First line: Today is the Ritual of Purity.
Summary: The Ritual of Purity is the day that young girls enter womanhood. Deka has always been different from the others in her tribe but she hopes that the ritual will redeem her in their eyes. But on the day, her blood runs gold rather than red, marking her as impure. She is imprisoned by the village elders.
After weeks of torture, a strange woman arrives and takes her to join a group of girls just like Deka. She learns that she is alaki, near immortal with special gifts. The girls are trained to fight and kill Deathshrieks, a creature that attacks and kills the people of Otera. As she trains she finds friendships but also starts to question everything that she grew up learning.
My Thoughts: The cover immediately caught my attention. It is stunning. Gorgeous colors that bring to life the West African feel of the story. The magic system, the different characters and the creatures were all wonderfully done. Even though many of the themes were typical of the young adult fantasy novel the details made it different. I was intrigued by the way Deka could heal, her powers and her backstory (once we learn more about it at the end).
I did find that parts seemed rushed. Especially the training at the beginning and the battle at the end. Everything happened so fast with very little build up. Part of me liked not having it drawn out but also it seemed to suddenly be over too. I had to sit and think about the big reveals at the end because there was a lot of information dumped in but once I figured out everything it was a great twist. Even though the book seemed to end without a cliffhanger there are at least 2 more books planned.
FYI: A new young adult book with a strong female lead and feminist ideas. Perfect for fans of The Children of Blood and Bone.
First line: I have gone by many names.
World War II has arrived in France. A spy named Helene has dropped into
France. She has money and the means of getting arms to the struggling
resistance. Told through interweaving code names and timelines we get
the story of Nancy Wake, an Australian woman who uses her wits to help
undermine the Nazis.
My Thoughts: This was a fairly average WWII novel. It reminded me of The Alice Network in many ways. I liked Nancy and her husband Henri. I loved their interactions. The suspense and writing were well done. The history of this woman is written very well. I think people that love anything during this time period will really enjoy it. I used to read WWII books exclusively but it has slowly become one of the topics I rarely read about anymore.
FYI: Lawhon is an excellent author. I loved her book I Was Anastasia. It was told in such a unique way and on a subject I love to read.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
First Line: It took seven years to get the letter right.
Summary: Scarlett is a young woman who lives on an island with her sister and cruel father. She is engaged to be married to a man she has never met but has high hopes of him taking her away from her father and the life she has known. But she has dreams of visiting Caraval, the mysterious carnival/game that is filled with magic and wonder. Her grandmother raised her on stories of Grand Master Legend and his amazing magical world. When she suddenly receives an invitation for her, her sister and her fiancé, she is thrust into a game she does not know how to win. Her father forbids her to leave but when her sister goes missing she has to believe that she has left for Caraval and it is up to Scarlett and the arrogant seaman, Julian to find Tella and bring her back before her father discovers them missing.
Highlights: The world of Caraval is beautiful. The descriptions of the island and its inhabitants are as detailed as a painting. I wanted to live in this world apart from the terrors and trials that Scarlett had to endure. I love how strong and passionate Scarlett was about finding her sister. It is great to see relationships like that with strong female characters. And the twist at the end was fulfilling for the whole story.
Lowlights: Some pieces of the story were a little predictable. I was able to guess things before they happened but other pieces I thought I had figured out and was not even close.
FYI: I listened to this on audio while taking the long drive to Colorado and really enjoyed it. It made the dreariness of I-70 fly by.