Rummanah Aasi
  This is the high school's last week of school. I'm currently buried with end of the school year projects, but I didn't want to let you guys down. Today I'll be featuring a few YA mini-reviews that coincidentally all share the themes of sisters and romance. I'd like to thank publishers Knopf, Delacorte Press, and Netgalley for advanced copies of Sisters of Glass and Cross My Heart. All of these books are now available in print.

Description: Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters-that is her brother's work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility, even though her older sister, Giovanna, should rightfully have that role. Not only is Giovanna older, she's prettier, more graceful, and everyone loves her. Maria would like nothing more than to allow her beautiful sister, who is far more able and willing to attract a noble husband, to take over this role for her. But they cannot circumvent their father's wishes. And when a new young glassblower arrives to help the family business and Maria finds herself drawn to him, the web of conflicting emotions grows even more tangled.

Review: Sisters of Glass is a clean, romantic read where destiny, fidelity, and true love are nicely placed in the fourteenth-century Murano, Italy, a city renowned of glassmaking. Told through verse, the is a book is a really quick read, but looking back now I kinda wished it was told as a novel where we could spend some more time with the characters. Maria and Vanna are sisters who have complete opposite personalities. Maria is anything but ladylike and has no desire to become a society woman. She yearns to spend time with her art. Vanna, in comparison is the older and more marriageable material both by societal standards and how women ought to feel. She resents Maria for her destiny. The story is focused on how the two sisters work out their problems and create their own destinies. The romance is chaste and sweet, told mostly through hidden glances and silent moments. I really liked how the author focuses more on the sisters' relationship than have it overshadowed by their respective love stories. The book ties up nicely and quite cleverly in the end. I'd recommend this standalone if you're in the mood for a light yet thought provoking romance.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandel, Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Description: When her boyfriend ends their relationship, high school sophomore Lucy thinks she will never recover from the heartbreak until she meets three magical girls who say they can heal her, but at a cost.

Review: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers is not what I expected from the book's description. When I picked this book up I thought it would be a fluffy chick lit where the girl is heartbroken but grows a spine and gets better. Yeah..not really. Lucy is a bland, generic girl who annoyed me at the start. Her entire life orbits around her boyfriend, except well, a) he doesn't know he's her boyfriend and b) shows zero interest in her whatsoever. So when Lucy and her so-called boyfriend 'break up', she is beyond devastated. But wait! Lucy meets three stunning yet freaky girls who claim to have magical powers and can reverse her heartache. There's only one problem:  Lucy has to get a guy to fall in love with her in the next seven days and then break his heart. If she does, she’ll become part of an ancient, magic sisterhood, and never have to suffer from a heartbreak again. I had warring feelings about this book. The book paints a shallow picture of what makes a 'desirable girl', gives us something to think about but it's portrayal of the guys in the book are one dimensional. Magical realism, yes. Some food for thought about self conception, but do you have to put down the opposite sex to get to that destination? Not sure. The ending is kind of open ended, which has me to believe it might become a series, which I plan on skipping.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: Strong language, underage drinking, and allusions to sex. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Jinx by Meg Cabot

Description: Venice, 1585. When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, has drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura's father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice's fiance, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency-secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura's prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister's death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder-one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust.

Review: Mystery, romance, scandal and political intrigue is what Laura della Scala finds when she is released from the convent where she's lived for five years. Her beloved sister Beatrice has drowned, but all signs of the scene scream foul play. Her father who uses his daughter as a social ladder tries to marry her off to her sisters beau Vincenzo. Still grieving for Beatrice, Laura feels powerless to disobey her father, moving her family closer to financial ruin. 's pulled into the gossip and rivalries of Venetian society, in which everyone is "part of a scheme or a plot." When Laura realizes her future husband is an old, crotchety, repulsive ninety something year old, Laura betrays a confidence to join the Segreta, a powerful secret society of masked women who arrange for Vincenzo's disgrace and exile. Saved from the marriage, Laura feels indebted to the Segreta, but she also suspects they may be involved in her sister's death. The book follows Laura on her search to find her sister's murderer and to find love at the wrong place. I really enjoyed this fast paced novel that made me itch to attend a masquerade ball or at least own a fan. I definitely recommend this one for readers who enjoy a smart historical fiction with a bold heroine who isn't afraid to attack murder, betrayal, scandal, and revenge head on.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Some minor language and disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, The Book of Shadow and Blood by Robin Wasserman
9 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I don't think the Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers is for me, but Sisters of Glass sounds great. I like how there's a nice balance between the romantic relationships and the relationship between the sisters:) Awesome mini reviews Rummanah!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Oh wow that third one sounds really great...however that middle one I had on my TBR LIST!! I didnt know the book would be like that....I normally stay away from anything having to do with sister witch circles.....

    Love the mini's...;)

  3. Lauren M Says:

    I hadn't heard of Sisters of Glass before, but I'm digging that gorgeous cover! Glassblowing is a fascinating subject, too.
    Bummer that you didn't enjoy Seret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers! I haven't read it, so I appreciate your thoughts. :)
    - Lauren

  4. I was kind of hoping the Secret Sisterhood was good. I like it when the guy that breaks your heart gets his in the end. (Can you tell I was dumped pretty hard once?) But this one sounds very misleading in the book blurb.

    Sisters of Glass sounds good, though I have never read a book in verse. Does it rhyme? I need to look at one in the store. I've shied away from books written in verse, afraid I wouldn't understand them.

    I have Sasha Gould's book and all these books with the beautiful masks on them makes me want to go to a masquerade party too with a beautiful mask and dress. Too bad we don't live closer.

    Great mini reviews! I can't believe you had all that time with the last week of school! Amazing!

    My Nanas came!

  5. danya Says:

    I haven't heard that much about The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, but after reading your description I have to say that I think it would bug me too. I dislike it when the protagonist imagines herself to be together with some guy when really he is barely aware of her existence...usually makes me want to shake some sense into the girl! I'm glad I got a heads-up about this one from your review - thanks, Rummanah :)

  6. I haven't heard much about Cross My Heart but "a smart historical fiction with a bold heroine who isn't afraid to attack murder, betrayal, scandal, and revenge head on" is totally up my alley.

    I featured The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers as a WoW but haven't read it yet. I probably won't be since the synopsis makes you perceive the story differently from the content.

  7. Glad you liked Cross My Heart. I did too and am looking forward to the Wasserman book...

  8. First, I think all the covers rock and second, I think that last one would be the one I'd enjoy the most (even if I'd cringe about the 90 yr. old). Then you put it in the same realm as The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I enjoyed that book. Thanks!

  9. I have yet to read a book written in verse, but I think that is what my main problem would be too, I'd want to get inside the character's head a bit more. Still, I've been wanting to try a verse book.

    And ummm.. the Heartbreakers books sounds pretty redonkulous, but maybe that was the intention?

    I know I often say I'm not much into historical fiction, but something about those fans, eh? I want one too.

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