Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: Hang a Thousand Trees With Ribbons

Title: Hang a Thousand Trees With Ribbons
Author: Ann Rinaldi
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Kidnapped from her home in Senegal and sold as a slave in 1761, Phillis Wheatley--as she comes to be known--stuns her adopted country by becoming America's first published black poet.

Review: I tend to forget how much I love historical fiction, especially the slave era.  Although, my favorite time period happens to be the 1920's.  If time travel was a thing, that's what year I'd be in... 

Once I started reading the story of Phillis Wheatley, I couldn't stop.  The first couple of chapters start out with teenage Phillis who has a special meeting with "the most noble men in Boston" to prove her reading and writing skills.  Before the important committee reveals their thoughts, the story flashes back to January of 1761 when Phillis was just a child growing up in a tiny village with her mother and infamous hunter of a father.  At that time, she was known as Keziah.  Keziah/Phillis sneaks out late one night in an effort to meet with her best friend, Obour, but it is there where the two are kidnapped by no one other than Keziah/Phillis' uncle.  

Plot twists, such as the identity of Keziah/Phillis and Obour's kidnapper, were not only a reality during the slave trade period, but was also what encouraged me to turn the page. I wanted to hug Aunt Cumsee, slap Mary Wheatley, joke with Prince, but more than anything, I wanted Nathaniel Wheatley to fall in love with Phillis.

Nathaniel took Phillis under his wing right after his father bought her.  He taught her how to read, he helped her discover her writing talents, he defended her, he encouraged her, he stood by her side... he was practically her older brother.  She wanted more, and so did I.  Except, mixed relationships were unheard of back then.  Probably even frowned upon.  I'm one of those people who strongly believe in "love is love" and that people have the right to choose who they love and not be defined or judged by it.  It's not who you love, it's how you love.

The ending tore me to pieces.  It was no where close to a perfect wrap up.  Older Phillis seemed to have lost her spark and love for life.  She wasn't happy and she wasn't upset; she was just casually going by day by day like a ghost.  With such a successful comeback story, I was hoping for something more.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Book Review: Soul Blaze

Title: Soul Blaze
Author: Aprille Legacy
Publisher: Smashwords Edition
Rating: 4

Synopsis (via Goodreads): After a year at the Academy, Rose is sent back to Ar Cena - minus her memory of the past year. As she tries to fit back in to her human life with relative success, her magic returns. An unsuccessful kidnap attempt by rogue mages of the North sends her back to Lotheria, where she is taken prisoner by the Academy Masters. Confused and manipulated, she bargains a way home with the Masters by guaranteeing the only thing they want from her; the death of Phoenix. But the Masters are yet to realise what they've truly unleashed... As Sky's destiny returns to haunt her once again, she realises she can't ignore who she is any longer.

Review: YES, YES, YES! Why did I wait so long to read this book? I mean, for starters, it took me a while to get back into the series because I read Soul Fire a year ago. (That's right, a year ago). Is it sad that I have little to no time to read anymore?

I just love how original this story is. And how I can't predict what's going to happen next. I mean, being surprised at the end of every chapter gets pretty exciting and eventually you end up looking like this:
Sky is such a badass. She does what she wants when she wants even if Phoenix says no (because she's a strong, independent woman who doesn't need a man). I just have a thing for headstrong heroines who are totally against having their significant other define who they are. Even when they are in a relationship, they stick to their guns and stay true to themselves. Isn't that how it should be?

I'm getting off track... Rose isn't home for long before being kidnapped and thrown back into the mystical world where surprise she's actually freakin' queen. (S/O Dad for giving her a heads up on that one). She's reunited with her soulmate, Phoenix, and all seems perfect... but not even the written world can be all sunshine and rainbows. And BAM - that's where Aprille, like any good author, ends the book.

Shockingly, my favorite character in Soul Blaze wasn't Rose/Sky. Remember snobby, rich girl Eleanora who clung to Phoenix for dear life even though they weren't dating anymore? Well, something happened during Rose's missing year and she transformed into the daughter of Black Widow and Hawkeye. I mean, this girl has mad archery skills. She's no longer a girly girl... she's yet another badass heroine. Like Kim Possible. But 100 times cooler. Hands down, my favorite.

Rumor has it, there will be a third installment in this magical series. There better be with that cliff hanger ending that left me like:
P.S. Aprille - keep writing. Please. Just, don't stop.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book Review: We Can Work It Out

Title: We Can Work It Out
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Rating: 3

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be. But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her. Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood. Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create.

Review: If it wasn't already public knowledge, I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Eulberg. She happened to grow up in the town I live in and I've been to all but one of her book signings with my friend, Kayleigh. Unfortunately, I feel like I am growing out of the genre she specializes in. Don't get me wrong, We Can Work It Out is the perfect sequel to The Lonely Hearts Club (and I eagerly anticipated its release), but I rolled my eyes during multiple scenes, if not the whole book.

I am no where near a "sappy romantic." (I attempted to read a Nicholas Sparks book once... that didn't go over well). The club that Penny Lane builds up in Eulberg's debut novel is what sparked my interest in the first place. "... the goal was simple: to show that girls didn't need to define themselves by how guys looked at them, and didn't have to value boyfriends over everything else." Talk about girl power! But outlooks change in We Can Work It Out. Now, Penny is dating the hottie who goes by the name, Ryan (who also happens to be the ex-boyfriend of her best friend, Diane).

That's right. Penny Lane is dating the ex-boyfriend of her best friend. Let's pause and talk about this for a second... isn't this one of the golden no-no rules girls live by? To avoid dating boys your friends have already dated? Don't worry. Penny, Diane, and Ryan don't see this as awkward whatsoever. Tracy, Penny's other best friend, is not the funny, sarcastic character readers fell in love with in The Lonely Hearts Club. She hasn't lost her sass, but it appears that she lost her soul. Now, that may seem pretty harsh, but the girl is a completely different person! Trust me, I understand that in reality people change and that in books, we classify it as "character development" but COME ON. Bring back the old Tracy who would jump at the opportunity to date that cute foreign guy who is totally into her.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was impartial to the characters and impartial to the plot. I didn't feel like I was reading a young adult book - it was more like a throwback to middle school (ew). The most excitement I felt when reading We Can Work It Out was during Diane's basketball games (she finally figured out that she needed to live her own life and start participating in activities she enjoyed) and the announcement of the Club's expansion (what was it, nationwide? global? probably the most successful club in the history of ever?).

I hope this is the last installment of The Lonely Hearts Club. I was content with just the first book...