Showing posts with label anna godbersen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anna godbersen. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014's Best Book Covers (#amonthoffaves)

The Month of Favorites continues!

Today we're chatting about our 10 favorite book covers.  I couldn't tell from the prompt if we were supposed to keep this to books that we read in 2014 (or if it even has to be books that we've read...perhaps book covers we've admired but not yet picked up?), but since it's the end of the year and we're wrapping up, I decided to limit this to books I read in 2014.

However...I've only read 43 books so far this year, and choosing 10 would mean nearly a quarter of the books I read this year would have to have eye-catching covers.  Which is not the case, unfortunately.  So instead, this is my top 5 book covers of books I read in 2014, because I was only honestly able to pick out 5 that seemed exceptional!

In no particular order...

1. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult  (review)

It's just so pretty and calming.  Sometimes simplicity is all I want from a book cover.

2. The Blonde by Anna Godbersen  (review)

As much as I disliked the book itself, the cover is fairly dramatic.

3. Croak by Gina Damico  (review)

If you've read this book, you'll know that the main character (Lex) is fairly sassy and bad-ass, and this picture sums her up so well.  Plus, you know, scythe.  Kind of disarming.

4. What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell  (review)

Makes me want summer and roller coasters and slurpees.

5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman  (review)

The image of the girl in the water is beautiful, but also rather haunting.  A perfect fit for this novel.

What say you, readers?  Did you read anything with an especially lovely cover this year?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review (DNF): The Blonde by Anna Godbersen


Title: The Blonde
Author: Anna Godbersen
Publisher: Weinstein Books
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads

Marilyn Monroe is at the height of her fame, the object of the world’s desire. Attention is her drug, the very definition of who she is. Her own wants and needs have become fleeting at best, as if she sees herself only through others’ eyes. But there is one thing Marilyn still wishes for beyond all else—to meet her real father. That’s the part you already know, the legend—but here’s the part that’s never been told.
 
In Anna Godbersen’s imaginative novel, set at the height of the Cold War, a young, unknown Norma Jean meets a man in Los Angeles—a Soviet agent? A Russian spy?—who transforms her into Marilyn the star. And when she reaches the pinnacle of success, he comes back for his repayment. He shows her a photo of her estranged father and promises to reunite them in exchange for information: Find out something about presidential candidate John F. Kennedy that no one else knows. At first, Marilyn is bored by the prospect of, once again, using a man’s attraction to get what she needs. But when she meets the magnetic Jack Kennedy, she realizes that this isn’t going to be a simple game. What started with the earnest desire to meet her father has grave consequences for her, for the bright young Kennedy, and for the entire nation. The Blonde is a vivid tableau of American celebrity, sex, love, violence, power, and paranoia.


My Review:

Uuuuuuuuuuuuugh, you guys.  I wanted to love this book SO MUCH.  I hardly ever request ARCs anymore, but I jumped on this one because I adored Anna Godbersen's Luxe and Bright Young Things series.  Those novels are young adult historical fiction, whereas this is more of an adult, history-with-a-twist sort of fiction, but I thought for sure she would nail it.  Plus, it's Marilyn Monroe!  What a cool historical figure to reimagine, especially with so many mysterious elements in her life.

Alas, my excitement was unwarranted.  I trudged through this book up to the 40% mark, and then I could give it no more.

I had two big issues with The Blonde.  One: I was bored.  Despite the amount of the book that I did read, I felt like very little was happening beyond what the above summary already clued me into.  Marilyn is working for a secret agent, hoping to meet her father in trade for secrets about JFK.  So she has lots of sexy meetings with the future president, and finds out...very little of interest.  But she does have a LOT of sex, which I started to think was the only thing meant to keep my attention.

That led to the second issue: this book seems to quickly devolve into a voyeuristic look at the relationship between Marilyn and JFK.  If you want to get your jollies by having a front-row seat for their every (hypothetical) sexual encounter, then this book is for you.  I'm not sure that there's enough plot to draw you in beyond that.  And Marilyn, despite her larger-than-life persona in her heyday, comes across the page as disappointingly flat and monotonous as a result.

I know there's still 60% of this book that I never experienced, but if a book is billed as "part thriller" and I've not yet been thrilled 40% in, I think I'm done.  Sorry Anna Godbersen, I will be in for your next YA historical fiction venture, but this new angle did not work for me.

What was the last book you had high hopes for, but ended up disappointed?

Friday, February 1, 2013

January 2013 in Review

And so January 2013 has come to an end.  A crazy month around these parts, for sure.  I had to dial it down on my posting a little bit, because things just got a little too crazy with work, home, and blogging all at once.  You'll be seeing fewer memes here, but I'm actually okay with that, because I never intended to participate in so many of them in the first place!  I think some memes are fun but can be a bit repetitive when done too often.

I still got a lot of reading done though!  The fave/least fave honors go to...

January 2013 Favorite: Where She Went by Gayle Forman
January 2013 Least Favorite: Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

In total, I read/reviewed 8 books:

I also posted mini-reviews for 2 books:

And one new Small Fry Saturday: Press Here by Herve Tullet

Beyond reviews, we chatted about my New Year's resolutions, bookish travels, and the merits (or not) of reading your book jackets.  I also hosted two more giveaways, and we all know how much I LOOOOVE spreading the free stuff around.  :)

Oh, and I got bangs.  BEFORE Michelle Obama.  Whatever Mrs. O, you can't start EVERY trend.
Why can't I make this photo smaller? Oh well, enjoy judging my pores.

What's on tap for February?  I actually have a lot of ARC/review copies to get to, so you'll be seeing more of that.  And on the personal front, my husband and I are going to try to have a "no spend month"...basically no spending beyond bills, groceries, gas.  Bye bye candy bars from the checkout aisle...and of course, no book purchases.  **sad trombone**  We'll see how this goes.  Luckily February is a short month.

However, I DID budget for my trip to Vermont to see Jodi Picoult on February 26!  WOOT WOOOOT!  So you'll hear about that soon.

What will you be reading in February, my well-read readers?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Deja Vu Review (6): Favorite book covers


The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read in my pre-blogging days.  This week's topic is your favorite book cover(s)!  Here are two of my faves (with mini-reviews to go along).

The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen


I recently reviewed the final installment in Godbersen's second YA historical fiction series, The Lucky Ones.  But the covers of her first series take the cake for awesomeness.  Each cover features a different girl in a drop-dead gorgeous ball gown (fitting for the time period of the novel).  I am not a very "girly" girl, but even I turn green with envy when I see those things.  My favorite is the cover of Rumors; that red dress slays me.

To give you a short review: The Luxe (and its three subsequent novels) focuses primarily on four girls (Elizabeth, Diana, Penelope, and Lina) living among the New York City elite in 1899.  There are lover's quarrels, backstabbing, and murder: what else do you need?  Plus, the period details are excellent.  These books actually inspired me to read a nonfiction novel about this part of NYC's history (When The Astors Owned New York, by Justin Kaplan).  It was a perfect companion to Godbersen's drama-filled fictional story.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

I already mentioned this cover in a Follow Friday post way-back-when, but anyone asking me about my favorite book covers is going to have to hear about Under The Dome.  The cover of this book is simply amazing (and makes me so happy that I have a hardcover copy, so I can pull the jacket off to really look at it!).  It's eye-catching and extremely detailed.  As you read the novel, you can refer to the cover and understand some of the little things that were added into the picture.  LOVE.

As for the book itself, it is, also, amazeballs.  Definitely one of Stephen King's epics, in the manner of The Stand and It.  It's crazy-long, but in that 1000+ pages, the twists and the energy do.not.stop.  LONG story short: the town of Chester's Mill is suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome surrounding it.  No one can get in or out, and even the air has trouble passing through.  The citizens need to find a way to deal with the dome...and each other.

King does a great job getting you into the (massive) cast of characters.  You root for the good guys, you can't wait to see the bad guys meet a grisly end, and even the side characters are fleshed out well enough that you feel a bit invested in them.  Blood and gore?  Yes, but the real story here is the frightening way the town changes as its citizens deal with the realities of the dome.  This book is one of the many reasons I love King so very much.

What are your favorite book covers?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (13)


Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words, all from The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen. All definitions from Dictionary.com.


1. louche. "It was as if mother- and daughter-in-law had set out to define one another in opposition, for where Caroline was decorous, Virginia was louche..."

adjective
dubious; shady; disreputable.

2. bespoke. "When they got back to New York City, they'd spent all their loot buying bespoke suits and gold watch chains and showing off in the Midwest..."

adjective
1. (of clothes) made to individual order; custom-made: a bespoke jacket.
2. making or selling such clothes: a bespoke tailor.

3. lintel. "...they were not in Dogwood but parked on Main Street, in front of a square brick building with the words Police Department of White Cove carved in the lintel."

noun
a horizontal architectural member supporting the weight above an opening, as a window or a door.

*Turns out the first word is French in origin, and the second two are British...I suppose fitting for the "high society" characters in this 1920's novel.

What are your new words this week?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen




Title: The Lucky Ones  (Bright Young Things trilogy #3)
Author: Anna Godbersen
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

**Warning: kind of spoiler-ish if you haven't read the first 2 novels in this trilogy.**

In 1929, the Bright Young Things escape Manhattan's heat for the lush lawns and sparkling bays of White Cove, looking for leisure, love, and luck.

New York City's latest It Girl, Cordelia Grey, is flying high with celebrity pilot Max Darby. But Max is a private person with a reputation to uphold—and a secret to hide. A public romance with a bootlegger's daughter could cost him more than just his good name. . . .

Aspiring triple threat Letty Larkspur has finally gotten her big break, but will her talent—and special bond with the married silver-screen star Valentine O'Dell—make her a target in the cutthroat world of Hollywood? Perhaps the ingenue knows how to play the leading lady after all.

Newly married to her longtime sweetheart, socialite Astrid Donal finds herself spending more time with one of her husband's henchmen than with him. With so many secrets between man and wife, is the honeymoon already coming to an end?

As summer reaches its hottest peak, these sun-kissed girls will find out if their luck can last . . . or if dark surprises are on the horizon.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes the riveting conclusion to the one summer these Bright Young Things will never forget.


My Review:

The Lucky Ones is the final installment in Godbersen's Bright Young Things trilogy, which tells the story of three teenage socialites in New York City at the height of Prohibition (1929).  I became interested in her novels when The Luxe came out a few years back--the first in a series of four historical fiction YA novels that take place in NYC in 1899.  That series is AWESOME (definitely check it out first, if you can!), and led the way for me to jump into this new YA historical fiction series in 2011.

To recap (since I read Bright Young Things and Beautiful Days before this blog began)--while I was not entirely impressed with Bright Young Things (too predictable, lacked character development), the action and detail improved immensely in Beautiful Days.  The ending left me very excited to see what would come next for the three protagonists: Astrid (the bootlegger's girl), Cordelia (the bootlegger's sister), and Letty (their friend and aspiring starlet).

Even so, this book got off to a bit of a slow start for me.  Events from the last two books were being recapped a lot, and I felt that I was in a holding pattern, waiting for something significant to happen.  But around midway through the book, things picked up, and I was happy to encounter some twists that I didn't see coming.  That energy kept up through the ending--but after a while, I felt that Godbersen got a little taken away.  The movement of the plot picked up so much, that I started to become skeptical that the series could completely end with only 50, then 40, then 20 pages to go.  I was worried that the conclusion would feel rushed or unsatisfactory as a result.

In the end, that both was and wasn't the case.  Some details were very rushed.  Several plot changes (Astrid's new relationship, for one) popped up quickly and without enough embellishment for me to find them believable.  Plus, I thought it was awfully convenient that Letty's love interest just happened to cut things off with his fiancee at the perfect time...and that Billie's friend just happened to run into Astrid and her significant other during the epilogue.  There were a few too many coincidences set up like this to make the ending tie up, and it felt messy.  I wish Godbersen had taken the care to work through these details and bring things together in a more natural way.

However, despite that, I was happy with the overall conclusion.  Each of the girls finds an ending that is somewhat appropriate to their situation, with a couple of questions left open here and there.  This isn't an ending where you want every question answered, but you do want to have some idea of where the girls end up, since you've gotten invested in them over the course of the novels.  Godbersen does a good job striking that balance.

As for the characters themselves--I have to say that, of the three, I LOVE Cordelia the most.  She is level-headed, whip-smart, and can hold her own with the boys.  Letty, I like her, but she's just SO naive sometimes that it becomes a bit maddening.  And Astrid has got to be the most empty-headed 17-year-old around.  Don't get me wrong, she's entertaining to watch, and her carelessness is appropriate to her pampered-socialite lifestyle, but you just want to smack her sometimes.  At one point, she's in the midst of a gunfight and worried that she will lose her tiara.  HER FREAKING TIARA.  Girlfriend lost my sympathies right about then, I must admit.

Overall--this final installment of the trilogy had its rocky parts, but I still had a smile on my face at the end.  The series itself is fun and fast-moving, and peppered with interesting historical details.  A nice change from your average modern-day YA novels.  I'd still suggest reading The Luxe first (definitely the superior of the two series), but if you need more of a historical fiction fix after that, try out Bright Young Things.
 
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