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review: “bleeding violet” March 29, 2010

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Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves.
Simon Pulse // Hardcover // 464 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Hanna hasn’t had the easiest childhood — she’s never known her mother, her father just died, and she’s a manic depressive. So when she sets out to find the mother who abandoned her, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that her task isn’t as easy as it seems. Rosalee wants nothing to do with Hanna, but agrees to a challenge — if Hanna can fit into the town of Portero, she can stay. But in a town like Portero, it isn’t easy to fit in…even if you are normal.

I loved this book. I don’t know how this review is going to come across, but I suspect it will be just a ton of gushing with an occasional coherent thought.

Hanna is the very epitome of a unique character. She’s bi-racial — black and Finnish — which totally shocked me. (Being Finnish myself, I’ve never come across a YA Finn. Ever! I did a dance of joy and called my father up to pronounce Hanna’s last name for me correctly.) But what’s more is that Hanna is crazy. She speaks to her father. She calls upon a swan to help her out, she only wears purple dresses — and she is an amazingly narrator who sucks you in and refuses to spit you out.

The world that Reeves creates is this horrific, grotesque, complicated, well thought out concoction that literally had me in awe from the beginning of the novel. I don’t want to say much in terms of the specifics so that I don’t spoil the ride for anyone, but this is one of the most unique world builds that I’ve ever come across in YA.

That being said, this novel will not be everyone’s cup of tea. There’s a lot of violence, a lot of sex and sexuality, and it’s weird and it’s definitely a book that I would recommend to mature YAs. Some of my teens got it through the Simon Pulse program and they begged me to buy it for the library. I happily complied with their request.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Dia Reeves

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review: “magic under glass” March 25, 2010

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Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore.
Bloomsbury // Hardcover // 240 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Nimira is a singer in a music hall — a trouser girl — the bottom of the social pyramid. So when the mysterious and rich Hollin Parry offers her employment singing with his automaton, she packs her belongings and goes with Parry. But Nimira soon discovers that the rumors of a haunted automaton are exactly rumors — there is someone trapped in the automaton and it’s up to Nimira to set him free.

Dolamore’s debut is a unique work that easy to describe — truly enjoyable — yet hard to categorize. It has a Victorian/gothic sensibility to it, definitely some fantasy, a bit of romance, and this almost steampunk magic…

What is so remarkable is that the world is easy to slip into and understand, without a ton of back story overpowering the clean and simple story of Nimira and Erris.

My biggest problem with the novel was actually the length — it was too short! Nimira and Erris had this lovely building relationship and then, wham — all of a sudden they were in love. Additionally, the last forty pages race to the end and then the reader gets a cliffhanger. That really made me mad when I read it. (Just recently, Dolamore announced that Bloomsbury did purchase the sequel “Magic Under Stone.” No pub date has been announced.)

Other than the length and sudden romantic relationship, I was enchanted with this novel and cannot wait to read the sequel. I hope that we can have a better exploration of Nimira and Erris’s relationship. I also really want to learn more about the fairy world that is only briefly touched upon in “Magic Under Glass.”

This brings me to the hard part — I’m not sure who to sell this book to. I think the best bet is to start off with high fantasy lovers and see if word of mouth draws in other readers. I look forward to talking to my teens about this book!

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Jaclyn Dolamore

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review: “wish” March 22, 2010

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Wish by Alexandra Bullen.
Point // Hardcover // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Olivia has just lost her best friend in the whole world — her twin sister, Violet. And now her parents have moved the family to San Francisco, and Olivia has no idea how she’s going to cope without her sister. But then Olivia stumbles across a magical dress shop and maker, one that will give her three wishes. And Olivia’s first wish is to bring her sister back to her…

This is a light read, with not a ton of substance to it. The storyline had a lot of potential, but I felt like it fell flat. I wanted to know more about the magic, and about Posey. And while I was interested in what happened to Olivia, it wasn’t my priority. I had trouble connecting to Olivia, and I had a lot of trouble with her accepting her sister being returned to her. If that were me, I’d be very freaked out if my sister’s ghost showed up.

That being said, the novel wasn’t a complete waste. I was very interested in the magic dresses. I really appreciated the feel of the setting and the accurate portrayal of San Francisco. I also really felt like this novel was a blend of realistic fiction and fairy tales sensibilities. It wasn’t a true fairy tale, and there was no classic retelling in this novel — but I did think that the treatment of the fairy tale elements (rules of three, etc.) were well executed.

A quick, light read — not really appropriate for younger teens, but I think the book will have trouble holding the attention of older teens. Will definitely work better with a hand-sell rather than just a cover blurb.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Alexandra Bullen

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debut author challenge! December 4, 2009

Posted by Katie in community.
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Kristi at The Story Siren is sponsoring this amazing challenge that I cannot wait to take part in!

What is the 2010 Debut Author Challenge?

The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year.* You don’t have to list your choices right away, but if you do feel free to change them throughout the year. I will also be focusing on mostly Young Adult novels.

Anyone can join, you don’t need a blog to participate. If you don’t have a blog you can always share your views by posting a review on Amazon.com/BarnesandNoble.com/GoodReads/Shelfari, or any other bookish site.

The challenge will run from January 1, 2010- December 31, 2010. You can join at anytime!

Debut Author Challenge Information Post
|| Debut Author Sign-Up Post

**

And a list of books I’m planning on reading:

1. The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
2. The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
3. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
4. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
5. Forget Her Nots by Amy Brecount White
6. Sea by Heidi R. Kling
7. The Mark by Jen Nadol
8. Wish by Alexandra Bullen
9. The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy
10. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
11. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
12. The Line by Teri Hall
13. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
14. Firespell by Chloe Neill
15. Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

(I’ll be updating this list periodically, this is by no means a final list!)