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Category Archives: Romance

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

51j9LzJVw6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Winner’s Curse

In the conquered colony of Herran, Kestrel lives with her father, the renowned top general of the Valorian Empire, a strict man who is constantly gone fighting battles for the Emperor. Valoria had conquered Herran over ten years before and made its citizens slaves. Though Kestrel doesn’t like the slavery practice, Valorian rule has made this a fact of their society, but Kestrel has sympathies for the Herran since her nurse was one and she mothered her after her real mother died.

Since Kestrel is seventeen, she is rapidly approaching her future: whether she will join the military as her father wishes (despite not being very gifted in physical pursuits) or she must marry. When Kestrel attends a slave auction on accident, she somehow finds herself the owner of a beautiful yet defiant young man, later known as Arin. Her feeling of kinship with him grows as she finds herself drawn to his rebellious nature, and as they get closer, she discovers the price of buying him, a human being, might actually be a lot higher than she ever anticipated–an occurrence known as the winner’s curse.

20443207The Winner’s Crime

Kestrel has escaped from Herran and the rising rebellion led by Arin and his associates and made it to the Empire where she’s brokered a deal for keeping Herran as a territory allowing them to govern themselves but pay tribute to the Empire while the Emperor and his forces concentrate on nearby Dacra. In exchange, Kestrel will be the bride of the young heir to the Empire, Verex. Rather than still considering herself loyal to the Empire, Kestrel only knows she would do anything to try and save Arin’s life, since he will be among the first to be killed in retribution from the Empire. The Emperor has congratulated himself in finding a suitable bride for his son, especially since she is the daughter of his esteemed general and friend, earning the love of the military and ensuring his soft son has a wife who is capable of diplomacy and shrewd calculation. However, when Arin comes for the nuptials, everything falls apart as Arin can’t understand Kestrel’s motives and compromises her cover, and Kestrel faces the possibility of her betrayal and potential death.

51fuF8JdBjL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Winner’s Kiss

After Kestrel was sent to a work camp in the north for her betrayal of the Emperor, she is believed to be married to the prince and honeymooning until her unfortunate death. Meanwhile, Arin is preparing for war against Valoria until he discovers that Kestrel, whom he thought was using him, was actually his spy and was captured. Arin secretly steals away to rescue her, bringing her back a changed woman, one whose prison and resulting drug abuse has caused a mental affliction and she must relearn everything about herself and her memories. Arin is also learning to trust and lead his people and maintain the alliance with Dacra. Will they manage to defeat the Empire and gain freedom once and for all?

This was a solid series! I very much enjoyed reading it, and did so pretty quickly. It has a lot of action and romance while also having good world building and well-rounded characters. The ending was satisfying even if I thought it could have had more meat towards the end, especially with resolving Arin/Kestrel’s relationship and the ones with Prince Verex and their Dacran allies. This was mostly clean, and suitable for at least 8th grade and above. One of the best things I appreciated was how Kestrel grew up throughout the series. First she was fairly intimidated and scared of her father’s reaction, but she slowly learns to stand up for herself and what she believes in until the severe consequences no longer matter just so she can achieve what she believes is right. It’s very much a lesson in self-advocacy and coming-of-age.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer

25094429The Season

In a fun twist on the classic Pride and Prejudice tale, The Season follows Megan McKnight as she is reluctantly drawn into a debutante ball to please tradition and her mother. All Megan wants to do is play soccer, but since she thinks her parents might be fighting about their ranch and pressures to sell, she agrees. Megan must go through a series of events in a month designed to teach her how to be a debutante and act like a lady to best show herself off for her family and to young men with the best pedigrees looking for wives. However, Megan is not your typical Southern belle, unlike her twin sister Julia. She’s got attitude and determination, and this gets her into some trouble. Megan has to learn to be the perfect debutante also while avoiding the drama and scandal from other contestants, but when she meets Hank Waterhouse and her sister has an upset, Megan must set things right for her family, or they could even lose all of their futures.

Recently this novel has been optioned for film! This is sure to be a hit, rather similar to She’s the Man. I’m pretty excited to watch that when it comes out. It’s funny, unique, engaging, and sure to tempt girls who like sports as well as those who like traditional romance and contemporary/realistic fiction. You’ll be surprised at how the book fits in with the Pride and Prejudice tale, but I really enjoyed it! There’s some sex and alcohol mentioned. This is also great for teens anticipating going off to college/graduating/leaving home, right on the edge of figuring out their future.

 

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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

I’m over at Tynga’s Reviews again discussing The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. Click the picture or here to follow!

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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

25372971Tell Me Something Real

William C. Morris Award finalist for 2017

In San Diego, California, three sisters deal with the realities of their mother’s leukemia and their double life in Tijuana, Mexico where their mother attends treatment. Instead of parents who take care of them, it is the girls who take care of their family. While visiting the clinic for her mother, Vanessa, the middle sister, meets a young man, Caleb, on remission from leukemia and they form a close bond. Caleb and his mother even come live with their family when Vanessa’s mom becomes terminal, and Vanessa feels like she has love despite the stress of her mom and their life. Vanessa also begins to really discover the strength of her dreams of playing the piano and planning for her future. However, when Caleb and his mom leave suddenly, Vanessa decides to find out what secrets they’ve uncovered, and in doing so, she and her sisters must face the worst possible betrayal and their lives change forever.

I don’t typically read books about chronic illness, since it’s something that gives me anxiety. However, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars definitely changed that for me, so now I am simply more careful about what I read. Still, I was really intrigued about this book as it really shows a different perspective of illness. Vanessa and her family are not typical. Her mother has been ill for a long time, and Vanessa and her sisters are basically running the house so their father can continue working and making the only income they have (even if his boss is horrible and not understanding of the family situation). Vanessa is still normal though and wants to live her own life. When she meets Caleb, she gets to be a little bit more normal for awhile, and their romance is sweet and real. The real test for Vanessa is when the plot twist occurs and disrupts everything. It is Vanessa who has to deal with all the fallout and who is the hardest hit by everything. It becomes more about what choices she will make because of it, and how that will then affect the rest of her family. She also discovers the value of truth and trust in a way that closely echoes real life. Vanessa becomes a tough heroine and I had a lot of sympathy for her.

This book might speak to any teen who has been deeply betrayed and is learning to trust again. The story is more for high school teens, better for juniors and seniors as it relates to a similar time in their lives when they are choosing their futures and displaying their true selves.

 

 
 

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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

coverThe Sun Is Also a Star

A 2017 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and highlights Nicola Yoon as the John Steptoe New Talent Award!

Natasha refuses to give up on the day her family is supposed to be deported to Jamaica due to her father’s one DUI, and though she’s been trying to convince immigration officers for months, she’s still trying. Natasha believes in science, in logic, in Observable Facts. She wants to stay in the US and go to college, not leave the only life she’s ever known just because her father made one mistake and her family is undocumented. When the security guard at the immigration office makes her five minutes late for her appointment and she’s missed it, another man gives her a chance, sending her to an appointment with a lawyer to hear of her case. On the way there, she meets Daniel…

Daniel has always been overshadowed by his older brother Charlie, until now when he’s been suspended from college for awhile. His Korean American parents used to hold his brother up as a measurement to gauge how good Daniel was, and now Daniel has an interview for Yale to live up to his family’s expectations and be a doctor. As he’s making his way into the city, his train conductor forces everyone off the train to “go find God” and Daniel decides to make the most of it. When he gets off, he notices a stream of people making their way around a girl, Natasha, on the sidewalk who is completely oblivious and zoned out to her headphones. Daniel follows her into a record store and intervenes in a conflict with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend who is caught shoplifting. When he saves her life a few minutes later, they start and make a deal. Since Natasha believes in science and Daniel is a romantic poet, he challenges her that he can make her fall in love with him scientifically.

This deal results in one day that changes their perceptions, forces them to confront things they never imagined and ultimately shows how powerful love can be if only in a short time and how it can change the future.

I could read this book over and over again! The minute I read it I knew it was something special and not just because of the diversity of the main characters (though that is wonderful) and the story. Nicola Yoon writes beautifully and with such feeling for the backgrounds and possibilities of even the minor characters and shows how the universe around Natasha and Daniel relates into the past and future. I’ve been pushing this book at everyone possible because it really stays with you and is a eye-opening glimpse at the lives of this Korean American family and undocumented immigrant families like Natasha’s. Perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park and for high school age teens and adults.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in Contemporary fiction, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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