June 21, 2016

Mini-reviews: A Season for Fireflies + And I Darken

pub 6/28/16 by HarperTeen
YA - Contemporary
Received e-ARC via Edelweiss
A Season for Firelies is a cute, occasionally frustrating book about a young girl getting a second chance in the most unexpected way. When we first meet Penny Berne she has the lead role in her high school's theatrical production and is surrounded by a great group of friends (including Wes, who she definitely has some sparks with!). But as things get rough at home, she pushes everything and everyone away. Flash forward a year later, she's no longer a theatre geek but best friends with the most popular girl in school and all about partying. When she gets struck by lightning, the last year gets completely wiped from her memory. All she wants is her old life back and the book is spent finding out the truth, finding herself and finding out who and what really matters to her. Overall, I really liked the message. Not everyone gets a do-over. But I struggled to connect to Penny at times and I wish it had been a lot longer. There's a lot happening and so many important people in her life: her parents, new and old friends and the rekindling romance with Wes. I felt like we only got fleeting glimpses into her relationships with them (past and present) but were expected to automatically be invested. As a reader, I need much more than that.

Do I recommend? I'm a fan of the author's writing and I wouldn't be surprised to pick up her next book. But I'd start with her other contemporary YA novel, Between Us and the Moon.


pub 6/28/16 by Delacorte Press
YA - Fantasy
Received ARC at ALAMW16
What a surprise! And I Darken isn't your typical fantasy novel. In fact, there's nothing typical about it at all. From our anti-heroine Lada Dragwyla who is ruthless, cruel and tries to harden her heart against everything, to the romance which I found surprisingly compelling and sad. I like my romances all swoony but this was just different in a good way. Lada's story begins when she and her brother Radu are abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan's kingdom as part of a political agreement. Lada always has been and always will be a fighter and her number one priority it to keep herself and Radu alive. We actually alternate between their point-of-views but for me, Lada is easily the more interesting one. Maybe it's because she's all about acting first and thinking later whereas Radu (in the beginning) is a spoiled child unwilling to fight for himself. When they meet the sultan's son, Mehmed, suddenly there's a third person in their inner circle who becomes important to them, which soon becomes both a good and bad thing. As these three grow up and turn into an inseparable unit, the stakes get higher. There's politics, fighting, friendship, love and more and Lada, Rada and Mehmed are at the center of it all. So while the book is long and starts off a bit slow, that slow burn is absolutely worth it to reach the end.

Do I recommend? Yes! This series is off to a solid start and I can't wait to see how their stories continue in the next book.

2 comments:

  1. I definitely felt like And I Darken was a strong series starter! I had expected to like it, but not as much as I actually wound up liking it. So glad you felt similarly, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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  2. I really enjoyed what And I Darken brought. It felt like a really great series starter and I really loved the character development. I'm definitely going to keep up with this series as best as I can and I can't wait for the next book!

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