Showing posts with label 3.5 Stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3.5 Stars. Show all posts

Monday, September 12, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday

Veiled Rose
by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary From Goodreads:

Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.
But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?
Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Because I was given this, I didn't have the chance to read the first book in the series. And while I wish that I had some more background information on some of the characters, this novel works well as a stand alone. the characters a believable and dynamic. Rose Red in particular is a very solid character with a likable personality and really carries the thing through. She provides the depth to what would otherwise be your very basic boy-meets-girl-and-then-problems-ensue plot.There is that romantic element within the story but rather than making a straight forward teen romantic plot the author chooses instead to explore the complexities of relationships and in a way that add depth to the whole. 

As expected from Bethany House there are religious undertones. It's rather like the cautionary tales of the Brothers Grimm. The point of the story isn't completely obvious and yet you are aware that it's there.

The humor of the story was wonderful with a few moments where I giggled out loud and if you are at all a fan of young adult fantasy I would recommend this book for you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Birthday Dedication!! Happy Birthday Little Bro - This is for you!

The Lightning Thief
by: Rick Riordan

Genre: YA
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

Let my preface: I am a mythology nut. Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Celt - I love it all. Here there is a really nice in-depth look into the Greek mythology done in such a way that the modern-day youngsters can not only enjoy it but also remember it. It is a perfect series for those young friends of our who really don't like to read normally because it's fast paced and full of action.

I really loved how all of the different mythologies got dropped in here and there. From the invisibility cap to the wonderful use of Iris (who is my favorite little goddess). The book is peppered with details that show that Riordan did his research in regards to the mythology of the novel.

But I do need to mention that it did feel a lot like a HP knock-off, but I will forgive it because HP is a good thing to knock-off of, and the age group that this is intended for probably won't notice.

I really do need to reiterate that this is the perfect novel for the reluctant reader, some of my younger siblings would rather be outside rather than reading but both of them have read this and loved it and the rest of the series. If a book can do that, it definitely has my seal of approval.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Historical Thursday

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by: Lisa See

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In 19th-century China a seven year old girl named Lily finds herself matched with a laotong or an old-same, a sister for life. She and Snow Flower go through their lives experiencing their greatest life experiences together. They are there for each other through their foot-binding, marriages, and children. They communicate in the secret woman's language of nu shu but when a misunderstanding occurs their sisterhood is threatened to be ripped apart.

This one has been on my to-read shelf for a long time and I am glad that I finally got around to it. It is told from Lily's point of view when she is old and preparing her story for her death.

It was good, the topic was well researched, the plot moved quickly, but I found that the writing was average. There were no particular passages of beauty or wordplay that stood out to me. Lily's behavior in her adult life also didn't seem to fit entirely with both her character as a whole and her childhood friendship with Snow Flower. 

What I did like were the insights into the process and mentality behind the tradition of footbinding. While it was hard to read at times (those poor little children having to go through that) it was very interesting to learn more about the thought process behind it. Also the whole idea of nu shu the secret handwriting of women fascinated me. In a culture where language can become an art form this idea of a language known and used by women is a beautiful thing.

But the point of this is that it wasn’t the novel’s plot that drew me in, it was the historical bits. The back of the book where there is all of the historical background was probably my favorite part. The plot was ok, pretty standard but the history was very appealing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Classic Tuesday

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

Genre: YA, Classic, Coming-of-age
Rating: 3.5 Stars

A story set in the 1860's onward that tells the story of the growing up of the March family. With four daughters as different as can be various adventures can't possibly be avoided.

Alcott as a person is a more complex character than her novels lead you to believe. The daughter of a transcendentalist (the American version of the British Romantic movement) her writings were greatly influenced by the need of morality in a country that seemed to be losing it. This is the most memorable and read of her novels though it isn't my favorite. 

It is just one step short of being a morality novel and the author preaches so much that you want to shut the book. Yes the story lines of the girls lives have a few scenes worth reading between the sermons but they are so few and far between that it is very difficult to get through. The one character who seems to have a shot at breaking the mold and being fiery in spirit of course is Jo. By the end of the story however she is just as humble and as much of a homebody as all the other daughters. 

This is a classic I know, but I wonder if it's fond memories in modern day readers stem from the multiple movies rather than the one book.

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Unlikely Suitor

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Another historical romance from Nancy Moser. I have read several of hers and was excited when this one came in the mail. 

Goodreads summary: Lucy Scarpelli, an Italian dressmaker from New York, befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's making her summer wardrobe. It's an unlikely friendship, but one that Rowena encourages by inviting Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating clothes that hide her physical injury, Rowena encourages Lucy to dream of a better future. One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what man will accept her family responsibilities? Rowena also deals with love as she faces a worrisome arranged marriage to a wealthy heir. And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, takes up with a man of dubious character. All three women struggle as their lives, and those of each unlikely suitor, become intertwined in a web of secrets and sacrifice.

I have always loved reading about the Gilded Age and the upper set of New York society and this novel didn't disappoint.  I also have always enjoyed reads where the main character is a seamstress of some kind and here I was satisfied again. I loved how Moser made a world where it was possible and plausible to see both sides of the the Gilded Age the wealth and the poverty co-mingling. Yet the Scarpellis kept their heads on straight, they weren't swept away in awe. That is a point which I genuinely love.

I enjoyed the reality of the characters I was reading. None were too perfect - all had just the right amount of flaws to make them believable and therefore likable. However I wasn't satisfied with some of the endings and the whole ***spoiler highlight to read***Bronwitter trying to rape Sophia part. He just came out of nowhere. I believe his plot line either should have been fleshed out more or eliminated. There is in my opinion enough drama in the story without him involved. ***spoiler done***

The writing was nothing to particularly swoon over though I did like her use of litotes, but it was a fun read and Moser has and will continue to be one of authors on my radar.

**The book was given to me by Bethany House Publishing**

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Ally Condie makes her debut with this latest addition to the ever growing  shelves of teenage dystopian worlds.

Cassia has never questioned the Society. She lives the life that has been mapped out for her with numbers and statistics and is the model citizen. Until the day of her Matching. The unlikely happens when she is Matched with her best friend Xander and for a moment everything in her life is perfect. This changes drastically however when she goes home and she sees Ky appear on the computer screen and not Xander. After this glitch in the system, she begins to question everything that the Society stands for and wonders if being the perfect, predictable citizen is what she wants.

Since the Hunger Games trilogy I have been seeing more books that are about YA fighting against the tyrannical government, starting revolutions and just being rebellious teenagers. In a way this isn't that different but it is better written than others that are coming out.

First of all, I don't find the female protagonist whiny and weak. Cassia is a character who is the product of the Society but thankfully can think for herself, can take risks and not quibble too much about it. I will be reading the rest of the series to see if and how she evolves.

However! I am getting terribly tired of books where the first point of discussion amongst readers is Edward or Jake? Peeta or Gale?  and now we have Xander or Ky? Now before I completely write it off as something juvenile I do give props to Xander for ***spoiler***(Highlight it if you want to see) letting go of Cassia at the end and giving her not only permission but contraband supplies to help her find Ky after they have both been exiled to Outer Provinces. He didn't try to make a case for himself, he just let her go and wasn't all dramatic about it as others have been. ***spoiler done*** So it has been put together better than others in the past.

About the world itself, everything is in the hands of the Officials. They determine what you wear and eat; where you live and work; who you associate with and marry. All is done with the help of probability and perfectly matched genes. Cancer and all other illness have been "matched out" of the Society and everything seems perfect. It is happier than Orwell's world of 1984 but there is still the knowledge that you are permanently being watched and monitored to ensure no Abberations or Anomalies are wandering around.

I read this because it was part of my book groups summer challenge and while I don't think it was a complete waste of time and I most likely will finish off the series, this isn't something that I am going to be rereading. I would describe it as a cotton-candy type of book. Something that is fluffy and good on occasion, but too much at once makes you feel sick.

I would recommend this book to those who have devoured Hunger Games and are wanting something new to read.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Picture taken from Goodreads
Alex Flinn has written many YA novels though this is one of my favorites. And may I just say that I liked it and had heard of it YEARS before it became popular.

Think Beauty and the Beast in modern NYC.
Kyle Kingsbury had everything anyone could possibly want, money, looks and powerful connections through his father. He was the king of his class. Until a fateful night when after his Spring Formal he was met by a witch from his English class. 

The rest pretty much follows your basic Beauty and The Beast story line.

Let me reiterate, I discovered this years ago sitting on a shelf in the public library and I really liked the story. I reread it recently because of all the hype surrounding it due to the movie. 

The reasons I like it are because it was fresh take on the story for me. This has been a favorite fairly tale of mine and it was nice for it to be told from the Beast's point of view. Kyle was well developed and he didn't go from Beastly to Prince Charming in a single page. Flinn gave him a chance to develop at a believable pace without the story dragging. Another device I like is the structure of the narrative. The chat-rooms that the author has put in between sections of the story help to segue the different plot developments. Furthermore it has been divided into seven parts (six parts and an epilogue) which is a perfect, magical number.

I recommend this for YA readers who are looking for another more modern take on a classic fairy tale.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill By Julie Klassen Genre: Christian Historical Fiction Rating 4.5 Stars Summary:  On a rise overlooking the W...