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You are here: Home » Genre: Historical

Diva by Jillian LarkinDIVA by Jillian Larkin Book Review
Series: Flappers, #3
Publication Date: July 10th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary: If you love The Great Gatsby, you’ll want to read the Flappers series.

Joy and tragedy collide in DIVA, the riveting conclusion to the Flappers series, set in the dazzling Roaring Twenties. Parties, bad boys, speakeasies—life in Manhattan has become a woozy blur for Clara Knowles. If Marcus Eastman truly loved her, how could he have fallen for another girl so quickly? Their romance mustn’t have been as magical as Clara thought. And if she has to be unhappy, she’s going to drag everyone else down to the depths of despair right along with her.

Being a Barnard girl is the stuff of Lorraine Dyer’s dreams. Finding out that Marcus is marrying a gold digger who may or may not be named Anastasia? A nightmare. The old Lorraine would have sat by and let the chips fall where they may, but she’s grown up a lot these past few months. She can’t bear to see Marcus lose a chance for true love. But will anyone listen to her?

Now that the charges against her have been dropped, Gloria Carmody is spending the last dizzying days of summer on Long Island, yachting on the sound and palling around with socialites at Forrest Hamilton’s swanky villa. Beneath her smile, though, Gloria’s keeping a secret. One that could have deadly consequences . . .

Book Review Overview:

  • Watch out for an homage to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in one of the storylines!
  • Characters have definitely grown since the first book and I just wanted them all to have a happy ending
  • Not the best conclusion to a series, but I was still satisfied
I continued to enjoy the different perspectives in Diva by Jillian Larkin because I loved seeing how the storylines would intersect. Diva continues through the perspectives of Gloria, Clara, and Lorraine in the 1920’s Prohibition in New York City. I was a little sad at first that Vera was no longer in the picture but it seemed like she already had her happily ever after.
Basically, the theme for this book is redemption. Lorraine wants her friends back, Clara wants Marcus back, and Gloria just wants her life back with Jerome. Jillian Larkin manages to keep me engaged into the different plots with various surprises along the way.
However, Gloria’s subplot to uncover the mystery behind the rich Forrest Hamilton became a little predictable. The Flappers series is pitched for fans of The Great Gatsby, and it became a little too clear by the time I finished the book: Gloria’s subplot mimics the storyline of F. Scott Fitsgerald’s famous novel. If it were any other novel, I probably would have been aghast. But since The Flappers is  a fun series, I looked at it as a nice homage to the author that inspired the books.
For the most part, I read Diva to hope for my happily ever afters. After reading Ingenue, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, so I just had to finish up the series to get my fix of romance.
It was also a treat to travel back to the 1920’s. I think that Jillian Larkin captures the best in her series is the music. I really get a lot of the setting’s mood and atmosphere through the different types of music that we are exposed to as a reader. I actually wished that there was a playlist that I could listen to while I read Diva. It made me crave for jazz and a little bit of showtunes. I also would have loved to hear Gloria sing!
What makes Diva a little different from the other books in the series is that there is a lot less emphasis on the nightlife in the Prohibition era. The characters in the first two novels were so involved in speakeasies and gin joints. But in Diva, there are only mentions of these places. A lot has to do with the fact that the characters have grown since the last book: Gloria has been arrested, Lorraine has finally matured, and Clara has lost her one true love. For the most part, their partying days are behind them.
Instead, Diva focuses on the life of the young and the rich in the 1920’s. Lorraine is a Barnard girl, Clara is a successful writer for a popular magazine, and Gloria is hanging out with the rich in Long Island. It was a nice change of pace, and it prevented Diva from being too similar from Ingenue, the previous book.

Diva is not the best conclusion to a series that I’ve ever read, but it was good enough. I got my fix of romance and history.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars, Uncategorized - , , , , , , , | Words 983 words

You are here: Home » Genre: Historical

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie StanifordTHE BOY ON THE BRIDGE by Natalie Standiford Book Review
Publication Date: July 30th 2013 by Scholastic Press
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations

Book Summary: Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia–a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she’s been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches–when Laura must return to the United States–Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She’s only nineteen and doesn’t think she’s ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn’t she take it?

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford Book Review Overview:

  • Don’t let the fluffy cover deceive you; The Boy on the Bridge is more serious than it looks
  • Laura is a likeable protagonist because she isn’t whiny; she actually wants to be in Russia!
  • Romance is not predictable because you question Alexei’s motives

Fine, I admit it: I basically picked up The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford because it had a cute cover. And when I found out that it was about a girl studying abroad, I knew that I was definitely going to read it. The premise reminded me a bit of one of my favorites – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – but set in Cold War Russia. But don’t let a pretty cover deceive you: The Boy on the Bridge is a lot less fluffy than it looks.

Laura, the protagonist, is such a likeable main character because her character isn’t the stereotypical fish out of water. She’s an American in Cold War Russia, but unlike so many other YA books where the main character is in a foreign country, Laura actually embraces the new language and culture. She genuinely wanted to be in Russia and learn more about the country. Despite the fact that she is ostracized by most people because she is American, Laura is still determined to make the most of her study abroad experience.

As the cover suggests, there is romance. Alexei, also known as Alyosha, is not your typical love interest. I was constantly wondering if Alyosha is someone that Laura could trust. Is he genuine or his he using her because she is American? For the most part, I was unsure of his motives. The romance is unpredictable.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a Cold War era novel set in Russia before, so the setting was really refreshing. Standiford does an amazing job with the setting. I could really picture myself in Russia and imagine all the different places that Laura visits.

The Boy on the Bridge gives readers such a great glimpse of what it is like for an American teenager living in Cold War Russia. In addition to Laura’s own experiences, readers also get to see what it is like through Alyosha’s eyes. Through Russian and American perspectives, readers get a broader image of life in Russia.

Overall, I quite enjoyed The Boy on the Bridge. Despite what the cover suggests, The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford is more than just a sappy romance by giving a glimpse of life in Cold War Russia.


About the Author

Natalie StandifordNatalie Standiford, author of “How to Say Goodbye in Robot,” “Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters,” and the popular “Space Dog” and “Dating Game” series, has written picture books, nonfiction, chapter books, teen novels, and even horror novels for young adults. Standiford also plays bass in the rock band Tiger Beat, with fellow YA authors Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Barnabas Miller.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , | Words 1011 words

You are here: Home » Genre: Historical

Wentworth Hall by Abby GrahameWENTWORTH HALL by Abby Grahame Book Review
Publication Date: May 1st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Dreadful

Book Summary: A lush, historical novel about the secretive Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall! The prettiest people often have the ugliest secrets…

Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has turned into an entirely different person. The once spirited teen is now passive and reserved. A change Lord and Lady Darlington can’t help but be grateful for.

It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been…even as their carefully constructed façade rapidly comes undone.

Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one…the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.

When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame Book Review Overview:

  • Overdramatic dialogue, predictable plot
  • Flat characters
  • Trying too hard to appeal to Downton Abbey fans

Not going to lie, I basically did nothing for an entire week and went through two seasons of Downton Abbey. (I was also bedridden at the time, but that’s not my point.) I was basically obsessed and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the scene. I’m a sucker for drama and period pieces and Downton just had the right mix.

So when I stumbled upon Wentworth Hall, I just had to pick it up. The book was pitched as perfect for Downton fans like me. I should have realized that was a bad sign. Despite my initial excitement to read Wentworth Hall, it turned out to be a poorly written book that tried to latch onto the Downton fever.

Obivously, I’m a girl who likes period dramas, but there’s a line where drama becomes excessive. I think that Grahame tries to pack too much in one book. Everything bad that can possibly happen is happening to the Darlingtons. Wentworth Hall is a pretty quick read, and I didn’t feel like anything was developed enough. There was little to no suspense or mystery. I basically figured out all of the secrets as soon as I met each character. Drama isn’t very dramatic when you know what’s going to happen.

I think that Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame could have been passable with the excessive drama if the writing was up to par. Sadly, I just couldn’t overlook the bad quality. The dialogue was poorly written and it made me want to constantly roll my eyes. How can I sympathize with any of the characters when they are constantly whining and being overdramatic? I felt like I was reading a telenovela… and not in a good way. I never really connected with any of the characters, so my interest level in the book wavered as I progressed.

The ending was rushed and practically came out of nowhere. If I had been enjoying this book, I would have been really disappointed by the ending. To be honest, I was just kind of relieved that this train wreck of a book was finally over.

Wenthworth Hall by Abby Grahame was just trying too hard to appeal to Downton Abbey fever.

Comments 3 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, One Star - , , , , | Words 742 words

... when you're walking away from a bus that's just been attacked by monster hags and blown up by lightning, and it's raining on top of everything else, most people might think that's just really bad luck; when you're a half-blood, you understand that some devine force is really trying to mess up your day.
- Rick Riordan, The Titan's Curse

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