Really loved this one. Smart, funny heroine who writes fanfiction while starting her freshman year of college. If I have a minor quibble it's that the...moreReally loved this one. Smart, funny heroine who writes fanfiction while starting her freshman year of college. If I have a minor quibble it's that the ending was a bit abrupt. If I thought the author meant to return to these characters in a new book, it would have been fine. As it is though it just felt like the author decided to stop writing one day.
I do have a thought that the abrupt end is meant to encourage the reader to create their own endings for the characters (in a fanfiction kind of way), but not sure and as it is it was a minor, minor problem for a book that just sucked me in emotionally.(less)
It's been a while since I've read a rave-worthy young adult novel. But lately I've hit the bonanza with several titles hitting on all notes. Some of the hits aren't yet published so I'll leave those for a future post, but one of them is out and available and I'm thrilled that I can tell you about it.
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger is set in the same world as her Parasol Protectorate series (first reviewed by Katie back in 2009). This YA entry takes place a number of years earlier and introduces Sophronia Angelina Temminnick. Sophronia is 14-years-old and the despair of her mother who doesn't know what to do with a young lady who has more interest in climbing and dismantling mechanicals then she does in learning a proper curtsey. Nothing will serve but to send Sophronia to a finishing school. But unbeknownst to Sophronia's mother, the school she's chosen teaches a lot more then etiquette.
Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not the dread experience that Sophronia fears. Instead she begins to thrive amidst lessons on poisons and flirting and self-defense against vampires and werewolves. Though she has difficulty with her eyelash-fluttering, Sophronia more then makes up for it in other ways. When she discovers there's a mystery involving a missing prototype, Sophronia throws herself into the investigation utilizing all that she's learning in the process.
This novel was just fun to read beginning to end. I've seen other reviewers compare Sophronia to Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce, and I can see that. But she reminded me more of another plucky girl protagonist, Anne Shirley. Like Anne, Sophronia comes at every situation in a head-on, straightforward way. And her wry wit serves her well when she screws up. And like Anne, nothing daunts her. There's always a way.
Adding to the appeal of Sophronia is Carriger's well-imagined steampunk(ish) world. The imaginative inventions and gadgets meld seamlessly with the sensibilities of a late 19th century England. I'm already eager to see what she comes up with in the sequel, Curtsies & Conspiracies- though I'm going to have to wait for a year to read it.(less)
I really liked this one. Yes the story has been done; loner, outsider girl starting highschool convinced that nobody will like her. The difference her...moreI really liked this one. Yes the story has been done; loner, outsider girl starting highschool convinced that nobody will like her. The difference here is that Finneyfrock (what a name, btw) really delivers what's described. Celia the Dark really doesn't have any friends and she is truly on her own in dealing with the mean girls. I believed the bullying and her reaction to it. And I also loved the fact that the cute boy who befriends her doesn't become her boyfriend. Since Celia is only 14 it would be hard to believe that she'd find 'the one' at this point in her life. The fact that Drake is important simply because he becomes her friend really sold this one for me. This isn't teen angst about does he or doesn't he love her. This is teen angst about bullying, and finding yourself, and dealing with parental mess-ups.
The reason this is a 4 (maybe 4 1/2) book is because the end felt a little rushed.(less)
Some book are difficult for me to review because I don't want to give too much away as I write. And some are difficult because I want to do a good book justice. Code Name Verity fits both instances. It is a WWII novel that has been described with adjectives like wrenching, beautiful, harrowing, intelligent. All of them apply.
As the book opens 'Verity' begins to tell her story. She's a young British woman captured behind enemy lines by the Gestapo. At the point her tale begins she has been tortured for long enough to break and she has agreed to tell her captors everything she knows. In order to get the words down on paper Verity decides to start with the story of another girl, Maddie, and how she ended up helping in the war effort.
Maddie is a working-class girl with an interest in motorcycles and airplanes. She longs to be able to fly for the war effort and to that end joins the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force). It is there she meets Queenie, a young woman from a far different, more privileged background. As the two women do the work assigned to them, they continue to push to help in larger ways. On the surface the two have little in common, but as their friendship develops it's clear they are more alike then not.
Verity lives up to her name (if we interpret it ironically), because she is the definition of an unreliable narrator. Has she really been broken and is she really telling the Gestapo everything? The stark nature of her first-person experiences (torture, deprivation and fear) contrasting with the more deliberate pace of her third-person narrative about Maddie make for a suspensful and, yes, harrowing build-up to a twisty climax.(less)