Book Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

22238196Title: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Series: Strangely Beautiful #1
ISBN: 978-1428511453
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pub. Date: August 2009
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Historical Romance/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 322
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  I was shocked! I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Ms. Hieber captured me in the very first few words. Her world is so gothic and romantic. I just love it! It was like Jane Eyre meets Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters.
The Guard was blessed with powers to rid the civilian population of evil ghosts/spirits and other demons. In order for them to succeed they must work together. As soon as they split, they weaken. Besides ridding the world of evil beings, they are looking for the reincarnation of Persephone, the goddess who gave them their powers. All they were told was that she would be their peer, to look for a doorway, and to be careful of imposters.
When Percy Parker arrives at Athens Academy after leaving the convent that raised her, she is immediately regarded as odd. With her white hair, glowing eyes, and uber-pale skin she has always felt she was different. By covering herself up, she protects herself from the gawking stares of others. That is until she starts spending her nights being tutored by Prof. Rychman, who insists she removes her “barriers.” The first time Alexi, Prof. Rychman, sees Percy without all the scarves and glasses he becomes mesmerized. During the course of their tutoring sessions, Alexi becomes more and more convinced that she is Prophecy. However, the Guard refuses to believe that she is their seventh since she is not a peer but a student. Instead they do everything they can to convince Alexi that the real Prophecy is Miss Lindon. Alexi must choose between the two. The wrong choice could mean the end of the world.
Ms. Hieber’s writing blew me away. I find that most historical romances have great stories, but the writing is weak. That was not the case in this one. When the characters spoke, their word choice as well as their sentence structure was appropriate for the time. I was so happy to not hear the words “yeah” or “Oh my god” or even worse, “buddy.” Nothing ruins a historical romance like 21st c. talk. Ms. Hieber’s Victorian era writing is itself ,enough for an applause. Her word choice and descriptions were just perfect. Seriously, this book could have been written in the Victorian era and there probably wouldn’t have been a difference in word choice or style.
Now onto characters. When we are introduced to Percy Parker, she is scared and alone. Her friends see her as “strangely beautiful” while others avoid her, if not for her strange looks then for the possibility of being mad. When she arrives at Athens Academy, she finds that her professors don’t think she is crazy when she (rarely) talks of seeing visions (or dreams) and speaking to ghosts. One professor in particular finds her fascinating. His name? Professor Alexi Rychman. Before I continue I must say his name bears a striking resemblance to one Alan Richman (aka Professor Severus Snape). After reading about half of the book I found out that Professor Snape was who Ms. Heiber had in mind when writing this character.

tumblr_nyw8l2yylq1ud2p0eo3_500 Alexi is cold, mean, stiff, and lonely. He is hard on Percy and considers her failure to do well in his class a major flaw. However, he falls more and more in love with her over the course of the book. Alexi was so frustrating (and oh so swoon-worthy). Shortly after reading The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, I watched BBC’s North and South. The second Richard Armitage came on screen, I almost fell out of my chair! It was Alexi! This was exactly how I had envisioned my Alexi! This was before I found out that Miss Hieber had actually mentioned him in an interview (at Darkly Reading) as an alternative to Alan Richman (too old now) for Alexi.
The romance was knit with so much sexual tension, you could almost see the sparks. Yet, there was very little kissing. The tension alone just made me want to scream “Get together already!” It was awesome. There was also a few subplot romances going on within the Guard which were equally fun to read. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books to see more of those play out. This book doesn’t really have a cliffhanger. These books are more like Harry Potter where there is a beginning, middle, and end, but there are certain story arcs that span across the whole series. Although I do want to find out what happens with Alexi and Percy. Basically, I love this book. I’ve read it several times since finishing it, stopping every once in a while to daydream about Alexi *sigh*. I love the eeriness of it-very gothic.
If you like: retellings (ancient greek myth of Persephone), Historical romance (Victorian era), Paranormal (ghosts, demons, etc.), Gothic Romance (swoon-worthy hero, eerie qualities), and apocalyptic scenes, then you’ll love this book.

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The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1)

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Book Review: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Title: Tuck Everlasting
Author: Natalie Babbitt
ISBN: 9780374480097
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pub. Date:  1975
Source: Library
Genre: Children/Supernatural/Victorian/Fantasy
Pages: 139
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  Imagine coming upon a fountain of youth in a forest. To live forever–isn’t that everyone’s ideal? For the Tuck family, eternal life is a reality, but their reaction to their fate is surprising. Award winner Natalie Babbitt (Knee-Knock Rise, The Search for Delicious) outdoes herself in this sensitive, moving adventure in which 10-year-old Winnie Foster is kidnapped, finds herself helping a murderer out of jail, and is eventually offered the ultimate gift–but doesn’t know whether to accept it. Babbitt asks profound questions about the meaning of life and death, and leaves the reader with a greater appreciation for the perfect cycle of nature. Intense and powerful, exciting and poignant, Tuck Everlasting will last forever–in the reader’s imagination. An ALA Notable Book. (Ages 9 to 12) –Emilie Coulter

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Ooooooo this was such a cute book!  Underneath the innocence and beauty of the story, there was a much heavier undertone.  The story is about the Tuck family. Eighty-something years before the events of the book, they drank from a fountain in the woods.  When they never grew old, or died of injury or disease, they realized it was the water.  At first they were happy and went out and did whatever they wanted, but over time they realized it was more of a curse than a blessing.  Everyone around them grows old and dies and then new people come into the world.  The Tucks will forever be the same.  The two sons of the family, Jesse and Miles, can never have families because of it.  It is so sad.  Winnie Foster, the 10 yr. old daughter of the owner of the woods that the Tuck family lives in, decides to runaway one day.   While walking in the woods she sees Jesse drinking from a fountain at the base of a tree.  After talking for a bit, Winnie is brought to the Tuck’s house.  At first she doesn’t believe that they can live forever and just wants to go home, but she grows to love the family, especially Jesse, and wants to protect their secret.  In town, there is a man in a yellow suit whose heard of the Tuck family and wants to find the fountain of youth by taking advantage of Winnie’s “kidnapping.”
This was such a beautiful story.  Unlike most people, I had never read this book when I was younger.  In fact, this was the first time I’ve ever read it.  I was astounded by how much I enjoyed it.  Even though Tuck Everlasting is a children’s book and for the most part written through Winnie’s 3rd person POV, it can be enjoyed by adults, maybe even on a deeper level.  Winnie’s POV added an innocence to the writing.  As an adult I could see past the innocence right to the seriousness of the situation.  The Tuck’s want to die, or at least grow old and then die.  They would do anything to be normal again.  But they can’t and they force Winnie to realize that without death, there is no life.
“Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thush, too.  And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. Thats the way it’s suppose to be. That’s the way it is.  If we didn’t move it out ourself, it would stay here forever, trying to get loose, but stuck.  That’s what us Tucks are, Winnie.  We ain’t part of the wheel anymore.”
“You can’t have living without dying. So you can’t call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road.”
I just adored this book.  Babbitt wrote with an illustrative style.  Her word choice and descriptions brought the woods to life.  It was all so vivid in my mind-the world was so lovely and charming.  In 2002, Disney made a movie of the book.  Even though the film is slightly different from the book (Winnie being 15 instead of 10-makes for a good romance-and a few other smaller differences) it captures the spirit of the book, making it a fantastic film.  If you’ve never read Tuck Everlasting, I recommend you do- no matter how old you are, you will love the Tuck family just like Winnie did.

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Tuck Everlasting
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Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: Infernal Devices #1
ISBN: 9781416975861
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub. Date: 2009
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction/ Supernatural/ YA/ Steampunk/ Victorian / Magic / Paranormal Romance
Pages:  479
Rating:  5/5
From Goodreads:  When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by–and torn between–two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
My Reveries and Ramblings:  Tessa traveled to England hoping to live with her brother when she is kidnapped by the Dark Sisters.  They convince her to cooperate by telling Tessa that they have her brother.  They force her to awaken her hidden powers-ones she didn’t even know she had.  When the Sisters tell Tessa of their plans to marry her to the Magister, she attempts to escape and is punished.  Will, a shadowhunter investigating a murder, turns up just in time to rescue her.  Tessa is drawn into a world of magic, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and secret societies.  Tessa is faced with a difficult question: who is she? And is she really human?
This story takes place in a fictional Victorian England-complete with steampunk and supernatural creatures.  I was drawn in from the start.  Cassandra Clare tactfully catches the reader’s attention in the first few chapters, making it almost impossible to put down.
Her characters were all beautifully written.  Tessa is relatable.  I saw a lot of myself in Tessa.  Like Tessa, I love to lose myself in books.  I really enjoyed all the references Tessa and Will both made to other works of literature.  Tessa, like many sixteen-year-old girls, is insecure.  She falls into a deeper hole of doubt when she realizes that she may not be human.  This causes her to question everything she has ever known.         However insecure she was, her values remained strong.  She never waivered from what she knew was right and wrong.  I felt that Tessa had matured throughout the book.
Will is a witty and arrogant shadowhunter.  I loved reading his witty dialogue.  Most of his remarks had me laughing out loud.  I was concerned, though.  It became apparent partially through the book that there is something deeper there.  Something painful and sad.  Almost all the characters notice this about him.  He uses wit, humor, and fighting as defense mechanisms.  He even keeps Tessa at a distance.
Jem is the only person Will seems to open up the most with-which isn’t a lot actually.  Jem is such a sweetheart.  His character was heart wrenching to watch (read).  I have to say-Jem had the best inspirational quotes.  He’s so cute ❤
I LOVED this book.  I was never bored.  I loved everything about it-the characters, the story, the romance, etc.  I recommend you buy this book!!! It’s definitely worth re-reading over and over again.

*Spoiler Alert * If you have already read this book  then highlight the area below…Those of you who haven’t read Clockwork Angel, you have been warned.

Okay, so I can’t decide who I like better: Will or Jem.  I love Will-his carefree attitude and his wit are hilarious to read.  But he puts up so many walls that it’s so hard to tell what’s going on in his head.  One moment it’s like he loves Tessa and then the next he’s being a jerk.  At the end when he tells her they can’t get married? What’s with that? He doesn’t seem like he loves her but then sometimes he does-I’m so confused with him.  Jem on the other hand is the kind of guy that in real life is my type.  I find Will SO attractive but he’s just not my type-maybe my fictional self’s type (if I ever wrote one), but not mine.  Jem is the perfect gentleman and so optimistic which is so refreshing compared to Will’s I-don’t-give-a-damn approach to life.  
I was shocked when that twist at the end came.  That was just sooooo unexpected.  At that point, I was racing to see what happened next.  How could Nate do that to his sister? And that last scene with Will and Magnus…I want to know what happens!!  It’s going to be torturous waiting for the next book.  
What did you think?

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Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

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