Really liked the first half, didn't like the 2nd half. I do think this book has some great pointers about pesticides and the farming industry, but I r...moreReally liked the first half, didn't like the 2nd half. I do think this book has some great pointers about pesticides and the farming industry, but I really lost interest half-way through. Oh well...(less)
I have this intense feeling that this book is going to break my heart. But I don't even care - I have to read it, considering I am an obsessive Russia...moreI have this intense feeling that this book is going to break my heart. But I don't even care - I have to read it, considering I am an obsessive Russian culture geek. GIMME SOME.(less)
It started out strong and really gripped me. But eventually it just began to bore me with it's slow movement of events. So I skimmed a bit to the end....moreIt started out strong and really gripped me. But eventually it just began to bore me with it's slow movement of events. So I skimmed a bit to the end. And skimmed. And it's just not worth finishing. Bummer!(less)
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan Pages: 305 Release Date: September 11th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, August 22nd-28th Received: Borrowed ARC Ratin...moreThe Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan Pages: 305 Release Date: September 11th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, August 22nd-28th Received: Borrowed ARC Rating: 5/5 stars Recommended to: 15+
SUMMARY - On the Island of Rollrock, Misskaella is ridiculed. She is pushed aside, teased, but also unnoticed. She's fat, ugly, and incapable compared to the sturdy women of Rollrock. But she has a gift, one that will change the destiny of Rollrock. She is a Seal Witch, a woman who can remove the skin of seals and bring forth the woman inside. Ridiculed she may be - but she is also powerful. And soon Rollrock will understand just what that means.
MY THOUGHTS - Daaaang... I wasn't expecting this book to be so magnificent. For once, the contents match the cover! This book was everything I'd hoped, and more. The writing, especially, surprised me. It held the most character I've ever seen, and was so languid, yet powerful; stunning, but in a soft way. Just gripping! I hope the author continues to write more wonderful books such as this!
CHARACTER NOTES - The characters in this book were very real to me because none were perfect. I actually disliked all but maybe four. Even the ones I disliked, however, were brilliant, for that exact reason: I didn't like them. My dislike was so strong and real that it made me feel like the story was actually happening to me.
I really liked Daniel Mallett, and his mum. They were so vibrant to me, and their story was very touching. I also really really loved the seal women. Despite their often distasteful and inappropriate affairs, I thought them intriguing and just beautiful.
The girl at the end, Lory, was such a neat perspective. I loved what she added!
But my favorite of all, by far, is Misskaella, the seal witch. She wowed me. her quiet confidence in the fact that her actions would destroy the people of Rollrock was raw and powerful. A woman scorned shall not be messed with! I mean, the whole time I was rooting for her revenge...I was so sucked in!
STORY NOTES - Margo Lanagan wrote this book as a series of short stories - something I never thought I'd love, but wow! This was such a neat idea. It felt more like chapters than individual stories, and I fell right into the grasp of each one!
I was never once bored. I had no clue how things would go, or end. But Lanagan sure had the perfect execution and end planned out. Brides definitely has a "what goes around, comes around" theme that really struck me as powerful. it was neat to see some stand up for what's right and truthful, and others to fall prey to the madness of the seal women. Some of the island women were wonderful, upright women who stood firm, and others were very, very...irritating. Ha!
SUMMING IT UP - Full of magnificence. And lots of wowing. I can't say enough - definitely give this a try! Hopefully, you'll love it as much as I did! :)
For the Parents - 2 separate instances of sexual encounters. 1st, Misskaella encounters the King seal in man form and the two share a night of passion. We only hear of how Misskaella feels loved for the first time in her life. It wasn't explicit in any way, more factual. The second was a reference to a man and a seal woman in a barn. The man is married and his family is horrified. many of the men on the island have affairs with seal women, hiding them where their Island wives can't see. Recommended 15+
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein Pages: 343 Release Date: May 15th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, June 22nd - July 2nd Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 5/5 st...moreCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein Pages: 343 Release Date: May 15th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, June 22nd - July 2nd Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 5/5 stars Recommended to: 14+
SUMMARY - Verity is not her real name. They don't know her real name, who she's been and what she's done. But they will. Soon, they will, because she will tell them. But as her captors, torturers, get her to tell more and more of her story, and Verity wonders what happened to Kittyhawk when they were separated, the truth is slowly revealed. Verity and Kittyhawk will never be the same.
MY THOUGHTS - I adore this book. And while that phrase seems a bit too...tame for the grittiness that is Code Name Verity, I seriously love it. I'll be sure to buy it someday soon, and read it again, because I definitely want this on my shelf. Over the last months since I read it, it has come back to me again and again. I think now I appreciate it even more than when I first read it. It has stuck with me, and I've decided - it's one I will buy for my children. I will recommend it to everyone. It's just one of those books. Everyone needs to read it.
Everyone. This is not something that I take lightly. I have never recommended a book to just "everyone" before.
Granted, the story started out slow. But not slow in a way that bored me. Instead, it fascinated me. The story of Verity and her best friend, who they met, how close they became, the fears they expressed to each other... If I hadn't had this kind of intro to who they were together, I wouldn't have understood them when they were separated.
Elizabeth Wein's writing is very beautiful. Simple, great for this type of book. And still, she brought across a great power through her writing. If you know to start out your story with "I AM A COWARD" then you've got something good going for you. There are SO MANY quotes from this book that I remember that move me...one in particular. If you've read the book, you know exactly which one I'm talking about.
CHARACTER NOTES - Verity is definitely my favorite. I loved absolutely everything about her: her weaknesses, her strength, her guilt and sorrow and pain and love and the small joys she spoke of in her report. She's complex and just...stunning. Yes that's exactly the word for her: stunning. Her fears, how they changed over the course of the book, made her more real to me than ever. And how smart she was! So...elegant.
Kittyhawk was a neat character as well. It's her side of the story that's hardest to read about, and she makes the perfect impression for it. Her bravery, selflessness, and unconditional love (yes - unconditional) blew me away. At first I was a little bummed when the story switched to Kittyhawk halfway through. I was invested in Verity's brilliance, and I didn't want to leave. But I'm so glad it switched. I can't say anymore than that. But I am SO. GLAD.
There's a lovely cast of side characters (or, not so lovely, if you please). Von Leowe and James, in particular, are an excellent addition to this story.
STORY NOTES - "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend." (Can't remember the page number!)
There are few things in life greater than having a best friend. I can say that with full confidence, especially since my best friend was gone in Panama for a month during the summer. (Side note: If your best friend is leaving town for a bit, choose another book to read while he/she is gone... If you read this, anxiety will ensue.) Reading a story about best friends, with no romance or stupid drama getting int he way, is just...amazing. Touching. Sincere. I loved every single minute of it, even when the story was slower going. Because it did have its slow moments. Again, that's not to say it was boring - not at all! The pace in the lingering kind, the one you only want to read for 15-30 minutes a day because you want it to last. It's so beautiful.
I didn't really appreciate all the talk about planes because it was written like the reader should already know all this stuff. It makes sense, seeing as Verity and Kittyhawk were pilots and/or worked with planes, but it made my head spin a bit, trying to keep up.
Now, let me tell you - you have to keep reading!!! Even if you have no idea where it's taking you - just go with it! Everything ties together. Everything. It will blow your mind and shatter your heart into a gazillion tiny little pieces. And then you'll realize you're still living, breathing, feeling, and that you just read something life changing.
(I promise, I'm not exaggerating!)
SUMMING IT UP - River-crying material. Yup - that is this book. I have cried - like full-on tears - TWICE while writing this review, over two days. I hope everyone takes a break from other genres to read this incredible historical fiction worthy of every shelf! LOVE.
For the Parents - Violence - toward the end. Brief strong language and reference to torture. Recommended 14+.
Exiled (#1) by J. R. Wagner Pages: 312 Release Date: May 5th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, April 17th-30th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 2/5 stars Recommende...moreExiled (#1) by J. R. Wagner Pages: 312 Release Date: May 5th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, April 17th-30th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 2/5 stars Recommended to: 12+
SUMMARY - James, a boy who has trained to become one of the greatest magicians who ever lived, has been falsely accused of murder - murder of the man who he loved as his own father. His sentence: Exile to the Never. Naked, powerless, and lost in a land where nothing is as it seems, James must find a way out - and the truth about the Black Castle that calls to him - and prove is innocence, before everything he worked for means nothing at all.
MY THOUGHTS - Exiled began brilliantly. I'm talking breathtaking prose, exemplary characters, great dialogue, vivid world building... I'd just read some really average and/or disappointing books and was dying for something exceptional. Unfortunately, this book started going downhill about 5 chapters in.
CHARACTER NOTES - James, James, James. Who are you? I kept hoping to find out, but his voice felt more and more impersonal with every new page, like the novelty of his character wore off for the author and therefore the reader suffered as well. I had such high hopes for him, but was let down. The people James meets in the village started out fascinating as well, but I soon lost interest in them. They never grew or changed. Especially Kilani. I wanted to love her but she fell flat. The most realistic character, who I actually really liked, was James' mother, Margaret. She was strong and her actions and decisions progressed with the story.
STORY NOTES - Things started out brilliantly, like I said. I was flying, happy, weightless, joyful - but that didn't last. I dropped like a stone. Or really, the wind on which I flew just stopped all together. Sucks to be me.
Where was the excitement, the adventure, the mystery?? Well, I suppose it was there, or at least trying to be, but I didn't get it. Too much description in the action scenes, and too many slow breaks between the action scenes.
And then there's the POV/time shift. I'm sorry, but when I'm pleasure reading, I don't like being forced to remember dates and events in order, just so I can understand the flipping back and forth. For example: James - now Margaret - 1894 James - now James - 1889 James - now Margaret - 1886
Yep. It's that bad. That's not exact, but it hopped around like crazy! How can you expect me to enjoy that? I would have rather read from just Margaret's perspective in chronological order - and then, in a 2nd book, about James. Something like that.
Last thing - what the heck was that romance?! Or, that totally creepy "16-year-old boy falls in love with a 26-year-old woman who may or may not be in love with but has a strange and possibly intimate relationship with the boy's tutor"? Just too weird. Sorry, don't force romance. If there are no age-appropriate girls for your MC, don't worry - not every YA novel has to have a romance!
SUMMING IT UP - So strange. Not the enjoyable kind either. I'm just so bummed it didn't stay 5-star quality throughout. i'm sure I'll read book 2. Maybe I'll just wait for reviews first...
For the Parents - Really nothing to report. A minor curse or two, but nothing that stood out to me. Recommended 12+.
Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach Pages: 327 Release Date: February 1st, 2012 Date Read: 2012, April 15th-17th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 2/...moreBefore the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach Pages: 327 Release Date: February 1st, 2012 Date Read: 2012, April 15th-17th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 2/5 stars Recommended to: 14+
SUMMARY - Eliza's father, a man of humble means, has just passed away, leaving Eliza with no house or money, just the clothes on her back and the housemaid. In an effort to find work, she is reunited with the man she once loved as a girl, and who she still loves as a woman. When she offers to go with him to America as his bride, he refuses... But soon changes his mind for a daring journey in the night. Can they brave through the storms of life in a new country where Eliza must face trial after trial?
MY THOUGHTS - "This is great, this is great, this is...ahhhh... Nevermind." I'm SO bummed out about this book! It just...flopped. It had loads of potential but did not live up to any sort of goodness.
CHARACTER NOTES - Oh, Eliza. Why? WHY?! I just don't understand. I really liked you...and now I just don't know what to think. Eliza is one of those characters who just...deteriorated. At least for me. I just couldn't respect any of the decisions she made after she heard the Terrible Awful News. Not even just her lack of judgement - but that lie she told to Hayward about it? GOLLY, so bad. I felt like her relationship with God didn't really go anywhere either. She went through so much hardship but there were no profound faith revelations or anything.
And Hayward... Holy SMOKES - if I ever met that man, I would need someone to restrain me and remind me that murder will land me in a hell of a lot of trouble.
Fiona and the rest were okay, I guess. They served their purposes but were not well-developed.
STORY NOTES - What. The. Heck. HAAAAPPPPEEEENNNNEEED?! Okay, so I'm all for sad books. A few (The Idiot, Before I Fall, Mockingjay) are my all-time favorites and I read and read and read and cry and cry and cry.
But cruel? Like hardcore cruel, backstabbing, with what did NOT feel like a redemptive ending? Ummm, not okay with me. Hayward was a full-on cruel, cold-hearted jerk who did horrible things.
I honestly don't remember much else of the story, except Eliza's fall into depression so deep she totally went out of character, and the end where all I could think was, "Why? This is not redemptive." It does not have to be happy - just...redeeming. It was so hard. And sad. And CRUEL. And stupid and unrealistic, if I may say so myself.
SUMMING IT UP - The word I've been saying over and over again. Cruel. I feel bad giving this kind of review but this book really got to me - in a bad way -ad on vacation no less!
For the Parents - A few adult situations referenced to. No details. Some minor curse words. Recommended 14+. Actually, not recommended at all, but...if you must...
Ummmm what??? Girl is desolate, finds her father is the God of Death...and then has a bunch of nuns tell her that it's totally fine to murder if it's...moreUmmmm what??? Girl is desolate, finds her father is the God of Death...and then has a bunch of nuns tell her that it's totally fine to murder if it's sanctioned by the God of Death.
I feel like I want to give this 3 stars, but I keep going back and forth... So I'll settle with 3.5. Good book, with some drawbacks. I wish it had gon...moreI feel like I want to give this 3 stars, but I keep going back and forth... So I'll settle with 3.5. Good book, with some drawbacks. I wish it had gone deeper. I felt there was a lack of emotional depth, which is surprising for a book about the Holocaust. But it was good, and I enjoyed it.(less)
The Academie by Susanne Dunlap Pages: 368 Release Date: February 28th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, March 4th-11th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 3/5 stars Re...moreThe Academie by Susanne Dunlap Pages: 368 Release Date: February 28th, 2012 Date Read: 2012, March 4th-11th Received: ARC via NetGalley Rating: 3/5 stars Recommended to: +12
SUMMARY - Eliza Monroe - daughter of America, innocent and young, desiring romance and handsome generals, wanting to be accepted. Hortense de Beauharnais - daughter of Josephine Bonaparte, beautiful young woman, one who loves deeply, one who has a secret she cannot deny, but must try to escape from. Madeleine - actress in the Comedie Francaise, treated like a slave by her own famous mother, in love with the son of Josephine Bonaparte, waiting for someone to take her away. Three girls, three paths of life, intertwined and tangled. When thrown together, their lives will never be the same.
MY THOUGHTS - I was hoping to love this book...but even though I didn't, its still a good historical fiction that I enjoyed. It started out with 5-star material, and ended 3 star. But that's not bad. I appreciate it for what it was. However, there were definitely some major points that stopped me from loving the story. One thing was Susanne Dunlap's style. i was okay with telling apart three 1st person voices...until they were all thrown together into the same place. For the last 100 pages they were frustratingly similar.
CHARACTER NOTES - Eliza, Hortense, Madeleine, Caroline, Josephine, Napoleon, Eugene.... The list goes on. This is one large cast. Surprisingly, it wasn't hard to keep track, except maybe a little with Josephine and Caroline. Caroline is Napoleon's sister, and Josephine is married to Napoleon, and has two kids - Hortese and Eugene - from a different way. So...in a way, Caroline is Hortese's step-aunt. But they're around the same age. This could have been super confusing, but it was only a tiny bit confusing at first, and as time went on it got easier to understand. I appreciate this very very much.
Putting that mess aside, I really did like most of the characters because they were human. Eliza was a brat, doing the most infuriating things until finally she saw sense. (So don't give up on her!) Madeleine was mysterious...I suspected the twist about her at the end but wasn't too sure.
Hortense and Eugene, siblings, step-children of Napoleon, were by far my favorites. They were consistent, selfless, and people I could relate to because they weren't all about the ridiculous society rules that their parents/cousins followed.
Caroline was fascinating, but less consistent and I felt there were holes about her development in the end. She changed suddenly, it seemed. But maybe it was just my perception.
STORY NOTES - I like historical books that have reality and fiction mixed together. So, while Eliza, the Bonapartes, and all the stuff about France were real, Madeleine and Eugene and the events surrounding them were fabricated. I found this interesting and it kept my attention throughout.
For the most part I was totally glued to the story, but there were a few anticlimactic scenes that should have been riveting. The outcomes (Eliza's first kiss - which was weird, for who she kissed - Hortense's visit to the music teacher's house, and Caroline just disappearing) made me go, "Wait, where were we?"
I didn't love the climax because 1. it seemed a bit pointless; and 2. it was SO SAD. Thinking about it even now, I can't help but shudder at the thought of the events. However, the very end did sum up the story well and I liked the lessons the characters learned from their experiences.
SUMMING IT UP - A good mix of real life and good story-telling. I wish it had been better, but that's just me. I'm sure tons of readers will eat this book up like a gourmet dessert. And if I happen to come across one of Dunlap's other books, I'll definitely give it a try!
For the Parents - A kiss or two, talk of affairs/lovers; an antagonist is addicted to opium; some brief but very saddening violence. Recommended 12+
*This ARC copy was provided by NetGalley (thanks a million!!) in return for an honest review. I was in no way compensated; all thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.* (less)