A Death Struck Year

Cover Image A Death Struck YearThe Spanish influenza is devastating the East Coast–but Cleo Berry knows it is a world away from the safety of her home in Portland, Oregon. Then the flu moves into the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters are shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode–and into a panic.

Seventeen-year-old Cleo is told to stay put in her quarantined boarding school, but when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she cannot ignore the call for help. In the grueling days that follow her headstrong decision, she risks everything for near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies pile up, Cleo can’t help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

Riveting and well-researched, A Death-Struck Year is based on the real-life pandemic considered the most devastating in recorded world history, and leaves readers asking: what would I do for a neighbor? At what risk to myself?

****** Ani’s Review******

A Death Struck Year is set in 1918 and Cleo is a run of the mill boarding school student in the midst of trying to decide what she wants to do with her life when the Spanish Flu arrives in her home town. The school closes, people are sent home and told to stay indoors. When Cleo finds herself home alone and reading about the shortage of help, she volunteers.

Needless to say, this novel was a grim look at how a little spoken of flu epidemic altered the course of many lives. I have said before that I love when a novel teaches me something and this one has a lot to say! Even though it killed over 20,000 Americans in one week it was overshadowed by World War I, maybe due tot he fact that it lasted such a short amount of time? All of the facts in the story check out and even the anecdotes are mentioned as a way of offering perspective of how damaging this flu was. Makiia Lucier’s debut novel, A Death Struck Year, is definitely worth the read. She wrote Cleo’s story thoroughly and well and the tied up the loose ends nicely. I only would have liked a wider point of view, maybe from a pen-pal or other boarding student’s perspective just to flesh it out a bit more. I am hoping Lucier writes another historical novel soon.

Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher

Cover Image Furies of Calderon

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal. But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.” “Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.” Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

***Ani’s Review***

I realized that I’ve been remiss in reviewing this series by one of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher. The Codex Alera begins with the Furies of Calderon. This is a story woven around Tavi, a teen that finds himself in the middle of a potential war. This introduction to the Calderon Valley is where we meet Tavi, a typical teenager who thinks he is more capable than his elders, and who also lands in a lot of trouble. I can’t really say enough how much I enjoyed this book and this series. Jim Butcher writes as if he’s been thinking about this world for a very long time. The characters are well developed, the world is full and rich, and there are plenty of obstacles for young Tavi from the Calderon Valley to overcome. A totally engrossing and entertaining read. The other books in the Codex Alera series (all featuring a growing Tavi) are just as gripping and thorough as The Furies of Calderon. Happy Reading!

In A World Just Right

In A World Just right

Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.

But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.

********************Ani’s Review***************

When I grabbed In A World Just Right,  I thought the synopsis was interesting but I was concerned because this is author Jen Brooks’ debut novel and at 400+ pages, it’s a commitment!  I was pleasantly surprised to find this story well written and very enjoyable. I felt the middle of the story to drag a little but it all worked and the end was very satisfying and went quickly. The story of Jonathan Aubrey and his body image holding him back from embracing real life is something that all teens can relate with as well as wanting to be in a place where you are accepted unconditionally. There is also an underlying theme of making the right choices for yourself and having that power over others.  This is a touching story with a hint of romance without being sappy.  I would highly recommend this book to fans of John Green. For mature middle readers on up.