Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls Reviews

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls has been getting a lot of press this summer and it's well worth the hype. The novel follows Thea Atwell, a sixteen year old during the Great Depression, who has been shipped off to a school in the Appalachian Mountains for reasons unknown at the start of the book. She feels isolated and alone, drawn to a few of the girls at the school, but also to her headmaster, Mr. Holmes.

Thea's background is slowly revealed over the course of the novel. She lived in Florida with her family: her parents and twin brother, Sam. They lived a quiet, rather isolated existence, broken only by the occasional visits from her uncle, aunt and older cousin, Georgie.

Thea's isolated childhood leaves her confused about her raging hormones as a teenager. Her desires lead to tragedy within her family and eventually to her forcible removal from her home. Thea is again isolated from her family in the mountains. She finds friends, but holds herself aloof from most of them. Again, she flirts with danger as she draws closer and closer to her headmaster, Mr. Holmes.

The plot is well paced and intriguing. Thea is similar in a sense to Bettina in The Chocolate Money, which I read earlier this summer. Both girls had to grow up too fast and have difficult family situations. Both go off to boarding school where their precocious natures get them into trouble. Both girls grow as an effect of their pasts and their time at school. Thea is certainly more likable than Bettina ever was, probably due to their different backgrounds and circumstances (Thea grew up in a loving household while Bettina's mother was not really the warmest).

There were things that happened off screen so sometimes the timing was confusing. Thea cuts her hair at one point which is mentioned by another character later in the book but we never saw that happen. It doesn't really matter in terms of plot but there were other instances where I was thrown off by something that happened off page and thought I'd missed a few pages.

However, besides that, this was a great book to read on a sweltering summer day. I highly recommend it.

NY Times Review

Buy it at amazon or Barnes & Noble

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Countdown City: The Last Policeman Book II

Sorry I've been so MIA this summer. I've had a lot to keep me busy - exploring a new city, etc - and haven't been fully motivated to keep up the blog. Plus I've been reading a lot of graphic novels, which I haven't been reviewing. Anyway, onto my most recent read:

Last summer I read The Last Policeman and for the most part loved it. Click here for the link to that review. In Countdown City, Henry Palace, white hat extraordinaire is back on the case despite being out of a job. The world is now three months away from the asteroid's landing in the far east. In that time, tons of refugees are seeking shelter in the west, as far from the impact as they can. Of course no one knows how much destruction will arise from the impact so even America isn't entirely safe.

Hank tries to stick to his daily routine, meeting two of his former colleagues at their old diner, which now only serves tea, caring for his dog, Houdini, checking in on his little sister, Nico, and stumbling into cases. He is asked early on to find the husband of his former babysitter, which takes him on various adventures. He stumbles onto some black market areas of New England and winds up looking for a girl at the University of New Hampshire where the students have overthrown the faculty and established their own Utopian society. Meanwhile, Nico and her group believe they can stop the asteroid from causing serious damage. Along the way, Hank gets seriously injured, and Nico does come to the rescue, lending some credence to her ideas that she might be able to help minimize the effects of the asteroid.

Like the previous book, I still love Henry Palace. He's just such a good guy. And also like the last book, he put the mystery together rather abruptly. The end was sort of a whirlwind. And then the epilogue seemed to come out of nowhere, although I liked where Hank ended up in the end. I'm curious to see where the third book goes and if Nico and friends are actually able to stop the asteroid from causing serious damage. Hopefully the third book will be out next summer!

Author's website

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble