RSS

Tag 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.

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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!

515SFv0pn6L._SX327_BO1204203200_

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

all the bright places by jennifer nivenAll the Bright Places

Atop their school’s bell tower, the notorious freak (so termed by his peers) Theodore Finch rescues Violet Markey who has frozen on the ledge from thinking about what it would be like to jump off the bell tower. Once Violet is safe, however, the school gathers and it is Violet who Finch lets get credited as a hero for talking the unpredictable, violent Finch from his latest stunt. In an assigned class project, Finch volunteers to partner with Violet where they must visit natural wonders of their state of Indiana and write about their experiences. Finch has another idea though and makes the assignment more about wandering, life, and finding the unexpected and under-appreciated areas of their state.

Pre-Finch Violet is still suffering the effects of her sister Eleanor’s unexpected death in a car accident nine months before, and everyone keeps giving her excuses or “extenuating circumstances” for not being normal. She does nothing besides go to school and go home. She doesn’t write, and before Eleanor’s death, she and Eleanor used to be well-known for their website EleanorandViolet.com with its conflicting opinions on boys, fashion, life etc.

On the other hand, Finch is the eldest boy in his broken family who lives with his exhausted and downtrodden mother; an older sister Kate who has terrible luck with boys, secretly smokes, and pretends to be Finch’s mother; and younger sister Decca who is also troubled but only eight. His father who also has anger, physical and alcohol abuse issues, recently divorced from his mother and has a new family, a wife with a bright house and her son Josh Raymond (who may or may not actually be Finch’s half-brother). Most of his father’s wrath used to be directed towards Finch who seems to be a constant disappointment. Add in his issues at school with violence and bullying and limited number of friends, and Finch with his episodes of mental illness (that is later revealed to be bipolar disorder).

When Finch and Violet start working on their project, Violet discovers the real Finch, a curious, hopeful, and gregarious boy who loves music and poetry and finding beauty in the world. Slowly, they fall in love, and Violet’s relationship with Finch puts her in compromising positions with her family and friends. As Violet’s world opens once more because of Finch’s influence, Finch’s struggle grows harder as his love for Violet becomes his only hope and yet a heavier burden. Two broken and unforgettable teens forge a deep connection in love and loss that leads them both to brighter places.

I listened to this on audio and the audiobook was fantastic! So, if you can’t read it in print, know that the audiobook narrators give a real teen voice to Violet and Theo and are energetic, fun, and truthful to the characters. I will find this book hard to recommend to most readers, but it is beautifully written and the characters will stay with you. Jennifer Niven writes with a gentle but persuasive and real touch about the heavy topics of death, suicide, and mental illness. This is a book like Thirteen Reasons Why or The Messenger I would suggest for teens to read because it’s a book that is meaningful and real but ugly, messy, and carries a message about life that will stay with them when they witness or live through bad experiences in their own lives. It’s a book to read if you’ve faced or been affected by mental illness, suicide, death/grief, or abuse. And please don’t think this book is terribly depressing. Just like life there are highs and lows and this deals with them so honestly…there is hope because just like Theodore Finch finds — the bright places (or the smallest things) can give you hope during the darkness.

To make your own bright places like Finch and Violet, make a post-it wall of everything that makes you happy or hopeful or you think is beautiful. Share your post-it wall on Twitter or Instagram with #allthebrightplaces. If you need help/are suffering a crisis, here are some resources that are readily available to help you. The first step is admitting that something might be wrong. If you want to learn more about mental health or helping others in crisis, go here. And remember, you are not alone. There is always someone who will miss you.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Contemporary fiction, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,