Long-time readers of my blog have suffered through my constant lamentations that everything is a freaking series … I sometimes read a book not realizing that it is the first in a series (ahem, Cinder) and just about die waiting for the rest of the series to be published. Back when this book first came out, I knew it was part of a planned series and made the conscious decision to wait until after all of the books were out before I read it. I had heard it was good and all, but I didn’t hear enough to lure me into actually cheating. The final book of this series came out in November, so I decided I was ready to binge-read the series (well, binge-listen to the audiobooks) this winter. Part of me is glad I didn’t have any major gaps of time in between the stories, but part of me is so mad at myself that I didn’t just suck it up and read these from the start. Such is life, right?!? Darned if you do, and darned if you don’t!
The Finishing School series is just so amazing that it’s hard to explain, but I will do my best to point out the various things I loved. The cast of characters, both normal and nefarious, was fabulous. I think I may have clicked with this series so quickly because Sophronia has a very Georgia Nicholson feel to her — awkward but lovable; smart but bumbling. She’s awesome enough that readers might want to be like her and not so perfect as to be annoying, you know? And although it’s a mystery and a fantasy that takes place in a finishing school, it is a lot sillier than Libba Bray’s [Gothic mystery] Gemma Doyle series. It still had plenty of mystery, and there were conflicts with supernatural creatures aplenty, but there was a much lighter feel to it overall. Readers who enjoyed the steampunk airships of Oppel’s Airborn series and Westerfeld’s Leviathan series will appreciate the fact that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is held aboard a dirigible. Not to mention the proliferation of gadgets, like exploding wicker chickens and mechanical wiener dogs! If you like steampunk, supernatural mysteries, and/or tales of girls who don’t quite fit in with their high society families, I recommend you check this series out.
Jeremy Johnson Johnson was rather unlucky. Not only did his mom leave him and his dad, but his father became so crippled by depression that he became a total recluse. Jeremy became, in essence, the adult of the household and started taking care of things to the best of his abilities. After Jeremy was involved in a prank gone awry, though, he was ostracized by the townspeople who had previously given him enough work to get by. With the final “balloon payment” of the mortgage on his father’s bookstore [aka his home] coming due very soon, Jeremy began to panic. Fortunately, he had a friend, Ginger, who had a crazy plan and a guardian angel of sorts, Jacob, looking after him. Whether he was actually an angel is debatable, but there was no doubt that Jeremy could definitely communicate with the ghost of Jacob Grimm — one of the famous Brothers Grimm. Jacob was pretty sure he had not yet passed on completely because he still had a purpose on earth, and he was certain that his purpose was to keep Jeremy safe. Readers who are familiar with Grimm fairy tales will surely guess that something “grim” is in the cards, but they’re not likely to guess exactly what until it’s already too late. This clever combination of old-fashioned fairy tales and modern storytelling has plenty of suspense and plot twists to keep readers on the edge of their seats, and I’m glad I can finally settle back in mine again. 🙂
Let me just start off my review by stating that I refuse to read any further books if this trilogy suddenly becomes a series with four or more books, like The Selection. As far as I am concerned, this trilogy is complete, there is no more story, and Jenny Hand and Siobhan Vivian should leave it alone! 😉 (Who am I kidding? I’m sure I would eat it up if they published anything else because I tore through these books!) Oh… And there is one other thing I would like to clarify before starting my actual review. Some people might start reading the first book and think the “sci-fi/fantasy” classification is unjustified. Even at the end of the first book, I was a little unsure if the supernatural element was quite enough to justify being in the “sci-fi/fantasy” section of the Teen Area. But, trust me when I say that it will make sense if you keep reading. Continue reading
This story had a little bit of everything. The whole enchilada, if you will. (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist using that pun!) But seriously. This story had drama, action, fantasy, humor, sports, and a love story all wrapped up in one. Fans of books like Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Croak will definitely want to check this book out! Continue reading
As the outgoing President of the Youth Services Section of the NY Library Association, I had the honor of sitting at the head table for the 2014 YSS Empire State Award Luncheon. During the luncheon, the ESA winner, Jacqueline Woodson, was discussing some of the books she had read recently and could not stop gushing about Belzhar. (I didn’t realize at the time that she was also the featured blurb on the back of the book, but she had me sold.) I somehow managed to forget to add a request on the book when I returned to work, though. Fortunately, a colleague put Belzhar on the “Staff Picks” display last week and my friend [upon seeing it on display] asked whether I had read it yet. I said that I didn’t yet but certainly planned on it. She insisted that I take it home RIGHT THEN so that she would have someone with whom she could discuss the ending. Well, I picked it up for a “short” reading break yesterday afternoon, and I read more than half the book. I had to stop reading to eat dinner and to read bedtime stories with my kids, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Belzhar and had to finish reading it before I could go to sleep! Continue reading
I don’t know if this makes me crazy/strange, but I just HAD to hold off on reviewing this book so that it could be my 666th post! What better way to celebrate this milestone than with a book with a modern day grim reaper on the cover? 😉 (Sadly, it seems that my WP dashboard and the message I got after posting my last review disagree on how many posts I’ve previously posted… so this could potentially be my 667th post, but I’m just gonna pretend it’s my 666th post anyway!) Continue reading
As far back as she can remember, Maddie Fynn has always seen the numbers. When she was really little, she didn’t even realize that other people couldn’t see them. Then, one day, she drew an eerie picture of her family. While it was fairly similar to most kids’ pictures of their families — with Maddie and her parents scrawled in little kid style — it also included numbers above their heads. No one knew what those numbers meant, since even Maddie couldn’t explain what she was seeing, so they chalked it up to a quirky thing where she randomly assigned numbers to people around her… Until the day her father died. Only then did Maddie’s mom realize that the numbers above her husband’s head [in the drawing] were actually the numbers that corresponded to his death date.