wayfarer book review

img_2408After a VERY LONG YEAR of waiting, the sequel to Alexandra Bracken‘s Passenger was finally released earlier this month, and I had to wait two whole days after it came out to receive my copy in the mail.

I could have gone to the bookstore, but seeing as how I ordered it the day before it came out, I was responsible. And I waited.

Once I got the book, I was semi-thankful that I was under the weather, because I finished it in approximately 32 hours– and that was only because I fell asleep and dropped the book on my face. Otherwise it would have been shorter.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I will admit it didn’t wrap me up in the world of time travel and history as much as the first one did. Perhaps it’s because the two characters we came to love together so much, Etta and Nicholas, weren’t together for almost the entire book… or perhaps it was something else I can’t put my finger on. But before I go into more (without spoilers, I promise), here’s what Goodreads has to say:

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

I did absolutely love the secondary characters in the book. I loved getting to know Etta’s father, Julian, Li Min, and more layers of Sophia, Nicholas, and Etta. But, like I said earlier, the fact that the fight for Nicholas and Etta to be together took almost the ENTIRE book… I found myself desperately wanting to skip ahead to the part when they FINALLY REUNITED. This, I’m sure, is the romantic in me.

Since the first book took us on a crazy adventure that brought these two lovebirds together, I hoped the second would bring them together at least halfway through so we could experience more of their balance in the midst of the craziness. This wasn’t the case. However, in a few months I’m hoping to reread both the books in succession and perhaps I won’t feel as torn about my feelings for Wayfarer then.

Overall, this book was beautiful. The places we got to go and the emotions I felt through all of the characters wrapped it up in a wonderful end as a sequel. I especially loved all the toying with history and the potential repercussions of what that could mean.

If you loved Passenger, I would still highly recommend picking up the sequel. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Advertisements

blue tide review & giveaway!

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Jenna-Lynne Duncan’s new book, BLUE TIDE– released January 9 (next Monday)! While I am honestly not usually a solely romance fan, this book had so much more to offer than swooning over the pirates. Here is what Goodreads has to say about it:

Seventeen-year-old refugee Lux plots her escape from the island where her family is stranded, denying that her home was lost in the Floods. Lux is determined to get her old life back by any means possible. But before her feet even leave the sand, she’s taken hostage by a vengeance-driven pirate nearly as young as she is.

Her capture is the key to his freedom…

Captain Draven’s scarf veils more than his face. Underneath, he struggles between morality and survival. When Lux sees deeper into his motivations, she’s torn. She can commit mutiny to escape to a home that may no longer exist, or she can try to help Draven escape the clutches of the person responsible for the deaths of half the world. Staying would mean entrusting her life to a pirate. Helping Draven would mean losing her heart to one.

I am not offering any spoilers, but this book did a wonderful job of pulling me in right off the bat. With the Middle Eastern influence and dystopian background underlying it all, I could not back away until I was done (which I luckily had a sick day to do just that!).

While there were some moments that made me roll my eyes every now and again at Lux, the MC, I loved the supporting characters that were a part of her life. I wished for more of Lilou, Ahmend, and Leif– so perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to get a second book? The ending left me aching for more Draven as well, but I won’t say more than that!

One last thing I really wanted more of was the history of the floods. While Armodeous seemed to elaborate on some of this, I wanted more details of what happened during the catastrophe that brought all the characters to where they were when we met them. I wanted to feel the disaster as much as I felt the pain Lux associated with the loss of her previous life.

That being said, if you don’t follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter, now is the time! I am hosting a GIVEAWAY for this very book- a copy of BLUE TIDE (digital or paperback) that will be ordered/sent your way on its release day of JANUARY 9th! To enter, check out my other pages for more details.

Good luck, and happy reading!

 

the rose & the dagger book review

img_0975The Rose & The Dagger is Renne Ahdieh sequel to The Wrath & The Dawn. I went through this book as quickly as I did the first, though I must admit there were slower places in this one, where the first one kept me intrigued and desiring more and more.

Not saying this one didn’t do that, juuuust saying that there were a few places that we were in character’s heads for a little too long for my taste. More action would have been nice to break it up a bit, though I understand why the thoughts were necessary.

Here’s what Goodreads has to say about it:

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

 

I loved the new characters we got to see in this book, as well as the old. Being introduced to Shazi’s sister was a definite plus for me, since I have two sisters of my own and understood the struggle Shazi had with that relationship and the secrets she had to protect.

However, with new characters meant that I was taken away from my two favorites for longer periods. While it was necessary to the story, and it helped tie some loose ends, I thought that there could be a little more between Shazi and Khalid to help bring their relationship even more to life in this second book.

Over all, Ahdieh did her story justice, and I was sucked in the second book as quickly as I was with the first. I would recommend these books to anyone who loves One Thousand and One Nights. I’m really looking forward to Ahdieh’s next project, which is said to focus around the legend of Mulan.

trackback thursday: the mountain meadows massacre

mountain meadows massacreIn September of 1857, a wagon train that originated of families mostly from Arkansas, was held under siege for four days until they were lead to their deaths.

These emigrants were headed to California, and consisted of a few wealthy cattle and horse herders, as well as others looking for a better life out West.

When they traveled through Utah, at the time under the “theocratic” ruling, if you will, of Brigham Young and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as LDS or Mormons), they were refused supplies in Salt Lake City and Cedar City due to the Mormons suspecting them or taking part in the murders of some of their church members back East, including their late leader/prophet Joseph Smith.

On the first day, the settlers were attacked at Mountain Meadows, Utah by the local Indians, but when they were lead to their deaths it was under the direction of the local Mormon Militia.

The Mormons rode in under a white flag, offered the settlers help to escape the siege of the Native Americans, and had them march on as though leading them back to Cedar City. The settlers were then attacked by Mormons disguised as the Native Americans, so as to skirt away from blame. Around 120 settlers were killed, leaving only children under the age of seven alive.

There were around 17 survivors.

This massacre has been under debate since it happened. The LDS of the time first claimed innocence. Brigham Young did an “investigation,” which was then blamed on the local Native Americans. But upon further investigation and pushing from the national government, Brigham Young and the Saints sought to blame it on Major John Lee, the one who supposedly lead the attack under no orders from anyone higher ranked.

This post could be incredibly long, for this massacre is the setting for my YA historical fiction novel. So, I’ll just sum it up. But you can visit the Mountain Meadows Association site as well as read witness reports from all those years ago if you are interested.

After completing my novel and preparing to query, I got to visit the massacre site in December 2014. I was mixed with emotions of excitement and heartbreak. For somewhere so beautiful to be ever tainted by these innocent Westward travelers was haunting.

mountain meadows selfie

The massacre itself happened on September 11, 1857.

“between shades of gray” book review

imageI previously read Salt to the Sea and decided I needed more Ruta Sepetys in my life. I feel behind the times this year, catching up on so much YA that I missed out on in the last couple of years. But this book…oh, this book.

While I enjoyed from salt to the seaBetween Shades of Gray is more my style. With only one POV and Lina as the narrator– I connected with it so much more.

Here is the Goodreads description:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

When I read Ruta Sepetys’ books, I feel as though I’m being plunged into areas of history I previously had no knowledge of. I suppose when we learn things ins school, or even on our own time, we focus so much on what is closest to us. With WWII, I am very aware of the American part, and more of Britain and the Western European front than anything else. But Ruta Sepetys has introduced me to something I hadn’t thought of in so long, and that is what happened to so many others.

This book pulled on my heart and opened my eyes to Lena’s world. I wanted, more than anything while reading, to see her drawings. While Septeys describes everything so vividly, I kept hoping to flip the page and find an illustration. I know that many times this is the beauty of novels, that we can see without seeing, but this was an exception where I wanted it in front of me so badly. I wanted to see the pain in her charcoals, and her twisted views like Munch.

I want to call this book beautiful, but in fact the images that come to mind are anything but your standard “beautiful.” They are heart breaking, and stomach churning, and mind blowing– as they should be.

If you have yet to read this book, or any of Ruta Septeys books, might I suggest changing that– especially if you are a lover of YA historical fiction.

 

book review: the wrath & the dawn

imageThe Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is one of my favorite books that I have read thus far. Based on A Thousand and One Nights, the story of Scheherazade. It was one that I could not put down, and now all I want to do is life my self-inflicted-book-buying-ban to get the sequel, The Rose & the Dagger.

The Wrath & The Dawn was released in May of last year, and the sequel was released in April of this year.

Here is what Goodreads has to say:

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

 

When I was young, one of my favorite books was The Shadow Spinner, by Susan Fletcher, was one of my favorite books. It was also based on Scheherazade, but was from the perspective of a young girl who was taken into the story-tellers confidence to fuel her with more stories to share with the Sultan so she may continue to live.

The Wrath & The Dawn was like the story went even further for me, only better. Being able to see from the perspective of many characters, and get to know Khalid and Shahrzad in an entirely new light, I literally could not put down the book.

Another thing that it did was make me desperate for the food and colors of this Arabian world that Ahdieh created. With the descriptions of costumes, foods, surroundings, and traditions– I wanted to dive deeper and deeper into it, and Ahdieh did an amazing job of providing me with enough to fuel my imagination in technicolor.

There were a few parts of the story that I found myself questioning the tale, but then I felt like a ‘traditionalist’ and wanting all the stories of One Thousand and One Nights to come to life, not just the love story between Khalid and Shahrzad. With a killer cliff-hanger ending, I can’t imagine how readers who bought this book when it was first released felt without having the sequel ready at their finger-tips. I’m already itching as it is because I didn’t buy the two together at the same time!

This book gets 5/5 for me. Shahrzad, Jalal, Khalid, Despina– all the characters in this story have a voice of their own that makes a reader love (and sometimes dislike) them. If you haven’t read it (and I already feel late to the game), you must. And heed my warning: buy The Rose & The Dagger at the same time so you don’t end up like I am right now.

my love for historical fiction

historical fictveion loI come by my love of historical fiction honestly. Growing up in a family of historians, writers, readers, artists– all of it added up to my creation.

It started when I was young and I would hear my parents talking about historic events at the dinner table. Whether it was Biblical, American, Russian, European, it didn’t matter. Any topic was open for discussion, debate, and ultimately giving my sisters and me history lessons. As I continued in my education, it shocked me that others didn’t know the things I knew already. Not to say that snobbishly, only to say I was blessed in knowing what I knew because of my parents.

Not only did I know it, but I appreciated it. I lived for it. And I always wanted to know more.

I’m pretty sure I only read historical fiction up until I had required reading in school. Even then, the classics to me are from the same pot of tea, so I was always wanting to get my hands on more. However, there are three authors who made me want to read more, and more, and more– and with that, study more, and more, and more.

Ann Rinaldi

Samuel Shellabarger

Elizabeth George Speare

These three authors, to me, filled pages with adventures, challenges, and history that everyone should want to learn more about.

When I first started writing, I knew I wanted to write historical fiction. But it frightened me. I was afraid of the hours dedicated to research to get the details right. I was intimidated by the idea that someone could read my book and decide that I was no true historian, and give me a raving review that was less than mediocre.

I. Was. Afraid.

So I avoided it. I first wrote a YA Contemporary, which I love and hope someday others still might as well, but my editor and CP pointed out the language was very formal. I didn’t understand the concept of it being anything but, and realized that perhaps that came from my choices of reading. When I started reading contemporary novels, I tried to refocus my own into language that wasn’t ‘antiquated’.

Then I moved West, and something clicked inside of me. Having gone through my own adventure of moving with my family cross-country, I remembered books I read about families doing the same in covered wagons. And that’s when I realized I needed to stop being afraid of chasing my passion, and go for it.

I wrote my first historical fiction. And it’s what got me my agent.

History, the past, is a part of all of us. The amazing thing is that we all have our own lineage, our own pasts, our own family stories that have been passed down for generations– but the bulk of it is we all come from somewhere.

That, to me, is the beauty of historical fiction. These stories bring everything that we may have learned or wished to learn to life. Even if we know they aren’t straight facts, they help us feel a part of that time in history. They make us crave for ‘simpler’, or harder, times. And many times, they also make us appreciate the here and now.

You will find me reading just about every genre, and if you question that you can take a look at my bookshelves. But, if we get down to it, I write historical fiction because it made me who I am as a reader and a writer– and I’m so thankful for that.

 

“Under a Painted Sky” review

under a painted skyI realize I’m late to the party with this book. I saw tweets and posts alike last year about it, but I was a bit busy with my unrelated-to-books-life and missed out.

And, oh, did I miss out.

As you may know by now, I’m a sucker when it comes to historical fiction. Since it’s what I write myself, lately I’ve been soaking more and more in as motivation and push to work on my current WIP. I would say it’s definitely working, but this book made me ache for my own story that’s on submission. And I don’t mean that on any self-involved level.

Stacy Lee does such a beautiful job painting disaster, loss, struggles, and love in 1837 on the trail west I could hardly put the book down. I finished it way too quickly, and missed it all the more for it. When Sammy and Andy have to masquerade as boys, get “adopted” by Cowboys, and continue to face challenge after challenge, inward and out…I could barely stand it.

The style of Lee’s writing reminds me a lot of Ann Rinaldi, who has written a countless number of Historical Fiction that I was addicted to as a YA. Now, as an adult, Lee made me feel 15 again with her novel, and I love her for it.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading this book.

 

 

Just to to say something, I try to keep my reviews positive because I have yet to finish a book u don’t like. This space is to encourage reading, and support authors. I hope you see that and aim to do the same when you buy and read books! 

“Salt to the Sea” review

imageI was very excited to pick up Ruta Sepetys latest book, Salt to the Sea, as my next new read. I’m ashamed to say this is the first of hers I’ve read, and am now counting down the minutes before her other book, Between Shades of Grey, arrives in my mailbox.

After being slightly hungover from reading Passenger, I should’ve known this historical fiction was going to leave me dry in a different way. The four characters who I got to know and experience the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff with left me questioning myself as an adult and how I would have acted when I was younger. Emilia, most of all, left my heart aching.

Admittedly, it took me quite a while to really get into the book. Bouncing from one point-of-view to another left me, well, confused. The book started off with each character having a short introduction, to the point that I had to flip back and forth a few times before I got the characters straight. This seems common enough, but it kept me from getting deep into each character for the first fifty pages or so.

The writing style, however, and the over-all story and development of characters was just beautiful. Rita Sepetys seems like a kindred spirit to me, not hesitating to share with her audience the gruesome images of a worse-than-Titanic moment in history. Sepetys does not hold back, and it is because of that I was pulled deeper into the moment and blurry to the world around me as I followed Emilia, Joanna, Florian, and even Alfred, into the sea.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but as this book is about an incredibly journey through East Prussia, ending with the sinking of a German vessel near the end of WWII… you shouldn’t be surprised that you’ll end the book with tears in your eyes and heart.

My favorite part of this book was actually found in Sepetys’s note at the end. She said:

“If historical novels stir your interest, pursue the facts, history, memoirs, and personal testimonies available. These are the shoulders that historical fiction sits upon. When the survivors are gone, we must not let the truth disappear with them.

Please, give them a voice.”

This is put into words exactly how I fell. Why I love reading historical fiction so much, and ultimately why I love writing it.

But that’s sharing for another time.

If you don’t mind taking a few pages to get your characters straight, and you’re intrigued by more than your typical WWII book– this one is for you.

 

 

 

 

Want $10 or $5 to Starbucks? There’s still time! Here’s how you can enter:

1 Entry: Follow this site 🙂

1 Entry: Like the Facebook page

1 Entry: Follow on Instagram

1 Entry: Follow on Twitter

1 Entry: Share your favorite post on Twitter or Facebook and tag me when you do!

Make sure to comment on here, Facebook, or Instagram with everything you did! Extra entry opportunities have been shared on Instagram. Open until Saturday, March 26th at midnight EST. Winner announced Monday, March 28th. Good luck!

a reader lives one thousand lives

one thousand livesWhen I was in high school our homeroom met for about ten minutes and the students were divided up the same every year. We were in alphabetic order, so I always had the same person sitting in front of me, next time, behind me…it never changed.

There was a kid who sat in front of me who always asked me how many books I had read that day, or that week. He especially loves Monday’s because he would get to ask me how many books I read over the weekend. Sometimes it was only two, sometimes four. Once I was so excited to tell him I had read seven books between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.

I think I started seeing it as a challenge. “I want to be able to tell him I read more.”

Near the end of our senior year, I finally had the guts to ask him why it intrigued him so much. Part of me was so afraid I’d find he had been making fun of me for four years, but the other part of me–the stronger part–wondered if it was just something to talk about. But his answer always stays with me.

“I’m such a slow reader. It amazes me that you can read so fast, and so many books at the same time, and soak up all those stories. I wish I could do that.”

I was floored.

Part of me felt proud. My older sister and I had times each other to see how long it took us each to read a page of a book since I was about eight. The other part of me wondered if he had a right to be amazed. Because I got to thinking, and asking myself: was I really soaking up all the stories?

Some of them, yes. I always go back to my favorites. But some of them were just fillers. Books to read to pass the time. Those books I couldn’t really remember.

Suddenly I began to panic. I’ve been reading WRONG. I should be slow…and steady…because that’s the true winner, right?

Well, I listened for a millisecond or so before I pulled out my book and started pushing through it. I wanted to finish it. To add it to my list. My ever-growing list.

Now that time and life have forced me to slow down, I’ve learned that I don’t mind having a shorter list. I know there are so many books out there, and truth be told– time and mortality will keep me from reading all the books that I’d probably enjoy.

Yes, that makes me sad. But I’ve come to terms with it.

Quantity isn’t quality. That’s how the saying goes, right? I’ve slowed down to picking new books with precision, and made sure to revisit books that I might have sped through. I revisit the timeless tales that are my favorites, and balance them with the new and exciting books I find on various shelves.

But I’m not reading for anyone else.

I’m not reading to brag about how many books I finished. I’m not reading to keep up with the literary crowd. I’m not reading to make a name for myself.

I’m reading to live one thousand lives. I’m reading to enjoy the beautiful words so many authors toiled over. I’m reading to go on countless adventures. I’m reading to learn lessons that can’t be lost in the pages.

I’m reading to, well, live.

“A reader lives one thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R.R. Martin

If nothing else, I will read one thousand books before I die. Just so I can live up to this quote.

Do you have a numbered list of all the books you’ve read?

 

 

 

Make sure to follow my Instagram for more writerly & bookish things. Giveaways are in the future, starting with the 100 followers mark!