Friday, July 29, 2016

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Genre:  YA Historical Fiction

Description (taken from Jennifer Donnelly's website):
It is 1906 and Mattie Gokey is trying to learn how to stand up like a man -- even though she’s a sixteen-year-old girl. At her summer job at a resort on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack mountains, she will earn enough money to make something of her life.

That money could be a dowry to wed the handsome but dull Royal Loomis. It could save her father’s brokeback farm. Or it might buy her a train ticket to New York City and college and a life that she can barely allow herself to imagine.

But Mattie’s worries and plans are cast into a cold light when the drowned body of Grace Brown turns up – a young woman who gave Mattie a packet of love letters, letters that convince Mattie that the drowning was no accident.

Inspired by the sensational Chester Gillette murder case of 1906, which was also the basis for Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and the film A Place in the Sun, this story evokes novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, and other classics that hark back to times of lost innocence.

Mattie lives in a small town in New York where eery girl's dream is to get married and help their husband on the farm while having a family of their own.  But Mattie has a way with words and is one of the first to get a high school diploma in her town.  Her teacher helps her dream of college and a degree.  Her best friend wants her to go to New York City with him for school.  But is this dream within reach?  With her father's farm needing more help and a boy catching her eye, will she be able to leave it all?

Mattie is currently working at a resort where a lot of rich folk stop for a vacation.  One of the guests gives her a pile of letters to destroy before disappearing one day.  When they do find her, Mattie begins to read the letters and relate them to her own life.  At the crossroads of youth and adulthood, Mattie must decide who she wants to be.  And just maybe, Grace Brown's words will leave an impression and help Mattie choose the life she wants.

This was such a good coming-of-age novel set in the early 1900s.  And hearing Mattie's story reminded me so much of my own life, and the choices I made as a young adult.  Since I might be a little biased for having also moved away for college and career, I was definitely rooting for one path over the other.  And while the small subtleties and plot lines were easy to see, it was still endearing to see the main character eventually catch on and see things in a different light.

This was definitely a refreshingly different read for me.  While it has a slower pace than other novels, it still caught my attention pretty early.  I had to know what Mattie decided to do with her future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Genre:  YA Fantasy
The Star-Touched Queen series, book 1

Description (taken from Rochani Chokshi's website):
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

Maya has been doomed with a fate that no one wants near them.  She grows up with her sisters and step-mothers, the first all betrothed and the second loathsome.  They don't want her around because all she brings is death.  But when her father makes a bargain no one expects, Maya finds herself in the middle of a plot to bring peace.  But is peace easily won?

After following Amar to his kingdom, Maya finds out that nothing is at it seems.  The stories she used to tell her sister are suddenly more than just stories.  And while Amar wants her by his side as an equal, Maya finds secrets holding her trust back.  Who can she trust when no one tells her the truth?

This story is so enticing.  It's cleverly written and ties together so well.  I was in love with it until I realized there were only twenty pages left.  I didn't think this story could come up with a good conclusion in just twenty pages.  Maybe I wanted more, or maybe I felt like my head was thrown back to reality too soon.  But the ending was disappointing to me.  I wanted a clever ending to fit the rest of the story, but I didn't get it.  However it doesn't stop me from loving this little story.

I'm glad I picked this book up.  And it's a series.  I'll have to pick up the next one...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Half-Blood by Jennifer L Armentrout

Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Covenant Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Jennifer L Armentrout's website):
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi–pure bloods–have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much.

Half-bloods only have two options: become trained sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden.

And that would kind of suck.

Alex has been on the run with her mother for three years now.  They've been in hiding from their kind as well as from daimons.  That is until a daimon finds them and kills her mother.  As she tries to find her way home, Sentinels who are highly trained fighters, find her along the way.

Now that she's back at the Covenant, a school for Hematoi and half-bloods, her guardian and the school must decide what to do with her.  She's behind and can be sent home to be a servant for Pures.  Or, as a Senitnel recommends, she can train for the summer and try to catch up to her class.  I think the choice is obvious here.  But there's a few secrets that people are keeping from her.

Yes, I will say this book sounds similar to The Vampire Academy, but who cares?  It's got the kick-ass fighting, the romance, the supenatural, and the mystery.  However, I was really confused with how the supernatural worked: pures and halfs?  There weren't a whole lot of powers going on.  And I had to keep reminding myself that the daimons weren't vampires.  But I still got into the story.

I'm glad I finally started this series.  It's an easy read, and I plan on continuing on.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

Genre:  YA Fantasy
The Wrath & The Dawn Series, Book 2

Description (taken from Renee Ahdieh's website):
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family–who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid–and her childhood sweetheart Tariq, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

This book picks up right where the last one left off: with Tariq rescuing Shahrzad from the Caliph.  But Shahrzad didn't need any rescuing.  And while she wants to go back to Khalid, she realizes her family needs her in the camp.  Her father is very injured and won't wake up, yet he clings to an old, mystical book.  And can Shahrzad really help Khalid by returning to him, or can she break the curse some other way?

This book starts off with Khalid's enemy encampment.  The one Tariq is help leading.  And even though he's rescued Shahrzad and convinced he can make her fall in love with him again, he's not getting what he bargained for.  And Irza, Shahrzad's sister?  She's barely growing up and trying so hard to keep her family together.  But how can she when not even her sister will confide in her?  So many choices to make that revolve around each other.  In the end, will Shahrzad and Khalid get their happily ever after?

I'm going to start with this:  I probably would have liked this book more if I had read it right after the first.  It did not do a good job of refreshing what happened in the first, and I spent the first half of the book stumbling through the story.  But once I got into it, I couldn't put the book down.  But I felt like more questions came up than were answered.  And I got so distracted by the side stories and the answers I was missing that I kind of missed the happy ending.  I'm still stuck on the mystical book.  And Artan.  And the justification for people's loyalties.  And now the series is over?  Ugh, I missed it.

I'm definitely going to recommend people read the second book right after the first one.  Then maybe you won't be as lost as me...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...