Sam’s Review of Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

alpomhI wonder what it’s like to be Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend. I’m not talking about the likes of Joe Jonas or John Mayer. What about that high school kid with the pick up truck? The one whose pictures T-Swift so publicly burned on her first album. Do the people back home know him? Make sideways glances when they see him at the local diner? What’s his life like now? Does he keep it a secret or does he let the world know that he really does think of the curly-haired blonde whenever he hears a Tim McGraw song? Well, it seems that I’m not the only pop culture obsessed fangirl, because in Another Little Piece of My Heart (based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion), author Tracey Martin explores this very idea.

From Goodreads:

What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

What I loved about this book: it’s unapologetically YA. What I had trouble with about this book: it’s unapologetically YA.

Claire is a delight as a narrator. She is down to earth, unsure of herself, and still dealing with the aftermath of a bad break up. In a nutshell, she’s a girlfriend, someone you’ve known your whole life. Claire tries desperately to hide her past with Jared. She doesn’t want to be the girl who broke his heart. Imagine what Justin Bieber’s fans would do to a girl who hurt him? Yea. I wouldn’t want to be that girl. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with someone famous the world seems a little smaller. His face is everywhere. The song is on the radio. How can you escape? It’s bad enough that Claire has to worry about running into this boy back home, but she should be safe while on vacation several states away, right?

This is where YA takes a few liberties. Of all the beaches in world, Jared, the superstar, just so happens to coincidentally be spending the summer at the exact same one as Claire? Also, he just so happens to be living in a college dorm with a buddy from home? With no security? With NO ONE TWEETING ABOUT IT? Yea. Right. That’s how I knew this was most certainly a fiction. It’s 2014. The hot guy with several Grammys to his name would never be able to camp out and write songs for an entire summer without people bombarding him. All Jared had to contend with was a few respectful and well-meaning fans who quietly asked for autographs and respected his privacy. Ok.

At its heart I have to say that this was a very well executed piece. I found myself very wrapped up in the story. My teenage self was all about it. I liked the idea of Claire’s story, the girl who made her ex-boyfriend’s fame possible.

We all know that the best writers of songs and books draw on their real life experiences. It’s what makes the stories so compelling; they are grounded in truth. What sometimes gets lost in translation is that there are actual, non-famous counterparts on the other sides of those stories. People with hopes, dreams, and feelings. Is it fair to vent on paper and become famous off of a shared life experience? Who is the owner of something that happened behind closed doors? If these are questions you want to grapple with on a Sunday afternoon I highly recommend this ah-dorable, fast paced tale.

4 out of 5 Stars

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin
Harlequin (2013)
eBook: 304 pages
ISBN: 9781459254749

Special thanks to Ms. Martin for my review copy!

Series Spotlight: The Summerset Abbey Trilogy by T.J. Brown

Up until now, every single Series Spotlight post I’ve written has been about a series I’m raving about. Sadly, this particular spotlight is on a trilogy that bothered me for a multitude of reasons. The Summerset Abbey trilogy by T.J. Brown started out with an enormous amount of potential.  However, as the series continued I found myself aggravated not only with certain characters, but with larger statements the trilogy was making.

sattjbAll three books revolve around three “sisters.” I say “sisters” because two of the three women, Rowena and Victoria, are actually sisters. The third young woman, Prudence, was their governess’s daughter and was raised like their sister after her mother’s death. When Rowena and Victoria’s father Sir Phillip dies, their uncle steps in to bring them to his estate for his wife to raise. Their uncle is not forward-thinking at all. He believes Prudence has no place in their lives and society, as she’s the daughter of a servant. Thus begins the tale of how one man’s death changes the ideals, lives, and futures of three young women. Rather than talk about each book individually, I’m going to discuss each of the three main female characters.

Prudence: Of the three women, she started out as my favorite. Her plight from a girl raised with wealth, freedom, and status to being thrust into a world of servitude and poverty was captivating. Her odd upbringing did her no favors in terms of helping her find her place in the world. In Rowena and Victoria’s home she was just as they were. Outfitted in nice clothes. Educated and not worked as a servant, though her mother was the governess. Sir Phillip was a man of forward thinking who didn’t believe in the rigidity of the social classes. He encouraged the girls to be freethinkers themselves, and all of this led to Prudence believing she could accomplish great things someday. The girls’ uncle, however, doesn’t believe in this way of thinking and tells Rowena that Prudence is not welcome at his estate. Rowena, needing Pru, tells her uncle that Prudence is really their lady’s maid. This is how Prudence finds herself in the servants quarters. She is not welcome above stairs nor below, as the servants recognize she’s not truly of their class.

I found Prudence to be the character that had the MOST potential and the one that flopped the hardest. She makes a decision at the end of book one that just doesn’t match up to her character’s intelligence at all. Over the course of the next two books we’re left to watch the repercussions of her decision. At the end of three books I still didn’t understand the motives behind her decision nor did I really feel like she was happy. She just seemed resigned to what her life was. And what kind of statement does that tell readers? Here is this young woman, brought up with education, music lessons, and access to the suffragette movement among other things. And where do we see her wind up? Struggling to bake bread and wash clothes. Her potential was completely revoked, the minute that decision at the end of book one was made.

Rowena: From start to finish, I disliked her. From our first introduction to her she’s selfish, impulsive, rude, and stuck-up. I cut her a bit of slack knowing her father had just died, but even in book three – she’s just…ugh, aggravating. All she cares about is herself and finding ways to make her feel “alive.” She allows her uncle to run roughshod over all of her and Victoria’s feelings on moving, their obligations to society, and most importantly, what they can “do” as women. Her inability to help herself or to help others truly bothered me.

Victoria: While she started out a bit boring for my taste, she quickly rose up the ladder in my mind and is the reason why I stuck with the entire series. I wanted to know HER story and her’s alone.  Of the three women she is the only one that fights for what she wants, and the only one that tries to better herself and the world around her. She fights with her Aunt and Uncle about Prudence constantly, even standing up to them pretty amazingly at one point. She becomes a nurse during the war to help those around her. She becomes friends with one of the scullery maids in the estate’s kitchen and brings her to London, giving her a more decent future. She’s definitely the most nurturing of the three women, as she is always worried about the causes of others (a bit naively at some points.)

So what are the larger points of this story that bothered me? For one thing, why were the majority of the women in the books bitches? Also, did the insanely crazy side of the Women’s Suffragette Movement have to be the only one shown? Sure there were women who did crazy things all in the name of women’s rights, but there were also amazing women like Alice Paul and Millicent Fawcett, who could have been used to show another less vindictive/less self-serving side of the movement.

Even with all of the nonsense above that bothered me I do have to give Brown props for her work on the historical front. Her incorporation of the clashing of social classes and overarching effects of the war were done brilliantly.

In (story) chronological order (with my ratings) the series is:

  1. Summerset Abbey – 3 out of 5 Stars
  2. A Bloom In Winter – 2 out of 5 Stars
  3. Spring Awakening – 2 out of 5 Stars

Emerald Green (Edelstein Trilogie #3) by Kerstin Gier

emkgSo I’ve been harping on all of you to start reading the beautifully covered Edelstein Trilogie for months now (seriously those covers are GORGEOUS.) I hope you listened to me, because here comes my spiel on book three, Emerald Green, just released in the US on October 30th!  (If you’re in need of recaps of Ruby Red, book one, and Sapphire Bluebook two, just click on the titles for direct links to my previous reviews.)

From Goodreads:

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.

She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.

This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate

As expected, Emerald Green wowed me page after page with its never-ending twists and turns.  The action, adventure, intrigue, danger, and romance that hooked me when I first began Ruby Red was definitely still present here.  Gwen’s narrative voice was just as funny as ever, but we also get a glimpse of the hidden depths to her personality.  She’s intelligent and good at problem solving.  She can think on her feet, as evidenced in several conflicts present in Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green.  I also enjoyed getting to know Gideon better.  He’s always been present, but on the outskirts of the story a bit.  He steps into his own in Emerald Green and proves that he isn’t just a pawn being moved by the Elders.  He definitely becomes a character worthy of your affection in this conclusion.

The only things that disappointed me were the translations and the ending.  The trilogy was originally written in German, then translated to English.  Unfortunately, some of Emerald Green reads as if this translation is incomplete, which in turn took me out of the story at parts.  Besides that, the ending seemed a bit unfinished.  You spend three books investing yourself in these characters, their lives, their tragedies and triumphs, only to end with what I felt was a weak ending.  I don’t mean that the book ended in a way I was unhappy with, but the characters’ stories aren’t really wrapped up.  The main conflict is concluded, but there is no final conclusion to the lives of all the other characters we’ve met along the way.  Despite this, I do believe that this conclusion to the Edelstein trilogy was a fitting end to a great story.  If you’ve followed Gier’s works thus far, you won’t be disappointed in how action packed the conclusion is.  If you’re new to the series, I highly suggest that you start with Ruby Red.  It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventh completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2013)
Hardcover: 464 pages
ISBN: 9780805092677

Adam’s Review of The Crone’s Jewels (Pantheons #3) by E.J. Dabel

tcjejdThe Godfather 3, Mockingjay, and Scream 3 are all third installments that failed to live up to their predecessors. What is it about the third book or movie that just leads to such disappointment? Was it laziness on the author’s part or was it, as an audience, that we just didn’t care about the series anymore? Whatever the cause, I was hoping that Pantheons: The Crone’s Jewels by E.J. Dabel would break my third installment curse and equal the quality of the first two. Would my 27-year streak continue or would it be broken?

As referenced at the end of the previous book in the series Isaiah made six clones of himself, each of which had to complete a mission. The first clone’s mission is to travel to see Odin, accompanied by Amanda Golden, to get access to the Sleipnir so they can gain access to Taraturs. They do this so they can discover the fate of Cronos after his battle with the Balor of evil. Along the way we are introduced to new gods, hailing from Norse, Aztec, and even Japanese mythology. Through it all, we see the clone constantly tortured by Amanda, who calls him clone and often talks down to him. Will the mission be a success or will they fail to do what Isaiah had set out for them?

I will admit, this installment of the series didn’t grab my attention as quickly as the previous two. Perhaps it’s because I started reading it at the wrong time (in the middle of a very chaotic move, both personally and job-wise), but it took me a few attempts to really get in to this book. However, once I got over the bump of starting over and over, I really did enjoy the story. Once again, Dabel makes you care for the characters. He allows you the emotion of rooting for the underdog and you find yourself happy when something goes in their favor and upset when they are knocked down. I really enjoy that about his writing, because so often you read about characters that seem so distant and clearly fictitious that you can’t root for them. However, in this particular story, you find yourself rooting for Clone 1 to finish his mission and you want to see where the story goes next.

Another thing that I found really interesting about this book was the incorporation of the characters of Thor and Loki. As we’ve seen them in other forms of entertainment as two of the main characters in The Avengers, it was fun to see them in a story containing mythology. I feel that with the comics and the movies, both characters are so watered down with regard to their mythological side.  That being said, I really enjoyed seeing this new side to them. It was almost like watching a movie you love but from a different perspective. Different aspects were highlighted and as the reader I got a better understanding of the characters and more of their history. As a side note, if a movie is ever made of this novel, please do not cast Chris Hemsworth as Thor. He is about as dull as watching paint dry. Tom Hiddleston as Loki can be allowed, because he was pretty awesome in the role.

All in all I am really glad that I saw this book through to the end, as I was really nervous based on my initial reaction to the work. I really enjoyed the other two other books in this series, and I was looking forward to reading this work. I think that it is a little bit slower initially than the first two, but it picks up quickly. I still like the second installment the best so far, but I am glad I continued with this journey and finished up part three. I eagerly await reading part four, which as I saw on Goodreads, will be out in the fall.  Keep your eyes open!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Crone’s Jewels by E.J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2013)
eBook: 190 pages
ASIN: B00DZF439G

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!

Sam’s Review of The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

trtmihWhen I first started reading The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison, I have to admit that I was pretty excited. The cover art was lovely and the summary on the back was enough to get me started.  The story sounded right up my ally.

The plot from Goodreads:

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she’s impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father’s court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power–or the magic–to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

The fantasy genre has long been a favorite for readers – magic, romance, princesses, ancient prophecies, etc.  It might start to feel like it’s all be done before, but thankfully this story is different. Harrison has gone to great detail and effort to create a world that is new and never seen before.  There are two types of magic here. One is Anger and Death, given to men: taweyr. The other is Nature and Beauty reserved for women: neweyr.   In order for there to be a happy kingdom there must be a balance of both magics.

The two main characters Ailsbet and Issa are just delightful in this carefully crafted story. It is clear from the onset that Ailsbet, the musically gifted princess of Rurik, would be a great leader. She is passionate and kind, clever and careful. Yet, because she is a woman with no magic she is unable to rule. As the story goes on a secret is revealed about Ailsbet’s magic, one that even she wasn’t expecting. This secret has the power to threaten not only her chances at the throne but also her life. I found myself really drawn to her as she struggled with her new identity. In many ways she was already trapped by her title as princess, one without magic. But once she truly comes into herself she has to make some choices that have implications beyond herself.

Issa is a princess from the other island. The journey from Ailbet’s castle to Issa’s takes a long and dangerous month. In her kingdom, Issa has been in charge of the feminine magic in her lands since the passing of her mother. She would like the opportunity to lead in her own kingdom, but it doesn’t seem possible for her. Ailsbet’s father has more power and thus more control. When Kellin, a handsome messenger, arrives with a proposal of marriage from Ailsbet’s kid brother, Issa knows what she must do, for everyone’s sake.

Much of the plot is driven by what the ladies have to do for political advancement. As a reader I liked seeing the girls struggle with the decisions they had to make because it really grounded them. Ailsbet’s father, the terrible King Haikor of Rurik, is obsessed with his power and magic and often taxes men a portion of their magic, which he sucks from them in quite a grotesque way. Ailsbet’s mother, Queen Aske, has been asked for years to suppress her own magic so that the magic of men would be stronger still. This leaves Anger and Death to run rampant in Rurik. With these two as parents, Ailsbet takes on quite a bit of responsibility for her brother, Edik, often putting his needs and political strategy ahead of her own. She knows that a marriage with Issa will unite the two kingdoms but she struggles with whether this would be good or simply an invitation for her father to increase his power and realm at the expense of Issa’s people. Issa has to grapple with just the same problem with an added layer, she has fallen in love with a Duke of Rurik. Should she choose love? Can she? It’s this question that both women really have to consider. Who’s happiness is more important and at what cost?

What I really loved is the balance between the seriousness of the prophecy and decisions both ladies have to make and the sweetness of the romance mixed in. Issa’s love story unfolds slowly at first, then all at once. This was one of my favorite parts of the story, and I’m not really a romance girl! I never felt overwhelmed by it or that that piece of the puzzle overshadowed any other part. I admit that it initially worried me based on the cover! That girl looks like a damsel in distress if I’ve ever seen one!

Really, my only complaint was that the language was a bit much at first. Harrison invents many words to describe her magical world and if you’re not paying close attention you might miss a meaning and become totally lost. As I kept reading I got more and more used to the strangeness of the language and found that eventually (after two or three chapters) I slipped easily into the zone.

I realized just a few pages from the end that I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to these characters yet. It’s always a good sign when that happens! All in all it’s a solid, girly, summer read!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
EgmontUSA (2013)
Hardcover: 400 pages
ISBN: 9781606843659

Special thanks to EgmontUSA for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

e&prrIt’s true what they say, you never forget your first love.  No matter how old we get the joy and pure innocence of our first love remains with us.  I saw so many of my blogging friends discussing first loves and realized it was all due to a book by Rainbow Rowell entitled Eleanor & Park.  Wishing to re-live my first love and ALL THE FEELINGS I got myself a copy of this read and jumped in.

Taking place over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park begins by introducing us to some atypical high school students.  Eleanor is a transplant who is new to the area, having lived with family friends for a year after being kicked out by her mother’s abusive husband.  Now back with her mother and step-father, she begrudgingly begins attending a new school, surrounded by strangers.  Park, on the other hand, is the son of a Vietnam veteran father and Korean mother.  He is awkward and quiet and is a huge music fan, carrying his Walkman and headphones with him constantly.  Eleanor and Park first meet on the bus, as Eleanor is refused a seat and must take the only other open one, next to Park.  They eventually become regular seat-partners on the bus, and Park eventually begins to make Eleanor mix tapes, after letting her borrow his Walkman and noting her interest in music.  However, there is much more than music that begins to connect the two, as they try to fight a mutual attraction that begins to pull them together ever so slowly.  What will become of these new-found feelings?

There are so many things to say about this book, yet I find myself without any words adequate enough to even describe how I feel.  I don’t know how Rowell did it, but her work is a perfect description of first love.  It’s a reflection of the feeling that you would do anything and everything to remain with this person for the rest of your life.  This book is like a time capsule, a specimen of nostalgia that has been perfectly preserved over the years.  From the copious references to 80’s culture, Eleanor and Park is like a slice of the past, with the imagery of mix-tapes and The Watchmen comic books sprinkled throughout.  Rowell’s character development is on point, as both Eleanor and Park evolve according to the situations that they are thrust into.  They are forced to be more mature than typical high school students, as they both feel the effects of Eleanor’s abusive and negligent household.  These excellent characterizations added a depth to the story that definitely filled it out.  Coupled with the wonderful nostalgia, these elements made this book irresistible and hard to dislike.  If you’re in the mood for an intriguing read with a soft spot for the 80’s, Eleanor and Park is a perfect fit.

4 out of 5 Stars

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press (2013)
eBook: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781250031211

Kim’s Guest Review of For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

DarknessMy latest guest review is now up on the Austenprose blog! It’s on a YA/sci-fi/dystopic version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion entitled For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund.

The underlying themes and messages the book conveys are truly astounding.  I highly recommend the read.

You can get to my review by clicking here!

Kim’s Review of Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance + GIVEAWAY

saptvPride and Prejudice meets spies? HELL YEAH.  When I first heard about Talia Vance’s Spies and Prejudice my first thought was, “How is this the first time someone’s thought of this?!”  With the ever-growing popularity of James Bond and other spy thrillers, it makes sense that we introduce the world of young adult readers to Jane Austen’s most popular work with exploding tennis bracelets and walkie-talkie watches.  Teens imagining a world of corporate espionage that they can take part in!? I’d say you’ve caught them as readers – hook, line, and sinker.

As a private investigator, Berry Fields has seen it all.  She specializes in cheaters, men who have affairs and think that they can get away with it.  Within her own personal life she has little use for men.  This is partially because of her profession and partially because of a spin the bottle incident in eighth grade that left her as somewhat of an outcast after pepper spraying a boy in the face.  So, when the handsome Tanner Halston catches her eye, she immediately dismisses him, as is her usual standard procedure.  This is fine for Tanner, who calls Berry “nothing amazing.”  However, despite this seemingly nonchalant attitude that they share, both Berry and Tanner seem to be running into each other more and more often as Berry attempts to investigate her mother’s mysterious death.  Will she be able to stay focused or will Tanner’s insistence on barging into her activities drive her crazy?

First and foremost I have to give Vance major kudos for not beginning Spies and Prejudice with a variation of the opening line of Pride and Prejudice.  As much as I love P&P, I feel like the continued use of its opening line is no longer creative or unique.  Therefore, when I tell you that I enjoyed this book from page one you’ll know I’m not lying.  Berry (the Elizabeth of the story) is a lot of fun.  She’s quirky, smart, and an awesome PI.  Her investigating methods are not always the most morally correct actions, but she does what she has to for her cases.  Tanner (the Darcy) is definitely adorable and completely socially awkward.

I have to say – Spies and Prejudice is an extremely enjoyable read.  It’s a cleaned up version of P&P.  What I mean by this is that it’s been modernized and anything deemed too extraneous has been cut out.  What’s left is a fast paced spy thriller complete with spies, gadgets, explosives, mystery, and danger!  One slight detraction was that there were times that I felt the characters’ spying/hacking abilities were slightly unrealistic, but this didn’t derail the adventurous spirit of the novel.  The story flows quite well from page to page, making it difficult to put down.  It’s the perfect book for your teen to bring to the beach this summer!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge.

Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance
EgmontUSA (2013)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN: 9781606842607

Special thanks to EgmontUSA for my review copy!

Giveaway:

Two lucky winners will have the opportunity to win a paperback ARC copy of Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance!  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Sunday, June 16, 2013.  Winners will be picked at random and announced on Monday, June 17, 2013.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Kim’s Review of Sapphire Blue (Edelstein Trilogie #2) by Kerstin Gier

sbAs you may remember from my review of Ruby Red, the first book in the Edelstein Trilogie (which can be found here), I can’t get enough of the covers on these books.  What’s more, not only are the covers stunning, but so is the writing.  Gier did a wonderful job at crafting a complex story that spans multiple time periods and included interesting characters.  The cliffhanger at the end of Ruby Red nearly did me in.  Luckily for me Sapphire Blue was already available to read, making my depression short lived.

Plot from Goodreads: Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

When I started reading Sapphire Blue I didn’t think this series could get any more epic,  but upon finishing this book I think it totally blew Ruby Red out of the water!  Gideon and Gwen are thrust into a dual-sided battle of words as they try to decipher who is telling them the truth about the power the chronograph will unleash.  Sapphire Blue gives a little more depth into each side’s reasoning behind their belief in what the power is, but left just enough mystery to make reading Emerald Green a no-brainer.

As I suspected, Sapphire Blue delved deeper into Gwen’s mind and her ever growing/changing feelings for Gideon.  The lack of over-the-top intricacies on the “how-to” of time traveling allows the reader to be impressed with other elements Gier presents.  The comedy of Gier’s writing truly shines in this second installment, as Gwen is given a crash course in Georgian history.  Her study of the culture and customs is rife with humorous moments, most especially her dance lessons.  I didn’t think it could get any funnier, but then she’s actually transported back to 1782 and winds up getting drunk on punch.  I became so endeared to Gwen as she struggled to do her best while dealing with the turmoil of discovering that she was a time traveler and confusion over her feelings for Gideon.

In all, if you’re still on the fence about reading the Edelstein Trilogie, take it from me that both of the books have been a delight, and it is definitely worth your while to pick up a copy of both.  Just like Ruby RedSapphire Blue left me on the edge of my seat, and it looks like I’ll have to wait until October, when Emerald Green, the third book in the trilogy, will come out.  Until then, we’ll have to find a way to occupy ourselves and not think of this incredible cliffhanger!  So, if you haven’t already, go out and read this book!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my fifth completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2012)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN: 9780805092660

Kim’s Review of The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik

ttwfIt’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.  You can go so far as to say that it’s my least favorite of all of her works.  It is mainly due to the fact that in my eyes Fanny Price is too meek, too quiet, and so willing to just sit in the wings and wait for what she wants instead of going after it on her own.  My motto in life is “life is what you make of it.”  You have to go after the things you want. If you expect everything to come to you…..well that’s just lazy.

I’m always interested in hearing about modern adaptations of Mansfield Park because I’m so curious to see what writers do with Fanny’s character.  It’s difficult to make introverted characters interesting and appealing…..especially for the YA crowd.  When I heard Claire LaZebnik had written an adaptation, The Trouble With Flirting, I was instantly interested.  Her YA adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (Epic Fail) had me seriously impressed with how she seamlessly transitioned the story from classic literature to a youthful adaptation. (Check out her guest post on the joys and perils of adapting Austen) Knowing all of this I bet you’re asking yourself, “Why did she read this if she dislikes the novel it’s based on?”  I knew that LaZebnik had made some significant changes to the story and the characters.  It’s the mysterious of the unknown changes that had me totally willing to give it a shot.

Franny Pearson, like most teenagers, begrudgingly takes a summer job in order to earn a little spending money.  She takes a job helping her aunt, the costume designer for the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program.  Although she must spend most of her time behind a sewing machine, she gets to be in close proximity to her crush, Alex Braverman.  Alex, on the other hand, barely acknowledges her existence, and is more interested in the girl in the leading role, Isabella.  Although this hurts Franny, she becomes distracted by Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt in the program.  As she becomes more involved with Harry, Franny’s life becomes more complicated as Alex suddenly becomes much more interested in her than he was before.  Was this flirting more trouble than it was worth?

I feel that I first must say THANK YOU CLAIRE LAZEBNIK FOR MAKING MANSFIELD PARK INTERESTING (and for giving Franny some backbone!)  I’m seriously so surprised at how hooked I was with The Trouble With Flirting.  LaZebnik’s writing is superb, witty, sharp,  funny, touching, and relatable.  LaZebnik’s Franny is a true accomplishment.  She has all of the characteristics that I wish Fanny Price had.  Austen purists will probably have a problem with the changes LaZebnik made, but I think that in today’s modern world a woman isn’t frowned upon for going after what she wants (even if what she wants is a man).  LaZebnik’s changes make sense and make Franny more interesting and appealing to a younger audience.

Where LaZebnik truly shines as a writer is definitely in her dialogue.  The witty banter between Harry and Franny had me laughing out loud fairly frequently.  Their attraction to each other quite literally jumps off the pages and hooks you.  You truly get a sense of the characters’ emotions and feelings through the dialogue.  The stress and uneasiness in Alex and Isabella’s relationship is apparent as are the self-confidence issues that Isabella and Julia feel; the strained relationships between Franny and her Aunt Amelia and Marie and her sometimes boyfriends James are all examples of this.

I truly think teens will enjoy this adaptation.  The similarities to life at that age are abundantly clear.  All the angst over who likes who, all the jealousy of the girl who gets the guy you want, the depression over losing your first love, the spark of new friendships and relationships….it’s all there.  If you haven’t yet read any of LaZebnik’s books I suggest you give them a try.  Her ability to get into the teenage mind is simply uncanny.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Trouble With Flirting by Claire LaZebnik
HarperTeen (2013)
Paperback: 313 pages
ISBN: 9780061921278

Special thanks to HarperTeen for my review copy!