Tag Archives: good vs. evil

The Star-Touched Queen – a fever dream of Indian folklore and mythology

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The Star-Touched Queen – a fever dream of Indian folklore and mythology

In The Star-Touched Queen,  lush descriptions and exotic details are paired with an epic and mythical feel to create a beautiful book with a really cool story nestled inside.  This book has both content and style, and yet I would hesitate to hand it to just anyone because the style will overwhelm some readers.

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Goodreads Summary

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.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

My Thoughts

It felt like a fever dream.  Things would inexplicably shift and I wasn’t always sure what had happened or why.  Neither was the narrator, and yet she kept forging ahead while I was left a beat behind, still trying to explain what she just accepted.  It reads like a lot of the world literature works I teach, and if you are not willing to just accept some strange elements popping up and go with the flow, it may leave you frustrated.  I think the biggest hurdle appears shortly before the main character faces a monumental decision, and as the story got murkier and more mystical, I felt that a lot of my high school students would close the book and move on.   That would be a shame because the resolution is satisfying, but I know my students well enough to say it would be the breaking point.  There is an audience for this book, and I certainly see it garnering awards.  I think it would be a great book to push readers to a new level.  However, I can’t see it being a book that gets more attention from YA readers than from adult readers of YA.  It is appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

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Siren’s Song is exactly the conclusion readers want from Mary Weber’s Storm Siren trilogy

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Siren’s Song is exactly the conclusion readers want from Mary Weber’s Storm Siren trilogy

If you like Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, I think you will enjoy Mary Weber’s Storm Siren trilogy.  They have similar elements and similar feels, though they ultimately head in completely different directions.  The best part, though, is that Weber’s trilogy is finished (and each ebook only costs $5.99).  The final book, Siren’s Song, published this month, and I think it was the best of the three.  However, you have to read this series in order.  The first book is Storm Siren and the second is Siren’s Fury.   The third book, Siren’s Song, is exactly the ending that the Storm Siren trilogy needs.  If you have read the previous two books, it would be a big mistake to miss this resolution.

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Goodreads Summary

Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.

My Thoughts

Fans of the series will be quite pleased with the mix of action, danger and thwarted romance.  Yes, I said thwarted romance – Bron is free of the Draewolf, but he could be a ticking time bomb, and Nym can’t really take the chance, especially since she is the final puzzle piece in the prophecy.  According to Bron, at least. Gah.  This is only one of many sacrifices Nym may be faced with making, and as the stakes get higher, it becomes apparent that she might have to sacrifice everything if she is going to give her people a chance at survival.  That threat is present and real all the way through this journey, and the suspense makes for a great read.   Seriously, the more questions the story answered, the more uncertain I became about the fate of Nym, her friends, and her world’s survival.  I enjoyed this series, and this final book is really the best of the three.  This series is engaging and the romance is compelling, but I love the fact that it doesn’t have any language or situations that compromise my ability to add it to my classroom library. It is appropriate for grades 7+, but adults will enjoy it as well.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Gena Showalter’s YA offering, Firstlife, is the pop ballad version of the age old battle between good and evil

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Gena Showalter’s YA offering, Firstlife, is the pop ballad version of the age old battle between good and evil

So, I own a Miley Cyrus song.  An embarrassing one that is probably from a Hannah Montana album.  When my son saw it in my downloads the other day and began laughing his preteen butt off, I was ashamed.  But I rallied.  You see, See You Again makes me remember what it was like to be so young and uncertain in love, and, By Golly, it’s catchy.  It might be a far cry from high brow, but I enjoy it, so that should count for something.  I kind of feel the same way about this book.  It wasn’t a great literary work, and it might even have been a bad literary work in the scale of things, but I was engaged.  I’m a little embarrassed at how much I was entertained by it, but I did while away a few happy hours in this strange work, and that counts for something.  I gave it three stars.

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Goodreads Summary
ONE CHOICE.

TWO REALMS.

NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

My Thoughts

While Firstlife has sweeping themes about the battle between dark and light and the conflict between individual versus society, serious readers will find it difficult to navigate the fluff.  The first twenty percent of the book is full of unnatural conversational patter that relies heavily on references to testicles.  It is fast, and perhaps funny to the right audience, but it makes it hard to take the concept seriously from the start.  Add in the fact that the main character, Ten, seems more torn about her conflicted attraction to a super hot guy than the actual outcome of the battle for her soul, and this book becomes little more than a pop song rendition of one of literature’s most enduring themes.   Now, I’m a bit of a snob, and it hurts me a little to admit that, despite its shortcomings, I thought Firstlife was pretty engaging.  I didn’t understand the concept completely, but there was just enough there to keep me reading for answers.  There was a lot of suspense because, though I had my clear ideas about which side should win this fight, Ten was stubbornly uncertain until the end.  And while I didn’t care for all of the characters, I have to say that many of them were surprisingly dynamic.  I think the real star of the show was Ten’s nemesis turned ally, Sloan.  Overall, this was an entertaining, if not exactly memorable, read.  Language and innuendo make this most appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Primitive Culture, Mystical Powers and Some Pretty Vicious Sheep

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Primitive Culture, Mystical Powers and Some Pretty Vicious Sheep

Ever Darkening by Janeal Falor looked like something I would love to read. Alas, it fell flat for me. I don’t know how a book with insane attacking sheep failed to wrap itself around my heart, but it just did. Perhaps you will like it more — many reviewers seemed to.

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Goodreads Summary
Perfection. Goodness. Elimination of evil. It’s what seventeen-year-old Kaylyn has trained her entire life to achieve. But no one is prepared for the consequences of her actually defeating all evil people on the planet. Finally successful in her mission, Kaylyn faces an unfamiliar world, full of good people doing good things, in which she no longer has purpose.

When the skies grow dark, and a stranger from another village pleads for her help, her instincts roar to life. It turns out their perfect world isn’t exactly what it seems. Kaylyn’s new quest, harder than any she’s been on before, will rip apart her friendships, her life, and her soul more than any evil man ever managed to.

Ever DarkeningEver Darkening by Janeal Falor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. After Kaylyn kills off the last evil being in her world, something she’s been training for since childhood, she uncovers the unexpected consequences of her actions. Guilty and afraid, Kaylyn struggles once again to save the people she has always been charged with protecting. This is exactly something I would read, but it fell flat for me. I liked the primitive vibe I got from the people and their society. I liked the insane attacking sheep. I liked the supernatural power that Kaylyn and her people have, and I loved Kaylyn’s intense loyalty to her sister. However, I think the purity of the main character makes it hard to really feel a connection with her. Balance is key in everything, and her light never has a real moment when it falters, and that weakens the very internal struggle that is suppose to fuel the plot. The fact that people in the book are either wholly good or wholly bad messes with the overall theme. At times, the dialogue was stiff and the prose was choppy. The language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

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