Tell Me More: At first glance, Mad Miss Mimic might seem a little off-kilter, stuffed just a little too full of historical premisMore of a 3.5 really.
Tell Me More: At first glance, Mad Miss Mimic might seem a little off-kilter, stuffed just a little too full of historical premises to stand firmly on its own. There's the drama of courtship, the dangers of the opium trade, and the struggles of not being able to use one's voice, literally. It all comes together in a novel that isn't quite as strong as it could have been, but still maintains a solid foundation and has a charming protagonist to carry the story.
Leonora Somerville--Leo, for short--is a genuinely lovely character. She knows herself and knows what the world is like, and while she experiences self-doubt like any other teenage girl, it's never powerful enough to really stop her from pursuing what she believes in. I loved that the novel gave her room to breathe and let her test her boundaries, and that ultimately she was doing what she wanted to do with her life. Her loneliness is never played off as a weakness, but as a natural result of the isolation she's been forced to live with, and the discouragement from people who should be her biggest champions.
It's not surprising then that when Leo seems to find an ally in Francis Thornfax, she wants to believe he's telling the truth about liking her for who she is. She's not gullible so much as she is hopeful, and Sarah Henstra ties that hope to Leo's bigger character arc. She doesn't need to defeat the people around her to succeed. She just needs to see herself as a worthy person on her own.
Where Mimic falls short is the romance and conflict. Unpredictable Tom Rampling is an obvious foil to Thornfax's more assured, confident hero, and his social standing keeps him from being a natural choice for Leo's affections, at least in the eyes of her guardians. There wasn't enough tension to make me doubt that Tom and Leo would end up together, or at least come to an understanding about their feelings for each other. I just wasn't surprised by how their relationship played out, and that kept me from enjoying how it was built up.
The romance may have also been affected by everything else happening in the book.
...Leo must find the links between the Black Glove's attacks, Tom's criminal past, the doctor's dangerous cure, and Thornfax's political ambitions.
There's a lot going on in Mad Miss Mimic, and not a whole lot of time to process everything. 272 pages feel too short to really give all of these plot points room to breathe and develop. There were several chapters that I had to reread to make sure I hadn't missed a clue or lost some key information in the dialogue. The historical details were lovely, but I didn't feel like I had time to savour them and let them recreate Leo's world in my head.
The Final Say: My wish for a slower pace aside, Mad Miss Mimic is a sound historical novel, and its protagonist a refreshing and realistic young woman. I would happily recommend it to readers beginning to explore historical fiction, and those looking for a book reminiscent of The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
As in previous novels, the bulk of Blood Promise shifts to a central location, in this case Russia/Siberia, and the change brings a new gravity to theAs in previous novels, the bulk of Blood Promise shifts to a central location, in this case Russia/Siberia, and the change brings a new gravity to the story. Rose's solitary journey to find Dimitri is peppered with new discoveries about the Moroi world, including the appearance of Sydney, a prickly Alchemist. The nature of Rose's trip also means a shift to Rose/Dimitri, and I found it a little harder to be completely invested because of that new focus. I greatly enjoyed the scenes where, through her bond with Lissa, Rose got glimpses of what was going on at St. Vladimir's. Despite my reluctance for Rose/Dimitri, I do think that seeing Lissa and Rose away from each other was good for both of them in the end, because it gives them perspective. Their friendship is still one of the strongest I've seen in YA, and Mead keeps it realistic even when it's not easy to read about. I would add a trigger warning for emotional abuse in the latter half of this novel--the escalation of certain events can leave readers feeling very overwhelmed.
Jumping straight into Frostbite was only natural after the amazing ride Vampire Academy gave me, and I didn’t regret a single moment. Richelle Mead paJumping straight into Frostbite was only natural after the amazing ride Vampire Academy gave me, and I didn’t regret a single moment. Richelle Mead paces her stories well, with one central location serving as the anchor for all the events in the book. The ski trip was an interesting and unexpected change of scenery, and I liked that she expanded the Moroi world beyond St. Vladimir’s Academy. The sense of danger is heightened now that Rose and her friends are outside of their school, and my only issue was that much of the action is crammed into the last half of the book. As it stands, it’s a pretty minor issue and did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. The Rose/Dimitri scenes did make me a little impatient, mostly because I am not emotionally invested in their romance, but again, I still found the story to be just as compelling as the first novel.
Tell Me More: When you're a teen, the smallest fallYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: When you're a teen, the smallest fall can seem like a disaster of epic proportions. You try your best to build an impenetrable wall, stay dignified and cool, but underneath that facade, most teens often have very real problems. It's nothing new to those of us who have passed adolescence. But what happens when one of those very real problems includes your own survival? Carrie Mac's The Opposite of Tidy is a stark look at the way two lives can fall apart, and the work required to bring the pieces back together again.
Initially, I had a difficult time getting into Junie's story. The prose isn't especially exciting, and the pacing was unusually slow for a contemporary novel. It added to the distance I felt between myself and Junie, which wasn't an ideal position to be in. I wanted to like the story, however, and I grew fond of Junie by the halfway point of the novel. The parallels to Sarah Dessen's Lock and Key were quite obvious to me, since both Junie and Ruby are dealing with mothers who--for all intents and purposes--are not present in their daughters' lives. Their individual struggles were still very much tied to the lack of maternal support, and both of them make some reckless decisions having been influenced by that.
Beyond the mother-daughter relationships, one of the main themes in The Opposite of Tidy is control. Junie's mother exhibits a lack of control in her hoarding, which is later determined to be a sign of mental illness. Junie herself feels like her life has spun out of control, and her actions reflect her desire to regain her footing in a shifting world. As intriguing as it is to see young protagonists dealing with supernatural powers and creatures, I find stories like Junie's display more courage, because it illustrates just how hard it is to live a normal life. There isn't anything or anyone who can save Junie and her mother--they have to pull each other out by themselves. And why should Junie help her mother at all, when she's destroying both of their lives? Questions like these add to the thematic complexity of this story, and make it an intense experience for the reader. It is a story worth reading, however, and one worth sharing with readers that struggle with that same loss of balance in their lives.
The Final Say: The Opposite of Tidy is more than a flickering glance at the true nature of mental illness--it is a sobering take on the challenges of loving someone who comes close to being unloveable, and finding the strength to battle onwards.
DNF. I just couldn't get past the random changes in POV and tense, plus the waves of cliches. There doesn't seem to be any real, necessary reason forDNF. I just couldn't get past the random changes in POV and tense, plus the waves of cliches. There doesn't seem to be any real, necessary reason for a story like this to be told....more
Release Date: March 6, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult Pages:You can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: March 6, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 408 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: As a relatively new visitor to Bordertown, I thought I had a pretty decent idea of Charles de Lint's writing style. The rusty, gritty worlds he constructs are one of a kind, and yet they feel like neighborhoods we've all visited or seen. His characters are tough without falling into stereotypes, and unique enough to peak anyone's interest. In Under My Skin, de Lint brings his talent to the town of Santa Feliz, California, where Wildlings have begun to take over the population.
There are no complaints to be found when it comes to the prose--de Lint charges full-speed into a whirlwind of language. His descriptions of the town will make readers feel like they're breathing in that sea air, and the dialogue is snappy and fresh. The plot was certainly fascinating to watch unfold, even as I was able to predict what was going to happen in every chapter. If it were anyone else, I admit that I would have given up on such predictability, but I trusted that de Lint would make it a story worth reading.
I do question the necessity of dual perspectives in the novel, because it felt like a distracting concession to some readers' preference for knowing everything that happens in the story. I would have been content following Josh or Marina, but having both characters narrate some of the same scenes or overlapping scenes did get a bit tedious. This ties into my other problem with the novel: uneven pacing. Many of the urban fantasies I've read have a zip to their story, which keeps me from overanalyzing the piece and allows me to immerse myself in that world. There were moments in Under My Skin that were like watching a snail race--I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter and see some actual action. Josh and Marina were so real to me that when they got a little too whiny or difficult (as teenagers do), I did find it difficult to be as patient with them as I wanted to be.
Overall, there are about an equal number of pros and cons to the Wildlings series, which I believe will be better balanced in the succeeding books. More time with the universe de Lint has created may serve to clarify why these characters face the problems they do, and give the reader the chance to really fall in love with them.
The Final Say: Under My Skin is an explosive new addition to the YA urban fantasy spectrum, with shapeshifters that are more human than you might think. It is an excellent introduction to the genre and will delight supernatural fans all over the world....more
Release Date: January 31, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 288 FormaYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: January 31, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 288 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from Penguin Canada
Tell Me More: Hiromi Goto's Half World is an exercise in harnessing one's imagination. Not since Graceling have I found a more richly imagined fantasy world, though it is quite darker than Kristin Cashore's work. I was glad to have Darkest Light on my shelf immediately after reading HW.
Reasons to Read: Reincarnation in YA tends to go along the route of star-crossed lovers who've been given a second chance. It also tends to be treated quite lightly, almost like a deus ex machina that ties all the problems up in a pretty little bow. Not so with Gee and his conflicting natures. Without spoiling it for anyone, I was quite impressed with the way Goto took on the challenge of making reincarnation about the person, and not about their past.
The language in this book is also astonishing in its beauty. I never doubted for a second that Gee's world is one where strange things can and do happen. The best fantasy stories lift you into a cloud that obstructs any outside distractions and let me tell you, my family had a really difficult time snapping me out of this novel. At the risk of sounding pedantic, I couldn't find anything to dislike about Goto's writing style, though I will admit that readers unfamiliar with epic fantasy novels may have a hard time. The story is worth sticking around for, and the characters are brilliantly rendered.
That's Not All:
No family is perfect, but Gee's Older Sister and Popo are just the right balance for his darker side. Their relationships are heartwarming and honest.
Diversity is the name of the game, with LGBTQ characters that never fall into stereotypes.
The Final Say: Darkest Light and its companion novel Half World are two Canadian jewels that will move readers' imaginations and hearts long after the final page....more
Quirky characters are part and parcel of great YA fiction, but This One Time With Julia may have taPosted on Seashell Reviews at Mermaid Vision Books!
Quirky characters are part and parcel of great YA fiction, but This One Time With Julia may have taken things a bit too far. Despite my willingness to follow what promised to be a difficult character, I found it challenging to even understand what was happening in the novel. At times, it felt as though David Lampson was attempting to channel Daniel Keyes' groundbreaking Flowers for Algernon, but there was no heart or rationality to the story....more