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review 2016-09-10 09:15
What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing - Brian Seibert


Brian Siebert

Hardcover, 624 pages
Published November 17th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0865479534 (ISBN13: 9780865479531)

also available for Kindle and ebook.


Seibert has magnificently researched Tap;  starting with original steps brought in with Irish Jigs, African Drums, and Appalachian Clogging in very early American society, then through Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Charles Dicken's visit to the Five Pointes Dance Hall, and more. He wonderfully brings us through the minstrelsy, the jazz age, to Taps comeback with television, then movies and Broadway. Seibert leaves nothing out, making this a long book (624 pages). He includes some great photos throughout. the book is definitely an entertaining read while giving us, the readers, a remarkable view at a true piece of American history. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who dances, enjoys music, and wants to learn more.

****I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in exchange for a fair review.****

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review 2015-01-31 05:00
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira


Hardcover, 323 pages

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Published by: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (BYR)


Source: Purchased/ Netgalley

For fans of: Contemporaries, Diversity, Realistic Fiction, YA, Poetry


 It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.
     Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven't forgiven?
     It's not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.
     In a voice that's as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl's journey through life's challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.



     I had this book for review before it was released, but then I heard it was written entirely in letters I kind of shyed away form it, I'm not a huge fan of poetry and that's exactly what this sounded like, But then the reviews for it started pouring in and I was so intrigued that I decided to still give it a chance. So, it stayed on my TBR until I was ready for it. 

     Oddly enough, while reading this, the letter style and the poetry feel didn't bother me. It actually made the story a little more lyrical and it flowed so nicely. Dellaira has a great writing style that I actually kind of envied. She was able to use those letters to tell Laurel and May's story as well as keep incorporate some of whoever she wrote that specific letter to. It was so intricate and well put together and I was very impressed. 

     What I didn't like was the plot. The beginning was good because I was anticipating something bad happening. (So many people had told me to get my tissues ready,) I just knew I was in for a doozie. But as it got to the middle, it just drug on. I really felt like what was happening actually had nothing to do with May and Laurel. Although it taught her a small lesson in the end, I really felt like a large chunk of that could have been left out. The ending is where it got good again which is unfortunate because by then it was too late. Finallt everything began to come together, but by then I had already guessed what had happened. So of course when it did, I wasn't surprised and I didn't cry. It was weird because I normally do cry at books like this, but after a predicted plot twist, the tears just never came. 

     All in all, this wasn't what I was expecting after everyone's rave reviews about it. Yeah the writing was very impressive, but the plot and the middle of the story just dragged on too much for me. Although this wasn't the right fit for me, I hope it falls into the hands of someone who can utilize it and cherish it,


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review 2014-06-23 17:46
NICOLE'S REVIEW: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Plus One - Elizabeth Fama

Sol Le Coeur is resigned to her fate, working at the factory and flunking school. She's classified as a Smudge, and in an America divided into Night and Day it means that she lives, reads, works and basically comes alive during the night. She's fine with that. What she isn't okay with is her grandfather dying without ever seeing his granddaughter. So brave, impulsive Sol hatches a crazy plan that involves maiming herself, getting dragged to a hospital then snatching her brother's baby. Her plans are derailed when the Ray - it's what the day people are called - who treats her reports her to the authorities. That same Ray, named D'arcy, helps Sol run from the authorities and they find themselves uncovering a government plot to control the Smudge population and the conspiracies start to unravel.

I've never actually read Elizabeth Fama's other work, Monstrous Beauty, but I do own a copy of the book. (Hello, book hoarder.) So I was eager to start on Plus One. 

I liked Fama's characters. Sol is good-hearted, if a bit rash and naive. The plan she made up to steal her brother's baby wasn't exactly well thought of and I wasn't so keen on the way she was so cavalier about caring for the kid. It's a baby. You don't run around with a baby stuck inside your shirt. But I get that Sol was desperate and fueled by the love she had for her grandfather.

D'arcy is a Ray and the one who treats Sol when she accidentally-on-purpose maims herself as a way to get into the hospital. I liked the romance between the two, it was slow and well developed. I'm not gonna say anything more for fear of spoilers but D'arcy and Sol do belong together. There was a huge amount of uncertainty on whether their relationship would ever go somewhere because of the rules set in pace by their government. Ray and Smudge relationships are rare and it kept me on the edge because I was totally cheering for them.

I also enjoyed Fama's writing. She takes time with her world building and while I wasn't that keen on the plot seeing as how it revolved around babies - swapping babies, kidnapping babies - I was overall okay with it. I was able to predict some of the things that happened but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

I'd recommend it to fans of dystopia. Oh I know, there is an abundance of YA dystopia out there and most of them blend into one another but this book manages to stand out somehow so give this pretty a chance.

Source: thetwinsread.blogspot.com/2014/06/nicoles-review-plus-one-by-elizabeth.html
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review 2014-04-30 20:24
Review & Giveaway: Second Star - Alyssa Sheinmel

I haven't read or watched Peter Pan, so I can't tell you how much of this retelling stays true to the original or how it even compares, but I can say that I was enchanted by Second Star. The summary mentions a touch of magical realism, but the entire novel felt magical to me, almost dreamy. Relaxed in the way that California summers are. As a California native, I've known a few surfers and I've always wanted to learn how to surf. Combine the heavy focus on surfing with the magical quality of the novel, and I was set. It's the perfect length for a summer read and the perfect pace too. The next time you're at the beach, bring this book along and let yourself fall into its atmosphere.

Whether or not you'd enjoy Second Star probably depends on your reaction to the magical realism elements (and also familiarity with Peter Pan--but again, can't speak to that myself). Some other reviews I've read have mentioned Wendy's decisions, insta-love, and the characters as deterrents. For me, none of these were an issue because they fit into that dreamy scope and the twist on Wendy's inability to handle the grief of losing her brothers. You might want to read an excerpt to decide where you fall on that scale. The romances are both pretty intense. Wendy hasn't known either guy for very long before she starts to fall for them, but considering the setting - beach houses that few people can ever find; houses that miraculously stay clean, not a track of sand in sight - and the heavy emphasis on surfing, on relaxing and understanding that culture and letting go of your worries, neither felt inappropriate to me. I was charmed by Pete's quick acceptance of Wendy, by Jas's attempts at redemption, by the entire character cast and the hidden cove of surfing lifestyle (too bad Kensington doesn't exist :/). This novel is wonderfully indulgent escapism made for the summer.

Rafflecopter giveaway at link.
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review 2014-04-29 11:26
MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy, #1) - Marie Rutkoski

After having read a lot of books that have been hyped to the point of no return, I must admit I was torn between two feelings when I spotted a copy at our local bookstore. First, I was excited, and then I was terrified. "What if I end up not liking this book after I spent so many months coveting it?" I remember half-whispering to my co-blogger as I adoringly stroked the gorgeous cover at the bookstore.

My dismal - and panicky- thoughts were quelled, however, when I was just a chapter in. As of late, I could pretty much predict the overall rating of the book based on the first few chapters alone, having had only a few who changed my ratings. In this case, I was all smiles as I settled in with this book, never mind the fact that I should have been hurriedly packing my luggage for my vacation.

In one fell swoop, The Winner's Curse won me over with its fantastic, well-paced plot, splendid multi-faceted characters, and seductive thralls of power, danger, and love. 

As Kestrel's seventeenth birthday looms, she is given two choices: she either joins the military, or she must find herself wedded. Neither of the options are truly appealing to Kestrel, whose musical abilities are an eccentricity only overlooked because of her status as the general's daughter. When she is lured to purchase a slave who can sing, Kestrel seems to have gotten more than she has bargained for. Not only does Arin open up a heart that should only be open to the upper echelon of her glittering society, but he opens her eyes to the painful reality that her society has shrouded. Kestrel must decide which should rule over which: the mind, or the heart?

What I loved about this book was how it quickly captures the interest of readers - the spectacular cover, the alluring pull of the summary, and the best part being that it actually deliversEarly on, readers are practically fall all over themselves in sympathizing with Kestrel who, like the bird she is named after, is caught in an impressive, yet repressive gilded cage. Kestrel is great at strategy and at winning (like Prince Jaron of Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince), but she doesn't quite do as well with hand-to-hand combat - which is quite refreshing. I'd say more about Arin, and the bigger, pivotal role he plays that doesn't just turn Kestrel's world upside down but also that of society's, but I'd really much rather that readers plunge into this without a thought as to what they're "supposed" to be expecting, as the element of surprise is really quite crucial here! I read this one with only the summary to guide me, and although the information fell just right of what is apt, it gave me no expectations as to what I'm about to discover - and THAT, my dear friends, is what makes this book very worthy of its 4.5 rating. I relished the thrill that this book took me to in the comfort of my own bed, and I hardly let it go, except to spam-message my co-blogger that "This book doesn't suck at all, and it's very, very fabulous!!!"

I loved this one so much (and I do not take that word lightly!), that I immediately plucked Marie Rutkoski's The Shadow Society from my unruly - and because of book-blogging, growing - To-Be-Read shelf and packed it with me for my travel. 

The Winner's Curse is without a doubt, another of 2014's best books that I've read so far.  

Can the next book please come faster now? Please?

Source: thetwinsread.blogspot.com/2014/04/michelles-review-winners-curse-by-marie.html
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