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Unstoppable: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Hello!

Is there an author who, in your opinion, can do no wrong? That author whose books you always enjoy. Ally Carter is this author for me. Everything she writes is awesome — her Gallagher Girls series is one of my favorites and Heist Society is really fun too. I was really excited to hear about Embassy Row, her newest series, and had high expectations, so I read All Fall Down, the first book in the Embassy Row series and as I mentioned before Ally Carter didn’t let me down! She is unstoppable!

Overview

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:All Fall Down by Ally Carter

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her–so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door who is keeping an eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands. Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace–no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . .  and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world all stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

My Thoughts

I had high expectations for All Fall Down, I was also nervous that I’d be disappointed because it wasn’t a Gallagher Girls novel, which are still some of my favorite books ever. As I started listening to the audiobook I was quickly rewarded with an interesting main character, and a plot full of family secrets and political intrigue, which is exactly what I was hoping for!

That interesting main character is Grace, who is carrying some deep wounds and insecurity. Grace knows her mother is dead, feels alone within her own family and is struggling to feel normal. On top of all that she is dealing with the fact that she is alone in her belief that her mother was murdered. Grace is definitely flawed – she makes some majorly questionable choices and hurts a lot of people while trying to prove she is capable and normal. Isn’t that what makes her interesting though?

One of my favorite things about Ally Carter’s novels is that they’re set in a contemporary time, but are located in a special place that makes the story feel more fantastical.Take the Gallagher Girls series, for example, which is set in today’s United States but takes place in a secret boarding school to train young spies (super cool right?). All Fall Down is similar in that the story happens in today’s world, but it is set in a fictional European country and even more specifically in the very unique setting of the Embassy houses. Because the story takes place in the embassies of many different countries, Grace’s story is placed in the middle of political intrigue and high society events, which makes it that much more captivating! I mean seriously mystery abounds…there are secret underground tunnels! For realz!

I am so relieved and happy that All Fall Down turned out to be a great start to what seems like a fun series! Ally Carter…she will not let you down! Book two, See How They Run, is set to release in January 2016 and I’m so excited I can’t wait!!excited

Have you read All Fall Down —What’d you think? Who, in your opinion, is that unstoppable author that can do no wrong? Please leave your comments below, I love reading them!

Details

Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic Press (January 20, 2015)
Format: Audiobook
Narrated by: Eileen Stevens
Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes
Series: First in a series
YA/MG: YA

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Satisfyingly Fun: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

Hiya!

Moving Sale

Our first yard/moving sale earlier this month.

So, things are getting pretty chaotic around my house! We make our big trans-Atlantic move in less than three weeks and the house is a mess of boxes, not to mention all the stuff we’re selling! Selling most of your things is strange in two ways. First getting rid of it all has mad me understand that yes, it is all just stuff that can be replaced. However, I have also seen myself go all “Gollum” about certain objects! For example, I have these two naked New Kids on the Block dolls (Joe and Donnie for those of you interested) from childhood and Husband gently tried to get me to throw them away. I responded in a very “precious my precious” kind of way and now, needless to say, they are safely inside a box that has been taped up and is going on our shipping pallet.

Somewhere in the midst of all the chaos and NKOTB doll hoarding, however, I managed to find time to read the concluding book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Sisters’ Fate! I had been looking forward to this final installment in the series for so long and I’m glad it was able to be my relaxing read in the midst of the transition and change!

Sisters' Fate by Jessica SpotswoodOverview

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

My Thoughts

I am not specifically drawn to witches when reading but definitely to any storyline where characters have special magical abilities. I can’t help it! I just am a little obsessed with fantasy! Spotswood’s alternate history series mixed with fantasy is one of my favorite because its just a fun read and a good conclusion to the series. Honestly, sometimes I am let down by the concluding book in a series (ahem… we shall not name some of those infamous let downs here), but none of that happened with Sisters’ Fate. This installment picks right up where book two left off—I would have freaked if it hadn’t—which means that there is pretty much a ton of things happening at all times! We have secret meetings, memory erasing, romance, fighting, angry mobs, prison breaks, fires, pestilence…and did I mention romance?! *winky winky*

Interestingly enough Sisters’ Fate doesn’t read like your average final installment. There wasn’t this sense of things being closed down throughout like in most final books in a series. In fact I found myself wondering just how Spotswood would end everything because there was so much going on! I even checked Goodreads to double check that it was, in fact, the last book. This a unique quality for the end of a series because it shows that Spotswood didn’t check out of the storyline early — she instead continued to bring the same action that we found in the first two books and doesn’t begin tying things up until the last quarter of the story. In the end, some relationships were healed and some weren’t. Some loose ends were tied and some were not and I enjoyed that it wasn’t all tied up in a pretty package!

To be fair however, sometimes I did get annoyed with the back and forth bickering between Maura and Cate…and even sometimes Tess. Maybe this is normal for sisters? I don’t know because I don’t have any. It did seem as though a spat between Cate and Maura punctuated every cool action the storyline had for us and at times I felt like some of the arguing could have been reduced, but it does all play a roll wrapping the story up so I guess I really shouldn’t complain. Either way, the sisterly arguments, while maybe annoying at times, didn’t seriously interfere with my enjoyment of seeing the Cahill sisters’ stories come to conclusion.

Don’t read Sisters’ Fate unless you have read the first two books in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, or else you’ll be utterly and totally confused. But, if you did read and enjoy Born Wicked and Star Cursed than I definitely think you’ll find this to be a satisfying end to a fun trilogy!

Want to win this book? Check back tomorrow morning for my interview with author Jessica Spotswood and a giveaway of Sisters’ Fate!

Details

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher:G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (August 14, 2014)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 368 pages

Series: Third/Final book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles

YA/MG: YA/MG

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Epic Fantasy: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Hi there!

In preparation for little Colin’s entrance into the world I scheduled a few blog posts ahead of time. Today we’ll be taking a look at my thoughts on Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms.

Overview

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reignedFalling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface. As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love. The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct. Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making. Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield. Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword.

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

My Thoughts

I feel like Morgan Rhodes wrote this book (and series) for me. But then again, I feel like most fantasy novels were written for me because I can almost always get completely lost in this genre! Falling Kingdoms has all the characteristics I love in a quality fantasy novel. There is secret magic waiting to be reawakened, political intrigue and murder, action, power struggles, romance, and a cast of intriguing characters. There is no doubt that this series is an epic YA fantasy!

With all of those things happening in one story at once, Falling Kingdoms could have been bulky with too many plot layers, especially when shifting between four main characters in a fantasy world as deeply created as Mytica is . However, I feel like Rhodes has really done a fabulous job with keeping the story accessible and just layered enough to be interesting and exciting without being overwhelming and confusing.

Often times when a book shifts between the different characters in each chapter, I can get confused as to who’s perspective I’m reading or I get bored and want to skip ahead to the more interesting characters. Not so with this book! Each character (Jonas, Cleo, Magnus and Lucia) is fascinating in their own way (although I do have my favorites) and their individual chapters all fit into the story in such a way that makes you feel like you can’t miss anything anyone says or does!

If you’re a fan of high fantasy then you should definitely pick up Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (and the sequels) because I swear it’s so engrossing you won’t want to put it down!

Details

Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Razorbill (December 11, 2012)
Format: Audiobook (Penguin Audio)
Length: 11 hours and 35 minutes
Series: First in the Falling Kingdom series
YA/MG: YA

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When Will I Learn? Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Hello!

Okay, so I’ve been trying to figure out why I haven’t been reviewing books recently. and I came to the conclusion that I was feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the amount of books I had read and not yet written reviews for, but also by the time it takes to write a review.

I decided to try something new. Over the next few weeks you may see reviews pop up with different formats and lengths. I’m trying to figure out what is sustainable for me. I’ve also decided to forget about all of those unwritten book reviews piling up and start fresh. So bear with me!

Leviathan by Scott WesterfeldOverview

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

My Thoughts

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

This was the cover that kept me from this book for so long.

To be fair, I held off on Leviathan for years. I was intrigued by the story, but the cover was killing me slowly every time I saw it at my local library. I know I shouldn’t let that stop me from reading a potentially enjoyable book, but alas, it did. Everything in me revolts at this cover…I think it’s that protruding forehead bone. But I digress…

In need of a new audiobook, I found this one available on my library’s Overdrive account (if you haven’t started using Overdrive you should!) and finally decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did because Leviathan was such an interesting mix of alternate history and steampunk adventure. It reminded me a lot of Kenneth Oppel’s Matt Cruse trilogy, which I loved. The characters are interesting and are found in unique situations (by choice and not) and both are forced to deal with their own prejudices and misconceptions of others.

The steampunk/alternate history setting had me scouring the internet for more information. Of course I know the basics of how World War I began (thank you Social Studies teachers and Jeopardy!) but I had to know more about the details, which I then compared to Westerfeld’s version. Weaving in the Clankers and Darwinists was a brilliant way to illustrate the clash between eastern vs. western ideals that played a part in the start of World War I. Scott Westerfeld, you get mucho points on the world building scene!

Recommended For

Leviathan is not the book for every reader. If you’re already a fan of the steampunk sub-genre, than this one would get your little steam engine going right away. That being said if you haven’t delved into this sub-genre I think Leviathan’s story is strong enough to be a quality introduction. If you enjoy audiobooks, this was the perfect book to listen to and it was narrated by the amazing Alan Cumming. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and am embarrassed by how long it took me to actually read it…when will I learn?!

Details

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 6, 2009)
Format: Audiobook
Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes
Series: First in a series
YA/MG: Both
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Fantasy Fest: The Song of the Lioness (Books 1-3)

Well hello there friends!

If given the choice between a whole array of books of different genres, I’d most likely choose the one that is fantasy. I’m a huge fantasy fan and am always on the lookout for my next fantasy read.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora PierceFor years everyone had been telling me I could not call myself a fantasy fan unless I’d read the Song of the Lioness books by Tamora Pierce. I rolled my eyes and thought, yeah whatever, those old covers are so unappealing. Well, I finally decided to give them a go, so I started with Alanna: The First Adventure and could not believe I’d wasted so many years not having these books in my life! I quickly devoured book one, and did the same with In the Hand of the Goddess and The Woman Who Rides Like a Man!

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And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Piercealso learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.

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If you call your self a fantasy lover and you haven’t yet read this series, you really need to add them to your reading queue. Pierce, a master of fantasy and storytelling, fills these books with magic, romance, intrigue, evil villains, humor, and many mystical happenings (like a talking cat…yes.). As a character, Alanna is a predecessor to Katniss in all of her strengths and weaknesses. She is bold, sassy, stubborn, courageous, determined, kind-hearted, naive, unsure of herself, and smart. Alanna has faults and failings, but is an admirable heroine and I just can’t help but want to read more about her and her adventures.

The world of Tortall only expands as the series continues. At first it seems that Tortall could be any medieval European setting, but as Alanna matures the world building does as well. Pierce begins to give us more of Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Piercethe cultural details of Tortall and we learn more about the gods and goddesses, mysterious sorcerers, desert dwellers and even shamans. Although these books are pretty short reads, Pierce manages to pack them full of so much action and adventure that you don’t actually realize how short the books are until the end.

I haven’t yet gotten my hands on the fourth book in the series, Lioness Rampant. As soon as I do, however, you can bet I’ll rip through it as quickly as I did the first three. So, yes, the Song of the Lioness quartet comes highly recommended by one fantasy lover to all of you other fantasy fans out there!

Author: Tamora Pierce

Publisher: First published 1983, 1984, 1986)

Format: Hardcover

Length: Alanna: The First Adventure, 274 pages

In the Hands of the Goddess, 264 pages

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, 284 pages

Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Books:

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Shadow Cabinet

Hi!

I honestly can’t believe I haven’t posted about The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson, and how much I want it to be released already!!

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The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen JohnsonAt the end of Maureen Johnson’s New York Times bestselling novel, The Madness Underneath, Rory, Callum and Boo are reeling from the sudden and tragic death of their friend and squad leader, Stephen. The Shadow Cabinet picks up where readers left off, and now Rory is convinced there must be a way to bring Stephen back. Meanwhile, new dangers arise: Rory’s classmate Charlotte is missing, and Jane and her nefarious organization are clearly planning something big—with Rory as their most valuable asset. Time is running out as the ghost squad struggles to protect London and Rory fights to bring Stephen back.

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The Shades of London series is one of my favorite unfinished series out there right now! I’m not normally drawn to creepy reads, but these books combine the right amount of creep with humor, history, romance, and suspense. To make it even better, all of this fun stuff is placed smack dab in the middle of a boarding school in LONDON. YES!!!

According to Goodreads, The Shadow Cabinet isn’t scheduled to release until March 2015. So, we have a bit to wait don’t we?!

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Young Elites

Hi!

I hope you’re having a good week so far. If you haven’t made time to read a good book yet, what are you waiting for?! Get on it!

This week for Waiting on Wednesday I’m showcasing The Young Elites by Marie Lu.

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Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness The Young Elites by Marie Luswept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

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My husband and I listened to Lu’s Legend trilogy on audiobook together and really, really liked it. So, because I am always a fan of fantasy, and Marie Lu has a great track record so far, I have high hopes for this new fantasy series! The Young Elites is scheduled to release in October 2014, so I only have a few short months to wait!

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Completely Underwhelmed: Icons by Margaret Stohl

Well hello there!

I hope everyone had a fun-filled Fourth of July!

After celebrating my Husband’s birthday on the 3rd with a shin-dig at our house, we spent the holiday hanging out with friends and basically just relaxing. That’s what summer is made for!

Now, on to more bookish things. Sometimes I disappoint myself. There are way too many awesome books out there for me to stick with one I’m just not that into. Do I follow my own advice though? Nope! I tend to stick it out until the end because I hate putting down a book. Well, recently I stuck with Icons by Margaret Stohl until the bitter end…there very bitter end.

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Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol’s family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn’t know it was fighting. Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside — safe from Icons by Margaret Stohlthe shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can’t avoid. She’s different. She survived. Why?

When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador’s privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn’t a coincidence. It’s a conspiracy.

Within the Icon’s reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions — which they’ve always thought to be their greatest weaknesses — may actually be their greatest strengths.

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The idea behind Icons is kinda cool. One day alien ships visited earth, everyone but a small few died, leaving those behind to fight for humanity. Sounds cool right? Well, I think what we have here is a classic case of poor execution. This interesting premise was not matched with strong writing or characters. As a reader, I just felt completely underwhelmed.

Honestly, it took me a while to figure out that I just wasn’t into this book so when I finally did I felt like I was too far along to quit. The dystopian setting Stohl has created is not bad, especially with the insertion of poems, government documents and letters which give the reader more insight and context for the type of world this story takes place in. But that was pretty much it. I just didn’t care enough that these alien creatures were oppressing humanity at large.

This lack of connection also carried into the characters as well. The characters and their relationships were so flat and predictable that there was nothing that made me like, hate, or relate to them. I just didn’t care and on top of that I really didn’t understand why these characters were doing the things they did. They fight, love, follow, trust and betray each other all too easily. I get the feeling the characters are supposed to group together like the the kids in Captain Planet to save the world “with their powers combined”, but in the end I actually am still not completely sure what exactly the four main characters can do.

It really is a shame because there was a lot of potential in Icons, (and I really liked Beautiful Creatures) but for me, it just fell flat. I’ve read other reviews where the readers absolutely loved it though, so don’t ignore Icons on my account if it sounds like something you’d really enjoy. I just think there are much better dystopian, sci-fi titles out there for you to sink your teeth into.

Author: Margaret Stohl

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 7, 2013)

Format: Audiobook (AudioGO)

Length: 9 hours and 30 minutes

Narrator(s): Therese Plummer

Series: First in the Icons series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:

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Completely Justified: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Welcome back!

I love it when you’ve been excited to read a book for years and when you finally get to that book you were completely justified in your excitement! Well, that’s what happened with The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron.

When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. The Dark Unwinding by Sharon CameronBut instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity. As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.

I don’t know why The Dark Unwinding isn’t talked about more by bloggers (maybe it was when it first came out?) but I think this is one of most underrated books I’ve read. There is just so much that I’m naturally drawn to in a story; romance, historical British setting, and mystery! It’s all here and it’s all combined to create a beautiful atmospheric read. The plot itself is abundantly creepy with it’s abandoned English manor house full of strange waxen models and perplexing house staff, and Catherine’s odd uncle with his strange preferences, but placing the story on an already bizarre historical setting makes it that much more unsettling!

We see Katherine, our narrator, as innocent, honest, yet conflicted and absolutely reminiscent of Catherine Morland in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.  She is sent to Uncle Tully’s estate, Stranwyne Keep, with what seems like a pretty straight forward task, only to be faced with an inexplicable situation; an uncle who clearly has what we now know to be autism, and two entire towns completely dependent on him for their livelihoods. Katherine wants to do what’s right, but feels stuck in an impossible situation and needs the help of other supporting characters. These supporting characters are all so bright and vivid that you begin to fall in love with them just as Katherine does (with one in particular!!).

The story has a slight steampunk edge woven into the real life historical setting. If you haven’t yet heard of the strange history of Welbeck Abbey (Nottinghamshire, England), once you’ve read this book you’ll rush to your laptop to learn more about this weird estate where every room was painted pink!

The Dark Unwinding is the first book in a series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book, A Spark Unseen. Middle grade readers and up who are interested in a light steampunk read will find The Dark Unwinding mesmerizing.

Author: Sharon Cameron

Publisher: Scholastic Press (August 27, 2012)

Format: paperback

Length: 318 pages

Series: First book in The Dark Unwinding series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:

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My Kind of Girl: Jessica Darling’s It List by Megan McCafferty

Happy first Friday of summer!

Today is our last day of the big field trip and we’ll be spending the morning at Animal Kingdom then it’s back on the bus for the six hour ride home!

I’ve always been interested in Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling books, but just hadn’t gotten around to reading them. (I even own the first two books in that series.) Then I discovered that McCafferty had written a prequel set in middle school, Jessica Darling’s It List: The (ToJessica Darling's It List by Megan McCaffertytally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection, so I figured I’d start there!

I hadn’t even gotten to homeroom yet and I’d already discovered five hard truths about junior high:

1. My best friend had turned pretty.
2. She didn’t know it yet.
3. It wouldn’t be long before she did.
4. That knowledge would change everything between us.
5. And there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

It’s the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom? Join Jessica Darling as she learns that being herself beats being popular, pretty & perfect any day.

As a middle school librarian, I adore this cover. It’s bright and inviting. And when it’s sitting on a display shelf you’re eyes are immediately drawn to it. And basically that’s exactly what this book is: a bright and inviting story of a girl, Jessica, beginning her first year of middle school and dealing with the circumstances that come with it.

From the start I completely understood Jessica. She is your normal teenage girl struggling with the changes that come with beginning middle school, desperately wanting to fit in, and uncovering the mystery of the type of person she really is. In all of this “figuring things out” that Jessica is doing she manages to make lots of mistakes (like taking some bad advice), makes some good choices, and somehow keeps her humor and wit the whole time. This is why I like Jessica. She doesn’t wallow in her mistakes, she acknowledges them, seeks change, and soldiers on, all while making sarcastic jokes. My kind of girl!

Being a middle school librarian and a one time middle school girl myself, I think that Jessica’s middle school struggles are so honest and true to life. It’s hard to feel left behind when your friends are having a seemingly smooth transition, and it’s frustrating when you make fax-pas after fax-pas when all you want to do is not stick out like a sore thumb. I remember what it was like for me, I know what it’s like for my students and I think that McCafferty writes it all in a lighthearted way that makes you think and laugh at the absurdity/intensity of it all.

Going into this book without having previously read the other Jessica Darling books (which are more high school geared), I have a lot of questions but I am definitely making a point to take those books off my shelf and read them this summer! I think that any middle school girl, anyone who has a been a middle school girl, or anyone simply who wants to understand middle school girls will find Jessica Darling’s It List a fun, quick, and rewarding read!

Author: Megan McCafferty

Publisher: Poppy (September 3, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 223 pages

Series: First book in the Jessica Darling’s It List series

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: