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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
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- Georgia
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (4)
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- *Washington, D.C.

International:
Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
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Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:


0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:


7 / 25 books. 28% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:


33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vivid World + Intriguing Characters + Annoying Love Triangle - Strong Heroine = Not-As-Good-As-It-Could-Have-Been Debut

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the Sin Eater's daughter and apprentice, Twylla is resigned to her fate.  Like her mother before her, she will spend her life growing fat off the sins of the dead.  It's an important duty in the kingdom of Lormere, but certainly not a glamorous one.  Twylla longs for something different than the lonely, hardscrabble life through which she sees her mother slog every day.  So, when the queen informs Twylla that she's been chosen by the gods to serve her country in an elite position, the 13-year-old jumps at the chance.  Not only will she get to live in the castle, betrothed to Prince Merek, but the queen will see that Twylla's family receives healthy compensation, money they sorely need.

Four years later, Twylla has a better understanding of what it really means to be Daunen Embodied.  Because her blessed blood is mixed with a magical potion every month, her skin is toxic.  Except for the king, queen, and prince, no one can touch her without dying.  Sequestered in the luxurious castle, feared by those around her, Twylla lives a privileged, but lonely life.  Even her fianceé avoids her.  Her special duties as court assassin only make her life more difficult.  Twylla knows she must do her duty for her queen, for her country, and for her family, but she wishes for something more than her isolated world.

Her wish is granted with the arrival of her new bodyguard.  A handsome 18-year-old from a neighboring land, Lief treats Twylla with a charming familiarity that no one else has ever employed with her.  Not only does his presence make her heart pound, but his gentle prodding makes her question everything she's ever known.  As she learns shocking truths about her queen, her belief structure, and herself, Twylla will have to decide what's real, what's not, and—for the first time in her life—what and who she really wants.

The Sin Eater's Daughter, a debut novel by Melinda Salisbury, introduces a vivid, complex world populated by an intriguing cast of characters.  With tight, evocative prose, Salisbury molds all these elements into a slow-building, but engrossing story.  The elements of well-known fairy tales that are woven into the narrative make it even deeper, although I would have liked to see more development of the ones I found most interesting (the Pied Piper, for example), which perhaps will come in the trilogy's subsequent installments.  That being said, there were several things that detracted from my enjoyment of this novel.  The biggest one?  The so-very-annoying love triangle.  Ugh.  I also wanted more from Twylla as a heroine.  While she's a sympathetic character, she's not a very dynamic one.  She spends most of her time reacting instead of acting, letting other people save her instead of saving herself.  Admittedly self-absorbed, she's just not a strong, admirable enough heroine for me.  Plotwise, the story follows a pretty generic things-are-not-as-they-seem pattern.  It kept me reading, yes, but not salivating over the upcoming sequels.  Salisbury is obviously a skilled writer, she just didn't win me over with her freshman effort.  Ah, well.  

(Readalikes:  Nothing is coming to mind.  Suggestions?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for sexual content (not graphic) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Sin Eater's Daughter from the generous folks at Scholastic via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!

Heavy-Handed Sermonizing Makes Christian Novel A Whole Lot Less Appealing

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Like all the folks who live in her isolated mountain community, 10-year-old Cadi Forbes is a descendant of a hearty band of pilgrims who came to Appalachia from the wilds of Scotland and Wales.  Along with their heavy brogues, these pioneers brought with them legends, myths and Old World customs.  Some of which still endure.  The Sin Eater, for instance.  Cadi knows all about the mysterious figure who's summoned down from the hills when someone dies.  His duty—which he will perform as long as he lives—is to take upon himself the sins of the dead so that they can ascend to heaven unburdened.  No one dares look the Sin Eater in the face, nor do they seek him out.  The man is sentenced, because of his own misdeeds, to a life of banishment and solitude, welcomed among the villagers only when he is needed.  And only with extreme caution.

Cadi needs absolution from the sin that is eating her up inside, the evil that makes even her mother turn away in shame.  So pained by her affliction is Cadi that she's willing to do the unthinkable.  She knows hunting down the Sin Eater will bring punishment from her parents as well as a curse on her family.  But she can't stop herself.  Cadi can't wait until she's dead to get forgiveness—she needs it now.  

As Cadi defies the orders of her family and village leaders in dogged pursuit of her goal, she discovers some shocking truths—not just about the Sin Eater, but also about her community and the secrets it keeps in the name of tradition.  Can Cadi convince the others of what she now knows?  Will she ever get absolution for her sins?  Her journey of self-discovery will lead her down paths she never could have expected to follow ...

When I picked up The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers, I had no idea it was a Christian novel.  In retrospect, the title probably should have given it away, if not the fact that it's published by Tyndale.  Somehow I missed these clues.  Not that I have anything against Christian/religious fiction, mind you.  I don't.  At least not if its lessons are taught with grace and subtlety through complex characters doing interesting things against vivid backgrounds.  The Last Sin Eater's Appalachian setting intrigued me from the start, as did its sympathetic story people.  All the conflict between Cadi, her family, and the village folk reeled me in as well.  In fact, I quite enjoyed the first half of the novel.  Then, it got preachy.  In an annoying, very heavy-handed way.  It became too much, even for me —and I spend at least three hours a week in church!  While I appreciated what the story had to say about the importance of repentance/forgiveness, letting Christ into our lives, and moving beyond the sins of the past, I didn't care for the novel's too-obvious sermonizing.  In the end, then, The Last Sin Eater was just an okay read for me.

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:



If this were a movie (and, apparently, it is), it would be rated:


for violence, sexual innuendo and references to rape, adultery, and abuse

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Last Sin Eater with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  

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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

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