Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

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Title:
The Pearl Thief

Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Synopsis:

Before Verity . . . there was Julie.

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

In the prequel to Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this exhilarating coming-of-age story returns to a beloved character just before she learned to fly.

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The Pearl Thief is the first  Elizabeth Wein book I have read and it will not be my last. I really enjoyed how Wein’s storytelling realistically situates you in the main character’s mind, which is filled with so much passion, snark, love, innocence, and freedom. The plot of The Pearl Thief not only provides a tone of mystery and stealth, but I was also in awe of the limits that Wein pushed against in regards to the main character’s coming-of-age story. 

As the main character in The Pearl Thief, Julie is one of my new favorite YA heroines. Wein’s writing immediately swifts you into the historical ambiance of an early 20th-century Scotland setting, told through Julie’s perspective, a teenage girl exploring her adolescence through a lens of fear, courage, curiosity, and change. Julie is a full on whirlwind; in the very beginning of the book, she makes a threat that if anyone ever arranges for her to be married, she would run away. HA, right then and there, I knew Julie was going to win my heart in this story. I loved how feisty, funny, and daring she is throughout the novel. If I lived in the late 1930s, I definitely would have tried to befriend her. In the end, I appreciated Julie as a character because she has so much strength, spunk, and will to educate herself and defy social norms. 

Because of Julie’s liveliness and strict determination, this story is engaging and fast-paced. The Pearl Thief has a mysterious tone with a full investigation of a missing person and thefts. In addition to the stealthy tone, it was very refreshing to read a young adult character who is exploring her sexual fluidity, while also trying to understand the ills of the world. Julie is situated in a time where women were pushing the boundaries of the patriarchy, and she was also recognizing the terrible discriminatory labels, stereotypes, and assumptions that were unfairly placed on people due to their social status, religion, gender, race, and way of living. If you love reading historical novels with witty and quirky characters with a dash of sleuthing, The Pearl Thief is for you.

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My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Giveaway Pearl Thief

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE PEARL THIEF, US Only.
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About the author Pearl Thief

Elizabeth


I was born in New York City in 1964, and moved to England when I was 3. I started school there. We lived practically in the shadow of Alderley Edge, the setting for several of Alan Garner’s books and for my own first book The Winter Prince; that landscape, and Garner’s books, have been a lifelong influence on me.

My father, who worked for the New York City Board of Education for most of his life, was sent to England to do teacher training at what is now Manchester Metropolitan University. He helped organize the Headstart program there. When I was six he was sent to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica for three years to do the same thing in Kingston. I loved Jamaica and became fluent in Jamaican patois (I can’t really speak it any more, but I can still understand it); but in 1973 my parents separated, and we ended up back in the USA living with my mother in Harrisburg, PA, where her parents were. When she died in a car accident in 1978, her wonderful parents took us in and raised us.

I went to Yale University, spent a work-study year back in England, and then spent seven years getting a PhD in Folklore at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. While I was there I learned to ring church bells in the English style known as “change ringing”, and in 1991 I met my future husband there at a bell ringers’ dinner-dance. He is English, and in 1995 I moved to England with him, and then to Scotland in 2000.

We share another unusual interest–flying in small planes. My husband got his private pilot’s license in 1993 and I got mine ten years later. Together we have flown in the States from Kalamazoo to New Hampshire; in Kenya we’ve flown from Nairobi to Malindi, on the coast, and also all over southern England. Alone, most of my flying has been in eastern Scotland.

We have two children.

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TOUR SCHEDULE PEARL THIEF

Week One:

5/1/2017- YA and Wine Blogger Post
5/2/2017- Beauty and the Bookshelf– Review
5/3/2017- The Blonde Bookworm– Review
5/4/2017- The Autumn Bookshelf– Blogger Post
5/5/2017- Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile– Review

Week Two:

5/8/2017- Booklove– Review
5/9/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Blogger Post
5/10/2017- Mundie Moms Review
5/11/2017- YA Books Central– Spotlight
5/12/2017- History from a Woman’s Perspective– Review

NOTE: Thank you to Disney-Hyperion  and Rock Star Book Tour for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Book Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore

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Title: Gilt
Author: Katherine Longshore
Publication date: May 15, 2012
Publisher:  Viking Juvenile
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover, purchased

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of (14)

This month, the book club that I am part of picked Gilt as our March read. And even though I didn’t love the book, I still enjoyed it. I love historical novels, but when it comes to King Henry VIII’s life being fictionalized, I usually cringe. He’s not my favorite king to read about, but there’s always something about his selfish choices and his numerous wives that lead to fascinating stories. Gilt was a great book to jump in and focus on the life of his teenage wife, Catherine Howard.

The author, Katherine Longshore, did a great job with sticking to a lot of the historical facts that took place during this time period. I’m one of those people that believes that history affects literature and literature affects history; so of course, this book focuses on the shenanigans that took place during Henry’s reign. Although the book highlights the marriage of young Catherine Howard and Henry, the main focus is wrapped around Catherine’s humble friend Kitty, who I adored. 

I’m not a big fan of Catherine Howard in the first place, so focusing on her marriage to Henry was probably my biggest complaint in the book. Catherine is so young and immature when she marries Henry, so it didn’t phase me that I found her annoying and infuriating in this book. However, her advancement to marrying Henry allows the character Kitty, Catherine’s childhood friend, to shine. I really enjoyed Kitty as a character. I think she is well-developed, and Longshore pays close attention to capturing Kitty as a vulnerable bystander that has a lot of spark and positive qualities, which only made me feel for Kitty’s situation and root for her success in the book. The ending is left open-ended, but I really do wish and pray that Kitty got her happy ending, especially in regards to one of her love interests. 

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NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

ARC REVIEW: The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

Title: The Forbidden Orchid
By:  Sharon Biggs Waller
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Viking
Format: ARC
Source: Blogger Giveaway 

GOODREADS’S SUMMARY

22056895Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.

Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs?


MY REVIEW:

I am a Victorian period enthusiast. It’s a period in history where the roles of women were evolving; adventure challenged Victorian ideas and socio-cultural understandings; and literature shaped societal outcomes. Similar to traditional Victorian novels, Sharon Biggs Waller’s The Forbidden Orchid reflects tropes commonly found in nineteenth-century literature. Ideally, the author includes a feisty female lead, patriarchy’s fear of female transgression, and the British Empire’s imperial ambitions to tame “other” civilizations.

Waller’s main character, Elodie Buchanan, is one of the most satisfying female characters I have read in a long time. She is funny, witty, and damn it, she doesn’t take anyone’s disapproval to heart, especially from her local clergyman. Like her father, who is a plant hunter, Elodie has an innate sense of adventure, discovery, and independence. Unlike her father, who seems to lack the idea that he needs to be more emotionally involved with his wife and ten daughters, Elodie takes on the responsibility to help her family unite emotionally, physically, and financially.

Additionally, the sense of adventure is scattered throughout the story. Elodie encounters thieves of the English streets, the sea sickness from the rough seas, and China’s beautiful plants but humid terrain. Elodie’s sly abilities to escape the thresholds of patriarchy’s rules and her safe English home, and then venture onto a clipper like the Osprey, allows her to transgress from the domestic sphere and gain access to the public sphere, suited “only” for men. Elodie, like many adventure-seekers, romanticizes about the journey to new discoveries. But Waller doesn’t make this a story of “happy travels”; she provides insightful perspectives, ruthless villains, and plot twists that focus on the upsets, tragedies, and obstacles many explorers encounter.

There is never a dull moment in Elodie’s adventure to China where she is in search of the Queen’s Fancy, a rare orchid with a beautiful aroma. Of course, one of my favorite moments of her adventure is when Elodie meets Alex, a Russian sailor, and his energetic dog, Kukla. Elodie’s relationship with Alex is a challenge, and I loved the development of friendship, companionship, and love between these two.

MY RANTS AND RAVES

RANTS:          In all honesty, I don’t have a single rant for this book. I have been out of graduate school for three years, and The Forbidden Orchid projected me back to a time where I not only enjoyed reading, but loved learning from it too. The whole books stands as a true reflection of Victorian norms and changes that early suffragettes included in their steps to change patriarchal conventions.

RAVES:          The overall plot is filled with adventure, but Elodie definitely steals each scene with her witty banter, determination, and independent thoughts. She illuminates a powerful stance that disrupts the status quo in English society and even on a clipper ship full of bawdy males. I can definitely tell that Waller put a lot of thought, energy, and research into this novel, so she could capture a true depiction of the Victorian realm and the Chinese culture of the nineteenth century .

NOTE:          I won this Advance Reader’s Copy from a blogger’s giveaway, and was not asked to provide a review.  All statements and opinions are mine.

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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