Title: Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii
Author: Vicky Alvear Shecter
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)
Acquired Via: Historical Fiction Blog Tours
Release Date: May 27, 2014
When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?
TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.
LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air…
When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?
I was so excited to be given the opportunity to review Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shecter because I'm always on the lookout for YA historical fiction. I loved studying Roman history in college (yes, I was lucky enough to have a class through two semesters devoted to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire), so I squeed a bit when this book popped onto my Kindle. I never once worried about the historical accuracy of Curses and Smoke - Scholastic puts out stellar books - but I did worry about how much my recent watching of the movie, Pompeii, would have on my reading. In actuality, it wasn't much except that Lucia looked like Emily Browning and Tages looked like Kit Harington. Yummy!
The only similarities that Curses and Smoke had to Pompeii was slave boy falls in love with the citizen girl who didn't want to marry who she was betrothed to. Curses and Smoke was also loads better because I was so distracted from Pompeii that I couldn't tell you the character's names if my life depended on it. Where they were dull and two dimensional, Lucia and Tag were interesting and well-constructed. I enjoyed getting to know them and watching their story unfold.
The love story itself in Curses and Smoke was sweet, but I didn't really "ship" Lucia and Tag. Yes, they were adorable and there was lots of kissing, but I wasn't really feeling it with them. Now there is another person that factors into the story later for an interesting love triangle. I'll just leave it at that so as to not spoil anything. You're welcome.
I could tell you all about what happens in Curses and Smoke, but the synopsis gives you the general idea of the novel's storyline, and we all know the history. If you like ancient history or stories with a surprising twist, I know you'll enjoy this book. I personally cannot wait to read more by Shecter.
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About the Author
Vicky Alvear Shecter is the author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra's Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.
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Book Blast Schedule
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at The Mad Reviewer
Tuesday, May 27
Guest Post & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, May 28
Review & Giveaway at Fiction Folio
Thursday, May 29
Review at Good Books and Good Wine
Friday, May 30
Guest Post at Good Books and Good Wine
Monday, June 2
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, June 3
Review at Geek Girl’s Book Blog
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, June 4
Review at Book Drunkard
Thursday, June 5
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, June 6
Review at The Book Belles
Review at Manga Maniac Cafe
Monday, June 9
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, June 10
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, June 11
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, June 12
Review at Let Them Read Books
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, June 13
Review at Broken Teepee
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through Historical Fiction Blog Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me.