Thoughts wavering on this one. Initially after finishing a few hours ago, I was feeling very positively and felt that it was certainly a 4-star or eve...more Thoughts wavering on this one. Initially after finishing a few hours ago, I was feeling very positively and felt that it was certainly a 4-star or even 4.5 star read. The writing is gorgeous, the romance slow-burning, and the plot well and evenly paced. However, I still can't get past some worldbuilding flaws and character inconsistencies that are now niggling at the back of my mind.(less)
While readable, this novel reminds me why I don't handle historical romance well: too many historical anachronisms and alpha-male love interests (all...more While readable, this novel reminds me why I don't handle historical romance well: too many historical anachronisms and alpha-male love interests (all framed in a quasi-feminist way in order to not offend the contemporary reader) don't sit well with me. (less)
Though slow in the middle with an unnecessarily drawn-out love triangle, this tale’s very Gothic mix of mystery, romance, and the grotesque makes it a...more Though slow in the middle with an unnecessarily drawn-out love triangle, this tale’s very Gothic mix of mystery, romance, and the grotesque makes it a winner. Not for the faint of heart, though, as Dr. Moreau’s cruel experiments are described in detail more than once. (less)
Charming historical-supernatural romance that's slow to start
In Saundra Mitchell's The Springsweet, seventeen-year-old Zora finds herself stuck in Ba...more Charming historical-supernatural romance that's slow to start
In Saundra Mitchell's The Springsweet, seventeen-year-old Zora finds herself stuck in Baltimore - both emotionally and physically - as she grieves the tragic loss of her fiancé. When a rash choice provides a way out, she takes it and finds her way to the wind-swept prairies of Oklahoma to live with her aunt. Once there, Zora discovers that she has the power to sense water under the ground and that her skill is in much demand in a drought-ridden land. While burdened with the responsibility of locating water (and hope) for others, Zora finds that her own heart may be awakening again.
Overall, The Springsweet was a charming historical romance with a light dash of the supernatural. The novel was short and succinct, and it was easy to sit down and devour it in one sitting. Zora, though a bit selfish, was a sympathetic character given her experiences and loss, and side characters like aunt Birdie and her young daughter helped flesh out the story. One of the love interests was also very likeable, and the romance, though quick and not entirely explainable, had some swoony moments. The greatest strength of the novel, however, lay in its detailed and beautiful descriptions of prairie and frontier life; these vivid mental images provided the story with an excellent sense of place and time.
Despite these positives, the novel was slow to start, and the writing felt a bit awkward in a few places. This novel is also not a good choice as someone's first foray into a historical/period novel, as there were words or descriptions, such as Zora lifting up the "combination" under her dress, that didn't mean anything to me and left me confused. Some of the supernatural elements weren't clearly explained either. The romance also developed too quickly and without much substance. This was one of the few times that I wanted a book to be longer, instead of shorter. It seemed like a lot of my concerns about the romance and the supernatural elements could have been cleared up with a few more pages about each topic. Though it's advertised as a companion novel, not a sequel, there were also times I wished I had read Mitchell's first book, The Vespertine, before this. The story does a good job of filling in the gaps, but I still felt like I was missing something.
Even though I found things I didn't like in The Springsweet, I found a lot that I did, and those strengths are enough to make me want to catch up on the first book The Vespertine and read the next (Aetherborne) when it comes out. In the coming book, I hope Mitchell continues to create a memorable sense of time and place while also providing readers with more insight into the supernatural ways and romances of her characters.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.(less)
What an impressive and moving tribute about the atrocity of Emmett Till's death and its influence on the burgeoning U.S. civil rights movement of the...more What an impressive and moving tribute about the atrocity of Emmett Till's death and its influence on the burgeoning U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s. The author's use of Petrarchan sonnets in the round (a corona) was outstanding, and the artwork complemented it perfectly.(less)
Powerful and easily read account of the 1955 lynching/murder of 14-year old Emmett Till, an event that few of us know about but that helped spark the...more Powerful and easily read account of the 1955 lynching/murder of 14-year old Emmett Till, an event that few of us know about but that helped spark the U.S. civil rights movement. Well-written, moving non-fiction that could be great as a text to pair with To Kill a Mockingbird or similar for classroom use.
ETA: I've since found some claims re: a few factual inaccuracies in the book, but if true, they are still minor enough to not take away from text too much.(less)
Though this book does provide an accessible medium for students to learn about the many injustices of this case, I wasn't impressed with the writing,...moreThough this book does provide an accessible medium for students to learn about the many injustices of this case, I wasn't impressed with the writing, the flow of the story as it was laid out, or the so-called "primary source" value of the text. Probably good for lower-level readers who need an easier text but who can handle the mature content.(less)
Powered down all 400 pages in 3.5 hours due to it being 1) written in verse and 2) due for class this evening. An interesting but not mind-blowing fic...morePowered down all 400 pages in 3.5 hours due to it being 1) written in verse and 2) due for class this evening. An interesting but not mind-blowing fictional examination of the social and personal motivations that may have moved the accusers in the Salem witch trials to do as they did. Consider as a companion text to Arthur Miller's The Crucible.(less)
3.5 stars. Best one in this three-book series with characters who are actually likable and fun to read about. Repetitive descriptions remained, esp. d...more3.5 stars. Best one in this three-book series with characters who are actually likable and fun to read about. Repetitive descriptions remained, esp. during the sex scenes, but I found myself actually enjoying this one overall and feeling for the characters. (less)
Quick review: If this is one of the best in the genre, then I think that historical romance and I shall never be friends. Moments of good banter and t...more Quick review: If this is one of the best in the genre, then I think that historical romance and I shall never be friends. Moments of good banter and tension were appreciated, but the overall use of obvious tropes (a wallflower who seeks adventure! a notorious rake who reforms for love! trysts in carriages, complete with a bucket of euphemisms!) and the unbelievable and too frequent sex scenes were turn-offs for me. I may finish this series out since I have now read the first and third books in the trilogy, but I don't expect to be enamored by it.(less)
Strong protagonist, action, and romance combine for solid read, 3.5 stars
In Rift, the prequel to Andrea Cremer's Nightshade series, readers get a gli...more Strong protagonist, action, and romance combine for solid read, 3.5 stars
In Rift, the prequel to Andrea Cremer's Nightshade series, readers get a glimpse into the origins of the Keepers and the Witches War of the 15th century. The daughter of a noble, Ember Morrow must leave her family after her 16th birthday to serve the mysterious order of Conatus. Though most fear the knights, Ember readily embraces the life of battle and purpose the order provides. Once training begins, she finds not only her skills tested, but also her wit and her heart. Dark powers soon start to infiltrate the group, and Ember must decide where and with whom her allegiances lie.
Though I had a rocky relationship with Cremer's other Nightshade books, I really enjoyed Rift once I got past some slow parts in the beginning. Ember was an able and spirited protagonist with a strong sense of self. Though a bit reckless at times, she doesn't complain or expect others to rescue her. Action scenes were well-described and plentiful, and the author's prose painted beautiful images of the Scottish highlands cloaked in gray fog. The slow-building romance was another highlight with its swoon-worthy love interest who was both strong and masculine but also considerate and effusive. Even though it's a prequel, Rift can also be read on its own as the satisfying start to a new series, and the story ends in a place where a reader can look forward to the next installment without being left on a terrible cliffhanger.
As mentioned, Rift was slow to start, however, and I felt bogged down during the first 100 pages by some character interactions and historical information that wasn't always clearly explained. Ember became too adept as a knight too quickly to be believable, and the romance blossomed from little sparks to full devotion in too short of a time near the end to feel truly natural. The story line about the split within Conatus also wasn't nearly as engaging as hoped, and I found myself rushing through those sections to get back to Ember's story. Overall, the story just felt a bit light on content where there could have been more development.
While I might have found a few stumbling points, Rift is the best thing I've read by Andrea Cremer, and I'm already looking forward to the sequel (Rise). In it, I hope Cremer develops the swoony romance even more and provides greater tension to the emerging story about the split that leads to the Witches War.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy. (less)
Creative re-telling lures readers back to ancient Greece
Tracy Barrett's Dark of the Moon lures readers back to the time of ancient Greece. On Krete, A...moreCreative re-telling lures readers back to ancient Greece
Tracy Barrett's Dark of the Moon lures readers back to the time of ancient Greece. On Krete, Ariadne has spent her whole life being trained to be she who will be Goddess. Her only true companions are her mother, the current Goddess, and her malformed brother, Asterion, who is imprisoned beneath the palace due to his unintentionally violent ways. When a tribute ship of slaves arrives from Athens and delivers Theseus, the son of a king, Ariadne's life becomes even more complicated as death, family, and duty intertwine.
DARK OF THE MOON delivered on its promise of providing a creative re-telling of the Theseus myth involving Ariadne and the Minotaur. Myth or not, the way in which the story was written made everything believable as having happened in history at some point. Barrett was able to place the tale within the historical context of the time by bringing in fascinating information about politics, religion, and culture, and she did so in a way that kept me intrigued. The author also used a very sympathetic and human approach that I appreciated to explain the characters, their actions, and how they developed into the people described in the original myths. The book's consistent pacing also kept me turning pages, especially as the plot picked up in the second half.
However, as with any re-telling, parts of the story were very predictable, even if the paths to certain outcomes were changed. Because of this, it was sometimes difficult to feel excited about reading forward because I felt like I knew what would happen next. The writing also came off as burdensome sometimes, especially the switch from Ariadne's chapters being told in past tense to Theseus's being told in the present tense. The related jumps in time throughout the story were off-putting as well. With much less romance than the original tale and some heavy violence and implied sexuality, this book will likely appeal to a smaller niche market of older teens who like mythology and who can handle the gory descriptions of violence.
Overall, Barrett provides a creative and very human twist on the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur, but it's likely not enough to appeal to a large audience. I'll be interested to see what Barrett writes next, though I won't necessarily be rushing out to pick it up.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.(less)