Book Review: And I Darken

And I Darken (2016, Delacorte/Random House, Young Adult Historical Fiction)

and i darken

From the publisher:

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

Review:

In And I Darken, Kiersten White weaves a dark and detailed tale of a reimagined history featuring Lada, a female Vlad the Impaler. The detail the author put into the writing is incredible and lends great authenticity to the text, but it does slow things down quite a bit too. Shelved with teen fantasy at the bookstore, some readers will be disappointed that this is not a fantasy. This is firmly in the realm of historical fiction and features no fantastical elements.

Lada is imposing and often vicious and makes for an interesting main character. The character dynamics are complex and well done, though adult readers may find there is a surprising and sometimes overwhelming amount of teenage angst. Lada feels out of character at times as she nearly fawns over her love interest.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read and interesting new take on a historical figure. The subject matter was clearly thoroughly researched and the writing style will appeal to many. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this while some may find the pace a bit slow and the amount of names and locations confusing.

Best for ages 14 and up do to violence and adult themes.

4 stars

The sequel to And I Darken comes out this summer. Check out And I Rise when it hits shelves!

Bone Witch ~ Book Review

When I finish a book and review it, I also post on sites such as Amazon and GoodReads which gives me a chance to see what other people are thinking about the book too.

If I really love a book, I’m always eager to check out reviews and see if everyone else loved it as much as I did.

So after reading Bone Witch, I rushed over to GoodReads only to discover most reviewers did not enjoy this book. I was so confused, how could someone not love this book?

It’s beautiful and sweeping and wonderfully told, but many thought it was too slow and that nothing really happens.

Hmmm….

I still think it’s fantastic! I was a little disappointed in the ending but it’s part of a new series so that will likely be cleared up in the sequel, and I don’t like to give spoilers in my reviews so I can’t really explain why the ending was disappointing. Sorry, guess you’ll have to read the book 😉

And now, my review…

bone witch

Bone Witch (2017, Sourcebooks Fire, Young Adult Fantasy)

From the publisher:

“Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.”

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha—one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Review:

Bone Witch, written by Rin Chupeco, is the first book in what promises to be a brilliant new fantasy series. The world-building is exceptional as the reader is immersed in Tea’s world where asha’s wield extraordinary powers and are both revered and feared. As Tea evolves from a simple, country girl to a powerful asha, the story introduces a cast of unique and entertaining characters. The descriptions of the asha’s outfits can sometimes be a bit drawn out, but overall the detailed descriptions only serve to make the world more real.

The story is told from the perspective of Tea and from the perspective of a Bard who has sought out Tea to hear her story. The story unfolds as Tea recounts her rise as an asha to the Bard. The story goes from present day to the past as the two storylines build and the reader begins to anticipate that Tea will reveal what happened in her past to bring her to where she is now. This gives the story a page-turning quality and even though the plot is somewhat slow, the writing and characters are sure to keep the reader engaged.

A beautiful, epic tale with strong female characters that will be enjoyed by teens and adults who love fantasy stories.


Thank you to Net Galley and Sourcebooks Fire for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Who Run the World?

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s been far too long since I last posted. While I have been keeping up each week with my newspaper column and sharing lots of reviews there, I have not been keeping up with my blog. Sad day.

To make up for my absence, I am sharing THREE book reviews with you today!

Get excited.

And as a bonus, and in honor of International Women’s Day, these books all feature strong female protagonists!

Happy Reading and Happy International Women’s Day! 🙂


carolines comets

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story (2017, Holiday House, Picture Book Non-Fiction)

Caroline Herschel made history in 1786 when she became the first woman to discover a comet. But her journey began long before that, and it was not an easy road to becoming a highly respected scientist and astronomer. Caroline’s journey is inspiring and incredible, as she worked hard to achieve her goals at a time when women were afforded few opportunities.

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, is a fascinating account of Caroline Hershel, who not only discovered comets, but became the first female professional scientist, earning a salary from the King of England. Filled with interesting facts, detailed illustrations, and even excerpts from Caroline’s own journals, this is a beautiful book to share with young readers. Caroline’s journey is inspiring as she overcame many obstacles in her life before she even dreamed of becoming an astronomer. Young readers will look up to Caroline and all she accomplished as a woman and a scientist.

Highly recommended for ages 6 and up.

5 stars shooting across the sky!


runs with courage

Runs With Courage (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Middle Grade Historical Fiction)

When ten-year-old Four Winds is taken from her Lakota tribe and sent to a white boarding school, she doesn’t understand the new world that surrounds her. She imagines she might be a bridge for her people and learn the ways of the white people, but as she learns more, she realizes the white ways are meant to replace all the things she’s ever known. Four Winds wants to run. She wants to run away from the white school and home to her people, but there are bigger things at stake than just what she wants.

Runs With Courage, written by Joan M. Wolf, is a touching, and heart-wrenching portrayal of life for Native Americans in the late 1800’s. This book is written with care and thoughtful consideration of all that was done during this period. Though the story is fiction, readers will gain knowledge of the how the Lakota tribes lived, as well as the actions of the U.S. Government during this time.

The story is written in first person, and delivered in a straightforward manner as fits the main character’s personality. Four Winds is strong and brave, and young readers will look up to her and root for her. The fictional life of Four Winds represents so many young girls who did face her harsh reality. While the girls might starve with their tribes, boarding schools offered food if only they would give up all they had ever known.

Thought-provoking and extraordinary, the story of Four Winds will stay with the reader long after her book has ended. Highly recommended for children ages 10 and up.

5 stars to guide Four Winds


future threat

Future Threat (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Young Adult Science Fiction)

From the publisher:

The second book in the New York Times bestselling Future Shock trilogy!

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information–but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

But Aether’s not done with her–or Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events.

But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost–or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything–including their relationship–to save their friends.

Review:

Future Threat, written by Elizabeth Briggs, is the second book in the Future Shock trilogy. Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing Future Shock and so I was eager to review this book at well. As with the first book, the pace is quick and the plot moves right along as Elena and the others zip back and forth through time once more. As with the first book, the fast pace makes both character and relationship development difficult, but at the same time, the characters don’t feel exceptionally flat. Elena is still an interesting, engaging and daring main character, while other characters fill their roles and provide support to the plot.

This science fiction adventure is lots of fun to read, and once again, the time travel aspect is very well written. This is a sequel that definitely builds off the first book, and keeps the twists and energy going. I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more, than the first, and I look forward to the third installment in this trilogy.

This book is a fast read, and written in a straightforward style that will appeal to many readers. Readers who enjoyed Future Shock are likely to enjoy Future Threat, as well as fans of science fiction, action, and teenage angst. This would be a good one to add to the summer reading list!

Best for ages 13 and up due to some scenes of violence and adult situations.

4 stars for Elena traveling through time.


Thank you to Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, and Albert Whitman & Co. for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

You can find each of these books at your local book retailer or online.

At Amazon:

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Runs With Courage

Future Threat

Book Review: Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Let me open with, I LOVED this book.

If you would like more details, please see below:

kingdom-of-ash-and-briar

Kingdom of Ash and Briars (2016, Holiday House, Young Adult Fantasy)

Sixteen-year-old Bristal is a perfectly average orphan, until she discovers she’s one of only three remaining elicromancers. Ancient, immortal beings, elicromancers were nearly wiped from existence after centuries of warring in the realm. Now Bristal in one of them, and an exceptionally powerful one at that. With the rare gift of shape-shifting, she can become anything or anyone she chooses. In an ancient battle of good versus evil, Bristal finds herself torn between two paths. As power builds within her she must decide to help the mortals of the realm, or release her power and face unknown terrors. Relying on her shape-shifting abilities, Bristal works toward the good of the realm, protecting princesses, disguising herself as a man, gaining the confidence of kings, and always working from the shadows. But war, and an army of darkness approaches, and Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars, written by Hannah West, is an incredible and engrossing new fantasy. Drawing inspiration from traditional fairy tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Mulan, the story weaves these tales together in an exciting and new way. Bristal is a likable and clever main character, and readers will appreciate both her strengths and her weaknesses. Though she is a powerful elicromancer, she is so well-written as to still have many human qualities, making her both believable and relatable. The world-building is quite good, though it’s a bit limited in scope. However, it is not difficult to envision Bristal’s world or feel a part of it.

This is a sweeping, epic fantasy, and it’s surprising that it was not written as a trilogy. The world, characters and plot are exceptionally well-crafted, and there is so much happening in the plot that the book could easily have been extended. For the most part, the pacing is well done, and it’s impressive the amount of information and plot twists that occur within 355 pages, but there were points in the story when the passing of time was unclear. The first part of the book also felt a bit rushed, and the villain was established somewhat hastily. The villain is perfectly terrifying and believable, but she only begins to feel really real toward the middle of the book.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars is a brilliant retelling of traditional tales. With exceptional creativity, swoon-worthy love interests, and sweeping scenes, this is one of the best new young adult fantasy books I have read in quite a while.

A beautifully told fantasy with strong female and male characters, fairy tale romance, action, and adventure. Highly recommended for teens and adults who enjoy fantasies and fairy tales.

Five stars for Bristal, may they each shine as bright as her elicrin stone.


Bonus Book Content

Check out the book on the publisher’s website with bonus questions for classroom discussions.

Learn more about author, Hannah West, at her website.

The Kingdom of Ash and Briars hits shelves September 15, 2016


Thank you to Holiday House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading!


Quick Note:

Somehow I got all my dates completely wrong for upcoming blog tours and such. Probably because I had to rearrange my newspaper review schedule and I was looking at that old schedule when I posted. So…here is the updated (and correct) schedule for upcoming tours, reviews, interviews and such

September 15: Max at Night Blog Tour

September 20: You’re My Boo Book Review and Author Interview

September 22: The Storybook Knight Blog Tour and Author Interview

September 29: Guest Book Review by a young reader of Mysterium Book #1: The Black Dragon

I have also updated the original post 🙂

Review: Teen Study Bible

I received a Teen Study Bible this week from Zondervan and Booklook Bloggers. I have reviewed many children’s books from Zondervan/Zonderkidz but this is the first selection for young adults. I was impressed with the Kids Quest Bible I reviewed a few weeks ago, and this Bible for Teens doesn’t disappoint.

teen study bible

The New King James Version Teen Study Bible is a fantastic resource for teens. On almost every page, additional information, facts or an analysis of some aspect of the Bible is provided.

Features include an analysis and line-by-line explanation of the Apostles’ Creed, indexes to help with in-depth Bible study, special sections devoted to key issues discussed in the Bible, teen Q&A section offering life advice to teens, Biblical trivia, highlights Bible verses to remember, and has an 8-page full color map at the end showing important locations of Biblical events.

The Bible trivia is especially interesting and could encourage teen youth groups to start a Bible trivia team or learn more about each passage. Through trivia and other small excerpts and insights, teens are able to better relate to passages and see how the words impact their lives.

The “Dear Jordan” section is written in a format similar to “Dear Abby” questions. A question from a teen is answered by referencing passages of the Bible and providing advice inspired by the Christian lifestyle. While this format is engaging, easy to read, and the advice is well meaning and supported by Bible verses, the tone felt condescending or patronizing at times. The information was good and the format was intriguing, but for a teen, the tone of the section might be off-putting. This was not the case for every “Dear Jordan” section, but that tone did come across in many of them.

Overall, this is a fabulous reference Bible for teens and provides a wealth of fun facts and reflections as teens study certain passages of the Bible, or attempt to read it all the way through.

Thank you to Zondervan and BookLook Bloggers for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Great Falls Book Review

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and had time to reflect on this Memorial Day.

My young adult book review this week fits in with the holiday as the characters face the realities of life after war. Though dark at times, the book does leave the reader with a new understanding of what our military faces and encourages profound respect for the sacrifices so many young people make in service to our country.

Thank you to those who are currently serving, those who have served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

great falls

Great Falls

Written by Steve Watkins

Shane’s big brother Jeremy has finally returned home after three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shane thought having his brother back home would fix everything, but his once happy-go-lucky brother has been replaced by an angry, bitter person who can’t get through the day without a drink. With his brother living in the basement, unable to face life with his wife and two kids, Shane struggles with high school, caring for his brother’s family, and stress at home. Then, after Shane embarrasses himself spectacularly in a football game, Jeremy suggests they get away and takes Shane to the river. Excited to escape his high school embarrassment and spend time with his brother, Shane goes along. Little does he know this journey will be more than he bargained for, and his brother needs far more help than Shane can give.

“Great Falls” written by Steve Watkins is a powerful, gripping tale of family and the effects of war. Beautifully and thoughtfully written, the author captures the struggles many teen boys face as they strive to prove themselves as men in a society that expects them to be tough. Shane is thoughtful, kind and untouched by the grim realities of the world, at least until his brother returns home. Through Jeremy, Shane and the reader get a glimpse of what war can do to a person. Shocking, sad, and thoroughly thought-provoking, this is a great read for teens and adults. Appropriate for ages 14 and up due to some profanity, scenes of war, violence and adult themes.

Thank you to Net Galley and Candlewick Press for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

First Giveaway!

It’s time for the first giveaway ever here at Three Show Saturday!

Who doesn’t love free stuff?

Check out my review of South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf and then enter to win your very own copy of the book!

It’s free! Just show the blog some love by commenting, sharing this post, telling your aunt about the book, etc. 🙂 Contest opens today and closes at Midnight May 1, 2016.

Check out the Rafflecopter after the review for more info on how to enter. Earn up to three entries by completing each step. One winner will be selected from all the entries and the winner will receive one copy of South of Sunshine.

This is my first time using Rafflecopter so if you have any issues let me know.

Happy Reading and Good Luck!

south of sunshine

South of Sunshine

Written by Dana Elmendorf

For Kaycee Jean McCoy, there are few things in Sunshine, Tennessee that she gets excited about, and boys certainly aren’t one of them. Her life consists of Friday night football, working at her Mom’s cosmetic salon, and hanging out with her best friends. Her life is predictable, boring, safe…until the new girl arrives. Bren is tall, beautiful, confident, and Kaycee finds herself drawn to her in a way that is both exciting and frightening. In a town where gossip abounds, church comes first, and anything outside the norm is forbidden, Kaycee might risk everything to discover her true self and find first love.

South of Sunshine written by Dana Elmendorf brings together many topics that will resonate strongly with teenagers. Themes of love, finding oneself, fitting in, and small town life are woven together beautifully by Kaycee’s entertaining and touching narration. Many teens know what it’s like to live in a small town and will understand all too well the adversity Kaycee faces by following her heart. While all teens will relate to the drama which abounds in high school. This book delivers a wonderful message of both accepting oneself and accepting others. The topic of teenage sexuality is handled with care by the author, resulting in a thought-provoking narration. Appropriate for teens due to some scenes of romance.

Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Follow this link to enter the giveaway (click the words “a Rafflcopter giveaway” not the web address below it):

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Unfortunately I’m having trouble with the java script so the cute little Rafflecopter icon won’t show up here 😦  But follow the link and you should be able to enter.