Bookit Review: Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy #1) by Kerstin Gier translated by Anthea Bell

Yay! My guest blogger, BookIt returns with a review of Ruby Red. Enjoy!

Ruby Red is the first book of a popular German trilogy that has been recently translated and getting great reviews. The first two books Ruby Red, and Sapphire Blue are available in English, and the last book Emerald Green will hopefully be released in English later this year.

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From Goodreads:

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Gwyneth comes from a family of time travellers, in which the time traveller gene is passed down each generation to one female. They are then burdened with the mysterious responsibility of helping to complete a secret mission under the guidance and control of a secret society known as the Guardians. Right from the beginning you can tell that it will be the inexperienced and funny 16 year old Gywenth, and not her perfect and snotty cousin Charlotte that will end up with the gene. Although, predicable for the reader, it leads to a fantastic storyline in which you can’t help but root for the heroine as she learns the ropes of this new and exciting world in which she has been destined to play a crucial role.

I loved so many things book. Set in Britain, the British translator Anthea Bell, did a fantastic job of ensuring that the humor and language was authentic to the storyline. I even wondered if she helped to improve the original text.  Check out this link from Publisher Weekly in which she answers questions about translating metaphors, puns, jokes etc.

Overall,  if you are looking for an exciting time travel adventure with a splash of romance that will make you laugh you should pick up Ruby Red. I will say that it is light, sparse of agonising drama, with more of an end of middle school feel and thus could be recommended for the younger readers of teen fiction.

Overall it was a 4 out of 5 book for me.

Happy reading,

Bookit

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Bookit Review: Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

I am starting my first Teen Advisory Group (TAG) this fall and I wanted to be able to book talk some of our new releases.  I picked this title up because It looked like a fast paced read (thick spacing between lines, and a fair amount of dialogue), and it also had a review blurb from the author Jay Asher who created a lot of stir with his book 13 Reasons Why about a young teen committing suicide because she was bullied.

From Goodreads:

Megan survived the plane crash—but can she survive the aftermath? An intense, emotional novel from the author of The Unwritten Rule and Between Here and Forever.

Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.

Scared and alone, Megan doesn’t know whom to turn to. Her entire community seems unable—or maybe unwilling—to see her as anything but Miracle Megan. Everyone except for Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own. All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone’s expectations, the worse she feels. And this time, she may be falling too fast to be saved.

I had never read any of Elizabeth Scott’s titles before but I did enjoy reading this book. Although, this term never appears in the story, Megan’s character is dealing with the medical condition Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I found Megan’s experience to be realistic, and was not surprised when I went on the author’s website and found out that she also suffered from this condition.  I appreciated that Scott wrote the story in first person from Megan’s perspective. Although, her character is not always likeable it makes the story more believable. Her parents and friends are trying to be supportive, but none of them have the guts to recognize her struggle and try and help her. However, two great supporting characters; her hot neighbour Joe and an elderly lady named Margaret, are able to see her struggle and help her get through it because of the hardships they have had to deal with in their own lives. Overall while it is an emotional story, I am happy to report that Megan’s character was not too emotionally intense! Sometimes the portrayal of young adult characters becomes annoying when they are constantly agonizing over some issue or another. Miracle does a great job at walking the line in conveying the struggle and pain of Megan’s character while keeping the story interesting and moving along.

I give it 4 out of 5

Happy reading,

Bookit

Bookit Review: Playground by 50 Cent (with Laura Moser)

From Goodreads:

Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn’t have much going for him. He’s teased mercilessly about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to and wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. And now he’s stuck talking to a totally out-of-touch therapist named Liz. Liz tries to uncover what happened that day on the playground—a day that landed one kid in the hospital and Butterball in detention. Butterball refuses to let her in on the truth, and while he evades her questions, he takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today.

Coming from 50 Cent I was expecting a story more elicit with violence, gang peer pressure and hard to read content about abusive relationships. However, I found Butterball’s story in touch with the school peer pressure and bullying faced by many urban teens. Butterball is sent to see a therapist for a violent act he commits at school, but through his sessions with his therapists both the protagonist and the reader come to understand why he has acted out in certain ways and how he comes to make more thoughtful decisions about what is important to him in life.

This story offers teens who have been bullied, and more importantly teens who do bully, the chance to learn and be inspired by the life of an artist who has achieved the urban American Dream. The language of the book is street lit credible but with a light tone (i.e. the word ‘shit’ is as bad as it gets) and the story is aided with images that look they have been created in a spray paint caricature cartoon look.

Overall it was a 3 out of 5 book for me.

Happy reading,

Bookit

Bookit Review: David by Mary Hoffman

I picked up this book because it kept catching my attention as I passed the new teen book display at my library. History and art were two of my favourite subjects in school, and discovering a YA novel that sought to tell the story of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture David was immediately appealing.

From Goodreads:

Michelangelo’s statue, David, is famous around the world. Millions flock to Italy every year to admire the physical perfection of the young man captured within the marble. But the identity of the model has never been known . . . until now.

In this epic tale, acclaimed author Mary Hoffman imagines the story of Gabriele, a naive but incredibly handsome young man who is hired as Michelangelo’s model, only to find himself drawn into a world of spies, political treachery, and murder. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Florence in its most turbulent times, this rich, colorful, thrilling tale gives life to one of the world’s greatest masterpieces.

I would recommend this book for (15+) YA fans that want to be taken back to the time period of the Italian renaissance, who want to get to know the personality of Michelangelo and his feelings towards fellow artist and side character Leonardo da Vinci. David is written with a researched historical undertone, layered with an adventurous story line containing elements of friendship, vanity, sex, war, and personal growth and discovery. Thus, the reader does not have to have a previous knowledge of these artists work to enjoy Hoffman’s story of the sculpture David, but it may inspire them to learn more about this history period afterwards.

The story unwinds from the reflections of Gabrielle, now an elderly man, but once a beautiful young man (18 turning 19), who moved to Florence to discover more of the world than what he had as a rural stone cutter living a modest life attached to his teenage sweetheart girl friend. He is taken in by his milk brother* Angelo (aka Michelangelo) who is immediately inspired by his physique to use him as a model for his work.  Angelo is not the only one who appreciates his looks, and Gabrielle quickly becomes involved in sexual affairs (which are referred to but not described), and the inescapable political wars that ensue between those of the wealthy aristocratic Medici following and those fighting for the Republic.

I do not want to give too much away, so I will keep my likes and dislikes short and hopefully spoiler plot free. I really enjoyed the parts of the story where Gabrielle got to learn more about artwork, the passion and conviction in which those around him worked, as well as his own learning experience. I enjoyed how the storyline included famous artwork that we still appreciated today. Learning about history can be dry if it only contains dates, names, and events. Hoffman’s David, although fictional helped bring to life the stories hidden in lectures I remember sitting at and finding extremely confusing with all the different Italian regions, popes, art movements and so on.  David does contain its share of Italian character’s and terms, but there is an index to help keep readers on track. However, I must admit while I enjoyed the historical aspects, I found that at times it could cause the story to flounder and become slow because of these attributes. 

Gabrielle was a young man facing a large learning curve of life lessons, and he learned these lessons often through poor choices. Should he follow others, or make up his own mind? Should he be influenced by riches and beauty or something more? Despite the flaws in his character, he was also able to show redeemable qualities that made the story worthwhile.

I give it 3 out of 5

Bookit

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