While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with theWhile backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.
Love, Lucy is the story of a young woman discovering what she wants out of life, if she's willing to take risks and follow her dreams or stay grounded.
Lucy is a young woman not sure of what or where she wants to be, shaped by a priviledged background and a controlling father. Europe is a break from the pressures of home, an escape to be who she wants to before returning to become someone else. She's caught between living her own life and fulfilling her side of a promise made. It's a sticky situation. Then she meets Jesse, a young man who's living as he wants to without a lot tying him down. He makes her feel happy, he reminds her what it's like to be on stage. But summers never last.
Lucy's relationship with father isn't the worst, he's not overbearing and abusive, but it's not the best. He's essentially buying her off with the trip to Europe in exchange for her studying what he wants her to. He doesn't care about her own passions, her dreams of being a singer and an actress. Because of his callous attitude, his tossed-aside comments of how the odds are good that she'll fail miserably, Lucy becomes a shell of herself. Instead of battling him, she runs, hides, and capitulates. None of this is healthy. Yes, not everyone who wants to be an actress makes it, but part of being a parent is supporting your children emotionally and not just financially. And Lucy also shoulders some of the blame by agreeing, but not arguing her case stronger. Of course, if she had refused outright, he wouldn't have paid for the trip or her college tuition and this would've been a different book altogether.
This is a coming of age story, and it's a rather common one. Lucy suffers from the same problem a lot of young people have, that no everyone goes off to college right after high school knowing what they want to do in the future. Those eight to ten years are when you really figure yourself out. What kind of person you are, what kind of person you want to be in a relationship with, what you're passionate about and whether you want to make a career out of it. I'm not sure that this is Lucy's full coming of age, the book only covers a few months. She's still young, but this seems to be the most significant part in her life. This will shape her. It's up to her to decide if she'll be broken or whole.
I do wonder if I should've read Forster's A Room with a View before reading this. From what I've seen, Forster's Lucy is trying to find her place in the world, caught between polite society's conventions and true love. But that's what this Lucy is trying to do as well. The time period and circumstances are different but their struggles are the same. Should they follow the path laid out before them, the path they've been made to walk all their lives, or do their follow their hearts and race off in a different direction? I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Gayle Forman's Just One Day and Just One Year.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)...more
Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There's nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dNineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There's nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia puzzles over why she was left in the care of the extravagant Mrs. Jones but doesn't have long to dwell on it before she is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her new guardian. Once there Portia discovers that she has inherited 221B Baker Street, the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. As she settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, she finds herself entangled in three cases: the first involving stolen jewelry, the second a sick judge, and the final revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.
Jewel of the Thames is a story filled with mystery and intrigue. For our intrepid heroine, the unfortunate loss of her mother means sadness, but it also means a new life, a new city to call her own, a new adventure. But does she really want to take up the reins left by the former residents of her new home?
Portia is very introspective and extremely observant. She's isolated, little to no friends. She's very mature for her age, after caring for her mother during her illness. While she understands that the world is not always kind, she's still naive about some things. It's that battle between common sense and emotion, doing what our brain says to do over what our heart and our gut instincts say. What stands out is that she acknowledges her flaws. She knows that she can be impatient, that she has no time for time-wasters. But who would voice their flaws so matter-of-factly? She's a clever and independent young woman with a clear voice and clear opinions. Perhaps there are times when she's too analytical, but perhaps it's more that she needs to know the truth. It's her strong sense of right and wrong that pushes her deeper into the mysteries. She's a rather complex character.
The setting comes across as accurate, as does the tone and the atmosphere. This is a London that's left the Victorian and Edwardian eras behind, World War I is a decade in the past. The economy isn't doing so well. The creation and use of machines is still going strong. Everything feels rather accurate to the time period: the characters and their positions, the city and its people, and the level of technology and transportation,.
I must admit that I was wary of the addition of Holmes and Watson to Portia's story, as I was with the slightly similar Stoker & Holmes series by Colleen Gleason. But Portia has a way of standing out, setting herself apart from the two rather famous men whose casebooks she studies. There are similarities made between her intelligence and observational skills to those of Holmes and Watson, of course. How could there not be? But something still sets her apart. Is it her gender? Her self-awareness of her flaws? Her honest curiosity? Her upbringing? Her strong desire to help people?
It took a little time to get into the story. There's more narration at the beginning than I was expecting as Portia recounts the tale of her life following her mother's death. I feel that stems from having no one close to her, apart from her mother, no real friends or family still living. When she arrived in London, when the mysteries started, it took nothing to fall right into them with Portia, trying to piece them together before she could. Mystery fans should definitely give this book a try.
(I received an e-book copy of this title from Fierce Ink Press.)...more
This quirky, narrative scrapbook gives readers a witty, honest look at what it means to be a teenager. Using mini-graphic novels, photos, sketches, anThis quirky, narrative scrapbook gives readers a witty, honest look at what it means to be a teenager. Using mini-graphic novels, photos, sketches, and captions, The Isobel Journal offers a unique glimpse into the creative life of eighteen-year-old Isobel, just a northern girl from where nothing really happens.
The Isobel Journal is a collection of honest observations by a teenage girl from the North West of England. This is how she sees her family, her friends, life, love, and herself in a place "where nothing really happens," all in a mixture of drawings, photographs, and little one-line stories.
The textual side is rather brief, a few words on most pages describing what's presented to the reader. But some provide insight into how she sees the world, whether it be about what she wants to be in the future or what it feels like to be in love. I found the parts where she talks about her likes of vintage clothing and records and indie music interesting. She doesn't apologize for liking them, but at the same time wonders how other people will see her. It's a curious mix of confidence in being who you are, being different, and shame at being different from someone who might not share your interests. That seems to sum up life right there: wanting to be an individual while not wanting others to see you as strange or different.
The visual side is a mixture of pencil or coloured pencil drawings and photographs. The pencil lines can be thick at times but her drawings are by no means crude. They're just as honest as her words. The book contains a wonderful collection of faces, all different, all characters in their own right.
It was refreshing to read this look into a teenager's life, to read her thoughts, her likes and dislikes. It was like a glimpse into a journal you would normally keep secret, tucked away in a drawer or under a pillow....more
Princess Snow is missing. Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punishPrincess Snow is missing. Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all. Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines. When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.
Stitching Snow is an intriguing mystery all about a mysterious girl on a cold planet and the secrets in her past that can't stay hidden any longer. But she's torn between hiding and confronting those secrets, between keeping herself from reliving that pain and keeping the solar system from going to war.
Essie is a strong girl, a girl perfectly happy staying where she is and working hard. Doing battle in cage fights, showing tough men that she can take care of herself, repairing the drones that work in the mines. She has her reasons for fighting. She wants to make sure that the men know she can protect herself, that she can fight back, that she'll never be used or be a victim again. Which I have to applaud. She's not whining about being on Thanda. It's not the best place to be, but she's carved out her own little spot, she's proved she can survive. She has a place where she can be safe. But then Dane crashes nearby and ruins everything.
I don't usually elaborate on the romance unless it's a love triangle that I thought was done well (or not), but this is an exception. There's no love triangle (unless it's between Essie, Dane, and Dimwit), but there is a moment that made me sit up and respect the romance. Essie and Dane, though mistake and circumstance and kidnapping, are drawn to each other. But they have bigger things to worry about, like saving innocent people. Like surviving. As much as they acknowledge that there's something there, that they might be getting too involved with each other, they understand that their budding romance isn't a priority. It was a mature, rather adult decision to make. And it's not ignored, it's always there, waiting for when they're not constantly looking over their shoulders.
There are hints and pieces of Snow White in this fairy tale retelling, but not so much that it felt like I was reading something too familiar. I can see where people are coming from when they compare it to Marissa Meyer's Cinder, but there are enough differences for me that I can enjoy them for different reasons. Cinder for discovering her past and her strength, Essie for confronting her past and unleashing her strength.
This book is part discovery, part self-discovery, and part journey to confront those monsters under the bed. It works well as a standalone and I'm satisfied with the ending. I imagine this will appear to fans of fairy tale retellings set in outer space and quirky robot companions.
(I received an e-galley of this title from Hachette Book Group Canada through NetGalley.)...more
Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide wheGraduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she's never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way... until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person's infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions--and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women's rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is a dark, intelligent, layered coming of age. Through Glory's eyes we see glimpses of a near and dangerous future and how those glimpses change how she sees the world, how she sees the people around her. This is a definite must-read because of current discussions regarding feminism, equality, and women's rights.
Fresh out of high school, the world is there for Glory to take, to seize. The possibilities are endless. But how can they be when she knows what's coming? Can she still live her life, a happy one? A normal one? Or is the future to bleak?
I find it hard to review this like any other book I would review here. I could talk about Glory, her lonely life, her disconnect from a number of 'normal teenager things,' but all I can think about is the future Glory sees. That future frightens me, like Karen Healey's When We Wake, like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, because it's so believable. This future could very well happen.
But it's not all dark and dismal. There is hope, as there always is, hope that those oppressed won't have to live in exile any longer, that they won't live in fear, that they will one night get more than a couple hours of sleep because they could be kidnapped or killed. It's just a bit hard to see.
I found this to be an extremely culturally-relevant book for the current climate, a book that should be read by all ages and all genders.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)...more
This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything. It's a story about Skylark Martin,This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything. It's a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop in St. Kilda and is trying to find her place in the world. It's about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It's about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It's about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It's about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music. And it's about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff.
Girl Defective is honest, painful, and realistic. This book is an eye-opening experience for a number of characters, not just Sky, and a coming of age for her. Everyone is defective in some way, every acts and reacts differently in certain situations. Everyone is different.
Who is Sky? What is the world? She's trying to figure it all out, like why people do what they do. Like why her mom left, why her dad hides in records and beer, why Nancy lives carefree and parties, why her brother Gully won't take off that rubber pig snout, and why Luke is so distant and closed off. She's also trying to figure out herself at the same time, like what she wants to do and who she is. Why she keeps all of her mom's old clothes and leaves semi-cruel messages on her website.
The setting seems perfect for a rude awakening coming of age story. Sky's home, St. Kilda, sounds like it's caught between the past and the future. Slightly crumbling, old, rough around the edges. It's a little hard, a little harsh, but it's realistic and also unique. The record store was also an interested place, a number of important things happen in it and above it in the apartment. It's like a time capsule, where classic rock lives on.
Growing up sucks. It's hard, it's painful. It's something that, when we come up against it, we don't want to do it. But growing up is all about navigating those hard and painful times and, hopefully, coming out on the other side. Lessons learned and realized. I think that's what this book is for Sky. She's coming face to face with the idea that things aren't perfect, that people aren't always who she thought they were. That you can't keep things from changing.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)...more
When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she's sent to live with her strict aunt — but Raina feels like she's perWhen 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she's sent to live with her strict aunt — but Raina feels like she's persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she's a social pariah at her new school in Toronto. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous "MatchMaven," Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One. A cross between Jane Austen's Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker, Raina's double life soon has her barely staying awake in class. Can she find the perfect match for her sister and get back on her good side, or will her tanking grades mean a second expulsion?
Playing with Matches is funny, witty, and clever. This is one girl's unexpected journey through the hopeful single Jewish community of Toronto. It has its perks, but it also has it drawbacks, and Raina has to be careful or else everything will fall apart at her feet.
Raina's just trying to survive this new and unwanted life of hers. She's trying to survive her sister's sadness and anger, trying to figure out where she fits in. Trying to figure out how she's suddenly a matchmaker. She's the kind of girl who wants to help out, but most of the time it's because she's been roped into it. She has her negative qualities. She judges nearly everyone at face value, she has secrets in her past that she'd rather stay hidden. But when it comes to family, like Leah, she'll try as hard as she can to make it all better.
She certainly falls into matchmaking by accident. It's certainly not something she'd planned for herself in the future. And it's not easy. It doesn't take her long to realize that it's more than just matching up two single people and hoping they'll have something in common beyond not wanting to be single any longer. You have to know people in certain ways, know what they want and what they don't, know what they really need from a partner, and hope you know someone who will fill that role. Raina has it extra hard because she barely knows these people and because of all the pressure they've put on her to save them from being single. As she says, she's only sixteen. What does she know about dating and romance that they don't?
I thought the pacing was great. It was hard for me to put this down once I started reading. This book was just so much fun to read. The characters, Raina's friends and family, were interesting. They sounded like regular people with regular problems. The Orthodox Jewish community is one I'm not familiar with and I enjoyed reading about it (I'm not Jewish, so I don't feel I can comment on the accuracy of the customs and religion portrayed here). With a clever and trying heroine and a quirky cast of supporting characters, this is definitely a must-read for fans of contemporary stories and realistic fiction.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from ECW Press through NetGalley.)...more
I found this book intriguing, I was initially drawn in the by the premise, but it just moved a bit too slowly for me to enjoy it more. It's certainlyI found this book intriguing, I was initially drawn in the by the premise, but it just moved a bit too slowly for me to enjoy it more. It's certainly filled with mystery and intrigue, the tension is slowly pushed higher and higher as the book goes on. There were just some slow moments that bothered me. And I do wish the mythology had been a bit more clear at times. Which goddess of hope was Nadia? Greek? Roman? Norse? A little more world-building/backstory could've helped.
Of course, I would definitely recommend this book to those looking to read an intriguing mix of mythology, mystery, romance, and an interesting cast of characters. It has all of those in spades....more
It's 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffeIt's 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany's; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she's always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself.
Oh Yeah, Audrey! is the story of one girl's day in New York City, her attempt to recreate events from the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany's, and what actually ends up happening.
I'm not so sure that this was the book for me. I thought it would be fun, sweet, and entertaining. At times it was, but other times some things felt too convenient, like some of the people she met. The book takes place over a 24-hour period and doesn't leave much time for character development. I guess I wanted Gemma to be constantly figuring something out, figuring herself out, instead of a slap to the face and a rude awakening.
I'm sure there are some who will enjoy reading this, Audrey Hepburn fans and New York City fans, fans of books where a girl goes on a journey to the big city to find herself. A girl who's making her own decisions. Instead of that, I saw a girl running away, a girl who followed around someone because of what she was given, a girl who was a bit too blinded by the bright city lights and the chance to pretend to be Holly Golightly. Instead of a girl taking charge and having fun, I saw a girl playing dress-up and get strung along by a pretty boy. It had its moments, but again, maybe not the book for me.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Abrams Books through NetGalley.)...more
Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everythingRhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough. Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find Sloane, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways.
Please Remain Calm is a number of things. It's bleak and tense, harsh and brutal. It's an attempt at survival, a constant race against time and zombies. It's an exploration of how far we go and how ruined we become when we're pushed to the brink. It's primal and emotional and frightening.
Rhys wants to survive, it pushes him, it drives him. He has to get away. He doesn't want to die. And he wants Sloane to want to stay alive. But she's already part of the way there, ruined and depressed. Can he keep her alive? Can he make her want to stay alive, stay with him? But the running, the death and destruction, the zombies. It never ends. And in the end, will Rhys still have the strength to continue?
Death follows them, nipping at their heels, breathing down their necks. It is the new constant in their lives, no longer is it clean drinking water or a soft, warm bed to sleep on at night.
I'm okay with how This is Not a Test ended, even though I wasn't at the time. I can see now that it was up to Sloane to make the decision, live or die. Here, it's all up to Rhys.
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia's life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of siIn a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia's life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight, but she doesn't, and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom, to a prince she has never met. On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive, and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets, even as she finds herself falling in love.
The Kiss of Deception is a rather deceptive book. I thought I would read an epic fantasy set in a strange land with a runaway princess, a jilted prince, and an assassin. What I read was an epic fantasy set in a strange land with a runaway princess, a jilted prince, and an assassin, but events didn't unfold in ways I expected. I didn't take into account the threads of something far more secret and sinister twisting their way through this book, appearing here and there like random drops.
Lia is filled with worries and dreams, she worries about an upcoming future she doesn't want and dreams of something different. She is First Daughter to a king and queen, but beyond that she is nothing. She's valuable as a thing, as something to be traded, to be won, but she has no value. She is existing but not living. She is there to be their game piece, to move how they tell her to, to serve them. To play their game. But then she runs away, making a decision, making the decision that will change her life and everyone else's.
The chapters narrated by the prince and the assassin were interesting in that they added mystery to the book, and to Lia's running away and finding a new place to belong to. When you're on the run you never know who's chasing you, and here are glimpses into who they are, where they're from, and what their motives are. It isn't long until their names are revealed, but it's longer until a name is matched to a role. And I was surprised to discover that I'd guessed wrong as to who was who.
Like with most epic fantasy, I was intrigued by the world created here. So familiar with its kingdoms, its small towns, its feuds, its hidden legends. So familiar that I was bored at the beginning. A princess and her hatred of her station and impending political marriage is nothing new. And in terms of the romance I went in extremely wary of the prospect of a love triangle, then I was okay, and by the end I was wary again. But not as wary.
What makes this different is who she becomes over the course of the book, what she learns about the world she thought she knew and about herself. There is a moment when she realizes that, when she finally becomes someone, and that almost made the boring beginning worth it. Of course, the book ends with so many questions left unanswered, so many small secrets suddenly revealed and then left behind when the book returns to the main story. In the end I did enjoy this, so I'm looking forward to the next two books of the trilogy....more
Gretchen Meyers doesn't know exactly what went wrong, but life in the eleventh grade is beginning to suck. As if having a semi-nudist, food-obsessed fGretchen Meyers doesn't know exactly what went wrong, but life in the eleventh grade is beginning to suck. As if having a semi-nudist, food-obsessed family wasn't awkward enough, she has lost her best friend to the fanatical school swim team, and her chemistry grade is so close to negative digits that only emergency tutoring can save it. So far, so high school. Then James/Dean rolls into her life, also known as her zit-faced chemistry tutor James and his slightly less zit-faced cousin Dean. Kind-hearted rebels without a cause, they draw Gretchen out of classroom hell, and briefly the world seems full of possibility. But everything changes over the course of one awful night. Bewildered by harsh new emotions of grief and love, Gretchen realizes she must now decide who she wants to be and what it means to be loyal.
The Opposite of Geek is emotional, rough, and complicated, all about what it means to be a friend to someone and what it means to be you. To be brave enough to stand up and be the person you want to be and not who others want you to be. To be brave enough to be different.
When the book starts, Gretchen feels her life is spiraling into a big pit of nothing, brought down by her strange family, her growing distant best friend, and her failing chemistry grade. In turn she becomes angry, maybe a little depressed, and she doesn't understand why this is happening to her. She's hit that spot, the one where you start figuring out what you want to do after high school, after college, and what you want doesn't necessarily match up with that plans you had before. Or your parents' plans for you. Or what your teachers are pushing you towards.
It doesn't help Gretchen's tumble into frustration with her parents over her future that her best friend suddenly (to Gretchen) has other interests. Has new friends. Would rather hang out with them. Friends come and go, it's one of those painful parts of life that we just can't avoid. But then James and Dean enter her life, two guys rather different from anyone she knows, two weird guys who give her the chance to escape. And she needs to escape. She needs fresh air, away from the pressure. In a way, they save her.
I found the writing style of the book, the mixture of poetry and prose, to be rather lyrical and expressive. Gretchen's voice is clear, honest, filled with her disappointment, sadness, and happiness. Everything she feels is there on the page for the reader to see. Maybe there were times when Gretchen headed towards whiny and annoying, when her teen angst felt over-done and exaggerated, but then isn't everything over-done and exaggerated when you're a teenager? Doesn't it always feel like the world will end when something doesn't work out? I would recommend this to contemporary YA readers looking for a little poetry with their prose and a lot of reality....more