Zodiac Read-a-Long Spotlight

Today I’ve got a spotlight for Zodiac by Romina Russell as part of the Read-a-Thon by Penguin Teen.  I started reading this book, but I haven’t finished yet so there are no spoilers today because I don’t have any!
Just to start I can tell you that I love what I have read so far! This is a true science fiction/fantasy and I feel like we don’t get very many of those in YA! At least not that I have read! So if you are looking for a really cool YA book that takes place in space on other planets then this book is for you! Once of the coolest visual scenes that I’ve read so far in the opening chapters was the concert that Rho and her friends put on for the other students at her school. Both the concert with the students bouncing outside in the different gravity and the immediate aftermath was so well written and described that I could see every exciting and horrifying detail in my head. If there are more descriptions like this throughout the book then this is going to be a very visually appealing read.
Today I want to spotlight the world building that Romina Russell has done with this story. Now, again I have not finished Zodiac yet, but already I feel like I have such a rich understanding of the world she is creating.
The world is made up by groups of people who identify with one of the twelve zodiacs in groups known as Houses. Our central character, Rho is from House Cancer. What I love is that each of the Houses has different characteristics, whether that be looks or personalities or things they excel at.
So far I’ve seen a lot of description of House Cancer and for good reason since Rho comes from there. We learned that it’s a beautiful blue ocean planet and we also learn that of the four members of her family she had when she was younger, only her dad is left on the planet. Her mother vanished, her brother left, and she left to go to school. It’s interesting to my because the planet seems to idyllic in her mind and yet three of four people in her immediate family vanished.
One thing I haven’t gotten too much into yet is how each of the Houses fit together so I am anxious to see if they can bring all of their strengths together to fight whatever this big bad that’s coming is. It seems to me like everyone would bring something new to the table and a different viewpoint.
Now that Rho is the Guardian of House Cancer I want to know if she will bring all of these elements together to fight Big Bad. I also am interested to see how her relationship with her friends with change now that she is a Guardian. I can see it strengthening or falling to pieces, but I do not see it staying the same with all of this huge changes in their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Authors Notes: There’s a giveaway but for some reason I can’t get the link to work in here so I am going to link to another website where you can access it!

http://www.papertrailya.com/news/zodiacbooks-readathon-rereadgiveaway

 

Book Spotlight: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Rook by Sharon Cameron is going to be this month’s Book Spotlight. I wanted to showcase this particular book for several reasons. The first is that it was amazing and has so many valuable lessons in it. The second is that because I consider Sharon a friend I didn’t want you guys to feel as though that would bias an actual review.

First let me give you some more information on Rook

From Goodreads

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

I first heard about Rook in 2013 while I was interning for Sharon. She told me it was partially inspired by the Scarlett Pimpernel where I am sure a blank stare was given because I had never read it before. A brief description was given to me about what she was going to be doing in this book and while it sounded amazing at the time, I couldn’t really have imagined how the book was going to play out until I read it. I also helped do some research for the book while I was interning (although I have no idea how much help I actually was) but even those glimpses of information didn’t give anything away.
When I first saw the cover and read the tagline “What will be has already been…” I basically freaked out. I loved it. The book is set in a future that has basically regressed back into the past. Sharon loves history so there was no other way this book could have been written.
When the book was released in April I was so excited to be able to attend the launch party. Even though I had helped with blog tours for her previous two books, I was unable to attend the launches.

Here are all the things I LOVED about Rook and why you should read it too. There are SLIGHT SPOILERS ahead, but I don’t think anything too major.

1. The Red Rook.
Seems pretty obvious that I would love the main character, but she’s pretty awesome. What I liked about her is that she doesn’t change herself at all in this book. She lives in a social circle where it’s extremely important for her to get married or else some bad things are going to happen, but what does she want to do instead of saying some vows? Save lives and kick ass while doing it. She commands the respect of everyone around her, whether they know her personally or if they just by the red tipped rook feathers she leaves in empty prison cells. This is also the story of a girl (young woman really!) who just wants to save people and then ends up saying an entire country. (Think Katniss Everdeen, but much cooler and more brilliant)
2. The Love Triangle That’s Not Really a Love Triangle

Here is my face whenever I see a love triangle in anything:


#NotImpressed

So you can imagine my enthusiasm when this book…does not have one. I don’t think that’s a spoiler…maybe if you’re rooting for the wrong guy? Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely multiple guys vying for Sophie’s heart but that does not mean at all that she is torn between two people and I love that! Sophie is basically so busy trying to figure out how to SAVE LIVES that she doesn’t need to worry about men! Can she please just come and be my personal hero because I love her!

3. The Way the Love Happens
I have read so many books and watched so many movies where the romance between two characters isn’t organic. Either it happens way too quickly and unrealistically or it’s just straight up unbelievable. Not so here. Remember what I said about Sophie (or Sophia if someone is unfamiliar with her) not changing herself? It totally rings true here and that is by far one of my favorite things about this book. She doesn’t just fall in love with someone as a plot point or because the audience wants her too. She doesn’t become the person someone else wants to be so that she can fit into their view of the perfect match. She remains the same. The person she falls in love with loves her BECAUSE of who she is. This is someone who will not “allow” or “tolerate” who she is because he loves her, but loves her because of who she is. Do you guys see how important this is? This is someone who not only appreciates every single thing about her, but also encourages her to continue to be herself and even joins forces with her. This is someone who not only supports her dreams but is right there trudging beside her through who knows what to help her do anything she dreams. And at the same time she supports him. It’s basically a perfect relationship that honestly made me fall in love with this guy more than Lane from The Dark Unwinding which was basically an almost impossible task before I read this book.

4. The World
This one is a little harder to talk about without giving too much away. Just know that Sharon creates an amazing world to set this story in. I mentioned before that it’s set in the future in a place like the past, but she still created an entirely unique view of this world. There are multiple new political systems, a brand new society, different economic standards, and different religions. It also brings forward a new way to think about the world we live in now. Are we too reliant on technology? And how valuable are the things we use in everyday life that we take for granted and see as garbage. You all will understand when you get to the world “DIET”.

This book stuck with me after reading it in a way I haven’t experienced in quite a while. I was still thinking about it over an hour after I finished it and actually missed the characters. I read this book over the course of several months and it the characters had been with me for so long that I actually missed them when I was finished.
I hope that you will all take a moment to read this awesome book and let me know your thoughts on it!


Book Spotlight- The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

If you guys head over to the Book Spotlight page you will see that I am currently featuring the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

From Goodreads

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy takes place in the 19th century primary at Spence, an all girls boarding school. This series reminds me of a female version, YA, version of Harry Potter. Both main characters are taken from their normal lives and thrust into a boarding school where they develop new powers and tackle evil. Sent from India to England after her mother’s death, Gemma could never have imagined the mysteries her new home would hold.

When I first read these books I didn’t appreciate the amazing world building that Libba Bray creates in these novels. Not only does Bray create a believable and authentic world at Spence Academy for Young Ladies but she creates a magical, mystical world in the Realms.

Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain. . . .
The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.
But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

Another fantastic element to this series is the character dynamic. Gemma’s mother is killed in the streets of India, her father has become a drug addict, and her older brother is obsessed with marrying a rich girl and climbing the social ladder. Gemma is torn in so many directions in these novels and she hardly has anyone to lean on.
Her group of friends are a complicated bunch and Bray has such a fantastic ability to develop every one of them.
Ann Bradshaw is a poor girl compared to the others at Spence and attends the school on scholarship. She is plain and invisible but has a talent for singing and wishes for a better life. A life of money, parties, and handsome young men, a life she believes to be better than her own.
Felicity Worthington, a name that just oozes wealth. She is beautiful and wealthy but hides a torturous past. Bray does such a wonderful job of developing Felicity and showing how the bullied becomes the bully. Felicity is horrible to Gemma and Ann in the beginning. She is popular and outgoing and seemingly only concerned with her social status and reputation. She wants to be the envy of every girl. Burned by the abandonment of her mother Felicity harbors fierce feelings of betrayal, that along with the childhood abuse forces her to put on a charade in front of everyone.
Pippa Cross is another one of the rich popular girls at Spence Academy. She is described as a beautiful girl who has had to deal with people laying claim to her. Pippa has a secret though, she has epilepsy but cannot let anyone know because it would affect her chances of marrying a decent suitor. Like Gemma’s brother, Thomas, Pippa is pressured into marrying a rich man to save her family’s reputation. Pippa cannot handle her life in the real world and so she condemns herself to eternity in the Realms.

IT HAS BEEN A YEAR OF CHANGE since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a
laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order – the mysterious group her mother was once part of – is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

There’s something I seem to be forgetting about. Hmmm, what could it be? Oh yeah! Kartik! Kartik starts of the series by being a member of Rakshana, a group intent on killing Gemma because she holds the power to the Realms. Starting off as enemies, Kartik and Gemma discover a true love for each other as the series goes on. This all builds into what I think is one of the best YA romances that I have read.

What does the true love wind down to? One of the most (equally) amazing and depressing endings to a series EVER!!! There are books that I love and then there are books that are seared into memory forever. This is definitely one of those books. I won’t say too much more about the ending because I don’t want to give it away but you all need to go get these books now! There is no way that you will regret reading them!

As a personal tidbit I am in love with these covers. On my 18th birthday when I went to the hair salon to dye my hair red I took The Sweet Far Thing with me and told them that was the color that I wanted.

Happy Reading!!