Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

Fairest (The Luner Chronicles .5)

In YA Book Reviews on January 31, 2015 at 2:39 am


by Marissa Meyers

Fantasy Sci-Fi Fairy Tale Retelling/©2015/222 Pages/Recommended for Age 12+

Publisher’s Synopsis (Courtesy of Good Reads):

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of The Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.  Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

My Thoughts:

This prequel to The Lunar Chroncles gives us the complete backstory to the villain of the series. Let it suffice to say that the story is chilling! This is a quick read, but it definitely fills in the blanks about Queen Levana. Should be quite interesting to see how the series winds up when the fourth and final book is released in November.


Tiger Lily

In YA Book Reviews on January 28, 2015 at 6:49 am


by Jodi Lynn Anderson

YA Fantasy/©2012/292 Pages/Recommended for 7th Grade+

Publisher’s Synopsis (Amazon)

In this stunning re-imagining of J. M. Barrie’s beloved classic Peter Pan, New York Times bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson expertly weaves a gripping tale of love, loss, and adventure.

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair… Tiger Lily. When fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan deep in the forbidden woods of Neverland, the two form a bond that’s impossible to break, but also impossible to hold on to. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. However, when Wendy Darling, a girl who is everything Tiger Lily is not, arrives on the island, Tiger Lily discovers how far she is willing to go to keep Peter with her, and in Neverland.

Told from the perspective of tiny, fairy-sized Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily is the breathtaking story of budding romance, letting go and the pains of growing up.

My Thoughts:

I never really cared for the story of Peter Pan, but I LOVED this story of Tiger Lily as narrated by Tinkerbell. All the elements of Neverland are in the story – Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, the pirates, mermaids, and fairies – but all told from the very unique perspective of Tinkerbell, who could read minds and make some amazing observations. At the heart of this retelling is the story of first love. It is beautifully written, full of memorable characters and scenes that you will think about long after you have finished the book. This is definitely a darker and more complex version than the original story and screen adaptations, but it adds considerable depth and complexity to the original story. Well worth the read!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars


In YA Book Reviews on January 22, 2015 at 5:05 am


 by Kwame Alexander

Poetry/©2014/237 pages/Recommended for Middle Grades+

Publisher’s Synopsis:

“”With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering, “” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (“He Said, She Said” 2013).

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

My Thoughts:

Most of the time I buy the books I read. It is just the fastest way to read the books I want to read. I kept hearing about this book, how great it is, but seriously – it is a sports book done in free verse, two of my least favorite genres. I was not in that big of a hurry to read it, so it has been languishing on my To-Be-Read list for months until yesterday when a friend loaned me her copy. I started reading it this afternoon and could not put it down until I finished it. All I can say is I have been missing out! What an absolutely incredible book! It is so much more than a book about basketball. It is a powerful coming-of-age story about family, love, friendship, and changing relationships. I still am not a fan of basketball or books written in free verse, but I love this book (and I just ordered my own copy!)

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

In YA Book Reviews on January 6, 2015 at 7:08 pm


 by Jenny Han

YA Contemporary Romance/©2014/368 pages/Part of a Duology/Recommended for 7th Grade+

Publisher’s Synopsis (Courtesy of Good Reads):

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Note: There are more in this series: P.S. I Still Love You (2) and Always and Forever, Lara Jean (#3)

My Comments:

This book caught my attention with its clever title and  creative premise. The story is well written and well paced with some great details that capture being a teenager. It is labeled as contemporary romance, but it strikes me more as a coming of age story. There is some real depth beneath the fluff, with strong messages about friendship, trust, family and sisterhood. Lara Jean (the quintessential middle child) narrates the story, and I think she is a character I won’t soon forget.  Peter labeled her as quirky, an apt descriptor in the best possible way. I liked everything about her. Though at times she struck me as very immature, you can clearly see her growth as the story progresses. Overall, this book is a light, entertaining read, and I can’t wait to read the second book.



The Miniaturist

In My Book Club Books on January 5, 2015 at 2:38 am

Unknown by Jessie Burton

Publisher’s Synopsis (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam-a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion-a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

My Thoughts:

There is much to like in “The Miniaturist”. The writing was exquisite, and the plot was compelling. Life in the dollhouse mirrors life in the townhouse, and the townhouse, in turn, mirrors life in Amsterdam and the greater world. This book drew me in slowly, but once I got hooked, I could not put it down. The historical detail was interesting, but the supernatural intrigue and one plot twist after another kept my attention. There were many “I didn’t see that coming” moments for me in this book.

Book Club Discussion:

We started our discussion with comments about the picture of an actual miniature cabinet that appears at the beginning of the story. Our overall take on the book is that it is a well researched piece of historical fiction with fascinating magical details that helped pull the reader into the story. We recognized and  appreciated the vivid descriptions of the city, the landscape, the canals, and general life at that time. As we discussed the practices, customs, and expectations from that era to our current one, Carol posed the question how is it that we still have challenges with some of the ways of thinking. An unanswerable question, of course, but quite thought provoking. We further discussed the themes of human frailty and redemption and how that was evident in each of the main characters. We concluded our discussion with the still life pictures of the time, how they factored into the story, and whether or not we thought they made political statements related to money and class and the history of the times. All in all, we had a deep conversation about the book and agreed that we all enjoyed reading it.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars


Book Club Menu
Featuring Dutch Specialties

Red Light Cocktail

Gouda Cheese, Nuts, and Dried Fruit
Shredded Brussels Sprouts Slaw
Pork Tenderloin with Brandy Soaked Raisins
Cinnamon Glazed Carrots

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes
Dutch Chocolate Chocolate Mousse