Monday, March 10, 2014
Oh. My. Gosh. This book is fantastic!!!
Margaret Lea leads a quiet, book-loving life that all of us bibliophiles would adore – working in a book store and whiling away the hours reading.
Her passion for literature extends to a fascination with non-fiction. She loves letters, journals – anything that ties her to people who are now deceased. Margaret has even written a few minor biographies on lesser known figures.
When she receives a letter from one of the most famous contemporary authors of the day, Vida Winter, she’s floored to discover that Ms. Winter wants her to write her biography.
For years, Vida has given numerous, glittering stories when asked about her life.
Not one of them true.
Apparently now, old and ailing, she wants to finally tell her story.
Unable to deny her curiosity, Margaret joins Vida at her reclusive estate and starts a routine of hearing Vida’s life stories in the library.
The tale is full of madness, strangeness and a gothic mystery that Margaret is enthralled in.
And with the telling Vida and Margaret both find they must equally confront the ghosts of their pasts, and the deep pain lying there…
Oh, my description can’t even do The Thirteenth Tale justice!!! I might as well just give up!
This is now one of my favorite books. Just as the blurbs say on the inside and outside jacket cover – this novel harkens to novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca in its excellent gothic vibe, yet manages to be a contemporary novel.
Diane Setterfield writes with such a poetical, entrancing language that pulled me in and very quickly started to wrap me up in intrigue, mystery and book-loving wonderfulness.
I loved reading about a character who loved reading as much as I do!
My bibliophile heart was quickly being tugged with lovely, silkily-woven prose and disturbing, eerie tales of the past.
Book magnetism, indeed!!!
The Thirteenth Tale is effective, haunting, and stayed on my thoughts constantly. It’s undeniably addictive and absorbing.
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED everything about it!!!
Twists, tingles, edge-of-your-seat mystery, emotional, shocking, amazing – PERFECT!
The Thirteenth Tale was stunning in every way – and I will recommend it to EVERYONE!!!
Now, this is a novel with adult, disquieting themes at times – but at its heart is a human mystery, a beautifully written, powerful gothic novel to be adored, relished, and re-read!
Friday, March 7, 2014
I remember this series from when I was younger. I have quite a few of these – from Cleopatra to Marie Antoinette and more – and they fueled what would be a growing interest in historical fiction centering on these oftentimes heartbreak-stricken royals of the past.
Now they are being reissued in paperback. I’m going to be honest – I liked the prior releases better. The covers were striking, more realistic than this doll-like cover here. Also they were hardcovers with gold painted edges to the pages. They felt special. Now… not so much.
But… back to the book!
At the beginning of Anastasia’s diary here she is thirteen – the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. She is used to her luxurious lifestyle, though she doesn’t appreciate all the lessons and schooling she has to endure.
To enhance her outfits, matching her three sisters and picked out by her mother, she wears diamonds, rubies, and pearls. It’s their norm.
But when WWI begins, tensions between Russia and Germany escalate and cause unrest among the peasants of Russia to grow. They’re hungry. They’re poor. And they’re angry.
This is a fictional chronicle based on history of how Anastasia’s life changes – and turns to tragedy.
I am a huge fan of Carolyn Meyer’s Young Royal series, which is separate from this Royal Diaries series.
Here, I felt a little shortchanged – primarily because it was part of the wrong series, in my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s good. Anastasia is a great introduction to historical fiction to younger girls, and may spark curiosity in them as they did for me back when I was younger. It has lots of details of the finer things in their lives before things went bad.
Yet, the truly fascinating and anguishing stuff doesn’t come until the epilogue. Because of the diary format, we don’t get the whole story. We don’t get to dive into Rasputin, or the behind-the-scenes issues of Tsar Nicholas II.
For me, Anastasia’s understandable ignorance of what is going on, as a young, privileged girl, to cause the heartbreak that is caused makes for a less interesting story. I want it all. A book in the Young Royals series would have been able to do that – and has for characters like Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette and more.
So, excellent way to get young girls started in the genre – but generally disappointing if you want the full impact and story of the downfall of the Romanov’s.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Yes, I know. You probably read this book years ago and have already finished the four book series.
I get it. I’m late to the game. But you have to admit there are a LOT of books out there – and even bibliophiles can’t always keep up.
Ethan Wate is counting the days until he can leave his tiny Southern town of Gatlin.
Full of closed-minded, eccentric people that all know each other too well and a multitude of girls that can’t hold his interest for even a few minutes once they start speaking have left him increasingly dissatisfied.
So when Lena Duchannes moves into town it’s like a breath of fresh air. She’s different. She’s been places. And, of course, she’s beautiful.
But she’s the niece of town recluse Macon Ravenwood – so she is automatically despised by a large population of the town.
Lena’s clothing choices and the odd occurrences, such as spontaneously shattering windows, happening while she’s about only adds to the hostile attitude toward her.
And yet, Ethan is fascinated with her. He finds himself, against the advice of everyone, befriending Lena.
Through that friendship comes an introduction to secrets and curses that he never knew lay underneath the veil of boredom in Gatlin.
Ethan and Lena may be bringing change to this never-changing Southern town…
I’d, of course, heard of Beautiful Creatures a lot. Then the movie came out – and though I know it did not do very well – the previews intrigued me. I liked the look of it. So, I bought myself a copy.
During the course of reading Beautiful Creatures, a lot was going on. My reading was interrupted more than usual. Yet I was continually interested in jumping back in.
There are many things I liked about Beautiful Creatures. I liked how Ethan is a decent, likable male narrator that doesn’t seem implausible. I liked his love of reading, his grief over his Mom, worry over his Dad, and his interest in more than a pretty face. I liked the way the secondary characters seemed to pop.
I liked the secluded, atmospheric tone of Gatlin – the way it was stifling, eerie, and compelling all at once. I liked Lena not being a typical YA heroine. I liked that she was dealing with her own demons. I liked that Ethan and Lena had a relationship that was built on time, talking, and support.
Unlike some others, I very much liked the slower (but not boring) pacing of Beautiful Creatures. It reminded me of the Twilight series, which did the same thing. And I was a fan of the Twilight series.
So, as you can see (without going into a lot of detail that will spoil the fun), I liked a lot about Beautiful Creatures. I just never felt like I LOVED it. I might be getting there, though.
I feel like there’s a lot of potential to this first novel. And now that I know there’s going to be a companion series this year I am eager to finish up the Caster Chronicles and find out if I’ll want to jump into the next set.
Overall, I felt Beautiful Creatures was a well-done, suspenseful, romantic, relatively original paranormal novel that I definitely want to read the sequels to.
If you, like most, have already read it. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts!!
Friday, February 28, 2014
I read Impulse as a newbie to this series. It’d probably have been even better if I’d had a chance to read Jumper and Reflex first – but Impulse did well on its own, too.
Cent, the sixteen-year-old daughter of parents Davy and Millie, lives in a remote cabin – hiding from the people who kept her father imprisoned and tortured him because of their desire to control his ability to teleport, or “jump”.
This means that Cent’s primary view of the world is from TV, movies, the internet – not anything real. Deciding enough is enough, Cent pleads with her (understandably) cautious parents to let her go to a normal high school in a safe town.
Right around the time they agree, Cent’s own ability to “jump” like her parents is discovered – and she begins to utilize her strong intellect from years of stringent home schooling to experiment with it a little.
Once she enters high school, she realizes that her newfound ability to “jump” may come in handy – but could end up changing all of their lives…
Impulse was interesting – in some ways it didn’t feel like a YA novel at all. In the best ways.
What I mean by that is that Cent’s relationship with her parents is refreshing and mature – mostly. Even the way she interacts with others has a level of confidence and wisdom that isn’t that common in YA normally. It’s also realistic because she has spent her life around adults only, really.
Impulse has an absorbing premise, though I did initially feel as though I was jumping (ha) into an established story – oh wait, I was!
Yet Cent’s sturdy, tomboyish and intelligent, which translates into a fast-moving, attention-grabbing story that deals with the sci-fi elements of teleporting and more gritty issues in high school. It was easy and smooth to read and I really liked the characters.
It definitely made me interested in reading Jumper and Reflex. Maybe someday!
Monday, February 24, 2014
Elliot North is of Luddite nobility. Since she was a child she was taught that the Luddites, who outlawed most technology, were the reason the human race survived after a genetic experiment went wrong many generations ago.
That experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction.
As one of the Luddite nobility, she has always been aware that her purpose is to protect the Reduced and enforce the Luddite principles to shun technological advances.
Yet, as a young adult, Elliot knows things aren’t as simple as that.
She was childhood best friends with Kai – a servant that was born to her family. He is not Reduced, but does not have the rights of a Luddite – he is one of the many Post-Reductionists that are changing the way the world looks at the future.
Her friendship, her love, with Kai was fractured four years ago when Elliot refused to run away with him.
When she chose to stay and look after the estate, and the remaining Reduced.
Since then, she’s staved off the heart wrenching regret by acknowledging that without her her spend-happy father and oblivious sister would have already destroyed their business. She’s had to work at the estate’s survival – keeping everyone fed and clothed.
But the loneliness is always there. The wonder of where Kai went. If he is still alive. If he made it.
When a group of shipbuilders request renting part of their estate, Elliot is quick to agree – as they desperately need the money – despite the group being Post-Reductionists, which her father wouldn’t be pleased about.
Among the group is Captain Malakai Wentworth.
Elliot’s heart nearly stops when she realizes it is a nearly unrecognizable Kai. A Kai that seems angry and harsh – entirely resentful of Elliot’s decision all those years ago.
Could there be the smallest possible hope of a second chance between them?
For Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling, a reimagining, of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
And OH MY GOSH I love it.
Immediately I could see and appreciate the resemblances to Persuasion, mashed with an initially unclear but intriguing post-apocalyptic world. And as more details became known, it’s truly an original and fascinating world that Peterfreund created.
The unspoken, heavy with feeling, connection Elliot and Kai have is stunningly reminiscent of Persuasion with passion and a restrained, mysterious past that is revealed in a lovely, paced manner.
For Darkness Shows the Stars has a strong, resilient, intelligent heroine in Elliot. Her pain is palpable but she’s no pushover. I really, really liked her – and kept feeling the urge to reread Persuasion.
This is a novel that, in my opinion, transcends the YA genre and shows just how remarkable YA can be. It’s suspenseful, meaningful, and weighty. It nearly brought tears to my eyes!
It’s so nice to read a romance about a soul connection, a friendship bond that became more – instead of just superficial, hormonal infatuation that pales sharply in comparison.
The quotes from Jane Austen’s novel pierced my heart as they were peppered perfectly throughout this honoring, respectful, incredible retelling.
For Darkness Shows the Stars is achingly, amazingly beautiful!!!
Friday, February 21, 2014
Eureka has never cried.
Not since she was a little girl and her mother drilled that into her in one shocking, startling moment.
But now her mother is gone. Killed when an out-of-nowhere wave swept them off a bridge and drowned her. Who knows how Eureka survived.
She wishes she didn’t.
Filled with suppressed emotion and deep grief over a mother she loved deeply, Eureka still hasn’t cried.
There’s not much left that she really cares about. There are a couple of childhood friends and her two little half-siblings and dad – but she feels so dead inside.
When Ander, a pale boy with eyes that seem to know her inexplicably, warns her that she is in danger – she tries to brush it off.
But her mother’s odd inheritance of a locket, a letter, a puzzling stone and a book no one can read come into her possession – she begins to wonder just what her mom was keeping from her.
Upon finding someone who has the ability to translate the strange book, she learns that it is a story of a girl whose heart was broken and cried an entire continent, Atlantis, into the sea.
It disturbs Eureka.
There may be dark secrets concerning herself that she needs to uncover, she may need to listen to Ander when he tries to tell her things she doesn’t want to hear.
And she, and those she cares for despite the barrenness inside of her, may truly be in danger.
As you fellow bibliophiles may recall, I very much liked Lauren Kate’s Fallen – and then each successive book in that YA fantasy quartet was liked less and less by me.
That’s why I go into this new trilogy a little hesitantly. I’ve been burned before, after all.
Teardrop has an admittedly powerful prologue, though.
Deep mourning and negative emotion have made Eureka a stoic, rather different, sad individual and heroine for our story here. I liked it, but it was also depressing.
There’s an interesting, slow-building but intriguing vibe.
The book from Eureka’s mother that begins to get translated didn’t do much for me – and I admit I started to get a little frustrated with the pacing. The only thing truly keeping me hanging in there was the tension in Eureka’s interpersonal relationships.
Action finally started to pick up a LITTLE just as I was starting to get fed up with the lack of information and procession of an actual plot. Finally revelations began to flood in near the end along with a couple of surprising twists.
Teardrop then had a rather horrifying, shocking climax that was very disquieting.
So, I was left feeling a little “hmm”.
Essentially, I kind of wanted more from Teardrop but I do feel intrigued. Maybe the second book will make my feelings easier to understand.
Monday, February 17, 2014
When Louisiana born and bred Rory Deveaux had the opportunity to pick where she wanted to go to school while her professor parents had a sabbatical in Bristol during her senior year of high school, it didn’t take long for her answer: London.
A boarding school in London, rich with history, was exactly what she wanted.
But a little too much history is coming to life as she starts to settle in at Wexford, in the East End of London.
Murders, mirroring the shocking Jack the Ripper slayings of more than a century ago, are occurring very near her new home. The spree has the city on edge, yet also oddly spellbound with the revisit of one of the age-old unsolved serial killers of history.
With almost no leads, mysteriously wonky CCTV footage, and no witnesses – the police are desperate to find this new Jack the Ripper before he follows through on all of the murders.
Then Rory spots the only prime suspect.
But she’s not just the only one who’s seen him…
She also appears to be the only one who can.
Personally, I love Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever (oh my gosh, will a third book EVER come out???), so when I realized that she had penned a supernatural thriller – I was THERE.
Rory is an original, witty, Southern heroine that has an individual personality that didn’t feel cliché. I liked the way she dismissed embarrassing moments with humor. Following her as the odd American out among the English students was fun and made her relatable.
In The Name of the Star, I also loved the London boarding school environment – a non-magical Hogwarts!!!
But what was also undeniably entertaining was the chilling, increasingly creepy suspense that Maureen Johnson penned here. It’s gripping, scary, and, well, pretty darn awesome.
I really, really enjoyed reading this spooky novel.
The Name of the Star has excellent humor, fantastic characters, and a cozy atmosphere that can smoothly turn into a frightening one.
I’m so ready for the next book, it’s ridiculous!
Friday, February 14, 2014
Since Kai and Ginny were children they’ve been best friends, growing up together, playing in their building’s rooftop rose garden.
Now they are seventeen and their close ties have developed into something more. Something sweet and strong, something with kisses and plans for the future.
With the arrival of a beautiful, enigmatic girl named Mora, however, Ginny sees an abrupt, dramatic change in Kai. And, almost overnight, he and Mora disappear.
Though struggling with the perception by others that Kai may have simply broken up with her in a cruel manner and taken up with a girl he just met, Ginny knows him. She knows Kai would not do this to her.
Despite the small, painful doubts in her heart, Ginny goes after them – after Kai.
She’s armed with a book that Kai’s superstitious grandmother filled with articles and clippings about dangerous, non-human creatures and one being she fear above all others: The Snow Queen.
Searching for Kai is forcing Ginny to be stronger than ever, alone without Kai by her side. If she even finds Kai, will she still be the same person that he loved?
Will he still be capable of love?
Previously I have read Sweetly and Fathomless by Jackson Pearce, and was stunned by both. I have to say that she is fantastic at reimagining fairy tales into a dark, modern-day-world story. She’s done it yet again with Cold Spell.
In a very short amount of pages I am convinced of Kai and Ginny’s love – a love that is mature and based on years of friendship. This was vital to the rest of the story, to believe in this love – and Pearce succeeded, in my opinion.
Just as in the other books in this series, Cold Spell quickly escalates to a level of unease and creepiness mixed with emotional anguish. There’s a seeping sensation of ice cold and melancholy.
Cold Spell is spooky, mesmerizing, hypnotic and unique. I appreciate the way each book ties into each other in subtle but important ways – characters are hinted at or return. In the future, after I finally read the very first book Sisters Red (I own it now, it should be this year, ha!), I want to read all four of these books in quick succession to catch all the carry-over more easily.
Here we get a story that is chilling and impossible to put down and stop reading.
I will say that the time spent with the Travellers felt odd and out of place. I tried to go along with it because I loved everything else about Cold Spell, and as that part of the book ended up being rather persistent and lingered through the remainder – I ended up accepting it.
The Travellers just felt less real to me, made it less believable to me as a whole. But, in the end, it didn’t affect the book in a negative way. Cold Spell was just too good.
I felt Ginny’s desperate hope as though it were my own – and my final thoughts were (as noted):
Excellent, excellent, excellent.
What else can I say?
Except I hope Jackson Pearce writes more fairy-tale retellings!!!
Monday, February 10, 2014
This was the only Austen novel I had yet to read – and I had to fix that!
Anne Elliot is seven and twenty and not yet married.
Eight years ago she had been in love. She had been engaged.
But as he was a poor, lowly Royal Navy man, her family and friends persuaded Anne to break it off with Captain Wentworth.
She is still unmarried – because she knows she will never love another man as she loved him.
When circumstances throw them together again, Anne finds it difficult to ignore the searing pain of seeing him – the look of low regard in his eyes that she has resigned herself to deserve.
And yet – is there hope?
Her heartbreak all these years later leads her to realize that her feelings are no less deep – and the persuasion that led her to give him up all those years ago could not touch her now… if he would only have her once more.
It’s been a while since I’ve read Jane Austen – I seriously need to carve out some rereading time, people! – but my vivid memories of adoring her novels was reignited with Persuasion.
The amazing prose and language that is impossible to rush, improbable to imitate, takes my breath away.
There’s this universally understood tone of melancholy – no matter the fact that Persuasion was published almost two hundred years ago. Jane Austen infused this story (and all of them, let’s be frank) with such a heady sense of emotional realism – of passion and love.
Here, though, unlike her other novels – Persuasion is a story of heartbreak and strong, painful emotions. Love lost, time passed, and an older heroine. There’s a maturity and a yearning to Persuasion that swept me away.
I. Loved. It.
This is an epic love story – a beautiful novel. Fantastic, colorful, personality-filled family elements, social scenes, and the core of loneliness in our poor, solitary Anne’s soul led me to feel for her deeply.
If you haven’t yet read Persuasion – well, you need to!!!!!
Friday, February 7, 2014
Tommy Dorie is used to his eccentric scientist father Nick sending coded messages via text.
Whether providing a scavenger hunt, a “pop quiz” or checking to make sure Tommy was following instructions, his father expected him to follow his orders. Which Tommy normally did, as they had increased since his mother’s death – and he knew his father was dealing with it in his own way.
Though it’s not always convenient. This time it’s interrupting a potential date with a girl that has another guy waiting and willing in the wings.
But when Tommy gets home – it’s not the average situation.
His laptop is missing, there are odd messages on the answering machine and new texts from his dad are directing Tommy to go to the sailboat they’ve worked on.
Quickly, Tommy begins to realize that the training his dad had drilled into him may come in handy since nothing is what it seems – and real danger is creeping up on him…
Henry Melton has written many sci-fi/fantasy novels that I have heralded – such as Golden Girl, Star Time, The Copper Room, Pixie Dust and more.
In this case Breaking Anchor is more of a YA suspense novel, taking more of an adventure/espionage vibe.
Sadly, it didn’t really work for me.
Henry Melton’s intelligent and mature writing is here again – so there will be many fans of Breaking Anchor, and deservedly so – but the plot and characters unfortunately never connected with me.
It’s an unusual but real complaint that I was bothered by Tommy always calling his dad “Nick”. I don’t know why but it drove me crazy, and initially really confused me as to whether “Nick” was his dad or not.
There’s some racial plotting that was sort of peculiar to me. Not that it isn’t a real issue in some areas, I’m sure it is – but it just felt like a strange side plot.
The story itself involving mysterious persons after Tommy just continued to not interest me – and maybe part of it was my lack of interest in Tommy himself. I really hate to say these things because, again, I know that it’s a worthy book and you should read it for yourself.
Eventually I had to start skimming it – Breaking Anchor just wasn’t a match for me.
I think when it comes to Henry Melton’s style I like the serious Sci-Fi, the humorous kind, or the fantasy. When it comes to scientific principles being used in a realistic way with some kind of governmental thriller aspect, it just doesn’t catch my interest in the same way.
Read Breaking Anchor for yourself, though! You may love it! In fact, I hope you do!!!