From looking at the cover of this book, I assumed it would have been a historical romance novel. I honestly thought it would have read like The Luxe or Manor of Secrets, and I was hoping for a Downton Abbey fix. And though there was a touch of romance, my assumption was pretty far off. Gemma Doyle’s experiences in a London finishing school [in 1895] were historically accurate, and she did experience some romantic entanglements, but the plot was primarily focused on the supernatural forces at play in Gemma’s life. While part of me wishes I knew about this book when it first came out, part of me is happy that all three books were already published and available as audiobooks so I could listen to them in rapid succession!
Gemma had a fairly uncomplicated life until the day a strange creature attacked her mother in an Indian marketplace. Rather than be captured by the creature, her mother committed suicide. Gemma’s father insisted on telling everyone that his wife died of an illness, but Gemma knew the truth and was racked with guilt over the fact that her mother was only in that area of the marketplace because she (Gemma) had run off in a snit. After witnessing the attack/suicide, Gemma started having visions — and the visions only got worse after she was sent off to Spence Academy. Trying to make new friends and to succeed in finishing school while also figuring out what was behind the visions proved extremely challenging, but these challenges were no match for Gemma’s pluck and determination.
If you’re into mystery and suspense, and you aren’t worried about potentially getting creeped out and/or ending up with nightmares, this could be the book for you! Evie O’Neill has a gift — she can “read” people’s pasts just by touching an item they’ve used. The only problem is that Evie used this gift as a party trick, and she ended up making a local big shot very angry. Her parents decided that the easiest course of action would be to ship her off to live with her Uncle Will in New York City until things blew over. Little did they realize that Evie was thrilled to be heading out of Ohio and into a big city where her flapper style and sassy attitude would be better appreciated!
Uncle Will, aside from being Evie’s new guardian, also happens to be the the curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (a.k.a. the “Museum of the Creepy Crawlies”). Because there’s an occult-based serial killer on the loose, Will’s expertise is called upon by the NYPD. When Evie manages to tag along to one of the crime scenes, she ends up touching a shoe buckle of the victim and sees something about the murderer. She is sure that her gift could be used help in the investigation… but how can she help without revealing her secret?
After trying to read Going Bovine and feeling like I was too dumb to understand what the heck was going on, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read Beauty Queens. But, luckily, I talked to a coworker who thought this book would be perfect for me and I decided to give the audiobook a chance. Librarians are just so darn good at reading their patrons! Shortly after finishing this book, I discovered a blog post entitled “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls” and it was like this entire book was condensed into number 10… In a much less sarcastic way, that is. And I think that might be a big part of what I loved about this book. The sarcasm, that is. I am an *extremely* sarcastic person, and I just love me some tongue-in-cheek satire.
Have you ever asked yourself, “What would happen if a plane full of beauty queens crash-landed on a deserted island?” Then, this is the book for you! Beauty Queens examines consumer culture, reality TV, politics, rom-coms, the beauty industry, and religion while exploring issues of gender, race, sexuality, beauty, and identity. And while it’s hard to believe that a unified storyline can emerge from a story that tackles so many issues, it really came together nicely. Although the issues covered in this book are totally serious, Bray manages to be anything but serious and still makes her point. (She also manages to sound like a full cast of readers in the audiobook, which is practically a super-power!) I wish I could assign this book as required reading to every insecure girl/woman I know so they could start to see how ridiculous it is that we allow society to put so much pressure on us to be “perfect.” One of my favorite lines was from an advertizement for Lady ‘Stache Off — “Because there’s nothing wrong with you … that can’t be fixed.” I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of our culture telling me that I need to “fix” myself and I hope to teach my daughter (and every teen girl I work with) that we’re all beautiful just the way we are thankyouverymuch!
Holy crap! This was one crazy anthology! It wasn’t really what I was expecting — after all, only one unicorn story made any mention of farting rainbows, while a few of the zombie stories seemed more like love stories and inspirational stories than horror or gore — but I loved it just the same. The story introductions, written by editors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, were rather humorous arguments as to which of the “teams” was winning [based on the stories so far] and always added something extra to the stories themselves. The scary thing is, to be honest, I think I may have been converted from “Team Unicorn” to “Team Zombie” in the end! If you’re looking for some awesome stories that get away from the typical unicorn and zombie stereotypes, you’ll want to check out this book. Happy Reading!
Posted in book review
Tagged Alaya Dawn Johnson, Carrie Ryan, Cassandra Clare, Diana Peterfreund, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, Kathleen Duey, Libba Bray, Margo Lanagan, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Naomi Novik, scott westerfeld, Zombies vs. Unicorns