The Golden Lily is a fantastic second book in this series. It had all the elements I enjoyed from Bloodlines as well as romance. I liked finding out mThe Golden Lily is a fantastic second book in this series. It had all the elements I enjoyed from Bloodlines as well as romance. I liked finding out more about the Alchemists and magic. While I found some of the surprises to be predictable I still thought this book was a page turner. Sydney continues to grow as a character and by the end of this book I think her views have changed quite a bit not only concerning vampires and dhampirs but also magic and the Alchemists. I think it is good that she is questioning her beliefs and that is something that teens can relate to even without the paranormal parameters. Adrian also experiences growth as a character and I like him more than ever. The slowly developing romance with Sydney is very sweet.
Jill annoyed me at times throughout the book but then she has always reminded me of Lissa who I found annoying in the Vampire Academy series. Fans of Dimitri will enjoy seeing him here though he remains a secondary character. I am not sure if he will be in book three but I am sure he will continue to make appearances in this series. The one character I remain curious about is Eddie's roommate Micah. Hopefully we will have more answers in the next book.
I thought I was done with vampire novels but I make an exception for these books because they aren't like Twilight or books of that ilk. The books always have mysteries to solve, romance, strong but flawed characters, and are set in an interesting world. I am pleased to find myself enjoying this series nearly as much as the Vampire Academy series. I think it helps to have a heroine who is human and easier to relate to and characters that have more depth. Richelle Mead continues to build upon the world she created with The Vampire Academy and I can't wait to read what happens in The Indigo Spell. ...more
Spring Fever is a fun cinematic romance, the kind of story that would work as a romantic comedy movie. In fact it reminded me a little bit of Sweet HoSpring Fever is a fun cinematic romance, the kind of story that would work as a romantic comedy movie. In fact it reminded me a little bit of Sweet Home Alabama. Annajane had a crush on Mason Bayless, her best friend Pokey's big brother when she was a kid but he doesn't notice her till she is 19. They have a summer fling that leaves Annjane with a broken heart when Mason seems to forget about her when he returns to college. They reconnect a few years later at Pokey's wedding when Mason convinces her to give him another chance. A brief marriage ends due to neglect and distrust. Now with Mason about to get remarried and Annajane engaged to someone else, they are still undeniably bound to each other.
I really enjoyed the second chance romance story line. It was nice to see Annajane and Mason's relationship develop and see how much they've changed from who they were before, particularly Annajane. The secondary characters could have been a little more developed but I liked Pokey and the way she championed the efforts to get her stubborn best friend and brother back together. The emphasis on family relationships and Mason's protectiveness towards his family really appealed to me. Mason is not a perfect hero but that just makes him more likeable. The villain was two dimensional but that didn't bother me. It was fun to see her get her comeuppance.
Passcoe, NC is a small town known for Quixie, the soda company that Mason's family owns. Annajane works for Quixie, taking care of marketing and advertising campaigns. These details add to the story but I didn't find them as interesting as I'd hoped. Mary Kay Andrews is known for including details of living in the South as well as the career of her heroine. In the other books I've read, she describes what it's like to be an antique "picker" or an interior decorator and I found that to be really interesting compared to this. Thankfully Spring Fever has a stronger focus on the romance that pulled me in instead.
Overall, I think this is my favorite of the author's books and I loved the romance. I think this would make a great beach read when you are in the mood for a light romance that sparkles with humor and warmth. ...more
Vee is a character who struggles with a difficult condition/ability that leaves her feeling isolated and alone. She doesn't have anyone she feels theVee is a character who struggles with a difficult condition/ability that leaves her feeling isolated and alone. She doesn't have anyone she feels the can confide in. Given her father's reaction to her ability, she doesn't even trust her best friend Rollins. This adds to the distance between them which only increases when Vee begins to spend time with Zane, a potential love interest. This sense of isolation and the barriers she puts up only increases the suspense when Vee witnesses the aftermath of a murder while sliding. Now she is faced with trying to solve a murder on her own as well. Slide offers up a suspenseful story where it is difficult to guess who the killer is but the book is raised above the average suspense novel because of the internal struggles of the protagonist as well.
Readalikes: Wake by Lisa McMann, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Clarity by Kim Harrington, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz ...more
I wanted to read Falling Kingdoms because it was being promoted as "A Game of Thrones for teens". I knew going in that there was no way that it wouldI wanted to read Falling Kingdoms because it was being promoted as "A Game of Thrones for teens". I knew going in that there was no way that it would match the level of George R.R. Martin's work so I was not disappointed. There are some characters that would have fit right in at King's Landing, some of the story lines reminded me of A Game of Thrones and the chapters are told from the viewpoint of four main characters. The book also focuses on political themes and the power struggle between kingdoms which is similar but that is where the similarities end.
The characters are not very likable though they did grow on me (some of them anyway). Cleo starts out as a spoiled princess though she isn't cruel and vindictive. She just lets things happen and allows someone too much control over her life. By the end she has realized her mistakes but it is too little too late. Lucia is kind of bland. I felt sorry for her though as she is a pawn. Jonas is a hothead and I hope he will become a better person in the next book. Magnus was just creepy in a spawn-of-Tywin-Lannister way.
In spite of the flaws, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Falling Kingdoms. It is something of a page turner and I think for those who would be intimidated by longer works of fantasy, it is only 400 pages long. I liked the political intrigue and trying to figure out what was going to happen. I would have enjoyed it more if there was more room for character development and if the characters were more likable but it was entertaining and I do plan to read the sequel. Falling Kingdoms is a darker political fantasy and while the writing and characterization are not on the same level as A Game of Thrones it is more similar in tone to that work than other YA fantasy making it perhaps best suited for more mature teens. ...more
Reached is the long awaited finale to the Matched trilogy. I loved the first book and liked Crossed but though I enjoyed the writing style of Reached,Reached is the long awaited finale to the Matched trilogy. I loved the first book and liked Crossed but though I enjoyed the writing style of Reached, I was disappointed with how the story concluded. I expected something with more impact. Rather than a more explosive finale, it is a quiet and thoughtful book. I suppose I should not have expected anything else given the tone of the first two books.
What did work was the symbolism, the writing style, and the addition of Xander as a narrator. Each book focuses on a different color and a different pill (the Society makes the citizens carry pills in green, blue, and red). This book as suggested by the cover, focuses on the red pill and the things that have been forgotten. Art and poetry and the act of creating art are also themes that have been prevalent across the series. I liked how Cassia finds a way to share art and its importance with others in the midst of their pain and fear.
It was interesting to read parts of the story from Xander's perspective and to see how he fit into the picture. Just like Ky and Cassia, Xander can be poetic too which didn't really fit his characterization from the other books. I expected him to be more matter-of-fact.
There are some surprises in the story but nothing earth-shattering. I think the missing ingredient in this book is passion. Not necessarily romantic passion between Cassia and Ky (though that would have been nice to see) but passionate emotions from the characters reacting to what happens or showing some excitement or rage. I almost wish Indie had been a narrator because then we might have seen more of that deeper feeling or action even. In the end though I liked the book I felt a little let down because I was expecting more. ...more
Annie Quintana is a pastry chef who draws comfort from trying to recreate her late mother's recipes. Annie is still grieving from the death of her momAnnie Quintana is a pastry chef who draws comfort from trying to recreate her late mother's recipes. Annie is still grieving from the death of her mom who had been a housekeeper to the St. Clair family. Julia St. Clair was Annie's childhood best friend until she betrayed that friendship on her rise to popularity in high school. Now Julia is a successful businesswoman on the verge of getting married. On the surface Julia is a bit of a snob though she doesn't seem to realize the way she comes across, particularly to Annie. She has a life of privilege though there is a painful secret she carries around with her and that secret helps to make her a little more sympathetic to the reader than she would be otherwise. I definitely preferred Annie's character over Julia but Julia did grow on me and it helped to be able to read chapters told through her eyes as well.
There is an element of mystery concerning the vandalism at the cupcakery and the strange man who keeps appearing on the scene. There is also the question of what happened to the cookbook/journal that belonged to Annie's mother. Unfortunately, I think this was a weak spot in the novel and wish the story had focused more on the mending of Annie and Julia's friendship. The ending wrapped up a little too quickly as well. Still, this is an enjoyable exploration of how complicated friendships and family can be. I also loved all the descriptions of cupcakes! I would have loved it if the author included some recipes in the back. Overall, I was pleased with this debut novel and I will definitely be looking forward to the author's next book.
Readalikes: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook, The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen, The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry, Stay by Allie Larkin, Hope in a Jar by Beth Harbison...more
Code Name Verity is a story that packs a powerful emotional punch. It is cleverly written and full of historical details as well as suspense and evenCode Name Verity is a story that packs a powerful emotional punch. It is cleverly written and full of historical details as well as suspense and even a little humor. Verity and Maddie both leap off the page as realistic and moving characters but it is Verity who stole my heart with her bravery and intelligence in the face of torture. There is one scene in particular that just broke my heart and even months later it is still fresh in my mind.
I love historical fiction but rarely have I been moved like I was with this book. I expected a suspenseful spy story and found something much more. I thought the author did an excellent job of making the characters sound authentic as British women from that time period. It did take some time to get used to the writing style but the story was well worth the effort. While some teen readers may be put off by the writing style or method of telling the story, readers who persevere will be rewarded. I know that Elizabeth Wein has written some fantasy novels but I hope she will write more historical fiction in the future. ...more
Wentworth Hall is very similar in tone to The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. It is light historical fiction that features family drama, gossip, and ro Wentworth Hall is very similar in tone to The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. It is light historical fiction that features family drama, gossip, and romance. Wentworth Hall also taps into the popularity of the Downton Abbey craze with its early 20th Century setting and focus on the upstairs/downstairs relationship between the aristocracy and their servants. The story is told through the point of view of multiple characters including Maggie Darlington, her sister Lila, the maid Nora, new nanny Therese, and the groom Michael. I much preferred the chapters from Maggie's POV. I liked Maggie and even her sister Lila though she annoyed me at first. I also liked opinionated Nora and it was nice getting the perspective of those below stairs.
Having multiple narrators should have given us greater insight into the characters but it didn't quite work that way. Though I liked them, characters are not well developed with perhaps the exception of Maggie. The other characters are either likable or horrid but I didn't get the sense that I really got to know them. I think if the story were told from the perspective of only a few characters, it would have been stronger and if more space had been given to the characters rather than other things like the parody, the novel would have been much better. I also didn't like that the "secrets" were so easy to figure out, the gimmick of including the newspaper parodies of the Worthless family became incredibly annoying (they should have been shorter and fewer in number), certain of the characters just seemed to disappear from the narrative, and the threads of the story did not wrap up very plausibly. In fact it ended so abruptly that it took me by surprise. The ending was very rushed with an epilogue of sorts tacked on. I am under the impression that this is not a series but perhaps I am wrong.
Still for all its flaws, I found this to be an entertaining book. It didn't completely live up to its potential for me but if there is a sequel, I'd likely pick it up (from the library) just to see what happens next. For readers looking for a YA book with a little more substance to fill that Downton Abbey fix, try the Luxe novels by Anna Godbersen instead....more
The Shoemaker's Wife is filled with lovely descriptions of Italy, food, music, and fashion as well as a good story. The details added to my enjoymentThe Shoemaker's Wife is filled with lovely descriptions of Italy, food, music, and fashion as well as a good story. The details added to my enjoyment of the story, especially the history and culture. The scenes with Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera were among my favorites. What I loved the most however were the characters. I was drawn to the character of Enza particularly as she persevered to see her dreams come true. Her best friend Laura is a great secondary character too. I think what appealed to me about Enza's story was not just how smart and resourceful she is but also the depiction of her life as a career girl in New York. Seeing how she and Laura made their way from a sweatshop to the Opera House was really neat.
The love story kind of grew on me. I cared more about the individual journeys of Ciro and Enza and it wasn't until much later in the story that I bought into their feelings for each other. These are two hardworking and admirable characters though Ciro got on my nerves at times. I think that they represent the values of people who came to this country and worked hard to realize their American dream. While the book could come across as a fairy tale at times, it was also very clear that Ciro and Enza had to work for what they got with the occasional lucky break.
The Shoemaker's Wife is a sweet and inspiring novel that somehow manages to avoid becoming saccharine or trite. It does have a few pacing issues and I think the story runs out of steam for a little while (during the Minnesota period-I missed the detail of the earlier chapters) before picking up again towards the end with an emotional tug. Overall I thought this was an excellent historical fiction novel and I loved that it is based on a true story. After reading this book, don't be surprised if you find yourself listening to Enrico Caruso or looking up recipes to make gnocchi... ...more
The World of Downton Abbey is a companion book to the hit television series. In addition to pictures from the set there is background information on tThe World of Downton Abbey is a companion book to the hit television series. In addition to pictures from the set there is background information on the real lives and events that inspired the show. There are chapters that cover the life of servants, fashion, society, the war, behind the scenes of the show, and more.
I found the book to be easy to read though I do wish that it was a little better organized in terms of insets. I'd be reading the main chapter and then there would be an inset of information that would break up the flow. Still, there is plenty of interesting information here for fans of the show. Another bonus is the list of resources for further reading. My favorite part of the book were all the beautiful stills from the show. I also loved the chapters on society, life in service, and fashion. I find that historical time period to be fascinating.
If you are a fan of the series and interested in learning more about the time period, this is a fun place to start. The writing style makes the book flow easily so it doesn't read like a dry textbook. Though The World of Downton Abbey is available as an e-book and audio book, I would strongly suggest reading the hardcover in order to appreciate the visual beauty of the book to its fullest....more