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Not What I Expected: The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Hey there!

For my birthday in 2013 my husband sent me to YALL Fest in Charleston with a bunch of money to buy books. And boy did I buy books! The only problem is that I bought so many books it has taken forever to get to them all, which is why I just recently read The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford!

Overview

Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie StandifordRussia–a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she’s been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches–when Laura must return to the United States–Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She’s only nineteen and doesn’t think she’s ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn’t she take it?

My Thoughts

Okay, so I apparently did not read the summary of this one at all before buying it! A few pages into reading The Boy on the Bridge, I posted about it on Instagram and a friend asked me what it was about. My response was “I’m only 5 pages in but it takes place in Cold War era Soviet Union. I think there will be spies!” This is hilarious to me now that I’ve read it. There are no spies! I just assumed that there would be since it was set during the Cold War. haha OOPS!!

All, that to say this book was not what I expected, but that doesn’t mean it was bad! This book is historical fiction, but it’s too contemporary to be my usual type of historical fiction. I honestly didn’t know a single thing about what life was like in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but Standiford’s writing drew me in so quickly and it was really eye-opening to learn more about the time period. I had no idea that average Soviet citizens were under strict food rationing while any visiting foreigners shopped at stores that sold the best of the best. Laura’s experience with her friend Alexei allows the reader to discover this divide in lifestyle alongside the Laura

Although, this is historical fiction, it is also a romance through and through! The way Laura meets Alexei is the perfect meet-cute when he saves her from being taken advantage of by a gypsy woman on a bridge. They quickly become language conversation partners before they blossom into full on romance and the best thing about this romance is that it is realistic. Standiford succeeds at making the reader feel the obsessiveness and all consuming nature that often characterizes first love.

In the end, The Boy on the Bridge was not what I originally expected, but I enjoyed it anyway! Romance lovers high school age and older will most likely enjoy this book the most so if that’s you go ahead and get your hands on this one!

Details

Author: Natalie Standiford
Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 1, 2013)
Format: Print (hardcover)
Length: 256 pages
Series: Standalone
YA/MG: YA/NA (New Adult)

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Positive Feelings: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Hi!

A little while back Harper Childrens’ Audio was kind enough to send me a review copy of Heather Demetrios’ first book in the new Dark Caravan series, Exquisite Captive. This book was inspired by Arabian Nights, which is not a story you see popping up in YA fiction that often, so I was pretty interested from the beginning.

Overview

Exquisite Captive by Heather DemetriosNalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

My Thoughts

Overall, I have positive feelings toward Exquisite Captive. The story, although feeling similar to some other stories I’ve read recently, was for the most part unique. The idea of a genie being enslaved to its wish maker (master) is one I had never really given much thought to, usually assuming the genie doesn’t mind granting wishes. But duh! Of course the genie would hate being entrapped by someone else even if that someone else treats you like a princess giving you all the material things you’d want.

Nalia’s backstory, which unfolds as the story progresses, also opens up the door to a world entirely separate from our own. Most of Exquisite Captive takes place in our contemporary world, but with Nalia’s back story we learn more about the Dark Caravan and the home she has left behind. I’m excited at the prospect of exploring the world of Arjinna as the series continues as well.

One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the love triangle between Nalia, Malek, and Raif. I have to admit we’re not given much to ship in this love triangle. Malek, Nalia’s sometimes kind, sometimes cruel master is incredibly confusing in his behavior and treatment of Nalia, while Raif is pretty boring. This causes me to feel conflicted over who I should be cheering on! Malek is a mean, although good-looking, slave owner and Raif is a boring, also good-looking, jinni rebel. Honestly I think I’m leaning towards Malek – at least he’s interesting!

Conflicting love triangle aside, I do have mostly positive feelings toward Exquisite Captive. The story is interesting and unique and I will mostly likely pick up book two, Blood Passage, when it releases later this year. In the end I believe that Exquisite Captive would be best enjoyed by paranormal romance fans (it feels more like paranormal romance than fantasy) would enjoy this read!

Details

Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Balzer+Bray (October 7, 2014)
Format: Audiobook
Length: 13 hours and 44 minutes
Series: First in a series
YA/MG: YA