The Vespertine was one of my favorite books last year, and with that ending, of course I was dying for a sequel! It completely stole my heart...and trampled it. I was incredibly heartbroken! In The Springsweet, Saundra Mitchell has redeemed my heart by mending our Zora’s.
The most stand-out quality I’ve come to love about Saundra Mitchell’s writing is the vividly realized atmospheres. In The Vespertine, I could see myself sitting around with the girls, getting ready for the ball and talking about the boys they would dance with in Baltimore. In The Springsweet, I could feel the hot winds of Oklahoma blowing on my face!! I could see the sparse, dry countryside for miles on end. I was there, next to Zora, seeing and feeling everything she was, so vividly. I absolutely love that. If any book can transport me like that, it’s a winner in my book.
We first meet Zora in The Vespertine. She is Amelia’s cousin and gets her heart shredded in that book. I mean, absolutely destroyed! Blown to pieces. Her whole world crashes down. So you can imagine how this book in no way starts with the best of tones. It’s rather depressing at first, and many times I wanted to curl up with it and cry because it made me so sad for her. It isn’t until and unfortunate 3rd meeting with the very handsome and rich Mr. Theo de la Croix that things start to turn around. Then she gets sent to Oklahoma...where she meets the rugged, sexy Emerson Birch and things really start to get interesting! Ms. Zora Stewart now has to make a choice between the two, but I think there’s never really a contest.
Zora’s ability was unique and I can see now how all the elements -- earth, water, fire, air -- come into play in this series. I just can’t imagine how it will all come into play in the final book, Aetherborne, but I’m extremely excited to find out.
Lauren Oliver takes us on a magical adventure with so much heart at its core. You can’t help but root for this young girl. Liesl is such a sweet, bright soul. The friends Liesl makes on her quest to fulfill her father’s wishes are just as endearing. Po is so funny! He is very sarcastic for a ghost. Will is just a lonely boy who needs someone to care about him. These three unlikely friends have to deal with some pretty awful people in their lives. Evil stepmothers and abusive guardians, you can’t help but hate them. I really felt like I was on this journey with them.
I loved the way the boxes kept switching hands. I looked forward to seeing who would end up with each of the boxes. The imagery I got from this book was so vivid! The illustrations throughout the book also helped in that department. They were amazing and depicted the characters and emotions really well. They helped bring the story come to life even more.
I don’t read many Middle Grade books, but I plan to get myself a finished copy of this one to keep on my shelves for my family. It was really heartfelt with a great message of love and hope.
Evan is a kid who believes he knows what he wants from life. He has a close-knit family, with supportive, if not slightly over-bearing parents. Lucy’s family life is the complete opposite, but it has never really affected her as much as this past year. The mystery behind her change isn’t revealed until halfway through, at which point the perspective changes from Evan’s to Lucy’s. I loved the times when they would just get lost in their banter, and also hearing about all the mischievous things they did as kids.
Throughout the book there are comic strips created by Evan’s character where he tells an adventure, alternate reality world with Evan and Lucy as the main characters. It is sweet and the art is really great.
I completely fell in love with Evan’s family and friends. I mean, his Gram?! LOVED her!! And I wish his friends, Tim and Marshall, were my friends. Even his mom and dad, as intense as he is, were great together.
It did take me a little while to connect with the characters and the story though, but once I did, I read it without stopping. While Evan and Lucy’s story is told lightheartedly, I felt it had many layers. It was a story about changing and growing up, about discovering what is going to make you happy in your life, even if it means letting everyone down, about taking charge of your life and wanting to make it better, about knowing who you want to be with but recognizing when the timing is just not right. Really, everything you want in a coming of age story.(less)
Was going to a British boarding school ever one of your dreams? If, like me, your answer is yes, then you’re really going to enjoy the setting of this book. Not only is this boarding school co-ed, it’s also in London, and the history of the building itself is super interesting. You get a lot of insight into how the school system works in England. It’s really rigorous! Still, I would’ve loved to have gone to school there! Minus the murdering suspect, of course.
The crime spree is pretty gruesome, and the spectacle created by the media and the public was really believable. However, I did not find myself on the edge of my seat until things started happening to our protagonist. Once that happened, I was just as scared as her! One thing I loved was how funny Rory was at times, and also the smart, funny banter between her and her roommate and The Boy. There are some really cute flirty moments. I loved how Maureen described kissing in this excerpt:
“Kissing is something that makes up for a lot of the other crap you have to put up with in school, and as a teenager in general. It can be confusing and weird and awkward, but sometimes it just makes you melt and forget everything that is going on. You could be in a burning building or a bus about to fall off a cliff. It doesn’t matter, because you are just a puddle." - pg. 282
So you read that part about the secret ghost police in the synopsis, right? I must confess, after they’re introduced, I kept singing “Who you gonna call? GhostBusters!” in my head. Not that anything in the book directly relates to GhostBusters...well, except maybe the ghost busting part. Don’t get me wrong! I dug it!! I liked the history and they way they become ghost police, it was just inevitable for me to not relate the two. This group takes care of one another under some dire circumstances sometimes . Here’s another quote from the book where I loved how Maureen described bravery:
“It’s not that I’m extremely brave—I think I just forgot myself for a minute. Maybe that’s what bravery is. You forget you’re in trouble when you see someone else in danger. Or maybe there is a limit to how afraid you can get, and I’d hit it.” - pg. 307
Although I liked this book from the start, I wasn’t completely sucked in until after halfway through, I would say. The ending was suspenseful and it left off on a very intriguing discovery!! I ended up really liking these characters and therefore I will definitely be looking forward to the next book in this series.(less)
There was so much I loved about this book! The nostalgia, for one, could not have been a more pleasant feeling. I loved reading about all those bands I love from the 90s!! What’s funny is that our girl Emma really loved Dave Matthew’s Band, which is probably the one band I could never really get into, lol.
The boy-next-door/childhood-best-friend love interest that is Josh. Man, I loved Josh!! He was funny, artistic, nice, and cute. Who doesn’t love that? Josh loves Emma...Emma doesn’t know it yet, but she loves Josh too. I love reading about these kind of love stories, because haven’t we all wanted the boy-next-door to fall in love with us?
When I read that they discover their future FB pages, I didn’t know what they would do with that. I was not expecting it to take Butterfly Effect turn, where if they change something in their present it changes something in their future, but it was really well done! I think one of the best parts were the reactions from Emma and Josh to Facebook. I would crack up at a lot of them! Here is one of my favorite examples:
Josh Templeton Helped my son put together a model of the solar system today. May 8 at 10:26pm ▪ Like ▪ Comment Terry Fernandez We did that last year. Made me feel nostalgic for Pluto. That was always my favorite planet. May 9 at 8:07am ▪ Like Josh Templeton Poor Pluto! :-( May 9 at 9:13am ▪ Like
I flinch. “What the hell happens to Pluto?”
Emma shrugs. “That, I’m guessing, wasn’t our fault.”
I couldn’t get enough of this story and these characters. This is such a feel good book; it made me smile and laugh and even cry a little. I know you’ll love it as much as I did, even if you didn’t grow up as a teen in the 90s, because the story and the relationships between friends and family transcend time.(less)
I thought I knew what to expect with Maggie’s writing as I sat down to read The Scorpio Races, but wow, she outdid herself with this one!
Those of us who love Maggie Stiefvater’s other books know that her writing will be lyrical, that it just flows beautifully, and that the stories will be touching. There will also be kissing, and most definitely someone will die. All those things are in The Scorpio Races, except this time she has also created an incredible setting.
Thisby is this small spec of an island, where mythical water horses, or capall uisce, rise from the ocean in the fall. These horses are deadly and huge and each year there’s a race where those brave enough to ride them can win some money. I loved the atmosphere of this small island. The people all know and take care of each other and aside from the scary water horses, I think I’d enjoy some time in Thisby in the fall. Also, it left me wondering what it would be like in the spring and summer. This place left such an impression on me, that now, when I’m asked “What fictional land or place from a book would you like to live in or visit?”, I will not hesitate to answer “Thisby from The Scorpio Races.”
The story is told by Sean and Puck, whose actual name is Kate. They have never met before, which in such a small island is a big feat, but this year they’re both entering the races and their meeting was electric! Sparks!! Albeit, quiet sparks, but sparks nonetheless! :) Theirs was a romance that slowly bloomed into something beautiful and enduring. I loved watching them go from general interest, to respect, to friendship, and finally love.
I loved Puck. She is a little spitfire! I loved how important her brothers, their home, and her horse, Dove, were to her. And she proved she’d do anything for them by entering the races for a chance to win that money. Her relationship with her brothers really touched me. At first, I was really angry at Gabe for putting her and Finn in an even worse situation, but later, like Puck, I came around and understood why he needed to do what he planned. I absolutely ADORED Finn Connolly (the youngest brother)!! He was the source of light in this story. Whenever he was on the page, I was smiling. The people, especially the men, of the island do not make it easy on her once she enters. There’s never been a girl in the races before, especially one who’s not riding a water horse, and they try hard to intimidate her. Our girl is stronger than they realize, though. :)
Sean Kendrick. Oh, Sean Kendrick...I wanted to hug him and kiss his sad loneliness away!! Nobody does quiet, mysterious boys quite like Maggie. (See: Sam Roth or Luke Dillon) Sean has worked for the richest man on the island since he was 10 years old. He is a horse whisperer...literally!! No one can connect with horses like he does, and no one can train the capall uisce like him, either. One in particular, Corr, his winning mare, is connected to him like none of the others. Corr is the reason Sean needs to win the races.
While I thought the fact Sean and Puck both need to win the races would interfere with their blooming romance, I was please it made them sort of a team. Them against everyone else.
There are so many scenes I want to highlight and mark as favorite quotes from this book!! I will be vague about these two I really loved...if you’ve read the book already, tell me if you agree, and if you haven’t yet, come back after you do:
The boy with the bread for dinner (no, not that boy with the bread...that’s a different book) and the scene on the cliffs, where words that are needed are spoken. *SIGH* LOVED!
I think Maggie outdid herself with the beautiful imagery in this book. The island, the horses, the people, the festival and the food, the race, the ocean, the deaths, THAT ENDING!! It was all so incredibly vivid for me, visually and emotionally! I took my time reading The Scorpio Races just so I could savor it, because with every word, I was transported to this place and I did not want to leave it.(less)
I was totally rooting for Day in this book. He is a modern day Robin Hood. He steals from the R...moreRead this review on my blog! --> Legend by Marie Lu
I was totally rooting for Day in this book. He is a modern day Robin Hood. He steals from the Republic and gives to those who need it, therefore making him the Republic’s most wanted criminal; mostly because of how stupid he makes them look each time he gets away with something. But like all heroes, he has his weaknesses, and unluckily for him, June is smart enough to have figured them out.
June is the smartest person in the Republic…at least on record. And the only person she has left in the world is Metias. So, ok, she might not have lived in the slums, but her life is by no means perfect. Especially now that Metias has been killed, which I was still extremely sadden by, even though it tells us in the synopsis that he dies. At first I didn’t understand her subdued reaction to his death, but I realized that she needed to grieve in private, not in front of one of the Republic’s most hardcore commanders. Also, part of her grieving included revenge. With all evidence of Metias’s death pointing to Day, June sets out to finally bring him down, once and for all.
And so begins this tale of lies, and betrayal, and secrets, and sacrifice. Because of course nothing is as it seems, especially not in June’s world. Marie Lu gives us characters to feel deep emotions for, whether those emotions vary from rage, to sympathy, to love, you’ll feel them! One of the things I love most in some books is alternating chapters between the main characters and in Legend we get to see this story from the point of view of June and Day. YAY! The action is intense. Can’t say Marie Lu is afraid of writing some very brutal and bloody scenes! And I guess the biggest question I was left with after finishing is, what is the purpose of the Republic’s evil scheme? It has to somehow play a bigger role because I don’t see the point otherwise. I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of it soon though. I can’t wait to read the next part of this mysterious story.(less)