THE SEASON by Sarah MacLean Book Review
Publication Date: March 1st 2009 by Orchard Books
Rating: – Acceptable |
Book Summary: Seventeen year old Lady Alexandra is strong-willed and sharp-tongued ? in a house full of older brothers and their friends, she had to learn to hold her own. Not the best makings for an aristocratic lady in Regency London. Yet her mother still dreams of marrying Alex off to someone safe, respectable, and wealthy. But between ball gown fittings, dances, and dinner parties, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get herself into what may be her biggest scrape yet.
When the Earl of Blackmoor is mysteriously killed, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. But will Alex’s heart be stolen in the process? In an adventure brimming with espionage, murder, and other clandestine affairs, who could possibly have time to worry about finding a husband? Romance abounds as this year’s season begins!
The Season by Sarah MacLean Book Review Overview:
- Fantastic mix of romance and mystery.
- Great cast of characters – I’d be interested in a sequel or two!
- While this was interesting, I still prefer MacLean’s adult romances; I definitely recommend it to those who love YA historical romances though.
I have such a high expectation when it comes to Sarah MacLean novels just because I am so in love with her adult romances. Of course, I had to tell myself that THE SEASON is young adult and that I cannot give it such high expectations.
THE SEASON by Sarah MacLean still turned out to be a fun read despite the fact that it is not quite as sexy as I expect MacLean novels to be. I love the mix of romance and mystery in THE SEASON. It’s not the most well-crafted mystery – I uncovered the culprit way before the characters – but the mixing of genres made it a more engaging read.
Alex is a fun character to read about. Like any other protagonist during this era, she’s the kind of girl who doesn’t want to live by the ton‘s standards. Alex doesn’t want to get married for the sake of duty and she secretly wants a love match. When she sees her childhood friend Gavin for the first time in months, readers immediately notice the spark between them.
I would not mind it at all if MacLean decides to write a sequel or two (romance genre style, of course) about Vivi and Ella. They made great supporting characters, and I have to admit – I’m really curious as to how they will get their happily ever afters.
At the end of the day, I still prefer MacLean’s adult romances – just because they are a lot steamier. I would still recommend The Season to teens who love historical romances that is more age appropriate. If I had discovered THE SEASON a lot earlier, this probably would have been the book to make me seek out adult romance.
About the Author
Sarah MacLean is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of YA and adult romance.
She grew up in Rhode Island, where she spent much of her free time bemoaning the fact that she was more than a century too late for own Season. Her unabashed addiction to historical fiction helped to earn her a degree in European History from Smith College before she moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. After receiving a Masters in Education from Harvard University, Sarah returned to New York, where she lives with her husband, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels.
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HAZEL by Julie Hearn Book Review
Series: Ivy, #2
Publication Date: November 10th 2009 by Atheneum
Rating: – Poor
Book Summary: Sweet but dull – that’s how life has always been for Hazel Louise Mull-Dare. With money pouring in from the family’s Caribbean sugar plantation, a father who spoils her rotten, and no pressure to excel in anything whatsoever, her future is looking as prim and proper as one of her hats. But on the day of the Epsom Derby – June 4th, 1913 – everything changes. A woman in a dark coat steps out in front of the King’s horse, dying days later from her injuries. Who was she and why did she do it? Hazel is determined to find out. But finding out leads her into worse trouble than she could ever have imagined. It leads to banishment. To secrets that have festered, and a shame that lingers on. To madness and misunderstanding in the place where sugar cane grows. Sweet but dull – that’s how life used to be for Hazel Louise Mull-Dare. Not any more.
Hazel by Julie Hearn Book Review Overview:
- Disjointed plot that felt like reading two separate books
- Lack of suspense
- Unrelatable main character
Sweet and dull is not only how I would describe the protagonist’s life, but also how I would describe the entirety of HAZEL by Julie Hearn. The novel as a whole felt too disjointed – the first and the second halves of HAZEL by Julie Hearn are so different that it felt like two separate books.
HAZEL by Julie Hearn is technically a sequel to Ivy by Julie Hearn. In HAZEL, the protagonist is Ivy’s daughter. HAZEL by Julie Hearn is more like a companion novel than a direct sequel because it can stand alone on its own. The only advantage of reading Ivy beforehand is a better understanding of Hazel’s mother.
Nothing bothers me more than a naive protagonist. I love my characters to be intelligent and independent. They don’t have to be a know-it-all (ahem, Hermione), but I’d like them to have a decent head on her shoulders. Hazel is unfortunately not one of those heroines. Admittedly, she is barely thirteen at the beginning of the novel, and she has very much to learn. She lives a sheltered life and her education as a gentleman’s daughter is pretty limited. Hazel’s naivete causes her to be easily manipulated by others.
My problem with HAZEL by Julie Hearn is also the lack of suspense. Hearn has the habit oftelling readers what is about to happen instead of just letting the reader figure it out themselves. This becomes even more problematic for me, because the things that Hearn tells readers are quite blatantly obvious to begin with.
The build-up of the plot in HAZEL by Julie Hearn is a slow build. Hazel won’t be sailing for the Caribbean until more than halfway through the novel. If historical novels aren’t your thing (and even if they are…) this probably won’t be the book for you if you cannot take a slow plot.
Furthermore, HAZEL by Julie Hearn felt too disjointed. When I was reaching the conclusion of HAZEL by Julie Hearn, it was almost hard for me to believe that the first and second parts of the novel are all from the same book. It was as if there were too separate plots, and it just wasn’t threaded well together seamlessly. HAZEL by Julie Hearn does pick up in the second half of the book with the introduction of the family mystery
Upon further contemplation of the novel, it seems like the most important issue at hand, women’s rights, were simply brushed aside once more. Hazel doesn’t really ever get to learn the importance of women’s votes. Her “fight” for the suffragettes only caused her banishment from her home and humiliation. She still has a limited understanding of what it means for a woman to be able to vote due to the fact that her information came from someone who intended to betray her.
Overall, HAZEL by Julie Hearn was just not the book for me. I would probably only recommend this to those who like historical novels. If historical is definitely not your tea, then give this one a pass.
About the Author
Julie Hearn used to be a journalist. Julie lives in Oxfordshire where she writes full time (most mornings anyway) in a pink and green office in her garden.
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CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein Book Review
Publication Date: May 15th 2012 by Hyperion Books for Children
Rating: – Acceptable |
Book Summary: I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team.
Book Review Overview:
- First half of the story is agonizingly slow
- Story wasn’t engrossing for me until the second half of the story
- Overall, it didn’t live up to my expectations; I wasn’t blown away as I thought I would be
I’ve heard so many great reviews about CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, so when it became available on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. Unfortunately, CODE NAME VERITY didn’t live up to my expectations. The first half dragged on too much for me to enjoy the novel when it finally got going.
CODE NAME VERITY is about a female Scottish spy who is captured by the Germans during World War II. Forced to spill everything she knows about the Allied Forces, she writes down her experiences with her best friend Maddie, a pilot. The first half of the novel is mainly an epistolary novel told from the third-person perspective. The novel really dragged on for me because the protagonist basically talks about herself in the third-person the entire time. Unlike other World War II novels, we are given into a glimpse of history that no one really hears about: female pilots during World War II. It sounds like an interesting concept, but in reality their work really wasn’t that exciting. Because of the fact that they are women, their jobs are kind of boring – which means that the reading is a little dry.
For someone who is a fan of reading the historical genre, it’s saying something when I say that I was a little bit bored by CODE NAME VERITY. I just couldn’t get myself invested with the protagonist enough to care. I think that the protagonist does a better job getting us to like Maddie than herself – which is unfortunate because it is her life on the line. Who cares about a female pilot when it is you being tortured?
But once I got to the second half of CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, I loved how the loose ends of the novel came together. It was only until then that I could not stop reading. There were some details that I didn’t even realize were pivotal to the entire scheme of things and I resisted the urge to thumb through earlier parts of the novel (also, it helped that I was unable to “thumb” through the novel because I read this on my nook). There were so many clues along the way and I only picked up the barest hints. The ending was satisfying, but I still lacked an emotional connection with the characters. The novel overall would have had a bigger impact on me as a reader if I had made a stronger connection with either character.
I would not recommend this book to those who are not fans of historical novels. The first half of CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein will be a struggle to those who do not like to read about the past. But if you are a fan of historical novels, give this one a chance and you might end up enjoying it a lot more than I did.
About the Author
Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over ten years and wrote nearly all her novels there. Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth century Ethiopia. The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as The Lion Hunter (2007) and The Empty Kingdom (2008). The Lion Hunter was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008. Elizabeth also writes short stories.
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