Mundie Moms

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Published by: Simon Pulse
To Be Released on: May 29th, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher to review
4.5 stars: I Really Enjoyed It

Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.     

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.     

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.      

The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life -quoted from Goodreads

Changeling is a must read for YA fans who love a well crafted historical read, with a rich setting, in-depth characters, and a romance that leaves you wanting more. Philippa's YA debut is fabulous! She not only brought her 1400's Italian setting to life within the pages of her book, but she creates the perfect character chemistry, adds in the perfect amount of mystery and betrayal as well as creates a surprising paranormal twist that was worked in to the story perfectly, and fit in well during this time period. I finally understand all the buzz that surrounds her adult books. Philippa is a master story teller and being the historical fan I am, I want to go pick up more of her books!

Told from alternating points of views, readers get to meet characters Luca Vero and Isolde. I liked the way in which they're both drawn together in this story. Luca is the irresistible, intelligent, charming, good lucking character who against his will is thrown into a secret order, called The Order of the Dragon. His mission to go out and not only investigate, but also document the dangers and evils happening around his country and Europe. This leads him to the nunnery that Isolde has been forced into by her brother after her father, Lord Lucretili died. Unlike Luca, it took me awhile to warm up to Isolde. I liked being able to get to know her as the story went on. There's a reason why she herself is shrouded in mystery for the first part of the book. She is a character who stands up for what she believes in. She's intelligent, beautiful, grounded and will do whatever it takes to gain back the inheritance she rightful has claim to. 

It's during Luca's interrogation of the nuns at the nunnery that the story's mystery starts to unravel. There's murder, betrayal, secrets and a surprising twist in this story that made it hard to put it down. The twists that are loaded in this book are unpredictable and make for an exciting story line. I loved how authentic this story felt. From the mannerism of the characters, to the way they talked, dressed, the roles men and women had during this time period and the social statuses of men, women, those of the church, slaves and so forth. The theme of God and the religious elements stayed true to this time period and didn't weigh the story down. I thought Philippa did a suberb job with how she intertwined everything together to create a story that felt like it leaped out of the history books. 

This story also has some great supporting characters who play significant roles in the lives of both Isolde and Luca. The romance/character chemistry is so well drawn out. I loved it! There's this undeniable draw between the Luca and Isolde, but being forced into making vows to the church forbids them for having a relationship. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what happens between these two as the series continues. Being that this book is the first in the series, I felt Changeling does a great job at setting up what's to come with the rest of the series. There were times I felt a little confused with the beginning of the book about what was happening, but I quickly caught on and couldn't put this book down. I think both YA fans and fans of Philippa are going to enjoy this book. It's a book I highly recommend picking up on May 29th!

Thoughtful Thursday - Giving is a Family Tradition (GiFT)

One of our fellow Mundie Moms, made us aware of this wonderful non-profit charity, Giving is Family Tradition (GiFT), and all I can say is that NICU babies are near and dear to both Katie's and my hearts. My son spent 48-hours in NICU and they were both the hardest and the most miraculous hours I've ever known.
Let me tell you a little bit about GiFT:
We help families who are in financial distress from having an infant in the NICU by providing them with the things they will need to bring their baby home. We have three programs to do this, and one of them, Linens and Lullabies, is being featured by Groupon Grassroots this week! Linens and Lullabies provides a crib and bedding for families who do not have a safe place for their infant to sleep when he/she comes home.
If you can, we encourage you to use the groupon link and donate $10. NICU stays are costly and will drain a family's savings very quickly. If 75 people give $10, Linens and Lullabies can donate a crib, mattress and bedding for three NICU family in need.

That's like two frappuccinos skipped, right? Please join us in helping GiFT. If you'd like to learn more about the charity you can follow them on facebook and twitter.