Synopsis: Forced into exile on an enchanted, moving island, ex-princess Noa Marchena has two missions: reclaim her family’s stolen throne and ensure that the dark powers her older brother, Julian, possesses don’t go to his head in the process. But between babysitting her annoying little sister, Mite, and keeping an eye on the cake-loving sea monster that guards the moving island, Noa has her hands full.
When the siblings learn that their enemies are searching for a weapon capable of defeating Julian—whose legendary spell weaving is feared throughout the kingdom—once and for all, they vow to get to it first. To everyone’s surprise, the key to victory turns out to be a long-lost magical language—and only Noa can speak it.
But what if by helping her brother, Noa ends up losing him?
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author to read and review but all thoughts are my own
Spoiler Free Review
I read and loved Fawcett’s young adult series, Even the Darkest Stars, and I was looking forward to reading a middle grade book by her. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this! I feel like with fantasy books, having them being a stand alone can be a hit or a miss and this was definitely a hit.
Noa is our main character and she’s an enjoyable character. Noa is the middle child and the only one without magic but she doesn’t let that stop her from helping. Something Noa desperately wants is her ideas and plans to be heard and the lack of being heard by her older brother Julian leads her into trouble. I think those aspects of her make her a more round of a character, add on top that she’s a bit stubborn and she makes for quite the fun main character.
The world in this book was quite fun. Noa, her family, and everyone else helping to get Julian back on the throne live on an island. But not just any island, a moving island with a people eating seamster below. Beauty is the name of the sea monster and I loved her addition to the story, I don’t think it would quite be the same if she wasn’t in it. I like the uniqueness Fawcett added to the story with the moving island, it’s not something you find commonly amongst a story.
One thing that I found a bit confusing was the magic system and I think part of that has to do with the fact that this is a standalone book. I think if this was a series there would of been more of a chance to further the magic system and get more familiar with it. But with this being a standalone and not that long of one, it didn’t allow for much depth of the magic system.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more of Fawcett’s books!
Synopsis: Rune has a mysterious affliction that’s linked to her musical talent. Her mother believes creative direction will help, so she sends Rune to a French arts conservatory rumored to have inspired The Phantom of the Opera. When Rune begins to develop a friendship with the elusive Thorn, she realizes that with him, she feels cured. But as their love grows, Thorn is faced with an impossible choice: save Rune or protect the phantom haunting RoseBlood, the only father he’s ever known.
Spoiler Free Review
I thought this book was okay. I wanted to really like this, I love Phantom of the Opera and I was excited to read a retelling of it. I’m not sure if it was the book or my reading slump but it took me about a month to finish this book. The beginning started out okay but somewhere in the middle it just got weird and fell flat for me.
One thing that confused me was the way the author brought the musical and novel into this world. So the novel is based off of events that Leroux researched, and the author kept all of that in this world, the main character even makes a reference or two the musical and novel. Where it got confusing for me was the fact that the author has the Phantom a.k.a Erik as an actual character. In the novel Leroux took the strange affairs the happened, like the chandelier crash, and developed the character known as the Phantom so to have him as a real character in this retelling made things a little confusing for me.
I was excited for the plot in this but I felt that it was a bit all over the places. For instance, in the beginning it’s mentioned that when Rune gets a song stuck in her head she has to sing it or something happens. But it never was explained why she had to sing whatever song got stuck in her head. And then Rune, Thorn, Erik, and other characters are something and I feel like it was just a weird addition to the story and it felt a bit out of place. There is also this twin flame thing that I felt was never explained very well and I was kind of confused about that.
Being a Phantom retelling I was trying to figure out who represented who. Christine was easy to figure out, that was Rune. Figuring out who was the Phantom was a bit difficult even though the Phantom was an actual character in the book. It was a bit difficult because Thorn was also the Phantom. Raoul was also difficult, for awhile I thought the author just didn’t include Raoul. And then I thought maybe it was Rune’s friends because they were looking out for her and Raoul looks out for Christine. But toward the end of the book I still wasn’t sure if the author included a Raoul representation but in my eyes, it was Thorn and Erik was the Phantom.
My favorite characters in this book were the side characters and I really wish there were more scenes with them! Rune isn’t a bad main character, I just didn’t care for her or what happened to her. I felt bad for her at some points in the book but in all honesty, Erik can take her🙈😂 Thorn, I guess I liked him. When I learned about his backstory I felt sorry for him but besides that I think he was a little one dimensional. I feel like all the characters weren’t well developed besides Erik but that’s only because he was already a developed character by Leroux. Rune’s whole character was based around her singing problem, Thorn’s was deciding between Rune and Erik, and the side character’s in the beginning was looking out for Rune mainly.
One thing I liked about this was there was a reference to the 2004 Phantom of the Opera movie! Thorn uses a red skull wax seal to seal a letter and that is something Gerald Butler’s phantom does as well! There was also a little reference to the sequel of phantom, Love Never Dies.
Overall I was sorta let down by this book. It’s cover is gorgeous so its got that going for it! Phantom phans, and anyone wanting to read a phantom retelling, I would say skip over this one.
Something I have to add was that like in Love Never Dies, Christine and Erik have a baby. This isn’t a major thing but I am kind of annoyed of how the author changed the sex of their child. In the musical they have a boy named Gustave but in this book it’s a girl.
Synopsis: In the land of dolls, there is magic. In the land of humans, there is war. Everywhere there is pain. But together there is hope.
Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Krakow, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.
The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.
But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.
Spoiler Free Review
I posted about this book on my account and someone commented that by the end they were crying and I thought I would be prepared for the ending, I was not. This ending had me wrecked. This story is so well written and its such an amazing plot. This book is a mix of fantasy and historical fiction and it was the right amount of combination. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount of fantasy which I liked.
Karolina is out main character and the book takes place from her perspective. Karolina is a doll living in The Land of Dolls and suddenly the rats from across the sea invade her land. Fleeing from the war, Karolina goes to the forest and there she meets a wind who brings her to Krakow, there she meets the Dollmaker. Karolina is such an optimistic and hopeful character and I think she really brought some light to the story. Even with everything going on, she still remains hopeful and tried to uplift the Dollmaker whenever she can. She is also very compassionate and will do anything for her friends.
The Dollmaker is another main character in the book. He fought in World War I and he’s been a bit down since he came back. Enter Karolina, and things start to change for him. He begins to smile more and his whole demeanor changes. It was cool to see the change in his character once he and Karolina become better friends.
The story is such a beautiful story. I didn’t realize it was middle grade until I looked on Goodreads. I think the author did a good job with handling the grim and horrible time of World War II with it being a middle grade book. The writing is beautiful and Romero’s writing plays well with the story and what it tells. As I said earlier the ending of this book is heartbreaking but I think it is the way the book needed to end. I loved this book and I think I can see it making its way on my favorite of the year list.
Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.
But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.
Spoiler Free Review
I loved this book! It was such a cute, light, and quick read; I think I ended up reading it in two days! Once I started reading it I didn’t want to put it down, it was so easy to get sucked into. I ended up staying up until around 1:30-2am to finish it because I just couldn’t put it down.
The book follows our main character Kate. Kate would much rather be spending all her time out on her family’s lake, but with some convincing from her friend Alana, the two of them joined their school’s podcasting elective. Kate would willingly take ant of the jobs except hosting, but of course that is the one job Kate gets. Kate is an enjoyable main character and while she makes mistakes, she is inly human and I think that adds some realness to her character. One thing that bothered me about Kate as a character was her obliviousness to the whole Diego/Alana situation. Toward the end of the book I started to get a little frustrated with how oblivious she was being. I understand that it plays into the plot but I still found it frustrating.
Alana seems like a good friend, someone I would totally be down to be friends with! I liked how prominent Alana and Kate’s friendship was in this book. It wasn’t something on the side for an extra little plot line. Alana sometimes got on my nerves when it came to Diego and this other character that I am blanking on the name of. But again, I think it added to her realness as a character because no one is perfect, even book character fit into that.
West’s writing isn’t anything spectacular but it lends to an easy to enjoy and understand book. Overall I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more Kasie West books!
Synopsis: First published in French as a serial in 1909, The Phantom of the Opera is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine’s childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous ‘ghost’ of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster.
Spoiler Free Review
So, I have decided I am not just going to do a simple book review for this book. I am going to do three parts: the review, connections in the book to the musical, and then my favorite phantom related videos! The last part probably isn’t necessary but I will take any chance to share my favorite Phantom of the Opera videos that I have discovered as I stay up till 2am watching them😂
I. Loved. This. Book. I have been in a big reading slump ever since quarantine started so its been awhile since I’ve read a book that has kept me up till 2am reading. The story follows three main characters, Erik aka the Phantom/Opera Ghost, Christine Daaé, and Vicomte Raoul de Changny. The book also follows other characters such as the Persian also known as Daroga, Armand and Firmin(the managers), and lastly, Madame Giry. But the main storyline is about Erik, Christine, and Raoul.
Erik, Erik, Erik, oh how I love him. Ever since I saw the 2004 movie, I have been team Phantom and have loved the Phantom as a character. After reading the book, I love both musical Erik and book Erik. Erik was born with a deformity and the main defining characteristic of him is how ugly, hideous, and distorted his face is. So he wears a mask to hid the hideousness of his face and to make himself more attractive, mainly for Christine. Because of how he looks, Erik has been brutally hurt by society and that is why he confined himself to the tunnels beneath the Opera House. Erik is murderous and manipulative but he is also someone who has been hurt by society, who just wants to be loved, and who’s mind has been damaged because of that. Erik is a complex character, so many times I found myself switching from hating him and being disgusted by what he’s done to others to feeling sorry for him and just wanting to give him a hug.
Poor unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we cure him? He asked only to be “some one,” like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a head that could of held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must pity the Opera ghost.
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Christine, Christine(where in the world have you been hiding… sorry, I couldn’t resist😂). Christine is probably the main of the main characters. I believe she is about 16 in the book, but don’t quote me on that(her age isn’t really stated, I just know she is somewhat young). Her father passed away and he told her that he would send her the Angel of Music, enter Erik. Christine is a character who is trying to navigate her life without her beloved father and that is what makes her easy prey for Erik, add the notion that her father said he would send the Angel of Music, its not hard to see why she embraced Erik as her angel. As the book goes on Christine is still a bit of her innocent and naive self but as she becomes aware of who Erik is as a person and that he isn’t the angel in which her father sent, she starts to edge away from a naive girl. Especially in the final lair scene, I think that is where her character goes through the most change.
Raoul, the Vicomte de Changny, his last name is so fun to say aha. It seems that for Raoul, you either love him or you don’t. I do not love Raoul, I am Team Phantom all the way, but I also do not hate him. Raoul in the book and in the musical are portrayed a little different in my opinion so it was interesting to see some differences in their character. I am not going to really dive into the differences between their character portrayal because this isn’t a compare and contrast review(although that would be a good idea for another blog post🤔). Raoul is basically a spoiled rich boy who is also Christine’s childhood friend. Raoul just felt useless in this book, theres a part in the final lair scene where Raoul and the Daroga find themselves in a not so good situation and while the Daroga kept fighting to find a way out, Raoul just, I don’t even know what he did but he did not help. I do have to give some credit to Raoul though for venturing into Erik’s house to rescue Christine.
This book has two relationships, Erik and Christine and Raoul and Christine. First up is Raoul and Christine. Raoul and Christine are childhood friends and their love felt a little instal-love but also not because of how they are childhood friends. I can’t say I am a fan of Raoul and Christine, I just don’t think Raoul deserves Christine. Felt like he cared more about catching the Phantom than Christine. I’m going to strive from the book a bit, theres a scene in the musical, Every Twisted Way, where in the beginning Raoul tells Christine she doesn’t have to be bait for the Phantom. Yet by the end of the song, he basically says the exact opposite and that she is the only hope they have. Yes, that is musical Raoul and that doesn’t happen in the book, but I think the premise is still the same. Anyways, back to the book and Christine and Raoul’s relationship! Bottom line, Raoul did not deserve Christine.
Erik and Christine, talk about a toxic relationship. Erik saw his opening to invade Christine’s life when her father died and Christine had believed he sent her the Angel of Music. Under the premise that he is her angel, Erik gave Christine lessons on singing, allowing her to become such an amazing singer. To get Christine to become a star, Erik does some unspeakable acts. The main level of toxicity in this relationship is what Erik does in the name of love for Christine. Not to mention the age gap between the two, if I am not mistaken, Erik is age somewhere around 50 where Christine is around 16. Erik manipulates Christine and the biggest form of that is in the final lair scene. As to not spoil the book, I’ll reference the musical. Erik entraps Raoul and says to Christine, “Do you end your days with me or do you send him to his grave.” So Christine has to either stay with the Phantom to save Raoul’s life or if she wants to be free, Raoul will die.
This book is a book of tragedy, not only because of the events that take place, but also because of the characters, their story, and what happens to them. I loved every minute of this book and I already want to reread it😂 This book has most certainly made it on the list of my all time favorites!
Are you Team Phantom or Team Raoul? Do you have a favorite Phantom? Lets talk about it in the comments!
Book and Musical Connections
One thing I loved about reading this book was finding the connections/parallels to the musical. So many times I would be reading and just get all excited and go “Thats THIS song omg!!!” So, I thought I would share some of the connections that I found!
The first main one I found was when Joseph Buquet described how the Phantom looks to the dancers.
He is extraordinarily thin and his dress-coat hangs on a skeleton frame. His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils. You just see two big black holes, as in a dead man’s skull. His skin, which is stretched across his bones like a drumhead, is not white but a nasty yellow. His nose is so little worth talking about that you can’t see it side-faced, and the absence of that nose is a horrible thing to look at. All the hair he has is three or four long dark locks on his forehead and behind his ears
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The connection to the musical is in the song Magical Lasso. In Magical Lasso Buquet sings how the phantom looks, and then Madame Giry tells him to be weary, the lyrics are:
Like yellow parchment is his skin
A great black hole served as the nose that never grew
You must be always on your guard, or he will catch you with his magical lasso
Those who speak of what they know find that, too late, that prudent silence is wise
Joseph Buquet, hold your tongue
He will burn you with the heat of his eyes
Magic Lasso from the musical Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Another connection I found was when Christine takes off Erik/the Phantom’s mask. I got excited when I made the connection because in the musical it is a scene I like so to find it in the book was exciting!
Suddenly, I felt a need to see beneath the mask. I wanted to know the face of the voice, and, with a movement which I was utterly unable to control, swiftly my fingers tore away the mask. Oh, the horror, horror, horror!
Erik, now thrice moaned the cry: “horror!…horror!…horror!
The Phantom of the Opera, page 706, by Gaston Leroux
In the musical, the song is Stranger Than You Dreamt It. The lyric I am going to feature is the Phantom talking about his face to Christine, so after she takes the mask off of him.
Stranger than you dreamt it
Can you even dare to look
Or bear to think of me?
This loathsome gargoyle, who burns in hell
But secretly yearns for heaven
Stranger Than You Dreamt It from the musical Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber
The last one I want to mention is the famous chandelier dropping. I think this is one of the coolest scenes in the musical! I was not surprised to find this in the book, but nonetheless I still found it cool and exciting!
She is singing to-night to bring down the chandelier
The Phantom of the Opera, page 672, by Gaston Leroux
In the musical this line and the chandelier drop take place in two different songs. But since we are talking about the actual quote, that is said in the song Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh.
Behold! She is singing to bring down the chandelier! Hahaha!
Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh from The Phantom of the Opera musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber
So those were just some of the connections I found, obviously there were much more but this review is already long enough aha!
This part really isn’t necessary but I can never pass up an opportunity to share my favorite Phantom videos! Below are just some of my favorite videos I have come across. If you choose to check them out, which I highly recommend, I do hope you enjoy them!
Hugh Panaro’s final lair. Hugh Panaro is my second favorite Phantom, he plays the Phantom in a psychopath sort of way, in his version you want Christine to go with Raoul I feel like. Video: https://youtu.be/gK5Z1hbHOUI
John Owen Jone’s final lair. JOJ is my third favorite Phantom. I am going to provide two video links for him. The first being his Final Lair scene, he does this scream at the end which is JAW DROPPING, its absolutely crazy! The second video is him singing Music of the Night, in my opinion, JOJ sings THE best Music of the Night, when he hits that high note, just amazing! Final Lair video: https://youtu.be/oR7gtD5HoNM Music of the Night video: https://youtu.be/DkfutNIPdlM
I can’t do favorite videos and not include one from my favorite phantom! My favorite phantom(as I think I stated earlier) is Ramin Karimloo! This video is of Ramin singing a song from the Phantom of the Opera sequel, Love Never Dies. I was going to do him singing Music of the Night but I already did one for JOJ and wanted to try and give a mix of videos. This is my favorite song from Love Never Dies! Anyway, the video: https://youtu.be/MYKm7mUFGHA
The last video I am going to include is one of my absolute favorites. I have watched this so many times and laugh hard every time. This is a video of Ramin and Sierra, who were the Phantom and Christine in the 25th and Love Never Dies together, singing a POTO medley! Video: https://youtu.be/u5K-_07ua9E
If you watched the videos, which was your favorite? Lets talk in the comments! And if you have a favorite Phantom of the Opera video feel free to link it, I am always on the hunt for more!
Synopsis: When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.
But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.
Spoiler Free Review
I went into this book with low expectations and I think its the best thing I could of done. Before reading this I knew most of the reviews were low, so I went in not expecting much. I enjoyed the beginning of this book, only because of how low my expectations were. I think this book was alright up until the 60-70% mark, after that I think this book just went down. I was not a fan of how it ended and I think it should of ended sooner than it did.
The characters. Not a fan. I do not think there was one character I actually enjoyed. Hollis is the main character and she is boring. It feels like all she does during a good chunk of the book is give the King compliments and makes him laugh. When Hollis and Silas meet, the insta love trope just smacks you in the face. I am not a giant fan of insta love, when its done right I don’t mind it, that wasn’t the case for this book. Hollis changes her mind about who she feels for very fast, but I guess thats insta love for ya.
Delia Grace is such a fake friend to Hollis. I felt a little bad for Hollis when the nature of Delia Grace’s character was revealed. I sorta liked her in the beginning, felt a bit bad about how people treated her and all the rumors that spread about. But that quickly changed. Now I could care less about her, but that can also be said for basically all the characters.
Silas, I don’t really have many opinions on him. I guess he was alright. I don’t like any of the characters that much but I’ll say that I dislike Silas the least.
The ending was a big no from me. Like I said above, I think the book should of ended sooner than it did. Cass tried to give the ending some shock factor but I think she missed the mark on that. The ending felt a little rushed and was a bit of a mess.
The only reason I am giving this a 2.5 and not a 2 or lower is because I didn’t outright hate the beginning. It wasn’t a horrible beginning and it was an easy read. If you are planning on reading this, go in with low expectations, you may enjoy it a bit if you do. Not sure if I will continue with this series, I guess it will depend on the book cover and how pretty it is😂
Synopsis: Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing 3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
Spoiler Free Review
I loved this book so so much! I am such a fan of the hate to love trope so I already had a bit of a feeling I was going to enjoy this book, and I am so glad I did. I have heard nothing but good things about this book so I had some high expectations and its safe to say this book met them.
The romance in this book was definitely my favorite part. I loved seeing the development of Josh and Lucy, watching them go from hating each other to not so much hating each other. I was really rooting for them so with each scene that showed one of them not being hateful toward the other was a win. My favorite part of the hate to love trope is waiting for that moment when they no longer hate each other, you go through the whole book just waiting for that moment and when it comes, you’re like
One thing I liked about this book was the amount of smut scenes there were. I have to say I was expecting a lot of smut scenes and I can’t say I am disappointed with how many there are. The previous adult romance book I read was The Kiss Quotient and that had a good amount of scenes, more than The Hating Game in my opinion, and I was expecting The Hating Game to follow along the same lines. Since there weren’t many steamy parts in the book I felt like we got to see more of Lucy and Josh’s relationship and its development. To me, even though its a romance book, I rather have more scenes that contribute to the characters relationship/personal development than have more smut scenes.
I found the beginning to be a little slow but once I got around 50%, maybe a little less, I just didn’t want to put it down! I also really liked Thorne’s writing.
Overall I just loved this book. It was light, cute, fluffy, and all around enjoyable! This book is definitely going on my list for favorite books I’ve read this year!
Everyone knows how much brainy Bri likes the spotlight (not). So why did she ever agree to something that forces her to learn a new language, give a speech, help organize a party, and juggle drama at school and home?! As the big event inches closer, Bri wonders if it’s all worth it. . . .
Told in alternating past and present chapters, Bri’s heartwarming story unfolds over the eight months leading up to her bat mitzvah–as well as over the course of the big day itself.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher but all thoughts are my own
Spoiler Free Review
One word to describe this book would be cute. The book follows Brianna who is Jewish because her mother is and in the religion if your mother is Jewish, you’re Jewish. But she quite religious school and can’t really speak Hebrew so when her mom comes asking about her having a Bat Mitzvah, Brianna’s first response is no. Soon however she is telling her mom yes and she is suddenly on the journey to preparing for her Bat Mitzvah.
The book switches from the moment Brianna said yes to having a Bat Mitzvah to the day of her Bat Mitzvah. I think switching back and forth from the past to the present worked really well for this book. We get to see her journey of studying for it and also other things going on in her life and also the moments leading up to when she gets up on the Bimah
(the podium or platform in a synagogue from which the Torah and Prophets are read).
While the main focus of this book is on Brianna and her journey of studying for her Bat Mitzvah, it also focuses on other aspects of her life. More specifically, school and friends. When word gets around at school that she is hosting this awesome party(which in reality is just her Bat Mitzvah party) drama happens between her and her friends. So this book also focuses a bit on that drama and how things are at school and away from school.
This book is a bit of a graphic novel. It isn’t fully a graphic novel because there are parts of the book told without illustrations but about half, maybe a little more, is told with illustrations. I am not a huge graphic novel person but I quite enjoyed that aspect of the book, I think in the future I might give graphic novels a chance.
Although I am much older than Brianna I did find myself relating to her. When I was 13 I too had a bat mitzvah and reading about Brianna preparing for her Bat Mitzvah definitely had me thinking about mine. One thing that makes Brianna nervous about having a Bat Mitzvah is reading another language, Hebrew. I remember I felt exactly the same way. I remember when I was studying for mine and I was talking about how nervous I was, I said something like “I’m going to be up in front of everyone reciting a foreign language!”😂
Overall this was an enjoyable book and I found it very cute.
Synopsis: Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.
Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.
But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publishers in turn for a book review but all thoughts are my own
Spoiler Free Book
This book was just so well done, I enjoyed it much more than Hesse’s other book The Girl in the Blue Coat. I liked how this book takes place after World War II as most books set in that time period end with the war and liberation. The book starts with the main character Zofia getting released from a hospital in which she was staying in after her camp got liberated. From the moment she was released Zofia has had one mission, finding her brother.
This book was just so well done, Hesse’s writing style is beautiful. With most WWII books ending at liberation/end of the war it was interesting to see the aspect of what it is like for people after. Some characters are still dealing with a lot and still trying to recover while others are looking forward and finding happiness after such a horrible time.
Zofia is a bit of an unreliable character because her mind isn’t complete. The trauma she went through and witnessed during the war has affected her memory which isn’t surprising, the mind will block out horrible events as a way to cope. Zofia has holes in her memory from at the start of the war and also during it. So every memory she remembers the question is asked of is this a true memory or one made up? Zofia is a strong character because after everything she has been through she is so determined to find her brother and do whatever it is she needs to, including traveling all the way to Germany where she believes her brother might be.
I think a message that this book carries is hope. Zofia never giving up hope on finding her brother even when some tell her it might not be possible. And the side characters we meet in this book, planning a trip to go and live in Israel, full of hope of living in their Promise Land. That after all they witnessed and survived that there is hope, and I do not know if this is something Hesse intended but it is something I took away from the book.
Overall I loved this book and I definitely think its one people should read. It tells the story of someone after the Holocaust and there are not many books out there that do that.
Synopsis: There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.
Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
Spoiler Free Review
What I Liked:
The world. I liked the Camelot that White built, theres this scene in the book where they replace the water with wine and I thought that was funny and cool. Anyways, White kept it as the Camelot we all know but also with her own touch.
The magic. The magic system in this book was interesting. There seems to be two types of magic and in this book we only get to really learn about one so I am interested in if the second book will divulge more into the other kind of magic.
The retelling. I think White did a good job of retelling the well known King Arthur tale. I watched the BBC show Merlin so throughout the book I kept thinking about the show and comparing them, but not in a bad way just to see the differences between the two.
What I Didn’t Like
The plot. I couldn’t get into the story/plot. I just found it slow and uninteresting, feels like nothing really happened until the last two chapters. But even though the last chapters were semi-interesting I was at the point where I just didn’t care anymore. I think I skimmed a good chunk of this book because of how uninterested I was, if this book wasn’t apart of my OWLS I might have DNFed it. It took me forever to get through this book because of how slow I found it to be.
The characters. I could really care less about these characters. The only one I found myself caring about was Guinevere’s handmaid but she isn’t a super main character.
Overall I didn’t love this book and do not think I will continue with the series.