Monday, July 25, 2011

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt
Random House, 224 pages
ARC courtesy of Random Buzzers

"It’s 1986, and 13-year-old Drew Robin Solo is waiting. Waiting for things to happen; waiting to feel moved by something--or, as it turns out, someone. Drew’s summer begins in her mother’s cheese shop, making pasta alongside handsome Nick and caring for her pet rat and constant companion, Hum. The mysterious nightly disappearance of the old cheeses Drew leaves behind the shop lead to Emmett Crane, a boy who effortlessly brings color to her monochrome life. By the end Drew is no longer waiting for life to happen, but instead asking, 'How could people sleep when there was so much at stake, so much happening, when there were so many reasons to be awake and alive?'"

To start off, my first impression of the book was very bad and did not do the book any justice. I have a problem with the cover, first and foremost. I like the colors and the picture, but the font absolutely irks me to no end. And once I read the description, it had me thinking, "Really? A rat? Seriously??" So, needless to say, I thought The Summer I Learned to Fly was going to be one of those easily forgotten books that you read. Boy, was I wrong.

I enjoyed reading from Drew's point of view. At first I thought it would be difficult to connect with the main character, seeing as how much younger she was than myself, but the epilogue was very fascinating and quickly changed that part of my mind.

The book was very well written and kept moving, which was a good thing. There are so many things that I would love to say about this book, but I feel like it would be very easy to give away what happens in the book this way. (There are several surprises.)

You read the book, and you take away something. For me, The Summer I Learned to Fly made me very nostalgic about my own childhood, seeing as how this is my last year in high school. The message of the book wasn't in your face, but it was always in the background throughout the book.

I greatly enjoyed this book. It made me look back on my childhood memories with fondness, but also encouraged me to look forward to the future and what comes next. This book will not be forgotten in my mind, but it is not one that I would think of immediately.

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Greenwillow, 472 pages

"Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her... beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing... it's taken away. All of it. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation. Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage of their room to dance in his silver forest. But there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late."

What first drew me to this book, besides the beautiful cover, was that it is based on my favorite childhood fairytale, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." I thought that "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" would be an interesting fairytale to base a novel off of, so I decided to give it a try. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

The book starts off with the mother of the twelve princesses dying. This means that the entire castle has to be in mourning for a year- all black clothing, curtains drawn, and worst of all, no dancing. Azalea, the eldest princess, is left to take care of all eleven of her sisters, even when the king, their father, is too grief-stricken to care for them. He is soon off to war and Azalea is completely in charge, and determined to keep her sisters not only healthy, but happy. With her every effort at this thwarted by the palace caretakers, Azalea is forced to take desperate measures, leading the girls to the Keeper.

One of the things that makes Entwined so entertaining is its unique blend of genres- historical fiction and paranormal. While the setting is primarily a castle that might remind you of the late 1800s, there are also magicked objects and people. This allows for just the right amount of chivalrous charm and adventure mixed together. The blend of genres makes Entwined an interesting read.

Heather Dixon also does a fantastic job with comic relief- an element that some young adult literature lacks. Humor is thrown in at just the right moment when the plot starts getting intense or sad, and I found myself laughing out loud at this book. If you like sarcastic humor, you'll probably love this book.

Most of the funny remarks come from the second eldest sister, Bramble, who is by far my favorite character. Bramble is a little bit of a contrast to Azalea, who is the main character. While Azalea is refined and tries her best to be polite and proper, Bramble tends to throw all caution to the wind and completely be herself. She is the schemer of the sisters, and is usually persuasive enough to get all eleven of them to go along with her plans. She is stubborn if not somewhat disrespectful, which adds a lot of humor considering the era in which the story is set.

Entwined is beautifully written. The plot goes at just the right pace, and Heather Dixon's word choice gives the story an easy flow. This book is definitely a page turner, and is worth reading.

Rating: 4 stars- I really liked it. Worth buying.