Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: Dreaming Anastasia

Dreaming Anastasia
Joy Preble
310 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

My Thoughts:  
I originally found this book a while ago on Confessions of a Bookaholic.   I believe Jessica had a guest post from Joy Preble, and I enjoyed her writing and decided to add her book to my TBR pile.  Then, when the second book in the series, Haunted, was released, Amazon had Dreaming Anastasia for FREE!  Woohoo for free ebooks!  I'm loving it, almost so much so that I may be going to an ebook-downloaders anonymous meeting soon.   I'm beginning to see a pattern with my addiction.  But, if some freak thing happens and the word is rid of all paper books, I WILL have those books to pass on to the next generation.  I never know when I might want to read something new and different.

Anyway, once again I was pleasantly surprised by my freebies (not helping my addiction though).  I have been reading Little Women of late, and I needed something a little more fast pace - a fun, quick read.  Dreaming Anastasia provided exactly that.  Fast-paced, check.   Historical intrigue, present.  Action and mystery, check and check.  I picked it up thinking I would probably enjoy it, but I had no idea how much.

First of all, I love the Anastasia story.  I've always enjoyed the thought of the impossible idea that she survived.  Plus, that Disney movie Anastasia was one of my favorites when I was a kid.  I'm excited that several young adult authors have picked up the story and added different spins to it.   Preble definitely added an unpredictable twist to the story, giving it a paranormal touch.  I had a bit of a time getting used this type of paranormal magic, mostly because I've never read anything like it.  She doesn't go much into the beginnings or explanations of the magic, which makes a slightly less believable but also adds a lot to the don't-know-what's-coming-next element.

Anne: the main character Anne cracked me up.  Preble definitely captured the essence of teenager-hood in writing of Anne in first person.  I laughed some times just because I remember saying and thinking exactly those types of things.  I enjoyed that Preble added a sense of fear and spunk to Anne.  It made her interesting, and I greatly enjoyed reading about her.

Ethan:  *sigh* oh Ethan.  Let's start with the fact that I love the name Ethan.  One of my kids may be called that one day.  I don't think it's too old-fashioned, and it seems to have an goodness in the name.  Somehow I can't picture a villain named Ethan.  Anyway.... so from his deep blue eyes to Anne's observation that he has incredibly good posture, I definitely think he was swoon worthy.  I loved him as an opposing character from Anne.  He really just made me happy all around.  His frustrations cracked me up.  His inherit desire to do what's right.  He's surprise that Anne is NOT at ALL what he was expecting.  I loved it all!  (Side note: maybe because I love Ethan so much, I really don't like the cover that has a guy's face in the shadows.  That is NOT how I pictured him.  Rude.)

Really, I read this book in two sittings (had to be broken up due to work... that pesky old thing).  I lost sleep over it.  So I guess it goes in that "worth stay up late for" category.  Preble had me at the edge of my seat the majority of the time.  I couldn't quite figure it out.  Plus, her writing was incredible.  She wrote the novel from three different first person perspectives: Anne, Ethan, and Anastasia - alternating chapters.  It added a great element to the Anne-Ethan relationship and made for a unique read.  She also added the wonderful context of not eliminating the parental relationship.  So many teenage books (especially paranormal ones, I think) either eliminate or ignore the parents.  Preble added this touch of reality, and I found that quite interesting.

Overall, I loved this novel.  I can't wait to pick up Haunting the next book in the series.  I'm so excited that there is a sequel, because it did not end the way I had it planned - so I'm hoping the ending will improve with the next book under my belt.  I loved the background story, and Preble's writing made a fun story have an excellent novel to take place in.  My only major drawback to the story was that I did not really like the magic effects.  Overall, I found it kind of weird and out there.  It only drew back from the story a little bit, so it won't keep me from recommending it and picking up the next books Preble writes.  It just wasn't my favorite. I gave it a 4 out of 5, because I really loved it (though the magic probably will keep me from rereading it again and making it an all-time favorite).  I can't wait to get more of Anne and Ethan.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves YA and paranormal/fantasy-type books.  It was definitely worth the time, and I won't think twice about shelling out some money for the next book.

More of Dreaming Anastasia and Joy Preble:
I know that it's a lot of links, seems a little overboard.  But there was a Crossroads tour that features Joy Preble, and I thought each interview was really interesting and had several different type of questions.  If you're not nerdy like me and don't think interviews and guest posts are super cool, just ignore.  
Goodreads: Dreaming Anastasia
Goodreads: Haunted
Goodreads: Joy Preble
Review: Mundie Moms
Review and Interview: Lisa and Laura Write
Guest Post: The Story Siren
Guest Post: Confessions of a Bookaholic
Interview: Confessions of a Bookaholic
Interview: Supernatural Shark
Interview and Book Trailer: The Book Swarm

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