Dodger by Terry Pratchett

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When street urchin Dodger sees a young woman being beaten in the street during a storm, he must intervene. Though he saves the girl, Simplicity, the danger she is in is far from over. Dodger, aided by a couple of rich gentlemen (one of whom is the pre-famous Charles Dickens), discovers that Simplicity’s life is far from simple. She is being chased by powerful men from another country — men whose job it is to ensure Simplicity’s death. Using his own street-smarts and his new friends’ money, Dodger must solve the mystery of Simplicity’s past and figure out a way to ensure her safe future.

I really enjoyed this book! Dodger is funny, crafty, and incredibly fun to follow in this story. Though it can be a bit predictable, it was still exciting, and I loved getting a look at all the different perspectives in 19th century London. What I enjoyed best was the discussion of “the fog” — that people only see what they want to see in a situation and not the reality. I think “the fog” happens a lot in society, and it was interesting to see Dodger struggle with public opinion. Aside from deep thoughts, the book also had a ton of action, adventure, and sneaky plans. Pick it up if you’re a fan of historical fiction or action/adventure stories!

Rating: 4.5/5

*Printz Award Nominee, 2013 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

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Revolution by Deborah Wiles

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Told from contrasting viewpoints, Revolution follows Sunny, a twelve-year-old white girl living in Greenwood, Mississippi, and Raymond, a black teenage boy also living in Greenwood in the 1960’s. Though they are roughly the same age and live in the same city, Sunny and Raymond’s experiences are vastly different. Sunny gets to go to the air-conditioned movie theater, swim in the city pool, and live in a nice house. Raymond is not allowed anywhere that white people go, and is not even able to play baseball on a field with lights. Amid this disparate setting, Freedom Riders arrive in Greenwood. With the mission of supporting integration and the newest Civil Rights act, these young people bring a storm of trouble to Mississippi. Sunny and Raymond are witness to this storm, and, over the course of the summer, their lives change forever.

So, this book is LONG. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, but it was long even for me. It’s split up so that it has two narrators (and sometimes a third, omniscient, storyteller) and non-fiction pieces are interspersed throughout the book. While I thought the non-fiction parts were pretty cool for the most part, I did feel like some of them were too long. For example, I don’t need an eight page biography on Lyndon Johnson when he’s not even in the book that much. I did like some of the testimonials from real Greenwood citizens, but some of those sections could have been cut out or shortened. Aside from its length and occasional boringness, this was a solid piece if you’re into the 1960’s and/or Civil Rights. Have patience with it (or just skip the non-fiction if you’re bored with it).

Rating: 3.5/5 

*National Book Award Finalist for Young Adult Literature, 2014

*YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2015

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

Envy by Anna Godbersen

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The third in the Luxe series, Envy picks up after the second book’s devastating finale. Elizabeth finds herself once again imprisoned in her New York life, unable to share the truth of her past. Penelope is quite happily Mrs. Scoonmaker, made so by her devious plot to ensnare Henry with Diana’s honor. As with other Luxe novels, this one is packed with drama, romantic twists and turns, and will leave you guessing to the end. Though I don’t think this was the strongest piece in the series, the second book left me with enough questions that I had to read it. Will Diana and Henry ever get together? Will Penelope get what she deserves? Will Lina be found out? Arguably, these are the same questions as in the other books, but Godbersen keeps it interesting in this installment.

After the second Luxe book, Rumors, I HAD to read this one. Envy picks up exactly where Rumors left off, and I have to say that I was sad that some of the events at the end of the second book turned out to be true. Sad as I was, the new plot developments made for some extremely interesting twists. I’m really excited to see what happens to these characters in the final book. The end of Envy, though, was…weird. I hope things are explained in the next book. If you’re hooked on the series like me, or if you love society drama, give this book (and series!) a shot.

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

Skink — No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

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When Richard’s rebel cousin, Malley, runs off with a boyfriend she met online, he knows it’s up to him to save her. Once it’s clear that the police won’t move fast enough, Richard sets off through Florida swamplands in search of his runaway cousin. Along the way he meets Skink, a seemingly homeless, eccentric man who claims he is the ex-governor of Florida. With Skink’s help, Richard gets ever-closer to finding Malley, though her boyfriend-turned-kidnapper always seems one step ahead of the team. In a race against time, Richard and Skink must use every resource available to find Malley before her kidnapper disappears with her forever.

If you like funny books with a little bit of danger and adventure mixed in, give this one a shot. Skink alone is enough of a draw to make the book worth reading, and his hilarious, crazy antics will keep you entertained. Richard can be a bit of a whiner, but he also has some pretty funny scenes. Aside from that, there’s plenty of action and drama once Richard and Skink team up against Malley’s kidnapper. If you’re looking for a lighter read that still has some adventure, this one might be for you. Give it a read!

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Rumors by Anna Godbersen

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In the second of the The Luxe series, readers find Elizabeth adjusting to her new life in California while her family flounders in New York. Henry, though he is in love with Diana, finds himself still unable to pursue her due to the recent tragedy. Penelope uses the situation to capitalize on her plans to trap Henry into marriage, and soon none of the characters are facing a future none of them could have imagined. Packed with all of the drama and intrigue of The Luxe, Godbersen’s next installment will be a sure hit with fans of the series, or with English romances.

If you loved Luxe, do NOT miss Rumors! If anything, I think this piece is stronger than the first one. There was so much drama, intrigue, and twists — the ending especially was unbelievable. Godbersen’s main strength is her character development. You’ll either love these characters or love to hate them. Penelope, especially, is back with a vengeance and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. I loved rooting for her to fail/secretly hoping she succeeded. Also, Lina is a super interesting character to watch in this book. If you thought her story was done, you were wrong! Like I said, the ending is a crazy cliff-hanger, so get ready to reach directly for Envy after you’re done. If you love the series, romantic dramas, or historical fiction, give this series a shot.

Rating: 4.5/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.