just what it sounds like…reading as a religion

Archive for May, 2010

De-Luxe, or Why I Am In The Best Mood Ever!

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

So, I’ve begun digging into my mountain of books.  Some have been better than others.  But, one has triumphed above them all.  I just finished it and I must say, “Fantastic!”

Title: The Luxe

Author: Anna Godbersen

The Story As It Is: The book opens with the obituary of one Miss Elizabeth Holland, the princess of Manhattan society in 1899. On what was to be the day of her wedding to Mr. Henry Schoonmaker, only son of one of Manhattan’s oldest families, everyone instead gathers at her funeral.  Jumping back, Godbersen then recounts the weeks leading up to this tragic event.  The reader begins to see that Miss Holland and many around her were keeping quite a lot of secrets.  This novel gives the reader an inside look at the treacherous world of Manhattan’s high society, where rules matter and appearances can be deceiving.  Shifting focus between chapters,we are privvy to the lives of Miss Elizabeth (who is the picture of a perfect lady, totally practical), Diana (her younger sister, who isthe exact opposite and quite the romantic), Penelope Hayes (society upstart and the realization of the word ‘frenemy’), Henry Schoonmaker (a turn of the century Chuck Bass, being all play and no work), and Lina Broud (Elizabeth’s maid and one-time friend).  Each has their own rules to follow and, in turn, secrets to hide.

The Story As I See It: The privileged young ladies of this novel live in a world I’ve been known to dream about.  They are outfitted in only the best fashions and attend lavish balls.  Young men trip over themselves to court Miss Elizabeth.  With its obsession with luxury, turn of the century Manhattan appears to me like a fairytale world.  Combine this lavish, wealthy society with all the drama and scandal of today’s Gossip Girl and you have The Luxe. Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down.  Each little detail fits together like a giant puzzle as you draw ever closer to the moment of Elizabeth’s death.  Was it an accident or was she murdered?  Along the way, you have a little bit of everything–romance, mystery, plotting, back-stabbing, and even a little passive aggressive cat-fighting.  I don’t want to spoil the book by giving away too many details.  I think that this novel’s quality of unfolding its mystery ever so slowly is what makes it truly special.

The Verdict: If you are a fan of Gossip Girl and the sort, you will love this–end of story.  If you are very much NOT a fan of Gossip Girl, I urge you to pick this up anyway.  While this novel plays out with all the drama of today’s modern equivalent, it does so without the crassness critics of Gossip Girl cite in their dislike of the series.  It is, hands-down, a novel that sweep you up into its luxurious, dangerous world and have you feeling like you never want to leave.  I have the sequel on request at the library and I am dying waiting.

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Summer, or Why This Mountain of Books Has Taken Over My Room

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

So, miss me lately?  The end of the semester is always a rough time, but now it is summer which means lots of time for reading.  I went to the library to stock up on reading material and came back with enough to entertain a small country for a year.  It’s overtaken my room slightly, but good news for you–this means lots of new reviews.

To start us off, a review I’ve been promising for awhile with a very appropriate summer setting.

Title: Dairy Queen

Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The Story As It Is: D.J. Schwenk is your typical teenage girl…..well not so much, actually.  Raised on a farm, she is the only girl of four children.  She intends to spend her summer taking care of the farm for her injured father.  Unexpectedly, a rival football coach and family friend sends his  backup quarterback to work at Schwenk farm for the summer, so he can learn some work ethic.  The boy, Brian, is more hindrance than help to D.J. and her younger brother, who have grown up knowing the toughness of farm work.  As Brian begins to learn about what it means to work on the farm, he and D.J. grow closer and hatch a plan.  D.J., an athlete herself, who accompanied her two older brothers, both football stars, as they trained in previous summers will be Brian’s new football trainer.  Romance blooms as the two work to make Brian the starting quarterback.  What will happen when their secret gets out and everyone knows D.J. trained the enemy?  And what will happen when Brian finds out that D.J. has been keeping a secret all her own?

The Story As I See It:  This book was really refreshing.  It provided a nice break from some of the depressing books I’ve been reading lately.  D.J. is not your average girly-girl.  She’s a little tougher and very likeable for it.  This books presents romance in a new way, as D.J. is more of a tomboy and an athlete than the typical protagonist of a romance novel.  Sports fans will enjoy the insight into Brian and D.J.’s football training.  Teenage girls will love to read about the pair’s blossoming romance.  All teenagers can relate to the novel’s exploration of being your own person in the face of your family, friends, and community.  D.J. asks the reader to consider an interesting question:  Are we all just cows, following in line, never striking out to make our own mark on life?

Verdict: If you’re looking for a fun book for a sunny day, or even for a rainy one, pick up this book as a light read.  D.J. is an interesting protagonist and you won’t be able to wait for the following two books (The Off Season, Front and Center).  I’m in the third book of the trilogy right now myself!