I read this recently, there will be a review upcoming shortly (most likely at the end of December, or start of January.
I only started reading this at the end of the month and did not get the chance to finish it. I will be posting a review for this in January!
A Last note
Wow! I cannot believe that December, and the year of 2019 is over! I got a lot of reading done, including some of my new favorites this month, and this year was a really productive reading year! I read 6 books in their entirety and started a 7th in the month of December, and I read 40 total books! I’m actually quite happy with that number, but I plan to read much more next year. Look out for “bookish and not so bookish” goals post soon! I hope that everyone else had an extremely productive reading month, and year and I hope that next year is even better. What are some of the books that you read in December? Which one was your favorite ? What about your least favorite? What about the books that you read in 2019? The same questions about favorite and least favorite apply. I will also be posting a “Favorites of the Year” that should be posted later today. I’ve had a tough time finding the time to write and post things in a timely manner with the holidays etc.
I’m hoping to change that in 2020, but time will tell. Anyways, that’s it for me! Happy New Year, from me to you! ❤
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
This book takes place in 2122, in the former United States. The country has been ravaged by magical nuclear war, and is split up into different countries now. The two most prominently featured are Atlantia and Carolinia. The story mainly takes place in Durham, Carolinia. (The former Durham, North Carolina). Magic is a virus that kills most of those that if infects. Atlantia has been ravaged by magic and is basically an uninhabitable wasteland. This has caused many refugees to escape to Carolinia.
Carolinia is known for it’s very anti-refugee/immigrant laws and are known to deport many back to Atlantia which is basically a death sentence.
The premise of this book is something that really called out to me. The idea is that magic is a virus that infects people. Most of the people that are infected die, but those that survive are called Witchings.
This is what happens to our main character, Noam Alvaro. He is the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family. He gains the ability of a technopath, or basically the ability to control technology. This catches the eye of the military of Carolinia and he is thrust into a world unlike the one that he was raised in.
Noam, the son of undocumented immigrants, has spent his entire life fighting for immigrant and refugee rights. Knowing that Carolinia is ruthless with it’s deportations, he sees a chance to make a change.
Immigrant and refugee rights should be a no brainer, but the story deals with this in a way that is very poignant and true to the atmosphere that exists in the United States today. Immigrants are trapped in detention centers and refugee camps that make the spread of magical disease much more deadly. In addition, they are relegated to slums and cramped housing that also help the spread of magic.
As someone who was raised by immigrant parents and was surrounded by immigrant friends, I can say that this one especially hit close to home. Like Noam, I was lucky enough to be born in this country, a country that is, mostly, (only mostly) free of crisis that cause refugees to flee their countries of birth. This was an especially poignant read.
Also, this book has an LGBT romance. Noam is bi-sexual, as is the main love interest, who is a prickly on the outside, cinnamon roll on the inside, kind of character. (I love Dara) The romance was not instant and it was built up over time. It was believable and I loved them both.
This story also covers other topics such as sexual abuse, loss and grief. The story was emotional and I really enjoyed the writing.
The plot was engaging and I found myself rooting for most of the characters and I could not stop reading it.
I gave this a 4.5 because there were certain things in the plot that just seemed a little bit too convenient, but they did not deter from my enjoyment. I would highly recommend reading this! I can’t wait for the Electric Heir, which is the sequel) that is due out in 2020!
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett is pitched as a pinch of The Handmaid’s Tale, a bit of Hunger Games and a feminist Lord of the Flies. While I see all of these elements, I feel like it falls a little bit short of being “feminist”, at least for me.
I’m conflicted, because I really wanted to love this story, but parts of it fell flat for me.
In Garner County, girls who turn 16 are thought to possess the magic to entice grown men and make older women jealous, so to combat this, they are sent to an isolated camp to release their magic into the wild for a year. Some will return, and when they do they are considered purified and ready for marriage.
The story follows Tierney James, a girl from Garner County during her grace year. Tierney is known as “Tierney the Terrible” in her group of grace girls. She has never really fit in, and in Garner County this can be incredibly dangerous. Women are only seen as possessions, property to their husbands. Right before being sent off for their grace years, many of the young girls are married off to other men in the community. Many times, these men are significantly older than the young girls they are marrying. The girls also have no say in -who- they marry. All is chosen by the men in the county and their fathers. Not only that, but being “veiled” is seen as the upmost priority. If you are not veiled you will return to the county and work in indentured servitude in other areas of the county, which is seen as ‘less-than’ when compared to being a wife.
So we have a very oppressive government, filled with men who seem to believe that they own the women around them. Women are not allowed to do anything without the permission of their husbands. Husbands are allowed to accuse their wives of indecencies, use of magic, of anything really, and condemn them to death if they see fit. All of this done in the name of religion. Women in the county must be pure and subservient above all else.
You get the picture.
Tierney, not really liked by the girls in the county has one male friend named Michael. On her “veiling day” she does not expect to get a veil, but does, from Michael, who of course has always loved her. She takes offense to this, as it is not what she wants. She even -told- Michael that she did not to be a wife and had resigned herself to never getting married. Tierney was a little bit bone-headed and didn’t really think of things before she did them. She would think “maybe I shouldn’t do this thing” and then she would do the thing, and wonder why it blew up in her face.
To add to this, it throws a gasoline on to the fire due to Michael having promised to marry one of the other girls who is a grace girl with Tierney. Her name is Kiersten, and she almost seemed like a caricature mean girl. I don’t understand why she hated Tierney, and all the other girls for that matter as much as she did. She was mean, petty and caused the death of multiple other girls, just for funsies. Kiersten was just a villain to be a villain. While Tierney was attempting to help the group of girls survive, Kiersten attempts to sabotage every single one of those attempts which just led to chaos. I just can’t fathom why this girl would destroy buckets that Tierney made for the purpose of collecting rain water. I just…
Okay…. so the story itself, the world, nothing was really explained… at all. You were thrown in and were told nothing about what time period the story takes place in, why they think women have magic, why poachers chase the young girls -yep-, or why the poachers take women apart, piece by piece, to be used as “fountain of youths” by the others in the county. I think the author was trying to add an air of mystique or mystery, but it just ended up seeming like it wasn’t fleshed out enough or like the plot itself was hazy.
The plot makes it seem like you’ll have girls rising up against this oppressive county that has been keeping them down for so long, like you’ll have women finally rising up, and like -some- revolution should be taking place. That happens, at the very end of the story, and it happened in such a way that it was entirely unexpected, but in a good way. I tacked on that extra .5 stars because of the ending if I am being completely honest. The ending was executed in a way that it all came together just right. But…here’s the thing though, the rescues that took place in the book were all by men, one man in particular.
A poacher named Ryker, who Tierney ends up in an insta-love relationship with. Half of the time that Tierney and Ryker spend together are after Ryker rescues her and nurses her back to health on a promise that he made her father a year earlier. The moment she knows she wants to “be with him” are after he sees his face. Not to mention that Ryker is a man who was literally HUNTING her and the other girls with her. He refers to her as -prey- for 100 pages of a 400 page book. And it was insta-love and had absolutely no build-up at all. It just didn’t feel like the love was ratcheted up correctly. It felt rather hazy and almost like the romance was just tacked on after the rest of the book had been written.
This book had so much potential, but it just fell flat for me unfortunately.
Have you read this? Did you like it? What were your thoughts? Let’s discuss below!
A portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.
Okay. The atmosphere in this book was pretty great. You could feel the cold hand of Franco’s reign wrapping tighter around the characters as you read this.
The story of Ana, Puri, Daniel and Rafa really sticks with you.
Daniel Matheson, son of an American oil tycoon and a Spanish immigrant is an aspiring photographer who is visiting Spain with his parents. He comes with these ideas of what Spain is, mainly what the Francisco regime has told Americans and the world what Spain is, but finds a very different Spain exists for its inhabitants. One of the inhabitants of Spain is a young girl, a maid in the hotel he is staying in, named Ana.
Ana, a girl with secrets, works at the Castellana Hilton hotel, meets Daniel when she is assigned to his family.
Rafa, Ana’s older brother seemed almost… like a caricature? He has an interesting past, and has a friend who wants nothing more than to be a torero, a matador… but again, I feel like his character was very much a caricature.
Puri, Ana and Rafa’s cousin, is a nun who works at an orphanage, who begins to uncover some very unflattering things that are being done by the Franco regime involving children.
While all the characters were given colorful histories, I felt almost as if the surrounding areas were put on the back burner. The author captured Francoist Spain very well. The juxtaposition between the “American quarter”, or what I would describe as the “tourist area” of Spain and the area where tourists visited versus the areas where Spaniards actually lived very well. The tourist areas were described very richly, and had vibrancy, while the areas where natives lived were rundown and very crowded.
The author used snippets and clips of propoganda that was used in Francoist Spain to subjugate the people. For example, the Sección Femenina, which is the Women’s Section, told women that they were inferior to men and that they belonged in the home and in the role of being a mother. This is based mainly on extremist religious and Catholic beliefs, but this is what guided Franco. No other religions were allowed to be practiced in the open. This included weddings and funerals. Any Republican (those that were aligned against Franco and his government) were tortured, imprisoned, killed, or all three.
That being said, where was the flamenco? Where was the music? Where was the bright Spain that I grew up hearing about from my mom? (Who also grew up in Franco’s Spain).
In addition, this story was slow. It took a while for the characters to get to where they needed to go and the story almost seemed to end abruptly and it left me hanging with quite a few story strands.
All of this being said, I enjoyed this story and would recommend reading this if you have any interest in Francoist Spain, or even if you just enjoy historical fiction!