Review: Sapphire Blue

Review and Content advisory for Sapphire Blue by Kerstin GierAuthor: Kerstin Gier

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Time Travel

Click here for the synopsis from Goodreads.

This is the second book in The Ruby Red Trilogy. Read our review for the first book, Ruby Red, here. (And note that the following review might include spoilers for Ruby Red.)

Sapphire Blue picks up where Ruby Red left off, right smack dab in the middle of a kiss. And then we meet Xemerius, the most interesting and funny character in the entire series. Xemerius is the ghost of a demon, but from the way he’s described, he looks kind of like a mix between a cat and those gargoyles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He kept me laughing throughout the entirety of the book, and I wish so badly that he had been introduced in Ruby Red because I NEED MORE XEMERIUS.

In Sapphire Blue, Gideon starts being distant. And very unlikable. Besides the whole “hot bad boy” thing, I couldn’t understand why Gwen still liked him. He was oftentimes rude to her, but despite how much she tried to make herself like him less, nothing worked. I suppose this could be very realistic indeed—we can’t choose who we like, only who we love.

But that’s part of the problem for me. She’s known this guy for like, a week, and all of a sudden she’s in love with him? Sigh… The majority of this problem could have been solved for me had the Love word not been involved. Had Gwen been resolved to only liking Gideon, I would have had more respect for the relationship.

Another problem I had that was also in the first book, though I didn’t actually note it until Sapphire Blue, is that some of the secondary characters (well, really more tertiary) are really cookie cutter. I’m specifically talking about the kids at Gwenyth’s school, Cynthia and Gordon. They don’t seem to be very developed, and they might as well not even be there for as little as they contribute to the actual plot, but they continue to make appearances.

However, most of the secondary characters are truly interesting and really make the book/series enjoyable. We meet some new characters in this book who end up playing some important parts in the future. And, um, past, I guess, because time travel.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book (despite my complaints), and I didn’t feel like it fell into the sophomore slump like many 2nd books in a trilogy tend to do. Just like Ruby Red, this one ends abruptly, so make sure you have Emerald Green for when you finish!

Sapphire Blue gets four out of five stars!

Content Advisory:
Sexual: 3
basic kissing; a conversation in which sex, condoms, and “the pill” are mentioned; a man gets a bit handsy during one of the trips in the past
Language: 4
Uses of h, d, and s
Other
She says she was smoking to hide the fact that she was meeting someone in the past that she wasn’t supposed to meet with (who was smoking around her); She drinks spiked punch at a party in the past. Side effects include karaoke.

>>>Don’t forget to check out our reviews for the other books in this series: Ruby Red (#1) and Emerald Green (#2).

>>>Like time travel stories? You might also like Timeless by Alexandra Monir and An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

Survey Time!

A big hello and happy Monday to our lovely readers! Today we’re changing things up a bit and asking for some help from YOU. In our efforts to continuously improve this blog, we realized that we can’t do it alone. We need some feedback. If you would, please take a few minutes to fill out our survey. It will help us learn more about our readers and give us insight into what YOU want to see on The Girls in Plaid Skirts. Thanks for your support!

Criss Cross: Non-Fiction Books

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There is a big push to read non-fiction in schools right now. Which is good. Most of us enjoy learning about the interesting, crazy things that make up the story of our world. However, reading non-fiction can feel like a chore. It’s not the same as a “devour a book in one night” reading experience. So here’s what we think about non-fiction.

Rachel:

I’ve read a little non-fiction along the way in my reading experience. I didn’t know YA nonfiction existed, though. I thought it just sort of jumped from kids’ non-fiction to adult. I didn’t mind the kids’ books with the pictures and graphs. However, the “adult” kind I can only take in small doses. Maybe one a year. Biographies always tend to be the easiest non-fiction for me to read.

Then about four months ago I discovered the YA non-fiction area in the library. I was excited to know such a thing existed!

However, even reading YA non-fiction goes slow for me. It has to be a really good book about an interesting person/event to keep me engaged. I like American revolution and WWII stuff typically. I just finished a JFK one that was good and wrote a review about it the other day. Oh, and Bomb (review here) was awesome too.

Julianne:

*sigh* oh nonfiction…
Just like there are many genres of fiction, there are many genres of non-fiction. It’s the second tier of classification, right under age group. That being said, it shouldn’t be dismissed as boring. There are more options there than “self-help” and war history. Personally, my reading career started off in Dr. Seuss and Peter Rabbit, but I soon devoured our encyclopedia set. (Early nerd lol)

Of course, beyond that, most of my non-fiction reading was school related, but it wasn’t always a drag because I loved learning. (#homeschooled) I’m not super familiar with the YA non-fiction genre, but there are some pretty spectacular stories out there. All this fiction has to start somewhere. Next on my TBR is a book called The Spy Wore Red about a model who was a spy in WWII… Aahhh can’t wait to get into that one!! (Read the synopsis on Goodreads and add it to your TBR!)

But aside from spy stuff, non-fiction is bigger than biographies. There are books on musicals, zebras, climbing Mt. Everest, singing mountain-climbing quadrupeds… Well maybe not that last one, but almost everything else. Reading non-fiction can also help you discover things you might want to do “when you grow up”. Or not do…

Point is, there are some neat things mixed in with the less-intriguing ones. And don’t sink all your time in fiction. Save a little love for the true stories 🙂

JB:

I’ll be honest, the only non-fiction book I’ve read of my own accord is the Bible, so most of my experience with non-fiction books comes from required reading in school. I don’t remember reading any biographies or autobiographies (I’m sure I did–I just don’t actually remember), but I did read some interesting non-fiction books in college.

I took a sociology class, Comparing Cultures, which I loved, and I enjoyed reading about the differences between our culture and others. My favorite book was Watching the English, written by an English sociologist who attempts to objectively write about her culture from the eyes of a non-native. It was really fascinating to see how different even small things are. For example, there is a wrong way to eat peas in England! Thankfully, the author had an interesting voice and kept things interesting, because I’d still rather be reading fiction!

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What are your thoughts on non-fiction books? Love em? Hate em? Read them all the time or only when forced?

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Review: Flygirl

Review and Content Advisory for Flygirl by Sherri L. SmithAuthor: Sherri L. Smith

Age: YA (14 and up)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Awards:
2010 ALA Best Books for Young People
2010 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children
2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices Selection
2010 Kansas State Reading Circle Catalog Selection
2010 Amelia Bloomer Project Selection
2010 Tayshas Reading List
2010-2011 South Carolina Book Award Nominee
2009 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books
2009 Washington Post Best Kids’ Books of the Year
Spring 2009 Indie Next List Pick for Teen Readers

Goodread’s synopsis

Rachel’s Rambels:

I really enjoyed this story. The main character is from Louisiana, so that made it really engaging to read. One error I found- Louisiana has parishes, not counties. After reading Code Name Verity, It was really interesting to see what was happening with American women in relationship to flying planes during WWII. The twist to this story is that the Main Character is an African American – light skinned enough to pass for white. The issues this novel arises are the questioning of identity, forsaking family, women’s rights, and patriotic duty. It also opens an interesting window into the WWII timeframe that isn’t normally opened.

There is a little romance, but like Code Name Verity, this novel is about the sisterhood. I love Ida’s (Jonesy’s) new best friends, Lily and Patsy, in this book. Lily is so sweet and gentle. Patsy is unforgettable. While Ida is from a southern strawberry farm, Lily is from a rich home and Patsy is use to circus life. They make an interesting trio.

Content Advisory:

Language: 2/3 (I don’t remember how many, but there wasn’t a lot)Mild cussing throughout (h & d words).

Sexual: 1 , couples kiss and unexpectedly get married.

Violence: 3, WWII is going on…

 

Review: Ruby Red

Review and Content Advisory for Ruby Red by Kerstin GierAuthor: Kerstin Gier

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Time Travel

In a sentence: “Sixteen-year-old Gwenyth discovers that she, rather than her well-prepared cousin, carries a time-travel gene, and soon she is journeying with Gideon, who shares the gift, through historical London trying to discover who they can trust.”

Click here for full synopsis from Goodreads.

When Gwenyth finds out she has time traveling abilities that were supposed to go to her well-prepared cousin, her entire family gets turned upside down. Said cousin (Charlotte) and Charlotte’s mom are less than thrilled, Gwen’s mom is, for some reason, very worried about the turn of events, and Gwenyth herself isn’t exactly enjoying her surprise trips to the past. 

Thankfully, The Guardians, a very old, very secret society that has helped time travelers for generations, have a device that Gwen can use that will send her back in time to whichever date she pleases, and with the lovely side effect of no surprise trips into the past! Unfortunately, the other time traveler, Gideon, sometimes comes along on these trips. Gideon, while he may be rather hot, is also, well, a bad boy. And a heart-breaker. And too smart for his own britches. And good with a sword. Did I mention hot? But, as Gwenyth says about him, “What a waste of good looks.” Too bad she’s having trouble NOT falling for him.

There wasn’t a lot of action for the beginning of the book. It seemed to be a lot of backstory, worldbuilding, and explaining how the whole time travel thing works. However, it’s still an enjoyable read, and the backstory is much appreciated during the other two books. (Expect reviews of Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green soon!) That being said, after reflecting on the book, I realized that the pace of the story was fairly slow. This didn’t bother me, as the narrator was humorous, as was her best friend, and she kept me entertained even when things were simply being explained. 

Oh, but the ending. Oh! I don’t know that it’s so much of a cliffhanger as much as stopping in the middle of a scene. I wasn’t thinking what happens next? so much as wait, this is the end? There should be more. YOU CAN’T JUST STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF A SCENE. So make sure you have book 2 as you come up to the ending of Ruby Red so you can keep on reading and find out how that scene ends. 

Ruby Red is an enjoyable read, sure to be enjoyed by those who enjoy a little humor and romance with their time traveling. 

Content Advisory: 
Sexual: 2
basic kissing, a few innuendos; mentions an ex-boyfriend who was too touchy feely
Violence: 3 
Fight scene in which a man is killed with a sword. Mentions “a jet of blood shooting out of his throat.” Other than that, most of the description is of the sword fight as opposed to nasty wounds/bleeding/etc.
Language: 3 
some uses of d and h scattered throughout

>>>Read our reviews of the next two books in the series: Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green.

>>>Like time travel stories? You might also like Timeless by Alexandra Monir and An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

Grammar Tips: Possessives and Apostrophes

A late happy Easter from The Girls in Plaid Skirts!

Today we’re talking about using possessives with names. This can get really confusing—especially if the name ends in an s! We’ve got some authors helping us out today—John Green, author of many books, including The Fault in Our Stars, and Kiera Cass, author of The Selection series. John is up first.

Here are the basic rules for names that do not end in s. The orange text shows you what to add.
When to use apostrophes with namesWe’ll use each of these in a sentence:

John Green likes pizza.
John Green’s favorite food is pizza.
The Greens invited us over for a pizza party.
The Greens’ pizza party was awesome.

And now onto the confusing part—names ending in s. Again, the orange text shows what you should add.
possessives for names ending in sExample time!

Kiera Cass is one of my favorite authors.
Kiera Cass’s books will make you want to throw something.
The Casses are issuing restraining orders on crazy fans.
The Casses’ dog is trained to attack crazy fans should the restraining orders prove ineffective.

Did you find this helpful? Let us know what grammar problems you want us to cover next!

Review: BOMB

Review and Content Advisory for Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

Author: Steve Sheinkin

Genre: Informational Nonfiction

Age: YA

Awards: YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction (2013) Newbery Honor (2013)

Synopsis: Here is the one from Goodreads.

Rachel’s Rambles:

This past summer, I saw ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Little Boy’. (Ok, so replicas…you know what I mean.) When I saw this book, I figured it was a worth a shot to fill up my mandatory non-fiction reads for YA libs. So glad I did!

I found myself laughing, holding my breath, biting my cuticles from anticipation, and my jaw dropping from shock. Its packed full with crazy scientist, spies, and lots of government secrets.

If you like spy stories…read this. You will have to remind yourself that these adventures are not just part of an action novel—they really happened.

Once again, I found a nonfiction book that was a thrill to read. Fast paced and thrilling. I want to buy it and add it to my shelf.

5 out 5 stars for sure!!

Content Advisory:
Mild cussing, Bombs, and other war stuff.

The Friendship Archives: Best Friend Poems and Boy Advice

The three of us never went to the same school. That’s probably a good thing, because, despite only seeing each other at church and slumber parties, we managed to pass on boxes full of notes. I recently found a box of these and knew I couldn’t keep it to myself. So here are some snippets of notes we sent each other in high school.

From Julianne:

When you have too much time on your hands
And way too much on your plate
You may visit my castle and tour my lands
And find so many hot guys to date
When life gives you lemons
We’ll help you make lemonade
And when you wear a dress of persimmon
We’ll help you find a better shade

On boys (names have been changed for their safety):
It’s going down this weekend. Jack is going to get trampled by penguins [before we were The Girls in Plaid Skirts, we were penguins]. Um, well maybe not exactly trampled. Just subtly questioned by until the truth be told. I think she needs to get over him because I don’t like way she says his name, and his eyes are too close together, but that’s just my opinion.

From Rachel (who played a very important part in getting Dork [my husband] and me together)

[The following has been abridged and revised because secrets.]

Dear Sherlock,
A new case has just appeared on my desk. My fear is you’re the only one with the  answer. I’m desperate for the answer so my tiny brain may rest. The case lies in the question of who do you like? When you’re done searching for the answer let me know. Inquiring minds want to know.
Sincerely,
Nancy Drew

P.S. Kaleb’s Good Points
1) Pentecostal (loves Jesus!)
2) Nice
3) Likes you
4)
5)
6)
(Thought this may help… I started, you can fill in the blanks.)

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I think it’s obvious who Rachel wanted me to be with. She also filled the margins with “Kaleb and JB sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”

I have a million more notes, with boy advice one to another (despite the fact that none of us had ever had a boyfriend), coded messages, and fangirling over the new book we loved called I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You. Who would have guessed that 6 years later, that book would be the reason we became book bloggers?

Top 10 Tuesday: Bookish Wishes

Welcome to this week’s Top 10 Tuesday!!!

Top Ten Tuesday TPG

 hosted by the lovely blog The Broke and the Bookish

 This week is bookish things we would love to be the proud owners of.  Not including actual books…  For starters I want an incredible library, a collection of TOMES!!!  Assuming I already have that (and the space to properly accommodate hahaha)

… at the top of my library wish list is a 1. Rolling Ladder

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ladder3

 … maybe I’ll just build my own…

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 Because I’ve always wanted to do this Belle scene…

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I also dream of a 2. Fancy old Desk!

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And I want these fantastic 3. Pencils

Book Wrapped Pencils

(find them in BouncingBallCreation’s shop on Etsy)

so I can write a note on my 4. Darling Stationary

I mean really… how adorable is this?!?

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(from TheFoxandTeacup’s Etsy shop)

Also this great 5. Poster

Quote Poster

… hanging above my fluffy chair,

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where I read, clutching my 6. Appropriate Pillows

Book junkie pillow( “book junkie” on Etsy, from LifeCraftsWhatever)

typwrite pillow

(typewriter pillow by pilosale, on Etsy)

… and drink tea from my 7. Mug so people know what’s up.

im reading mugreading is my superpower mug

(superpower mug from LennyMud’s shop)

 And because I’ve read myself late for a 8. Book Swap Tea…

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I throw my current read, and any other things deemed essential into my 9. Kate Spade Tote and head out, soon to return with tales of adventure!

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 … and, come to think of it, 10. a book-loving fellow wouldn’t be half-bad 😉

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Care to share your Top 10?

Grammar Tip: You and Me or You and I?

You and me or you and I? This is one of those tricky English grammar things that I have to think about every single time. Hopefully this post will help you remember which one to use!

First off, here’s a little equation that will make things a bit easier:

when to use you and I or you and me

If you aren’t sure if you should use “you and me” or “you and I,” replace it with we or us. Let’s try it out.

Between you and (I, me), who do you think America will choose in The One

Let’s apply our nifty formula:
Between we, who do you think America will choose in The One? This doesn’t make sense, which means that “you and I” is incorrect.
Between us, who do you think America will choose in The One? Ah, much better. Because “us” makes sense, the correct answer would be “you and me.”

Let’s do another example:

You and (I, me) were invited to the premiere for The Fault in Our Stars!

Now plug in the formula…
We were invited to the premiere for TFIOS! “We” sounds right, which means that the correct answer would be “you and I.”

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The I=we/me=us rule also applies when a name is used instead of “you.” For example:

Chris Pine and (I, me) would make a cute couple. = We would make a cute couple. Therefore, the correct answer would be “Chris Pine and I would make a cute couple.” (Which is totally true.)

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Did you find this helpful? Let us know what tricky grammar problems you want us to cover next!