Tag Archives: secrets

Set in Stone by Linda Newbery

28 Feb

535646Title: Set in Stone
Author: Linda Newbery
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Genre: Historic Fiction/Gothic
Page Count: 368

The poster is almost obscured by the press of people in the gallery.

The year is 1898, and Samuel Godwin is a naive young artist who has been plucked out of a London art academy by the wealthy Mr. Farrow to tutor his daughters in art. From the moment he first sees Fourwinds, the Farrows’ sprawling country home, he is captivated by it, and by the three young women who live there: Marianne, young and kind of bonkers but totally bangin; Juliana, passive, reserved, and a bit on the melancholy side; and Charlotte, the governess, who basically tells nobody anything about herself, ever. As time unfolds, Samuel (of course) begins to realize that things are not as they seem, and at the heart of Fourwinds lies a web of scandal and lies more ghastly than he could imagine.

First sentence rating: weak sauce.

OK, so I’ll start by saying that I only read this book because I came across it as I was weeding my teen fiction collection at work. It hadn’t gone out very much so was destined for the chopping block, but when I looked at the blurb and read reviews I thought, by golly, I want to read it! One reviewer even said it was for fans of Brontës. And I mean, I am a fan of Emily AND Charlotte Brontë! Sign me up!

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Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

23 Aug

When he grabs Mama’s wrist and yanks her toward the wall-hanging like that, it must hurt.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away I was a naive library school student doing my practicum in New York Public Library’s amazeballs Teen Central. During a discussion of what to recommend to teen girls to get them reading about strong female leads rather than dippy, self-loathing Bella, the lovely librarians of Teen Central introduced me Kristin Cashore‘s Graceling Realm.

For the uninitiated, and because this is the third book in the sequence (though the second book, Fire, takes place before Graceling or Bitterblue), let me try to do a brief summation: gracelings are people born with preternatural abilities.  Leck, who features in all three novels and is one of the most terrifying literary figures I have ever encountered, ruled the kingdom of Monsea for decades without anyone knowing he was graced. You see, Leck had the ability to control minds, to make people believe everything he said to them. He manipulated their memories and their free will just to please his psychotic whims until Katsa, the heroine of Graceling (graced super power: survival and general badassery) threw a dagger through his open mouth and killed him (holler!), thereby rescuing his young daughter, Bitterblue, and liberating Monsea from a sadistic tyrant.

Bitterblue is the story of the eponymous young queen, now eighteen, who inherited her psychopathic father’s throne after Katsa assassinated him. Stifled by her four overprotective advisers (who are all suffering from varying degrees of PTSD, I should add) and wanting desperately to help her kingdom move forward from its collective trauma but feeling woefully out of touch with the reality of her city,  Bitterblue makes like a teenager, disguises herself as a commoner, and sneaks out at night. She spends evening after evening in her city’s storyhouses, listening to tales of her father’s tyranny and her friends’ heroism. She meets two young men, Teddy and Saf, a printer and a thief,  and as their friendship develops a conspiracy begins to unfold that threatens her life, her kingdom, and the healing it so desperately needs.

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