Wildthorn by Jane Eagland | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland | Book ReviewWildthorn by Jane Eagland
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2010-09-06
Genres: Europe, Historical, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
five-stars
They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . . Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries—both literal and figurative—and, do beware: it will bind you, too.

I am very embarrassed to admit that an ARC of Wildthorn has been sitting in my house unread since 2010. I think most normal bloggers take review copies that have been on their pile that long and cull them because if you aren’t interested enough to read the book within four years of receiving it, what’s the point? However, I have this enormous guilt complex and because it’s from my very first BEA, I made myself FINALLY read the book over the course of two days. It turns out, I was really missing out by not reading Wildthorn by Jane Eagland. This is a smart, well-written historical fiction young adult book that features a main character who happens to be a lesbian. It’s not a coming out book! I was so into this book, it was so different from the other books on my pile and I have to admit, I love the variety. I love how refreshing this book was.

Louisa Cosgrove is taking the train to be a governess for the Woodville family. She’s a bit leary of her traveling companion, but figures that she’ll be fine once she gets to the Woodville estate. After exiting the train, she comes across a grand house with huge grounds. This house is to be her new home. Unfortunately, what Louisa has assumed to be the Woodville estate is actually Wildthorn Hall, an insane asylum for women. There, Louisa is told that her name is Lucy Cousins. She’s confined to a specific gallery where no one believes her about her name. Louisa is terribly confused as to why she is at Wildthorn Hall. Coupled with this confusion is that she witnesses atrocities committed against other residents of Wildthorn by a woman named Weeks.

However, there is one bright spot and that is Eliza, a fresh faced farm girl who is working at Wildthorn as an attendant. Eliza believes Louisa and she might just be the one chance Louisa has to escape. Friends, Eagland’s book is a nightmare in that I was reading it and finding myself more and more enraged for Louisa and just totally rooting for her the entire time. Like, I was gripping this book to find out who was responsible for committing Louisa/Lucy and what the reasoning was. I have to say — it’s quite the shock and I loved every minute of overwhelming emotions provided by this book.

As readers, I think many of us would be able to relate to Louisa. She’s what is called a bluestocking meaning that she’s so into learning and books in a time when women were supposed to be into domesticity and hearth and home. Louisa does not have the options that are available to us. I mean, in her flashbacks we see that her father encourages her to learn about medical practice despite it being fairly uncommon for women. However, her brother Tom and her mother do not encourage Louisa. What I like about Louisa is that even though she’s been betrayed several times over, she’s got a big heart. She doesn’t decide to wall herself off just because she’s been hurt. She’s very resilient and determined. I like that a lot. Also, Louisa explores her sexuality in Wildthorn. Early on and repeated throughout the book, she proclaims that she will never get married and will never take on a husband. We see, slowly, that Louisa is attracted to females. She acts on her attraction once, and she thinks this is why, perhaps, she has been committed to Wildthorn Hall. I have to admit, I was dreading what I figured would be a dreary, sad ending for Louisa, but instead, there’s just so much hope. It really buoys the book up. Seriously, if you want to read LGBTQ young adult that’s different from the pack, pick this book up.

Wildthorn  by Jane Eagland is divided into various parts. The first part deals with her entering the asylum and getting used to life there. It shows how, in a series of flashback chapters, Louisa grows up and how she finds herself along a life course where she ends up in the asylum. I really liked the bits where we see Louisa’s past. I liked getting to know her family dynamics and the commentary on gender during this time period. This is a book that just made me so mad on behalf of the main character, because how women had little agency and because if a woman shows a bit of moxie then clearly she’s hysterical. Straight up, this book is kind of old at this point in the game but it’s really, really good. If you’ve missed out on it when it first came out, well, I would recommend you pick it up now. I would recommend it especially if you’re in the mood for a different sort of book. Honestly, Wildthorn is not like anything I’ve read before — but full disclosure, I’ve seen it compared to Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and I have not read that one yet.

five-stars

Isla Is (Coming) Here Blog Tour | Graphic Novels Recommended Reading

islaiscoming2

Here is the thing — I am the absolute worst at doing things on time, especially when I am facing some life distractions. No details here, but suffice to say this post is a day late and a dollar short and my apologies to everyone who expected it on Wednesday (sidebar: how is it already Thursday). You can find the whole entire Isla Is Coming blog tour schedule here.

Alas my friends, I am hoping you have already read Isla And The Happily Ever After because it is out and it is wonderful and how can you stand to wait when you’ve got the chance to meet Isla and Josh, everyone’s new favorite ship. I have to say one of the coolest things about Isla and Josh is that they are both into graphic novels and comic books. One of the activities Josh engages in that is so essential and important to the storyline is creating a graphic novel memoir. Meanwhile, Isla just loves to read graphic novels as well as adventure books and it’s awesome. So, in the spirit of fandom and recommending books, I am here today to talk to you all about some really great graphic novels, because what better way to connect with a book than by maybe reading some of the books that Josh or Isla would read?

Here’s Five Great Graphic Novels That Should Be On Josh and Isla’s Reading List:

1. V For Vendetta by Alan Moore

V For Vendetta, Book Cover, Alan Moore,

Why?: This book is smart and revolutionary. You can discuss it for days on days on days. Also? The art is kind of really neat. And ugh, it’s just so depressing in bits but also, really, really good.

2. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Friends With Boys, Faith Erin Hicks, Book Cover

Why?: I can picture Isla loving this book. Friends With Boys is funny, there’s a ghost and it’s got a really great portrayal of siblings and as Isla is one of three daughters, I think she might be able to relate, even though the book is about a girl with three brothers.

3. Relish by Lucy Knisley

Relish by Lucy Knisley | Good Books & Good Wine

Why?: Josh and Isla go out to eat several times during the book and I can just picture them both being really into Relish which is a graphic novel memoir about Lucy Knisley’s relationship with food. It is a delectable book.

4. Blankets by Craig Thompson

Blankets, Craig Thompson, Book Cover, Blue Forest

Why?: Josh is writing and drawing a graphic novel memoir of his life. I think that Blankets by Craig Thompson would be highly influential on him as this is graphic novel memoir for Thompson. It’s beautifully drawn, moving, and filled with themes and such.

5. The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention Of Hugo Cabret

Why?: While The Invention Of Hugo Cabret might not be a graphic novel in the traditional sense, it’s an awesome mixed media book with way more pictures than words. It’s a beautiful read set in 1930s Paris about an orphan boy and the magic of the cinema and ugh, it’s just so good. I think that Isla and Josh would really be inspired by the mixed media format. Then, they can pass it onto Anna when they are done because of the cinema bits.

What books do you think should be required reading for Isla and Josh? Let me know down in the comments!

Greenglass House by Kate Milford | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford | Book ReviewGreenglass House by Kate Milford
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2014
Genres: Adoption, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, JUVENILE FICTION, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
four-stars
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.

I love that Kate Milford’s books trust that children will be intelligent. I love that they are complex stories with interesting characters and themes. Greenglass House by Kate Milford is a wintery read with quite the mystery to unravel and a rather fascinating cast of characters.

Milo is looking forward to vacation and some time alone with his parents. You see, they run an inn and winter is usually their quiet season. However, Milo’s hopes are dashed when several strangers begin arriving at the inn. The sudden influx of guests – many of which are smugglers by trade – causes Milo’s parents, the Pines to ask Mrs. Caraway, one of the employees to come help. And so, Mrs. Caraway comes with her daughters in tow, including one daughter Milo’s age named Meddy. Meddy and Milo decide to take on these personas in a role playing game called Odd Trails to discover who has been stealing things from other guests as well as to follow a mysterious map that they found that may lead to treasure. Milo takes on the character of Negret, a escaladeur who is much more bold than Milo actually is. Meddy takes on the role of Sirin, a scholiast whom only Negret can see and who assists Negret in solving the mystery.

The thing about Milford’s books is that you get multifaceted characters with these layers that never end up being overwhelming. First off, a large part of Milo’s identity is that he has been adopted by the Pines. He actually is Chinese and the Pines are White. I mention this because the idea of ethnicity as an identifier is explored in this book – Greenglass House is a smart read after all. Milo’s adoption causes him to feel guilt as he fantasizes about his birth parents. Beyond this, Milo is a quiet and unassuming person for the most part. It’s mentioned that he gets really bad anxiety and so, by adopting the persona of Negret, Milo finds he is better able to handle his anxiety. Being Negret makes Milo brave.

I would be absolutely remiss if I did not mention the side characters, but first the Greenglass House itself used to be owned by the most famous smuggler of all, Doc Holystone. The circumstances of his death were quite mysterious. Anyways, Milo’s parents now own the Greenglass house which has these cool stained glass windows on every floor. It also tends to serve as an inn for the local smugglers in Nagspeake and thus, a colorful cast of characters end up at the Greenglass House just before Christmas, interrupting Milo’s vacation. There’s a persnickety old lady. There’s a professor who is very interested in the stained glass, there’s Mr. Vinge who is really interested in the local waterways, there’s Clem O. Candler who is lightning fast on light feet, and then there’s Georgie who seems to already know Clem. These characters all are at the inn for different reasons and are actually all connected in some way to the mystery that surrounds the Greenglass House. I will say that I greatly appreciated the individual roles that each character plays.

Frankly, that’s the best thing about Kate Milford’s Greenglass House, how the mystery goes from being about this old map to being about some missing objects to being about actual legitimate mysteries that surround the house and it’s legend. I loved how the story evolved into something bigger and bigger. Yet, it never gets too big or out of control. It ends up being perfectly resolved in a way that I am very pleased with.

Honestly, if you are into books that have characters that are legitimately different and just plain engaging, you’ll like Greenglass House. If you’re looking for a book with a winter or Christmas setting, you will like Greenglass House. If you’re looking for a book where the house feels like a character, you’ll enjoy Greenglass House. If you want to read something that respects the intelligence of it’s readers regardless of age, you will enjoy Kate Milford’s latest book.

four-stars

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Book ReviewCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Published by Penguin on 2013-08-29
Genres: Family, Parents, School & Education, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
Also by this author: Just Call My Name
four-stars
In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read. “Holly Goldberg Sloan writes about belonging in a way I’ve never quite seen in any other book. This is a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that I’ll never forget.”—John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan sat on my TBR pile for an embarrassing amount of time. I mean, it had been on my pile for over a year which is kind of sad given that I obtained it at BEA 2013 and was super excited to read it. I mean, it’s a middle grade book — which I already love. It’s a book by an author who has moved me before. It’s a book that seems to promise some hope despite the sad promise. And yet, Counting By 7s just hung out on my TBR. Eventually, I decided it could not wait anymore and that the time was right in my life to finally read Sloan’s middle grade book. I ended up really, really liking Counting By 7s even though it did not quite hit me on the same level as I’ll Be There.

Counting By 7s is about this girl named Willow Chance. She is twelve, she comforts herself by counting by 7s. She has a happy life gardening and learning about medical conditions. Her world changes though when tragedy strikes and her parents are killed in a car crash, leaving Willow orphaned. I should also mention that Willow is adopted and she will need to find her way to family again. Counting By 7s is about how Willow goes from being homeschooled to public school, but also about the bonds that Willow forms and the family that she ends up finding. Willow ends up being sent to the guidance counselor because her teacher thinks she has cheated on this test, when really she just is a genius. While in counseling with this guy named Dell Duke who actually groups kids by labels, Willow ends up meeting this girl Mai, and somehow going home with her. What unfolds is this amazing story of finding your place in this world. Like, it has been a few months since I’ve read this book, but I can still remember ending it with this giant smile and a wow, that was sweet and profound feeling.

Willow Chance is a sweet character. By this, I mean, she has trouble interacting with other people because well, she’s just socially awkward, yet she has a good heart. She does not come across as really judgmental, even when she’s diagnosing people’s medical issues. She’s also a genius. She is so smart, it’s kind of amazing to see the way that her mind works. AND OMG HER QUIRK WITH GARDENS, I love that. I mean, there’s this part where everyone comes together to make a garden and to make something better and it’s just beautiful.

This book really meant something to me. I loved how it was this story of people coming together and maybe rising above their circumstances — a crappy job, no money, no family — and building something beautiful and amazing. It’s like a story of people finding their tribe, so to speak. I am such a sucker for those types of stories and well, I think this is the sort of book to read when you need some cheering up.

four-stars

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead | Audiobook Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead | Audiobook ReviewSilver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #5
Published by Penguin Narrated By: Alden Ford, Emily Shaffer
Length: 10 Hours 41 Minutes
on 2014-07-29
Genres: Dating & Sex, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
Also by this author: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound
five-stars
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives. In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists. Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . . Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

There will be spoilers for previous books in the series. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why Did I Listen To This Audiobook?

Richelle Mead is one of my favorite young adult authors. You know how people can be brand loyal? Well I am series loyal. That’s right. I read the hell out of Vampire Academy and right now I am reading the hell out of the Bloodlines series and will be eagerly anticipating each new addition until the very end. I started Bloodlines by reading the physical books, but then right around book three, The Indigo Spell, I began to listen to the audiobooks and now I eagerly anticipate each new audiobook addition to the series. When an email showed up from the wonderful Penguin Random House Audiobook people offering me a review copy of Silver Shadows, I absolutely POUNCED because, I am loyal to this series and was desperate for the next chapter in Sydney and Adrian’s saga. Also? The ending for The Fiery Heart was nuts and you know with cliffhangers like that, waiting is kind of impossible.

What’s The Story Here?

Silver Shadows, like all of the other books in Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series picks up exactly where the previous book has left off. When we last saw Sydney, in The Fiery Heart, she had given herself up in order to save her friends and was captured by the alchemists and sent off to re-education for the cardinal sin of sexing a vampire, a moroi. Meanwhile, Adrian is trying desperately to get into contact with Sydney through dreamwalking. Unfortunately, she’s being sedated and tortured, so it’s not like she is having regular dreams where Adrian can easily access and find her. So, pretty much the whole entire book revolves around Sydney trying to move up through the different phases in re-education so that she can get out of there faster and back to Adrian, and of Adrian going off the deep end and taking up alcohol and then Adrian trying his darndest to find Sydney. Oh, and there might just be a scene where the whole entire game changes and you know, where Richelle Mead makes it so that shit gets real. Oh, friends, it gets SO REAL and it is SO AWESOME. Like, I ended this book and went on goodreads and all I could type was OMGGGGGGGGG. That’s how fabulous the ending is. And yes, there’s totally another cliffhanger, but hey the last book, The Ruby Circle is out in February 2015, so it’s not like the wait for the last Bloodlines book is too terribly long. We can all wait that long, right?

ARE THERE SWOONS?

Girl, please. Once we move past the re-education center stuff, this book is ALL swoon. High octane swoons.Like, things are blowing up and there’s some walking off like a total badass and then BAM KISSING. It’s awesome. And okay, I just want to talk about the ending for two whole seconds: View Spoiler » Really you guys, I love Sydney and Adrian as a couple and Richelle Mead for her grand plan with Vampire Academy’s love triangle to this lack of triangle. It’s just, perfect.

How Is The Narration?

The audiobook of Richelle Mead’s Silver Shadows is narrated by Emily Shaffer and Alden Ford, the same two narrators from The Fiery Heart. Clearly I still love both narrators. They inhabit their roles as Sydney and Adrian quite well. I loved listening to this book and would totally recommend the audiobook to someone who is looking for a great listen while driving, doing chores, or what have you. It’s compelling. It’s not boring. The narrators do a superb job in their reading. Also, the audiobook is well produced. It is 10 Hours and 41 Minutes long. At this point, I am so loyal to the audiobook version that I will be finishing this series out on audiobook. That’s how much I love it.

Sum It Up With A GIF:

Basically all the LOVE.

five-stars

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