Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lock and Key: A Novel

Lock and Key
by Sarah Dessen

5 out of 5 stars!

This is the story of a girl, Ruby, who is abandoned by her mother. She lives in their home for weeks before the landlords realized the mother was gone. Ruby goes into social services, then must move in with her sister, Cora, and her husband, Jamie. Ruby hadn't seen or heard from Cora in at least 10 years. The new life is completely different than what she was used to.

On the first night, however, she tries to escape. Not knowing that Jamie was out walking his dog, she leaves. She sees him, and tries to hop the fence in the backyard. This is when she meets Nate. He saves her butt by lying to Jamie about why she was outside in the first place.

Ruby had to change schools, and also begin getting a ride in the morning from Nate. The more he tries to get to know her, the more she pulls away. She knew not to trust anyone. Besides, she didn't know how long she was going to stay there anyways. The more time the spend together, however, the more she realizes that he may be just like her in some ways.

At her new school, she has a project about family. Throughout the novel, Ruby is asking people, "what is family, to you?" getting many different answers.

When Cora basically forces Ruby to get new clothes, she heads to the mall. She saw a Help Wanted sign, and asked Harriet about the job. She had met Harriet once before, with Nate, while he ran an errand after school one day. She hired her on the spot. Later on, Ruby helps Harriet expand her jewelry business. Ruby always wore her old house key around her neck, for the sake of losing it so much. She just never took if off, even after leaving the house.

After spending more and more time with Nate, Ruby finally opens up. She tells him about her mother, and what had happened. But, she only does so, because she witnessed Nate and his father having a huge argument. She hoped that he would open up if she did, but he didn't. After another incident, he won't let her help him again, and then they stop seeing each other, really worrying Ruby. When finally he comes around, he talks to Cora, who was a lawyer (I believe...). Nate then leaves, moving back in with his mother that kicked him out a few years before.

It isn't until the end of the novel that Ruby finally understood what family was.

This was an awesome book. I couldn't put it down. I stayed up so late the past few nights just to keep reading! At first I wasn't too sure about it, but once I started reading, I loved it immediately. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors, and she yet again wrote another book that I love! I recommend this book to everyone and anyone who likes YA novels. I know I sure do. The characters were strong, and I finished the book with only one question unanswered. It was amazing! Go read it! :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Birth of Venus: A Novel

The Birth of Venus: A Novel
by Sarah Dunant

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Birth of Venus is a novel about a young girl named Alessandra Cecchi, who is born and raised in Florence, Italy, during the 15th Century. She is often out-spoken, and is bullied by one of her older brothers, Tomoso. Her father is a wealthy cloth merchant. She has a passion for art, drawing, and painting. When Alessandra's father brings home a painter from Northern Europe to decorate their palazzo (chapel) walls, she is immediately drawn to his artwork. She asks him for his help; for him to teach her his ways of painting, though everytime she asks, he gently declines. You can tell that there is much chemisty about them, as well.

Just after she turns 16, she begins menstrating, meaning it was time for her to marry. She married a man who was in his 40s, named Cristoforo. She knew that she must produce an heir for him, for he was the last of his whole family. On their wedding night, Alessandra doesn't know what to expect. Later on their wedding night, Cristoforo tells Alessandra a secret of which she had no idea. It involved Tomoso. Knowing this information could ruin her family, she kept it hidden. She and Cristoforo made an agreement that she can do what she pleases. Cristoforo was always busy with business.

Outside in the city, however, was a dangerous place. There were dead bodies turning up, that were mutilated. The city was changing. Savonarola, a monk, was brutal, along with his followers. Not long after, the plague hits. Later on, Alessandra hears news of the painter, who has locked himself in the chapel, not even coming out for his food. Alessandra hurries back to her old home, in hope to help him. She gets into the chapel, surprising him. Immediately, she notices that something is very wrong. He has hurt his hands; Alessandra thought he would never paint again. She takes him to her home, hoping to heal him. As he slept, she stayed and watched over him, wondering about kissing him. When she does kiss him, he is still, and then kisses her back. She has an affair with the painter. Knowing that she may be pregnant with his child, she knew she must sleep with her husband again.

Before she went into labor, Cristoforo realized what had happened between her and the painter. He leaves and doesn't come back. He ran off with Tomoso, though he faked his own death, so Alessandra would have her choice of marrying again or remaining a "widow." Alessandra decides to go into a convent, with her baby girl. As her child is growing up, she is painting the chapel in the convent. Later on, she has a visitor: the painter. He had been searching for her for years. It was his baby, she knew, and he took their child to Rome, where she would someday marry. The painter, however leaves his mark on Alessandra. He painted on her body, before he left. When it started to fade, she and Erila made it stay on her body, by cutting the picture into her skin. After she finishes painting the chapel, she decides that she no longer wants to live, and asks Erila to get her a mixture in which would kill her.

I really liked this book. There was a lot of information to keep up with though. Alessandra was a strong character, which I liked. The history of art is amazing as well. At first, the story was somewhat slow, but then it picked up the pace, once Alessandra marryed Cristoforo. Overall, it was a good read. And I recommend it if you like books that take place a loooong time ago, like I do. :) I read it kind of slow, but that made it easier, since there was a lot to keep up with. It was really good, though, kind of confusing in some parts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Here I Go!

Well...I love reading, so I figured I could start a blog about all the books I've been reading. I hope people will actually look at it and think it's interesting. I'm excited to blog though. :)