“All in all I'm a little disappointed. There was no "big loss" in this book. Previously there were losses and consequences but overall love and loyalty won out in the end. As well, I felt there was very little to none Italian lore and magesty. There was just petty rivalries (Matt), parties, girl...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It1 of 1 members found this review helpful
“Ugh. After picking up five exciting books from the library, this was the one I got around to first, because City of Flowers (its immediate predecessor) ended so suspensefully. If City of Flowers was something of a disappointment compared to City of Masks and City of Stars (which remain some of...”see full review » see other reviews »
“All in all I'm a little disappointed. There was no "big loss" in this book. Previously there were losses and consequences but overall love and loyalty won out in the end. As well, I felt there was very little to none Italian lore and magesty. There was just petty rivalries (Matt), parties, girl friend troubles and very very vague Straviganti magic that felt like it came out of nowwhere. It's been a while since I've read the last book, but I remember it was definitly not overt all-and-out magic before.
What the heck was Matt's purpose anyway? Enrico did more than he. He was just kind of second-string to all the plans and stuff. I guess the whole point to this story is that Luciano and Arianna get along with their relationship, the diminished Chimicis are evil and Matt got a load off of a problem in his life. I'm sensing a power-ranger reunion thing coming up where all the Straviganti (retired or no) band together to beat the Chimci's once and for all. But of course there will be another kid with problems coming to magical other world first.
It was cool, I guess, in an exotic way. But nothing much happened and it was kind of a dull plod of a book. Matt worked with presses and...well magically got back together with his horrible girlfriend who he only likes because she's pretty and somehow that helped him get over his concerns with reading...awesome.”
“it was good”Kenzie W wrote this review Monday, January 30, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“this series just keeps on getting more and more complex my head is spinning
“the first was the best but this was good”claudiapetters wrote this review Saturday, October 29, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Ugh. After picking up five exciting books from the library, this was the one I got around to first, because City of Flowers (its immediate predecessor) ended so suspensefully. If City of Flowers was something of a disappointment compared to City of Masks and City of Stars (which remain some of my favorite books of all time, especially Masks!), then City of Secrets was a mega-disappointment.
I could spend thousands of words criticizing this book: The writing didn't flow, characters weren't developed very well, Hoffman didn't spend any time exploring the city of Padavia (a.k.a. this world's Padua)...you get the picture. The no-exploration thing probably got my goat the most, because having never been to Italy, these books are kind of like a free, exciting plane ticket. But this one spent way too much time on Matt's insecurities (Ayesha, anyone? Yuck!)
Another problem I had with it was my long-abiding love of Lucien Mulholland. I adore Lucien Mulholland. Or Luciano, or whatever the heck you call him. Ditto for Arianna. So even in City of Stars I was a little disappointed that she started introducing new characters with Georgia and Alice, and in City of Flowers, even more so with Sky and Falco. They took time away from the characters I really enjoyed hearing about, even though all four had grown on me by the end of their respective novels. With the intro of Matt and Ayesha, though, it just started getting ridiculous and watered-down. Pretty much very page Luciano and Arianna weren't on was ridiculously boring.
Last complaint? Luciano and Arianna, WOULD YOU TWO JUST GET MARRIED, ALREADY? Sheesh. I was really crossing my fingers in this one for a big, fancy, old-school Bellezzan party with lots of Duchessa excess, but unfortunately, it just wasn't so. I will continue to cross my fingers and pray that I'll get my wish in a sequel, but if Mary Hoffman introduces yet another Stravagante with annoying problems I DON'T CARE ABOUT, I will scream. Watch me.”
English 1 Block 2
January 5, 2011
Honors Data Sheet
Title: Stravaganza: City of Secrets
Author: Mary Hoffman
Date of Publication: July 7, 2008
Synopsis: On Matt's seventeen birthday, his aunts sends him a book token. However, being dyslexic, Matt doesn't have much use for the book token. When he finds himself standing in front of an antique shop, Matt is surprised at how drawn he is to an old, leather-bound book he sees inside the antique shop. Soon, the book turns out to be a talisman that transports him to a different time and country. Turned into a Stravagante, a traveler between the two worlds, he arrives at a country call Talia, very much like Italy. There, he is hidden from the di Chimici in Padavia University while meeting other Stravaganti similar to him. Trying to discover the reason he came to Talia for and what problems he must resolve, Matt is suddenly thrusted into many more problems when his girlfriend starts fighting with him. Due to jealousy and a fear that she would break up with him, he casts the evil eye upon an ex-boyfriend of Ayesha's, his girlfriend. At the same time, the di Chimici start to close in on all the Stravaganti with a law that banishes magic, burning those who break it. With all these problems brewing around him, Matt has to stop the di Chimici from making a very important breakthrough while saving all the Manoush, people that have been sent to death for their beliefs. Who will win this battle between the Stravaganti and di Chimici?
Three Characters that Advance the Plot:
Luciano: Luciano is a Stravaganti that has left his old world to live a new and healthy life in Talia. He helps advance the romance aspect of the story by showing hints of all the developments in his relationship with the Duchessa, Arianna. He is one of the most important characters because of his involvement with almost all the conflicts with the di Chimici. Every time the di Chimici attack the Stravaganti it is almost always having to do with something Luciano did.
Arianna: Arianna is the beautiful Duchessa of Bellezza who disguises as a boy to secretly meet with Luciano when he goes to Padavia to study. She is important to the development of the plot since many things do not usually happen without her knowledge, seeing as how her father is a Stravaganti and the very person that brought Luciano's talisman to him. She helps with the plot when the Manoush are trapped in a situation where they have nowhere to go to for fear of being burned to death. Offering them to safely stay in Bellezza, she begins to help the other Stravaganti with smuggling the Manoush to safety.
Filippo: Filippo is the son of Jacopo, one of Niccolò's brothers and uncle to the head of the di Chimici. He moves the story along by showing hints of the fact that he is only using Luciano to find out more about the Stravaganti. He is one of the many antagonists and also the same person that stole Matt's talisman. He is transferred to the other world for a limited amount of time when he is knocked unconscious by a servant. He is a spy that later kidnaps Luciano to have him be used for a public dissection show.
The first event is when Matt first arrives in Padavia, Talia. It is important because it shows that another Stravaganti has appeared and symbolizes that the di Chimici are making another move to capture the knowledge of traveling to the modern world. It advances the plot because it reveals that a professor of the Padavia University is a Stravaganti and that they are publishing books on forbidden contents which would later cause a huge panic when Matt's talisman gets stolen.
The second event is when Silvia and Rodolfo find out that Barbara is impersonating Arianna under her orders. It advances the story and is crucial because it explains how Arianna was not discovered and, despite saying she was never going to use substitutes, she did so and broke her vow just to see Luciano.
The third event is when Beatrice is recalling the weddings and murders that happened in the City of Flowers. It is crucial because if some people forget the details from the City of Flower it provides an insight of it from the di Chimici'a point-of-view. It also foreshadows many of the di Chimici reactions to a fight and what will happen to Luciano near the end.
The fourth event is when Matt goes to talk with Nick, Georgia, and Sky about his trip to Padavia and Nick confesses that he killed his father. It is significant because it causes a situation where Georgia and Nick get closer and Nick finally accepts that he didn't kill his father. It advances the story because it causes Matt's girlfriend to get overly suspicious which ends up with Jago being cursed with the evil eye.
The fifth event is when Rodolfo and Silvia prepare Barbara and Marco so they can both help Arianna. It is relevant and important to the storyline because Arianna is given permission to continue with her disguise which leads to her saving the Manoush from being burned to death.
The sixth event is when Matt meets Luciano, someone he heard had died. It is important because it gives the reader more information on the Stravaganti and stravagation. It is needed in the storyline because it explains who killed Nick's father, the Grand Duke of Tuschia.
The seventh event is when Professor Constantin shows Matt his Secret Scriptorium. It is relevant because it explains how he managed to print all the books on the forbidden topics and where did Matt's talisman come from. It is crucial to the plot because there is a basis for when Padavia outlaws magic that there is someone printing books about magic.
The eighth event is when Caterina announces to Fabrizio that she is carrying a di Chimici heir. It helps because it foreshadows that the Stravaganti's troubles involving the di Chimici are not over yet. It also is important to show the tension in the di Chimici family ever since Niccolò was killed by Luciano.
The ninth event is when Luciano speaks to Matt just before Matt goes back to his world. It is significant because it shows that Luciano has forsaken his past world and now focuses on Talia. It helps the storyline because Luciano reveals how a Stravaganti is chosen and why does their talisman choose them.
The last event is when Nick and Georgia tell Ayesha everything about they know stravagation. It is relevant because it starts another case like the one with Alice, Georgia's friend. It is crucial because it causes Matt to admit what he did to Jago which later causes a meeting between Luciano's mom and Luciano.
The opening scene is very important because it shows a bit of the dialogue between Arianna and Barbara when Arianna plans to sneak out and see Luciano. It also introduces Professor Constantin who later on will become Matt's Stravaganti.
The closing is important because it tells of what happened to the Manoush and also includes the wedding of Marco and Barbara after all the dangerous work they've done to protect Arianna while risking themselves. It also has some dialogue between Caterina and Fabrizio which foreshadows that there will be more trouble for the Stravaganti.
I think this book was written for teenagers because it has a lot of pure romance with plenty of fighting and action that keeps you at the edge of your seat as the suspense builds up. I think the audience would learn to treasure everything they have before they lose them, figure out the cause of fights and be sure to resolve them quickly, and be wary of people that seem to have too much good intentions.
One of the obvious themes is Good vs. Evil. The di Chimici keep fighting with the Stravaganti which always ends with the di Chimici's loss until the next story where a new conflict appears. For instance, when the di Chimici thought they finally found the secret to stravagation, it turns out to be a fake book and they soon lose to the Stravaganti again. Another is when a fire attacks Padavia and the Stravaganti save the city. It causes the governor to veto the banishment of magic which causes the di Chimici to lose influence in Padavia due to the efforts of the Stravaganti.
Another obvious theme is acceptance of handicap from the beginning where Matt hates being dyslexic and gets easily depressed by it to when it doesn't seem like such a big deal. He slowly accepts into until he thinks that it's part of his character where he starts working harder than ever to make up for it.
The third universal theme obvious is making important and life-changing choices. Luciano is given many choices where he has to decide whether to sacrifice himself to save Matt or sacrifice Matt to save himself when the di Chimici kidnap Matt and steal his talisman.
The fourth theme is betrayal. There is a lot of betrayal in this book from the Manoush being betrayed to Enrico betraying his employer and killing him. Betrayal is also visible in Falco when he states that he killed his father and blames himself for betraying the Grand Duke of Tuschia.
The last theme is jealousy. Jealousy is easily descried from Matt at the very beginning when he worries that his girlfriend will lose interest in him. It later plays a big role, provoking Matt to cast the evil eye on Jago which, in turn, causes Ayesha to see a side of Matt she never expected.”
“Time travel gets a little dangerous. Good story and characters.”Cecilia R wrote this review Friday, October 29, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I love this series :} It is eerily realistic, and you will come to depend on the characters in this series. ”Katie~ If we could live without passion we'd know some kind of peace. but we would be hollow. without passion we'd be truly dead wrote this review Tuesday, August 31, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This fourth installment isn't as good as the previous books, but it's still a good read. It introduces Nick, a dyslexic 17-year-old who begins to stravagate to Talia. This book also involves a fateful encounter that I had been waiting for since reading the first book. While it may not be as great as the last three, this book is still definitely worth checking out.”nightingale-duet wrote this review Monday, August 30, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No