I very rarely request books on NetGalley. After years of being turned down because of rights issues, I’ve just kind of given up. But recently, I got approved for a couple and today I’m doing mini-reviews of three of them. So let’s get into it.
Aix Marks the Spot by Sarah Anderson
Published June 16th 2020 by Seabreeze Books
Jamie has been dreaming of this summer forever: of road trips and intensive art camps, of meeting cute boys with her best friend Jazz. What she didn’t count on was the car accident.
Exiled away from her family as her mother slowly learns to walk again, Jamie is sent to Provence and trapped in an isolated home with the French grandmother she has never met, the guilt of having almost killed her parents, and no Wi-Fi. Enough to drive a girl mad. That is, until, she finds an old letter from her father, the starting point in a treasure hunt that spans across cities and time itself. Somehow, she knows that the treasure is the key to putting her shattered family back together and that whatever lies at the end has the power to fix everything.
Armed only with a high-school-level of French and a map of train lines, she must enlist the aid of Valentin, a handsome local who’s willing to translate. To save her family, she has castle ruins to find and sea cliffs to climb; falling for her translator wasn’t part of her plan…
I went into this book expecting a cutesy romance and that’s exactly what I got. If you’re someone who loves travel, particularly France, and food then you’ll love this because it’s filled with all the best bits of that. (Teenage me would’ve loved this book.) I enjoyed the fact that at times it was like Jamie was addressing her mum, but I felt like it wasn’t done often enough to have a strong enough effect. So while this didn’t blow me away, if you’re looking for a fun, light romance then this is definitely worth a try!
The King’s 100 by Karin Biggs
Published July 21st 2020 by Immortal Works Press
Sixteen-year-old Piper Parish, princess of the loveless, STEM-only kingdom of Capalon, is a disappointment to her citizens and to her older sister, the queen. When Piper receives an anonymous note stating her mother is still alive and living in the enemy kingdom of Mondaria, Piper chooses to risk death in effort to prove once and for all that she’s not just the queen’s defective little sister. With the companionship of Chip, a piece of tech embedded in her wrist, Piper flees Capalon and enters a world where love and emotional expression are unrestricted.
Posing as a singer for the enemy king’s court of performers, the King’s 100, Piper risks death if she is revealed to be the Capalon princess, but discovers that living a life without the freedom to love might actually be the most dangerous risk of all.
The King’s 100 is a glittering and mysterious love story woven among the camaraderie singers, drummers and magicians in a future world by debut author, Karin Biggs.
This isn’t at all what I was expecting. While I don’t think this is a bad book, it definitely feels like it’s directed at a younger YA audience—more around your sort of 13 to 15 age mark, I think. I found the writing style and characters to be quite juvenile, while that made this easy to read through, I was hoping for something a little stronger. The pacing felt very strange—I was expecting more of a build-up to Piper leaving her kingdom, but it just happened straight away. I think this is perfect for fans of something like The Selection, but with a bit more of a sci-fi twist.
Finding Dora Maar: An Artist, An Address Book, A Life by Brigitte Benkemoun, translated by Jody Gladding.
Published May 19th 2020 by Getty Publications
In search of a replacement for his lost Hermès agenda, Brigitte Benkemoun’s husband buys a vintage diary on eBay. When it arrives, she opens it and finds inside private notes dating back to 1951—twenty pages of phone numbers and addresses for Balthus, Brassaï, André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Paul Éluard, Leonor Fini, Jacqueline Lamba, and other artistic luminaries of the European avant-garde.
After realizing that the address book belonged to Dora Maar—Picasso’s famous “Weeping Woman” and a brilliant artist in her own right—Benkemoun embarks on a two-year voyage of discovery to learn more about this provocative, passionate, and enigmatic woman, and the role that each of these figures played in her life.
Longlisted for the prestigious literary award Prix Renaudot, Finding Dora Maar is a fascinating and breathtaking portrait of the artist.
I knew absolutely nothing about Dora Maar before going into this book, other than the fact she was an artist. At the end of this, I did really feel like I’d gotten a glimpse into the person she might have been. At times, this was very hard to read. Maar really doesn’t come across as an easy person to like, but she also had a pretty tough life and it was sad to see the way she was treated by the people around her, even if you get the impression she probably would’ve responded in kind. All in all, this was a fascinating read.