Praise Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun! I lost a few hours as I read this book. It's a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out. ~Christine Ashworth, Amazon Review The mystery was intriguing - I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that's pretty hard to make me do. ~Julie, Clean Teen Reads Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece. ~Ivan Amberlake, Author Book Trailer
Author Wendy S. Russo Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.
January Black was an appealing, fast-paced coming-of-age story. It had all the right ingredients to keep the reader engaged and entertained. What was January Black? The quest to answer this question is the fuel behind the story. But readers are taken on a journey of twists, turns, hidden secrets and agendas, a lost garden and downright lies before discovering the answer. Oh, and romance. I guess it would not be a YA novel if it did not have that element in the story as well. My review will be divided into what I liked about the book and what I didn't like.
What I liked:
January Black was fast-paced and had an engaging plot with interesting characters. The first chapter opens with Iris racing through the streets to prevent Matty from opening the doors of the Lost Garden, an act punishable by death. But instead, she actually leads the police to Matty in which he is captured and taken away but not before he leaves her with a task. "January Black, Iris!" The story then goes back two years where everything begins with Matty taking the King's challenge for a master's diploma. "What was January Black?" because it was NOT a ship. The author did a great job developing the main characters. While Iris played a huge role in forcing Matty to "grow up" she was not my favorite character. However they did make a cute couple and team. King Hadrian, Matty and Elijah Ducayn were my favorites. Hadrian made a cool big brother figure for Matty but even at the beginning, I could tell there had to be something else that made the king treat Matty differently, not just his wits, smarts and knack for getting into mischief in school. Matty and his father's relationship was a tense one but again, there was something off about it. Elijah was hard on Matty but for some reason, I did not get the impression that he hated Matty. Toward the end, you find out why. Secret Societies are always an added bonus! And this story has one that keeps the corrupt government of Colombia very busy. I was thrilled to find out who the "Cowboy" was in the story :D They have a vested interest in Matty and his quest to find the answer to "What was January Black?" and "righting the way of the world" and bringing about freedom. World building. While the author built an intriguing world, I was not sure if the people were immigrants from another world/planet of if they simply migrated from another continent. It wasn't till the end that it was made clear. Great thing though, it did not pose a problem while reading the story. The bottom line, the citizens of Columbia were the descendants of migrants looking to find a new home, life, opportunity, liberty and freedom. But three hundred years later, it was anything but that. Politics. I have never liked politics but I feel the author did a great job exploring the political atmosphere of Colombia's past and present. Government corruption, civil discourse, American history, add a bit of science fiction all made this very interesting read. Even in novels it seems history tends to repeat its self.
What I didn't like:
The story was promoted as a clean teen read due to the relationship between Matty and Iris. But I have to disagree. For much of the book, it was okay but there was still quite a bit of content, implied and explicit. For example Matty being aroused sexually, detailed description of them kissing, making out and sleeping together. I was grateful that the author did not go into much detail of their actual sex encounter, it was treated more like an after thought. There was also the use of profanity in the book that I did not like.
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the story, the plot, the characters and the mystery of January Black even though it was NOT a "clean" read by my standards.
January Black 100th Amazon Review Giveaway
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$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/8/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway