I read The Immortal Empire series by Kate Locke a while ago.
God Save the Queen – #1
The Queen is Dead – #2
Long Live the Queen – #3
An alternate history, where an immortal Queen Victoria still rules and the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires. Goblins – terrifying creatures that seem to be a mix of vampires and werewolves – live underground. There is an uneasy balance between the undead Aristocrats, those of mixed parentage (aristo + human = “havies”) and regular humans. Continue reading
I feel like Anna and the French Kissby Stephanie Perkins is one of those books which has been on my to-read list for ages, mostly because it shows up as “recommended” by various sources. I wasn’t terribly interested initially, but figured I’d give it a go.
Anna has been shipped off to Paris, to spend her senior year in an American School in France. This means leaving Atlanta, her home, and all she holds dear – her best friend, her crush, her mom and her little brother. Sure, boarding school in Paris sounds like a dream come true for some, but Anna is reluctant (at least initially). Then she meets some friends, including the handsome and charming Étienne St. Clair. Too bad for Anna, Étienne already has a girlfriend.
What follows is a very teenage drama, filled with angst and too much crying. The book is mostly about navigating relationships (friends, crushes, and a little bit of family). Coming from an adult perspective, I felt like the drama was over-exaggerated and much of it seemed silly and over-done. Maybe it was less relatable for me because of my age, or maybe it was the buckets of tears (and the fact that I’ve never really been a fan of teen drama, even when I was a teen with drama). I felt like the annoying romantic relationships overshadowed the friendships, particularly the friendships between the girls. Since I’m a fan of strong female characters and role-models, this bothered me. I just wanted to shake Anna and tell her that life does NOT revolve around boys.
On the plus side, I did love the descriptions of Paris, and it totally sparked my desire to head back over to France (especially since my one visit there was extremely brief and part of a tour).
Also on the plus side, although I felt there were a lot of failings (including my failure to resonate with this book), it wasn’t awful. I wouldn’t re-read it by any means, but if teen romance drama is what you’re looking for, this would be a sure bet.
Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty, by Jane Yolen
Gorse is the thirteenth fey in her family, with twelve elder brother and sisters. Her mother, the seventh of seven, and her aunts all expect great things from Gorse. They think that she is the One from a prophesy.
Gorse is not what you’d expect for the “evil” fairy from the Sleeping Beauty tale. In this twisted fairy tale, she is the heroine and Sleeping Beauty is the daughter of a petty, greedy king. A girl who is selfish and unkind, and who represents the descent of the royal line into selfish and weak rulers. Worse, the Family is bound to the land and must do the Bidding of the royal family.
The Family are Shouting Fey, and Gorse has never been formally trained. At thirteen, the family is called to a royal Bidding, to bless the new princess. Unfortunately for Gorse, things go wrong along the way. At risk of bursting into a thousand stars for oath breaking, Gorse must find a way to escape her unexpected detour and make it to the royal Bidding on time and with the right gift. She meets some interesting characters along the way, and might just help out the Family after all.
I felt like this story started off quite strong, and I really liked Gorse and her family. It was easy to picture the bickering and opinionated Aunts, and the rowdy bunch of cousins all playing together.
Unfortunately, I felt like the plot line fizzled out prematurely. The story kind of tripped and fell flat on it’s face. The explanation of what Gorse DID exactly, and HOW left me skeptical. That skepticism extended to the final lines … which I shall not discuss because spoilers (but suffice it to say, I was not entirely convinced).
Emaline is a Colby girl – born and bred. It’s the summer before college and things seem to be changing more in a few months than in her whole life.
Emaline has been dating Luke since Grade nine, and he seems perfect. He’s Colby – along with her friends Daisy and Morris, her mom, grandma, (step)dad and sisters.
Theo is a summer resident – super-ambitious, and from New York, he wears designer jeans and takes life as Big Moments. Emaline’s father – who hasn’t been around most of her life – is around for the summer too. Both think Emaline should dream bigger than beach-town Colby.
It’s a summer of discovering who she is, and who she wants to be.
I normally really like Sarah Dessen, and unfortunately this book didn’t resonate with me. (Caution: some spoilers ahead).
- I liked Emaline, though I didn’t really empathize with her as much as I would have hoped. It REALLY annoyed me that she leaped so quickly from one relationship to another. It frustrated me that she seemed to be pulling away from her friends and family a bit (though I did appreciate her new relationship with Benji, her half-brother).
- I really disliked Theo – from the start and all the way through. I found him vapid, arrogant, and annoying. He seemed so full of himself and too wrapped up in Making Things Count to see what was really going on. I also felt leaving Ivy in the lurch was totally a Jerk Move.
- I liked Luke – even when he made mistakes, which confused me.
- There were a few heavy-hitting topics here: teenage pregnancy (a past issue, not a present one), parenting (in absentia), divorce. Some not-so-heavy but definitely worthy topics: the transition to college and worries about the future. Nothing quite as deep as previous novels, however.
- Since so many of her books seem to center around Summer in Colby, it was nice to get a new perspective on the town.
- My favourite part was probably having Emaline get to know her half-brother, Benji.
Maybe I didn’t enjoy it enough because I had relatively high expectations, after previous books I’ve read. Or maybe it’s because I have very little patience for protagonists who can’t seem to be single for any length of time (though admittedly Emaline did have a little bit of redemption in the end).
I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy this one as much. 3/5.
Mabel Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance by Marthe Jocelyn has a title that creates expectations, don’t you think? I expected it to be a witty, adventurous type of book and I guess it was, a bit. This piece of historical fiction reminded me a bit of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables or Emily of New Moon. It was a similar vein, though not as good (in my opinion).
It’s the late 1800s and Mable Riley is a young girl in the eight grade. She has accompanied her sister, Viola, to a new town where Viola has her first post as Schoolmistress. Mable is full of imagination and vim, looking for adventure and romance. Unfortunately the little Ontario town in which she finds herself is not so different from home. Still, there are new diversions, such as winning the spelling bee, and finding out more about Mrs Rattle, a widow who lives down the road. Mrs. Rattle is unusual and shocking – wearing daring new fashions and holding bold opinions. Mable might have found a friend as well as trouble in Mrs. Rattle.
The story is written as a journal entry, which poems, letters, and a love story penned by Mable to fill it out.
I like that the story deals with the every-day life of that era, including real issues of the time, such as women’s rights. Mable makes a sometimes naive narrator, who sees the “shocking” opinions of the suffragettes as bold and dangerous.
It’s a tidy story and I enjoyed it overall, but I found Mable’s fancies were more irritating than endearing, and although I admired her convictions I wasn’t really drawn in. I do think that it would suit a tween audience very well, so maybe I’m just too old to appreciate Mable and her quirks!
3/5 for me!
Starclimber, by Kenneth Oppel, is the third Matt Cruze novel (following Airborn and Skybreaker). Matt has taken a summer job working on the Celestial Tower in Paris – a huge structure designed to reach up into space. When the opportunity arises to train for a Canadian expedition into space, Matt eagerly signs up. It helps that Kate De Vries has also been picked for the ride.
Matt must make it through grueling training, where there is stiff competition to make it on the crew of the Starclimber.
Then, when Matt somewhat unexpectedly is made a part of the Starclimber’s crew, he must navigate both the dangers of being in love with Kate de Vries (after she has suddenly announced her engagement to someone else) and the dangers of space, including some interested and unforeseen company in it’s inky black depths.
I didn’t find this third book as compelling as the first two. Airborn in particular was a fantastic adventure story. Starclimber is still an adventure, but there is more emphasis on the relationship between Matt and Kate, with less emphasis on the adventure. There are still some quirky characters, but there is no defined foe, other than the dangers of space. As a Canadian, I appreciated that Canada was front and center in the space race – ahh fiction.
It’s worth reading to end up the series, but I will only put it at 3/5.
Book two in the Steampunk Chronicles, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross continues the adventures of the Duke of Greystone (Griffin King) and his entourage – all of whom have strange super-hero-like powers. Finley, Emily, and Sam accompany Griffin to New York in order to track down their Jasper Renn and hopefully clear his name.
Jasper quickly realizes that the men who captured him in England are not the Federal Marshals they claim to be, but rather represent the heavy hand of a man Jasper had once crossed. Dalton is furious with Jasper for a job gone wrong. Dalton is pulling all the stops to get the device Jasper carefully hid back, including using Jasper’s old flame, Mei, as collateral. Mei wears a strange clockwork collar that only Dalton can control. One false move from Jasper and Dalton will have that collar tighten and tighten around Mei’s neck.
Griffin’s team is bent on helping Jasper, and Finley goes undercover to try to infiltrate Dalton’s gang. It’s a dangerous game, and one that Finley finds too attractive.
I was disappointed in this book, compared to the first. It felt drawn out with too much of an emphasis on Griffin and Finley trying to figure out their feelings for each other and mostly just baiting each other. There are also MULTIPLE love triangles in this series, which I accepted for the first book (The Girl in the Steel Corset) but was annoyed with in this book.
I also had a harder time buying into the era/setting, though I don’t really know what about it seemed off. One point may be that these people are supposed to be BRITISH but they drink coffee in the morning. That seems very odd to me.
On the other hand, there was steampunk and fantasy, some good ass-kicking, and enough character development that I’ll still keep on with the series.