This book is the perfect “happy medium” choice for young adult historical fiction. If you don’t like mushy historical fiction romances like “The Queen’s Lady”, but don’t want something quite as grimly intense as J. Anderson Coats’ “The Wicked and the Just”... well, then, “Gilt” by Katherine Longshore is the book for you.
Gilt is full of gorgeous scenery, fancy dresses, passion, lies, betrayal and blooooooood. How can there not be blood when Henry VIII’s around? The book opens with Kitty and Cat, best friends, exploring the guardian’s rooms and trying on her things. The duchess has taken in many of the extended family’s unwanted daughters (most distant relations) and uses them as servants until she eventually marries them off. Throughout the story, we see Kitty grow from a quiet girl who would do anything for her friend Cat into a young woman who finally sees the world around her for what it really is. It just takes her awhile and we, as readers, are along for the ride and once she gets drawn into Henry’s court, we hold our breaths seeing if Kitty and her friends will survive the intrigue and deceit of courtly life.
Ms. Longshore’s writing is superb. It flows quickly and while she describes the court, castles, etc, it doesn’t get bogged down with description. It’s still a book you can devour, which says a lot for Ms. Longshore’s ability to write a tight, well-paced plot. That is no easy feat in a 398 page piece of historical fiction! There is some romance, but it is a device for Kitty’s self discovery and the intrigue at court. As her friend Cat says, there is no room for love in the court of Henry VIII. So those of you who are squeamish about mushy gushy romance will be safe reading this book.
Ms. Longshore’s “Gilt” is a well paced and exciting read that could open the door to readers who are hesitant about trying historical fiction. Henry the VIII’s court is not a safe place. Read “Gilt” and see if you can finish without losing your head! ;o)
I received an ARC of “Gilt” from the publisher, Viking Juvenile (Penguin). Ms. Longshore will be joining us on the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast in the month of May. If you have any questions you’d like to ask her, please let me know!
Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Happy Historical Fiction Week!
I wasn't kidding when I mentioned that in my review of "The Wicked and the Just". It's official. I just love historical fiction. I like to imagine that these books are my very own Tardis. Who doesn't want to be a Time Lord?
Today, I want to open up the discussion to all of you. What piece of middle grade or young adult historical fiction really made an impact on your life? For me, it was Karen Cushman's "Catherine Called Birdy".
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book, it's the diary of a girl from the 13th century who feels traps. She would rather be "crusading, swinging my sword at heathens and sleeping under starry skies on the other end of the world" rather than fishing for a husband and learning lady like things. Catherine's story gives you a taste of a young girl's life and the troubles girls faced at such a young age. She's a strong willed girl whose interests and ambition are ahead of her time.
The author, Karen Cushman, is also an incredibly sweet and humble woman, despite the many honors she's won for her incredible books! I was lucky enough to meet her at KidLitCon last September and am looking forward to interviewing her for the podcast later this year.
So tell me, what book triggered your love of historical fiction? I want to know!
Monday, April 23, 2012
Alright, folks. In the name of the moon... errr, I mean in the name of awesome books everywhere, I declare this week on “Never Gonna Grow Up! Reviews” to be YA HISTORICAL FICTION WEEK. Dun duh duh duuuuuun.
To kick off this week of fabulous locales, dangerous intrigue, and bloody deaths, we have J. Anderson Coats’ debut novel, “The Wicked and the Just”. I absolutely love this book. It’s a book I would definitely recommend any historical fiction addict add to the top of their list. J. Anderson Coats obviously did her research. The story takes place in Wales, shortly after the English taken over and are occupying the land. They have taken everything from the Welsh people and yet are taxing them literally to death. She tells the story from two strong-willed women’s perspectives. (Yay strong willed women!) On one hand, we have Cecily, who was uprooted from her English noble woman’s life and moved to occupied Wales by her father, who will help the English keep the “savage” Welshman in check. On the other hand, we have Gwenhwyfar, her servant, who once dreamed of being a lady herself until the English came in and took everything from her and her people, including the life of her father. Now, she and her brother must do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means waiting on a bratty English girl who makes life a living hell. While they both struggle with surviving in their own ways, tensions continue to mount not only between the girls, but the country as a whole. And let me warn you now, it gets messy.
My horrendous summary does not even begin to do this book justice. It’s subtle and beautifully written. It really feels like a slice of the life from this period in time. You can really feel the tension crackling in the air and it never gets bogged down with too much exposition. Ms. Coats’ explanations of unfamiliar terms are simple and feel naturally placed within the story. While it’s a bit intense to read all in one sitting, I still burned through it at a rapid pace. I just had to find out what happened! Both girls burn with unbridled passion that ends up fueling a very complex relationship between them. If they had a status on Facebook for their platonic relationship, it’d definitely say “It’s complicated.”
Seriously, if you like historical fiction, this book is an absolute MUST READ. And if you don’t? Well give it a try anyways. It’s good to try something new every once in awhile and I have a feeling that this is a book you’re going to hear people talking about for quite some time. :)
Want to hear J. Anderson Coats talk about her book? Well then, head on over to Authors are ROCKSTARS! to check out her podcast interview.
I received a digital ARC of "The Wicked and the Just" via NetGalley.com. It came out this month from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Go and purchase your own copy now!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
WARNING: This review is spoilery. Do not read if you don’t want to know.
I usually take some time to digest a book before writing a review, but I can’t do that with this one. I just finished listening to this audiobook. My eyes are all puffy and red from crying.
“If I Stay” is the story of a girl who goes out on a morning drive with her family and then wakes up to find herself outside her body after being in a major car accident. The book bounces back between the present and memories of her past. My description makes it sound rather cheesy, but it isn’t. It’s so beautiful that it’s heartbreaking and if that wasn’t enough, then it does actually go and break your heart!
I think it’s an emotional book for everyone who reads/listens to it due to Ms. Forman’s gorgeous writing, but it made me fall apart. I know what it feels like to lose both your parents. Sure, it wasn’t due to a car accident like Mia, but I lost them both within 2 years and with my mom, it was completely unexpected. I about lost it while I was listening when Mia goes through realizing what life will be like without her parents. Oh my gosh, I’m about ready to lose it now typing this review. It is so well written that even if you haven’t experienced loss... you will know it after getting to know Mia. You will feel her pain and the weight of the decision that rests before her - should she stay or should she go?
This has to be the most sappy and depressing review I have ever written. However, I hope you can take from it that this book is a masterpiece, full of emotion so strong that it brings a grown woman to tears just thinking about it. If you like emotional books, this one is definitely for you. And if not? Listen to it or read it anyways. The narrator, Kirsten Potter, while having an overly mature voice (lovely, just not a teen!) for the role, does such an amazing job narrating this book. She becomes Mia and does such a wonderful job that you won’t care that she doesn’t sound like a teen. Between her talent and emotional commitment to the role and the gorgeous prose of Ms. Forman, there should be no doubt that this audiobook is top notch and worth a listen.
Do you have a question for the author Gayle Forman? Authors are ROCKSTARS! will be interviewing her along with Nina Lacour and Stephanie Perkins at their Huntington Beach "YA or Bust!" tour stop on Tuesday April 24th. We also will be moderating their panel so be sure to stop by and say hello.
I purchased “If I Stay” via Audible.com. It is published by Penguin. The sequel “Where She Went” is also available.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Okay, so I'll be honest. This book is not really E's Pick of the Week. It's Mommy's Pick though. E loves looking through it and we read it while we're doing looong sits on the potty. However, it definitely is for a more mature audience. You know, 5 year olds. ;o)
It's a cute story about a misunderstanding between one very proper young man named Elliot and his father. He asks his father if he can take home a penguin from the aquarium. His father believes he means the plush version. Silliness ensues. While the writing is fantastic, the illustrations are what really drew me in. They are black & white with only hints of color. They are simply stunning and really express the humor of Ms Buzzeo's adorkable (yes, adorkable) story.
"One Cool Friend" would be perfect for the more patient toddler (potty time makes for a captive audience!), but would be best for the late preschool-K age group. It was just published this year by Dial (Penguin).
Friday, April 13, 2012
Eve Edwards is a historical fiction genius.
That’s my entire review.
Okay. I’ll write more. As you all know, I read a lot of dystopian. I like and heck, it’s mega popular these days so why not strike while the iron’s hot and get my fill of awesome, messed up worlds right? Well, after reading... about 6 dystopians in a row, even *I* get it a little exhausted. That’s when I return to books like Eve Edwards’ wonderful historical fiction series, The Lacey Chronicles. It is charming, sweet, and interesting without being pure fluff. I just love her books. She writes super solid historical fiction that is approachable and easy to read, even for those who aren’t usually fans! Oh and never fear! If you did not read the first book (my review), you’ll be A-OK. This book is a sequel, but I think it can totally stand alone. We meet our heroine in the last book, but we don’t get to really know her until “The Queen’s Lady”.
The story this time around is Lady Jane’s, the fiance and friend of our leads from the previous book, and James, the brother of her former fiance. After dramatically spurning our hero from the last book in order to save them both from an unhappy marriage, Jane takes up service to the Queen to avoid her horrible family. Unfortunately, not even being in service to the Queen can prevent her selfish family from getting her entangled in an awful situation. Will the man she loves, who is battling demons of his own, be able to save her?
Lovelovelove. This book is full of everything I need to make me feel good after a long day - action, adventure, pretty dresses, romance, and lovable, real characters. Seriously, I cannot rave enough about Ms. Edwards’ books! Anyone who loves a wonderful romantic tale, set it a beautiful time in history full of luxurious gowns, dangerous politics and secrets of the heart. I could go on and on, but why spend any more time waiting? Go.. now! Order a copy of this book for yourself and be transported back to Elizabethan England.
I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher (Random House) via Netgalley.com. It was released on April 10th, so go! Get a copy today. You can visit my review of the first book, "The Other Countess", by clicking here.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
So sorry I've been quiet. So many books to review, so little time! My voice over work has been insane lately as has the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast. We have a ton of interviews in the pipes being edited as ...we type? Super excited.
In the mean time, if you guys want to mosey on over to my voice over fan page on FB, I'm giving away a copy of "Persona 4: Arena" once I hit 500 likes! We're halfway there. Spread the word!
A new review will be up on Friday! :) And next week, we should be back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
E's Pick of the Week is "Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site", a charming book for any little boy or girl who is in love with vehicles. I bought this book as a gift for my son's friend Emily and of course, had to get a copy for him too! It's just so cute. After E fell in love with Tom Lichtenheld's illustrations in "Cloudette", I knew he'd love this book. I just gave it to him this morning and he's already made me read it at least 5 times. Ms. Rinker's rhyming words are absolutely precious and will help sooth your little one close to bed time. With the setting sun, all the trucks find themselves winding down and settling in to bed. Plus... it's all about big TRUCKS! How much better does it get?! ;o)
It's funny. As a mom, I notice certain kinds of cars and trucks now that I never paid heed to before I had E. I find myself even calling them out when he ISN'T in the car. The other day, I got very excited over seeing two cement trucks and a Mini Cooper (his favorite kind of car) in a row. I squealed and then sheepishly realized that E was not in the back seat. Hehe! Ever have one of those moments?
This is on the longer side for impatient little ones, but it makes for a great night time routine book with its soothing rhyme, fun subject matter, and adorable illustrations. It's a must have for any young truck lover!
"Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site" is published by Chronicle Books. It is available in hardcover.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Kim Harrington is such a fantastic writer. I feel I must lead with that. I loved “Clarity” (click here for my review) and “Perception” did not disappoint. The plots aren’t blow-your-mind magical or creative, but they are so interesting and Ms. Harrington’s writing is so tight, well paced, and exciting. She doesn’t waste a single word. It’s really incredible. Aspiring writers, her books are a must read. Her plotting/pacing is true perfection.
This book picks up at the start of the school year shortly after the exciting events of the first book, “Clarity”. Our heroine, Clarity, is now famous after everything that went down in the last book. Instead of being a “freak” due to her psychic ability (she can read objects), she’s now been adopted by the popular clique as their new toy. Not all of the popular clique is happy about it though and continue to make her life unpleasant. She’d be more than happy to going back to the way things were, living life as a wallflower. That’s not an option for Clarity now. She soon draws the attention of someone whose admiration has gone from slightly creepy to downright frightening. Is it Justin, her ex-boyfriend who heroically saved her life? Or is it Gabriel, the hottie who has conflicted feelings about psychics, but who grew into a friend with potential for so much more in the last book? Well, read the book you silly kiddos. My lips are sealed.
Kim Harrington has twice now written books that have completely consumed my attention. I think “Clarity” and “Perception” would even appeal to the reluctant teen reader. They are books that are not to be missed, especially if you’re a fan of mysteries. These quick, well written books will blow you away. I really cannot get over how incredibly well paced and concise Ms. Harrington’s writing is. Fabulous job, Ms. Harrington. Simply fabulous!
I am giving away a couple signed book plates that Ms. Harrington sent me when I purchased a copy of “Clarity” in a charity auction. Just post a comment here and let me know what psychic power you’d want to have. The winner will be chosen on April 9th!
I was provided with an ARC by the publisher, Scholastic. “Perception” was released in February of this year.