A well-written, engaging mystery with a protagonist, Maggie O'Neill, I (mostly) connected with and a plot nicely developed. The author did a good job...moreA well-written, engaging mystery with a protagonist, Maggie O'Neill, I (mostly) connected with and a plot nicely developed. The author did a good job setting up the series while maintaining the mystery within and developing Maggie and her quirks. Easy to read and smartly paced, with an engaging writing style, I'll definitely be picking up the next book in the series, if not all of them.(less)
THE OTHER COUNTESS is a sweet and harmless love story set in Tudor England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, in the year of 1582 to be exact. Lad...moreTHE OTHER COUNTESS is a sweet and harmless love story set in Tudor England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, in the year of 1582 to be exact. Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime, is our penniless heroine who is saddled with her absent-minded alchemist father; the roles of child and parent have been long since been reversed. The preface, which takes place in 1578, gives us our first glimpse of William Lacey, the new Earl of Dorset at age fourteen, as he throws a twelve-year-old Ellie and her father off his land.
The story itself isn't exactly original and doesn't go into any unfamiliar territory, but it's ably told and fairly inoffensive, making it suitable for older teens (there are numerous allusions to sexual situations but that's as far as it goes). The dialogue and sensibilities are more modern in nature and don't always ring true to the era, but some liberties are always taken in young adult fiction, therefore making it something I can forgive. Very light on historical content, this is more for the romantics out there who like a historical backdrop to a love story. For the first half, I wasn't very involved into either the characters or their story, and it didn't help that it moved at a slow pace, though at the halfway point it picked up and started charming me. However, the hero and heroine were a little too perfect, more so in Ellie's case, as she didn't seem to really have any negative attributes other than she has a bit of a temper. Maybe if they had a few more rough edges I would have rooted for them to have their happy ending, as it is, I wasn't that invested. I do think that the secondary character, Lady Jane Perceval, has promise on that front since her narrative had a more realistic feel to it, so I may just pick up her story when it comes out (The Queen's Lady). The resolution to Will and Ellie's story came far too easily and some more conflict would have made it much better. Still, as I said, it's a sweet story, even if nothing sets it apart from other books. An easy read that should appeal to teenage girls.(less)
Anna Dressed in Blood is a good book but I wasn't blown away by it. I was interested in it because the synopsis reminded me of Supernatural (the telev...moreAnna Dressed in Blood is a good book but I wasn't blown away by it. I was interested in it because the synopsis reminded me of Supernatural (the television series), aside from the obvious differences, so along with the awesome cover art I was all for the book. It's unfortunate that I didn't enjoy it more. The characterizations are fine, just detailed enough to give an impression of who they are and why they act as they do, I just didn't feel much of a connection to any of them. The plot worked until the focus shifted away from Anna about two-thirds through, which is a shame, and some of the dialogue was a little iffy and forced, especially in the beginning. I can't quite say why else the book didn't totally work for me, other than there were a few moments that felt off somehow, but either I was really into the story or I wasn't. Sorry I can't be more specific. Although the author writes some mean scenes that have the perfect creepy atmosphere, so those stand out as a big pro. Now I see that this might be the start of yet another YA paranormal series, though it's perfectly fine as a standalone and as I'm not all that interested in reading more with these characters, I think I'll pass if there are any sequels. With all that said, take this review with a grain of salt, I think others, and definitely teens, would like this book more than I did.(less)
Going into The Other Boleyn Girl I already knew that the historical details weren't very factual, but I had this laying around and needed something bo...moreGoing into The Other Boleyn Girl I already knew that the historical details weren't very factual, but I had this laying around and needed something both light and set in the past, so I figured this would do nicely. The writing itself is perfectly fine, and mostly, I did enjoy the book. Although, for the first half, it seemed as if everyone only wore red and by the end I got so sick of hearing about Anne's "B" for Boleyn necklace I could scream.
Mary Boleyn, the narrator, is a strange character: sympathetic and of reasonable intelligence one minute, a moronic irritant the next. Personality-wise she went up and down and back and forth. First she was fine not being the King's favorite anymore and seeming to want to leave the court life for the country to be with her children, then she was jealous of a title Anne received, years after the affair between Mary and Henry was over. Possibly this was put in as part of the rivalry between the sisters, but it didn't contextually fit. Her development could have used more work and she didn't mature or change much throughout the whole book, especially between the years 1522 to 1533. I seriously got tired of everybody's patronizing and calling her a fool all the time. They should have just named the book, The Foolish Boleyn Girl. I find it hard to believe Mary was so ignorant the king would have continued to have her as mistress for four years, give or take. She had to offer something other than good looks and being great in the bedroom. Anne herself sure was a piece of work, and even though she was pretty much evil throughout the book, I did still feel sorry for her at the end. Jane Parker was a one-dimensional malicious harpy who wasn't given a reason why she was that way; she was just the resident baddy to the Boleyns. To me, it felt like defamation of character.
Politics and the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church were merely mentioned in passing as court life and its primary players took center stage. The whole incest plot, I could have done without. Now if it were the absolute truth then it'd be okay, but since it's highly debatable and based on hearsay, I found it unnecessary and gratuitous. Around the two-thirds mark, the pace let up and it became more sluggish and boring, and it wasn't until the last sixty pages that it recaptured my attention again.
As long as readers know going into this book that the history has been twisted around and invented for pure sensation, then it's fine as a fictional read, but take any "facts" with a grain of salt. While it was an okay read, I didn't love it, but it managed to divert my attention for a few days.
One last note dealing with the fourth question in the Q&A with Philippa Gregory in the back of the book:
How about Mary and Anne's brother, George? Did he really sleep with his sister so that she could give Henry a son?
Nobody can know the answer to this one. Anne was accused of adultery with George at their trials and his wife gave evidence against them both. Most people think the trial was a show trial, but it is an interesting accusation. Anne had three miscarriages by the time of her trial, and she was not a woman to let something like sin or crime stand in her way--she was clearly guilty of one murder. I think if she had thought that Henry could not bear a son she was quite capable of finding someone to father a child on her. If she thought that, then George would have been the obvious choice.
Obvious? How in the world is that obvious? You cannot be serious, Ms. Gregory. Now I'm far from an expert in Tudor England, but I cannot imagine that being a common practice. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about this time could tell me if that ever happened, because it just boggles my mind that George would be the "obvious choice." Not to mention, who the hell did Anne supposedly kill? I hadn't heard that anywhere. Even my searches are coming up blank.(less)
Number of times "a hundred and thirty-seven" was mentio...moreSVH: WTF?
Cover Models: Jessica and Elizabeth
Page count: 182
Special Event: Some sorority thing.
Number of times "a hundred and thirty-seven" was mentioned: Two, plus five hundred and thirty-seven and seven hundred and thirty-seven. See below.
Mental Illness Winner of the Week: Jessica. Is there any surprise there?
Jessica's Bitchyness scale: ***** (out of five)
WTFery Meter: ****1/2 stars (out of five)
Quotes & Snarky comments:
What a peach:
"How can you be best friends with somebody as blah as Eeny Rollins? I don't want you to go over there. Somebody might think it was me talking to her." - Jessica Wakefield, page 18
Jessica's thoughts about Liz's lack of enthusiasm at being accepted into the sorority, Pi Beta Alpha:
"No big deal? Elizabeth, how can you say that? How can you even think it? You've got to be seven hundred and thirty-seven kinds of idiots not to be excited about associating with the best girls at Sweet Valley High. What's wrong with you?" - page 34/5
Isn't she simply the sweetest girl in the world? (note: Enid was also accepted.)
On butting into their brother's, Steven, love life:
"You can do whatever you want, Elizabeth Wakefield, but it's just not in my nature to be cold and selfish when it comes to the happiness of a member of my family!" - page 39
This as she attempts to steal Todd away from Liz the whole book. Yeah, real selfless of ya, Jess.
"He has got to be the most wonderful boy in a hundred and thirty-seven states!" - Jessica, page 108
Uh, she does realize there are only 50, right?
Elizabeth wondered how her sister could possibly descend from cloud nine with Todd Wilkins to the pits of depression so fast and simply because she had to do a little thing like help fix dinner. - page 108
I bet a psychologist (or a whole team of them) is the only one that could help you figure that out, Liz. What follows immediately afterward sees Jessica having a complete meltdown. Seriously.
"This family has got to be the biggest bummer in five hundred and thirty-seven cities!" - Jess, page 111
"You selfish little twerp," Steven said, glaring at Jessica. - page 114
Hear, hear! Way to go Steve!
"I'll never forgive you, not if I live to be a hundred and thirty-seven years." - Jessica, page 182
Aah! Please don't live that long, please. 8O
Final thoughts: Elizabeth = Goody-two-shoes doormat. Jessica = Satan incarnate. Sounds like a bad sitcom.
Disclaimer: I am not a teenager or preteen, but an adult. Supposedly. Everyone keeps telling me I am but I'm not sure I'm buying what they're selling. Therefore my views are based from that perspective rather than someone in the target age range. I inhaled these suckers when I was young, hale, and hearty, so in an apparent moment of weakness have decided to re-visit one of my favorite old series in a fondly-remembered, tongue-in-cheek, and mostly sarcastic approach. So since I couldn't manage to devise a rating system for SVH books, I came up with this little way to have some fun, which is in the review form you've (hopefully) just read. Why else would you be reading this if you hadn't read all the way through anyway? Sometimes me not so bright. ;P