Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

I would probably bump this book up to 3.5 stars.  It earns bonus points for making me cry and for forcing me to stay up way past my bedtime on a school night (definite anomaly for a teacher at this time of year).  I really did like this slow unraveling of this story and while some parts were very predictable, I was actually surprised that there were some really original points that I did NOT see coming.  I bumped the overall review down to a 3 mostly because I did not connect to all of the multiple narrators in this story.  While I LOVED the chapters narrated by Kelsie and Kurt (oh the raw pain of the Kelsie chapters), I did not feel like the Elaine chapters were super-realistic nor did I feel the need for the Josh chapters at all.  I would, however, definitely still recommend this book to my students.

Final Recommendations: if you like realistic fiction, bad things happening to good people, high school drama, some mature content, small towns, more high school drama

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

After I got over the 3rd person present tense (like seriously, that's a point of view now a days?), I actually did begin to enjoy this book.  And while I never quite connected to the main character, Sing, the fantasy aspects of this book were too magical for me not to want to finish it.  This book is written in alternating chapters from the point of view of a young girl attending a prestigious music school (while also trying to get out of the shadow of her brilliant, but dead, mother) and a mythological sky-cat that can either grant you wishes or rip your throat out (good options).  I LOVED the unique mythology created behind the cat figure.  I loved the descriptive language during these chapters.  I loved the use of color.  I did not, however, feel engaged in the actual chapters about actual people I was supposed to care about.  In general, this was a mixed bag.

Final Recommendations: if you like music, mythological creatures, impossible romance.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

It took me a while to get into this book.  I am not sure why?  Maybe I've found myself in the midst of the dreaded reading drought?  Or maybe it was the drop-off at the beginning of another school year.  It could have also possibly been the fact that beginning of this book is slightly confusing.  The author purposefully starts the reader blind, and slowly reveals cryptic bits and pieces in order to keep the reader constantly in the dark.  SPOILER...THIS IS NOT A MEDIEVAL TALE OF KINGS AND QUEENS BUT IN FACT A DYSTOPIAN ALT-HISTORY?!  And here is where it loses a few stars.  I really did enjoy the bits of magic, the characters were interesting, Kelsea (our leading lady & queen) was both likable and not too cliche, BUT the setting was infuriating.  I did enjoy the fact that the author slowly revealed that the world was post-apocalyptic England? I still am not 100% sure on that one, but that's definitely a problem.  Why is the reader never really given a clear understanding of where and why the Tear exists?  I think it's a cool way to reveal a setting and all but I still feel a bit confused as to where and why this kingdom exists in the first place?  Also, while the evilness of the enemy (the Red Queen) is often times eluded to, we never spend enough time with her to know the extent of her cruelty or her powers.  She answers to some evil shadow force...but that evil shadow force is rooting for the good queen Kelsea?  Huh?  I guess my final assessment is that I liked the story, I enjoyed seeing the heroin evolve throughout, I just felt like the world-building and conflict could have used a clearer path.

Final Recommendations: if you like queens, knights in shining armor, magic, evil queens, mysterious rogues

Monday, September 1, 2014

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Was this book enjoyable? In parts. Was this book necessary?  Nope.  I could have been happy with the ending of the 2nd book in this trilogy.  I felt as if this third novel was just excessive and tried way too hard to be a mystery novel in a world of fantasy.  In addition to the lack of continuity with the other books in this series, the fact that most of the characters were not together throughout the book or even in the book at all (sad face for the total lack of Toraf and Rayna in this installment) made put on my crazy question face.  Like why?  Why not continue to develop the world you started?  Or the character relationships?  Why invent a whole new place?  I just didn't get it and didn't enjoy it at all.

Final Recommendations: if you like underwater fantasy that never even dips a toe in, if you like strange, nonsensical mystery, and you know mermaids and such