Review: Masquerade

Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier

Masquerade

Publication date: July 23rd 2014

Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia

Number of pages: 304

Series: Maybe

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Source: Received in exchange for review . This is my honest opinion.

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Goodreads synopsis:

It’s the Carnevale of 1750 and Venice’s ballrooms, theatres, palazzos and squares are filled with delicious gossip, devilish fun and dangerous games. In this glittering masked world, everyone has a secret…

Set in an age of decadence made famous by Casanova, Masquerade uncovers the secrets of seven teens, from the highest aristocrat to the lowest servant – their dreams, desires, loves, loyalties … and betrayals.

All the world’s a stage. Let the show begin.

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Review:

“In a city shrouded in secrets, it was only fitting that Orelia’s first view of Venice was shrouded in fog.”

That was the first sentence. That’s when I knew that the writing was going to be pretty. And just to be original, I’m also going to say that that’s also when I knew I was hooked. I just loved the writing. I have a thing for a books that are written in that style of third person.

And what made this even better was that the story was set in one of my favourite time periods ever – the 1700’s. A time with gorgeous dresses, and in this case, masks. The descriptions of the dresses were amazing and I especially love the idea of a ‘smoke’ coloured dress. So cool.

But it was even cooler that it was set in Venice. I mean, come on, Venice?! YES. It was pretty much pre-determined that I would fall in love. I loved the way we got to see Venice from the 1700’s with it’s gondolas and water – it was just so cool.

“You will answer in the same way everyone does; you’ll say you’re here to find yourself in the city of masks.”

Seriously? How perfect is that quote?!

And I loved the way that a few Italian words and phrases were weaved through the text. It was done really well – I’d even describe it as seamlessly. A lot of the words most readers would know, and if they don’t I’d say that it would be pretty easy to figure out what they mean.

One thing I found pretty curious that I really appreciated, was that when Oreliawas intergrated in to the family, they all got along? I have never really come across that before. Usually there’s the horrid/jealous sibling or evil stepmother, etc.

Still on the topic of characters, I loved how we got to follow lots of their stories. They were all complex with their own backstories and were woven in together. They were pretty realistic.

But one thing I was/am a little confused about is “Carnevale”. I don’t really know what it was. I’m probably missing something blatantly obvious or something. Feel free to point it out if you know.

I actually kind of got a Blue Bloods (Melissa de la Cruz) feel from it. The stories really can’t be compared but I think it was all the dresses, characters and maybe even the atmosphere that brought that feeling out in me. So if you liked those things about Bloodlines, maybe you should check this out?

Ahh the ending. Not quite what I was looking for, but I can deal with it. I’m a little heartbroken to be honest. There were a few plot twists in Masquerade actually, come to think of it.

It was a pretty quick read too, come to think of it.

I can’t recommend this enough. I loved it so much! Please let this be a series.

5/5 comets
Bye, bye Earth! Out of this world!

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Author bio:

Kylie FornasierAs a teacher librarian, Kylie Foransier is in touch with what kids like to read, as well as being passionate about helping them enjoy that reading experience as much as she can. Kylie has won a number of writing awards, and already has a published chapter book and a soon-to-be published picture book with other major publishers. She is a strong believer in practicing what she preaches when it comes to her writing and so runs a writers’ group with the NSW Writer’s Centre and another in Penrith. Kylie lives in western Sydney.

Review: A Death-Struck Year

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

A Death-Struck Year

Publication date: March 4th 2014

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Number of pages: 288

Series: N/A

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Source: Received in exchange for review. This is my honest opinion.

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 Goodreads synopsis:

A deadly pandemic, a budding romance, and the heartache of loss make for a stunning coming-of-age teen debut about the struggle to survive during the 1918 flu.

For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country–that’s how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode–and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can’t ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can’t help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history. Readers will be captured by the suspenseful storytelling and the lingering questions of: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?
An afterword explains the Spanish flu phenomenon, placing it within the historical context of the early 20th century. Source notes are extensive and interesting.

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 Review:

Trust me, it says something about a book when I can read it on a phone. This is the only book I have ever stuck out reading on my phone. So if minuscule text can keep my interest, surely that says something good.

Before starting A Death-Struck Year, I knew next to nothing about the Spanish Influenza. And I call myself a history nerd. So yeah, I learnt a LOT while reading this book and I enjoyed every minute of it.

This was one ride of a book. As you will see in the progress/status updates at the bottom of my Goodreads review. You will see that I thought that I nearly threw up my heart at one point. Lovely, eh? I was just stunned. It was horrible and shocking and I felt sick to the stomach for the characters.

Cleo was such a great main character because she was somehow likeable, even though she was stubborn and rather foolish. Somehow this only endeared her to me. She was brave and loyal, unafraid to stand up for what she believed was right. Even if she didn’t always choose the right path to achieve this.

The reason I’m docking off half a star is because at not one point in the book, was I a fan of the relationship between Edmund and Cleo. I just never really felt it. If you have read the book, hopefully you understand why I’m only leaving off half a star.

I was reading everywhere I could – and probably shouldn’t have.

I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction and to people with interest in the earlier nineteenth century. Or even if you just want a good book.

 4.5/5 comets
KABOOM! That onnly leaves one little continent. One little flaw.

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 Goodreads author bio:

Makiia LucierMakiia Lucier grew up on the Pacific island of Guam, not too far from the equator. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master’s in library studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied literature for children. She’s had plenty of jobs, mostly in libraries, and currently resides in the small college town of Moscow, Idaho.