Monday, March 12, 2018

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

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Publication date: 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 374
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 13+

Abby is in love with her best friend, but after having her confession been blown last summer, she has tried to be content with just being friends. Abby also wants to have her art displayed in a gallery show at the museum she works at, but is told that her art lacks feeling. These two things bring about the "Heart List"--a list of things that will help Abby experience more emotions to put into her art and to help her overcome her lingering feelings for Cooper.

I liked this book a lot better than the West's last book. I didn't feel like the main character was dense or stupid. She's still 17, so she had a lot of growing up to do. I think that the idea of a "Heart List" is a great idea on how to do that. Abby was able to experience different things, meet different people, and understand herself and those around her better. That improved not only her art, but her relationship with Cooper and those around her. She was able to learn something about herself.

This is mostly a cute, light book, but touched on some interesting subjects. I never felt like the more serious things were treated lightly or glossed over, but they also weren't the main part of the story. It was just that people are more than just background characters or circumstances are more than just plot points.

There was no sex or language.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Boy: William Shakespeare's Othello Retold by Tracy Chevalier

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Hogarth Shakespeare
Pages: 209
My rating: 2 stars
Ages: 14+

Osei has been the new boy and the outsider at several schools across the world. Dee has never been anywhere but the DC suburb where she has grown up. When the two meet on the playground on O's first day, there is an instant interest in each other. But it's the 1970s and the rest of the school isn't ready for a black student.

When I came to realize that the entire book was going to take place over just one day, I felt like that was unbelievable. For everything to happen within an 8 hour time period, to have a character completely change the way Osei did, it seemed too exaggerated. Then as I continued to read, I started to feel a strange discomfort--something that I can't put into words--and while I think that that discomfort was probably purposeful, it made it so I dreaded reading it and wanted it to end. There was something about the kids and the adult way they acted or thought, the adult things they did, that was really uncomfortable to me.

I've always liked the play Othello--I think it's an intriguing look at how a good person can be manipulated into becoming a bad person. Iago is that whispering devil on Othello's shoulder, saying just the right thing to make Othello doubt Desdemona. But they also had a history with each other. Ian, Osei, Dee, Casper . . . there was no history between them. Osei had been the new boy before; he'd been the black boy, he'd experienced prejudice and he had borne it all. Why was this time any different? I couldn't see Ian being that good at pushing anyone over the edge the way he did to Osei.

There was some sexual references and one swear.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

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Publication date: 2003
Publisher: Soho Press
Pages: 292
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 15+
Series: Maisie Dobbs Mysteries

After studying with her mentor Maurice Blanche for years, Maisie is finally taking over his investigative business. It's 1929, but England is still recovering from the Great War which had taken so many of their boys. Maisie was in France as a nurse, and the things she saw and experienced are still with her. So when she's asked to investigate a farm for wounded soldiers called The Retreat, Maisie must face her past if she's going to be able to close the case.

This wasn't a book I chose from myself, but instead got as part of a book exchange I participated in. I was immediately drawn to the premise: mystery in 1920s/30s England with a female lead. It didn't disappoint.

Maisie is one of those female characters that I really like, because she's strong and yet still feminine. She doesn't have to sacrifice her womanhood in order to do what needs to be done. In fact, there are even times when being a woman helps her.

This first book did focus a lot on the past and Maisie's part in WWI, but I think it was necessary to set up the character and what life is like even 10 years after the War had ended. And the mystery focuses on those who have been affected by the War in such a way that it will never go away.

No language and no sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.