THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord Book Review
Publication Date: March 31st 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Rating: – Acceptable |
Book Summary: Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.
It’s been a year since it happened–when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her–the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club–simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
Book Review Overview:
- Wished that the cast of characters was more diverse
- Full of friendships; these characters were actually nice to each other
- Super cute romance
In THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord, it’s been over a year since Paige’s 2-month boyfriend died drowning from an accident. Ever since, she’s been known as That Girl. She’s determined to overcome her trauma and to move on, she makes a plan that includes: get back to socializing with her peers, date again, participate in more extra curricular activities, and most importantly, get over her fear of drowning and swim again.
While I’m not usually one to constantly gripe about the lack of diversity in book publishing, I couldn’t help but complain this time around. I honestly almost stopped reading THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord after the first fifty pages because I just couldn’t help but feel that the novel was so white-washed. There could have easily been a minority character in the novel without having it become a race-centric novel. It just gets really disheartening after a while to read a fun, contemporary YA when everyone is white. Like where’s the cute romance for Asian teens? Why can’t my younger self have a high school romance? // End rant.
But despite the lack of diversity in THE START OF ME AND YOU, I ended up liking the book a lot. One of the things that I enjoyed the most out of this novel was the fact that it was full of positive, reaffirming friendships. These girls and guys are just nice people! And the few times where they aren’t so nice to each other, they own up to it and they apologize for their horrendous behavior. I have to say, it was refreshing to read a novel where teenagers are treating each other with respect.
The romance in this book is a bit predictable, but that’s okay because the journey is where all the fun is at. From the beginning, it was obvious to me whom Paige was going to end up with, and I spent the whole book gleefully waiting for it to happen. It’s one of those romances where it’s obvious to everyone in the novel but the couple.
I honestly didn’t think I was going to like this book at all, so I’m glad that I read all the way through. The lack of diversity in the novel really kills me though, and this book would have been a 4-star read if the characters had been more diverse. The romance was adorable and I loved how their relationship progressed over the course of the book. I’ll definitely read more of Emery Lord’s books in the future!
THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas Book Review
Series: Throne of Glass, #1
Publication Date: August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Rating: – Outstanding
Book Summary: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas Book Review Overview:
- A heroine – or more accurately, assassin – that will blow you away
- A gripping adventure
- A captivating love triangle
So, once upon a time Cialina handed me an ARC of Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS. I scoffed at the summary on the back cover, which states: “Perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin and Suzanne Collins, this explosive debut is not to be missed.” Suzanne Collins? Come on. Little did I know what an amazing adventure this ARC contained. Sarah J. Maas, I will never doubt you again!
THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas tells the story of Celaena Sardothien, who is Adarlan’s most famous assassin. Although she’s quite conceited about her notoriety, it is more than well-deserved. She has, after all, been training for this position since she was eight years old. She possesses all of the key qualities that a good assassin needs in this kingdom: intelligence, strength, stamina, cleverness, and swiftness. Thus, she is Prince Dorian’s ideal candidate for the King’s competition. If she wins this deadly competition against twenty-three fellow criminals, then she will serve the King of Adarlan as his Champion for four years. But that’s not some honor that Celaena desires, nope, it’s all about the freedom that comes after the job is done.
Celaena’s a badass. There is no better word to describe such a character. Within the first chapter, we already see how intelligent Celaena is: she can easily plot an attack to escape, no matter how hard her captors try to deceive her:
…Nor had she missed when they zigzagged between levels, even though the building was a standard grid of hallways and stairwells. As if she’d lose her bearings that easily. She might have been insulted, if he wasn’t trying so hard. (Chapter 1)
But her impressive occupation as an assassin isn’t the only thing that makes her a badass. It’s her amazing character strength and room for growth. She befriends Princess Nehemiah despite her reservations against forming a friendship (because an assassin shouldn’t have friends) and also many others such as the Crown Prince Dorian and Chaol Westfall AKA Captain of the Guard.
I wish there was a better word for adventure because THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas is so much more than a simple adventure. Maas’ wonderfully detailed descriptions of the death camp in Endovier, the glass castle, and magic and fight scenes are too good to be true. I wasn’t sure if I was watching an action movie or stuck in the middle of one. THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas will blur the lines between imagination and reality. No, scratch that, Maas will suck readers into Celaena’s world until they realize that fantasy is reality. Seriously, Maas’ writing skills are awesome.
I hate love triangles. I’ve never been caught in the middle of one until now. Maas does a wonderful job of convincing her readers that both guys are perfect for her. Also, both men grow thanks to their friendships with Celaena. This triangle made my soul ache. Maas, seriously, you’ve killed me. Here are some lines from one of my favorite passages:
…stared up at the young woman’s balcony, watching as she waltzed alone, lost in her dreams. But he knew that her thoughts weren’t of him. She stopped and stared upward. Even from a distance, he could see the blush upon her cheeks. She seemed young – no, new. It made his chest ache. Still, he watched, watched until she sighed and went inside. She never bothered to look below.
Okay, I can’t really say much more without giving anything away, but let me wrap this review up by posting my IMs to Cialina about THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas:
me: yay! haha omg my review is going to consist of one sentence: “BUY MULTIPLE COPIES BECAUSE YOU WILL DAMAGE THE PAGES WITH TEARS AND BLOOD.”
me: oh thank god it’s #1 in a series
OH GOD SHE’S GOING TO TEAR MY SOUL APART SOME MORE
I recommend THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maasto everyone. And if this review hasn’t convinced you, then let the novel do it. This magnificent story caught me off guard and I hope it does the same with you
About the Author
Sarah J. Maas lives in Southern California, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much coffee, and watches absolutely rubbish TV shows. When she’s not busy writing YA fantasy novels, she can be found exploring the California coastline.
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THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap Book Review
Publication Date: February 28th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Rating: – Poor |
Book Summary: Eliza Monroe – daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn’t take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she’s about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.
Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe’s imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.
The Academie by Susanne Dunlap Book Review Overview:
- Love the concept, but did not enjoy the execution
- Immature characters with uncompelling story lines
- Lacking love interests
Post-French Revolution historical fiction is not one that I pick up a lot so I was really excited to read THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap. I admit that I do have a fascination with Napoleon (I didn’t realize he had such an interesting family!), and I wanted to get a glimpse of what life was like during his reign. I loved the idea of reading the novel from the perspective of the three main characters: Caroline, Napoleon’s younger sister; Hortense, the daughter of Napoleon’s wife; and Eliza, the daughter of the future United States president. When I picked this up, I intended to read a juicy story while learning a bit of history, but instead I got unnecessary drama and gossip.
THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap is more about romance and gossip than anything else. I failed to understand the relevant historical context during which the novel took place in. Whenever something serious was going on, the girls always had to be in the middle of an extravagant scheme to get themselves where the action was happening. Unfortunately, the focus was put more on their elaborate cross-dressing than the political climate of the time. So I had read that Something Big happened, but I can’t as a reader tell you what.
I think the biggest problem that I had with THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap was that everything was just a little too convenient. The characters did run into trouble every now and then, but the story line still felt too perfect to be realistic. Part of that is because THE ACADEMIE is loosely based on true history – keyword here: loosely. Hortense, Caroline, and Eliza are all based on real people in history, but they were not all attending school at the same time. Dunlap had to stretch history a little in order to get all three girls together.
Of the three main characters, I disliked Eliza the most. To be honest, I really did not understand her importance as a character in the book. Okay, historically, Eliza does travel to France to study, but I fail to see the relevance of her character in the overall story. It’s not as if she acts as a catalyst that sets off even more drama between Caroline and Hortense; very early on in the story, it was clearly established that the two girls do not exactly get along. Eliza’s character felt out of place, and I just could not relate to her.
Furthermore, I know that Eliza is quite young, naive, and inexperienced when it comes to boys, but she is one of the reasons why I also was not fond of the romance in THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap. It drove me crazy how Eliza can develop a massive crush after meeting a guy just once. She is already fantasizing about romance and a Happily Ever After when in reality they barely exchanged words. As far as the other love interests, I didn’t really find any of the romances to be quite compelling. I always love the idea of forbidden love, but it’s not as fun when there isn’t any chemistry between the two characters.
However, I did like the glimpse of Napoleon’s family dynamics in THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap. I constantly cheered Hortense on throughout the story, because out of everyone, she was clearly the underdog. There is a lot of tension between her and Caroline, but because Caroline is Napoleon’s sister, she can’t exactly complain about Caroline’s nastiness. And of course, it’s no secret that Caroline does not approve of Hortense’s mother, which only adds more to the drama. Furthermore, I loved reading about Hortense’s interactions with Napoleon, her mother, and her brother. Her relationship with her family is quite complex.
Bottom line: in terms of taste, I think there is still some appeal to those who are fans of historical fiction. However, I think THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap would appeal to fans of the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen rather than fans of Jennifer Donnelly’s novels such as REVOLUTION or A NORTHERN LIGHT. THE ACADEMIE by Susanne Dunlap full of gossip and drama but not much substance.
About the Author
Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for the adult market (Emilie’s Voice and Liszt’s Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Three are for the young adult market (The Musician’s Daughter, Anastasia’s Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and the forthcoming The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, New York and Northampton, MA. She now divides her time between Brooklyn and Northampton, has two grown daughters, two granddaughters, and is an avid cyclist and dog lover.
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