Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer

311156Now this is a swashbuckler to make your heart race! Notorious pirate Nicholas Beauvallet is haunting the waters of Spain, plundering and sinking any ships that come across his path. It’s this way that he meets Dona Dominica and her ailing father. He leaves the two in Spain, but not before giving Dominica a promise–a promise to infiltrate Spain and bring her back to England, regardless of the fact if caught he would certainly be put to death.

I love this book so much and I can’t believe that I waited this long to read this Heyer book! I have mostly read her Georgian and Regency era books (though I’m nearing the end of my read through of her historical works…) and I guess I was a little wary to branch out. Worried that it wouldn’t seem like a Heyer novel, or be as good. I was wrong on all accounts and I’m so glad I was. I can’t express enough love for this book, and I can’t wait to include it in my regular rotation of Heyer re-reads.

What I have left to read of Heyer: An Infamous Army, The Spanish Bride, The Great Roxhythe, Simon the Coldheart, The Conqueror, Royal Escape and My Lord John.

★★★★★

Review: Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson

5151gQtpqgL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I love this book because it came at such a great time in my life. 2016 is newly here and I’m entering a time in my life where I am an adult, both in age and in responsibility but there’s always the doubts and the feeling that I’m just not adult emotionally or in personality.

In Sarah Anderon’s Adulthood is a Myth she illustrates various scenes of incredible social awkwardness, anxiety, misanthropy and depression that I can relate to, some of which I can even say “I’ve done the exact same thing.”

It really is empowering for me at this time in particular  to be able to read a book that I not only can relate to, reminds me that other people have the same problems and the same doubts that I have myself. This funny little book was the pick-me-up I needed to start off the year on a more positive note.

Also, I’m pretty sure once this is released I’m going to buy a copy for my best friend.

★★★★☆

Review: Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

madeleineissleepingI liked this book a lot. Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum has absolutely amazing prose and it’s hauntingly vivid. This book tells the story of a girl named Madeleine whom falls into a deep sleep following her mother dunking her hands into lye when she is discovered committing sexual acts with them. Unable to use her hands even in her dreams, since the lye has turned her hands into little paddles, she runs away to join a circus. At home, her mother and sisters take care of her in bed, her mother experiences success and failure which she blames on Madeleine equally. As the book progresses, Madeleine’s dream world and the real world begin to merge until it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not.

I am a huge fan of books with surrealism, however I feel as though nothing was ever resolved in this book, that there was no logical ending. Nothing seems to come to a close. What happens to… any of the characters, really? Unfortunately this sense of things being completely unresolved makes the book as a whole feel pointless. Very pretty and interesting, but pointless nonetheless and that’s kind of a bummer.

★★★★☆

Review: Cracked by Eliza Crewe

crackedYes.

That.

Give me some more of that kind of young adult. Meda has a completely unique voice and its consistent throughout. She’s just got the best inner dialogue and it hooked on it from page one with a deliciously dark opening scene that just promised this was going to be a good one.

Oh. And it was.

The supporting characters are likable too, I didn’t find myself overly annoyed with anyone (though I did brace myself, I thought initially when Jo was introduced it was going to be another love triangle with the book constantly bashing the “other girl”. But no such thing occurred and I am grateful.) Actually, the fact that there is no element of romance for the main character made me like it more (though if there was a sequel, I would not mind some Meda/Armand, for suuuuure. Sign me up).

It is a bit predictable though, once things get going. Because… you know what she’s going to choose. What else would she choose? You just know. So I would not call this book surprising, but come on, it’s enjoyable, well written, and its not following the same trampled path of every YA author out there.

Give it a go!

please note this review was originally posted on my Booklikes.

Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

fingersmithFingersmith made me realize that I really should not have put off reading Sarah Waters for so long. Fingersmith has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now. Since I’m officially trying to work my way through the women writers on my shelf however, Sarah Waters was an obvious choice. I’ve been hearing fantastic things about her work for years and all of it was completely right!

This is a fantastic novel with several twists and turns that I did not see coming. The story is about two orphaned girls, Maud and Sue. The only reason that Sue ever meets Maud is because she’s going to tip her the double. Both girls don’t know is there is something else guiding all the events, and the two girls are caught up in a plot that neither of them expected. Separated, both girls struggle with the longing that they feel for each other.

Needless to say, I love this book! It’s got it all: a tender and forbidden romance, a murder, a sane person trapped in an asylum, conspiracies, double agents, betrayals (after betrayals!), twists, turns, perverts, mysteries and suspense.

★★★★★

Review: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

agnesgreyThis a good example of a novel where things happen around the main character instead of the main character actively making things happen. Essentially, Agnes Grey becomes a governess because her family is in dire financial straits and being a woman, her options are pretty limited. The novel follows her experience with spoiled children and unbearable parents (it’s not just a modern phenomenon, as it turns out).

There’s speculation that this novel is based on Anne’s experiences as a governess herself since she worked as one for a few years becoming a writer and I definitely see it. Only a person who experiences how terrible children can be can describe it in such a way. If these indeed reflect her experiences, I feel bad for her. The first set of children Agnes had to teach was particularly ugly and I have no idea how anyone could stand it.

In any case, I like it less than Wuthering Heights but scores more than Jane Eyre.

★★★☆☆

Review: Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates

rapealovestoryHow does one rate a book like this? Because its terrifying, horrifying and all to real. This is the nightmare that all of us women have together.

It was a good book, I think in that it shows that society can really be crueler than you think. Two of the rapists were brothers and even their father thought they had raped Teena, yet he hires a lawyer to get them off with no punishment. No one will even talk to Bethie at school and call her a liar for telling what happened to her mother. Essentially, the whole town, the whole justice system, turns against them and to me, this was the most well done part of the book. The hatred and dismissal of the town people and a justice system that doesn’t care about truth really highlights why people often don’t report their rape–they’re afraid of exactly this.

I didn’t like that their rescue came in the form of a man who murders for them though. It’s my opinion that this softens the message, plus gives no hope for the rest of us. We can’t all go around killing people all the time. This becomes the relief for Teena and Bethie, and I didn’t really see any sort of emotional journey that they went through, just “they’re dead so now we’re safe and continue our lives.”

I also didn’t find it as engaging as I would have liked. It took me a really long time to read this tiny book.

★★★☆☆

15 Books I Read as a Kid and LOVED!

atreegrowsinbrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn By Betty Smith
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrauthecityofember
Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness… But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

thedollpeopleThe Doll People by Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin
Annabelle Doll is eight years old-she has been for more than a hundred years. Not a lot has happened to her, cooped up in the dollhouse, with the same doll family, day after day, year after year. . . until one day the Funcrafts move in.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryanesperanzarising
Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.

fever1793Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
It’s late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn’t get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family’s coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie’s concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family’s small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie’s struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive.

Green Rider by Kirsten Britain
On her long journey home from school after a fight which will surely lead to her expulsion, greenriderKarigan G’ladheon ponders her future as she trudges through the immense forest called Green Cloak. But her thoughts are interrupted by the clattering of hooves as a galloping horse bursts from the woods, the rider slumped over his mount’s neck, impaled by two black-shafted arrows. As the young man lies dying on the road, he tells Karigan that he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary messengers of the king, and that he bears a “life and death” message for King Zachary. He begs Karigan to carry his message, warning her not to read it, and when she reluctantly agrees, he makes her swear on his sword to complete his mission “for love of country.” As he bestows upon her the golden winged-horse brooch which is the symbol of his office, he whispers on his dying breath, “Beware the shadow man…”  Karigan’s promise changes her life forever. Pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, and accompanied by the silent specter of the original messenger, she herself becomes a legendary Green Rider. Caught up in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand, Karigan is hounded by dark beings bent on seeing that the mharrypotteressage, and its reluctant carrier, never reach their destination.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!

Inkheart by Cornelia Funkeinkheart
Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can “read” fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service. Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can “read” characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie’s mother disappeared into the story.

nancydrewNancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
There are many, many Nancy Drew books. I used to have a ton of them in those yellow hardbacks and I read them over and over. Nancy Drew, sometimes along with her two best friends, encounter various mysteries that Nancy is always able to solve just in time!

silverwing
Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel
Shade is a young Silverwing bat, the runt of his colony. But he’s determined to prove himself on the long, dangerous winter migration to Hibernaculum, millions of wingbeats to the south. During a fierce storm, he loses the others and soon faces the most incredible journey of his young life. Desperately searching for a way to rejoin his flock, Shade meets a remarkable cast of characters: Marina, a Brightwing bat with a strange metal band on her leg; Zephyr, a mystical albino bat with a strange gift; and Goth, a gigantic carnivorous vampire bat. But which ones are friends and which ones are enemies? In this epic story of adventure and suspense, Shade is going to need all the help he can find — if he hopes to ever see his family again.

thethieflordThe Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
“Do you sometimes wish you were grown-up?” Venice. Autumn.
Rich Aunt Esther wants only angelic orphan Boniface 5, not serious Prospero 12. She hires PI Victor Getz. Thief Lord Scipo brings loot, clothes, to runaways in abandoned theatre Stella. Hornet adds brothers to gang with tall Mosca and scrawny Riccio. But Scipio hides a secret. And old Conte from a cursed isle wants a wooden wing, from grown orphan photographer Ida Spaveno, for his magic merry-go-round that changes ages. Interior illustrations by author.

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsentouchingspiritbear
Within Cole Matthews lie anger, rage and hate. Cole has been stealing and fighting for years. This time he caught Peter Driscal in the parking lot and smashed his head against the sidewalk. Now, Peter may have permanent brain damage and Cole is in the biggest trouble of his life. Cole is offered Circle Justice: a system based on Native American traditions that attempts to provide healing for the criminal offender, the victim and the, community. With prison as his only alternative, Cole plays along. He says he wants to repent, but in his heart Cole blames his alcoholic mom his, abusive dad, wimpy Alex–everyone but himself for his situation. Cole receives a one-year banishment to a remote Alaskan island. There, he is mauled by Mysterious white bear of Native American legend. Hideously injured, Cole waits for his death His thoughts shift from from Anger to humility. To survive, he must stop blaming others and take responsibility for his life. Rescuers arrive to save Cole’s but it is the attack of the Spirit Bear that may save his soul.

thetwoprincessesofbamarreThe Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Twelve-year-old Addie admires her older sister Meryl, who aspires to rid the kingdom of Bamarre of gryphons, specters, and ogres. Addie, on the other hand, is fearful even of spiders and depends on Meryl for courage and protection. Waving her sword Bloodbiter, the older girl declaims in the garden from the heroic epic of Drualt to a thrilled audience of Addie, their governess, and the young sorcerer Rhys. But when Meryl falls ill with the dreaded Gray Death, Addie must gather her courage and set off alone on a quest to find the cure and save her beloved sister. Addie takes the seven-league boots and magic spyglass left to her by her mother and the enchanted tablecloth and cloak given to her by Rhys – along with a shy declaration of his love. She prevails in encounters with tricky specters (spiders too) and outwits a wickedly personable dragon in adventures touched with romance and a bittersweet ending.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskinthewestinggame
A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger – and a possible murderer – to inherit his vast fortune, one thing’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

10 Awesome Books Written By Women!

therobberbrideThe Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
“Set in contemporary Toronto, the novel revolves around the lives of three fascinating women. Classmates from university, Roz, Charis, and Tony all shared the seductive and destructive experience of a past friendship with the flashy, sensuous, smart, irresistible Zenia. As the novel opens, they are twenty years past their college days and have met at Zenia’s funeral. At lunch, after the funeral, they spot Zenia — not dead at all and up to no good.”

The Luminaries by Eleanor Cattontheluminaries
“It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have men in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.”

thedispossessedThe Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
“Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.”stlucyshomeforgirls

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
“In the collection’s title story, a pack of girls raised by wolves are painstakingly reeducated by nuns. In “Haunting Olivia,” two young boys make midnight trips to a boat graveyard in search of their dead sister, who set sail in the exoskeleton of a giant crab. In “Z.Z.’s Sleepaway Camp for Disordered Dreamers,” a boy whose dreams foretell implacable tragedies is sent to a summer camp for troubled sleepers (Cabin 1, Narcoleptics; Cabin 2, Sleep Apneics; Cabin 3, Somnambulists . . . ). And “Ava Wrestles the Alligator” introduces the remarkable Bigtree Wrestling Dynasty–Grandpa Sawtooth, Chief Bigtree, and twelve-year-old Ava–proprietors of Swamplandia!, the island’s #1 Gator Theme Park and Cafe.”

thenightircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love–a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.”

When She Woke by Hillary Jordanwhenshewoke
“Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan s provocative new novel, “When She Woke,” tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.”

grotesqueGrotesque by Natsuo Kirino
“In her riveting new novel “Grotesque,” Kirino once again depicts a barely known Japan. This is the story of three Japanese women and the interconnectedness of beauty and cruelty, sex and violence, ugliness and ambition in their lives. Tokyo prostitutes Yuriko and Kazue have been brutally murdered, their deaths leaving a wake of unanswered questions about who they were, who their murderer is, and how their lives came to this end. As their stories unfurl in an ingeniously layered narrative, coolly mediated by Yuriko’s older sister, we are taken back to their time in a prestigious girls’ high school–where a strict social hierarchy decided their fates–and follow them through the years as they struggle against rigid societal conventions.”

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolverthepoisonwoodbible
“The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.”

thelakeofdeadlanguagesThe Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
“Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson left the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. Now she has returned to the placid, isolated shores of the lakeside school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories that will become a living nightmare.”

The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oatestheaccursed
“Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edges of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton; their daughters begin disappearing. A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man-a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.”

Putting together this list made me think that I really need to focus on reading some modern female authors–it was really hard for me to not include writers from the 19th century! Which books written by women are are your favorite?

Review: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

parableofthesowerBlurb: “When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.

This is a good book. I was little wary going in because I tend to not enjoy anything that ha a strong religious theme, but fortunately this was not overly preachy or in my opinion, trying to make a religious statement. In Parable of the Sower, Lauren essentially creates a religion that she hopes to spread across her dying world and calls it Earthseed. However, most of the book is actually a fight for survival.

After the fire that destroys her gated community and kills the rest of her family (which I might mention, occurs almost a quarter of the way through the book, so you really do get a feeling for not only the kind of world that is behind the gate community but what Lauren lost the night of the fire) she and two survivors of her town make their way across the highways. Densely populated, yet a wasteland, they encounter and adopt various people into their group to defend themselves against a world that has gone insane.

The only real criticism I have of the book is the fact that I never connected or cared about any of the characters. When they died I didn’t feel all that shocked, even if they were unexpected, and I don’t feel as Lauren got into any particular situation which I even remotely thought she might not get out.

★★★★☆