|Black Five, by J. Lynn Bailey
In exchange for a fair and honest review,
I received an advanced release copy of this book through NetGalley
in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Penelope Jackson has had a hard life. Her earliest memories were living with her crack-addicted adopted mother – who died when she was 8. Scarred by horrible memories of that time, Penelope moved to live with her aunt JoAnne. Life for the next almost-10-years went pretty calmly. She wasn’t popular in school, but she had her couple of good friends, and her loving aunt. But then everything changed. She found out that she’d been lied to her whole life. That she was a special immortal being called a “black five.” She was the only one who could save the world from an evil tyrant.
I think this book would appeal to its target audience – perhaps 12-15 year old girls. Penelope is a unique, charming, and engaging character. The two romantic interests are handsome, powerful, masculine, mysterious, and totally enamored by her. This is also a nice story because the main character is a girl; but a loving, strong-willed, powerful one. Flawed, as well, which makes her likable. Most stories like this feature a boy as the magical-one-who-will-save-the-world (e.g. Harry Potter). Or if it’s a girl, she’s either a weak, needy one (yeah, I’m thinking Bella Swann); or a hard, unempathetic one (e.g. Tris or Katniss). I’m thinking of this book as sort of a mix between Harry Potter and Twilight. It’s young, it’s clean, it’s magical, and it’s got that love triangle. So, yes, if you’ve got a 12-15 year old girl who loves this type of book, it’s definitely appropriate and enjoyable.
Now I get to the part that’s harder to say, but this is a “fair and honest review” after all. This book was not for me. I doubt it’s really for many adults at all. Love triangles? Ick. Not only do they give me the willies because I feel like the girl likes one guy and leads on the other, but they always seem to be leading on the guy that I think is better (so it always comes with disappointment in the end). Oh, and the Edward Cullen creepiness factor? It’s in this one too. Except – oh change-up! – it’s in the guy that I actually like. 🙂 Another problem I had with this book is the lengthy journal section. The hand-writing was atrocious. The writer even admitted that his writing was atrocious. It was an incredible struggle for me to read.
Ok. So here’s what I think. This book wasn’t for me, but it’s a great book for 12-year-old girls. Therefore, I think it’s fair-and-honest to give the book 4 stars with the disclaimer: this is a book for young girls. 🙂
|4 stars for appropriateness, likable characters, and magical story
Let me tell you about an adorable little series of teen romance novels published through Zondervan by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon.
Genre: Teen romance / Fairy Tale
Reason for Reading: The publisher, Zondervan, provided a copy of Destined for Doon in exchange for an honest review.
The first book in the series is Doon.
Summary: For Veronica’s entire life other people have walked all over her and abandoned her. When a recent break-up leads to Veronica hallucinating a handsome Scottish boy, she’s half convinced she’s crazy…but as she continues to see flashes of him, she realizes it is her destiny to cross over the Brig ‘O Doon in Scotland and meet her destined. MacKenna, her best friend, has other plans for herself and Veronica, though.
Review: This was a sweet teen romance for people who are fans of fairy-tale endings. It had a nice combination of adventure (saving an imperiled kingdom from a nasty witch, while dodging angry mobs) and angsty teen romance. It was fun to watch how close Veronica and MacKenna were, despite their differences in personality. They each had strengths and weaknesses, making them a fantastic team. This is a story just as much about friendship as it is about romance.
Destined for Doon ● Authors: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Zondervan ● September 2, 2014 ● ISBN: 9780310742333
Hardcover/$17.99 U.S. ● Ages 15+
Summary: Unlike Veronica, MacKenna didn’t have a fairy-tale ending in the first book. She chose a difficult path, and one that didn’t make her as happy as she’d wished. But when MacKenna is given a chance to redeem herself (as well as save the imperiled kingdom of Doon from zombies), she snatches it up. But can she redeem the mistakes of her past?
Review: For me, this book seemed faster-paced than the first one. It picked up a few months after the first one left off, and instead of focusing mainly on Veronica’s relationship with Jamie, it focused on Mackenna and Duncan. One thing I liked about this continuation is that (unlike many teen romance series) the problems that must be overcome in the second book are not simply continuations of problems from the first book. Mackenna and Duncan, as a couple, are so different to Veronica and Jamie. Again, this story is a nice combination of adventure and angsty teen love.
And, of course, the moment you were all waiting for – this is where I give a free copy of Destined for Doon to one lucky winner. This offer is for a hardcover copy of the book, and it’s good for anyone within the US.
a Rafflecopter giveaway//widget.rafflecopter.com/load.js
Carey Corpe: Carey Corp lives in the metropolitan Midwest with her loveable yet out-of-control family. Carey wrote her first book at the age of seven, and currently begins each morning consuming copious amounts of coffee while weaving stories that capture her exhaustive imagination. She harbors a voracious passion (in no consistent order) for mohawks, Italy, musical theater, chocolate, and Jane Austen. Carey’s debut novel for teens, The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction and was featured at the 2012 RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago in YA Alley.
Lorie Langdon: Lorie Langdon has wanted to write her own novels since she was a wee girl reading every Judy Blume book she could get her hands on. So a few years ago, she left her thriving corporate career to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word and continue to build the young-adult-focused blog, HonestlyYA. Read more at HonestlyYA.com.
2012 Book 152: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
written by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
Reason for Reading: I’m rereading these books along with Lost Generation Reader.
Harry hopes his second year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry will be calmer than last year’s. However, even before the school-year begins, Harry meets a house elf who is determined to keep Harry from even STARTING his school year. Harry perseveres, however, and delves into trouble yet again when the Chamber of Secrets is opened and some stealthy beast begins to petrify his classmates. Will Harry and his friends be able to stop the beast before it manages to kill someone? Harry also gets his first taste of xenophobia in the wizarding world, when he learns a new naughty epithet (the m-word). And I bet you’d never guess which bratty little villain uses the word? I’ll give a hint. He’s blonde. 😉
This second installment of the Harry Potter series is just as delightful as the first. It, like its predecessor, is aimed at the younger end of the YA spectrum, which suits me just fine. The narration by Jim Dale is quite enjoyable–in fact, I liked this narration better than his narration of the Sorcerer’s Stone. He’s got different voices for each of the characters, and his voice definitely engaged me.
The entire Harry Potter is a popular book on the “banned and challenged” lists released by the ALA. Personally, I didn’t see anything objectionable in this book. Accusations of “satan worship” and “encourages interest in the occult” are silly. There isn’t any language or objectionable morals that I can see–other than the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione steal, lie, and generally disobey rules. Of course, they do these things with the best intentions, and often because they feel the adults don’t listen to them. Also, they don’t hurt anyone with their antics (though they certainly endanger themselves). But let’s be honest with each other. Would YA books be interesting to ANYBODY if the protagonists were perfect little angels who allowed the adults to take care of all the important stuff? Of course not.
2012 Book 38: The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis (2/26/2012)
Reason for Reading: Currently working through the Narnia series in publication order.
My Review: 5/5 stars
Eustace Scrubb ventures back to Narnia with his schoolmate Jill Pole. There they are sent on a mission to rescue Prince Rilian, who has been kidnapped by an evil witch. This is another lovely installment of the Chronicles of Narnia. Very cute.
2012 Book 6: The Golden Tree, by Kathryn Lasky (1/9/2012)
The Golden Tree is the 12th book of the Guardians of Ga’hoole series, which I have been reading for years (long before the movie covering the first three books came out). In this book, the new king Coryn explores his identity as the possible son of a hagsfiend (an evil owl-witch). He leaves with Soren and the Band for a short adventure to distract himself from his woes, but finds more than he’d bargained for. In addition, he’s left the ember back in the Tree under the care of owls with weaker personalities than himself—leading to self-absorbed ember worship (almost akin to a criticism of organized religion?). I can’t say that this book is as good as the first 6 (which could have been a complete series in themselves), but it was cute enough. This series has a 3 book detour in the middle, and this is the first book that picks up where the story left off. Much of the book was spent reminding the reader of things that occurred before the detour, and I think that subtracted from the normal action of these books. Therefore, I only gave it 3/5 stars. However, I am curious how the story will proceed, as the series seems to have started out with themes of Cute Kids against Naughty Bad Guys (book 1), progressed to Valiant Knights against Evil Racists (books 2-8), detoured to Good vs. Evil (books 9-11), and now seems to be entering Inward-Strength vs. Inward Weakness. What next?