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Book Review: Valley of the Moon by Bronwyn Archer

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Book Title: Valley of the Moon
Author: Bronwyn Archer
Series: Valley of the Moon #1 (?)
Publication Date: April 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Age Range: 13+ years old
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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There’s just one semester left at the Briar School for Girls in Sonoma, CA. But it will take more than straight As for Lana Goodwin to survive . . .

Senior year is not going well for 17-year-old Lana Goodwin. Her father’s vintage car business is about to crash and burn, the nicest (and cutest) teacher at school was fired under a cloud of scandal, and her hot sort-of boyfriend may or may not have something big to hide.

She’s also totally over being the class pauper. It’s bad enough her dad was briefly married to the head of the board—the rich, cruel, impeccably groomed Ramona Crawford. What’s worse is going to school with her vindictive ex-stepsister, who never misses an opportunity to make her life hell. Not ever.

It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.

Before Lana can escape to college, she finds herself in a life-or-death race to uncover her mother’s long-buried secrets.

Can she claim her birthright before her future and her life are snatched away?

Valley of the Moon is a modern-day fairy tale with some intense themes.


I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

MY THOUGHTS

I have mixed feelings about this one. I’m not really sure if I like it or not. But I can definitely say that this has more negatives than positives, for me at least.

When I first read the summary, all I could think was how great it sounds. I mean, come on, read this again:

It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.

Now tell me that that isn’t the least bit interesting. You can imagine how pumped I was to start this book. Unfortunately though, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. The main thing that pulled me into requesting this book is the whole enigma of the clues about Lana’s mother’s past. Not a cheesy (and crappy) romance. The book didn’t provide much depth about her mother’s death. And it focused on the romance for far too long.

While we’re on that topic, let me say that the romance in this book is absolutely cringe worthy, 100% insta-love and not relevant at all. I’m talking about Lana and Caleb’s relationship, of course. They know next to nothing about each other but claims that it’s love plus, I feel like all they do is kiss. I just don’t get why authors feel the need to put romance in every single book even though it ruins the whole reading experience. Or maybe if the romance will make more sense in the sequel, at least make it a bit more believable. I’m not bashing the author, not at all, but the “love story” in this just ruined it for me.

Because I’m such a sucker for mystery novels, and also because the premise of this book still intrigues me despite the problems I encountered while reading, I still pushed through. It took a while for me to get through this because the writing just feels like it doesn’t flow correctly, I feel like it was all over the place, and that kind of put me off. And I got a bit confused with the family tree but I think it’s my fault, really. I read Me Before You alongside of this and when I read two books at once, especially when I prefer the other one much more, some details get jumbled up.

Towards the end, there came a sudden burst of action and it kind of threw me off—but not really in a bad way. Hey, I love action so I’m not complaining, I was just surprised is all. It just feels like Lana can’t catch a break at that time, so it made me feel anxious a lot.

Then, the ending. It’s a cliffhanger, but it’s also anticlimactic (what with all the action that happens beforehand).

Now let’s get to the (few) positives of the book.

If it isn’t obvious in the summary given above, this is kind of like a Cinderella retelling. I like how Ramona’s and Cressida’s characters were depicted in the story. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like them because they make Lana’s life more complicated than it already is. What I mean is that I like how it looks like they’re not just there for the sake of more drama.

I can’t really say too much but the plot twists were good. Not amazing because they didn’t make me gasp or anything. Nevertheless, they’re good because I didn’t see them coming.

Also, why are most fictional characters named Alexander so goddamn swoon-worthy?! Um, I don’t need a whole page of Alexanders on my fictional-boyfriends list, thank you very much.

Overall, this is a mostly okay read. Has more negatives than positives but it doesn’t feel right if I rate it a 2 out of 5 because I still did enjoy this. It has potential but it didn’t deliver quite well. I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the sequel when it comes out.

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Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

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Book Title: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date:
April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mental Health, Romance, YA
Age Range: 14-17 years old
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.


MY THOUGHTS

I started reading this with really high expectations because I’ve seen so many great reviews about this. After reading though, I don’t know how I feel; I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would but it doesn’t mean that it’s not good.

The main reason why I didn’t give this a higher rating is because the romance bothered me a lot. It was 100% insta-love. Girl sees boy and boy sees girl, and then BOOM! they have feelings for each other? A big no for that! I kept trying to find (or feel) the chemistry between Vivi and Jonah, I swear I did, but no such luck. It feels completely forced and rushed.

There were times that I found it hard to sympathize with Vivi. I feel really bad for saying that but I was just so frustrated about how she bosses Jonah around.

Despite saying that, Vivi eventually grew on me and I hate the fact that I was starting to actually like and understand her better when the book is coming to an end. (I feel like that’s because I knew more about her feelings and condition near the end.)

Another thing, how Emery Lord describes everything in the book is incredible. How she portrays the things that make Verona Cove so special made me want to live there too. How she explains Jonah’s dishes made my mouth water. How she details the characters’ feelings made me empathize with them—well, not all the time for Vivi, but you know what I mean. The writing is just wonderful.

The ending was just so beautiful and precious. Around that time was the most I’ve felt for Vivi and Jonah.

I don’t know much about topics like this, to be honest, but I feel like I understood it on a whole new level. I love how mental health was so candidly talked about in the book. I think it’s difficult to write about this topic and generate awareness to its readers at the same time. This is a story that can certainly change one’s perspective on this area.

Would I recommend it?

Yes! Definitely yes. You might learn a thing or two about mental health here, who knows? Although beware of the romance, I didn’t like it so much.

All book cover photos and summaries are taken from Goodreads.