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review 2015-11-15 15:06
The Keepsake/Suzy Vitello
The Keepsake: An Empress Chronicles Book (The Empress Chronicles) (Volume 2) - Suzy Vitello

In this second Empress Chronicles book, Liz and Sisi continue their intertwined journey through time. On the heels of discovering a magical locket in the empress diary, Liz comes to understand its very special power: the wearer must speak the truth. Not only that, but it turns out that there are three lockets, each with their own magic and power.
Meanwhile, Sisi realizes that she’s communicating with a girl who lives 150 years in the future. A girl who knows what awaits her if she marries the emperor: lack of personal freedom and a legacy that will refer to her as the "reluctant empress."
With the world's future hanging in the balance, the two heroines must work together to thwart Lola, whose ambition to rule the Habsburg Empire will rewrite history, and lead to a terrifying new version of reality.


I must preface by saying that I was really excited about this book, but read the first chapter and realised I'd have to go back and read the first.  By the time it came at my library, I had forgotten why I was excited about the premise of this book, which could have contributed to why I didn't find the two terribly engaging.


It was challenging for me to get involved with this book because the chapters were extremely short and alternated between the perspective of the two girls. It was hard to distinguish between the voices, and thus when I got wrapped up in one girl's story, I just became confused when all of a sudden I was reading about the other. The plot also moved pretty quickly.


I liked Liz, but I didn't care about Sisi at all, and found myself bored by her chapters and wanting to skim through them to get back to Liz. Sisi seemed like kind of a pushover to me and wasn't terribly active about her own future other than getting Liz's help.


This book included a butterfly effect that simultaneously went too far and not far enough. I didn't quite find it plausible, because it rewrote basically the entirety of recent history, changed border lines and linguistics, etcetera, but it didn't affect Liz's parents meeting and having her about the same times. Since it did decide to rewrite history, I thought there could have been a lot more minor details to show how things had changed to make it believable. That the world just went back to the way it had been prior to events despite the new sequence was also hard to buy.


There were other details I didn't buy also, such as two teenagers just abruptly getting on a plane to the Czech Republic, and later Liz's parents just handing over a ton of money. There were also strange details at points that I found detracted from the story.


I'd perhaps recommend this for particularly young readers able to suspend disbelief more easily, but I just wasn't able to get into this book.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2014-09-20 20:03
the Empress Chronicles
The Empress Chronicles - Suzy Vitello

title: The Empress Chronicles

author: Suzy Vitello

audience: YA

published: September, 2014 by Diversion Books

*note: I received an electronic copy of this book through Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for honest feedback.


Amazon. GoodreadsBarnes & Noble.


summary courtesy of Goodreads: When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control. She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval. The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons. But all of this changes in one historical instant.

One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own. Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love. But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.

When Liz finds a time-worn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria.

It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own...

The Empress Chronicles seems unusual because it ties together a contemporary protagonist with one who lived her life many, many years ago. This isn’t a Dear America or Royal Diaries installment—this is a very interesting blend of “now” and history. I picked it up (not just because I am a fan of German history) but because the story of Sisi is an engrossing and tragic tale in its own right, and I was curious to see what sort of role Sisi would have in Liz’s life.


As for Liz herself, I found her engrossing immediately. I felt for her. I felt for her during her episodes, and I felt for her as she did her best to adjust to her new way of life. She made for a convincing protagonist. 


I enjoyed the history and the pacing from the start. Lately after reading so many stories of fictional princesses, it was nice to curl up with this book and read an imagining of a “real” historical princess.


My enjoyment of the history and the protagonist helped me to get through the bumpy spots—I wasn’t entirely convinced by the introduction of magic in the book, and the ending really did make me frown and swipe, frustrated across my iPad screen. Is there going to be a sequel?


As potentially shallow as it may be, I wish the cover somehow incorporated Sisi more so than just the castle of Neuschwanstein— this one might be a hard sell to teens just based on the cover alone. That being said, this book was a really interesting incorporation of historical fiction into a modern narrative, and  I would definitely pick up a sequel!

plot: • • • • 

pace/flow: • • • • 

characters: • • • • 

"it" factor: • • • 

average:  3.75

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review 2013-12-21 00:00
The Moment Before
The Moment Before - Suzy Vitello For this review and more, visit Such a Novel Idea.

This book is about a young girl who has a popular older sister, who is loved by the entire school, that dies tragically in a cheerleading accident during a pep rally. Pretty tragic. This girl was the quiet, artsy sister that wasn't in the spotlight. Her parents are devastated. Her boyfriend and best friend are devastated. The boy who was her lift partner is blamed due to testing positive for marijuana. Seems like the recipe for a really interesting book. Something right up my alley.

There are definitely some things I LOVED, liked, and hated about this book. I know I tend to over think things, but there was a lot of questions that I couldn't quit asking throughout the book. Of course, this is something that drives my husband crazy - he will read 'fun facts' to me, something that is just supposed to be a "hmm, really!?" kind of thing, and I have four or five questions. So, this is in my personality. However, I don't think this was my personality quirk, but rather some pretty big plot holes and inconsistencies in the book.

For example, as we begin to learn things about Sabine, there are things the police should have questioned at her time of death. An autopsy obviously was never preformed, because if it had, half the book wouldn't have even had to take place. In this respect, I felt like I was watching a half-baked crime show.

However, I really loved Brady, our main character. She loved her sister and was just deeply hurt and lost without her. She was trying to pick up the pieces of who she was and who her sister really was. As she began to find out life wasn't all it seemed, she seemed to show a lot of growth. She was really smart and I enjoyed her perspective. Her voice was what really kept me invested in the story.

I *almost* wished there had not been a love interest, because I felt like Brady could have worked through her problems on her own and come out just as strong in the end. I think this is because I just read Jenny Hubbard's And We Stay, where the main character is dealing with a similar situation. However, if there has to be one, I was glad of what came to be for Brady. I think the two were good for each other and that it really helped the healing process for them both.

So, this again, is a book where you have to suspend beliefs. If you can, it is a good book. The writing is really unique and I loved Brady, the main character. It was a quick read that held my attention. Even though I had a lot of issues with the book, I did enjoy reading it and will look for more from Vitello.
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review 2013-12-08 22:43
Moths and Sacrificial Boobs
The Moment Before - Suzy Vitello

WARNING: Lots of Annoying Questions from Me 

Because I am still confused what just happened back there. Yeah, reading this book was like having a profound conversation with someone who's high while you're sober. In that there are snippets of lucidity, moments of depth, that make little sense when you connect one point with the other. 

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review 2013-12-04 01:05
The Moment Before
The Moment Before - Suzy Vitello

Other reviews at The Book Babe's Reads.


I'm going to jump right into The Moment Before. It's been a few days (between the reading and this writing), but I'm still kind of unsure about what I think. To be honest, I'm more unsure than ever about it. I kind of feel like it could have been a little better, but I definitely didn't hate it. I just didn't love it.


I liked Brady. She was kind of angry at the world, kind of just getting used to no longer being the younger sister of the popular girl. She did some things that made me like her, but she also did lots of things that upset me. I think that my biggest problem with her overall was that she didn't exactly stand up for herself all the time. Sometimes she just let things happen, and I just wanted her to be stronger than that.


But sometimes she just says the most agreeable things. Like when she says she didn't know how her sister could go for a boy who's all angles. I don't really get that either - I'll pick the stouter boy nearly every time. But it's just funny that we agree on that. On a somewhat unrelated note, it so sucked that she kept calling Connor's hands "meaty". For whatever reason, that just bothers the crap out of me!


I liked Brady and Connor together - but there's a twist near the end that sort of upsets me. It was very real life, but pretty sad in my opinion.


MARTHA. Let us speak on the subject of Martha, Brady's "friend". It seems like they're not all that great of friends. It's obvious that they have there ups and downs, but.... I wouldn't be having no ups with her. She's a hypocrite and an annoying little bugger and many other things. I have the terrible feels against her. I didn't like her at all!


All in all, The Moment Before was a pretty true to life book, but it didn't really speak to me on a deep level. I still liked it, though!

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