Jadeite’s Journey – Lucinda Stein

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Living in a perfect world isn’t as good as it sounds…

Firstly I must say that returning to blogging after such a long break has been worth it thanks to this book, however the break has been very good for me. I’ve been able to get myself settled into my new home, start my new job without distractions and get used to my new surroundings up North (UK). I never wanted to be away from blogging this long but knew that I couldn’t continue with all the drastic changes happening in my life. This break is now over and I’m delighted to return with such a wonderful book ‘Jadeite’s Journey’ – hopefully you’ll agree!

We start off with the illusion of a ‘perfect world’ where everyone is happy and content, thinking that their part of the world is free of disease/illness and where everyone is immortal. However it is a controlled society, there are tests that determine your career, technology for everything (cooking, hobby activities and of course the drone guards) and rules no one must break. Yet everything isn’t as perfect as they are deemed to believe. Jadeite finds out her brother is sick and needs medicine from ‘over the ridge’ where the primitive outcasts live. After taking on her fathers responsibilities of going over the ridge, she has to learn to adapt to two worlds and make sure she doesn’t get caught!

The characters themselves each have a story to tell and the more we learn about them the deeper connection I seemed to get, Jadeite herself proves to be the smart, loving daughter who will do anything for her family which really shows when she starts to try and save her brother’s life and takes her father’s duties of crossing the ridge to protect him. Electra is the quirky best friend who doesn’t quite fit into the way United Society want her to be, she is creative and erratic and a free spirit. She is the first person we see having to bend to the rules ‘or else’ and puts it into perspective how controlling the United Society government are. Mattie I honestly liked in the beginning, he was confident and the teenage romance that blossomed between him and Jadeite did make me smile, until he started to show his true colours and became controlling, manipulative and dangerous. Finally the key character that stood out was Orion (a boy from over the ridge) he showed bravery, loyalty and love which made me root for him and Jadeite even more as he showed her the ‘new world’ she wasn’t accustomed to and kept her safe.

The narrative itself was somewhat hard to follow sometimes, due to it flicking from one section to the other but the story-line had me turning each page with intrigue and kept me wanting to find out what happens next. I loved the contrast between United Society and over the Ridge, it really painted the picture of how corrupt United Society is and how with little technology the people over the Ridge had freedom which meant more to them than living a ‘convenient’ but controlled life. The way that the cracks in United Society slowly unfolded worked brilliantly, it had me questioning whether it was just coincidences or mistakes that Jadeite was uncovering but really built up to how wrong this place was. I did feel myself following Jadeite’s journey with held breath, especially her constant trips over the Ridge and hoping she doesn’t get caught but also her charade whilst in United Society and her fooling Mattie that she was still his and happy in that relationship.

Without giving away any spoilers there were two major twists that had me shocked, one being the Vilàne family and all their secrets. The mother in particular and the secret she kept from not only her own son Mattie but the entire United Society government, I had to re-read the whole section to make sure I wasn’t just imagining the deception. The second twist was with the Journeyman family, particularly Jadeite’s mother and the secret that had been kept from Jadeite and her brother. Two very different twists but both delightfully shocking.

The one downside to this book was the ending, I was happy with the way it seemed to be going and gave me hope that everything would be alright. However it did end rather suddenly without answering some of the questions I had about the Vilàne family, will Mattie ever know the truth about his father? How would Jadeite cope with life outside of United Society? What would her and Orion’s relationship be like? I do hope there will be another book that follows from this as I would be very keen to read it!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Jadeite’s Journey’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Lucinda Stein
As a former school librarian, Lucinda Stein enjoyed sharing books with students. Jadeite’s Journey is her first YA novel. Her collection of short stories, Sanctuary: Family, Friends, and Strangers, was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Her story, “Sulfur Springs,” won the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction Award judged by Pam Houston. Lucinda loves reading, anything vintage, camping, and hiking with her shelter-rescue dog, Opie. She also enjoys creating bookstagrams. Follow her on Instagram at lucindastein.

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She Will Rise – Calvin Demmer

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Five tips to definitely live (or die) by…

Following from last week’s short story ‘Spring Outbreak’ we continue down the road of Calvin Demmer’s Dark Celebrations series with yet another spectacular addition ‘She Will Rise’. If reading is an addiction then I must confess to being completely hooked to these short stories, I cannot get enough! Hoping to continue through the whole collection I am already so engrossed with each individual story and this one is no exception!

This story actually came across rather differently than the others, almost softer and more toned down to what I was expecting. Needless to say this didn’t last long as we are given wonderful twists and taken down a dark path no one can return from. However I really enjoyed the build up of this story, even though most short stories dive straight into the action this one allowed us to feel what the protagonist Luna was feeling (love towards her ill mother, grief for her dead twin sister and hatred for her step-father). By building these relationships and background we are able to mirror those emotions and understand the reasoning behind the actions taken.

We are drawn in straight away by Luna coming home from college for Easter break, knowing her mother is ill she wishes to make this weekend special. Little does she know that this Easter will change her life forever. Building on the relationship that Luna has with her mother really hit home for me, it takes a lot to care for someone but even more so to stand up for them! Luna shows courage and bravery to stand up to Ralph (step-father) and when all hope is lost, an unexpected ‘helper’ arrives.

Darkness is a common theme in Calvin Demmer’s work and sometimes the characters you least expect to have a dark twist emerge and bring with them sinister behavior. Without giving away any spoilers, Luna really surprised me with her characteristics towards the end. Not just the compassionate daughter, there is always more than meets the eye with people. Honestly I didn’t expect the ending (the VERY end sentence) which is why I enjoy these types of books, you never know what you’re going to get.

All the way through I was actually hating Ralph myself, getting that connected to another characters emotions is so hard to achieve but I was thinking about how repulsive he is and how Luna and her mother could do so much better (I think it was the throwing away the VCR tapes that did it for me). The fact that there were so many twists to this story kept me on my toes and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!

Hopefully I will get the chance to read more of Calvin Demmer’s work (I do aim to read the whole collection) as he always seems to surprise me. Even if you’re not a fan of horror genre you can still appreciate a good plot twist!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘She Will Rise’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

The Solitary Path Of Courage – M. B. Tosi

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You can be taught how to be ladylike, but courage is always within…

This book is actually the fifth in ‘The Indian Path Series’ so I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t know what is going on straight away, however from doing some research each book has its own standalone story that you can enjoy without having read the whole series beforehand. This genre of book is not usually one that I would choose but I’m glad it was brought to my attention as it involves bravery, adventure, hope and discovery. All of these come together to create an in-depth story that give us an insight into how the Old West 1800’s would have been like, hard at the best of times but even harder for a young orphaned woman.

The female protagonist is not the stereotypical ‘tough’ heroine, Sam O’Brien is a strong willed and courageous young lady that has been leading a double life. Being raised by only her father for most of her life she learnt that ‘hiding’ as a male made it safer, especially if she wished to stay close to her father on the railroads construction sites. Not learning how to be ladylike she adapted to the male environment (perhaps not necessarily for the best) which allowed her to have a straightforward talking personality and hard skinned attitude. Once her father passed away she soon learned that in her new family this kind of attitude would not be accepted.

As for the story itself, it really keeps you entertained and educated as we follow Sam on her journey (from orphan to outcast then professional) as we already know Sam is able to disguise herself as a male, after she leaves for Lewiston she becomes a newspaper reporter (being a talented writer already this suits her perfectly). Able to write about the current issues with the Indian’s she makes a name for herself. This story really flows beautifully allowing the reader to become fully engaged with Sam’s journey but also with the characters she meets along the way. It is a fast paced book that is full of adventure that will keep you turning the pages with excitement and intrigue.

As for the educational side of this book, don’t think I mean you will be reading a textbook on Indian history, this is much more exciting than that! It really gives you an insight into how life would have been in that era, especially for young women like Sam but also the Indian tribes. How things such as the gold-rush can cause issues (always the case when money is involved) and how we need to think about other people rather than just ourselves. There will always be conflict in this world but if we choose to be courageous, kind and fair then hopefully we can live in peace with one another.

This story really comes to life, making you feel what Sam is feeling. The grief for her father, the anger for her stepbrother, the fear of the unknown and the happiness of discovery. It really is a whirlwind of emotions that you feel when you read this book, painting the story in your mind (from imagining hiding from the Indians in the haystack, to working as a man on the railway site to journey’s into the unknown towns). A good book gives you all of these things, this one most definitely allows your imagination to run wild!

I must say that I will be reading the rest of the series (even if I’ve done it a bit backwards) as I really think that the writing style and story line that M. B. Tosi has created really speaks out to me and I wish to see what else she has in store.

Until next time…

Bio: M. B. Tosi
M.B. TOSI is a bestselling author of The Indian Path Series, which includes five books, The Sacred Path of Tears, The Secret Path of Destiny, The Crimson Path of Honor, The Thundering Path of Spirit, and The Solitary Path of Courage. She also has been an editor of non-fiction books and a weekly newspaper. She teaches piano and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in education. Born in Pierre, South Dakota, she has lived in Alexandria, Virginia; Bucks County, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. She has three children, five grandchildren, and a spunky Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ava.