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THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: October 18th 2011 by Scholastic Press
Rating: |

Summary: It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Review Overview:

  • Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is breath-taking. It continues to impress me.
  • The concept of the capaill uisce was fascinating
  • The plot was a little slow for my tastes; there was definitely a lot of character-building.

Like any other book that I know I’m going to read, I pretty much dove into THE SCORPIO RACES blind. I did not read any reviews. I merely skimmed the back of the ARC – which ended up telling me nothing about the book, a little to my dismay. And I refused to read any summaries that would tell me what the book is about. I knew the book was going to be about horses. The cover pretty much gives it away. But not just any horses: capaill uisce – magical killer water horses. Huh.

The concept behind this book is actually pretty cool. At first, I was really confused because I’d never heard of this mythical / legendary creature before. But after a few chapters, it was so easy to get hooked onto the idea of capaill uisce. They are such beautiful creatures and you can count on Stiefvater to describe them to you with precision. It actually made a lot of sense to read the Author’s Note at the end of the book because it gave me insight as to how Stiefvater came around to writing about magical killer water horses and background on the different variations of the myth. I wouldn’t recommend reading the Author’s Note before reading the book. I think it’s best to discover the magic of capaill uisce yourself first.

The prose is fantastic. Stiefvater writes so beautifully and THE SCORPIO RACES is no exception. Sometimes I forget just how much I love the way Stiefvater crafts a sentence, but I’m immediately reminded of that fact from the very first page of starting one of her books.

There is a bit of romance in THE SCORPIO RACES and I am stunned by the way Stiefvater just pulls it off effortlessly. There is a slow build up so it is definitely realistic. The novel isn’t about an epic love story like the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but there are just some scenes that made me positively giddy. The romance is sweet and touching. Stiefvater is able to portray realistic young love without being overly sappy.

THE SCORPIO RACES is just about on the threshold on being a 4-star review. I really wanted to give this book a 4-star rating just for the sake of beautiful writing, but I felt like the plot was a bit lacking. It’s true that I did read it in more or less a day, but I also felt like I could easily have stopped reading and walked away. There is not as much mystery to this novel. Essentially, the plot can be summed up in a sentence: girl and boy (in this case Puck and Sean) want to compete in the Scorpio Races, a race involving magical killer water horses. The book itself is more character driven than plot driven. The novel unfolds as the races get closer, and the characters grow and go through self-discovery.

THE SCOPRIO RACES is good, but the pacing is just a little bit slow for me. I needed a little bit something more fast-paced. This book is perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater. If you’re in love with her writing, you won’t be disappointed with this one. Furthermore, I would recommend this to lovers of horses, mythology and lore, and fantasy.

Why I’m Biased: Maggie Stiefvater is also one of my favorite authors. Therefore, I rate her on a much harsher scale since I always have high expectations for authors whose work I love.

Other Reviews:
Gone with the Words
Nice Girls Read Books

About the Author

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Comments 6 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , | Words 1199 words

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: September 29th 2011 by Dutton
Rating: |

Summary: Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Review Overview:

  • Lola + Cricket = lots of great chemistry that you don’t want to miss
  • Culturally diverse set of secondary characters; they are so much fun to read about
  • Anna > Lola but still a great book that YOU MUST READ

I think it’s safe to say that LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR was my most anticipated book of 2011. Stephanie Perkins is at the top of my list of authors to watch. After reading Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year, I could not wait to read more of her work. I was so happy to have snagged a copy of the hardcover at my favorite bookstore, the Strand, before the release date.

The characters are so colorful in LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. Lola is a delight to read about. Always dolled up in a different costume each day, Lola Nolan stands out from the crowd. She’s not afraid of what others think and she dresses the way she wants. And of course, there’s the Boy Next Door. Cricket Bell used to be her neighbor, and Lola felt like her world is coming apart when she hears that he is moving back next door. A budding inventor, Cricket is intelligent and kind. He has the quirky fashion sense to match Lola.

I feel like with these kinds of stories, you have a vague idea of how it’s going to end before you even pick up the book. But it doesn’t matter because the beginning, middle, and climax of the story are the most fun to read about anyway. Lola and Cricket do have a past (and emotional baggage), so the progression of the romance is a lot different from Anna and the French Kiss. There is definitely great chemistry between the two characters.

Speaking of emotional baggage, LOLA is a more serious book than Anna. Serious in a way that Lola deals a lot with heavy issues such as her biological mother and her past with Cricket. While the book was still entertaining as a whole, I just didn’t find myself laughing as much as I did when I read Anna.

The secondary characters are the icing to the cake. From Lola’s fathers (yes, fathers) to her quirky co-workers, the novel would not have been the same without them. Furthermore, I love the diversity in Lola and the Boy Next Door. Maybe I just don’t read enough stories about California, but I feel like Perkins wrote such an accurate portrayal of the culturally diverse population of California. I think it’s definitely one of the things that stood out for me when I visited the Bay Area and I’m glad that Perkins portrayed it in her novel.

Stephanie Perkins is a wonderful writer. I’ve only been to San Francisco a few times, so I had a vague idea of where Lola lived, but Perkins’s writing just makes the setting come alive. I felt like I was transported to the West Coast. I really felt like I was strolling along the streets of San Francisco with Lola and Cricket.

Shall I compare LOLA to Anna? Well, if I must… I have to say that I still prefer Anna. Why? Mostly because of Cricket and Lola. I’ve pretty much said that I did enjoy their characters a lot, but if I had to compare them to Etienne and Anna, they just don’t match up. Why? Well, Etienne is a Boy Masterpiece. He has a British accent!!!! And Anna is just a lot more like me than Lola is. I was just able to relate so much more to Anna. Lola just has this certain self confidence that both Anna and I lack. She can pretty much snag a guy if she really wants, whereas Anna is socially awkward in the romance department like I am. I could definitely see myself more in Anna’s shoes than Lola’s.

The reason why I still love Anna more than LOLA is definitely a personal reason. Based on the reviews I’ve read, I am probably in the minority who believe that Stephanie Perkins’s debut is better than her sophomore novel.

I’m pretty sure that I can ramble on forever about LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR and I think that’s reason enough for you to go buy it. Read it so we can have a never-ending debate. I’m more than sure you’ll enjoy LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR if you loved Anna and the French Kiss, boys, San Francisco, California in general, costumes, sparkly things, fashion, and kissing. Oh, and Alexander Graham Bell.

Well, I just made this sound like the girliest book ever, but if you’re a boy, please don’t let my review stop you from picking it up. Stephanie Perkins is a really great writer. Read this.

Other Reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
I Eat Words
Poetry to Prose

About the Author

Stephanie Perkins writes novels for teens (and for adults who aren’t afraid to admit that teen books are awesome). She was born in South Carolina, raised in Arizona, attended universities in San Francisco and Atlanta, and now lives in the mountains of North Carolina amidst the waterfalls and wild blueberries.

Her best friend is also her husband, Jarrod, and he’s the most wonderful person she knows. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow. They share it with two elderly pups and a pesky cat named Mr. Tumnus.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Comments 5 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , , , , | Words 1468 words

You are here: Home » Poetic Prose

BEAUTIFUL DAYS by Anna Godbersen
Series: Bright Young Things, #2
Publication Date: September 20th 2011 by HarperCollins
Rating: |

Summary: For the bright young things of 1929, the beautiful days seem endless, filled with romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, friendship and rivalry.

After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams—no matter the cost.

Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.

Promised to Cordelia’s half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights—and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.

Review Overview:

  • A little disappointing since not much has happened
  • Calm before the storm; not as exciting as the previous book
  • Letty’s story intrigues me the most out of the three, and she would probably be the character I will be most looking forward to in the next book

BEAUTIFUL DAYS will take you back in time to the exciting era of the flappers and the Prohibition era. Sequel to Bright Young Things, BEAUTIFUL DAYS picks up in the summer after the death of Cordelia’s father.

Godbersen is such a descriptive writer and the words paint a vivid image in my head. I love the descriptions of the various settings, outfits, and even the mannerisms of the girls. Godbersen has the ability to send me back in time from the comfort of my favorite reading nook. It was so much fun to read about this time period. I can just imagine the magnificent silk dresses that Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty got to wear. New York City seems like a whole different world and it was fascinating to read about it. Godbersen’s writing was really the reason why I got through this book.

After the first few chapters, the exhilarating feeling of being sucked into this time period eventually wore off. As much as I loved Godbersen’s writing, the plot just didn’t do it for me. I felt like it was one of those books where nothing really happened. I couldn’t help but compare BEAUTIFUL DAYS to the Luxe series. Where’s the drama? The action? The scandal? The plot wasn’t engaging and I just found myself growing restless. I’m hoping that BEAUTIFUL DAYS is just the calm before the storm and that the action picks up in the following book.

For the most part, I do love the characters of this series, but I just can’t seem to like Astrid. Astrid, unfortunately, still strikes me as fake. Just the way she acts seems insincere. I also wish that Charlie would give the girls some credit. While it’s very chivalrous of him to always come to the rescue, I feel like so much drama could have been avoided if he just told the girls flat out what’s going on with the bootlegging business. A simple conversation explaining why they’re in danger could have prevented a lot of hissy fits. But of course, he had to result to commanding them around. In BEAUTIFUL DAYS, I looked forward to Letty’s parts the most. I love the direction that her character is heading to and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in the next book.

Despite the fact that this one didn’t live up to my expectations, BEAUTIFUL DAYS was still a really good book. I recommend this book to those who enjoyed Bright Young Things, and highly recommend the series in general to those who love the Luxe series and historical fiction.


About the Author

Anna Godbersen was born in Berkeley, California, and educated at Barnard College. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Comments 3 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , | Words 1001 words

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