Book Review: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

By Kristin Cashore

Genre: YA, Action, Adventure, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 5 stars

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Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight – she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace – or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…

Graceling Review:

From start to finish, I loved everything about this book. It was given to me by my younger brother and it had been sitting on my shelf for some time, but it only took the first two pages for me to get into it.

I found this story to be so compelling and I loved the way the book had so many different levels: female independence, gender equilibrium relationships amongst Kasta and most of her male counter parts, Love, friendship, combat, adventure, comedy and even a layer of evil so unspeakable with King Lec. It made my heart stop, my stomach turn and my skin crawl.

I do not think that I can praise this book enough for giving me Kasta. A character so uniquely independent and self-driven with a powerful perspective and aspirations aimed toward helping those in the 7 kingdoms. Kasta knows what she wants and what she doesn’t want in her life and she does not let anyone, not even Po take that away from her by trying to change her mind. And what was even more rewarding, was Po’s acceptance of Katsa as she was and his unwavering love for her and contentment of being by her side without trying to change her.

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Book Review: The Shadow of Loss by: Josefina Gutierrez


The Shadow of Loss

By Josefina Gutierrez

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Multicultural, Romance, YA

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Goodreads OR buy Shadow of Loss here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble|  Kobo


Evelyn Gonzalez keeps losing people, which is always hard, but has she lost something much more? Has she lost her soul? Evelyn has a nervous breakdown and is institutionalized, after months of sorrow and pain she is thrust back into the world. The world of teenage angst and Calculus. Can she trust people again? Especially after hurtful assumptions and judgments made her miss her junior year of high school. Evelyn is just trying to heal what she lost and graduate from high school.

Book Excerpt

“Hey. You’re new right?” Brody asks me.

I assume he must be playing coy to get me to talk, because I know he saw me. Even if he didn’t see me it is pretty obvious I’m new, so I just nod and look straight ahead. Then I remember I should be trying and I say, “Yeah I am.” He looks different during the day. His skin looks like toasted almonds under the fluorescent lighting.

He’s about to say something when the teacher interrupts. “We have finished our first novel and we are moving on to Pan, by Knut Hamsun. Has anyone read this book before? It’s a brilliant piece I am overjoyed to share with you!”

Ms. Lange seems to think highly of this class if she wants us to read Pan. She looks like she keeps about ten cats, because she is covered head to toe in cat hair. Her hair is in a messy bun, only held together by bobby pins and a pencil. Or the pencil could just be for practical purposes. She almost seems magical, in a cat lady, overly eager kind of way, like she knows books are portals to magical worlds. Or she could just be bat-shit crazy.

“Anyone? Anyone?” she asks again. “How about you Brody? Would you like to contribute your thoughts on Pan?”

Most students don’t read books, they read the Sparknotes. He must be the star pupil. Now that I think about it, it did look like he was reading Pan. I look over at him slightly more interested in class. I didn’t know we were supposed to have read it yet. I read it last year for fun. He looks scruffy and his hair is long and lusciously curly—he belongs in a Pantene commercial. I can’t believe I am jealous of his hair, but it looks tremendously better than my hair.

“I thought he was an idiot for falling in love with Edvarda. She was a supernatural element in a natural environment. She didn’t belong. That’s why it ended how it did. He was tempted by the idea of love.”

“Is the idea of love, so harmful?” Ms. Lange asks him.

“No. Not the idea, the action of love,” he says, and I have to agree. I think the action was his undoing. Then again loving anyone is a mistake, especially when they leave us in the end.

“Good,” she says as she nods her head, “Good. Now I will pass copies around. We will discuss the elements and set up the characters.”

When the books reach me, I just pass it to the next student. Ms. Lange notices and calls me out. Why?! “Evelyn I see you didn’t grab a book, why not?” she asks me.

“I own a copy. I prefer mine. It has notes.” It hurts to talk. But she just nods and says, “Good”, and leaves me alone for the rest of the class. I sit there and think about love, the action of love. Losing her has left me empty inside. I miss her. I have to try for her. She would want me to be bold and engaging. But how can I be more? A new town, all these people, classes all over again, it doesn’t stop.

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YA Books By J. A. McLachlan

Book Review: The Occasional Diamond Thief By J. A. McLachlan

YA Books By J. A. McLachlan

Brief Synopsis: “16-year-old Kia must learn the secret behind the magnificent diamond her father entrusted her with on his deathbed – without letting anyone know she has it.”

J. A. McLachlan has created a highly addictive, inspiring, and adventurous Young Adult/ Science fiction story with The Occasional Diamond Thief. The main character, Kia, is smart, stubborn, analytical; free willed, strong and 100% an independently thinking individual whom still exhibits truly the most moving moments of venerability as the result of an a strained relationship with her family, excluding her brother, Etin.

Despite all of this, the young, inquisitive minded teen still manages to make friends and gain a few trusted allies across the universe on a semi-technology backwards/basic planet called Malem, whose people openly reject and dis-trust foreigners. While unknowingly developing a truly heart-warming bond with a (unique) Select–Agatha—who fills the maternal absentness in Kia’s life she was not aware she needed.

Another thing I appreciated about this book was the fact that it not only revolves around a strong female protagonist of color, but that it equally balances differences in Culture/Languages, Social Standards and Religion with Morality, Identity, and Humanity without losing it’s comedic, adventurous and mystery elements. There are just so many quotable/memorable moments from this book that you can relive over and over again.

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