady, sensible one who relies more on book knowledge. She tells the girls' story as the secretary of the detective society. As the book is told from Hazel's first person perspective, I found myself sympathizing with her more. This is also due to her struggle to fit in and be seen as just one of the girls when she is from such a very different place. Hazel's desire to be just like everyone else and the way she belittles her different looks has a very realistic tone to it particularly for this historic time period. Her allusions to how the teachers view her culture and how inaccurate their view is, also lends a realism to her voice. Hazel is also the more cautious of the two girls and has far more common sense. In contrast Daisy comes across as impatient and obnoxious, often taking advantage of Hazel, belittling her, and not listening to sense when she ought. But she can also admit when she is wrong and humbles herself when it is needed. Together the girls make a great team. Daisy brings Hazel out of her shell, and Hazel forces Daisy to be more sensitive and thoughtful.
The mystery is exactly the sort I like. There are a lot of suspects, but they are limited to the people within the school. I was kept guessing and wondering, just as surprised by the girls at the outcome. The school itself is a great setting. It's a realistic look at the social strata, power plays, and politics of a such a school in the worlds of both the students and the adults.
I adored this first installment, and am looking forward to reading others in the series. The second book is out in the UK. I'm hoping it will follow here quickly.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Simon &Schuster Books for Young Readers, via Edelweiss. Murder is Bad Manners is on sale April 21st in the US. It is already available in the UK under the title Murder Most Unladylike....more
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper is an engaging and excellent work of historical fiction that perfectly captures the time prior to the beginning of the Civil Rights movements, but that shows its beginnings. It is more than that too. It is a story about community, family, and one girl who dreams by starlight and yearns to make her world bigger and better.
Stella's world is changed one night when her brother wakes her up to show her a scary sight. Across the pond they can see the eerie light of a cross on fire. This can mean only one thing. The Klan is again active in their town of Bumblebee. Fear makes its way across the black community and Stella is questioning all the injustices around her. Why do she and her friends go to a smaller different school? Why do they have less books and older supplies? Why do they all have to live in fear and keep their heads down? But things are changing. The Depression has started and people are longing for a change. Three of the men, including Stella's father, want to vote for that change and go to register. They pass their test on the Constitution and this brings consequences to the community. Stella can still see hope though in the way the people around her along with many of the white residents in her town come together to make things better for those who are hurt. Stella longs to put the things she is in the world around her into words like a true reporter if she could only find the right ones.
Stella is such a great heroine. She is smart, but struggles with writing and needs to work hard. She questions everything. Her enthusiasm to learn as much about life as she can is contagious. Her vulnerability and fear is heartbreaking. She is the sort of character who makes the reader feel all of her triumphs and defeats. The narrative is broken up with examples of Stella's writing, which she is trying desperately to improve, including all her mistakes and corrections. This is a brilliant move because it shows readers what a struggle good writing really is and how much work and thought goes into it. Revision is hard.
The story Stella is telling and living is a gripping one. This is a snapshot of one small community in one part of the country. I liked how Draper showed all the nuances of that community too. There are terrible small people living in her town. There are also generous helpful good-hearted people who know right from wrong.
Stella by Starlight is a wonderful and crucial addition to any library, classroom, and home. Buy it for the young readers in your life. ...more
I read this back in February, but forgot to review it, rectifying that now.
Okay. This book is getting a lot of buzz and love, but again I feel out ofI read this back in February, but forgot to review it, rectifying that now.
Okay. This book is getting a lot of buzz and love, but again I feel out of step with everyone. I really liked aspects of it, but the entire conceit of the novel didn't work for me. There are three historical storylines bound together by a magical harmonica that is the key to releasing three princesses from a curse. The three historical plots are incredibly well done on their own until they all reach their cliffhanger ends, and then I just found myself frustrated each time. Ryan brings it all together in a flash forward at the end, but it feels forced and has a lot of info-dumps so had a rather clumsy feel to it.
Then there's the magical harmonica/cursed princess frame for the story which did not work for me AT ALL. I would have preferred it if the stories had just been tied together by a non-magical harmonica without this frame. The frame really ruined the book for me and seemed pointless. The fantasy element sucked all the magic out of the story for me. Ironic. ...more
Autumn Sage is remarkably well done. Building on the world she created in Summer Chaparral, Turner expands the setting here to include Los Angeles. IAutumn Sage is remarkably well done. Building on the world she created in Summer Chaparral, Turner expands the setting here to include Los Angeles. I loved the depiction of the city at the turn of the 20th century. It was a fascinating window in to a place and time we don't see very often in fiction.
Isabel is recovering from physically from the attack she suffered from an outlaw, but is having a more difficult time emotionally. This frustrates her because she doesn't like feeling out of control. Bringing the outlaw to justice is the only way she cans see to end her torment. Her journey through this book is a hard one and I liked how much it focused on the injustices that are inherent in our justice system and how they affect women. She is not a weepy woman. She does not appear terribly victimized. Her core of steel is not a strength when it comes to convincing a jury of men she has been wronged. Even though this takes place over 100 years ago, unfortunately not much has changed in this regard and Isabel is a depiction of this harsh reality. I appreciated how her struggle was highlighted. I loved everything about Isabel: her yearning to move on with her life, her frustration over being trapped where she is, her determination, and the incentive she takes. She is a girl who has learned how to break the rules by still appearing to follow all of them, and is owns who she is.
Sebastian is the very definition of tortured hero, and that usually drives me nuts. In this case, I like how Turner subverted that trope enough that his character worked for me. Yes, there were times I wanted to shake him and tell him to get over himself, but at the same time, I see how the circumstances do not really allow for that.
Isabel and Sebastian together are phenomenal. They have all the chemistry and heat required of a romance, but they also have great conversations. They talk about history, philosophy, and literature. (The allusions and references in this book are numerous.) They play chess. They write letters when they are apart. I felt like they really and truly KNEW each other by the end, which is not as common as it should be.
This series started strong with the first book and is even better with this one. I have high hopes for the books that follow. (I'm REALLY looking forward to Franny's book and pretty much have been since her first scene in Summer Chaparral.)...more
I enjoyed Summer Chaparral so much. Turner has created a beautifully detailed and genuine sense of place with Cabrillo, the Moreno ranch, an4..5 stars
I enjoyed Summer Chaparral so much. Turner has created a beautifully detailed and genuine sense of place with Cabrillo, the Moreno ranch, and Jace's land. I could picture everything so perfectly and the imagery was descriptive in a poetic way without being overwrought. There is also a definite nice change in reading a historical novel set in California that deals with many of the issues that came from the merging of two very different cultures and expectations of people with the difficult racial tensions that came with it. I really loved both Jace and Catarina. They both have some fairly strong weaknesses in their character that cause them trouble, but they are also both honorable, strong, hard-working people. They have a great chemistry and I love the banter between them. I also appreciate how the book showed the difficulties in two people simply trying to meld their different lives and expectations into one shared existence. Their story is a snapshot of the bigger picture in California at the time. I also liked how the main conflict was revealed and dealt with. It's pretty much handled in exactly the way I've always wanted to see these types of situations handled. I'm enamored of the rest of the Moreno family now too and can not wait to read the other books in the series. ...more