I Want to Go to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality; Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger Book Review

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Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1)

By: Gail Carriger

Released: February 5, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Length: 307 Pages

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: netgalley

 

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Welcome indeed. Floating in the sky, Sophronia’s finishing school is not your ordinary school. Not even the founder is aware!! I’m more than slightly jealous of the things they get taught, get up to, and the like. It sounds like so much fun. Who knew I would like Steampunk. I avoided it. But, now, I’m in love. Maybe it’s just Carriger’s writing. Oh man, the details! The clothes. The school that flies!!! Did I mention that? And the cute werewolf, a vampire teacher, Soapies (never heard of them before. They sound so interesting). Then the secret mission. It’s all so intriguing. I couldn’t put the book down. Once I really got into it, around page thirty or so, I was hooked. I finished it in a day.

Sophronia has become perhaps one of my new favorite heroines in literature. She is spunky, cunning, sarcastic, smart, and knows how to get in and out of trouble. I want to be her best friend. Now. I loved all the characters, actually. They were written really well. Each character arc was well thought out and developed. Even the minor characters seemed well developed. I could sense their personalities immediately. Sidheag and Dimity were two of my favorites. I can’t choose who I like more. It depends on what the situation is. Both of them are really different. Sidheag is not the girly girl Dimity is by any means. I liked her roughness. Whereas with Dimity, I liked that she wasn’t this rough finisher. She was more delicate, but very truthful and direct. She makes a great companion.

I liked this novel because although it had Steampunk elements in it, it wasn’t overtly Steampunk that would steer me away from it, or overwhelm me. Especially for my first foray into the genre. It was just so good. I can’t think of many negatives this novel has. The writing was pretty spot on. The plot was solid. The characters were strong. I can’t recommend this enough. START THIS SERIES! I am already on book two although I should be reading something else for something else. I just can’t help myself.

Kiki is kinky; Kiki by Amanda Earl Book Review

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Kiki

Kiki

By: Amanda Earl

Released: October 1st by Chaudiere Press

Length: 130 Pages

Genre: Poetry

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via publisher

 

I  am a window made of paper,

a fragile silhouette that goes up in flames

with the merest touch of light.

-untitled from “Alice”

Kiki is based on Kiki de Montparnasse, born as Alice Ernestine Prin. A woman of many talents and surrealist photographer Man Ray’s mistress, Kiki tells her life in parts. Divided up in four sections, the collection begins with “Alice” with rather short, untitled poems about Alice becoming Kiki; the marvelous nights spent drinking, dancing, performing; her sexual awakening and awareness. It is perhaps one of my favorite sections of the collection. The next part titled “Tales of Montparnasse” is one long poem about just that. Fitzgerald and Hemingway make an appearance, of course, as do many others. I didn’t find myself connecting to this one as much. The third section is entitled Opium (After Cocteau). The shortest long poem in the collection, it is by far my favorite in the entire collection. It is about opium use, but there is a beautiful juxtaposition that takes place within the poem that made me instantly fall in love with it.

I remove my mask.

I lie prone on the ground,

a flower’s stem impaled in my chest.

There is something in those two lines is slightly disturbing, but when I picture the flower’s stem, I can’t help but think about the rest of the flower. The whole poem has very strong imagery that challenges each of your senses. It’s the one section not to be missed. The most unique section, and the last, is a call and response to William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch with Kiki as the speaker. The most interesting section by far, I read it very quickly, compelled to keep reading. The responses were very fascinating, and passages chosen from the novel.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection. It was very sensual, explicit with curse words in “Alice”, with imagery that both challenges the senses and brings a reality to the life of Kiki. I think she would be proud of this piece of work.

 

Blog Tour and GIveaway! A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

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A Paris Apartment

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by

Michelle Gable

 [Women’s Fiction/Historical Fiction]

 Release date: April 22, 2014

at http://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250048738

384 pages

ISBN: 978-1250048738

Author’s website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER!

Bienvenue à Paris!

When April Vogt’s boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby’s continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “decrepit.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.

Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder’s repository. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there’s a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April’s quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It’s about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.

It’s about discovering two women, actually.

With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan’s private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe’s life, April can’t help but take a deeper look into her own. Having left behind in the States a cheating husband, a family crisis about to erupt, and a career she’s been using as the crutch to simply get by, she feels compelled to sort out her own life too. When the things she left bubbling back home begin to boil over, and Parisian delicacies beyond flaky pâtisseries tempt her better judgment, April knows that both she and Marthe deserve happy finales.

Whether accompanied by croissants or champagne, this delectable debut novel depicts the Paris of the Belle Epoque and the present day with vibrant and stunning allure. Based on historical events, Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment will entertain and inspire, as readers embrace the struggles and successes of two very unforgettable women.

What do you do after your husband cheats, your marriage is in shambles, and you have the immediate chance to go to Paris for work without him? You go. 

April is struggling. She is on the verge of drowning in a marriage where she avoids having the talk. She just avoids. And avoids. Maybe it’ll go away, the truth. But, it won’t. When her boss sends her to Paris on a last minute assignment, she thinks this is the perfect escape. Again, she avoids. What she finds is bigger than anyone ever expected. How she handles things starts to change as she becomes enthralled by the dead Marthe de Florian’s life lessons. What does she learn? That, you will have to read the book to find out.

The dual perspectives were great. There wasn’t one I preferred over the other, which is surprising for me because I normally can choose pretty easily. I found both women to be completely three dimensional. They both had their flaws, faults, and amazing attributes. Marthe was brilliant, ballsy, and brave. April was a more modern, albeit a little more conservative version of her. Both women were entertaining. Marthe more so at times with her vulgar language and adult escapades. It was the twist revolving around Marthe that I really loved. I won’t say what it was, but man I loved it. It was really surprising, but made sense. I was caught off guard. And, to think it is actually true blew my mind even more. So, maybe I did like Marthe more. Her life was definitely more interesting. Boldini never painted April.

April had her pluses, though, too. She had a somewhat creepy Frenchman after her, sort of. She had her marriage problems. She was more of a today’s woman. It doesn’t make her less interesting. But, when you find out Marthe’s origins, she becomes ever more interesting. Sorry, April. But, April has got sass! She really stands up for herself. I was impressed with how she transforms herself throughout the book.

This was a phenomenal debut. It was entertaining while informative, the characters were extremely well written and developed, the transition between story lines were seamless, and it leaves you wanting more. I can’t recommend this enough. It was such an engrossing read that I can’t imagine anyone wanting to pass this up. Next time you are thinking of buying a book, look into this one. You won’t regret it.

PRAISE FOR A PARIS APARTMENT

“With its well-developed, memorable characters and the author’s skillful transitioning between story lines…this stunning and fascinating debut will capture the interest of a wide audience but particularly those interested in stories about women behind famous men like Melanie Benjamin’s The Aviator’s Wife or Nancy Horan’s Under the Wide and Starry Sky. Highly recommended.” –Library Journal (starred review)
“A charming read about a fascinating history and the woman behind it.” –Historical Novel Society

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Michelle Gable is a writer and also a mom, wife, financial executive, sports-obsessed maniac (Go Chargers! Go Aztecs!),

Southern California native, barre class fiend, tennis player, and card-carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation.
She grew up in sunny San Diego and attended The College of William & Mary,
where she majored in accounting as most aspiring writers do.
Throughout a career that started in public accounting and then moved to private equity, then investment banking,
and ultimately to the head of FP&A for a publicly-traded software company, Michelle continued to write. And write and write.
Her first novel was released on April 22, 2014, her second scheduled for Spring 2016.

Michelle currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.

Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter 

 

 

While he Was Sleeping, Someone Fell in Love: Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho Book Review

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Althea and Oliver

By: Cristina Moracho

Released: October 9th, 2014 by Viking Juvenile

Length: 384 pages

Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via publisher

Imagine this: it’s your junior year in High School. Academics are getting harder. College is getting closer. Friends are becoming options other than friends. Your life is changing right before your eyes, but there’s a problem. You sleep through it. Literally.

Meet Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley, best friends since they were six years old. Althea is the whip-smart, sarcastic, artistic one, whereas Oliver is the studious, scientific one. What used to be an easy friendship has turned harder. Oliver has been sleeping through life, quite literally. Going to sleep for weeks at a time, forgetting everything in between. Althea has been clinging to him for so long, that she has developed feelings. True to a lot of opposite sex friendships, the friendship gets tested. Can it be repaired?

Although I never felt I got a total handle on Oliver, I loved Althea. She was smart, quick witted, and someone I could see myself befriending in High School. Their relationship was very relatable, albeit Oliver’s condition. I found myself instantly drawn in. I liked how they balanced each other well, but were their own person as well. Their journey was a good one. It felt real and true. I won’t spoil the end, but I was very happy with it! There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about this book. All of the characters, main and side, were developed in a way that was realistic, and still current in today’s time.

The plot developed nicely, never leaving you hanging. I liked the way it took me. I think if you are to gain anything from this book, it would be about identity, and what it means to be yourself. Yes, there was a love story. What I liked, though, was although the love story was a main focus, the concept of identity, and the characters actually going through a sort of major crisis took center stage; allowing the novel to be more universal rather than just about finding love, wanting love and so forth. I do like teen romances, but I enjoy when there is added depth to them, such as finding yourself within the romance like Moracho does with her two characters.

I would highly recommend this novel. More and more, I am finding myself impressed with this year’s debut authors. Moracho is no different. This reads like a second novel, not a first. It is excellent. Not a novel to be missed by any means. If you are a fan of John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Jennifer E. Smith, this novel is for you.

Dollbaby, Dollbaby, Tell Me Your Secrets: Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

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Dollbaby

By: Laura Lane McNeal

Released: July 3rd, 2014 by Pamela Dorman Books

Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction- 1960s Southern Fiction

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via publisher

 

After the sudden death of Liberty “Ibby” Bell’s father when she is around 11, her mother drops her off to stay with her grandmother she never knew. To a house full of secrets and wonderment. There she meets Dollbaby and Queenie, the two women that know how to keep the house running and take care of Fannie, the grandmother. But, they two have secrets meant for keeping.  

Taking place in the 1960’s during the civil rights movement in New Orleans, Dollbaby offers a fun take on a historical fiction novel. Both Dollbaby and Queenie have sass beyond belief. Ibby isn’t lacking any herself. Fannie is a delight, yet a little crazy and eccentric. The plot takes place in three parts, separated by four years each. The first part when Ibby is young, the second when she is in High School, and the last and shortest, when she is in college. Each section offers an authentic look at the civil rights movement and what it was like for a white person to have a black friend. Ibby’s best friend was Dollbaby’s daughter.

I loved this book. I feel the author did a fantastic job analyzing the civil rights movement during that period. She crafted fun, complex, intriguing characters full of life. There was so much to like and enjoy. Then, there were the secrets. My, was I not prepared for what I kept learning. Especially the reveal at the end. There is a tie in reveal that had me shocked for days. Days! Even thinking about it now, I’m back to being shocked. It’s major. Not just OMG major, but major to the characters and plot line. You just can’t believe it happened; and a little you can’t believe the author wrote it in. It’s that shattering. That big. I don’t know in a good way. It’s just big.

There is something about this book that will keep you wanting more. It’s one of those pieces of literature that is so good and fulfilling that at the end you want an unnecessary sequel just so you can read more. There’s no point. No real plot thatcan be continued, but I want it. I will definitely try to read more by this author. She really hooked me in. I hope you will check this novel out. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a little similar to The Help, but really only because there is “the help” featured. I find it can stand on its on far better. Just give it a go.

 

What Everyone Thinks They Know: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu Book Review

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The Truth About Alice

By: Jennifer Mathieu

Released: June 3rd, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

Length: 199 pages

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction– bullying

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Alice Franklin was one of the popular girls. She wore pencil skirts and fitted tops. She was pretty without trying very hard. She was wanted. That’s what got her in trouble. It started at a party, where it always starts. Alice “has sex with two boys in one night” according to one of the recipients who texts his best friend. That slut. If it was just sex, she’d be a slut. But, weeks later the boy with the loud keyboard dies while sexting Alice in a car crash. Now, not only is she a slut, she is a slut who kills the superstar quarterback because she can’t keep it in her pants. How could she! The Truth About  Alice isn’t her story, but the story of four people who think they know the truth; only one is right.

Alice doesn’t get to defend herself in this unique take on he said/ she said. Told in alternating voices of the girl who threw the party, Alice’s then best friend, the best friend of said dead guy, and a guy who wasn’t there but may know something, this novel gives us a look at what bullying is really like. Each voice is different. The party thrower focuses more on herself rather than Alice. The best friend throws Alice completely under the bus because she doesn’t want to be a loner like she was at her old school again. The best friend of dead guy is just idiotic, and the shy, wasn’t even there guy, is the only great character; also, with the only narrative that has Alice speak albeit briefly and in little sentences.

You might not believe me, but I loved this book. Really loved this book. I thought Mathieu did an excellent job writing about High School bullying; and, how hurtful rumors can be. Alice is not the only person who has been slut shamed, whether or not the rumor was true. She went from looking pretty, being herself, to wearing pants and a hoodie zipped up, hiding her head. This isn’t a rare thing, unfortunately; and, Mathieu captured it masterfully. The reader is taken through the whole journey of the development of the rumor to discovering the truth. It’s a heart breaking story, with only a small happy ending.

Although I am well out of High School, and the politics of it, I can see this book as still being relevant. Kids are still cruel. People are being bullied all the time. I think this is a perfect novel to be taught in schools.  See, kids, this is what happens. Do you want to be such and such? Do you see what he/she is doing to Alice? Having Alice not speak in this novel, although it sounds like it wouldn’t work nor be beneficial in teaching a lesson, it does the opposite. Here’s how: you meet Kurt. Kurt is not popular, a total nerd, and the only one who befriends Alice. Yes, he had a crush on her, but his narrative becomes so much more. It brings reality to all the other nonsense you read from the other three people.

At first, I was apprehensive when I found out Alice never gets a chance to defend herself against these rumors, but as I continued reading, I understood why. If you choose to read this book (please do!) you’ll get it, too. Sometimes, these rumors have nothing to do with the victim. They just happen to be with the target. You need to understand the person who is the bully. It completely works. You don’t feel sorry for these people, I sure didn’t, but you get it. You understand where rumors start, develop, and take off full force. This approach is certainly a risk, it may not work in fiction all the time, but Mathieu did it well.

I highly recommend this book. I read it in one sitting; it’s that good. You just want to find out the truth. You know one of them knows, but which one. You will be surprised at who and why. There are three good plot twists that I enjoyed. Little zingers I didn’t see coming. The end was also very good. I loved it. I hope you read it. It’s a book not to be missed, in my opinion. Plus, if you know someone in High School, or are in High School yourself, this will be a great novel for you, I promise!

These Princesses Sure Can Dance: The Girls at The Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine Book Review

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The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

By: Genevieve Valentine

Released: June 3rd, 2014 by Atria Books

Length: 288 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction- Roaring Twenties / Fairy Tale retelling- Twelve Princesses Dancing

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

It’s the era of Prohibition. The flappers are a dancing. The men are sneaking in their booze. In Manhattan, twelve sisters stay holed up in their house upstairs. Never to see their father, only when they are individually called upon to be married off.  Dying to get out of their house, the “general” eldest sister Jo, concocts a plan to drag them out dancing every night. Nothing but worn shoes and out of style dresses.  It’s the only thing that keeps them sane. But, their father has other plans for his daughters. Plans of marriage that doesn’t fit with their dancing lives. 

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is the marvelous retelling of the well-known fairy tale “The Twelve Princesses Dancing”. What makes this novel special, and sets it apart from other retellings, is the era– the glitz, the glamour, and the sneakiness of all of it. Women were just starting to fight for their rights. It’s the perfect time for deception and the freedom these twelve girls/women are seeking. There is no better era, I believe.

 I absolutely adored this novel. I loved the characters, all twelve of the girls. Jo, the eldest, was my favorite. She grew the most out of all of them.  She had the most to lose and the least to gain. I also liked the second set of twins, Lily and Rose. I liked them because one of them was a lesbian. Why do I like that so much? Because think of how bold that is. o develop a lesbian character set in that era? It worked. It pushed the limits, yes. But, it wasn’t too much, too little, or too uncomfortable. It was perfect. It made sense one of them would be. I just liked it. I liked the character, herself, too. How daring she was. She wears pants! That’s a big deal and step.

There isn’t much I can critique about this book. The plot flowed nicely; the characters, although plenty, were developed nicely; and, the setting seemed historically accurate. I can picture Zelda Fitzgerald reading this book today and loving it. Valentine was able to reanimate the roaring twenties and bring back that life that was once alive.  I can’t recommend this book enough. This was truly a joy to read.  I hope you pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

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