In The Path Of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith: review

In the Path of Falling ObjectsIn The Path Of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith

Stand Alone 

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller

Publisher: Square Fish

Release Date: October 12th 2010

Synopsis: Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, are on their own. They set out to find what’s left of their family, carrying between them ten dollars, a backpack full of dirty clothes, a notebook, and a stack of letters from their brother, who is serving a tour in Vietnam. And soon into their journey, they have a ride. With a man and a beautiful girl who may be in love with Jonah. Or Simon. Or both of them.

The man is crazy. The girl is desperate. This violent ride is only just beginning. And it will leave the brothers taking cover from hard truths about loyalty, love, and survival that crash into their lives. 

One more thing: The brothers have a gun. They’re going to need it.

My Thoughts:

In the Path of Falling Objects made me feel, in a word, dusty. Not the itchy-dust kind of dusty, but the kind of dusty where one feels like they are in a desert, in the presence of miles and miles of sand. With the hot, burning sun on their back. That’s the kind of dusty I felt when I was reading this. The genuine, realistic kind of dusty. Does that make sense? I hope so.

This is a story following the journey of Jonah and his younger brother, Simon. The boys are on their own and had run away from a home they are no longer wanted in. After only a bit of time into their journey they find a car with a man and a beautiful girl driving inside. They are invited to ride with them. And thus began the two brother’s long, hard journey.

Andrew Smith seemed to put his whole heart and soul into writing this story. As I read this book I couldn’t help but marvel the obvious effort the author put into every page of In the Path of Falling Objects. It really shows. The story radiates excellence, rawness, and power.

The characters in In The Path of Falling Objects are very well rendered. I thought that I could feel them at times. It was as if they had their own heartbeats. I could feel the insanity and evil that Mitch contained. I could feel Simon’s anger and his strength. I could feel Jonah’s love for his brother, his determination, and his need to protect Simon. I could feel Lilly’s desperation. I could feel everything about these characters. They were powerful, tangible.

Smith’s prose gets the job done well and I really don’t have anything to complain about it. He writes the point of view of a male character realistically and Jonah never sounded feminine. I really wouldn’t expect Jonah to sound femimine since Andrew Smith is a dude, but I thought I needed to compliment him on writing a good male POV.

The sandy atmosphere is also crafted wonderfully well. I could vividly imagine the sand beneath my feet, finding its way between my toes. I could also vividly imagine the thirst that the dryness of the desert would cause and had to get up and grab a cup of water a couple of times. If that doesn’t convince you that the atmosphere is good then I don’t know what will.

I will also applaud Smith for writing one of the best sibling relationships I have ever read in a YA novel. Jonah and Simon’s sibling relationship isn’t laid back and happy. It is actually filled with angry looks, irritation, punches, and arguments. But these two brothers love each other and when they need to show it they do. They had each other’s backs.

I feel that I should warn readers that this book is considerably violent. There is  a lot of death. There will be flying bullets, bloody bullet-holes, and the occasion metallic flash of a knife. If you can’t handle the thought of that than I really can’t recommend this to you as much as I would want to.

Trigger pulling. Those two words could describe this book perfectly now that I think about it…

I adore In the Path of Falling Objects. It was dusty. Sometimes it felt so dusty that I had to take a break from it every ounce in a while, but that shouldn’t keep you away from this book. This is a great thriller and one of my favorite books that I will definitely keep on my shelf and treasure. I haven’t read any of Smith’s other novels but if the others are as good as this one than I think I might have found a new favorite author. I am now eagerly looking out for Stick which is by him.

The Three Loves Of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds: review

The Three Loves of PersimmonThe Three Loves Of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult/Middle Grade/Childrens

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fable, Magical Realism, Romance

Publisher: Penguin Books

Release Date: August 25th 2010

Synopsis: Persimmon Polidori is a fine young lady, but within her is a rebel. She must follow her heart’s desire, even if it means her family will reject her for the choices she makes. These choices bring her adventure and a world she never knew existed – they also bring her loneliness…

Along the way, Persimmon undergoes the trials of love, heartbreak, doubt and the discovery of her own true value.

And she does it with the aid of a tiny, brave creature named Epiphany.

My Thoughts:

There are some books that one stumbles upon by chance. The Three Loves of Persimmon was one of those books for me. I had no idea this book existed until I saw the title somewhere online. I am so very glad I did. I am pretty darn sure that it is my soul mate of a book.

The Three Loves of Persimmon is a beautiful, lovely fable. The story is romantic, inspiring, and uplifting. I found it to have a magical quality to it. This book made me feels as if there was a shower of bursting stars falling around me. It is also very thought-provoking and gives the opportunity for a whole day of reminiscing and discussing.

All I could say about the story at first was, what a story. This is indeed a story that will stay loved by me for years. It is a story about growth and love and happiness. It is a story with bustling people and trains and talking ornamental cabbages and adventurous mice and heartbreak and strong, quiet florist and lessons. It is an epic story.

The writing was very conversational. I felt as if the third-person narrator was talking to me, and I loved that. Golds had such a way of painting the world with her writing. She seemed to find the beauty and happiness of it and put it into words perfectly. There is also a lot of personifying inanimate objects which was just the bee’s knees (yes, I used that idiom)! When I put down the book I felt like I could hear the silly whispers of the moths flying outside my window.

I loved each of the two leads of this story. I hold them very dear to me. Epiphany is a daring little mouse whose craving for adventure made me want to run to the train station and jump on a train without knowing where it went. Persimmon is a quiet florist whose love for flowers made me want to slowly stroll around in a garden. They are also full of depth, creativity, love, and growth. They discover things about themselves and they grow in this story.

The side characters were also very darling. They added much quality to the story with their colorful personalities. Some of these characters are only present for a couple of pages but they still make a big impact (a certain creature living in a grate, for example).

The lesson this story teaches is very simple: you matter. You are not an extra. You have a purpose. Golds doesn’t try to overwhelm the reader with speeches but rather with sweet, inspiring pieces of dialogue.

“‘I am worthwhile,’ she said to herself earnestly.

“‘I never doubted it,’ said the young man just as earnestly” (92%)

The way the story delivers its message is amazing and never forced, as you can see from the above quote.

The ending of this story made my eyes widen in awe. It is a happy ending but it made me cry. Golds tied up everything neatly and beautifully.

The Three Loves of Persimmon is a beautiful story. A story that I just want to hug in my arms and take with me wherever I go! I would love to travel the world with this story. I would certainly need the lesson it teaches. Remember people: You are worth something. Don’t forget that! Now read this book and then come back so we can have a bookish tea party together.

The Pope’s Stone by Marc Kuhn: review

The Pope's StoneThe Pope’s Stone by Marc Kuhn

LinksAmazon KindleAmazon PaperbackBarnes and Noble

Stand Alone

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Adult/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Synopsis: THE POPE’S STONE is a fascinating historical novel that follows the lives of Nathaniel and Nicholas, descendants of the Barrington family of Virginia. Each young man keeps life-long journals which eventually reveal their parallel lives; lives that are mirrored by similar events and experiences, similar relationships and consequences. The two, however, lived a century apart. The only connections between them are their family heritage, their journals…and the Pope’s Stone.

The Pope’s Stone was a slab of engraved marble given to America in 1854 by Pope Pius IX. It was to be embedded within the walls of the Washington Monument, then under construction in the nation’s capital. John Henry Barrington, a stonemason working at the Monument site, was persuaded to assist a small party of anti-Catholic activists in stealing the Pope’s Stone, smashing it to pieces and tossing them into the Potomac River. The Pope’s Stone was never to be seen again, except for a fragment that John Henry secretly kept for himself. This small piece of the stone passes down through generations of Barringtons, leaving a path of hardship and unexpected tragedy for those who possess it. Coincidence? Bad karma, as Cousin Sarah calls it? Or is it more than that? And, what role does the stone play in the lives of Nathaniel and Nicholas? These are some of the questions you’ll be asking…discover the answers in THE POPE’S STONE.

My Thoughts:

Reading The Pope’s Stone was a big step out of my comfort zone. I rarely read historical fiction. There is no reason why I don’t read historical fiction much. It is just not my type of prefered reading. But when Monica who is one of my bloggy friends recommended this book to me with much ethusiasm I decided that I should just dive head-first into The Pope’s Stone‘s fascinating story.

I don’t regret doing so at all.

With an introduction that starts with a crime that involves a stone it is not at all hard to get interested in the story of The Pope’s Stone. And then there are the two following chapters; one chapter introducing Nathaniel Henry Barrington and the other introducing Nicholas Henry Barrington. The reader soon starts to notice that even though Nathaniel and Nicholas’ lives are separated by a century, their lives are very similar. Every good event, every bad event, and every tragic these two boys both experience. The reader must follow the story and find out what is happening.

As you can see this novel has a great story. Not only was it a great story it was executed well. And it was thought-provoking. I found myself recording all the clues in my head. I wanted to find the clues, piece them together, and solve the mystery. I was flipping the pages with excitement. And to be able to be excited by a story is all one can really ask for when reading a book. The pacing is a bit slow but I thought that it worked really well. In fact, the slowness made me want to read faster.

Kuhn’s prose is nothing short of excellent. It is clear, easy to read and never becomes flowery. The delivering of information was done with finesse and helped me understand the story better. The only problem I had with the writing was the constant switching of POVs. It made my head down at first, however, I did get used to it later on.

Both the main characters and the minor characters were easy to get attached to. Nicholas and Nathaniel were such friendly and polite people. They were also very tragic characters. I just wanted to jump in the story and whisper a hint to them and then discreetly pop back into the real world. I just wanted the two boys to be safe. We don’t always get what we want though. Kuhn puts his characters through a lot. *sniffles*

I am not by any means a knowledgeable person but the information that Kuhn presented in his novel seemed accurate and real. He is also able to insert the information in the story in such a way that I was able to quickly understand. Fun fact: the Pope’s Stone is real–well, in the past anyways. Still an interesting piece of information to know.

The ending broke my heart and made me tear up a bit. It was haunting because of its promise that nothing was over and that things will still continue. It was an open ending and that might be why I didn’t feel satisfied with it. Even thought the ending was heartbreaking it was stilled flawed. There is a lot questions that go unanswered and it kind if irked me.

The Pope’s Stone does have its flaws but overall it is a compelling mystery that will make a person think. The slow pacing might not be for everyone but I would definitely recommend this book to history and mystery lovers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I am grateful that I got the chance to read it.

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided in return for a honest review.

Giveaway

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The Pope’s Stone Tour Schedule (March 8-19)

March 8 – Impressions of a Princess

March 10 – YA Big BOOKworm

March 11- Book Adoration <—Me!

March 12 – For the Love of Books

March 13 – Nazninazeez

March 14 – Amidst Books

March 15 – Lollipops and Rainbows

March 16 – Emma Snow

March 17 – Prisailurophile Blog

March 18 – Pretty Little Dreamer

March 19 – Edge of Jade

Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald: review

Odette's Secrets Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald

Standalone

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Middle Grade/Childrens

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Release Date: February 26th 2013

Synopsis: For Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris, nowhere is safe. So when Odette Meyer’s father is sent to a Nazi work camp, Odette’s mother takes desperate measures to protect her, sending Odette deep into the French countryside. There, Odette pretends to be a peasant girl, even posing as a Christian–and attending Catholic masses–with other children. But inside, she is burning with secrets, and when the war ends Odette must figure out whether she can resume life in Paris as a Jew, or if she’s lost the connection to her former life forever. Inspired by the life of the real Odette Meyer, this moving free-verse novel is a story of triumph over adversity

My thoughts: Distant. That was what I felt when I first started turning the pages of this novel. I felt distant to Odette. I wasn’t able to emotionally connect with her well. I was able to glide on through those first pages without any effort. But when I got near the middle of Odette’s Secrets I started to feel like I was close to Odette. I felt her pains and struggles. I felt her growth. I felt her hope and love. I silently (and sometimes not so silently) cheered her on.

This is a book that will grip your heart and never cease to let go. The emotion that is shown through the writing that is written in the form of free verse feels undeniably real. Some pieces of the writing resonated so well with me that I had to take a deep breath so I wouldn’t get visibly emotional. Sometimes this didn’t work. 

https://i2.wp.com/media.tumblr.com/ade9ab9d2b34a47e0b6bea5a1a297597/tumblr_inline_mi3uqy7dJq1qz4rgp.gif

Just picture a kindle lying on the ground somewhere and this will be me.

The story follows Odette Meyer, a Jewish girl living in Paris. Life is peaceful until the Nazis start to occupy Paris. Odette’s father is sent to a Nazi work camp, leaving Odette and her mother alone. When the threat becomes too much, Odette’s mother sends her to the countryside to keep her safe. Odette much pretend to be Christian to keep herself safe. This is only the beginning of Odette’s story. After the war ends Odette must now try to reconnect with her past self. Or is that girl gone forever?

Odette’s Secrets was meant to be non-fiction but slowly started turning into a fiction novel when the author started writing. This might have been why this book had a certain rawness to it. I swear-sometimes awhile reading this book I thought I felt a pain in my chest. Based off of the true account of Odette’s life, Odette’s Secrets is a beautiful story that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.

This is the first verse book that I remember reading and it makes me want to read more. The writing was emotional and beautiful. I couldn’t have stopped reading the words if I wanted to.

Despite all the terrible things that happen in this book, the ending is a happy one. Not a ‘happily ever after’ but still a happy one. It left me satisfied and hopeful.

I also took the time to read the author’s note. I really recommend that you do to. Maryann Macdonald tells the story of how this book was created. How she had the idea to write the story, the research she had done, and the time she spent with Odette’s son. It is a really interesting piece of writing.

I highly recommend Odette’s Secrets. It is a great little history lesson and I am glad that a book telling this type of story is being marketed for children.

*An advanced copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: book review

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Standalone

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Philomel Books

Release Date: March 22nd 2011

Synopsis: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Warning: I start to ramble a bit toward the end of this review.

My thoughts: Between Shades of Gray is the story of a Lina, a fifteen year-old girl and her family who had been taken away from their home in Latvia by the Soviets. This is an account of their long, hard journey and fight for survival. Although it is a fictional story Between Shades of Gray is based on the stories of survivors.

This novel tore at my heart and deeply touched me. I am sorry to say that I had no knowledge about this part of history until after I read this book. This disturbs me a bit. Whenever I thought about this time period the Holocaust immediately comes to mind but never this. I am glad that I was able to learn about this very much unknown event from this book.

Ruta Sepetys is able to write about this horrible event in history with absolute clarity. Always picking the right words to tell the story, Sepetys creates a story the perfectly depicts the hardship, fear, and cruelty the Lithuanians had to go through but also shows the hope, faith, and bonds that they had.

What I really loved about this book was the power of some of the smallest events, things, or people-a conversation that Lina had with the bald man who showed who he really was, the girl with the dolly whose presence somehow haunted me, the man who was always winding up his watch, a sad conversation between Kretzsky and Lina, and the Dickens book and the notes that Andrius had written in it for Lina to find, and the time Lina learned the meaning of the beautiful word Krasivaya.

This book isn’t just about Lina and her family. It tells the stories of all the people Lina meets awhile on her journey. Their emotions, pain, and struggles were painful to read about. Sepetys even takes the time to make the reader sympathise for one of the enemies.

I would say that my favorite characters were Kretzsky, Andrius, Elena, and the girl with the dolly, Janina. Kretzsky was a tragic character and after learning more about him I couldn’t bring myself to hate him. He really redeems himself by the end of the book by helping out the Lina and the others and giving them the hope that they were about to lose. Andrius is a boy that creates a strong bond with Lina. They gave each other a lot of hope and even some moments of joy. Elena is the mother of Lina and Jonas. The sacrifices that she made throughout the book were heartbreaking. She cared for nearly everybody she met and loved Lina and Jonas sincerely and deeply. Elena is a truly admirable character. I found Janina to be a absolutely haunting to character. I haven’t stopped thinking about her even after finishing the book. There is just something so memorable about her.


The book ends on a odd but strangely uplifting note. I loved the beauty of it. I rarely ever read the author’s note whenever I finish books but for this one I decided that I should. I am glad I did. It tells the reason Ruta Sepetys decided to write Between Shades of Gray and gives us some more information on the terrible event that this book tells us about.

Between Shades of Gray is a raw, beautiful, and sad book to read. Some parts made tears come to my eyes and other parts made my heart soar. This book really struck a chord with me and I will never forget it.

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky: review

The Time-Traveling FashionistaThe Time- Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Series: The Time-Traveling Fashionista #1

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Genre:  MG Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Poppy

SynopsisWhat if a beautiful vintage dress could take you back in time?
Louise Lambert has always dreamed of movie starlets and exquisite gowns and longs for the day when she can fill the closet of her normal suburban home with stylish treasures. But when she receives a mysterious invitation to a vintage fashion sale in the mail, her once painfully average life is magically transformed into a time-travel adventure.
Suddenly onboard a luxurious cruise ship a hundred years ago, Louise relishes the glamorous life of this opulent era and slips into a life of secrets, drama, and decadence. . . .

My thoughts: When I saw the cover of this book I was in awe. Look at it! That cover is gorgeous! I flipped around the pages a bit and found out that this book also has a lot of pretty illustrations of dresses and some other things scattered throughout the book. I grabbed it off the shelf of the library and checked it out. I was a little disappointed though.

The characters fell a little flat for me. I had little to no emotional investment in the characters of this book. I thought that Louise would be a likeable and unique character. She loves vintage fashion, she is a young girl, and she time travels! You would think you would like her as a main character. I didn’t hate her but I didn’t like her either. She seemed to just go through the motions of a likeable character but I didn’t find much personality to her. The side characters were even more flat then the main character. I did like Anna though.

The idea was amazing! A book about a time-traveling fashionista seems pretty fun. I was bored out of mind though at the beginning. There is no real time traveling until about seven chapters in and even then I was a little bored. All we got to read about for one hundred pages was Louise trying on dresses and looking around the ship. I would have enjoyed that if the characters were quirky and fun but they were not so I was bored most of the time. I was very excited when the actual conflict was introduced. I thought that something exciting would happen. It was a bit exciting but not so exciting that I couldn’t put down the book. I thought that Louise showed more personality in the second half though and I did start to like her a little.

The writing was pretty good and with the illustrations it seemed even better. The descriptions of the clothing was not to descriptive and the pictures that accompanied the descriptions gave me an image in my head of all the characters.

The reason I give this book 3 stars instead of just 2.5 stars is because I did enjoy it at some moments and I loved the illustrations. The book simply does not deserve a low rating of 2 stars. Although this book is labeled young-adult I thought that it would be enjoyed more by lovers of the middle grade genre.

The Diviners by Libba Bray: review

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)Title: The Diviners

Author: Libba Bray

Series: The Diviners #1

Genre: YA Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy, Horror

Publisher: Little, Brown Books

Publish Date: September 18, 2012

Synopsis: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”
 When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

I loved this book so much!

After reading The Diviners I had only one thought: I need the next book. Now. The Diviners is a story full of creepiness, awesome characters, and beautiful writing. This book enraptured me immediately. I am certain that The Diviners is a book that will keep you reading until the last word.

Evie O’Neill is a very unique character. She craves attention and will do almost anything to be in the spotlight. She can be selfish at times but she does care greatly for the people she loves. Evie was a very…loud character. Not only is she a flapper that craves attention and the spotlight but she is also a very strong character.  She is not a character you will forget anytime soon with the loudness of her personality. Mabel’s quiet and obedient personality contrasts greatly to Evie’s personality. Mabel does not play a terribly big part of the story but I loved her all the same. She was a very real character to me. Jericho and Sam are Evie’s love interest. Yes, this book has a love triangle but it was done so well that I did not mind it at all. It never got in the way of the story and I did find myself enjoying the love triangle to an extent. Jericho and Sam are both likeable male characters. Sam was especially entertaining as he flirted with Evie in very silly ways. Sam also has his own little story: he is trying to find his mother. I hope his story plays a bigger part in the next books. Jericho I do not love as much as Sam but he was a very good character nevertheless. I sympathized with him a lot and he was a gentleman. Memphis and Theta who are also Diviners did not play a big part in this book but I have a feeling we will be spending more time with them in the later installments. Naughty John is probably the most scary character I have ever read in a YA book. At first I thought he was funny because of his name but after learning about him I started to fear him. A lot. Whenever Naughty John’s name was mentioned in the book my heart started pounding.

Diviners are people with a special gift such as reading someone’s past by touching an object they own, being able to get people to not notice you, and healing people with the touch of you hands. The idea of a special group of people is not the most original idea but the mystery Bray was able to put behind the Diviners and their powers kept me reading all way to the end. I was totally engrossed in the mystery of the murders, Naughty John, and the Diviners. One very minor flaw this book has is that I thought that the ending dragged on a little too much. The resolution just went on and on and one. I started to get a little bit bored.

The writing was magnificent! Libba Bray wrote about old-time New York with such detail! I imagined myself walking about the streets with Evie and Mabel having a grand old-time. You could tell Bray spent a lot of time on research. The descriptions on the surroundings were beautiful and clear. The way the author was able to write about a character’s emotions made them seem even more real. Bray’s writing is certainly something to admire!

The Diviners is a awesome and beautiful book. The characters, writing, and story are exquisite and endearing. Reading this book is not something to pass up.

I give The Diviners 4.5 out of 5 Stars