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I sit for a long time and watch the night bruise toward morning, the purple turning yellow, the yellow fading till it's as if the dark has never marked the skin of the sky at all.
-- A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray

After tragedy strikes her family in India, Gemma Doyle returns to London and is sent by her brother to the elite boarding school, Spence. At first she clashes with the royal circle of the class but soon need forges a friendship between them and a small group is formed. Through an old diary Gemma, Felicity, Pippa and Ann begin learn about The Order--an ancient magical group--and Gemma begins to discover her own powers.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray started off a bit slow for me. It's not there wasn't a hook in the beginning, I just wasn't as interested in it until Gemma reached Spence. But the imagery in the first few chapters were beautiful and kept me reading. Once Gemma began attending school I was hooked. It was a book that was hard to put down and one that was on my mind when I wasn't reading. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next in the trilogy, though it's hard to imagine it comparing to this one.
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Little is known about Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet other than her love affair with the prince of Denmark, her descent into madness and her untimely death. But what if that wasn't the true story? Lisa Klein gives her version of Ophelia's tale, chronicling Ophelia's relationship with Hamlet to her supposed death and what happened afterwards.

Ophelia has always been my favorite character from Hamlet, partly because she is portrayed by Kate Winslet in the Kenneth Branagh film and partly because her story is so tragic. Because of this, when I saw this novel on the shelf at the bookstore I had to read it. The novel started off a little slow for me. In the middle it picked up and I was hooked but once it reached the end it slowed down again. It starts before the events of Shakespeare's play and ends after. The part of the story I enjoyed was what took place during the original play. The rest, for me, could have been cut out.
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After being released from rehab for an alcohol addiction Amy feels like she has entered a different world. Her parents--once only interested in themselves--are giving her extra attention. but the biggest change of all is returning to school sober and without her best friend. It's nearing one hundred days since Julia was killed in a car accident and Amy is still reeling from the loss of her friend and blaming herself for Julia's death. Without Julia by her side, she's become a social outcast. When her counselor suggests she begin keeping a journal she begins writing Julia letters, telling her friend what she's seeing and feeling.

While the story of a brooding high school student struggling with sex, drugs and alcohol isn't a new story I enjoyed Elizabeth Scott's take on it. Amy was an intriguing character, as were some of the students she encountered at school. The letters to Julia added an interesting dynamic to the story as I waited to see what she would and would not admit to her friend. It was a quick read, one that I would highly recommend.
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I read the first Shopaholic book in February before the film came out in theaters and enjoyed it greatly, though it didn't hook me enough to keep me reading until a friend lent me the rest of the series this summer. While some series' get worse as the books progress this series just got better.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is the first of the series, introducing the readers to Becky Bloomwood and her shopaholic ways. It also introduces the reader to a cast of fascinating characters including her parents, her best friend Suze, Suze's cousin Tarquin and, of course, the love interest, Luke Brandon. While the book is funny as she gets herself into trouble because of her shopping habits halfway through it's evident that the story needs some sort of meaningful resolution to be a completely satisfying book.

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan was my least favorite of the series. It's a repeat of the first, set in Manhattan, with higher stakes.

Shopaholic Ties the Knot is when the series really starts to glow. Becky and Luke are engaged but she's in a bit of scrape: both her mother and his are planning completely different weddings and she doesn't know how to say no to one of them.

Shopaholic & Sister finds Becky being introduced to her long-lost sister. But as she tries to bond she discovers something terrible... her sister doesn't like to shop!

Shopaholic & Baby follows Becky as she's pregnant. When she starts seeing the it obstetrician of the stars she discovers that the woman is Luke's ex and suddenly she's afraid that her marriage is falling apart.

Overall, while the first two were fun the last three had lots of heart. They were still entertaining and she was still a Shopaholic but the story no longer focused on her shopping escapades and debt alone. They focused on her relationship with Luke and her friendships, which I found to be the heart of the story. I'd love to read the first again, to go through the beginning of her relationship with Luke once more but the last three I could read many more times.


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Mermaid Dances

October 2009



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