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review: “the splendor falls” October 15, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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thesplendorfalls

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore.
Delacorte // Hardcover // 528 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Sylvie’s dreams of being a ballerina were shattered by a broken leg just as she had reached the top of her career. After mixing some pain pills and champagne, Sylvie gets shipped off to Alabama to work through her problems. What she didn’t count on was the mystery of her town, two cute boys vying for her attention (and infuriating her at the same time), and a crazy Southern family.

This book is so hard to sum up in my normal summary section because it has so much going on. It’s a slow and steady read, keeping readers interested but with a smooth, quiet build. There’s mystery, history, romance, and a bit of the supernatural. Really, something that almost any teen could find interesting in one book. The different elements are blended well, the book is only the stronger for the mixture.

Sylvie is an excellent character, well-developed, with flaws and strengths. She really worked for me as a leading lady — her heartache over not being able to dance really hit home for me (as a violinist, I had a serious wrist injury in 9th grade…long story, long time ago). I also thought that her family situation was very realistic and that a lot of teens (and maybe myself a bit) could relate.

The history of the novel is well researched and explained throughout the book, but not in an information dump way. The explanations come naturally through a professor and other town members. The supernatural elements in the book might surprise some readers, but there are clues along the way that some may pick up on.

And that brings me to Rhys. Of which I can only basically drool in response. (I’m having a hard time trying to figure out if I like him or Justin [from the Maggie Quinn: Girl Vs. Evil series by the same author] better…)

Only complaints are the cover — I’m still not sure what a purple rose has to do with the book…Sylvie does some gardening, but other than that? And the overuse of Gigi (Sylvie’s dog) as a plot device.

Bottom line? Probably a YA book for older or more patient teens, but a welcome addition to public library collections.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Rosemary Clement-Moore

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review: “prophecy of the sisters” September 26, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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prophecyofthesisters

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink.
Little, Brown // Hardcover // 352 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Lia and Alice Milthorpe are twin sisters bound together by blood and by prophecy. When their father dies, Lia watches Alice drift farther away from her until her sister is almost unrecognizable. While cleaning our their father’s study, Lia stumbles upon a prophecy…one that is speaking of her and Alice. One twin will guard the gates from being opened; the other will open the gates. Divided, Lia scrambles to discover the true meaning of the prophecy before Alice does.

This book really surprised me. It felt like I hadn’t heard of it at all and then all of a sudden, the entire blogosphere was buzzing about it. I knew that it had to be a winner, so I went ahead and pre-ordered it. And then it didn’t ship until the end of the month. So, I had a minor drama in getting the book.

It was well worth the wait.

I love Lia. I think she is a phenomenal character and one that I definitely look forward to learning and growing with (this is the first in a planned trilogy).

The setting for this novel is a joy to uncover as Zink writes about it. I desperately want to walk in Lia’s world and to explore. I want to experience her time, and her father’s study. (And I’m not a historical fiction reader, so that’s a big compliment from me!)

Lia’s family relationships and history are beautifully woven. I really felt the anguish and confusion Lia did when she discovered the prophecy, when she realized that her mother and aunt also were part of the prophecy.

I would definitely say that this book is a stunning debut. A perfect balance between gothic romance, historical fiction, and supernatural novels. I cannot wait until the next two books are published. I will be sitting here biting my nails until it happens.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Michelle Zink

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review: “beautiful creatures” August 24, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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beautifulcreatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
Little, Brown // ARC // 576 pages.
Reviewed from an ARC, received at ALA Annual Conference 2009.

Ethan Wate is trapped in a town where he doesn’t belong and he’s spent his whole life planning his escape. After a series of weird dreams about a strange girl, Ethan starts school again — only to find his dream girl, Lena Duchannes, in the flesh and a registered student. He is drawn to her immediately, but Lena has secrets — secrets that could change the community of Gatlin and Ethan forever.

(That might be the lamest summary ever, but I’m doing my best not to have any spoilers. There is so much more to this story — I promise!)

It was just happenstance that I managed to snag a copy at ALA this summer. The cover drew me in the very first time I saw it, and it taunted me as it sat in the middle of the to-be-read pile. Well, I wound up jumping the line and picked it up early.

I loved this book. And I knew I would, but I still have to report that I did. I was surprised at how much I loved it though. The writing was spot-on, it completely painted a picture of Gatlin for me. I could see the houses they lived in, I could imagine the winding roads, the gothic descriptions of Lena’s house.

The characters were refreshing, unique, and well-developed. I can’t wait to introduce my teens to these characters. I loved the family involvement in the story too. I always find it funny that YA books tend to ignore parents and family…when I was a teen, my parents were definitely around.

I’ve almost reached my review length and I haven’t even mentioned some of my favorite things. So, we’ll do this quickly: Link. Lena’s necklace. Flashbacks. Librarians and libraries. History. Mythology. Haunting songs. Lena’s house. Ethan’s voice. Ethan/Lena. The promise that there is a sequel being worked on.

Add it to your holiday lists — release date is December 1st. But just try not to buy it early.

Amazon
SWAN Catalog
Beautiful Creatures Official Website
Kami Garcia
Margaret Stohl

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