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Posts Tagged: Italy

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Audio Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone,
Also in this series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight
Published by Hachette Audio on 08 April 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Angels, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Monsters, Mythology, Paranormal, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Suspense, Young Adult
Length: 18 hours 11 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight

Place(s) Traveled To: Washington, DC // Unnamed, Morocco //Rome, Italy // Eretz

First Line(s): Nerve thrum and screaming blood, wild and churning and chasing and devouring and terrible and terrible and terrible —

I was so excited to receive and audio review copy of Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor as it was one of my most anticipated titles of 2014. And the start of this one lived up to my every expectation that I had. Although it wasn’t long before my enjoyment started to wain and my disappointment grew as the story progressed. First there were all the new characters that were added, which isn’t always a bad thing but they had no real backstory and it took too long to get them to a meaningful point in Karou’s story that they just dragged the story down. I didn’t care about them and hated the time that they took away from Karou and Akiva.

With the addition of new characters there was also a lot of POV changes. Crazy random and no real spacer between them that there were moments where I had to rewind the audio because I though one character was the focus when somehow we’d transitioned into another. It added a small layer of confusion that I could have done without. There was also a lack of indicator to let me know that I had reached the end of a disc so there were many instances in which I listened to the early tracks again before I realized I needed a new disc. And yet there was music to indicate the end of a part in the story so I was a bit miffed that there was nothing at the end of a disc. I hated repeating part of the story as it jumbled up events a bit and it also took my focus off of driving. Which isn’t a good thing when you are dealing with traffic.

But what really bothered me was the story. Nothing happened in this book, all 18 hours and 600 and some odd pages of it. Ok, so saying that nothing happened is a bit much but there was lots of unnecessary filler contained withing the pages of Dreams of Gods & Monsters and a lot of things were repeated over and over and over again. Yes, Laini Taylor writes some beautiful prose but it was more compact and focused in the previous books and I missed that here. In this case her prose was used as smoke and mirrors to distract and deflect from the fact that the story was very slow moving and there there was a lot of build up that ended up going no where. Dreams of Gods & Monsters is filled with the promise of action and apocalyptic things but there is more angst than apocalypse. That and the climatic end scene was more of a whimper than a bang and I may have hurt my eyes from rolling them too much.

There was so much that happened because of crazy unrealistic coincidence. If Karou needed something the means were magically at her fingertips and this was without wishes. Everything just fell into place with a nice tidy bow and there were no real consequences that one would expect from two races that were at war. In all honesty, I half expected certain souls that were lost to somehow be found again in the end as everyone sang kumbaya around a fire. I wanted more action in this story and I wanted to care about how things would turn out instead of hoping and wishing that the end of the audio would come faster than I could listen to it.

In many ways it seemed as though Dreams of Gods & Monsters lost focus and it didn’t so much revolve around Karou as it did act as a set up for the stories of other characters to be told. For me, Dreams of Gods & Monsters seemed to act as a backdoor pilot for something else to come. There were lots of open threads at the end of this book that I won’t be surprised if a spin off series is announced. Of the three books in this series I think that Days of Blood & Starlight will remain my favorite. If there is a spin off I am not sure if I will read it, or listen, it will take a very compelling synopsis to get me to overcome the disappointment that I had with this one.

irishdarkblue

three-stars
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. SmithThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Poppy on 15 April 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, People & Places, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, This is What Happy Looks Like, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // London, England // Chicago, Illinois // Indianapolis, Indiana // Edinburgh, Scotland // Lake Tahoe, California // San Francisco, California // Napa, California // Berkeley, California // Prague, Czech Republic // Portland, Oregon // Rome, Italy // Tacoma, Washington // Seattle, Washington // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

First Line(s): On the first day of September, the world went dark.

I was really looking forward to The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith as I keep hoping that the magic that was Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight will be recreated. As with This is What Happy Looks Like that magic was not to be found in The Geography of You and Me. The start of Geography is cute enough with Lucy and Owen meeting and connecting in an elevator during a city wide black out for even though they live in the same building chances are they never would have met if it wasn’t for this moment. I liked the premise of how one ordinary moment could spark something extraordinary and enjoyed the friendship that was begun between Lucy and Owen.

I enjoyed the star-crossed aspect of Owen and Lucy’s relationship. Its hard to be a couple if you are both constantly moving and its hard to be friends if you want more than that. Its also hard to maintain a friendship when you are dating someone else mainly because they are in the same place that you are. My heart ached for these two as they struggled with their daily lives but loved how they tried to maintain that connection they started in the elevator. I loved how they sent postcards to each other and avoided not just traditional means of communication but also sent non-traditional postcard messages.

Geography is a cute, light hearted, contemporary romance and its a great way to spend a few hours. I read this one in a few hours and enjoyed the time spent within its pages. I like the how Smith tackles the concept of home in a similar manner as Stephanie Perkins did in Anna and the French Kiss and Lindsey Leavitt mentions in the upcoming The Chapel Wars. That home isn’t any one place that instead home is contained in the hearts of the people you love. This is an important thing for teens to read as many are reading books like Geography just before they leave the cities and towns they just spent most of their lives in, leaving their friends and parents in order to embark on a new adventure in college. I remember my first few weeks in college. I felt lost and scared and questioned my decision to go to a school outside of the state I grew up in. I thought maybe I should have gone to the school where 90% of my high school was going. It wasn’t until I really started to forge new relationships that I began to settle in and enjoy my time at college.

While I enjoyed everything that Geography was I do think that Smith was a bit of a lazy writer for parts of it. Most of the chapters, especially those leading up to the end, would start with phrases like “In Rome, Lucy cried…” or “In Berkeley, Owen watched” and it just felt clunky and a poor way to set up where they were. The ending felt a little rushed and while I was hoping for a Lucy and Owen ending it didn’t always feel real as they spent so little time together and most of what they knew was on the surface. Some books will end and you can tell yourself that the two characters will live out their HEA but with Owen and Lucy its more uncertain as there is just so much left unsaid between. It makes me wish that there was more to this story so that we could see them learning more about each other so that there HFN seemed more solid.

Geography isn’t my favorite book by Jennifer E. Smith but I did enjoy it more than This is What Happy Looks Like it gives me hope that her next book will be more like Statistical and so I will read it for its potential magic. Geography is a good read but not a great one. Its not a book that I will rush to re-read but its not a bad way to spend some time. Its an uncomplicated read and sometimes you really just need something light and easy.

irishdarkblue

 

three-half-stars
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Anywhere by J. Meyers

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review, Young Adult6 Comments

Review: Anywhere by J. MeyersAnywhere by J. Meyers
Published by Self-Published on 25 August 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Paris, France // Rome, Italy // Venice, Italy // Baratolo, Italy // Bern, Switzerland // Barau, Switzerland // Munich, Germany // Rothenburg, Germany // Arcachon, France // New York, New York

First Line: “Do you think there’s a phrase for this in French?” Paige called out from the tiny yellow bathroom, her voice wobbling.

When I first heard about Anywhere by J. Meyers I was immediately attracted to it as not only is it a road trip book, but its a road trip book set in EUROPE. I adore Europe and get there every chance I get and so I just loved the idea of backpacking through several countries…even if it was just in the pages of a book. Anywhere is told entirely from Skye’s POV and while sometimes this was annoying it was also right for the story. I say annoying because Skye could sometimes be annoying. She’s 22 and never really been off on her own doing her own thing so she’s really just coming into her own. When her Plan A fizzles she is off to Plan B and that leads her to Asher.

If ever there was a swoon worthy guy its Asher. He’s just so sweet and fun and the perfect person for Skye in that moment. He helps her to find her courage and be brave enough to go on the adventure that she’s always dreamed of. Their romance is quick but it never feels rushed. There is no insta-love but there is a fast friendship which deepens into something more. It feels real and wonderful and I loved reading about their journey together. The fact that they were in Europe just seemed to make it all the more magical. I also loved the relationship that Skye had with her brother. Their exchanges were so cute and fun, that as a reader, you get a real sense of their bond for each other.

Skye’s mother on the other hand….well, she is your typical horrible mother in a YA/NA novel. She doesn’t listen and tries to guilt and berate to get what she wants. And for most of Skye’s life she’s given in think that maybe if she did she’d get approval. But when it comes to the reason why Skye left I think she made the right decision and she made the right decision to finally start standing on her own two feet and listening to what she wants. Not what other people want for her. If there was a character that I would like to punch in this book it would have been her. I cringed each and every time that Skye had to talk to her and I applauded when Skye found her courage and stood up to her. I am sure that the ocean between them helped and I hope that Skye continues to live for herself and not her mother when her adventuring is done.

I also liked Paige and wish that we’d seen more of her. Though if Paige was there then there may have been no Asher so I am glad that things ended up how they did. Because, hello Asher. lol That thing at the end that he did….if you’ve ever read Persuasion and liked that letter well then you know the sort of heart achy feels that happens in this part of the book. Like I said. Total swoon worthy character and he totally makes up for any imperfections of this book.

Because there are some imperfections like Meyer’s overuse of parenthesis  I think by the end my eye was getting a little twitchy (really it was) (I mean it). What almost made me lose it was parenthesis used when a video was supposed to be playing. Because people don’t speak in parenthesis…at least not in my brain…and so there should have been none. *deep breath* Ok my rant is done…its a minor quibble but for me they began to take me out of the story. Especially when a phrase in parenthesis was followed by another set of them. *eye twitch*

The other minor quibble I had was a phrase that Skye loved to say. She’d ask a question and then quickly say “no wait don’t answer unless the answer is x.” and it was cute at first but by the end of the book I was ready to never see those words again. Though at the same point the phrase was so perfectly Skye. So while it annoyed me by the end it didn’t make my eye twitch like the minor issue I had above.

Other than that I really enjoyed this story. It was a quick read and it was fun to get lost in its pages. I hated to have it end and really wish that it had gone on more to see where Skye ended up and what happened at that thing she had to get back for. There could have been some deliciously awkward scenes but I guess I’ll just have to imagine what would happen in my head. And when I still think about a book after its final page then you know that its worth taking the time to read. So go forth and pick this one up. If you like fun contemporaries then you will like this one. It reminds me a little of Anna and the French Kiss mixed with some of my other favorite reads.

A good quote that describes Skye and Asher

four-stars
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Rayburn

Posted by Irish in Review2 Comments

Title: Silent on the Sanctuary  
Publisher: Mira 

Source: Purchased
Publication Date: 01 January 2008
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 0778324923 
Format: ebook

The Author on the Web:

Place(s) Traveled to: Italy //Blessingstoke, England // London, England (1887)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First Line(s): Well, I suppose that settles it.

Buy the Book:  
 

Lady Julia Series Order
Book 2: Silent in the Sanctuary
Book 3: Silent on the Moors
Book 4: The Dark Road to Darjeeling
Book 5: The Dark Inquiry

Amateur detective Lady Julia is back! Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn picks up a few months after Silent in the Grave ends. The story opens with Lady Julia and her brothers on holiday in Italy until they are summoned home to the family estate for Christmas. (Seems no matter the year or how old you get parents will always have a pull on their children. lol) As with the first book I loved Lady Julia’s family. They are loud and eccentric and are far from normal but they all have a deep love for each other and embrace their oddities. Even though society doesn’t always do so. 

As with Silent in the Grave there is a murder to be solved and luckily Nicolas Brisbane is there to do so. Which is a good thing since Lady Julia does tend to bumble about even though her intentions are good. As with the first book there is lots of wonderful tension between Brisbane and Lady Julia as well as lots of witty dialogue. I really love these two together and I really love all of the crazy March clan. 

The mystery in this book is different than the one in the first book as there is a confession shortly after the crime. But things aren’t as cut and dry as that because if they were then we wouldn’t have a book. There are some twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and the end result is a plausible one. There are no WTF sort of reveals in this book. Just a well paced story contained in a well written book. I found that once I started to read this story that I had to see it through until the end. If you like smartly written mysteries and a good historical book then I highly recommend Deanna Raybourn’s books. They are delightfully delicious in every way.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Waterfall by Lisa T Bergren

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized4 Comments

Publisher: David C Cook
Source: Purchased
Publication Date: 01 February 2011
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 1434764338
Format: paperback
Pages: 369
Websites:
Place(s) Traveled to: Siena, Italy // Tuscany, Italy (1342, Present Day)
Rating: 5 out of 5 star 

River of Time Series Order

Book 1: Waterfall
Book 2: Cascade
Book 3: Torrent
Book 3.5: Bourne (~February 2012)
Book 4: Tribitary (~2012)

First Line: We paused on our hike, panting and wiping our upper lips as our guide-the old Italian farmer who owned this land-chopped down a small spaling, clearing the overgrown trail.

I first heard about Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren from Deborah over at Books, Movies and Chinese Food who never failed to mention it when I was looking for book recommendations. Eventually she wore me down with her glowing recommendation of this series that I just had to buy it…and I was glad that I did. Because once I started I became lost in this story and found myself buying the second and third books before I was even half way done. 

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren contains within some of my favorite things in a book there is a little mystery, a little romance, dual time periods (although this one is mostly set in the 14th century), and its set in the middle ages. I adore the middle ages. I’m not sure what it is about that time period but I just have an odd fascination with it and so loved the history and pageantry found in this book. I also really liked the main characters of Gabby, Marcello and Luca. Though there were times when each would annoy me….mostly Gabby but they were minor quirks and ones easily overlooked. 

I loved how all the characters interacted and how Bergren was able to weave in the intricate histories of the books setting without coming across as dry and boring. The added in bits of history did nothing to distract from the story and only added to the richness of it. The only thing that really bugged me was how easy it was for Gabby and her sister to talk in 14th century Italian and to learn the various social morays of the time. It just seemed too quick and unrealistic for two modern day girls who didn’t share there parents passion for history.  


Minor annoyances aside I really enjoyed this novel. I loved meeting all the various characters and seeing how they interacted. There were some relationships that developed that were predicable but again that didn’t deflect from the story. Its not always about how a book will end but the journey the characters take in getting there. And Waterfall was filled with a wonderful journey and I am sorry that it took me so long to get to it. Waterfall is a beautiful story and I can’t wait until I am able to get to reading the other books in this series to see what happens next. If you are looking for a fun book to take you out of reality for a couple of hours then look no further and give Waterfall a try. I think that it might surprise you.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Once Upon a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

Posted by Irish in Guilty Pleasure1 Comment

Publisher: Harlequin
Source: Amazon Vine
Publication Date: 18 Jan 2011
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 0373775458
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Websites:
Place(s) Traveled to: London, England and Venice, Italy (1829)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First Line: The sharp crack of thunder startled Lady Victoria Jane Emerson from slumber
Scandal Series Order
Book 2: Once Upon a Scandal
Book 3: The Perfect Scandal
Its no secret that romance books follow a pattern, before picking up a book you have an idea of what to expect. The same goes for the series of a romance book. If a book is a trilogy/quartet/or what have you then you will usually meet in the first book at least 1 part of the main characters in that book. As a reader, I like to try and figure out who those future main characters will be when I start off a new series as it adds a bit of detective work to the story. However, there were so few characters in PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL that I was hard pressed to figure out who might be the ‘stars’ of ONCE UPON A SCANDAL. Turns out…there is no character connection between the two at all. None. They aren’t siblings or best friends or former army buddies. Nothing. The only super slim loose tie between them is the epigraphs before the start of each chapter from an etiquette book that is popular in Marvelle’s world. 
In fact, when I first started ONCE UPON A SCANDAL I was slightly confused as the book was set a good 5 years before PRELUDE and I questioned myself and thought that I’d picked up the books out of order. Although about a quarter of the way through ONCE UPON time passes and the years then align. As with PRELUDE there are very few excess characters in ONCE. You pretty much have the hero and heroine….and the hero is absent for a good portion at the start of the novel. Then you have a cousin of the heroine and later on the sister and brother-in-law of the hero. I am not sure what I think about this minimalist approach to characters that Marvelle has in her books. On one hand it does allow for deeper focus on the main characters and there is less random head jumping moments. But on the other it makes for a bit of a monotonous story. While a large cast can get confusing at times, I do love it when I spot characters from other books I’ve read by the author in a scene. I love how those minor interactions really flesh out a world and make it more solid and less fictional.
Marvelle’s world is what it is though and while in PRELUDE the lack of other characters annoyed me a bit…mainly because there was no distraction from the hero/heroine (both of whom annoyed me in some form or another) I didn’t mind it as much in ONCE. This is because I liked the main characters better. Victoria had some spunk in her and she wasn’t afraid to let Jonathan know that he was an ass for doing what he did. The only thing that I wish there was more of was to see more POV from Jonathan during that 5 year period when he was in Venice. That part of the story was all done via letters from Victoria to Jonathan and you never really learned what he went through. Yes he does mention it briefly at one point, but I think if we had seen more of his life there before it would have made the climax of the book more climatic. As it was, I never really felt that tension or urgency to those moments that I was probably expected to feel.
On the whole, I enjoyed this book more than its predecessor but I’m unsure if I will ever read the final book in this trilogy, THE PERFECT SCANDAL. I’m not sure that I want to spend the time getting to know some other random characters who are plucked out of the ether just for this book and to never see those that came before again. The minimalist character approach might work for some readers, but for me….I think I’m a character girl…the more the merrier! I also want a bit more depth to my stories. I think that Marvelle starts out with a good idea but then she just sort of skims the surface of it. As a reader I want more. I want to feel like the characters in the book I’m reading are more than characters that they could be real. And for that to happen there just needs to be more information given into their thoughts and background than Marvelle was able to give me. ONCE was enjoyable. I’m not sorry that I read it. But there is no burning drive for me to finish the series.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult18 Comments

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten MillerThe Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Series: The Eternal Ones,
Published by Razorbill on 10 August 2010
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Friendship, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: Snope City, Tennessee // New York, New York (2010, 1920s) // Rome, Italy (2010, 1920s)

First Line: Haven was back.

Related Posts: Fragment Friday

Eternal Ones Series Order
Book 1 – The Eternal Ones
Book 2 – All You Desire
Book 3 – No Plans (Talked to publicist and no plans at this time to continue the series)

When I first began to read the books that Penguin dubbed as Breathless Reads I put a call out onto Twitter to see which order I should them, The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller was the one everyone said should come last. After reading the four other books (Across the Universe, Nightshade, The Replacement & Matched) and not falling head over heels in love with them I was worried about The Eternal Ones. There was a part of me that said don’t read it but the other part of me that was determined to read them all before a book signing was louder. For which I am glad that it was because in the end I really ended up liking The Eternal Ones.For me it was the best book of the current Breathless Reads. The Eternal Ones isn’t like any other book that I’ve read. I really loved the whole reincarnation aspect of it and learning about Constance and Ethan through Haven’s memories. The story was fast paced and believable and the times that I find myself rolling my eyes or shouting at the book where kept to a minimum. I will admit that Haven’s flip-slopping attitude towards Iain did get annoying. One moment she was head of heels in love then some stranger would say something against him and she’d be all ‘Oh no I can’t trust you.’ *sighs* There there was the whole Adam thing, which for me, was a bit much and kind of out there. But I was able to move past those parts and allow myself to enjoy the story. Based on my recent reads you know that this means a lot.

The Eternal Ones isn’t a book for everyone, this story is more of a straight romance with a wee bit of mystery mixed in. There are no vampires or werewolves or any other paranormal creature and I found that to be very refreshing. The idea of reincarnation as set up in The Eternal Ones is believable and I loved the idea that why you might instantly connect with some people over others is because you knew them in a past life and your souls recognize each other. While reading the The Eternal Ones, I loved hearing the snippets of Haven’s past incarnations. Although the main focus was on her previous life, when she was Constance, and I would have liked to see more of those other lives. Yet, at the same time, I feel that this book was pretty well wrapped up at the end. I don’t see where a sequel will go. The ends were tied up, there was a HEA and most importantly, there was an EPILOGUE.

To me, an epilogue means done, there is no more. So I am a little disappointed that there will be 2 more books in the series. There is something to be said for leaving the reader wanting more and I fear that the next books will only hurt the overall story by dragging things out.I liked this book. I will recommend it to others. I loved Haven and Iain and Haven’s gay friend Beau (he was the snarky sidekick). I thought that Haven’s grandmother was evil (as all good  rich, old monied, opinionated southern grandma’s should be) and her mother could have done with more of a backbone. Though Haven seemed to have more than enough for her and her mother both. While most of me is against the idea of a sequel there is that small part of me that hopes to see all those these characters again. Although I can deal without the reincarnations of convenience – everyone seemed to know everyone else in their past and present lives and it just hurt my head a little that everyone kept bumping into each other like that. Though I am aware that it was needed for the story and there really wasn’t another way to do it.

I will also try to reserve my opinion on any potential sequels until I read one myself. But I am not sure that I can walk into it with an open mind. My brain is just all jaded like that. It won’t be the first time and it won’t be the last. Sometimes I am proven right and I have my “AHA!! I knew it moment!” and just as often I am proven wrong and am pleasantly surprised. Either way be on the look out for my thoughts sometime in August or there abouts as that is when All You Desire is released in stores.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Posted by Irish in Review3 Comments

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: 09 Feb 2010
ISBN: 1423116399
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 304
Websites:
Ally Carter – Official Site
Ally Carter – Blog
Ally Carter – Twitter

Place(s) Traveled to: Upstate New York; Las Vegas, Nevada; Rome, Italy; Naples, Italy; Warsaw, Poland; London, England; and Paris, France

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own–scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.
Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.
For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history-or at least her family’s (very crooked) history.


When I first heard that Ally Carter was coming out with a new series I was both excited and wary. Excited because I really enjoyed her Gallagher Girls books and wary because I wasn’t sure if a new series would live up. Well, I shouldn’t have worried because not only did Heist Society live up to the goodness of Gallagher Girls it surpassed it. I really enjoyed this book. To get an idea of what its like think about if the characters in Ocean’s 11 or on the tv show Leverage had children who grew up in their world….these are the teens that you find in Heist Society they live on the edge of the law and stealing and pulling cons is as easy for them as breathing air is for us.

I loved the cast of characters in this book. They were all just so much fun! And where Cammie Morgan can sometimes get annoying and repetitive Kat does not. She is smart and feisty and she tries to leave the life she’s always known to be a normal teen. But normal isn’t what its cracked up to be and its hard to turn your back when your family needs your help. So she’s pulled back into the life of cons and we are taken along for the ride across the US and Europe. Heist Society was a well told story, it was fast paced and filled with enough witty lines that had me laughing aloud as I read the book. I couldn’t put this one down and I hated for it to end. There wasn’t anything that I can say that I disliked in this book it just seemed to have it all. Adventure, strong characters, strong plot, romance, etc etc etc. I can’t wait for Carter to come out with a sequel for this book. If you decide to only read one series of Ally Caarter, then choose this one….its worth the trip.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized3 Comments

I was drawn to The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips because it used a plot device that I like to see in novels, that of the dual time periods. I love to read about 2 different stories, in 2 different time periods and how they both interact and are woven together to make 1 complete story. The Rossetti Letter is told primarily from the points of view of two women: modern day Claire Donovan who is working on her thesis and 17th Century Alessandra Rossetti who is the subject of Donovan’s thesis. Through an amazing act of luck Claire is able to go to travel to Venice, Itlay to research her thesis while acting as the chaperone for a teenage girl named Gwen. While in Venice Claire crosses paths with Andrew Kent, who is also researching the same topice as Claire for a book that he is writing….only from a different angle. Claire sees Rossetti and her infamous letter as being at the heart of a Spanish Conspiracy and Andrew Kent thinks that Rossetti was just a pawn in the game. The secondary story follows Alessandra Rossetti and the events that lead up to her writting the letter that is being researched by both Claire and Andrew.

From the start I found it difficult to get into the modern day story. I found it to be slow moving, predictable and didn’t really add to the secondary plot that was going on in the 17th Century. I was, however, throughly invested in Alessandra’s story. It was very clear from reading the book that the author was in love with history for those sections of the book just seemed to come alive. While the modern conterpart often fell flat. The modern story did pick up towards the end, but the change seemed a little false and forced. Almost as if the author realized that she had been neglecting those characters by not really giving them anything to do and so she picked up the pace. As much as I like dual time period settings, I think that this novel would have been better if Phillips had cut out the modern part and just focused on telling a historical novel.

The Rosetti Letter was the Phillip’s first novel I can accept some of the flaws with it. The book was promising and I did enjoy reading it. While Phillips may not become a favorite author of mine I will consider reading her next book when it comes out. I think that this sophmore work is also going to have a dual time period setting and will see the return of the main characters of this novel. One can only hope that Phillip’s storytelling will improve with this future work.

In Short: A predictable, yet enjoyable story about a 400 year old mystery and the contemporary historians who want to know the truth. Not the best written but the author’s love of history really shines through when she is writting the scenes set in the 17th century. I think this novel would have been more enjoyable if the modern scenes had been cut out, but they weren’t horrible.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Buy this book from Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Next Up: The Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundaresan

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Candide by Voltaire

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized0 Comments

Candide by Voltaire is another one of those books that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up. In fact, if it hadn’t been listed on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list I might not have picked it up at all. This book is short – weighing in at approximately 130 pgs and probably took me longer to read than it should have.

The story follows the titular character Candide, who believes that everything that happens is always for the best and despite the many misfortunes that happen to him on his various journey’s he is unshakeable in his beliefs. This story is a satire and Voltaire never misses a beat to make pokes and jibes at contemporary beliefs (and people) of his day. According to the Introduction this book was written after Voltaire’s own beliefs changed from optimism to pesimisim based on negative events that were happening around the world and also to himself. In Candide, he seems to want to try to prove that bad things happen and that they aren’t always for the best and those that still hold to that belief are as foolish as the central character is.

Candide is humorous and at times also scathing in its attacks against those who Voltaire had personal gripes with. It is also a story that withstands the test of time. There is a distinct modern feel to the words and scenarios that make the story as relevant today as it was 200+ years ago when it was first published. I am not sure if this is a story that I would read more then once but it is definately one that I would recommend to others.

In Short: This book is short and is worth the little time that it takes to read it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy this book from Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Next Up: Sephardi Entrepreneurs in Jerusalem: The Valero Family 1800-1948 by Joesph B Glass and Ruth Kark and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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