Release Day Review: The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls’ father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China.

Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors’ prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie’s father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family—and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China.

But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?

Release Date: March 8, 2016 (TODAY!!!)

I was a huge fan of Waller’s first young adult novel, A Mad, Wicked Folly, so when Penguin sent me an advanced copy of The Forbidden Orchid, I was pretty excited.

To be honest with you, I wasn’t familiar at all with the concept of plant hunters during the Victorian Era, and here in America we learn very little about the Opium Wars.  In world history we just touch on them, and I’m pretty sure my teacher just said, “Then there was the Opium Wars. Moving on…”  I really appreciate this about Waller, because I made the same comment about A Mad, Wicked Folly.  She is really touching on subjects that American readers will benefit from learning through her historical fiction.

Some of the same themes run throughout The Forbidden Orchid as in A Mad, Wicked Folly, and there is a very similar formula.  Formula: Privileged upper middle class British teen girl + patriarchal society of England (interesting considering there was a powerful Queen on the throne during BOTH novels) + familial duties + said character’s sense of adventure/individuality + character wanting more than the privileged life she already has.  I’m totally okay with this formula in Waller’s novels, because it works.  The characters are so wonderfully developed with the flaws of those who come from privilege, and they are frequently made to check that privilege when dealing with other characters.

Similar themes that show up in both: Romance (obviously as it is a Young Adult novel), Political Climate, and Women’s Rights.  However, much like in A Mad, Wicked Folly, the romance really takes a back seat to the primary focus of the novel.  Waller is excellent at constructing a meaningful romantic relationship without having the primary plot take a hit in favor of making a character swoon constantly in narration.

Elodie really evokes some Ingrid Michaelson songs to me, as I think Michaelson has an exotic voice/sound that would really appeal to this character.  So for me, I’m going to characterize Elodie with one song:  Are We There Yet. “They say that home is where the heart is/I guess I haven’t found my home/And we keep driving round in circles/Afraid to call this place our own”  Even though Elodie has a home and lives comfortably with her family there is just something missing.  So Michaelson’s pleading voice repeating Home, Home, Home just really feels like it could be Elodie questioning her purpose in life.

Splitting the novel into parts was a great way to avoid boring narrative where the time jumps were due to the long nature of travel from England to China.  I really only found the book lagging toward the beginning, but I think it suits the dull nature of Elodie’s existence in Kent versus the quicker paced last half of the novel, as she is finally experiencing travel and plant hunting.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel and read most of it in one sitting.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 

Get your copy of The Forbidden Orchid today!

 

Top 14 of 2014: Day 7

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Instead of taking a week off after the Christmas holiday like I have every year since A Midsummer Night’s Read opened, I am joining forces with Krista from Krista’s Dust Jacket and Kim from Kimberly Faye Reads to host a Top 14 of 2014 meme!

Not only are you able to participate in this meme, but we will each be hosting giveaways on our blogs including extra entries if you participate and add to our links! Feel free to use the graphic above in your posts.

Today’s topic is:

Top 14 Books of 2014….and a GIVEAWAY!

1. Unhinged and Ensnared by A.G. Howard
I know that TECHNICALLY Ensnared shouldn’t count since it doesn’t come out until 2015, but I read it in 2014 so I put it on this list!

2. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

3. The Jewel by Amy Ewing

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

5. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

6. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

7. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

8. Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

9. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

10. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

11. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

12. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

13. My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

14. TIE: Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele and Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler

memelistThese are MY personal top 14 reads of this year, and I know there are still a ton of books in my TBR from 2014 that I didn’t get to yet!  Thank you so much for participating and be sure to enter my Top 14 of 2014 giveaway!

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Visit the other blogs participating in this meme!

Top 14 of 2014: Day 3

top14of14

 

Instead of taking a week off after the Christmas holiday like I have every year since A Midsummer Night’s Read opened, I am joining forces with Krista from Krista’s Dust Jacket and Kim from Kimberly Faye Reads to host a Top 14 of 2014 meme!

 Not only are you able to participate in this meme, but we will each be hosting giveaways on our blogs including extra entries if you participate and add to our links! Feel free to use the graphic above in your posts.

Today’s topic is:

Top 14 Favorite Covers

I am choosing a specific type of cover (which is always my favorite) Photography

1. A Mad, Wicked Folly:  I adore a good cover with a beautiful dress.  I realize that this photograph is superimposed onto another image, but I still count it!

2. The Retribution of Mara Dyer: I also really enjoy surrealist photography (a good example would be Brooke Shaden’s work, you should google her! So I think this photograph is fabulous and poignant. I love the fluidity of it.

3. We Were Liars: I love how this photo looks a lot like an image that would have been taken at any family or friend vacation. It really fits the novel.

4. The Jewel: Another gorgeous dress cover. Yep, I’m a sucker.

5. The Fine Art of Pretending: I love how simplistic, yet realistic, this cover is and how it looks so much like a couple shoot after an engagement or something done for fun.

6. The Girl with the Windup Heart: be still my steampunk heart. Another beautiful dress, but I adorehow the designer threw in the references to the book’s genre. The clockwork necklace and the Victorian key are two examples.

7. These Gentle Wounds: This is a beautiful photograph that projects the vulnerability that the title suggests, and the lighting is really highlighting the subject well.  Plus, the model isn’t too bad on the eyes!

8. Inland: Remember when I mentioned how much I love Brooke Shaden and her surrealist photography up above? This cover was actually designed BY Brooke Shaden, so of course it is on my list!

9. Insanity: This photo was clearly taken in an abandoned and falling apart hallway, and the dress and the continuous movement implied by the blur over the subject is beautifully haunting.

10.  17 First Kisses: two words to describe why I like this photo: beautiful solitude. It is simple and yet speaks volumes.

What are some of your favorite covers from 2014?  Did you like the animated covers? Covers with inanimate objects? Or are you a photography fiend like me?

Join our meme!

Tomorrow’s topic is: Top 14 Favorite Couples

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

1. Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele
I mean, didn’t you see this one coming?

2. Unhinged by A.G. Howard
I met A.G. at BEA and I may have fangirled a little bit. I want to get my hands on an ARC of the final book, or I might cry. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but still!

3. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
This book was super fun to read and I just cannot wait until more of the story comes out.

4. Uganda be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler
Heck yeah, Chelsea. Always on my best lists.

5. My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter
Beautiful story with LGBT and Religion storylines.

6. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Serial killers and super smart profiling teens? Yes. All it is missing is Matthew Gray Gubler…

7. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My first Armentrout novel, and it was freaking awesome.

8. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
I’m an Alice girl, but Paige has me almost on the Wizard train!

9. Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
Beautiful story that reminds me of Phantom of the Opera. Pick it up!

10. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Historical fiction, women’s rights, and a decent love story? Yes, please!

 

What were some of your favorite reads this year?!

 

 

Book Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
            
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

I couldn’t wait to read this book based on the synopsis and I really was not disappointed at all.

Historical fiction is a serious obsession of mine, and anytime a young adult book comes out that is set in an interesting historical time period and one that deals with the social aspects of life during that time is going to capture my eye and most likely find a fan in me.

As much as I adored this book for the concept of a woman trying to find a place in the world of art, which was clearly a men’s world, the most important story line in this was really not highlighted in the synopsis.  As an American, we always study the suffragete movement as it happened here, and we really never get into the details of the movement as it happened in England.

In fact, the only notion I have of the suffragette movement in England is from Mary Poppins.

 

Anyway, I loved that Waller really focused the novel on the importance of female empowerment and how terrible it was for our predecessors to become independent and learn to rely on themselves instead of their fathers, brothers, or husbands.  Plus, it just made it even more perfect that the love story (which was by no means a main focal point in the story) fit into this trope perfectly.  Speaking of the love story, I really enjoyed how great it was, but I loved that it wasn’t the main focus of the story.  A lot of times with period novels, there will be a significant focus on finding “the one” and their perfect husband to create their perfect life, and it is somewhat annoying.

All in all, I adored this book and I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a great historical read and an amazing look into the suffragete movement in England.

5 Bards.

fivebards

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books I’d Give a Theme Song to

1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Anchor by Mindy Gledhill
Why? Because the lyrics really describe how Levi views Cath and how he doesn’t matter that she is a bit of a nerd or that others think she might be a little weird. Such a good song.

2. Splintered by AG Howard
White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane
Why? Well, Jefferson Airplane’s trippy song about Alice in Wonderland really exemplifies the trippy and descriptive narrative of Splintered.

3. Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers
Why? Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in…..

4. Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen
Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis
Why? Well, this song is actually very important to the narrative as well as it is represented in the lyrics.

5. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Louder by Lea Michele
Why? Frankly, I love Lea Michele.  But the lyrics can really lend themselves to inspiring those who are whispering and need to speak louder.  Just like the British suffragettes did.

6. Pivot Point by Kasie West
Rivers and Roads by The Head and the Heart
Why? Two roads diverge in a wood.  Addie has to make a decision between two separate paths.

7. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
The Luckiest by Ben Folds
Why?  Best love song that could really capture how deep Tessa and Will’s love goes and how it could keep lasting through death.

8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion
Why? I mean, this one is obvious because she wrote this song specifically about Wuthering Heights.

9. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Life’s a Song by Patrick Park
Why? It’s essentially a song about letting go of the past and moving forward.  Both main characters in this novel need this lesson.

10. Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
Run by Matt Nathanson and Jennifer Nettles
Why?  The development of the relationship and tension between Leah and Grayson is palpable, just like the lyrics to this song.

 

What are some books you would give theme songs to?

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