Tag Archives: realistic

Maid of the King’s Court

Maid of the King's Court Book Cover Maid of the King's Court
Lucy Worsley
Young Adult Fiction
Candlewick Press
March 14, 2017
368

In the vibrant, volatile court of Henry VIII, can even the most willful young woman direct her own fate and follow her heart in a world ruled by powerful men?

Clever, headstrong Elizabeth Rose Camperdowne knows her duty. As the sole heiress to an old but impoverished noble family, Eliza must marry a man of wealth and title — it’s the only fate for a girl of her standing. But when a surprising turn of events lands her in the royal court as a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves, Eliza is drawn into the dizzying, dangerous orbit of Henry the Eighth and struggles to distinguish friend from foe. Is her glamorous flirt of a cousin, Katherine Howard, an ally in this deceptive place, or is she Eliza’s worst enemy? And then there’s Ned Barsby, the king’s handsome page, who is entirely unsuitable for Eliza but impossible to ignore. British historian Lucy Worsley provides a vivid, romantic glimpse of the treachery, tragedy, and thrills of life in the Tudor court.

 

Review:

“Maid of the King’s Court” is an excellent historical fiction novel about life in the court of King Henry VIII.

While the story of Elizabeth is fictionalized, most of the facts of life at the time are as historically accurate as possible, owing to the fact that the author (Lucy Worsley) is a British historian who actually works at the castle featured in the book.  I have always enjoyed reading about life in Tudor England, and this novel did not disappoint.  It’s also surprisingly clean considering it’s about life with King Henry VIII.  It does have talk about sexual situations but none involving the main character.

I highly recommend “Maid of the King’s Court” to those who like historical fiction with a dash of romance.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

 

Duels & Deception

Duels & Deception Book Cover Duels & Deception
Cindy Anstey
Young Adult Fiction
Macmillan
April 11, 2017
368

In 1800s London, a young heiress and her lawyer are caught up in a kidnapping plot to steal her fortune, but as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder what she truly wants.

 

Review:

I feel like I am the wrong person to review “Duels & Deception.”  It definitely seems like this is a case of “it isn’t the book; it’s me.”  The budding romance featured is cute and the historical elements are fascinating.  It’s also a very clean book for those looking for one, which is not very easy to find.  The flowery prose just seemed to grate on me and kept me from enjoying it.  If this seems like the type of book you will enjoy, please give it a try.  Don’t let my dislike sway you.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Minor Violence, Alcoholic Character

One Italian Summer

One Italian Summer
Keris Stainton
Hot Key Books
May 4, 2017
Paperback
256

'Gentle and romantic. A holiday in itself.' Rainbow Rowell 'I flew through ONE ITALIAN SUMMER. It's a perfect summer read with a gorgeous setting, warm characters and a bittersweet evocation of life after tragedy.' Sophia Bennett, author of LOVE SONG Milly loves her sisters more than anything - they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix ...Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke ...Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn't about Luke at all ...is it?

 

Review:

“One Italian Summer” is a light ya romance that reads quickly but lacks much substance.

While there was an attempt at making the characters developed, I still felt somewhat removed from them, especially the love interest, Luke.  There was little to no explanation of exactly why Milly was so interested in him, aside from a rather alarming amount of wanting to lick his muscles.  Not going to lie, the amount of times a phrase like that was thought by her was a bit unsettling.  I know this complaint may be nitpicky, but the author seems to lose track of what her characters were doing quite a bit.  Characters would stand up twice in one page without sitting down, be in a car one second and in a parking lot walking to the car the next, etc.  It kept pulling me out of the story.

That being said, “One Italian Summer” is still a cute romance if you’re looking for a beach read that doesn’t require much from you.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Alcohol Use

Bang

Bang Book Cover Bang
Barry Lyga
Young Adult Fiction
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
April 18, 2017
304

A heartbreaking novel about living with your worst mistake, from New York Times bestselling author Barry Lyga. A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood. Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun. Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this. Now he needs a gun to get out. Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow's headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.

 

Review:

I really wanted to like “Bang”.  It seems that I’m in the minority in not feeling it.  Unfortunately, the book just did not resonate with me.

It isn’t that there is not good writing or that the characters aren’t well-developed.  Both were good.  The problem for me, I believe, is that so many issues were packed into one book that it didn’t have time to focus on any of them enough.  Gun control, Islamophobia, mental illness of several types, and the income gap are a few of the things covered.

I can’t recommend “Bang”, but if the blurb sounds good to you, give it a try.  Maybe it’s just me.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Hate Speech

Bronze and Sunflower

Bronze and Sunflower Book Cover Bronze and Sunflower
Cao Wenxuan
Juvenile Fiction
Candlewick Press
March 14, 2017
400

Originally translated: United Kingdom: Walker Books UK, 2015.

 

Review:

While meant for children, “Bronze and Sunflower” is a beautifully written book about the cultural revolution in China during the 1960s-70s that any age group can enjoy and learn from.  The culture becomes alive, helped by the fact that it is translated into English.  Everything rings true and authentic.  I wish there were more books this good about other cultures.  Highly recommended.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Fire Starters

Fire Starters Book Cover Fire Starters
Jen Storm
December 31, 2016
Paperback

 

Review:

“Fire Starters” is an excellent book for middle graders about the prejudice facing indigenous peoples.  It’s also a morality tale about taking responsibility for your actions.  Tough subject matter to read, as it should be.  The artwork is great.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Violence, Hate Speech

Piper Perish

Piper Perish Book Cover Piper Perish
Kayla Cagan
Young Adult Fiction
Chronicle Books
March 7, 2017
416

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper's dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she's never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper's sister's tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper's art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power when it means giving up so much? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this dynamic, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she's missing any one of these things?

 

Review:

“Piper Perish” is the perfect book for the kids who are creative and ponder life’s big questions.  It’s also great for the adults who once were those kids and probably are still the same as adults.  I really wish there would have been a book like this when I was in middle and high school.  Highly recommended!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Alice and the Fly

Alice and the Fly Book Cover Alice and the Fly
James Rice
Juvenile Fiction
Quercus
April 4, 2017
304

Greg is cripplingly shy, afraid of spiders, and obsessed with Breakfast at Tiffany's. He's not exactly the most popular kid at his high school. In fact, he pretty much goes out of his way to avoid talking to anybody he doesn't have to. And it doesn't help that he has a severe lisp. But Greg's English teacher, Miss Hayes, can see that there's something different about him. He's insightful and sensitive beyond his years, and maybe--just maybe--he'll use these strengths to break out of his shell someday. Miss Hayes urges Greg to keep a journal. "This isn't an assignment," she tells him, "just write down your thoughts." Greg begins to write about everything from his mother's ill-conceived interior decorating ideas to his job at the local butcher's shop. When Greg begins to take an interest in a girl at his school named Alice, he realizes that he will have to face his most paralyzing anxieties if he wants to befriend Alice and help her escape from her violent family life.

 

Review:

I’m not really sure how to review “Alice and the Fly.”  It wasn’t a bad characterization of mental illness, though it did lack any real answers for the reader.  I feel like I just didn’t connect to the main character the way I wish I could.  Overall, I can neither recommend nor not recommend it.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Broken Glass (The Mirror Sisters, #2)

Broken Glass Book Cover Broken Glass
The Mirror Sisters, Book 2
V.C. Andrews
Fiction
Simon and Schuster
February 28, 2017
448

Sisters until the end...

Which may come sooner than they think.

Under their mother’s watchful eye, identical twins Haylee and Kaylee Fitzgerald have lived their entire lives in sync. Never alone, never apart, everything about them must be exactly the same: clothes, friends, punishments.

One night, in the darkness of a movie theater, Haylee reveals that she’s leaving to meet up with someone she knows from online. But suddenly feeling ill, and not wanting to disappoint this older man, she convinces Kaylee to go in her stead. He’ll never know, and this way he won’t think she stood him up.

Kaylee reluctantly agrees to go, but when the credits roll and she’s nowhere to be found, Haylee confesses everything to her mom. With the manhunt on, Haylee knows everything must be done to find her sister. Still, for the first time in her life, she’s free from her twin, which, really, isn’t so bad...is it?

 

Review:

What can I say about “Broken Glass?”  I feel like this can sum it up for all fans of V.C. Andrews books: It is exactly what you want and expect to find in one of them, meaning creepy and a guilty pleasure. It’s a fun story that continues the story of Haylee and Kaylee, two of the world’s creepiest twins.  A perfect beach read.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life Book Cover The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Benjamin Alire Saenz
Young Adult Fiction
Clarion Books
March 7, 2017
464

"A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn't mean about who he is"--

 

Review:

“The Inexplicable Logic of My Life” is a book I had mixed feelings about, but in the end I found it well worth the time to read.

The plot is meandering, and while that can be a good thing, in this instance I wish about a quarter of the length had been shaved off.  The repetitiveness sometimes took me out of the story.  The plot itself is a good one about the nature of friendship and family instead of romance.  That’s refreshing to find in a young adult book.  Extra points for being a diverse book with both lgbtq and Mexican-American characters.

The flaws in the length of the story were more than made up for in the absolutely stunning writing.  Every chapter contained at least one beautiful sentence.  It felt like candy in the brain.  The characters, because of the writing style, seemed to jump off of the page and into my life.  They will undoubtedly live on inside of my mind, and I’ve already found myself repeating quotes.

Overall, I can definitely recommend “The Inexplicable Logic of My Life” to any older young adults and adults who are looking for beauty over a fast-paced plot.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Hate Speech