jump to navigation

review: “everlasting” July 13, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Everlasting by Angie Frazier.
Scholastic Press // ARC // 336 pages.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Traveling ARC Tours.

Camille Rowen has always been a shipman’s daughter, sailing with her father on his ships. But in 1855, a woman’s place is not on a ship — it’s with a husband and Camille is engaged. Allowing his daughter one last voyage before her wedding, Camille sets off towards Australia. But what awaits Camille is not what it seems – beyond her sights there are secrets, a mysterious curse, despair, and a different life than she ever imagined.

I don’t really read a lot of historical fiction, but I was willing to give this one a go when I heard that it had paranormal elements in the story. Largely, I would say that this is adventure-romance even more so than historical or paranormal though.

Camille was a narrator struggling between duty and what she really wanted. I think a lot of teens can relate to that struggle and will be able to identify with the narrator. As an adult, I thought that the answer to Camille’s struggle was a little obvious and there were times that I just wanted to shake the girl. But – I did keep in mind that Camille wasn’t a modern girl and that she had more social implications to address than a girl today would have.

My biggest issue with the book was that I didn’t feel enough tension throughout the plotline. I was interested enough to keep reading, but I expected to feel worried for the character’s safety, especially after Frazier shows us (through a character’s death) that her world is dangerous and isn’t safe. But I didn’t feel like Camille or her companions were really facing their deaths.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I know this will work well with younger teens and tweens – I can imagine them re-reading this several times. I know I would have back in the day!

Amazon
IndieBound
SWAN catalog
Angie Frazier

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratinghalf

Advertisements

review: “splendor” March 5, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

Splendor by Anna Godbersen.
Harper Collins // Hardcover // 400 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

[There will be spoilers for the first three Luxe books.]

Elizabeth, Diana, Penelope, and Lina are back for a fourth installment of The Luxe series. Elizabeth, newly wed, prepares for her child’s birth; Diana goes after Henry; Penelope is stuck in a loveless marriage; and Lina is independently wealthy and finally a part of Manhattan society. Four girls with very different goals will chase their dreams and try to find true happiness.

I am not a big historical fiction reader, but I absolutely love The Luxe series! It’s got just enough history mixed in with society drama — these books remain some of my favorites.

Without giving anything away, the conclusion of this book and series was not the happy ending that I wanted for all of the girls. At first I was angry that one girl didn’t get the ending that I wanted for her, but after having some time to cool off I realize that this ending was so fitting for the series. Things aren’t always a happy ending — romance isn’t always a happy ending!

Having been with these characters for the past three books, I only want to comment that each of the girls remained in character for me. I though each of their actions (and subsequent consequences/reactions from surroundings) were really fitting.

I think the hardest thing for me is knowing that the series is over. I still feel a bit of melancholy each time I think about it. However, I *just* found out from Sarah at GreenBeanTeenQueen that Godbersen has a new series coming out about girls in the 1920s. I squealed when I found that one out!

I’d love to comment more about the very detailed endings of the book, but I think I shall have to save that for another post at another time.

But if you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it!

Amazon
SWAN catalog
The Luxe Official Site

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstarratinghalf

review: “dreaming anastasia” October 9, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
4 comments

dreaminganastasia

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble.
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky // Paperback // 320 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Anne’s normal life — filled with college choices, ballet classes, and family issues — is turned upside down when mysterious stranger Ethan walks into her life. Ethan’s world revolves around Anastasia Romanov, the mystery of her disappearance, and Anne. Anne would love to ignore Ethan’s requests and presence…if it weren’t for the detailed dreams that she’s been having. Dreams that she’s pretty sure are all about Anastasia.

I really enjoyed this book. Preble expertly blends several genres — historical fiction, folklore, supernatural, romance — into one book. I think that it was the blend of these genres that really made the book a stand out, for me.

The characters are full and my favorite was Anne’s best friend, Tess. She seriously was the best best friend I’ve seen in a long time in YA lit. (I get so frustrated with best friends that disappear the moment things get weird in supernatural YA books!) Not to mention that I was definitely falling head over heels for Ethan.

But my favorite part of the novel was the Russian fairy tale aspect. I took a life-changing class in college on Russian fairy tales and it has stuck with me better than any other college course. So, I know about Baba Yaga and the rule of three and the most common fairy tale heroine name (Vasilisa in case you’re wondering). I know Russian fairy tales. And this book is a great twist to the traditional Russian fairy tale.

Seeing as the book is set in Chicago, I have no choice but to comment on the sheer joy as seeing my town in a YA book. (I know, I know. A lot of books are set in Chicago. But it is still cool.) My teens will also be thrilled!

Absolutely recommended.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Joy Preble

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstarratinghalf

review: “when you reach me” October 7, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

whenyoureachme

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Wendy Lamb Books // Hardcover // 197 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

In 1978 New York, sixth-grader Miranda is no strange to science-fiction and mysteries. After all, her favorite book is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. But it’s different when the mystery is in her real life. Miranda begins to receive notes, notes that promise to save her friend’s life if she follows directions. Baffled by the notes, Miranda tries to make sense of them while dealing with typical sixth grade friendship and family issues. But will she figure things out in time?

I’m going to come out and say it right now — this is my pick for the Newberry. This book is everything that I want literature for children and young adults to be. Really, truly a perfect book.

Miranda is a relatable character, one that tweens will be able to see themselves in despite the time difference. Her world is fleshed out and each character has moments where their personality shines through brilliantly. Her friends, her family, even the neighborhood becomes part of the story.

The softly-building mystery is fantastic. I felt like all the questions that I had kept me reading, but didn’t rush me. I didn’t mind taking this journey with Miranda, at her pace. (Sometimes I do mind and just want to know what happens!) The mystery is beautifully blended into the story — there are clues from the beginning for readers who want to solve the mystery themselves.

I do have one concern about this book which I think hampers it significantly and that’s the cover. I don’t normally comment on the cover because it isn’t the result of the author’s work, but this cover is pretty bad. It makes sense once you read the book, but it doesn’t help the sell. I’ve been telling tweens/teens to read it with A Wrinkle In Time (required reading at our school district) and a lot of them are finding it that way.

Add it to your collections now…or wait until it’s announced as the Newberry.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Rebecca Stead

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstarrating

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

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

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

starratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstarratinghalf

review: “what i saw and how i lied” September 11, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags:
add a comment

whatisawandhowilied

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell.
Scholastic // Hardcover // 288 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Evie’s family is newly reunited again, after the conclusion of World War II. To celebrate, her stepfather Joe offers to take the family on an off-season vacation to Florida. Evie longs to be an adult, and begins a flirtation with Peter, a fellow soldier from the army. But secrets are being kept and everyone’s agenda is not what it seems. When a tragedy strikes the group, Evie is called upon to remember exactly what has transpired…right as she begins to understand that she really doesn’t know her family at all.

Any summary that I could write about this book could not live up to the actual text. The story is so concise and meaningful all at the same time. Short sentences make it an easy read, but teens who read the words carefully will appreciate the complex nature of the story.

Evie is a character that teens will be able to connect, to her longing to grow up and be an adult. I actually see the book working on two levels. Young teens will be drawn immediately to Evie’s personality. Older teens will be drawn towards the intrigue and thriller-esque events as they quickly unfold. This is not to say that it’s a novel written for younger teens. It’s definitely a story for older teens, and I hope they will be able to look past Evie’s naivety as they read.

The cover is a hard sell as my library, but the title is catchy and even more appropriate after reading the book. For me, this will be an easy booktalk; it’ll only take one sentence. “What do you do when you find out your parents aren’t who you thought they were?” Teens will eat it up, no questions about it.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Judy Blundell

starratingstarratingstarratingstarrating

review: “nobody’s prize” June 23, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

nobodysprize

Nobody’s Prize by Esther Friesner.
Random House // Paperback // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Helen of Sparta is back in this sequel to “Nobody’s Princess.” Her brothers are all set on leaving her behind as they set off to find the Golden Fleece, but Helen isn’t about to let them get away with that. She disguises herself as a boy, with the help of her friend Milo, and climbs aboard the vessel, ducking her brothers the whole way. A whole slew of problems await Helen during and after the voyage on the Argo!

Okay, first of all, I’ve got to say that I don’t necessarily believe that Helen of Troy could possibly hide out as a boy! You’ve got to be kidding me. And the second thing that I’ve got to admit is that I had a really hard time getting into this story and staying into it. I don’t know if it’s because it was after a long weekend of reading, but I wound up reading two books between starting and finishing this one. I had to keep pausing and read one of the other books.

It felt like a lot of the action in this book was smashed in and many of the subplots and twists didn’t get the screen time that I wanted them to. I really believe that this could have easily been a trilogy instead of a pair of books. I was also disappointed that this book didn’t take us all the way up to Helen becoming Helen of Troy. I felt that it ended abruptly and I wanted to see the story brought to the point where history takes over.

However, one of the strengths of this series is that was well researched and developed. I loved that Friesner put a historic note at the end of each of these novels. That is the way historical fiction should be treated.

I would pick up a third Helen book if it were published, but I don’t think I would buy it.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Esther Friesner

starratingstarratingstarrating

review: “nobody’s princess” June 22, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

nobodysprincess

Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner.
Random House // Paperback // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Everyone knows the story of Helen of Troy. But no one knows the story of Helen of Sparta, the girl who becomes the face that launched a thousand ships. Friesner draws from classic texts and historical events to weave a tale about the childhood of Helen and her family. Helen is the heir to the throne of Sparta, but she wants to be anything but a princess. She longs to join her brothers and learn to fight. When her wish comes true, Helen packs up with her brothers and set out for an adventure of her own.

This book came highly recommended to me from a few friends and several other YA authors. I’m not a big historical fiction reader, but I’m trying my best to read in genres that I’m not as familiar with this year. I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I really enjoyed the family aspects of the book and parts of it definitely had echoes of Tamora Pierce novels for me.

I thought Helen was spunky and a great narrator. I don’t think I would have stuck around for the entire story if we had had a different narrator. Helen’s determination to change her position really brought me into the story and kept me there. Other characters, however, wound up falling flat for me. I didn’t care about anyone other than Helen and Milo, the servant boy that Helen rescues.

The Greek aspects of the story also were a great draw to me. (Especially after finishing the Percy Jackson series, I was glad to hear about some of my favorite Greek gods and goddesses!) I would pass this book along to readers of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books gladly, but I won’t find many readers of this book in my library.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Esther Friesner

starratingstarratingstarratingstarrating