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message 1: by Charlie (last edited Dec 08, 2010 06:00PM) (new)

Charlie (bitsyblingbooks) | 61 comments Mod
A place to share historical young adult reviews, opinions and recommendations. Written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, roughly ages 14 to 21 yrs.


message 2: by Charlie (new)

Charlie (bitsyblingbooks) | 61 comments Mod
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell Synopsis: It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

5 Star Review: From the first line the lyrical prose flow beautifully. The dark poetic-style of each description sings along like a haunting carnival tune. The metaphors are juxtaposed and grounded in concrete images giving it just enough of a dreamy feel without leaving the reader floating in absurdity.

I fell fast for this read and found myself enraptured with the story late into the night. I did not want to return from historical Baltimore anymore than I ever want to leave Victorian England. This is a historically dark romance that celebrates youth, love, expectations and fate. It possesses a touch of the paranormal that presents in the popular form of spiritualism or mysticism which was a growing fascination during this time period. It begins with what seems the end, much like a prediction, the finality of the picture is never certain. As the story continues the reader can only hope that the foreseen fate is not realized. Small tragedies are diverted only to reappear in another form, so it is plausible that a different ending might ensure. I adored this book and will read it again because the intensity of the prose-style left me breathless. I do not easily swoon, but Mitchell captured the painful hunger of first love and exploded it onto the page.

Without discussing key parts of the story, I will only comment that I wish a few parts were slowed down with a hint of explanation. I was left with a couple questions that would have been easily resolved with short paragraph.

* ARC provided to Bitsy Bling Books for review via Netgalley courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing


message 3: by Heather C (new)

Heather C | 17 comments The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre by Ann Rinaldi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Growing up my favorite author was hands down Ann Rinaldi. I owned probably about a dozen or so of them and I would frequently borrow those that I didn’t own from the school library. After about age 15 I got distracted by other books and really forgot all about this author until a few weeks ago. I was exploring the author’s website for a feature I was doing on YA Historical Fiction and realized that she has still been releasing books, almost every year, and still is. This made me want to take some time to get back to reading those books I loved – this time on audio book.

The Fifth of March is a story of the events in Boston that lead up to the Boston Massacre, the event itself, the trial of those British soldiers, and some of the outcomes of this conflagration. But it is also the story of Rachel dealing with figuring out who she is – does she still see herself as a British American or just a plain American (to use her own words)? It is a really interesting question – when do you start to see yourself as something different? You get to see Rachel really starting to open her eyes to what is happening around her and see how it affects her. I also really loved the sweet, little romance that developed. You really were able to see how this put added stress on a young girl too.

The author does an awesome job at giving the reader a visual layout of Boston. She also has a great ability to convey the drama, hysteria, tension, panic and drive to choose sides that enveloped Boston during that time.

Although this book is written for a primarily high school audience, I enjoyed it immensely. The historical facts and events were not brought down a level and would still be very enjoyable for an adult reader. This is a coming of age story with a teenage narrator – but also consider, people had to grow up a lot faster back then and were encountering situations that many teens wouldn’t be today.

Audiobook Impressions:

I have to say that I didn’t love this narrator. The way she read for the main character of Rachel made the character seem dumb. Having read this in paperback several years ago I had never gotten that impression – a little naïve, yes, but not the way this narrator made me feel about the character. The narrator did do a good job at evoking the feelings of the story and the world the characters were living in – the fear and panic. I think it would have been a more enjoyable listening experience with a different narrator.

3.5 out of 5 stars for the audio.



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message 4: by JoLene (last edited Mar 27, 2011 09:56AM) (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
5 stars

This is a story about how the Danish people helped save their jewish countrymen during the German occupation of Denmark (WWII). The story focuses on one families efforts and while it is fiction, it was rooted in some real stories that Lowry had heard from a friend.

I have recently rediscovered YA fiction due to several other challenges. I have a hard time being critical of the writing style as in most cases it is simplified for the audience. However, I think that the sensitive handling of the a difficult subject was done well and more importantly, I feel that it is critical that the stories of what happened during WWII not be forgotten (or other human atrocities in other wars).


message 6: by Heather C (new)

Heather C | 17 comments Out of the Dust Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I read Out of the Dust for the first time in grade school – maybe 4th or 5th grade - and I remember being so absorbed in the book that I finished it in no time. It has been awhile since I read it and have been struggling to recall any details about the book – but I always had this lingering memory that I had really enjoyed reading it. That in and of itself says a lot – even if you don’t remember the exact details you know that a book touched your heart in some way and left an imprint there to be felt forever. I chose this book on audio this time because I wanted to see if the experience would be different – and I had unfortunately given away my copy of this book several years ago.

I had never before realized that this book was written as free verse poetry – let me rephrase that – I never realized it was written as poetry – because let’s face it, I don’t know the difference between free verse and any other type of verse of poetry. Quite honestly I shy away from poetry because of bad experiences in school and I just don’t “get it” quite like a novel. If I had known originally this was a poem I might have not picked it up purely based on that fact alone. But I couldn’t tell this was poetry. It flowed just like any other novel would have for me. And listening to it, you did not see the form it was written in which would be more of an indicator. So don’t do what I would have done and put this off because it is poetry.

I have read some reviews that say this book might be a little over the heads of its target audience – which according to the publisher is ages 9+. I have to say I disagree with those reviews. You don’t have to really know anything about the Dust Bowl to get valuable information from this book or to enjoy it – I’m sure that I didn’t know about it the first time I read this book. The book focuses on the characters but really creates the world for you. You see the world through the eyes of a 14 year old girl and she describes how hard it is to keep the dust out of the house and how you had to chew your milk. I think these are images that a young reader would be able to imagine. You really get the sense of severity and real depression of these people. Even though it is sparse and you get just the details you need and nothing more – the words chosen pack a punch. This is really an exemplary sample of keeping concise and to the point and being effective at getting your point across.

The narrator chosen for this book sounds like a teenage Midwesterner which is a perfect fit for Billy Jo. The story is told through her voice in her diary so it really helps you to get into her head a little more. While I thought that the narration was wonderful, I do think that it might be a better choice to read this book in its printed version. As the book is written as her diary, you lose a little bit of the sense of time and connection to her diary. A diary isn’t usually read out loud so a little bit is lost in the art this time.



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