I'm not even entirely sure how I feel about this. Other Words for Love is an inspired and empowering book that reveals important morals that I appr...more4/5
I'm not even entirely sure how I feel about this. Other Words for Love is an inspired and empowering book that reveals important morals that I appreciated during my reading. Ari was such a genuine character that not only could I connect and relate to her on so many levels, I was also able to understand her rationale behind her actions and sympathise with her at her low-points.
Other Words for Love is unlike all other contemporaries, in that love is portrayed as OTHER than what it normally entails in YA. It comes in so many different forms in this book, and I seriously just loved that love was not one-dimensional. The topics and issues were brought about in an intelligent and sophisticated manner, while wrapped up in a presentable and easy-to-read format that young-adults and beyond will be able to enjoy while contemplating the ramifications of what love does to people.
+ Beautiful cover and a suitable, simplistic title + Character development could not have been better--the people we meet at the beginning are not the same as the people we see at the end. + Relatability and historical standpoints. Even though this book is set 25 years~ in the past there is still a lot of relevance to teenagers and young adults today. + I'm not sure about other people, but I liked that there was an emphasis on safe sex and contraceptives and checkups, because so much of today's media kind of forgets that those things are important. + Ari is such a strong character, who undergoes enormous change and strife. Her narration is a strikingly honest one, and I loved her for it. She's just your average girl, insecure and uncertain of the future. Which is, once again, very relatable. Especially in that time period when experience and excitement was favoured (and still is). She's intelligent and makes mistakes but learns from them and understands the consequences. And it's easy to understand how mistakes can be made in the blink of an eye... + Solid writing. Ari's tone remains true throughout the book. It never felt strained; it was all just very believable. + The statue. What a strong literary symbol. I'll have to flick through again to pluck out specifics. + Touching up on that love in many forms: friendship and family are huge parts of this book too. Especially the strains that can occur when they mix together.
Grr. I wish I would get out of this review-funk. I have all these things I want to say, but actually typing them out? Oh well. This review won't be published until a few weeks from now. :)(less)
Following Ruta Sepetys’ debut Between Shades of Grey I was expecting something raw and powerful, a book that, once I’d finished reading the last page I’d feel like my life had been irrevocably changed for ever. It’s such a pleasure when expectations are met with reality which is the case here. Out of the Easy is extremely different to Sepetys’ debut novel, but one major similarity shines through—there is a bleak tone to the novel and yet there resonates a promise of hope.
Decisions, they shape our destiny.
Out of the Easy follows the life of seventeen-year-old Josie Morraine, who lives in the Quarter of New Orleans in the 1940s-50s. Her mother is a prostitute. Josie has had to grow up alongside her morally bankrupt ways, having to endure the nights spent alone in a murky hotel room while her mother sells her body to get nice things. This is why at age seventeen she has now made a home above the bookshop she works at. This is why she escapes into literature and indulges herself in fantasies about the father she has never known. This is why she wants to escape the Big Easy; she wants to go to university (college), one that’s far away from here. But as the daughter of a prostitute the odds are against her. With her unerring determination and the support from her best friend Patrick and Charlotte, new friend from uptown, maybe she’ll finally get her wish.
I adore these characters! I allowed myself to grow attached to them and so it was hard to see such horrible things happen to them. Josie is the best kind of heroine. She’s salty peanuts. It is extremely easy to imagine that she is a friend I know, or even fragments of myself. Sepetys allows the reader to get into her head and connect with her character. I rooted for her all the way through; I cried when things started to go bad; I smiled or laughed when glimmers of hope or humour came her way. I had a connection to this fictional character such as I have not found in many other books, which makes my experience with the book that much more special.
There’s Patrick, her best friend, fellow literary geek and bookshop co-worker/son of the owner. He assumes so many roles—he’s also caring for his renowned author and father, Charlie, whose brain has been disturbed in his old age. He’s so smart and kind and everything that represents comfort for Josie. Which means that their developing relationship and proposed future together should come as no surprise. But another boy around the Quarter has his eye on Josie. And yes, love triangles normally drive me up the wall BUT it doesn’t feel like a gimmick or an excuse for hot love interests. Rather, it serves as a catapult for Josie's development. The feelings associated with the love triangle felt very true to life, bringing more realism to it than taking it away.
Willie, the owner of the local whorehouse, is complex, and my feelings about her are confusing. Charlotte, Josie’s new friend from uptown, jump-starts Josie’s pursuit for a better life. Cokie is the family driver, and the only man with whom Josie feels truly safe, toffee-coloured skin be damned.
Historical YA fiction is one of my true loves. In Out of the Easy I walked the streets of New Orleans, pistol rested on my thigh, on high alert. I visited the Marlowes' bookstore filled with glorious hardcover editions, from Dickens and Keats to romance. The writing is subtle and easy to read. I would whole-heartedly and without hesitation recommend Sepetys to people who don't normally venture into historical fiction titles, especially YA readers.
What else can I say? This is the kind of book I cherish. It's the kind of book I understand. Sepetys does historical fiction extremely well. Although I can't personally know how it all felt for Josie (or Lena in BSoG), they are still relatable characters. Sepetys intersperses humanity in all of her characters so that they are not just words on the pages. They feel real. Their emotions and thoughts and backgrounds are real, which just makes having to say goodbye (or at least see you later) more difficult to do. I can't say if this book will work for you. All I can say is it worked for me.
One day when I was fourteen, I told Charlie that I hated Mother. “Don’t hate her, Jo,” he told me. “Feel sorry for her. She’s not near as smart as you. She wasn’t born with your compass, so she wanders around, bumping into all sorts of walls. That’s sad.” (37, Charlie)
“Let me tell you something ‘bout those rich folk,” said Cokie. “They got everything that money can buy, their bank accounts are fat, but they ain’t happy. They ain’t ever gone be happy. You know why? They soul broke. And money can’t fix that, no sir….” (83, Cokie)
“Sometimes we set off down a road thinkin’ we’re goin’ one place and we end up another. But that’s okay. The important thing is to start.” (163, Cokie)
Shelves without books were lonely and just plain wrong. (281, Josie)
------------------------------------------------------------ Extra, not included in my review on the blog due to spoilers.
(view spoiler)[I do not feel okay about Jo's mother and Cinci. The fact that they effectively get away without any closure leaves a sick twisted feeling in my gut. But I think Sepetys left it at that because it's not about her mother... Also, Willie. It's always hard when tough, unbreakable characters die. She was a legacy in the Quarter. Pretty much her death shattered the very foundation on which the Quarter stood. And Charlie. :/ I don't understand what this all means, and what Sepetys' intentions with these deaths were. I like to think there's a deeper meaning behind all of this, some kind of footprint she wished to leave in our minds by having these characters die. I hope Josie made it. I'm glad she's still got Charlotte, and that interview is in front of her. Despite all she's been through, she'll make it. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I can not believe the sequel is releasing this year -- I had no idea! I'm actually quite excited about this one. The Poison Diaries was by no mean...moreWow.
I can not believe the sequel is releasing this year -- I had no idea! I'm actually quite excited about this one. The Poison Diaries was by no means perfect, but I do remember being thrown on an emotional rollercoaster. I love that the cover of this one matches the first one. :)(less)
!!!WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS!!!
I'd be lying if I said I was utterly blown away by BEAUTIFUL DAYS. H...more!!!WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS!!!
I'd be lying if I said I was utterly blown away by BEAUTIFUL DAYS. However, with that said, this eagerly awaited sequel really brought me back to the Jazz Era - along with the lives of Cordelia Grey, Astrid Donal and 'Letty Larkspur'. There's mystery, romance, intrigue, fun, tragedy and beautiful days and roaring nights among it all.
The girls are back! Cordelia (on cover this time) is dealing with her father's recent murder, and with the confusing circumstances surrounding that elusive and cold pilotman Max Darby. Astrid is about to be wed with Charlie Grey but yearns for the constant excitement that only a night out in the town can provide. And little miss Letty is going to go after her dreams of making it big - no matter what.
Once again, in this review I'd like to say that I have not read the THE LUXE series, so I can't draw any comparisons between the two series. If you're looking for a great summer read - this will be among the top of the list. BEAUTIFUL DAYS takes place during the LAST SUMMER of the Jazz Era, which can only mean one thing for the next instalment to the series. ;) I for one can't wait for the drastic changes!
Godbersen continues to utilise the third person multiple perspectives style that she has used in all her past novels. Anyone who has read any of Godbersen's novels will know exactly what to expect, writing-wise. What Godbersen continues to do well is switch between these girls with such ease that you're barely even aware of it. I love how she does go over the appearances of each scene and notable character, so that you're actually able to visualise every scene precisely how Godbersen has imagined it.
The girls are even more glamorous in this book. I rekindled my love for both Letty and Cordelia, but I just couldn't stand Astrid most of the time. She's pretty whiney and in her naivety gets into so many stupid situations. I don't even want to talk about her that much. I applaud Charlie for his patience, no matter how slight they were. He was going through so much crap throughout this book, what with his bootlegging business, that he didn't need his silly fiance to ruin things for him. Anyway, Letty really matures during the course of this book, and it shows. I think she's always been my favourite of the three, just because she has that unmasked sincerity and girlish charm to her that never goes away. Cordelia revels in her luxury, and although she does have a few hiccups here and there, she's self-assured and confident and a glittering picture of the Jazz Era.
There is so much romance/flirting in this book! Nothing that really swept me off my feet or had me swooning, mind you, but you can't review this book without mentioning the voluptuous amount of suitors for each girl. Okay, maybe it wasn't a whole hoard or anything, but still. The pairs that matter are Cordelia x Max, Letty x Grady (he's back!) and Astrid x Charlie. My favourite is definitely the first - I just soaked up the events that follow their relationship.
One thing that did bother me (other than Astrid) was the almost lack of direction in this installment. There isn't one really undercurrent storyline running throughout the book, more like a bundle of stories that are intertwined together. I guess it is hard for that to happen in this kind of era, but I don't know. Anyone else feel that way?
What I really love is that Charlie Grey takes on such a large role during this book, compared to BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS. I didn't like how he kept secrets from his fiance - which gave her even more the reason to oppose him and go do stupid things - but...I liked his character.
For fans of a delectable read, BEAUTIFUL DAYS picks up where BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS left off. This time, the summer is hotter, and the romances and betrayals even stronger. Godbersen hits the nail on the head with maintaining a solid storyline for each girl, and intertwining these stories to form a coherent plot.
"My father has been dead barely a month." Her voice trembled a little, but her words fell with violent precision. "He wasn't a bad man, and he did all he could for himself and his family. He didn't begrudge other people their choices, and he left a life grander than the one he was born into. So you'll not say 'bootlegger' to me in that righteous tone again." She took another sip of the drink, and then thrust both the glass and the pitcher forward with sudden force, so that Max had no choice but to take them. Then, learning forward, holding his gaze, and almost hissing, she concluded: "Don't expect me to act like some ashamed nothing just because you talk so high and mighty. I know who I am."
(p. 51, Cordelia - kicking ass as always)
"I've eaten some bad meals in my time." He paused for effect, and more or less subdued the smile he'd been wearing since she'd begun to act carefree again. "This may possibly be the most inedible plate of food I have even been served in my long years of eating." "You bastaard!" she hooted. "The worst? You're in trouble now, my friend--earlier I was going easy on you when it came to our little game, but now I shall show you no mercy." "Ah, it's on then?" he replied with a wise smile. "Indeed it is, mister." She sat up straight in her chair and focused on her hand.
(pp. 168-169, Astrid and Victor - Charlie's man ~ Astrid cooked dinner for Charlie, and burnt the roast and oversalted the potatoes in the process. In the end, Charlie had 'things to do' and so she was left with a babysitter. Victor. Astrid and Victor just had dinner and now they're playing gin rummy.)
" Letty's feet were heavy and her chest felt like one big days-old bruise that keeps getting kicked. She wished ... Gracy had any girl but Peachy at his side. For the sight of her long legs had always made Letty seem short, as her rich dress made Letty feel poor, and the length of her neck and the way she carried her head perched on top of it could reduce Letty to nothing. The bruised sensation spread outward from her heart to the pit of her stomach and up to her temples, and she began to take in the full scope of her loss.
(p. 295, Letty on Grady)
" In a black dress, with her face framed by a gold headress, Letty was a vision of a much more experienced performer. Her eyes danced across the audience and she raised her arms, slow and sure, as her voice swelled. Cordelia thought of her when they first became friends, when they were still girls and Letty blushed when anyone said even the most casual thing to her. It was incredible that this was the same girl. If Cordelia had told any of the men along the bar watching Letty, rapt, that she was just seventeen and had only arrived from Ohio in May, she knew they would have fallen off their stools in surprise.
(p. 313, Cordelia on Letty as she performs)
Sorry for the long quotes. Godbersen writes really long passages and they're only effective when they are quoted in their entirety.
THANKS TO PENGUIN AUSTRALIA FOR THE REVIEW COPY.(less)
(Full review to be posted on my blog in the near future, with added extras)
~ Final thoughts ~
Kady Cross has taught me a valuable lesson: steampun...more(Full review to be posted on my blog in the near future, with added extras)
~ Final thoughts ~
Kady Cross has taught me a valuable lesson: steampunk is cool! Cross introduces an X-Men-esque concept to historical (1897) London in a captivating story that will appeal to YAs and fans of historical fiction and the supernatural. Even at 388 pages, I'm sitting here wishing there was more; I'm so glad that this is the first in a series, because I don't know how I'd be able to say goodbye to these delightfully dazzling characters so soon.
~ MY THOUGHTS (in full) ~
Excuse me while I sigh heartily, such is the enormity of my love for this book. Kady Cross really surprised me--I had no idea I'd enjoy The Girl in the Steel Corset so much! Cross pitches this as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-men. I didn't know there were even going to be supernatural elements, just that it would be steampunk. There's so much to like in this book and there's a little something for fans of every genre.
Right from the get-go, I was swept up by the illustrative writing style - it definitely ranks among the more educated in the YA genre (both in structure and choice of words). Written in a third-person omniscient narrative voice, the reader is able to keep track of where each main character is, and what in the blazes they're getting up to. Those more accustomed to first-person may find themselves overwhelmed or detached, and that's okay--it won't be for everyone. I personally love the style when it's done well, and well done did Cross write it!
Quite possibly the most impressive component in this first book in a series, is the undeniably charming cast of characters. Our heroine, Finley Jayne, a recently cast-off servant, ends up at the Greythorne House in Mayfair London (where only the rich reside) following a nighttime road accident.
There, she meets a group of colourful and privileged teens: the illustrious Griffin King, whose trusting personality is as endearing and beautiful as he is himself; Emily, a small sweetie with a vocal Irish lilt, ingenious in the art of machinery and science; and Sam, who is kind of like a mama bear--big and strong and will tear you limb from limb if you mess with his family. They are closely investigating the crimes of the Machinist, who is behind all of the terrible things that have been happening with the automatons and machinery in London. They have secrets, and they're connected by far more than just their love for each other.
I love books with this kind of character dynamic ~ a group of friends who live together and achieve great things together and have fun and fight and have fall outs. . . . I fell in love with each member--even Sam won me over despite his whininess and untrusting jealousy.
Romance is aplenty in The Girl in the Steel Corset, don't you worry! There are two love triangles, but not once did they bother me. I think I'm much more forgiving of love triangles with historical-type books, since that's just how things were back then.
Finley has Griffin King (who is working towards bringing easing in and controlling Finley's bad side) and Jack Dandy (who is attracted to the strong, bold and seductive nature of her bad side).
Emily gets Sam (whose jealousy was palpable) and Jasper (a cowboy with secrets of his own, of course ~ he's much more centered compared to Sam).
The story consists of a healthy mix of slow, descriptive passages and fast, action-y scenes. I was never bored. *sigh* I just loved this book, and even at 388 pages, I sit here wishing there was more. I'm so glad that this is the first in a series, because I don't know how I'd be able to just say goodbye to these characters so soon.
~ QUOTES ~
First lines: " The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his wooden stick, Finley knew she'd be unemployed before the sun rose. Her third dismissal in as many months.
(I LOVE the first chapter. I'd been laughing so hard I was in tears!)
* I count 11 post-it notes in my copy, which is a high number for me. (5> usually indicates I really liked the book/writing)
"We should have taken the girl to the hospital," Sam muttered, leaning against the corner of a sofa. He rubbed the back of his neck with his left hand. "Bringing her here puts us all at risk. What if she's a wanted criminal?" Griff tilted his head. "I don't think it would have been safe to take her to the hospital, for her or the staff." His friend raised a heavy brow, sarcasm written all over his face. "So you decided, 'hell, why not bring her home with me?' Well done."
I just read through all the quotes and there's a massive grin plastered on my face right now. XD In any case, I can't write out more...(less)
I was on a Vintage Classics high, and that's when I discovered that A Brief History of Montmaray was being re-published. I comm...morePosted on my blog.
I was on a Vintage Classics high, and that's when I discovered that A Brief History of Montmaray was being re-published. I commented on Michelle Cooper's (author) blog and I was just overcome by joy when she sent me an email offering me a review copy of her book. (She also signed it! <3) Guys! If you haven't heard of the Vintage Classics, seriously, get on it now. They're so beautiful, and what makes this line rise above the HC Penguin Classics line--they're cheap! And now, on to the review!
A Brief History of Montmaray is an epistolary novel—written in diary format—recounting the changing state of the tiny (fictional) country of Montmaray. 16-year-old Sophia shares fun and endearing stories of goings-on in the crumbling castle (sorry, 'fortified house'), as well as her many coming-of-age woes and worries. She, her cousin Victoria, her brother Toby and Sophia’s uncle King John are royalty. But in recent times there are as many people in the royal family as there are the common people. And with the Great War creeping its way to Montmaray, the FitzOsbornes will have to do what ever they can to protect their country, and each other.
Let me start off by saying I really like this cover! It's kind of subtle and muted, which is actually pretty reflective of what's inside the covers...
Since this book is written in diary format, be prepared to read a lot of everyday, mundane kinds of events that Sophia writes down. She talks about everything, from her crush on Simon (the only boy her age who isn't her brother), to housework, to the behaviour of their useless housekeeper Rebecca, to their financial problems, and so on. While that made the reading a bit slow at times, it was never wholly boring for me, because this book is set in the past. So it's familiar but different, and while the fact that it was set in the past could have been made superficial, it wasn't. Because Michelle Cooper did her research. She incorporated real historical fact and figures, which really places you in the past.
By about halfway through, the book takes a major shift in pace and tone. Things turn scary for the FitzOsbornes, and in turn I was scared for them. I felt as though I was right there--because we got to know Sophia and these people living in Montmaray, so I cared what happened to them. I felt like I'd gotten to know them and, in part, that I was also living there. And that's where the main strength in this book is, in my opinion...
The characters . Sophia! She's just an average girl and just so very, very relatable. She divulges in her journal entries every single aspect of her life, as well as the goings-on of everyone else living in Montmaray. Sophia is kind of a wallflower--she loves to read, she doesn't think she's that pretty or graceful, and she blushes whenever she's near her crush. And she dreams of luxury and her coming out ball, she's creative and honest. It's because this book is written in diary format that we really get to know Sophia. Without even realising it she'd become like a friend to me.
I feel like you should get to know these characters for yourself so I won't go through each and every one of them, and explain what they meant to me. I would have liked to have gotten to know the villagers a bit more, but I suppose they just didn't play such a big role in Sophia's life. Much of her focus is around her family (and Rebecca and Toby) and the castle.
A Brief History of Montmaray has a distinct voice. Because it's written in diary format and because the writer of said diary is a sixteen-year-old girl in the 1930s. Therefore many of the passages are quite casual or informal, while others are a bit more proper (because of the time period and personality of Sophia). It was mostly easy to get lost in the pages, although I did get a bit lost with some of the historical and political discussion!
The romance in this book is hinted at, but nothing comes to fruition. I'm thinking in the next books there may be someone for Sophia... (view spoiler)[though I have a feeling it's not Toby. (hide spoiler)] I liked the exploration of Sophia's developing feelings for Toby, and then those feelings kind of ebbing away because of her doubts. The fact that he's the only boy on the island besides her brother. Because he's the only boy she's ever known, so she second-guesses and wonders if she only likes him because he's the only one around. And the fact that he's the housekeeper's son and she's royalty...
I love Montmaray. It reminds me a bit of Laputa from Castle in the Sky (and Gulliver's Travels, which Laputa in CitS is based upon). Even though this country does not exist, and never will, I felt like I was there. The island and the castle felt real, and I cannot thank Michelle Cooper enough for imagining Montmaray.
This book is just beautiful. Sophia shows so much strength--strength that she did not know was even there. By the end of the book she's changing, and consciously making an effort to be more responsible and less flimsy.
A Brief History of Montmaray is an intelligent, timeless and engrossing exploration of a fictional country’s history. Romantic and heart-warming, Michelle Cooper’s debut novel is exactly why I love historical fiction. Fans of classics such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and I Capture the Castle–and those who revel in stories about family, war, love, politics, and historical events–will love this, and will love Sophia and her colourful family!
‘Do you not know what your name means?’ he asked. ‘Wisdom. Sophia. What so many have searched for, so many years.’ (p. 164)
I need to write down what has just happened. I need to set down the truth. If I write lies or if I write nothing at all, this journal is useless. I can do this. I must do this, in case . . . well, in case anything happens. Anything else happens. All right. This is what happened tonight, every single terrible thing that I can remember. (pp. 170)
Someone needs to be in charge, in case anything happens. It’s about time it was me. (p. 285)
**Note: Near the end of the book I noticed two incorrect uses of the Proper noun+I grammar phrasing. They're very minor things and I didn't see any other grammatical errors so I'm not complaining.
Also, another thing that still confuses me is when Sophia and Simon go rafting. So they go together, leaving Rebecca and Veronica together, because the raft wouldn't hold up their weight, right? So why did they all jump on board afterwards (Carlos included) and everything was all right? Did I miss something?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This sounds fricken awesome! Maybe something along the lines of The Girl in the Steel Corset and... Bright Young Things? But with more 'girl power'? A...moreThis sounds fricken awesome! Maybe something along the lines of The Girl in the Steel Corset and... Bright Young Things? But with more 'girl power'? And make like both books above and make the setting happen.
Either way I'll be looking forward to this one!(less)
Whisper My Name is about a young girl, Meriel, whose father takes her away from her home in India, to live in England, after her mother has died. Ther...moreWhisper My Name is about a young girl, Meriel, whose father takes her away from her home in India, to live in England, after her mother has died. There, her grandfather performs all these strange tests, to which she knows not the meaning, and anytime she asks, she is left with more questions than she'd begun with. Kept in captivity and sheltered for years, Meriel finally seeks escape, and ventures out, meeting more people, and ultimately finding out much more than she bargained for. And that's how she discovers a deep conspiracy that has been going on for years and years: one that cost both her and her family's happiness.
The summary on MY edition (different to given above) gave me the impression that Whisper My Name was going to be a historical thriller. Or maybe it was just me, I don't know. Anyway, this book was good. Not amazing, not bad; just good. At the beginning, we are launched straight into clads of information. Right from the get-go we understand what kind of relationship Meriel has with her father, how her life in India was, in essence. Then she is whisked away to London, where "all she could see through the veils of cold rain [were] grey docks, grey buildings, under a grey sky." For the first few chapters, the book is written in third-perspective, but without even realising, it morphed gradually to first, which worked well to understand her better, and her perspective.
The novel kept true to the historical elements that existed in the scope of this book (1881-1885): the clothing and styles of the day, theatre, ettiquette and prestige, reputations, etc. I appreciated this. Eagland has surely done a fair amount of research on the time era. Anyway, for the most part, the plot moves along pretty slowly. Eagland sets up every single setting, which helped paint a clear picture of Meriel's surroundings. Her detailings are well done, which I think is really important with historical novels.
Since the novel is told in Meriel's perspective . . .
Between Shades of Gray . . . wow. This book is a bundle of emotions, so raw in illustrating the harsh realities that the deportees in Lithuania, La...more5/5
Between Shades of Gray . . . wow. This book is a bundle of emotions, so raw in illustrating the harsh realities that the deportees in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, endured and could never really recover from. Most perished, but those who survived all have stories to tell, and Sepetys honed her focus on THOSE PEOPLE. Those who never had a voice, who had to live in hiding, hoping to return home, afraid of what the NKVD Secret Police might do next. Captivating prose literature that captures the heart of a lost perspective on the damages of the second World War. I'm really at a loss for words right now.
Lina Vilkas is a 15 year old aspiring artist living in the safe confines of her Lithuanian home, until her whole family is thrown into a train, no information reported, no questions asked. In a harrowing journey across thousands of kilometres, among thousands of other Lithuanian deportees, Lina and her family stay strong while others lose hope. Until, Lina's father is sent away. What will become of her and her family, as Stalin and Hitler reign terror on their homeplace? Will they ever return home?
+ Great writing + Love Lina and her wrecklessness, the dynamic of her family, relationship between her and . + Symbolism and little details are beautiful + Cover (both HB and PB) illustrate the story so well + A whole variety of personalities - very interesting to read ~ Flashbacks seemed a bit strange at first, but I welcomed them eventually ~ I had a few questions left dangling at the end, which I shall not disclose here. Overall I was satisfied. In the last 20 pages I was thinking "How can it end now, when things are still so bad?"
Recommended to those with a heart; those with a longing for historical fiction that pulls at the tear ducts; people who are interested in WWII, Stalin or Hitler or the Secret Police; or just people who want to read a book that will make them think. As Sepetys says, "History holds secrets". This book fills a hole in history that is normally ignored or given little attention to, and Sepetys deals with it delicately and with an utmost sincerity that shows how emotionally attached she personally is to this particular period in time.(less)
First off, I think I like the UK cover (pictured) than the US cover. The UK cover portrays the idea of poison more coherently, and definitely emanates...moreFirst off, I think I like the UK cover (pictured) than the US cover. The UK cover portrays the idea of poison more coherently, and definitely emanates a darker idea of the novel. Plus, the colours are really cool. The blue/green, and then there is the gold...the contrast is nice. It is one of my favourite UK covers I have on my bookshelf right now.
The story that Maryrose Wood introduced me, was one with wonder and was of a complete different place and era entirely. The beginning is pretty slow, like, the first few chapters felt like a fricken' memoir to me! However, when Weed, with whom Jessamine becomes attached to, comes along; that's when the story becomes interesting and actually dared me to continue reading on.
There are few main characters, which is good for this kind of novel, given its short length. It allowed for focus on each character, and also explored each character's personality and mannerisms thoroughly. I liked the relationship between Jessamine and Weed. It was slow-moving, like a real relationship should be, which added more realism to their devotion to one another in the second half of the novel. Also, upon reading the novel, the family secrets uncovered are just DELICIOUS, HEARTBREAKING, SHOCKING . . ., and ultimately, left me upon reflection on my own family.
However, I was unable to LOVE any one character. I was, in honesty, detached. This may be told in first person, but since it is written in a form of "diary" narrative, I still felt like I was on the outside. Which is fine...but I just didn't have a side to root for when the time called for it. It left me pondering: when one has an aim, can the means by which that aim is sought over really justify all that has been done? It was thought-provoking, which I believe is a good thing. :)
I like the plant allusions throughout the novel. It was fresh and different. I had never read any flower or plant novel before, so this was a nice change from my normal reads. Also, that each plant held a different personality gave the novel a richer taste as a whole.
Lastly, the ending was a bit abrupt, and left me with lingering emotions. Gosh, it's really really good! In that, it makes me want to read the sequel, I hunger for the sequel! I wish it were out now, but dreams are often left unfulfilled when in the bout of a selfish person, so I shall wait it out.(less)
In Anastasia’s Secret, the plot follows Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova—the youngest Grand Duchess of the Russian Royal Family—as she, and her...moreLoved it.
In Anastasia’s Secret, the plot follows Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova—the youngest Grand Duchess of the Russian Royal Family—as she, and her family, goes through the events during her childhood that are still so famous to this day. If you are aware of the events that follow the fall of the Russian “old traditions” and the Imperial family, you’ll have an edge-up on what happens in the novel, because it does follow it quite well, to my understanding.
First up, Ms. Dunlap graciously begins with a few reference pages with characters' names, and brief descriptions on each. There are also some explanations as to the different "classes" of that society, and how names are formed in Russia: all proving to be quite helpful during my reading of the novel.
The characters, while many, as is made instantaneously apparent when opening the first page to see a whole plethora of the descriptions of individuals' names, are relatively easy to keep up with. Each character has nicknames and such, which assist in remembering each of them. I, myself, really liked Mashka (Marie, the 3rd born), Sasha (Mikhailovich, the guard, Ana’s love interest) and, of course, Anastasie (Anastasia). The romance between Sasha and Anastasia was so sweet, but at times a bit frustrating, because their love could never have been truly realised. While in history, there was not a "Sasha"--he is Dunlap's creation--this did not make his existence (or non-existence) any less magical or tragic.
I really enjoyed the writing style of the novel. Dunlap did a nice job of being quite clear in description, and every action, every bit of dialogue, to me, was well executed. While some may argue on this point, I was intrigued with everything this book had to offer. There was romance, there was truthfulness (due to the fact that this is, in fact, a re-telling, or Dunlap’s interpretation of events), mystery, tragedy . . . As a person who has not been privy to extensive knowledge on Russia during the WWI period, I was able to appreciate and remain enchanted and hopelessly entranced by Anastasia’s Secret. I was glad that I was able to follow the storyline with ease.
One thing that I thought did not work very well was the ending. I did not believe Dunlap dealt with it very well. SPOILER? The end of the narrative (Anastasie's voice) is one of hope as she and her family embark on towards Yekaterinburg. Then, Anastasia seems to finalise the story with conveying her undying love for Sasha, even when she dies. Aaand then we have an Epilogue. While a nice way to save little children from reading something "first-hand" and therefore more personal and violent, the recount-style telling of their deaths pales in comparison to what Dunlap could have done with it.
Anastasia’s Secret is full of intrigue, romance, and, as a semi-fictional retelling of what is—and will always be—a devastating, tragic historical event, Dunlap has done a fantastic job with keeping both authenticity and a heart-wrenching romance throughout her novel.
I was very small the first time someone told me the story of the day I was born. There were no terrible storms. No comets flew across the sky. Mama had an easy birth--I was the fourth child, so she was used to it. All that happened was that my father left the palace and went for a long walk alone in the gardens at Peterhof. He probably smoked while he walked. He enjoyed cigarettes and often gave them to us as a treat when we were older. He had to compose himself so that he would be able to smile and tell my mother he was glad that he had a fourth daughter instead of the long wished-for son, a tsarevich to continue the Romanov line. A tsarevich to continue three hundred years of history. But three years later Alexei was born, and everyone was happy. (p. 3, ch. 1)
Perhaps the most extraordinary time was in the summer, though, when we took the imperial train to Mogilev to visit Papa and Alexei at the front. It wasn't really the front, in that there was no fighting nearby. But occasionally we could hear the distant guns, like thunder. (p. 97, ch. 11)(less)
REQUESTED READ - I will probably do another paranormal request sometime in the future. ;)
An ancient prophecy that has been passed from generation...more4.5/5
REQUESTED READ - I will probably do another paranormal request sometime in the future. ;)
An ancient prophecy that has been passed from generation to generation, time and time again separating destined sisters from birth. Enshrouded in mystery and with a dark mystique that will draw even the most reluctant paranormal reader in to continue flipping the pages. A stunning debut. Strong in all aspects, especially in impact and writing. I found myself constantly awed by Zink's expertise in writing as she weaved mystery, one after another, right up to the end that is all of the following: satisfying, hopeful, terrifying, full of intrigue and adventure, and will no doubt bring people to read on to the next installment of this series.
I was definitely amazed by how engrossed I was by this book, and have every intention to read GUARDIAN OF THE GATE. I recommend this to ANYONE. However, be prepared to sludge through a few slow moments in the book: as with any mystery case, there are some dull spots where it seems as though nothing is moving forward. But it is really good, and has the right mix of things that YA readers would surely have interest in.
Plus, how pretty is the cover? I am truly sorry for taking so long to finish this book. Uni just started and I've been spending my time making notes and reading other stuff.
I just couldn't get enough of The Diviners! Despite the intimidating page count, I jumped right in and there was never a dull moment. There's a whole world to explore in this book—every scene, every page breathes with life. Libba Bray really doesn't skimp on the details, but rather than damping down the story, the extra paragraphs of description brought so much more to it. I felt like I was there. While I was reading this book it was difficult to differentiate between the world that Bray had created, and my own. I was lost in the bright lights of NYC and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to get away from it all.
Evie O’Neill is special. She can touch others’ possessions and see into that person’s past. One summer evening, Evie uses this gift as a way of astonishing her friends at a party. When she ends up revealing a dark secret, her small hometown of Zenith Ohio starts to talk and she is exiled to New York to live with her stuffy uncle, owner of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult.
Evie rediscovers herself in the bustling city of New York. Everything is a new opportunity, a gained experience, a chance for bigger and better things to come. However, from the day that a girl is discovered having been brutally murdered and marked with mysterious symbols, and Evie touches the girl’s shoe buckle and sees something that could be the key to the case, she doesn’t think she can keep quiet or stay away from the investigation. And then more people end up being killed in a similar way, and she knows she must get to the bottom of things.
Note: In true Libba Bray fashion, we also have the perspectives of several other characters, who both stand on their own but are integral to Evie’s story. I won’t go through their different story arcs, since I only wanted to include what’s revealed in the blurb of the book. Seriously, I recommend anyone to just start reading this book BLIND. As in, don’t read the blurb or reviews or anything that might give away any of the story.
Evie’s got a lot of moxie, there’s no doubt about that. She’s gutsy to a fault, where she sometimes gets herself into bad situations because of her boldness. It was hard not to engage with her character; even when she did do something completely reckless it was easy to forgive her just because of who she is presented to us as. I wouldn’t say she’s one of my favourite characters, because she doesn’t have a whole lot of substance to her: ultimately, she’s just looking to have a good time.
I actually cannot pinpoint my one favourite character from this book. I feel like they have the potential to grow on me even more as the series progresses. With The Diviners we’ve only just skimmed the surface and I personally want to know more and more about them.
There’s a bit of romance-y stuff in The Diviners, which is probably expected considering it’s a historical (1920s NYC no less) crossed with paranormal (hometown of romance). There’s a very cinematic quality to the way that the romances are presented. I could very easily see the scenes play out in my mind. Not just that, the relationships progressed relatively slowly and realistically, much to my delight. All you need to know is Evie has the option of two guys: Sam or Jericho. For the majority of the book I preferred Sam, just because of the circumstances surrounding Jericho, but by the end I thought there was more heart in their possible relationship. There is also some romantic tension between two of the surrounding characters which I strongly approve of.
While we’re on the topic of love, there’s also another kind of love explored in The Diviners—the love shared by family and friends. There’s the kind that felt familiar to me (the friendship between Evie and her NYC pen-pal Mabel), as well as the bonds that are formed between brothers (Memphis and Isaiah) and relatives (Evie and her uncle).
The Diviners is a heavy book, and I mean that both literally (+500 pages, guys) and figuratively. This NYC that Libba Bray has imagined is not a safe place to be. The main plot unfurls at an achingly steady pace. You’ll want to know more about what is causing all these murders, more about the Diviners, more about Evie and all the characters. I read a good chunk of this book at night-time, which put me at a little unease. There’s definitely some spook-factor in this book; leading up to the climax you won’t be able to keep your eyes off the pages because everything becomes epic and frightening and almost end-of-worldly. And because you have time to know the characters, you’ll end up caring what happens to them.
Libba Bray is a self-acclaimed research nerd, and it really shows in The Diviners. She included 20s slang words, she included minor details about the historical happenings of that time. I just loved the way this book was written. It’s in several perspectives, third-person narrative. And I think it’s important that this book was written with a bit of a reprieve from the main plot because it does have down-time and allows the reader to process the progression of the sinister and nearing evil entity’s appearance. Personally, I felt the pacing was well done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if fans of action and faster-paced books could not make it to the end of The Diviners.
In The Diviners, Libba Bray reaches success in crafting a tantalising world shrouded in mystery and intrigue--you'll have no choice but to read on and go along for the ride. This first book in a new series is a seductive mash-up of roaring 20s New York and the supernatural. Brimming with characters that carry the very essence of life in the 20s and full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing, The Diviners is a 2012 YA release not to be missed!(less)
Got up to page 130~. It's too slow paced for my liking. Maybe if I didn't have uni start tomorrow and stuff coming up I'd continue, but with such a bo...moreGot up to page 130~. It's too slow paced for my liking. Maybe if I didn't have uni start tomorrow and stuff coming up I'd continue, but with such a book I need to focus and remember where I am. It'd be very easy to forget everything I've read. From what I've read, the characters are okay. It all seemed a tad stale though, but I'm sure fans of the time period (1800s) would like the characters more than I did. Also, the scene would shift in the blink of an eye, leaving me completely confused and lost. As it stands, I'll leave this unfinished. Perhaps in the future, like semester break, I can pick this up again.(less)