Bookanista Rec :: QUINTANA OF CHARYN

Today’s Bookanista recommendation is Quintana of Charyn, the final novel in Melina Marchetta‘s incredible Lumatere Chronicles.

From GoodreadsSeparated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume.

{In case you missed my review of Finnikin of the Rock, the first of three novels in the Lumatere Chronicles, you can check it out HERE. Mild Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles spoilers to follow…}

Since reading Finnikin, I zipped through Froi of the Exiles, which was wonderful but, as is often the case “middle” books, was my least favorite of the trilogy. When I finished Froi, I dove straight into Quintana of Charyn and read obsessively from beginning to end. In hindsight, I’m glad I waited until all three Lumatere Chronicles books were released before beginning to read them. This trilogy is complex; its cast of characters is extensive, and its plots are numerous and overlapping — I’m forgetful and I imagine I would’ve ended up confused if I’d had to endure a year between books. It was a treat to be immersed in this world and the lives of these characters for a few weeks, with no interruption or waiting.

Quintana of Charyn is a stunning conclusion to an amazing trilogy. Despite its considerable length and complicated storyline, it is a fast read. I had a hard time putting it down, and even when I did, I was still thinking about Quintana, Froi, Finnikin, Isaboe, Lucian, Phaedra, and the many other vibrant characters who populated this book and its predecessors.

The characters made this story for me; they kept me up late reading, and made me worry and wonder and smile and sigh. The way they loved each other, fiercely and unabashedly, made it easy to fall in love with them. I found each of the main characters (and there were many) to be distinct and flawed and brilliantly drawn, with redeeming qualities that made them absolutely endearing. The complexities of their relationships — extreme highs and intense lows — made them seem so real and accessible, even within their high fantasy setting. (And while we’re talking characters, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I ❤ Lucian so hard. He is such a man and I dig that.)

Aside from the characters, Quintana‘s plot (and the way it builds upon the plots of the previous books) is its greatest strength. There are many POVs and lots of crazy things going down, but the novel never read as convoluted or confusing. I attribute that to the tight and precise weaving of the story’s threads. I LOVE when random details sprinkled throughout a book reappear hundreds of pages later and become major elements in the story’s plot. Melina Marchetta is a masterful plotter (hello, Jellicoe Road), and the careful way she planned and executed the Lumatere Chronicles gave me chills many times over. Bits of information that seemed inconsequential in the first two books came together in the most satisfying way by the time Quintana of Charyn wrapped up. And, while we’re speaking of conclusions, I must say that Quintana did not disappoint. In fact, I’ll go so far as to declare it one of the most gratifying finales I’ve read.

I love this trilogy so very much, for its dynamic characters, sophisticated themes, and beautiful prose. I’ll recommend it up and down the blogosphere, but I think fans of high fantasy will especially appreciate it. Even if you’re not a big fantasy reader (I am not), please do give Quintana of Charyn and the Lumatere Chronicles a read. I think you’ll be glad you did.

A few related reads:
Lola Sharp’s review, which speaks eloquently to Quintana‘s mature themes.
Kat Kennedy’s glowing review — she’s a Marchetta fangirl like me!
Ten Reasons to Read the Lumatere Chronicles from Belle’s Bookshelf…
An interview with Melina Marchetta concerning the Chronicles from Hypable

And don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to:

Elana Johson is enthralled by CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson

Stasia Ward Kehoe is mesmerized by GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers

Christine Fonseca adores DEAD SILENCE by Kimberly Derting

Corrine Jackson revels in ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sara Dessen

Kimberly Sabatini is touched by TARNISH by Katherine Longshore

What are you reading now? Any recommendations?

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One Word Wednesday


Serendipity
{I was running on the beach the other day and apparently forgot to turn off the camera setting on my phone. When I got home, I found this image, which turned out sort of perfect without any effort at all. Love when that happens!}

  
Glorious
{I rarely miss a sunrise. They’re always lovely here in California, but lately we’ve had some exceptionally beautiful mornings. Seeing the sun come up over the ocean makes me feel all kinds of fortunate, no matter how many times I get to witness it.}


Brilliant
{The other day I finished Quintana of Charyn, the final book in the Lumatere Chronicles trilogy, and I was completely blown away. Melina Marchetta has a gorgeous, effortless way with language, and she crafts layered characters and builds complex worlds — I am in awe of her writing. Full review of this book to come tomorrow. Now I’m reading Chelsea Pitcher’s debut, The S-Word, a YA contemporary that’s fantastic so far.}


Delicious
{Last week when I got over my bout of Kindergarten Plague, I was craving something sweet and warm and comforting. This Cinnamon Roll Cake totally hit the spot. It’s so much easier than making actual cinnamon rolls, and it works as both a dessert and a really decadent breakfast. Recommend!}

  
Awesome
{I might be *slightly* biased, but my girlie is pretty much the coolest kid ever. While she appreciates a good pedicure and can spend hours dressing up her American Girls, she also loves to get her guitar on and run around on the ball field. She’s not afraid to pick up a snail or go down a water slide, and she’s memorized The Dixie Chick’s Travelin’ Soldier and sings it like she’s been there. Love her.}

Adoration
{Yep. She’s my favorite.}

Tell me: How’s your week going?

Bookanista Rec :: FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK

Today’s Bookanista recommendation is Finnikin of the Rock, an amazing high fantasy by one of my very favorite contemporary authors, Melina Marchetta.

From Goodreads ~ Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive. Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father. But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin’s faith in her . . . but in himself.

I’m a contemporary girl through and through, which is probably why fantasy is often a hard sell for me. When magic, invented languages, great battles, and epic journeys are involved, when there is a complicated map of an imagined world printed at the beginning of a novel, one of two things is sure to happen: I’ll end up so lost I don’t finish the book, or I’ll fall head-over-heels in love with every single thing about it.

When Finnikin came out a few years ago, I was under the (false) impression that it was a story aimed at the middle grade audience. I’m not sure why I thought that (it’s definitely not — I’ve since discovered that Finnikin is nineteen and this story’s themes are very mature). While I’ll give YA fantasy a shot (the romance!), MG fantasy isn’t usually my thing, which is why I never bought Finnikin. But it’s bothered me, not being a  part of The Lumatere Chronicles fan club, because I absolutely adore every contemporary novel Melina Marchetta has written. So, after listening to lots of bookish people rave about how fantastic Finnikin and its follow-ups are, I  decided to dive in.

I’m so glad I did. Like Jellicoe Road and Bitterblue and If I Stay, and StolenFinnikin of the Rock is one of those rare books that gave me physical reactions. Fifty minutes into a sixty minute elliptical workout (sweating my arse off!) Finnikin gave me chills — twice in a few pages. I had to continuously check myself while reading in public because, thanks to this story, I was constantly cringing or smiling or swooning. I even had to put the book down a few times because it was just so powerful. I ended up incredibly invested the characters, and I was terrified to read on and find out that something awful had happened to one of them.

Finnikin of the Rock is everything I look for in a story: a sweeping, sizzling romance, an intricately layered, breathtakingly twisted plot, unique and vibrant characters who leap off the page and demand that I  care deeply about them, and emotionality that is genuine and profound. Here are some of my favorite things about Finnikin of the Rock (as spoiler-free as possible)…

  1. Finnikin and Evanjalin’s banter, and the natural, astonishingly intense progression of their bond. 
  2. Finnikin’s relationship with both Sir Topher and Trevanion. So different, yet so heartfelt.
  3. Finnikin’s intelligence and sensitivity and selflessness, and his commitment t0 his peoples’ greater good. Same goes for Evanjalin.
  4. Trevanion’s backstory with Lady Beatriss. Romantic and heartbreaking.
  5. The complex Land of Skulendore — its diverse people and languages and landforms.
  6. Froi’s slow transformation. I was amazed by the way he grew on me.
  7. The magic. Curses and dreams and, sometimes, the unexplainable. It was all so clever, so creative, and so well thought-out.
  8. The writing. Of course. Melina Marchetta’s style is so evocative and compelling and seemingly effortless — enviable.

So, I have a new favorite fantasy to add to my list. Finnikin of the Rock is a big ol’ recommend. Oh, and yesterday I finished Froi of the Exiles, and it most definitely lives up to Finnikin’s awesomeness.

Have you read any of the Lumatere novels? Do you have a favorite fantasy to recommend? 

And don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to:

Lenore Appelhans  is blown away by REBOOT by Amy Tintera

 Carrie Harris adores BEYOND DINOCALYPSE by Chuck Wendig
— with giveaway!

 Tracy Banghart  & Debra Driza join THE GIRL GUIDE
by Christine Fonseca book blitz!

 Corrine Jackson is stunned by BREAKING BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

 Nikki Katz  wonders at THE GRAVE WINNER by Lindsey Loucks

 Gretchen McNeil talks TRUTH OR DARE by Jacqueline Green

 Elana Johson admires INSOMNIA by Jenn Johannson

 Tracey Neithercott celebrates THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS
by Jacqueline Moriarty

 Rebecca Behrens is wowed by THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey

One Word Wednesday


Fortunate
{I mentioned last week that we had to say goodbye to our loyal dog Lucy, which was a terrible experience. But, we still have Daisy, and we’re feeling very fortunate to have her wagging her tail around the house these days. She’s an old, tired lady, but she’s still up for walks and treats and snuggles. Lucky us.}

   Sad
{Speaking of Lucy, we’re all dealing in our own way. My husband left her a sweet message on our family chalkboard, and my girlie drew the most adorable picture of her at school. I got a little teary when I took it out of her backpack.}


Thankful
{It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! My daughter has a wonderful teacher and we wanted to do something nice to acknowledge all her hard work. I thought about sending an apple to school for her, but then I recalled my own teaching days and decided that Apple Strudel would be a much tastier after-work treat.} 


Fantasitcal
{This book is amazing. It’s taking me forever to get through  because last week sucked and I’m in the middle of a revision (that’s finally starting to take shape!), but yeah… I love Finnikin and Evanjalin. I love this world. I love Melina Marchetta’s writing. Recommend!}


Decadent
{Nordy Bars are one of my favorite treats. My mom used to make them at Christmastime, but they’re super tasty any time of the year. In fact, I made them for a barbecue last week and they got all kinds of compliments. Butterscotch, chocolate chips, marshmallows, pecans… What’s not to love?}

 
Diligence
{My little miss has been writing books these days, just like her mama. Usually she’s much more focused than me, but lately we’ve both been hard at work. My goal is to finish my revision this week. Then it’s off for a beta read. Yay!}


Gratuitous
{I know I’m *slightly* biased, but I think she’s pretty darn cute.}

Tell me: What have you been up to lately? 

H is for Hunk

Have you entered my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway? A signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE to enter!

Teen literature is full of hunky boys and, if I’m being honest, they’re a big part of why I read YA books. The romantic interests are utterly swoon worthy. They’re so unlike the boys I went to high school with, but exactly like the boys I wish I’d gone to high school with. And, they come in every shape, size, color and persuasion, with varying hobbies and flaws and goals and backgrounds.

There’s the angsty rocker hunk, a la Adam from If I Stay

There’s the gawky science hunk, a la Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door

There’s the tattooed bad boy hunk, a la Alex from Perfect Chemisty

There’s the supportive beach boy hunk, a la Tyler from Moonglass

There’s the bold and valiant hunk, a la Four from Divergent

There’s the loyal boy-next-door hunk, a la Jay from The Body Finder

There’s the brooding hunk, a la Conrad from The Summer I Turned Pretty

There’s the cocky jock hunk, a la Doug from Forget You

There’s the super-sweet biker hunk, a la Harlin from A Need So Beautiful

The list goes on, and on, and on.

So, who’s my YA hunk of choice?

Easy…

Jonah Griggs from Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road

On the Jellicoe Road

Why? Let me count the ways…

1. Jonah’s a badass cadet. My husband’s a soldier. Need I say more?

2. Jonah’s outdoorsy. He doesn’t shy away from dirt or exercise. Hot.

3. Jonah’s got a (very) tortured past, but he doesn’t let it hold him down.

4. Jonah’s tough-as-nails, but he’s incredibly sweet and sensitive and protective when it comes to his main squeeze, Taylor.

5. Jonah’s sort of crass. He doesn’t filter his language, and he doesn’t hesitate to flip someone the bird when they’ve earned it. Maybe I’m weird, but I find this kind of irreverence irresistible.

6. Jonah’s skeptical and analytical. His trust must be earned.

And, because Melina Marchetta portrays him, through Taylor’s eyes, like this:

“If you weren’t driving, I’d kiss you senseless,” I tell him.
He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly.
“Not driving any more.”

And this:

When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don’t know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don’t know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.

And because he says things like this:

“I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”

So, there you have him: Jonah Griggs, my YA hunk of choice.

Tell me: Who’s you ideal YA hunk?