Mysteries, conspiracies and scandals have captivated audiences across the globe and time sprouting gossip and internet forums to answer; why? Another thing that tends to enthrall the public is something spooky, something dark and utterly dangerous. It’s not uncommon for the two to intertwine and create something truly bewitching; like a novel. Well, prepare to be amazed by Alison Goodman’s newest book The Dark Days Club which the beginning to an astounding new series! One that deals with one debutante whose attempting to overcome such scandal bestowed upon her by her Mother.
Alright, let’s set the stage in 1812 London right as the summer season draws nearer and nearer our leading lady Helen is about to present herself to her majesty the Queen and is dutifully practicing her curtsies and rehearsing a scripted answer for if anyone brings up her scandalized mother. Life is normal and the bookish lady Helen is merely trying to appease her gracious extended family and atone for her Mother’s scandal by marrying in her first season. But obviously that’s not the whole story… Lady Helen is introduced to a distant cousin, Lord Carlston. A man accused of murdering his wife but with no body ever being found he remain innocent. Although lady Helen is still advised to maintain a length of distant from the Lord. This doesn’t stop Lord Carlston as he weasels his way into Lady Helen’s life and ultimately turns it upside down. Lady Helen is then thrust into the espionage and conspiracies kept under wraps by the “nonexistent” Dark Days Club that works directly under the crown in order to protect the public.
So, the characters are to die for. They are all intelligent, funny, witty and quick. Perhaps too quick… At least lady Helen Wrexhall who is notorious for stealing four hour candles so she can read well into the night since all she wishes to learn and satisfy her not-so-feminine curiosity. Lady Helen also has a little quirk about her, aside from her substantial height, and that is her acute ability to read faces and see into the hearts of those she stares at. As a protagonist lady Helen thrives! She is level-headed, conservative, loyal and realistic with her escapades and also in her being a woman of the Regency era. A time that was the height of the ideal that Women’s’ sole purpose was to produce heirs and be obedient. Obviously, lady Helen disagrees with this ideology but knows to never voice her opinions and this constantly restricts her to her own and the reader’s frustration. Overall I absolutely adored Helen and can’t wait to see how her character further develop. Alright our main sidekick is Lord Carlson the man shrouded in scandal and mystery. In one word he could be described as commanding, enigmatic or disturbing… He carries a dangerous intensity but lady Helen automatically trusts and is infuriated by him. Now, in this novel we don’t learn too much about the history of Lord Calston but it is quickly understood that he is a respectable and virtuous man who believes in protecting everyone even at the expense of himself. Watching this duo bounce off each other was quite captivating since they have a lot of similarities but there is an obvious chasm between them due to their genders that either free them or hinder them. There is a plethora of other amazing and enticing characters who could keep me typing for pages upon page, but that would spoil a lot of the fun in the novel. You should know though that I adore Darby the best darn Lady’s maid who may not be as well at Lady Helen but she is just as smart and passionate as her Lady. There is also Duke or Selborne, Lady Helen’s brother Andrew and Lady Margaret who are worth mentioning too.
Read this book, please just read it! My ability to formulate sentences or reviews could never possibly do justice to the masterpiece that is this book. This novel is significantly different from any of the Regency era books that I have ever read and that is a lot of books. The only books that it is somewhat similar too is Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate or Finishing School series with the same century and witty female protagonists. I adore the writing, I admire the characters and was astounded by the story. Let me tell you that I cannot wait for the next installment in this series.
When a strong sisterhood is disrupted by one of the Varren girls going off to college in Maine the other is left to her own devices in the hustle and bustle of New York City. Leaving her to deal with her playboy father and his most recent divorce, catching up with her other college friends, drinking, smoking and being a general rebel –all while developing a crush on the boy across the park bench. Montana yearns all year for her sister to return from college, wholly believing that her reappearance will set the world right again. When her sister does finally return she quickly learns that her sister’s presence won’t fix everything and can actually make things even more off kilter then they were before.
This summer is promised to be the best summer ever where the sisterhood of Arizona, Montana and Roxanne are reunited with a new addition of Karissa and hopefully Bernardo. But of course it wouldn’t be that simple and easy. Arizona returns home having used her certificate given to her by their father and one of their step-mothers that gave her any free cosmetic surgery of her choice, in the case of Arizona it was breast implants. This begins the wedge between Montana and Arizona because they vowed to never get plastic surgery like their Mom and step-moms that eventually made them miserable and leave their Father. Who should be noted as the surgeon conducting these surgeries. The wedge goes deeper and widens as Arizona is introduced to Karissa who she claims to be a bad influence on Montana because she is taking her out to bars and constantly smoking with her. Then Bernardo enters the picture and Arizona despises how quickly and similar to their father Montana falls in love. This story is about family drama, lies, betrayal, love and being a teenager.
This novel puts a lot of effort into the characters and their development, it’s definitely more of the focus than the overarching story. Which I appreciated since characters mean everything to me. So let’s begin with the protagonist, Montana, the girl across the park bench who is in a hurry to grow up and be an adult like Arizona and Roxanne. Montana’s struggles to become independent are a focal point in this novel and typically fall short. Montana is a very dependant character where she needs someone to latch onto in order to feel comfortable as herself. Readers see this with how she relies on her sister to make the majority of their decisions and opinions, with Karissa after Arizona leaves to take her out drinking and smoking to finally Bernardo who defines her burgeoning sexuality. Montana is constantly asking herself “what would so and so think or do?”. Which gets rather frustrating as the story progresses. It should also be noted that Montana is not a reliable narrator in many parts of the books because she is often drunk. Now onto Arizona Montana’s sister who is presented as very kind and considerate, but turns out to be a rather hateful and grudge bearing girl who is the largest hypocrite in the book. Montana relays to the audience that Arizona has always been very against plastic surgery and associated it with the cruel step-mothers. So it’s really surprising when she does get work done and seems really out of character and I thought that it would be delved deeper into and some conclusions could be created by the reader, but nothing is given or inferred by the text. Alright, Bernardo is a quirky guy from the other side of NYC who is willing to dye his hair pink in order to woo a girl and it works. For the most part of the novel Bernardo appears to be the only sane one who is a very positive influence in Montana’s life which I think does help Montana develop more as a character. Guess it’s Karissa next who is Montana’s life preserver after Arizona’s move to Maine that’s willing to take her to bars and go clubbing who I consider to be an awful role model and a very irresponsible adult. Karissa propels the plot forward and definitely receives the most dimension and development throughout the novel making her the most engaging character. Finishing off this section with mention of the father of Montana and Arizona who gets way too little page time, but I think that’s to signify just how absent he is from his daughters’ lives even though his decisions and lifestyle impact them the most.
Overall, this was a story about a teenage girl trying to find herself and not really finding herself. Which is frustrating, but also extremely and devastatingly realistic. Since no teenager has a perfect or reasonable expectation of what they expect to do with their life. Most adults probably don’t either. So what this novel offers is a slew of not your run of the mill characters and a plot that is full of a bunch of surprises. If teen or body image fiction is your thing I would suggest this novel.
An utterly chilling, thrilling and astounding novel that would make anyone’s skin crawl. Although it is not a horror book, it’s much worse; it’s realistic! But with a hint of magic sinister and good since as readers find out that there is magic in the everyday.
So let’s takes a road trip up to Chico where Lacy lives with her Step-Mother after her father’s death. Lacy loves her life and is motified when her mother returns after three years of being awol and takes her back to Sacramento. There she begins to morph into the heartless and soulless girl she once was who had black hair and wore gratuitous amounts of eyeliner, but worst of all Lacy begins to use black magic. Cursing people and thinking evil thoughts that occasionally escape Lacy is becoming the girl she fears being; a monster. So how does Lacy fight her growing despicableness? Or will she let it conquer her? Well, you would have to read the book and find out!
Lacy is an amazing and complex protagonist who has known a lot of suffering and is a victim of abuse. So it’s not surprising when you learn of her smoking and thieving or when she uses her dark magic it’s typically in a justifiable situation. Yet Lacy is overcome with guilt and self hatred for her actions since she did a bad thing, she has a conscience. Although as the book progresses we get to meet many different Lacys who aren’t as nice, are more vengeful, more innocent and more fragile since Lacy is just a kid who wants to study botany and chemistry but is stirpped away from all that she loves and isolated with an abusive and wicked mother who turns her into another person. Typing of Lacy’s mother Cheyenne who is a beautiful and ageless woman that is quite adept at extortion and other crimes in order to survive. Cheyenne is a very talented manipulator who easily plays with Lacy, lovers and everyone one around her who begin to question their own sanity while in her presence. Readers learn more about Cheyenne’s past which is haunting and answers a lot of questions, but it in no way justifies her actions and makes Lacy seem all the more powerful for being able to go up against her mother. Another character worth mentioning is Anne, Lacy’s stepmother who is a good natured vegetarian who is terribly worried and avidly fighting for the right to take Lacy away from Cheyenne and that is so great. Anne totally defies the stereotype that all stepmothers are wicked and it’s great to see an adult so concerned with Lacy after she has lost so much. There are more awesome characters, but it would be spoiling too much to mention who they are and their roles, but they are essential to the plot.
This novel is not for the faint of heart their is child abuse, manipulation, self harm, attempted suicide, attempt at rape and a lot of other horrible things so be wary when reading this novel. It’s a scintillating read that’s quick and easy, but has a lot going on. It also really gets into the psychology of being an abuse victim and how the mind starts changing as someone is abused.
Overall, When My Heart Was Wicked is a novel that captures a reader wholeheartedly and takes them on a wild ride. Its perfect for the season when everything is creepier than usual. I will be recommending this to people who are comfortable with such themes. Although the warning I will also be giving is that their is a charm on this book which is that you can’t put it down once you start.
While sitting through a boring class it’s fun to doodle or draw in my notebook and then imagine the little characters and waves that I sketched come to life and put on a little play for me. Now, as cool as that would be if it actually happened I would be a little freaked out if one day the murals around downtown began to weep or change while my doodles cowered in a corner of my notebooks. But I guess in Brooklyn, New York that’s the case and it’s up to Sierra to get to the bottom of this mystery. A mystery which answers a lot of questions but creates countless more.
So its modern day Brooklyn and school has just let out for the summer when Sierra is given the task to paint a mural all over an abandoned tower which obviously an artist would be happy to do. And in teenager fashion makes the mural a great dragon! Yet as Sierra works on her mural she notices another across the way begin to fade and weep so she goes to her Grandfather who has been speaking in tongues until this occasion when he instructs her to find someone and gives her a part of a poem. So Sierra finds this person a fellow artist named Robbie and he explains everything to her and just in the nick of time since they need to ban together in order to save the world! Which I won’t go into since that would be spoiling the book and that’s cruel. But what I will say is that the story is utterly captivating and on more than one occasion throws out a plot twist. Which was unexpected, but very appreciated.
Sierra Maria Santiago is what she is; enough. She’s casual with a touch of cute and is a freaking badass. She is an amazing narrator who takes everything in stride after tripping a few times, literally. But what I appreciated most about Sierra was a few unimportant scenes where she perfectly describes body image issues and how she interacts with her family and friends. I loved how Sierra went to or attempted to get help from adults which is something so seldom seen in novels and movies, especially when the adults in her life listened and did help her. Now on to Robbie! An inked up artist who isn’t really intimidating but is pretty quirky and absolutely the most loveable person in the book. He isn’t very smooth and has a track record for ditching his dates, but he is always well prepared to fight and draw. Robbie is essential to Sierra’s induction to shadow shaping and he teaches her most of what she knows as well as support Sierra as all the craziness catches up to her. Alright time for a few quick honorable mentions to Sierra’s other friends who were truly loyal and hilarious as they adventure together. And even for the friends who didn’t stick around, my hat goes to them for leaving and not forcing themselves into a situation they didn’t want to be in. Then there was Nadiya and Sierra’s godfather who were very present and amazing adults that every teenager should know.
Another thing worth mentioning is that most of the dialogue is in spanish and are a number of other things since most of the characters are Puerto Rican, Mexican or Black. I do not know spanish so I chose to keep a dictionary with me just in case I found a word that could have a deeper meaning say something more than the english equivalent. Although I didn’t find anything so that isn’t really necessary and most of the words are common phrases and many can be inferred if you know a latin rooted language like Portuguese or French.
Shadowshaper is the perfect read right now during this season of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos when everything is a little bit more creepy and the unreal is more real. The suspension is comparable to that of a Guillermo Del Toro horror movie and builds beautifully as the story progresses misleading the reader like the Winchester Mystery House. Overall a stunning read! I absolutely love the characters, setting and mixing of languages and cultures.
There are poets. There are muses. There are revolutionaries. But is there one who captures all of those traits? What would they look like? What would they be like? Who would the be? Well, I beg your pardon, she is a mountain tiger. And her name is Ginevra De Benci a woman of the Renaissance whose gaze and portrait has entranced people for centuries. Now her story between the portrait and it’s back.
This historical novel explores the exquisite and splendor of Florence, Italy where the sixteen-year-old Ginevra De Benci is wading through life. Recently a graduate of a convent school and newly wed woman to a wool dyer, Ginevra is rather uninspired and unprovoked. Until she is invited to the Medici’s family residence for a dinner where she meets two compelling men; ambassador Bernardo Bembo and artist Leonardo Da Vinci. That night Ginevra enchants the ambassador who then pursues Ginevra as his Platonic Love. A platonic love in Florence is a relationship between a man and woman where a man is inspired by a woman to become closer to God and kept strictly to emotional and mental intimacy. Not physical. The platonic love is entertained by the rich and well-to-do who have the money to pay for gorgeous portraits of stone, oil or any other medium to capture the women in her chaste beauty. So when Leonardo Da Vinci is commissioned by ambassador Bembo to capture Ginevra De Benci and a different love blossoms between them.
Love in all its forms is explored in Da Vinci’s Tiger and does beg the question of what is love and can love be platonic? Readers will see familiar lover between brothers and sisters, marital love, devotional love, platonic love and scandalous love. Which really reminds me of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina with how people experience many different loves and not just one. Love is a spectrum and felt on many varying levels. That is especially apparent in Da Vinci and Ginevra’s relationship where Da Vinci is a Florenzer or gay, but he and Ginevra still have this very intimate adoration for each other.
Alright, now onto the characters. Obviously beginning with Ginevra who is an excellent woman. A woman who is not particularly upset with her position in life because she is comfortable and her relationship with her husband is cordile. Yet she still has a mind of her own that provokes her to write poetry inspired by ancient texts, the teachings of Abbess Scholastica and of her own heart. Which is why she is a mountain tiger whose gaze enchants all. Ginevra De Benci is a poet, inspiration to Da Vinci and readily encourages Da Vinci to break tradition and societal norm with her drab garb and being place in a landscape when women were not compared to the forces of nature. On to Leonardo Da Vinci the wild, inspired and rash artist. Who has just finished his apprenticeship with the great Varricchio who is helping him find work and establish Leonardo in Florence. Da Vinci is so progressive and thoughtful with how he works conversing with Ginevra on an academic and philosophical level that Ginevra is very unused to being a woman. He gives Ginevra a lot of freedom and security over the months they spend together creating a portrait to astound audiences for year and years to come, Da Vinci may have physically painted the portrait, but Ginevra was just as present in the creation of the piece. The final person I would like to give the spotlight to is Luigi, Ginevra’s husband whom we spend little time with. Although he is still worth mentioning because of how kind and supportive he is, he isn’t cold or cruel unlike most other husbands depicted in italian historical fiction. Luigi is very supportive of Ginevra for more reasons than practical advantages he wants to see her happy and understands that them together won’t produce that. And that’s just amazes me.
Da Vinci’s Tiger is a excellent italian historical romance. Elliott masterfully captures Florentine culture and weaves a new story. Since Italian historical fiction is by far my favorite genre that I am always on the quest for more of and it’s aggravating when I read novels telling very similar stories of the same family -typically Medici- so nothing is very surprising, but here there is a novel that is fresh and new. Definitely something for any renaissance or historical fiction fan to pick up. Since I came, I read and I was conquered.
Dumplin’ all I gotta say is this novel is fantastic and absolutely hilarious a masterpiece that went big and struck a home run! Willodean is an infectious character who is down to earth, selfish, naive, sarcastic and the biggest Dolly Parton fan known to man or at least Clover City. Her journey through the summer of her sophomore year and junior year of high school is raw and relatable for many teenagers.
Now, the premise around Dumplin’: Go Big or Go Home surrounds Willodean over the summer while she works at a local fast food joint and then her participation in the Clover City Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant. Willodean is an unprecedented contestant for she is a fat girl, always has been and always will be and that’s how she likes herself. Although to Willodean’s surprise her entry sparks the participation of other outcasted not traditionally pretty girls of another fat girl, a lesbian, one with buck teeth and a girl with uneven legs who all flaunt what they got. Which is amazing and inspiring. There is also a subplot between Willodean and her best friend Ellen as their friendship is strained and tested by secrets, boyfriends and the pageant. And another featuring Willodean learning how to love herself enough to let more than one person in. Alright, on to the characters! Beginning with good ol Willodean who, as previously stated, is a big girl who works at a fast food stop. On the outside she appears to be very sure of herself and secure in her body, but on the inside is very anxious and embarrassed of her thighs. Yet she still has the gall to sign herself up for a pageant which puts her body on display and pastes her unsmiling face all over the newspaper. Although Willodean’s decision to enter the pageant was rash and ultimately she did question her own motives and sees them as the wrong reasons to have entered. Now, what is really awesome and amazing about Willodean is the incredible changes she goes through throughout the entire novel from super secure too lovestruck to being extremely jealous to being very stubborn (the most frustrating phase, but necessary) to getting stage fright and then finding herself in a mixture of all the sensations. Willodean is a melting pot of many different people and influences that matures throughout the novel into an amazing young woman. As for Ellen, Will’s best friend, she is a very considerate and kind friend who has everything; a hot boyfriend, bikini bombshell body, smart, sweet and approachable and funny. Which is the cause of so jealousy on Will’s part, overall is a rather quirky girl with a pet snake. Ok, onto Bo who is Will’s coworker at Harpy’s and he goes to catholic school, loves locks and plays basketball. Bo likes giving red suckers to people when they appear trouble and doesn’t give a dang if his peers prefer if he didn’t like Willodean, he likes her and that’s all that matters, but will Willodean accept that? Alright the last person I will shine the spotlight on is Willodean’s mother. Who was a winner of Miss Teen Blue Bonnet and now runs the committee that organizes it. And every year since her crowning she has worn her formal dress as she announces the winner. Making her go on many diets and maintain a pretty strict workout plan. Which has been the cause of a lot of tension between Willodean and her mother especially in the wake of her Aunt’s passing the winter before. So watching their relationship grow and fluctuate throughout the preparation and during the pageant is something to see since it’s just like how most kids get at it with their parent at that age where there are the fights and the little moments where you are best friends. There are other awesome characters, but these four deserve the most mention.
So I have a few gripes with this book , but they are rather minor. First, at the beginning of chapter 36 there is mention of two telepathic second cousins but when individually referred two are called a twin. Not a big thing, but it is there. Also at times it was difficult to figure out how old everyone was since most characters were driving sophomore year of high school and Ellen was in a serious relationship. But after some math I was able to conclude that because Will’s mom won Miss Blue Bonnet at 16 in 1997, had will at about 18 so in 1998 then Will and Ellen could probably have been about 16 to have also competed and already have a license. It was a bit confusing, but made more and more sense as the book went on and we go more dates and specifics.
Overall, I loved this novel. It was hilarious and so unconventional by begging the question of who can compete in a beauty pageant? The answer: Anyone! Also a shout out to the very accurate representation of stage technicians (sound, lighting, etc) it was on point! This book is body positive, great for teenagers, young and old people. The plot is captivating and the characters rock all the way through. Definitely going to be getting this and recommending it to my friends!
This novel made me smile, not even sort of. Orbiting Jupiter is quite a deceiving novel. Its short, sweet and written from the perspective of a twelve year old who can make everything sound a bit more fluffy and lighthearted than it actually is. So do not people fooled by the large print and childish annotations, for there is a slew of adult themes and mature content. Its merely misunderstood like the primary character.
The setting of this story is that of a midwestern farm where Jack and his family collect sap and milk cows. A routine that is not disturbed once Joseph enters the family and learns the ropes of farm maintenance from Jack. Now, Joseph is on parole and being fostered by Jack’s family. So the story surrounds Jack and Joseph as they go through middle school and watch Joseph open up to Jack and his family.
Now, there is so much more to Orbiting Jupiter than I have said, but as to avoid spoilers those details will be avoided. Also, most of the story heavily relies on the characters and their growth that it’s very difficult to separate the plot from characters. But because characters make a story let’s give them more time to shine. First, there is Jack a twelve year old sixth grader who lives on a farm and can tell if someone is good or bad based on how a cow reacts to meeting them. He is our narrator and is a very good one. Jack’s narration reminds me of a sophomore history project where students attempt to make children’s novels explaining historical events such as civilians in World War Two and a common method used by the class was to take the story and put it into a child’s perspective who doesn’t fully understand everything, but is very aware that they don’t know everything. Which doesn’t fully capture Jack since he is a very smart and perceptive in his observations. Jack was also very kind hearted and never cared that he was being judged for associating with a criminal, he had a lover greater than friendship with Joseph; he had his back. Alright, on to Joseph who is only fourteen and already is a father of a girl named Jupiter. Joseph has known love and hate and fear, although he isn’t jaded considering how mature he acts and is. A lot about Joseph’s time at Stonewall is kept a mystery and it’s never explicitly stated what happens to him, but little is left to the imagination. Although the mystery of why Joseph attacked that teacher is never fully addressed, the overarching plot line out weighs that little detail. But watching Joseph blossom in school and become less reserved around his teacher’s and Jack’s family was beautifully and spectacular. There are more characters, but Jack and Joseph are definitely the most important to talk about.
Overall, Orbiting Jupiter is a phenomenal book and utterly astounding. I loved every page! A definite recommendation! But when you read it please consider what makes someone a good father since you will meet many.
Breakfast Served Anytime captured my attention from the beginning. Combs’ writing style is unique; Through the characters’ inner and outer dialogue, and actions, we see that the events they witness or experience themselves do change their insight. The progression of the characters’ relationships and personalities is what was really intriguing and contributed the most to making this novel hard to put down.
This novel is written from the viewpoint of the main character, Gloria, or Glo for short. She is naturally curious, yet stubborn. Glo is accepted into Geek Camp, which proves to be the catalyst for making new friendships, and finding a great old restaurant that serves breakfast, anytime. X is her teacher at Geek Camp, and assigns the kids a project to tell why they love a novel of choice. Luckily, Glo has the perfect one. She is constantly followed by strange blue butterflies, and a not so far away college future. But she meets people who are all new in their thoughts and ambitions. Glo learns that opening her eyes further to see people beyond their surfaces will gain her valuable friendships and help her see the world anew. All around, this book was fantastic, and is definitely one of my new favorites.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby captured my attention from the start. The story starts with Finn, a spacey high-school boy who is constantly picked on, and largely a topic of gossip in his small town, named Bone Gap. The chapters alternate between Finn and another key character, Rosa. Rosa is a beautiful young woman who mysteriously appears in Finn’s barn, then vanishes a couple months later. Finn is the only one who saw this happen, but whenever he explains what he saw, his portrayal lacks one huge clue.
Finn tries to rescue Rosa, and also struggles to rectify his relationship with his older brother. He longs to be accepted and understand he can’t see as clearly as others. The connections of the intertwined story-lines and characters’ viewpoints make it interesting to uncover the magical secrets kept by Finn, the bees, and the town. The novel explores the idea of what hides beyond the surface, fitting in, and relationships. This book is wonderfully written and very captivating!
Eternity’s Wheel by Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, and Mallory Reaves, is the last book of the InterWorld series. Chased by HEX, a magical force, 16 year old Joey Harker finds his own first recruit, Josephine. He shows her how to Walk, and tells her of the small but spirited group of Walkers’ current mission; to save the InterWorld. They are determined to prevent a new program named Frostnight from wiping out all the planets to remake the universe. Together they train, fight, and come across surprising enemies and allies in every timeline. Joey starts to feel the pressure of being a leader, but realizes he just may have what it takes to be one.
This is a captivating novel! It’s full of action, excitement, and just a hint of romance. It’s a pleasing ending to a series. Readers will be drawn into the story by the author’s good natured characters, and awry plot line. Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading this excellent story.