Tag Archives: Romance

The Clearing by Heather Davis, True Love is Timeless

Redd Becker Book Reviews

The Clearing by Heather DavisRead Heather Davis’s love story for Valentine’s Day

Heather Davis enjoys writing romances with a paranormal twist. In The Clearing she creates intrigue when her heroine, Amy, discovers that a meadow near her aunt’s trailer is a portal back in time to 1944.

Amy meets Henry near the clearing. The timing is perfect.  Amy, who lives in our present time, moved to a new high school where her family hopes she makes friends, but her past still stings too much to reach out. Henry, however, has grown tired of the time-loop his family is trapped within during WWII.

The teens find solace in each other, but they realize it can’t go on forever. Both Amy and Henry fear repercussions from remaining in the other’s time period. Amy never expected to find friendship in Henry, but the pangs of love and isolation compel her to return to the clearing to find him. As each teen grapples with their emotional and physical isolation, Davis probes the effects of love on their lives and the pressures that arise from it.

The Clearing is written in 1st person through Amy’s eyes and 3rd person close through Henry’s eyes. Besides romance across the ages, Davis explores facets of family and friendship. While Amy builds a relationship with her aunt and negotiates living in a small town, Henry’s family prepares to return to 1944.

The last chapter of The Clearing provides an appropriate and interesting twist that left me satisfied as a reader.

Accolades for Heather Davis

Heather Davis’s paranormal  romances have gained recognision. HAUNT ME won the Golden Heart award for Best Young Adult Romance Manuscript in 2006, the year after that Davis’s novel Amber Hickenbottom made the finals list for the same award. Davis has a book trailer for The Clearing on Youtube.

Cozy Mystery List blog has a list of Valentine’s Day mysteries you may enjoy and Michelle Krys, author of the young adult paranormal romance Hexed, has a list of Valentine’s Day romance novels on her web site.

The Clearing by Heather Davis, True Love is TimelessThe Clearing by Heather Davis
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on April 12th 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Time Travel, Young Adult
Pages: 228
Goodreads

In this bittersweet romance, two teens living decades apart form a bond that will change their lives forever.
Amy is drawn to the misty, mysterious clearing behind her Aunt Mae’s place because it looks like the perfect place to hide from life. A place to block out the pain of her last relationship, to avoid the kids in her new town, to stop dwelling on what her future holds after high school.
Then, she meets a boy lurking in the mist—Henry. Henry is different from any other guy Amy has ever known. And after several meetings in the clearing, she’s starting to fall for him.
But Amy is stunned when she finds out just how different Henry really is. Because on his side of the clearing, it’s still 1944. By some miracle, Henry and his family are stuck in the past, staving off the tragedy that will strike them in the future. Amy’s crossing over to Henry’s side brings him more happiness than he’s ever known—but her presence also threatens to destroy his safe existence.
In The Clearing, author Heather Davis crafts a tender and poignant tale about falling in love, finding strength, and having the courage to make your own destiny—a perfect book to slip into and hide away for awhile.

The Goose Girl, a retelling by Shannon Hale

Redd Becker Book Review

Goose GirlGoose Girl retells the fairy tale of a princess done wrong, who struggles to regain her rightful place on the throne. Her mother, the queen, exiles her daughter to another country in an arranged marriage. This remains one of my least favored plot lines, but this retelling enchanted me.

Hale tells the story in a style I refer to as literary light. Her use of language to create the princess’s world demonstrates empathy with all facets of the story. Scrumptious descriptions of landscapes, ancient cities, village life, woodlands, palaces and markets fill every scene, but the descriptions don’t over power the story or characters.

At a time when movies, TV shows and novels maximize action, conflict, fear and dark imagery, Goose Girl provided relief. Struggles were clear, but not harsh. They entertained without causing angst.

Goose Girl as Fairy Tale and Fantasy

Technically Goose Girl fits the fantasy genre, because the princess possesses the ability to talk to animals and manipulate the wind.  Hale so adeptly integrates these qualities that the magic appears naturally human in the characters.

Subplots lace the main story line and Hale takes care to develop them. Many of her characters grow and change, as they encounter new circumstances. A fun band of helpers who tend animals for the palace gather around the princess.

Wikipedia provides a nice synopsis of the original German fairy tale.

Hale’s rendition of Goose Girl gained much recognition including: A New York Public Library ‘100 Titles for Reading and Sharing’ Book; A Josette Frank Award Winner; A Texas Lone Star Reading List Book; A Utah State Book Award Winner (YA); and A Utah Speculative Fiction Award Winner.

The Goose Girl, a retelling by  Shannon HaleThe Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1) by Shannon Hale
Series: The Books of Bayern #1
on January 1st 1970
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 383
Goodreads

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.
Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

 

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Redd Becker Book Review

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) byI thought The Young Elites was going to be a typical rags to riches adventure, with a prince challenged to take his rightful place on the throne. Although it is a story of both a prince and princess vying for power, I was pleasantly surprised.

The protagonist, Adelina, was not the good girl I expected and yet my empathy was with her all the way. The circumstances of her love interest was more convoluted and obscured then expected.

Lu writes in third person close. Most chapters are in the protagonist’s POV, which helps to build empathy toward her, however, the perspective changes in some chapter provided information and subplots from various angles.

Snippets of literature from their world start each chapter. These provide insights to their world’s culture and an idea of where the chapter is heading. I liked the snippets better than similar headings in some stories.

The Young Elites’ Plot

Children altered by a sickness leaves them with physical defects and sometimes special powers. The king of Kenettra persecutes those effected, the malfettos. His queen decides to take over the throne and kill them. Adelina’s brother, Enzo, the rightful heir to the throne has been exiled as a malfetto. He enlists other malfettos to form the Young Elites in order to overthrow the throne and take his place as the rightful heir.

Adelina’s powers are slow to show, but when she kills her cruel father she is enlisted by Enzo, who saves her from death and enlists her help. Complications arise when Adelina’s sister is taken by the Queens’s assistant as hostage.

For those who like to write: The Young Elites is a wonderful example of subplots, over subplots.

You may want to check out Marie Lu’s final book in this series, The Midnight Star. Or another review of the popular Young Elite’s series at ReadLove.

The Young Elites by Marie LuThe Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) by Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #1
on October 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 355
Goodreads

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.
Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.
Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

 

The Memory Key by Liana Liu

Redd Becker Book Reviews


The Memory Key explores a future where memory chips implanted The Memory Key by Liana Liuin everyone, including children circumvents  alzheimer’s disease, but the mind begins to rely on the device. Things go wrong when the company that makes memory keys designs them to manipulate people. When Lora’s key malfunctions and she begins to have crisp memory recall she begins to investigate her mother. Lora realizes her mother, a scientist with the company who made memory key, was murdered by them.

 

A Memory Key Sounds Enticing

Liu writes a fast-paced action mystery. As with much scifi questions of technological interventions on humans predominates. Implants to ward off challenges of our organic body sounds appealing, but be wary of big business and relying on technology. Some scenes appeared too convenient such as: her mother working for the memory key company, her best friend’s brother becomes a love interest who works for the same company, and her alternate boyfriend works for the old folks home where Lora finds her mother still alive.

For those who enjoy writing: Scenes move fast and are entertaining. The quality of writing works well for the format. The style reflects what YA specialist often asks for in YA books, but for me has become too standard in the genre.

Many find The Memory Key wonder. Take a look a more reviews at YA Books Central.

The Memory Key by Liana LiuThe Memory Key by Liana Liu
Published by HarperTeen on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 368
Goodreads

In a five-minutes-into-the-future world, a bereaved daughter must choose between losing memories of her mother to the haze of time and the reality-distorting, visceral pain of complete, perfect recall.

Lora Mint is determined not to forget.

Though her mother’s been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most importantly, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return.

But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer’s, that isn’t easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora’s key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother’s disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad—burying the truth forever? Lora’s longing for her lost mother and journey to patch up her broken memories is filled with authentic and poignant emotion. Her race to uncover the truth is a twisty ride.

In the end, Liana Liu’s story will spark topical conversations about memory and privacy in a world that is reliant on increasingly invasive forms of technology.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Redd Becker Book Review

The Japanese Lover by Isabel AllendeIsabel Allende is a proven master of story telling.  Little dialogue or ‘traditional’ scene structure encumber Allende as she weaves her story with uncanny knowledge of human secrets and motivations. Historical events turned inside out provide unexpected characters and relationships.

Isabel Allende creates diversions that matter

Allende goes on tangents within scenes to create new characters before returning to the plot, where she ties it all together. This adds multi-dimensions the reader doesn’t expect. It can be difficult to maintain the intensity and momentum during the middle sections, but Allende does it with finesse. She delivers a heart wrenching climax by the end. Thank you Allende for documenting the most human sides of history with compassion.

A young woman, Alma, works in an old folks home where she befriends a wealthy resident. When the old woman disappears for short vacations Alma decides to discover the truth of the woman’s past. Readers moved forward and backward in time piecing together the effects of World War II on each of the character’s lives: the main character Alma’s, the grandmother, her grandson and the Japanese lover.

For those interested in writing:    Writers today are told to “Show, don’t tell”, but  Allende stands out as a wonderful example of someone who “tells” her story effectively. The lack of action scenes doesn’t draw away from the novel. She has a style that lets you walk along with her.

My Rating five-stars

The Japanese Lover by Isabel AllendeThe Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, Nick Caistor, Amanda Hopkinson
Published by Atria Books on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 322
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco's parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family's Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.
Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco's charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

The Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

 Redd Becker Book Review

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkin's Rachel HawkinsAlthough Rachel Hawkin’s female protagonist engages the reader, she is somewhat cliched. Harper Price carried the role of  ‘bad ass’ paladin in Hawkin’s Greek oracle meets American south adventure. The addition of Southern culture was fun, but I wondered why the ‘living Oracle’ lives there. The valley-girl, cheerleader as narrator would appeal to some, but it didn’t add the emotional depth here that one expects.

When Harper Price runs into a deadly scene in the bathroom of her homecoming dance, she is thrust on the path of a hero’s journey. Magically inheriting the powers of a paladin and the responsibility to protect the living Oracle, she must learn to use her new powers and unravel her role are one of a trio destined to fulfill the Oracle’s legacy.  Layer this on typical issues of a  high school junior/cheerleader/president-of-her-class/southern belle with boyfriend problems.

Rachel Hawkin’s Novela

The first chapter of the sequel lengthens a fairly short story. It also serves to entice the reader further into Harper’s adventures.

My Rating three-stars

The Rebel Belle by Rachel HawkinsRebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Published by Putnam Juvenile on April 8th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Contemporary, Romance, Magical Realism, Paranormal
Pages: 345
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.
Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.