Review: My Name is Victoria

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Title: My Name is Victoria
Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

By turns thrilling, dramatic, and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.

Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Her father is Sir John Conroy, confidant and financial advisor to Victoria’s mother, and he has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess that he calls the Kensington System. It governs Princess Victoria’s behavior and keeps her locked away from the world. Sir John says it’s for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it’s to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the willful and passionate princess, Miss V has a decision to make: continue in silence or speak out. In an engaging, immersive tale, Lucy Worsley spins one of England’s best-known periods into a fresh and surprising story that will delight both young readers of historical fiction and fans of the television show featuring Victoria.

Review:

When I was in London last year, I found this book in the bookstore. I love Queen Victoria, so I was intrigued by this book. Then, when I found out it was being published in North America, I was so excited to get a review copy!

This book was great. I could imagine so many of the places described. Kensington Palace was my favourite attraction in London. I especially loved the room that had a plaque that marked the birth of Princess Victoria in that room! They also went to Windsor castle in this story, which has been all over the news because of Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

Victoria is such an interesting character in this story. She doesn’t fit the image of Queen Victoria at all. I have read other books about her, and as Queen she was fantastic. She wanted to help her people. But in this story, she often behaved like a spoiled little girl. This kept me reading because I was curious to see how she would grow as a character.

There were some twists through the story, especially pertaining to the relationships between characters. I always find that I am googling things when I read historical fiction to see what is real and what is fiction. I had to look up some facts, but I could tell that there was some liberty taken with the story. One thing that I didn’t realize was that Sir John had a wife and family. He has been in other stories I’ve read, but they didn’t focus on his family outside of Kensington, unlike this one which was narrated by his daughter.

I loved this book! Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Soulstruck

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Title: Soulstruck
Author: Natasha Sinel
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Source: hardcopy from book distributor (Thomas Allen and Son)
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Ferguson is trying to get struck by lightning. Hopefully it will lead to finding her soul mate, like it did for her mother. And then maybe her mom will be as devoted to her as she is to her lightning strike survivors group.

When Rachel discovers a journal written by her mother’s soul mate – the man she thought was her father – she begins to question everything she’s always believed, including soul mates, fate, and even her mother. No longer sure of its power, she decides to quit chasing lightning.

Rachel feels abandoned and alone. Her best friend has ditched her, her boyfriend has dumped her, and a confrontation with her mom only made things worse. At least she still has her friend Jay. In fact, their growing attraction to each other seems to be the only good thing happening.

But when her relationship with Jay starts to unravel, too, the impulse to get struck by lightning resurfaces.

And there’s a thunderstorm coming.

Set in a small Cape Cod beach town in the off-season, Soulstruck is about the search for love and the risk of losing it while waiting for destiny to happen.

Review:

Before reading this book, I had no idea what an impact getting struck by lightning has on a person. Of course, I know it could kill a person, but I didn’t realize that it causes lifelong health problems and that you need to constantly get checked for symptoms for the rest of your life. There are even support groups like the one in this book, which I had never thought about before. I learned a lot in this book.

I loved Rachel. She was very real. She had ups and downs, like a real person. I could feel her pain, both when dealing with her mom and her boyfriends. I even had tears in my eyes at the end. It was emotional but powerful.

I liked how not all of the information was given right at the beginning of the book. It takes a while to learn about Rachel’s past, including what her injury was that caused the scars on her legs. Since this information was held back, it made me want to keep reading.

One thing that was a little confusing was that the first few chapters alternated between the present and the past, during Rachel’s relationship with Reed. It would have been helpful if there was a signal at the beginning of the chapters to show that it was flashing back in time or returning to the present. Once the flashbacks caught up to the present, it continues in the present, so that was only for a few chapters at the beginning.

I loved this book! I’ll be recommending it for a while. Have you read it? What did you think?

Review: Tell Me No Lies

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Title: Tell Me No Lies
Author: Adele Griffin
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: paperback copy from book distributor (Thomas Allen and Son)
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A riveting novel about secrecy, complicated friendships, and heartbreak, set against the iconic backdrop of the late 1980s.

Lizzy Swift is a senior in high school, emerging from her nerd chrysalis to become a social butterfly. She starts dating popular Matt Ashley, whom she’s been pining for since freshman year. She’s delighted when rebellious new girl Claire Reynolds introduces her to Center City Philadelphia—clubs, street life, and the eye-opening art scene. As Lizzy begins to question her own long-held dreams, the changes in her life mirror the upheaval of a decade marked by a drug epidemic and the AIDS crisis. She’s no longer sure of her Ivy League ambition. While she has a special connection with Matt, something’s missing. And Claire carries around a mysterious sadness and talks about a breakup so bad she changed schools—but she won’t tell the whole story. Lizzy wants Claire to confide in her, even as she keeps her own embarrassing secrets.

Before too long, the heady thrill of her new life starts to crumble under insecurities and deceptions.  When the truth emerges from the wreckage, will it be too late for Lizzy, Claire, and Matt to save their love and friendships?

Tell Me No Lies, a companion to the acclaimed Be True to Me, is a novel of unflinching emotional honesty about secrecy, lies, love, and identity.

Review:

This is a great story about the struggles of growing up.

Everyone in this story has secrets. Some are more obvious than others, but they all lie about them. They don’t want to have difficult conversations, so they lie about their problems, but that just makes them worse.

Lizzy’s secret was that she is an epileptic. She didn’t like to talk about it and never said the word epilepsy, but the girls at school knew about it because she had had a seizure at school years ago. The other characters’ secrets were harder to figure out, and I was wrong in my predictions. I was suspicious of Claire and Matt, probably because they were hiding things, but my guesses of what their secrets were was wrong.

One thing that threw me off in this story was that it was set in 1988/1989. I read online that it was set in ’89, but I forgot until I got to a part in the book about using a pay phone! I think it should have been stated right at the beginning to avoid any confusion (I thought Claire was just being retro when she listened to cassette tapes). However, this may be different in the finished book, since I was reading an ARC.

Though this book is set nearly 20 years ago, the issues they face, especially in regards to mental health and identity, are still very relevant today.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Save the Date

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Title: Save the Date
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

Review:

I loved this book so much!

The writing was amazing. I loved the way that the scenes with lots of characters were written. It was as if I was right there. Some scenes had the whole family, plus an outsider like a taxi driver or a wedding planner. The main characters would be discussing something and someone else would chime in with a comment, but the family would continue speaking without missing a beat in the scene. Multiple conversations could be going on at once. It was like a real family conversation.

I also loved the way that the comic strip was part of the family too. It was a lot like the comic strip For Better or For Worse, where the family grew up as the comic progressed. In this story, their mother created the comic called Grant Central Station, based on the Grant family. But this caused many problems when she reflected their lives too closely.

The wedding chaos was crazy, but still realistic. I can imagine these problems happening (hopefully not at one single wedding) and most of them stemmed from the problems with the wedding planner. This story really kept me on the edge of my seat, and made me laugh out loud many times!

This was my first Morgan Matson book, but it won’t be my last!

Have you read this book or any other Morgan Matson books?  What did you think?

Review: Blood Will Out

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Title: Blood Will Out
Author: Jo Treggiari
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

Review:

I liked this thriller!

This book had me on the edge of my seat. There were some gruesome scenes that were hard to read, but they fit in with the story. There were some particularly disturbing scenes about animal abuse. However, these scenes characterized the kidnapper.

At first, I thought I had figured out who had taken her. Then, halfway through the story, I discovered I was wrong. I was pretty surprised at the ending. I wish it had been a more obvious person who was the kidnapper.

I was surprised to see so many negative reviews for this book, because I enjoyed it. I like when a thriller is unpredictable and has a unique storyline. Often thrillers, especially YA thrillers, can follow similar plots, but I enjoyed this different story.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Kindred Spirits

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Title: Kindred Spirits
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Short Story, Young Adult
Publisher: Macmillan Childrens Books
Source: Purchased
Release Date: February 25, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

‘Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.’
‘Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?’
‘Maybe.’

If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does.

What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & ParkFangirl and Carry OnKindred Spirits has been specially produced for World Book Day.

Review:

This is a great short story about a Star Wars fangirl.

I don’t think I could ever camp outside for a movie like Elena does in this story. The irony is that they didn’t even need to camp outside since they had already bought their tickets online. But Elena, Troy, and Gabe did it for the ultimate fan experience.

I liked that they talked about different kinds of fans. Can you only be a real fan if you’ve seen all the movies? Or can you be a super fan when you’ve missed the prequels? I think if you love any kind of fandom, you’re a valid fan!

I loved this story! It had a great ending.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

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Title: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Source: Purchased
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Review:

This book is another amazing story from Leigh Bardugo!

Leigh’s writing is amazing. I felt immersed in the world immediately. And the story started right away. Kaz was in the middle of a heist when the story began. The end of the book returned to that first mission, so the story came right back around.

I love that the stories are complex. When things went wrong in Six of Crows, it seemed like a mistake, but Kaz had planned it. When I read these stories, I can’t imagine the planning Kaz would have had to make. And in reality, I can’t imagine how Leigh writes these complicated stories. I just love them!

Have you read Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom? What did you think of them?