Friday, May 31, 2013

Hedgie's Must Reads: May 2013

Summer is on its way! Hard to believe that May is over, Memorial Day weekend has passed, and we're on the cusp of June. Before you know it, it'll be September and then December! And then it will be time for my yearly Reading Wrap-Up! But we'll just look at May for now, and worry about that later. May was a surprisingly good month for books - better than April! It had its bad moments, but it was nothing like February, thank goodness. Here's the cream of the crop:

Heart of Glass by Sasha Gould (4/5)
The sequel to Cross My Heart, this riveting historical mystery isn't at all what I was expecting. Laura is engaged to be married to her beloved Roberto, eldest son of Venice's Doge. And her work with the Segreta - the secret society of women - is going well. But when Roberto is found late at night with the dead body of a woman, Laura's world starts spinning out of control. I was anticipating an annoying love triangle that would destroy my good opinion of Laura - and ruin her and Roberto's relationship. I also expected a mediocre mystery. But I was very pleasantly surprised. Laura continues to be an awesome protagonist, the love triangle is nil, and the mystery is a blast. Recommended to historical fiction and mystery fans, girl-read, fourteen and up.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (4/5)
Yet another surprising read. It's 1950 in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Josie is the daughter of a brothel house prostitute, and she's stuck. But Josie doesn't want to live out the rest of her days in the crime-infested town; she wants to go to a good college, read books, and make her way in the world. But when a rich tourist turns up dead in New Orleans, and Josie's mother is implicated, Josie's plans are put to a temporary halt. A surprisingly clean story - with no explicit sexual imagery - and a surprisingly sympathetic and smart protagonist, Out of the Easy had to be the biggest surprise of this month. Good mystery, great characters, a writing style that has the 1950's beat, this is one inspirational read that I honestly couldn't put down. Girl-read, great for people who like relaxed historical fiction, sixteen-and-up; adults will also really love this.

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum (4/5)
A "robot apocalypse" has taken hold of Earth several years into the future. Machines that were once created to fight man's wars have now enslaved their creators, hunting down those who refuse robot rule and controlling those that accept it. While Revolution 19 doesn't have very complex characters, and the writing style is not the world's greatest, the characters are easy enough to like, and the robot totalitarian regime is one of the more convincing ones I've read in Young Adult dystopian novel. I really look forward to the sequel. Recommended to guys (and girls who like guy books), fifteen-and-up, great for dystopian, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic fans.

Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn (4/5)
What if the famous Dr. Frankenstein had twin daughters to carry on his legacy, after his untimely death in the Arctic? Would they follow in their father's footsteps, or would they restore the prestigious name of Frankenstein to society? Giselle hopes to do just that, and she's met with quite a challenge when the villagers regard them with suspicion. Meanwhile, Ingrid has inherited her father's scientific and curious mind. The two sisters are going to have quite a time of it at Castle Frankenstein - especially when a rash of mysterious murders accompanies their arrival. The Author really impressed me with the story, the characters, and how true she stayed to Mary Shelley's original story. Recommended to Gothic novel fans!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (4/5)
It's 1918, and the Spanish flu has hit a world ravaged by the horrors of WWI. Mary doesn't believe in ghosts, unlike her aunt, who frequents a spiritualist photographer - Julius Embers, who claims to photograph spirits. But then Mary has a near-death experience, and she starts seeing the ghost of her sweetheart Stephen, who died in France. He's uneasy, and it's up to Mary to find out what's wrong. I expected this book to just be downright weird, but it had one of the most surprising endings I've ever encountered, and I gobbled it up in no time. Mary is an intelligent, strong protagonist who does what needs to be done, and the Author conveys the horrors of the influenza pandemic and WWI very effectively. Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, great for supernatural mystery fans who like a historical setting.

The Auslander by Paul Dowswell (4/5)
Peter is an orphan in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, Poland. But because of his perfect Aryan looks - blond hair, blue eyes, - he's sent to Berlin to live with a German family, and learn to become an perfect racial asset to the National Socialist party - the Nazis. But Peter is forming his own opinions and ideas, and they lead him down a path of courage that could result in his death. Impeccably researched, The Auslander is one the better WWII novels I have read in a long while. The Author explores various Nazi doctrine and the iconic moments in WWII, as Peter encounters Berliners who are for the war, against it, and victims of Nazi persecution. Girl-and-guy read, fifteen-and-up, great for historical fiction fans.

  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins (Worst Book of the Month)
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Best Book of the Month)

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