I seem to always fall sadly behind in posting about the books I’m reading. I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made on my reading challenges and really have been happily reading away. Below are my thoughts on some of the books I’ve read so far this year.
Wake, Fade, and Gone by Lisa McMann
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy
This trilogy is about Janie, a high school student, who falls into other people’s dreams. Through her life, Janie has had much to deal with: an alcoholic mother and absent father are just the beginning. Add to that Janie’s constant trips into others’ dreams, and we have an interesting main character who is simply trying to have a normal life. As Janie learns to control her ability, she must make difficult decisions which will affect her and Cabel, her boyfriend and partner, for the rest of their lives.
I enjoyed this series. It was a really quick read with an interesting premise. However, were the books much longer, I’m not sure I would have made it through as I didn’t find the writing to be great or the story/characters to be all that complex. Of course, the target audience is pre-teens.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
Genre: Historical Romance
Miss Penelope Deveraux has ignored everyone’s warnings about keeping her honor intact and has, therefore, had to become Lady Frederick Staines and move to India with her new husband. Like all of Willig’s fantastic heroines, Lady Staines has a mind of her own and uncovers treachery at the station while dealing with the insufferable Alex Reid.
Although this book was quite different from the rest of Willig’s Pink Carnation books, I enjoyed it. I found Penelope a fascinating and fun character, and Willig’s storyline and details definitely kept me guessing. As I’ve been reading the Pink Carnation series since the beginning, I’ve also really enjoyed seeing Willig’s writing style grow.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The Goose Girl, Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days, and Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fairytale/Fantasy
All about princesses, these books combine problems princesses have with a bit of fantasy as each of the princesses have a different ability: talking to animals and wind and fire, healing through song, communicating through memory. In each book, the princess finds love and saves the day with her ability.
I first heard of Shannon Hale when I read Austenland. Since I enjoyed that, I decided to pick up some of her other works. I enjoyed these, especially as books to listen to. The stories are unique, yet familiar as they follow a fairytale type structure with some unique elements like the abilities each of the girls have.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Vanity and Vexation by Kate Fenton
Following the shooting of a new Pride and Prejudice miniseries, this story takes place in a small, undisturbed town in England. As the star of the show falls in love with a local and the director tries not to fall in love with his best friend, a story similar to Pride and Prejudice ensues.
Generally, I really like stories that take their inspiration from Pride and Prejudice. However, I found this one to be flat. I didn’t ever really get into the characters and I found lots of gaps in the story.
Rating: 1/5 stars
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A story about women in the South in the 1960s, this isn’t a typical book about racial prejudice and intolerance. It is a book that deals with these topics in more everyday ways: not with organized protests but with a view of the women who worked in the houses of the “Southern women” with the power.
This was an amazing book, partly because it’s written well, but mostly because it deals with very serious themes in unique ways. I think we often think of Civil Rights in terms of the big events, but there were also amazing women dealing with these issues every day as they were working in the homes of some powerful Southern women.
The Sugar Queen and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Both romances with a splash of fantasy, these books deal with strong women who must find themselves before they can find love. The Sugar Queen is about a woman who replaces real relationships with sugar until a woman shows up in her closet who need help. By looking outside herself and helping this woman, the main character finds her own strength to live her own life. Garden Spells is about two sisters who must overcome their own issues to reach out to each other and to others. Their garden is something of a town mystery with its magical apples and edible flowers that encourage specific actions.
I really liked these books. They were well-written, sweet, and magical. I enjoyed reading the characters’ journeys as they overcame their issues and found themselves and love. I found I wanted each of these stories to continue much longer than they did.
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard
Genre: Teen Fiction
Always an outcast among those at her high school, the main character decided to take a school trip to London. While there, she buys a pair of Prada shoes which are sure to change her status. When she trips on the way out of the store, she finds herself in Jane Austen’s England. While there, she finds love and learns what is really important in life, and it isn’t the opinion of the popular kids back home.
I like this book. It was a quick, fun read as it transported the main character and the reader back to a very different time in London’s history. It’s interesting to see the main character’s modern sensibilities and habits in light of Victorian conventions, and it’s interesting to see the main character learn some lessons that transcend time.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely
Having just found her boyfriend cheating, the main character, Elizabeth, decides to go to visit her favorite Aunt and help with Aunt Winnie’s New Year’s Eve party. When the New Year’s Eve Murder Mystery dinner turns deadly for one guest, Elizabeth sets out to find the murderer and clear her Aunt’s name.
I loved this book. It was absolutely one of my favorite Jane Austen adaptations. Rather than follow the story of Pride and Prejudice, the author takes the characters from the story and weaves each character into this story in a new and unique way. Add to that a great mystery which kept me guessing to the very end as well as a smidge of romance and some wonderful wit and allusion to other literature, and you’ve got a great read.
Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford
What if Jane Austen, Lord Byron, and Charlotte Bronte had never died? In that question, you have the premise of this book. Jane, a bookshop owner and vampire, has finally gotten her latest manuscript published after only 116 rejections over the last century. Jane finds that publishing a book this time is a bit different than it was in the 1800s, especially with Lord Byron and Charlotte Bronte to complicate matters.
While not a real deep read, this was engaging and definitely fun.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carrige
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Alexia has never been a typical young woman. In fact, with her dark skin, independent mind, and soulless existence all inherited from her Italian father, Alexia isn’t anything like her sisters or any other single in society. With some scientists experimenting on roving vampires, Alexia and Lord Maccon, alpha of the local werewolf pack, find themselves in some interesting predicaments as they get to the bottom of the experiments.
An interesting view of what life might be like if vampires and werewolves were simply part of society, I enjoyed the mystery and uniqueness of the story as well as the characters. However, I did find it a bit predictable in places.
Rating: 3/5 stars