Review of Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

IvoryandBoneIvory and Bone
By: Julie Eshbaugh
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

My Thoughts:
What a unique book Ivory and Bone was! The writing style and techniques Eshbaugh utilizes to bring the reader closer to her characters and story was a major aspect that sets this book apart as well as it taking place during the Ice Age. I do believe this was my first read that took place during that time period.

Because of the time period our characters deal with issues I don’t typically think about- freezing, hunting mammoths and other frightening, toothed creatures. I loved how the book handled the hunting and survival of the characters. Yes, if you are very sensitive to animal violence there was a little but it honestly didn’t bother me since it was how these characters lived and survived.

You probably read that this book mirrors Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and it does but in very unexpected ways! It did not feel like Pride and Prejudice meets the Ice Age to me. It felt deeper than that and the characters might have allusions to those in Austen’s book but they stand on their own as real feeling characters.

Speaking of the characters- I really enjoyed the approach Eshbaugh took to really introduce the reader to their stories-I’ll let you read the book to find out how exactly she went off the beaten path to do this. I really found Kol an interesting character (though he veered on naive at times) and I enjoyed trying to figure out the mystery behind why Mya’s issues with his tribe derived. The characters relationships were frustrating at times due to miscommunications but it did feel realistic and true to the story.

The setting was so unique and it made me feel the cold though I was reading this in the heat of summer. That was incredibly impressive for the descriptions to be vivid enough to transport me to cold during a Texas summer-but Eshbaugh did it! The cold was palpable and the struggle for the characters to live in this setting was so well done and yet not boring. I mean, really, the Ice Age could make for a rather dull book in the wrong hands.

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Final Thoughts:
Ivory and Bone was incredibly unique because of the setting, gender swapped allusions to Pride and Prejudice as well as the Ice Age setting. I felt that this book was beautifully developed with character growth, a slow burn romance as well as vivid descriptions of the time period.

Review of The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

theLongGameThe Long Game
By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Published: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Tess Kendrick, teen fixer extraordinaire, returns in a pulse-pounding thriller about a deadly conspiracy at the heart of Washington.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can–and cannot–be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover first-hand that power always comes with a price.

My Thoughts:
There’s something about Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ writing that just pulls me in. I’ve read most of her published books and each of them has been a hit for me. The pacing is usually fast and they are exciting and often quick reads. The Long Game was no different. It picks up from The Fixer last year and though I did really like this book I think I liked the other a tiny bit more.

I wasn’t as invested in the characters this round and I think some of that was the absence of Tess’ grandfather. I loved him so, so much in the first book and her struggles with his illness really pulled at my heart. Once again the setting is mostly in the posh Hardwicke School and mysteries and backstabbing abound. It’s really fascinating how many twists and turns are in these books and really it makes reading them so much fun. I caught a couple of the twists but others totally blind-sided me.

Most of the same characters are back for this sequel and we do learn more about some of them (like Henry) and get a better sense of what makes them who they are. I love Asher and his sense of humor. His lightness and flippant attitude really helped to relieve a good amount of the tension for me.

Once again the novel plays on the political schemes within Hardwicke and also in the political realm in Washington. I love how it Barnes focused on both and often they are interwoven. Tess was still a champion for those that need are under-voiced or afraid to stand up for themselves. I felt that the plot was a bit more refined this time and that the major mysteries were more focused in on.

With all the twists this book was very much a thriller and will have readers curious as to what could possibly happen next. The stakes are high- which I loved. You are never sure if everyone will make it out okay or not. This novel was very light on the romantic aspect which also might have pulled from the emotional bit some.

I really had trouble feeling any connections between the characters. I knew Ivy and Tess were working through things but I couldn’t feel it. That was my only real issue with this novel- I really wish I could have been deeply emotionally involved. Regardless, I still found myself eager to pick it up and surprised with how everything played out.

Final Thoughts:
Though I struggled feeling an emotional attachment to the characters I still found The Long Game to be a riveting, thrilling novel that kept my attention. The fast pacing and twists kept me guessing and eager to read more.

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Review of My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

MyLadyJaneMy Lady Jane
By: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided to me in consideration of an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

My Thoughts:
Oh man. This book. I saw SO many 5 star reviews and so much praise I was thrilled when a copy landed on my door. I hadn’t originally planned to read it only because I wasn’t overly thrilled with the author’s previous work nor did the idea of a comedy intrigue me. As my husband so happily reminds me, I have a very limited sense of humor. It is very rare for things to get me to laugh. After hearing how amazing this book was and that comparison to The Princess Bride I thought- I’ll have to love this.

Sadly, this was not the case. I could see what the authors were going for and I respect the effort. I easily saw where things were supposed to cause the reader to laugh but it all fell rather flat for me. I felt the pacing was uneven and sections really dragged. I fully felt the girth of this novel and multiple times I considered DNFing but I kept hoping I’d start to love it. There were moments I thought I’d be able to really connect to the characters and story but it never happened.

I think the writing style was to blame for my complete disconnect. I always felt at arms length. I never really cared about the character’s outcome nor did I ever like Edward. I really wanted to but nope. I also never shipped the romances. Man, this review is seeming so harsh. The thing is I didn’t hate it at all it just wasn’t something I would read again or own. I do appreciate the creativity of doing something different and approaching history with what could/should have been.

I could easily see the attempt to add that Princess Bride feel and I think the book succeeded in that for the most part but it lacked heart for me personally. I did find the addition of humans turning to animals a fun twist though I couldn’t help but compare the divide with the historical religious divide between Catholic and Protestant.

I was impressed with how well the authors work all flowed together and I wasn’t able to see where one work ended and the other began. I couldn’t tell you if they all wrote each character or if they each took one. Their styles and work were seamless.

Final Thoughts:
I am so sad that this book didn’t work for me. The humor, characters and pacing all were a miss for me though I appreciate the idea behind the book and a comical approach to historical fiction.

 

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