March 21, 2015

Abbreviations #5 | The Blue Castle, Making Faces + Dead to Me

Another round-up of mini-reviews for you, my darling readers! First up, a classic YA novel by one of my favorite authors that I really adored. Second, an NA novel that took me three tries before I could read all the way till the end. And third, a review book that was a good mystery but still left much to be desired.

The Blue Castle book cover
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source/Format: Gift from Hannah (Thanks!) || Paperback

As a teen, I devoured the Anne of Green Gables series in its entirety. I loved Anne, her family and friends, and her story so much, and still count that series as a favorite until today. But that was the extent of my reading experience with L.M. Montgomery… until I cracked open a copy of The Blue Castle. The novel is an immersion into the familiar writing style Montgomery employs: vivid descriptions of the setting, poignant turns of phrase (I highlighted a ton), and characters with strong personalities. It is, however, Valancy Stirling who really makes it something special; she is a character just as memorable and loveable as Anne Shirley. Her story is not just a love story (though I loved this aspect of it); it also tells of how she takes her life into her own hands – and is the better for it. There’s no doubt in my mind that I can see myself rereading The Blue Castle in the future, soaking up Valancy + her story again and again.

Making Faces book cover
Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: October 20, 2013
Source/Format: Bought (rec from Kelly!) || Kindle e-book

I'll be honest: I started and put down Making Faces twice before I finally read the entire thing. It took some time to get into the writing style, and the beginning was a little clunky. However, Harmon demonstrated her talents in creating great characters - particularly Fern, Ambrose and Bailey. I had tremendous love for these three before I hit the midway point, and I only grew fonder of them from there. They are all very different people: quiet, bookish Fern, athletic, vulnerable Ambrose, disabled, optimistic Bailey. You'd think that they wouldn't get along, but somehow, some way, Amy Harmon makes their relationships (friendships and romance alike) so believable and raw. This is a quiet story, but that doesn't mean that it's any less real in terms of all the emotions readers will experience. While it might not be a new favorite, it's still worth a read - particularly for the highly emotional second half.

Dead to Me book cover
Dead to Me by Mary McCoy
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source/Format: Netgalley || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my opinions or the contents of my review.]

I went into Dead To Me expecting a compelling mystery, set in a time period that would sweep me off my feet. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite the case. There wasn’t as much immersion in the era as I would’ve liked, just scattered details included here and there. Plus, the cast of characters stays solidly underdeveloped with each person given one or two defining characteristics. The only exception is main character Alice, who is a tad more fleshed out than the rest, and probably only because readers are in her head as the story progresses. While I was not overly impressed by the elements of Dead to Me, the mystery and tension did wind up grabbing my attention and refusing to let go until the resolution presented itself. While I do think it turned out to be a decent mystery, it still definitely fell short of everything I was hoping that it would be.


  1. I'm a huge fan of emotional reads, so Making Faces seems like a good fit for me. :) I love how all the characters seem to have different and distinct personalities.

    So sorry you didn't like Dead to Me a little bit more. :( I really enjoy reading books set in different time periods as well, and it's a shame that that aspect wasn't more prominent here. At least the mystery was worthwhile.

    Lovely reviews, Alexa!

    1. Making Faces definitely had a big emotional punch packed in! I wound up really enjoying it, and I hope you do as well if you get the chance to read it.

  2. One favourite, one good read and one meh, not a bad balance after all!
    Great short reviews, really give us enough to see if the books are appealing to us or not!

  3. I love mini-reviews! They're so efficient for both the blogger and the reader! The only one of these I read was Dead to Me, and I agree about the characters. I do find that in mysteries sometimes -- the plot sort of crowds out enough character development to make me happy.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. Oh, that's a great way of putting it, Jen! I definitely think it was the plot that held my interest until the end of Dead to Me, which is a shame because it had such great potential to bring alive that era.

  4. I didn't even know that LM Montgomery wrote other books! I'm so silly, I never even thought to check. I will be needing to read The Blue Castle very soon!

    1. I was vaguely aware that she'd written other stories, but this was the first time I'd tried to read something that wasn't Anne of Green Gables from her - and it was so good. If you love her writing, you'll enjoy The Blue Castle!

  5. All you had to say was LM Montgomery and I was hooked! I also had no idea she had written any other books! The Blue Castle is now on my kindle :) Thanks for the great reviews, as always!

    1. I hope you enjoy The Blue Castle, Chelsea! And thanks for your kind words about my reviews :)

  6. I had never heard of The Blue Castle before--thanks for sharing. If you need another Montgomery fix you should try the Emily of New Moon books. I liked them even more than Anne of Green Gables.

    1. I definitely want to try out the Emily of New Moon books! I really have only read Anne from LM Montgomery, but I figure it's high time I fixed that :)

  7. BOO HISS I had a big comment all typed up and then the Internet ate it when I hit send :( :(

    Anyway! I love your Abbreviations posts. You get right down to the nitty gritty with your thoughts. I have vivid memories of being in elementary school and spending a summer sitting in my bedroom with the window open, taking in the sunshine, the breeze, and Anne ♥ Like you, though, I have never read any of Montgomery's other works!


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