I like a bit of historical fiction once in a while, partly because I feel like I'm learning something. This one was set in the French Revolution and f...moreI like a bit of historical fiction once in a while, partly because I feel like I'm learning something. This one was set in the French Revolution and focused on the life of Madame Tussaud, of the famous wax museum.
Our heroine is Celie, a young thief. Celie lost her family to the cruelty of the upper classes and definitely has an axe to grind there. At the start of the story, she is homeless in Paris, living in an alley with her friend Algernon and a bunch of other homeless, stealing to survive. However, Celie has a talent for drawing and a photographic memory, which result in her being saved my Manon Tussaud. Celie is obviously good-hearted, despite being a thief. However, she is very impulsive and I thought a bit naive for someone who lived on the streets.
Her best friend and giant crush is Algernon. This is where the story fell down a bit for me. Algernon didn't really appeal to me. I couldn't handle his hot-and-cold attitude towards Celie and sometimes he treated her really awful, mainly out of jealousy.
I enjoyed the historical aspect. I brought back a lot of my French Revolution history, which I haven't taken since high school. I especially appreciated the author's note at the end, explain what was historically accurate and what was changed or added to the story. I also enjoyed the parts where the process of making the wax figures was explained. I love learning how things are created.
Overall, despite my reservations about Algernon, Madame Tussaud's Apprentice was an enjoyable read that let me brush up on my French history.(less)
Jex Malone is the latest in a long line of girl detectives (although I think Nat deserves most of the credit). To be 100% honest, I never read Nancy D...moreJex Malone is the latest in a long line of girl detectives (although I think Nat deserves most of the credit). To be 100% honest, I never read Nancy Drew as a kid (I was too busy reading Saddle Club and Pony Pals), but I did find myself enjoying this one.
Let's start with my favourite part of this book: diversity. While our heroine Jex and her new crush Cooper may have both been white, Jex's friends did show some diversity. Deva's parents are Indian, Nat's family is Jamaican and I think Cissy is Latino. So it was nice to see a bit of diversity in YA.
I did have a few issues with this one though. These girls are insane. Lots of the stuff they did made no sense to me at all. There was a lot of sneaking around and withholding of evidence from Jex's dad, who is a police officer. Although I'm sure that evidence would never stand up in court, which Nat should have known if she was as smart as we're led to believe. And the whole thing at the end was beyond silly for these girls. Maybe that's the adult in me talking, but I just couldn't get behind these girl's crazy ideas.
I also wasn't a huge fan of some of the characters. Deva annoyed me with her spoiled-rich-girl thing, Nat was so nosy, especially when she first meets Jex and Cissy just kind of faded into the background most of the time. And Cooper was okay, although I have no idea why he didn't get these girls to leave him alone instead of following them on their crazy plan.
Overall, it was fun to follow these girls on their crazy adventure, as long as I ignore the fact that I had no clue why they were being so crazy. I did guess the ending, although I never know if this is because the ending is obvious or if I am just good at guessing.(less)
I wasn't sure what to expect going into Wanted: Dead or in Love, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. It was a good adventure and I really liked th...moreI wasn't sure what to expect going into Wanted: Dead or in Love, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. It was a good adventure and I really liked the paranormal aspects.
This one was told using dual POV, alternating between Monroe, a modern teen, and the legendary Clyde Barrow. I usually am not a huge fan of dual POV, but this time it really worked! I appreciated the noticeable differences in their voices and enjoyed the past vs. present differences.
I didn't know much about Bonnie and Clyde going into this book, so I liked that I actually learned a bit of history as well. I'm all for making learning fun!
Like I said, I really enjoyed the paranormal aspects of this book. Being possessed by the spirit of a dead gangster would be terrifying! I found the 'rules' for how being 'half-dead' worked fresh and unique and I really thought they worked.
However, I did have a few minor issues with the characters. All of them. Monroe is the kind of character who constantly makes bad decisions, especially in the first 40 pages or so. Since it was so early in the book, it made it hard for me to like her for most of it, since we didn't have a relationship before she went around going stupid crap. Jack was such a little wiener for most of the book. I understand he was put in a really crappy situation, but it seemed like he did everything that he could to get in Monroe's way. Bonnie was mostly just annoying. She had such a one-track mind and no depth. I did end up feeling pretty bad for her in the end. And Clyde just gave me the heebie jeebies! He came off really sleazy to me with all his pickup lines mixed with his chauvinistic attitude. I definitely couldn't see the attraction there. Also, horniest ghost ever!
Despite my issues with the characters, I really enjoyed this one based on the paranormal aspects and historical information. Recommended for history buffs and fans of alternative ghost stories.(less)
This book really should have been a home run for me. I love steampunk and Victorian manner and mysteries. But this one fell a bit flat for me and I ca...moreThis book really should have been a home run for me. I love steampunk and Victorian manner and mysteries. But this one fell a bit flat for me and I can't quite put my finger on why. I think it is at least partly because there was so much going on. Steampunk aspects, magic, political intrigue, murder mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes, young woman forced to reconsile her past a future. It was a lot.
I had trouble getting into and staying with this one. I think the pacing was a bit off, as the book felt really long (I guess it was over 500 pages) and didn't really pick up for me until the final third. I think it would have been more manageable (and possibly enjoyable) if we had just followed Evelina, instead of diverting to follow Lord Bancroft or Tobias or Jasper Keating. I think this was mainly done to give readers more information about the mystery, but it made the book very long.
I did like the main character Evelina. She smart and resourceful, but still has some insecurities and vulnerabilities. The rest of the characters were certainly flawed individuals. I really felt for Nick, although he did some things I certainly didn't like. Tobias was an interesting character and I felt for him as well, despite (or because of) his weaknesses.
I wasn't entirely sold on the Sherlock Holmes aspect. As I mentioned before, it felt like too much when combined with steampunk and magic. This might have been a personal preference though, as I tend to favour more streamlined stories.
Overall, I did enjoy Evelina and the enjoyed the final third of the book, once things really got going, but I found a large portion of the book to be a bit of a slog. I think this might be one you have to try for yourself.(less)