The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I loved this book so much. During the epilogue I was reading through tears. I felt the outcome of events was very plausible and a good balance to the fateful events that took place throughout the book.

I didn’t cry the entire time, just during the epilogue. It was also really funny too, like when Times Square was compared to hell. I feel the same way. As a native New Yorker the setting was another favorite thing of mine. It really made the story come alive. I could picture everything about it.

I connected with both Natasha and Daniel. Like Daniel I believe in fate. I think coincidences are very, very rare and it’s most likely something “meant to be”, that events are lining up to all connect together.
I also believe there are infinate multiverses. For each choice we make somewhere out there is a version of us that made a different choice.

I love the short chapters (makes for a fast read), and the different points of view from the older generation that immigrated to the U.S., the kids who grew up in the U.S., and the strangers who effect and are affected by the main characters. It really made it complete and balanced.

At the end of the month the film adaptation of Nicola’s other book, Everything, Everything, is coming to theaters. I hope it’s a good adaptation and does well at the box office so that this book can also be adapted into a film.

5 out of 5 Suns that are also stars.

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The Valiant (The Valiant, #1) by Lesley Livingston

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Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

I picked up this ARC at NYCC 2016.

I have some mixed feelings about The Valiant. I’ll start with the critiques.

The story and plot twists were predictable. I guessed nearly everything that was going to happen.

At lot of the story is also spoon fed to us, but I feel that is because the book is meant for a young reader. The book jacket does say grades 7 (ages 12) and up.

Yet, I found myself enjoying it. I liked the sisterhood between the characters.
While the romance was a bit underdeveloped it wasn’t annoying and overly mushy.

The pacing was a bit slow at times, but I really like the setting of the Roman Empire The Cleopatra and Caesar cameos were fun.

While it wasn’t the greatest story, I am curious about the sequel. Although, I do feel the end could have gone another way and left this as a standalone novel. But I do like that it offers a story for young adults with strong female characters who are not damsels in distress.

3 out of 5 female gladiators.