Forbidden, Kimberly Griffiths Little

Forbidden, written by Kimberly Griffiths Little, is a young adult historical fiction novel that follows the 16-year-old Jayden, daughter of Pharez, as she challenges the cultural traditions and social levels in the barbarous Mesopotamian desert in search for her true love. It explores various themes such as courage, family, strength, loyalty, love, and what it means to decide your own fate.

This sweeping romance begins with Jayden’s betrothal dance, a ceremony to celebrate her entrance into womanhood. She is betrothed to the young tribal prince, Horeb, who has recently been put in line for the tribe’s leadership position after the sudden death of his brother. The pair have mixed feelings for each other; Horeb’s controlling and dominant manner make Jayden uncomfortable, yet she tries to be compatible with him. But everything changes when her mother and newborn baby sister die, leaving Jayden, her father, and her sister Leila, to fend for themselves. That is when the mysterious foreign prince Kadesh comes in, who seeks their family for help. Jayden immediately feels an attraction toward Kadesh, but she neglects it, for she knows she is already betrothed. However, as the family travels along, Jayden finds her feelings for Kadesh are mutual, and as the plot progresses, Horeb discovers their secret romance. Thus begins the both mental and physical journey of Jayden and Kadesh through Mesopotamia and their attempt to escape the growing power of Horeb and the tribe while struggling to be together and cherish a forbidden love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all its elements. The setting and cultural aspect of the novel was good in being historically accurate, and really gives the reader a view of the hard life of our ancestors without technology or the modern tools we have today. The author does an extremely good job in characterizing Horeb, Jayden, and Leila. Horeb, in particular, is a very interesting character and Little was very proficient in revealing the hidden potential and insecurities behind his actions. She also explores the theme of inner strength with Jayden and the concept of temptations with Leila. Alongside these splendid characters, there are countless scenes of action and fights that are visually appealing to the reader, and a very suspenseful plot – the story is immensely captivating and always leaves you on the edge of your seat, longing to find out what happens next – it was very hard to put down at times!

If I were to critique one part of this book it would be the characterization of Kadesh, which I felt was very weak in my opinion. There was not much behind this character as far as any developed character background. Sure, he is a mysterious prince from a foreign land – but not much else. He is our typical “prince charming,” and not much more. However, this lack of characterization does leave an open end for the next novel in the trilogy so it may very well be covered in future books.

Overall, I would certainly recommend this book! However, I highly suggest that the readers be young adults ages 13 and up, as there are numerous kissing scenes, sexual references/scenes, and attempted rape. Nevertheless, this novel is especially good for a female audience, as Jayden is a very strong female figure and a great role model for teens to encourage themselves to be proactive and do what is right regardless of what others say. Thank you Kimberly Griffiths Little for a thrilling novel! I absolutely can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Bookshop Santa Cruz presents Veronica Roth Jan 23 2017

Get your tickets today for Roth’s one and only Northern California event! Monday, January 23rd

Reviewed by Sierra Belgard

In a world where the current is strong, everyone gets a gift. As to what that gift may be is a mystery. Although gifts are not rare, fates are. Many believe that it is only highborn families that receive these unique fates, but it is really the fates that make you highborn.
In the latest story by Veronica Roth, two teenagers whose families are enemies become unlikely friends. Akos is the son of the sitting oracle of Thuvhe and Cyra is the daughter of the Shotet leader. When the Shotet leader dies, his son (Cyra’s older brother) takes charge of the Shotet and kidnaps Akos and his brother. This sets a number of things in motion and creates the improbable friendship between Akos and Cyra. She relies on him for pain relief, he relies on her for security and safety from a brutal family. As the story progresses, their relationship strengthens and they become closer.
As the pages pull you in, your feelings for Roth’s characters twist and turn. Her character description is so vivid that they could be sitting right next to you. This book is a must read and will always have a spot on my bookshelf.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

Glory OBrien

In Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, Glory, after she drinks a mummified bat, can see someones past and future just by looking at them. The future reveals a second civil war will break out and women will lose their freedom and right to work. Glory writes down everything she sees hoping that she can somehow stop it.

Glory’s journey is one of great importance. Along the way she will defeat her internal conflict about finding freedom and courage to be her own person. Kings writing will put you in the mind of Glory, her every thought will be your thought. You will connect with her on many levels. This book is a must read.

Goldie B.

Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

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Kate Hattemer’s debut novel The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy tells the story of how four friends respond when faced with adversity. The four friends go to a fine arts high school that has agreed to host a reality television show on their campus. The reality show butchers what the school stands for. So, the friends band together in order to bring down the toxic TV show. They also receive assistance from their trusty gerbil, adding to this quirky, great read. Hattemer definitely sends the message to the reader of not selling out and sticking to their instincts, even if they aren’t necessarily profitable. I was happy to read the book and hope I could convince others to as well.

In contrast, the book does have some slowly developing plot points, and a few lulls. However, they are usually made up with the great voice and writing style. The more subtle underlying plots are fantastic as well. Mainly, I would recommend this book to young adult readers as it is written to appeal to that audience. Other than that, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy is a great book well worth the time to read.

 

Salvage Review

salvage cover

 

Salvage, by Alexandra Duncan is set in a world hundreds of years in the future where earth isn’t the only inhabited planet. Due to catastrophic flooding on Earth, many humans fled to other planets, beginning the space age. Many colonists also fled into deep space to mine the mineral rich asteroids and planets. On the ships out in deep space males rule and women are treated as objects. Ava, the main character, is a young women living on one of the spaceships. She longs to have kids and can’t wait to marry her crush but right when she thinks everything’s perfect, it all goes wrong. Facing death, she flees from her ship to earth where she sees how humans actually live.

 

Duncan really swept me away with Salvage!  Normally YA books don’t approach the topic of gender equality but Duncan showed how real the situations are for mistreated women and how what we see isn’t always the truth. The best part of the book was how the author showed everything through Ava’s eyes so realistically; I could imagine myself right there with her. Salvage gave me everything I expected in a sci-fi thriller and more, showing that everyone is equal no matter how different they seem.

 

For fans of Ender’s Game, and other sci-fi thrillers, Salvage is where it’s at!

 

The Living – Great Adventure Novel – On Bookshelves Now

The Living

The Living by Matt de la Pena, was surprisingly one of the best adventure novels I’ve ever read. Most adventure novels are just adrenaline and action but The Living was more than that. The story deals with social barriers, unreturned love and corruption while still providing suspense and excitement.

Shy is a character that starts out looking normal and kind of bland but as the story goes on, and his life is destroyed, Shy shows that he’s a survivor at heart.

The plotline of The Living starts off a little slow but as the story progresses it gets deeper and reveals the darker sides of people. Once I got into The Living I just couldn’t put it down! The witness of a suicide pulls you in and I loved how de la Pena unfolds each disaster in a totally new way.  He makes you think the worst is over when there’s more to come. One of my favorite parts of the book dealt with Shy’s crush, Carmen. He really likes her but she doesn’t know it. She’s engaged to be married but it’s clear that she and Shy share a deep connection. What I like most though, is the fact that their relationship isn’t the focus of the story.  The Living is mostly about Shy’s story with Carmen as a side character. However, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like to see more of Carmen in the next book! It’ll be cool to see how their world and relationship unfolds in the sequel!

If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games and other mysterious thrillers, The Living is the book for you!

Proxy – For fans of Legend, and Other Dystopian Thrillers

Proxy

Proxy, by Alex London, is set in a futuristic dystopian Denver hundreds of years in the future. The society is the only civilization on the continent and runs on the “proxy” system where the rich own the poor’s debt and the poor take the rich’s punishments. Syd is a poor citizen living a boring and terrible life because his “patron”, Knox (a rich person), is basically a criminal. One day Knox accidentally goes too far when he kills a girl and can’t face the consequences. This event threatens to ruin both of their lives and forces Syd and Knox to see the truth behind their society.

I loved how London isn’t afraid to include a homosexual main character.  It helps make the story more interesting and also gives insight on how someone’s sexuality doesn’t change who they are. The best part of the book by far was how the author presents and describes the city throughout the story. The description is so intricate and seamless that I could basically see London’s futuristic world before me. Proxy gave me a whole new view on how society works and showed me that everything really does come with a price.

For fans of Legend, and other dystopian thrillers, Proxy is the book to get!

Furious – Set in Santa Cruz – Great Book Find

Furious

Furious, by Jill Wolfson is set in Santa Cruz and is about three girls who all have terrible lives. Meg is a foster child living with an abusive and neglectful foster mom and her school life isn’t any better either.  She’s picked on and shunned by everyone except for her best friend.  Alex is a poor surfer girl with a deadbeat father and no friends.  All of the surfer guys harass and bully her.  Stephanie is a nature activist with parents that are the leading real estate owners in the area.  Stephanie is made fun of at school for loving the environment while her parents’ real estate company goes around destroying it.  These three teens wind up meeting Ambrosia who shows them how to fix their lives and the people that they should be.

My favorite part of Furious is Meg’s romance with her crush, Brendon. It starts out nice and romantic but turns horribly wrong when Ambrosia secretly sets them up for failure. Wolfson did an amazing job portraying their emotions and feelings so accurately that it was like I was looking into their heads.

If you’re a fan of The Percy Jackson series and other mythological thrillers, Furious is the book to find!

High school can be awful.

everybodyseeEverybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
High school can be awful. But it’s slightly less awful when you have a team of sarcastic ants who trash-talk your bullies and provide you with sardonic encouragement at your most difficult moments. If that sounds weird, that’s because it is—but trust me, by the end of this book you’ll be wishing for an ant entourage of your very own. Odd, but very heartfelt, and unexpectedly vivid and real. –Kat, Bookshop Santa Cruz

False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen

The False PrinceWith a murdered royal family and a country on the brink of civil war, Connor, regent of the crown, has a treasonous plot to train one of four orphans in order to pass him off as the long-lost prince. From the start, it’s impossible not to become attached to the orphan, Sage. Embroiled in deceit and duplicity, the cocky street-thief may or may not survive his bid to become the false prince. A heart-racing fantasy full of twists and turns for the audience of Megan Whalen Turner and Suzanne Collins. —Kids Department