Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pink Carnation

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, #1)The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Every once in a while I read a book and wonder how in the world I hadn't heard of it before now (thank you, Becky!). The Pink Carnation is great fun and full of suspense (not to mention a few, um, racy scenes--wow!). It reminds me a bit of the book Juliet by Anne Fortier with its story within a story. But this one is so much better. It is what Juliet should have been.

The characters and plot are so satisfying. I am ready to move on to book two. Now.

**Audio Review: Kate Reading very capably narrates. She gets a definite thumbs up from me.



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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Matched

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I've been looking forward to reading this book since it came out and I finally had the chance. I am glad I did. As recent YA books go, this isn't completely original. It is part Hunger Games, part Brave New World, part The Giver, and part 1984. But the characters, while not completely fresh, are worth getting to know.

The Society in which Cassia lives appears to be very simple. And the writing in the early chapters seems very minimalistic, which fits well with Cassia's narrow view of things. But as the book progresses and Cassia's life becomes more complicated, the writing seems to evolve.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series and hope that it is more original than the first.



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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Major

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is an excellent book. I love (and love to hate) most of the characters. They are so well-rounded and believable. I find it interesting that one or two chapters into the book I was sure what the Major's "last stand" would be. And I was wrong. So many different topics are explored in this book, yet it is completely cohesive.

I love the Major, even though he upset me several times. He has a very dry sense of humor that makes him adorable. Now that the book is over, I miss the people and their little piece of the English countryside. The book has actually changed the way I view some things. This is Simonson's first novel, but I hope to see many more.



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Friday, February 11, 2011

Mary Barton

Mary BartonMary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first experience reading Elizabeth Gaskell, and I am not disappointed. I am familiar with her works through PBS Masterpiece Theatre (I LOVE Wives and Daughters and North and South--Cranford is good too). After listening to an interview about Gaskell, I was persuaded to begin by reading Mary Barton first. I am glad that I did. It was excellent.


It begins on a moderately high note (in the context of a mostly depressing book) and goes downhill from there. It reminded me a bit of Thomas Hardy in that there is doom lurking around every corner. I am not one to shy away from a depressing story, especially when it is based on an pretty accurate portrayal of the time period, but I got a little bogged down by this one. About half-way through I actually considered quitting. I'm relieved that I didn't.


The first half thoroughly explored the plight of the factory workers in Manchester, England in the early 1800's. It was slightly exhausting but necessary, I now believe, for the remainder of the narrative. The second half flew by as Mary's life became front and center. I could not see how there could be a happy ending (and I won't give away whether it is or not), but these downtrodden characters are worth rooting for.


**Audio Review - I love Juliet Stevenson as a narrator. She is always so reliable and enjoyable.


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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Queen's Dollmaker

The Queen's DollmakerThe Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I had zero expectations for this book going in. I hadn't heard of it or the author and chose it simply because it was available for free on my kindle. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I enjoy most historical fiction and this is no exception. I don't think I have ever read a book set in London and France during The Terror leading up to and during the French Revolution. Viewing it through lead character Claudette and Marie Antoinette proved informative and very interesting. I enjoyed the whole book but must admit that the final third is the most thrilling. There are unforeseeable events (by me, at least) as well as some easily predictable parts. But really, it is the characters that drive a book for me and this book is full of great ones. I hope to find that author Christine Trent has more books available or will in the future.



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