Posts tagged ‘paris’

August 9th, 2011

Heist Society by Ally Carter; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Heist Society

Author: Ally Carter

Published: February 9th, 2010

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

She’d absolutely adored the library – an entire building where anyone could take things they didn’t own and feel no remorse about it.

Review:

Audrey, of holes In My brain fame, has raved about Hale, the male crush-interest (they aren’t quite to the L word yet), and has said a few times that these books are really fun. An old ARC I got for free from a friend of mine had been sitting on my shelf for months, so I decided to take it with me on the drive to Utah last week.

Though Heist Society had a lot of potential to be clever and brilliant, I found myself a bit more interested in looking out the window than reading. The drive’s nice, but not that nice. I don’t mean to imply that the book is boring, but it definitely didn’t engross me. I can pinpoint the exact reasons the book fell flat for me.

1) The prose. Perhaps it was the third person point-of-view, but that typically doesn’t bother me. The way that Ally Carter described just about anything felt too distant and too ordinary. I would have appreciated word choice that was more unique and character-specific. Also, the description was a bit sparse.

2) The secondary characters were not as detailed as I would have liked. Sure, they could be sassy and funny, and they did funny things, but I wouldn’t have missed them if they were absent. I can only hope that they make another appearance in the second book and that they become individuals.

3) Hale. I know! Everyone loves him! I was definitely interested in him, but he, like the other secondary characters, was not dug into as deeply as I would have liked. However, I believe that he has more potential than nearly every other character and am eager to read more about him.

Luckily, I’m a sucker for cons and thieves. I mean, fictional ones, of course. I love intricate plots to steal valuable items from highly secure locations. The more clever the plot, the better. Kat is just my sort of gal, and her world is just the sort of world I love to escape to. Because of this, I did enjoy the book. I can’t wait to see if Carter steps it up a notch in the sequel. Audrey recently reviewed book two, Uncommon Criminals (great title!), and described the book as a con itself. Carter, like the writers of Oceans 11, 12, and 13, apparently reveals things in a particular way so that the reader is kept making assumptions and guessing as the story goes along. Mind games are so much fun in books, and I enjoy a book even more if I find that the conclusions I came to are wrong.

Throughout the book, Kat travels around the world, and she ends up in Paris and England more than once. I’m fascinated by Europe (especially Paris), so I definitely appreciated this factor of the book. I only wish she had been more descriptive and had incorporated the environment a bit more.

I believe that Kat is the strong point of the novel. Without her, I would not have given the book three stars. She’s savvy, clever, and most importantly, compassionate. Oftentimes, people think that a strong female protagonist must shed tendencies toward emotional attachment, compassion, sympathy, and tenderness. Why is it that, in order to be clever and independent, a girl has to rid herself of the qualities that make women special? I deeply appreciated how well-rounded Kat’s character is.

Ultimately, I’d recommend this book to people looking for a fun read and a series with a lot of potential. I’m eager to read the sequel and hope that the aforementioned potential is reached!

April 2nd, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Revolution

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Published: October 12th, 2010

Number of Pages: 496

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart. [From Goodreads]

Quote (and because I can’t resist, you get three quotes!):

I don’t like hope very much. In fact, I hate it. It’s the crystal meth of emotions. It hooks you fast and kills you hard. It’s bad news. The worst. It’s sharp sticks and cherry bombs. When hope shows up, it’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.

There is only one thing I fear now-love. For I have seen it and I have felt it and I know that it is love, not death, that undoes us.

Cry your grief to God. Howl to the heavens. Tear your shirt. Your hair. Your flesh. Gouge out your eyes. Carve out your heart. And what will you get from Him? Only silence. Indifference. But merely stand looking at the playbills, sighing because your name is not on them, and the devil himself appears at your elbow full of sympathy and suggestions. And that’s why I did it….Because God loves us, but the devil takes an interest.

Review (which I encourage you to read, though the quotes above are evidence enough that you should read the book):

I received a copy of this beautiful book last October, just days before the release date. You’d think I would have read it already – after all, who can resist something so obviously focused on France? – but the size of this thing! It was daunting. However, after all the fabulous things I’ve heard about Revolution in the past few months, I couldn’t pass it on my way into my room without stopping, picking it up, and apparently, devouring it.

Revolution is a striking book. It exceeds expectations in almost every imaginable way. The setting, the premise, the mystery, the characters, the complex relationships and wild range of emotions – every aspect of a good book is magnified, improved, steroidal.

First of all: FRANCE.

Yes, in all caps. FRANCE.

This book has a lot of it. Not the language, really, but the feel, the atmosphere, the setting, foods, and history – it’s all so very French. I learned so much from this book without feeling like I was being taught. I eagerly looked forward to every bit of historical information. This book gives you the French Revolution so up close and personal you can see the blood staining the guillotine.

The main character, Andi, is phenomenal. I loved that her deep misery and biting attitude took root in something worthy of such terrible aftershock. Once I understood what she and her family had gone through, I could comprehend and sympathize with her general instability and the different ways her family members grieve. Her past literally haunts her, but that terrible past also does just what it was meant to – it molds her. She might be desperate and miserable at the beginning of the book, but it soon became evident that the horrors she struggles through have a purpose. Andi’s such an intricate person, and I found she’s incredibly likable for someone so rugged.

Relationships are the core of Revolution. All sorts of them. Father-daughter, siblings, friendship. There’s reluctant love, dutiful love, lack of love, romantic love, and just about every other type you can come up with. It’s such a dark and mysterious book, so I was surprised to think back and realize that it really does revolve around love. Andi’s relationships are so strained you’re waiting for them to reach their limit and snap – heck, you’re waiting for her to snap. There’s such contrast between, say, her relationship with her father and that with her little brother, but both of them play crucial roles.

Honestly, though, it wouldn’t be fair to focus solely on Andi, her story, and her relationships because this book is as much about Alex, the doomed teenage girl of the eighteenth century, as it is about Andi. Alex’s story begins with the end. You know instantly that she’s walking a tight rope while wind is crashing against her. She doesn’t have much time left, yet she’s bursting with the need to write down all that she’s gone through, particularly her relationship with Louis-Charles, or the lost prince of France. Alex is Louis-Charles’ companion and is charged with keeping his spirits up by the queen herself. Alex’s story takes place during the French Revolution, so clearly being charged with the happiness of the prince isn’t in her best interests.

Though Alex’s story is the more suspenseful of the two and I’m sure I was meant to be completely enthralled, her story is actually the only thing I had trouble with. I was definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY interested. Her diary is stuffed with gloriously fascinating bits of French history, retellings of horrific events, cunning people, and a beautifully told love story (not a romantic one). I wish I could tell you what it was that simply didn’t cut it for me, but I can’t. Alas, all I know for sure is that I found myself occasionally waiting her entries out, excited to get back to Andi. I have no idea why this was the case, but it was.

(I’m looking at the word count of this review now and freaking out. How on earth can I include everything I want to? A super long book requires a long review! Bear with me, please.)

The most delectable thing about Revolution is the way it’s all done. This book would have amounted to so much less in the hands of someone else. Jennifer Donnelly’s prose and style transform this book from an interesting story to a magnificent one. There are lines that I couldn’t resist reading to my mother. There are lines that made me stop and reread. I love it when I come across a book that just wows me and reminds me why I love words with the passion that I do. They have impact. They have force. They can make you feel and experience things you’d never have felt or experienced otherwise.

I’ll admit that the fact there’s some time-travel in the book escaped me. I suppose I knew it at one point, but I was definitely taken by surprise when Andi suddenly wound up in 1795. Not the sort of thing you expect after four-fifths of the book has passed with her snug in the twenty-first century. However, it was a sweet surprise to have the book take an unexpected turn so late in the game. My favorite character was suddenly in my favorite era! It was a little odd, but definitely a fun little romp. (That was the understatement of the week.)

Oh my goodness! Have I not yet mentioned there’s a love story (a romantic one this time)? What? No! My bad. Those of you who were losing interest due to the lack of mushiness, come back! There is indeed a love story, and it is, indeed, awesome. It’s simple, relatively smooth, and is everything you’d want it to be. The romantic plotline does include the only super predictable and cliché moment, but I think every book should be allowed one. The boy also has a really neat name (bonus!).

Revolution is, well, revolutionary. I reveled in every moment. Beautiful passage on top of beautiful passage, heart-wrenching moment on heart-wrenching moment, Jennifer Donnelly has constructed a story – wait, no, two stories – so captivating that 472 pages feels like 150.