Sunday, June 30, 2013

Flavia de Luce and the Romanovs

You already heard my opinions about MWF Seeking BFF and Cleaning House.

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How fun is it to read a book (The Girl of Fire and Thorns), love it, and find out that it has a sequel...that's already been released?? So fun. I liked this book even more than the first one. But now I really do have to wait for the next one. These covers are still awful, by the way. In my opinion.

Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce, #5 )Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Flavia de Luce is growing up. She's not quite as precocious in this one and she's not quite as invisible to the townspeople. So while this isn't the cutesy-cleverest Flavia de Luce yet, it was still a delightful read. Flavia is growing up, but so are the mysteries she solves, and that's a good thing.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a pretty solid, spooky thriller/mystery that I really enjoyed, even if later on I noticed a few weaknesses that bring its rating down a notch. For example, this was one of those times where the author's mind's eye (as it were) worked differently than mine. There were a lot of scenes that I had to re-read because I couldn't quite place the movement of the characters properly because of the way things were described. But that also could have been because I was pretty much devouring this book at high speed and sometimes you miss things when you JUST CAN'T WAIT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!!!

If you're looking for a book that has that eerie-slow-chill-mystery thing going on, maybe with some humor and romance thrown in the mix, this is a great pick. It's Imaginary Girls without the pesky drugs and alcohol, and City of Bones without being so fanciful.

The Romanovs: The Final ChapterThe Romanovs: The Final Chapter by Robert K. Massie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My biggest complaint about this book is something that can't be helped: it was published in 1996 (my version says 1995). A few threads of the central mystery (the fate of the remains of Anastasia/Marie and Alexis, for example) remain unsolved in this book, which was so frustrating. When you read a book all about what happened to the Romanovs, you want to find out, you know, ALL ABOUT what happened to the Romanovs. I guess my next stop will be Wikipedia to see what developments there have been in the almost 20 years since this book was written.

Otherwise, I really liked this book. You should be aware before you start that "The Final Chapter" refers not to the Romanovs' experience inside Ipatiev House, but the search for what happened to them, years later. There is also a section of the book about various Romanov imposters over the years, and another about present-day Romanovs and their pretensions to the nonexistent Russian monarchy.

I can't speak to how generally enthralling this book would be to an uninterested party. I have been interested in this story since I was a kid (thank you, Unsolved Mysteries), and living in Russia only intensified that interest. I can totally see someone reading this book and giving it a meh, but to me it was quite fascinating. I would recommend it to anyone who already has an interest in the demise of the Romanovs. Familiarity with insane Russian politics helps, too.

The Elite (The Selection, #2)The Elite by Kiera Cass

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can't remember the last time I disliked a sequel so much! Maybe Insurgent? Sad. There was hardly any story to speak of, and the heroine was so frustrating to read about. Plus, I hate it when characters in a book are stupid or make dumb decisions just for the sake of the plot. In this book, [SPOILERS ahead; highlight to reveal], the Prince casually loans American a super-old, super-important, politically sensitive book from his super-top-secret library, like it's no biggie. STUPID. Then America keeps it in her room, oh-so-cleverly hidden among her piano books. She keeps it there even after rebels repeatedly break into the palace and rifle through everyone's rooms, looking for...wait for it...BOOKS, specifically. And it never occurs to America to, you know, put the book back in the super-top-secret library. Nah, it will be fine with the piano books. And then she reads excerpts from it on national television, just cuz??? But of course she's surprised when this decision has major consequences and she blames it on, essentially, "I'm just a girl and I was upset, ok???" STUPID. END SPOILERS.

Sigh. It's too bad, because the first one was fun enough to overlook its weaknesses. This one, not so much.

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