The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi – By Maria Turtschaninoff

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Goodreads Synopsis: Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Thirteen-year-old novice Maresi arrived at the Abbey four years ago, during the hunger winter, and now lives a happy life under the protection of the Mother. Maresi spends her days reading in the Knowledge House, caring for the younger novices, and contentedly waiting for the moment when she will be called to serve one of the Houses of the Abbey.

This idyllic existence is threatened by the arrival of Jai, a girl whose dark past has followed her into the Abbey’s sacred spaces. In order to protect her new sister and her own way of life, Maresi must emerge from the safety of her books and her childish world and become one who acts.

Find on Amazon and Goodreads.

I picked this book up on a whim, just because I liked the cover, and it was such a good choice!  You know that feeling when you just accidentally stumble on a gem of a book and feel in your heart that the book gods are smiling on you? Yeah that’s the feeling I have right now. 😀

The Red Abbey Chronicles toes the line between middle grade and YA, our main character is after all only 13.  Maresi is a delightful character, and I fell in love with her right away. Actually I fell in love with everything right away.  The way the story is written is simple and easy to read. The world of the Abbey is magical. Maresi’s connection to her fellow novices was beautiful. I loved how they all worked together so well.  And this book has the added bonus of having amazing food descriptions!

If you’re looking for a fast read, with powerful female leads, this book is for you. I gave it four stars on Goodreads and I can’t wait to read the next book in this duology.

Max – By Sarah Cohen-Scali

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Goodreads Synopsis: In the Lebensborn program, carefully selected German women are recruited by the Nazis to give birth to new members of the Aryan race. Inside one of these women is Max, Literally counting the minutes until he is born and he can fulfill his destiny as the perfect Aryan specimen.

Max is taken away from his birth mother soon after he enters the world. Raised under the ideology and direction of the Nazi Party, he grows up without any family, without affection or tenderness, and he soon becomes the mascot of the program. That ‘s what it’ s all about. Lukas, a young Jewish boy who knows how to despise. Instead, the friendship that blossoms changes Max’s world forever. That ‘s what it’ s all about. Lukas, a young Jewish boy who knows how to despise. Instead, the friendship that blossoms changes Max’s world forever.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

This book is possibly the strangest thing I’ve read all year.

Max follows the life a young boy, born and breed for the Nazi Party.  To me he was never a character I could sympathize with, though I did pity him a lot.  This book was at times hard to read, because I was so disgusted with how the adults treated Max, and the mothers birthing the babies.  I was also upset by the scenes where the soldiers would steal Polish children from their families in the night. This book does not shy away from any of the horrors that happened at the hands of the Nazis.

I found the book strange because of the way Max narrates the story. He’s a very aggressive narrator for the small boy that he is.  He also fully believes everything he’s been brainwashed to think. Though at times he finds himself confused, even by the end of the book he hasn’t decided that the Nazi’s are completely wrong.  Max is never a character that you like.  If you’re like me and are sensitive to how children are treated in literature, this might not be the book for you.

Unlike the synopsis suggests, the friendship between Max and the Jewish boy is not really a friendship…it’s a mutual need to survive that puts them together, and it does not end well for either one of them.  This is what made me give this book a lower rating.

In the end I gave this book 3 stars.

Given To The Sea – By Mindy McGinnis

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Goodreads Synopsis: Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart. While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer. 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

I picked up this book solely because of the cover.

This is the first fantasy book that I’ve read where I honestly wanted (and needed!) a map. Usually I don’t even look at the maps, but this book seriously needed one. It was confusing as hell to try and remember where everything was in relation to the other countries. It didn’t help that this book has narration from every character given in the synopsis, and it’s only 352 pages! This book definitely felt too short.

Now while I started off complaining about a few things, I did enjoy a lot of this book. I liked the world a lot, it felt totally unique from any other fantasy novel I’ve ever read. The world-building was done really well, each people group had their own motivations, and you felt for them.

The characters were really good as well.  I liked Khosa a lot, I liked that she wasn’t shirking her duty.  I’m really tired of reading YA main characters trying to get out of their duty, it’s just overdone at this point. But I also liked that Khosa struggled with human touch, it made her character interesting.
Dara, Donil, Witt and Vincent also were good characters. I liked the interaction between Dara and her brother.  I also loved her storyline with being in love with Vincent, but never acting on it because of her stubbornness.

By halfway through the book I was pretty sure I was going to give it four stars. But the ending, mixed with some actions that felt contradictory made me feel conflicted.

SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING.

The prince, Vincent decides (because he’s in love) that he wants to risk the lives of everyone in his land to save the life if Khosa. All of the sudden he’s saying that maybe she doesn’t need to go to the sea, maybe thousands of years of writing and tradition are wrong.  Now it’s not his questioning that I disliked, it was his willingness to let thousands of people die just because he liked a pretty girl. I could understand Khosa not caring, none of these people mean anything to her. But everyone else who went along with this idea were just silly, and it didn’t make any sense to me.

On top of it in the ending, Khosa controls the sea and kills an invading army, which is really cool. But then everyone is magically willing to give up hundreds of years of traditions, for this one event. Which I get was pretty crazy, but it was completely unreasonable. When people are ruled by fear they don’t act rationally. But they were in this book? In the face of uncertainty, and possibly death if they don’t let Khosa go to the sea, somehow the rulers decide they were wrong? Maybe this is pessimistic of me but I just felt like the ending ruined the stakes for me. It was all too easy.

END SPOILERS.

So in the end I gave this book 3 stars. It’s an interesting world, maybe you’ll like the book. And I am actually planning on reading the second book.

Genna/Finn – By Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson

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Goodreads Synopsis: Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other. 

Find on Amazon and Goodreads.

At the time of reading this book I had already read two books by Moskowitz, one that I loved, the other that I felt more “meh” about. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this one.

I should start by saying, I usually love experimental books, and so when I started this book I thought I would like it.

Sadly I never connected with the characters. It was very confusing to figure out who was who, I know the names, Gena and Finn, but which one had a boyfriend? Which one was younger? It wasn’t until around page 100 that I finally was able to realize consistently who was narrating.

I also didn’t care about the fandom. Gena and Finn’s relationship builds over mutual love of a fandom. They would go on rants and discuss it, like fans do, which I didn’t have a problem with. My thing was, why should I care and/or spend my time reading rants from fictional characters about a fictional fandom? I literally do not care. I’m sorry. 😦

The sum up of my feelings for this book are, I just could never care and so I got bored. My confusion made the reading frustrating and so I just eventually gave up and only skimmed the last 30% of the book.

This just wasn’t the book for me, but I’m not going to tell anyone not to read it.   I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads.

Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thank you so much to Didi Oviatt for tagging me. 

Rules: Recognize your nominator, answer the questions, ask some questions of your own, and then pass the tag on!

1. Were you named after anyone special? 

I was named for the mythological character in the bible, Abigial, King David’s wife, and my middle name is after my great-grandmother on my mom’s side of the family.

2. Do you prefer to read by Tablet or Paperback?

Paperback all the way! Tablets and kindles can be nice for traveling, but nothing beats a physical copy of a book.  And actually I really dislike hardbacks, I don’t like how big and bulky they are. Plus I hate not being able to flip to the back and read the synopsis. Who actually read the praise for books anyway? Unless you’re on goodreads!

3. Have you ever had a reoccurring dream?

I’ve had recurring nightmares before. Usually it involves trying to save my many siblings (I’m the oldest of 11 kids counting myself) and failing to do so.

4. Have you ever participated in a local event or charity?

It’s been awhile since I have.

5. What is the hardest habit you’ve ever had to kick?

As a child I had some sort of OCD that tied into my anxiety, I would do things like obsessively check to make sure the doors were locked outside, or go to the bathroom every 30 seconds, things like that. It made me feel insane, and finally as I started to reach 13 or so I told myself I had to stop or everyone would realize I was crazy.  It took about a year-ish but I eventually stopped being obsessive about things.

6. Is there any particular smell or song that reminds you of your childhood?

Old christian songs remind me a lot of my childhood. Different smells do as well, like my Grandmother’s cooking.

7. Do you prefer sweet or salty junk food?

Depends on my mood, though probably overall I would say salty.

8. Do you prefer to spend your time in big cities or small country sides?

Neither. I like medium size cities.  Ones that are big enough that I’m able to go out and see friends and do fun things on the weekend. But I dislike big cities like Portland, they’re overwhelming.  Country sides and small towns are the worst, I’ve always hated living in them.

9. What is your ideal vacation spot?

Grant and I go to this hotel in Newport, it’s called The Sylvia Beach Hotel. It’s the most beautiful place, the rooms are amazing. If you’re ever in Oregon, definitely try to stop by. It’s perfect for book lovers!

Questions: 

  1. Have you ever traveled outside the US?
  2. What’s the first memory you can remember?
  3. Coffee, tea or hot chocolate?
  4. Do you enjoy having pets?
  5. If you could move anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Nominating: 

Elisabeth Wheatley, Esther Eckstine & Jessica.