Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

Hardcover, 382 pages

Released: August 3, 2010

Publisher: Touchstone

ISBN13: 9781416563723

The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.

My Ratig: 4 / 5

My thoughts:

One may find Margaret Beaufort a hard character to connect with, but you have to give the lady credit for her detemination...at all costs. From early childhood, Margaret compares herself to Joan of Arc and at age ten, is proud to have saints knees from praying so much! She always thought her calling was to be a nun "I am chosen by God to save England" (page 13) but sadly things don't go her way when she is married at age twelve & pregnant. From pregnancy, she believes her son will inherit the throne, and with tunnel vision, her life is about making this a reality. See, I told you she was determined!

We all know how the story ends, but it was interesting reading Philippa's take on how Margaret ensures her only child, Henry, becomes King. There are a few theories about the princes in the tower and in this book Philippa plays on Margarets scheming ways. Although the most commom theory is that King Richard III had them killed, Philippa weaves in the theory that Margaret had the boys murdered to put her son that much closer to the throne. Margaret was willing to give up everything in life, living with one goal in mind but her plotting ways left me feeling no remorse for her setbacks. I must say I felt more sympathy to the Yorkists after reading this book :o

This is the second book in a series entitled ‘The Cousins’ War’, to be followed by The Lady of the Rivers in Autumn 2011 (The Story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville) and The White Princess (The Story of Elizabeth, Princess of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII). You can click here to read my review of the first book The White Queen which I must admit to liking a bit more.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Format Available: Hardcover, 335 pages

Publisher: HarperTeen

Released: August 31, 2010

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

I've grown tired of paranormals, reading too many this year, but knew I HAD to make an exception read this one. Thank goodness, as Parnormalcy is one of those books that capture your attention & before you know it you've finished the book! From page one, I was loving the main character Evie... she is seriously one of my favorites this year. Her spunky, witty ways made this story top notch.

Besides Raquel who was a sort of mother figure at the agency, there are two main guys that are shaping Evies life...and they are polar opposites of course. First we have the faerie, Reth, who has some kind of power over Evie & seems to driving her crazy. Then there's Lend, a unique shape shifter who is gentle, kind & makes her happy. Lend may have some competition with Reth down the road though, I know there is some good in him somewhere!

It was interesting seeing the world though Evie's somewhat innocent eyes. Having grown up in the IPCA (International Paranorm Containment Agency) all she knows is what she's been told - that paranorms are bad & need to be contained. After meeting Lend & being on the outside though, she sees a different side and questions what she thought was right! This isn't your typical paranormal read. I can't wait to learn more about the prophecy, The Empty Ones, faeries and how they relate. Bring on book two baby!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Hardcover, 472 pages

Published: October 12th 2010

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 0385737637

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.
My Rating: 5 / 5

My Thoughts:

This books premise caught me right away: time travel, connections and character growth. Add in my love for music and my new found eagerness for books on world history and this book had it all!

The main character, Andi, is deeply depressed, carrying the burden of her brothers death and mom's subsequent withdrawal from the world; she is a straight A student who is now failing. What struck me as odd (in a good way) was that as a reader, I connected with her yet didn't find the book a downer at all! With music, art and friends for support, hope was always there and you knew that somehow things would right themselves again...I loved this!

If you read my blog, you may already know that I cringe when famous names are dropped in books as I find it really dates the book. Jennifer's use of names, however, adds to the book, and I found it fascinating to see the connections and impact that musicians have had on each other over the years. Having no background in the French Revolution, I loved having a quick & fun lesson about life in these times and how it came to be. I enjoyed going back in time and feeling part of it all. (note: thanks Jennifer for the huge bibliography at the end!)

Just like Andi, I found myself anxious as she read Alex's diary, always hoping that maybe, somehow, the history books have it all wrong and Louis-Charles survived! Are you curious too? You'll have to read Revolution and find out for yourself.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Hardcover, 260 pages

Published: October 26th 2010

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.
My Rating: 4 /5

My Thoughts:

A book that starts out in the NY book store Strand, is full of adventures and about finding that special someone who you click with & shares your quirkiness - SOLD!

So maybe this could be considered a fantasy book - the characters are not exactly believable (loved the boot thing & the Cinderella imagery - you'll have to read the book to see how crazy Lily is!) and the adventures that happen over the Christmas holidays are extreme, but it's fun to think anything is possible :)

The chapters alternate between the two main characters, Dash & Lily. Dash was forced to grow up a tad faster & is more introverted due to his parents divorce. Lily leads a sheltered life with family support galore. What they have in common though is their quirkiness and desire to not feel so alone. In the end, Lily gets that extra push to get out there and experience life, while Dash doesn't feel so disconnected and the future has potential.

Set in NYC in winter, this is the perfect cute & quirky read to get into the holiday spirit!