Friday, November 20, 2015

Blythewood - Carol Goodman

Blythewood, the first in a series by Carol Goodman, is a Young Adult fantasy novel that everyone will want to pick up and read, stat!  The book takes places at Blythewood Academy, a school for young ladies located in New York's Hudson Valley.  The main character, Avaline Hall, was raised by a single mother and never knew her father.  When Ava's mother dies from a laudanum overdose, Ava is forced to seek employment at Triangle Factory sewing clothes.  Whilst there, she starts seeing a man around town who is familiar to her.  (I'll just leave it at that.)  One day, after seeing him, there is an urgent situation that arises at the factory, and Ava barely gets out alive.  She is rescued by a friend of her grandmothers, and gets accepted to Blythewood academy, where she learns a number of mysterious and magical things. 

I don't want to give away too many things from this novel, so I'll keep the synopsis to what's above, and dive right into what I thought about the book.  I heard about this book a couple weeks ago when I was reading Survive the Night as part of the Penguin Wicked Reads Campaign.  I was curious about the other books that were part of the campaign, and when I stumbled across this one, I knew I had to read it right away.  I checked it out from the library, and from the very first page, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.  The descriptions of places, the people, the clothes they wear - all wonderful!  There is no lack of wondering how things in the book look - but have no fear: the author still leaves plenty to the readers imagination. 

The characters in the book are all very well done, and each of them stands out with their own distinct personality and flavor.  Never once did I find myself thinking the characters sounded too much alike.  When confronted with adversity or a nasty spirited person, it was great to see how Ava and her friends stood up for each other and defended their friends and fellow students. 

Their is a little love interest in the story, but unlike in some novels, it was not overwhelming, nor was it the primary focus of the novel.  That was nice, as I feel that some books let the love interest control the story. 

Overall, this is a solid 5 star read that people of any age are sure to enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Girls from SeeSaw Lane - Sandy Taylor

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through Netgalley.  All thoughts and opinions about this book are my own.
Book: The Girls from SeeSaw Lane
Author: Sandy Taylor
Publisher: Bookotoure
Release Date: December 4, 2015
The Girls from SeeSaw Lane, by Sandy Taylor, is a look at friendship and heartbreak in 1960's Brighton, England.  The protagonist, Dottie Perks, and her best friend Mary Pickles, have know each other their entire lives.  Mary took Dottie under her wing when they were young, because other people didn't want to hang out with the fat girl.  Mary and Dottie do everything together - they even work together at Woolworths, the local department store. 
The primary focus of the book is the relationship that Mary has with Elton, and the one that Dottie has with Ralph.  Mary's relationship with Elton, however, is not much of a real relationship.  He uses her because he knows how she feels about him - so Mary spends most of her time lamenting over him.  Ralph and Dottie, on the other hand, have a wonderful relationship that goes smashingly well until an event happens that changes the entire dynamic between Mary, Dottie, and Ralph.  From there, the novel takes a turn I never would have expected.
I enjoyed this book in so many ways.  I think the characters were all really well developed, and it was easy to distinguish between each character.  I like that the book also had diary entries from Mary at the beginning of many of the chapters - it helped give some more insight into what Mary was thinking about things happening in her life.
The thing that surprised me the most was what happens to Mary (don't worry, no spoilers.)  I didn't see it happening - and I think this worked well to have it be a surprise.  The twist fit in well with the rest of the book, and made for a sad yet fantastic ending.
Overall, this is a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a great read about friendship and love.  You won't be disappointed.