Book Review: Frontier Grit by Marianne Monson

Book Review: Frontier Grit by Marianne MonsonFrontier Grit by Marianne Monson
Published by Shadow Mountain on September 6, 2016
Genres: History, Non Fiction
Pages: 208
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
These are the stories of twelve women who "heard the call" to settle the west and who came from all points of the globe to begin their journey: the East Coast, Europe, and as far away as New Zealand. They endured unimaginable hardships just to get to their destination and then the next phase of the story begins. These are gripping miniature dramas of good-hearted women, selfless providers, courageous immigrants and migrants, and women with skills too innumerable to list. All the women in this book did extraordinary things. One became a stagecoach driver, disguised as a man. One became a frontier doctor. One was a Gold Rush hotel and restaurant entrepreneur. Many were crusaders for social justice and women's rights. All endured hardships, overcame obstacles, broke barriers, and changed the world, for which there are inspiring lessons to be learned for the modern woman.

Book Review:

FRONTIER GRIT tells the unlikely but true stories of twelve women on the frontier. The author defines the frontier as “a place where your people have not gone before (p. vii),” and to me, that seems accurate. Also, by broadly defining “frontier,” the author isn’t limited to the American frontier.

The women included in FRONTIER GRIT are absolutely incredible, and I think it’s a real pity I’d never heard of any of them before. That’s whitewashed, male history for you. I liked that the author included women of different nationalities and backgrounds in this book. There’s a Mexican-American author, a freed slave, a Native-American activist, and so on.

The chapters in FRONTIER GRIT are informative, each giving a biography of the woman and what they did. Sources are included at the end of each chapter. I’d recommend this book if you want to learn a lot about some truly inspiring women.

The one thing I didn’t like about FRONTIER GRIT was the author trying to give me a takeaway lesson about each woman. At the end of each chapter, Monson tells the reader what she thinks is important about each woman’s life. I found the author’s intrusion jarring and out of place. It just didn’t fit into the idea of the book for me.

Socialize with the author:

Marianne Monson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Book Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul KruegerLast Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Published by Quirk Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.

College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

Book Review:

LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE is a fun, quirky urban fantasy. Featuring a squad of “new adult” bartenders taking on the dark forces of the night, the book is definitely one I’d recommend for aficionados of properly mixed beverages.

Fresh out of college and unable to find a job, Bailey’s working as a barback for her friend Zane’s bar. It’s not a job worthy of her Ivy League education, but Bailey tries to overachieve anyway. One night she mixes herself a screwdriver, walks home, and is ambushed by a gruesome creature. But that screwdriver? It gives her the power to knock the beast into smithereens.

Bailey finds herself in a secret part of Chicago, where a perfectly mixed drink gives the imbiber magic powers for as long as the drink’s in their system. Each drink gives different powers based on its ingredients. Scattered throughout LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE are pages from The Devil’s Water Dictionary, Bailey’s guide to mixing magic drinks. Those pages were quite cool; one of my favorite parts of the book. They really added to the flavor of the author’s world.

As I said above, this book was quirky and fun. I also liked that the author worked in Bailey’s underemployment and living at home, as those are things a lot of college grads are dealing with. And I liked seeing her make friends, become confident, and realize she can do more than memorize and regurgitate information from a book.I liked seeing Bailey think on her toes. Let’s just say… Dumpster tank.

But there were also a few things that didn’t work for me. Sometimes I felt like the author forgot to mention stuff, like he forgot an important thing here or there, or it was edited out. Once in a while I felt like I was missing something vital. I also thought the romance between Bailey and Zane was unnecessary, awkward, and resolved way too quickly. I think it would’ve worked better if they stayed friends, rather than getting over the Fight and jumping together. I also wanted more background on the tremens.

Right now I think LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE is a standalone, and while I had a few issues with the book, I would definitely read more about Bailey and the Alechemists.

Socialize with the author:

Paul Krueger:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

Book Review: Drag Teen by Jeffery SelfDrag Teen by Jeffery Self
Published by Push on April 26, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
A fantastic, fabulous, funny YA debut from Jeffery Self, one of the gay icons of the YouTube generation, that follows one high school student on a drag race to his future.

Debut YA author Jeffery Self takes us on a road trip with an insecure high school senior who has one goal: to be the first in his family to leave Clearwater, Florida, and go to college. The problem is, he has zero means of paying for school -- until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition for a college scholarship.

Book Review:

JT needs to get out of Clearwater, Florida, a town that’s too small and just not for him. But he doesn’t have money for college, and his grades aren’t good enough for scholarships. Then his boyfriend Seth finds the perfect solution: JT will compete in the Miss Drag Teen Scholarship Pageant. The only problem? JT loves being in drag — it’s the only time he feels proud and powerful — but the last time he did it, he was booed off the stage of his high school talent show.

DRAG TEEN is a breezy yet serious book, on a subject I haven’t seen in YA before. There’s no angst over JT being gay; he’s already out to his parents and everyone else. No, the focus of the book is JT’s journey to find himself. Drag is a big part of it, because that’s his confidence booster, but there’s also a lot about him learning to quit worrying, live in the moment, and not put himself down.

I liked DRAG TEEN the most when it stayed in the moment, just like JT was learning to do. Sometimes the book got a bit too serious, and it didn’t quite fit the tone of it, like the author’s intentions were coming down like a sledge hammer. Sometimes JT’s revelations were a bit too mature, like a thirty-year-old looking back at being seventeen.

I liked the message of DRAG TEEN, I really did. I saw a lot of myself in JT, as I’m sure other people will. It’s so easy to be negative about yourself, to doubt things, to refuse the help of your friends, and so on. But anytime JT got into trouble, a miracle always showed up to help him. Flat tire on country backroads? Cue rescue by a superstar country singer who was also happy to lend JT wigs and costumes. By the end of the book, I was tired of JT never having to work for anything; everything he needed to find himself was handed to him.

Socialize with the author:

Jeffery Self:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond

Book Review: The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung RichmondThe Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond
Published by Scholastic on July 26, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Never underestimate a pretty face.

My name is Lucie Blaise.

I am sixteen years old.

I have many aliases, but I am none of the girls you see.

What I am is the newest agent of the CO-7.

And we are here to take down Hitler.

After the Nazis killed my brother on the North African front, I volunteered at the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, DC, to do my part for the war effort. Only instead of a desk job at the OSS, I was tapped to join the Clandestine Operations -- a secret espionage and sabotage organization of girls. Six months ago, I was deployed to German-occupied France to gather intelligence and eliminate Nazi targets.

My current mission: Track down and interrogate a Nazi traitor about a weapon that threatens to wipe out all of Western Europe. Then find and dismantle the weapon before Hitler detonates it. But the deeper I infiltrate, the more danger I'm in. Because the fate of the free world hangs in the balance, and trusting the wrong person could cause millions of lives to be lost. Including my own.

Book Review:

At the start of THE DARKEST HOUR, Lucie’s biggest concern is successfully completing a mission and earning her title of “agent” in Covert Ops. But before she knows it, she’s in action up to her eyeballs, debating whether or not to trust a Nazi defector who has deadly knowledge about a new superweapon.

I was originally interested in THE DARKEST HOUR because, female teenage secret agents? I gobble that kind of thing up with a big spoon. I didn’t know what else to expect from the book, because the summary’s sort of vague. I was pleasantly surprised by where the author took Lucie — there were definitely some twists I never saw coming. The action was nonstop.

There was no romance in THE DARKEST HOUR, which I was super happy about. One, ain’t nobody got time for that when you’re trying to take down a Nazi superweapon, and two, not every YA book needs a romance to be complete. I was so happy that Lucie wasn’t swooning over every boy she met, but instead thinking about the best place to stick a knife.

The last third of the book is where things took a downturn for me. I can’t really say why without spoiling everything, but I found Lucie’s recovery, and thus the ending, a bit unbelievable. I wanted to see her process what happened, rather than pick up a few months later and everything’s a-okay. I also saw through the big twist early on, which lessened the dramatic impact of the book for me.

Socialize with the author:

Caroline Tung Richmond:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Book Review: Lily and Dunkin by Donna GephartLily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Middle Grade
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Author Donna Gephart crafts a dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder.

Sometimes our hearts see things our eyes can’t.

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

Book Review:

I wanted to read LILY AND DUNKIN because Lily is transgender, and there currently aren’t many Middle Grade books with transgender main characters. The book is told from the alternating POVs of Lily and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder and hiding a big secret.

Going in, I was most interested in Lily’s story. And the first twenty to thirty pages deepened my interest, because I liked Lily a lot. It takes a ton of courage to want to dress as a girl for the first day of eighth grade when she’s already been bullied, and her father clearly disapproves.

But then Dunkin took over the book for me. His character was more vivid and developed and memorable. Even though I disliked him for dissing Lily to be popular, I knew why he did it, and the doubt he had about doing so rang true. And as he stopped taking his meds, he practically vibrated off the page.

I could tell the author had firsthand experience with bipolar disorder. She wrote in the Author’s Note she promised her son (who has it), that she would one day write a book about it. In comparing Dunkin to Lily, I could see that the author didn’t have that experience with someone who is transgender.

I still did enjoy LILY AND DUNKIN. I liked that Lily and Dunkin sort of oriented around each other, rather than being friends right away. I liked that we saw Lily’s parents and Dunkin’s mom; it was especially great that Lily’s mom was so supportive.

But then there was this scene at the end of the book that, if Lily and Dunkin actually did what they did, they would be bullied into the stratosphere in the small-minded world of middle school. I wish the author had put that scene more towards the middle of the book, so she could have explored the repercussions of their show of support for each other. I wanted a bit more resolution.

Overall, while I liked LILY AND DUNKIN, I couldn’t help but want more from it. More personality for Lily. More resolution at the end. And so on.

Socialize with the author:

Donna Gephart:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Colleen OakesQueen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Series: Queen of Hearts Saga #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 3, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Book Review:

QUEEN OF HEARTS is … well, a fantastical journey into Wonderland. It’s whimsical, dark, and more than a little crazy. But what else would you expect from the future Queen of Hearts?

Dinah is stubborn, feisty, and prone to fits of anger. She knows she’ll be queen of Wonderland one day, and she can’t wait for that day, to kick her father off the throne. Beheadings? She can watch them without batting an eye. But if someone’s cruel to her brother, Charles the Mad Hatter, she’ll get them back.

Some of Dinah’s attitude can be attributed to her difficult relationship with her father. Dysfunctional doesn’t begin to describe it. The King of Hearts hates his daughter — his heir. So when he introduces an illegitimate daughter to the court, and tells Dinah to accept Vittiore as her new sister, it’s just one more way of showing his dislike for Dinah.

Whatever. When Dinah’s Queen, she’ll put Vittiore and her father in their places. But will she be Queen?

QUEEN OF HEARTS is a delightfully quirky book. At first the amount of detail on Wonderland is almost overwhelming, but you get used to it quickly. And as a reader who loves to dive into new worlds, I really appreciated all the touches, little and big, that the author put into Wonderland. The snow is pink. Tarts are a favored delicacy. The palace is an architectural wonder, surrounded by an iron wall made of hearts. There’s so much creativity in this book. I will say that if you’re having trouble getting into the book, give it about 30 or 40 pages, and then it really gets going. I do wish a bit more had happened in the book though, as it’s mostly an introduction to Wonderland and Dinah.

Dinah grows quite a bit during the book; by the end, she’s not the same spoiled princess she was in the beginning. I think I liked Dinah so much was because her reactions were real to me. When presented with a new sister and told to love her, Dinah’s like, “I hate her. I’m never talking to her,” and she doesn’t. And though she’s a princess, she’s still nervous (but also kind of confident) when interacting with her crush.

Aside from Dinah, there are lots of other interesting characters, including the Mad Hatter, Cheshire, and even the King of Hearts himself. They’re sympathetic and creepy by turn. The ending sped by, and I really want to get my hands on volume two, so I can find out what happens to Dinah and another of my favorite characters, Morte the Hornhoov. I also can’t wait to see Dinah say, “Off with their heads!” and mean it.

I’m not super familiar with ALICE IN WONDERLAND, so I probably missed a couple of connections, but there’s plenty here that even the casual reader will recognize from Lewis Carroll’s classic. I love books that are about villains, and I can’t wait to see what else will happen to Dinah to turn her into the Queen of Hearts. Alice isn’t in this book, but I’d rather have Dinah. The villains are always so much more interesting!

Note: I read the original version of QUEEN OF HEARTS published by SparkPress in 2014. I compared the HarperTeen version to that one, and aside from some editing, I didn’t see any changes. I do like the new cover, so thumbs up, HarperTeen!

Socialize with the author:

Colleen Oakes:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani ChokshiThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
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.

Book Review:

THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a beautifully written book. The author has a lush, dreamy, descriptive writing style that goes hand-in-hand with her story. The whole time I was reading, I was swept into the different places Maya visits: Bharata, the Night Bazaar, and Akaran.

The book is a bit Beauty and the Beast, a bit Hades and Persephone, with Indian mythology. Maya grows up under the shadow of a deadly horoscope, which forecasts that she’ll bring death wherever she goes. When her father uses her marriage ceremony as a way to try to stop endless war, Maya doesn’t expect that he’ll tell her to kill herself. At the last second, she’s rescued by Amar, Raja of Akaran. Akaran is an empty land, but the palace is full of wonders and secrets.

While reading the book, I was caught up in it. In Maya’s time in Akaran and then her journey afterwards, her struggle to learn the truth about herself. But after I finished THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, I was left feeling a bit… empty. I feel like the author focused too much on making every sentence beautiful and descriptive at the cost of describing the various Indian mythological creatures, developing Maya and Amar’s romance, and just telling me more of the story, instead of showing everything.

I needed more from THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. I needed the author to tell me more about the various creatures Maya sees and interacts with. Kamala the pishacha, aka demon horse who wants to eat everyone? Kamala was awesome. One of the best parts of the book, hands down. I understand not every creature can be given that same development, but I would have liked to know a little more about various creatures that were mentioned. What’s a pey? What’s a raksha? And so on. There might be a glossary in the finished copy of the book; I read an early review copy. But still, I wanted more detail in the text. Most readers likely won’t be familiar with Indian mythology, and who wants to be pulled out of a story to Google something? And so on, with other elements.

Overall, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN showed promise, and it was good while I was reading. But when I finished, I was left wanting more substance and explanation.

Socialize with the author:

Roshani Chokshi:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

Book Review: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon ThomasKingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #2
Published by HarperTeen on February 23, 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss. Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale.

But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

Book Review:

KINGDOM OF ASHES is the second book in the A Wicked Thing duology. It picks up right after the end of A WICKED THING, with Aurora on the run from the mad king. In case you missed the first book, this series wonders what happens after Sleeping Beauty wakes up.

I wasn’t entirely sold on A WICKED THING last year; my rating was 3 stars, which is an average book for me. But I was intrigued enough to want to see what else the author had in store for Aurora.

It took me a while to figure out my rating for KINGDOM OF ASHES. I was bored for a lot of the pages, just like with the first book. There’s almost no recap of previous events, and I couldn’t remember a lot of what had happened. So I was confused and ehhhh for some of the book.I needed a reminder of why Aurora was running away from her country.

However, I really liked the ideas the author tried to explore, such as the expectations placed upon Aurora by the people of her country. How she’s supposed to save them from their unhappy lives simply because she woke up. But if she tries to take power into her hands, they’ll eventually hate her, like her country turned on their first female leader/founder.

But… KINGDOM OF ASHES just didn’t keep my interest for the majority of the story. For me, the dragons didn’t seem to fit. They kind of came out of nowhere; I was much more interested in Aurora and Celestine’s connection. I didn’t need the dragons, and I’m a reader who usually loves magical beasts. Give me more Aurora and Celestine!

Socialize with the author:

Rhiannon Thomas:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Sight Lines by Michelle DiCeglio

Book Review: Sight Lines by Michelle DiCeglioSight Lines by Michelle DiCeglio
Published by Elloras Cave Publishing Inc on November 6, 2015
Genres: LGBT, Mystery
Pages: 173
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Police Detective Lacey Mills is on a mission to find a serial killer. Still reeling from the unsolved murder of her girlfriend two years earlier, Lacey has buried herself in work for too long. At least that’s what she’s told on her mandatory appointment with a shrink after being involved in a deadly shootout. It’s time to stop running away from every woman who shows interest in her.

When she meets a beautiful web designer named Ali, Lacey follows the doctor’s advice and lets herself take another chance on love. So much for cutting back on work—it turns out Ali has been hiding a big secret that might change the entire direction of Lacey’s murder investigation.

Book Review:

SIGHT LINES is a short but complete murder mystery with a side of romance. I was interested in reading it because Lacey, the main character and detective on the murder case, is gay. Her sexuality isn’t an issue — this isn’t a coming out book. I’m always on the lookout for more books with diverse characters that are characters outside of their diversity. For example, Lacey’s a detective who just happens to be gay.

Lacey’s latest case is a difficult one to crack. Several women have been killed, all by a gunshot to the head. The killer is very careful to not leave behind any forensic evidence. Lacey doesn’t want the cases to go cold, but with almost no evidence, there’s not much to go on. Her personal life isn’t going much better either; after the death of her girlfriend two years ago, Lacey’s been alone. But when web designer Ali comes along, Lacey takes a chance on starting something new.

I liked SIGHT LINES. It’s always nice to get a complete story in one go, without needing to wait years for the whole series. I also liked how Lacey wasn’t always right, and was able to admit when she made mistakes.

At the same time, SIGHT LINES was just too short, leaving me wanting more character development and development for the relationship between Lacey and Ali. I also had a few unanswered questions from the murder mystery. The author’s writing style was a bit too detailed for me in odd places — I would rather have had meaty info rather than knowing what a bit character wore or how they looked.

Socialize with the author:

Michelle DiCeglio:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson

Book Review: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh JohnsonThe Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson
Series:
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: World of Solace #2
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
From Jaleigh Johnson, the acclaimed author of The Mark of the Dragonfly, comes another thrilling adventure in the magical world of Solace.

Lina Winterbock lives in the mountain strongholds of Solace. She’s an apprentice to the archivists, the wise men and women whose lives are dedicated to cataloging, studying, and preserving the objects that mysteriously fall from the sky in the scrap towns.

Lina should be spending her days with books, but the Iron War has changed everything. The strongholds are now a refuge, and the people Lina once counted on no longer have time for her, so she spends her days exploring the hidden tunnels and passages of her home. The strongholds are vast and old, with twisting paths, forgotten rooms, and collapsed chambers, some of them containing objects that have been lost and forgotten even by the archivists.

And in one of the forgotten chambers, Lina discovers a secret.
Hidden deep in a cavern is a half-buried airship like nothing she has ever seen before. She’s determined to dig it out and restore it. But Lina needs help, and she doesn’t know anyone she can trust with her secret.

Then she meets Ozben, a mysterious boy who has a secret of his own—a secret that’s so dangerous it could change the course of the Iron War and the world of Solace forever.

Book Review:

I enjoyed Jaleigh Johnson’s first book set in the word of Solace, THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY. THE SECRETS OF SOLACE is a standalone also set in Solace, but with two new characters: Lina and Ozben.

Lina is an apprentice archivist, studying the mysterious artifacts from the meteor fields. Ozben is a refugee boy with a huge secret. When they meet, Lina gets the first friend she’s ever had, and Ozben might have a way to go home, thanks to Lina’s own secret. The friendship between Lina and Ozben was quite nice to read; it was probably one of my favorite parts of the book.

Otherwise… I’m struggling a bit with reviewing THE SECRETS OF SOLACE. I can’t help but compare it to THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY, and it just doesn’t have the same magic. The first half of the book was quite slow, leaving me wanting more action and more from Lina, other than her repeating the same mistakes. I feel like the author spent too much time setting up Lina’s pre-teen angst, and then rushed to wrap up all the storylines in the last quarter of the book.

The end of the book was good, and I liked what we learned about the Merlin… I just wish there had been more of the ship in the book. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the Merlin was very cool, and I hope that if Johnson writes another Solace book, we’ll see more of that type of thing.

Socialize with the author:

Jaleigh Johnson:
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– leeanna