The Raven Boys is the latest novel from popular young adult novelist, Maggie Stiefvater. It tells the story of Blue Sargent, who lives with her mother in a household of psychics, and four boys who attend Aglionby Academy - Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Blue has always been told that her true love would die if she ever kissed him, but she did not know that the first ghost she would ever see belonged to someone who hasn't died.
Even though I've never been a fan of Maggie Stiefvater, there is no denying the beautiful style of her Writing - especially in The Raven Boys. We're given a lovely blend of mysteries, ghosts, leylines, Welsh mythology, brotherhood, and just a touch of romance. The storytelling and writing is smooth, though luscious, and will appeal to both teen and crossover adult audiences. I can also see it appealing just as much to male teens with the novel centering more on mystery and mythology than the romantic aspect of things.
The story focused primarily on Blue, the psychic's daughter; Gansey, the saucy rich boy obsessed with finding lost things; Ronan, the broken bad boy with more issues than National Geographic; Adam, the poor local scholarship student; and Noah, who seems just a bit off. Additionally, there was a multitude of minor characters that were just as fascinating and given nearly as much depth as the protagonists. Maura Sargent's psychic roommates, Persephone in particular, were the aunts and cousins that I never knew I wanted. I'm trying to avoid saying too much because I'm afraid to spoil even the tiniest thing. That being said, the characters and the writing is the very best part of the book. 5/5 Stars
Once I started reading, I was immediately drawn into the fictional town of Henrietta, Virginia by Stiefvater's World-Weaving. The location was beautifully described, though far too eerie to be anywhere I'd like to visit, and I could see every setting of this novel clearly in my mind's eye. The graveyards, churches, leylines, and everything were presented in such a way to make perfect sense to me. The way Stiefvater tied the Glendower myth into the story was genius. There was enough history and mythology to make me a very happy girl, but not too much to turn off less voracious readers. The world of The Raven Boys is one that most people can enjoy. 5/5 Stars
The Raven Boys is another book that I feel I must throw the Pacing and Attention Span together for reviewing purposes. While the story dragged a bit in some areas, it was constantly on my mind - even as I did other things. I gave myself a full week to read it because I wanted to savor it. Things unfolded quickly enough in the novel, but I like to simmer when it comes to books with twists and numerous pockets of information. The drag at the start of the novel may be off-putting to some, but it is well worth it in the end. 4/5 Stars
Would you want to choke me if I told you that the Extra Magic of The Raven Boys is the magic? Yes? Well, there wasn't really magic, per se, in the novel, but it was definitely an outstanding ghost story. I have not read many young adult novels that weaved psychics and ghosts together in a way that wasn't trying to scare your pants off, and it was nice. The Raven Boys consists of good, old-fashioned storytelling of a world and characters that drew me and kept me hook (even at the few slow parts) until the very end. Also, I appreciate the lack of a nail-biting cliffhanger. (But do not for a moment assume there was none.) One final thing that I would like to mention is that I have been writing and rewriting this review - finally scrapping the entire thing I was working on - because I don't feel I can say enough to do this book justice. This is far and away my favorite fall read to date. 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a Southern Book Bloggers tour in exchange for an honest review. The advance copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
The Dark Unwinding is the debut young adult novel by Sharon Cameron. It is a Victorian mystery, centering on Katharine Tulman, an orphan who lives under the "kindness" of her Aunt Alice. She is sent to stay with her uncle, Frederick Tulman, to testify that he has gone mad so she can secure the dwindling family fortune for her cousin, Robert. However, once she arrives at Stranwyne Keep, Katharine learns that things are not at all what they seem and that maybe what is happening at the estate is more than madness.
The Writing of The Dark Unwinding was enjoyable, though a little confusing for me. I had a bit of trouble following the plot (mysteries that are too layered tend to lose me), and I spent a great deal of the book wanting to shake Katharine. There was a lot that we (the audience) are kept guessing at throughout the course of the novel. Is Uncle Tully mad or a genius? Is Katharine herself mad? Is there something deeper and darker going on at Stranwyne Keep? The mystery in the story was a bit complex for my taste, but if you enjoy mysteries, this will be a good book for you.
The characters in novel all have little secrets of their own. Mrs. Jefferies, Davy, Mary, and Lane each have something to hide from Katharine, but it is not their open disdain for who she is and what she came to Stranwyne Keep to do. They are all extremely loyal to and protective of Frederick Tulman, and they will go to any length to protect him. Their behavior is admirable to an extent, but they all become rather scary. If I was Katharine, I would have left after the first week, duties be damned. The estate was creepy, and there is no way I would sleep in a house with that many people who had it out for me. Even her only ally, the student Ben Aldridge, had secrets and became a bit frightening.
There is a quasi-love triangle in The Dark Unwinding, but the romance takes a backseat to the mystery and wonders of Stranwyne Keep. I never felt that Katharine should be with either one of the guys, but I completely understand her initial decision regarding them. That being said, I personally wouldn't have stayed around long enough to develop any sort of relationship with anyone there. Those servants were SCARY. I suppose the purpose of a gothic sort of mystery is to keep you on the edge of your seat, and Ms. Cameron definitely accomplished that. 3.5/5 Stars
Sharon Cameron was very successful in her World-Weaving in The Dark Unwinding. While I did not actually feel like I was in Victorian England myself (I can become quite immersed in what I'm reading), the setting was fairly plausible. Cameron based her story on William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck and Welbeck Abbey. The idea of Stranwyne Keep and its residents was fascinating, but knowing that it was inspired by reality made it that much more interesting to read. Stranwyne Keep definitely counted as a character in the book. It was wonderfully described in a way that I could picture in my head. I would almost want to visit it, but for the servants (who would not have to worry about me ever darkening their doorstep). I suppose the peculiar characters being woven into the peculiarities of the estate made The Dark Unwinding that much more intriguing and enjoyable to read. 3.5/5 Stars
While the Pace of The Dark Unwinding was good, my Attention Span did not cooperate entirely. There was always something unraveling or a bit of action, but the set-up of the various enigmas and said action tended to drag a bit for me. The Dark Unwinding is a relatively short book, but it took me longer to read it than what I would have figured for its length. Since I was unable to really connect with Katharine, I suppose that also affected how much I was invested in the book. If nothing else, I stayed with the book to see how the novel would play out and if there would be a Happily Ever After for Katharine and the people of the estate. 3/5 Stars
The Extra Magic in The Dark Unwinding is none other than the very sweet "Uncle Tully". While being very childlike, he was so much more than expected. I always had a smile on my face when I read his scenes, and I never had any difficulty in understanding how a man obsessed with his inventions (okay, toys) could elicit such love, loyalty, and devotion from everyone who met him. 4/5 Stars
The Dark Unwinding is a suspenseful and interesting novel that I think mystery and historical fiction readers will enjoy. While it is classified as young adult, I think it will hold just as much appeal to adult readers.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Breathe is a young adult dystopian novel by Sarah Crossan that is set in a future where oxygen, as well as the domes that saved humanity, are all owned by a corporation called Breathe. Trees are gone and the oceans have died, leaving an environment outside of the "pods" that only has oxygen levels of about six percent. The interactions and relationships between three teenagers in this bleak future are the focus of the novel: Alina, the rebel; Bea, the auxiliary; and Quinn, the Premium. Each chapter is based on one of their points of view.
The Writing of Breathe had a smooth flow to it, and I could have easily finished this novel in one sitting had I the time. Even though it was told from each of the main characters' points of view, it was never difficult to follow or understand. There were no confusing themes (conserve nature and social disparity are simple enough) or plot points, and it was basically a novel about three young people learning about themselves, each other, and the world in which they lived. There was a bit of a love triangle, but I hesitate to call it that because I never for a moment thought it would go a way other than what it did. The characters did not change too much over the course of the book, except that Bea became slightly annoying. (I loved her in the beginning.) Yes, their relationships changed, but I can't say that any of the three really grew in my opinion. So to wrap up the writing, Breathe did not have too much in the way of plot twists or character development, but it was still an enjoyable read. 3/5 Stars
Despite the fact that I felt a sense of déjà vu throughout most of the novel, the World-Weaving was solid. The idea of humanity surviving the apocalypse under a dome has been done many times before, but Crossan made this story her own. In Breathe, she created an Earth that has an atmospheric oxygen level of about six percent. The reason for this is presented in a way that is plausible enough, as well as the corporation who rose to meet the needs of humanity - Breathe. The way life in the pod/dome/whatever is structured based on wealth lends even more to the feasibility of this futuristic society. However, I could not help but keep thinking of Pure by Julianna Baggott the entire time I was reading it. They are not entirely the same premise-wise, but I just kept hoping that maybe Breathe would be as successful with the world outside of the dome. It did not fail, but I expected more of the novel. 3.5/5 Stars
I could sing glorious ballads about the Pacing of Breathe if I was a singer of glorious ballads. The story never dragged, and I zipped right through the novel. Sometimes journey novels are prone to hang-ups, but this one never did. Was it because of the alternating POV? Maybe, but I'm not complaining. I will happily thrust this into the hands of reluctant readers and people just starting to cross over into YA. 4.5/5 Stars
I won't deny that there was a lot of Extra Magic in Breathe. I was immediately sucked into the book and never lost interest in it, despite mentally comparing it to other books that I have read. Sure, there have been others that have been done better and some worse. (It also reminded me of Divergent by Veronica Roth, and I liked Breathe LOADS better!) All of the characters were enjoyable to read, and Bea was my favorite up until the climax of the story. Quinn is a believable love interest that I do not have to worry about beating his girlfriend, and Alina is a broken lady rebel who still manages to be relatable. (They just don't change much.) So what exactly is that Extra Magic? *shrugs* It doesn't matter. I just liked the book. 4/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a digital copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The outcome of the review has not been affected by this. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Tricked by Kevin Hearne is the fourth installment in his urban fantasy series, The Iron Druid Chronicles. In this book, our hero (and my book boyfriend), Atticus O'Sullivan; his dog, Oberon; and his apprentice, Granuaile face the repercussions of Atticus' trip to Asgard, as well as a few new issues thanks to the Navajo trickster god, Coyote.
The Writing of Tricked reminded me of precisely why I love to read. It's easy for me to lose interest in books because I'm such a picky reader. (Yes, I am an avid reader, but I'm not an easy one to please. I try to tone that down here on the blog.) Kevin Hearne's quirky humor and heavy use of both nerdy pop culture and literary references lovingly caresses the inner dweeb in me. Tricked is also obviously heavily researched. The book (and series) is loaded with facts about various mythologies and poisons, as well many other trivial knowledge that went over my head (such as mining equipment) - not that it was boring. I just used that time to pretended that I could beat up Granuaile and take her place roaming the world with Atticus and Oberon. Anywho, research is always appreciated, even if it's something I do not exactly understand. At least someone does, right?
As far as character development goes, it was not quite as deep as Hammered (where we were offered an EPIC male-bonding/past history scene), but it was well done as far as Atticus goes. A deeper glance is given into Atticus' time in Africa with his wife, what brought him to the New World, and we learned a bit more about his archdruid master/trainer. (I'd bet money that this guy comes up in the next book or two.) However, there is still much more that I'd like to learn about Granuaile since she's becoming such a major character in the series. Oberon, on the other paw (see what I did there?), requires no development as he sprang from Hearne's brain fully equipped with all of the awesomeness allowed in a literary character without the world imploding. He has easily become my favorite character in the series, despite my very creepily real crush on Atticus. 4.5/5 Stars
Kevin Hearne's created reality in Tricked is one that I often fantasize about being the one we actually live in, so the World-Weaving is successful for me. Everything exists as it is in our own world except that all the gods of all religions are real and able to walk among us, along with other paranormal and supernatural creatures. All of the creatures and myths are used successfully in the world-building and execution of the story and are never too much. Again, it is his research that makes this aspect of the story shine. 5/5 Stars
The Pacing of the story was a little off compared to the other novels in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and never lost interest, but the ride was a little bit bumpier than the first three novels. If you want me to be honest, I was somewhat disappointed in the outcome of Mrs. MacDonagh, who was one of my favorite characters. I've been waiting a year to find out what happened to her since the end of Hammered, and the letdown made me grip the book slightly less tightly throughout the rest of it. 4/5 Stars
As always, the Extra Magic in Hearne's novels are the unapologetic nerdiness found within the pages. The first Star Wars reference is made on page two, and the hilarity continues throughout the book, even when things get serious. Two of my favorite quotations happen very early on in Tricked.
As I shampooed Oberon's coat, I explained how to craft hypotheses and test them empirically using a control. And then I stressed safety while I rinsed him off.
"It's best not to experiment on yourself. Bacon practically froze himself to death in one of his experiements and died of pneumonia."
Right! Bacon must be heated. Knew that already, but thanks for the reminder.
I love my hound. — Tricked, Page 16
That, my friends, is what a book needs to make me giggle and love it. And I loved Tricked. Even if Fragarach was not the main sword, and I did not get to sing the Fraggle Rock theme song in my head every time Atticus drew it. Maybe I should refer to the first three books in the series as the "Fraggle Rock Trilogy" from now on. *grins* 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I have not received any sort of compensation for my review. The book was purchased by me with money that I made from my jobs that do not pay me nearly enough. All opinions expressed are fangirly, honest, and completely my own. (less)
Provocateur is a novel of intrigue and womanly wile that follows the path of Nadia Borodin from her...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
Provocateur is a novel of intrigue and womanly wile that follows the path of Nadia Borodin from her poor beginnings in Russia to her role as a top earner in the agency which rescued her.
The Writing of Provocateur was not quite what I expected from the novel. It was an easy read, but I found myself a bit disconnected and confused from time to time. The premise was fascinating, and I had no trouble sitting with the book for an hour or so at a time, but I felt like I was reading a documentary. The author inserted little tidbits of history and some great photographs into the novel, and it proved distracting. As much as I love history, I think that it took away more than it gave to this novel about a seductress. The narrator was also a little too omniscient, also lending to the documentary feel. Charles D. Martin provided the thoughts of various characters to us, whether it was necessary or not.
The biggest thing that confused me in the writing was when Nadia went undercover as a hostess at a yacht club, using the name "Tatyana". During those chapters, the narrator inconsistently refers to Nadia as Tatyana, as well as the other characters who know her as Nadia. It left me scratching my head because there was no real pattern or reason as to why. And as soon as the "job" was over, she was back to Nadia. Despite these things, I still enjoyed reading about Nadia and her conquests and was able to lose myself in the story. 3/5 Stars
The World-Weaving of the story was good. I was able imagine myself in high society with Nadia and right there with her on her assignments. Martin is obviously knowledgeable about the upper classes and brings that to life on the pages. I did have trouble suspending belief in a few situations (extremely wealthy and successful businessmen can't possibly be THAT dumb), but it's fiction, so I just took it for what it was. 3/5 Stars
The Pace and my Attention Span (I'm throwing these together here) of the Provocateur was good. It was an easy read with lots of action. It's common to find dead filler in adult novels, but even what I found to be excess history in the book was fascinating to read, all the same. 3/5 Stars
The Extra Magic in this novel was the kickass heroine, Nadia. She was able to rise from her beginning in a Russian orphanage to become a strong, confident, and successful agent. It was stressed time and again that it was her intelligence, not her sexiness or beauty, that made her special. I think that was my favorite part of the entire book. 3.5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.(less)
Loving Lady Marcia is the first book in Kieran Kramer's new Regency series, The House of Brady. It is...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
Loving Lady Marcia is the first book in Kieran Kramer's new Regency series, The House of Brady. It is a light-hearted adult romance that is inspired by situations in the beloved American sitcom, "The Brady Bunch". The main focus of the book is Lady Marcia Brady's romance first with Finnian Lattimore, and then later his brother, Duncan Lattimore, Earl of Chadwick.
The Writing of Loving Lady Marcia was typical for the adult Modern Regency novel, if you are familiar with those. It was a very fun read that follows the characters through the romantic and conservative standards of 19th century British society. Lady Marcia is the oldest daughter in the Brady household who we meet while she is traveling to a wedding in Ireland with Lord Chadwick (Duncan) and Mr. Lattimore (Finn). She turns sixteen on the journey and falls madly in love with Mr. Lattimore, who proceeds to break her heart. Kieran Kramer takes us on a delightful romp with Marcia through London five years later, following her dismissal as headmistress of her former school by the school's benefactress (and her rival), Lady Ennis.
The story is filled characters with characters that you will recognize from "The Brady Bunch": the parents, Gregory, Janice, Peter, Robert, Cynthia, Alice the maid (briefly), and a nod to Tiger (the dog). They encompass everything that was fun about the sitcom, while playing true to the Regency standards in the novel. Gregory acts as a friend to Lord Chadwick and an excuse to visit the Brady household while he woos Marcia, and Janice is her sister's best friend, as well as becomes a target of the story's womanizer, Finn. However, the characters who stole the book for me were Joe, Lord Chadwick's son, and the Duke of Beauchamp. Their interactions was hilarious and provided a cute distraction from the romance developing on hand.
As for the romance and love triangle implied by the synopsis, I never felt drawn to Marcia and Finn as a couple. I enjoy a scoundrel as much as the next person, but it merely worked (for me) as an introduction to the romantic feelings between Marcia and Lord Chadwick. Though she has sworn off romance following her fling with Finn as a teenager, she did not take long to rush into the arms of the very attractive earl. It seemed that Duncan only wished to "clean up" Finn's messes, so to speak, but his true feelings for Lady Marcia were evident very early on in the novel. Most of the character and romance development did seem a bit manufactured at times (Finn was really the only one that stayed true to form throughout), but it was fun to read none-the-less. 4/5 Stars
The World-Weaving was a very fun part of the book. There were lots of glittering balls, card parties, outings, and secret trysts that occurred, and they were a beautiful setting for the novel. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the clothes and the frills of the peacocks of London society. Kramer always took special care to give a good visualization of each event, no matter how minor it may have seemed. The one thing I would have liked to see more of is some of the historical going-ons during that time period, but it did not really pertain much to the novel. (That's just the historian coming out in me.) 4/5 Stars
I am going to completely skip my Attention Span portion of the review, as I did read this as a part of a blog tour, but I will focus instead on the Pacing of the novel. One of the great things about these cute Regency romances is that they are fairly predictable. These romances are great fun to read when all you want to do is just sit back and enjoy a book with no heavy lifting. However, it can happen from time to time that the story will drag because everyone knows what is going to happen except for the characters. This was only the case a few times in Loving Lady Marcia, but I did find myself skimming once in a while because I wanted to get back to the romance at hand. (No, I was not smut-cruising!) The characters dancing their way through society can be great fun, but I tend to lose interest quickly if I get too many distractions from the events at hand. 3.5/5 Stars
The Extra Magic in the novel is going to make me seem like a hypocrite, considering my issue with the pacing. While some of the events in the novel had me skimming, the parts with Joe (as I stated before) were some of my favorites. The four year old did so well in bringing out the characters around him. Okay, I also enjoyed reading the sexy-times. There, I said it. 3.5/5 Stars
Loving Lady Marcia is a sexy, funny book that is filled with beautiful settings and society that will surely be enjoyed by anyone who loves historical romance or Regency novels.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a free digital ARC of the book for reviewing purposes as a part of Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are honest, my own, and have not been influenced in any way. (less)
The Raft is a contemporary young adult novel by S. A. Bodeen that follows Robie – a fifteen year old girl who lives with her research scientist parents on Midway Island – after her plane crash on her flight home from Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Writing of The Raft is perfect for a young adult reader, but still has crossover appeal for adult readers. It is not too technical and does not use terminology that would potentially be daunting for a more reluctant reader. There are scientific facts woven into the story, but it is done in such a way that makes the story flow and could very possibly interest a reader into finding out more about various settings, creatures, situations, etc. in the novel.
While it is not too technical in structure, there is definitely a literary streak to the story. Robie found herself in two old-fashioned literary conflicts – Man Vs. Nature and Man Vs. Himself (okay – Girl Vs.). She found herself at odds with the elements and wildlife throughout the story, in addition to the hard decisions that she was forced to make in order to survive – along with dealing with their repercussions. This is a modern book would be great to read in a classroom setting since it does not have the intimidation connotation that lingers around “classics”. There is current pop culture references made throughout the story that I believe would make it even more appealing.
As for character development, Robie is sensational. Readers get to see her grow so much, and I never found myself doubting her choices or behavior during her fight for survival. Max, on the other hand, had quite a few holes. I had difficulty connecting with or caring for him. *Spoiler* (view spoiler)[Castaway was able to pull a similar character off more efficiently. I cried when Wilson drifted away. With Max, I basically shrugged and went about my business. (hide spoiler)] *End of Spoiler* Honestly, I was more attached the seal that makes an appearance in the book.
My biggest gripe about the writing was that the story felt a bit cliché at times. I feel like this is done quite a bit in the young adult [non]genre, but I can definitely see where a bit of a formula can make a book easier to read. 4/5 Stars
The World Building was so well done that I felt as if I was reading a true account of someone’s survival. Robie was very convincing in her reactions to her various circumstances, and I battled nature and those inner demons right along with her. Bodeen’s implementation of trivial knowledge about the survival kit, sea life, and the islands better illustrated the situations of being lost at sea and life in the Pacific islands for me as a reader, as neither of them are something with which I am familiar. I could see everything in the novel perfectly in my mind, even tasting the salt and fear with Robie. That being said, I’ll probably pass on boarding a cargo flight from Hawaii to Midway if the opportunity ever presents itself. I may also fear tiger sharks more than snakes now. 5/5 Stars
I could not put this book down, so my Attention Span was at one hundred percent. I was glued to the pages, desperate to discover what would befall Robie in the coming chapters. This is not my usual reading material, but I was besotted nonetheless. I was gripping the book for dear life (Robie’s, of course), and on board for its entirety. 5/5 Stars
The Pacing of the novel was perfect, and it is not a long book. I did not ever feel that I was being fed the literary equivalent of pink slime (filler). All of the scenes were necessary to the flow of the novel, and were put together in such a way that my interest never faded. 5/5 Stars
The imminent danger, fear, and horror that saturated the book were all a part of the Extra Magic of The Raft. I believe that is what kept me reading the story. I was disturbed, and one of my usual deal-breakers happened in the course of the novel. Despite that – and maybe because of it, as it worked for the story – I could not put the book down at any point. 5/5 Stars
As I conclude, the main thing important to mention is that the book should be enjoyed by a more mature teen that can handle the intense situations in the story. I would see no problem with a tween picking this book up if they are not weak at heart when it comes to survival. The Raft is a harrowing story of a young girl struggling against the elements and choices, and it is most assuredly a book not to be missed.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of the Once Upon a Twilight ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by either the publisher or author, which has had no effect on the outcome. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
So Close to You is the debut novel of young adult author, Rachel Carter. It is about a young girl, Lydia Bentley, and her search for answers about the Montauk Project and Camp Hero.
The Writing of So Close to You gets no complaints from me. Even though the copy I had for reviewing purposes was an ARC, I cannot recall any problems that I had with the structure of the book itself. It is written in a way that is not intimidating, so teens (even the younger ones) will have no difficulty in reading this book. I suppose the theme of the book is family and the lengths we're willing to take with our loved ones. 4/5 Stars
Rachel Carter's World-Weaving in the story is quite lovely, and I had no problem believing the parts of the book that were set in the 1940s. I thought Ms. Carter captured the essence of that time period (as I think of it) and portrayed the atmosphere of a country at war convincingly. She even included pop culture references from that era that teens may be excited to recognize. However, I found the characters in the "world" (both 1944 and 2012) to be a bit two-dimensional, but that is not to say there is no beauty in a flat image. Lydia Bentley is the only one with substance, but she has a bit of a one-track mind. She offered no surprises or growth (not that there is much point for it in the story). I won't even get started on the instalove.
As a science fiction nerd, I do need to touch on that aspect of the world-weaving. I wanted more explanation than what was given for the rules of time traveling in Carter's world. Not much more was offered than a nod to Edward Lorenz' Butterfly effect (also known as the Chaos theory). I suppose it doesn't help that I always go back to Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" when reading about these things, but I digress. I know that I'm hard to please where time travel and paradox is involved. Also, I came to this book excited about reading nerdy things (okay, I thought I was getting inter-dimensional travel), and I found a time-traveling contemporary novel. I'm not saying it's a bad thing - just not what I had expected. 3/5 Stars
Now here is where I started to have trouble with the book. The Pace of the novel was a little slow for me. I kept waiting on something - anything - to happen. See, I find myself stressing over plot points such as being stranded in another place/time/etc., and I don't like that kind of tension. I like it even less when the protagonist can leave at any time, but doesn't. (Where is Travis when you need him? Kidding...) I am well aware that when the tension is a major component of the book that it will not end until the book does. This is precisely why I do not read them. Once I take away my irritation at Lydia being in the wrong time, I can appreciate the pacing of the novel. It's not bad and it has exciting parts - I was just distracted by the tension. 3/5 Stars
Since I did not do well with the pace and tension, and So Close to You was not what I had expected, my Attention Span suffered. It took me five days to read the book (it usually only takes two when I have the amount of free time that I did), and it probably would have been longer if I wasn't participating in the ARC tour. I kept getting distracted, and it was hard to go back and read. About halfway through the book, I couldn't stand the tension any longer and skipped to the end of the book. I still finished it, but I was tired of waiting to find out what happened. 2.5/5 Stars
Despite the drawbacks to the book for me, there is some Extra Magic. Though the characters lacked development, they were a lot of fun to read. I loved Mary Bentley's enthusiasm, and Lucas was pretty dreamy. I would've been more than happy to stay with him in 1944. I also enjoyed the way Carter incorporated the wartime rationing into the story. The descriptions of the clothing and what the women had to give up for the war was a nice touch. I giggled when Mary complained about having no bras or hosiery and how she painted it onto her legs - seam included. It was charming and fit the story well. 3.5/5 Stars
So Close to You will be enjoyed by any reader who likes a little time travel with their romance and doesn't want to do any heavy lifting, plot-wise. I also think it will appeal to sci-fi and contemporary readers alike, as long as they don't go in looking for too much of one of those genres. It really is a unique young adult novel, and the characters are a lot of fun. It is also a shame that Michael Crichton and Ray Bradbury made my time travel standards so high. While not for me, I have no doubt that many readers will find much to enjoy in the book.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a DAC ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour either by the publisher or author, which has had no effect on the outcome. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.(less)
When Let's Hear It For Almigal arrived in the mail from JKS Communications, my five year old daughter immediately snatched it up and ran to her bedroom to look at the book. Since I received the book for reviewing purposes, I had to negotiate with Bug (my daughter) in order to have a turn with the book. The end result - I got a turn to read the book, but I had to read it aloud to her. Being as it is a children's book, I think reading it in this manner was best for the review.
The Writing of Let's Hear It For Almigal is great for children who are still being read to. (Some of the words are a little too big, and the book itself is a bit too long, in my opinion, for beginning or intermediate readers.) However, the "read to me" age will really enjoy the book. Wendy Kupfer introduces Almigal, a little girl with hearing loss who wears hearing aids in a way that children can easily relate to her. She is shown to be a completely normal little girl well before any mention of her disability is made. Almigal's struggles and mishaps are portrayed in a light and funny way that doesn't make anyone feel sorry for her. I think children will identify with Almigal's ability to get in trouble and the triumphs she makes throughout the book. 5/5 Stars
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was the Illustrations* that drew Bug to the book. Tammie Lyon illustrates the Eloise series, and the pictures for Let's Hear It For Almigal are no less engaging. There is one picture in particular that Bug really liked, which showed how say "I love you" in sign language. The book is bright, colorful, and perfect for keeping the attention of an easily distracted child. 5/5 Stars
Since my Attention Span is not really an issue, I'm going to base this part on Bug's reaction to the book. She is a very active child who is constantly looking for something to do or trouble to start. However, as soon as I opened the pages of the picture book, she was enraptured. Bug did not move from my side until I finished reading the story. Once we were through with the book, she immediately returned to her regularly programmed shenanigans. 5/5 Stars
The Pacing of the story was fairly typical for a children's book. Being as I'm not exactly sure how a children's book should be paced, I'm going to skip rating this portion.
The Extra Magic of Let's Hear It For Almigal for me was that my daughter was not asking me why Almigal was different. Usually, if Bug sees someone with a hearing aid, a cane, or who just looks different, she is interrogating me as to why that person is that way. With Almigal, she only saw another happy little girl who had lots of friends, cute puppies, and did not always do what she was supposed to. 5/5 Stars
This is easily my favorite children's book that I have read in 2012, and I think it will be a fantastic book for all children - especially little girls. I think it has just enough information to make children more aware of hearing loss in other individuals their own age, but not so much that it bores or scares them. Let's Hear It For Almigal will be a great addition to any library, be it public, classroom, or home.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.(less)
When I first discovered that Innovative Online Book Tours was doing a review tour for The Wild Princess, I jumped at the opportunity. Historical fiction is one of my favorite alternatives to science fiction/fantasy. Philippa Gregory is one of my absolute favorite authors, so I could not get my hands on the book quickly enough.
The Wild Princess does not release until July 31st, so the copy I was provided with was an eARC. That being said, there were barely any technical issues on the Writing. The only thing I had a problem with was Princess Louise's name was often misspelled as "Louse", but I am pretty sure something like that was caught before the finished copy was printed. I did not see much symbolism or themes, and that was completely fine with me. This book was nothing but a pleasure-read, despite it being a review. 4/5
The World-Weaving was pretty good for a historical romance. I had no problem believing that Mary Hart Perry's interpretation of the British royal family behaved in the manner she described in The Wild Princess. Stephen Byrne was a completely fictional character, but there were times that he felt more real than Louise. The supporting characters also lent much to the book. John Brown was a real person, and I love that it gives a little wink to their relationship. (I know it is something Perry would have had to mention with the bit of controversy surrounding it, but it was thankfully not overwhelming.) As for the main character, Louise, I quite enjoyed how Perry portrayed her as a woman well ahead of her time, who was passionate and strong-willed. I read a lot of YA with female characters given much freedom and opportunity to be strong, but Louise was born into a gilded cage, and made her life her own in this novel. The Civil War ammunition veterans who worked for the Fenians were my least favorite characters, but they were needed antagonists in the plotting of the story. Louise's husband, Lorne, was also somewhat of an antagonist, but he was not evil or even unlikable for me. Yes, he was not the man that Louise deserved, but that was how it went in "arranged" marriages. (Historically, Lorne and Louise's marriage is usually described as a "love match", but Perry did not use that scenario at all. I will not spoil it for you.) Victoria was also a bit of a villain when it came to Louise, but as a mother and a historian who understands the necessity of maintaining royal perfection, I did not begrudge any of her actions. She was merely a mother who wanted to protect her daughter, her family's reputation, and the monarchy.
The setting itself was enjoyable because it had Fenian plotting at every turn to create tension in the beautifully described royal opulence. Louise's time spent in the more common areas of London also seemed very real. The scenes with the royal family traveling or on the parade route were some of my favorites, and I did not even care to check the historical accuracy of it. (That is usually one of the first things I check.) Did a royal take a bullet for Victoria or face death during another attack? I don't know, but it was a lot of fun to imagine that she did. 4.5/5
The Pacing of the story was the one problem for me. I enjoyed the story itself, but there were periods of time that I felt like nothing was happening. The blame for this can be easily blamed on the fact that I've read quite a few novels lately that are action-packed, and it's been a while since I've read an adult novel. When all the pieces came together, I could not put the book down. I suppose I was just impatient for Louise and Stephen to come to terms with what was happening around them. Perry also made us aware of nearly every aspect of the plots against the royals, so there was not much suspense about what would happen - only a question of when.
There was a few flashbacks in the story that helped the characterization of Louise, which made The Wild Princess more enjoyable for me. Those were some of my favorite parts of the novel. There was also a side plot point that involved one of Louise's school friends that I would have liked to seen wrapped up, but some questions have no answers. 3/5
My Attention Span would have been a lot shorter when it came to this book, and I would not have read it nearly as quickly if I had not read it during the Once Upon a Read-a-Thon. I'm glad that I pushed myself through it because it really was a lovely book. However, there were outside forces at work here, so I don't feel I should offer a score based on this factor.
The Extra Magic for me came from the story Perry created based on rumors and whispers from the Victorian era. There is no historical evidence that some of the events in this book occurred, but it is a lovely to think that Victoria is spinning in her grave from the liberties taken with the royal family. Louise was given a life I feel that she deserved, and I have no doubt that was the author's intention. Every woman should have a great romance and fictitiously giving one to a princess whose life was never her own was a beautiful tribute to her life. 4.5/5
Overall, I found The Wild Princess to be a lovely example of historical romance. I would be hesitant to compare it to the novels by Philippa Gregory except as a reference point personally, but that is merely because Mary Hart Perry has a style that is all her own. I look forward to reading her future novels about the Victorian princesses.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.(less)
The Lost Girl is the debut novel of Sangu Mandanna. It is a young adult, speculative fiction novel th...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophila, Please.
The Lost Girl is the debut novel of Sangu Mandanna. It is a young adult, speculative fiction novel that explores grief and the lengths that families are willing to go to never have to say goodbye. The main character is an "echo" named Eva who has been created for the sole purpose of stepping into her "other's", Amarra's, life if anything should happen to her.
Before I start hitting the main points that I look at when writing a review, I feel it is important for me to let you know that I experienced a loss in my family at the time I read the book and reviewed it (in addition to two other family deaths in the past two months). A major theme of this novel is grief and loss, so it had a profound affect on me as a reader. The manner in which Ms. Mandanna captured the feelings of each character was gut-wrenching.
I have said many times that there is little that I love more than a smart novel, and the Writing of The Lost Girl is very, very smart. It has a beautiful style that is all its own, while paying homage to classic stories such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - which was discussed in the novel itself - to Pinocchio. The similarities that it has to Frankenstein is that Eva is created by Weavers - "mad doctors", if you will - to replace Amarra in case she would die before her time. She is to be Amarra's perfect clone in every possible way, and for this she is considered to be a monster. Though legal in some parts of the world, she still has to be hidden away by her guardians from Hunters and the members of society who believe her to be an abomination. I saw so much of Pinocchio in The Lost Girl because all Eva truly wanted was to be a real girl and a person in her own right, and it was heartbreaking. One quote in the ARC (that I was idiotic enough to not write down the page number for) made me cry. Sean, the youngest guardian, told Eva at one point:
There's nothing wrong with being an echo. You step in when another dies. That's pretty glorious, don't you think? You're an angel among mortals. Echos are asked to sacrifice everything to make another family, other people, happy. To give them hope. You are hope.
Though Eva is the heroine of the novel, the supporting characters are just as rich and riveting as she is. Mina Ma is the woman who raised Eva in England and taught her everything she needed to know about India. Erik is her tutor who could be so much higher in the Loom than he is. She is tested regularly by Ophelia, the daughter of one of the Weavers, to make sure she is everything that she is supposed to be. Her final guardian is Sean, who is in charge of her socialization - and not much older than her. He is a completely amazing guy, and a romantic interest that I could even see myself falling for. 5/5 Stars
The World-Weaving in this book really worked for me. It's set in a near/alternate future, and I completely understood why that future existed. Death and loss is such a major part of life, and it is completely understandable why the Loom was allowed to "make" the echoes. We try so hard to hold onto what we love, and the story perfectly captured this. The Lost Girl gave us a reality where people could put off the necessity of letting go, and as a member of a very large, close family who has been faced with so much loss lately, it is a reality that I almost want. Fortunately, Sangu Mandanna also gave us Eva to remind us that there is always another side to the coin. The book felt so real and resonated so strongly with me, that I would almost believe you if you told me that the story was happening in our world right now. 5/5 Stars
The Pace of the novel will probably be a little slow to some readers, but it was perfect for me. I did not want this book to end. I wanted to stay with Eva and fantasize (guiltily, mind you) about the possibility of having echoes waiting to replace anyone I love and may lose. I even had time to be haunted about the fact that if I leave this world before my daughter is grown, there is no replacement to come into her life. No, I don't believe having an echo is necessarily right, but the pace gave me ample time to think much on what the possibilities could be if they did. 5/5 Stars
I don't think any books have kept my Attention Span the way The Lost Girl has. I still think about this book weeks after having read it. It is etched into my mind, and Eva is more than an echo for Amarra - she is an echo in my own mind for my own loss. 5/5 Stars
The Extra Magic of this novel is how it lingers. It was not easy for me to read this book while facing these very recent deaths (as I've said too many times already), but the book reminded me of fact that our time here is so precious. It made me remember that some things are not worth the chance, not worth the cost, and not worth the heartbreak, no matter how much it hurts. However, taking control of your life and living it the way you choose is always worth that. 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a DAC ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. The book was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has had no effect on the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Riser is a science fiction novel by Becca C. Smith that is aimed at a young adult audience. It tells the story of Chelsan Derée, a young girl who lives in the United States in the year 2320. Although aging has been cured, people (and other animate creatures) still die of other causes – and Chelsan can raise the dead. While she tries to discover herself and the source of her powers, she has to overcome betrayal, heartache, and figure out why someone wants her dead.
I’m not going to review this book under my new “guidelines” because I did not finish it. Before you skim off, I want you to know that Riser started strongly for me. I am a huge fan of science fiction, and this was a very fun read. Chelsan, who narrates the story, has a very bubbly voice and personality, and Becca C. Smith's writing is fantastic. I enjoyed learning about the world that Smith created in this futuristic America where over-population is a huge problem because of the age cure, trees are one of the most important resources, and immortality is government-sponsored. It had all of the right ingredients.
Like many young adult books centered around high school kids, there is this “mean girl” who makes the protagonist’s life a living Hell. In Riser, it was a super rich chick named Jill. She was a horrible little bitch, but most teenage girls are. (Sorry, I was one. I wasn’t a bully, but I was still awful. It’s the hormones.) I liked to dislike her. I couldn’t wait for her to get what was coming to her. (Aren’t nasty villains fun?) Unfortunately, for me, she got what was coming to her by getting punched in the face. By a guy. And not just any guy, but a guy Chelsan liked. I know violence happens in books, but none of the characters in the book saw a problem with this. Chelsan thought it was sweet that he would do that for her.
He. Punched. A. Girl. In. The. Face.
I kept reading a few chapters further in, but I just couldn’t stomach that character hanging around or Chelsan’s fascination with him. Yes, Jill was a full-fledged Missus Nasty-Pants, but she was still a girl. And guys shouldn’t punch girls in the face. Period.
Why do I care so much? I had a guy – my boyfriend – punch me in the face when I was a young adult. He knocked me out. I justified his behavior and stayed – not long, but longer than I should have. This is why I could not with a clear conscience recommend this book to anyone. I would hate to think that a girl may read this book and think it’s okay that a guy hit her because she was being a bitch. You know, some guys will tell you that’s why they did it. It. Is. Never. Okay. Got it? However, that’s not to say I will discourage anyone from reading Riser – it has all the makings of a great book. I just can’t bring myself to finish it or put it in someone else’s hand. But I’ll still read Becca C. Smith’s next novel. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the author through Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
*After my review was posted on my blog, the author (Becca C. Smith) stated that she would be changing the problematic scene due to continued complaints, as it was unnecessary to the novel. This review is based on Riser as it was in July 2012.(less)
The Selection is the Big Six debut of young adult author, Kiera Cass. In a national lottery to choose...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
The Selection is the Big Six debut of young adult author, Kiera Cass. In a national lottery to choose the next queen of Illea in a post-apocalyptic United States, teenaged America Singer is chosen as one of the 35 contenders for Prince Maxon's heart and the crown.
One of the things I loved best about The Selection was the Writing. It is the literary equivalent of cotton candy - delicious, sweet, and gone in no time. (Cotton candy is NOT a bad thing in Kayla Land.) It is written in such a way that it is accessible to pre-teens all the way to older adults. Dystopias and post-apocalyptic books have saturated the YA [non]genre, so it is difficult to stand apart. However, Kiera Cass accomplished this by writing a clean book with characters who weren't that bad (except for jerk-face Aspen). I do have to say that I don't consider the book to be a truly dystopian novel because the government is not horribly corrupt from what I've seen so far, and the girls chosen in the lottery don't have to stay. Yes, the caste system sucked, too, but it's something American teens can relate to in the present economic situation. Not many people move out of their social class despite the (now lessening) opportunities to do so. I won't go too far into that because it would take away from the essence of the book. (I don't believe it was written to be much of a political statement.) We can discuss this in the comments if you like.
I've been including characters in the writing portion, and I'll continue that for now. America is probably one of my favorite heroines in 2012. She was easy to relate to, and I never found myself questioning any decisions she made, except a really stupid one at the end of the novel. (I still want to shake her.) On the other hand, the love of her life, Aspen, really pissed me off almost immediately. He made the decision for her to put her name in the lottery, and he was so crappy to her for being chosen. In my opinion, he's just as bad as Vampire Bill (who I would gladly stake). The other person in the "love triangle", Prince Maxon, is an A-plus sort of fellow, and he definitely left me feeling cougarish. *growls* 5/5 Stars
The World-Weaving really worked for me. The futuristic society was more believable than that in other books *cough*Divergent*cough*, and I really didn't challenge the way Cass built the world too much. I would like to know more about the rebellion, but I'm sure more will come along later in the trilogy. 4.5/5 Stars
The Pacing of the novel was perfect - as I touched upon in the Writing portion. I read the book in less than twenty-four hours, as have my library patrons to whom I've recommended this book. If you like princesses, frillery, and just a twinge of suspense and romance, you will be able to breeze through this book. 5/5 Stars
I suppose it goes without saying that my Attention Span was completely in tune with the the novel through its entirety. I found myself so deeply absorbed in America's time at the castle that I did not ever want to come back to reality. I could have read this book in just a few hours if not for work, a five year old, and other annoying responsibilities. ;-) 5/5 Stars
The Extra Magic of The Selection was how easy it was to read, in addition to what the book was not. It has been compared to The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. I found it to be neither as it lacked the darkness, ugliness, and horrible, wretched women (like in The Bachelor). Sure, there was a mean girl, but she wasn't nearly as disgusting as many women on the reality show. It was a good clean story and exactly what I needed when I read it. 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a signed ARC of The Selection via a giveaway from the author. It has in no way affected the outcome of the review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. The copy of the book I reviewed was a finished copy checked out from the local library.(less)
Lies Beneath is the debut novel of Anne Greenwood Brown. It is a young adult novel that is told from...moreReview originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please.
Lies Beneath is the debut novel of Anne Greenwood Brown. It is a young adult novel that is told from the viewpoint of a male mermaid and is set in and around Lake Superior.
When some people think about mermaids, Disney's The Little Mermaid comes to mind. However, the only similarity you will find between Calder White and Ariel are the fins.You see, he is a cold-blooded killer who hunts humans for sustenance and survival. Where reptiles need heat to moderate their body temperature, mermaids need positive emotions to maintain their mental stability. One of Calder's favorite places to hunt humans is in the Caribbean, where the story opens. Despite his urgent, ever-present need to feed, Calder is experimenting on how long he can keep that driving force at bay. Unfortunately, his sisters call him home before he can refuel his emotions. An even stronger force than hunger or family beckons him back to Lake Superior - revenge.
The writing of Lies Beneath has a very literary feel to it and is probably my favorite thing about the book. Not only is it very well-written, it pays homage to quite a few different poets and poems from the Victorian era. There may be a few more that were sneaked in there, but I will reread before I say for sure. I did not see it as a hard read, but I would be interested in seeing how teenagers react to literature being woven into the story. Additionally, I was reading the ARC and saw no glaring grammatical errors. (They usually have flashing lights on them.) 5/5
I had no problems with the world-building in this novel. Other than the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, this is the only mermaid story that I can remember reading. Due to that and my extensive reading of mythology, I did not have an Ariel-esque image planted in my head. I was able to take on Anne Greenwood Brown's unique creatures with a fairly clear mind. I am completely okay with merpeople being a little bit scary - I've always been afraid of what swims in the water. (If there's no cement in the bottom, you can count me out.) Therefore, murderous and vengeful creatures aren't really a stretch from what I already think "lies beneath". I would have liked the mermaids to be a little more fleshed out (and I don't mean under the seashells), but this was Brown's debut and the first in a trilogy. Hopefully the next two books will give me what I was wishing for in this one. 4/5
The pace of the book was average, as far as young adult novels are concerned. I wasn't clinging to the pages as I was whipped along a roller coaster story, but neither was I twiddling my thumbs in the park. It was a water book, and it flowed nicely. (Oh, come on! I had to say it.) I can't imagine teen readers getting bored. 3/5
Since this was a part of an ARC tour, my attention span could be interpreted as being skewed. I had two ARCs here at the same time, and both had to be read within a week. However, I think I would have read this book just as quickly if I was reading it at my own leisure. Calder was a fun character to live through, and I never lost interest in his metamorphosis. 4/5
The extra magic in this book was just how intelligent it is. I don't want to say too much that will give away the story, but there is more to it under the surface. (Alright, alright, I'll stop.) 4/5
Everything adds up to 4 Stars in my new system, which pretty fairly reflects where I would have put it without the math. Lies Beneath is a well-written, enjoyable book that I think will appeal to both male and female teenagers (and teens at heart). Anyone with a bit of an English or literary background will especially appreciate this book.
The Debut Author Challenge ARC Tours ladies were kind enough to allow me participate in the tour for this book. The book was likely provided to the tour either by the publisher or author, which has had no effect on the outcome of the review. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.(less)
The Wicked and the Just is the debut novel of J. Anderson Coats. It is historical fiction and focuses on the lives of two girls forced together during the early years of England’s subjugation of Wales in the late thirteenth century and told from alternating points of view. The novel is aimed at the young adult audience.
Cecily d’Edgely thinks life is very unfair. Since her uncle’s return from the Crusades, she and her father lost “their” claim to the family holding. To make matters even worse, she is to leave her friends, family, and all that she knows behind to start a new life in Wales – that’s if she isn’t murdered by barbarians first. Once there, they are no better than foreigners in Caernarvon until her father is sworn in as a burgess.
Gwenhwyfar hates the English. Not only have they taken Wales, but they have also broken her family. Her father hung from the castle walls after he refused to swear allegiance to the English king. Due to her family name and the difficulty for men to find work, she is forced to work as a maid in a house that should belong to her. If it wasn't for her brother Gruffyd – who was too honorable to take jobs before family men – or her dying mother, she wouldn't have to deal with the English brat who she hates.
I enjoyed The Wicked and the Just, but it took me longer than usual to read it. The characters were believable, but I found hard to form a connection to them. Cecily was a spoiled rotten, nasty little brat who was capable of terrible cruelty, and "Gwinny" was like a shark waiting to strike. I always felt closer to Cecily – even though I felt the constant urge to shake her – because Gwinny terrified me. The title represents the characters because every one of them in the book behaved quite wickedly, and all believed themselves to be just or serving justice.
I do have one complaint about the language used in the book. Gwinny's chapters were written in a manner that went overboard in demonstrating that English was not her first language. It was hard enough to read her chapters with all of the rage she had pent up inside of her, but Gwinny's crudely written POV was distracting. This angry girl was a lot of things, but stupid or ignorant do not show up on that list. It definitely affected my ability to relate to her. Cecily's mixture of period and modern slang stood out a little at first, but it was not noticeable once I was well into the book.
Despite the minor issues that I found with The Wicked and the Just, I found it to be a well-researched, enjoyable, and educational read. I learned things about that period in history that I have only skimmed over in my own historical studies. J. Anderson Coats really brought the setting to life and was able to tell the story in such a way that neither "side" was vilified. I would even go so far as to say that it was one of the most unbiased historical fiction novels that I've read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction (young and older) or novels that center on enemies coming to see eye-to-eye.
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is a historical romance novel that is aimed at the young adult audience. It has a small mix of the paranormal and mythol...moreGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is a historical romance novel that is aimed at the young adult audience. It has a small mix of the paranormal and mythology that lends to its story about Ismae Rienne, Death's handmaiden.
Life was hard in the 15th century. Surviving an attempted abortion and being raised by a hateful father had to make it even harder. Throw in an abusive husband, and that describes the life of Ismae Rienne. That is, until she is rescued by the followers of the Old Ways in the countryside, who recognize her for what she is. Her life changes for the better when she is taken in by the convent of Saint Mortain, the pre-Christianity god of death. Ismae finds her calling in the walls of the convent - she is an assassin, a genius with poisons, and an adept student. However, all of that may prove to not be enough when she faces an assignment that places her in a dangerous political struggle and in a partnership with the equally dangerous Gavriel Duval.
I love historical fantasy novels (okay, and some historical romance), so I was more than excited to get my hands on Grave Mercy. Reading about imaginary assassin nuns in the 15th century was a huge factor in my starting the book ahead of others on my review pile. Unfortunately, I overheard talk of a romance that played a pretty major role in the book. I was almost turned off and nearly put it down.
I have never been happier to stick with a book.
Grave Mercy is a beautiful story of a young girl who tries to serve her god and country, but must question whether her orders from the convent are right or best. Watching this low-born peasant try to navigate the intrigues of court was never dull. (Who wants to be trained as a courtier anyway?) Ismae was brave, loyal, and she is probably one of the most endearing young adult characters I've ever read.
The only thing better than Ismae's colorful character in Grave Mercy would have to be Gavriel Duval. While I am a bitter old toad when it comes to romance, I found myself swooning at every long look, brush of skin, and witty retort. Robin LaFevers wrote Duval to be so incredibly realistic that I am currently nesting and fantasizing about having little Duval babies. That is no small feat.
I enjoyed Grave Mercy very much and had it read in nearly no time at all. While it was a historical romance, it had enough of a fantasy aspect to keep me interested. I will happily recommend it to most teens and any adult. I would hesitate in giving it to a younger teenager due to the violence and some sexual situations (though nothing compared to adult historical romance).
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
Masque of the Red Death is Bethany Griffin's Gothic horror novel based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story, The Masque of the Red Death. It is classifi...moreMasque of the Red Death is Bethany Griffin's Gothic horror novel based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story, The Masque of the Red Death. It is classified as Young Adult.
Araby Worth's world has crumbled around her - literally. Not only has she and her family lost her twin brother, Finn, to the Weeping Sickness contagion three years previous to the events in the novel, but the disease is still running rampant in the city. Corpse collectors walk the streets every morning for the infected dead, and those who can afford it wear their masks constantly. Prince Prospero rules over the city with an iron fist, with whispers of revolution blowing through the streets. People are disappearing, churches are burning, and some even say that the world is ending.
I found Griffin's Masque of the Red Death to be a grotesquely beautiful reimagining of Poe's original work. It lost none of the aristocratic fallacy or nail-biting suspense that oozed from Poe's terrifying horror story. If nothing else, Griffin expanded upon it, giving depth to the faceless dancers at the original, damned masque. As its own body of work, Masque of the Red Death picked up some entirely new themes. The main one that stood out to me was the twin theme. One entity represented light and the other darkness, one embodied joy and the other melancholy, and so on. With the opposing twins, there can only be one, and a choice must be made (or made for you). This most certainly applied to Miss Araby Worth on many levels.
There were some romantic elements and a bit of a love triangle in the story, but it was all so overshadowed by the decaying city that it was not obnoxious or overwhelming. The romance was never unbelievable (if that is possible in a dystopian, apocalyptic novel), and Griffin does not use it as a crutch. Both boys have many strengths, and Araby herself is such a bewitching character that it makes it plausible for both boys to fall in love with her. However, should Araby choose not to stick with Elliot, he is welcome in my home at any time.
Masque of the Red Death will suck you in, hold you, and dump you breathlessly back into reality, leaving your yelling "Wait! What the Hell is this?!" at it like a mad woman once you finish. Or maybe that's just me. But I don't think so.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher and Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
Starters by Lissa Price is her debut novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic future of the United Sta...moreReview originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please
Starters by Lissa Price is her debut novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic future of the United States. Everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 had died in the Spore Wars three years prior to the events in this science fiction novel. It is the first in a projected two-part young adult series.
Callie Woodland is an unclaimed "Starter" who is responsible for her seven year old brother, Tyler. Their parents are dead, and they have no other family to claim them. As a result, they are forced to squat in abandoned buildings and live on the run, along with former neighborhood friend, Michael. In order to support her brother, she decides to rent her body out to "Enders" via secret company, Prime Destinations, since any other work is illegal for individuals under the age of 19. Callie sees this as a great deal, until something goes wrong in the process.
I found Starters to be a very imaginative and well-written example of the sci-fi genre. As a young adult book, it is one of the best I have encountered. The dystopian US was both realistic and frightening - frightening mostly because it was so realistic. The premise was very plausible, and the explanations used in the world-building were very strong. As with other YA dystopians, I did not found myself asking, "How could this happen?" The characters in Starterss were the meat and bones of the novel and played their parts well in the progression of the story. Callie was a sympathetic character, and I was rooting for her to be successful from the first sentence. The secondary characters win the prize for the book because they were all such beautiful shades of gray. I was guessing who the "bad guys" were and never had it correctly figured out.
The one problem that I had with Starters was the pacing. While most of the story flowed along nicely, there were several parts that felt a bit rushed. Some scenes had things fall into place too easily, and I would have liked to know more of the motives driving a few of the characters. Overall, however, the novel was a fantastic debut. The story sucked me in and held me until the very end. It is a brilliant addition to the young adult subset of the science fiction genre (or vice versa). I cannot wait for Enders and future projects from Lissa Price.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
The Obsidian Blade is a science fiction novel by the2004 winner of the National Book Award for Young...moreReview originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please
The Obsidian Blade is a science fiction novel by the2004 winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, Pete Hautman. It is the first book in the Klaatu Diskos trilogy and is aimed at a young adult audience.
Tucker Feye enjoys his small town life with his reverend father, organ-playing mother, and two best friends in Hopewell, Minnesota. However, after Tucker knocks a shingle off the roof of the family home and his father disappears into thin air, he finds his life changing abruptly. His father returns with the mysterious girl, Lahlia, and a strange cat, but without his previously unshakable faith in God. In the days that follow, Tucker's mother slowly descends into madness. One day, Tucker returns home to find that both of his parents have inexplicably disappeared, and his long-lost uncle has come at the behest of Reverend Adrian Feye to care for him. With his life in upheaval, Tucker is inspired to begin experimenting with the disks and begins a series of events that could very well change the fabric of time itself.
The premise of The Obsidian Blade is something completely different from anything that I have read in the past. It was an imaginative take on time travel - disks built (or commissioned, rather) by a technologically and intellectually superior race. The disks are placed at the time and locations of events which are "the terrible, the horrific, the irreversible", such as the Martian biocide, the outbreak of Bubonic plague in France, and a death of a certain prophet. However, the brilliant uniqueness of the book is ultimately its downfall for me. Most of the time, I did not understand why characters were behaving the way they did. I never figured out the purpose of various events. I have no problem with accepting science fiction at face value, but I felt like I was blind-folded on a roller coaster ride. Do not let that dissuade you from reading the book - I still could not put the book down. Also, it may not be the best novel for a younger teenager due to some of the graphic brutality in some scenes, but it is nothing that would stop me from recommending this book to young adult readers.
The Obsidian Blade is violent, imaginative, and ultimately confusing, but it was a quick read that I enjoyed.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
The Book of Lost Fragrances is the latest release in M. J. Rose's long, successful career, a...moreReview originally posted on my blog, Bibliophilia, Please
The Book of Lost Fragrances is the latest release in M. J. Rose's long, successful career, and the fourth installment in her Reincarnationist series. It is full of intrigue, mystery, a race for a historical artifact, family, and timeless romance. Although it is a part of a series, the book is a standalone novel.
The story contains a host of minor characters from ancient Egypt, 18th century France, and modern day, but focuses mostly on Jacinthe L'Etoile and, to an extent, Xie Ping. Xie is an artist living in China who has a secret, and is trying to survive under the watchful eye and heavy hand of the Chinese government. Jac is a mythologist television personality whose family perfume business is on the verge of collapse. When her father's declining mental facilities forces him to retire and her brother goes missing, Jac's life begins to spin out of control. She only has days to find her brother and his mysterious, ancient Egyptian pottery shards that hold the potential to save the family business from financial ruin. Xie and Jac are on opposite sides of the world, but are thrust into the midst of intrigue, murder, and the age-old question of whether or not the possibility of reincarnation truly exists.
I found The Book of Lost Fragrances to be a beautiful and well-written novel. The story flowed seamlessly across time and continents to tell a story of the search for the scent of memory. I was never bored by the flashbacks of the past or by the steady change in character focus. I would be reading what is going on in modern day Paris, then suddenly find the book describing events in ancient Egypt. The only problem that I had with the book was something that slightly offended my old-fashioned sensibilities. It was not a huge deal, but it made me a bit uncomfortable. However, it served a purpose at the end of the novel. The ending would not have been as powerful if not for that particular plot point.
As I stated in my summary, the book contains a multitude of characters. I think in this instance they were beneficial to the pacing and wove the story together more completely. Each was necessary to develop a major character or better explain a scene. Jac may have been the diamond, but she would not have shown without the never-seen little girl, Elsie. The assassin for the Chinese mafia added another dimension to Xie, in my opinion. The relationships between the characters were also stunningly lovely threads that wove this engrossing story together. To say more than that could potentially ruin the surprise of how everything was tied.
In the end, The Book of Lost Fragrances is a story about love. It is about the love between strangers, the love between family, and that intense love of a sweetheart (for lack of a better word). Anyone who enjoys a love story without a lot of romantic elements, a murder mystery without the gore, and a treasure hunt without an insane amount of twists and turns will enjoy this book. I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to review it, and I look forward to starting the series at the beginning. This is a book that I will definitely read again.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
Dust Girl is the first young adult novel written by Sarah Zettel, who is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author. It is a fantasy and the...moreDust Girl is the first young adult novel written by Sarah Zettel, who is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author. It is a fantasy and the first planned in The American Fairy Trilogy. Dust Girl focuses on a girl was raised by her mother in Kansas during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Callie LeRoux always had to lie about her heritage. It was not just her blue-gray eyes and freckled, creamy skin that made it necessary for her to cover herself, wear a hat, and wear gloves when she went outside. It is after her mother goes missing that she discovers that her father’s dark skin may not be the family secret that is most dangerous to her. As Callie searches for her parents, she is thrown in the middle of the on-going war between the two fae kingdoms. Luckily, she finds an ally in Jack – a young man with his own secrets.
This is one of the rare books that I was able to read in less than twenty-four hours. With my work schedule and kindergartner, it has been uncommon for me to get a book read at all that does not have short words and bright illustrations. Happily though, I was sucked into the strange, changing world of Callie LeRoux and Jack Holland. It is probably due to the magnificent storytelling ability of the author, Sarah Zettel. The story is like a trail of breadcrumbs – no, Hershey kisses – that keeps you following along, starving for more.
Dust Girl is the perfect blend of history, folk lore, and individuality in the face of prejudice. It reminded me of American Gods by Neil Gaiman with its fantastical spin on mythology set in the “real” world. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys new takes on American folklore or is in the mood for a beautifully written historical, rural (as opposed to urban) fantasy. I enjoyed ti beyond words, and I cannot wait to read it again once it is released.
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)