Cover Impressions: Oh so pretty. I love that this is not quite the typical pretty girl in a pretty dress cover. For one, the dress fits quite well within the world of the book and shows no skin. The knife adds interest but, at least in the image, appears to be
The Gist: Sophronia is entering her second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality - which is actually Mademoiselle Geraldine's training school for young spies. The girls are excited to learn of an upcoming trip to London, but Sophronia believes that there must be some mysterious reason that the school would come out of hiding and she puts her lessons to good use in trying to get to the bottom of the nefarious plot.
Review: I am still not sure how I feel about this book. I certainly enjoyed it more that Etiquette & Espionage, however, I am still not sure I actually LIKED it.
My major issues from the previous book remained:
1) the names - the unpronounceable, ridiculous and annoying names! I simply cannot get past this point and I feel it was completely unnecessary. I couldn't help picturing the author throwing our random scrabble tiles in order to create some of these characters - an image that was constantly distracting me from the plot. 2) The lack of character development. Sophronia continues to be self centered and singularly focused - to the detriment of those around her. Her friends continue to be mere plot movers and are not able to stand on their own. They have interesting facets, but we never get to explore them. 3) The steampunk - I know, I know, that is what a lot of people love about this series but, I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. To be honest, this may not be a failing within the book itself, since I just can't seem to find a steampunk book that I enjoy. I always end up thoroughly confused by the nonsensical explanations of technology and bored by the info-dumping.
This is, however, the book for anyone that enjoys steampunk and is looking for non-stop action. I was almost breathless watching Sophronia run from one task to another. There are werewolves, vampires, kidnappings and high flying theatrics. The world building is extremely detailed and the blend of paranormal elements adds an interesting twist.
I think I am bowing out on this particular series. It would take a pretty spectacular synopsis to lure me back in next time - we shall see.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Knifeplay, Gunplay Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None ...more
Cover Impressions: I love everything about this cover. The wallpaper background contrasts beautifully with the black starkness of the dress. The ruffles and buttons on the dress keep my eye moving and I appreciate that the stance removes it from the typical "girl in a pretty dress" category. The font works very well and doesn't mar the cover image.
The Gist: When Sophronia is unceremoniously shipped off to finishing school by her exasperated parents she pictures days of manners, curtsying and proper dinner etiquette. And that is what she gets - some of the time. She soon discovers that the school is much more than she expected and perhaps more than her parents had bargained for. Sophronia learns the art of being a spy as well as being a lady and finds herself at the center of a mystery involving a missing prototype and several bands of dangerous thugs hell-bent on find it.
Etiquette & Espionage holds the distinction of being one of the few books that I have ever stopped and re-started again. When I started reading E&E, I seemed to be surrounded by mediocre books. Having read some of the rave review, I was a little concerned that my feelings toward this novel were being colored by the whole MEH-Ness of my reading life at the time. As such, I put it down, read something else and then came back. Upon returning, I did find it much easier to get into the story and I was a little less annoyed by some of the issues with world-building.
DISCLAIMER: I am generally not a steampunk fan. There, I said it. I have not had a great deal of luck with steampunk books in the past and I am beginning to think that I just don't see what so many other people see. That being said, this was probably the highest rated of my forays into steampunk - so that's something. E&E merges steampunk with mythological creatures and, oddly enough, the strange elements shouldn't quite work together, but they do.
I did find the whole school setting a bit dry. There seemed to be a great deal of telling me about what the ladies were learning in the classes instead of allowing me to see for myself. I was also surprised, by the end of the book, at how much time had passed. It seemed like events unfolded rather quickly, but the end of the book was the end of the year so perhaps things were moving more slowly than I thought.
The writing and narration style takes a little getting used to. I found myself annoyed on occasion by the manner in which the characters spoke. But, by the end, I had gotten used to it and could see some of its charm. Of course, my major irritation came in the form of the names. Mrs Barnaclegoos, Lord Dingleproops, The Great Chutney- you have got to be kidding me. The only character who had a "normal" name was Agatha and she was meant to be the most boring and timid! This made it difficult to keep the characters straight in my head and, when a new character was introduced, I often found myself stopping to mutter "COME ON?!"
I didn't find any of the characters particularly loathesome, but then I didn't find them particularly endearing either. They floated in the land of the unforgettable. Even Sophronia wasn't that remarkable and I was left searching for any distinguishing on which to throw my love - but none arose.
I did find the novel much more enjoyable once I re-started at about 3/4 through. This last section was more exciting and fast paced. I have Curtsies & Conspiracies on my TBR pile and am really hoping that my slow start was just that, and that I will get to see some more character development in the second installment.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: None Violence: Knifeplay, Gunplay Inappropriate Language: None Substance Use/Abuse: None ...more
Cover Impressions: The cover is cute but nothing special. It falls into the cliche of pretty g This review can also be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is cute but nothing special. It falls into the cliche of pretty girl in a pretty dress. If you read my reviews, you know that I prefer the cover to accurately reflect the character and this model is NOT the size 10 that Jessica claims to be. In the book we watch Jessica grow to accept her curves and curly hair as signs of beauty, strength and having "a presence in the world" yet, the cover features the typical slim young girl - such a shame.
The Gist: Jessica's has always known she was adopted from Romania but when the dark and mysterious Lucius waltzes into town claiming not only to be her betrothed but also, a vampire, she is forced to examine just how strange her heritage might be. As Jessica grows to accept the dark past of her parents and the strange new urges of her body, she realizes that if she does not become the princess her family needs, she may lose the future that she never knew she wanted.
Review: I found this book on the Bargain Shelf at my local book store and thought that it might be a good fit for some of the girly girls in my classes. Because I picked up this book knowing that it was not to my taste, I was fairly forgiving while reading it. Jessica's Guide falls into the category of "fluff", it was a quick, fairly entertaining read that did not require much brainpower. It is not a particularly unique story (we have all read these "oh surprise I'm actually a princess" stories before and it makes use of several cliches in its 300+ pages.
Jessica is presented as an overweight Math nerd with self-esteem issues. Naturally, with encouragement from Lucius, she transforms into the confident and poised Princess that she was meant to be (actually she puts on a pretty dress and stops straightening her hair). I was NOT happy that, as she began her "transformation" her math skills suffered. What the heck Fantaskey? Can't she be pretty AND smart? Of course, her competition was slim, blonde and (say it with me now) A CHEERLEADER! And she was named, wait for it ....... Faith Crosse. Seriously? In a book about Vampires you combine the words Faith AND Cross?
There was some attempt at a love triangle (though poor Jake didn't really stand a chance) that pitted the sweet, honest farm boy against the dark and dangerous vampire. Just once, I would like to see a heroine actually choose the nice guy, come on girls, the nice guy will bring you soup and tissues when you are sick. The bad boy will take one look at your puffy eyes and snotty nose and run in the opposite direction. The nice guy will not understand when you sob uncontrollably, clutching The Fault In Our Stars to your chest unwilling to read another page for fear of more heartbreak, but he will hold your hand and try to make you feel better by cracking lame jokes. The bad boy will not even be there to see your pain because he doesn't think a chick who reads is sexy. The nice guy will be there when your best friend moves away, when your Dad gets sick or your childhood puppy passes away. The bad boy will be off finding some other pretty young thing who he can seduce with his recipe of aloofness, brooding and danger.
Of course, Lucius is the typical literary bad boy who can be rescued from the brink of self destruction by his "true love", a woman who is not willing to give up on him, no matter what heinous acts he commits. Again, ladies, put this particular brand of bad boy in the same category as unicorns, dragons and hairdressers that think 1inch = 1inch - they don't exist! The writing itself was mediocre, but the sections featuring Lucius' letters were cringe-worthy. His use of local colloquialisms were laughable and the constant reminders that his uncle hits him left me annoyed rather than appalled. The plot was quick, if predictable, and I know this will appeal to those students who enjoy the the Pretty Little Liars series. This is one of those YA novels that doesn't quite translate to an adult audience but would probably be a very enjoyable (and perhaps forgettable) read for many teenagers.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Girls Sex: Mentioned by several characters but not actually written about Violence: Blood drinking, a beating, a staking, reference to child abuse Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None...more
Cover Impressions: This cover doesn't do much for me. Firstly, the main character is Asian, th This review can also be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover doesn't do much for me. Firstly, the main character is Asian, this model is .... not. I don't like that. If the person on the cover is meant to represent a character, then make them look like that character. No white-washing please. Secondly, the expression on the model's face is bland, I would prefer her to look upset, or angry or determined or ... something. Thirdly, the tear, while eye catching, seems off somehow. Perhaps it is because it starts in the very middle of her eye, perhaps it is because it doesn't wash away any of that heavy eye makeup. I do like the font and am thankful that, although Kagawa is already a successful author, her name doesn't appear bigger than the book title.
The Gist: In Allison Sekemoto's world vampires rule with an iron fist and humans are treated as no more than cattle. Here she fights for survival alongside other scavengers, constantly aware of the threat lurking in the shadows. When her daring leads to a deadly attack, Allison is offered a choice: die on the dusty street or become what she loathes most.
Review: The Immortal Rules is one of those rare YA novels which combines an interesting world, and an action packed plot with a strong, capable heroine. Allison is not your average YA female, she pulls her weight and doesn't depend on the men around her to act as her savior. She never balks at an impossible situation and she doesn't whine. When she is faced with a task and other issues threaten to steal her attention she says things like "I would sort all this out later" and "though I hated this, I forced myself to concentrate". Despite her claims to own the keys to lonerville, Allison continually surprises herself, and the readers, by risking herself in order to protect that people that she is supposed to think of as nothing more than food.
The world that Kagawa has created combines the dystopian elements of a post-plague city ruled by bloodthirsty vampires with the heart-thumping zombie-like "Rabids" who stalk the lands outside. The rabids are terrifying, difficult to kill and can erupt beneath the very ground you walk on. Their mindless quest for blood creates exciting battles and heart-thumping moments as we push for human survival. As Allison travels with a pack of humans, ever conscious of their tempting vulnerability, she struggles with her hunger and fights to pull together the tattered remains of her humanity creating a sense of suspense as we wait for the inevitable.
While the second half of this novel is ruled by action, the first half does contain a certain amount of info-dumping, mostly through Kanin - Allison's maker. I did not find this too distracting as the world Kagawa has created is a very interesting one, but I do wish that the character of Kanin had been a little more animated in his lessons. I am very confident that, now that the world building has been established, the other books in this series will scarcely give the readers a moment to breathe.
Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 16 and up Gender: Either Sex: None Violence: Vampirism, swordplay, gunfights, violent attacks by "rabids" Inappropriate Language: Whore, Bitch, Bastard Substance Abuse: None...more
The beginning of this book was so slow going that I made up a drinking game:
- You are reminded of something that happened in the past (The beginning of this book was so slow going that I made up a drinking game:
- You are reminded of something that happened in the past (long series - lot of past events to explain) - The author uses the word Moulage (WTF Harrison? Word of the day much?) - Rachel feels guilty - Rachel whines about her magic (or lack thereof) - Rachel whines about her friends - Rachel whines about her love life - Rachel does something INCREDIBLY STUPID (like forgetting to check her gun is working, or that the guy she knocked out is actually knocked out, or running off on her own, leading to the next point) - Rachel gets herself captured - Vampire Pheromones are mentioned - Rachel worries about Jenks being cold - Rachel mistrusts the good guy and trusts the bad guy
I could have made a much longer list but by the time I was a quarter through the book I would be Jersey Shore drunk and, while my infant son was sleeping I didn't think he would appreciate waking up to Snookie passed out on the couch muttering "Moulage" over and over.
If you can push through the first half of the book it does get better (view spoiler)[after Rachel takes off the stupid bracelet and starts listening to Trent (hide spoiler)]. It was a decently enjoyable read but, I didn't see much character growth or story progression. In a series as long running as this, we already know the characters and the world building has already been established. As such, I expect the author to use her 400+ pages in order to move the larger storyline along rather than let our characters sit stagnant. ...more