Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

 
Although Entwined is a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses, it stands on its own as an enchanting story, a fairy tale romance with unique elements of magic and suspense. Dixon’s story threads are at first golden and whisper light, but as the novel unwinds, the author weaves in darker tones. When Azalea and her royal sisters discover a magicked passageway, they all become entangled in a moonlit snare. Night after night, they return to Keeper’s Pavillion to dance. But Keeper, their mysteriously handsome host, is not all he appears to be. For Azalea, a touch of silver reveals the frightening truth about blood oaths and curses–her castle, her kingdom, and her life are all in danger.
 
Dixon has a special knack for subtle characterization and gorgeous detail. Azalea is no cookie cutter Princess Royale–she’s resourceful and delightfully headstrong, the caring eldest sibling to her motherless sisters. Along with protagonist, many of the other principal players evolve as Azalea’s perceptions change. Page by page, the reader comes to love Lord Bradford (the Princess Royale’s swoonworthy suitor) Mr. Pudding (an elderly servant), Lord Teddie (a surprising and silly visitor) and even grim Fairweller (the handsome, but sober minded Prime Minister). The dynamics between all players change as the plot thickens–the relationship between Azalea and her estranged royal father is especially poignant. The texture of these relationships makes the novel feel all the more satisfying and complete.
 
I reccommend ENTWINED for anyone with a weakness for rich, well drawn fairy tales. This one’s an absolutely lovely debut.
 
Hungry for more? Like Azalea’s mother, I enjoy a rich, moist white cake. This recipe is delicious, the same one I use for basic layer and strawberry shortcakes.
 
Binge!
 
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As a librarian, I read hundreds of titles every year, and a good percentage of them get tossed aside before the final chapters. Maybe I’m jaded, maybe my standards are too high, but if I’m not enchanted in the opening pages, I’m out.

I’m always looking for the next un-put-down-able novel.

Sigh.

WITHER is that book.

DeStefano plunges the reader into an alternate reality—a terrifying, near future. In the quest to eradicate disease and imperfection, mankind loses life span. Genetic engineering gives a first generation a healthy, unnaturally long life, but their children and grandchildren pay an unforeseen price. Now, a fatal, mysterious virus claims all girls at age twenty, and all boys at twenty five.

While the rest of world lies charred and broken, North America survives—a wealthy upper class feebly hangs on by forcing young women into polygamous marriages in order to sustain the population.

In WITHER, sixteen year old Rhine Ellery endures this fate. Against her will, she’s torn from her twin brother and spirited away to marry Linden, the son of a wealthy, controlling man. Linden’s father is a doctor searching for an antidote to the virus.

And he’ll do anything for a cure, no matter who has to die.

As Rhine discovers the secrets behind the good doctor’s work, the noose tightens. Imprisoned in Linden’s beautiful, illusory mansion, she has to find an escape or face living out her remaining days trapped a doll’s house.

Complicated relationships develop between Rhine, her captors, and her sister wives. Rhine’s emotions shift realistically, she matures into an intelligent, resourceful young woman determined to fight fate and keep hope alive for herself and for Gabriel, the brave and loyal servant who becomes her truest ally and soul-mate. Their fates are entwined–it’s their freedom which hangs in the balance.

DeStefano’s details are so vividly spun, her characters so fully formed, I found myself completely drawn in by page five. This is not a run of the mill high gloss, high concept novel. Yes, the plot zings, but the quality of DeStefano’s writing eclipses the premise.

Rhine’s voice—all at once, heartbreakingly real and elegantly melancholy—is WITHER’S pulsing lifeblood, its driving force. At turns, I devoured pages. At other moments, I lingered over passages, rereading sentences to savor their emotional heft and clarity.

I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed the book. I experienced the same thrill–the same rush of anxiety and sadness and hope–I felt when I first read THE HANDMAID’S TALE, THE HUNGER GAMES, and MATCHED. My favorite elements of all of these came to life in DeStefano’s debut.

WITHER is lush and literary and compelling.

It is worthy.

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for Better than Anything Cake. It’s *almost* as rich as WITHER.

Be still my Beatle-maniac heart, I’m in love with a book.

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Why is this super fab new release? Let me count the ways…

1. The BEATLE-rific references.

Hello, you know me, right? How could I not fall for lines like this:

There was only one thing I could do to ease the pain. I turned to the only four guys who’d never let me down. The only four guys who’d never broken my heart .

John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Yep, you had me right there, Ms. Eulberg.

2. Contemporary Realism? Who, me?

Let’s face it. I usually prefer to throw realism out the window when it comes to YA novels. Give me a dash of magic and a smokin’ hot supernatural love interest any day of the week.

But Eulberg’s book sucked me into a 100% vampire/angel/werewolf/fae/zombie/prophecy free world. And I loved it. The characters could have easily been teens I know  facing real life obstacles.

3. Sweet premise, savory resolution.

When Penny Lane gets her heart broken one too many times, she decides to swear off guys for good. She and her friends start The Lonely Hearts Club to affirm the bonds of friendship and the vow of self-preservation. These gals grow into a force to be reckoned with–they come to redefine themselves sans boyfriends.

But…when a non-jerk works his way into Penny’s heart, is the club doomed?

The author resolves the plot without tying things up with a giant valentine bow. The ending is satisfying without becoming too sweet or too simple. It’s just right. And thanks to a pitch perfect protagonist voice, I found myself thinking about Penny long after I’d turned the last page.

I’m so excited about this book, I’m giving a copy away. In the comments area for this post, use at least one Beatles’ reference to convince me why I should send YOU a copy of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB. I’ll pick a winner next week.

Hungry for more?

Try this recipe for Strawberry Fields Forever Shortcake

Binge!