Title: Cinders and Sapphires
Author: Liela Rasheed
Length: 224 pages
Genre: YA, Historical fiction
Why I read it: Debut Author Challenge
What it’s About: The story centers around Lady Ada Averly. Ada longs to go to Oxford to study, but she is expected by her new stepmother, and society, to come out. Meanwhile she has fallen in love with Ravi, an Indian servant to a friend of her father’s. Ada persuades her Ladie’s maid to send letters between her and Ravi, and in return Rode is allowed to play the piano, and even attend a concert. But soon, scandals arise and Rose and Ada’s futures are threatened.
The Good: With all the hype that Downton Abbey has sparked, this seemed the perfect time to put out a book like this. It takes place around the same time as DA, plus it’s got a few scandals that will have any fan of DA hooked from the start. I’ve also heard it compared to Gossip Girl, but I honestly didn’t see much of that. There were some devious characters, Charlotte and Fiona for two, and some snooping and backstabbing, but nothing quite on the GG level.
The Bad: While Ada and Rose, and Ravi were well developed, I would have liked to see more of Charlotte. Unfortunately There were so many characters, it was not only hard to keep up with who was who, it was a miracle the characters that were developed had any depth at all. I also would have liked it a bit better if all the drama hadn’t come all at once. And a random death….okay, yeah, it had me shocked, but it also could have been skipped.
Final Thoughts: Over all, it was enjoyable. I was sucked in from the very first sentence. I would like to see more of certain characters, and less of others. I really think Rasheed can only improve from the first book. I very eagerly await the sequel.
Title: Mr. Penumbria’s 24-hour bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Length: 237 pages
Why I read it: Book club
What it’s About: The story is about Clay, and his night job at Mr. Penumbria’s bookstore. One night while working, a friend comes in and convinces Clay to look in one of the books. What Clay finds in it is a code, and soon the questions start circling his brain, and he finds out more about Mr. Penumbria, the books, and the strange customers than he bargained for.
The Good: It was a page turner. I was getting sucked in so fast that I couldn’t believe that I was already half done in three days.
The Bad: While I did get through it quickly, it was not because the story was terribly gripping, but simply because I wanted to know the secrets the story held. unfortunately, the story fell flat on numerous counts. First, the characters were not engaging whatsoever. I could care less if their ventures failed or not. Secondly, it seemed that things just came way too easy for Clay. Any time an obstacle would present itself, it would just a quickly be a non-issue. Third, for a book about a secret society, the members seemed to have no problem letting a bunch of outsiders try to break the code they had been trying to break for 500 years. Then there was the non-issue of the leader of the secret society. He made a half hearted attempt to stop Clay and his friends from doing their work, but when they didn’t, he simply walked away. There are tons more I could put, but I don’t want to give anything away.
Final Thoughts: I thought it was going to be a book much like the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and while it did have a taste of that, I was disappointed by what it turned out to be.
Title: The Diary of a young girl
Author: Anne Frank
Genre: Autobiography, History,
Why I read it: Recommendation
What it’s About: For two years the Frank family, the Van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer went into hiding in secret rooms above and behind Otto Frank’s Spice company. This is Anne’s diary of the day-to-day lives of all who were living there and the people who helped them.
The Good: Quick read. It was interesting to read about how they managed to get gifts for birthdays, food, and other supplies. I also liked reading about the rules of the annex. The realness of how things changed for the Jewish people was something that I found interesting. Not because I didn’t know about it, but because reading it from the perspective of a teenager was different. Frank was obviously very mature for her age, and I liked seeing her grow up even more during her time in hiding.
The Bad: Reading entry after entry of how selfish and high and mighty Mrs. Van Pels was, and the constant arguments got very boring. I get it, they were all in very close quarters, and had no freedom, and arguing and getting on each others nerves is a given, but 230 pages of it…it’s like hearing someone complain about the same thing everyday. I would have liked to read more about how the kids got an education. And while Anne was very mature for her age, I could have gone without her bashing her mother every chance she got. Again, living in a small space with no freedom, head-butting will happen, but I felt Anne had a “why me” attitude.
Final Thoughts: As compelling as the story could be at times, it was ultimately boring to me. I almost didn’t want to write a review for the book because it is a very beloved book, but as much as I hear people say how good it is, I have to be honest, and if that makes me a horrible person….so be it. But I’m not in a hurry to reread this one.